Tuesday, June 18, 2013

An Abundance of Greens!

No.  This is not a post about the next special at the Franklin Inn.  I just wanted to share in case there are a few like-minded folks out there among our patrons interested in learning, sharing, and experimenting with locally grown produce (and the health benefits). I have a blast with my CSA box and my trips to the wonderful local farms we have here in the North Hills. Some times my experiments fit with the Franklin Inn's Mexican theme. Check out the Strawberry Jalapeno Salsa recipe here. Other times, not so much.

With a ton of parsley (curly and flat leaf), spinach and various lettuces and mixed greens from my first two boxes and not much time to cook, I pulled out my handy dandy Vitamix (which I still love and is not collecting dust as was predicted by some.....).  First, I made a spinach and parsley pesto. I threw all the spinach and parsley into my Vitamix with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and fresh squeezed lemon juice. A brilliant green paste formed.  Why no cheese or pine nuts? Dairy and nut allergies in my family.  Grated cheese goes on the table for those who can partake of it. Sometimes I add sunflower seeds to pesto but being ill-prepared due to recent commitment overload (can you relate?) I had none on hand.

I then looked at all the bags of lettuce and field greens. I could not bare to make another salad this week. I put the romaine in the fridge since that will keep longer and tossed all the other lettuce and mixed field greens into the Vitamix with, once again, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. This time I added some fresh rosemary too. I wished that I hadn't used all the parsley in the spinach pesto at this point but oh well.  It tasted pretty good....like lettuce.....but not like mushy slimy lettuce....like fresh lively lettuce.  I have no idea yet what I will do with this lettuce pesto.  It is in the fridge. Any ideas? Maybe I'll freeze it and add it to soup or sauce in the middle of the winter for a taste of spring. I'm open to suggestions. There's always the green smoothie option. The spinach parsley pesto was used for dinner last night.  I tossed it with rice pasta and John grilled chicken breasts. A little pesto goes a long way so I am putting the rest in the freezer as well to enjoy at a later date.

A mysterious bag of greens with pretty little purple flowers was also in this week's CSA box. I had no idea what the heck these flower laden viney greens were or how to use them.  Don from Kretschmann Organic Farm quickly answered my inquiry via his Facebook page. Pea Greens! Huh. Something new. That's fun! A quick Google search assured me that these pea greens were okay for cooking so I sauteed a scallion and garlic in olive oil, added the pea greens to the mix, and topped them off with fresh squeezed lemon, salt and pepper. I also couldn't resist a couple shakes of Cholula Sauce. Wow.  They were delicious. My initial reaction was that it tasted close to spinach.  As we munched on them and discussed who among us liked them (everyone but my son, Joey, who dislikes most veggies), Grace decided that the pea greens kind of tasted like asparagus. Ya. I definitely could taste that too. The main stems, leaves and flowers were great but the very thin viney stems were like chewing on hay. Next time I will snip them off before cooking.

I can't wait to see and taste next week's produce.  Any suggestions for all these beautiful spring greens? I'd love to hear about them. Thanks!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Julia’s Allergy-free Birthday Cake

Julia’s Allergy-free Birthday Cake
Adapted from her Grandma Mimi’s (Sue Cibula) famous birthday cake recipe that she makes for everyone’s birthday parties. It’s a tradition in the Cibula family. Enjoy!
  • 3 Cups flour (We like Tom Sawyer All purpose wheat-free for Julia but if you don’t have allergies it is an amazing cake with regular all purpose flour!)
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 6 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • l2 tbsp white vinegar (recipe says white but I use whatever I have red, balsamic, etc. Always turns out great.)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups cold water

• Mix dry ingredients.
• Make 3 holes - oil, vinegar, vanilla
  (I do it even though it doesn't seem to make a difference....they end up merging!)
• Pour water over it all.
• Beat well.
• Bake 30-35 minutes @ 350 (the cupcakes are about 20 minutes.)
note: I think it is better to slightly undercook than over cook. The cake is moister.

Variations: We sometimes add Enjoy Life Dairy-free chocolate chips at the end before baking.
Mexican Cake: Add cinnamon, a pinch of crushed black pepper and chile pepper (ancho or cayenne pepper works well). Bananas are good too.

Julia proud of her birthday cupcakes. A couple years ago we baked these for her to take to preschool.   Dairy-free, wheat free, peanut free soy free, etc. etc. What the other kids don't know won't hurt them!!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

We love Books!

“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left,
I buy food and clothes.”― Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus

Don't worry! You won't need to be nude or hungry to enjoy a good book.  I have two great opportunities for you to acquire great books for free or next to free and both are for great causes.

1. Bread for Books Program for Northland Library.  We are happy to be participating in this program once again to help the library continue service to our community for FREE. Print out and bring this voucher to the Inn Tuesdays in June (4, 11, 18, 25) and we'll donate 20% of your bill to Northland Library in support of their great services. My family has enjoyed many trips to the library and I'm sure you have as well.  If you never made a trip to Northland, please do so soon. You'll fall in love with the library too! Read the post I wrote last time we participated for more information: http://www.franklininnmexicanrestaurant.blogspot.com/2011/09/when-was-your-last-visit-to-library.html

John helping with book sale setup.
2. Anchorpoint Annual Used Book Sale.  This is the biggest and best book sale in the area and it happens next week! June 10 - 14 at the Shoppes at Northway.  You'll be able to peruse over 40,000 new and used books sorted into 20 categories. All are $2.50 or less.  The best part is that you'll be able to enjoy great reads cheap while you are helping the uninsured and under insured get the professional counseling they need.  You'll also be making it possible for at-risk children to get tutoring that parents may otherwise not be able to afford for them. Visit their website for more details: www.anchorpointcounselingministry.org.

Book lovers!...Join us at the Franklin Inn Tuesdays in June in support of the Northland Public Library and for Anchorpoint's Annual Used Book Sale so that we may help them continue their work of hope and healing for our hurting neighbors.