cucumbers chili and lime

I first tried this refreshing and zingy snack while teaching in Mexico…years ago…

sliced cucumbers

My students (first and second graders) used to rave about it – actually, as soon as school was out they would run across the playground, throw open the gate and flee to the little shop right next door. Their specialty?  Fresh veggies (or fruit) with lime juice and chilies. The owner, a little old Mexican lady, would slice each fruit or vegetable to order, then press the juice from one or two limes into a plastic baggie, add the sliced veg, and a bit of red chili powder into it… then twist the bag closed and shake. Spicy and refreshing. Simple and nutritious. Cucumber slices marinating in lime and chiles – sounds good to me!

Here’s my take on this fun and snazzy snack;

Peel and slice one cucumber (watermelon and jicama are yummy too!).

Place in shallow bowl or on large plate.

Squeeze the juice from one or two limes (depending on the amount of veg./fruit).

Pour over sliced cucumbers, let rest (marinate) for a bit.

Add red chili powder – as much or as little as you like.

A bit of salt if you like too…

Enjoy!

Here’s the cucumber on the vine in my back garden…before being picked…(:

cucumber on vine

hand cut fries – at home…

Hand cut fries are something you can make at home. Seriously.

Want to know why making them at home is not only possible, but better than out?

1. If your like me and live 25 minutes from the nearest restaurant, well, it just makes sense to know how to make them. And if your a city/town dweller, well, what’s the harm in knowing how?

2. You can choose to go organic, plus your oil will be super fresh (unlike most restaurant deep fryers which cook up all sorts of foods, sometimes for days, with the same oil…).

3. They will cost you a fraction of the cost of going out.

4. They will be made with love.

…revel in the simplicity of homemade hand-cut fries…you’ll wonder why you don’t make them more often…

Here’s what you’ll need;

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Russet potatoes (I actually used yukon golds and they worked just fine and were delicious!) – quantity depends on how many you’d like to make. I used about 12 smallish potatoes – russets are larger, so less would be needed.

1.potatoes

My suggestion, cut up 3 russets and see how much you end up with – if you need more, cut up another, if its enough, perfect. If it’s too much, store cut potatoes, covered with water, in the fridge for up to two days. Who says you can’t have fries (homemade) twice in one week?

Coarse salt or sea salt

High heat oil – I use sunflower oil. Peanut oil works well too.

A pot for frying. I use my wok or cast iron frying pan. Any heavy bottomed or deep heavy bottomed pot will do.

You’ll also need a slotted spoon, some brown paper (think paper bags), a tea towel (or two), a candy/frying thermometer (if you don’t have one, don’t fret), and (if making a few batches) a cooling rack (with baking sheet placed underneath) to store cooked fries on while keeping warm in the oven…

Here’s what you’ll need to do;

Fill a large glass or ceramic bowl, half-way, with cold water.

Slice potatoes into the thickness and length you like – here’s yet another added bonus – you choose how thick or thin to make them!

2.hand cut potatoes

As your chopping away, place the cut pieces into water, in bowl. This helps release their starch as well as prevent browning. Add more water as necessary…

Once all potatoes have been cut and covered with water, pour cut potatoes into a colander and drain cloudy water. Refill bowl with fresh cold water. Add potatoes again. Continue this until water is no longer cloudy. Two or three times should do…

Drain water again, though now, place cut potatoes onto a tea towel and thoroughly dry. Remember, water and oil do not mix. So, if you need to use a second tea towel to ensure their super dryness, do so.

While your drying the potatoes, get the oil heating up. You’ll want to use enough oil to cover the potatoes, yet not so much that the oil would bubble over once heated up with potatoes in…trouble for sure…

*be sure to leave enough space at the top of the pot for the bubbling hot oil and the potatoes – do not overfill your pot.

If you have a candy or frying thermometer, great, use it. The oil should be between 350 degrees F and 375 degrees F. If you don’t have such equipment – don’t fret. If you drop a 1″ cube of white bread into the oil and it browns in 60 seconds or less, your up to temperature. You can also try tossing a cut potato slice into the oil, if it starts to sizzle, a lot, well, it’s probably up to temperature… if it doesn’t, let it heat up some more…

The key is to not overcrowd the pan.

Too many and the oil will cool and the fries will absorb too much oil and become soggy. Too few and they fry up super fast – almost to the point of burning…so best to cook in smaller batches, leaving enough room around each piece to allow for proper cooking.

Once potatoes have been added to the hot oil, increase heat, slightly, to compensate for the heat absorption from the fries…Keep an eye on them as they cook. Stirring occasionally and regulating the heat as necessary.

4.sizzeling and crispin'

Once the fries look nice and browned, remove with slotted spoon and place on paper bags/paper. Salt generously.

Turn heat slightly down while removing. Once all fries have been removed, increase heat again to bring back up to temperature and repeat the process all over again…

I place the salted and cooked fries onto my cooling rack (seems to prevent them from getting soggy) which is also placed over a cookie tray (to catch the ones which fall through the ‘cracks’) and then tuck them into the warmed oven (200 degree F) until all fries have been cooked or all food is ready to be served…

5.fried and salted

This recipe can also be used with sweet potatoes – sweet potato fries – YUM!

What do you like your fries with?

I like mine with fried fish – fish ‘n chips – dipped in organic ketchup and malt vinegar. Super deliciousness – at home…

Enjoy!

white bean cutlets save the day

Thankfully, the official last frost date has passed…though, only two days prior to ‘the’ date, we had a frost warning – what? – it’s May, practically June, what’s with this frost advisory?

I couldn’t believe my ears.

Frost advisory?

‘Are you serious?’, I said, out loud, to no one…but the radio…

My immediate next thought was, ‘Well, if this is true, I better go cover the greens in the garden and get cooking – something to not only warm our tummies, but our sprit as well’, so that’s just what I did.

I decided to make white bean cutlets.

They are a lovely blend of warming herbs, fresh bread (crumbs) and sublime white beans…add to this loveliness, chopped carrots, celery and chives and well, you’ve got cutlet love…

Top it all with mushroom gravy and serve alongside freshly steamed, buttered green beans and you’ve got the perfect solution to the ups and downs of spring in New England.

This dish is both for warming and soothing…just what the body (and mind) needs when facing the reality that in the morning there just may be frost on the ground – despite the fact that June is only 12 days away (well, it was when this was written)!

White Bean Cutlets

adapted from savvyvegetarian

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Ingredients

1

2 cups white beans rinsed and drained (try preparing yourself from dried)

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 good pinch freshly chopped chives (or two scallions, chopped)

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

2

1 carrot, finely chopped

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. fresh thyme

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

parsely

2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped

1/4 cup flour – not all may be needed – any flour will work

1 cup finely chopped fresh breadcrumbs*

* no breadcrumbs?  No problem, chop and whiz bread pieces/slices with crusts in food processor. No processor? Simply rip and finely chop bread and crusts. No bread? Try this yeast free recipe. 

I’m all about being resourceful… (: One has to be when living milessssss from town

Here’s what you’ll do

1. Heat oil on medium/low in heavy bottomed fry pan.

2. Saute carrot and celery until soft, about 5-8 minutes.

3. Add all herbs and spices, except parsley, to fry pan and saute another 2-4 minutes. Constantly stirring…

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4. Place cooked and rinsed beans in food processor, add sauteed veggies and spices, parsley, salt, pepper and bread crumbs into processor and combine just until mixed.

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5. Add flour, 1 Tbsp. at a time until mixture is thick enough to form patties. aka, cutlets.

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6. Form into patties and let chill one hour in fridge.

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7. Heat oil in fry pan and fry each 6-8 minutes each side, until nicely browned.

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8. Top with Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy.

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Vegetarian deliciousness served up in a cutlet…feeds not only the body, but the soul as well…

Enjoy

PS. If you omit the milk and butter in the gravy, you’ll have a delicious vegan recipe too!