Beet Chips, or The Time I Made a Burned Mess

Yup, I’m not leaving much for surprise at the end in this post.

You may remember a month or so ago when I overcame my childhood disgust for beets with a roasted beet salad.  It made me want to try different ways to use them and I thought a beet chip recipe would be perfect.  I figured it would make me feel a bit healthier eating a large bowl of beet chips rather than potato chips or pretzels.  So I started in.

raw beets

First issue came up rather quickly.  It was my first time using our mandolin (the Hubs bought it special for pickle slicing this summer) and even with the special guard, I had a hard time getting the tough, round beets to slice for me.  They really shredded more than anything else.  I was bound and determined to keep going.  I kept telling myself I’d get it on the next pass.  2 beets later, I hadn’t.

beet shavings

I didn’t want to give up.  I told myself that even though the slices we’re thinner than I thought they would be, I’d set the guide to the right thickness, so it must be right.  Nope.  I popped them in the oven and set the timer for a little bit under the recommended cooking time.  I should have set it for way under the cooking time.  I pulled out the pans and was greeted with crispy, burned chips that had gone from deep purple-y red to charcoal.  Sigh.

burnt chips

Moral of the story, I’m going to spend a little more time figuring out this mandolin and stop myself when I get the feeling that it’s not going to plan.  In the meantime, I’ll stick to my pretzels.

Name That Squash!!

Super exciting Friday night! We have two volunteer squash in our garden. Actually, under the tree by the shed. It’s climbed up and around our wheelbarrow and over our side patio. On one side we have a small acorn squash. This guy in the other hand, might be a pumpkin. We don’t know how it would have gotten there. We have had acorn squash in the past, so a squirrel transporting it to the tree doesn’t seem to far fetched. But we’ve never had pumpkins, so that squirrel must have carried it over during Halloween last year. I’m hoping this guy holds on so we have a nice orange jack-o-latern next month!

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August Catch Up

I can’t believe we’re about to start our second full week of September already, I don’t know where the summer went! It’s still feeling more like summer than fall around here. A garden full of tomatoes and 90 degree weather makes it hard to think about. Over the past month we’ve had some more kitchen projects that I haven’t been able to update you on. All of them are designed to give us a taste of summer come January and February when we’re sick of the cold and snow.

Corn Chowder: recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.

corn chowder

Zucchini Bread, recipe below

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Canned Tomatoes: recipe from the Ball Canning Book

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We’ve been trying extra hard to not have any of our garden veggies go to waste this year. So far we’ve been doing pretty well. We’re getting an excess of zucchini again that we need to address. I think we have plenty of bread so I’m looking in to other preserving methods or easy week night recipes. So far the tomatoes have all been eaten or preserved. We’d be happy to eat our tomatoes as BLTs every night but I have a few other ideas in mind to switch it up.

Do any of you have tried and true recipes for summer? I’d love to hear from you!

Zucchini Bread- from mom’s kitchen

3 Eggs
2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Oil (canola or vegetable)
3 Cups Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
3 Cups Shredded and Peeled Zucchini
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts (optional)

1. Lightly grease two, 9 inch loaf pans. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream together eggs, sugar and oil
3. In separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder
4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to sugar, eggs and oil until completely blended
5. Add cinnamon and vanilla
6. When all other ingredients are combined, fold in zucchini and nuts if using until fully incorporated
7. Divide batter into 2 pans, cook for 50-60 minutes or until knife comes out clean

Tomatoes!!!

I think the gardening gods read my post about mini garlic last week. When we started picking our cherry tomatoes this weekend, we had a pleasant surprise. we had our usual pop-in-your-mouth size but also quite a few jumbo Cherries.

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I mean look at that! I wish you could actually see these in person. I don’t think the quarter comparison is doing it justice. I’ve got high hopes that overgrown cherries will mean overgrown slicers by the end of the week!

Mini Garlic

This weekend, The Hubs took the time to dig up the garlic we had so carefully and excitedly planted last fall. The stalks above ground had shriveled and browned, giving the sign that they were ready to go. This is what they looked like.

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Not quite the bulb size we were looking for. Adorable though. I think the spot we planted them was just a little too shady for them to get what they needed. We might try and grow them in garbage bins next year like we have with the potatoes. In the meantime, I have what I need to ward off Twilight action figures.

Zukes and Cukes

We’re starting to get some fresh cucumbers and zucchini in the garden out back.  It means pickling, zucchini bread and plenty of grilled zuke slices to go with dinner.  We’re still waiting for the tomatoes to ripen up.  We have a lot of little green cherry and Romas that are taking their sweet time to turn red.  I want to eat them with homemade mozzarella so stinkin’ bad!

zukes and cukes

I’ve been doing some more reading in my ‘On Cooking’ text book.  I’m making my way through the history, menu making and cleaning chapters.  Besides making me want to completely sterilize my kitchen on a daily basis, it’s been a little on the dry side.  It’s the all good stuff to know but I’m ready for the chapter on cheese.

I’m going to go mop my kitchen with bleach.

Roasted Beet Salad

It took a lot of effort for me to not title this post something like: ‘We Got the Beets’  or some other awful pun.  I’ll save you from my awkward sense of humor for the day.  I picked up beets from the farmer’s market last weekend, it’s the first time I bought them.  I have memories of having to sit at my grandparents kitchen table until I had finished all the canned, pickled beets.  I thought they were the worst veggies in the world.  Things change; since elementary school I’ve grown to like beans, Mexican food and avocados , why not beets?

beet collage

I found a recipe on Bon Appetit for Roasted Beet Salad with Citrus and Feta.  It’s seemed far enough away from the awful canned beets of  my youth and get me to use up some more of the salad greens that are overtaking the garden.  You can find the recipe here.  It went together fairly easy but it took a bit longer than I wanted it to.  I roasted the beets one night and assembled the rest of the salad the second night.  I have to admit, when I smelled the roasted beets coming out of the oven, it made me thing of those nasty bright pink discs and I had a moment of nervousness.

beet collage 2

When I started to mix up the vinaigrette and add in the citrus and cheese, I felt more comfortable with trying the beets again.  They didn’t have as strong of a flavor as I remembered and the mix with feta was pretty tasty.   I’ll probably look for other beet recipes, salads or otherwise and it was enough to put beets back on my ‘edible’ list of foods, feels good.

Summer Catch Up

It’s hard to believe the summer is half over already.  Back to school ads are all over the place and the nights are getting cooler again.  I realized that this time last year we were harvesting tomatoes and zucchinis and were working on our second harvest of raspberries.  This year we still have yet to see a red tomato or full grown zuke.  There’s been plenty of produce at the farmer’s market while we’re waiting for our garden, but it’s just not quite as exciting as picking a few bowls of your own cherry tomatoes.

summer catch up

Despite the lack of produce and posts, I have been doing a few projects in the kitchen.  We’ve made a batch of jam from the first raspberry harvest, I’ve made some wheat bread from scratch and we made BBQ Pulled Pork.

I’m trying to get myself motivated to try some new projects and new foods for the rest of the summer and into the fall.  To help get inspired, I bought a few books that should give me plenty to work with.

cookbooks

I have to say I’m most excited about my new text book ‘On Cooking’.  It’s sort of nerdy but I’m hoping reading through this will make me more comfortable with trying new foods and new cooking techniques.  I’m too quick to just throw something in olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Not always a bad thing but there’s got to be something more exciting.

Fresh Dinner

Hi There!  I’ve been slacking on you guys with post updates, sorry about that.  Summer has been keeping me more interested in being outside.  Our garden is starting to pick up so tonight we had a very fancy dinner of popcorn with this strainer full of fresh peas, raspberries and a couple of radishes.  The raspberries are really starting to kick it into high gear.  We’ll have to go out and keep checking on them regularly to make sure we don’t miss any of the goodness.

raspberries radishes and peas