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Tuesday Photo

Zilker, June 09

Monday Photo

David and I took a ton of photos at Zilker yesterday morning. Rather than posting a bunch at once, I’m going to dribble them out over the next couple of weeks. If you want to see them all, go here.

Zilker, June

Latest Addictions, Grocery Edition part 2

In the couple days since my last post I realized there were a bunch more products I wanted to share. So here goes.

Vanilla Bean Paste

This stuff is AWESOME. I use it in anything that calls for vanilla. Cookies, whipped cream, whatever. It gives you that glorious flecking you get from scraping out a vanilla bean, without the work (or insano cost).

Flavored Agave Syrup

Agave syrup has a lower glycemic index than other forms of sugar, and a great smooth taste. I love the cinnamon or vanilla flavor in my coffee or tea, and I use them to cook with as well. They have a ton of flavors, including tangerine-ginger, lavender, and peppermint.

mainCentral Market Tortellini
I love these frozen pastas. The pumpkin filled one is gorgeous with a little butter, parmesan cheese, and toasted pine nuts. The arugula filled one is great with any tomato or veggies sauce. They’re so flavorful on their own, that I can use whatever I have available to whip up a quick sauce and it’s bound to be tasty.


Bottled Minced Ginger

You may have already guessed that I’m a ginger addict. This paste lasts a good long time in the fridge, and I use it in so many things. I will often sub it for ground ginger in baked goods, and overdose on it in stir fries. Highly recommended.

Latest Addictions, grocery edition

David and I have been eating at home a lot more over the last few months. This does not mean I don’t spend slightly unreasonable amounts of money on food, however. Although the beloved CSA means we’re chock full of well-priced veggies and eggs, as a Central Market aficionado, I’m always discovering new things that I “need”. Here are some of my latest obsessions:

296359_150x150Maine Root Ginger Brew
Holy MFG this stuff is awesome. I’m a ginger addict, and this stuff is POTENT. I dare you to drink it while eating something spicy. Better yet, pour about half a bottle over ice, and top with mango juice. Heavenly. And if you’re feeling really saucy, add a little tequila. Oh no you didn’t…

Haagen-Dazs Ginger Ice Cream

Are we noticing a theme here? Haagen-Dazs has drawn my attention away from all the fancy gourmet ice creams with its new line of Five Ingredient ice creams. The ginger is amazing, and the brown sugar flavor is really good too. I had the ice cream with chopped mangoes and it was tast-eee. Wait, that’s two ginger-mango combos. I guess I have a problem.

551109_largeStonewall Kitchen Pancake Mix
My favorite weekend treat, I’ve worked my way through almost all their fabulous flavors and decided that the Farmhouse is my favorite. I just throw in whatever I have lying around – pears, pecans, zucchini (really, it’s good*), orange or lemon zest, cinnamon, ginger, granola, white chocolate chips – you name it. They always come out light and delicious.

* if you want to use veggies like zucchini and carrots in your pancakes, which I highly recommend, grate them very finely, and then squeeze out the excess water in cheesecloth. They make your pancakes lighter in texture and add some good fiber and nutrients.

How I cook

Since subscribing to the CSA, I’ve changed how I cook quite a bit. No longer am I enslaved to the ingredients in one recipe. Now I mix and match recipes and ingredients all willy-nilly. After a while you get an idea what veggies can be combinded or subbed, regardless of what the recipe calls for.

Last night I made a pizza from scratch. It was very tasty. I realized that I had used bits of three different recipes, and made up quite a bit more. I’ve included the final recipe below with links to the contributing recipes. I’m lame and have no pictures.

Caramelized Onion and Fennel Pizza

Pizza dough from this recipe
Roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic cloves from Smitten Kitchen recipe
2 medium onions, sliced thinly
1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon each olive oil, water, and balsamic vinegar
2/3 C ricotta cheese
1/4 C finely grated parmesan
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Olive oil

Make dough (I use a bread machine) and set aside, covered. You may need to punch it down once or twice as it will rise while you’re preparing the other ingredients.

Preheat oven to 425 with pizza stone.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan on medium high heat. Add onions and fennel and cook for five minutes. Cook for another 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. When onions are golden, add water and vinegar and reduce completely. (This is taken from a recipe for Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes – I couldn’t re-find it on the internet.)

Combine several roasted mashed garlic cloves with ricotta and parmesan cheese.

Roll or throw pizza dough to even thickness and place on a pizza peel generously coated with corn meal. Brush with olive oil. Spread ricotta mixture evenly. Layer onion/fennel mixture over ricotta. Cover with slices of mozzarella, and add roasted tomatoes on the top.

Bake on pizza stone for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden. Remove from stone with pizza peel, allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Trying to remember what cold feels like.


Winter trees and cold blue sky.

Harkening Back

To fall, when it was cool and crisp and not in any way insanely hot and sticky. Sigh.

Fall Neighborhood Walk

CSA Madness: Tomato Edition

CSA Tomato Overload
Our weekly veggie box from Johnson’s Backyard Garden obviously varies by season. Summer is the season for eggplant, tomatoes, squash, and peppers. We’ve also been getting some great potatoes, fresh basil, and green beans over the last few weeks.

This week we got 2lbs of conventional tomatoes, plus a couple of stunning heirlooms. Using up all those tomatoes before they go soft is a challenge of epic proportions. So I’ve taken to roasting them a la Smitten Kitchen and using them in sauces.

DSC_9061I cut the big ones into wedges, they take about 4 hours of slow roasting to reduce a bit. But the little cherry tomatoes – those are best used thusly:

Quick Roasted Tomato Pasta

1 cup slow roasted cherry tomatoes (still warm if possible)
2 large cloves roasted garlic, minced
2 thick slices fresh mozzarella, cubed
4-5 leaves fresh basil, sliced thinly
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups hot pasta (small pieces are best)

Combine ingredients 1-4 in a bowl, tossing lightly with a small drizzle of olive oil. Add hot pasta (preferably just drained) and toss quickly, adding a bit more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Nom!

Monday Photo

In honor of the gigantic amount of fresh veggies we have to prepare and consume this week, I give you basil:

lime basil

This is actually from last year’s garden. This year my basil is kind of peaky. But the CSA keeps providing us with huge bunches of fragrant, lush basil that I have to incorporate into all the tomatos, squash, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers that they give us. I’m not complaining, it’s a fun challenge to try to use it all up every week.

Saturday Photo

The composition in this one reminds me of a bridal picture – showing the train with the head over the shoulder pose. Except it’s a peacock.