Farm to Table: Masaledar Sem (Spicy Green Beans)

I had no plans whatsoever of posting this recipe. It just happened to be what I fixed for dinner on Sunday evening. I liked it so much that I figured I would share it here in case you might be looking for some green bean inspiration or needing something a little different for dinner.

I actually stumbled across this recipe on Food 52 this weekend right after I had bought a big basket of green beans and some heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market. I knew I needed to cook the green beans sooner rather than later but I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with them.  Cue the Masaledar Sem recipe. It's an Indian spiced green bean dish perfect for late summer/early fall. It starts with chile, spices, and a ginger garlic paste. I'm pretty sure anything that starts with a ginger garlic paste will be awesome.  In fact, next time I pick up some garlic, I might make some to keep on hand in my fridge or freezer. The smell alone is so amazing that it might temporarily make you forget what you were doing.


Wild Foraging - Spiced Muscadine Butter

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by being able to forage for my own food. As a kid, I loved going with my Dad to find dewberries patches at the beginning of summer. It seemed so satisfying to partake in all of the foraging activities and it even made the berries themselves taste that much better. We had a pecan tree and a pear tree in our backyard so as a kid I would often pretend that I was collecting my food supply for a life in the outdoors. I would ferret my collections away in my playhouse, known to me as my home in the wild. I would also sneak kumquats from a neighbor's tree from time to time. I think I find it so much more satisfying to be able to do the work of finding, picking, or growing food for myself. It's much more personal and involved than driving to a grocery store and buying say an apple. I would rather go to an orchard, take in the beauty, and do the work of harvesting apples myself. Maybe that's why I've become such an avid proponent of supporting farmers markets.


Little Rock Restaurant Guide

I have really been slacking with this whole blogging thing lately. I've had a lot going on (more to come on that later) and it's been tough to find time for blog posts. I actually meant to post this last week but I got side-tracked.  That seems to happen a lot lately.  I went on a little weekend vacation to Little Rock, Arkansas at the end of July and figured I would do something I've never really done before and post a restaurant guide of sorts.  I was only there for 3 days so it's not that extensive, but I was able to easily find gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian options my entire stay.  I'm always blown away when restaurants are willing to cater to special diets.  Maybe it's because I've been living in a small-ish town for the past 6 years where it isn't that common. Or, maybe Little Rock is just one of the many places that is hip to the growing number of vegan and gluten-free eaters.  Either way, Little Rock is definitely worth a visit.

Obviously I had to make it a point to stop in a completely gluten free bakery.  I made sure to scope it out online before my trip and in doing so I realized they also had a lot of dairy-free and egg-free items as well. I went on a Saturday a couple of hours before closing and it was clear they had a busy morning.  There wasn't a lot left in the bakery cases, but I was able to snag a "Jai" chocolate chip cookie and a package of 4 mini banana muffins (both items were dairy free/egg free). The owner noticed I was eyeing their beautiful loaves of bread and offered us a sample of the white sandwich bread and the hearty Italian bread.  Both were great with that amazing chewy texture this is so hard to come by in gluten free breads.  I think I would have bought a loaf of the Italian bread had I been heading home the next day. The good thing is if I get a hankering for it, I can order it and have it shipped to my door. In addition to baked goods, they serve lunch daily and have a variety of daily specials every week.  They also provide their gluten free breads, buns, and other products to local restaurants.  Check out all of their products on their website.


Minty Watermelon Lemonade

I've mentioned here many times how the only saving grace to Texas summers is the produce.  At the moment, figs, peaches, blueberries, and watermelon are all simultaneously in season.  I'm doing my best not to gorge myself on too much fruit these days, though I can't say I've been successful lately.  Summer produce at its peak is just too damn good to resist!  This week the issue is the shear amount of fruit that I acquired at the market.  Without thinking, I bought a large watermelon, about 9 peaches, and a pound of figs.  I already had blueberries in my fridge so needless to say it's been a fruit party all week.  I suppose there are worse problems to have than a glut of ripe summer fruit.

The problem I've been dealing with this week is trying to use up all of the fruit before it goes bad. I absolutely hate having to throw out produce that is past its prime.  I think maybe it's because it makes me feel so wasteful. And also, it sort of makes me feel like I failed at adequately utilizing everything I had.  So, to avoid any garbage mishaps, I resorted to the best way to use up a ton of fruit: JUICE IT!