Monday, May 24, 2010

Garden Herb-Infused Oil

This herbed oil was initially created to marinate and store some grilled artichoke hearts. Between creating and posting I have used this oil as a base for a salad dressing, to cook eggs, add flavor and a little fat to lean burgers, grill zucchini and bake some oven sweet potato fries. The flavor is complex and full but not overpowering - perfect for any dish where a little herb goodness is needed.

Garden Herb-Infused Oil

1 bunch parsley
3/4 cup packed fresh basil
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
2 large sprigs fresh sage
2 3 inch long sprigs fresh rosemary
Zest from half an orange
Zest from one lemon
2 arbol chiles
1 1/2 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
1 small shallot
3 cups canola oil
2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Divide the herbs, zest, chile, shallot and peppercorns in half and place into 2 pint sized mason jars. Don't like sage? Add more basil or thyme. Love taragon - throw it in! Experiment with the flavors and combinations you prefer.

Pour both oils into a saucepan and heat to 200 degrees. Pour the hot oil into the jars and cover with a kitchen towel. Let stand overnight.

Pour contents through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a lipped bowl, remove herbs and then strain again back into the mason jars. This oil will keep up to three months in a cool dark place.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Barrel Cuke Pickles, Round Two

We are crazy about pickles!!!

One of our favorites is the fresh old fashioned half sour barrel pickle (or whatever you want to call it!) The pickle of choice is the one you find at a good deli or the refrigerated section of your local megamart.

Last year we created a big batch and they came out great so this spring I wanted to address what was missing from the last batch - bold flavor. Check out the post and recipe here. The brine was great but it needed a little punch so I doubled the grated fresh horseradish, garlic and added an extra cup of red wine vinegar. I even threw in some grape leaves this time to add an extra bit of crispness. Old wives tale? I don't think so.

This new batch was dumped into a crock and fermented on the counter for 5 days. We have tasted one each day since then and the cucumber flavor has slowly been traded for the salty, spiced vinegar brine.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Zellwood Corn

Zellwood corn from Long and Scott Farms is back in season and even sweeter than I remember. The kernels are so delicate and burst in your mouth - who needs butter when corn is this good. Check out this stowaway caterpillar chewing his way through the bag! Get away from my corn!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Everyone Deserves Music

The Michael Franti concert was amazing tonight. What a life affirming experience and even more awe-inspiring than his sets on the Jamcruise last year. I first saw Franti in 1990 - Hyde Park, London with his band Disposable Heroes of Hiphopracy and have been hooked ever since. His songs are a part of my life's soundtrack and now my kids are always ready to groove to another Franti track.

During the encore, he brought all the kids on the stage to sing and dance along. Lillie and Sadie would have loved it.

First Blueberries

Sadie spotted the first ripe blueberries of the season on our bushes.

PR's Taco Palace

Down the road from the Winter Park Farmer's Market on the other side of the train tracks is PR's Taco Palace. I've heard it mentioned a dozen times so we popped in on our way home to grab a quick lunch.

We sat near the open converted garage door - this place must have been an auto garage back in the day. PR's would be a great locale to grab a few cervezas and tacos with friends. Maybe we sat a little too close to the sunlight but the place was visibly filthy from the dried salsa on the table to the layer of dust and food particles on the chairs and floor. I get the "hole in the wall" feel including the chairs with graffiti on them but the place was a little to gross for comfort.

We quickly ate our mediocre tacos and quesadillas as the train passed by and then headed home to make some pickles.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pickle Week

Hooray! It's Pickle Week here at!

New creations on deck include some yummy Thai-style pickled cabbage, old-fashioned fermented barrel cukes, grilled artichoke hearts packed in fresh herb oil and even some homemade ketchup. I hope to create some new pickles every day this week.

We jump-started our celebration of all things pickle this past Saturday with a trip to the Winter Park Farmer's Market to pick up some fresh herbs and small pickling cucumbers.

Just past the produce we found a new stand filled with the best pickled goodies ever - what a find! The timing was perfect.

Our new friend Wendy gave us samples of several pickles and chutneys. They were all soooo delicious. We went home with her horseradish pickles, a pickled corn relish, mango apple chutney and peach chutney. Stop by her stand at the Winter Park Farmer's Market or visit her online at Thanks for the inspiration, Wendy!

Back at home, we dug into the horseradish pickles and ate the whole jar! The girls loved the clever packaging and kept putting the paper top on their heads like a hat.

We are making the barrel cukes today when Lillie gets home from school. Let the adventure begin!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Giant Globe Artichokes from California

Check out these big guys! We picked up a few for dinner tonight from the little Whole Foods in Winter Park. Good thing the girls were there to help me carry them. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, May 14, 2010

Goat Cheese Stuffed Olives

We love cheese-stuffed olives! This is quick, easy and worth the effort. The creamy tang of goat cheese goes perfectly with the piquant brine of the olive.

To make your own, use the handle end of a sugar spoon to pull out all of the pimento. Dry the olive and then roll the goat cheese or gorgonzola with your thumb and forefinger into a small tube and insert it into the hole. Pop the cheese in the freezer for 15 minutes if the texture is too soft. Smooth off the top surface and wipe any cheese on the olive with a damp paper towel. I make a dozen at a time and keep them in the fridge for snacking...or martinis! Ok, mostly martinis. :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fishing for our Supper

The girls went fishing for the first time and had a blast. It was a perfect day on Marco Island.

We were hoping to catch some snapper or grouper but they only hooked some smaller catfish so we threw them back and had mac and cheese instead. Sadie was a natural and caught the first fish of the day.

This is Lillie's first fish swinging a little too close for comfort.

I think they are ready for their own rods so we can go again and take down some eaters!