Posts from July 2014

Thai Basil Chicken Stir-fry


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When living in Iowa, I would always wish that July was 60 days long. I loved the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, and the wonderfully warm weather. Well, I guess I got what I wished for since I now have a seemingly endless July with sunshine and garden growth nearly year round. Despite our abundance of warm weather, I still do relish this month when it returns.

This dish makes use of Thai basil, which is slightly different than sweet basil. Thai basil has purple stems and flowers, and is said to have a more stable flavor under high or extended cooking temperatures.


1 lb chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 fresh red chilies, chopped
3 T white wine
2 green peppers, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 c Thai basil (or sweet basil), chopped
2-3 T cooking oil

3 T oyster sauce
2-3 T soy sauce
1 T fish sauce
2 T brown sugar


First, combine the sauce ingredients together and set aside. Chop your chicken. Put 2 T of this sauce over chicken and stir. Set aside to marinate a few minutes while you prepare your other ingredients. Set remaining stir-fry sauce aside.

Next, heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and wait for it to heat, then add the garlic and chili. Stir for one minute to release the fragrance, and then add the chicken plus a splash of white wine. Cook the chicken for 3 minutes (or until the chicken is opaque). Add a little more white wine as needed to keep pan moist.

Add the bell peppers and zucchini, plus 3/4 of the sauce. Cook until vegetables have softened but still retain some of their crispness (about 2 minutes). Reduce heat to medium-low, add the onions and remaining sauce. Next, remove from heat and fold in the fresh basil (basil will wilt down into the hot sauce).

Serve with plenty of rice, a splash of lime, and garnish with more Thai basil.

Fig Fruit Leather



Fig fruit leather. So, I’m not going to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes here and say this is the Best Desert Ever, for let’s face it, it’s not Grandma’s Chocolate Cake. There’s no refined sugar here, or magical gluten, or it’s not even made from fruit that people place in their list of top 20. But it IS a good sweet treat for those who are not looking for any of the above. (For instance, my 2 1/2 year old nephew knows “cookies” only as date rolls. Go Mama Kate!! This would be right up Moe’s alley.)

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Our friend Sam has what we *think* is a Kadota fig tree (much deliberation has gone on, obviously). These figs are green on the exterior, but pink in the middle. These are different from ours, which we *think* are Brown Turkey.

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I’m thinking if you disguised the name some, like “Not-colate,” or “Fun Brown Fruit,” or “Flat Goodness,” or something, you might be able to trick your kids into eating this naturally sweet treat. We’ll see. You can get back to me on that one if it works.


2 c Fresh figs, any kind
1/4 c honey
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T lemon juice
Pinch of salt


Heat the chopped figs with all the other ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat until the figs are soft, or about 5-7 minutes or so. Transfer to a food processor or blender. Blend until pulpy. Transfer either to a baking sheet that has a thin layer of oil, or a greased dehydrator tray without holes, like I did. Spread a thin and even layer of the pulp on the tray (1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness). In an oven, cook for 6-8 hours at a temperature of 150-170 degrees. In a dehydrator, dehydrate at medium heat for about the same amount of time, or more. Cut into desired shapes, and give it to hyperactive children who need no more refined sugar. Maybe they won’t thank you for it, but you’ll be happy that fruit leather was your choice of treats.

Red Zinger Tea


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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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My friend Melissa grows roselle hibiscus plants on her Forage farm. She gave me some roselle fruits as well as this recipe to make tea.

The Red Zinger tea that is sold in stores is made from roselle hibiscus as well. When the beautiful flowers are pollinated, a red pod forms, which is called the calyx. The calyx holds a green ball, which holds the seeds. Discarding the green ball, what you have left is a bright red calyx to use for tea.

I put all the roselles and added a stalk of lemongrass into a pot of water and brought it to a boil. If you want it a little sweeter, add some honey. My last post noted the beneficial nature of lemongrass. Roselle fruit is said to lower blood pressure, and boost your immune system. Between the medicinal effects and delicious taste, red zinger tea is a winner.

Drink it iced, like I did, or warm on a cold day. The tea will last for at least a week in the refrigerator.

Other links:

Homeplace Earth: Red Thai Roselle Hibiscus Tea

Shrimp and Lemongrass Soup



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Our lemongrass dies back in the winter, but come summertime, the stalks are back to their six-foot height. As I said before in an earlier post, lemongrass has been used to cure upset stomachs and help with digestion. I know this to be true since our dog, Kaia, eats lemongrass for this exact reason. She gets a gurgly stomach for nearly no reason at all; thunder, getting a bath, the words “going to the kennel” will all make her tummy growl. But once she’s let outside, she knows to go straight for the lemongrass, which often will quell her indigestion.

Paired with lemongrass, the shrimp and coconut milk make for a great summer soup. It’s not too heavy, but it still packs a lot of flavor. I got this recipe from the Blue Apron website.


2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks lemongrass, one stalk minced, the other smashed but left in tact
1 piece ginger, chopped and pealed
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 limes, 1 zested and squeezed, and one for garnish
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 c rice
2 T red curry paste
1 13.5-oz can unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth
1 c water
2 t sugar
10 oz shrimp
Cooking oil


First, start the rice. Combine 1 c water, a pinch of salt, and the 1/2 c rice in a bowl on the stove top. One it comes to a boil, bring the heat down to a simmer for 12-14 minutes. Next, wash and dry all the fresh ingredients. In a medium pot, heat 2 t of your cooking oil (I used coconut) over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, ginger, the one minced stalk of lemongrass (remove hard exterior of the stalk first before chopping and discard), and green onion. Cook 1-2 minutes. Next add the chopped red pepper. Next, add the red curry paste. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add the coconut milk, broth, water, sugar, lime zest and juice, and smashed lemongrass stalk (with hard exterior removed). Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Throw in the shrimp (you can choose to either keep the peal on, or peal them before you throw them in the soup). Cook for 8-10 minutes.

Discard the stalk of lemongrass, and garnish each bowl with a scoop of rice, cilantro, and the juice from the other lime cut into wedges.

Fig & Arugula Pizza


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Our figs are ripe! And I’ve come full seasonal circle with my food blog! I started it last year in July, and my first post was about figs. They still haven’t lost their novelty.

I’ve had good fig and arugula pizza in restaurants before, so I thought I’d try it at home. It worked well as an entree for dinner, but I think it would also make for a nice appetizer as well.


1/2 c warm water
1 1/4 t dry yeast
1 1/2 c bread flour
1 t salt
olive oil for coating bowl

1 c figs, chopped
1/3 c sliced cured salami
1/3 c shredded parmesan cheese
1/3 c arugula, chopped
olive oil


Mix all the dough ingredients either by hand or with a dough hook on a mixer for 1 minute. Let stand for 5 minutes. Kneed with your hands on a floured surface for 5 minutes or so. Form into a ball, put in a bowl coated with olive oil. Cover with saran wrap and let sit for at least 1 hour.

Once the dough is looking ready, heat your oven to 500 degrees. Next, roll out your dough. Coat the top of the dough with olive oil. Put all the ingredients on the pizza except the arugula. Put it in the oven. (I use a pizza peal, and put cornmeal on it first. The cornmeal acts like ball bearings and helps it slide onto a pizza stone. If you do not have either a peal or a stone, just form the dough in a cookie sheet instead.) Cook the pizza for 7-10 minutes, or until the sides brown. Add the arugula on after the pizza is cooked.

Meyer Lemon Margaritas


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I just love the 4th of July. Friends, fireworks, and freedom all rank high on my list of good things. This holiday was extra special since it was spent with both near and far friends in Amelia Island soaking up the sun and sea.

We indulged in many of our homemade things: our sausage, gin and tonics, pickled jalapenos, alligator and fish tacos, and these Meyer Lemon margs made from the (frozen) juice from our lemons.


{The marsh off the back porch.}

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{Nearby live oaks}

Ingredients (makes one drink):

1 1/2 jigger of tequila
1/2 jigger of Contreau
1 jigger of freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (or juice from a regular lemon)
1 jigger of simple syrup (1 c water + 1 c sugar, brought to a boil, then cooled)

Add all ingredients to a glass with ice. Mix well. And toast to good things.

Blueberry Cordials


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What’s a fun celebratory 4th of July drink? Blueberry cordials, of course! However, I’m about a month too late in posting this recipe, for you need at least 4 weeks to make it. But if make your cordials now, by August 4th you can relive the July 4th glory! Invite the neighbors over, pour some cordials in tiny glasses, get out the last box of sparklers, and you’ve got yourself a party.


The last post I did about blueberries showed our pathetic crop. Boo. So I had to supplement with local berries instead.


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This recipe came from Epicurious.


1 c sugar
2 c vodka
3 c blueberries


Wash the berries. Wash a quart mason jar well. Combine all ingredients in the jar. Make sure the lid is on tight and shake well. (The sugar won’t dissolve right away, which is fine. It takes days to do this.) Store in a cool, dark place for at least a month (or more). Once it’s ready, discard the berries. Pour into small glasses and serve as a desert drink or with tonic as a cocktail. Garnish with a strawberry or a wedge of watermelon. Keep it in the freezer where it will last a long time.

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