Tag Archives: food

apple pie for one + tips for a perfect crust

Happy beginnings of the holiday season!  It is also the season for pie-baking, one of my favorite things to do.  Personally, there are times when I want to bake an entire pie and either share it with some friends or devour most of it myself.  There are other times, however, I just want to have one slice and then be rid of any further temptation to go back for seconds…or thirds.  Enter the “apple pie for one.”  Lately, I am beyond obsessed with all things miniature.  Aside from these apple pies being downright adorable, they are the perfect size for a decadent one-time session….

One of my favorite dessert spots in town, D Bar Desserts, specializes in baking chocolate chip cookies to order.  They are hot, fresh, delicious, and made especially for you.  They simply keep cookie dough at the ready.  I have been doing the same thing with pie dough, thanks to their inspirational idea.  I’ll make a batch of dough, divide it into small portions, and either refrigerate or freeze the rest.  I can quickly toss together an apple pie, a peach hand pie, or even a mini breakfast quiche at any time!  So convenient.

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green tomato relish

Gardening is definitely not a picture-perfect hobby.  There are many days spent dealing with powdery mildew, battling against bugs, anguishing over produce stolen by squirrels, and contemplating how on earth I can’t just grow a consistent tomato crop.  This year, we have been blessed with a classic Indian summer in Colorado, where the shades of yellow and orange have lingered well into the month of November.  In fact, I am still growing French breakfast radishes and arugula outside right now!  I finally put most of the garden to rest about a week and a half ago, harvesting hot peppers, spinach, Swiss chard, copious amounts of herbs, and some delicate, green tomatoes.  Ahhh, green tomatoes.  What to do with them?  Last year, I tried frying them, yielding excellent results.  This year, I canned them and made green tomato relish.  It turned those tart, green tomatoes into a spreadable, herbaceous, sweet-and-savory condiment, which I will enjoy well into the cooler months.

My grandmother used to “put up” and preserve, but unfortunately, we never connected on this subject, when she was alive.  As a little girl, I didn’t have the questions for her that I have right now.  In her absence, I simply wing it or consult these books:  Food in Jars, Small-Batch Preserving, or Canning for a New Generation.  When she didn’t can her greenies, she purchased Ritter’s Green Tomato Relish, which is, sadly, no longer available.  I tried developing a very similar recipe, using the pre-frost green tomatoes from my garden, and the results were beyond satisfying.

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how to freeze summer tomatoes + life without a kitchen

For us, Labor Day was exactly what the holiday sounds like:  a day of actual labor and hard work.  I hope yours was much more relaxing; although, working hard is rewarding and satisfying in its own rite.  Today’s post might contain a lot more photos than usual, but posting them gives proof that gardening, harvesting, preserving, and cooking, again, is not dependent upon yard space or kitchen space.  Even though we are still existing without a finished kitchen, the garden continues to proliferate and demand our daily attention.  It has been a wonderful, exhilarating, challenging harvest season, but we’ve made it work…

Freezing Tomatoes:

  1. Select ripe, unblemished tomatoes.
  2. Thoroughly wash and remove stems and any bruised spots.
  3. Place tomatoes in the blender.  If tomatoes are large, slice in half for ease in the blender.  Blend away.
  4. Measure and pour the tomato mixture into freezer bags.  I measure out two cups per bag, so I can know exact amounts for a recipe.
  5. Remove the air from the bag {I use a straw here – #ghettostyle}, label with a Sharpie marker, and lay flat, horizontally in the freezer.  Once the bags have frozen, you can stand them up vertically, like a “filing system” in the freezer.

Tips for Freezing Tomatoes:

  • Freezing is fast and requires very little equipment – basically, a blender, a knife, freezer bags, and a Sharpie.
  • Preserving, in this method, keeps your kitchen heat-free, a bonus in the summer.
  • Use the thawed, puréed tomatoes in stews, soups, or sauces.  Don’t try substituting puréed, formerly frozen tomatoes, for a recipe that calls for fresh tomatoes, or else you’ll end up with mushy tomatoes.  Gross.
  • Try to use the frozen, puréed tomatoes within four to six months, for optimal flavor.  If you are ever in doubt that something in your freezer or pantry has expired, check out StillTasty, a great resource for determining the shelf lives of many foods.
  • Instead of taking the time to de-seed and de-skin beforehand, we choose to purée and freeze the entire tomato. The gel surrounding the seeds actually imparts more flavor than the flesh of the tomato.  The skins impart even more anti-oxidant properties.  Why limit your taste and your nutritional impact?  Read more about retaining the seeds and skins of the tomato here, via the Kitchn.

For today’s post, I am reflecting on the cue, suggested by You Grow Girl‘s “Grow-Write-Guild-Prompt-Eleven.”  I am joining the party a little over ten posts too late, but I am still on board with their concept of writing about your garden, capturing what is happening right now, and sharing mishaps, successes, recipes, and must-to-dos, along the way.

What was happening last year both in the garden and in the kitchen?  Well, like this summer, the tomatoes were pumping, and I had a kitchen, for one…  Without the ability to seriously can, this year, I am relegated to quick-pickling and freezing most of my produce.  I am almost ready to purchase another freezer; room is running out.  Black Krims always do well, but I have noticed that my early fertilizing has hindered my tomatoes’ fruit output later in the season.  I have learned, this year, to fertilize after the initial flowers have shown, and to prune large, unnecessary leaves, so that the plant can direct its energy to producing quality, limited tomatoes.  The key is to concentrate the plant’s energy to the task it has at hand.  I have also learned to plant vegetables with different vegetables; in other words, no monocultures.  Why?  Fewer diseases, better plant cohabitation, more efficient water usage, and better quality fruit production.

Crisp, toasted bagels, with sliced Black Krim tomatoes, goat cheese, basil, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of white truffle oil…this is my most favorite summer decadency.

How have I best used my abundance of heirloom tomatoes in my garden this summer?  By simply cutting them off the vine, washing them, slicing them up, and serving them alongside a chiffonade of basil, some crumbled Avalanche goat cheese, sea salt, cracked pepper, and a drizzle of white truffle oil.  I serve this on top of toasted “everything” bagels, and they are a memorable capture of summer’s bounty.  So easy…

And after a brief argument on where to plant the cool season crops and whether or not to include tomato seeds in the pasta sauce, we took a break to enjoy a shot of whiskey and a “pickle-back.”  The rich, savory component of the whiskey is accentuated by the briny, sharp, acidic pickle brine.  You may have some pickling brine left over, if you made some “quickles” last week.  Make this decadent and unique treat; you won’t be under-stimulated.  You might possibly be disappointed {I doubt it}, but it won’t be boring…at the very least, try something new, for once!

Next step in the garden, that afternoon:  snipping ripe basil and parsley leaves, washing them, and placing them into the dehydrator.  This was Steve’s job today.  My job was to collect the appropriate lighting necessary to capture the herb’s verdant nature and the energy in the moment.

With respect to herbs:  pick appropriately, wash, spin, dry, store, and repeat.  I absolutely love my very cheaply purchased dehydrator from Bed Bath & Beyond.  I have two of these, and I want two more.

Freshly picked Japanese “fairy tale” eggplant, ready to be de-stemmed and washed.

Washing our vegetables outside in the stockpot. Despite our lack of running water, we are able to wash our produce and preserve it.

We take all of our leftover water that was used for washing, boiling, and cooking, and we use it to water our newly planted drought-tolerant grasses and vegetables. #reduce #reuse #recycle …in that order!

Carrot top greens, onion skins, spinach stalks, used as stock components.

Making stock on the back porch, using a crock pot.

Purple cabbage head forming…ready in a couple of weeks.

Multi-colored heirloom carrots, pulled from the ground today.

Half-ripe cantaloupe…ready in about two weeks. This was a “happy accident” that we planted. When the school’s community garden received donated plants, this was one of the “left-overs” or the “not-planted.” There is only one fruit on the vine. Planting will be worth it, even if this is the only melon harvested.

Heirlooms from the garden plot:  Brandywines, Black Krims, German Johnsons…
#tomatobag

Community-supported flowers: water, cultivate, and pick appropriately.

Cosmos, sunflower, dill, marigolds…

don’t fear the pink

Pink…

What words come to mind, when you see this color or hear its name?  What associations, emotions, pictures, people?  I see beautiful sunsets, gorgeous azalea blooms from my home state of Florida, Sunday dresses, spring ties, sprinkled cupcakes, seersucker suits, brightly colored parrots, a singer by this name, ripe strawberries, and, of course, flamingos.  Not to mention delicious rosé wine, my subject of choice today.

After having coffee this morning, with a wonderful friend and colleague within the wine industry, I felt compelled to mention a few things on “pink wine.”  We shared stories of how “pink” wines are perceived within the wine-consuming crowd.  As kismet would have it, I had a half-finished bottle of rosé in my fridge, an evening off, and another new book to begin reading.  At 11:00 this morning, I was already imagining a summery beet salad and some goat cheese to pair with my chilled wine.  I constantly question why anyone would limit their enjoyment or palate because of preconceived notions of what a color means to them.

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frozen kale power cubes

Why do I procrastinate, when I know that if I just applied a little elbow grease right now and set aside a little time at the present, I would be rewarded in the future? Rewarded with peace, bounty, satisfaction, and even extra time. Discussing the whys and hows of the roots of procrastination in my personal life is a completely different and challenging topic. I will save (er…postpone!) that conversation for another post. Plus, this is more exciting! One thing that I do have a handle on is purchasing and harvesting fruits and vegetables, when they are in season or on sale. This way, I can preserve the produce at its prime and use it later on, when it is unavailable, more expensive, or sourced from another country.

Almost a month ago, I spotted bundles of organic kale for just under two dollars. That’s a great price for organic kale, here in Colorado, in the middle of early spring. I immediately stock-piled about six bundles and set out to preserve them. I love using kale in green smoothies, and freezing pureed kale in ice cube trays couldn’t be easier or more efficient.

kale cube trays

You could make kale cubes simply by pureeing kale and water together. Kale, alone, is too fibrous for a blender to process, so adding a liquid component is a necessity. Instead of adding only water, I like to toss in several other components to “amp up” the nutritional factor; thus, the “kale power cube” is born:


frozen kale power cubes


  • 2-3 bundles of fresh, organic kale
  • 4 tablespoons tart cherry concentrate
  • fresh fruit or a bag of frozen fruit {mango, peach, and pineapple are favorites}
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • a liquid of your choice: filtered water, coconut water, or a juice
  1. Wash the kale. I use the entire plant (both stems and leaves).
  2. Tear into smaller pieces and place in the blender. I absolutely love my Vitamix because it blends so thoroughly; it leaves no particulates or fibrous pieces behind.
  3. Add the cherry concentrate, frozen fruit, and flax seed.
  4. Add your liquid component. I used coconut water (high in electrolytes) and 100% cranberry juice.
  5. Blend away! Add more liquid, as needed.
  6. Pour liquid into ice cube trays and freeze.
  7. Once frozen, label and seal in freezer bags.

Use this recipe as a guide and experiment with combinations of different vegetables and fruits. What are some other players that I frequently use? Blueberries, acai berries, spinach, pomegranate juice, protein powder, chia seeds, or spirulina. I try to use the most highly concentrated ingredients in the cubes, in combination with whatever fresh fruits and vegetables that I have on hand: carrots, bananas, apples, peaches, etc. I toss one or two of these kale power cubes into my daily smoothie. I get a boost of fiber from the organic greens, omega-3 fatty acids from the flax seeds, and anti-inflammatory properties from the tart cherry concentrate and fruit. All of this in a conveniently sized, little cube!

Some advice that I had to learn the hard way? Remember to empty the ice cube trays, once the kale has frozen! If you don’t have an automatic ice cube maker, like me, you will be sorely disappointed when you decide to make an iced tea or a refreshing cocktail, and you have no ice on hand, because all of your trays are filled with green matter!

kale cubes awaiting their destiny...

Signing off with some photos of recent happenings around the house and garden…cheers!

The flip-side of procrastination: don’t procrastinate or postpone the pleasures right in front of us, this very moment. This tattered fortune cookie slip has a permanent home at eye-level, on our refrigerator.

The first flower, a purple crocus, spotted this past March, in our front yard.

Dragon’s Blood waking up from its winter sleep.

The view from our back porch last week. What a mood-swinging spring! One day, we would be enjoying sunny, 50 degree afternoons, and the next day, we would be dealing with five inches of snow. So ready for the warm season…

perennial thyme emerging between the flagstones.

Perennial thyme, emerging through the flagstones on the garden path.