Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Home Grown Part 7: Wouldn't it Be Nice to Be a Bee?

I wouldn't mind being a bee. You spend all spring and summer buzzing from flower to flower, and the rest of the year is spent subsisting off of the honey that you yourself created. Just a thought.

The bees are all abuzz in my garden right now. They've made a home for themselves under one of the garden beds. It's fun to watch them come and go all day long. Imagine how much honey must be under there!
Bees under the garden bed.

Here's what's happening in the garden this week..

I've found a few of these tomato hornworms with parasitic
braconid wasp eggs on my plants. I feel bad for the caterpillars,
even though they had it out for my plants!
I have more tomatoes than I know what to do with.
These guys in particular will become a delicious sauce.
As you can see in the foreground and the background, I
have plenty of basil, too. I've been freezing the leaves in zip locks
full of water, and dehydrating some so that I have dried basil through the winter.
I've pretty much picked through the lettuce.  This plant has gone to seed
with some pretty yellow flowers. It's almost time to start collecting seeds!
I planted this summer squash only about a month ago.
The squash are doing well, too.
I have about 6 butternut squash growing.
These tiny squash have been making an appearance.
Delicata? Maybe?
This spaghetti squash seems to be ripening off the vine still.
I ripped it off when the rest of the plant was infested with squash bugs.
I'm not sure if it's any good..


There are about 5 watermelons growing in the melon bed.

Check out these monsters! I cut into one, but it didn't seem to be ready.
The inside was all pink and white, but it was still sweet and tasty!
A few of the peas I planted late in the season are actually
producing pea pods. They're not as sweet or tender as the ones
from the spring.
These eggplants are just about ready to harvest!

White peppers? I wonder what color they will turn into.
Tasty looking bell peppers.
Purple peppers.

Creamy Coconut Basil Sauce

I. Have. So. Much. Basil.

Andrew is a big pesto fan, so besides winter squash, his only garden request was lots of basil. I planted it everywhere, in containers, pallet rows, and right in the ground. I lost track of how many seeds I actually planted, and now it's cropping up everywhere. It's not going to waste though! I've been making vegan pesto, dehydrating it, and freezing it.

Basil in the dehydrator.

Once the basil has dried (after a long run in the dehydrator),
I chop it up in the baby bullet so that I have dried basil through the year.
Taking a suggestion from my parents friend on a recent camping trip,
I froze basil in zip locks full of water. The leaves stay bright green and fresh
looking this way. Freeze two cups in each bag, so when you're ready to use them,
just defrost the bag, drain, and use the leaves in your recipe.
I found an on-line recipe for a creamy basil sauce. I've talked before about the value of coconut milk in vegan cooking, and it worked great for this recipe, too. Served over whole wheat pasta and roasted squash, this sauce was delicious.!

Creamy Coconut Basil Sauce
Serves 6-8

  • 2 packed cups of basil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast   
  • 2 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
  • 2 cans of coconut milk

  1. Blend basil and garlic together in a blender or food processor.
  2. Add olive oil, and blend for a minute or so until everything is fully combined. 
  3. Add nutritional yeast and arrowroot powder, and blend again.
  4. Add the mixture to a sauce pan and pour in the coconut milk.
  5. Simmer over a low flame for a few minutes until the sauce is thickened. You could skip this last step to keep it raw, but it won't be very "creamy".

Squash from the garden, tossed in oil and roasted at 400º for 20 minutes.
Squash: 20 minutes 400

Monday, August 27, 2012

Garlic Dill Pickles

These are for you, Nikki.

I had no idea how to make pickles. Now that I know how easy it is, I regret not planting cucumbers this year. Organic cucumbers in grocery stores are so expensive! I bought 4 anyways, and with some dill from my pallet garden and a few other things from the pantry I got to work. I used a glass jar that I already had (I never dispose of glass jars, I always use them for something!), and Mason Jars. If you plan on canning them, use sanitized Mason jars. I just left these in the fridge, since I know they wouldn't last long in our house.

For $2 a cucumber, these pickles better be good.
I grew dill precisely for pickles.

To make the most of the cucumbers, I cut them down to size to fit inside the jars before slicing them into spears. I took the extra pieces and sliced them into rounds, and filled a jar with these slices. I hope you can visualize this, as I suck at taking pictures of all the steps along the way.

Two tips: first, cut about 1/4 inch off the end of the cucumber. It keeps them crisper. Second, if you run out of vinegar/water solution, you can add more to cover the cucumbers, but keep the 3:1 ratio.

Slice off the ends.
Garlic Dill Pickles
Makes 3 jars

  • 4 cucumbers
  • 1 large bunch of dill
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water

  1. Slice the cucumbers into spears and/or chips.
  2. Stuff them into glass jars, along with whole garlic cloves, dill, salt and peppercorns. This is all to taste. I divided the amounts listed in the ingredients between the 3 jars.
  3. Add the vinegar and water together and pour into the jars until they cover the cucumbers.
  4. Refrigerate for at least a week before eating. The longer they sit, the less "bite" they have to them.

Chocolate Chip Sunflower Butter Bites

Sticky dough in the food processor.
I've been a little obsessed with my new food processor, using it for everything. Even cookies. Yup. Cookie dough in the food processor. These aren't your typical cookies though, these are vegan and gluten free, yet still delicious! The recipe this is inspired from was based with peanut butter. With the prevalence of people with peanut allergies (including my son), there are plenty of substitutes that are almost as good. Almost. The best I've come across so far is sunflower butter. I attempted to grow sunflowers this year to harvest seeds so I could make my own butter, but the chickens are enjoying the leaves too much. Only two plants have survived their plucking, and one of them is only a couple feet tall. It looks like out of all the seeds I planted, I may get one blossoming flower.

While these cookies aren't as rich and satisfying as my vegan chocolate chip cookies, they're a close second and a great gluten free option. Did I mention they don't have processed sugar either? They get their sweetness from honey. And who doesn't like honey?

Oh and don't get turned off by the chickpeas. I know it sounds weird to add chickpeas to cookies, but it's more for texture and substance. You won't taste them at all. Promise.

Chocolate Chip Sunflower Butter Bites
Makes 30 bites

  • 1 can chick peas
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sunflower butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º.
  2. Blend all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a blender or food processor until a sticky dough forms.
  3. Add the chips and pulse until just combined.
  4. With wet hands (this is important, otherwise the dough will stick to you), roll the dough into one inch balls and place on greased cookie sheets.
  5. You can fit up to 15 bites per sheet, since these won't spread when baked.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I'm so lucky to have so many amazing, passionate and supportive people in my life. Just about everyone who is an active part of my life has something positive and motivating to contribute. I don't think too many people can say they are surrounded by such genuine people who have nothing but love and support to offer, so I consider myself very blessed. 

There are dozens of people to which that last paragraph pertains to, but this blog post will be dedicated to a certain one. My best friend Hope's mom, Joann (or Mama Jo, as Logan calls her, and what she will be referred to as from now on), has a passion for life that so many people lose along the way. Her passion for food is inspiring as well. She knows where all the best bakeries are, which restaurants have the most delicious dishes, and I know I can rely on her to know which specialty stores carry the obscure ingredients I may need. Mama Jo has always been supportive and excited about Resolution Kitchen from the beginning. She's been an inspiration for a couple recipes in here, like the roasted yellow pepper soup. She taught me how to make pesto (which I modified to this recipe), and has been fueling my sweet tooth and love for baking since she was the class mother in second grade. 

As a token of support, love and inspiration, Mama Jo recently bought me my first food processor- a Kitchen Aid in buttercup yellow (she knows me so well). I absolutely love every feature of the product, and have been using it every day. Mama Jo had one request- gazpacho. She had a delicious bowl of the cold soup at Michael Anthony's, one of her favorite restaurants in Wading River. I set to work, using fresh tomatoes and herbs from my garden, and turned out a huge batch of gazpacho. Thanks Mama Jo!!

Ready to chop my fresh garden herbs.

My new, oh so fancy food processor
Serves about 8
  • 8 roma/plum tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 scallions
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  1. Remove the skins from the tomatoes: Throw them in a pot of boiling water for one minute. Remove from the boiling water and into a bowl with ice water immediately. After a couple minutes the skin will peel right off.
  2. Sautee the garlic.
  3. Roughly chop the onion, pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, scallions and garlic. If you want to keep the recipe raw, skip the first two steps and start here. 
  4. Add them to a food processor and pulse until just combined.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until combined but still a little chunky.
  6. Refrigerate before serving. Serve cold.

I made this batch of gazpacho with my home grown roma tomatoes.
Does it get any fresher?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Vegan Penne A La Vodka

He's obsessed with wearing glasses.
Penne a la vodka is one of my absolute favorite meals, and is one of my go to comfort foods. It was also one of the first meals I learned to make. It was the beginning of my kitchen adventures, transitioning me from someone who hated cooking, to someone who realized how fun and satisfying it could be.

I've often shelved my craving for the pasta dish because I didn't want to make a separate meal for my son with the dairy allergy. While strolling down the beach recently, thinking about food (shocking), I had a stroke of culinary genius. I've used coconut milk in place of heavy cream before, like in chocolate mousse and whipped cream, so why not use it in penne a la vodka? The dish came out wonderful. I served it to Logan, Andrew, and my brother who was here for dinner. They said they could barely tell the heavy cream was missing, and they all loved it. I also added nutritional yeast and arrowroot powder to thicken the sauce and make a creamy texture.

I never realized how essential coconut milk is in vegan cooking. Using it has allowed me to make things that I thought would have to be given up in a dairy free diet. My favorite brand is the Thai Kitchen, but it's not available at my local supermarket, so Goya is the next best. But seriously, go stock up on cans of this stuff. They'll come in handy. I promise.

Vegan Penne A La Vodka
Serves 6

  • One 24oz. jar of marinara sauce or canned tomatoes.
  • One 13.5oz. can of full fat coconut milk.
  • 3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast.
  • 3 Tbsp. arrowroot powder.
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced.
  • 1 garlic clove, minced.
  • 1 Tbsp. each of dried or fresh basil, oregano and parsley.

  1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan.
  2. Simmer over a low flame for about 30 minutes, or until onions are soft and the sauce is warmed.
  3. Serve immediately over whole wheat pasta.

I also roasted squash from my garden to serve with the penne. It made for a quick and delicious side dish. Just cut in half, rub with oil, salt and pepper, and roast in 400º oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Home Grown Part 6: The Takeover

My garden is WILD. As a newbie, I didn't bother staking anything. I didn't think my plants would get that big. WRONG. The melon bed is overflowing. I've stopped trying to contain it. The tomatoes are out of control as well. I'm not complaining though. Everything is flourishing! Even the peppers and eggplants are coming along.
My overflowing melons..
Ha.. I'm so mature.
Two of the five watermelons starting to grow.
The tomato takeover. They're impeding on the asparagus
(to the left) and the beans (to the right).
The beans are still growing though!
Another view of the tomato bed.
The lettuce and basil are doing well up front.
Plum tomatoes, almost ready.
So many cherry tomatoes.
Logan and I eat these right off the plant everyday.
It's our evening ritual!
Various stages of ripeness.
Eggplants, peppers, beets, carrots and basil
are coexisting here.

I'm excited to have some yummy eggplants to work with soon!
Finally some peppers!
An upside down growing pepper.

The lovely pallet garden.
I'm predicting some basil pesto in my future.