Flaxseed and Rye Bread with Avocado, Tomato, Basil and Mayonnaise Sandwich

I realize that this sounds like a mouthful but trust me it’s worth the effort.

Instead of going gluten free I’ve decided to stay away from all wheat; Dwarf Wheat in particular, and opt for other grain varieties.

I happen to love rye bread and the added benefit of flaxseed made this a great choice.

Although Rye does contain gluten, it is much less than what is found in dwarf wheat which is consumed today.

Let’s get back to this sandwich!

The avocado, fresh basil and tomato are sprinkled with sea salt and a large dollop of mayonnaise.

This is a huge treat for me.

The mayo is the only real dietary indulgence….everything else is so healthy!

It is a filling, delicious lunch that leaves plenty of room for watermelon later in the day!

Enjoy and share!

Tomato, Basil and Mayonnaise on Olive Oil Grilled Whole Wheat!

I remember growing up in my European immigrant family with great food.

Some from Italy and some from Eastern Europe but all of it driven by the freshest ingredients and much of it, meatless.

My grandmas and aunts always had their own gardens and were “putting up” or canning something at any given time.

For me summertime always means tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches.

These were not gourmet growing up.

They were just any bread with mayo, fresh tomato and “crunchy” salt on top.

I spruced these up a little by grilling artisan whole grain bread with olive oil to give crunch and texture to the bread and I’ve also added big fleshy leaves of basil for that peppery edge that basil can give.

Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise is my favorite with this sandwich.

Even a few slices of avocado would be delish!

Get creative and keep it meatless. The possibilities are endless for a tasty, light and nutritious meal that says, “Summertime” in every bight!

Preparing Herbs for Holiday Feasts!

basil pesto<br />
pantry diaries

I made the last chance round-up of my garden herbs as I am anticipating a frost any day now. I considered infused oils to preserve them but after a little consideration I think that I’ll get more mileage out of pesto.

I’m planning to dry the oregano and keep it in the pantry and I made a pesto of the sage and of the basil.

I really want to use the sage for my holiday dishes and creating a pesto which I can freeze seems like the best way to keep it in the freshest state possible. I am pretty sure that the basil pesto will be gone this week.

For the sage I just added 3 cloves of garlic and about ½ cup of good olive oil. I didn’t add salt or pine nuts or cheese as my main goal is to preserve the sage and use it in a variety of ways over the next couple of months.

If I want to do infused oil I’ll take a portion of the mixture and incorporate it into more olive oil, I will use it in the stuffing and in a béchamel sauce for pasta. I think that the sage will be great for game like pheasant or duck.

sage pesto PD

Craving Sage

lentils and brown rice with sage BEST

I was craving sage! And by sage I mean Thanksgiving dinner, mostly the stuffing. But since I am shooting for the “unstuffed” look this Fall I wanted to come up with something that would have a rich texture, complex flavors and be healthy, nutritious, not fattening and still satisfy my cravings! Tall order but with a little luck; I had the ingredients on hand and not too much effort I managed to approximate the “stuffed” theme with out the aftermath; tight pants!

I started with my basic lentil recipe and added brown rice, and some chopped tomatoes. I also have an abundance of sage in my garden so I used that although I know for a fact that the dried stuff from the store works just as well. The secret, I think, is to slowly sauté the herbs in oil to extract the flavors.

I stuffed everything into peppers and baked them slowly. Eating healthy without feeling deprived, plus it was cheap! Lentils are the best bang for your food dollar around and full of nutrients; even protein. My good behavior left a little wiggle room today for a glass of wine! I love days like today!

Here’s the recipe which made enough to stuff 8 medium size peppers with some left over to make wraps for the children’s lunch tomorrow.

Ingredients

1 cup lentils
1 cup brown rice
1-2 Tbsp Oil or butter (I used coconut oil because I like the added flavor)
3-4 cloves of garlic
2-3 medium sized carrots
2-3 medium sized celery stalks
2 small tomatoes, chopped
Sage to taste (I used about 10 fresh fairly large leaves)
3 cups of water or vegetable stock, chicken stock; your preference
8 medium sized bell peppers (I used the orange, yellow and red variety)
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit

In a large skillet add the oil, chopped garlic, fresh sage or powdered, chopped carrots, chopped celery and sauté until soft.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the brown rice and lentils and coat them in the mixture then add the water and the tomatoes.

Let simmer until the water is absorbed. About 30-45 minutes.

Cut the stem out of the peppers creating a “cup”

Spoon the mixture into the peppers and place in your baking dish.

Here I will add enough water to cover the bottom of the dish; sometime I add a little white wine for flavor.

I don’t like my peppers to be mushy so I bake them just until they are tender; about 30 minutes.

Infused Oils and Hopes for Holiday Gifts

pantry diaries curry

This is a photo of curry in my garden. I bought it just because I thought it was pretty. I had no idea what I would do with it. I never knew that curry looked like this. Now that I see it and smell how wonderful it is I want to do something creative with it. I am sure that there are Curry Cupcakes in my future! But for now I will be experimenting with the infused oil idea.
Since I started my garden I‘ve had illusions of grandeur. Or rather, should I say dillusions.
I have had big ideas about giving gifts at Christmas; gifts of infused oils and alcohol decoctions. In an effort to be thorough, of course, I went on line. I’ve learned about mold and rancidity. What I thought would be easy and practical, given the abundance of herbs in my garden, has turned into an exercise in futility. Fresh herbs go bad very quickly when packed in oil.
It is important to eliminate air, moisture, and light and to maintain sanitary conditions on all utensils and containers used to keep and prepare the oils. After much research and inquiry I have come upon recipes which will insure the safety of your recipients and the enjoyment of all who partake in your generosity!
There are hot and cold methods and the general consensus is that refrigeration is necessary to maintain freshness. Creating an air-tight seal is extremely important to slow the oxidation process.
So, will I will be experimenting and will keep you updated on my progress, successes and failures. Hopefully, by the time the holidays roll around, I will have some beautiful oils to share with family and friends!
Cold Infusion (Blender Method)
This technique for cold infusion is best used with herbs, roots, citrus zest and fresh Chile peppers. Because these products may add moisture to the oil making it ripe for spoilage, the velocity of the blender will release their essential oils and they can be refrigerated immediately after preparation. Combine the oil and the flavoring ingredients in the blender cup and blend at high speed until the product is liquefied. Leafy herbs can be quickly blanched in boiling water and then shocked in cold water to help preserve their color and give the finished oil a pleasing green appearance. Roots such as horseradish, and ginger should be grated or chopped to fully extract flavor in the blender. Fibers from roots should be strained before bottling. Straining other ingredients is optional.
Hot infusion
The use of heat to release flavors is the best way to make infused oils with dry spices. It is also good with roots and woody herbs. The heating of the oil and flavor ingredients makes the finished product more sanitary and less prone to spoilage. It has the further advantage of making the flavor of some spices like cumin and curry more rich and complex the same way that toasting them does. To create a hot infusion, combine the oil and the flavor ingredients in a saucepan and heat over a moderate flame. Monitor the temperature with a thermometer. In most cases a temperature between 180 and 200°F is sufficient to release the essential oils of flavoring ingredients. Higher temperatures tend to give the oil a “cooked” taste and may caramelize or scorch the flavorings. Strain if necessary and bottle in sterile containers while still hot. Seal and allow to cool. Refrigerate oil after it has reached room temperature.

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