If you can’t bring the girl to Armenia

by Beth Shepherd
( September 17th, 2014 )

...bring Armenian food to the girl.

Armenian small plates

Seattle is a long way from Armenia but, in early fall, my heart is there. I long for a warm evening, a sidewalk cafe, and a slice of lahmajun with a glass of tahn on the side. So on a warm night in late September, we laid out an assortment of small plates on our deck.  I freely admit it’s not the real Armenian deal. Pita took the place of lavash, Loukanika (Thank you Olympic Provisions!) stood in for sujuk, and none of my favorites—like Spas (yogurt soup), kufteh (stuffed meat balls) or lahmajun (pizza)—graced our table.

But in the spirit of Armenia, we dined. I closed my eyes and—for a moment—tried to imagine we had just returned from an evening stroll, where we walked up the to the top of the Cascade, and gazed down upon all of Yerevan with Mt. Ararat looming on the horizon, instead of sitting beside the Cascade Mountains under the shadow of  Mt. Rainier.

Mid-east thali and Maggie

Take the road less traveled, Beth

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The carrot seed: Homegrown goodness

by Beth Shepherd
( September 12th, 2014 )

One of Little Bird’s favorite books is ‘The Carrot Seed,” written by Ruth Krauss and originally published in 1945. The story features a little boy who plants a carrot seed. No one in his family thinks it will come up. But the little boy knows better. He pulls the weeds and waters his carrot until, one day, a carrot grows. Just like he knew it would.

Her first crop was decidedly on the petite size. Even though this variety, Nantes, can be grown in a pot, we clearly need a larger pot. But this pot of carrots was her first crop, hers and hers alone.

Planting carrotsPlanting carrots in March.


CarrotsSeptember is harvest time.


Picking carrotsPicking her carrots.


Homegrown carrotsHomegrown teensie carrots.


Eating carrotsThe proof is in the pudding—er—carrots.


Chewing her carrotsTaking a bite.


Eating carrots 2The verdict: “I like them, Mama.”


“Can I try one.”


“No.”


Take the road less traveled, Beth

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Hunting for huckleberries: Huckleberry-Lavender Ice Cream Recipe

by Beth Shepherd
( September 10th, 2014 )

Huckleberries and lavender

Huckleberry bush

A few years ago, I had a huckleberry bush growing in a pot in our garden. A lovely plant: evergreen, copper-colored new growth, adorable bell-shaped flowers followed by delicious fruit. My huckleberry was doing very nicely, until, suddenly it wasn’t.

When I saw fresh huckleberries at the farmers market in my neighborhood, I was elated. I should mention I bought the last pint the vendor had. The berry gods had smiled upon me!

Huckleberries can be used to create so many delicious dishes. All things sweet like jam, pie, pancakes and muffins. And huckleberries also make the perfect foil for salmon—a bear’s dream. I decided to whip up a batch of Huckleberry Ice Cream with a lavender cream base.  Oh my word. That ice cream was the bomb.

What’s the best way to get your hands on fresh huckleberries? You can sometimes find huckleberries at your local farmers market, like I did, if you’re lucky. Or if you’re game for a hike, and live in Washington State, the Washington Trails Association (WTA) has a list of huckleberry hikes, which you can find here. Mid-August through September is the ideal time to pick. Do remember that huckleberries are also a favorite treat of black bears. And of course, you can also grow them.

So guess what I’m going to buy tomorrow at the garden store? A huckleberry bush.

Huckleberry lavender ice cream base

Huckleberry-Lavender Ice Cream Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups heavy cream

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 tablespoon culinary lavender

  • 6 large egg yolks

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup huckleberries

Making the ice cream

  1. Heat the heavy cream, milk, and lavender buds in a medium saucepan, until it begins to bubble.

  2. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let the lavender steep for 30 minutes. Pour the mixture through a strainer to remove the lavender.

  3. Return the milk to the saucepan and heat until it almost reaches a boil.

  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until they become thick and pale. Slowly add the hot milk to the eggs, whisking constantly.

  5. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, continuously stirring until the mixture coats the back of the spoon (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat, pour the mixture through a strainer, and cool completely (either in the refrigerator in in a prepared ice bath). Stir in the vanilla, and fold in the huckleberries.

  6. Process in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions and store in freezer for up to one week.

 

Huckleberry lavender ice cream recipe

Take the road less traveled, Beth

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