VVP: Herby Olive Tomato Kale Bread (or Rolls)

VVP herbed kale bread 8

Welcome!!! You made it. Are you stuffed yet? You just started and you’re already full? Well this isn’t going to help much since it’s almost like dinner all by itself, but since it’s only virtual, your eyes won’t fill up.  As I wrote this, I realized this is like Prom for food bloggers, isn’t it? Gasp, I speak craziness! But think about it, we’ve dressed ourselves up in our finest attire, spent hours on our hair, posed for pictures, and thrown all caution to the wind. This should be fun…

VVP herbed kale bread 10

In reflection, I wish that instead of going Prom in high school, I’d gone hiking. So today we’re in Bryce Canyon today checking out hoodoos and red rocks and stuff, or so I hope. It’s a last minute, much needed getaway, part of our attempt to make life more authentic, but last minute trips require lots of frantic work I’m hanging out at home with three sick kids, thoroughly enjoying the VVP, but spent the week planning a fun (and at least temporarily failed) family getaway. In the midst of all that planning, I had the shocking realization a few days ago that despite making bread multiple times a week, I had nothing ready to bring to the party. Total party foul. And my husband had already made, photographed and enjoyed his Authentic Ginger Beer and he’s a total blog beginner.

VVP herbed kale bread 1So I closed my eyes really tight and imagined what would be yummy. And I ran out to the front and picked some herbs. And while my kids made tents out of blankets and houses out of blocks, I made bread out of what we had. And doggoneit, it’s amazing!

VVP herbed kale bread 9

Confession: I had great plans of showing how this is done on the grill. I mean, it’s grilling season, hot season, don’t have a good air conditioner season, so I was going to make everyone happy with BREAD ON THE GRILL! But alas, I ran out of propane during the preheat. So, boring oven bread it is. And with that, the whole puffy bread thing failed because I had to re-preheat and well, let’s just say, my timing got off – never good with bread. Anyway, look for grilled bread later this spring. I will perfect it, at least for me.

Herby Olive Tomato Kale Bread (or Rolls)
Yield: Two medium loaves or 18 rolls (or any other combo)

6 c. flour (2 c. bread + 4 c. white whole wheat + 1-2 T. vital wheat gluten to offset the whole wheat flour)
3 T. rapid rise/instant yeast
3 T. salt
2 ½ – 3 c. warm water
2 T. sugar
5-6 large leaves of kale, ribs removed & chopped
Olive oil or water for sautéing kale
3 -4 T. minced fresh herbs (I used equal parts rosemary, thyme & garlic chives)
1/3 – ½ c. chopped green olives
¼ c. chopped sundried tomatoes (rehydrated if dry, rinsed if packed in oil)

  1. In your mixer, mix flours, yeast & salt using the dough hook. With mixer on low, add 2 ½ cups warm water and sugar and mix until the dough just comes together. Without taking the whole thing apart, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rest for 15 minutes or so.
  2. While the dough is resting, quickly sauté the kale just until it is bright green and slightly tender.
  3. Knead the dough on medium-low speed until smooth and elastic, adding more water or flour as needed. The dough should be pretty tacky, but still clear the sides of the bowl. Add herbs, olives, tomatoes and cooked kale to your mixer bowl and knead on low until just combined.
  4. Turn dough out onto a silicone baking mat or a floured surface and knead just until everything comes together in a ball. Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
  5. Turn dough back out onto your work surface and deflate it gently – dimple, mash, whatever. Divide into two parts and either roll into rolls, or shape carefully into two tight balls. For rolls, either space on a baking sheet lined with parchment/Silpat, or nestle nicely in a lightly oiled 8×8 (9) or 9×13 (18); for boules, place on parchment or your silicone mat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled, about an hour.
  6. Preheat baking stone in the oven for at least 30 minutes if possible at 500F. Add hot water to a roasting pan on the bottom rack and put your bread/rolls in the oven on your pizza stone. If it’s on parchment, leave it on there and let it bake that way. Bake at super hot until spotty and golden, then turn your temp down to 400F, baking another 25 -30 minutes until crusty, golden and beautiful.
  7. Let it cool until it’s cool, or not like me and rip a roll off and dip it in calorie laden olive oil. It’s totally worth it.

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Thanks for stopping by! It was lovely having a visit. Next stop, more bread, and then many, many more VVP specialties.

Blossoms and Honey

apricot blossom 2

At our community garden, there are beautiful fruit trees that are loved and treated well and never sprayed. Nothing in our garden is.

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And there are bees that visit these beautiful fruit trees.

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And in August, when one of our local Farmers’ Markets FINALLY opens, you can buy their beautiful honey.

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The First Spring Honey is pale and lovely and minty and one of the most intensely wonderful things I’ve ever tasted.

apricot blossom 1

Now I know, I KNOW, many of you are strict vegans, and I COMPLETELY respect that, but I have a thing for these little guys and their products.

apricot blossom bee 1

There is something about participating in a very small, small circle of life that feeds us both.

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This year, in his own small patch of garden, my son is planting flowers.

the big kid

Not so much because he likes honey, but because to him, it is the right thing.

apricot blossom bee 2

Spring changes

spring garden/mygoodcleanfood.com spring garden/mygoodcleanfood.com

Spring always brings changes, and this shifting over to a REAL website (one I’ve invested money in), is a big one. I’m tired, and this is hard. I’m also really quite terrified, especially after a long hiatus and with a busy life, but I’m sort of over this “waiting around for something awesome” thing, so instead I’m making it. I’m working on branding, designing, and hopefully making it a beautiful and welcoming place for you to visit, to peruse, dream and maybe even decide it’s time for you to dig in. This is hard work for the computer UN-learned.

spring garden/mygoodcleanfood.com

We’ve had spring snow the last two days here. Cold and icky, but prior to the icky, we got a good taste of real spring. Buried under a thick blanket of hay, we had some winter survivors. Beautiful, tasty green things. My almost three-year-old little girl thinks she’s sneaking when she tucks away a spinach leaf, and then another, and then another, chewing them up with great delight.

spring garden/mygoodcleanfood.com

Our garden is much more than a place to grow food. It is our hard-work training ground, a science experiment, an escape, our favorite picnic spot, the raspberry patch, our compost pile, and place to dig badger holes, get dirty, take out aggressions, and yes, even sneak a spinach leaf or two.

To Read: What your gut is telling you (Real “Clean”)

By now you probably know I’m a bit of a gardening geek and a food nerd. In fact, this week I’m working on making water kefir and sourdough culture to comfort my inner nerd and geek with the impending truncation of my growing season outside (though the outrageous fashion show the mountains put on totally makes it worth it).

So, there is nothing terribly revolutionary about this article, but it spoke to me on a few levels. Healthy, living dirt (my Soils professor would kill me for using that word) is one of my favorite smells. Healthy dirt is sustainable. A healthy gut protects not just our digestive system, but our whole body. Living food isn’t just about eating “raw”.  Those little tiny bugs could well be the making or breaking of our civilization.

So, if you have 4 minutes, it’s worth a quick read.

What your gut is telling you, by Maria Rodale

Planting time!!! (with a fabulous ending – keep reading)

It’s time to get dirty and PLANT something!

Yes, as in, planting food for you to eat. I am relatively new (I’ve tried the last two years and failed) to the idea of a 3- or 4-season garden, but I’m totally infatuated with it. I can’t get the idea out of my head. And even though I’m prepping Turbo for kindergarten (yikes!), our summer garden is ready for harvest and processing (lots of pickled beets and ketchup go through my house), and I’m tired (dog days of summer, three-month-old, and all that), I still obsess over the idea of putting more food in the ground.

What are the obvious things to plant? Well, plenty of “spring” vegetables grow great in the fall. We have already put in Fall carrots and beets, and are getting ready to plant our Fall spinach and lettuce and my favorite stir-fry mix and radishes and “spring” onions and anything else I think of. You could put in peas, turnips, brassicas (kale, broccoli, cabbage) though they all take a bit longer and require a bit more planning.

But you know what else you can do for next year? Garlic! Put in garlic in October, and come June of next year you have beautiful crop of garlic with almost no effort. Onions? Put in the seeds a month or two before your first frost and you can have early onions without dealing with sets or starts! Spinach? Even spinach can go in a few weeks before frost to get you ready for an early spring harvest.

And the secret? Lots of these things grow better in the fall, especially if you live in a place like we do. The days get cooler with the growth of the plant, so you don’t worry about it going to seed (bolting) as quickly. The bugs seems to be less noxious this time of year also, and rain more frequent, which in our high desert garden, is a blessing! And finally, many of these foods can survive a decent frost and still be harvestable, so you could be eating from your garden until Thanksgiving!

But, I’m kind of a gardening geek (horticulture was my first college degree). Nothing is better than cursing that lower back sunburn I got from weeding with a shirt that was slightly too short and having a million too many beans to eat. I would love, love, love some Eliot Coleman (the unofficial king of 4-season gardening) books (I keep raiding the library, but there is always a wait).  I think seed ordering is exciting and it makes me goofy in the spring- and yes, I almost always order my seeds from the same place (keep reading, it’s worth it).

This same place is RareSeeds.com. If you get their glossy catalog in the spring (Baker Creek Seeds), it’s beautiful and CHOCK full of a bajillion kinds of seeds for everything. And they’re all heirloom varieties, which means Monsanto (theoretically) isn’t getting a lick of money from you, and you can save your seeds if you know how to do it and care to. But why would you when seeds are super cheap? That’s why I love seeds. For the cost of a bunch of broccoli, I can experiment with something, and if I like it, I might get a TON of food from that many seeds.

So, here’s what you’ve been waiting for. I have arranged with rareseeds.com to GIVE AWAY A 10-pack of FALL SEEDS, which can also be planted in the Spring (keep them in a zipper storage bag in the fridge until then) if you don’t get to them now!  And I’ll be honest, I’ve been so happy with these seeds, that I wish I could win! But I can’t, sorry, only you can.

And secondly, here’s another bit of exciting news. They have a restaurant from which they have compiled a cookbook, The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook, coming out in September.  I’m super excited that I’ll be reviewing it and giving one away as it come closer to release. You could be that lucky winner, but if you don’t want to hedge your bets, you can pre-order the book now AND they’ll include three packets of culinary herb seeds fer free! yeah, i just typed fer, but I’m in farmer mode so it’s legit.

Rules of Engagement:

1- You must be a follower of this blog, if you don’t know how to do that, there is a “Follow blog via email” button at the top column to the right. This contest is open to followers living in the U.S. only (I’m pretty sure there are rules about shipping seeds across borders – nothing personal).

2- You must like this post (click on the title name of this post, then go to the bottom of the post just above comments and push the like button), 

3- You must tell me in the comments below one your favorite memories of eating fresh grown food – you know you remember that first raspberry from grandma’s prickly berry patch – totally worth it!

Winner will be announced Wednesday 8/15/2012 (only five days so we can get seeds out!) and needs to contact me within 24 hours so we can get stuff mailed.

My Farm to My Fork: Herbs – they’re really not that scary (Herby Potato recipes!)

I love my herbs. I love the first tender spikes of chive that sneak up through the snow in the Spring, I love the masses of mint that take over our neighbors side-yard (which we use a few times a week for frosty mint (black/rasp/strawberry limeade), and the huge heads of dill that start tipping too early for my cucumbers that I started too late. This is all awesome, you say, because I have a huge garden, right? I do, but that garden is 2 1/2 miles from my house behind a church. It isn’t so very convenient for herb use unless one is really organized with perfectly planned meals. That, I am not.

But! I have a tiny patch of ground in the front yard of my two-bedroom townhouse (I like to throw that in there to feel like more of a martyr) and three planters with herbs in them. In my tiny space I have marjoram, thyme, sage, peppermint, pineapple mint, lavender, tarragon, coconut thyme, oregano, chives, unrelenting lemon balm, and rosemary – and I use them all the time. I have tried unsuccessfully to grow other edibles out there, but to no avail. It all dies. It’s like it knows I have another garden and gets jealous. But my herbs are content to grow and be and bring me great joy – except for my rosemary which must hate me (or Utah winters – more likely).

But what in the world do I do with my herbs? Everything. And you can too. Because they’re not that scary and unlike spices, they’re really, really hard to screw up using if you use your nose.

How do you know what to use? First, consider what you’re making or what veggies you have are or what you want! Does it hail from the Mediterranean? Asia? Middle East? South America? Think about what herbs you’d find used there. Are you in the mood for potatoes or a salad – or both (I make a killer herbed potato salad)? Can you throw a handful into a loaf of bread or stirred into your quinoa after cooking?

Second, what do you have? Does your neighbor have mint growing like crazy (it’s the only way it grows), or can you dig out a start from your friends thyme or oregano or chives? Most people I know are more than willing to share herbs. Use what you have and it can turn any vegetable into something you’ve never dreamed of.

Third, smell your herbs. They’re most pungent first thing in the morning or if you’re doing a big harvest just as the flowers bloom. If you want to mix herbs, crush a few of them together in your hand – do they smell good? Excellent – use them! If not, try another combo, or just use one. You will quickly learn that lavender and curry plant DO NOT go well together, but that thyme and chives and mint do!

Fourth, don’t be scared to try them!!! I’ve screwed up meals that had perfectly good recipes to follow, so I’m willing to screw some up that don’t too. Odds are good that you won’t be disappointed, but if you are, the loss is usually bearable.

Fifth, and very importantly, don’t add them too early! Spices need to be exposed to high heat to bring out their flavors (blooming them), but herbs just want to be warmed to release their very fragile oils.

If you don’t have herbs growing, now is a good time to find them cheap or to dig out a start from a neighbor’s plant for the perennials (oregano, thyme, dill, tarragon, lavender, rosemary – if it doesn’t die like mine, and mint).  If you don’t get them growing this year, they’ll grow like crazy next year. Dill, cilantro, and parsley still elude my growing skills (I haven’t tried that hard), but they can be pretty cheap (except for the dill) at the store.

If you’re not sure where to start, start with my favorite use of them, especially right now as we’re up to our eyeballs in potatoes. I love the smallest potatoes for this dish cooked whole, and a variety of colors makes it ever tastier. I try to use four or five varieties, last night using chives, basil, tarragon, thyme, and mint (which is the most surprising and amazing addition). With leftovers or if you want to make an extra big batch, my Herbed Potato Salad recipe follows.

New Potatoes with Fresh Herbs

(portions are per person – multiply per serving)

¼ – ½ pound baby new potatoes per person, scrubbed

2 T. chopped fresh herbs (mixed is the best way)

1 T olive oil, or butter, or butter substitute

Salt and fresh ground Pepper – to taste

Scrub your potatoes, cutting larger ones into smaller pieces to ensure uniform cooking. Boil or steam until fork tender. While cooking, stem your herbs and roughly chop, tossing into your serving bowl with the oil, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Drain your potatoes and toss with herb mixture. Serve!

(if using rosemary, chop it finer since it’s a bit tougher than others, and be careful with some of the stronger flavors, like sage)

Herbed Potato Salad

Unlike most potato salads that have a lot of other “things” in them, I keep this one simple so the herbs can show off.

1 4-person batch of New Potatoes with Herbs

or

2 lbs cooked new potatoes (yukons, reds, blues, whites – just not russets)

½ to 1 c. chopped herbs – mix it up

3-4 stalks celery, sliced thin

¼ to 1/3 c. chopped red onion, if you have it

Dressing:
¼ – ½ c. vegan mayonnaise

2-4 T non-dairy milk, I like almond milk best

1-2 T balsamic vinegar

1-2 T dijon or spicy brown mustard

1-2 T lemon juice

Salt and fresh ground Pepper (so much better fresh, especially in simple dishes like this)

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk them up. Use your blender if you like, I usually just toss it all in a bowl cause I’m lazy like that. Adjust seasonings to your liking – does it taste yummy and is it strong enough to flavor the potatoes without overpowering them?

Toss ALL the ingredients together, and chill until ready to eat – that means the salad AND you.

From my farm to my fork: Gingered Greens & Tofu

My husband went to school in upstate New York a few years back, long before I entered his life. He remembers distinctly the two times he went to Moosewood Restaurant. We have only been back there once together and it was before we were even married and I was still clueless about food – I made fancy spaghetti by adding veggies and sausage, but that might have been it. He was even more clueless – by the end of the week his individual meals would constituted an entire meal, corn one night, bacon another, salad yet another. So, suffice to say, we didn’t make it to Moosewood.

A couple few years ago, I got my first Moosewood cookbook from my mother and acquired yet another a few years after that. I want all of them now, well at least the ones I can use for everyday cooking and not so much the ones for Sunday meals and stuff since I’m not ready to fight that battle. But I love these books.

One night a few weeks back we got home late from our garden, fed the kids PB&J, and put them to bed. I was starving. Pancho was only a few weeks old and I wanted to eat something delicious. On my counter I had a bag full of stir-fry greens (quite honestly I don’t know what’s in them besides kale and chard, but probably mustards and stuff) and a pile of garlic scapes. So, I pulled out the handy Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home and made this in a jiffy. And can I just say how AWESOME it was to cook without distractions? I didn’t care that I was eating dinner at 10:30 – I was just happy to be eating dinner 25 minutes after starting with Matt and nobody else!!

And yes, I used white rice – GUILTY! But it was quick and like I said, a nursing mama’s gotta do what she can to stuff her face! AND, another and, I know, I apologize for posting a recipe that uses ingredients that you can’t necessarily find in a grocery store. It’s terribly mean, and I hate it when people do it to me, but if you get your hands on greens (which is tough this time of year, but give it a few months!) and some garlic, you’re good to go.

I don’t know if it was eating this without children that made it especially good, or if it was just really that good, but I made it again three days later, and then another week after that. I can’t wait until fall when my greens aren’t bolting at the first sign of sunshine to make it again, but this time with the beautiful bulbs of garlic I just finished tying and are ready to hang and cure.

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Gingered Greens and Tofu:
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

Tofu Marinade:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup dry sherry or mirin
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs brown sugar or agave nectar

1-2 cakes of extra firm tofu

2 Tbs coconut or safflower oil, divided
2 Tbs grated fresh ginger
5-6 garlic scapes, chopped
6 cups coarsely chopped stir-fry greens (bok choy, Chinese cabbage, or Swiss Chard)
Juice of one lime
Splash of chili oil

Optional toppings: toasted cashews
Put on a pot of long grain brown rice.
Cut the tofu into 1/2″ slices, then ~1″ squares.
In a small saucepan, bring the marinade ingredients to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute and remove from heat.
Place the squares of tofu in a non-reactive heatproof pan – a half sheet pan was big enough for two cakes of tofu.
Pour the marinade over the tofu squares, sprinkle with one Tablespoon of oil, and set aside for ~10-40 minutes.
Preheat the broiler on high.
Broil the tofu for 7-8 minutes, until lightly browned; then turn it over with a spatula and brown the other side. (This is the most tedious part.)
While the tofu broils, heat 1 Tbs of canola oil in a wok or large skillet.
Stir in the ginger and garlic scapes stirring until fragrant (~1 minute).
Add the greens, stirring constantly over high heat until the greens are wilted. When the greens are just tender, add the lime juice, and chili oil, and remove from heat.
When the tofu is browned, gently toss it with the marinade and the cooked greens, and reheat if necessary. Top with toasted nuts if you like and serve immediately over white brown rice.