Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Labbits Like: Grilled Chickpea Burgers

Nothing says summer like grilled burgers and cookouts. Next time you're headed to a potluck, why not bring along this tasty option for the vegetarians? This burger is made with mashed chickpeas and brown rice, and spiced with coriander and cumin. You could take this recipe and add your own twist - sweet kernals of corn, flax seeds, maybe some curry? Whatever you choose, don't forget to dress it up with other colorful veggies. Pipkin likes his with roasted red pepper hummus, baby spinach, tomatoes and onions. The recipe can be printed here. Happy grilling!

Chickpea Burgers
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp canola oil
4 scallions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup cooked brown rice
2/3 cup wheat germ, divided
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

Your choice of burger fixin's. Pipkin used 100% Whole Wheat Flax & Fiber Arnold Sandwich Thins and added baby spinach, sliced tomatoes, sliced red onion, plain non-fat Greek yogurt and hummus spread. You could also throw in alfalfa sprouts, sliced avocado, etc. Keep it colorful.

Heat a small skillet over low heat. Add sesame seeds and toast, stirring, until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Add coriander and cumin; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 10 to 20 seconds more. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Grind with a mortar and pestle or in a spice mill or clean coffee grinder; set aside.

Add oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add scallions and garlic; cook, stirring, until softened about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat a grill to medium-high.

Coarsely mash chickpeas in a medium bowl with a potato masher.

Stir in rice, 1/3 cup wheat germ, lemon juice, salt, pepper, the reserved spice mixture and the scallion mixture; mix well.

Shape the mixture into four 3/4 inch thick patties. Place the remaining 1/3 cup wheat germ in a shallow dish and dredge them firmly.

Grill the patties until browned and heated through, about 3 minutes per side.  Place the burgers in a bun or pita and dress with your favorite condiments.

Yields: 4 burgers
Recipe: Eating Well June 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

On Guard Duty

Captain Holly guards one of the entrances to the warren. A very naughty chipmunk has been sneaking in during the day, and Holly's ready to defend the territory.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Labbits Like: Chilled Strawberry-Rhubarb Soup

Pipkin gets his rhubarb from the Bellows Falls Farmer's Market

All of a sudden, it seems the hot hazy days of summer have arrived in southern Vermont. Not that many here will complain, having had a full week of rain. Happily the sun was out and it brought lots of people out to the weekly farmer's market in Bellows Falls.

Pipkin picks out the tender pinky-red stalks
Pipkin went with a mission - to pick out some lovely tender stalks of rhubarb to cook up in a chilled strawberry-rhubarb soup. When choosing rhubarb stalks, go for the young, dark pink and slender stalks, which will be sweeter and more tender than the longer, greener stalks. Be sure to discard any leaves, trim the ends, and peel off any stringy covering before use.

You'll only need a few more ingredients: strawberries, sugar, water, salt and pepper, and a generous sprinkling of basil or mint. Get ready for a perfectly refreshing chilled soup for a hot and muggy day. Print out the recipe here.

Chilled Strawberry-Rhubarb Soup

4 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2" pieces
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil or mint, plus more for garnish
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Bring rhubarb and 3 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Cook until the rhubarb is very soft and broken down, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Put a copule inches of ice water in a large bowl and set the bowl with the rhubarb in it to help cool it quickly. (If you aren't in a hurry, you can skip the ice-water bath.) Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until cool, at least 20 minutes.

Transfer the rhubarb to a blender. Add strawberries, sugar and salt; blend until smooth. Return to the bowl and stir in 1/3 cup basil (or mint). Serve sprinkled with more herbs and a generous grinding of pepper. 

Serves: 4 hot, thirsty labbits

Recipe: June 2011 Eating Well Magazine.

Reflection Study Too

Pipkin tries another picture with a reflection, this time in a puddle. Unfortunately it was windy today and the puddle he used kept getting rippled by the wind. But he's still experimenting and knows he'll be better at this photo taking business the more he practices. For now he hopes you get a sense of the sunny spring day in the upside down puddle picture.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reflection Study

Pipkin has been inspired by Clover's self portrait series and decided to give it a try. He's new, so please be nice if you're going to give criticism. He used the self timer on the camera and his reflection in the piano to create the image above. By flipping the image, and cropping most of himself out, he gives enough context for you to understand what's going on. I quite like it myself.

And...of course, he wanted me to include a blooper - when he didn't quite get into position when the self timer went off:

I dunno Pipkin, I like both of them myself!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Day in the Garden

Pipkin played in a friend's beautiful garden today. It was a funny spring day with rolling thunderstorms, sun showers, rain, sunshine and heat. (It is New England after all.) When the rain stopped and the sun came out (for a little while), Pipkin hopped around the tulips, chatted with the chickens, and even met a garden labbit!

He couldn't stand to talk to the chickens for too long. These ladies like to talk a lot: "The neighbour's dog is trotting about with that other dog, and that tom cat's been around again, with a different cat, and oh! have you seen the cat across the street? Another litter already?!" It happens when you're in a coop together like that. Pipkin's not really one for gossip, so he said goodbye and left the ladies to their clucking.

Better to just go around smelling the flowers.

Pipkin likes alium! Very dramatic. It's like a giant purple firework explosion of pretty flowers.

This garden labbit didn't say much, which, to Pipkin, was quite a nice change of pace from the chicken coop.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Bellows Falls Farmer's Market

Oh happy days are here again! The third weekend of May is the first day of the Farmer's Market in Bellows Falls, Vermont! Every Friday from May through October, the Farmer's Market is open from 4 PM - 7 PM, rain or shine, at the Waypoint Center. There are several vendors who sell maple syrup and other maple products, lots of the freshest seasonal veggies, milk, cheese, preserves, local meat and eggs, flowers, annuals and perennials, soaps, clothing, some jewelry and other arts and crafts.

There is often a musical guest providing entertainment and there's lots of room to dance!

If you didn't plan a dinner there is lots to eat - often there is dim sum, or Vietnamese cuisine, samosas, and of course barbeque grilled veggies and meat (if you're not a labbit).

Jon Cohen from Deep Meadow Farm (where the labbits have a CSA share) is there every week with his veggies and meat. Today Pipkin picked up some kale for dinner and checked out the herbs. Maybe he'll plant some this year?

Pipkin picks this nice bunch of kale.

Should he plant cilantro? Sure smells good...

After he picked out his veggies for tonight's dinner, he hopped on over to a booth he'd never seen at the Farmer's Market, the artist Liz Hawkes deNiord, who paints, does pottery and teaches. She brought a variety of her ceramics:

Eskar Design's Booth at the Farmer's Market

Big plates! Pipkin loves this tie-dye looking plate.

Bowls of varying sizes. (Pipkin may have snuck som ginger for himself.)

If you are in Bellows Falls on a Friday, you must visit the Farmer's Market. Pipkin will be back next week, maybe to try out some of the yummy looking brownies he saw, or for a refreshing glass of strawberry lemonade on a hot day. Please say hi to Pipkin (or his labbit friends) when you see him!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Waiting For The Band

Pipkin takes his seat at the Bellows Falls Opera House and excitedly awaits a toe tappin' evening of bluegrass with Hot Mustard opening for Tony Trischka & Territory. Tony Trischka & Territory are currently touring in the US. Go to the tour page to see if they will be headed your way. Not only are they touring but some dates have workshops as well as performances! If you are a musician you will not want to miss a chance to learn from these fantastic and talented musicians!

Hot Mustard plays a lot of gigs local to southern Vermont and New Hampshire. Don't forget to check out their website for dates, photos and videos. Pipkin looks forward to their forthcoming first cd.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Labbits Like Reading

Pipkin and Clover will help you with your reading if you'd like to choose a book. They have French and English titles, and are happy to read to you if you'd like to snuggle into a blanket for a bedtime story. With all the rain that's been falling in southern Vermont lately, it's an especially blanket snuggly kinda week.

Hide n' Seek With the Mau5e5

Pipkin played a game of Hide n' Seek with a couple of the Mau5e5 today. Zim Mau5 is particularly good at hiding because he's black, but with Pipkin's good ears and a little help from Tomohiro Mau5, Zim's hiding spot in the fiddle case under the piano was found out. You're It Zim!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Labbits Like: Strawberry & Toasted Almond Arugula Salad

The labbits are so unbelievably happy that their CSA with Deep Meadow Farm has started for the season, and the first of the arugula is peppery and so so so fresh!

Strawberries are a nice complement to arugula (and the color inspired Clover's lipstick shade). Toast up some chopped almonds, shred some fresh mozza, and you've got a tasty spring salad.

For the dressing, you can cook up some salad grade balasamic vinegar and add olive oil. Flavor with orange zest and a pinch of ginger and you've got a fabulous homemade dressing. Print the salad recipe here.

Strawberry & Toasted Almond Arugula Salad
4 cups Arugula, loosely packed
2 cups Strawberries, sliced
2 oz fresh shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup chopped plain almonds
1 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Zest of one orange
Pinch of ground ginger
S+P to taste 

Toss arugula, strawberries in a large salad bowl and top with shredded mozzarella.

In a dry pan over low-medium heat, toast the almonds, occasionally shaking the pan to toast evenly - about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before tossing on top of the salad.

In a small saucepan bring balsamic vinegar to a boil, and continue to cook over medium heat until the vinegar becomes thick and syrupy, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisk in olive oil, pinch of ground ginger, orange zest and S+P to taste. Serve salad and drizzle dressing sparingly over the salad (a little goes a looong way).

Bon nom nom nom!
Serves: 4 labbits as a starter; 2 as a main.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Follow the Drinking Gourd

Clover saw this stamp printed on a concrete block in the middle of downtown Montpelier, VT. It says "Follow the Drinking Gourd" - an American folk song that was used by the Underground Railroad as a sort of code or code breaking system that enabled slaves fleeing from the south to find their way north.  A drinking gourd is a hollowed out melon used as a water dipper, but in the context of the Underground Railroad movement it was a code for the Big Dipper constellation which when viewed in the night sky, would direct escaping slaves north. The Big Dipper constellation can also be seen on the concrete block, above the clasped hands.

Oddly enough, on the next concrete block, Clover saw that there was a carved watermelon. It certainly wasn't a hollowed out drinking water dipper, but it was nicely carved. Who left it there? Why? Do they know what the Drinking Gourd means? Mysteries...

For the lyrics to Follow The Drinking Gourd and their meaning, click here.

Shall We Dance?

Aww, don't leave Pipkin out on the dance floor all by himself! He looks so lonely. I think he would really like to dance but he's shy and needs a crowd. Come on now! Every bunny on da floor!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Labbits Like Lounging at the Library

"Hey Ted, you're right! These chairs are really comfy!"

"Whoops. You really should whisper in a library."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Labbits Like: Tofu-Basil-Spinach Lasagna

Labbits love lasagna! Gooey, cheesy layers of wavy edged pasta and veggies mmmm mmm! This vegetarian recipe from The Kripalu Cookbook replaces the use of ground beef with tofu, and can be made entirely vegan by replacing the cheese with soy or rice cheese.

This is a smooth lasagna with a strong basil flavor. With the ricotta mixed in with mashed tofu, that bizarrely bland, oddly textured beige-ness associated with tofu doesn't exist in this delicious lasagna. Go ahead - fool your non-veg dinner guests. Print the recipe here.

Tofu-Basil-Spinach Lasagna

1 lb soft tofu, rinsed, drained and mashed
2 cups finely chopped onions
3 Tbsp umeboshi vinegar (red wine vinegar and salt would be a good substitute)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp dried oregano
4 cups washed chopped fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup EVOO
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional - we omitted because of a walnut allergy)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups Newman's Own Organic Tomato-Basil Sauce
9 pieces of lasagna noodles, cooked, drained and rinsed

In a large bowl, mix together the tofu, onions, vinegar, black pepper, oregano and spinach and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, blend together the basil, oil, garlic, walnuts (if using) and salt. Pipkin likes to add the ricotta at this point for two reasons: he likes the smoothness when it's blended and he really likes to use the food processor (his "Ferrari"). THE POWER! Anyway, after blending, add the basil mixture to the tofu mixture and stir together well. You are now ready to assemble the lasagna.

Three lasagna noodles will fit perfectly in a 9x12 baking dish.

Mmmm. Basil, spinach, ricotta and tofu!

Ready for the oven!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In an oiled 9x12 inch baking pan, make alternating layers of the Tomato-Basil sauce, cooked pasta (it will take three lasagna noodles a layer) and the tofu-basil mixture, ending with the tomato sauce. Don't be shy about pouring on more sauce. You want lots of sauce to ensure the pasta is covered so it stays soft and moist while baking.

Top with the shredded mozzarella and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves: 4-6 labbits

Fresh out of the oven!

Recipe adapted from The Kripalu Cookbook: Gourmet Vegetarian Recipes.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Labbits Like: Noodle Pie

Pipkin apologizes for the mediocre photo and the lack of food prep photos. He got home really late from Keene, NH where he was listening to his friends Maggie (violin), Nell (viola) and Andrew (cello) playing in the Keene Chamber Orchestra. It's a long hop home, and he had to stop to raid Hannaford's, so dinner was really late and the other labbits were starving and didn't want to wait around or help with photos. So all you get is this one photo. You don't even get to see it served up all noodle pie shaped like, but if you like, just imagine a wedge shaped pile of noodles, cheese, broccoli, mushrooms and tomatoes. Pretty good, right?  Trust the labbits. This dish tastes ah-MAY-zing! So don't judge a dish by its lack of photogenicness. Print the recipe here.

Noodle Pie
8 oz dried ribbon egg noodles
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 Tbsp dried marjoram
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1/2 Tbsp dried basil)
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1 cup medium broccoli florets
3/4 cup almond milk (or milk milk)
3 Tbsp unbleached white flour
1 3/4 cups grated cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan, cook the noodles in boiling water until tender but still firm. Drain, rinse and set aside. In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter and saute the garlic for 3 - 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes more. Stir in the marjoram, basil, oregano, salt and black pepper. Turn off head. Mix in the tomatoes and broccoli.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large saucepan, heat the milk on low heat and sift in the flour, whisking until a thick roux forms. Add the reserved noodles, the mushroom mixture, and three-fourths of the cheese and blend well. Place the mixture in a butter 9" pie pan and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Let cool for 5 - 10 minutes. (Don't skip the cooling. It's what helps keeps the noodles together so when you slice it up to serve it retains its pie wedge shape.) Serve!

Serves: 4 - 6 labbits.

Oh lookee, I'll sneak in a close up!

Recipe adapted from The Kripalu Cookbook: Gourmet Vegetarian Recipes

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Double Rainbow Across The Sky!

With thunderstorms rolling in over Bellows Falls VT, Pipkin caught this wonderful double rainbow moment right as the blue skies were pushed off by dark, ominous clouds and he got caught in a bit of a sun shower.

Labbits Like: Potato Pancakes

It's been a while since the labbits have posted about food. Sometimes when Pipkin travels and eats in wonderful restaurants he gets unmotivated to cook. But then he gets a craving for something and can't wait to get into the kitchen. Tonight it was potato pancakes! It's pretty simple to make and it only takes a few ingredients: potatoes, onions, scallions and eggs. They go well with sour cream and can be served for breakfast, or as an appetizer or side. Actually, Pipkin's friend Bill loves tater tots so much, he'd probably eat these as a meal. So this dish is dedicated to Bill. Check out his site for some really amazing photography. He even has some shots of Pipkin from his West Coast 2010 trip with Domo and Skull.

But...on to the potato pancakes...print out the recipe here.

Potato Pancakes
2 lbs of russet potatoes
1 onion
2 large eggs, beaten (Pipkin was only photographed with 1!)
1/2 cup of scallions, chopped
S+P to taste
Oil for frying (Pipkin uses an oil mister)
Sour Cream

Wash the potatoes, cut into halves or quarters (for the food processor) and place in a bowl of cold water while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Wash and cut the onion into halves or quarters to fit the food processor. With the shredding plate, shred the onion. Wash and chop the scallions. Beat the eggs and set aside.

These fine mesh produce bags work well for this step!

Returning to the potatoes, in batches, shred the potatoes using the food processor (unless you want to hand grate, but the labbits like using tools). Place the shredded onion and potatoes in a fine mesh bag or in a sieve and squeeze out the liquid into a bowl. Carefully pour out the water in the bowl and you will find the starch settled at the bottom. Put the shredded onion and potatoes in a large mixing bowl and add in the starch, beaten eggs, scallions and some salt and pepper. Mix well!

That tacky thick stuff at the bottom? That's potato starch!
Heat a large non-stick pan or griddle over medium heat. Spray oil in the pan. Scoop 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the potato mix and pat firmly into a round. Place in the pan and use a spatula to flatten and even out the pancake.  Fry for a few minutes until golden, then flip and fry the other side for until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream!
Yields: 20 ish 3" round pancakes, but you can make more or fewer depending on the size and thickness of your pancakes.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious September 1998