04 April


Earth Day Cookies

April 22: Earth Day

Long before Hawaii was the first to ban plastic bags in America, Islander had won a design contest for a non-profit organization in her home state that wanted to give away free reusable grocery store bags. We have collected other freebie bags at festivals and events and bought some fancy ones at other stores (Islander admires fellow designer’s artwork on those bags). We always use them when we go shopping as we feel it is just one little but significant way to protect the environment. The few plastic bags that we do get from the stores are returned to their designated recycling bins.  [Learn more about the effects of plastic bags on the environment from the Health Guidance website.]

If the kanaka (Hawaiian people) revere the ‘aina (land) and it is just a small island chain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, imagine if everyone could have the same love towards the whole world. We know we could do more than just reuse our grocery bags and recycle items. But if everyone could start becoming more aware of protecting our environment then we are taking important steps to save our planet. With this premise, the movement for Earth Day was created.

Earth Day is celebrating its 50thyear as an international “holiday” in 2020 and we made cute cookies for the milestone occasion. They are easy to make but we added the tiny fondant heart to make a bold statement on this global goodie.

Enjoy these cookies on April 22 but celebrate everyday Earth Day!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup sugar, granulated white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • blue and green food coloring
  • red fondant

Directions

In a covered measuring cup, melt the butter in the microwave. Cool slightly. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, vanilla and egg yolks.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix the dry ingredient with the wet ingredients until a dough comes together. Divide the dough in 1/3 and 2/3 portions.

Color the larger dough portion with blue food coloring. Color the smaller dough portion with green food coloring. Pinch out a 1-inch ball from the blue dough. Pinch out little pieces from the green dough and randomly stick to the blue dough. Roll gently into a ball.

Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes, being careful not to overbrown the cookies. Remove from the oven, cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, roll a small piece of red fondant on a clean, lightly floured surface to 1/16-inch thickness. Use a heart cutter/plunger to cut shapes. Brush the back of the mini fondant hearts with a dab of water. Position the hearts on the cookies. Serve on a tray. Store leftover cookies in a covered container.

Notes

  • We halved the recipe above just for the two of us.
  • Refrigerate the dough balls for 15 minutes before baking (optional).
  • If possible, wash the reusable grocery bags often to keep them clean and the food items safe from bacteria.
  • Learn more about the history of Earth Day from the History website. 

Garlic Garbanzo Soup

April 19: National Garlic Day

At the time of this post, the world is still battling the COVID19 pandemic. During self-isolation at home, even though we still had work projects to do, we had a little extra time to cook more and catch up on our blogging. With limited ingredients at the stores (sometimes we could not find chicken or bananas!), we had to make do with what we had in our pantry. We came across a simple soup recipe that was healthy—garlic garbanzo soup. Especially during the coronavirus crisis and flu and allergy season, this soup features immune-boosting properties from the garlic and garbanzo. Garlic also is the main flavoring in this soup; it may be strong but it softens and becomes less bitter when cooked longer. Make this tasty garlic garbanzo soup while the world tries to overcome the coronavirus. It is especially appropriate to eat it, too, during National Garlic Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Houston Chronicle)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup garbanzo beans (chick peas), dry
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (we reduced it to 2 ½ tablespoons)
  • 20 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt (we reduced it to ¾ teaspoon)

Directions

In a bowl, place the garbanzo and cover with water. Soak for 3-4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator (they should double in size). Remove from the refrigerator, drain and rinse.

In a large pot, bring 4 cups of new water to a boil and add the garbanzo. Cover the pot and simmer until soft (anywhere from an hour to 2 hours). Add more water, a cup at a time, if the liquid has lessened. In a frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the garlic cloves until golden brown. Lower the heat and add the cumin seeds and chili.

Add the celery and cook for about a minute before putting into the soup pot. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and fenugreek and bring to a boil. Season with salt. Check the water levels and add more if necessary. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes until the garlic is softened. Turn off the heat and let the soup rest for another 20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Ladle into soup bowls and serve hot.

Notes

  • Learn more about the health benefits of garlic from Healthline.

No Knead Bread

April 27: Feast Day of St. Zita

Today’s blog post is dedicated to Islander’s baptismal godmother whose name is Zita. Apparently she was named after her patron saint, Zita of Lucca, Italy (1218-1272), whose feast day is on April 27.

The patroness of domestic servants, poor Zita worked for the Fatinelli family who owned a prosperous wool and silk weaving business in Tuscany. She was sometimes beaten or insulted by them and her jealous co-workers because of her faith. But with patience as a virtue, everyone realized just how valuable she was to the household and eventually her employers changed their attitude and converted to Christianity.

Legend has it that she was late to work on baking day because she stayed a little longer at daily mass or was donating bread to the poor. But there were angels in the kitchen preparing the loaves for Zita to help her catch up with her chores. Today people bake bread in her honor as they celebrate her feast day.

We have done the same by making a no-knead bread. With only four ingredients—and also virtuous patience to let the dough rise—this bread is delicious when dipped in flavored olive oil, toasted and buttered or eaten plain when it is still warm.

Follow the tradition of the Tuscans and bake no-knead bread for the feast day of St. Zita.

Recipe

Adapted from Sol S.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups bread flour (plus extra)
  • ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups water (plus 1-2 tablespoons if needed)

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the bread flour, yeast and salt. Stir in the water until a sticky dough forms.

Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature or in a dark oven overnight. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface (we use parchment paper for easy cleanup). Use a bench scraper to fold over the dough about 4-5 times.

Pick up the parchment paper and place it all in a large bowl. Cover with a cotton (not terry cloth) towel and let rise at room temperature for two more hours. At least 30 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place a Dutch oven, covered with lid, into the oven to heat it up. Use gloves to remove the Dutch oven and carefully open the lid. Pick up the whole parchment paper with the dough and dump it in the Dutch oven. Cover and return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove the lid and bake uncovered for another 5-10 minutes to let the top brown. Take the Dutch oven out. Carefully dump the bread onto a wire rack to cool for another 20-30 minutes, discarding the parchment paper. Cool the bread. Slice and serve with butter, jam/jelly or flavored olive oil dipping sauce.

Notes

  • Zita passed away at age 60 at the Fatinelli house where she worked since she was 12 years old (48 years!). Her body lies incorrupt encased in glass where she is venerated at the Basilica of San Frediano in Lucca, Tuscany, Italy.
  • Search our blog for other bread or Italian-inspired recipes.

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