Monday, April 27, 2009

Fresh Pea Soup

If you've never eaten fresh pea soup, you have no idea what you've been missing! It will soon be the time of year for fresh peas, and I can think of no better way to use them (other than perhaps steaming them and slathering butter on them) than in this Fresh Pea Soup recipe. I found the original recipe on Allrecipes, donated by someone named "Lizz C".

This pea soup is so sweet, healthy, and fresh-tasting all rolled up into one yummy bowl of goodness. I could eat bowl after bowl of this. And the color is gorgeous, too. Garnish with some currently blooming edible flowers, such as redbud blossoms or violets. This recipe serves 4.

Fresh Pea Soup

2 tablespoons butter
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 cups water
3 cups fresh English peas, shelled, or 3 cups frozen.
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons cream or milk, optional

Melt the butter in a saucepan and cook the shallots until they're tender, about 3 minutes. Add the water and peas, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover, and cook until peas are tender, about 10 minutes.

Puree the peas in a blender or food processor. The original recipe states to strain the soup, but I find that most people like the bits of pea skin in the soup, which adds a nice texture. At this point add the cream/milk if so desired (adds a bit of richness, which is very good!), and re-heat, but don't boil. Taste-test and adjust seasonings. Ladle into bowls, and garnish. Serve, and listen to the "oohs" and "ahs"'ll probably wish you had made more; your guests definitely will!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Springtime Salad

Organic Springtime Salad

I stumbled upon another delicious salad combo the other day. Salads, of course, are whatever you want them to be. I had a few ingredients from our organic produce co-op, plus some from my garden. There are only a few ingredients, but it's a happy marriage of flavors and they compliment each other nicely. The lemony taste of the sorrel blends well with the peppery tang of the arugula and fresh onion. Of course, raw cashews taste good with just about anything and add a wonderful texture and vital protein. Feta cheese would probably go well with this salad.

Romain lettuce
Raw cashews
Sweet pepper
Green onion
Violet flowers
Greek dressing--my favorite is a brand called "Gazebo Room"

Fresh ingredients from my organic garden include arugula (left) green onions, sorrel (front and center), and violet flowers

Other ingredients include an organic sweet pepper and romaine lettuce from the organic produce co-op, organic raw cashews, and Greek dressing

A happy marriage of organic ingredients make the perfect salad

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Chocolate Avocado Shake

The star ingredient...avocado!

Now that's a combination you don't hear too often...chocolate and avocado. I first learned about chocolate avocado shakes on a Discovery Health TV show called "A Lyon in the Kitchen". The host whipped up a pretty tasting looking chocolate avocado shake, but I've altered the original recipe considerably to make it sugar-free and lactose-free. I first made this according to the original recipe, and it IS magnificent! However, since that time I've had to cut sugar out of my diet, and I'm trying to reduce dairy intake as well. Once you're used to NOT consuming huge quantities of sugar, things like this shake won't taste too weird to you. But, if you've got a serious sweet tooth, this will probably taste pretty bland and you'll want to add some sort of sweetener. I've added stevia powder with good results, though I find that stevia leaves an aftertaste that I'm not too fond of. I've also added agave nectar, which is low on the glycemic index, and that makes a good sugar substitute as well. This recipe (like all of my recipes!) is NOT written in stone and can be altered to suit your tastes.

Chocolate avocado shake ingredients, and finished product


1 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash of cinnamon
12 ice cubes (or a full ice cube tray of cubes)
2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or half vanilla almond milk and half dairy milk of your choice...whole fat does add delicious creaminess to this!)
5 grapes for sweetness--these can be omitted, or more added, OR, stevia powder or agave nectar can be used for sweetness.

Clean and pit avocado. Place avocado and remaining ingredients into a blender. Blend until all ingredients are well blended and thick. This makes two huge shakes, or several smaller ones. I sometimes eat one of these as a meal. I've also substituted strong, cold coffee for part of the milk and omitted the cinnamon for a mocha shake. Yum! As you can see, the posibilities are endless.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Grilled Vegetable Kabobs

Organic Vegetable Kabobs

Lunch today was grilled vegetable kabobs. I had five mushrooms that just wouldn't fit into my dehydrator (I was drying 2 lbs. of button mushrooms), plus some leftover cherry tomatoes, and an abundance of squash and onions that just needed to be used up.

After cleaning the vegetables and skewering them onto skewers, I rubbed them with some organic Italian dressing just to add a bit of flavor and to keep them from sticking to the grill. You could use whatever dressing or oil strikes your fancy. Salt and pepper are optional (I did without and the flavor was wonderful).

The idea is to grill the kabobs on a heat that will cook the vegetables all the way through without burning them. My grill was hovering around the 300 degree Fahrenheit range. Turn the kabobs frequently to insure even cooking and no burning, though a bit of browning is tasty, but black is not (nor is it good for you!).

You can eat these hot on the side or serve over your choice of whole grain goodness.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday Dinner

Sunday Dinner

A typical Sunday dinner for me would be what you see in the photo above. Hubby Dean usually has some sort of steak in place of the salmon. This is the one day of the week that I eat a pescetarian diet rather than complete vegetarian. This salmon is wild caught, has no color added, no addatives or preservatives of any kind added to it. I get it from my local "Surplus Outlet" for an amazing $3.69 per pound, so I stock up when they have it available.

Hubby Dean is the Grill Master, and he grills the best salmon ever. Below is his method for grilling my salmon.

Grilled Salmon

Salmon chunks
Italian Dressing--we use Nature's Promise Organic Italian Dressing found at Giant food stores
McCormick's "Mediterranean spiced sea salt"--found in the spice section of your grocery store

Lightly grease a piece of foil with olive oil. Dean forms edges on the foil to keep the oil and juices from dripping off into the grill. Place salmon on the foil and lightly drizzle with Italian dressing and sprinkle with Mediterranean sea salt. Grill on medium heat, turn once and sprinkle second side with Mediterranean sea salt. Do not over cook! This is the most delicious salmon I've ever had!

In addition to the salmon, I also enjoyed one of my favorite veggies, steamed asparagus. The secret to really good asparagus is to not over cook it. I steam mine for just a few minutes so that it's not raw, yet still has a slight crunch to it.

I also love fried summer squash. Since I'm trying to avoid wheat, I use some other kind of flour to coat the squash pieces, such as coconut flour or sorghum flour.

Grilled Salmon, Fried Summer Squash, Steamed Asparagus and Peas---all organic

Fried Summer Squash

Slice summer squash into 1/4" thick rounds--peel before slicing if not organic
moisten slices
coat slices in your choice of flours

Heat small amount of olive oil in a frying pan. Add coated squash, salt and pepper to taste. Fry 'til golden brown on each side.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fast Food---Cairnwood Style

Fast Food

We just popped in for a quick lunch. We'd just transplanted a little Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), and now that lunch is over I've got several fruit trees to plant. Not wanting to take a lot of time to fix something to eat, I heated up leftover stuffed cabbage for Dean (carnivore), and made salads for both of us. I also steamed some fresh organic asparagus and warmed some leftover broccoli for myself. All food you see in this photo is organic...everything but the cashews came from my organic produce co-op, and the organic cashews came from the local health food store. Why can't I order a lunch like this at any of the restaurants I've visited?

Walnut Gorgonzola Salad

In an attempt to re-create a salad that I had at a local restaurant, I came up with this version of their walnut Gorgonzola salad. The version I had was in my pre-no sugar days and it was the "sweet" version (with candied walnuts and sweet Balsamic reduction), and it was divine! To reduce sugar, candied walnuts can be replaced with toasted walnut pieces, and the Balsamic reduction can be replaced with the vinaigrette.

Mesclun greens
Apple slices (place slices into a bowl of water with lemon juice added to prevent them from turning brown)
Walnut pieces, toasted or raw, or "candied" walnuts--see below
Balsamic Vinaigrette, or Sweet Balsamic reduction--see below
Dried cranberries
Mandarin orange slices--optional

Arrange mescelun greens on individual serving plates. Sprinkle with dried cranberries, candied walnuts, Mandarin orange slices if using, and arrange apple slices on top. Shred Gorgonzola cheese on top and drizzle with Balsamic vinaigrette, or for a sweeter version, use the sweet Balsamic reduction.

Candied Walnuts

1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup sugar (can use half brown sugar and half white sugar)

Place walnuts and sugar in a small sauce pan, slowly bring to a boil (sugar will melt) and simmer until it begins to thickens into a light brown syrup. Don't reduce too much or the finished product will be very hard. Remove walnuts and spread on foil to cool. Once cool, break pieces apart.

Sweet Balsamic Reduction

1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

Combine ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer until liquid begins to thicken. This will continue to thicken as it cools, so don't reduce too much.