Half A Salad with a Full Garden

Last summer I was getting all fancy with the gardening and the fresh stuff and piles and piles of lettuce to show for all my hard work. Thanks to my appaent inability to withold memories I went and planted flowers and herbs on top of where the end of last year’s crop went to seed. So what happened? Rogue lettuce. EVERYWHERE. It was growing out of the drainpipe hole at the end of the garden bed. It was springing up from between the cracks in the sidewalk. It was sort of grow up and through a rock?? And that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that even with all that crazy ninja lettuce popping up everywhere and messing up my carefully planned out herb garden I’ve gotten about 10 good leaves from the lot of them.

On the bright side (in the back where we get more sun) I’ve had so many tomatoes that the only thing I could think of after a while was to cut them in hlf and throw them in the oven so I could at least have something that still tasted like tomato and would turn to black goo on the countertop. I really hate it when tomatoes go bad. It’s super gross.

But all those poor tomatoes I just didn’t rescue in time aside, I was left with only half a salad since I was strangely without any other ingredients to help make any salad I made be more than just chopped tomatoes with salt. It takes a special tomato to be delicious without some sort of additional lubricant with taste.

Here is a picture of tomatoes.

Here is a picture of tomatoes.

But between work and more work and my entire fammily deserting me for the island homelands I have had very little to eat except vegetables for the last month. It all happened because my dear mother finished her radiation treatments (yay!) and it ended with a really really big last minute party where I tried to grill outside. Thinking I’d try something new for a big crowd I attempted making burgers. Like real burgers. The kind with meat cooked on an open flame. Well over charcoal.

For those of you who don’t know: I was raised vegetarian. At some point the family became pescatarian but even fish is a rare occurence at Chez Tobing. I have left behind those meatless way for almost a decade now but even today I don’t cook meat. So me deciding to try cooking burgers for a party was probably the worst idea. They didn’t turn out awful. Just not great. The black bean burgers I mixed up, however, turned out amazing and I’ve even made this receipe since. I usually make my own aioli with vegenaise, fresh crushed garlic, lime, and sriracha. I had also posted the burger recipe last year in “Keeping it Veggie“:

Black Bean Burgers with a Smoky Red Pepper Spread

Black Bean Burgers with a Smoky Red Pepper Spread

But alongside the semi-successful burger project I grilled about 5 billion pounds of fresh stuff: Eggplane, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, OKRA!, bell peppers, asparagus, baby bell peppers, portabello mushrooms, sweet potatoes, corn… You put the grilled veggies on a toasted bun with the aioli and a still cripsy-on-the-outside black bean burger (or a marinated and grilled portabellow mushroom if you prefer) and that makes for a good party! In the future, though, I think I’ll leave the regular burgers to a professional. The afterparty of this whole affair was me sitting on the sofa eating nothing but roasted vegetable sandwiches for the next week while watching “Chuck” and drinking the remains of my homemade “Make Your Own Juice Bar”. My favorite was the sparkling  Persian Lime with an extra shot of sweetness from the ginger simple syrup.

In honor of the vegetables (and “fruit”. That’s right, I’m looking at you tomatoes!) that kept me alive while living alone for the last month I’m dedicating the next series of posts with all the wonderful ways to eat them!

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers (from SkinnyTaste)

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers

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Just a Little Snack

Personal Pear Pizza with Stilton & Walnuts, from Ono Kitchen

Personal Pear Pizza with Stilton & Walnuts, from Ono Kitchen

I don’t do New Years resolutions. If you aren’t going to take charge of you life all the time then you aren’t doing it right. Doing what right? One might ask. Life. You’re not doing it right. Try again.

Just so you know… I’m not skinny and I’m not “eating great” while “losing weight”. Except that eating great bit. I try to do that whenever possible. So here’s a little snack I found while looking around the great wide web of the internet after work today. I feel like this would also work great with a goat cheese/rosemary/honey combo.

And while we’re at it, how about a drink? Something warm and creamy, perhaps?

Coconut Rum Spiked S’more Hot Chocolate

Coconut Rum Spiked S’more Hot Chocolate, from Margaritas in the Rain (There are more pictures on the original page).

Yep. That works!

And now to go read the latest issue of Saga

GatroPorn Menu: July.2013

GatroPorn Menu: July.2013

It is getting far too hot outside for my tastes. Mid-90’s and the humidity is on the rise. I keep forgetting every spring that my hair does not do well in humidity and so I don’t preemptively get it cut in time for the great *poof* that becomes my hair in the DC summers. And in addition to that the temperature of one’s food can make a difference to the comfort levels in this god-awful heat.

I love Thanksgiving and Christmas because I often associate the two holidays with a large amount of cooking and eating and partying. I’m not the greatest fan on the patriotic holidays because the types of foods do not create insane food memories of intense bliss in my head. But there are still foods that can excite my palate during the summer holidays… Here is a menu with a few of them along with a couple new items I’m keen to try this month:

Boozy Sweet Tea

“Boozy Sweet Tea” from Dessert for Two
(Click HERE for “Peach-Infused Moonshine” Recipe)

Parmesan Tuiles with Heirloom Tomato Salad

“Parmesan Tuiles with Heirloom Tomato Salad” from Food & Wine

New Potato Salad with Garlic Mayonnaise and Cress

“New Potato Salad with Garlic Mayonnaise and Cress” from JamieOliver.com

Mediterranean Sliders

“Mediterranean Sliders” from Athenos (there’s something to be said for good advertising!)

Vegetable Kebabs

“Vegetable Kebabs” from Epicurious

Berry & Fruit Popsicles

“Berry & Fruit Popsicles” from Call Me Cupcake!

Gan Bei!

"The Persian Princess" by Tanya Zouev

“The Persian Princess” by Tanya Zouev on The Cook Who Knew Nothing

Welcome to the weekend my Foodie Nation!!!! Mine started yesterday but I have a feeling yours did not so this one is for all you harder working people that have to figure out how to look busy on Fridays to the point where you just end up exhausting yourselves.

I was browsing about the grandness of the internet (stuck to the GASTROporn this time) and found a lovely post about martinis. And they all looked just so yummy and appropriate for the heat that’s going on in the outdoor areas. So check them out! (You click on the pretty photo above. Just as usual.)

In the Land of the Sober

Bee's Knees

“Bee’s Knees” from Food & Wine

I don’t quite remember when it was that I first learned about this drink. But I was probably around 15 because I definitely remember being in a resort in Zambia at Victoria Falls when I was 16 and trying to order one and having just the worst luck because no one knew what I was talking about. Back in high school I had big dreams of becoming the very first SDA bartender. My mother very quickly squashed that plan by telling me that I could be a Christian bartender but I was getting a little too specific with the SDA thing and that it was just never going to happen. Later, in college, I learned that some of the church founders spoke out against ice cream because the process of sugar and milk melting in the stomach made alcohol. And that’s just ridiculous but goes to show why my mother was right and I decided that I should really look into some other religious options. It’s not a surprise that I had a lot of fun in chemistry lab that year.

I don’t often post drinks or alcoholic or bacon-based content because every time I do I can just feel my mom feeling disappointed in her child rearing skills in my head. But this week I think I’m in proper order. There are few things at work that make me want to just set up a bar at the front desk and tell everyone “Drinks are on me!” at lunch time but that just wouldn’t go over very well and I don’t have any of the ingredients at home because it’s hard to justify a truly full and comprehensive liquor cabinet with–you know–that mother thing. So my goal this weekend is to try and figure out a way to fulfill my youthful dream of sitting in a proper bar where the bartenders not only know what I’m talking about but who will appreciate the fine art of booze. Because I’m feeling a little parched here and all we’ve got is water and whatever caffeine I manage to sneak in. That’s right. Caffeine is decreed bad, too. We’re a bit loose on that one around here but at some of our sister institutions I’ve got family that have said their job was on the line because of potential “substance abuse”. And that’s just stupid…

Bug Juice

Hibiscus Tea with Lime

“Hibiscus Tea with Lime” from Whole Living

When I was a little girl, and I mean a very little girl, I used to love brightly colored sweet drinks. Most little kids do. And where I grew up we didn’t have access to a ton of things like Kool-Aid and bottled drinks unless we went somewhere special. What we did have is karkadé, also known as hibiscus tea. It’s a bright or dark red and full of sugar or honey and can be flavored with ginger or lime or whatever else makes sense.

My grandparents always called things like Kool-Aid “bug juice” but I think that this flower tea makes a much more convincing and delicious version of that.