Saturday, July 27, 2013

How to Freeze and Eat Summer: Lemon Nectarine Frozen Yogurt

This recipe is a work in progress. I started it Thursday when I bought some of the most juicy, delicious nectarines I've ever had in my life at the Mid-City farmer's market. Four of them were pretty bruised, but even the bruises tasted sweet, so of course I wasn't going to throw them away. Into the blender they went, along with the dream of sorbet or frozen yogurt or something.

I couldn't make ice cream because I don't keep milk in the house, but I do always have yogurt, which I make. I blended together the nectarines, skin and all, with a couple ice cubes (which actually dulled the flavor and which I won't do again) and poured the mix into a plastic container. I put it straight into the freezer.

When I tasted it a few days later, it was not smooth like I'd wanted. Of course it wasn't smooth, because I'd basically made thick, frozen juice. (It was essentially a nectarine scrapey, which is a story for another day.) So today I took it out and let it thaw for about two hours. Then I blended in about 3/4 cup of yogurt to make it a little smoother. I also made a 2 - 1 simple syrup and added about 1/4 cup of that, plus the juice of half one lemon. Now it's back in the freezer and I'll taste it tomorrow. Commence the crossing of fingers!

4 nectarines, the bruised ones that need to be used immediately
3/4 cup yogurt
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup simple syrup (1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water, boiled together; can be kept in the fridge for a month)
A blender
A freezer

Stay tuned for results! I can tell you that it tastes delicious in the blender...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Oh, Let Them Eat Cake

With love from my co-workers. Isn't this an adorable cake? So far this birthday of mine has included:

- a fried shrimp po'boy, dressed, from Parkway Tavern
- Rum Chata, my new favorite drink, on the rocks
- Rum Chata in a cocktail with muddled bacon and maple Crown Royal whiskey
(I have actually had four Rum Chata drinks this week, two on Tuesday and two on Thursday. It's been a good week!)
- red velvet cake with my co-workers <3
- a group of 60 volunteers picking up trash in my neighborhood, giving me my first service day and 60 volunteers towards my year's goal
- birthday cards from Mom, Dad and grandparents
- Facebook wishes from 40 of my friends, including some I haven't heard from in awhile, which is always nice

I am overcome with love and happiness. I'm tired and I have homework to do, but boy, birthdays are wonderful things. Thank you America for not being communist! Lol.

I've been making yummy smoothies again for breakfast, now that I'm allowing myself to buy bananas again. Happily I got local bananas from the farmer's market last night, so I am super excited to try those. The best breakfast was Monday when I accidentally made frozen yogurt. I blended a frozen banana and frozen pineapple chunks with a couple ice cubes, hoping the ice would make the smoothie more watery. Instead the blender struggled to crush everything; when I added yogurt everything got smooth but stayed thick. When I poured the mix into a bowl, it had become frozen yogurt. I was thrilled and added flaxseed and walnuts. It was DELICIOUS.

After my birthday party on Sunday I should have some more culinary adventures to share. For now, enjoy life and eat well.

Happy munching!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My First True Summer Meal

They say that summer is the best time for salads, but I'm really not much of a salad person. I tend not to have lettuce in the house; I prefer spinach for adding to smoothies. I started eating bananas again after skipping them for the month of June while I was doing the Eat Local challenge and had a smoothie this morning. But the mixed greens I got from the farmer's market turned out to be 80% arugula, so the handful I threw into my smoothie (with yogurt, strawberries, fresh figs and flaxseed) made the whole thing very bitter. I added some honey which made it tasty, with just a bitter aftertaste. 

It must have been a good smoothie because it kept me going until 2:00 p.m. when I ate this yummy salad. I had just a couple pretzels at noon. I wanted to eat something that would fill me up but not be too heavy so I could play volleyball this afternoon in the heat. This salad combines mixed greens, two sliced roma tomatoes, half a grapefruit, walnuts, a hard boiled egg, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper. The grapefruit added a nice sweetness that surprisingly paired well with the egg bits. Yummy and very filling! I played for about two hours, which is a lot for me.

Then I was invited to dinner by one of the players. He and his wife grilled burgers, bratwurst, chicken and shrimp with veggies; I ate with them and two of their friends before they went to see "A Little Night Music" at Tulane. The food was so delicious and I was very happy. I made fast friends with their scaredy cat, Cassie, and had to tear myself away from her. She was so damn cute and fluffy and I could have sat on their couch petting her forever. Thierry, I miss you! <3

I may have to buy some more groceries if I want to cook anything this week... happy munching! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It's Hot Outside, so I'm Going to... Bake Bread

No, of course it doesn't make sense, but this is what I do. I get an idea into my head and I go through with it - even if I have a headache, which I had Monday night when I baked bread. I bought more active yeast over the weekend because I plan on baking bread a lot. I make my own yogurt, so why shouldn't I bake my own bread? Having baked it now, I think it's delicious and kind of don't want to buy bread ever again. 

Because I don't have loaf pans, I Googled "baking bread in a Pyrex bowl" and found this recipe: My Mother's Peasant Bread from Alexandra's Kitchen. I had all the ingredients so I whipped it up. The dough was incredibly wet and did not rise as much as I think it should have, but the bread still came out great. I cut the bowl-bread in half and put half in the fridge and half in the freezer. I cut the faux foccacia into 2" x 2" squares and put half of those into the fridge and half in the freezer. I'll have bread for at least two weeks, if not longer. Yay! 

 The wet dough, before punching it down.

The Pyrex bowl and 9" x 13" baking dish while rising.  

The finished products! The one on the left side is the faux foccacia. I did not follow the directions completely and left out the olive oil and rosemary so that I could use this for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The bread would be delicious with olive oil and rosemary - maybe next time.... The round loaf is very buttery and I was afraid it'd be stuck in the bowl because I baked the dough in the same bowl I mixed it in. Mixing the dough in the bowl incorporates some of the butter into the dough, instead of leaving it on the bowl as a greasing agent. So next time I may use a separate bowl to mix the dough and then plop the dough into the greased bowl for baking; the loaves certainly did not "fall out" of the Pyrex like Alexandra says they should. 

The next morning I had a fried egg, piece of cheese, and a toasted slice of the bowl loaf with Vegemite for breakfast! A very filling breakfast; I usually get hungry around 10, 10:30 but this kept me going until 11:30 when I had some green pepper sticks and a couple figs from my friend's garden and the community orchard in the Seventh Ward. We were weeding the tree pits and she comes over and hands me a pinkish little blob, saying "The first fig!" So I ate it (I have had figs off the tree in New Orleans before) and it was scrumptious. 

Now I have some mushy figs in my fridge... what to do with those... 

In other news I bought fancy artisan chocolate at Whole Foods today. It was on sale! It's quite delicious chocolate and was so odd (and so on sale) that I just had to try it. I am a choco-holic, fo' sho.