Friday, September 24, 2010


I told you I was going to make pesto soon. It made me really want pesto. So instead of doing a huge batch right now I am just making some for tonight to cover my salmon in while baking. Can you say yummy? Here is my pesto recipe, I will not use measurements for this one!

a bunch of basil, it depends on how much you are making
pine nuts
parmesan cheese
lemon zest
olive oil

Put the first four ingredients into a food processor and start to process. While processing slowly dribble some olive oil into the bowl. You might have to stop and scrape the sides down a couple times.

Hints: Always wash your lemon before zesting. I used a little more cheese than normal so the color is not as green. I also like the lemon zest because especially on fish I feel it adds a little something. You do not need to add any salt because of the cheese and the lemon. If you ever want to have a bit more salt taste to a dish, if it won't ruin the flavor, add some lemon zest. This won't give you the sodium but will bring out every single flavor more intensely.

Substitute: If you don't have much basil but have a bunch of spinach on hand you can use the spinach and whatever basil you do have. The basil has such an intense flavor that it will come out but your batch will be bigger. It also adds a lot of calcium from the spinach, one of the super foods. (If your kids or husband don't like spinach this will hide it from them.)

I coated my salmon with my pesto and baked at 350 for about 25 minutes. The time all depends on how big of a filet you have, just stick a fork into the thickest part and if it flakes then it's done. Mine was probably big enough for four adults so we had leftovers.

If you are going to buy salmon the best and most ecologically friendly salmon you can buy is wild caught Alaskan salmon. Farm raised might taste pretty good and look the same but there are many things under the surface that are different.
1. They are now feeding salmon a corn meal just like they have made cows eat corn.
2. Color added. Have you ever wondered how they add that color? Well, I know and will share. When people started to farm salmon they were putting them in large holding tanks and feeding them fish meal. Salmon in the wild eat other fish and plankton. The plankton eats sea vegetables, like algae. This algae has beta carotene in it. In turn, when the salmon eat the plankton they are eating beta carotene which turns their flesh that "salmon" color we know and love. Farmed fish do not get the beta carotene from the fish meal they are fed and so the farmers were finding that when they killed their salmon and cut them open they were a white color. They knew that buyers were not going to buy white salmon so they thought of something. They approached pharmaceutical companies and made a deal for them to have their own color of pink for their fish. They create a dye which is put into their fish meal which then dyes their flesh that pink color we expect. So now you know what "color added" means. (Pretty crazy if you ask me.) (Oh and thanks to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau for that information which I heard on her podcast.)

So now you know and can make a little more informed choice about the type of salmon to buy and eat. Hope you enjoy the pesto recipe which is also great as a dip for veggies and in one of my favorite pasta dishes. (London likes to lick the spoon and bowl after I make it.)


Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's been a while

I know it's been a while. I am sorry. I have not been feeling that great and so have not had a lot of motivation to be cooking. I am starting to feel better and actually made a whole dinner last night. It felt good. While I was cooking I thought of a great topic. Tomatoes! I love garden fresh tomatoes. I have been getting a lot recently and have been making a lot of salads. The most basic and fresh salad that I love is a tomato and cucumber salad. This picture is the salad I made right out of my garden.

Slice up your tomato
Slice up your cucumber
Layer them around a plate. Drizzle on some olive oil, sprinkle on some salt and pepper and chop up some basil and sprinkle. The most yummy garden fresh salad. London eats this up and so do we.
You can vary this with some mozzarella slices, or feta chunks if you want too.
(I guess in this picture I did not sprinkle basil, oh well.)

Last night though I made some chicken and for the sauce I used a fresh tomato. It made me remember a little tip that got passed on to me from a friend about preserving tomatoes. Last year I had tons of tomatoes. I decided I was going to can some diced ones for winter use. I was talking with a friend who said instead of canning she freezes her tomatoes. I did can one large jar or tomatoes and then decided to freeze the rest, since it sounded much easier. WOW, it's exactly the same. We all should know that fresh fruits and veggies once frozen will not have the same texture as the non frozen variety. (One reason I dislike frozen veggies, they are too mushy.) So here is what I do.
I freeze whole tomatoes in freezer bags when they are at peak of ripeness. (You can halve them if you like, but don't dice.) When you need a can of diced tomatoes take one tomato out of the freezer, no need to thaw. Run it under luke warm water and rub the skin, it should peel right off. Then dice it on the cutting board and add it to the dish to cook. It will look, feel and taste like a diced can tomato only fresher because you grew it! It was such a great tip that for a whole year I did not need to buy canned tomatoes.

Another thing that got me thinking this week was my basil. It's starting to get cooler here and it's not as big of a plant as it was in the heat of summer. I really love having fresh basil on hand but I don't want it to go to waste. Sure, I could bring it inside, but in the past I've done that and the soil was hiding some unwanted bugs that hatched inside where it was warm and I had little bugs flying around my house. (My cat loved it, I did not.) My plan is to make a large batch of pesto and to freeze it. When I need some pesto I will just take a spoon out and scoop, or dig, some out. The color won't be as vibrant green but it should work. You can also freeze the individual leaves to use in sauces but like before, not good for garnish because the color changes to a dark green color when frozen.

Well when I get back into the swing of cooking more I will post some more blogs with recipes that I love. Here's to feeling better!


Friday, September 10, 2010


I love to can. (I know, how old am I?!) But seriously I do. Mostly I make my own jam, but last summer I canned my excess tomatoes from the garden and I also canned a pasta sauce made of butternut squash. This summer I went strawberry picking with my best friend Marisa who was visiting us at the time.

We picked so many we decided to make jam. What I love about canning is that you control what goes into the preserve. Take a jar of regular strawberry preserves off the shelf at the grocery store and I bet you'll find high fructose corn syrup and citric acid, both corn derived. I love corn, just not in everything I eat. This is what has happened, corn is now in everything we eat if we eat off of the shelves of the grocery store. (I highly recommend reading Omnivore's Dilemma and watching Food Inc.) When London was little I would buy canned fruit from the store instead of steaming it myself, which I might try in the future if another one comes along. The hard thing about this was that almost all the fruit was canned in HFCS or a light syrup, which is sugar. Why would you add unnecessary sugar to an already naturally sweet product? American's tongues have lost taste and need things super sweet now and expect all fruit to be sweet to the extreme instead of just tasting the fruit for what it is. I always tried to buy fruit canned in water, which is hard to find, or light syrup which I would then wash off before feeding it to her.

I digress, back to canning. You can control what goes into each and every can when you do it yourself and you really don't need the special equipment that the canning industry recommends. I use my big soup pot and tongs. When I made the strawberry jam I bought some pectin and the recipe inside called for 7 cups of strawberries and 5 cups of sugar. Are you kidding me?! I cut the sugar down to 2 cups and it is perfectly sweet. When canning fruits I don't think you should add any sugar let alone a syrup. Just can them in water with maybe, depending on the fruit, a squirt of lemon juice to help with discoloration.

We have an apricot tree and some plum trees in our yard. Last year I got a lot of apricots and make jam out of them but this year we got two apricots due to a weird spring and the birds got them before me, sad face. The plums however were overflowing. London and I went out and picked a whole bunch and then made jam. So now I have cans of strawberry and plum jam in my pantry. I am so happy knowing that my jam is HFCS free and only has a little sugar in it. I know that if I canned whole fruits I would be very happy knowing that my canned fruit was packed in water and not in syrup. So if you are embarking on a canning experience please remember to not can with syrup. Why add the extra sugar, and a highly refined sugar at that, to a perfectly delicious natural snack?


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Root Vegetable Soup

I promised you all that I was going to try to recreate the soup I had in the Netherlands. It was so yummy and satisfying on that cold rainy day. Today was not a rainy day, but it was overcast and cool. (I am so sad that it seems that summer is almost gone. I am not ready for that.) Today seemed like a good day to make soup.

I know that I made it a little differently. I added potatoes and didn't put as much broth into the soup. Mine had a little more substance per bite than the other soup, but it still turned out great. I also substituted chard for the kale, since my garden is over flowing with the chard right now. I bought this broth in Germany that I used for the soup.

It is a clear broth but very tasty. The vegetable broth I buy here has a big carrot taste and this one doesn't. I might look in the soup aisle to see if I can find it here.

1 carrot, diced small
1 leek, chopped
1 small potato, diced small
1/4 of your standard grocery store red bell pepper (I used a really small one from my garden.), diced really small
3 chard leaves, medium size ones, chopped small
1 tbsp olive oil
5 cups water
3 tsp powder of broth
1/4 pasta

Heat the olive oil in the pot on med-high heat. Add the leek and bell pepper and saute until soft. Once soft add the carrot and potato, maybe add a splash of water to help soften up a bit. Then add the all the water, broth powder, and chard. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Simmer until root vegetables are soft. 5 minutes before serving add the pasta. Now I used the alphabet pasta because I let London choose. It makes eating a little more fun. In the restaurant it was the normal angel hair pasta bits. After eating both, it really doesn't matter. :) So good. London and I ate it up, Patrick wasn't home for it. (Don't worry, I'll make it again for him!)

The pasta comes in little bags and I always find it in the Mexican aisle, they also have little stars that are super cute.

That's another thing about kids. It doesn't hurt to make it fun for them. The whole option of alphabet pasta vs. regular pasta was left up to her, and why not give them a little choice. Now when it comes to giving them choices, don't become a short order cook. They need to eat what you eat and what you make. There are nights when London decides to push her luck and says she won't eat. I don't then make her something else, I say "This is it. If you don't eat this you don't eat anything." Some nights her plate stays on the table until close to bed time and then she eats it. But I never make her something else. This doesn't happen very often but it does happen and that is how we deal with it. Also if she doesn't eat a lot I leave her plate on the table until she goes to bed, because many a night she comes back and snacks while she's playing before bed. That way I know that if she asks for something to eat 10 minutes after I clean up I can point to the table and tell her to eat her dinner. It works.

Enjoy the soup!


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My husband is great!

So many things to tell. The title of this blog is there for a reason. We were driving back to my in-laws from Rothenburg, Germany and all of a sudden my husband is moving around like he's got ants in his pants and then flash he's taking pictures for me of....... the solar farms! We ended up passing another few farms and he saw them coming and whipped out the camera. All for me. I think he loves me. :) So here is the picture of the solar farm. Such a cool concept. Rows and rows of solar panels soaking up mother natures own energy.

Since we left off last time, a lot more was done in Europe. More wonderful food was eaten. My husband and I went to Paris for a couple days, leaving London with her grandparents in Germany, how spoiled I know. Of course we passed some pastry shops that looked amazing, but sadly I didn't try anything because I thought I would wait until the next one and I never saw another one as yummy looking. Oh well that raspberry one was still on my mind from Strasbourg. We ate dinner at a cute sidewalk restaurant in the Latin Quarter in Paris where our hotel was. Being in France I could not pass up on the escargot. I love them so much, and these were amazing as well. I ordered for my main meal a beef bourginon. It was delicious as well. Ever since watching that Julia Child's movie I have wanted to make it, now I really want to make it. Yummy. It was so tender and the veggies were so soft and everything was so full of flavor.

Paris was so cool. I have been there a couple times before but this time, being older and in a different frame of mind, I noticed different things. Patrick and I noticed a whole bunch of rent a bikes. Right by our hotel on three different streets there were stations of bikes, which you can rent by the hour or locations that you may need to stop at. I thought this was an ingenious idea. We were tempted but since we weren't familiar with the streets, we thought it wouldn't be a good idea to ride out in traffic. Later at the airport to go home I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal Europe that both London and Paris were doing this rent a bike program. Since traffic was such an issue they decided to try and make bike riding more accessible to people who lived within the city and didn't have room to store a bike.

Back in Germany we explored some more, going on many hikes. My favorite location was Rothenburg where I had the best brat ever. I didn't take a picture because it was night time and I devoured it too fast. whoops! In Rothenburg they were having their mid evil festival. All the people that lived there were dressed in traditional costumes and performing for the tourists. The town is walled and outside the wall they had the Knights Camp, where we had the brats. It was an awesome city and definitely my favorite place I visited in Germany.

While I was there though I remembered how nice it is to have a good eater. She ate everything and tried new things as well. She liked it all. It reminded me of another little rule when dealing with new eaters. If your child asks if she can try something you are eating you should always say yes if it's something you would approve of them eating and trying. Never say, "Yes you may but you might not like it." Can anyone tell me what's wrong with that? You got it! You are planting a seed of dislike before they even try the food. The correct response should just be "Yes!" If you are going to predict anything you should say "I love it, I'm sure you will too." Chances are even if they are unsure they will say they like it too. At this young age they usually try to like everything their mom/dad like. Lucky when this was said to London, she said "Oh no, I like it." She's so funny.

The one thing I noticed in German food, is little veggies. Maybe we ate at the wrong places, but most meals we ate did not come with veggies. I was craving them and so ordered a bunch of side salads. We got back from Germany last night and went to the grocery store this morning. Guess what I bought? Vegetables that I was craving! :) It's amazing what your body tells you it needs. I am a firm believer in feeding your body what it craves. If you crave something salty, get a handful of lightly salted nuts, chocolate, get a small piece of dark chocolate, vegetables, eat them. Don't hold out or else later you will splurge. So I guess I will be making a lot of vegetarian dishes this week.

All in all we had a great time. I loved seeing all the 'green' aspects of the country, from the grass, and seeing the cows grazing in it, to the solar panels on village homes and solar farms, to the hundreds of windmills that I saw all over the country side. This week I will try making that soup that we had in the Netherlands at the museum, the kale, noodle, carrot one. I will hopefully make a good enough version and then post it up here. Until then please eat well!