Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Noteworthy Blogs

I've stumbled across a couple vegan blogs recently that are absolutely amazing. The things these women come up with are beautiful! One is called Madcap Cupcakes and the other is Bittersweet. I've spent hours going back through their archives, drooling over their creations. They don't always have recipes, but I won't hold it against them :) Bittersweet's also pretty crafty with non-food stuff like these, and even posts patterns online. They're both members of the Daring Bakers Challenge, which I find mysterious and intriguing, and come up with the most creative, gorgeous vegan versions of traditionally non-vegan dishes. It makes me wish I had more time to cook and experiment.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Roasted Chestnuts

Summer must be over cause I'm roasting chestnuts! Not over an open fire though, although Johnny Mathis won't stop singing in my head! For weeks I've been walking the dog past this huge tree full of fuzzy, green balls, wondering what they were. One day I even reached up and touched one because they looked so soft...they're not. They left little needles in my fingers! But about a week ago, they started falling and splitting open and to my amazement, they were full of beautiful, shiny brown chestnuts. I showed them to Jose one day on our walk, and the owner was outside and told us all about them..."if you grind them with mantequilla you can spread it on toast"..."they're called castana in Spanish"..."Chinese people come at 4 in the morning and eat them and leave the spiky covers all over the sidewalk." He made Jose eat one, telling him how to bite it just right to split the hard skin open. This morning, while I walked the dog, I filled the dogs designated "poop bag" full of them (ewww, not a used poop bag!!) while the dog ate the crushed chestnuts off the ground, and brought them home

Tonight I looked up some recipes online and apparently they're better if you actually do roast them over an open fire, but an oven works too. The recipes were all pretty similar. Here's how they went:

Remove the chestnuts from the scary husks if they haven't already popped out.

Cut an "x" into the skins so they don't explode in the oven and put them on a pan or baking dish.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes until the skins pop open and they're tender.

Dump them in a towel, bundle them up, and smash a bit to loosen the skins.

Let 'em sit a few minutes, peel, and enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Canning Tomatoes- A Photo Essay

A couple weeks ago, my sister, Molly, and I drove down to Hollister to Mariquita Farm to pick organic tomatoes. Mariquita Farm is part of Two Small Farms where Jose and I get CSA pick-ups each week. Every once in a while, they have u-pick days on the farms, and this is the first we've been too. We ended up picking 58 lbs of tomatoes!!! (18 lbs Heirlooms and 40 lbs paste tomatoes). We just couldn't stop ourselves! A couple days later, Molly came over and we canned 21 pints of tomato sauce and pasta sauce. It's a looong process, but it felt pretty great going straight from the farm to the cupboard. Next year, I want to do it all summer...jams, preserves, pickles, mmmmm.