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Archive for February, 2008

Awesome Garlic Toasts

It’s high time I started posting recipes again. I really want to download my photos from Baja and post some of the great food I ate there; but that will take me a few more days to organize. In the meantime, I keep playing with my food, and discovering new ways to incorporate the super-healthy fats from avocados, nuts, flax and olive oil – things I try to eat every day now (and believe me, this is going to take some creativity!).

I needed a quick snack the other night, and a way to use up the rest of a nice loaf of whole grain bread without resorting to butter. As the idea for garlic toast was floating through my mind (and sounding rather good on an empty stomach) I realized that all I had to do to make this unhealthy idea into a nutritious one was sub in olive oil for the butter. So here goes:

Awesome Garlic Toasts 

half a loaf whole grain bread, something nice and crusty

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

olive oil (your standard cooking variety will be fine since you are heating it; don’t squander your expensive extra virgin here)

parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees or so.

2. Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices or rounds and arrange on a baking sheet.

3. Pour a good couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a small dish and stir in the minced garlic.

4. With a pastry brush, brush oil onto each piece of toast, taking care to get enough – but not too much – garlic onto each slice.

5. Shake parmesan cheese onto each slice to taste (not exactly tasting it, but eyeballing it for the amount that makes YOU want to eat it! This is totally subjective…).

6. Stick the baking sheet in the oven and keep an eye on it. Your toasts may be done in just a few minutes – you’ll know when the parmesan has started to bubble a bit and start to look a bit gooey (it won’t exactly melt, just spread a bit and generally look hot and ready to eat).

7. Remove from oven, distribute onto small plates and eat immediately.

Isn’t this so scientific? I’d love to provide more accurate quantities and instructions but it just is so unnecessary – you can do this with any amount of bread, garlic, oil and cheese and it will probably taste fantastic. I really slathered on the olive oil; some might like it less drippy. In any case, there should be very little guilt involved when eating the results.

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Spring is in the air – albeit intermittently. We are still getting snow every other day it seems, just when things were warming up tantalizingly and drawing us outside to bask in the increasingly warmer sunlight. Various bulbs are poking their green shoots into the air. I can’t remember what I planted or where; this is the fun of bulbs, it’s a little like Christmas for yourself every spring when they come up. Were those tulips? Maybe the red ones? Did I plant red ones? And so the wonderful mysteries of the garden begin to unfold, reminding you why you are so hooked on the warmer seasons.

My compost pile is still a giant ice cube, so I have to content myself with dumping kitchen scraps on top of it. But today I am itching to start cutting back the winter’s yellowed grasses – Miscanthus, Little Bluestem, Nassella and others. There’s just going to be too much other work to do in the garden later; I feel compelled to get these easier, little tasks out of the way now, even though it means I am removing the one bit of structure from our winter landscape. And it’s supposed to snow tonight, so today is my chance, really, to enjoy a few minutes of sunshine and work outdoors.

This weather is also making me yearn for my vegetable garden. I can content myself for now with planning it, which I’ve miraculously put off all winter – what with holidays, vacations and health worries, I never really sat down to dream about vegetables. I didn’t order any rare or curious seeds from heirloom plant catalogs; we have so much variety right here during spring planting season that last year I’d filled my garden right up with Minnesota Midget Canteloupe, Hopi Beans, Cherokee Purple Tomatoes and Tequila Sunrise Peppers and there was no more room for mail-order wonders. So I figured this year I’d just do the same thing and see what sort of bounty it brought me.

In honor of the spring kitchen garden, I want to remind everyone of the 10 Reasons to Eat Local Food (the article is titled 10 Reasons to BUY Local Food, but for me so much is about growing a large portion of it yourself that I can’t limit myself to that outlook!). These pointers, in and of themselves, are inspiration enough to make our green thumbs itch with anticipation!!

Happy Gardening…

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