Black Currant, Blueberry & Wild Bergamot Syrup

Summer is in full swing in Michigan, which means fresh berries and herbs are available in abundance. I love to make various preserves throughout the season so that I have a few jars to give as gifts to friends & family and some wonderful treats to enjoy myself during the long winter months when nothing is growing.

This delicious, unique simple syrup combines some of my favorite flavors of these lovely summer months. Blueberries are a familiar favorite and the addition of black currants and wild bergamot gives this syrup a tasty twist.

Black currants are not extremely popular, at least in this area, and can be a bit tricky to find. If you’re lucky, you might be able to get them at a farmer’s market or find a fruit farm that will let you pick them yourself. We are fortunate enough to have a great orchard nearby where we can pick these tasty berries. If possible, growing your own is a great option. If you can’t find black currants and still want to make this recipe, just substitute an equal amount of blueberries. The currants add a lovely flavor, but blueberry-bergamot syrup is also wonderful.

Freshly picked black currants

When eaten fresh, black currants have a sweet, earthy flavor that some people don’t enjoy. I personally think they’re wonderful, but they are definitely different. Most people do like black currants when they are added to syrups, jellies, and wines as they have a delicious flavor that is similar blackberries, though it is a bit richer and more concentrated.

Wild Bergamot is a lovely plant that can be found flowering in the fields, meadows, and roadsides in our area right now. I love its strong, spicy, oregano-like flavor. It’s definitely not what you would expect from such a delicate and pretty flower! It is wonderful as a cooking spice, garnish for salads, and to flavor syrups and jellies. The below graphic – excerpted from Dina Falconi’s book, Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook – provides lots of wonderful information about how to wildcraft and use wild bergamot. This is one of my favorite books on foraging wild edibles as it has very thorough plant profiles, amazing recipes, and is beautifully illustrated. Click here to get a copy of your own.  Continue reading

Curry Ketchup Recipe

This homemade ketchup is quick and easy to make and is definitely worth the effort. Whip up a batch before your next cookout to impress your friends. After all, nothing screams gourmet like handcrafted condiments.

The best homemade ketchup is made by cooking down ripe, fresh tomatoes for 10-12 hours until they turn into a thick sauce. But, most of time tomatoes aren’t in season (at least here in Michigan!) and sometimes you don’t have half a day to make ketchup. So, in those cases, you cheat a little and use organic tomato paste. The flavor will be just as rich and tomatoey and this little trick will definitely save you a lot of time!

Because you don’t have to wait for this ketchup to cook down, you can make a batch in about 15 minutes, meaning you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the wonderful summer weather.

The curry in this recipe compliments the tomatoes in delightful way and lends some interesting flavor to a classic condiment.

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz organic tomato paste
  • 4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 5 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • A pinch of chipotle powder, I use just the tip of a spoon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Directions:

Combine tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, water, and molasses in a sauce pan and whisk together til well combined. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk well to get rid of clumps.

Simmer on low for about 10 minutes to let the flavors meld. Add more water if needed as the sauce is cooking and before serving if the ketchup is too thick.

Serve with hot dogs, burgers, or potatoes.

Making your own condiments is a wonderful way to reduce your intake of highly processed foods and honestly, they just taste better! Enjoy making this handcrafted ketchup for your next cook out this summer. This tasty twist on an old favorite is sure to be a hit!

Grilled Tempeh Sliders

Summer is just around the corner, which means it’s a perfect time for some outdoor cooking. We love spending warm evenings on the deck or by the fire pit cooking our dinner and enjoying the weather. Not heating up the house with the oven or stove is an added bonus!

When many people think of grilling, they think meat – hog dogs, hamburgers, steak, chicken, etc – but there are many tasty meatless ways to enjoy cooking on the grill this summer. Tempeh, tofu, and many fruits and veggies are delicious grilled. There are also some very tasty  veggie “hot dogs” available at the natural food stores near us that are made from real vegetable not weird “meat like” ingredients. They are worth trying if you can find them.

This easy tempeh burger recipe is a favorite warm weather recipe around our house. Grilled veggies make a simple, delicious side dish. We use whatever’s in season. Asparagus, corn, zucchini, sweet potatoes, leeks, beets, and peppers are just a few tasty options. Be creative!

This recipe makes enough for 4 slider size tempeh burgers. This is enough to feed 2-4 people, depending on how hungry people are and what your side dish options are like. You could easily double the recipe to make more burgers if you are feeding more people.

 

Ingredients:

Sliders –

  • 8 oz tempeh patty
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup liquid aminos
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 small, “dinner roll” sized buns, sliced in half

Toppings –

  • 2 slices onion, diced
  • A handful of fresh arugula leaves
  • Condiments of your choosing. Some great options are: homemade pickles, slaw, ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce (click here to find out how to make your own!), or mayo

Directions:

Cut tempeh patty into 4 equal pieces.

Combine liquid aminos, molasses, and diced garlic together in a wide dish. The dish does not need to be very deep, but ideally will be wide enough for the 4 tempeh pieces to sit in the bottom next to each other.

Add tempeh to liquid and spoon marinade over the pieces so they are drenched. Let marinate for about 30 minutes, occasionally flipping the tempeh so that each side has soaked for a bit in the liquid.

Start your grill. Once it is hot, add your tempeh patties. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until both sides look nice and brown. As the tempeh cooks, spoon some marinade over it occasionally to keep it from drying out and to add more flavor.

When the patties are nearly done, add your buns to the grill, sliced side down and cook them just a few minutes, until toasted. Then take everything off the grill and assemble your sliders using the arugula greens, onions, and condiments of your choosing. We like topping our sliders with things like ketchup, mustard, diced olives, assorted veggie pickles, and barbeque sauce.

homemade veggie pickles – asparagus, kohlrabi, & beets
We make our own super tasty pickles and condiments. It’s a lot easier than you think and it’s more than worth the effort. Some of the best condiment and assorted veggie pickle recipes come from my favorite canning cookbook, Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff. We especially love her recipes for zucchini pickles and ketchup. So tasty! I would definitely recommend picking up this book if you like preserving your own food.

 

Enjoy crafting your own tasty tempeh sliders this summer. We’d love to hear about any awesome variations you come up with!

Easy Summer Pesto Recipe

Zucchini Pesto Pizza
zucchini, pesto & tomato pizza

Pesto is one of my favorite things to make in the summer. Its a great way to use up the bounty of fresh produce I have on hand, its super easy to make, and you can use it a million different ways. I follow this basic recipe using whatever greens/herbs I have on hand from the garden or farmers market.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups fresh greens of choice,* roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs of choice (use one kind or a blend of several)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or less if you don’t like a lot of garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • salt and pepper to taste

*If you don’t want to use any greens in your pesto, you can just use 2&1/2 cups of fresh herbs.

Directions:

Blend seeds and nuts together in a food processor until they are finely ground.

Add the greens, herbs, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper to the food processor and blend until smooth. You may have to scrape things down with a spatula as you go to make sure everything gets mixed in.

Use your pesto on pizza or a sandwich, stir into scrambled eggs or pasta, or serve with crusty bread for a delicious appetizer.

Not sure what kinds of herbs and greens to use in your pesto? Here’s a few ideas:

Greens:

  • turnip greens
  • radish greens
  • beet greens
  • collards
  • kale
  • chard
  • Spinach

Herbs:

  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Oregano

Feel free to use whatever greens or herbs you have on hand to make a unique and tasty pesto that’s all your own. Enjoy!