Garden Update: Positivity Edition

It has been a weird and wet summer, and my garden didn’t produce much. But let’s focus on the positive, shall we?

The indigo is doing well. I’ve got two different species, apparently. I’m using one for eco printing on fabric and the other for vat dyeing — yarn probably. It will be my first indigo dye vat. This was not the plan. It’s how I’m rolling with what is.

Sweet Woodruff

My sweet woodruff is doing well. If it survives the winter, I will be good for May Wine again next year. The soapwort is alive but struggling to get established. The hops are scrappy. I have no doubt they will be dominant up the back part of the garden next year, which is great because it’s clay and nothing grows back there.

Sweet Genovese Basil

The basil and Anaheim chilis have stolen the show this year. I’ve made pesto, ingredients below:

  • Fresh basil leaves, washed
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • Kosher salt

I don’t have a recipe. I made it “by guess and by gosh” like my Grandma. (By guess I made it and by gosh you’d better eat it!) I don’t really care if anyone else eats it, though. More for me!

Making my own pesto allows me to eliminate ALL THE THINGS I can’t have, and make substitutions: nutritional yeast for Parmesan, sunflower and pumpkin seeds for pine nuts. My recipe is basically to keep adding things to the food processor until it looks right and tastes good. Helpful, right?

I love Anaheim chilis. I started growing them when I lived in San Diego. Bob made enchilada pie yesterday with the first batch. We’re not sure if we will dry the rest, or use them in another recipe. We probably have enough to do both. I’ll let those remaining on the plants turn red so we can dry them.

I’m thinking about next year’s garden already. Here’s my plan:

  1. A good end of season weeding in the fall. (It’s a jungle out there.)
  2. Plant some greens in the mini greenhouse again this fall. They did well last year.
  3. Let the plants that are doing well reseed themselves wherever they want. (I don’t have any hybrids right now.)
  4. Try again next year with tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers from the nursery.

The thing about getting plants from the local nursery is they are not only hardier than the seedlings I grow myself, they are also better suited to our planting zone. I usually buy my seeds from Seed Savers Exchange because they’re heirloom varieties, but I’m learning they don’t all grow well here.

How is your garden this year? Are you getting much of a harvest? Are you planning next year’s garden yet?

Tasty Tuesday: Gluten-Free Sourdough Naan Flatbread

This has become a favorite recipe using the gluten-free sourdough starter, so I thought I should record it for posterity.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup gluten-free sourdough starter
  • 2 cups gluten-free one to one flour
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free oat milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plant butter or ghee)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

For grilling:

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • olive oil, plant butter, or ghee

Mix ingredients well. Separate into eight balls of dough. Set aside and cover in a warm place to rest and rise for 1-2 hours.

Preheat cast iron skillet or tortilla grill on high. Using hands covered in olive oil flatten each of the dough balls to about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle a little kosher salt, fresh cilantro, and garlic onto one side. Pan fry in oil or grill one at a time until golden brown on both sides. Serve warm. These can be reheated as needed.

Tasty Tuesday: Gluten-Free Sourdough and Lentil Soup

Now that I have more time on my hands, I decided to try baking our own bread. There are two reasons for this: 1. Gluten-free bread is $8 a loaf at the store, and 2. Most gluten-free bread is not great.

Bob and I have tried gluten-free bread recipes with varied results. I thought a sourdough starter might be what is needed to give the dough a lift. I ordered the starter from Cultures for Health, and followed their instructions and recipe. I substituted white rice flour for brown, because we ran out of brown. The loaf is fluffy, soft, moist, and delicious!

We had lentil soup with sourdough for dinner yesterday. The soup was delicious as well, so I’m going to post the recipe here for future reference. I was surprised how delicious it was with such simple ingredients. How many times can I say delicious in one post?

Crockpot Lentil Soup

  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups green lentils
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme (1 teaspoon dried)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh oregano (1 teaspoon dried)

Add all ingredients to the crockpot. Tie fresh herbs into a bouquet garni and add. Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. About 4 servings.

Eggplant Felix Dress with a side of Kale Chips

I sewed another Felix Dress, this time in eggplant linen. It’s fully lined in the same fabric. I love a floaty linen dress in the summer. It looks great with my Ocean Moon shawl as well as my jean jacket. Pattern is Felix Dress by Grainline Studio.

I also sewed another Melba Dress, this time in charcoal jersey. I don’t think you need a photo of another plain Melba Dress. I do love wearing them, though.

I harvested all the greens from the greenhouse. It’s getting hot, and they are starting to bolt.

I tried out kale chips in the air fryer. I tossed one leaf in olive oil, pink Himalayan salt, and nutritional yeast. I left it in at 200 degrees F for 15 minutes. They came out great, except for the stems. Tear all the leafy parts off the stem first.

Tasty Tuesday: Air Fries

plate of air fried potato wedges

Bob and my kids got me an air fryer for my birthday. These are my first fries. I did them as we normally do when making oven fries: with a little olive oil and seasoning. They came out great! I can’t wait to see what else I can make.

Tasty Tuesday: Vegetable Posole

Now that I’m semi-retired, I’m helping out more with the cooking. Yesterday I made vegetable posole with gluten-free flour tortillas.

I based my posole recipe on one from Rancho Gordo Vegetarian Kitchen. During the holidays, I stuffed my own stocking with a bag of their dried hominy. I loved hominy as a kid, so I decided to see if I still like it. And I do! But I wasn’t sure how to prepare it.

I felt the recipe was a little thin, so I added mushrooms and sliced Anaheim chilis, and also made a roux. The result was a deliciously chunky vegetable soup with chewy hominy. I think I would like the addition of scallops or shrimp. Bob and I both felt the stew needed more mushrooms.

The recipe I followed is not online, but here is a link to several of their hominy recipes.

You can see my gluten-free tortillas didn’t come out great. They tasted good, though, and were crispy enough to tear apart and add to the stew like a tortilla soup. I gifted Bob a tortilla press/grill, but I was the one to give this appliance the first go. We’ll have to adjust the recipe and try again. Here is a link to the recipe I followed.

I have three cups of cooked hominy leftover. I’m thinking about making grits for breakfast!

Have you tried any new recipes lately?

Burns Night Gluten Free Oat Cakes

My oat cakes came out delicious. I had one with butter and marionberry jam for breakfast.

I based my recipe on this one, but made some modifications.

  • 1 cup coarsely ground gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 cup gluten free oat flour
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter at room temperature (I used Flora, my new favorite. You could also use regular butter. I used salted, but you can use unsalted and increase the salt to 1/2 teaspoon.)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

I dumped everything except the hot water into my mixing bowl and stirred on low. Then I slowly added the hot water about 1 tablespoon at a time to bind the dough. Once it held together and pulled away from the sides of the bowl, I stopped. If you accidentally add too much hot water and your dough is too wet, just add more oat flour until the consistency is right. The dough should be firm and not sticky.

Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness on parchment paper and cut using a round 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter. Once the oven is preheated, bake the oatcakes on a cookie sheet with parchment paper for 25-30 minutes, until browning at the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack until cool. (My dough didn’t actually need the parchment paper for rolling or baking, so you could try it without.)

Yesterday, I pick up rutabagas and russets for Bob to make neeps and tatties. My switchel is brewing in the frig, and it tastes pretty good! I’ll post again later to share pics of the feast.

Merry Christmas Pudding

This year I made my first Christmas pudding. It wasn’t a total disaster, but it wasn’t a triumph, either. I followed this recipe with some modifications.

I substituted sunflower seeds for walnuts, and apple cider for brandy. Dried fruit mix included dates, figs, currants, raisins, apricots, and sour cherries.

I steamed it in a glass bowl inside a canning pot. It set up okay, but was soggy. I made some crème anglaise with oat milk, which split and was very runny indeed. Tasted okay, though.

In other dodgy baking news, I purchased some divinity for myself as I love it during the holidays but don’t want the trouble of making it. It’s hard to find divinity without tree nuts (pecans, usually, or sometimes walnuts). I found some peppermint divinity on Etsy, and it’s delicious but super sweet, so I decided to roll it to make my own logs with crushed candy canes, bittersweet chocolate chips, and sunflower seeds.

Next year I’ll purchase some plain divinity and roll it in sunflower seeds. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before.

Christmas dinner is tacos and Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie, which Bob made so it will be delicious.

Merry Christmas! Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and gentle holiday season.

Tomato Cobbler

Cinna Knits suggested I make tomato cobbler with my plethora of tomatoes from the garden. Tomato Cobbler?! What’s that?! I had to try it. I’ve never made a savory cobbler before.

I basically followed this recipe. However, I tweaked it a lot. So here are my instructions for a vegan and gluten free version.

Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Peel and thinly slice 1 and 1/2 yellow onions. (Because that’s all the onions I had.) Add about 1 teaspoon of salt. Sauté until transparent, or go ahead and carmelize them, which is what I did.

While the onions are carmelizing, peel and mince two large cloves of garlic. Rinse and de-stem about 3 cups of cherry tomatoes. I used Igleheart Yellow Cherry from my garden. I also had a couple of larger Cherokee Purple that needed eaten, so I cored and cut them into quarters. Four cups of tomatoes? At this time I also pulled two bunches of basil leaves off the stem and cut them into large pieces.

Once the onions are carmelized, add the minced garlic and sauté together for a minute or two. Add 3-4 tablespoons (what I refer to as “a splash”) of balsamic vinegar and stir until the liquid has mostly evaporated. Add 2 tablespoons of flour. (I used a gluten free blend from Nuts.com, similar to Bob’s Red Mill.) Stir until the flour forms a paste. Or, if you are like me, you won’t have enough liquid for that. I didn’t want to add more balsamic so I added a little water.

Add the tomatoes and basil leaves, 1 teaspoon of salt, and remove from heat. Stir well. Set aside. At this point I covered it to get a little more liquid so it was easier to combine.

I had already de-petaled a few calendula flowers, de-leaved a few fresh thyme sprigs, and cut fresh sage leaves into slivers for my biscuit dough. I love cooking from my garden!

To make the biscuits blend together 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour, 3/4 cups corn grits, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (instead of cheese), 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Work in 4 tablespoons of Earth Balance vegan butter and the calendula, thyme, and sage. Once that was crumbly, Add about 1 cup oat milk with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, instead of buttermilk. I had to mess with the dry ingredients to get the dough consistency right. If you make biscuits a lot, you get it. (Or you can follow the recipe linked above.)

Once the dough was ready, and I had given the tomato mixture another turn, I scooped up the biscuit dough and dropped it onto the cobbler, still in the cast iron skillet. I ended up with six biscuit blobs.

Bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the tomato mixture is bubbly. We’re having this tonight with burgers.

I have to say, it’s pretty tasty. It will be great with a bison patty.

Sorry if this is vague. This is how I cook, like my Grandma. “By guess, and by gosh… By guess I made it, and by gosh you’d better eat it!”

In other news, I have been sick twice in two weeks! This time it’s an upper respiratory infection. I was down and out for 48 hours. I’m feeling better today, but I’m trying to take it easy as I’m still fatigued. I do hope to get to some knitting this weekend. Sewing may be too strenuous.

Gluten Free Zucchini Bread

  • 4 medium eggs
  • 3/4 cup melted butter, vegan butter, or oil
  • 3 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups gluten-free flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Beat the eggs, add sugar, vanilla, and butter. Mix in zucchini. Add in dry ingredients and mix well. Turn into two greased loaf pans, divided equally. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 – 60 minutes, until done. Insert a toothpick or knife into the center. When it comes out clean, the bread is done.

I used one metal loaf pan on the bottom rack and one glass loaf pan on the upper rack. The metal pan was done in 45 minutes and the glass pan took 60 minutes. I wish I had added pepitas to this. It’s really delicious, though.