Tag Archives: onions

Quick Pickled Green Beans

I haven’t pickled anything in a little bit, but when Marc and Anna Jo brought me these beautiful beans, I knew they were destined for a jar.

Home Grown Dragon Beans and Wax Beans | Oysters & Pearls

The purple beans are Dragon Beans, and the others are Wax Beans.  They are beautiful and delicious.  As food should be.

Home Grown Dragon Beans and Wax Beans, Foraged Wild Garlic and Homegrown Onions for Pickling | Oysters & Pearls

I didn’t want to bother with processing these, since I only had enough for one large and one half-pint jar, so these are refrigerator pickles.  And the recipe is improvised.  But they were zesty, snappy, crisp and tasty.

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

brine ingredients
increase amount of pickling brine to accommodate your jars of beans. consider this a general ratio.

per jar
– fresh green beans, cleaned and cut to desired length
– 1 large garlic clove, cut in half (or two small, lightly crushed)
– 1 small onion, quartered

for the brine
-1 cup water
– 1 cup apple cider vinegar
– 1/4 cup sugar
– 1 tablespoon whole dill seeds
– 1 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 1/2 tablespoons salt

instructions

Sanitize jar in dishwasher or in a pot of boiling water.  Pack jar with cleaned and cut green beans, onion, garlic, and bay leaf.  Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil in a pot.  Simmer for two minutes or so, then pour over beans in the jar.  Cool, uncovered, until room temperature.  Place lid on jar and refrigerate.

Pickles will be ready to eat in 24 hours, if you can wait that long.

Zesty Quick Pickled Green Beans | Oysters & Pearls

I think I made it approximately 20 hours before I had to try them.  They are everything I like in a pickle: a little spicy, very crunchy, and very pickled.  In hindsight, there was no point in processing these anyway, because they aren’t going to last very long at all.

Zesty Quick Pickled Dilly Beans | Oysters & Pearls

Guy Clarke once said: “There are two things in this world money can’t buy: that’s true love and home grown tomatoes.”

I would argue that home grown green beans, garlic, and onions fall into that category as well.

Zesty Quick Pickled Green Beans Recipe | Oysters & Pearls

Until Next Time

(Vegan) Quinoa Pilaf

Hallelujah, the cold has gone!

I’m for realz, it has been brutally frigid the past couple days, but thank goodness it’s finally warming up a bit.  I’m all for getting to wear my rarely-used winter gear, but it was starting to get ridiculous.  It was 17 degrees on our covered porch yesterday morning!

And what’d’ya know: we forgot to turn our automatic sprinkler system off, and – just our luck – it went off in the middle of the polar vortex.  It made for some pretty ice, at least!

Cabbage in the Polar Vortex | Oysters & Pearls
The cabbage actually held up okay against it, thank goodness.  The rest of the lettuces… not so much.

The cedar tree by the bird bath in the backyard was covered in ice ornaments, too.  It’s a beauty that we don’t normally see here in Bainbridge, so at least it was a nice change in scenery!Frozen Cedar Tree, January 2014 | Oysters & Pearls

Frozen Cedar Tree in Bainbridge, Georgia during the Polar Vortex of 2014 | Oysters & Pearls

Frozen Cedar Tree and Bird Bath | Oysters & PearlsWhat’s that in the background, behind the frozen-solid bird bath?

Wallace in the SoWeGa Polar Vortex | Oysters & Pearls
Don’t worry, Wallace and Harold followed me out to snap some pictures, but we all went back inside as quickly as possible.

Moving on to the title of this post…

Today’s post perfectly and accidentally coincided with my favorite gluten-free and vegetarian gals’ birthdays!  Happiest of Birthdays to my mother-in-law, Nancy, and future sister-in-law, Sloane!

Now, despite it being their birthdays, when I think of quinoa, all that pops into my head is this Bud Light Commercial:

For the record: this quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) tastes nothing like a dirty old tree branch.  It tastes really, really good.  Wheat even ate the mushrooms.  The mushrooms!!  He hates mushrooms.  Supposedly.

Anyway, I posted a picture of my favorite quinoa dish on Instagram the other night and got lots of folks clamoring for the recipe.  Ask, and you shall receive!  I’ve been meaning to post it for a while, anyway, but Nancy and Sloane’s birthday is pretty perfect timing!

Vegan Quinoa Pilaf with Mushrooms | Oysters & Pearls

Way back when, I went vegetarian for a while, then vegan for a while.  More so as a cleanse and to expand my food repertoire than anything else.  And it definitely broadened my horizons!  One of the things that I’ve carried over to non-vegan life years later are quite a few recipes (including this one) from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
.  Even if you aren’t vegan, there are still some awesome, healthy, clean-eating recipes in this book that I make to this day.  Most especially, this one.

(^^ Affiliate links, btw!)

I’ve adapted this recipe over the years, and it’s really healthy, really tasty, and completely open for your own interpretation.

Quinoa Pilaf
vegan, gluten free
adapted from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
serves 4 to 6 as a side

ingredients

– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 small yellow or vidalia onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
– 1 tablespoon ground coriander
– several grinds of freshly ground black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
– 1 tablespoon tomato paste
– 1 cup quinoa (any color will do)
– 1 package baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
– 2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth, if you’re not vegan)

instructions

In a smallish pot over medium heat, sauté the onions in olive oil for about 7 or 8 minutes, or until translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes.  Add the tomato paste, coriander, cumin, pepper, and salt, and sauté for another minute or so.  Add the quinoa and sauté for a couple minutes, then add the mushrooms and broth.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat to your lowest setting, cover, and cook for 18 more minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Rainbow Quinoa for Quinoa Pilau | Oysters & Pearls

Quinoa is pretty awesome.  It’s like a grain, but technically it’s a seed.  It’s gluten-free, and it’s a complete protein, which means it’s a perfect balance of all 9 amino acids that are essential for human nutrition.  That’s basically unheard of in the plant world (it’s a meat thing).  It’s low calorie, high in fiber and iron, and has a texture reminiscent of bubbles, which is, personally, my favorite of its attributes.

I prefer to use rainbow quinoa, as shown in these pictures, because each color has slightly different qualities.  The white quinoa fluffs up a lot, while the black and red quinoa is crunchier and nuttier.  Plus, it’s rainbow quinoa.

Vegan Quinoa Pilau with Mushrooms adapted from Veganomicon | Oysters & Pearls

 I love to add mushrooms to this, but the original recipe called for one (drained) 15 ounce can of chickpeas.  You can really add any veggie you want – it will be good!

Delicious and Flavorful Quinoa Pilaf Recipe | Oysters & Pearls

I had gotten out of the habit of labeling any of my food into neat little categories like vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.  I try to just think of it all as food!  I’m totally fine skipping out on meat for a week.  I hope that my diet is well-rounded enough that it doesn’t suffer no matter what I’m in the mood for.  However, as I mentioned earlier, my in-laws are gluten free (see this article on The Grain Brain Diet, or check out Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers
itself for an explanation <– that’s an affiliate link too!) and my future sister-in-law is a vegetarian, so recently it’s been on my mind more when I’m cooking or reading recipes lately.

Vegan Rainbow Quinoa Pilaf | Oysters & Pearls

Fortunately, this falls into the gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and delicious categories all very nicely.

Three cheers for clean, healthy eating and birthdays this new year!  :)

Until Next Time

Roasted Chicken… Finally

So I’m finally getting around to posting about that roasted chicken I keep mentioning.  Thanks for bearing with me!

This is another one from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home, but roasting a chicken is one of those things that I think everyone should learn how to do.  Then you can adapt it however you’d like!  The essentials will be the same.  I realized it had been a while since I roasted a chicken the other day, and we already had some roast-able veggies, so that seemed like a pretty good Sunday supper.  And cheap to boot!

Classic Roasted Chicken |  Oysters & Pearls

The key to crispy chicken skin is to take your bird out of the packaging and put it on a plate and let it sit in the fridge uncovered for a day or two, according to Keller (and now, me).  It dries it out a bit and makes for some deliciously crispy skin.  Before you cook it, be sure to take it out and let it come to room temperature.

Roasted Chicken (adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home)

essential ingredients

– a chicken (anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds)
– 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed (or more if you want!)
– fresh thyme, optional (6 sprigs or however much you want)
– root vegetables (new potatoes, onions, rutabagas, turnips, carrots, leeks – let your imagination run wild!)
– kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
– canola or vegetable oil
– 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

This one is a stretch, but my secret ingredient to a perfectly juicy, delicious roast chicken is to stuff it with a couple-few cloves of garlic and one whole Preserved Moroccan Lemon.  It makes the BEST chicken, and the best veggies underneath it!  If you’re fresh out of those, stuff it with a whole lemon cut into quarters, with the stem-end left intact.

This dish is the perfect cast iron skillet, one pot dish.  But you can use any oven-safe skillet that is big enough to hold all this goodness.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Mmmmkay.  First you gotta stuff and truss yo’ chicken.  You actually don’t have to truss it, but it helps the breasts puff up and get extra brown and the entire bird cooks more evenly.  Plus, it makes you look fancy.  And who doesn’t want to look fancy?

Trussing A Chicken | Oysters & Pearls

Remove the innards if they are still in the cavity of the chicken.  You can either remove the wishbone now, or you can wait until the end (I wait).  Season the cavity of the chicken generously with salt and pepper, add three garlic cloves and a few sprigs of thyme, and massage the inside of the bird.  Now, you truss it.

Trussing a Chicken (see photo above)

Tuck the bird’s wing tips under it’s breasts, so that it looks like it is laying by the pool.  Cut a piece of kitchen twine about 3 feet long and center it under the neck end of the breasts.  Pull the twin up and over the breasts toward yourself.  Knot the twine once right under the very end of the breasts, so that it puffs up.  Next, bring the string around the outside of the legs, and knot it tightly again so that each leg is touching the other leg and the breasts.  You just trussed a chicken!  Wheat gave me the ultimate compliment on my chicken by telling me, “It looks like it came out of Winn Dixie!”  So proud.

Stuffed and Trussed Chicken | Oysters & Pearls

Side note: if you can look at the picture above and not laugh, we can’t be friends. #Iamachild

Vegetable Bed for Roasted Chicken | Oysters & Pearls

Wash, peel, trim, and/or chop your root veggies so that they are all relatively the same size to ensure they all cook evenly.  The only exception to this is that I quarter the onion.

Toss the veggies and remaining garlic cloves with some vegetable or canola oil and season with salt and pepper.  Spread them out in a cast iron skillet or whatever pan you are roasting them in.  Sort of make a little indentation (or “nest,” if you will) in the middle to fit your bird, and lay the remaining thyme in it.  Or you can toss the thyme in with the vegetables.  Whatever you prefer.  I just like to do it under the chicken to ensure it doesn’t burn in the oven.

Rub the chicken down with some vegetable or canola oil too, and season with salt and pepper (don’t be shy!).  Nestle the chicken into the nest and cut the butter into 4 or 5 pieces and dab them on the chicken.

Ready to Roast Chicken | Oysters & Pearls

Put the whole thing in the oven and roast for 25 minutes at 475 degrees.  Then reduce the heat to 400 degrees and roast for 45 more minutes, or until the temperature reads 160 degrees in the meatiest part of the bird.  It’s best to stick it where the thigh meets the breast.

Keep in mind that this was a 3 pound chicken, and 45 minutes was just right.  So if you are cooking a 5 pound chicken, you will have to cook it longer.  Just keep checking it every 5 minutes after 45-50 minutes or so to see if it’s at 160 degrees.

Classic Roasted Chicken | Oysters & Pearls

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 20 minutes or so, or until it’s cool enough to handle.  Carve it up, and serve the chicken over the veggies.  Make sure to toss them in the pan juices for maximum flavor!

I am NO expert on carving a chicken, and apparently, neither is Wheat.  Here is a neat video tutorial I found from Thomas Keller and Anthony Bourdain (narrating) that shows you how to carve it, as well as another way to truss it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWLt6G85zC4

Of course, mine looks much less perfect than Keller’s.  But tomato, tomahto.  This bird still tasted pretty dern good!

Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables | Oysters & Pearls

I garnished it with some more fresh thyme from my herb garden.  This is actually lemon thyme.  I think next time I will use it again and stick half of a lemon in the cavity and try that out.

I mean, would you just look at this crispy skin?  So crazy good.

Crispy Roasted Chicken | Oysters & Pearls

You can do so many things with a roasted chicken, and change it up in so many ways.   The leftovers are great for chicken salad, or to put on top of a salad, or anything else you can think of!  And you can keep the major bones (after you pick them clean) and throw them in the freezer.  When you have enough, make chicken stock!  Considering a whole chicken is pretty cheap, you can make those few dollars go really far, if you want.

So there.  I finally posted about my roasted chicken.  I know cooking a whole bird can be intimidating (because it used to intimidate me), but it really is pretty easy to do.  But you don’t have to tell anyone that.

Just stand back and let them think you’re fancy!  Or that you bought it at Winn Dixie.  Le sigh.

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