bookmark it

Busy bees over here.  Would you believe we are about knee-deep in Christmas inventory and decor for the shop?  True story.  But I’m not ready to jump the gun and share photos of Christmas just yet.  We are, however, stocking more books this time of year as they make the perfect gift.  I am very excited about the selection of garden to table books we have at The West End Garage in Cape May.

garden to table book inventory at West End Garage-4717

The newest release is the The Kitchn Cookbook from Apartment Therapy’s sister website, The Kitchn.  I’ve been paging through it the last couple of days.  This isn’t just a cookbook but more of a textbook with some really practical lessons like knife skills and kitchen layout.  The Kitchn Cookbook

I truly enjoy all of these gardening, cooking and cocktail books and reference them in my own home.  They live right in the kitchen.  We recently picked up a potting bench that we’re using as a microwave cart.  It is a fantastic addition to our kitchen.  Check out that zinc top!  The drawer holds linens and the shelf neatly organizes those books.  In addition, the pegs on the side allow tea towels to hang.

zinc top potting bench as microwave cart

We also started stocking Philadelphia-made diagram tea towels from Girls Can Tell.  I love their quirky designs and am especially drawn to the garden themes.  The evergreens are new in store.

Girls Can Tell for sale at West End Garage-4719

And while we’re making the rounds of new inventory, I must tell you about my latest obsession.  P.F. Candle Co. has the most delightful scents.  We’ve got some seasonal scents such as apple picking and pumpkin spice.  I can’t decide which is my favorite.  The simple packaging and branding make me very happy.  Check out the cute little amber jars.

autumn soy candle at West End Garage

We pulled the trigger and got these adorable ceramic egg crates in as well.  I’ve been using mine for years and am glad to share this novelty in the shop.  The egg crate makes a perfect gift paired with The Fresh Egg Cookbook for under $25!  Just sayin.

egg crate

So that about covers the “new” inventory we are stocking.  We are rolling out more and more vintage pieces every week.  In fact, we are running a sale on select furniture currently at The West End Garage.  Come in and check it out!

Fall Furniture Sale

I’ll leave you with this image.  Our popular autumn wreath on my favorite old chippy door.  Love the contrast in colors!  How about you?

autumn wreath at West End Garage-4747

all of that kale

The garden is off to a great start this spring. We’ve had warm, sunny days and cool, misty nights. As a result, we’re harvesting bunches and bunches of lettuce plus a bunch of leafy kale every other day.

leafy kale

The more frequently it is harvested, the higher the yield.  I hate to let any of it go to waste because I know once the temperatures soar these greens will bolt leaving me wishing for just one more kale infused smoothie.  And I’ve tried but I’m just not into kale chips.

maximizing the harvest- kale-3701
In order to maximize the kale harvest and make it last well into summer I’ve come up with a plan.  After washing the bunch of kale and trimming the stems, I toss it into a pan and blanch it.  This only takes a few minutes.  I usually do it while making dinner.

maximizing the harvest- kale-3694

Then, with tongs, I place the wilted greens into an ice-cube tray and cover with water.

making kale cubes

Pop the tray in the freezer and we’ve got kale cubes.  The cubes are ready to chill any smoothie or to toss into any soup, stir fry or side dish.  I put the excess cubes in a freezer bag to make room for more.  There’s another harvest right behind this one!

Maximizing the Harvest - kale cubes

I recently read an interesting article about the benefits of using cooked kale vs. raw kale in smoothies.  What do you think?  What is your preference?

on stocking books

After only sourcing vintage for years, it has been very exciting to choose a selection of new products to bring into the shop at The West End Garage.  Similar to my approach when buying vintage, I simply buy my favorite new items to stock.  I ask… Is this something I would want in my house?  Is this something I truly love?  Is this something I will be sad to see go?  The answer should be yes!  (Hello, turn of the century oak harvest table pictured below.  I really, really love you!  I will be sad to see you go but you deserve a good home.)

West End Garage April

This approach to buying inventory is something that I have been reminded of lately and have found myself telling others who are just starting out.  I think it is really important to love what you are selling.  Don’t choose it or make it just because you “think” someone else will love it.  Now granted, not everyone will have the same taste as you.  For example, I have a growing collection of old ship captains, ahem.  However, I believe the authenticity of your merchandise will show through when you are passionate about what you are selling.  It’s hard to honestly sell something you don’t believe in.

West End Garage April

With that said we’ve stocked a few choice cookbooks and gardening books to keep in line with the garden to table collection we have at The West End Garage.  I am really excited about the line up. We have Deep-Rooted Wisdom, a new release authored by blogger Augustus Jenkins Farmer.  I am about half way through this book and I’m loving the gardening tips, stories & characters.

Deep Rooted Wisdom

People have asked me how I chose which books to carry.  Well, I initially took the lead from a few tried and true favorites in my own kitchen stack of cookbooks and cocktail books.

Kitchen

The Kinfolk Table has since been added to that stack.  It has quickly become a favorite for two reasons.  One, the photography and stories are beautiful.  Of course I love a good aesthetic!  Two, the recipes are really approachable made with pantry staples that we pretty much always have on hand.  Essentially the book lends new ideas with classic ingredients.

Kinfolk Table in my kitchen

I have been inspired to make many of the soups and stews outlined in The Kinfolk Table.  A few weeks ago I made the Wilted Greens & Potato Soup on page 287.  I hadn’t thought to put kale in soup until this recipe.

Wilted Greens & Potato Soup

  Great idea.  We loved it!

Wilted Greens & Potato Soup Kinfolk Table cookbook

What is your favorite gardening or cookbook?

the quesadilla i can’t quit

Winter.  Blah.  Let’s not even talk about it.

Let’s talk about beautiful, tropical colors instead.  How about some superfoods?

mangos

Yes, I went there.  Superfoods.  Such a trendy term applied to foods that have health benefits and in some cases may even help medical conditions as well.  Avocado, mango, beans to name a few of my current faves.

Superfood Quesadilla Recipe - avocado mango black beans

They’re so tasty when pressed together between a tortilla with shredded cheese, a dash of onion and spinach.  I simply can’t quit this tropical combination.

To make a quick quesadilla for one, I fold a round tortilla in half on a Foreman grill, line it with ingredients, pull the other half of the tortilla over and close the lid.  I don’t like greasy, soggy quesadillas.  The Foreman method has worked for me for ages vs. pressing it in a pan.

Superfood Quesadilla Recipe

Don’t forget a dollop of Greek yogurt.  Possibly my favorite part…  Trick yourself into thinking you’re eating sour cream.  Go ahead.  Try it!

Superfood Quesadilla Recipe - avocado mango black beans

What are you snacking on this winter?

frigid weather soup

On a frigid cold day, like today ’round here, there’s nothing like hot spicy soup.

Tortilla soup, that is!

Spicy Tortilla Soup

I adapted part of this recipe from Happy Herbivore (which I am a big fan of) but gave it my own spin.

It all started with a jar of salsa and a 15 oz can of pinto beans.  Not the most glamorous ingredients in the world of eating fresh plant-based foods but the pantry choices were slim and we were in the midst of a snowstorm.  So my friends, the two main ingredients came from a can and a jar.  And I think it’s quite genius in a pinch.

Puree 1 cup of salsa, 1 cup of the beans with 1 cup of broth.  Fortunately I made my favorite French Onion Soup the night before so I simply drained a cup of the flavorful broth from there.

Spicy Tortilla Soup

Once blended into a creamy broth (you know how I love creamy soups, right?) I transferred into a stock pot.  Adding a fresh diced mango, another half cup of salsa and a teaspoon of cumin.

mangoes

I let the soup simmer on low while juicing mangoes.

sliced mangoes

The perfect drink companion to spicy tortilla soup.

freshly squeezed mango juice

The soup was served with feta cheese and Late July brand tortilla chips, which I also love.  Yep, I go heavy on the feta.

Spicy Tortilla Soup

There you have it, spicy tortilla soup in a bind.  Super tasty and ready in under 30 minutes!

Let me add that in the future I am going to make this as a follow-up to Taco Tuesday.  Usually there are diced tomatoes, peppers and more left over that I am going to try as a fresh substitute for the jarred salsa.

Spicy Tortilla Soup

baked potato soup

Hello!  Hello!  How was your Thanksgiving weekend?  We were on the move for 4 days straight.  I managed to steer clear from all of the mall madness and put in some serious time antiquing.  More about that later this week…

Now that your Thanksgiving leftovers have ran out, I’ve got another tasty soup recipe for you.  One of my favorite things about creating new recipes is naming them.  Actually I feel this way about most creative projects.  Once something new is produced, I love to step back, evaluate and then brand the package.  With that said, I introduce you to my newest comfort food…Baked Potato Soup.

Baked Potato Soup

Can I let you in on a little secret though?  It is not really baked at all.  More like boiled and mashed.  But Baked Potato Soup sounds better.

Start by peeling and washing a couple of pounds of potatoes.  Place them in a large pot of boiling water.

While the potatoes are cooking, caramelize a large chopped onion in a separate pan.

Once the potatoes are soft, drain most of the water and combine with the onions.  Blend with an immersion blend.  Season with salt & pepper.  Garlic is good too if you’d like.  Basically season as you would mashed potatoes.  Don’t stop there though!  We’re making soup, remember?  Now add a cup of stock for each pound of potato.  This will thin it into a nice creamy potato soup base sans any heavy cream or dairy.  Allow it to simmer on low-medium in the stock pot with the lid on.

At this point, you can add in vegetables of your choice like broccoli or asparagus to create a dairy free ‘cream of (fill in the blank) soup’.  I took another approach in order to make this soup more personal and interactive.

Think Baked Potato Soup Bar. 

Baked Potato Soup

I chopped and steamed fresh vegetables separately along with shredded cheese.  The options are pretty much endless – carrots, avocado, broccoli, peas, mushrooms and even bacon if you want.  Just don’t forget the cheese!  It will melt right into the base of this dish – the warm baked potato soup.

I served my hearty Baked Potato Soup along with a berry smoothie filled with antioxidants.  Yum!

Baked Potato Soup

french onion soup in 30 minutes

You guys, SOUP!  I seriously can’t get enough of homemade soup on these chilly late fall days.  I have been making all kinds over here.  But my all time favorite has always been French Onion Soup.  Sometimes I just crave that salty tavern staple but don’t want to head to order it.  Surprisingly I usually have enough ingredients in the house to throw it together.  I have made it a few times now this month and we’re not sick of it yet!  I have got it down to 30 minutes because when you crave French Onion Soup, you crave it now.

French Onion Soup in 30 minutes

There are a lot of recipes out there calling for all sorts of seasonings like bay leaves, garlic, thyme, etc.  While these are all great, I skip them completely and use one simple ingredient.  Wait for it…

To make 4 servings, I simply chop a vidalia onion into about 1 inch slices.  I place them all into a frying pan with a dash of olive oil and the secret sweetener that my friend clued me into… brown sugar!  Approximately 2 tablespoons should do the trick.  This will help caramelize your onions in no time on medium-high heat.

French Onion Soup recipe

While the onions are sweetening, I put the broth on high.  I use about 4 cups to one large onion in a stock pot.  When the water boils, the onions are ready to be transferred into the pot.  Reduce the heat to medium and all the onions and broth to tango.

In the meantime, prepare your Gruyère cheese.  I prefer to cut them in long, thin slices.

For the bread in your soup, you can go in a few directions…

  1. You can simply use croutons.
  2. You can slice up French bread and pop it in the broiler for a minute or 2 to brown it.
  3. My favorite thing to do is use bread I already have – usually a whole grain of sorts.  If I plan to make onion soup that day, I leave a few slices out to basically dry out.  So glamorous letting your bread go stale, I know.

French Onion Soup recipe

Now it’s time to put it all together.  Place the bread in your crock.  Ladle the soup in it.  Drape the Gruyère cheese across the crock in sort of a Z.  I find this gives the best cheese coverage.  Pop it into the broiler for a couple of minutes until the cheese melts and lightly browns.

Enjoy!

French Onion Soup in 30 minutes

it’s soup weather

I finally did it.

Yep, I finally made my own healthy and light butternut squash soup.  After hearing about my mom’s and mother-in-law’s versions.  I decided to try my own spin and so Apple Butternut Squash Soup was born over here on a chilly October day.

apple butternut squash soup recipe

It was simple, friends.  There was barely anything left in the refrigerator except for a large butternut squash taunting me.  Plus 3 golden apples – I can’t remember the variety.  And 3 lonely, nearly forgotten about radishes.  I know.  Radishes.  What do you do with these other than throw them in a salad?  I found out that they taste pretty darn good in a warm creamy soup.  Radishes seemed to give a little bit of bite where you might otherwise use an onion.  An onion we didn’t have.

apple butternut squash soup

So that’s where I started.  I chopped and peeled the squash, apples and radishes.  Then boiled the chunks in a large sauce pan.  Once soft I pureed them all in a blender.

Once the fruit and vegetables were a nice creamy consistency, I tossed them back in the empty sauce pan along with 16 ounces of vegetable stock and let simmer.

I seasoned with salt and pepper.  A teaspoon of cinnamon, half teaspoon of ginger, quarter teaspoon of cloves and quarter teaspoon of thyme.

About 20 minutes later, we had this healthy soup for lunch!

apple butternut squash soup recipe

Alongside the soup, I came up with a fantastic new smoothie that was a little bit more like dessert!  It consisted of a banana, spoonful of peanut butter, spoonful of raw honey, 2 spoonfuls of vanilla Greek yogurt, kale and about half a cup of coffee.

java green smoothie and apple butternut squash soup

Yum!  It was a mid-day energy boost.  And surprisingly, the flavor complemented the Apple Butternut Squash Soup so well.  We’ll call this one the Java Green Smoothie.

mediterranean veggie burgers

Guys, I’m always on a quest for interesting veggie and bean burgers.  I came up with a little combination for a Mediterranean inspired burger last week.

Mediterranean Veggie Burger

Making any veggie burger can be a bit time-consuming with all of the chopping and food processing so I finally got smart a doubled up my recipe this time so we’d get twice as many.  For us, that means 2 dinners and 2 lunches instead of just one of each.  Or 8 burgers.

And since I am in post-Clover Market hangover mode today, that means I can just pull out the 2nd half of these burgers and fire them up tonight with minimal prep.  Amen to that.

Mediterranean Bean Burger

So here’s what’s in my (double) Mediterranean veggie burger.  I chopped, ground and combined the following ingredients:

  • 2 cans of kidney beans
  • 1 can of olives
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 large tomato (draining the juice)
  • 1-2 stalks of scallions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt, pepper, oregano

*We were out of fresh peppers or I definitely would have added one however olives are definitely the key to making this veggie burger full of Mediterranean inspired flavor.  I may just add more next time!

For a binder, I used one slice of bread plus a handful of oats and 1 egg.  I usually use 2 of the 3 mentioned binding agents but I felt wild so I threw all 3 into the mix this time.  It is just preference.

Mediterranean Veggie Burger

I pan cooked these for about 8-10 minutes on each side and then served them up on ciabbatta rolls with avocado & lettuce.  Yum!

What is your favorite veggie burger combo?  What should I try next?