Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Sunday Special - Green Tomato Slab Pie

A few weeks ago I was volunteering at an organic farm here in Kansas. (So happy to find one! I feel like my life here has started to parallel my life back in Tahoe.) The first frost had come in and it was time to harvest just about everything that was left. There were quite a few green tomatoes and neither of us (me or my farmer friend Jimmy) had any experience cooking them. Luckily, a fellow farmer shared a green tomato slab pie recipe with him and he shared the pie making and eating with me. =)

There were actually two pie making sessions, both somehow ended with us eating pie at 1:30 in the morning. The first time we used a store bought crust and the second time we made it completely from scratch. Oh my, soooo much butter, but so good and crispy.

Green Tomato Slab Pie

3 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons fine ground sea salt
3 sticks very cold unsalted butter chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
3/4 cup very cold water

4-6 cups green tomatoes chopped into approximately 1/2 inch chunks
2 teaspoons sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar (more if you like it sweeter. This is the perfect pairing with icecream.)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

To finish
1 egg beaten

Making the Crust: Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in the bottom of a large wide bowl. Using a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas. Gently stir in the water with a rubber spatula. Once the water is absorbed, use your hands to form the balls, kneading it as little as possible. Divide the dough in half. (recipe suggested to: Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten a bit, like a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to 2 days or slip into freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 to 2 months. To defrost, leave in fridge for 1 day.)

Prepare filling: In a medium colander, toss diced tomatoes with 2 teaspoons sugar and let drain for at least 30 minutes. The longer the better. The second time, we let them drain for 3-4 days. Press out the juice by pressing down on the tomatoes. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornstarch and spices. Add the tomatoes and toss until thoroughly coated.

Preheat oven at 375 degrees F.

Assemble pie: On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the dough halves into an 18-by-13 inch rectangle. (Ours was no where near this big. Needless to say, we probably had double thick crust. With crust that thin, you can use up to 8 cups of tomatoes.) Work as fast as you can to keep the butter from melting. Transfer the crust to the pan. The dough should be big enough to cover the bottom and fold up the sides. Use your hands to quickly form the sides by pressing in the corners and along the sides. Pour in the tomato mixture and spread evenly.

Roll out the second dough half to about 1/4 inch thick. Then use a butter knife or pizza cutter to cut it into equally wide strips. Use these strips to decorate the top of the pie such as a lattice pattern. Brush the egg onto the top crust. Bake about 40-45 minutes, until crust is golden and filling is bubbling. (Supposedly, you are to let it cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes, but who has that kind of control?) We let it cool, maybe 5 minutes and then served it up.

With vanilla ice cream. Of course!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wild Hair Wednesday - Halloween Dos

This year's Halloween was all about the hair.

Just a couple days before a Halloween party, I had no idea what I was going to be but knew I needed to make a decision quick. A friend suggested being a paint brush, "your hair is perfect for it". About 20 minutes after I decided to run with that, I was in front of the mirror messing with my hair. (thoughts to self ->) Yeah, this could work. Hmmm. It looks like a big mop. Dude! Why not go as the Mop from Fantasia?!

Simple. Clever. Original.

Wear all brown.
Put my hair up like a mop. (Not exactly sure how yet.)
And 2 buckets for props.

I first did my hair in about 2 minutes which left me with way too much time to fiddle with it some more. I kept fiddling with it until it was time to go. It was looking crazy, but I went to the party like this anyways.

About half way through the party, I decided to take it down. Yep. This was my 2 minute do from earlier. Sometimes, fast and simple is better.

Mop-esc? Right?!

All I ended up buying was brown gloves and duck tape for the buckets.


For the Final Friday Bicycle Gang, I did another crazy do. I wanted to be warm, but still do something fun. That's what Halloween is all about. Dressing up in outrageous ways that we secretly wish we could do more often but only feel are acceptable once a year.

Unfortunately, I didn't get very good pics of it, but I'm sharing them anyway.

The perfect blend of warm/comfortable and fun. Minus the ONE guy who was all up in my space, peoples reactions were pretty great.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wall of Inspiration

A view from my office and wall of inspiration today.

Libraries Rock. Free wifi. Lots of inspiration. You can stay all day. People are suppose to be quiet (great for my easily distracted self). And no one hassles you to buy anything. Oh, and the smell of old books. Yum.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

the Sunday Special - If an Artichoke was a Potato

I have a hard time resisting the urge to buy new veggies that pop up in the produce department or local farmers market. Although I asked the grocer what this fella was, I immediately forgot the name.

No worries. I didn't bother to look up how to cook it anyways. I just placed it in a glass bread pan, put the lid on, and baked it at 350 degrees for ....hmmm, probably 45min to an hour. I took it out when the little bit of juice was starting to really bake on the pan and I didn't want it to bake on any harder. Seriously, who wants to spend their time scrubbing pans.

With the first one, I sliced it. The outside was still really hard even after being baked but the inside was soft so I knew it had to be done. I started peeling off the outside because it was super woody and not edible.

The second one, I peeled first then sliced it.

Of course, like most new veggies, the grocer only bought one shipment of them. Luckily, a friend of mine has a diverse knowledge bank of vegetables. Any guesses as to what this is?

The green color, the choke-y inedible peel, the savory meaty center all reminded me of an artichoke. The shape and consistency reminded me of a potato. The best of both worlds. The rich flavor, but much less work than an artichoke.

Wikipedia compares it to broccoli stem. Yeah, I can see that.

If you are interested in trying one, keep your eyes out for a .... kohlrabi.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sad Gloomy Day

The other half of the roller coaster... sad and gloomy.

This week I found out a love one has cancer and is not doing well. After about 24 hours of crying, I was able to see him. His condition did not make me feel better, but seeing how so many friends are surrounding him does.

I hope he feels the love. I hope he always has.

Happy Sunny Day

This week has been a roller coaster of emotion. One day it's happy and sunny and the next is sad and gloomy. Such is life.

Here's a happy sunny one for the books. A fun story, too.

It's a family tradition to make chicken tortilla soup around Halloween. Mom started it when we were kids and my sister and I have both carried it on since leaving home. Mine has been transforming over the years, receiving more and more veggies and less chicken. This year, Mr. Chicken (along with his friend Betsy's bath water) were not invited to dinner. The only trace of the animal world that made it into my pot was anchovies. Yeah! Did you know that worcestershire sauce has anchovies!? Well, I figured I was making so many changes that if I changed the seasoning too, it wouldn't taste anything like the original. So I used it and the steak sauce it called for.

Sunday was the day to make... Cabbage Tortilla Soup (working title). All I needed was the steak sauce. I road over to the neighborhood grocery store. Eek, it was twice what I wanted to pay for it. Road over to another neighborhood grocery store. Same story. It was a beautiful fall day and I was in no big hurry. Hmmm. Save a buck? Save an hour? Save a buck!

I headed to the closest dollar store by way of the river. Ah. The river path in fall.

I usually take the streets half way, but not today. It was so nice out. The river drew me further and I let it. I let myself get lost. As I passed under bridges, I wondered what street they were. Feeling carefree, I didn't bother to find out. I just kept riding.

Seeing others enjoying the day. Walking hand in hand. Playing with their dogs. A girl riding an almost identical bike. I road until I realized how far I had gone and decided it was time to resurface. To the streets.

Back tracking a bit to reach my previously desired destination. I was riding in the streets not long before I spotted a dollar bill on the side walk. Making a quick change to the sidewalk, I snatched it up. Woohoo! I road a few more blocks and actually saw a quarter in the street, but there was too much traffic to stop and pick it up. I made it to the dollar store. Purchased the steak sauce with my new found dollar and only 7 cents from my own pocket. I road home happy and content with the final ingredient to my highly anticipated soup.