"Gimme the girl that's beautiful, without a trace of makeup of on,
Barefoot in the kitchen, singing her favorite song.
Dancing around like a fool, starring in her own little show,
Gimme the girl the rest of the world, ain't lucky enough to know."
~Joe Nichols, Gimme That Girl

...not saying that this is me,
but Nichols sure nailed it when
he wrote the barefoot in the
kitchen line!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Unorthodox Soft Tacos

   You'll have to forgive me for this, but if there happens to be a debate as to the best meal everrrr, I will most decidedly and stubbornly maintain that soft tacos are the ultimate.  Especially for breakfast.  And lunch.  And dinner.  And- oh, forget it.  Anyway.
   Recently, I have been creating culinary alchemy...alloys of drippy, cheesy, tummy-filling goodness that warms my mouth before gently filling my grumbling fuel-tank.  Darn.  If you have to eat, why not dig into a steamy mountain of sauteed onions, green cabbage, cheery cherry tomatoes, and artichoke and sun-dried tomato sausage?  And let it run down your fingers and hands, before drip-dropping off of your wrists (hopefully) onto the plate.  Are you hungry now?  I was.  Then I ate a soft taco.  Adios estómago vacío!
   There is no specific recipe which I follow when making these delicious meals.  But I usually start with a protein, be it animal or plant-based.  Short-grained rice, pinto beans, sausage, ground meat, quinoa, flaked fish...these are all excellent choices.  Then I inevitably add minced garlic and diced onion, with a pinch of salt.  (I know that one of my readers' is now pulling out her salt shaker...she's dolefully shaking her head- "Not gonna be enough.")  Next up is shredded cabbage, purple or green.  I love purple because it is so daringly wild.
   From there, it's all a matter of what I have on hand.  Ripe cherry tomatoes?  Halve 'em and throw 'em in.  A couple sprigs of parsley, Italian...mind you, mince and add.  Some leftover cooked chicken meat can be shredded and tossed in.  Provided that you didn't choose meat as your main stay.  Two types of meat would be interesting, but maybe a textural/nutritional repeat.  
   Oo, oo, oo!  Don't forget the cheese!  Queso blanco, monterey jack, chevre, or...just for the extravagance of it, homemade crème fraîche.  Cheese might not be totally authentic, but for me, a soft taco made at home, by a rebel of a cook, had better contain some form of cheese.  I'm not talking about some old Tillamook or Kirkland cheese here.  Locally made, or homemade.  You'll never view a soft taco with the same perspective.  It will be so amazing that your secondary taco might end up being half-full of cheese.....please don't.  It's not too healthy.  Well, let's put it this way.  Don't do cheese tacos regularly.  Quesadillas are a different topic, but a good substitute if you are completely enraptured with the cheesy side of things. 
   One quick side-note.  Corn tortillas are not always doable in our family, so spelt or multi-grain and/or gluten free are good choices.  Spelt is by far my favorite...Rudi's Bakery puts out some good spelt tortillas that are soy-free!  Which Mum can have...which translates to: awesome!



Shredded green cabbage.  I am fond of my mandoline...saves alotta time.

 Cookin' up the sausage and tomatoes.  And onions.  And garlic.  And salt.

 I love my Mum.  And I love her micro greens.  And I love my Mum for growing micro greens.

 Colourful, aren't they?

 Ready to eat.  Feliz comiendo!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Napa Chefs' Market and Extraordinary Basil

   This past week Mum, Abby, and I visited the Napa Chefs' Market.  I love spending time with my dear family, but I was rather disappointed by this particular outing.  Maybe I have learned to expect more of the title "chef" or perhaps I am rather critical of food that has not been made in our dinky kitchen.  At any rate, the market was filled with mediocre food vendors, jewelry booths, and promotional tables with products that possibly aren't selling in their stores.  There were two demos done by local chefs from Napa, both foods being paired with Lagunitas beer . . . but several people around us commented on the incompatible choices of beverage.  We walked away with two free recipes that will be fun projects to tweak in the future, however I was not especially impressed.
   I would go back, but not with high hopes of eating well.  The atmosphere was friendly and community oriented.  There was one lonely pizza vendor who was wood-firing pizzas on site, selling them just as fast as they could be cooked.  Tasty carmelized onion pizza and margherita pizza were two of the three options, and they were just as good as our family makes.
   And, ( I have to release the critical monster inside of me ) . . . if I'm going to order a turkey sandwich, I don't want it arriving on a white bread bun flecked with old sesame seeds, barely spread with Hellmans mayo, slightly garnished with a small piece of lettuce, made nearly inedible by spongy yellow pickles, and finished off with a turkey slice half the size of the bun.  Thanks, next time we'll save the $7. 
   I think that we purchased some darned good tasting non-GMO corn in the tiny farmers' section.  Yes, we did, come to think of it, because I grilled the poor young man behind the tables on their seed source.  He finally gave up on this insistent girl, and pulled his patient mother away from her dinner.  She assured me that the seeds were organically sourced from non-GMO providers, and even told me the company's name, one that I was familiar with.  Having achieved my goal, we bought four ears of corn to divvy up for dinner the following night.  Before leaving the farm's stand, I tried to smile at the young man, and convince him that I was merely an organic devotee . . . 



 One of the chef demos.  Gazpacho, it was.
                                       

Purple basil, and one extraordinary exception.  I am in love with this variety  =)

It gets rather warm in our greenhouse.

Our dandy little mandoline shaved up these homegrown carrots, radishes, and cucumbers.  Drizzled with merlot vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Light and tantalizing to the palate.

 A closeup on the above salad

 The abundance of the garden's flowers prompted me to decorate the house a wee bit.

 Not to mention the kitchen needed a posy as well!

 Now, this is interesting.  Oldest Sister found this cute crock in a thrift store.  She showed it to me, and I had to add it to my growing collection of kitchenware.  Unintentionally personalized . . .

 I'll leave you with a picture of tonight's sunset.

   Smiles,
The Barefoot Girl
  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tidbits and a Semi-Surprise.

     I know . . . I should be posting a recipe, or at the very least, some decent pictures of a meal that I cooked recently.  Because that's what I typically do.  And believe me, typical is a word I hear every single day from Older Brother.  We all know what typical is.  For each of us, individually.
   Today, I decided to share some foodie pictures.  Some of my best, some of my worst, some of my favorites, and some that might become your favorites.  Anyway.  Tidbits of food from the lens of my camera.

Assorted radishes.  Scrubbed and clean- ready for one of our chefs.


 Curly frisee.  Bitter and dramatic.


 Kimchi!!!  A kind friend taught me how to make this fermented beauty.


 Cheese curds.  Separating from the whey.


 Fresh farmers' cheese.


 Dainty pea blossoms.


Broccoli leaves with beets and beet greens.  Completely random, but I enjoy beets.


 The first of this summer's cherry tomatoes!


 Edible blossoms, floating, waiting to be packaged and sent off to a chef.


 The satisfying and refreshing salad Mum made last night.


Mini pizza from a tiny toaster oven.  Yep, we bought tiny pizza pans =)


Papa is a blackberryjamavore.  Eats it every day . . . and we have been making quite a bit.


Seedless, Watson, seedless.  Nothing but.  I prefer smooth textures; do you follow me?  (A fictitious dialog that Abby and I would have concocted just for the heck of it. )

   Now.  As to the semi-surprise- which I would categorize with semi-sweet chocolate, by the way.  (Not that the last piece of information there was relevant, but it just popped into my mind as I was filing away my thoughts. )  Most of you know that I am a writer.  Compulsively collecting thoughts, and trying to communicate more easily than I do in person.  It's a love/hate relationship.  But I still write.  Evidently.
   So, being that I'm a writer out of necessity, it's probably only a semi-surprise to you that I am writing a food memoir.  Most folks tell me that I'm too young to write a memoir.  I just pull out a notepad and pen:  "Can I quote you on that?" 
   If my post today was lacking, it is because I wrote two chapters in my teensy book this morning.  I hope to write one more this evening, between cooking up batches of blackberry jam, and kissing Mum on the top of her very soft, silver, gold, and copper bun of hair.  I hope to share bits of this book here at Barefoot In The Kitchen.  Until then, that was my semi-surprise, and I wanted to share it.  With you.
   Smiles,
The Barefoot Girl


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summerthyme

   No, my dears.  It truly is summerthyme.  So, what better way to celebrate than use some thyme to create a delicious, indulgent dessert that defies the limits of calories and normality?  I care not for the time from a watch, but the fragrant, spicy French variety that carries hints of a potential flavor burn.  The kind that grows in Mum's collection of herbs.  Luscious imagination . . . dream up something European.  Something stable, and standing on it's own two feet with sass and determination. 
   Enter the Apricot Thyme Tart.  I saw a recipe on the blog Desserts for Breakfast . . .  (which, I would have you know, is not a habit I endorse. )  Nevertheless, it sounded intriguing, and on Monday night, I felt ready to tweak that recipe and make something with a little more spunk . . . yet still along the same lines.  If you are an original recipe devotee, I implore your forgiveness, and offer you the link below.  If you are wild and adventurous, I'll spill the changes that I made.

   Instead of using the vanilla bean, whole milk, and heavy cream, I substituted 2 cups of homemade crème fraîche and 1 tsp. of vanilla bean extract.  The crème fraîche added a tangy body to the cream custard, as opposed to the sedate combination of milk and cream.  Real vanilla bean would have been delightful, but, alas, I had none.  Another adjustment that I had to make was rather comical.  After inquiring as to the abilities of my papa's soldering blow-torch, I decided to forgo the luxury of carmelized/burnt? sugar atop this tart, and simply melt some good old unprocessed cane sugar on the apricot slices.  In our tiny toaster oven.  It made me laugh- it was that cute! Other than that, I quite haphazardly threw this baby together, disregarding assembly instructions.  That's why I never purchase DIY kits.  That don't happen with this girl.
   Warning!  This dessert is very heavy and rich.  If you are the oranges peppered with nutmeg kinda person, this may not be for you.  I'm not into desserts like this tart.  Normally.  But this one was unique.  The thyme saved it from my condemnation.  Besides, I needed something to jerk me into the reality of the presence of the current season.  It was perfect.  For a once upon a summerthyme.
   Smiles,
The Barefoot Girl




Monday, July 1, 2013

Purple Paradise


   I'm sorry, but I have to be random, and take off on a tangent.  My font says normal.  Normal?  I have an aversion to normal when it comes to food.  Except for the occasional consumption of (and this is a secret, shh, please don't spread this around,) french fries and plain vanilla ice cream.  Give me new, give me bold, give me arrogant.  Yes.  I like arrogant food.  (By saying arrogant, I mean the kind of food that pridefully refuses to get any help from ketchup or . . . heaven forbid . . . additional salt. I like to discover this kind of food, taste it, and revel in the superiority of it. ) 
   Ridiculously enough, though, I get stuck in food ruts.  Which consists of smoked salmon, cabbage, crystalized ginger, oranges, pesto rice, young coconuts, kimchi, goat chevre, and sauteed collard greens with carmelized onions and fresh garlic.  Once in one of these food habits, which are daily habits, it's truly hard to remove my palate from them.  "No," it whimpers.  "I haven't been bad.  I sincerely adore those delicious foods.  Please.  Lets have just one more meal with them.  Only one more."
    (Now this is what I am supposed to say to my pleading palate. )  "Palate, stop being pathetic and unadventurous.  Explore!  Take advantage of opportunity!  You need to be guided.  Allow me."
   "Please?!"
   Yes.  I give in.  Hard to resist puppy eyes, which my palate possesses.  Or at least I think it does.  By George, it gets me every time.  And when every time happens, my palate delicately hints at it's favorite: greens.  Cabbage or collard, if possible, thank-you.  Not available?  Well . . . it supposes that it can settle for mizuna, kale, or, sigh, store-bought salad mix.  However, my palate has telepathic powers, a GPS, and frightening power over my impulses.  The telepathic powers read my cravings, direct my thoughts, and push me toward the refrigerator.  Which is where the GPS comes in.  I get lost in my bedroom, for Peet's sake.  I seriously need to pay attention to directions and map memorization.  So, this palate uses the GPS to guide me to the refrigerator, where it instructs me to open the door in it's mechanized voice, reach in, and pull out the hunk of purple gold.  The one in the far back.  Apparently I hid it there an hour ago.  Really?!
   Now, I don't control me anymore.  My hands are manipulated by my palate, as it directs me to slice, grind, juice, and toss.  (No, I'm not talking about my sister.  Remember, we're talking about purple gold.  Besides, family members know better than to approach the palate's clone. )
   Confession.  Dear Pontius Palate, forgive me.  If the family does not appear at precisely the finishing moment of this culinary madness, I will greedily devour the results of my energy burst.  My palate kicks my conscience over Mt. Hood, and my conscience takes a while to clamber back over, find me, and scold my gluttonous self.  By then, the beautiful masterpiece that I created is gone, and I am in a cloud.  Of purple paradise.

The Awesomest Cabbage Salad.  Ever.

1/2 purple cabbage
1/2 green cabbage    Or . . . use just one whole purple cabbage.  It's more, well, purply.
3-4 cloves garlic
1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely grated parmigiano regiano, or pecorino romano
optional:  using a mandolin, finely shave one carrot, and add to the salad.  spectacular source of additional colour.

   Using the sharpest knife possible, thinly shred the cabbage into long, nearly transparent slices.  Take your time.  The finer, the more easily the cabbage will absorb the flavors.  Place the cabbage in a bowl.  Using a salad jar, crush the garlic, juice the lemon, and shake up with the olive oil, salt, black pepper, and cheese. 
   Marinate the cabbage with the dressing for a good 10-15 minutes.  It's super good at room temperature.  Serve with a warm rye pumpernickel and goat chevre. 


 Shreds.


My messy mise en place.

 Dramatic?  Or am I crazy?

 Our useful little mandolin.

 In the works.

 This is Lula's puppy eyes look.  Hey!  Maybe my palate learned that look from Lula!

 Ready for eating!

Fennel fronds.  Pretty, yes?