Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Year Without Peas and Peaches - July 3, 2014

This Summer has been nothing compared to the year before but the heat came upon us much more quickly.  This meant no peas and lots of beautiful bean plants that still have no beans.  My fellow community gardeners are unfortunately experiencing the same thing.  Meanwhile, we went to pick blueberries at Reed Family Orchard last weekend and they informed us there will be no peaches this year due to last winter's freezing temps.  What a bummer. 

So far, I haven't seen peas or peaches being brought in from elsewhere, but some folks must be growing hot house beans or have another trick because we have still been able to get yellow and green beans at the farmer's market and local stores.  This year I was tired of the same old Southern beans and potatoes so we branched out a bit.  My first attempt was to toss beans, apricot slices and shallots in olive oil, salt and pepper.  I then added sliced watermelon rind pickle and tossed on a cookie sheet.  I put it all in the oven at 350 degrees until I saw a bit of browning and the beans weren't squeaky and tossed with sliced almonds when I took it out.  It was a great combination.

My second bean experiment was French.  It is basically a French Dijon dressing on beans and can be eaten warm or cold.  Here it is:

French Green Bean Salad

2 T. chopped shallot
2 T. white wine vinegar
1 minced garlic clove
1 lb. green beans (trimmed)
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. chopped capers
1 T. chopped parsley

Combine shallot, vinegar and garlic and allow to sit.  Boil water and toss in beans to cook.  Add remaining ingredients to vinegar mixture.  When beans are cooked through, drain and add dressing while warm.  Serve hot or at room temp.

My final and I think favorite bean recipe this month was the simplest.  It has a great lemon taste and is easy to prepare.  Best of all, you don't need an hour to cook these beans before you eat.  I hope you like it:

Spicy Beans with Lemon

 3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed
1 sliced shallot
1 sliced garlic clove
1/2 tsp. dried red chili flakes
1/2 lemon
olive oil

Add 1/2 T. of oil to frying pan and heat on med-high.  Toss in beans, shallots, garlic and chili and cook one minute.  Cover and lower heat and cook until soft about 3-5 minutes.  Remove lid and cook until liquid is gone.  Season with salt and squeeze lemon juice on top.  Serve warm.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Drinking Like You’re in Bermuda – May 18, 2014

I am terrible at a cocktail bar.   I simply don’t know enough to read a drink description or list of ingredients and know if I will be a fan.  But, this year on vacation, I decided to give it a try.  John and I sought out hip bars in both Chicago and Florence, Alabama.  My first drink was a really cool tropical pineapple and lime rum drink with an ingredient I had never heard of – falarnum.  John and I “Googled” falarnum and learned it was a tropical infused rum from Bermuda.  Later we headed to Florence and our new bar had a Dark and Stormy which also included falarnum.  Turns out the Dark and Stormy has been taking New York City by “storm.”  Who knew.  I didn’t care.  I just knew I really liked it and since it also included falarnum, I needed to learn more about this magic ingredient.

When we returned home I did a bit more research about falarnum.  I knew I had hit the jackpot when I found Paul Clark’s site and recipe.  The recipe is actually called falarnum #9 because he tried eight others prior and decided this one was the best.  I made my own in a mason jar and it is really delicious with the flavors of almond, lime, ginger and cloves.  The only thing I haven’t figured out is what to do with all these great ingredients you infuse the rum with other than compost after infusion.  Maybe one of you has an idea!

Falarnum #9
2 T. blanched, slivered almonds
40 whole cloves, crushed
3/4 c. white rum
Finely grated zest of 9 medium limes, with no pith
1 (3-inch piece) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 c. plus 2 T. sugar
3/4 c. plus 1 T. warm water
3 T. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. almond extract

Toast the almonds and cloves in a small, dry frying pan over medium heat until the almonds are golden and the cloves are aromatic, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat to cool slightly, about 3 minutes.  Place cloves, almonds, rum, lime zest, and ginger in a 2-cup nonreactive container with a tight fitting lid. Cover, shake, and let sit for 24 hours at room temperature.

Combine sugar and water in a 1-quart container with a tight fitting lid. Cover and shake until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture looks clear, about 5 minutes. (By not heating the sugar-water mixture, the simple syrup will be less dense and crisper than a cooked syrup.) You should have 1 3/4 cups; set aside.

After 24 hours, strain the rum mixture through a cheesecloth or several layers of paper towels set in a fine mesh strainer over a small bowl. Press the solids against the strainer to extract all the liquid. Discard the solids.  Add the strained liquid, lime juice, and almond extract to the reserved simple syrup. Shake. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 month.

Dark and Stormy
1/2 oz. falernum
1/2 oz. lime juice
2 oz. dark rum
4 oz. ginger beer

Mix and enjoy.