Tag Archives: Urban Homesteading

Farewell to Summer Fig + Feta Salad

With the fall equinox, the season finally seems to be turning in Southern California. It seems as though the rest of the country has moved past apples and onto pumpkin, but we are still picking tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. (Complaining of SoCal problems sounds like humble bragging.) I’m sharing my favorite fig and feta salad as a farewell to summer. Our tree’s fruit are in their last stages and our mint barely survived the last heat wave. I had wanted to first post my feta recipe, but at this stage of my pregnancy, I don’t have the time or focus for a long cheesemaking post, like this one on chèvre.

fig + feta salad with mint and balsamic

Little Bird thoroughly enjoyed figs straight from the tree this summer. There is something lovely about eating them slightly warm from the sun. Here she is showing one of her best buddies where to find the ripe ones:

Picking Figs

As I wrote the recipe (below), I felt a little silly typing out the ingredient list. With only the four ingredients in the title, it seemed a little pointless. This combination is so flavorful and balanced, it doesn’t even need salt and pepper!

fig + feta salad with mint and balsamic

Fig and Feta Salad with Mint and Balsamic Vinegar

  • Figs
  • Feta
  • Mint
  • Balsamic Vinegar

Gently rinse figs. Cut off stems and then cut in half. Arrange in a shallow bowl or plate. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and chopped, fresh mint. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar or a balsamic reduction. Gently mix and serve.

fig + feta salad with mint and balsamic

 

Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

I finally got around to processing our extra tomatoes this weekend. Out of 5 pounds of heirlooms and Roma’s, I made tomato sauce with garlic, based on Alice Water’s recipe. But my absolute favorite alchemy is what happens to cherry tomatoes when they are slow roasted in the oven. If you like the taste of sun-dried tomatoes, but could do without the leathery texture, then you will love these oven roasted cherry tomatoes. And you will be surprised how easy they are!

Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

I love having the taste of summer throughout the year, and nothing speaks to the sunshine and vitamins of summer as well as these easy tomatoes. Try using them in place of sun-dried tomatoes in recipes, such as this Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Pesto.

Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes Recipe

  • Cherry, Grape or small Roma Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Rinse tomatoes and cut in half. Spread, cut side up, on a silicone mat or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle, lightly with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Roast in a 225°F oven for 2-3 hours or until somewhat dried, but still a little juicy. Let cool.

Enjoy as is or pack into a clean jar, cover with more olive oil, and can or freeze. If freezing, leave a little space at the top. Tip: as awesome as garlic, shallots, and fresh herbs are with tomatoes, DO NOT put them in your jars. They contain moisture and will make it mold more quickly.

Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

 Click on any picture in the gallery below to expand and see the steps.

Simple, Easy Recipes for Summer Dinners

I love summer. I love having extra daylight in the evening. Best of all, our garden is at it’s peak. I often slack on grocery shopping. Driving home from work, I will approach panic and then realize, between the garden and the chickens, I can pull together a simple, easy dinner recipe without having to stop and buy any extra ingredients.

Easy, simple recipes: spaghetti squash pesto and zucchini frittata

The other night was a classic example. Our refrigerator was extremely bare. But I had recently made fresh goat cheese, our chickens are laying eggs, and we had giant zucchinis, cherry tomatoes, a spaghetti squash, garlic and plenty of herbs all from the garden.

Easy, simple recipes: spaghetti squash pesto

As soon as I got home from work, I threw the spaghetti squash whole into the toaster oven. (The regular oven works fine, but the smaller squash fit in the toaster oven, which saves energy and keeps the kitchen from getting as hot.) After about 45 minutes at 350°, it was soft. I cut it in half, pulled out the flesh, discarding the seeds and shredded it with a fork. Click here for the pesto recipe. This time I experimented by throwing in an avocado from a friend’s tree. It made it extra creamy.

Easy, simple recipes: zucchini frittata

Next up was a frittata. I sautéed the zucchini and garlic in some ghee a friend made, had Little Bird stir, stir the eggs, and then mixed in tomatoes and thyme. After baking, we topped it with our fresh chèvre rolled in truffle salt. For the full frittata recipe, click here.

Victory Gardens for the win!


Part Two: Making Cheese with Young Kids

Thought I’d share some quick pictures I took on the second day of making chèvre with my daughter. Check out my original post on making goat cheese for step by step instructions and the recipe. I recently shared how she liked to sprinkle in the chèvre starter and stir the pot. Today she spontaneously played cheesemaking with her toy pot and spoon, saying, “Stir milky.” She also enjoyed putting salt on a plate for rolling the logs. (Check out this post for more ideas on cooking with babies and toddlers.)

homemade chèvre hand formed logs

Here are some of the logs we made out of the goat cheese. Shown are one plain, two with black truffle salt and Little Bird’s cranberry. This batch came out a little dry, so I mixed in a few splashes of fresh milk along with some salt before shaping the logs. Can you guess which one Little Bird helped shape? She loved getting the cranberries ready, but once we formed the log she had a minor temper tantrum when I wouldn’t let her stuff the entire log into her mouth, squeezing it in both hands like a burrito.

Homemade goat cheese with cranberries.

She finally got to enjoy the fruits of her labor during her after-dinner cheese course. She’s Euro like that.

Making Cheese with Kids

Making fresh goat cheese (chèvre) at home is so easy even a young child can do it! My toddler LOVES to be involved in the kitchen and we believe it helps teach her healthy habits and attitudes about food. It is time to make a fresh batch of chèvre and here are some quick shots of Little Bird demonstrating how we enjoy making cheese with kids.

Making Cheese with Kids

In the above picture, Little Bird is holding a digital thermometer in the milk to make sure it is the right temperature. (I accidentally overshot 86°, and had to put it in a cold water bath to bring it back down. I learned the hard way, do not put your starter in milk that is too hot, i.e. over 90°, or it won’t set. It won’t “go bad” or make you sick but it will be more like buttermilk or runny sour cream than nice, sweet cheese.) Below she is sprinkling in chèvre starter.

making cheese with kids - adding chèvre starter

For all the details of how to make chèvre, including step by step instructions with pictures, please click here. And for more on how to involve very young children and babies in cooking, please read this post.