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. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

CSA Week 10

Here's what came in the box this week:
summer squash

This week I feel somewhat put together...somewhat. I made a one-pot Spanish style chicken and potatoes. You first cook down the eggplant, tomatoes, onion and garlic (I also added in peppers that were left over from last week). Then you put everything in the blender. I originally thought that you put in cooked chicken, so I poached chicken in some homemade veggie broth (I needed the broth for another recipe). After reading the recipe again, it turns out you cook the chicken and potatoes in the sauce you just made (guess this shows you that you need to really read those recipes before you start cooking...oops). So I browned the cut up potatoes then added in the chicken and sauce and simmer until everything gets all bubbly. I couldn't quite get what was "spanish" about the dish, so I added in some smoked paprika and herbs with the potatoes. After simmering for 10 min or so, I added in fresh chopped parsley and left over chard from last week. Served over rice, this will be my lunch for the week.

I also made a gnocchi skillet with summer squash and kale. This recipe was orginally a fall type dish, using butternut squash and sage - I made it into a summer dish by using summer squash and dried thyme. The dish was to be put under the broiler but it was too hot to turn on the oven - lots of parmesan cheese later, and it was sooo delicious. You use packaged gnocchi, I found a whole wheat version and have been keeping it around for this type of dish. This seems like a very fancy dish and it didn't really take too long to make - would be good for a company first course or dinner for 2.

I got a massive bunch of scallions - the biggest bunch ever, really, so I was really trying to find a dish that would highlight the scallions. I found a recipe that made the scallions into a pesto. To take the edge off, you saute the onions in oil with garlic while the pasta is cooking. I added in the last of my peppers from last week and everything went into the blender with lemon zest, lemon juice, more olive oil and pasta water (I also added in parsley since I had to buy the bunch for the spanish chicken). I put the sauce into the bottom of a big bowl and added parmesan cheese and the hot pasta and stired it all up. It was nicely balanced and a lovely green color - and it didn't get dark like basil pesto can (due to oxidation). For a second meal, I added some cooked chicken sausage and it was much heartier. 

I also made a crustless zucchini pie. Yes, I did end up turning on the oven - it was more of a last minute decision as I had to make a dish for a work picnic. I was looking for something that wouldn't need to be heated and would be ok at room temperature. This dish seemed to be the perfect for this situation. I still had some zucchini that I shredded from last week - I was planning on making fritters during the week but it didn't happen, so I made this instead. I was surprised the shredded zucchini lasted like that in the fridge (and tip - it seemed to actually dry it out). The recipe called for shallot and chives, but I used the scallions instead. I also added in parsley, since I had it. It turned out really good and I would make it again - very nice for a light lunch or brunch. 

The last thing I made was a quick salad with cucumber, tomato, feta, parsley and red wine vinegar. I had the feta left over from a few weeks ago, so I was glad to use it up. The vinegar is one that I made and it tends to be a bit overly acidic, so I added some honey and it was nice, bright and fresh. 

For some reason, this week seemed to be much more managable...maybe I'm getting used to it??

Sunday, August 2, 2015

CSA Week 8/9

Things got away from me last week and I only got around to making 1 dish. I also think it is directly related to how hot it has been, not really an excuse, but maybe a reason. So this week I had to make up for slacking off...

What I had to deal with:
green onion
italian sweet peppers
zucchini (TONs from various sources)

The one dish I was able to make last week was a Greek-style veggie casserole. It used potatoes, oregano and zucchini. It also called for green beans and feta. Very tasty but I thought olives would have been a nice addition. I started using it like a hash for breakfast...really good with a runny yoke fried egg on top. 

My box sharing friend had her baby, so my gift to her was to use her share of the box and cook it up for the new parents. So I made a chicken, quinoa and summer veggie skillet. The recipe called for chunks of zucchini but most of the zucchinis I had were larger so I decided to shred them up and add them to everything. In this dish, they basically just melt into the dish.

What smaller zucchini I had, I made into garlic marinated zucchini. You fry up the sliced and salted zucchini then marinate in red wine vinegar, herbs and garlic. It sits at room temp for about an hour and you have a herby-sour side. 

In addition to the overwhelming amount zucchini, I also got a ton of green onions. I found a recipe called green rice, which uses up various greens and cooked rice. Mine had the green onions, broccoli tops, zucchini, and chard. The recipe used white rice, but I have loads of rice blends so I used a red, brown and black rice mix. You add in some egg, milk and cheese then bake. It comes out as a sliceable dish...loads of veggies and nuttiness from the rice. Yum!

Since the oven was on (and I had loads of zuccini), zucchini bread it is. This time a double chocolate muffin. I made 2 batches - one batch of muffins and a loaf. Can you guess the baby's gender? ;)

Jalapeno mac and cheese made an appearance again to deal with the first batch of jalapenos for the year. I added in the shredded zucchini so I didn't use as much pasta. I also used quinoa macaroni this time over the orzo. I also added in the last of my bacon jam...match made in heaven.

I'm exhausted...made most of this in one afternoon!! Will not let it get away from me again...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

CSA Week 7

Here's what's in the box this week:
summer squash (1)
zucchini (1)
chard and vinaigrette (went to my friend)

Half the kale was eaten as slaw, since I still had some dressing left over from last week. The other half I turned into kale chips. This is so easy and the kale shrinks down to nothing. It's a great way to use it up, plus way cheaper than the kale chips you can buy in the store! Well, I can't really comment on the packaged kale chips, as I refuse to buy them when I can make my own. These I dusted with chile-lime salt - a seasoning you can find in the Mexican section of the grocery store or online. The key is to spread everything out into a single layer, or they won't dehydrate evenly - even use a few pans if needed. 

For Sunday breakfast, I decided to make a hash with the potatoes. I picked through my growing supply of potatoes for all the smaller ones and boiled them first. I also used the summer squash and zucchini in the hash, as well as the last of the chicken from last week. The key to a good hash is to make sure you get good browning and crunchy bits. That's a bit hard for me, as I just can't seem to leave things alone (it has taken me many years to learn to make good fried eggs, since I have a tendency to flip too soon). For me, the key is to multitask so I get too busy to constantly tend to the pan. 

Still have the oregano left and the lettuce. I'll use the lettuce up in work salads. Will hit the farm stand down the street to beef up my salads with some cucumber and peppers. There's lots of potatoes left, so I was thinking about making a lemon, oregano, potato salad...will have to find a recipe for that...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

CSA Week 6

Here's what came in the box this week:
baby beets and greens
rainbow chard
green onion
kale (went to my box sharing friend)

My CSA also started the u-pick farm this week. I picked:
green bell pepper
purple kale

I also was fortunate enough to get 2 bags of lettuce from two of my co-worker's gardens!

I had a work picnic this week, so I used the salad greens to make a giant salad. I added in green onions, radish (from about 3 boxes ago), pickled rhubarb, golden raisins and slivered almonds. I made a honey balsamic dressing that used up the rest of the beet green pesto from about 2 boxes back. The salad was truely large and I ended up with lots left over, so I added the bell peppers and some lunch meat and brought it into work - it was gone...

The beet greens and chard were cooked down on the day I got the box so they wouldn't wilt in the fridge. I then added them to zucchini butter from last year that has been in my freezer and some pasta for lunches for this coming week. The pasta also got some Asiago cheese, baby brie, pasta water and lime juice.

The kale was made into a salad - my favorite kale salad, a kale Caesar slaw. I usually have all the ingredients on hand - anchovy, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, parmesan. The dressing is so creamy and lemony and bright, I just love it. You also add in a hard boiled egg and that never hurts anything. (

I'm constantly amazed at the internet - I do a lot of research at my job to find answers to random questions from my providers and can usually find the answer, so when I was looking for what to do with the sage, an herb I usually associate with the fall, I was not surprised to find a sage and beet dish. What did surprise me was that I found a beet and potato salad with a lemon dressing, and since I love lemon, that sounded yummy to me. ( This salad is more of the German potato salad style, where you make an acidic dressing and you toss the potatos and beets while warm. This dressing used lemon juice, jalapeno, oil and onion, which I used the green onion for. I only had a small amount of beets, so I used an equal amount of potatoes. It was very good and it is also gone... (see a theme here?)

So what to do with the sage? I added a few leaves to the beets when I roasted them (I know the recipe from above says to steam them, but that's messy with beets and roasting is so much better). I followed a Martha Stewart recipe but added some oil, salt, pepper and the sage. ( Since the beets were from the farm box, I had a wide variety of sizes, so I had to cut some down so the cooking time would be the same - it ended up being about 30 min. Then you let the beets steam off their skins and you just rub them off with a paper towel. It's actually not all that messy and I had only a few red fingers (mostly from cutting the beets to size).

What else to do with the sage? I decided to make a sage, lemon, garlic scape (I have a straggler from the box from 2 weeks ago) and green onion paste for a butterflied chicken. The chicken is from a farmer friend who I also got a few ducks from - those to be used in the future!

So far, I seem to be keeping up with the box. I am interested to see how things progress now that we are getting into the bigger growing season and my box sharing friend is due to have her baby fairly soon - that just means that I will be cooking the whole box and sending goodies to the new parents. I am also happy to report that the u-pick farm has tomatillos - I see enchiladas in my future!!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

CSA Week 5

Here's what's in the box this week:
Beet greens 
Rainbow chard
Green onions
Yellow squash
Cilantro pesto
Purple collard greens (given to my friend as part of her share)

The greens were sautéed and added to beans and chicken thigh confit for a quick cassoulet. 

The chicken thighs being sous vide'd in a mix of bacon fat, vegetable oil and ghee. Which, note to self, get the stupid vacuum sealer and stop using jars!! The chicken turned out fine since I was going to shred it anyway but if I wanted to brown the skin, it wouldn't have worked.

A quick search of the Internet archives found a recipe for summer squash pasta with cilantro lime pesto. ( So I used the pesto from the box, added lime zest and juice and some Asiago at the end. The lime is what made it - light and fresh. 

So far, have yet to use the green onions. So they are just going to hang out on my window sill until some great thought comes along. 

Hope everyone had a happy and safe 4th of July!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

CSA Week 4

Here's what's in the box this week:
Beet greens
Bok choy
Garlic scapes
Sweet and spicy vinegarette 
(Sorry no pic this week)

The beet greens were sautéed and added to what is becoming my standard morning breakfast - scrambled eggs with greens and green garlic butter. 

The zucchini was turned into zoodles then sautéed with the vinegarette, teriyaki and hot sauce. 

The bok choy was turned into an Indian dish with lentils. I loosely followed this recipe but used a pre-made spice mix.

The dill was made into a Greek style yogurt cucumber salad. It has my homemade yogurt, dill, scapes, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper 

I also added the scapes to the salad and to the dal in a scape-ginger paste.

I really enjoyed using my fun new kitchen equipment- my spiralizer!!