I am so excited I could POP. This next Monday we hit the road for our end of summer camping trip! We took a week off this past May to go home to California – but since then its been nearby sunset hikes and day trips that have filled our summer. All of these have been wonderful, but getting off the grid for a solid chunk of time with my man is going to be just what this summer ordered. Six days and five nights with our beloved tent in a handful of new-to-us adventure destinations. I would divulge all the details to you now, but I’ve never fully planned a camping trip like I have with this one. I usually wing it and see what happens. So in order to avoid jinxing this master plan in any way, I’m going to withhold all the juicy destinations for now. But I will at least say that it begins in Arches National Park, Utah (!!!). HELLO STARS. I cannot wait to stay up on those warm, summer, desert nights and gaze into space. I AM GOING TO POP.
Now – since its just mean to talk about something you can’t really talk about, lets move onto discussing the fact that it is September 2nd. Yes, this is a means for discussion. How has you summer been? How are you going to soak up these last three weeks before the seasons shift? Despite what some clamor around the web might let on to, it isn’t fall just yet. So don’t let the idea of September slow you down from savoring these last few weeks of late summer. It’s (to me) the best time of the season. Fruits and vegetables are ripe for the picking, the warm air is mixing with a cool breeze, and you can still wear shorts while watching a few leaves begin to change a little early. I’ve heard people say they don’t like summer, some say the same about winter, maybe even a few (weirdos) about spring. But I’ve yet to hear anyone say “I don’t like fall”. Most of us are gearing up for the pleasant shift from fresh berries and raw salads to stews and pumpkin baked goods. So now is the time to be happy with where we are, and excited about what’s to come. How great of a spot to be in, right? Excited about now, and later. Let’s live out these last few weeks with that perspective, yeah? Yeah!
A summer veggie I haven’t touched on yet here on the blog is corn. We’ve had a rough patch, corn and I, ever since I was introduced to the canned version as a kid. When it was on the cob (slathered in butter and salt) I use to chow down on it Loony Toon style. But when the overly sweet, watery, canned version was introduced to my palate – I decided I loathed corn. And haven’t touched it since. That was until last week. I’m a firm believer that no one doesn’t like anything (did that make sense?), especially when its comes to fruit and vegetables. You just have to find the right way to prepare it depending on your taste buds! For me, corn has to be grilled with a salty/savory kick. Seeing as I have no access to a grill, I decided to use the closest thing I have – the rack in my oven! And it totally worked. I “buttered up” the corn with a little refined coconut oil, salt, and chili powder. Then oven-grilled (roasted?) it to perfection on the oven rack. I sliced off the kernels and tossed them with some chewy spelt berries, and then plated it over a peppery arugula tossed with a light drizzle of nutty flax oil. Then we get kooky with some quick pickles (or “quickles” as Jodi taught me – I still giggle every time I say it) taking the flavor meter up a notch with coriander seeds and fresh dill. Then oh yes, the spice-rubbed tofu I sear in a skilled to top it all off. Let me tell you, this is one killer late-summer-bowl that will fuel you for the last of summer’s festivities. Just take a bite and see.
CHILI ROASTED CORN W/ SPELT BERRIES + SEARED TOFU + QUICK PICKLES + ARUGULA
Makes two servings.
chili roasted corn
1 corn on the cob
nob of refined coconut oil
1/2 cup spelt berries
1 1/2 cups water
1 7.75 ounce block extra firm tofu
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
nob of coconut oil
quick pickled cucumbers (8 ounce jar)
thinly sliced fresh cucumber
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
cold pressed flax oil
Begin by preheating the oven to 350F. While the oven is preheating, prepare the corn by husking (if un-husked) the cob. Then rub the cob with a small nob of refined coconut oil. Sprinkle all sides of the corn with salt and chili powder. Place directly on the grate in the oven (once preheated) with a baking sheet on a rack below the corn to catch any spices that may fall off (easier to clean that the bottom of the oven). Roast for 30 minutes, rotating the corn every 10 minutes.
Once the corn is in the oven, combine the spelt berries and water in a sauce pan on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Let cook for 30 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed. Drain any excess water at the end if there is any.
After you have the spelt berries cooking on the stove, prepare the quick pickles. Thinly slice your cucumber, overlapping and stacking the slices in an 8 ounce jar until they reach the top (I used about half of a medium sized cucumber, refrigerating the remaining for another recipe – but feel free to use the entire cucumber and double the recipe in a 16 ounce jar too). As you are stacking the cucumber slices, sprinkle a few coriander seeds and sprigs of fresh dill in-between the layers. Mix the vinegar, water, maple, and salt in a small bowl. Pour the liquid over the jar of cucumber slices until it covers them entirely. Seal the jar and set in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the salad. (Leftover pickles are best if eaten within one week.)
Once the corn has finished roasting, remove it from the oven and place on a plate to cool. When the spelt berries are finished cooking, remove them from the stove and leave the lid on the pot to allow them to finish steaming. During this time prepare the tofu. Remove the block of tofu from the water and pat dry. Slice into 8 squares, place them between a few sheets of paper towels, and press to remove the excess water. Heat a nob of refined coconut oil in a skillet on medium-low heat. Mix the spices in a small cup and rub onto one side of the tofu slices. Place the tofu in the skillet, seasoned side down, and rub in the remaining spice mix on the other side of the tofu slices. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side (or until a crispy golden brown). Remove the skillet from the heat when done and set aside.
Place a handful of fresh arugula in two bowls and lightly toss with a small drizzle of cold pressed flax oil. Holding the roasted corn on the cob upright, slice off the kernels with a knife. Add the kernels to the cooked spelt berries and toss. Divide this mixture evenly between the two prepared bowls of arugula. Top each bowl with 4 slices of the seared tofu and a good portion of the quick pickles.
Now grab a fork and dig in!
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