Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Moving Day Soup

Taking a break to tell you about my day, then back to it....

Packing to move, boxes of all sizes stacked everywhere... and I'm getting hungry. I have some food in the refrigerator from which I could rustle us up some homemade soup in a hurry, but I have no idea which box has our cooking utensils. Husband saves the day calling to say he's going to stop by and pick up a gluten-free pizza. He calls back and says they're closed for the day. Our kitchen counter is cluttered with everything I pulled out of the cupboards, boxes and bubble wrap, along with today's mail. So, I push what I can aside and work quickly to be able to say "Soup's on!" thirty minutes later when DZ walks through the door with my empty suitcase to fill with clothes that are folded neatly in the landlord's dresser drawer.

I love soup and figure that we must have enough produce to make a Moving Day vegetable soup using whatever hasn't been packed up. So let's take a quick look and get busy... for ingredients, we have:

fresh picked, local assortment of green beans
several vine ripened tomatoes
a couple of large white potatoes
yellow and green bell peppers
a couple of yellow crooked-neck squash
a bunch of celery and part of a zucchini
a part of an onion sliced and half of another onion
a couple of fresh mushrooms and a can of sliced mushrooms
a can of corn and a part of a jar of vegetable stock base

I found my soup pot, but I can't find my knives. The landlord's collection, which I just unpacked and put back in the drawer...all as dull as butter knives. This is the time to  be very, very careful not to cut myself. Dull is dangerous. I hack at the vegetables more than cut them, then furiously tossed them into the pot filled part way with water, two tablespoons of vegetable stock base and two large pinches of sea salt.  

My nifty, red rubber tube to remove garlic skin is lost to a box somewhere, so I use my hand towel to loosen the peel, rolling it around four plump cloves of garlic and rolling furiously back and forth with the palms of my hands. My garlic press is probably buried with the roller, so I slivered the garlic rather than attempt to mince them with a dull blade and blended them into the mix of fresh ingredients with one of three wooden spoons that will remain in our loft apartment kitchen. I could have mashed them, I suppose.

I pinched in some cayenne and tossed a liberal amount of the Italian herb blend sitting on the counter by the sea salt. All the other spices were... of course... packed.

Having replaced our personal dishes, bowls, glasses and flatware with that of the landlord's assortment, we enjoyed a fine lunch on the deck with the simplicity of a bowl, a soup spoon and a glass of water... all because DZ scrounged around until he found the soup ladle!

I don't know when I will have to pack and move again. I hope not any time soon. But when I do, I need to remind myself to withhold just a few more basic items and provisions during the exodus with which we can cook and feed ourselves with for a few days.

Despite the lack of kitchen equipment, gadgets, cookware, food and spice selection, the soup turned out great - though simple, has wonderful flavor... proving yet again that more doesn't necessarily mean better. And we have enough soup left in the pot to last us for the next couple of lunches during our move.

Now back to packing.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Black Olive and Roasted Potato Salad

Central Market in Poulsbo is a wonderful one-stop-shop grocer on the Quimper Peninsula. Last time I was there I bought my family in Eugene a terrific cookbook chalked full of fantastic vegetarian and vegan recipes for burgers and delicious, nutritious side dish accompaniments. Everything we've tried from Luke Volger's Veggie Burgers Every Which Way thus far has been exceptional, including Black Olive and Roasted Potato Salad with Arugula, on page 135.

The roasted potatoes just came out of the oven to cool before tossing with the vinaigrette.

In the meantime, I'll give you this gluten-free recipe, so you can whip up this dish for you and your guests tonight.

In the original, the potatoes are tossed with arugula. I'm serving the potato salad atop mixed greens and only using the only potatoes we had on hand, red. I also substitute cracked black pepper with cayenne, as I have a black pepper allergy. Although the recipes says it serves 4, it can be stretched to serve 6 if not the main course.


1 large sweet potato or 1 large large Yukon (8 ounces)
1 red potato (8 ounces)
4 tablespoons black olive tapenade (finely process 1 cup + of black pitted olives with 2 tablespoons olive oil)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced into half-rings
3 cups baby arugula, baby spinach or mixed greens loosely packed

Fresh ground pepper to taste.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400-degrees
  2. Wash, dry and cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Peeling not necessary.
  3. Toss potatoes with 3 tablespoons of the tapenade and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
  4. Spread potatoes onto a baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes or until cooked through.
  5. Completely cool the potatoes.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, whisk 1 tablespoon of tapenade, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and salt.
  7. Add the slices of red onion and let the mixture stand for 10 minutes before adding the potatoes and greens before serving.
  8. Season with black pepper to taste.

We served our warm black olive and potato salad on a bed of mixed greens with blanched asparagus and sautéed mushrooms.

Gorilla Bars

My 20-month old grandson, Leif, misunderstood "granola" calling his family's latest version of GF granola bars, Gorilla Bars. And yes, Leif, these Gorilla Bars are "yummy!"

Dry Ingredients

2-1/2 cups organic rolled oats
1/4 cup GF flour mix: 2 cups white rice flour, 2/3 cup potato flour/starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour
3/4 cup ground flaxseed (automatic coffee bean grinder works great)
1/2 dry protein powder
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sliced almonds*
1 cup craisins*

* alternative ingredients to consider are: dried apples or apricots chopped fine, raisins....

Wet Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup creamy almond butter


  1. Preheat oven 325-degrees. Lightly oil a 9"x13" baking pan with olive or canola oil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Wait to add the dry fruit until the wet ingredients are ready to mix in.
  3. In a small saucepan, stir together all the wet ingredients over medium-low heat until warm and well-blended.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, adding the craisins, mixing quickly until well-combined.
  5. With lightly oiled hands, pat the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan.
  6. Bake at 325-degrees for 20 minutes.
  7. Let the bars cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting. A pizza cutter works best.
  8. After the bars are cut, let them continue to cool before removing from the pan. You can cover them with plastic wrap overnight to keep the bars moist.
  9. Store in an air-tight container up to a week, if they last that long!
Makes 24 bars

My daughter, Effie, is now contributing their family recipes to Cook Around the Block - experimenting, discovering and creating new recipes they are enjoying, having made a radical change to their lifestyle and eating habits to address food allergies, gluten and lactose intolerance, and to improve their health and fitness for their very active lives.