Zucchini Butter

I work in patent litigation. I try really hard to be creative, but I often find that the attempt to even think creative drives me to despair. I know that my (creative) time is finite so whatever it is I sew, paint, draw, must be the best piece of sewing, drawing, or painting. This is undoubtably a very unhealthy way of approaching creativity, but after the never ending doldrums of patent litigation I find that I yearn for instant creative gratification the same way that junkies must yearn for that hit of heroine. So sadly I just avoid, needle, brush and pen.

There is one area of my life which isn’t completely devoid of energy: my food life. I have to eat that is a fact of life. I refuse however to fall back on my college meals of yore. You all know what I mean: the endless pasta… the… the… yeah that. So the little energy I have I throw into my meals. I don’t necessarily mean slaving over the stove for an additional three hours after work, but discovering quick meals that look like I devoted three hours to them. I’m a foodie, what can I say.

My new food love is Food52. One day I opened my email and magically, as if it knew I was desperate, there was an email entitled, “Food 52: Weekly Digest”. I don’t recall signing up for this digest, but I genuinely did not care. This blog is the answer to all my foodie supplications: crafty, easy, chic, delicious.

Today I am sharing with you the absolutely amazing and quick zucchini butter. The full recipe can be found here: Zucchini Butter

They obtained their recipe from Jennie Cook featured in her book The Kitchn

Makes about 2 generous cups

2 pounds zucchini or assorted summer squash (more or less I used 5 zucchinis and was overflowing with “butter”)
1/4 cup olive oil or butter (I eye judged the olive oil just enough to cover the pan)
2 minced shallots, garlic, or both ( I used both)
Dill fresh or dried (my addition)
Salt and pepper

I followed their suggestion and let my zucchinis caramelize. Heaven. Pile your butter high on rustic toast, add a fresh tomato and (butter) fried egg and you have a meal that makes you look like a million bucks. Enjoy.

(If my camera worked you’d get an artsy image as it is use your
Imagination!)

Vegetable Pho

Wisp o' Wind

I took my boyfriend to Hakone this weekend and was inspired by all the greenery to try to make vegetarian pho. For those of you who took a moment to follow the link you have astutely noted that Hakone is not a Vietnamese Garden; nevertheless, one must draw inspiration as it comes.

I looked at many an online blog Vegetarian Times, Gastronomyblog, , etc etc etc… the one that struck my inner foodie is Steamy Kitchen . What I appreciate the most from her recipe is the depth of detail she emphasizes in making the broth. While I did not exactly follow her overall recipe, I did follow 90% of her recipe when it came to making the broth. If you are a Vegan this recipe is not for you. I used a left over chicken carcass to make my broth. I get grossed out by meat in solid form; however, I love love love chicken broth based soup. Go figure.

My biggest beef (get it beef. I don’t eat beef hehe) with my of the vegetarian pho recipes out there is that they skimp on the veggies. I like big chunks of tofu and a variety of vegetables in mine. Who cares about carrots! I can put carrots in anything. Go a little crazy this the vegetables time to shine.

Go to your local Asian market for spices, anywhere else is way to expensive for the quantities you will need.

This recipe will make a huge amount of broth. Be prepared to either freeze the left overs for later use or feed an army. Vegetables in Their Glory

Vegetable Pho

Now for the stuff you want.
Broth Ingredients:
1 Onion Halved
Nub of Ginger (about 4″)
6 quarts of vegetable broth
Pho spices (1 cinnamon stick,  1 tbl coriander seeds [powder works in a pinch], tbl fennel seeds, 5 whole star anise, 6 whole cloves) Wrap all these guys in a mesh/ cheesecloth bag.
1.5 tbl kosher salt (Steamy Kitchen recommends to halve if you use regular salt)
1/8 c. fish sauce

Fixin’s
Rice Noodles
Baby Broccoli
Carrots (yes yes I know)
Mushrooms
Tofu (I used teriyaki flavored)
Bok Choy
Green onion
Basil, bean sprouts and lime wedges for garnish
Sriracha
Hoisin Sauce

Directions
Steamy Kitchen recommends charring your vegetables. I employed a 50-50 compromise. I charred my ginger and just let my onion boil in the broth.

1. Turn your broiler on to the highest point and move the rack to the top. Cut your ginger in half. Brush some cooking oil on to your sheet and on each side of the ginger. Broil on high under the ginger begins to get dark brown, almost black around the edges. Turn over and repeat on the other side. In my oven this only took about 10 minutes.

2. Add ginger, onion, spice packet, sugar, fish sauce, salt, vegetable broth (and if you have a chicken carcass through that in as well.) Simmer this concoction for about an hour and a half. Taste your broth: if it doesn’t taste right then add fish sauce, a pinch of salt and sugar. I had to adjust my salt by a few pinches until it tasted right. Allow your broth to boil for another hour or so. Remove the chicken carcass and strain the broth to remove any unwanted bits. Return the broth to the stove. You can choose to make the broth up to two days in advance.

3. I opted to slightly, saute my veggies prior to assembling my soup bowls. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a pan, heat pan and oil until warm. Add carrots and half a ladle of broth let heat then add mushrooms, let those cook half way then add baby broccoli and bok choy. Let the vegetables simmer and steam together for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Or you can do what I did the first time and cook the mushrooms separately. Do not let your vegetables cook all the way through or else you will have mushy pho. You can add the green onion directly to the soup in step 5.

4. Prepare the noodles. All packages are different so follow the instructions yours come with. I cut cooking time on mine by 2 minutes and there were the perfect consistency.

5. Bowls. Please note that while all of this is happening your broth is happily simmering away. Bring the broth back to a boil. Fill each bowl with rice noodles, veggies, and tofu. Once the broth has reached a boil, ladle the broth into the bowls. The hot soup will cook your vegetables to al dente perfection. Serve immediately.

6. You’re willing friends or family members can garnish the soup with cilantro, lime, sriracha and hoisin sauce as they see fit. Yay! And you’ve just accomplished vegetable pho!

Terrarium

Terrarium
/təˈre(ə)rēəm

As luck would have it my first post is not about sewing, but plants. I will begin by disclosing that the below image is not my work. It is currently nighttime and I have zero desire to go outside in the cold to take a photograph of my work. They will have to be attached at a later date. However, the image below is an excellant example of what not to do when making a terrarium.

Terrariums are typically fully enclosed miniature greenhouses. They are a way for us to bring the outdoors inside, without the mess of large houseplants. Essentially the concept of the terrarium allows us to act like the creator of a micro-universe. Like with all universes there are rules:

1) Succulents do not make good fully enclosed terrarium plants. Wikipedia has a great and confusing definition of the succulent (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Succulent_plant). All you need to know is that they are desert plants and have evolved to withstand water shortages. Thus the humid, damp environment of a fully enclosed terrarium will kill the succulent, a great waste of your time and the plant’s life.

At this point you might be gravely disappointed, as I was, because for some reason succulents are the smallest plants available in a local nursery. I had to compromise my desire for a miniature world with the reality that a succulent just would not make a good terrarium plant. So I used this setback as an excellent excuse to go out and find a new jar.

2) I will not bore you with the details on how to put together a terrarium. All you need to do is “Google: Terrarium” and 11 million hits will populate in your search results. I will, however, give you a helpful hint: buy a terrarium kit. The kit includes everything, except for the plants, in quantities that you will use. Nobody wants a 12 pounds of potting soil when all they needed was a cup or two.

3) If you decide to create a succulent terrarium, you cannot use the kit. Succulents require special cacti potting soil: light, sandy, and porous with heavy bits of organic matter for optimum drainage.  Also if you do decide to create a succulent terrarium pick a jar that will give your succulents plenty of light, air and soil drainage.

Image