National PIE Day Today

 Perfect!  A National Pie Day in the middle of January National Pie Day

We’ve eaten our way through the fresh pies of summer, the apple pies of autumn, the satisfying pies of Thanksgiving, and all the holiday treats of Christmas. And on the horizon is the decadence of Valentine’s Day.  A National Pie Day in the middle of January is perfect!

It’s curious how a word, or a phrase, or even just a photograph can stimulate the appetite or create a craving: “The golden crust on the apple pie”  (previous Great Food Fun Places post and a Nora Jone’s song lyric) or Epicruious.com’s post “8 Gorgeous Reasons” to eat pie  with this image of a piled-high meringue pie – starts the mouth watering…and the creative cooking juices flowing. Ready to bake?

Pie is good! How else to brighten the cold dreary days of winter?  

 

National Pie Day  Remember – not all pies are dessert pies.  Think hot bubbling and rich savory Pot Pies . . . like this English Beef Pot Pie (The Yummy Life) or this Skillet Butternut Squash Pot Pie (Epicurious.com) National Pie Day

 

And what about Pizza? It’s a Pie!

 

In fact, you could do an entire PIE meal in honor of National Pie Day:

Appetizers: Mini quiche pies or fresh chopped veggie-topped flatbread pizzas

Entrée: Pizza – thin crust, deep dish – any yummy pizza

Dessert: Well…just take your pick!  Being January, I usually think of cherry (President’s day and all).

A special (dessert) pie from my childhood has been on my mind lately, reminding me that I haven’t been made it in a long time. This pie is on the rich, elegant side  and oh, so good! – a dark dense chocolate layer with a rich vanilla custard topped with fluffy whipped cream and chocolate shavings . . . I’m thinking Valentine’s Day. . . might as well take pie-eating into February!

Perfecting Potatoes

From BAKED  (vintage vendor cart)  to FRIES  (Pommes Frites in Belgium)  to . . .    COCKTAIL status?

Perfecting Potatoes

Enter:  MASHTINI  (aka MashPatini)

Mashed potatoes served in a martini glass — A fun and elegant way to present potatoes.

I encountered my first Mashtini/MashPatini Bar at the After Party of WordCampPhoenix (a fabulous weekend of learning more about websites and blogs!).  Served as part of an appetizer ‘bar’, we scooped creamy mashed Voilá -a delicious, satisfying and very elegant serving of a comfort food!Perfecting Potatoes

I  thought this was such clever creative idea – one of those “why haven’t we thought of this before?” things when I discovered it has been thought of before!   In doing a little research (it didn’t take much) I came across a reference from waaaay back in 2010 – yikes. Where have I been?Perfecting Potatoes - Mashtinis & MashPatinis

 Mashtini/MashPatini bars have apparently become quite popular, especially in the catering aspect for banquets, weddings, even holiday parties. Think of it… the options are endless as are the ‘flavors’, combination of toppings and presentations.Perfecting Potatoes - Mashtini/MashPatini

Thanks to Bob Evans (refrigerated mashed potato company), the Mashtini has been elevated to elegant ‘cocktail’ status. More than just mashed potatoes piled in a glass and covered with toppings, add a little flair, a twist of the wrist and they are works of art – Edible Art!  With names like The ClubSmokey Sub BBQAutumnCarbonnaraMac’n Mashtini,  Thankstini, and Sweet TaterTwist.

Perfecting Potatoes - Mashtini/MashPatiniBob Evans offers recipesvideos, even a downloadable Mashtini Planning Guide!

When is YOUR next Mashtini (MashPatini) Party??

Images from BobEvans Mashtini and Great Food Fun Places

Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

IT’S AUGUST . . . And those lazy hazy days of summer bring on lazy eating, too!   

This mouthwatering sandwich is perfect. It’s also one of my favorites from childhood . . . aaahh . . . the memories of sitting among the plants in the garden eating sun-warmed tomatoes right off the vine . . . Or making this yummy sandwich with fresh juicy tomatoes right out of the garden, nutty whole grain bread,  creamy cool mayonnaise . . . simple, easy, and satisfying!

Lazy Hazy Days Summer Sandwich

Thanks to theKitchen for reminding me of those simple summer times and for sharing more of simple foods, fresh produce, lazy days:

It’s hot. I don’t feel like cooking. I’d rather be outside sipping a cold drink, or next to the fan reading a good book, or pretty much anywhere but in front of the stove. Luckily, one of the best things about summer is that being lazy in the kitchen actually makes for better meals.

Take the summer tomato sandwich. At its best, it is just bread, sliced ripe tomatoes, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. You can throw a bit of basil on there, maybe some cheese, but they aren’t necessary. Doing anything more complicated — whipping up an herb aioli, frying a couple pieces of bacon — will no doubt result in a tasty sandwich, but nothing as sublime as the lazy original: good bread, drippy pink juices, soft tomato slices bursting with flavor, and an extra 15 minutes of free time.

Corn, fresh herbs, stone fruit, green beans, melons — at this time of year the market is bursting with ingredients that taste best when you do very little. I say embrace it. Be lazy. Eat well. And use all that extra time to whatever it is you dream about doing during the darkest days of winter.

What are your favorite lazy summer meals?

 

Tuesday Tidbit: Fun Fact for Ripening Fruits Faster

Ripen Avocados Faster  I remember hearing something about using caution when combining fruits in a bowl but didn’t remember what it was. This must be it!

DID YOU KNOW?  Bananas, tomatoes and apples give off ethylene gases that speed the ripening process of other fruits.

And –  DID YOU KNOW?  Brown Bag Avocado RipeningPlacing these fruits in a brown bag with other fruits (avocados in this case) hasten the ripening even more.

This Fun Fact was discovered while perusing a recipe for different but delicious Taquitos paired with an equally different and delicious pumpkin seed Guacamole.  Advice (from SoCal Avocados) was shared on speeding the ripening of the avocados by placing them in a brown paper bag with the above mentioned fruits.

Now that we know how to speed up the ripening of avocado, how about those Taquitos and Guacamole. . . Curious?  You should be!   They get even better when accompanied by a warm Mexi Kale Salad and Plantains.

This delightful – and delicious! – meal (and fun fact) is from Healthy. Happy. Life at lunchboxbunch.com.  Visit this website for more fun information and interesting eating!

BUT . . .   Make the guacamole NOW:

Pumpkin Seed Guacamole

Sunny Pumpkin Seed Guacamole

[This] Pumpkin Seed Guacamole is simple enough to let those brilliant avocados shine – yet unique enough to intrigue. This guacamole has a buttery, nutty accent of flavor from adding in rustic bits of pepitas, aka pumpkin seeds.

Bonus Fun Fact: Good-for-you pumpkin seeds are rich in protein, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium and healthy fats. So load up.

Pumpkin Seed Guacamole

2 avocados, remove pit/skin and cube (I used SoCal avocados)

1 red onion, diced

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 serrano pepper, diced (or jalapeno)

1 lime, squeezed

1 lemon, squeezed

1/4 tsp salt

dash pepper

3-4 Tbsp raw pumpkin seeds – minced in Vitamix for 1 minute or smashed or chopped

Directions:

1. Prep ingredients. Blend pumpkin seeds in Vitamix for about a minute. For more flavor, you can toast the seeds in a dry frying pan over high heat for a minute.

2. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss well. Mash avocados for a creamier texture or leave as rough cubes for chunky guacamole.

Lighten it up! Lighten up the calories by subbing out one avocado for 1-2 tomatoes – or other diced veggies. Try carrots, celery, zucchini – even sweet accents like apple or crunchy jicama.

Yummy – E N J O Y!!

 

 

Tuesday Tidbits – Carob vs Chocolate

“Carob is a brown powder made from the pulverized fruit of a Mediterranean evergreen. Some consider carob an adequate substitute for chocolate because it has some similar nutrients (calcium, phosphorus), and because it can, when combined with vegetable fat and sugar, be made to approximate the color and consistency of chocolate. Of course, the same arguments can as persuasively be made in favor of dirt.”   Sandra Boynton, author of Chocolate: the Consuming Passion

In case you are curious:

  The carob tree, Ceratonia siliqua, is a species of flowering evergreen shrub/tree in the pea family, Fabaceae. It is widely cultivated for its edible legumes and as an ornamental tree in gardens.  SourceWikipedia

1 ounce of carob powder has about 100 calories, which is about 1/4 cup in measure. This amount has about 10 grams of fiber and .18 grams (virtually none) of fat. It also contains B vitamins, magnesium, iron, manganese, chromium, and copper. It takes 2 medium/large dry carob pods to make 1 ounce in weight. Source: Gilead Institute

 

 

 

Destination: Indiana – Traders Point Creamery & French Lick Resort

destinationindiana

Family-owned Traders Point Creamery in Zionsville, Indiana, is an organic dairy that includes a cheese making business, a restaurant, soda fountain, country store, Saturday farmers market, community events, organic garden, pigs, and heirloom chickens. It is Indiana’s only processor of grass-fed USDA-certified organic dairy products.

FRENCH LICK RESORT

 

 

Hotel dining room, Café Sinclair’s

 

 

 

Celebrating the Fruits of Labor in Cabriès, France

Come for a visit of Sam’s Garden….

 Cabriès  is a small  mediaeval village perched on a crag in the south of France and strengthened by ancient Provence.

This touching story about a Labor of Love started back in April, when Sam began working steadily at organizing his garden, drawing his rows, installing ‘tomato cages’ where he wanted the plants to be… in short: getting the place absolutely ready for the arrival of a good friend from the US who was coming to visit for a week in May –“just to help in the garden” !

Sam is getting up in years and works much more slowly than before but

still does it as carefully and precisely as ever and…everything has to be done exactly as HE wants it–so he takes his time.  The weather had been very ‘chaotic’ with rain and sunshine chasing each other in the same day; and the temperatures were much cooler than in March, so work in the garden had to be done taking the weather into account.    After a hard freeze in February, the olive trees were looking pretty miserable but at least the worst had been avoided: the trees were not dead!  And a minimal crop would be better than no crop.

Toward the end of May, the weather was more like November with several days of RAIN thoroughly soaking the ground. The friend coming from the US to help Sam plant his garden was due to arrive and it was questionable if they would be able to set foot in it!

 

 

Fast forward to August and a Bountiful Harvest:

 The dining room table totally covered with the latest crop just yesterday!!

 

On the table:  the big dish in front is green chards leaves cooked and cut (half of the crop you can see in the “field picture” –  The white stems are piled up in the big blue pan behind.

 

 

 The latest batch of plum preserves (golden on the left, red on the right!)  

      Now…to enjoy the bounty:
  Made stuffed vegetables all day — ate some tonight and will freeze the rest for guests in the Fall!

 

While in Panama…

What do you think this curious little place is?  Would you believe a ‘Veggie Cafe’?

Well…while in Panama, Simon and Erin, (a couple who ‘sold everything’ to ‘travel the world forever’) were wandering around the island of Isla Carenero;  and…

“ we came across this small shop/cafe advertising veggie burgers. We ventured down the rickety wooden bridge and discovered a hippy home on stilts over the water. The couple serve a few vegetarian snacks right from their living room. There are no tables – just choose from a couch in their living room or a cushion on the deck out back (we opted for the latter) . It was a random find and the burgers were seriously tasty. If you find yourself on Isla Carenero look out for this sign for Mukunda…”

Read more about their Panama adventures

And follow their travels on their delightful website:  Never Ending Voyage !