Monday, September 6, 2010

my love of herbs

i am in love with herbs. all kinds. lemon balm grows like mad in the back yard, i love the fresh lemony scent. on my porch i get smothered with smells of my very favorite, pineapple sage. my spearmint is thriving, it actually came back from the year before. and if i walk across the street to the natural college of natural medicine (ncnm) i get to enjoy a whole garden of lovely medicinal herbs. it's hard not to be drawn to these beautiful plants with such vibrant flowers and smells, especially as someone who loves to be in the kitchen. my family can tell you that i have always been experimental in the kitchen. recently, i am into adding herbs to beverages, adult or otherwise! herbs are such a great way to make interesting flavors. pineapple sage in a pitcher of sweet tea is amazing. basil, a more common herb, is awesome in a lemon drop cocktail. if you are a lover of the bloody mary, try adding cilantro, oh my gosh it is so good! one of my favorite things to do is cut watermelon into cubes and add fresh mint to it then freeze the cubes and use them as ice in cocktails. more people should feel empowered to experiment in the kitchen. it doesn't hurt that most of these delicious little herbs are beneficial to your health and can be used in home remedies. if you are as skeptical of doctors as i am or as broke as most of middle class america, then you can really appreciate this. did you know that chamomile helps with hay fever? thyme, a wonderful addition to almost any soup, can help with breathing problems related to asthma or coughing. there are just so many delicious and wonderful things you can make with herbs. with fall approaching, i hope you all get to make a few more trips to the farmers market and get some herbs. see you there.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

i love farmers market!

last saturday i bou
ght fresh fava beans at the psu farmers market here in portland. i absolutely love the market and the many unique ingredients i am able to find. i have never worked with fava beans and i was excited to try them out. just like peas, you have to pull the outer shell apart and remove the beans. i love the inside of the shells, they are soft and furry, how odd! once you have all of the beans removed, you need to blanch them in boiling water and then shock them in ice water. this will help you in the next step, peeling the shells in order to get the delicious bright green fava bean! i love the color and happened to also have a summer squash that i thought would really compliment the dish. in a pan with hot oil i added onions, shallots and after a few minutes, garlic. you always want to add garlic last so you don't burn it. keep your heat at medium and when things are looking slightly brown, throw in the fava beans and sliced summer squash. make sure you get everything mixed together and then when it looks done, it is! i like mine a bit caramelized to the pan. yummm. season it up however you like, i added mrs. dash table blend which i love on veggies. this was sooo good. we had it along with crunchy bread, heirloom tomatoes with feta, tomato cucumber cous-cous salad, and lentil soup. it was my idea of a veggie mezza. my boyfriend even found us some fitting music, a sampler cd called mediterranean cafe. i love how finding a new ingredient made this entire memory possible. :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

cold brew coffee is the shit

if you have ever had cold brewed coffee then you will understand why this is so awesome. and no, it is not, by any means, the same as making coffee and letting it get cold, pouring it on ice, or sticking it in the freezer. the idea of a cold brew coffee maker is that the coffee steeps in cold water for a long time so that the coffee has less acidity and the final product is rich, smooth, concentrated coffee. so check out how i built this little wonder, it was super easy and soooo worth it.

1. you will need some supplies: two bottles with their respective lids, one with a longer neck that will fit into the other bottle. i used a gatorade bottle and a gingerale bottle. you will also need good coffee and a coffee grinder, water, a coffee filter, a tablespoon and a liquid measuring cup.

2. cut the bottom off of the bottle with a longer neck. i almost cut my hand attempting to do this with a large knife so i don't recommend that. what worked best was puncturing where i was going to cut with something sharp and then using scissors to cut it off.

3. now take the coffee filter and fold it several times until it is still a bit larger than the drinking end of the bottle you cut the bottom off of. use the filter to plug the drinking end (think of it like your regular old coffee maker, you want it to look like it will hold grinds) and then screw the lid on the bottle.

4. take the vessel you were working with and place it upside down into the other bottle.

5. time to grind the coffee! if you don't have a grinder you can always have your barista grind it for you at your local coffee shop. make sure you let them know how you are preparing the coffee because the grind should match the method you use. you do not want too fine of a grind and you do not want it too coarse either, i try for a medium with my home grinder.

6. i found lots of conflicting info online as to how much coffee to water to use. obviously it is a personal choice as well so you can always experiment with the amounts to make it to your liking. i take 4 heaping tbsp's of coffee and put it in the upside down bottle and then take 24oz of water and pour it on the coffee grinds.

7. now the waiting. . . unfortunately it takes 12 hours for this tasty coffee to be ready but lucky for you that you can set it up before you go to bed and have it ready for the next morning!

8. now you have to use your stealthness and carefully remove the very full container of coffee and water from the other bottle. i do this part over the sink juuuust in case. you will need to lift it up and loosen the cap enough to where the coffee pours over it and then sit it back into the other bottle and watch it pour! within a few minutes you should have tasty cold brewed coffee! what you don't want is to loosen the cap so much that it comes off. so far this hasn't happened to me so i don't know if the coffee filter stuffed in there would be enough to keep all the grinds from pushing out but i don't like to chance it.

9. yummy cold brewed coffee in your cup :) i cut mine with half water, add a splenda and a bit of almond milk and voila, it's delicious. i have also been known to take the concentrate and cut it with half almond or soy milk, add chocolate and ice and make it a mocha!

my friends all know how much i love iced mochas and now that my rent is going up i decided to take some cost saving measures and this is one of them. no longer will i spend $5 a day ($35/wk, $140/mo) for a mocha when i can have cold brew coffee or cold brew mochas right here at home for $10-$15/wk (you do the math!) plus, it's damn good.

Monday, June 21, 2010

french toast

last night i had a craving for french toast. who doesn't love this nostalgic dish? so i threw two pieces of honey wheat in the toaster for just long enough to make them feel stale. if i had planned ahead then i would have laid a few pieces of bread out over night but sometimes you can't plan these things. in a small bowl i whisked two eggs and added a few of my favorite flavors, cinnamon and ginger. i coated each piece of toast in the egg mixture and tossed them into a hot pan with butter and oil. i love butter but it helps to add just a bit of oil to keep your butter from burning. i let each piece of french toast get nice and marbled with brown. most people enjoy french toast with syrup, jam or powdered sugar but i happened to have leftover cranberry sauce. i smothered it on and then drizzled honey on top and topped it with cinnamon. holy delicious batman, this was sooo good.

the first post!

about your expectations. . .

i hope i live up to my name, random mendys. i will do my very best to share with you my thoughts, ideas, recipes and general randomness. this should be interesting to say the least.