Monday, August 17, 2009

Roasted cherry tomatoes

Here is a delicious snack you can make out of all those many cherry tomatoes coming into season right now. I used the sun golds that we have growing, but any type of cherry tomato will work.


- 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes (enough to cover the pan that goes in your toaster oven, one layer only)
- 3 or more cloves of garlic
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary
- 4-5 fresh basil leaves torn into pieces

Spread the tomatoes out over your toaster oven pan. Peel garlic cloves and distribute among the tomatoes. Sprinkle olive oil, balsamic, rosemary and basil leaves over tomatoes. Mix up a bit with your hand or a spoon to make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Set toaster oven for 400 degrees F and roast for 40 minutes. When finished tomatoes should be bursting out of their skins.

Eat as a snack, or throw into pasta, on toast, in a salad, or on a pizza for an added burst of flavor to your favorite dish!

You can also make a larger version of the recipe in your regular oven by upping the portion size and using a baking pan.

I like them on focaccia bread:

Sunday, August 16, 2009


August is tomato month! They started arriving a few weeks ago, but it really wasn't until this week that we've been getting them in full force. Check out a few of these delicious varieties we've been picking so far:

Roma and Beefsteak

Roma and Beefsteak tomatoes are your classic red variety which are excellent for making into pizza sauce, pasta sauce, ketchup, bbq sauce, and your other favorite tomato products. Additionally, these are excellent for canning! We planted quite a lot of them just for this purpose.

Sun Gold Cherry Tomato

These yellow cherry tomatoes are great for snacking! I've also made a uniquely delicious pasta sauce with this variety. They grow like crazy and were the first to arrive this season. We put two plants in and have gotten probably a hundred from each plant!

Sweet Pea Currant

This is my new favorite variety of tomato. You can't tell from the picture, but these tomatoes are tiny! Their size make them perfect for throwing into many types of dishes such as salads, soups, quiches, etc. They are very sweet, and wonderfully delicious. I highly recommend this variety. I purchased the seeds from seed savers, so look out for them next season! I also planted one of these in a container on the balcony and it's done fairly well. I'm posting a picture below that will give you a better idea of their size; it's of just a few of the goodies we've been harvesting lately (they are a little dirty because this was taken right after they were picked!).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Peppery Potato-Leek Soup

Potatoes are in full season right now with many different varieties available at the Farmer's Market. I love love love potatoes and all the different recipes you can make with them. Potato-Leek soup is one of my favorites and as such, I couldn't resist putting together my own vegan version of the classic, hearty soup. Additionally, I added cayenne pepper to the recipe to give the soup a nice little kick.

Peppery Potato-Leek Soup


2 leeks
4 large yukon gold potatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp olive oil
½ cup vegan margarine (stick form works best)
1 tsp celery salt
2 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup vegan unsweetened cream (alternatively, you can use soy milk, but the soup will be thinner)
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper

Chop off the ends of the leeks and cut into slices. In a colander break apart the leek slices and wash thoroughly. Scrub potatoes and slice into quarters. In a large stockpot over medium, heat olive oil and melt 1/4 cup of butter. Add chopped garlic, leeks, celery salt, and potatoes and saute for 5 minutes. Add 2 cups vegetable broth and let simmer 25-30 minutes until potatoes are soft. When potatoes are ready, pulse mixture with hand blender until a thick, soupy texture develops (a potato masher also works). I suggest leaving a few chunks of potatoes behind for a heartier meal. Add rest of butter, cream, pepper, chives, salt, and cayenne. Set heat to medium-low and let sit 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve deliciously hot and tasty.

I recognize this is summer and it might be a little hot for this meal! Another option is to freeze a large portion and reheat it in a stockpot when it's a little colder outside. Either way it is a delicious and filling dinner for all to enjoy.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Vacations and Puppies

Hi Everyone!

So sorry about the long absence since our last post. Tom and I went on a two week vacation, had visitors for a week after that, and then had an added and welcomed distraction of a new little puppy adopted into the family. Yes that's right, sus.tom.ability now has a new member of our happy little group. Here he is:

Meet Bowie, the beagle mix puppy

We adopted Bowie from the humane society of Champaign County two weeks ago. When Tom and I decided last January that we were ready for the puppy we'd been dreaming of for the past year we sat down and discussed our options for growing the family. There are many options when adopting a new little puppy such as breeders, pet stores, craigslist, rescues, and the humane society. It's important to think about the background of each of these places. For example, you should never ever purchase a puppy or kitten from a pet store. First off, the prices are outrageous, but most importantly, you can bet there is a good chance that cute little puppy came from awful breeding conditions with little healthcare or consideration for their well-being. Pet stores are known as outlets for "puppy mill" fodder. In fact, the humane society and a few other sources have reported that the local puppy store in the mall absolutely participates in the sale of puppy mill bred dogs. So outrageous and absolutely something sus.tom.ability would never support!

Breeders are another option, although also pricey. However, if you do your research you can find a respectable breeder. Avoid backyard breeders and make sure to visit the location where the puppies were born and initially raised. if anything doesn't feel right then get out of there fast. Tom and I briefly considered a breeder since we both wanted a Corgi so badly, but we soon realized that we would be a lot happier adopting a dog from the humane society or an animal rescue. We're not in the market for a "show dog," we don't care about the lineage of our puppy, and purebred is no big thing to us.

There are so many dogs without homes, and unwanted litters of puppies eager for a happy new life. We knew we'd never be entirely comfortable purchasing a puppy from a breeder when there are so many wonderful dogs from the humane society eager to be adopted into a forever home. We are not show dog people, or interested in pedigree, we just wanted a cute little guy to love and lavish attention on.

We started visiting the humane society in January and I was so impressed by their operation. The dogs are very well taken care of with excellent healthcare and a wonderful staff who walk them everyday. The website is updated regularly with new pictures of their animals, and the adoption procedure is a well thought out and reasonable process. For about six months Tom and I visited the shelter almost every week. It's important to understand that you most likely won't find your dog on the first visit to the shelter. It can be a long process through which you'll meet many dogs and lots of cuties. We played with a number of animals before we found Bowie. It's heartbreaking when you can't say yes to all of them, but it's also important to find a dog that will fit with the lifestyle you lead. We needed a dog that would be comfortable in an apartment, happy to go on jogs with Tom, and capable of handling lots of people (we get visitors all the time). We also decided early on that we were committed to the work it takes to raise a puppy. Check out the humane societies website here:

Finally, after months of visits to the humane society, a litter of six little Beagle mixes arrived at the shelter. We knew immediately that one of those little puppies would work out perfectly for us! We met with three of the dogs, and decided that Bowie was the right fit. Right from the start he showed an interest in getting to know us, just the right amount of playfulness, and very little anxiety. Unfortunately, when we put in our application we found out that there was someone else ahead of us in line. We figured that there was no way the application would fall through because who could give up the chance to adopt such a wonderful little guy. However, three weeks later we received a phone call that Bowie's first adoption fell through and he was ours if we wanted him!

Hanging out with Bowie in the "Get Acquainted" room at the shelter

We went back to the humane society, met with Bowie one more time to make sure he still felt right, and sure enough it was love! The next day Bowie was on his way home to our happy little apartment.

Tom and I have completely, and utterly fallen in love with this puppy. My favorite moment was when Tom was watching him sleep and quietly whispered "he's so precious." Well, when Bowie is sleeping, he's nothing but adorable and precious!

Bowie requires A LOT of play time

It's been two weeks now, and yes Bowie is still adorable, but also a ridiculous amount of work! Puppies require SO MUCH ATTENTION. I am constantly on puppy surveillance. Luckily I have a job that allows me to work from home quite a bit. As a result, Bowie has had me around a lot the last two weeks and has gotten to go outside and on walks at least three times a day.

So if you were wondering if we'd totally disappeared, we haven't! We've simply been a bit overwhelmed this last month. Luckily, things are settling down and sus.tom.ability is ready to get up and running again! ESPECIALLY now that it's tomato season! Yes, we have tomatoes coming out of our ears and there will be many more blog posts to come on that subject...