Sunday, July 24, 2016

CSA Week 7

Since I was out of town last week, my CSA sharing partner had the whole box. This week my second box started, so I'm going to have to start getting more creative!!

So in box 1, I got:
2 yellow squash
1 bunch broccoli raab
herb bouquet

box 2:
3 ears corn
1 red onion
2 large and 3 small cucumbers
1 ripe tomato
1 green tomato
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
3 red potatoes

I was really looking forward to the corn! I will soon get sick of it - the last time I had this CSA, we had corn every week for about 6 weeks, I am trying to be better prepared this time around.

My sourdough starter needed some love, so I made a batch of dough with the intent of using it for pizza. I made a pizza with thinly sliced zucchini, corn, tomato jam and a local cheese. So lovely!

I got some fun new containers for meal prep, so I used them this week. I made oven baked chicken - the sauce was a mix of the leftovers of the dressings from my salads a few weeks back, the green tomato (using it kinda like a tomatillo), olive oil and all the sage from the herb bouquet - everything went into the blender and on top of the chicken. This is a really easy way to cook chicken and it was pretty quick to put together.

I made parmesan zucchini and corn saute with the rest of the corn and squash. The recipe called for dried herbs but I used the fresh herbs from my bouquet.

The last thing I made was the grain side - it's a farro, white bean and broccoli raab gratin. The recipe is from America's Test Kitchen and you bake the farro, what an interesting idea. This may not have been the best weekend to keep the oven on for a few hours (it's in the 90s+ here), but you do what you have to do.

I made a cucumber and tomato salad one night. 

I didn't use the potatoes - if I get more next week, then I will have enough for meal prep. I also didn't use the onion, in favor of using other onions in my pantry that were going bad.

Meal prep!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

CSA Week 5

I'm on vacation this coming weekend so I'm trying to cook up the CSA before I go. We are also in the time of year that our new residents start and so we have a lot of welcome parties - some we bring food and some we don't. Also my friend that shares my share with me is out of town this past weekend, so I had the whole share to myself.

What's the the box this week:
snow peas
herb bouquet

The chard was made into a salad with millet, chickpeas and frozen corn. The herbs went into my dressing. This will go to one of the picnics - it's vegetarian and gluten-free, so a crowd pleaser. Some of the salad I kept for me for lunches, but added pulled pork for protein.

I also pickled the chard stems. It's pink due to adding Sriracha.

With the broccoli, I wanted to make a broccoli salad but I'm not a huge fan of raw broccoli, so I roasted it. I added in the snow peas for crunch and used some of the herb dressing mixed with yogurt for a creamy dressing. It's also destined for the picnic, so now I have a few salads to share.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

CSA Week 3/4

Happy Independence Day America! I spent most of this holiday weekend laying low, recharging after a very busy weekend last week.

Here's what's in the box for these weeks:
week 3 -
snow/sugar snap peas
garlic scapes

week 4 -
snow/sugar snap peas
herb bouquet
summer squash

The scapes were turned into butter - I found last year that making a compound butter like this at the beginning of the season was a great way to add some garlic flavor to dishes (and I think it lasted at least until Thanksgiving, individual results may vary). The compound butter had 2 sticks softened butter, garlic scapes, zest and juice of 1 lemon, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese. Put in food processor until smooth. I store mine in the freezer and just chunk off a bit until I get enough for my recipe.

My CSA offers an herb bouquet, which i think is a great idea - you get just enough to add to recipes, not a ton that you don't know what to do with it all. I've been wanting to make my own herb vinegar for a while and made extra white wine vinegar a while back and basically forgot about it. So, I took the chives, thyme and sage from the bouquet and started flavoring the vinegar. From looking around the interwebs it looks like this needs to sit for about a week then strain...will report back on that one.

The herbs also went into a pea salad - parsley, basil, and mint. The peas were mostly snow peas with a few sugar snaps thrown in. I found this great recipe in one of my new cookbooks, where you cut the peas lengthwise. Then you make a lemony dressing and add in the chopped's pretty delicious - nice and fresh with the lemon and crunchy peas.

The kale was turned into caesar kale salad - it's pretty much my favorite way to eat kale. And you can make a big batch, dressed, and it keeps - does not wilt like a lettuce salad. I've made the slaw exactly as the recipe suggests in the past, but this week I knew I needed the salad to last, so the egg was out.

The cucumbers were pickled in an Asian-style pickle with rice wine vinegar, ponzu soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, chile-garlic sauce...they will keep for a while.

I'm planning on just sauteing the squash, just simple.

I think I'm finally getting the hang of this CSA thing - I think the key is highlight the veggie in a way that's not too complicated. But also choose something fun to do with your share when you have a little extra to play with!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

CSA 2016 Week 2/3

I was out of town last week, so I ordered all greens that I could cook down so they would last to this week.

What's in the box this week:
week 2 -

week 3 -
head lettuce
mixed baby lettuce
1/2 crusty bread loaf
asparagus (bought at work as part of a green market for $1.50)

What also went into the cooked greens were some spinach and arugula that were going to go bad while I was out of town (why I thought I would eat 2 giant extra containers of greens, I will never know). So when I got back from my conference, I made green rice to use some of the greens and scallions.

To continue using the greens, I made 2 crustless veggie quiche. One went to a BBQ on Saturday and the other will go with the salad greens for lunches this week. It's a neat idea - you use onions as the "crust" then add in any veggies you have - so this one had the cooked greens and asparagus. Only one had the pretty top on it, so that one went to the BBQ.

The escarole went into a sausage-bean soup. I neglected to read the weather report and it's to be in the high 80s/low 90s this week...oops. Well it's pretty delicious, so it will be worth it, sweat and all.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

CSA 2016 Week 1

It's so wonderful to have such a wide variety of places to choose from when it comes to CSAs in my area. In the end, I have decided to go back to my original CSA through Covered Wagon Produce. Last year, one of my co-workers went with Covered Wagon, so this year we are splitting a whole share among 3 families and they live up by that farmers market, so I don't have to drive 30+ minutes in afternoon traffic once a week to pick up the box - what a blessing. My biggest complaint with Covered Wagon was that they had limited greens in their offerings. I think this is mainly due to when they start offering the share - which is July and by that time, it's too warm to have dainty lettuces and spinach.

So to offset this, I joined a second CSA through Old Tioga Farms - and will be splitting this as well. I heard about them when I lived in Central PA and their farm-to-table dinners in their own farm house. Since then, I have had 2 lovely Italian dinners over the past few years and now can utilize their CSA (they didn't deliver up toward me for the first bit and it would have been about an hour drive down to the farm). There's a few benefits to this CSA - they have my greens and it starts earlier in the season - June! They also have cooking classes occasionally and go to Italy to cook in the late winter/early spring - anyone interested??

Another fun thing with this CSA is the pick up location - which could end up being deadly. It's a local dairy with a farm store and some crazy-delicious ice cream. I've heard a lot about it and driven by but have not stopped in - boy, was I missing out! I'm looking forward to the milk I bought this week - it comes in glass, I didn't know that was a thing anymore! I think my future yogurt will also be extra delicious...

For the initial week we got:
mixed greens
beets and greens
radish and greens
rainbow chard
focaccia bread - did I forget to mention we opted for the bread share as well??

The mixed greens and spinach went to my co-sharer, as well as half the bread. The greens all went into a pot to braise. I added in my homemade pancetta, some reserved cooking liquid from a pot of beans and that's it. I just couldn't wait and made my inaugural CSA dish a plate of avocado toast on focaccia bread with braised greens. This dish made me so happy, I just couldn't help but show it off via text to all my fellow CSA sharers to make them jealous!!!

The rest of the greens were mixed with some white beans and will make a lovely addition to lunches.

I got really fancy with the beets and made a Beet, Cheddar and Apple Tart based on this recipe from Martha Stewart. I made bread dough with my sourdough starter rather than use puff pastry, so it's not quite as buttery as I imagine the original recipe is...but you have to feed the starter and it was rainy today! (somehow that seems to make sense in my head...)

Rather than go raw with the radishes (particularly since I have been enjoying many salads lately with radish), I found a recipe for Braised Radishes with Bacon and Shallot from the Kitchn. My grocery store didn't have shallots so I used regular onions instead. I also use the last of the beets as well - the share this week was 1 very large beet and few smaller ones. It's a very nice flavor, and once again, will go nicely with lunches alongside my tarts.


Back in the saddle again...

Well, it's been quite a while since I last posted. There are many reasons for this - mainly my computer started being funky and it made the whole blogging and writing process such a pain it just wasn't worth it to me any longer. I was in denial about how much I did or didn't need a new laptop - why do I need a laptop at home when I spend my entire work day in front of a computer and possess a tablet and smart phone? Apparently the answer is yes, I still do need a separate laptop for home I finally broke down and got one. Sometimes I wonder why I do this to myself....

In my blogging hiatus I have started to dabble in meat curing and have made my own duck prosciutto and pancetta. I also continue to ferment and took the plunge into wine making, starting with a box kit of Italian Pinot Grigio - this is currently in process and I am waiting to get to the right specific gravity for degassing and clarifying.

I bought half a pig last fall and had the enjoyable experience of choosing which cuts I wanted, how to cure specific parts and how much sausage I could get. There were a few things that surprised me about the process - as much as half a pig sounds in my head, it's actually not that much meat. Also I wanted to do way more than there was available meat, so I am looking forward to my next half this coming fall.

The duck and pig came from the same local farmer. The pancetta was a happy accident - I asked the farmer to set aside a 1lb piece of pork belly for braising. Apparently the local butcher didn't quite get what I was asking because when I defrosted the package, there was belly but no fat. In an attempt to turn lemons into lemonade, I tried my hand at pancetta. It wasn't entirely successful, as most recipes I looked at were for 5lb cut of pork belly. I tried to adjust the cure appropriately and not let it cure for as long, but in the end, after the drying time, I found the meat to be too salty. Oh well, live and learn. I put the lot in my food processor and I'm adding a little, bit by bit to various things - so no waste here!

This spring I had the good fortune to have a friend with a friend that knows how to forage for ramps on her property. I say "good fortune" as I was the happy recipient of some of these beauties for the first time and made ramp butter - it was such a lovely shade of green! I'm keeping it in my freezer and it is making appearances in eggs with the pancetta.

Another fun thing I found this spring were fiddle head ferns. I was in Boston visiting a friend in mid-April and found them. What an experience! I have been reading about fiddle heads for years in my cooking blogs but have yet to be blessed with finding them myself. I made pasta - it's my go-to when I come across a veggie that I have yet to dabble in. They were so bright and green tasting - a lovely way to bring in spring. (Also don't mind the "flat Stanley" in my picture - she belongs to one of my PAs from work and it was my assignment to bring her with me to Boston)

I'm not only about food - I have also been doing some crafting. I made a pottery garden gnome - which is funny, as it seems that I can cook most things but I have trouble growing them. After glazing, I realized he's naked! Guess that's why he has such a shocked expression...

I also found a fun "drinking while crafting" experience in making silk scarves - the company is called Sip-n-Silk. We made a zentangle pattern. Next will be sarongs! I also enjoy the painting while drinking experience as well - we have a local place called Art-n-Vino and have made some fun paintings in my off time as well.

So that's pretty much my year in review. I have also gotten a promotion at work and am now responsible for educating and molding minds - somewhat of a frightening thought, but I'm up to the challenge!!

I joined a CSA again, so keep an eye out for upcoming posts. I joined 2 separate ones and am sharing them with different work people, so I'm hoping that I didn't over commit!! Only time will tell...

My feeble attempt at gardening - at least they are growing and healthy!!!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Vacation Cooking, Canada Style

Getting back from vacation is tough, particulary when we ate so well when were were gone! I usually try to cook farm to table - this week we cooked ocean to table! We had such a great time with family in British Colombia, Canada. The weather was wonderful - sunny, not too hot and not too much wind - perfect weather for fishing! We really packed it in and were busy all week. Here are some of the dishes we made...

We dug up some clams in no time! We went to a place that is usually under water other than specific low tides. My aunt says that with the tides changing so much that they only are able to dig clams a few times per year, so I have to say I feel pretty lucky we were there during this time.

The clams needed to spit out their grit, so they hung out in the water for 24 hours. Next they need to be cleaned. My step dad doesn't really seem too enthused for this job.

That's a whole mess of clams!! In the massive pan went granulated garlic, butter, parsley and wine (no need for salt).

What you can't see is the lovely liquid and the bread for dipping! What was left (which surprisingly there wasn't much) was cooked down for a pot of chowder later.

Next, on to oysters. We went out to the oyster lease for ours. Up in this area, people can purchase a lease that lasts for 100 years or so and they can seed the oyster beds and live off the profits. This lease is a friend of a friend's so we just pay for what we harvest.

The hunter and his catch.

Getting them open can be a bit tricky, but we have a master over here!

These are some massive oysters. We decided to get the large ones because they had to be cooked. Due to the warm water, there is risk for salmonella and so no raw seafood for us. Guess we will just have to settle for BBQ'd oysters, oh darn...

We went for a simple, creamy dressing of mayo, parmesan cheese and lemon.

When you have oysters this fresh, you don't need much! (BTW, the other sauce was barbeque sauce, cheese, lime, bacon and mojito seasoning for my uncle, who hates mayo - I didn't get a chance to taste it, but it sure smelled good!)

We not only had gifts from the ocean, we also were fortunate enough to forage for some apples (after the bear and crows that is - seriously there are loads of animals around the property and the caretaker said they watched the bear up on his hind legs eat the apples from the tree the day before), blackberries and rhubarb from my aunt's garden. The drought has also hit this part of the country and it was pretty slim pickings for the berries - it started raining as we were leaving so I'm hoping the berries that were left will plump up.

The rhubarb and some berries were turned into a sauce for the salmon.

The apples and the rest of the berries were made into this giant apple berry crisp. We served it with whipped cream and it was gone!

Last order of cooking buisness is a Coho salmon my step dad caught while we were out trolling. 

The BBQ came in handy again with this beautiful fish. My uncle has a special rub he uses - it's a mix of things so I'm not all together sure what he put on there...he has it down to a science and it was super tasty.

My uncle expertly delivering the fish to the grill.

Cooked to perfection! It was delicious with the rhubarb berry sauce.

Everyone enjoying our lunch al fresco - my aunt, mom and step dad.