Hodgepodge Gazpacho (Visual Recipe)

Over the weekend, my husband and I were in cleaning mode. For our foster son, that meant a Magic School Bus marathon (it’s a holiday weekend, after all). For me that meant clearing out the fridge.

As the last few weeks of summer are upon us, I am trying to squeeze out every last bit of “summerness” before school starts, the rain starts, and the weather turns colder.  So as I considered what to do with a hodgepodge of vegetables that I had from last week’s and this week’s CSA boxes (which included a plethora of sweet gypsy peppers), I decided to make a quick gazpacho. It turned out great!

Here are the steps. Note that you can make this with your own “hodgepodge.” Some things I was out of, but would make a great addition/substitution, include carrots, celery, spinach, and beets.

Ingredients I Used (because it’s what I had available): tomatoes, sweet gypsy peppers, green onions, and green beans.

tomatoes, sweet gypsy peppers, green onions, and green beans

I also used some sun-dried tomatoes and garlic I had in the fridge. Note that if you don’t have sun-dried tomatoes, you can just add a bit of salt and pepper to season it. You can also add oregano, basil, or other seasonings you like. I would have preferred sun-dried tomatoes that were not in oil and fresh garlic, but this is what I had available, so this is what I used:


For equipment, I used my small (4-cup) Cuisanart Mini-Prep Plus, but any food processor or blender would work.


Prep Time: 15 minutes

Trim, de-seed and roughly chop peppers, green onions, and green beans. (Most of the prep time is spent on getting the veggies ready.)

Chop the peppers in the food processor. Then add onions and beans and blend some more.

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Add tomatoes and chop. (I could not fit all the tomatoes—just add as much as you can.)


If you can get all of your ingredients in at the same time, you can skip this step. But I needed to transfer contents to a bowl.


Chop remaining tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes (to taste—I used about 1/4 cup), and garlic (to taste—I used 1 teaspoon).IMG_1312 IMG_1313

Transfer contents of bowl back into food processor and blend well. The more you blend, air is released and the contents shrink.

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That’s it! You now have about 4 cups of delicious cold soup to enjoy. The flavor is a party in your mouth — and a great way to get plenty of good, fresh veggies into your body.


Carrot Greens Salad (#RecipeFail)

IMG_0261Welcome to a new section of A Fostered Life — the #RecipeFail section! This is a category of posts referring to recipes I tried that totally missed the mark. Today I’ll share about this week’s Adventure in Cooking: my attempt at carrot top salad.

In fact, this is also the launch of a new tag on the blog: the “Cooking the CSA” tag. We are members of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and every Thursday, a box of produce is delivered to our door. I absolutely love being part of a CSA, and I’m actually planning to do a video on my YouTube channel very soon about it. This tag refers to my experiences with utilizing all of the items that come in the CSA box each week.

So this week, we got a gorgeous bunch of purple carrots in our box, complete with fluffy, lush greens. It seemed to me such a shame to waste the greens, so I did a little digging and found a few recipes online for carrot tops. I decided on “Carrot Greens with Sesame Dressing” from food writer Melissa Clark’s blog.

A caveat: I did not have any fresh ginger on hand, so I used powdered ginger instead. But that did not ruin the dressing and is not the reason that I consider this a #recipefail.

The reason it’s a #recipefail is that, despite the fact that I blanched and shocked them as prescribed, the greens were tough and chewy. My husband, who is all in favor of new ways to eat greens, agreed that it was just an unpleasant experience all the way around. (I didn’t even bother serving them to our six-year-old. He’s a great eater, and willing to try new things, but I know when to draw the line, and tough carrot greens is definitely “the line.” That would be asking a lot of a six-year-old!)

I don’t blame Melissa Clark or her recipe. I blame the greens. I think that, while the carrots are fresh and beautiful and will make a wonderful side dish this week, the greens were past their prime. After all, root veggies last a long time. But their greens can’t be expected to have the same long shelf life.

That said, I will not be going out of my way to cook carrot tops again any time soon. Maybe I’ll throw them in a smoothie with LOTS of other greens and fruits—I’m sure their chock full of good vitamins, and I do love the idea of eating everything in the CSA.But I won’t be going to the trouble of trimming, washing, blanching, draining, shocking, and dressing them for a while.