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corn

Summer Vegetable Coconut Curry

Summer Vegetable Coconut Curry

I often say that even if I became really poor, it’s unlikely I’d ever go hungry. Through all my various foodie friends, farmer connections, side food-related jobs and food blogger perks, my fridge these days has been endlessly stocked. My splurgeful trips to Whole Foods have been minimal. And my tummy has been full.

Unlike some of my recent grad friends (cue those who moved to NYC), I’ve managed to avoid a diet of peanut butter and canned beans. (Although, don’t think those items don’t show up quite often too. I eat plenty of PB from a jar, primarily by choice, and chickpeas too. Being a vegetarian does have its naturally affordable qualities.)

When I do head to the store these days, often I walk out with nothing other than figs and Greek yogurt. As a hustling journalist in a dying field, and a freelancer of many trades, this scenario seems a bit out of place. And it would be if it weren’t for the abundance of healthy veggies that have graced my life this summer, free of charge. For this I feel fortunate.

Summer veggies.

At this point, I honestly have more vegetables sitting around than I can eat. Some of you fellow gardeners I’m sure can relate.

I often get stuck eating a lot of simple salads, which are great, but sometimes recipes like this are in need. It’s amazing how a simple coconut curry can make you appreciate a bowl of vegetables that much more.

I contemplated putting this over rice, but I honestly wanted to just spoon its brothiness as is, and call the large bowl of veggies a meal. So that’s what I did. However, I ended up pouring it over pasta the following day, which was quite nice too. I’ll leave the decision of how to serve it up to you.

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Summer Sides: Creamed Collards with Fresh Corn

Creamed Collards with Fresh Corn

If there is a time to eat raw corn, it’s in the summer. For the home-grower, you arrive straight from the garden. Your shoes get kicked off, mud washed from your hands, and then barefooted, you head straight back outside. From there, you start tearing. First it’s the rough husk that falls to the ground, then the silky strands that lay beneath.

This was my childhood. If you can’t tell, I’m still a little nostalgic for the days when a backyard existed just outside my bedroom. Especially one with a small corn forrest in its corner.

Currently, as I live out my urban dwelling days, I’m more of a farmer’s market shopper. Although, this too can open up opportunities for raw corn consumption. In this instance, you truck home with a boundless bounty of dinner options, and with no room left in the fridge, Cholula bottles and dirty mugs get thrown aside. A local-grown bag of corn takes the counter-side space. And from there, you get shucking your mid-afternoon snack while dreaming up what to make for dinner.

In either situation, your stomach will be empty, your corn sweet. Summertime is the only time that corn is ever sweet enough, and not too starchy, to eat straight from the cob, no cooking in between. In times of ravenous impatience, fresh corn becomes a luxury.

Collards

As I’ve told in recent posts, I’ve been working a farmer’s market every Saturday throughout the summer. After hot mornings spent outside, I generally return home famished, with little desire to turn on the stove. This past weekend proved no different, which left me delving straight into my newly acquired 1/2 dozen of corn. Taking ten minutes to boil water? Get real. I went straight for the raw cobs with little time to waste. Two ears later, I felt alive again, and decided I should really start cooking some of the other produce I left sitting out on the table. Like the collards that were quickly beginning to wilt. I mean…who has time to put greens in the fridge when there’s corn waiting to be eaten? Obviously not me.

I continued on with the raw corn theme, tossing it with some lime and butter to top off this summer side. Feel free, however, to steam the corn beforehand, especially if your cobs aren’t particularly fresh. Either way works to add some sweet crunch to this creamy, but light, nutrient-packed dish. It’s a bowl you can easily pass around at a potluck or friend/family dinner, and an excellent way to get some veggies onto the plate.

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Summer Veggie Breakfast Tacos

Summer Veggie Breakfast Tacos

No, I’m not sick of tomato sandwiches yet. However, I did want to start whipping up some new recipes again. With so much fresh produce in my fridge, it was bound to happen. Creativity strikes when variety is abundant, happily attained through the perks of working at a farmer’s market.

I wasn’t too sure how I’d feel about crawling out of bed before 7 a.m. every Saturday morning to sell vegetables. Bags of summer squash and ears of corn later, the foodie in me has decided the weekly weekend gig is totally worth it. Saturday mornings spent working bring Sunday morning breakfasts. Delicious ones at that.

This past Sunday, that meant these breakfast tacos, filled with buttery yellow squash, vine-ripened tomatoes and sweet corn. Worth it, don’t you agree?

Summer Squash

I love summer because the days the season brings along are rarely ever dull. There are always new ingredients to to be experimented with for wrapping into tacos. There are always new swimming excursions to be found. There is always outdoor fun to be had. My favorite kind, for sure.

Lately I’ve been doing plenty of pool jumping, lots of jacket-less night time bike riding, and occasional ice cream eating. Summer has been treating me well. I wish it’d never leave. Perhaps, one day, my future career path will lead me to an endless warm locale. That certainly wouldn’t be a bad job perk either.

Anyway, I leave you with these Summer Veggie Breakfast Tacos. Although these make a perfect Sunday, late morning meal, they’d also serve as breakfast-for-dinner that can be pulled together quickly any night of the week. Perhaps make them now, and then repeat once the weekend rolls around.

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Italian Feta Black Bean Burgers

Black Bean Feta Burgers

I could not be more excited about this 70ish spring weather! My scarf and hat needed a break (and likely a trip to the laundromat as well). I’m also enjoying the motivation to get my booty outside and running.

I’m training for my first 10-miler. I’ve been a runner since high school, but for some reason, the thought of 10-miles still makes me weary. I know my legs can make it, but my mind’s an entity of its own. It’s made my training process a little slow-growing…

City running generally gets boring to me after mile three. Not enough trees or obstacles. I’ll push myself two more miles, but much more after that and my mind starts going crazy. I start yelling inside my head at all the oblivious dog-walkers on the street and then fight with myself about how those are not so nice or productive thoughts. I love dogs, but seriously, your pooches needn’t take up the whole path. City sidewalks aren’t royal runways for your dog. But what’s the use of letting those things get to me, right? If I have to slow down to dodge a person simply enjoying the weather, so what.

Gah…the conversations I have with myself while trying to keep my feet running and my mind distracted. If only Philly had more running trails. Luckily, I’m sure the race will provide plenty of people watching to keep me entertained for at least a few miles. People watching is a personal favorite spring and summer activity of mine.

Another favorite warm weather pursuit? Making burgers. Burgers just breathe springtime to me, even when they’re not made on the grill. I mixed things up with this one by adding feta, and then using whole chickpeas for a textural experience. I really liked the crunch from the chickpeas. Just don’t go overboard when adding them in, or they’ll dominate in flavor. As I’ve suggested below (though not pictured), consider sautéing the onions before topping off your burger. The sweetness with the feta is totally worth the extra step.

Black Bean Feta Burgers

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Creamy Vegan Corn Chowder

I never noticed how sweet corn was until this chowder. Upon first taste, I was hit with such a creamy sugariness that I found it almost hard to remember what kind of vegetable I was cooking with. Though, it’s a different sweetness than fruit. Different than the veggie’s candy corn counterpart, too. Instead, it’s a palate-cleansing sort of sweetness. One that pairs well with the acidity of a nice tomato, basil, mozzarella salad, or with a potent herb like parsley, the one that lightens up the rich sweetness of this soup. It’s a sweetness that I’ve absolutely fallen in love with, and spawns me to blend this creamy concoction every summer.

Many late August’s ago, one of the very first creations I ever pulled together in my parents’ kitchen was an early variation of this recipe. Cornstarch at the time was not in my vocabulary, and I remember my superwoman mom coming in to save the day and thicken my soupy mess together. To my surprise, the ending bowl turned out rather well. It was a shock for me to discover how much flavor could be extracted from just a handful of ingredients. Perhaps that’s what ignited the cooking fire in me. The idea that I didn’t need to learn how to mix together ten trillion ingredients to make something tasty. To this day, I still find simplicity to be key. At least within my own kitchen. When the ingredients are fresh, I want a meal where nearly all of them can shine, each complimenting each other in straighforward yet unique ways. This is one of those recipes that really allows all of the multifaceted dimensions of corn to come through. Corn on the cob is fantastic. But to unleash the real sweetness that lays within each of those little kernels, you’ll find a little shake in the blender becomes a miracle.

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