Friday, June 29, 2012

Vegan summer nights dream

While others are roaming the grocery stores to buy food to go camping next week  or are on a wonderful mid-summer vacation already, I am over my head in work and have an upcoming deadline. Fortunately, it will be over before July 4th. So, there is not much going on right now with good eats and cooking or any trips to the scenic coasts. Free time is spent on mowing the lawn for exercise and fresh air. Oh well, can’t be long anymore.

What did fit in was some nice red wine on the deck on a summer evening, grilled vegetables and sauted bok choy from the farmerr market.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tacos! --- from our very own food truck!

The other day I read in the Bangor Daily News that the cultural wave of food trucks had finally made it way up to the most Northeastern corner of the USA. We’ve got our own local foodtruck! Like most foodtrucks, Street Bistro advertises its menu over Twitter and Facebook, and today I finally checked out the lunch fare at its 11-2pm location Tues/Wednesday behind the Key Bank in Bangor. While they offered escargot poppers (you are reading correctly, really escargot) I was not tempted by this menu option, but the pulled pork tacos with coconut rice, coleslaw and mango salsa sounded better. There were also braised beef tacos, but I went with the vegetarian option. Delicious!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Curvy summer squash

It is the time of the year when the summer squash starts to go wild: leaves that are humongous in size and all over the place and squash production is starting. This year it’s going to be round, mini-melon like squash. Can’t wait! I should call it the Botticelli squash….


I wonder when the summer squash will have taken over the raised planted bed….. At the moment they all are cohabitating nicely, the thyme, the lacinato kale, the sweet peas, the sage….. and of course a few weeds.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

A 100th birthday.

ok, nerd alert. But as a computer scientist I have to acknowledge that today is the 100th birthday of Alan Turing, a ground breaking computer scientist in the early days, basically a Steve Jobs of the earliest days of computing. His untimely death was tragic, but his influence enormous. So, now you know why the Google home page looks a bit different today.

Alan Turing's 100ths birthday

Friday, June 22, 2012

Watermelon, kale and feta salad

The cats are tucked underneath the bed, and peek out suspiciously. Yes, a thunderstorm is passing through. It should be a short one. The weekend is here, the good weather kind of continues, and lunch was another harvest from the lacinato kale bed. This time the olive oil + lemon juice massaged kale leaves were combined with watermelon cubes, a handful of briny kalamata olives and sheep’s milk feta from the farmers market. To be honest --- it was the best salad I had in a while!


Watermelon, kale, and feta salad (1 portion)

  • ca 10 lacinato kale leaves, washed and sliced
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 ts extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of watermelon cubes
  • 5-6 kalamata olives
  • slice of sheep’s milk feta block, diced

Massage the olive oil and olive oil into the kale leaves. Add salt and pepper to tasted. Gently mix in the watermelon, olives and feta. It probably tastes even better when chilled for an hour, but I was too hungry, and it was divine.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Avocado massaged kale salad

The summer introduced herself nicely, a hot and humid day, as along most areas of the East coast. Everyone seems to be in siesta mode in my house, and after watering the raised beds the second time today I was ready to harvest the first lacinato kale of the season for this wonderful lunch salad.


Avocado massage kale salad (1 portion)

  • half of a hundle of lacinato kale (or ca 12 leaves) (aka Tuscan kale, dinosaur kale)
  • juice of a 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 of a hass avocado, ripe (soft)
  • pinch of salt
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ca 1/5 of a large fennel, shaved with a mandoline length-wise
  • 1 TB pine nuts, toasted

Stack and roll up the lacinato kale leaves like a cigar, and slice thinly (ca. 1/2 inch wide). Place in a bowl, add the lemon juice, and massage the lemon juice heartily into the leaves. Cover, and chill for ca 1 hour.

Cut out a 1/4 from a hass avocado. Score it with a paring knife, peel it and add to the chilled kale. Get clean hands, and smash the avocado into the kale leaves (basically, massage the avocado into the kale). Shave the fennel and add to the salad; add the salt, and about 2/3 of the cherry tomatoes. Mix gently. Serve with toasted pine nuts and the remaining tomatoes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Hummus of my Dreams

I have made hummus for a while, but somehow it always seemed a bit watery or not as good tasting as store-bought one. I was ready to get on the bottom of this. What do I need to change? I looked around for an authentic recipe, and found out that the proportions of chickpeas to tahini are essential: ca 2 cups of cooked chickpeas and at least 1/4 cup of tahini. Voila, the (home made) hummus of my dreams!


Hummus (ca 2 cups)

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, liquid reserved 
  • 1/2 tsp fleur de sel (or kosher salt), or to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup tahini  (sesame paste)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp reserved chickpea liquid (or water)
  • a few drops of Tabasco sauce, to taste
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Paprika, for garnish

Place all ingredients into a food processor (except the salt) and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Scoop into a bowl and drizzle with a good quality olive oil and garnish with paprika.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lobster roll with a view

Sunday was a gorgeous day, sunny, warm and it was finally time to get out and about again. A bit of antique hunting (those antique bundt cakes!), a lobster roll with the best view in Penobscot and watching the boats in Castine, one of my favorite New England villages.


Yardsale Saturday

It was a typically Saturday here in Maine in the summer, it starts with a visit to the Farmers Market, and then it seemed like every institution and foundation had a yardsale fundraiser this weekend, kajaks and canoes included.
FM_2 FM_3
yard_sale1 yard_sale2

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Vegan mango lassi

A ‘vegan lassi’ is an oxymoron since a lassi is an Indian yogurt drink. But I like the idea of a chilled, lightly sweetened refreshing milky summer drink, so I made it with vanilla almond milk instead of yogurt although with the slight tanginess of yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, there is another dimension to lassis.

This recipe is a very good replacement --- a cup of almond milk, a whole soft mango, a pinch of stevia and a pinch of ground cardamom. Delicious!



Time of the Peonies

The seasons have moved on to one of my favorite times: time of the peonies. It is also time of the lupines and the poppies. There are some spots around town which have my favorite peonies. This one is the first on Bennoch Road.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Charcoal grilling, round 2

Today, I did what apparently everyone else did over the weekend (my google reader was almost empty): staying away from the computer and doing something fun outside in the nice, warm, sunny weather. One of the projects was to give the outdoor grilling with a portable charcoal grill from Bodum another try. Last time I had not used enough coals and they had not burnt and turned white, so I had little heat. This time I used the tip I got: use a charcoal chimney.


Note the large chimney and the small grill…… I was a bit scared if I would be able to pour all the hot coals into the small grill once they were hot, and after it started smoking and burning, I poured the (lighter fluid containing) coals pretty quickly into the grill and spread them. The lighter fluid smelled awful, but once it had burnt all off the coals were red hot.  And, I finally had heat.


The vegetables were ready: fresh corn, a tomato, a Belgian endive, a Boca vegan burger and 2 small potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil. Onto the grill!


I had so much heat that I actually had more charcoal than I had started out with…..


Delightful (practice) dinner. Fortunately I also had some swordsteak.


The potatoes the longest, and after the rest of the food was cooked I put them right on the coals. that did the trick. Done-ness test with a fork.


So, now that I know how it is done time to invite some people over for some leisurely grilling and chatting while it all cooks away.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Veggie Cats

Every morning I bring a bundle of fresh cut crabgrass from the garden and put it in a small vase. It is immediately devoured by my veggie cats. I guess there are more salad lovers in this house than I knew.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Maine Coast Crisps

It is a gray day and we’ve been told it would rain around 10am for the rest of the day, of the weekend, but it 2pm, John Mayer is singing “someone like Olivia”, and I made it both through the farmers market as well as my other grocery run without a drop of rain. At the farmers market I bought a creamy local goat cheese that would go perfectly with my baking adventures from last night: reinventing the delicious (but pricey) raincoast crisps from Canada.

They are made similarly to biscotti: twice-baked. First, a loaf is baked, cooled, thinly sliced and the slices are baked again to crispy perfection. The combinations are endless (just as the originals), I added ingredients that I had at home: cranberries, pepitas, and walnuts and rosemary. It would work well with kalamata olives, dried figs, caramelized onions and pecans. I am pretty sure I won’t have to wait too long to make the next batch: perfect snack for friends coming over for a glass of wine.

Home-made these crisps are inexpensive, delicious, and really easy to make.


Maine Coast Crisps

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas (Trader Joes!)
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh or dried rosemary

Sift together the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and stir (I mixed them by hand). Now, add the “flavorings”. Fill into a sprayed 5X12 pan and bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Let cool thoroughly. Slice very thinly with a serrated bread knife, set oven at 300F and place slices on silicone lined cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Turn over and bake for another 12-15 minutes until crisp. If you give them a whiff with an organic canola or olive oil spray, they bake extra crispy. Store in airtight container.