Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dark and Stormy (the drink)

We returned from our beach vacation on Saturday and it’s as though I have stepped into another world. We left in the morning, there were blue skies and puffy white clouds, and them temperature was 70 degrees. Four hours later we stopped for gas and it was 53 degrees with driving rain. As we made our way east, through the mountains, the leaves on the trees were gold and orange in addition to green.

As Jack commented, “we really did squeeze out the last little bit of summer this year”. Indeed.

Today has been cloudy with intermittent heavy rain and very high wind gusts. I’m done unpacking, and I occupied my afternoon with making tomato sauce. Out of the 34 pounds of tomatoes which we took to the beach, we only returned with 8 and that amount, plus another 24 pounds which I picked yesterday, are now simmering on the stove.

Having just had two weeks of frequent afternoon rum drinks, I find myself wanting one today in the late afternoon (am I trying to extend my beach experience?). Today I made us both a cocktail called a Dark & Stormy. It seemed very appropriate for our current weather.

Although I had been familiar with Myers dark rum, I tried Gosling’s Black Rum last year and find that I like the taste better. It’s smoother than Myers, dark and rich and redolent of molasses. This is what I use in a Dark & Stormy. I had difficulty locating ginger beer (no, ginger ale is absolutely not the same!), but finally found it in a liquor store even though it is non-alcoholic.

Dark & Stormy

Makes 1 drink

Pour 2 ounces of Gosling’s Black Rum over ice (use a tall glass).

Slowly add 8 ounces of ginger beer and stir gently.

Yes, that’s it!!! :) But I have to admit, it’s not the winner that I anticipated it would be. The flavor of ginger is far too dominant in this drink for my taste.

A very “beachy” photo:

A seagull who apparently likes to pose for photos:

And check out this really cool ship (which we would have taken a short cruise on if we could have stayed another week...)

Okay, that's it. I'm through torturing myself with these photos... :D

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Penne Peperonata

Oh, dear. Only one more day here at the beach, and a good chunk of that will be spent packing. Needless to say I'm feeling a little, shall we say depressed, this evening.

I love being here. Running on the beach every morning (no pain at all, because the sand is such a good running surface), floating on the bay (okay, this was more like crashing into shore for another Blue Caribbean)
while drinking rum drinks*,

eating platters of fried shrimp,

without any reservation about the calories and fat grams which each crispy little morsel contains...

But most, I love the feeling of being here. Waves crashing just outside the door, peace and tranquility, the sense of being almost totally isolated from the rest of the world-- these are what I adore most about our beach vacations. For hours on end, all we hear are the waves and the sea birds screeching. That's it. How can I possibly leave, knowing that it will be 50 long weeks until we can return????

Pity Jack. He has to deal with me while I am in this mood!!! :D

Food. A way to get my mind off of our impending departure.

I am working on the pile o' tomatoes and other produce and it looks as though we will certainly be returning home with some of it but I probably have managed to use 2/3 of what I initially brought here.

A few years ago, I posted a recipe for peperonata, which I used at the time on pizza. This week, it was a sauce on cooked penne pasta. Copious amounts of peppers and tomatoes are required, and also onions, seasoned simply with salt and pepper and red wine vinegar. Sprinkled with parm-reg, it is delicious and very simple.

That's all for this vacation, next time I post will be from the farm, probably next week sometime.

The weather will certainly be cooler, there will be no sounds of waves crashing or sea-birds calling, but I will be home. Sweet, home.

*Additional Bonus Recipe*

as shown above

1 ounce rum
1 ounce blue curacao
1 ounce cream of coconut
2 ounces pineapple juice

Shake with ice; strain. Makes one drink.

Note: we used Cruzan's Coconut Rum Cream

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pics from the balcony

Day #9 of our vacation, 4 more to go.

I'm too tired to publish a recipe this evening, so I will take the easy way out and display 2 photographs taken today.

This morning, just before sunrise, from our bedroom balcony.....

And the same view, a couple of hours later:

We are not directly on the ocean, but on a fairly large bay with gentle waves and warm salty breezes. How on earth will Jack drag me out of here on Saturday??!?

More later, the blinking lighthouse in the distance is mesmerizing... :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Anaheim Chili-Rice Casserole

With all of the problems with late-blight fungus on tomato plants in home gardens here on the east coast this summer, I was able to avoid the worst of it. Every other day I spent an hour or two snipping spotted leaves off of the tomato plants, and I doused them with fungicide regularly. I was rewarded with my best crop of tomatoes in years.

Alas, we went on vacation before they were all ripe. I had to leave many, many green tomatoes still on the vines. But I was able to pack 35 pounds of tomatoes to take to the beach (and a good amount of bell peppers, Anaheim peppers, banana peppers, and zucchini as well).

The Pre-Beach Harvest:

We have, not surprisingly, been eating a lot of meals containing peppers and tomatoes (and only slightly fewer which contain zucchini).

I put this together for dinner one night and Jack liked it so much that he insisted I type it into Mastercook before I forgot what I did. In addition to using up a good amount of Anaheim peppers and tomatoes, this would be a great dish for a buffet or potluck as we discovered that it tastes even better when reheated.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Anaheim Chili-Rice Casserole

Recipe By: Vicci
Servings: 6

Note: The rice and the pepper-onion mixture must be made ahead and cooled to room temperature so allow time for this (these two steps can be also done ahead of time).

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------

1 cup long-grain rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Anaheim chili peppers -- sliced lengthwise, seeds and core removed, sliced 1/4" thick
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves -- minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper -- optional
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 can canned diced tomato -- with jalapeno, drained
1 1/2 cups chopped tomato
4 ounces lowfat cheddar cheese -- shredded
3 ounces manchego cheese -- shredded
1 small tomato -- sliced 1/4 thick

Cook rice according to directions, cool.

Heat oil in a large skillet and add peppers, saute for 3 mintutes then add the chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, saute for a minute, then stir in the cumin and salt and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Whisk eggs and egg whites in a small bowl. In another bowl, mix the canned and chopped fresh tomato. In yet another bowl, mix the cheddar and manchego cheeses.

Coat a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray and cover the bottom with one half of the tomato mixture.

Stir the cooled and cooked rice into the cooled pepper and onion mixture, add the chipotle pepper and then the egg mixture. Mix well, then spread half of this mixture on top of the tomato mixture in the casserole dish. Sprinkle with half of the cheese, then layer the remaining tomato mixture and then the rice mixture. Do not use the rest of the cheese, set it aside.

Arrange the fresh tomato slices on top of the rice and spray the entire surface with cooking spray.

Bake the casserole, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the remaining cheese mixture. Return to the oven and bake for 5 more minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving, to make slicing easier.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 315 Calories (kcal); 11g Total Fat (5g Saturated); (30% calories from fat); 16g Protein; 39g Carbohydrate; 81mg Cholesterol; 342mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 2 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

I served this with pan-fried, cornmeal-crusted tilapia.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Crumb-topped French Toast

Today is the 5th full day of our beach vacation, and I am finally getting around to writing. We have vacationed in the same house, on the same beach, for six years now and we love it. The weather was gorgeous for the first 3 days and we wiled the days away on the beach, yesterday was cloudy and cool so we spent it doing errands, and today was extremely windy and there was not much reason to go outside so we simply enjoyed being inside, watching the waves crash to shore. Tough life. :)

For the first 3 days, our friends Karla and Frankie joined us and it was a great time. They made breakfast for two mornings, and it was heavenly to get up, go out for a run, return and shower, then sit down to eat. Both meals were great, with my favorite being the crumb-topped French toast, turkey bacon, and (as we had for the past 2 breakfasts) mimosas.

Twice as much bread was used than was called for in the recipe (total 16 slices) but there were still some cornflakes left over. I think that I enjoyed this so much because the bread was still rather firm after being cooked (perhaps because more bread was used?). We skipped the melted margarine. Actually Karla brought butter (a much better option, since this recipe was published 13 years ago when margarine was still being used as a butter substitute—now we know about the evils of hydrogenated fats!), but we forgot to add it. I sprayed the tops of the toasts with cooking spray after they had been in the oven for about 10 minutes, and will do that again but will use butter-flavored cooking spray.

The toast was crunchy and very delicious, and even though the “serving” is indicated at 1 piece, I had three! Hey, I’m on vacation!!!

Crumb-Topped French Toast

1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup cornflake crumbs
8 (1-ounce) diagonally-cut slices French bread (about 1 inch thick)
1/4 cup margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 450°.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well with a wire whisk. Place cornflake crumbs in a shallow dish.

Dip bread slices into milk mixture, and dredge in cornflake crumbs. Place bread slices on a baking sheet, and drizzle with margarine. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 bread slice)

CALORIES 212 (32% from fat); FAT 7.6g (sat 1.7g,mono 3.3g,poly 2.3g); IRON 1.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 56mg; CALCIUM 40mg; CARBOHYDRATE 29g; SODIUM 468mg; PROTEIN 5.8g; FIBER 0.8g

Cooking Light, MAY 1996

I love breakfast. It is my favorite meal of the day and I cook it every day. To have breakfast prepared for me, well, it truly is vacation and I thank my friends for going to the trouble and effort.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Zucchini Pancakes

Well, I haven't posted in two weeks? How time flies! ;)

Once again, my garden is fairly bursting with zucchini and, once again, I have had to learn the hard way to pick them while they are still small. Jack doesn’t share this view, though, because his two favorite zucchini recipes are made from those larger forms of the vegetable—zucchini pancakes and fried zucchini.

Last week I was unable to get to the garden for a couple of days and, when I finally did, I found a huge zucchini lurking under some lower leaves. A full 2-1/2 pounds of zucchini, and Jack’s face lit up when he saw it on the kitchen counter.

We have zucchini pancakes, served with a tomato and basil salad, as a light lunch. Although Jack will eat them “plain”, he prefers his zucchini cakes to be topped with a spicy pepper-and-tomato sauce or simply some hot sauce.

Because when zucchini is prolific in my garden it is August and I resist turning on the stove, I use a Crock-Plate which my Mom gave me years ago. A cousin to the Crock-Pot, it doesn’t heat up the kitchen too much and I use it often in those hot summer months. Don’t look for it in WalMart, though, because this hasn’t been produced since the mid-1970’s. It’s way cool!

* Exported from MasterCook *

Zucchini Pancakes

Recipe By: Vicci

Serving Size: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

--------- ---------- ---------------------------------------

4 cups shredded zucchini -- remove excess water; see note below

2/3 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup panko or whole wheat bread crumbs

3 large egg whites

1 ounce Asiago Cheese -- grated (a rounded 1/3 cup)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

Squeeze the zucchini and onion to remove excess water. Transfer to a large bowl and mix with the crumbs.

Whisk the egg whites, then whisk in the cheese through baking powder. Stir into the zucchini mixture.

Using a brush, spread one half of the oil (½ tablespoon) in a nonstick skillet, heat over medium heat and, when oil is hot, drop in half of the batter by scant 1/3 cupfuls. Flatten to desired thickness. Cook for 4-6 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate (or serve) and cook the remaining half of the batter using the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil.


"8 4" diameter cakes"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 194 Calories (kcal); 11g Total Fat (4g Saturated); (49% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 13mg Cholesterol; 856mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

NOTES : Two pounds of zucchini, excess water removed, yields about one pound of dry, shredded zucchini. One pound of shredded, well-squeezed zucchini equals about 4 cups.

A simple way to remove excess water from a quantity of shredded zucchini is to place the zucchini shreds in the center a large, clean kitchen towel. Fold ends over (on all four sides) to enclose the shredded zucchini and PIN SECURELY with a safety pin. Place this packet in your washing machine, kind of propped up against an outer wall. Turn the machine to "spin" and spin for at least 4 minutes. Remove very carefully, and open the towel over a large cutting board.

Now, before you forget, go back to the washing machine, add a gallon of tap water (I use a watering can), and turn it to "spin" once more. The green, veggie-based water which you see coming out of the machine is not water in which you want to wash your clothes! And if you wash the kitchen towel right away, in hot soapy water, the green zucchini stains will come out. I, however, have a towel reserved only for spinning zucchini (with a large safety pin attached) that I just wash with the rest of my towels, and I don't worry about the stains.

This method gets a lot of the excess water out of the zucchini and produces dry, fluffy shreds. If the zucchini is too wet, the pancakes (and other baked goods which shredded zucchini is used in) will have an unappetizing, gummy texture.