I stayed away from garlic scapes last year because, well, I wasn't all that familiar with the ingredient and so, was admittedly a tad intimidated. Not that I'm frightened of garlic scapes, I just wasn't exactly sure what to do with them. These bright green tendrils show up once a year at farmer's markets as a precursor to the arrival of the more well known garlic bulb.
Scapes are the above-ground component of garlic. They extend up, shooting out of the soil to collect sunshine and chlorophyll to nurture the bulb beneath. If left attached, the scape can rob the bulb of its final growth spurt, so farmers harvest the scapes to allow the bulbs to grow more. This works out in favor of garlic lovers everywhere.
Scapes show up to market, quelling the garlic hungry masses. They can be used in place of garlic and offer a milder version of the sharp, pungent quality of the traditional bulb.
I brought home four bunches that day and then had to decide what I was going to do with them. The resounding preparation across the internet was pesto. I have also heard grilling scapes is a wonderful choice too.
As for pesto, there are a gazillion recipes. The basic ingredients are nuts, garlic, parmesan, herbs and olive oil. Pesto recipes cover a mighty spectrum and I have found some that use walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, kale, red peppers etc..The list goes on and on.
I chose to prepare a summery pesto with herbs that added a certain brightness. I wanted to put it on fish and swirl it in a chilled soup. I didn't want it to be one salty note laden with cheese and oil. For me, parsley and lemon always elevate the brightness of any dish so I opted for those two in my pesto recipe.
Experimenting with ingredients and developing my own recipes is new for me and I have to say that I was pretty pleased with my results. The pesto was bright and zesty with the addition of the lemon and parsley. The cheese added a nutty saltiness and the scapes remained the star ingredient.
Some say that garlic scapes are milder than garlic bulbs, which is partially true. Be warned, though, your breath will be kickin after consuming this pesto. Like all day long kickin. Like don't have any important people to talk to for at least 12 hours. Like maybe pesto is the codeword for vampire repellant. Consider yourself warned.
I enjoyed my first batch with a plate of smoked salmon, orange wedges and fresh arugula tossed with a bit of orange zest, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. I couldn't stop slathering it all over everything. I've since eaten it with my eggs, smeared on flat iron steak and maybe I've dipped my spoon in a time or two. I've also frozen some for later use since scapes disappear in a flash.
I hope you've picked up a bunch and if you haven't, I hope you'll try some this year. The only thing you have to fear is temporary breath paralysis by pesto consumption. No biggie and well worth it, in my opinion.
Garlic Scape-Parsley Pesto
10 Garlic Scapes, cut into small segments, about an inch long
1/2 cup parsley
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup parmesan
1 small lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
Place all ingredients except for olive oil into the food processor and process until well incorporated into a paste-like consistency. While food processor is running, slowly add olive oil to the rest of ingredients. Add more salt or lemon juice to taste.
Happy Friday everyone! It most definitely feels like summa-summa-summa time and I've got a nice long weekend to bask in the sun and enjoy every minute of it. We like to take the "no-plans" approach to holidays like these. We may go hiking. We may hit the pool. I may read the entire "50 Shades" series. Whatever. All I know is that I'll be working on tanning my unsightly gams, casually knocking off items from my massive wedding/home/life to-do list and hopefully catching up with a few friends.
How do you like the picture above? I found it while digging through my grandmother's old photo albums. I love the old school beach blanket bingo vibe and particularly love Contestant #7. You go, Grandma!
What do you have planned? Any fun excursions? Exciting projects? Any special meals in the queue? Whatever you do, make it a good one. Happy Weekend, friends!
In case you were wondering, it's not all cakes, pies and cookies here at The Sunnysideup although I know it must appear that way at times. I love, love, love to make sweets, but my everyday meals look much different and, in reality, my love for food is boundless. I hardly discriminate. Vegetables, meats, salads and sweets. You name it, I put it in my belly as long as it's made with real and wholesome ingredients.
Recently, I posted a picture of my cauliflower stir fried lunch and received a number of inquiries about the recipe which is what I'm going to share with you today. In lieu of that whole "me in a wedding dress" thing that's approaching ever so quickly, I've taken a step away from consuming grains and most starches. Thus, cauliflower and I have been hanging out on the regular. I've found that it's a great substitute, raw or cooked, for starchier ingredients like rice or potatoes. You can make a fresh raw salad like this one
or a creamy mash like this one.
You can also toggle between the two and opt for a healthy stir-fry with whatever vegetables are hanging out in your fridge. Adding broccoli, kale or bok choy to the below recipe would be a great idea.
Cauliflower Stir Fried "Rice"
1 Head Cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tablespoons coconut oil or oil of your choice
3 large eggs
1 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 large carrot, cut into small dice
1 small red bell pepper, diced
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup each, chopped basil and cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1/4 teaspoon hot sesame oil
splash of tamari, soy sauce, or coconut aminos (whatever your salty preference)
splash fish sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pulse cauliflower in food processor until it resembles fine grains of rice, like so...
Chop all the vegetables and herbs, set aside. Heat one tablespoon of coconut oil over medium-high heat. While the oil heats, whisk the eggs in a bowl with a splash of water and sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add eggs to the hot pan and scramble until cooked. Remove from pan and set aside. Next, add another tablespoon of oil and saute onions until translucent and softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, stir for another minute.
Next, add carrot, bell peppers and mushrooms and stir until softened, about another 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Return cauliflower to the pan and mix well. Turn the heat to low and cover pan with lid. Allow vegetables to cook together for another 3 minutes. Remove lid and add scallions, herbs and egg. Drizzle with sesame oil and mix well. Add splash of tamari and fish sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.
As you can see, I also brought sriracha to the party. Holla!
I live in an old house that's equipped with old-school features like a side door that opens right into the kitchen. It's a neighborly door, one that welcomes people directly into the heart and soul of our home, our small kitchen. We have a front door too, reserved only for the UPS man and the occasional Jehovah's witness. The side door is for things like family and neighbors. People on our quiet road still subscribe to neighborly gestures like bringing over fresh-baked items and stopping by to ask for help or for the occasional yard tool. I rather like it.
Our side door is attached to the carport ( I said it was old, didn't I) which houses our grill, a small seating area and most of our gardening supplies. Alongside the carport is the herb garden, an ever-evolving space for my culinary whims.
When we moved into this old home nearly two years ago, the space had no pizzazz. It housed a patchy bunch of renegade lillies and a couple obligatory bushes. I knew I wanted to take advantage of the kitchen/carport connection and the convenience of having access to fresh herbs. I envisioned myself snipping away like the Barefoot Contessa in my vast collection of beautiful herbs and flowers. I haven't quite nailed the pretty like Ina nor do I live in a place that remotely resembles the Hamptons, but I have amassed a small collection of my own, something that I cultivated with my own two hands. I rather like that too.
The garden is ever-evolving, a vivid reflection of its owner. I have recently become greedy for new and interesting herbs like pineapple sage and purple basil. Currently, I am waiting on several seedlings to mature (see the baby basil below the yellow flowers in the large picture beneath?) and have recently added a patch of wildflowers to bring the happy pollinators.
Starting with large photo on right, clockwise: Herb Garden, Pineapple Sage, Sage, Cilantro
It's such a simple pleasure, one that I get to enjoy on so many levels. Planting, nurturing, growing, consuming. Much better than driving to the old grocery store, in my opinion.
Do you have an herb garden or any potted herbs? What are some of your favorites?
When in doubt, bake it out, right?
On Tuesday night, I received word that I was passed up for a job that I really, really, really wanted. I had applied for what seemed the perfect position for me, a gal who loves everything about wholesome, mindful food, nearly two weeks ago and had been anxiously awaiting a response since the application deadline last Monday. I told all of my friends about it and they all agreed it was a perfect fit. Everyone was rooting for me. I felt good, confident almost. My horoscope
said it was likely I would take a new position. Even the cosmos were on my side! I had high hopes, like sky high.
But, alas, I was passed up. Rejected. A gracious email wished me the best of luck and within 45 seconds, my two-week nail biting odyssey of hope was complete. Am I bummed? Yes. Defeated? No.
So, now what?
Well, now, we bake a cake. The Buttermilk Cake of Rejection.
Was it 9:00 at night when I decided to do this? Yes. Did I care? No.
It was a completely sound solution to disappointment, in my opinion. Much better than, say, getting wasted and drafting an email expounding on just exactly what these people were missing out on complete with drunken grammatical errors like, "You don't know a good locawhore when you see one!"
That would've so happened five years ago.
Instead, I gathered up the local peaches resting on the countertop, pulled out my favorite cookbook
and commenced baking my consolation prize, the Buttermilk Cake of Rejection.
The recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour, buttermilk, a small amount of butter and a hefty dose of lemon zest. I used muscovado sugar to add a deep molasses kick to the cake. I also thought it nice to add a drizzle of honeyed brown butter. What the hell.
Even with the modifications, the cake isn't overly sweet. The peaches maintain a subtle tartness and juicy integrity making it the star ingredient, as it should be. The muscovado sugar is less pronounced than I thought it would be, but left little pockets of caramelization that were a treat to find. The honeyed brown butter became the nutty component and dare I say, a little bit of the naughty component too. It was rich and nutty and seeped into the spongy pockets left by the peaches. Although moist, the cake had a nice crunch around the edges from a sprinkling of sugar over top.
All of sudden, with each passing bite, rejection didn't taste all that bad. Actually, it was rather peachy.
Buttermilk Cake with Peaches and Honeyed Brown Butter
adapted slightly from Super Natural Everyday
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon aluminum free baking powder
1/2 cup muscovado sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Zest of 3 lemons, grated'
6 local peaches, sliced thin
3 tablespoons coarse raw sugar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the center of the oven. Line the bottom of an 11-inch tart pan with parchment paper and butter the fluted edges. I used the remnants of the saucepan in which I melted my butter for the recipe and used my fingers to rub the edges with butter.
Whisk together flour, baking, powder, muscovado sugar and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and buttermilk together. Add the butter(the butter should be cooled, but still liquified) and lemon zest to the buttermilk mixture and stir until combined.
Fill the tart pan with batter and make sure it spreads evenly across the pan. Add the sliced peaches and sprinkle with large-grain sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
The original recipe called for a 20-25 minute bake time, but my oven encouraged a longer bake time. I would recommend going at least 25 minutes and then continue checking on the cake every few minutes after that.
Honeyed Brown Butter
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons honey
Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat and let it heat in the saucepan until it begins to become fragrant and amber in color. Once the butter browns, remove the top layer of milk solids by skimming it with a spoon and discarding. Pour brown butter into a small bowl and stir in honey, allowing it to dissolve into the butter. Drizzle over warm cake.
You can adjust the sweetness by increasing or decreasing the amount of honey as well as the intensity of the brown butter by how long you let it cook.
On Tuesday night, I attended Eating Local in the New South
, an event at the Levine Museum of the New South promoting the local foods movement here in Charlotte. Nearly 200 guests of all ages showed up to enjoy a down home local spread by Mert's Heart and Soul
and a talk given by two women firmly rooted in the local foods movement. Kristin Davis, extension agent for the NC Cooperative Extension
and Cassie Parsons, executive chef at Harvest Moon Grille
and owner of Grateful Growers Farm
shared their personal stories, how they came to know local food and the way in which it has impacted their lives.
Guests gathered in the atrium for an incredible Southern spread featuring Southern fried chicken, Grateful Growers NC style pulled pork, green beans, decadent macaroni and cheese and mini-loaves of cornbread. I opted for the pulled pork since all of the tables set for dining were full and I couldn't quite figure out how to gracefully navigate fried chicken while balancing dinner in my lap.
Check out my dope plate...
Dr. Tom Hanchett, staff historian at the Levine Museum of the New South, opened the talk with a fun Q & A session about Charlotte's torrid history. Guests asked questions (Who's Sharon anyway?) and learned interesting tidbits about our beloved Queen City.
We were then introduced to Kristin Davis, extension agent for the NC Cooperative Extension. Davis is responsible for educating the public about local food, food safety and farmer's market outreach. She shared her journey to wellness and stressed the importance of eating local and educating others about why local food matters, particularly relating it to the dramatic improvement in her own health.
Davis was once sentenced to the early onset of diabetes and through dietary changes alone, altered her grim medical future for the better, receiving a clean bill of health just one year later. Today, she shares a passion for local food with people like Cassie Parsons, who she called a "trailblazer" in the local foods movement.
Parsons, a chef, farmer and self-proclaimed pork peddler, joined the conversation relating her passion for the "forgotten arts" and knowing where our food comes from. Parsons herself has contributed $400,000 to locally produced food and briefly touched on the positive economic impact that can happen when a community buys local. Davis and Parsons both encouraged the crowd to rally support through education, involvement and dollars to local farmers.
The message was clear. Local food awareness is steadily gaining a presence and the community plays a great part in its continued momentum. A number of organizations are joining the cause to support these endeavors . Davis says that the NC Cooperative Extension is making local food awareness their flagship cause this year and have already launched the 10% Campaign
to build the local food economy.
Want to stay informed? Check out the Mecklenburg Friends of Agriculture
There are these amazing wildflowers growing on the side of the highway where I live and every time I travel the interstate, I want to stop and pick some for myself. I never end up doing it because I'm en route to a destination and think it's slightly impractical to risk getting blindsided by a semi because I wanted to pick some flowers. Plus, I hear it's illegal since the flowers are put there by the county. So, I resign myself to take in their beauty from afar at approximately 75 miles per hour. But...you know who doesn't care about these things??
The Mister! He done gone and got all romantic on me and brought home a whole mess of wildflowers from the side of the road. His chivalrous self pulled his old, broke-down Honda 5-speed to the side of the road and began ripping armfuls of wildflowers from their patchy insterstate home in the name of romance. I know, so sweet and illegal.
I knew he was up to something because I arrived home one afternoon to find stems and petals strewn haphazardly about the carport. The man is romantic, but he does not know the first thing about how to cover his tracks. Or cleanup, for that matter.
That day though, wildflowers trumped a clean carport and I walked in to find almost all of my flower vases full of beautiful, colorful wildflowers. I love that man, I do.
Flowers bring such beauty to my surroundings. If you're on Instagram
, you know there are no shortage of flower photos in my feed. I can't help myself. The beauty of a flower is an amazing sight to behold. Speaking of beholding, I saved all the seed pods from the wildflower bouquets to plant them around my vegetable garden. With any luck, I'll get to enjoy this wonderful surprise once more when they bloom again.
If you'd like to find me on Instagram, you can find me @sunnysidekeia, same as my Twitter account. If you don't have Instagram, you can find me on the web at Followgram
I love how inspiration in the kitchen can stem from most anywhere. It can be a smell reminiscent of childhood or an unexpected ingredient at the market. Other times, it is a new technique, alluring blog post or curious venture into a new cuisine.
This time, it was a teeny tiny discovery during my last trip to the Metrolina Antiques
I was with my scavenging soul sister, Nikki of Not Made in China
, for the big show and we spent three hours rooting around in antique lover's paradise. We both scored some old wooden textile spools (see what else Nikki found that day here
) and then I deviated into cookware, a burgeoning collective interest of mine. I love the rustic detail of antique bakeware with its tarnished metal like battle scars, denoting earned experience.
I arrived at a table littered with objects, metal and wood scattered like wildflower seeds across the surface of the table. I began moving and touching the antiques, picking things up, examining with a glance and quickly setting them aside, moving on to the next piece. Grabbing, picking, looking, digging, feeling and then....
...I found it. A small container holding the most miniature and complete set of cookie cutters. The seller said it was missing its top but, to me, it wasn't missing a thing. I had a new bakeware find and inspiration for my next kitchen adventure.
I decided on shortbread. Buttery, crumbly shortbread. With lavender, my current star herb. I've roasted chickens with lavender, made lavender syrups to drizzle over my ice cream, still working on a tapioca pudding recipe with lavender and now, lavender shortbread cookies. Miniature lavender shortbread cookies.
I decided to use a recipe by Joy the Baker
that uses natural cane sugar and a hefty dose of butter. Shortbread cookies should nearly melt in your mouth with their crumbly texture. That's how you know the butter is doing its J-O-B!
There were audible squeals of delight coming from the kitchen and several verses of this made-up song, "Mama's little baby loves shortbread, shortbread..."
I know its not the right words, but you get the idea. If these cookie cutters had cheeks, I would pinch them. So effing cute. The best part is that when you have miniature cookies, a little dough goes a long way. The worst part is that those miniature cookies can be eaten by the cookie sheet-ful without the slightest idea that you may have just consumed a whole stick of butter by yourself.
Remember mini-snickers bars? It never feels sinful because they're small and then you've gone and eaten twenty. Yikes! Sneaky and small, but dammit they're cute.
After baking these little cuties, I got inspired to make something equally cute to hold the shortbread babies. I had a few muslin bags in the cupboard and pulled out my stamps and a pencil with a fresh eraser and went to town. See picture, bottom right.
Actually, I think I may have stumbled upon my wedding favors. Muslin bags aren't expensive and the stamping took no time at all. Plus, these cookies can be frozen to be used for a later date. I can make them ahead of time.
These cookies may have a story to tell after all.
For the complete recipe, click here
. Happy Thursday!
Mother's Day is coming up this Sunday and I'm going to be working most of the day. Drats!
In a perfect world, I would have prepared a beautiful brunch for my mother (a.k.a. Mama Rizz), a labor of love that culminated in loads of happy, full bellies. Quiche, tarts, biscuits and fruit salads galore!
But, alas, I am unable to do that. Sigh. Instead, I decided to make a culinary herb planter, something small enough to live in the compact area outside her cute little condo on the lake. I picked up a simple window box
from Lowe's and dug a couple cans of spray paint from my shed.
It's amazing what a little paint can do to brighten up just about anything. After the paint dried on my window box, I used some dirt from our compost to plant the herbs. It cost me less than $15. Not too shabby, right?
Since my mother already had plenty of basil, I opted for a few different and interesting varieties. I love being able to walk outside and pluck herbs straight out of my garden. It's a simple luxury. One that's easy and accessible for any living space.
We're headed to have dinner with Mama Rizz tonight with the herb planter in tow. I hope it brings her a bit of happiness every time she steps out to take a few snips. Plus, it's handmade with love and those gifts are the best kind, no?
Do you have any plans for Mother's Day? Any crafts you've been working on? I'd love to hear about them. Holler!
Print by EvaJuliet
I don't know about you, but I'm feeling pretty optimistic this morning. I've already got my workout in, breakfast in my belly and happiness in my heart. I had a really lovely Sunday too. I went on a morning trail run with a new friend, had brunch with an old friend and spent the evening with my forever friend. I feel lucky and happy today.
I woke up feeling that kind of oozy, bubbly happiness that comes around in noticeable bursts every so often. When it happens, I want to share it. I wouldn't say I've been unhappy lately but, I think, the humdrum of everyday life creates a low level complacency that begins to feel too familiar, if that makes any sense, maybe even a little boring.
I think we all experience that from time to time. Our routines take us through the days, weeks and months with little change in our personal landscape. I think adults call that consistency, which is certainly not a bad thing. In fact, it's essential.
But...consistency begins to feel rather stagnant when steady effort has yet to yield noticeable change. I guess that's why I've been humming along at a low frequency and maybe even feeling a bit blah. Patience has never been a virtue of mine.
About two weeks ago, though, my efforts began converging into something more clear. What I once considered to be a foggy wandering has started to shape itself into something more tangible. I know this post got kind of deep (and may even be a little cryptic), but this is the place from which my optimism has sprung. It's a bit of hindsight, a bit of relief and a lot of excitement for what's to come. I'm excited to arrive somewhere new on my magnificent journey.
It makes me giddy and optimistic. When these happy feelings pop up, I know enough now to throw my sails up and ride it out as far and as long as they will take me. After that?Well, I'll just keep traveling on.
Cheers to feeling optimistic!
Oh, I almost forgot after all that rambling...isn't the above print so pretty? It's the work of Eva
, a designer and illustrator based in Quebec. She's got an Etsy shop by the name of EvaJuliet
, which happens to be her name and the name of her letterpress printing machine. She makes happy prints with uplifting words. Thanks, Eva!