Salad from a City Garden

July 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Remember yesterday?

Remember that haul of produce I brought home from my city community garden plot? All of it—the lettuce, the chard, the beets, the tomatoes and whatever else I gathered—is washed/bagged/roasted/drying/sitting in a hydrator.

Are you interested in how I saved the lettuce/chard/etc? There’s a way to do it. I can tell you about that later if you want …

But for now, let me tell you about my lunch.

-Lettuce from the garden.

-A half of a beet from the garden, roasted.

-Cherry tomatoes from the garden.

-A half of a zucchini from the garden, roasted.

Greek Salad Dressing, made with oregano from the garden.

-Boiled eggs, from our backyard hens (Oh, please. Who do I think I am? Jayme Jenkins?).

Pickled red onions, pickled myself!

-Green lentils and bulgur – okay, I didn’t grow them but at least I boiled them myself.

-A slice of bread I made using my wild yeast sourdough starter.

I’m full. I need a nap.

First Big Harvest from Community Garden Plot

July 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

This …

harvest from Dainty's community garden plot

harvest from Dainty's community garden plot

This is what it’s all about. The seeds planted in April. And replanted in May. The battles with bugs. The constant fretting over the weather. The worry while on vacation. This haul is worth the wait, worth the time, for sure.

Red and golden beets. The last of the lettuce. Most of the red and yellow chard. A big ol’ yellow squash. The first—the very first!—cherry tomatoes. Thyme and dill. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget to mention this is all in a 15′ x 30′ urban community garden plot. Call me a city farmer.

It’s not like we haven’t harvested anything at all up until now. Not true. We’ve snipped plenty of herbs. Fresh dill sprigs went into some homemade pickles a few weeks ago, for instance. We’ve pulled up a beet here and there. Just this Monday we took home three larger-than-intended zucchini and a couple of yellow squash. And, we’ve had lettuce for months.

But now, the last week in July, is when everything comes together.

Look for a whole lotta zucchini recipes coming your way.

Sugar in Yogurt Will Astound You

July 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

I don’t mean to turn into the Nutrition Nazi here, but …

With not much being in the fridge or cupboards for breakfast—nothing quick, anyway—I pulled out a little cup of yogurt. Innocent enough, right? Plus, according to the Yoplait Greek yogurt packaging, it has twice as much protein and that regular ol’ yogurt. And I was hungry and in a hurry and it was blueberry flavored, so … I’ll just open it and eat it, although I’m basically off dairy for breakfast nowadays.

And I gobbled. It. Up. Oh my goodness, that was good. Really good. I mean, so very, very good. What was in there?

Ya know what was in there? Sugar. In some form, anyway. I normally don’t eat much sugar. I taught myself early on in my coffee-drinking adulthood to skip the sugar (and all those colored packets, too—really, don’t we eat enough artificial crap anyway?). Same with yogurt. Plain, unsweetened. That’s it. And, as an aside, same goes with the soymilk.

Back to the sugary yogurt. I was curious about exactly how much sugar was in that little 6 oz. cup. Seeing that it said 20 g. on the label, I decided to pull out my digital scale to see exactly what 20 g. of sugar looks like.

That's allota sugar!

That’s not just 20 g. of sugar. That is a MOUND of sugar. Eat that with a spoon and you’d feel really guilty. Really. Guilty.

Am I doing the math correctly? I don’t know. I hope I’m not. I do know that I’m not eating that again. Long live plain, unsweetened yogurt. Vive la Food Revolution.


Dainty’s Got a Facebook Page

July 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

I did it. I went ahead and joined the army of bloggers who have a Facebook page. Even linked my posts to Twitter. It’s Dainty 24/7, right? Dainty Dot Mediaworks – almost there. Seriously, I have a plan for this.

The Dainty Dot Facebook page

Question is, with all this social media juggling, who’s got time to, you know, actually do the stuff we’re blogging about? Oh, and also have a paying job – or two or three. (Yes, I have three paying jobs, but that’s another story.)

So, if you get a chance, go over to Facebook, search The Dainty Dot, and “like” me. I’d be grateful. And maybe even make you a pie.

Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake

July 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Martha, Martha, Martha … what where you thinking? Turning cookies into a cake? It’s this kind of thinking that made you rich and famous.

Martha's Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake

Martha's Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake

Spotted in the July issue of Martha Stewart Living, I just knew this dessert—alternating layers of homemade chocolate chip cookies with a marscapone whipped cream—would make my recuperating friend very, very happy. Okay, okay, I admit it, it would make me very happy, too. But I needed an excuse … and a houseful of people to eat it. No better time than weekend visit to Provincetown, I say.

As I said, the cake is layers of cookies—seven layers, in fact—and whipped cream. As it sits in the fridge overnight, the cookies soften a bit, just enough, from the whipped cream surrounding them. By the next day, you can slice right through the cake with no trouble.



8 dozen 2 1/4-in. chocolate chip cookies (use your favorite recipe)

4 cups heavy cream

8 oz. marscapone cheese

2+ tbs. sugar

-Chill a mixing bowl (preferably from a standing mixer). Whip up the heavy cream, cheese and sugar on medium high speed at first. It takes a while to form soft peaks. When it does, taste for sweetness and add a bit more sugar if you wish. Continue whipping until the mixture stiffens. Refrigerate until you’re ready to assembly the “cake.” At least an hour.

-Arrange 5-7 cookies on a plate or cake stand. If you use a plate, make the surface as flat as possible.

-Scoop out a big dollop or two of the cream mixture and spread it over the first layer of cookies. Don’t make it too thick or you’ll run out before you build up your seven layers. And don’t make it too thin or there won’t be enough cream to soften the cookies.

-Continue stacking the layers of cookies and spreading cream. Put your structural engineer’s cap on and try to build it as sturdily as you can.

-Really, it doesn’t matter how many layers you make it. If you want leftover cookies, great – don’t add as many layers. Just make sure you end with a layer of cookies on top and about a heaping cup of cream. Pop the cream in the fridge.

Martha's Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake

After sitting in the fridge overnight, the cookies are surprisingly easy to slice through.

-Cover the cake with plastic wrap. I lightly inserted a few toothpicks on top to make sure the wrap didn’t cling too much to the cake. Pop that in the fridge, too. Let it sit overnight.

-When you’re ready to serve, spread the last cup of cream over the top of the cake. Grate some chocolate shavings on top if you wanna get fancy.

This would be a fun cake for a kid’s birthday party. If you cover the cake completely with cream – sides, too – they’ll have no idea it’s filled with cookies. Surprise! Cookies! Cake! Whipped cream! You’ll be the hero.



Spicy Eggplant Relish ala Moosewod

July 22, 2011 § 1 Comment

One of the things we do when we spend time in Provincetown is head over to the Saturday farmers market. This time of year the stalls offer some great fresh produce we haven’t seen locally since last summer. This time we picked up two smallish eggplants. Versatile! Yummy! Pretty! Eggplants are all of the above … And also a bit short-lived on the countertop, especially in weather like this.

What to do with them? We could grill. We could stuff. We could make lasagna. We could bread. And we did none of those. Instead, when they began getting “long in the tooth,” we turned to an old standby – spicy eggplant relish.

I pulled this recipe from my Moosewood cookbook a few years ago for a get-together and used it as a dip. It got a great response. We used the leftovers in numerous ways, such as a spread for sandwiches, and also as an eat-by-the-forkful snack. Can’t remember exactly which Moosewood cookbook it came from, possibly the original. Luckily its a popular recipe and we were able to find it online – hey, we’re on vacation, we don’t travel with old cookbooks.

2-3 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion
1 small red pepper, large dice
2 small-medium eggplant, small cubes, don’t bother peeling
Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

-heat oil over medium-low. Add onions and sautée until softish, 4-5 min.
-add cubed eggplant and red pepper. The eggplant will soak up a lot of the oil. Stir really well to coat all of it. Let it cook low and slow. Add a generous pinch or two of kosher salt and several turns of fresh pepper.
-Let it cook down awhile – 5 min or so. Add in as much cayenne as is appropriate for you. Cook partially covered for another 4-5 min.
-is the eggplant soft? Take it off the heat. Season with salt/pepper if needed.

We ran into one small problem during this – there was no cayenne in the house. How is that possible? We made due with some chili powder and red pepper flakes. The chili powder gave it a smoky flavor, making it a bit more savory. It was a good addition, actually. I added a bit too much red pepper flakes. Adding a small sliver of cheese when serving on a cracker will take care of that. Looking forward to having this in a tofu wrap for lunch. Perfect beach food.


Hiking Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

July 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s been a long, long spring and summer. All work and no play makes Dainty a very sad and tense Dot. Good thing we scheduled vacation for this week.

We typically vacation in Provincetown and spend the whole time lying low—as in low on a beach towel. But, as crazy as this is gonna sound, being on a beach towel soaking up the sun can be a bit boring after awhile. Our solution for that is taking a hike.

This time around, we headed to Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. It’s a Mass. Audubon sanctuary on the western edge of the Cape Wellfleet Bay Wildlife SanctuaryCod forearm, right on Wellfleet Harbor. Lots of marsh grass and sandy soil, lots of Cape woodland, lots of birds and wildlife, so bring a camera. And there’s lots of green head flies and sand flies, so arm yourself with repellent and you’ll be fine. There are … let’s see … close to 4-5 miles of hiking trails, so pack a light lunch and enjoy it while watching the shore birds at the end of the boardwalk.

The folks at Mass. Audubon must have gotten some inspiration of Groupon deals, because when we arrived at the nature center they were offering a “half-price sale” on membership. $10 would have gotten the two of us into the sanctuary for the day. For just $29, we could have a year-long family membership that would give us free admission to the 50 Mass. Audubon Wildlife Sanctuaries throughout the state. And, it feels pretty terrific to support an organization that is protecting our state’s natural habitat.

Somewhere along this hike my eye decided to focus on the little things nature had to offer. Except for a couple of spectacular angiosperms, I mainly captured slime molds, lichen, fungi and the occasional gymnosperm. (Look at me, throwing around fancy botanical references. I feel like I’m in college again!) The vistas at Wellfleet are beautiful, but some of the coolest things are underfoot.

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In a Pickle

July 2, 2011 § 3 Comments

I was in a sour mood the other day. So, I made pickles.

I’ve been wanting to make pickles for a year or so, ever since I had an excess of small beets produced in our garden last year. I even kept the beets in a sealed bag in the fridge for several months, thinking I’d make pickled beets at some point. I didn’t. I searched for the just-right pickling recipe for so long, my beets eventually went bad.

And it’s not like I haven’t pickled anything before. I have. Pickled green cherry tomatoes. They were delicious. But still, there was something intimidating about the thought of making pickled beets.

I had had my eye on a Moosewood recipe for pickled red onions. I kept putting it off and putting it off. Then I spotted a recipe in Martha Stewart Living for pickled onions, radishes and snap peas – cocktail pickles. It got me thinking. Finally this week I decided to bite the bullet and pickle up some red onions.

I examined the Moosewood recipe – it called for brown sugar – and I examined the Martha recipe – white sugar. And then I dug out that old pickled green cherry tomato recipe – salt. I considered them all – and decided to go with this.

Two jars of the one-pint jelly variety.

1 cups cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tbs packed brown sugar

-Boil the above and let cool.
-In each jar place
– 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
-1/2 tsp black peppercorns
-1/2 tsp mustard seeds
-1 bay leaf
-1 garlic clove
-1 sneaky dried chili pepper optional

While I was boiling the liquid, I realized I didn’t have red onions. Digging through the hydrator drawers, I found an older head of red cabbage and a carrot. I shredded enough cabbage to lightly pack one jar, and julienned a carrot to fit into the other jar. I divided the vinegar liquid between the two jars, and it was enough to cover the veggies. I covered the jars with lids and tightened with the rings, and popped them into the fridge. A day later, I had a taste of the results. And I have to say, not bad.


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