Friday, August 20, 2010

Cucumber Salad

Summer is the ONLY time to eat cucumbers!  They are super cheap - and they are delicious.  I never buy cucumbers in the winter, when they are bitter and stale and travel 2,000 miles to get to our grocery store.

Nearly all the produce I buy is in season for several reasons.  My favorite reason is that it is the least expensive way to buy produce.  I saw plums at my produce market this week for just 49 cents/pound! 

Another important reason I buy in season is that it is more likely to be local.  Local food means less fossil fuels are burned, and it is better for the environment.  It also supports local farmers and the local economy.

Lastly, in season produce comes to you faster from the farm so it is fresher and more vitamins are inside!

So today, I'm sharing two of my favorite recipes for cucumber salad.  They are super simple and very delicious.

Sweet German-style Cucmber Salad

  • 3 cups cucumbers, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup of onion, very thinly sliced
Place cucumbers and onion in a large collanderand sprinkle with salt (about 1 tablespoon).  Shake the collander to cover everything with salt.  Let drain for one hour.  Rinse of salt, lay on a clean kitchen towel, and pat dry.

  • 1/3 cup raw sugar or turbinado sugar (evaporated cane juice)

  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
Mix together in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, cook and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Pour over cucumbers.  Cover and marinate in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Persian-style Cucumber Salad

  • 3 cups cucumbers, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup of onion, very thinly sliced
Place cucumbers and onion in a large collanderand sprinkle with salt (about 1 tablespoon). Shake the collander to cover everything with salt. Let drain for one hour. Rinse of salt, lay on a clean kitchen towel, and pat dry.

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt (see my easy homemade yougurt recipe here, or store bought)

  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint or dill weed
Place cucumbers/onions, yogurt, and mint or dill on a bowl.  Mix well.  Chill at least one hour.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Whole Wheat Flax Bread

Once you start making your own bread at home, I doubt you will stop!  It is soooooo easy and healthy.  There is nothing sweeter than the smell of bread baking.

Think about it.  A loaf of organic, whole-grain bread will set you back about $5 in the market.  You can make it at home for $2/loaf or less. 

This recipe is Vegan if you don't use the optional whey and if you replace the honey with raw sugar.

I get my organic flax meal and yeast at Costco in bulk.

Wheat flour can spoil fairly quickly, so I buy mine in bulk at the natural food market near our home.  Bulk flour turns over in the store much faster than bagged flour, so it is fresher.  Plus, you only need to buy the amount you really need so you won't waste anything!

I have never had this recipe fail.  Every loaf has been perfect.

Whole Wheat Flax Bread

3 cups fairly warm water (or whey left over from yogurt/cheese making, warmed in the microwave)
2 tablespoons (2 packages) active dry yeast

Combine in a mixing bowl and stir until dissolved.  Set aside until bubbly, 5 minutes.

3 cups organic whole wheat bread flour
3 tablespoons honey (for vegan, replace with raw sugar or agave syrup/stevia to taste)
3 tablespoons oil (neutral oil, like safflower or canola)

Add and stir until smooth.

2-3 cups organic bread flour
1 1/2 cups flax seed meal (sometimes called milled flax seed)
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds (optional - but highly recommended)
2 tablespoons poppy seeds (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup flax seeds (optional)

Add, stirring in enough flour to make a stiff, smooth dough.  Knead about 10 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl, turn to grease both sides, cover with a damp dish towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down, divide in half, and let rest 5 minutes.

Shape into loaves and place in greased loaf pans (grease with oil for vegan) or shape into round loaves and place on a greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.

Cover with damp dish towel, and let rise again, about 1 hour.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.  You will know the loaves are done when you tap on the bottom and they sound hollow.

This freezes beautifully!

Adapted slightly from Simply in Season, by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert (page 288).