Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Urban Farming: Garlic – an everyday necessity

There was a time, as an inexperienced cook, when I rarely used fresh garlic. It was annoying to have to buy an entire head of garlic when I only needed a clove or two for a recipe, and more annoying when the rest of them dried up or sprouted before I used them. I’m still not fond of the bite of raw garlic, but it seems like almost every recipe I cook now begins with sauteeing chopped onions and minced garlic.

Dan sometimes comes sniffing into the kitchen, asking what smells so good – often, it’s just onions and garlic so far. When that combination hits a pan of hot olive oil, the savory aroma sizzles throughout the room and you know something delicious is on the way.

Sprouting garlic
Sprouting garlic

Last November, some of the garlic in my kitchen began to sprout. We separated the cloves and planted them in the garden, hoping the critters wouldn’t find them tasty. A couple of weeks ago, Dan and I debated whether they were ready to harvest. That’s the somewhat difficult aspect of growing bulbs and root vegetables – it’s hard to tell what they’re going to look like before you pull them.

Garlic plant

We looked up tips on gardening websites and decided to go with the advice that, when about half the leaves have turned brown, they’re ready to pull. So we let them go a little longer. Last weekend, the leaves were browned and the plants were beginning to tip over. It seemed to be time to harvest our garlic.

Garlic ready to harvest

We were rewarded with four beautiful, home-grown heads of garlic and now we know how to tell when the cloves are nice and plump. These will go into something very tasty very soon.

Garlic in a basket

Brussels sprouts … wow

brussels-sproutsI’ve never seen Brussels sprouts displayed like this before. This was in the Farm Fresh Market in Ghent a few days ago.

Check it out – they grow on a big stalk, like bananas. I wonder what the entire plant looks like? Must Google…

Well, here ya go – info on how to grow them, along with a photo of the complete plant. We bought seeds to start these this year, so we’ll see how it goes.

Brussels sprouts are one of those things that bow to the magic of roasting. A little olive oil, some salt and pepper, maybe a bit of herb, 400 degrees in the oven and some time, and you have some really good eats.

The Start of Spring Gardening

Dan wants to try starting a lot of our spring garden plants from seed this year, so we went to the Norfolk County Feed & Seed store yesterday and got a variety of things to start with. He already planted peas in the garden, and we have everything we need to get seeds going in the sunroom. We’ll see how it goes 🙂


TNT: No Frill Grill Special

On Wednesday, my weekly dinner group headed to the No Frill Bar & Grill on Colley Avenue for dinner. They’re having their annual February special – for each appetizer and dessert sold during the month, they donate $1 to the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, a very good cause.

So we go and pretend the appetizers are tapas – buy several and share 🙂 Then share a dessert. It was good and filling, with lots left over. We had:

  • Artichoke/cheese dip with pita bread
  • Nachos with chicken – it was huge! Must have been 5 lbs. of food there!
  • Bowl of beef and bean chili – they counted this as an appetizer
  • For dessert, we feasted on the Chocolate Amaretto Sin Pie – essentially, a big truffle with a cookie crust and whipped cream – sinful indeed

So if you’re local, stop by the No Frill Grill and have a few for the children 🙂

TNS: Chocolate Fondue

And another week whizzes by! I think it must be the cold we had last week – I was in no mood to do anything but come home from work, make and eat dinner, and curl up on the couch wrapped in a blanket. I need a laptop.

Anyway, today, it’s 69 degrees already in southeastern Virginia, so I have a lot more energy to do more than just conserve heat on the couch. So here’s my contribution to Thursday Night Smackdown: The Valentine’s Day Cliche Edition – Chocolate Fondue.

I need to practice taking pix more, dang it. Too many of these came out blurry.

Dan and I typically don’t celebrate (St.) Valentine’s Day – I mean, I’m not Catholic and I love Dan every day, not just one day a year. But I guess I’m feeling lovey-dovey this year since we will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in June. Awwwwww!!!

I don’t know why I don’t make fondue more often – it seems like such a pain, but it’s really easy once you get going. No more difficult than anything else I make regularly. Dan brought home this book for me some years ago – “The Book of Fondues,” by Lorna Rhodes. I’ve made a few recipes from it, but we definitely need to get into it more.

Dan actually made the fondue (see why it’s so easy?), but I told him how, so that counts, right? It was really good. We ate it with strawberries and bananas; other good dippers would be brownies, pound cake, and other fruits like pineapple. Definitely give it a try.

Mocha Chocolate Fondue

8 oz. semisweet chocolate (we used 4 oz. semisweet and 4 oz. dark chocolate chips)
1 tbsp. instant coffee granules (we don’t drink instant, so we left this out)
2/3 cup whipping cream
3 tbsp. Tia Maria (we used Kahlua to get that coffee flavor)

Break up chocolate (or use chips) and place in fondue pot. Add coffee granules, if using, and whipping cream, and heat slowly until melted, stirring constantly. Stir in liqueur and beat until smooth. Place over burner at the table and serve. Makes 6 servings.

It’s shaped like a heart! Awwwww!!!

Original Recipes: Mexican Casserole

Culinarty Original Recipe Food Blogging EventA couple of weeks ago, we had a potluck lunch at work, the annual Fall Fling. Amy in HR had begged me to bring the pesto pasta I took last year – she had never had pesto before, and loved it. But I like to bring something different each time, so this time, I ended up making up my own recipe.

That was because the recipe I started out with turned out rather dry and bland. So I bumped it up a few notches and came up with something really good. It’s perfect for a potluck, too. It’s a casserole, so after making it the night before, I put it in my Crock-Pot crock in the fridge overnight. I took the Crock-Pot to work and set it on high, and by lunchtime, it was nicely heated up. So I took the heated Crock-Pot to the lunch and it stayed good and hot during the entire hour and a half or so. And it got rave reviews – several people asked how it was made.

Next time I bring something that’s a bit ambiguous, though, I’ll put a little sign next to it. I heard from a few people that they didn’t try it because they didn’t know what it was. To me, that’s a reason *to* try it, but some people aren’t so adventurous.

Mexican Casserole

Mexican Casserole

2 lbs. ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped green chiles (I used Anaheims from the garden)
3 tbsp. ground red chile pepper (I used ancho chile powder)
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
8 corn tortillas, torn into pieces
2 14-oz. cans white or yellow hominy
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with chiles
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 lb. grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and ground black pepper

Brown the beef and pour off all but 1 tbsp. fat. Add onions and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add green chiles, spices, hominy, tomatoes and tomato sauce and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add half of cheese and stir well.

Place the mixture in a 5-quart slow cooker and put on low to keep warm for serving. Or, chill and serve within 2-3 days. Place mixture in slow cooker and put on high for 3 hours to warm up, then put on low to keep warm for serving.

You can also divide the mixture and freeze half for later. Put half the mixture in a 2-quart dish and freeze up to four months. Bake the other half in a 350*F oven for 45 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese and serve.

This is my entry in the food blogging event Original Recipe, hosted by Culinarty. The roundup of all the recipes is here.

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