Sweet Potatoes Mexicano

Stuffed sweet potato mexicano 2 sm
So easy, and it has that tasty combination of sweet potato, salty cheese, and bitter greens. Yum. 

6 sweet potatoes
2 cups cooked black beans (or one can)
1/4 cup (or so) of frozen or canned corn
1 bunch of greens - collads, turnips, mustard, kale, cabbage, or chard
Cheddar cheese (optional)
Taco condiments - salsa, sour cream, hot sauce, etc.

Wash sweet potatoes, removing any deep blemishes. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 30-60 minutes, depending on size. Test with a fork for tenderness after 30 minutes. Remove from oven. 

While sweet potatoes are baking, cook greens like this, or - if you are using chard - like this. Then heat up the black beans and corn in a pot together.  

Leave oven on after removing sweet potatoes. While they are still on the baking sheet, carefully slice the potato open. Push opposite ends together to "mash" potato, or use a fork to fluff up the insides a bit. Push some of the greens into the potato, making a nest for the black beans and corn. Add the beans and corn, and cover with grated cheese (optional). Return to oven to melt cheese. Add salsa and other taco fillings if you would like. 

Leftover oatmeal muffins

Leftover oatmeal muffins
We have started serving breakfast four morning a week at the Green House Catholic Worker! Even though it means firing up the kitchen a little early to get things ready by 7am, we are really enjoying it. And so are the folks who come and eat. The hours between daylight and 9am are a tricky time for homeless folks who often have to leave the shelter or are roused from their sleeping spot early and don't have a place to be until things begin to open at 9.  It's especially hard when it's cold or rainy. We serve a very simple meal - oatmeal or toast mainly with boiled eggs and fruit - but try to make the place wam and inviting, with quiet music, the newspaper, and a fire in the fireplace on cold days. 

We served oatmeal last week, and overshot the mark a little on the quantity. There are a number of recipes online, and I combined the ones that seemed the most healthy and used the least expensive ingredients. What a delicious way to transform glops of cold oatmeal!


1 1/2 cups flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 eggs lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
1 cup leftover cooked oatmeal (salted)
1/2 cup raisins, dried currants, blueberries, or other berries)
1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and baking powder (and 1/4 tsp. of salt if oatmeal was not salted when cooked). Make a well in the center and add eggs, slightly cooled melted butter, leftover oatmeal and vanilla. Whish liquid ingredients together, then stir gently in to dry ingredients. Add raisins or berries. Line muffin tin with paper muffin cups and fill 1/2 full with batter. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes. 

Winter citrus and ginger tea

Fridge drawer 1.5
Opening the fridge drawer today reminded me of how lucky we are to live in Florida in the winter. It's citrus season right at the perfect time. Every other person I know has a cold right now and, even if there is no actual proof that Vitamin C cures them, the bright colos and zingy taste makes me feel better.  

Meyers lemons, by the way, are our local variety. They're bigger than store-bought and a little less mouth-puckering. They are super-juicy compared to the smaller ones, and you can freeze the juice for summer lemonade and iced tea; they also make incredible lemon bars and lemon meringue pie. Calamondins are tiny citrus that remain sour as they ripen. We've sweetened them up into marmalade and pie, but they can substitute for lemons in lemonade and tea as well. 

On a chilly day like today, a cup of ginger tea is warming and healthy whether you have a cold or are just plain cold. Meyers lemons and/or calamondins add the tang, ginger spices it up, and honey just feels good going down. We bought the ginger at the co-op, but the lemon and honey we got from local farmers. Thank you Hendersons and Chacko-Allens! 

Ginger Tea

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Honey to taste

Place all ingedients in a small pot, add one cup water and bring to a boil. Steep for about five minutes. Poor through strainer into cup.  If you make more, you can store it in the fridge; it's good cold, too. 

Coconut Curry Summer Soup - or Something Else to Do with Eggplant

I think eggplant is pretty, but that's really the only good thing I have to say about it. Especially this time of year. We served this soup at the cafe today, and it was delicious. It also used up a number of other vegetable we have growing here in Gainesville in late summer. 



2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
2 "Italian (long, skinny) eggplant, peeled and chopped, and salted
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2 cups field peas (or any legume), pre-cooked
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 16 oz. can diced tomatoes
a little squeeze of lemon or lime, or even rice vinegar
1-2 cups coconut milk
salt to taste

Sauté chopped onion and pepper in olive oil for a few minutes till cruchy-tender. Add eggplant and stir fry till tender. Stir in curry powder. Add sweet potatoes and quinoa. Add water (or broth) to twice the depth of the vegetables. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer till potatoes are tender and the quinoa has become tiny spirals. Add tomatoes, coconut milk and heat to almost boiling. Add salt to taste. We garnished ours with delicious pickled jalapenos

It's a lovely, milky, golden color - just right for this time of year (I wanted to take a photo, but I accidentally returned it with the camera I borrowed this summer!). It was very gratifying to transform all these familar summer regulars into something new. And I don't notice the eggplant at all.

I hope you enjoy it.  

Breaded Zucchini Sticks!

Breaded zucchini
Oh yes! Something else to do with all the zucchini onslaught! It was good. It was simple. And everyone from small children to old men seemed to like it at today's café

Breaded Zucchini Sticks

  • Cut zucchini lengthwise into wedges (six-eight per zucchini).
  • Dip in egg.
  • Roll in breading mixture (a box of purchased bread crumbs, some garlic powder and parmesan cheese, and a little parsley).
  • Place on olive-oiled baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350. 

Serve with Simple Marinara:

  • Sauté some onions and garlic
  • Add add some Italian seasoning (we had just had some fresh basil, oregano, and thyme given to us by friends).
  • Stir in some canned, crushed tomatoes.
  • Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer. 

Enjoy your victory over today's zucchini fusillade. The war will surely be lost. 

Fiesta Stuffed Zucchini

Jaunty little stuffed zuke
We made that name up yesterday to distinguish the stuffed zucchini we were serving at the this week's café from the stuffed zucchini we served at last week's café. Zucchini is clearly living up to its reputation in these parts, showing up in baskets and bags from friends, in office breakrooms, and in our farmers market bin. So be it. 

It was fun to make and nice to look at, and the season is young. Everyone liked this one a lot. Here's a casual recipe:  

bell peppers
Cooked black beans
grated cheese
a little homemade, quick pico de gallo


Cut zucchini in half and scoop out the seeds and some of the pulp (for small round zucchinis like we had, you can cut off the top like a pumpkin before scooping out the innards. Place zucchini cut-side down on an oiled baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile saute onions, garlic, and green peppers tll onions are transparent. Add some chili powder and stir around for a minute. Drain black beans and mix with onion mixure. When zucchini are tender, stuff with black beans, cover with grated cheese and put back in the oven for five minutes or so, till cheese is melted. Garnishing with a little homemade pico de gallo adds some piquancy as well as some festive color. 

Quick Pico de Gallo: 

Quartered cherry tomatoes (because they are so flavorful), cilantro, finely diced jalopeno - or hot pepper flakes, or neither - and a little onion, a squirt of lemon, lime, or (in our case, this week) sour orange juice, and some salt. 

Buen provecho! 


News flash! New greens recipe!

Broccoli raab
It took me years to figure out how to make greens as good as my mothers' and grandmothers - without the ham hock.  I finally honed a recipe that involved stir frying them in olive oil, then steaming them with a little soy sauce. As a main dish, we often use this recipe, flavored with rice vinegar and a little honey. 

However! Last week, after watching my umpteenth documentary while furiously knitting and crocheting Christmas gifts, I came upon something new, by way of "Forks Over Knives"  (a movie often recommended by my vegan-ish friends): Spicy Orange Greens

We happen to have an abundant supply of greens right now in our little parking lot garden, and I used a mix of broccoli raab (aka rapini) and curly red mustard. I've already made it twice, once with my own calomondin marmalade and once with a friend's gift of "ginger marmalicious." They tasted fresh and delicious - less dense than the olive oil sizzled ones, and the combination of ginger and citrus gave them a nice holiday ambience as well. I will be eating these for good luck on New Years Day, if not before.


1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
4 cups greens

Pour water, soy sauce, ginger and red pepper flakes into a skillet. Turn heat to high and saute until the ginger is fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in marmalade and then add chopped greens. Reduce heat to medium and using tongs, turn greens into the sauce. This will help cook the greens down; stop when your greens are bright green and have softened. Serve.

End of Summer - Roselle and Malabar Spinach

Roselle zen sm

It's supposed to dip down into the 30s tomorrow night, with a possibility of frost that will put an end to a couple of summer survivors: roselle and Malabar spinach.

We harvested a basketful of roselle last weekend and dried it in a borrowed dehydrator. Roselle - also called Jamaica sorrel is a relative of hibiscus, okra, cotton, and responsible for the red zing in "Red Zinger" tea. A basketful created a jar of dried calyxes for making a beautiful vitamin-C-ful tea during winter with some hopefully left over for authentic Jamaica for the Christmas season (the one with rum). 

Roselle sepals sm
A friend brought by bags full of Malabar Spinach - a heat-hardy climbing vine that is not related to spinach at all. It has many of the same nutrients though and is a good source of calcium and iron as well as Vitamins A and C. And IT GROWS IN THE SUMMER in north Florida, which makes me want to love it in spite of its slightly mucilaginous quality. In fact, I really do like it more each time I try it.

And, let me repeat: IT GROWS IN THE SUMMER. 

Malabar spinach
We served it at the cafe this week in quiche, and folks really liked it. We also added it to some newly-harvested lettuce in salad.  I blanched and froze three gallons of it, which will be greening up soups and casseroles for months to come. 

Goodbye summer! 

{malibar spinach photo found here - with more info about this glorious summer vegetable}

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup sm
I love this fall soup. This is actually the third pumpkin soup recipe we've published (see Spunky Punkin and Summer Pumpkin for more ideas). Seminole pumpkins are one of the powerhouse vegetables we grow here - extremely prolific, they grow in the heat when little else does, are packed with vitamins, and are somewhat dense calorie-wise. One of those things we would grow (and eat) a lot of if we were relying on our garden for sustenance. This version is quite spicy.


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • one large onion
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • a pinch of crushed red pepper
  • one tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • six cups of chopped, roasted pumpkin (roasting instructions here)
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • salt to taste

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is transculent. Add spices and stir around for a moment more. Add pumpkin and broth, bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Transfer soup in batches to a blender and blend till smooth. Add sugar and milk, adjust seasonings. Do not boil again after milk has been added. Serve with a sprinkle of chives. 

Hearty Vegetarian Split Pea Soup and Brown Bread

Split pea

We jumped the gun a little this week at the cafe. We usually make this soup in the late winter/early spring when potatoes and carrots are in season here. The problem is that EVERYTHING  is in season during that time of year, so we tend to make vegetable-dense stews, casseroles, quiches, and salads. But it’s possible to make this tasty soup with local produce  during the fall if you substitute sweet potatoes for the potatoes and carrots. This time around, the co-op had more (organic at least) potatoes and carrots than local sweet potatoes. So we truly got a little ahead of ourselves.

It was so good though, and very nice on a cool-ish fall day with our version of beautiful, tasty, rich Heidelberg Rye – in which we substitute wheat for the rye. This is the way recipes go. Take a good idea and make it your own - honoring your own region and your own pantry by using what you got.

1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 1/2 cups split peas
1/2 cup barley
1/2 cup baby dried baby lima beans
10 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
dash pepper
2 carrots, chopped, and 2 potatoes with skins, diced
OR 4 chopped sweet potatoes

Sauté onion in oil until soft, then stir in bay leaf and celery seed. Stir in peas, barley, and limas. Add 10 cups cold water and bring to a boil. Cook on lo heat, covered, for about an hour and 20 minutes.

Add salt, pepper, and vegetables. Bring to a boil again, then turn down heat to a low simmer (slightly bubbly; the soup will thicken quite a bit and the bottom will burn if the heat is too high). Simmer another 30-40 minutes till done, thinning with additional water if necessary. 

3 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 - 3 1/2 cups white flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
2 tablespoons of yeast
1/3 cup molasses
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups warm water

Combine whole wheat flour with the cocoa, sugar, salt, and yeast. Add molasses, softened butter, and water (you can soften the butter in the warm water). Mix well with a whisk. Gradually add enough white flour to make a stiff dough (you will move from whisk, to wooden spoon, to your hands). When dough is no longer very sticky, knead for 10 minutes or so, adding just enough flour to keep it from sticking to you or the table. Shape into two loave and let rise in a warm place until double in size (see our post in Ä Year in Bread for details on our quick method of bread-baking - ignore the "rapid-rise yeast;"' we use regular baking yeast). Then bake for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.