Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Salad for the End of Summer

My friend Susan and I share many interests, one of which is food and cooking.  She has often introduced me to new cookbooks, going back to the Moosewood Cookbook in the late 70s.  She recently mentioned to me cookbooks by Ellie Krieger, someone I hadn't heard of.  I looked at one of her books in the library and then purchased a used copy of Weeknight Wonders: Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less.  I have been enjoying trying recipes from this book, and this salad is especially wonderful.  It's definitely seasonal though, so make it soon!  It's a great way to enjoy garden tomatoes and fresh peaches--a combination I had never tried before.  The recipe calls for arugula.  The first time I made it, I couldn't find any in the store, so made it without.  Tonight I made it with.  Excellent either way!  I was dubious about how little oil and vinegar was called for in the recipe, and I put cruets on the table thinking I would need more, but it was fine as is.

adapted from Ellie Krieger, Weeknight Wonders: Healthy Dinners in 30 minutes or Less
serves 6

2 medium garden tomatoes, cored and cut into about 10 wedges
2 medium ripe peaches, halved, pitted, and cut into about 10 wedges
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, part-skim, sliced into about 20 half-moon slices
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced (a mandolin is helpful) and then cut in half
about 3 oz. baby arugula
1 T. plus 2 t. olive oil
1 T. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
handful of fresh basil, cut in largish pieces

Place a bed of arugula on a large platter.  Arrange the tomato, peach, and mozzarella wedges on top, alternating them.  Sprinkle the red onion over the top, and then the basil.  Drizzle the salad with the oil and vinegar and sprinkle on the salt and pepper.

(The original recipe called for constructing the salad on individual plates, but I found it easier to do it all on one platter.  The leftover salad was also good  on the second day.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Green Beans with Jam

This is easy to remember because it sounds like Dr. Seuss.

I like using the pre-washed and snipped green beans in a microwavable bag.  For some reason, I dislike preparing green beans, even after I learned a great hint from my sister Cookie--to snip off the ends with scissors rather than trimming with a knife or snapping them off.  Definitely faster, but still . . .

The 12-oz package of steam-in-the-bag green beans instructs you to microwave on high for 3-5 minutes.  I do them for 2-1/2, and it could be less if you like them quite crispy.

I adapted this recipe from something more complicated, served at a meal made by Mary Beth.  This simple version is good too!  I don't like to take a lot of time preparing side dishes for an ordinary week-day meal, so this recipe is great for perking up the meal with very little effort.

serves 4

Cook about 12 oz. of green beans to the degree of crispiness you prefer; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Spoon over them a few tablespoons of fig jam or orange marmelade.

Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of pepitas; mix everything together.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Re-usable produce bags

When I was visiting my friend Louise earlier this summer, I noticed that she brought with her to the farmer's market some re-usable produce bags.  What a great idea!  I've been using cloth grocery sacks for a long while, but hadn't seen any alternative to the thin plastic bags for produce.  The ones Louise had looked like this; on Amazon, they cost a little more than $2.00 each.  I had quite a bit of polyester sheer voile on hand, so I decided to make some for myself.  These are not nearly as neat looking as the commercial ones, but I don't think my veggies will mind.  Also, I didn't bother putting drawstrings on most of the bags, as I don't usually bother with a twist tie, except for something like a bag of apples.  I used the bags at the grocery store for the first time yesterday, and the clerk didn't blink an eye.  The scanner was able to read the number through the sheer.

In case some of you might like to try making your own, here are the instructions I came up with after a couple of tries:

Here's what a plain finished bag (about 13 x 15") looks like:

And here's one with a tie (I used some nylon ribbon I had on hand):

The fabric I had on hand was 120" wide, so on only a few of the bags I made could I take advantage of the finished selvedge edge.  I will look for 45" material to make more bags.  Here are cutting instructions for 45" fabric (see end of post for note on using 60" fabric):

And here's a sketch of the sewing instructions:

Here's a bag cut, pinned and ready to be sewn.  On this one, the selvedge is at the top:

You do need to make French seams when sewing the edges, as the polyester frays badly in the wash.  But it's very simple.  Sew all around the right and bottom edges, where the pins are in the photo above, using a 1/4" seam.  (The fold is on the left and the opening at the top.)  Then turn inside out, and sew the seam again, using a somewhat larger seam so that the first one is encased.  

The last photo is a close-up of the top edge (here, selvedge), and the French seam, which sticks up a bit.  

No more plastic bags, yay!!  

About cost:  60" fabric would yield 3 bags from 3/4 yd, about $1 per bag.  It looks like 60" may be the narrowest I can get in any case when I go to buy more.  So--the cutting instructions will need to be modified above, so that a third bag will come out of the "waste section."  This middle bag will have no selvedge edge, so the top will need to be hemmed.