• huckleberry buckle

    huckleberry buckle

    When we moved to Oregon, I was hoping we’d be able to catch more of berry season black raspberries, marionberries, boysenberries, huckleberries, and other mystery berries I’ve never had before, but we missed it. Well, for the most part. I did manage to snag a bag of huckleberries at my first trip to the PSU Farmers Market. After sneaking a few, I deemed them too precious to eat and decided to do something special with them. AllRecipes to the rescue! I found a recipe for a huckleberry buckle, a moist cake with a crunchy streusel topping that’s bursting with huckleberry sweetness and tartness. I decided to have a go at it, despite the 90+ degree weather. I hated life the whole time the oven was on, but once I had that first bite with vanilla ice cream, all was well again.

    So, what the heck is a buckle? According to the HuffPo article, a buckle is a cake where fruit is layered above the batter, which causes the cake to rise around the fruit, the fruit to sink to the bottom, and the whole thing just ends up buckling inwards. Mayyyybe this isn’t a buckle, it’s probably a crisp. But huckleberry buckle (or hucklebuckle, as I’ve been calling it) is a lot of more fun to say than huckleberry crisp, so huckleberry buckle it is.

    Note: the recipe calls for a 8″ x 8″ pan. My 8″ x 8″ pan was a casualty of the Second (yes, second!) Pyrex Explosion of 2014, so I used a 10.5″ pie pan and the cake was ready after about 22 minutes of baking. Huckleberries are similar to blueberries, so if you don’t have huckleberries in your area, feel free to substitute blueberries for this recipe.

    huckleberry buckle

    Huckleberry Buckle
    (adapted from AllRecipes)

    For the cake:
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1/4 butter, softened
    1 egg
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    2 cups all purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 cup milk
    2 cups huckleberries or blueberries

    For the streusel:
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1/3 cup all purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 cup butter, softened

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease your baking pan.

    In a bowl, cream together sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg. In a larger bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix in milk, the sugar/egg/butter mixture and combine thoroughly. Stir in the huckleberries (or blueberries). Pour mixture into the baking pan.

    Make the streusel by combining sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the cake batter and bake for 25-30 minutes.

    Check with a toothpick to see if the cake is ready. Once ready, let it cool for a bit before serving. Serve with ice cream.

    Serves 10-12

  • portland

    il_fullxfull.266118346
    (via thelittlecanoe on etsy)

    Greetings from the Sea of Cardboard Boxes and Bubble Wrap.

    We recently moved from Michigan to Portland, Oregon. The original plan was to move to a new city or state every year for the foreseeable future. As it happens, moving is expensive and takes up too way much time (duh, right?). So when our year in Michigan drew to an end, we had to pick a spot that we thought we’d be happy living in for a few years. Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Portland were the top contenders based on things like affordability, culture, walkability… and well, Ye Olde Polar Vortex scared us off from enduring another Midwestern winter, so off to Portland we went.

    Moving was a little bit easier this time around, but it always feels brutal. We purged a lot of our belongings back in San Francisco. Got rid of our bed, couch, microwave, both dressers, more clothing than I can remember, and at least 100 books. Now we sleep on a Japanese-style futon, I miss the couch, but do not miss the microwave and wonder why we even had one in the first place. More purging this time too, but I still have plenty of little tchotchkes and rarely used kitchenware that are sure to stick around for years.

    Portland is ridiculously pretty. Neither of us had been to Portland or Oregon before the move. Our cab driver from the airport asked if we were returning from our honeymoon because we seemed to be so excited to be coming to home. There was a bit of a tangle in that honeymoon phase when we walked into our apartment for the first time and discovered it was smaller than we expected. About 100 square feet smaller, we later measured. That’s pretty significant when you already know you’re moving somewhere small. The lack of storage space in the kitchen is the biggest disappointment. In the end, I’m thankful that Cory and I really like each other. I wouldn’t want to share this shoebox with anyone else. We’ll be happy enough here, but we are planning to pack up our things again in a year to move to a place that’s a little bit bigger. Moving within the city will certainly be less stressful than across the country.

    Everything has been unpacked, but the apartment is still littered with boxes and bubble wrap. I still stumble into the bathroom in the dark forgetting where the light switch is, but I’m cooking again. I’ve returned to meal planning, washing, drying and storing large batches of greens, canning, freezing small batches of herbs, drying herbs, freezing scraps for vegetable stock, and that’s how I know I’m at home again. In Ann Arbor, I had a backlog of recipes to share and that backlog keeps piling up. Hopefully I’ll have something posted in a few days, but first I have 10 pounds of berries and 25 pounds of tomatoes to can.

    See you soon!

  • roasted cauliflower with lentils and tahini sauce

    Roasted cauliflower with lentils and tahini sauce >> avocadobravado.net

    Roasted cauliflower is an old standby from my early days of learning how to cook. I was in college at the time and had a job at a book store. The store would receive advanced copies of books the staff could keep. FOR FREE. As a student working part-time for minimum wage, free books were a dream come true. One of the books I snagged at the end of a shift was Olives & Oranges by Sara Jenkins. The book store has gone the way of the dodo and the my copy of Olives & Oranges was donated long ago, but I still have fond memories of procrastinating homework to pore over recipes, making lists of how I should stock my humble pantry, and dog-earing just about every other page or so for recipes to try on my own or to make for Cory when we moved in together.

    The main dish I took away from the book was cauliflower with tahini sauce. I don’t remember the exact recipe from the book, so I’m sure mine deviates a bit. The cauliflower is roasted which brings out its natural sugars, then drizzled with a creamy lemon and garlic tahini sauce. It’s perfect as is, but also great served over lentils like I did here, or with bulghur or couscous, or stuffed in a pita or wrap.

    Oh! I have a backlog of recipes to post here! That hasn’t happened in uh… 3 1/2 years. After a particularly miserable winter, I want to devour every vegetable in sight. That’s a good thing, right?

    Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Lentils
    (adapted from Olives & Oranges by Sara Jenkins)

    Cauliflower:
    1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
    enough olive oil to coat the cauliflower
    salt and pepper, to taste
    1/3 cup parsley, chopped

    Tahini sauce:
    2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
    2/3 cup tahini
    2-4 tablespoons water (depending on
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    1/4 teaspoon cumin
    1/4 teaspoon coriander
    salt and pepper, to taste

    Lentils:
    2 cups lentils
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    salt & pepper, to taste

    Garnishing (optional):
    Chopped parsley
    Lemon wedges

    Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

    Wash cauliflower and cut into florets. Pat dry with a towel and place the cauliflower in a large foil-lined roasting pan. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil over the cauliflower and use your hands to make sure the cauliflower is thoroughly coated in oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the cauliflower and place the roasting pan in the oven. Set your timer for 20 minutes.

    Fill up a large pot with water. When boiling, add lentils and cook according to package directions. Once done, drain, transfer back to the large pot, and set aside.

    After the 20 minutes are up, remove the cauliflower from the oven and turn the pieces over. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes.

    Now, prepare the sauce. Chop up garlic cloves, toss in a large bowl, add tahini, water, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, and mix thoroughly. Give the sauce a taste test and adjust salt, spices, and lemon, if necessary. Add more water for a thicker sauce. Add about 2 tablespoons of both the tahini sauce and olive oil to your pot full of lentils and mix. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

    Check on the cauliflower and if most pieces are a dark golden color, they’re ready. If not, check on them again in another 5 minutes. When ready, remove from oven, toss in the chopped parsley. Serve the cauliflower over a bed of lentils. Top the cauliflower with tahini sauce and drizzle a little olive oil over the dish just before serving. Garnish with lemon wedges and more parsley.

    Serves 4-6 as a main or side

  • karkady / egyptian hibiscus tea / كركديه

    karkady egyptian hibiscus tea karkade

    The first time I had karkady was in Cairo in 2006. Ramadan was in full swing and the October heat was relentless. My roommate and I were in a taxi on our way to al-Husayn Mosque, which we would visit a few times a week. She would go to the mosque to pray, then we’d hit up nearby Khan al-Khalili to shop for giant gaudy earrings and eat tameyya sandwiches. On the last stretch of the trip, the call to prayer rippled through the city. It was iftar — time to break the day’s fast. Drivers had a new sense of urgency, most pedestrians vanished from the street to fill their bellies, and our cab driver broke his fast with a cigarette.

    As our taxi inched forward in bumper to bumper traffic, I noticed a man going from car to car and handing people bags with some sort of deep red liquid. When he got to our taxi, he handed me a bag and said something I didn’t understand. I had just enough time to thank him, but not enough to ask him what it was before he went on his merry way. I asked the cab driver if he knew what the drink was and he said, “karkady”. Well, OK! I didn’t know what that was but when a jovial toothless man hands you mystery drink in a plastic bag, what do you do? My roommate wasn’t interested, so I drank it in the most graceful way one can drink from a plastic bag (which is not at all).

    As a fan of all things sour, it was love at first sip. Sweet but not overly so, with a tart flavor reminiscent of cranberry juice. After doing some investigating later on (aka googling), I learned karkady was made from made an infusion of hibiscus flowers. Serve it cold in the hot months and hot when fighting off those winter shivers. It wasn’t for another few years after leaving Egypt that I would revisit karkady, but now you’ll find a pitcher (or bottle) of it in my fridge about once a month.

    To make karkady, you need dried red hibiscus flowers, which can be found at Middle Eastern and Latin American groceries (look for Flor de Jamaica), tea shops, and the bustling spice markets of Cairo. If none are available in your neck of the woods, there’s always Amazon, the Wal*Mart of the internet.

    Unrelated, but here are some things I’ve been cooking lately:

    Pulled Pork – I made about 5 pounds of pulled pork for Father’s Day. It had been so long since I cooked several pounds of pork that and I overcooked it a little bit, sadly. Dad came down for a visit and we feasted on pulled pork sandwiches and potato salad. I sent dad home with a big container of meat, then Cory and I used the remaining pork for sandwiches and tacos.

    Black Bean, Cilantro and Apricot Salad – When we ran out of pulled pork, we still had several corn tortillas. I made a mango and black bean salad based off an apricot and black bean salad from the taste space. The recipe has been a regular in our kitchen for about 3 years now.

    Quick Pickled Onions – from the Kitchn. I’ve quick pickled (and consumed) 4 jars of carrots in the last month and now I’m onto onions for salads and sandwiches.

    Falafels – The last of my chickpeas are currently soaking as I type this. Falafels served over a bed of lettuce will be tomorrow’s dinner. Maybe I’ll buy more chickpeas before we move, but first I have to go through a pound of pinto beans, cranberry beans, and great northern beans. Anyone have any ideas what to do with those?

    Tahini – ok, I haven’t made this yet. But I’m making it tomorrow! Again, from The Kitchn. I’ve never made tahini from scratch before, but I have a lot of sesame seeds I’ve been meaning to use up. I’m knee deep in Operation: Clear Out the Pantry.

    Zucchini – zucchini everything. Chopped up raw and in salads, zucchini noodles, zucchini soups, and mastering mom’s zucchini bread.

    Corn – with everything. Mostly corn on the cob, sometimes soup, and I made a corn, basil, and pesto pizza on Friday.

    Popsicles – currently, mango lassi popsicles. But I’m really craving Vietnamese iced coffee and I think they’d make for some delicious popsicles.

    Now, on with the show.

    Karkady / Egyptian Hibiscus Drink

    3/4 cup hibiscus petals
    8 cups water
    sugar, to taste (I recommend starting with 1/4 cup and taste testing from there)

    Optional:
    dried orange peel
    grated ginger
    a few squeezes of lime or lemon
    a cinnamon stick

    In a large pot, add hibiscus petals and water (add orange peel, ginger, and/or cinnamon stick, if using) and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in sugar and give the drink a taste test and add more sugar, if necessary. You can skip this part, but I usually cover the pot and let it steep for another 1-3 hours. If adding lime or lemon, squeeze a bit of juice in and stir. Strain the mixture into a pitcher, discard the petals, and refrigerate the drink for several hours.

    Serves 8-10

  • green salad

    greens salad with avocado and egg

    It was just one of those days where nothing sounds as good as a big plate of greens. Handfuls of greens, fresh herbs, chunks of avocado, crisp cucumbers, crunchy pistachios, a hard boiled egg on the side because why not, and just enough of the simplest of dressings to lightly coat it all. This is exactly what I was missing all winter. My kitchen is looking a lot like this these days:

    IMG_4192
    Green things! And a mess of other stuff.

    Welcome to my life without a salad spinner. I discovered how great salad spinners were last summer when we were living with my dad. I’d pick some kale, arugula, or romaine from the garden, wash, spin, and eat. It was glorious. I’m holding out until we move though, so there will be one less thing to pack. In the meantime, I’ll keep eating salads like this and my kitchen will remain a battlefield of greens.

    Green Salad

    For the salad:
    a few handful of greens (I used baby kale and a “spicy salad” mix)
    2 tablespoons chopped herbs (I used basil and parsley)
    half of an avocado, cubed
    1/2 cucumber, chopped (or 1 Persian cucumber)
    2 tablespoons of pistachios, chopped
    hard boiled egg

    For the dressing:
    a squeeze of lemon
    a teaspoon of olive oil
    salt & pepper, to taste
    red pepper flakes, to taste

    In a small bowl, mix together the dressing. Give it a taste and adjust lemon and salt, if needed. In a large bowl, toss all the salad ingredients together and mix in the dressing until everything is thoroughly coated. If you’re feeling lazy (like I was!), layer all the ingredients in a bowl or plate. Drizzle the dressing on top and crack some more pepper. Serve with a hard boiled egg on the side.

    Serves 1