blog-header

Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce

Yum

Recipe

 

½ of a large onion, diced (about 1 cup)

6 large cloves garlic, chopped (about 2 TBL)

¼ cup oil

2 – 20 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes

1 ½ cups water

1 – 3/4 ounce box of fresh basil, stems removed and chopped (about 3 tbsp)

2 ½ tsp salt

1 TBL sugar

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat, sauté onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent.

Add tomatoes and water, bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add Basil, salt and sugar.  Use and immersion blender to blend the sauce smooth.  If blending in a traditional blender, cool the sauce before blending to avoid hot sauce splattering.

Makes 7 cups

Use immediately or divide up and freeze.

Kendra Carter – Featured Artist

“Dear Diary, I feel very hopeful today…”

One of my favorite (and most honest) editors warned me to avoid making my columns sound like diary entries.  But sometimes the subject of an assignment creates a sincere emotional moment for a writer, and it’s nearly impossible to eschew the personal response.  Of course, there’s a little leeway when writing about art as there’s often a blurry area between creation and creator; and in the case of our newest exhibit at the Gallery Location, “My Way” by Kendra Carter, there’s a lot to love in the artwork, of course, but the path leading to it is a story that, in modern parlance, gave me all the feels.

Kendra works primarily in acrylic to which she adds a pourable medium to create Fluid Art – you’ll know it when you see it in her exhibit.  But the idea of flow was a pervasive element in my conversation with Kendra both in terms of her current output as well as a part of what led her to this period of creativity.

“I’m sure you’ve heard of art therapy?” She asks. “It’s definitely been a help to me. The work gives me a sense of peace and clarity, and it quiets my mind. I’m a worrier.  I’m the kind of person who lays in bed and worries about when my 11-year-old starts driving.”

But finding her way to this outlet didn’t begin with a happy moment.  On the contrary, she says that “I just started a year or so ago really putting forth the effort to create art consistently.  My father passed away in January of last year and honestly that gave me this almost philosophical life crisis. I think it was what made me change my career.”

Carter was the manager of a large hair salon, and it was the kind of job she’d done all her life: “I’ve always managed people and systems, and I’m good at it. But I got to where I didn’t really enjoy it. Everybody else who worked there was able to make other people feel beautiful.  But I wasn’t doing anybody’s hair, I was writing people up for being late.  I really needed a way to express emotion, and art is how I’ve always been able to do that; I have a lot of emotion to express. I just needed a change and that’s sort of how I came to this.”

Although her job shift led her to invest more time in creative activities, Carter also found time to volunteer at a homeless shelter: “My husband was doing it, and although I am more drawn to help with needy children, this was a good place to start.  You feel needed there and purposeful.  And maybe everybody wants that, but I certainly was looking for that – especially in the last year.  And I was looking for a way to fill the need to create.  I don’t think I was looking to have an exhibit or anything, but then as my work accumulated, I thought it might be fun.  It’s intimidating to present stuff you’ve made, things that that come from your soul for other people to look at.  You hope they have some sort of reaction, something that makes them feel something – whether it’s what you felt or not it doesn’t matter – as long as it’s something.”

Although she has dabbled in many forms, Carter’s current work lives squarely in the abstract.  It’s a liberating style, she says, that allows her to express her inner rebel:  “What I love about abstract so much is that it is so freeing. I hate to be controlled and basically I don’t like being told what to do.  Of course, I can conform and I can definitely follow rules and accept certain things.  But maybe this is just my way of rebelling outside of societal parameters. I don’t know but it does seem really freeing to me.”

In the ensuing year Kendra’s work has taken up a lot of space in her home and garage.  It’s a space she shares with a husband who likes things to be a little more orderly, perhaps, than allowed by a life full of canvass and paint and the sundry material that go with them: “He’s the kind of guy who likes things to be in the right place, and now there’s paint on the garage floor and the walls are covered with color. But he’s been very supportive from the time I decided to change my career on, he said ‘I don’t care if you sell one piece, you can cover all the walls if that’s what you need to be happy.’”

Some stories have happy endings – or better yet, new and happy beginnings.  This one does, and you can see it for yourself.  Kendra Carter’s exhibit, My Way hangs in our Gallery Location.

Kimchee Soup

Yum

Recipe

¾ cup onion, chopped

2 TBL garlic, chopped

½ cup ginger, chopped

3 TBL Oil

1 cup kimchee, chopped

3 TBL Gochujang

4 cups water

3 TBL soy sauce

1 tsp black soy sauce

½ tsp five spice powder

3 tsp sugar

1TBL Sriracha

2 cups Napa cabbage, chopped

1 tsp sesame oil

Ramen Noodles – spice pack saved for another use

Hard Boiled Eggs

Kimchee for garnish

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and ginger, then reduce heat and sauté for 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add Kimchee, Gochujang, water, soy sauce, black soy sauce, five spiced powder, sugar, and Sriracha.  Bring the mixture to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add Napa cabbage and cook for 5 minutes until cabbage is slightly softened.  Add Sesame oil and remove the soup from the burner.

To serve the soup:

Bring a pot of water to boil, add the dry ramen noodles and cook for 2 minutes.  Drain the noodles and divide into bowls, top the noodles with soup.  Garnish the bowls with a little more chopped kimchee and hard boiled eggs

 

Tomato Head’s White Bean Kale Butternut Squash Stew

Yum

Warm and Hearty

White Bean, Butternut Squash & Kale Soup Recipe

Beautiful Colors

 

1 cup navy beans, dry

¼ cup oil

¾ cup onion, chopped

1 tbsp garlic, chopped

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes

1 cup fennel tops and fronds chopped

1 – 14 oz. can petit diced tomatoes

4 cups water

Coming Together

3 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp sugar

1 bay leaf

2 cups kale, chopped

 

Look through the navy beans for rocks; rinse and soak overnight.

Drain the beans.  Pour the beans into a medium pot and fill with enough fresh water to cover the beans by 2 inches.  Place the beans on high heat, when they come to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook the beans until soft.

Meanwhile, chop the rest of your vegetables and measure the rest of your ingredients.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the Onions and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Add the butternut squash, fennel tops, diced tomato, water, tomato paste, and bay leaf.  Bring the mixture to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until the butternut squash is soft.

When the navy beans are soft, drain them and pour them into the pot.  Add the salt, and sugar (recipe can be made ahead up to this point and refrigerated for several days).

When ready to serve add kale; stir to submerge all the kale and simmer until Kale is softened, 2-3 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8

Flour Head Bakery’s Hot Cereal with Muesli and Fresh Berries

Berries on Top

Great Beginnings

Yummy Spoonful

Yum

Recipe

1 cup water

1 ¼ cup milk or milk substitute

½ cup Cream of Wheat or Wheat Farina

4 tsp light brown sugar

pinch of salt

Place water and milk in a small bowl over medium heat.  Gradually whisk in the wheat farina, bring to

boil, and whisk constantly until mixture thickens.

Divide the hot cereal between bowls.  Drizzle each bowl with honey or maple syrup, and top with Muesli, and fresh berries.

Serves 2-4

Collard Green Salad

Yum

Collard Green Salad Recipe

3 large Collard leaves

2 TBL Oil

¼ cup chopped onion

1 medium tomato – about 1 cup, chopped

1 TBL Parsley, chopped

1 TBL cider vinegar

½ tsp salt

Wash Collards in several rinses of cold water.  Shake off the excess water and cut the leaves into 4-5 long strips.  Cut the strips, including the stems into ½ inch strips crosswise.  Keep the stems separated from the leaves.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add oil then add the collard stems and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Add the collard leaves and sauté just until all the leaves have turned bright green.

Hoppin’ John

Yum

Recipe 

1 lb black eyed peas

8 cups water

¼ cup oil

¾ cup onion, chopped

1 TBL – 4 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup parsley, chopped

½ cup soy sauce

Check over black-eyed peas looking for stones and place in medium pot.  Add water and bring to boil over high heat – reduce heat to low and cook partially covered for 45 minutes, remove the lids and cook another 15 minutes or until peas are soft.  Check periodically to make sure water does not run out and add water by the cupful if water runs low (you should have approximately 2 cups of liquid in the pot when the peas are cooked).

When the peas are soft, over medium heat, in a small skillet heat oil, add onions and garlic and sauté until fragrant.  Add onion mixture to peas followed by parsley, and soy sauce.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve over steamed white or brown rice top with Collard Green Relish.

Serves 4 – 6

Lucky Foods – New Year’s Day

I am not superstitious. Not very much anyway.

Though it is true, as a rule, that I don’t break mirrors, walk under ladders or open umbrellas indoors, and I certainly never, ever utter the name MacBeth aloud in a theatre.  But despite what you may think, it’s not superstition – it’s practical magic.  After all, shards of glass are decidedly unlucky, as is a hammer, or any object, when dropped from an elevated position; and while I don’t mind raindrops fallin’ on my head, a wet entryway has only ever brought me unhappiness and a sore backside.

As for saying the name of Shakespeare’s bewitched tragedy – I don’t worry about bringing a curse upon my head by saying the name aloud.  I do however, worry about other people who worry.  Believe you me, you meet one neurotic actor who believes in that superstition, and you’ll honor it all your days.

Nonetheless, I eat lucky food on New Year’s Day because I believe.

Almost every culture has a set of good fortune foods. In the South, many of us make a habit of eating collard greens and black-eyed peas, often with fried hog jowl or any bit of pork in order to guarantee good luck for the coming year.

Prep is Done

Where Collards are concerned, my mama says it’s all about the color of money.  And that sounds reasonable enough to me, though one wonders if this hearty green is thought lucky because of its preference for cool weather.  Green vegetables that taste better after a frost seem like a providential find for folks who grow their own.

Black eyed peas come with a whole host of luck associations – some tracing the tradition to a reference in the Babylonian Talmud about foods to eat at Rosh Hashanah, and others crediting the humble but plentiful pea with saving countless starving Southerners after the Civil War.  But, as with collards, both of these associations may have their roots in more pragmatic thought than a concern for fortune.  A good bowl of peas can last you for a couple of days so you don’t have to cook daily, and it’s an abundant crop that keeps well.

In many parts of the South black-eyed peas are mixed with rice and, thus, create Hoppin’ John.  Rice itself is an ancient symbol of prosperity and fertility, and, I reckon, putting the two to together makes some powerful juju that can carry you through 365 days of life’s varied twists and turns with a favorable edge.

But, of course, it’s only good juju if you actually eat it.  And honestly, a plain old can of peas and instant rice isn’t gonna be very

Ready to Eat…. Lucky You!

tempting.  But if you’ll take a look at Mahasti’s recipe below, at the very least you’ll have pretty good luck at getting folks to eat your New Year’s creation.  It’s a simple recipe with an unexpected and delicious ingredient that turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.  Plus, Mahasti tops her Hoppin’ John with a vibrant collard green salad that adds a very healthy crunch and a welcome splash of the color of money.  I can’t swear that it’s good luck, but I can assure you that it all tastes good.

At the end of the day, though, I believe less in good luck than I believe in good habits.  This simple dish is nutritious, frugal, and easy to make at home in family-sized batches that keep well.  And while I don’t make resolutions for the New Year, I do believe that making a start with good food habits is a sensible response to the sheer indulgence of the previous weeks; I can weigh the sugar I’ve consumed in pounds.  And getting into the habit of eating well and eating things you’ve cooked with or for people you love is the kind of good sense that may not make good luck but will make you feel pretty darn lucky.

Find our recipe for black-eyed peas here and one for the collard green salad here.

Gingerbread


Cookies are magic.

Gingerbread People

We know it instinctively.  It might be that some of us grew up believing that little elves who live in hollow trees make magic in the form of fudge stripes on shortbread and the like.  For me, the magic is in the memory of family kitchens filled, especially at this time of year, with palpable enchantments; the lust of the forbidden cookie dough followed by that bewitching but tortuous aroma of cookies in the oven.  Just writing those words makes my head spin like no love potion could ever hope to do.  To this day, even the memory of that smell can cast a craving on me that won’t quit until answered.

And of all that aromatic cookie magic, the most potent is gingerbread.  The secret, methinks, is in the formidable combination of ginger and molasses which creates a darkly sweet but lively dough that produces a rich baking aroma that gets inside of me and makes me feel warm and, of course, very, very hungry.

It’s not a new magic by any means, gingerbread in various incarnations populates the histories of many cultures.  Likewise, the magic of shaping food into shapes for a little magical mischief is an ancient bit of sorcery.  Of course, it probably all started with clay and idols, but those aren’t particularly tasty.

In Medieval England, ladies would sometimes eat gingerbread husbands in hopes of acquiring the real thing.  I can’t imagine that was particularly efficacious magic – gingerbread is sweet and adorable and, from what I can tell, men in medieval England were not overly sweet as a rule.

But how gingerbread men came to be a part of the Christmas tradition is unclear – perhaps it evolved from the German tradition of creating gingerbread houses which were associated with the yuletide.  Or maybe it’s just one of those things that happens – somebody put a cookie on a tree for decoration and, abra cadabra, a tradition was born.

But the real magic of gingerbread isn’t in the shape, per se – it’s in the creation, the fact of the making, the act of the shaping and most importantly, the cooking of it.  The rich aroma of gingerbread in the oven is the aroma of home. And isn’t the magic of home a big part of what we observe this time of year?  No matter what holiday we celebrate, it’s always better at home – whether that’s a family moment or time shared with close friends, perhaps even pets, spending time with those we love is the real enchantment.

Homemade gingerbread is the by-product of love, which, of course, is the greatest magic of all.  And it’s never too late to find your inner wizard.
Yum

Gingerbread Cut Out Cookies

3 ¾ cups All Purpose Flour

1 cup, packed Light Brown Sugar

½ tsp Salt

1 tsp Baking Soda

4 tsp Ground Ginger

½ tsp Ground Clove

4 tsp Ground Cinnamon

2 sticks plus 1 TBL Unsalted Butter at room temperature

3 TBL Whole Milk

1 cup Blackstrap Molasses

Mix together the Flour, Brown Sugar, Salt, Baking Soda and spices in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment until all the ingredients are mixed together well.  On low speed gradually add the butter and beat until the mixture resembles coarse sand.  Mix together the milk and molasses.  With the mixer running gradually add the molasses mixture to the mixing bowl and mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated and a soft dough is formed.

Divide the dough up into 2-4 balls.  Flatten into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.  Dough can also easily be frozen for up to 30 days.  Simply remove from the freezer 24 hours prior to baking.

Cooling Off

When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.   Line your cutting board with a sheet of parchment paper big enough to cover the board and also fit your cookie sheet.  Remove your gingerbread dough from the refrigerator.  Dust the surface of your parchment paper heavily with flour and roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness.  Cut your desired shapes into the cookie dough, leaving ¾ of an inch, enough room for cookies to expand in the oven, between each shape.  Remove the excess dough from in between the cookies shapes and reform the excess dough into a disk, which you can either re-roll out or refrigerate or freeze for future use.  Lift your cutting board off of your work surface and gently tilt it towards your cookie sheet, sliding the parchment paper with the cookies onto the cookie sheet.  Gently re-arrange the cookies if necessary, giving them enough room to expand in the oven.

Bake the cookies for 10 – 12 minutes for a soft cookie and 12-14 minutes for a crispy one.  Allow cookies to cool.  Ice with Royal Icing and decorate with sprinkles.  Allow icing to harden and enjoy.

Check out our recipe for royal icing to decorate your cookies.

Purchase Mahasti’s Recommended Utensils

Stand Mixer

Cutting Board

Measuring Cups

Measuring Spoons

Glass Measuring Cup

Rolling Pin

Gingerbread Man Cookie Cutter

Gingerbread Girl Cookie Cutter

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design