The tomatoes are a plenty in southeastern Oklahoma. We have had a record year for production—the plants are lush and gleaming with these bright red jewels of summer. Most days, I have been enjoying this simple, yet big on flavor tomato avocado sandwich for lunch. Thick slices of tomato paired with avocado are a winning combination for the palette. Avocados are in season and at the record-low price of fifty cents each in our area. Naturally, I’ve been stocking up. Fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes, creamy avocado, and good toasted bread make an inexpensive, yet gourmet sandwich to be savored often.
½ a tomato, sliced
½ an avocado, sliced
mayonnaise (homemade or organic)
good bread, sandwich sliced
cracked pepper, to taste
Toast your bread in a toaster oven, toaster, or hot oven for about two-three minutes or until golden brown. Spread one slice with desired amount of mayonnaise. Add a liberal amount of cracked pepper. Place your sliced tomato on top of the mayonnaise. Using a knife, cut the avocado until you reach the pit. When your knife hits the pit, it can be removed with the knife and discarded. Using your knife, slice the avocado flesh vertically, creating slices. Remove and layer on top of the tomato. Add the final slice of bread and slice diagonally.
Try this simple summer sandwich.
It is so satisfying and good for you. In fact, writing this has made me so hungry, I think I’m off to go fix myself one right now. Enjoy.
I don’t know of too many people who don’t love ice cream. There are myriads of flavours, from the traditional like chocolate and vanilla, to tiger stripe (or tail) to blue bubblegum. I’m more of a traditionalist myself, preferring chocolate, vanilla, but often branching out to maple walnut, cherry or Neapolitan. Which brings up the subject of strawberry, or the attendant lack thereof if the supermarket freezer section is any example. Strawberry is harder to find in these parts than any other flavor (but let me know if there are any other shortages out there). I know something called Bordeaux Cherry got tough to find for a while. Is strawberry out of fashion now? One in our family is a devoted fan, and when you have to travel to 3 stores looking for it, well, you get the idea.
A couple of months ago, I was looking at my Air Miles account. What, pray tell, does this have to do with ice cream? Simple. I saw that I had enough points to maybe get something, so I started perusing the offerings. Voila! A Cuisinart ice cream maker. Cuisinart used to be my favourite manufacturer of kitchen goods, but the last several years have seen a serious drop in quality, to the point I usually avoid it at all costs. Gone are the days of food processors lasting years. Or bread machines for that matter. Think months. I reasoned however, it wasn’t costing me anything really, so what did I have to lose, other than the points? So I got online, quibbelled with the online form about my address (God forbid you should be rural), but finally said machine was ordered. It arrived a speedy 2 days later (I was impressed), and I tried it out. Strawberry was the order of the day.
I was very pleasantly surprised. The machine is simple to use, and works very well. You do have to freeze your bucket for about a day first. If you’re in a hurry, you could probably get away with 8 hours. You put your ice cream mixture in the bucket, turn it on, and away you go. About ½ hour later, you have soft serve; freeze for a firm or hard ice cream. Since the initial outing, chocolate has been on the menu, and was even better (in my mind). This outing will be chocolate chip mint. If you choose to make this one, make sure you chop the chocolate mint candies fine. This all being said, this is not quite like hand cranked, virtually no work, and quick. So. You need the machine. What was also amazing was the number of friends I have that had the Cuisinart ice cream maker, and decided to give theirs a go again (some haven’t seen the light since last summer).
I can’t say I’m the first one to probably review this appliance, but at least I could spread the info. The recipes came strictly out of the owner’s manual, and who knows if they work for other machines. It also does frozen yogurt, gelato and sorbet. Ice cream makers have certainly come a long way since my first one, when you had to buy kosher salt and all.
There is nothing that tastes like summer to me like a slice of fresh, juicy, perfectly ripened peach.
Every summer, on our way from Nashville to North Florida, my family would stop at Peach Park in Clanton, AL to stretch our legs, grab a bite, and load up on fresh produce— especially peaches. By the time we could see the bay out the window, baskets of peaches would have perfumed our minivan with their heavenly fragrance, and my face, hands, and shirt would be sticky from peaches snuck along the way.
These days summer also means balmy Saturday mornings at the farmers market, where I buy the most amazing fresh, local goat cheese. So before peach season got swept away for another year, I couldn’t resist pairing the two in a delicious summer sandwich, accented with lacy-thin strips of Serrano ham and butter-crisped bread.
Salty Serrano ham is a wonderful foil for the sweet peaches, and the crunch of the seared bread contrasts delightfully with the creamy chevre.
Peach and Goat Cheese Sandwich
1 tbsp salted butter, preferably Kerrygold or homemade
2 slices sandwich bread (my favorite is Alpine Valley Organic 12 Grain with Omega-3)
2 tbsp of the freshest goat cheese (chevre) you can get your hands on, room temperature (if you happen to live near Flower Mound, TX, you can't beat the chevre from Latte Da Dairy)
1-2 slices Serrano ham (prosciutto is a good substitute if needed)
1 ripe yellow peach, preferably organic, very thinly sliced
Melt butter in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place bread, one slice stacked on top of the other, in the pan, and coax it around just a bit with a spatula to make sure the bottom slice is evenly coated with melted butter (stacking the slices helps weigh down the bread just enough to get optimal contact with the hot pan). When the bottom slice is golden and crisped (about 2 minutes), flip the stack over and repeat for second slice.
Transfer bread to a plate and spread 1 T goat cheese on the un-crisped side of each slice. Top one slice with ham and a layer of peaches and gently press the remaining slice on top. Slice diagonally and serve with remaining peaches slices.
Morgan Crumm is a mother, blogger, recipe-developer, and real-food advocate based in Dallas, TX. More of her work can be found at BeingTheSecretIngredient.com, a blog about food, life, and love.
Are you overflowing with zucchini from the garden? It happens. In May, the seedlings come in four packs or the seeds come in a pouch of 20. You plant them all, with confidence but also enough doubt that it seems better to overdo it. Just in case. But now. Now it is August and you are swimming in zucchini. One plant would have been enough and you know that now, but it is too late. You are getting two zukes per plant every day and if you sleep late, they turn into baseball bats. Zucchini fill your refrigerator veggie bin. Your friends make sure they lock their car doors when they visit and check the trunk before they leave. Your neighbors don’t come to say hi anymore. Everyone is tired of your zucchini. How can you keep the bounty from being a burden?
Shred and freeze it! Freeze it in measured quantities for your recipes, so you use the right amount when you pull out a wad of frozen zucchini. Squeeze out the water and use it by its original measurement. My favorite recipes for this are zucchini bread and zucchini-crusted pizzas, both recipes are at the end of this post. There are many other recipe options for frozen zucchini. Plop the frozen wad in your favorite soup or chili recipe (my brother’s idea).
Bake zucchini breads and freeze them! If you have time and air conditioning and freezer space…you might consider loading the freezer with ready-to-go quick breads. Cook something new. Lasagna with zucchini layers? Ratatouille? You've grilled, but have you tried grilling extras for grilled veggie sandwiches with hummus for lunch? Research a recipe online and try a fresh take on zucchini.
Donate zukes to your local food bank or soup kitchen. Our food bank has a drop bin accessible at all hours. Call your local shelter or group home—if they have cooking facilities on site, they might accept vegetable donations.
What About the Green Baseball Bats?
They are great for baking or shredding and freezing. Or make baked zucchini boats—scoop them out and stuff them with a chopped mixture of zucchini, meat, rice, tomatoes and spices. Have a zucchini toss! Have a zucchini battle (just pretend hit, as these buggers really would make effective weapons). Feed them to the chickens. Carve a sign. My zucchini sign lasted for over a week. Use it as a greeting card. Write a note on it with a sharpie (the recipient can still peel it for cooking) or carve your greeting into the skin.
Two Gluten-Free Zucchini Recipes
Both of these recipes are easily gluten-free. But don't let that scare away the wheat-eaters in the crowd; I happily serve all kinds of eaters these recipes. They are delicious and worthy.
Zucchini-crusted pizza – this link is the original, from Mollie Katzen’s book The Moosewood Cookbook. I substitute the flour with brown rice based all purpose gluten-free flour mix, but other gluten-free flours would work like gluten-free oat flour or almond flour. This one is hard to make dairy-free, as the cheese serves as a binder. There is barely any flour in it.
I like the revision of the recipe in this blog, cooking it at high heat like a regular pizza crust. I don’t usually add toppings to the crust, because it stands alone so well and gets soggy with toppings. However, I will try toppings again with this blog’s revision of cooking the crusts at higher heat.
Gluten-Free (can be dairy-free) Zucchini Bread
Use your favorite recipe or search online for way too many options. This is my go-to gluten-free recipe. I have changed up the flours with success. I make it dairy-free, replacing the butter with coconut oil.
Ilene White Freedman operates House in the Woods organic CSA farm with her husband, Phil, in Frederick, Maryland. They will be making a presentation about weeds and bugs in your organic garden at Mother Earth News Fair Sunday September 12. The Freedmans are one of six 2013 Mother Earth News Homesteaders of the Year. Ilene blogs about making things from scratch, putting up the harvest, gardening and farm life at Mother Earth News and Blog.HouseInTheWoods.com, easy to follow from our Facebook Page. For more about the farm, go to HouseInTheWoods.com.
A few years ago, I made Peach Cobbler Jam using this recipe. It was absolutely delicious, and since then I have made it numerous times, modifying it slightly because I prefer to make low-sugar jams using Pomona's Pectin. This summer, I decided to branch out and try it using different fruit. The Cherry Cobbler jam was amazing, and today's Blackberry Nectarine Cobbler Jam was so good I decided this was definitely a recipe worth sharing!
Normally, I don't recommend changing canning recipes. When it comes to acidity levels and all that jazz, I always err on the side of caution. However, thanks to the handy-dandy guide that comes in every package of Pomona's Pectin, I know that the 1/4 cup of lemon juice is enough to do the trick!
Fruit Cobbler Jam
4 cups of pitted, peeled, chopped, mashed fruit (peach, nectarine, cherry, blackberry, blueberry, or a mixture)
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 tsp calcium water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp Pomona's Pectin
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or almond, which is great with cherries!)
Combine fruit, lemon juice, calcium water, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large pot. Measure sugar and Pomona's Pectin in a separate bowl, stirring well to combine. Bring fruit to a boil, and add sugar slowly. Mix well for 1-2 minutes to dissolve pectin. Return to a boil and remove from heat. Fill jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Boil in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (add 1 minute more for every 1,000 ft above sea level). Let jars cool, and check seals.
Anthropologists and archaeologists are finally taking note of and publicizing what early two-leggeds ate on an everyday basis. The old elementary school image of a large group of hunters surrounding and killing a woolly mammoth for food is now seen as an occasional, and lucky occurrence. Keeping elders and children fed day after day was done by the gatherers — were they all women? — who dug tubers and roots, picked berries, snared small mammals, netted birds, and carried back shellfish, to feed their clan.
It’s all part of the vast food heritage saga, as are the 1,000 year-old shell mounds of Florida, once abundant, now existing in just a few, well-protected locations.
The PInellas Point Temple Mound in what is today St. Petersburg was created from the shells of the mollusks that were the native American settlers primary food source. The mound was built using the discarded shells as a base, with builders constructing a type of temple that was placed on top.
It was on this spot that in 1528, Juan Ortiz, a captured Spaniard, was said to have been nearly “barbequed” to death by a local chief as revenge for the nasty treatment of his people by the Spanish explorer Panfilio Narvaez a year earlier.
Ortiz was supposedly rescued from the “barbacoa,” a rack used for smoking and drying meat, - yes, the origin of the bar-b-que - by the chief’s daughter, Princess Hirrihigua, who later helped him escape. Ten years later, Ortiz worked as a translator for the Hernan De Soto expedition. His near escape from grilling was included in various reports that eventually made their way to England.
Some believe the fabled Captain John Smith was inspired by this tale to fabricate the story of his own “rescue” 80 years later by another Indian princess, Pocahontas.
The Tampa Bay area has over a thousand anthropological sites, but this is one of the best preserved. The mound sits in a residential neighborhood. Visitors can now easily get to the top via a wooden boardwalk and stairs, added through the preservation efforts of people in the area. Signs along the way explain the site’s history and natural features.
For more info, explore here.
Mound photo via stpeterealestateblog.com
Visit The Food Museum for more food heritage and history.
I have to say that bread is my downfall in life. I love bread. I am not picky, I will eat any kind of bread that you put in front of me. So I am always looking for new bread. My daughter is 14 and also loves bread. Packing school lunches, you start to look for new things. Pita bread was the answer. I love that it is a pocket. So many times when I pack a lunch, the sandwich falls apart before she gets a chance to eat it. Pita bread helps with that. Not to mention the incredible taste!!! So it is a win, win for mother's. I am going to try this with Sourdoughs International's South African (which is a whole wheat culture) and their Polish (which is a rye culture) cultures. I think you can not go wrong with these.
Khubz Arabi from Classic Sourdoughs Revised A Home Baker’s Handbook by Ed and Jean Wood
Khubz arabi (Arab Bread) is a soft, round flatbread—the pita of the desert. This is probably the most delicious pita I have ever encountered. It is produced throughout the Middle East, both commercially and in the home. Yield 8 Flatbreads
2 cups sourdough culture
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Pour the culture into a mixing bowl. Add the water, salt, and oil and mix. Add the flour a cup at a time until too stiff to mix by hand. Turn out onto a floured board and knead in the remaining flour until the dough is smooth and satiny. Proof for 8 to 12 hours at room temperature, about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap. Then gently ease the dough from the container to a floured board.
Divide into 8 equal balls. Roll the balls into round flats about ¼ inch thick and form 2 stacks with the rounds, separated by paper towels. Proof the rounds at 85 degrees in proofing box for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven and a baking sheet to 500°F. Use a hand board or large spatula to slide the rounds onto the heated baking sheet. Use care to avoid damage to the surface or the rounds may not puff completely. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the rounds puff and start to brown. Let cool on wire racks.