Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Rice: Five Spice Brown Fried Rice

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Brown Fried Rice -

It’s ironic but my favorite five spice mix has six ingredients:  Chinese cinnamon, Chinese #1 ginger, star anise, ground fennel, cloves and black pepper.

A quick search online indicates that it’s not all that uncommon and there are mixes aptly named “seven spice.” Supposedly, it’s not so much the number of spices used that’s of import but encompassing all five flavors – sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and salty.

Regardless, the spice mix is what turns this vegetable-laden brown rice dish into a Chinese-inspired main course that’s quick and easy. In China, stir-frys were eaten out of practicality – meat was scarce but rice and vegetables were more plentiful. Stir-frying also conserved fuel by cooking food quickly.

Even though I write this food blog – and put more time into cooking than some – I take advantage of some practical approaches to cooking. For instance, I make one big batch of rice for the week. We’re not huge pasta or bread eaters in our house, so our starchy carb is rice. It’s usually eaten with a lot of soups and beans.

Over the last few months though, I’ve been making fried rice out of leftover brown rice. It’s a go to recipe when I want something substantial without a whole lot of effort. Each time I’ve made it’s been a little of this and that – how I generally cook. I provided measurements just as a guide but hope you make it your own. So, use whatever vegetables you have in the crisper, change out/omit the meat source and even use white rice.

And, one more thing – this is a healthy meal and a good way to eat more vegetables and fiber – despite the word “fried.”

Tidbits on Rice:

  1. Rice feeds more than half of the world’s population.
  2. Asia, Latin America and Africa comprise the world’s major rice growing regions. Notably, most rice is consumed within 10 miles of where it is produced.


Green Tomatoes: Bacon Lettuce & Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

BLFGT Stacked

Fried tomatoes are an oxymoron of sorts, don’t you think? A garden fresh, healthy vegetable battered and fried. Pure indulgence, especially when paired with bacon.

In the South, a regular breakfast phenomenon is bacon and eggs served alongside fried tomatoes (green or red), according to John Egerton in his book Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History, which is considered a classic.

Not one for cooking such a “big” breakfast, an alternative was a must. This recipe is a modern twist on the consummate of sandwiches, the BLT, and keeps with Southern tradition by uniting fried green tomatoes and bacon in new form. The sandwich is surprisingly good – crisp and salty bacon, creamy garlic mayo, fresh lettuce (although I used spinach), and slightly tangy, crisp green tomatoes – together they are a mouthful of flavor.

Enjoy! Then go for a walk afterward to compensate.


Zucchini: Turkish Fritters – Kabak Mucveri

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Turkish Zucchini Fritters

You probably have plenty of recipes that call for zucchini baked, grilled and stewed. I do too. So the first time I tasted a zucchini fritter at a community garden potluck, I was thrilled and inspired to do some research . . . What’s a fritter?

Technically, something that’s coated in a batter and fried. There are a lot of versions out there, most calling for grated zucchini in a batter with some sort of cheese. Personally, I’ve become partial to the Turkish version, Kabak Mucveri, because I really like feta and mint. Kabak Mucveri is typically eaten as a hot or cold appetizer and is served among several fingerfoods as a meze like tapas, but it’s also a great side dish. In Turkish cuisine, vegetables shine.

My version is light but not skimpy on flavor (I ate five the first time I made them). They have a crunchy outside and a flavorful center with the zucchini slightly crisp and bits of sharp feta and refreshing herbs in every bite. I prefer them served hot but they are also yummy at room temperature.

Tidbits – Zucchini:

  1. Since squash was domesticated in the Americas, most summer squash were introduced to the Old World after 1492, the time of European colonization. To the Romans, squash resembled other cucurbits belonging to other plant species and became integrated into the Mediterranean diet. Squash received the name of “calabash” and in Syria was called “zucco.” From this comes its present-day name, zucchini, according to the Encyclopedia of Food and Culture.
  2. Squash is now cultivated throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, China, India, and Indonesia.
  3. Zucchini has a high water content (95%), which makes the vegetable low in calories – about 25 calories per raw cup and nutritionally contain folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C.


Zucchini: Mexican Succotash – Calabacitas Con Elote

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Calabacitas con Elote - H

Zucchini? Yes, zucchini. I’m launching my food blog with this humble, under-appreciated summer squash. Why? Because it’s used way, way too much to make stuff like zucchini bread (although I do make my own version). And, some folks are itching for another way to use all those zucchini that proliferate the gardens and markets this time of year. I know what you’re thinking . . . blah. But, you’re wrong.  It’s all about how it’s prepared.

In this recipe, the zucchini’s fresh, buttery taste is complimented by crisp corn kernels and the sweet juices of tomato and Mexican seasoning. It’s basically a succotash and it’s been served up in my family and other Mexican kitchens for generations.

This is comfort food more often eaten at home rather than in Mexican restaurants, especially those in the States, where the menu favors greasy, fried tacos over vegetables. This dish is just some of the healthy Mexican food I enjoy and it’s quick and easy to make. Of course there are many variations of calabacitas – some omit the corn, others the tomatoes. I like it with both.

Tidbits on Zucchini:

  1. Squash was domesticated as early as 10,000 B.P in central Mexico and Peru, as well as other parts of the Americas. As such, squash was an integral staple in Mexican cuisine, along with corn and beans, according to the Encyclopedia of Food and Culture.
  2. The word calabacita is derived from the Spanish word calabaza, meaning squash; the diminutive “ita” changes the meaning to little squash.
  3. Zucchini is like the tomato – botanically a fruit but thought to be a veggie.