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November 2009

Simple and Good: Tomatoes in Tabouli

Tabouli

We've had quite the "Indian Summer" this fall which, in general, I don't like much. But the lingering of summertime vegetables helps dull the pain a little. Some summer tomatoes are still fruiting and fall ones are on their way. This kind of weather, which we've had up till today (it is 18 degrees cooler upstairs than it was this time yesterday - a brisk and welcome 61 degrees) has just begged for salads.

So on Tuesday we dined on arugula and romaine salad, the last of the goat cheese on bread, and sweet tabouli. Tabouli is as cool to make as it is to eat - no cooking, even of the grain!

And, may I add that it's nice on a week like this to ponder how some things - like sweet, red tomatoes popping out of vines - are just plain good. No deep reflecting, sifting, or ruminating required to see that. We all enjoyed them.

Good ol' Tabouli

2 cups cracked wheat (aka bulgher wheat)
2 cups hot, nearly boiling, water
a basket of cherry tomatoes, quartered or sliced
1/2 cup mint, chopped
1 1/2 cups parsley, chopped, if you have it (we didn't)
1/2 cup lemon juice
some olive oil (the recipes I have seen always call for more than I'm interested in adding; just a few tablespoons works for us). Pour water over wheat and wait about 30 minutes till wheat is softened. Add remaining ingredients, serve at room temperature


Attack of the Seminole pumpkins

Seminole Pumpkin Attack

Seminole Pumpkins are everywhere! I like them for so many reasons: They are native to this region; they grow in the summer; they are very productive; they're fairly high in calories for a vegetable (a good thing if you are aspiring to live off what is grown here); they're high in vitamins and minerals; and they are pretty tasty. Their only flaw: They are ridiculously hard to peel. And for that reason we had collected quite a few on our pantry shelf before I decided to make use of them.

The sloth's method of peeling pumpkins? Cook them first. We halved ours, removed the strings and seeds (for the most part) with a metal spoon, placed them insides down in a baking pan filled without about an inch of water, and baked, uncovered, for about an hour. Then we put them in the fridge to cool off. I understand you can do this in a microwave as well, if you have one, for less time - about ten minutes.

For Wednesday's "cafe," we made another soup inspired by the wonderful Mollie Katzen (in Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special), but substituting pumpkin for a number of other ingredients. Here's the recipe, in the loose style of our grandmas who used what they had in the amount that they needed. I have found again and again that the actual ingredients and amounts don't matter very much. It's very freeing to create the amount you actually need with what you've got on hand! And it's worked for generations...

Spunky Punkin & Potato Soup

Ingredients:
onions
butter or olive oil
finely chopped potatoes (between a chop and a dice)
water
salt
cooked pumpkin (see above), peeled and chopped
frozen peas (we don't do this often, but till there's more local "green" at the market...)
spunkiness: chopped olives, pickled jalapenos or banana peppers, capers, or a mix of these
optional: sour cream

Directions:
Chop finely enough onions to cover the bottom of your pot by 1 or 2 inches. Saute in a little butter. When onions are soft, fill the pot to the halfway point with potatoes, bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are so soft they are falling apart. Remove from burner for a moment and, with a potato masher, gently mash potatoes in the pot until they are fairly pulverized (there will still be pieces of various sizes). Put back on burner and add chopped pumpkin to the 2/3 mark, while bringing back to a boil, add some frozen peas - and a little water if necessary. Finally, add something "spunky" from the list above. We used a mixure of green olives and pickled jalapenos. Sour cream produces a creamier - and very pretty - soup. To use it, place it in a mixing bowl and stir in a ladle of soup. Add the mixture back to the soup and stir. Salt and pepper to taste.

Spunky Punkin and Potato