Thai Watermelon Soup

Combine ICE COLD sweet watermelon with ginger, garlic, lemongrass, lime. Then spike it with a chili. We (artists and friends) recently painted and dined surrounded by beauty at The Meadows at Firefly Farm courtesy of Anna. Thank you, dear one.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 12 cups watermelon chunks
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons sliced lemongrass
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 6 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (not toasted)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or your favorite mineral-dense natural salt)
  • A bit if Thai or Serrano pepper to taste WEAR GLOVES & GOGGLES when handling spicy chili capsicums! (On the Scoville scale Thai peppers rate three peppers while Serranos are two, but I think they both very pungent so I add tidbits at a time. The seeds and ribs are the spiciest parts. The heat will mellow a bit after a few hours of refrigeration.)
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons lime juice
  • Maple syrup (to adjust sweetness if necessary)
  • Mint leaves (for garnish)
  • Lime slice (for garnish)

In your favorite serious blender, (Mine’s a Blendtec.), puree the watermelon and water. You might need to do this in two batches. Heat the sesame oil in a 4-cup saucepan or skillet. Add the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and shallot. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the watermelon puree and simmer the mixture for 3 minutes. Cool the mixture to room temperature and then add it to the blender with 4 cups of the watermelon puree, salt, your chili(s) of choice, and 4 tablespoons of lime juice (the juice of 2 limes). Hyper-blend and taste for seasonings. Add maple syrup, 1 teaspoon at a time, if needed. And more lime juice and chili if needed. Hyper-blend again and mix all the ingredients in a large vessel (pitcher, jar, water jug). Refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.

Garnish with a mint leave and a slice of lime. Are your diners serious hotheads who LOVE chilis? Serve some minced ones on the side.

ServSafe says this will last safely for 7 days, but I prefer consuming within 3 days to enjoy the brightness of this soup.

After 3 days, do you have a BUNCH left? Make ice cubes to add to lemonade, ginger beer, or tequila. Hey, make up your own summer slushee.

NOW Raleigh City Farm has FRESH lemongrass and mint from the herb plots. Come to Raleigh City Farm’s Pay-What-You-Can Farmstand—Wednesdays, 4 to 7 p.m.—for fresh, nutrition-packed produce. This recipe would be good with cantaloupe—available at the farmstand this week.

My Summer Date(s)

Simple and sweet!

The NC Museum of Natural Science Eco-Adventures group visited Raleigh City Farm this week and we taste tested herbs (basil, mint, rosemary) with these date-based, cocoa-covered truffles. Mint was the favorite!
  • 1 cup dates
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • Dash of a natural salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon monkfruit sugar

Blend all ingredients (except the cocoa and sugar)in a serious Blendtec or similar blender until it is pulverized. Refrigerate for an hour. Meanwhile mix the cocoa and sugar in a small bowl.

Scoop a teaspoon and form a ball. Roll in the cocoa mixture. Refrigerate.

Serve with fresh herb leaves for taste testing fun.

Saffron Cauliflower Pilaf

The Healthy Mind Cookbook by Rebecca Katz, inspired this delicious dish.

  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, softened in 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or avocado oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup minced carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped fennel
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 1 medium clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (iodized, preferred)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups of riced cauliflower
  • 1 teaspoon chicken or no-chicken bullion (I like Better than Bullion Organic.)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 t lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • walnuts or nuts of your choice

This is truly one of my FAVORITE dishes.

In a skillet large enough to hold all of the ingredients, heat the ghee or oil. Add the onion, carrot, fennel, celery, garlic, salt & pepper. Sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower & sauté 3 minutes. Stir the bullion into the 1/4 cup water & add to the vegetables, along with the saffron, lemon zest & lemon peel. Cook 2 minutes; the cauliflower should be crisp. Avoid overcooking because it will be mushy. (Most things continue to cook for a bit even after they are removed from heat.) Stir in the parsley.

With the addition of a few nuts, you’ll have complete meal. It’s a great side dish & a perfect base for a breakfast egg. ENJOY!

WROTE IT! PUBLICATION DATE = SOON!

I showed up, wore a crown, slept less, thought more, got crazier, and wrote my memoir.

THE SUMMARY:

Belynda’s recipe for life, Beauty Queen Blues, is an intimate (at times raw) memoir told from her creative, curious, crazy point of view. 

From her mother she learned proper etiquette, explicit self-control, and how to sew. Her devil-may-care dad crossed more than a few boundaries. He taught her all about the seven deadly sins and how to create memorable cuisine—all while maximizing her flirting techniques. Her two older sisters and one brother were jealous of her being the do-no-wrong baby of the family, but they loved her too—as much as they knew how to love. The Chambers clan was always laughing mostly with each other but sometimes at each other. 

Crowned a queen in Memphis at 17, Belynda became a popular public personality, recognized for her figuremore than for her self. She showed up, wore her crown, and spoke up for St. Jude’s children, women’s rights, and the environment. Obsessed, determined, driven to find her comfortable spot in the world, she questioned her religion, race, gender, and discovered that her Southern roots didn’t quite fit. 

Beauty Queen Blues is a life-changing love story. Two marriages, three daughters, dozens of countries, infinite laughs, delectable food, numerous metaphysical events, broken bones, brains and hearts pack Belynda’s life with divine grace and love. To feed her love of cooking for others, she became a chef. Recipes—sensual ones that promise to please—are included.

As she peels away the years writing—remembering those she loved anyway even though they were really messed up, she has several epiphanies. Love your life sooner is just one of them. Maybe, just maybe, being crazy is a good thing. 

Kimchi Yumi

BUILD YOUR IMMUNITY GUT BUGS! Ancient, created thousands of years ago in Korea, kimchi is the perfect gut flora food. Fun to make, it’s really delicious, even if it does smell a bit farty as it cures.

Market List: Napa Cabbage, Daikon, Bok Choy, Carrots, (Pea pods, snow peas, peas, seaweeds, – choose your own added vegetables.) Ginger, Garlic, Onions (green/yellow/white), Leeks, and/or shallots, red hot peppers (fresh dried or in a sauce just be sure no preservatives). Preservative free Fish Sauce (Naum Plum) if  you like. Have FUN!

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Be sure all utensils are are clean. CLEAN means washed, rinsed, then rinsed again with boiling water. PREPARE VEGES: NAPA CABBAGE chopped 12 cups  BOK CHOY chopped 3 cups CARROTS 1 cup sliced DAIKON RADISH cubed 4 cups SEA SALT 8 tablespoons FILTERED WATER 8 cups  Place the vegetables in a large clean ceramic or glass container (never metal or plastic). Dissolve the sea salt in the water to make the brine and pour over the vegetables. Add a plate weighted with a jar of water to keep the vegetables submerged. Cover with a clean cloth  Let cure at least 8 hours, up to 12 hours. Drain the brine and reserve.

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Prepare the spices: GINGER 3 to 5 Tablespoons, grated. ONIONS 1 large WHITE or YELLOW one cut in crescents or chunks; add maybe 5 GREEN onions, diced if you like. LEEK green and white parts sliced in thin rounds, about a cup. GARLIC 5 to 8 large cloves minced. HOT RED CHILIS: 1 ONE 1  Hey – I make my own kimchi because I am not a fiery spice girl. Add what you like but remember, you can’t “de-fire” it.  Taste the veggies and insure they aren’t too salty. If they are too salty, just dilute the brine LATER. Add the alliums and spice mix to the vegetables and blend well with clean hands. You can transfer the entire mixture to a clean (boiled clean) crock at this point or leave in the ceramic bowl. If the vegetables were too salty dilute the brine. Remember, the salt is what helps to safely cure the kimchi so don’t desalinize them. Add brine until your kimchi is fully submerged with about an inch of liquid over it.

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Add a clean plate that covers the vegetables and weight it with a clean large bottle of water. Cover completely with a clean cloth. (Notice the “clean” repeated.) Place in a dust free area for it to nap and ferment. Check daily and press under the brine. Is there yucky stuff? White mold? Just remove it. Other weird stuff, don’t risk eating it. My kimchi ferments for 7 days at 70°F. Then I pack it into clean (sterilized) Ball jars and press it firmly down to insure covered with brine. Seal with clean Ball enamel lined lids. Don’t use metal utensils to scoop your kimchi out of its jar – only wood, ceramic (like Asian soup spoons) or silicone ones. I  drink the leftover brine – no kidding. Kimchi will continue to ferment in the refrigerator, just more slowly. Heat destroys the healthy bacteria, so add Kimchi to maximum 115°F broths. Delicious in miso and you get 2 gut goodies! Always refer to the real expert —Wild Fermentation 

DISCOVERY JOY—North Georgia Candy Roaster

Thank you Farmer Maria! The word that describes this Raleigh City Farm gem – ABUNDANCE!
It’s a terrific winter squash that could work like a summer squash as well.
It’s a healthy eye additive for you and your dog too.

Abundance Soup/Sauce

  • 2 cups cubed peeled candy roaster
  • 1 cup cubed unpeeled from tart apple
  • 1 cup yellow onion crescents
  • 3 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt, fresh black pepper, dash cayenne
  • 2 cups water
  • Garnish – choose marigold petals, pumpkin seeds, teeny cubes of apple, sage leaves

Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss all the ingredients and spread on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast until the squash is just brown on the edges, about 30 minutes. BUT check after 20 because the onion or apple may need to be rescued. Puree the roasted goodies with 2 cups of water, adding more water as you like. Garnish. It’s great hot or cold, as a soup or as an easy sauce (over or under) roasted cauliflower, poultry, pasta.

YUM!

Candy Roaster Blueberry Muffins

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons psyllium husks (optional)
  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mashed roasted candy roaster
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Zest of 1 lemon or 1/2 orange
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (or cranberries)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Insert paper liners in a 12-muffin baking pan. Mix all dry ingredients including nuts in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in another. Combine the wet and dry until just mixed. Gently fold in the blueberries. Spoon batter equally into each muffin liner. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are browned. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool 5 minutes on a wire rack. Eat some. Freeze the rest. 

Seared Autumn Moons

Cut of a 6 inch hunk of candy roaster, split it in half longwise, peel, slice into 1/4” crescents. Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a skillet large enough to hold all the roaster slices. Add 1 cup chopped onion, sauté until its translucent. Add 1 teaspoon curry powder or herbes de provence. Cook a minute and scoot the mixture into a bowl. In the skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee, sear the roaster until it is just caramelized and fork tender, not mushy. Add the onion mixture and heat through. Serve hot. 

Greens, Scallions, Herbs & Beans

Spring at Raleigh City Farm means — out of the greenhouse & into the plots. Seen here kale & lettuces.
  • 2 T EVOO (Italian has the most nutrients.)
  • 8 scallions/green onions Separate the white & green parts as the white parts taste entirely different than the green & we’ll cook the white parts and have the green parts as a garnish. Chop.
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
  • Sea salt, black pepper, turmeric
  • 1/4 C. stock of your choice or water
  • 2 C pressure-cooked garbanzo beans/chick peas Choose Eden Organic if using canned. Pressure cooking eases digestion by inactivating lectins. Add a couple strips of astragalus root for immunity. Remove the astragalus before serving.
  • 6 C fresh greens, roughly chopped. Or add whole(beautiful as a nest)& include a knife to serve.
  • Herbs of your choice and as much as you like. The Raleigh City Farm harvest this week includes rosemary, oregano & thyme. My recommendation is rosemary by itself or a mix of two thirds oregano to 1/3 thyme. Taste the herbs raw to make sure you like them. The taste will change when cooked; while oregano will mellow, thyme and rosemary will intensify. Thyme can be very dominant so add sparingly. You can always “herb/spice it up!” later. Rosemary is an amazing herb — improves brain function.Centenarians in Italy pinch a bit & eat it every day. Look for my future post about rosemary(s). Oregano, I can’t say enough, except eat it every day, raw in salads, on sandwiches, etc. Check out my prior post here about all the benefits of: OREGANO!
  • Acid splash of some sort — Lemon juice or Champagne vinegar
  • Crunchy something — pumpkin or sunflower seeds, fried onions (yum!) even crumbled chips or crackers
  • Optional: A bit iof feta & a few kalamata olives for interest.

Heat the EVOO in a skillet. Add the garlic & scallion white parts. Sauté just until clear. Add +/-1/2 t salt, 2 dashes of freshly ground black pepper & a dash (or 2) of turmeric. Add the stock, herbs & garbanzos and cook until the beans are heated through, stirring constantly. NOTE: If you are using leaf lettuces, spinach or baby greens, just place them raw on the plate as the beans will wilt them. OR Add the greens & cook just until wilted. If you’d like a greens’ nest, for ease later, cook the greens separately on one side of the beans’ skillet.

Taste the beans & greens and add more herbs & salt/pepper as desired.

If you cooked the greens whole, pull them from the skillet and form a “nest” for your beans. If you chopped the greens, just add the bean/green mixture to a serving dish. If using raw greens, place them on a plate & top with the hot beans. Squeeze a bit if acid over. Sprinkle with the green onions & crunchy stuff. Add olives & feta if you like.

Divine & Delicious Dining, Ya’ll!

See ya at the FARM! Don’t forget to get your April 24 Bearthday Celebration tickets by April 19!

Summer Basil Pasta

This simple recipe is an all time favorite.
  • 5 ORGANIC plum or other tomatoes, chopped (about 1 pound) (Peel & seed first for easier digestion.)
  • 1/4 C ORGANIC basil chiffonade
  • 1 T ITALIAN extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T ITALIAN red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves ORGANIC garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 t Iodized sea salt
  • 8 ounces ITALIAN farfalle/bowtie pasta, cooked (Cook until almost al dente. The bow’s center will be a bit firm and seem undone, but it will soften in the marinade.)

Mix all ingredients & refrigerate for at least an hour. DELIZIOSA INSALATA!

Ginger-Scented Pecans

I have to give these away immediately TO MY FAVORITE FRIENDS because I will eat them all!
This is Martha Stewart’s recipe with more pecans & ginger.
  • 7 cups pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons (or more) ground dry ginger
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoons water

Heat oven to 325°F. Place the nuts on a parchment-lined full sheet pan (26×18) & roast for 12 minutes; stirring & turning the pan after 6 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Line a second full sheet pan with parchment paper & set aside. Just before the nuts are done, in a large skillet heat the honey, oil & water. Immediately add the hot pecans to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid has evaporated (3-5 minutes). Add the dry ingredients & coat all the pecans. Pour the nuts onto the second sheet pan to cool.

When they are room temperature, eat them all. HAHAHA. Store in an airtight container. Thank you Martha for this recipe, one of my favorites.

Oysters Rockefeller

I love OYSTERS. I eat them at least once a week. My test recipe for this classic is delicious & easy.

OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER

  • 36 clean oyster shells &
  • 2 pints of fresh east coast (USA) oysters, drained OR 36 fresh oysters, popped open
  • 3 tablespoons organic butter (+ 1 tablespoon for topping)
  • 1 medium clove of organic garlic, pressed or teeny minced
  • 1/3 cup minced organic shallots
  • 1/4 cup minced organic shiitake mushrooms
  • 12 ounces chopped, frozen or fresh, organic spinach (For fresh, blanch & set aside.)
  • 1/2 cup organic cream
  • 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup grated Italian Parmigiano Reggiano (+ 3 tablespoons for topping)
  • 1 teaspoon +/- Pernod Absinthe (A very gentle anise flavor, barely detectable is desired.)
  • 1 tablespoon +/- organic lemon juice
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground organic black pepper
  • Topping: 1 tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons Parmigiano
  • Sea salt – maybe

About 2 hours before you want to serve your Oysters Rockefeller, prepare the spinach mixture. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan. Add shallots & garlic & cook 3 minutes until just they are clear. Add the mushrooms & cook 3 minutes. Add the spinach & cook until the moisture evaporates. Cool to room temperature. Add cream, 1/3 cup Parmigiano, 1 teaspoon Pernod, 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/4 t black pepper. Mix until just combined. TASTE! Adjust seasoning to your preference.

I love sea salt but I found this recipe didn’t need it, but that depends a lot on your cheese’s saltiness.

Refrigerate for 2 hours. This helps the mixture to mound well on the oysters.

Prepare the topping by melting the butter, adding the bread crumbs and cooking just until bread crumbs turn golden. Remember they’ll continue to crisp on the oysters. Stir in the Parmigiano.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Place the drained oysters on paper towels. Then place 1, 2 or 3 oysters in each of the shells. Arrange on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. If using fresh oysters, gently pour off any liquid, & arrange them on a baking sheet.

Top the oysters with about 1 tablespoon of the spinach mixture. Sprinkle generously with the bread crumb topping.

Slice some lemons & BE READY!

Bake for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them because the size of the oysters will effect the cooking time. When they are bubbly and just golden brown, they’re done.

FEAST!