Black Beans and Collards Soup

 We just spent a lovely week-end in Kona, resorting with the tourists over there on the sun coast.  Just in case you weren't aware, Hilo and Keaau, are on the rainy coast.  It was our granddaughter's birthday and she wanted to spend it on her favorite beach.  Actually, she has decided she wants to live in a hotel when she grows up.

So, this is a fairly short post on another of the endless ways we're using up our CSA greens.  Do you see the bits of collard floating in that soup?  My Black Beans and Collards creation.  I made stock from a couple lamb leg bones, thereby freeing up some freezer space and, next day after skimming off the fat, reduced it down, cooking a nice, tidy stack of collards at the same time.  Killing two birds with one little reduction.  Towards the end, onion, carrots and celery were added, simmered, then the black beans pureed and stirred into the soup.


Kale or your Favorite Green Pesto Pasta

Kale and Beet Greens Pesto
With our weekly allotment of CSA produce, mostly greens, there is a resultant weekly challenge, called using up the greens before Saturday when the new ones arrive.  I do not have a gigantic refrigerator, there is only so much room in it.  The good side of this, is stepping outside the cooking boxes ruts we find ourselves in occasionally, even if that only applies to certain vegetables.  Maybe no one else finds it such a challenge, but believe me, it is around here.  Early on I had determined there would be nothing left from the previous week by Saturday morning.

As an example of trying new things, this week it was Kale and Beet Greens Pesto.  The beets were not from our CSA box, but were so beautiful at the store, that I could not resist, with tops that were equally fine. Both big bunches were reduced down to that little container you see above.  I blanched the kale first for about 6 minutes, and added in the beet greens for another minute, then gave them both an ice bath, to keep their lovely vibrant color.


The Dairy-Free Cheesecake Trials - Part 1

 Strawberry Cheesecake with Mint Pearls
"They actually don't use soy or tofu--at least in the ones I tried. They get the creamy texture from cashews that are soaked and pureed and mixed into the other ingredients." 
It was Deb's intriguing response to a comment, on her recent product review of Earth Cafe's raw, vegan cheesecakes, that started my quest for the perfect, homemade, dairy-free cheesecake. I didn't so much care if it was raw or not. It could have tofu.  Rich, yes. Tasty, hopefully. Then, weirdly enough, there were tofu cheesecakes popping up, just about everywhere online.  For most of them, though, the recipes included creme fraiche, heavy cream, cream cheese or all of the above. I ask you, what is the point of having tofu in there if you're going with all that lovely, heart-stopping fat?? Yes, I know, I know, there's LESS of it. But, you see, I want it all. Cheesecake with all the unctuous, creaminess, and no dairy. It's called having your cake and eating it too. Because we're being more careful around here these days about excess cholesterol.


Cuban Style WholeTilapia

She was so lovely, the photo doesn't really do her justice.  Pearly white with touches of pink and salmon color.  Ms. Tilapia was destined to be dinner, but almost a shame to mess with such a work of art.  This was my first time (after how many years of cooking? yikes!) doing a whole fish.  Mostly, it must be said, because of Bob and his fish/bones fetish...er fear.  But, since a recent medical scare, we will be eating a lot more fish, beans, pasta, tofu and, yes ....SALAD.  Sorry Bob.

Our CSA providers, the lovely family at Ke Ola Farms, raise Tilapia in tanks, which then fertilize the veggies, so when you'd like a fish, they catch it, then put in another tank to purge for 24 or more hours.  Just so it doesn't taste like the bottom of the barrel.  And, this one didn't, of course.  It was excellent.  And, the bones were pretty easy to see, not lots of tiny ones. 


The Windhover

This is the Guardian UK, poem of the week, and was my first time reading The Windhover.  So beautiful and unexpected, I wanted to repeat it here, especially in celebration of National Poetry Month.
The Windhover
To Christ Our Lord
-  Gerard Manley Hopkins

I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
      dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
      Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
      As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
      Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing.

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
      Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

      No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
      Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.


Medivac and Mint Chutney

One day he's driving around with the Blue Tooth attached, inspecting properties, and the next whizzing off in an ambulance to be medivaced to Honolulu.  Thanks to those of you who have been praying for him.  Bob's pretty much back to normal.  Except there will be no more heavy cream on the morning cereal, cigarettes, fast food french fries.  Stuff like that.  Don't want no more nasty strokes, do we??  His mom took back her ham, and has been giving us apples, strawberries and LETTUCE! of all things.  Or, trying to.  We have told her our CSA box supplies us with more greens than we can handle.

As far as cooking goes, we got back late Friday and he's had headaches (nicotine withdrawal or medication?) and hasn't been too hungry.  I did fix a very nice roast lamb for Sunday, but the really noteworthy foodie item on the menu was a Mint Chutney.  Mint Sauces I've had in the past have been rather insipid.  This one was truly outstanding.  Trust me. Hard to tell from the photo, so you just have to taste it.  So bursting with all the flavors.  Mint, of course, chili pepper, garlic, spring onions, and lemon juice.
Taken from Charmaine Solomon's gorgeous and ginormous volume, The Complete Asian Cookbook.  One of my all time favorite cookbooks, hands down.  The only changes I made were due to the usual, not having an item and switching it out for what was available.  Luckily, we have plenty of mint growing by the water tank.  I used shallots together with some chives, rather than the spring onions, and only one chili pepper, as there would be children eating with us.  With all its zippy taste notes, this is the perfect complement to a roast lamb.

Mint Chutney or Podina Chatni

1 cup firmly packed mint leaves
6 spring onions, cut into short lengths
2 fresh green chillies, seeded and pith removed
1 clove garlic, optional
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon garam masala (your favorite version)
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons water

Whiz everything together in a food processor or blender to a smooth paste (unless you'd rather pound things in a mortar and pestle, a bit at a time).  Pack into a small dish, smooth the surface, cover and chill until serving time.  How easy is that?  Keeps in the fridge for several days.