Wednesday, September 7, 2011

tangy peanut green beans

I know a few people who will be excited to read that with this post, I am officially back in the kitchen and cooking after a bit of a hiatus. My inspiration was the farmers' market. I finally went to the one here in Poulsbo this past Saturday (I've been planning on doing so since arriving here at the beginning of July...better late than never, right?).

After being warned by my mom earlier in the summer not to get too excited, that it was a lot of arts and crafts, I was happily surprised by both the overall size of the market and variety of local fruits and veggies for sale. There were some fun things in the non-produce-but-still-food variety as well: locally made goat cheese and handmade pasta (my brother says he's going back next week to volunteer to be the Italian purveyor's apprentice). In the non-food category, my personal highlights were birdhouses and feathers for one's hair (which I thought Mickey needed, but he disagreed).

Ok, back to the food. My bounty from the market included: swiss chard (funny that a typically winter veggie in California grows in the summer in Washington), elephant garlic (the size of a tennis ball!), cherry tomatoes (which I would have ripe in the garden currently if I hadn't mistakenly bought some gigantic tomato variety that is probably never going to ripen instead of sweet 100s as planned), carrots, red potatoes, peaches, blueberries, cracked pepper goat cheese, and the star of tonight's dish: green beans.

The following could work as a side or as a meal for 2 served over rice or rice noodles (if the latter, be sure to mix them in when you add the sauce so they can soak up some of the tangy peanuty goodness; you could also think about adding some protein in the green bean cooking step in the form of mushrooms or tofu). Or you can be silly like me and eat [all of] the green beans on their own as a meal. Tangy, tasty green beans. Yum. Here's what I did:

Tangy Peanut Green Beans
Serves 2 as side or as meal over rice/rice noodles

the juice of 1 juicy lime (about 1/4 cup)
2 Tbsp. shoyu (may substitute tamari or soy sauce)
1 Tbsp. all natural peanut butter (it's all natural if the only ingredient is peanuts)
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. red chili paste
1 large garlic clove, sliced
1" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp. refined coconut oil
3 handfuls green beans, trimmed
2 green onions, sliced (including green part)
a handful of unsalted dry roasted peanuts

Combine the lime juice, shoyu, peanut butter, agave, vinegar, garlic, and ginger in a food processor and process until well combined (garlic and ginger should be in small pieces).

Melt coconut oil in a wok or skillet over medium high heat. After pan is hot, add green beans. Cook, stirring every once in a while: goal is some blackening on the outside while not cooking too far past crisp-tender. For me, this took about 5 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. Carefully pour peanut sauce over and stir until well combined.

Serve topped with green onions and peanuts.

One year ago: curried carrots
Two years ago: homemade granola

Monday, September 5, 2011

my brother can cook!

It has been forever since I've posted on something that I've cooked. It hasn't been happening so often lately. So while this doesn't count as evidence that I'm back in the kitchen, it does at least get me as close as the dining room... Progress.

I arrived home last week (after a productive day helping my friend Jill prepare her classroom for the onslaught of high schoolers that will fill it later this week) to find my brother and his friend Sarah making dinner. As a result of his recent semester studying in Bologna, my brother is obsessed with Italian food - particularly pasta - and he's been playing with making sauces from scratch.

Up until now, I had only experienced Mickey's red sauces (herb-filled and tasty...usually with sausage). The white sauce he served with angel hair pasta topped with chicken parm was delicious. After hearing the ingredients, it was clear why: my brother has a heavy hand with butter. I'm not complaining. We enjoyed the pasta and chicken parm along with garlic bread (lots more butter) and a green salad.

So for now, at least someone is using the kitchen, even if it isn't me. But it's definitely in my future. The farmers' market here is in full swing. And I have visions of homemade cheese and pasta that need to become a reality. Stay tuned. In the meantime, here's a rough recipe for my brother's sauce:

Mickey's Alfredo
Covers enough pasta for 4

1/3 c. butter
1/2 sweet red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
nearly a pint of heavy whipping cream
dash of milk
lots of grated parmesan
thyme, basil, oregano, black pepper

Melt the butter in a pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and let cook until nearly caramelized. Add garlic and allow to brown. Add whipping cream, milk, and parmesan cheese. Season with herbs. Let it cook just below a simmer, stirring occasionally, until desired consistency is reached and the flavors have had an opportunity to coalesce. Serve over pasta.

One year ago: peanut butter granola bars
Two years ago: fried green tomatoes

Thursday, September 1, 2011

not quite cooking, but...

...blueberries! The berries on the three bushes in the backyard that threatened never to ripen in this cold, grey northwest summer are starting to turn brilliant shades of purple and blue.

The yield is small. There is little better than a fresh berry still warm from the sun. Even more precious when only available in small quantities.

I suppose you can take this as evidence that not much has been happening by the way of cooking (I'm taking on one normal life thing at a time...haven't quite gotten to this one yet, at least not on a regular basis), but eating continues. Cooking will follow, I think.

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