Friday, December 23, 2011

Raspberry Mocha Muffins

Every year I make these mocha muffins for my birthday breakfast.  Then we have them for Christmas Eve breakfast, too.  This year I used chocolate raspberry coffee for raspberry mocha muffins.  They came out beautifully.  These are not your usual bakery style greasy, fluffy muffins.  These are definitely whole grain and they will stick with you. 

Place 2 cups of rolled oats (either regular or thick--do not use instant oatmeal and don't use quick-cooking oats) in a container with a lid.  Cover with 2 cups of brewed coffee.  Cover and place in refrigerator overnight or for several hours.

Place oat mixture in a bowl.  Add:
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4- 1/3 cup baking cocoa
Mix together.

Stir in:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips and some nuts if you want them.
Batter will be quite thick.

Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

These are great heated up just a little so the chocolate chips get a little gooey.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Grazing Season and Cheese Spread Recipes

Grazing season is here.  Beginning tomorrow, we have my birthday, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, back-to-back-to-back.  We long ago did away with the big meal on Christmas Day, preferring instead to make things ahead of time as much as possible so we could just enjoy the day together without a huge meal and a kitchen full of dirty dishes.  Once we made the change, we wondered why we ever did things any other way.  As each year goes by I find myself less and less attracted to fuss and rushing around.  I have always really just tried to create a calm and peaceful home for myself, wherever I am, and at this time of year I especially crave peace, quiet, and time.  That is what winter in general and the Christmas season specifically are all about for me.  Long gone are the days I looked forward to parties and being around lots of noise and people.  So I create this little holiday space for myself every year--or at least I try.

There are basically two things that are "traditional."  We have lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner and I make jalapeno cheese puffs sometime on Christmas Day.  I would make them ahead, but they are really best right out of the oven.  In fact they are quite addicting, so I make them on the day itself.  The lasagna takes only a few minutes to put together and then it just bakes in the oven.  Otherwise, I just make a bunch of stuff ahead of time and we graze for days.  Yesterday I cooked a turkey.  We bought two when they were on sale at Thanksgiving and Bill kept one in the freezer at work, since we had no room here.  I made just enough stuffing to stuff the turkey and I cooked the last 4 winter squash from our CSA farm.  There was supper last night and tonight.  I made turkey salad for lunch with extra for tomorrow.  We will have turkey for sandwiches, nachos on Christmas Day, and whatever else we want.  I made healthy whole grain (and yummy!) mocha muffins for my birthday breakfast and there will be more for Christmas Eve.  I made chocolate chocolate chip brownies to have with ice cream instead of cake.  And I made two different kinds of cheese spread.  I love this stuff on pretzels, in sandwiches or on carrot sticks.  It is also good on crackers or with tortilla chips.  Here's how I made it, but bear in mind that you can vary the amounts and what you put in as this is not exact.

Put in food processor with steel blade:
several slices of reduced fat deli swiss cheese, torn into pieces (or cube some stick swiss cheese)
one carrot, cut into largish chunks
one pepper of your choice, seeded and cut into chunks
Process on high until everything is small bits.  Then add:
garlic powder
dried oregano
black pepper
or herbs of your choice
Process again until everything is blended.
Put about 12 ounces of cream cheese (I used the lowfat version) in food processor and process on low until everything is blended well.  Spoon into container.

Into food processor fitted with steel blade place
about half a pound of extra sharp cheddar cheese, cut into largish chunks and process until it is small pieces--or use shredded cheese and just place in bowl of food processor.  Add enough pickled jalapeno peppers to suit your taste, chili powder, garlic powder, and any other herb or spice you like, then process until everything is blended.
Add about 20 ounces of cream cheese (I used lowfat) and process until well blended.  Spoon into container.

These are better if they sit for a little while so the flavors can blend.  Easy to vary by using cheeses, herbs, spices, and veggies of your choice.  Use to stuff celery or fresh jalapenos or use as a spread or dip.  Much cheaper than the cheese spreads you buy in the store and much tastier, too!

Happy Christmas! or Nollaig Shona duit!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Black Bean Soup in the Crock Pot

Seemed like today might be a soup day because the weather forecast said it would be cool (high 30s) and blustery with some snow/rain showers in the morning.  There has been little sign of winter here so far (we have not even turned on our heat yet) and today was no exception.  It rained last night and into this early morning, then the sun came out. We opened the blinds and had quite enough heat with the sun pouring through the windows.  As I type this, I have my sleeves pulled up because I am warm.  I went ahead with the soup in spite of the warmish day.  I had started the beans soaking last night, so I was committed.  It came out quite well with plenty of leftovers for tomorrow's supper and maybe Saturday's lunch.  I may even have some for the freezer!  Tonight I served it with hot corn muffins to which I add some oatmeal, which makes them slightly less dense.  The recipe I use--from Laurel's Kitchen--always comes out too wet, even though I add a cup of whole wheat flour instead of the half-cup the recipe calls for.  So rather than add still more flour, I add the oatmeal.  I love these muffins and they went perfectly with the soup.  Bill has a couple with a bit of extra sharp cheddar cheese for his lunch tomorrow (along with an apple and an orange).  I made them at the last minute because I thought I had no milk.  Then I remembered the last bit of milk I froze so it wouldn't spoil, so I took it out of the freezer and thawed it out.  Anyway, tomorrow I will likely make brown rice to go with the soup and maybe add a bit of salsa, but I will decide then.

Black Bean Soup in the Crock Pot
This makes a lot of soup that is quite filling, so you can feed a bunch of people, plan for leftovers, or plan to freeze some.

I soaked a 1-pound bag of dried black beans overnight, changing the water once.  In the morning I drained the beans and placed them in my Crock-Pot.  To the beans I added potatoes (scrubbed and unpeeled), carrots, a large onion--all coarsely chopped--and some frozen corn.  I then put water in the crock to within a couple of inches from the top.  I put the lid on and turned the pot on high for a couple of hours and then down to low for 5 hours.  Then I added some chopped sun dried tomatoes, chili powder, garlic powder, and oregano.  I stirred the stuff in and let it cook for an hour more. I added some cheddar cheese on top of the individual bowls of soup.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Leftover Leftovers!

We are working our way through the Thanksgiving leftovers and are almost at the finish line--sort of.  Today we made broth from the turkey carcass and I put two quarts of that and a small container of turkey in the freezer to be used at some unknown moments in the future.  With the rest of the broth and the meat that came from the carcass, I made a big pot of soup, using mostly veggies from the farm.  I used some frozen peas and the rest of the celery I had bought for the stuffing, but the rest was from the farm.  I used a couple of onions, carrots, the last two celeriac bulbs, beans I had frozen from the U-pick field, and almost half a head of purple cabbage.  There is enough soup for tomorrow's supper and probably a lunch after that.  If there is any left then, I will freeze it.  This means we will have eaten for a week from the one Thanksgiving dinner.

As for the rest of the leftovers, I did not really do much with them--we just ate them, mostly.  I did make potato pancakes for breakfast one day using leftover whipped potatoes (from the farm).  I was going to use the rest of the potatoes in bread, but Bill wanted them for lunch, so he finished them today.  I had a couple of pieces of peeled (and wrapped) squash that I had bought but could not fit in the Crock Pot, so did not cook for Thanksgiving.  I needed to get those cooked before they went bad, so I did that yesterday.  I figured I could freeze the squash and use it in muffins or bread, but again, Bill wanted to eat it, so he had some for lunch today and has the rest in tomorrow's lunch.  The sweet potatoes, oatmeal bread, and pie have been gone for a few days.  There is a little bit of stuffing left, but not sure whether that will actually get eaten.  I love stuffing, but at some point every year, I hit the wall and feel like I cannot take one more bite of the stuff.  I will decide whether I have reached that point tomorrow!  Oh yeah, I did make a Mexican-style thing with some of the turkey.  I had a can of enchilada sauce in the cabinet, so on Sunday, just for a change, I put some olive oil in a pan and added a chopped onion, some diced turkey, frozen corn, some chili powder, garlic powder and oregano, and then put in the can of sauce.  I served this with a little cheese over brown rice.  We had it for supper last night, too.  So our Thanksgiving dinner has provided us with plenty of leftovers and even some leftover leftovers!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Peaceful Thanksgiving

I am sitting here in the middle of this very peaceful Thanksgiving day watching the snow melt off the roof and trees.  The turkey has been in the oven for a few hours.  The extra pan of stuffing is in the fridge waiting to go in when the turkey comes out.  It is basic stuffing, just the way I like it.  Whole grain bread cubes (the paddle ends of my bread machine bread are great for this--I stick them in the freezer to use for stuffing or put them in the food processor for bread crumbs), onions, celery, turkey broth, garlic, and poultry seasoning.  That's it.  I cooked the butternut squash and sweet potatoes yesterday using my Crock Pots.  The potatoes baked beautifully in the big one, while the smaller one cooked the squash.  We got the squash already peeled this year so it was easy to cube and cover with water.  We usually buy them whole and Bill cuts them in half, then I scoop out the seeds and bake them.  A couple of years ago I was trying to cut one in half and I buried the tip of my knife in the palm of my hand.  That wasn't very festive!  This was much easier and cooking in the Crock Pot used much less energy than the oven would have.

I made Heather's banana cream pie earlier this morning and I just took the oatmeal bread out of the machine, so all I have left is the potatoes and gravy.  Nice.

I wish everyone a wonderful day of enough.  Not excess, not extravagance, but enough.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup in the Crock Pot

Yesterday I used my big crock pot (7 quart) to make split pea soup.  The plan was to have it for supper last night, tonight and then to eat the rest for lunch over the next couple of days. 

Into the crock went the following:
a one-pound bag of green split peas (about 2 cups)
1 cup of dried lima beans
a large onion
3 potatoes
a bunch of carrots
2 stalks of celery
water to within an inch and a half or so of the top

I turned the pot on high for an hour and then down to low for 6.  When there was an hour left, I added garlic powder, dried basil, and dried thyme.

You can use as many or as few of the veggies as you want and vary the seasonings if you prefer different ones.  This took me a few minutes to put into the crock and then it cooked by itself.  Easy and yummy!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Polenta in the Crock Pot

Today I tried making polenta in the Crock Pot.  It worked!  Yay!  I used the recipe on page 156 of Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufman as a guide.  They said to use 7 1/2 cups of water and 1 1/2 cups of coarse cornmeal.  They also called for salt, but I never add that, so I left it out.  I also had regular old cornmeal, not coarsely ground, so I used that.  Into the crock the water and cornmeal went. I whisked it around a little, placed the lid on, and turned it to high.  Since the water was hot when I put it in the crock, I left it on high for 30 minutes (they say you can leave it up to an hour) before Bill gave it another whisk (I had a cat sleeping on my lap at the time) and turned the heat down to low for 5 hours.  It is beautifully creamy and it sure beats standing over the stove stirring for half an hour!  The recipe in the book has you serving this with butter and Parmesan cheese.  I did a more Mexican thing by skipping the butter, adding cheese (you could use any cheese that goes well with salsa--jack with or without jalapenos, cheddar, American--whatever you like), salsa, and a saute of onions and hot sausage from the farm.

Leftovers will go into a container and can apparently be sliced and browned/baked/etc like the tubes of polenta you can buy in the store. This is much cheaper and can be adapted however you wish--you could add herbs and spices of your choice.  Vary the cheese and other toppings.  I had never seen those rolls of polenta before about 20 years ago--when I was a kid we had polenta, but it was soft--the consistency of Cream of Wheat--and my mother topped it with spaghetti sauce that had onions and ground meat in it.  I loved it. 
I am thrilled that I have found this new excellent use of my Crock Pot.  I do love that thing--well, I love both of them, actually :-)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Brunswick Winter Market

I am very lucky to now live in a place where people have great awareness about food issues and support local food producers in a big way.  In addition to many CSAs and farmer's markets, we also have the winter market and today was the opening day for this season.  It is located in a big old mill building at the end of Maine St.  There are farmers, artisans, bakers, and others there each week.  We went today primarily to get eggs, but we got there too late and the egg people were sold out.  We will have to get there earlier next week!  We walked around and saw beautiful vegetables, but I did not buy any because I still have farm veggies that need using first, although next week I will probably buy some kale and maybe some butternut squash for Thanksgiving.  I saw some beautifully soft alpaca/wool and alpaca/silk yarn, but I did not buy any of that either, though I might just go ahead and get some sock yarn before the season is over!  I did buy some local honey because I have been dealing with a dry cough as a result of some allergic reaction I got in New Jersey last weekend. As much as I dislike honey, I dislike being awake coughing even more and honey is supposed to be the best remedy for that.  Guess I will find out.  We also got some peach/raspberry jam.  I am happy that I can support local small food businesses in this way.  The food tastes so much better than the industrial stuff you get in the supermarket.  And this way I know where it came from and can talk to the people who produced it.

It was even fun walking to the market this morning.  Brunswick is an extremely walkable town but it was even better this morning.  First we stopped at the library.  Then we crossed the street to the post office where we checked our box and found an unassuming yellow envelope that contained Bill's Irish passport!!!  Yay!  Then when we got to Maine St, we walked right into the Occupy Brunswick people and dogs right outside the Bank of America.  On the way home, I noticed a flier on a post about a lecture at Bowdoin next Tuesday by the guy who wrote this book:
Foreigners and Their Food: Constructing Otherness in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Law

Needless to say, being exceedingly interested in food culture and religious cultures, I had to look it up at the library.  I have a hold on it now.

So it was a good walk to the market, around the market, and home from the market.  I live in a great little town!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Still Eating from the Farm!

Tonight I cooked once again with veggies from the farm, even though it's been a couple of weeks since the season ended.  Into my cast iron frying pan went breakfast sausage from the farm (it has a little bit of a spicy kick, which I really like) and some olive oil (because the sausage is so lean that it sticks unless I add oil), along with onion, a shallot, carrots, purple cabbage, and wax beans from the U-pick field that I had put in the freezer.  The only thing not from the farm was the peas.  I added only a little black pepper and garlic powder for seasoning.  I spooned this mixture over brown rice and Bill topped his with cashews and a tiny bit of chili sauce.  I skipped the cashews and added chili sauce.  Yum!  Best of all, there are leftovers for lunch.  Yay!

I still have sausage, beans, pesto, and different kinds of greens from the farm in the freezer.  There are onions, potatoes, winter squash, and shallots in the kitchen and carrots and cabbage in the fridge, so there is more eating from the farm to come.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Whole Grain Pizza Bread in the Bread Machine

I decided to make pizza bread to have with supper tonight, so I got out my trusty bread machine and threw in the ingredients.  I got the machine at the local Goodwill and it did not have the booklet, but I think this is about a 1 1/2 pound loaf.

Whole Grain Pizza Bread
1 1/4 cup warm milk or a combination of milk and water to equal 1 1/4 cups
2 Tablespoons butter or oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (or a little less) sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
garlic powder to taste
sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese to taste
about 1 cup of grated cheese--mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, or a mixture of what cheese you like
about 1/4 cup chopped turkey pepperoni or to taste
1 cup flour (you can use bread machine flour or all-purpose--I use the latter)
1 cup oatmeal (NOT instant, and preferably not quick-cooking, although you can use the latter if it's what you have)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon dry yeast

Use the whole wheat setting on your machine.

This is good with just butter or it makes great grilled cheese!  Use for sandwiches or just enjoy it on its own!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ravioli and Peaches

I wrote the following essay about my Nana a few years ago and it was published in the Fall 2007 issue of Oregon Humanities Magazine.

“Do you want some peaches?” Nana asked after the lunch dishes had been cleared away. “Yup,” I replied. She opened the refrigerator and took out the canning jar. She put a few peach halves in my bowl and then sat down with the jar, spearing peaches with “her” fork—the one with the short handle and the bent tines with wide spaces in between.
That’s how I remember Nana, my maternal grandmother—through food. She was always in her garden or in her kitchen. The fruit, vegetables, and jam we ate at her house came out of her garden or glass canning jars, not metal cans. Nana was the producer of most of the food we ate there. Cherry, peach and apple trees provided the raw materials for jam, applesauce and our lunchtime dessert. Her large garden served up salads, green beans, marinara sauce, and our Halloween pumpkins. And that wasn’t the half of it. The ravioli we ate—my favorite food—came out of her freezer, but each one was made and bagged by Nana herself. First she made the pasta dough and she rolled it out to be laid in the ravioli form. A small spoonful of filling was placed in each space and then another sheet of dough laid on top. She pressed down on the whole thing so that the form cut through the dough and separated the individual ravioli. Over and over she repeated the process, making eight or ten at a time to put in the freezer so that one day she’d be able to wonder aloud what she should make for dinner that night before turning and asking me whether she should make “raviools,” as she called them.
Why did she go to so much trouble? She could have just gone to the store and bought a bag of ravioli. There are many reasons for her ideas about food and producing it herself instead of buying it, but I think the biggest reason she did these things was that she cared about the people she was feeding. This was her way of showing the love she had for all of us around the table. I learned early on how valuable this kind of work could be. I also saw how little respect she got for this work. It was just expected that she would have breakfast on the table at 6, lunch at noon, and dinner at 5. I could see that everyone just came in and sat down without so much as one word of gratitude. They thought what she did was unimportant women’s work, but to me she made the world go around. At a time when women were being urged to leave the kitchen, I was learning how powerful a place the kitchen could be.
Because of Nana, I came to understand how important and life-affirming some domestic labor could be. I saw how food could be many things—a way to commune with nature, an artist’s medium, and an expression of love and care. I knew early in my life that the work we do each day at home is what is truly important for the planet, our communities, families, and ourselves. Growing up in a society and family where money was god and used in an attempt to buy security, prestige, and the illusion of happiness, I understood early on that I did not fit in. The usual pursuits were utterly meaningless to me. And so, as an adult, I set out not to gather as much cash as I could, but rather to create a peaceful and loving home in which the daily work of living went on. And mostly, it seems to have worked. I’ve had more than one person tell me what a peaceful home I have. I’ve done plenty of other things in my life and even wrote a Master’s thesis on the subject of motherhood and women’s domestic labor. But no matter what I have been involved in, I always look forward to coming home. I don’t can peaches or make ravioli, but I do make bread. When I give someone some rolls or muffins that I’ve made for them and I watch their face light up, I feel the hope that just maybe they feel like I did when I heard, “Do you want some peaches?” © Shari Burke 2007

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chard Reappears!

We have done our last farm pick-up.  Our season is over.  It's kind of sad.  But we have lots of farm food that will last for a while.  Happily, the chard reappeared for one last time!  There have only been 2 weeks (I think) where there has not been chard.  I was glad to see it return.  I will probably freeze it tomorrow as I am going out of town and won't be able to eat it before I leave.  In addition to the chard, we got a couple of very large sweet potatoes, a head of lettuce, carrots, celeriac (skipped the rutabagas as Bill thinks he does not like them), salad turnips (could have mixed and matched with regular turnips, but I still have some from last week, so stuck with the smaller ones), some loose Adirondack blue potatoes (there were also russets to mix and match), a bag (maybe 5 pounds?) of mixed yellow and red onions, and a bag (5+ pounds?) of Rose Gold potatoes.  Oh yes, another stalk of Brussels sprouts, too.  I think I will roast these tomorrow with an onion, some potatoes, and chicken.  I still have my sweet potato from last week, so I think I will cook that and my two from this week on Thursday--I dropped one and the end came off, so I do not want it to go bad.  I love sweet potatoes.  I will possibly cook my rutabaga before I leave as well, and eat that--I think I will be the only one eating it!  I also bought a dozen eggs and a package of breakfast sausage from the farm store.
So my freezer is full, I have a good supply of potatoes, carrots, onions, and cabbage that will last for a while and a few winter squash as well.  There is still plenty of farm produce left to eat, even if we won't be heading off to the farm every Tuesday anymore.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Farm Soup

I love, love, love soup.  In the winter, I crave it.  In the summer, I crave salad.  We have had many farm salads over the course of our CSA season, and tonight we had farm soup.  I cooked a package of hot Italian sausage from the farm store--had to add some oilive oil to the pot because there was so little fat in the sausage.  I added this to my larger (7-quart) Crock Pot, which already contained potatoes, carrots, turnips, a big red onion, beans (from the freezer) and celeriac--all from the farm.  I added water and set it on low.  Off we went to facilitate and record a story circle and to walk around Boothbay, where we had not been before.  When we came home it smelled wonderful!  I added the rest of last week's kale, some garlic, oregano, and Italian seasoning and let it cook for two more hours, still on the low setting.  I cooked a package of pierogies and spooned the soup on top of those.  A little sprinkle of Parmesan cheese finished the dish.  YUM!

Tomorrow will be our last pick-up of the season.  I will miss them.  But I know that I have not had my last bowl of farm soup for the season!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Off the Blech List

I can happily report that I have removed Brussels sprouts off of the "blech" list.  However, I do keep in mind that these were small, local, and still on the stalk.  I sauteed them in olive oil with leeks, a bit of kale, and some ham from the farm.  They were good--tasted very much like cabbage to me, which is why I would probably just use cabbage in future rather than buying Brussels sprouts.  I did not think they were fabulous enough to warrant all the prep that seems to go into cooking the larger ones, when I could just use cabbage and be happy.  Maybe I am missing something.  Still, I see how that my issue in the past was probably with the cooking method (boiling) and not the sprouts themselves.  I don't care for boiled cabbage, either, but I like it sauteed in olive oil with onions and garlic until crisp-tender.

In other "blech" news, we determined that when Bill says he hates turnips, he probably means rutabagas.  He had never heard of rutabagas until last week and after reading about them, we discovered that there is different terminology used all over.  In Ireland they call them turnips, and call what we know as turnips "white turnips."  At least that's what we read.  So based on his description of the food, we figure his mother was using "turnip" to refer to a rutabaga.  He has agreed to try the turnips that we have here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rooting Around

Today is root day.  We went to the farm and hauled home roots, leaves, and other goodies!  The farm share this week contained turnips, rutabagas, potatoes, onions, shallots, leeks, kale, Brussels sprouts (which always make me think of my friend, Karen O who once told a funny Christmas and Brussels sprouts story!), carrots, lettuce, celeriac, winter squash and a giant sweet potato!  This will be interesting.  Bill has repeatedly reminded me of his hatred of all things turnip.  Mind you, I believe he had them boiled and mashed, which seemed to be the way he ate anything not out of a can when he was a youngster.  I am thinking that I might just eat the turnips raw with hummus, but this is said by someone who had never eaten a turnip in her life, so we will have to see about that.  Rutabagas are another thing that I have never eaten, but there I think a simple potato/rutabaga mash sounds good.  Brussels sprouts--here it is my turn to say, "blech."  BUT I have only had them boiled or pressure cooked or something as a kid.  Now I plan to try them in some olive oil with shallots (?) and.....well, I will figure that out.  Maybe I won't have to say, "blech" anymore.  The celeriac, I confess, is starting to pile up.  I did use the biggest one I had making a potato/apple/celeriac soup, which was OK and not really worth the work, I thought.  Bill didn't care for it.  So I will roast some of it and put some of it in veggie soups when I make those.  It keeps, apparently.

So this was our penultimate trip to the farm for pick-up.  Next week will be the end of it all.  It makes me sad.  I loved doing this--even when I was hot, sweaty, and cranky.  I am not sure that I have ever been so aware of the changing seasons and even the little mini-changes that happen throughout each season.  The great thing is that even when we are no longer picking up food, I will still have some of what we got this season.  I have pesto, greens of various kinds, and beans in the freezer.  I have sausage from the farm pigs in there, too.  And some of the things that we are picking up now will keep for a while--carrots, cabbage, winter squash, onions, potatoes--so long after the pick-ups stop, I will still be eating from the farm.  Yay!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Carrots and Sticks

Things have really shifted.  The leaves have really turned color now and on the way to the farm this afternoon we could look out on either side of the road and see a riot of color.  Red, orange, yellow and still some green glowing against a bright blue sky.  Beautiful.  There was a nice breeze blowing and it was not too hot.  Once again we were greeted by a stick-fetching dog, so we played throw the stick for a while before getting our share.  The U-pick field was killed by a frost we had last week (before it hit 80 over the weekend--crazy!), so all we had to do was play fetch and pick up our share. 

For the first time there was no chard.  It was killed by the frost.  So I chose to get all baby bok choi rather than kale.  I have not gotten much bok choi this season, so I might as well get it while I can!  We also got carrots, lettuce, two more celeriac (there is celeriac/apple/potato soup on the menu in a couple of days!), some shallots, 2 leeks, a bowl of potatoes--I chose to get a mix of Adirondack reds, blues, and rose golds--a head of cabbage, and a couple of delicata squash.  On our way out, we played a little more fetch with a bigger stick, and then came home.

Tonight we will have fish tacos (tostada for bill) with cabbage, potatoes, and onion topped with cheese, lettuce and salsa.  I had imagined this with some freshly snipped cilantro from the U-pick field, but alas, that was not to be.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Week/New Season

Ok, last week summer had returned.  This week it's fall, although the weekend is supposed to be annoyingly sunny and warm.  But for today we have rain, rain and a little more rain.  At the farm, there were puddles in the U-pick field as seen from afar and I had decided before heading over there that I did not really feel in need of flowers and herbs enough to wade through the mud, so it was a quick trip in and out with our share.

We brought home a head of lettuce, hot mustard greens (there was also endive), a large red pepper, a head of broccoli, 2 red onions, carrots, beets, a bowl of Adirondack blue potatoes (could have mixed and matched with Adirondack red and Kueka golds, but I have had these in previous weeks, so I chose the ones I had not had before), 4 salad turnips, a bowl of chard, 2 large celeriac bulbs, and 2 acorn squash.  The season has turned.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What Happened?

I was back sweating in the U-pick field this afternoon in spite of the fact that it is supposed to be autumn.  The leaves are turning, the pigs are in the freezer, the U-pick field is winding down, and it is hot as hell with the sun beating down and has been for the past several days.  I hate it.  It is supposed to start cooling down some and get cloudy.  Bring on the rain!!!

In spite of my misery, we did take time to play fetch the stick with the dogs, pick cherry tomatoes, beans, peas, cilantro, and flowers.  Then we picked up our share, containing arugula, a red pepper, a bunch of broccoli, 2 leeks, 2 storage onions, a purple kohlrabi, 2 tomatoes (last of the season, I guess), a big bowl of chard, a bowl of gold potatoes, and 2 sweet dumpling winter squash.  The veggies are starting to look like fall, now I hope the weather cooperates.

We bought some eggs and dill and garlic chevre from the farm store.  Might have some of that for supper.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Play Ball!

We were greeted upon our arrival at the farm this afternoon by a dog with a ball.  He was just laying there with his ball waiting for someone to show up and throw it.  So we did.  One of the things we really miss is having a dog boss us around all the time :-)  Since we are planning to move to Ireland next year, though, we have decided to be strong and not get a dog until sometime after we get there.  We console ourselves by borrowing time with other people's dogs when we can, so it was quite a treat for us to play fetch for a few minutes before collecting our vegetables!

The U-pick field is really looking like it is winding down, although there were still plenty of cherry tomatoes and beans, both purple and green.  We got about 2/3 of a pint of peas and some flowers as well.  The basil is finished, so for the first time in weeks, I did not come home and make pesto.  I did cut some parsley and cilantro, though.

In our share this week, we got arugula, a big head of lettuce, mustard and tatsoi, 2 red peppers, a head of purple cabbage, 3 onions, 6 tomatoes, a jalapeno, a big bowl of chard (I could have mixed this with bok choi and kale, but I did not), mix of Kuerka Gold and Adirondack Red potatoes, 3 red onions (could have mixed with yellow onions), and lettuce mix. 

Tonight for supper, I will use up last week's eggplant, the cherry tomatoes, and regular tomatoes along with a red bell pepper and a red onion from this week.  Maybe I will throw in some parsley.  Then I will toss it with some of the brown rice I have in the fridge and some Parmesan cheese.

At the moment, Bill is trying to get his computer running, as there seems to be a rather serious problem happening.  He is the only one with a full computer.  I do not need more than my little netbook, but that would be completely inadequate for him.  So if a photo appears on this post, he either got it figured out, he got it posted at work, or he bought a new computer.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Planning and Improvisation

I tend to be a very highly organized person and someone who plans--a lot.  In my quest to live a peaceful life, I have found this tendency toward planning to be very helpful--except when I take it too far, which I have been known to do.  In my study of Buddhism, of course, I have had to come face-to-face with this tendency to overplan and I have been working on holding things lightly.  I have learned to plan with an eye toward improvisation.  This holds true for me in the kitchen as well as in other areas of my life.  Cooking actual food simply requires planning sometimes.  Real food can take time--not necessarily time that needs to be spent watching the pot (which, as you know, will never boil as long as you are watching), but time to cook happily away on its own.  Brown rice takes 45 minutes or so to simmer.  Dried beans require hours.  You can buy shortcuts for yourself, of course, but these are usually more expensive and have added things that are not so desirable, like salt and sweeteners.  For these kinds of foods that require some time to cook, it is helpful to plan ahead.  I know that I will eat brown rice several times a week, so I will cook a batch and keep it in the fridge.  Because I have it, I can decide later how to use it. When I make beans, I cook them overnight in the Crock-Pot and then use them for various dishes in the days following.  The planning helps me to improvise because I have the ingredients I need already available.  This is also true at this time of year when there is so much abundance.  I know that we will go pick up our farm share on Tuesdays each week, but I don't know what will be in it until Tuesday morning.  Yesterday my friend Nicki gave me cherry tomatoes and yellow tomatoes from her garden--such a wonderful gift!  I do not want any of this beautiful food to go to waste, so I plan and improvise to make sure I can preserve it or use it.  It seems to me that this is the best way I can show respect and gratitude for the food and the people who grow it.

 So today I planned ahead and I improvised both--and was very pleased with the results!  Late this morning, I adapted the corn cake recipe that I used the other night.  I placed 2 cups of cornmeal in a bowl and stirred in some Italian seasoning, garlic powder, black pepper, and chives. Then I poured 2 1/2 cups of boiling water over this and mixed it together.  I let this sit for a few minutes while I greased a cookie sheet.  I then dropped the mixture onto the cookie sheet, making 10 cakes and flattening them out a bit.  I baked these at 425 for 20 minutes, turned them over and baked for another 15.  I took a few to use for lunch and put the rest in the fridge to be used over the next few days.  I sliced one of my yellow tomatoes and placed a slice on each cake.  I sprinkled with oregano and garlic and topped with a little cheese.  I baked this until the cheese was melted.  I really like the way the corn cakes came out and I would bake them again as I prefer this to frying them.  I like the finished product much better.  And how will I use the remaining cakes?  I have no idea, but I will think of something!  I might even try simply toasting one and seeing what happens--might be good with just a little butter!

For supper, I cut up an onion that was in our farm share this week and cooked it in some olive oil until it was translucent.  I added some oregano.  Then I added a cut up yellow tomato and a bunch of halved red cherry tomatoes.  I let this cook for a few minutes and then turned off the heat and added a few handfuls of roughly chopped spinach from our farm share.  This wilted as I waited for the spaghetti to finish cooking.  I tossed the hot spaghetti with some pesto and topped with the tomato mixture.  It was great!

Tomorrow I will make some colorful salsa with yellow and red tomatoes.  I do love the uncooked fresh salsa and the window of opportunity to make it seems so short that when the tomatoes come, I make a lot of that!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I've Got a Bean to Pick with You!

Old beans, new beans, green beans, yellow beans--all in the U-pick field, along with peas, herbs, cherry tomatoes, and flowers.  You can tell that we are in a seasonal transition by looking at the field and the farm share and what is in each.

In our share we got spinach, which we did not mix with the available arugula, which Bill does not like!  We picked up mustard and tatsoi, leaving a couple of other kinds of salad greens there that Bill does not like--see the theme emerging? It's nice to be able to mix and match because that way there is something for everyone and we can all leave what we don't want!  In the bok choi/chard/kale section, I got all kale for the second week in a row--it will go in the freezer to be used in winter soups.  We got 2 red peppers, an Asian eggplant, 3 yellow onions, potatoes, and 8 tomatoes.

My pesto for this week is made--1/2 and 1/2 between freezer and fridge.  I am really liking brown rice with pesto lately.  It is very handy because I always try to keep some cooked brown rice in the fridge, so a quick zap in the microwave and a dollop of pesto is all I need--takes about a minute and tastes divine!

I am about to go use some potato, onion, red pepper, a tomato that I dropped and some cilantro for supper.  I will also be using some of the salsa that I made over the weekend.

And there it is!  I made some corn pancakes--the recipe was in a book-azine or whatever they are called that a friend gave me last week.  It was about soups, but these were a side dish, which I adapted a little.  I just poured 2 1/2 cups of boiling water over 2 cups of cornmeal, some chipotle powder and some chopped jalapeno.  I cooked these in a little olive oil as the directions suggested, but I think next time I would try baking them instead.  Anyway, that is on the bottom and you can just see a piece peeking out.  These seem like they would be very easy to vary pretty much endlessly by using different spices and herbs, by adding more chopped veggies, or whatever.  I will try out ideas as they occur to me in the future! 

To top these cakes, I cooked a red pepper, an onion, and some potatoes that I had boiled first until they were crisp-tender--all from the farm--in a little olive oil.  I then added garlic powder, a little chili powder, black pepper and some oregano.  I spooned this over the corn cake, topped with homemade salsa, pepperjack cheese, and snipped cilantro.  There are leftovers for breakfast.  Here again, it's easy to use what you have--ground turkey, chorizo, beans, tofu, could all be added to good effect, as could corn and/or zucchini. This would be good topped with greens.  Basically, think tostada with the corn cake in place of the tortilla.
Happy Eating!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Changing Seasons

Last week I was sitting here with my coffee and of course, the windows were open.  It was comfortable with just a hint of that nip in the air.  When we used to live in Fairbanks, August would see me letting the dogs out and sticking my head outside to smell that first bit of crispish air that told me fall would soon be arriving.  For someone who hates summer and strives only to get through it with as little discomfort as possible, this is a happy moment, indeed!  So imagine my joy when I smelled that bit of crispy air when I was not even looking for it!  There it was!  And although we have had to turn on fans since then, and the windows remain open, I know that sooner rather than later we can put fans in the attic and close the windows most of the time.  If any further reminder was needed that the seasons are changing, I would have gotten it today at the farm.
  In the U-pick field, the purple beans have been plowed under, though there are still plenty of yellow and green beans left--and a new row planted between the cherry tomatoes and the fall peas, which are flowering.  The flowers are still there, but there are not as many of them as there were a couple of weeks ago.  The cherry tomatoes look they they don't have much longer to go, but there are lots of ripe ones!  There was basil and what looked like a new cilantro patch--not ready to cut yet, but popping up.  The high tunnel is back up after Irene.  The pigs, of course, have been gone for a while.  There were some lambs in the field just beyond the U-pick field.

In our share, we got arugula, hot mustard, and tatsoi--there were other greens as well, but Bill does not like them, and since he does not like arugula either, I decided that there were only so many greens I could eat in a week and I would only mix and match what he likes from that bunch!  Lettuce mix was there as well.  A couple of red peppers, choice of chard/kale/ bok choi (I got all kale this week for a change--I will freeze it tomorrow along with the little bit of chard I have left from last week.  We got a head of cabbage, and 5 tomatoes, mixed and matched between heirloom and slicing.  Oh yes, there was a sweet onion and potatoes! 

We bought a bunch of stuff from the farm store.  We bought a ham steak, 2 packages of breakfast sausage, and 7 packages of hot Italian sausage for the freezer. We also picked up a couple dozen eggs. 

I made a couple of batches of pesto when we got home and put one batch in the freezer.  Because we are falling behind on the cabbage, I used our potatoes and almost the rest of the cabbage from our share two weeks ago to make colcannon.  Tomorrow it should be cool enough for soup, so I will use a bunch of stuff in that, including a package of the hot sausage we got today and of course, more cabbage.  I will probably brown it in a pan first and then put it in the Crock-Pot with the rest of the stuff and let it cook!  We bought a package of the sausage last week and tried it before deciding to stock up today and I was very pleased.  It was very lean and tasty.

So another pick-up is behind us.  Today was the first time I really felt like we had transitioned from one season to another.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Pesto Eggs

Had a little bit of pesto left from the batch I made earlier this week, so I used it for breakfast this morning.  Spread pesto on slices of multigrain bread, topped with a little extra sharp cheddar, and then topped it all with over easy eggs (for Bill) and eggs with the yolks broken and well-cooked (for me).  The pesto was made with basil from the farm and the eggs are from the farm store.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pizza 'Plant

Eggplant pizza-style tonight.  I needed to use some eggplants and some tomatoes and this is the result.

I sliced the eggplants and placed them in single layer in a baking pan, then I sprinkled them with salt and let them sweat for 30 minutes.  I rinsed them well and patted them dry.  I put some olive oil in my cast iron pan and placed a single layer of slices in the pan.  I put the stove on medium high and turned the slices frequently.  Before I flipped them the first time, I oiled the top side of the eggplant as well.  When each side was lightly browned, I placed them into the baking pan again, which I had washed out and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  I baked the slices at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes and then topped each eggplant slice with a tomato slice, sprinkled garlic powder and oregano on top of that and then topped it all with provolone cheese.  Back into the oven for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  It was a slight change from regular eggplant Parmesan and I would make it again.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pizza Tonight

I made pizza tonight. I spread pesto on a large flatbread, then topped with provolone cheese. On top of this went onions, red bell pepper, and broccoli. I baked it at 425 until the crust was crispy and the cheese melted. Then we topped everything with sliced tomatoes. Yum!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Peak Veg Revisited

Here it is, only a few days after our last trip to the farm during "peak veg" and we have made another trip, with a tropical storm tossed in the mix over the weekend.  Irene moved farther west than originally forecast, so we escaped with some wind and rain, and although some people lost power (and still don't have it back), we did not.  Happily, the farm looked today like nothing had happened.  The only indication of Irene was the fact that the high tunnel had been taken down as a precaution.  I imagine it will soon be going back up.  The U-pick field was bountiful--we came home with purple and yellow beans, basil, cherry tomatoes (and we munched a couple in the field, too), and flowers.

In our share was arugula, an assortment of salad greens, 3 cucumbers, a red pepper, a head of green cabbage, an eggplant, 2 tomatoes, 2 jalapenos, carrots, chard/bok choi.  There was also a watermelon, which we forgot to pick up.  Fortunately, Bill saw something he wanted to photograph and while he was doing that, I remembered, so I went back and grabbed our melon! 
When we got home I gave my neighbor the usual container of flowers, along with some beans (yellow and purple), our eggplant, a couple of the tomatoes from the two flats we'd bought on Friday, and a batch of pesto I whipped up.  We still have our two eggplants from Friday and I really do not think we would eat 3 this week, so I figured we could see whether she liked them.  She does.  That's good. 

I made another batch of pesto and put it in the freezer.  Tomorrow I will freeze the chard we got today and some beans.  I will have to rearrange the refrigerator to fit in the cabbage and carrots, but they can stay out until then.

Then it was on to the task of making supper.  I had some tomatoes from the flats we bought Friday that needed to be used up today, so I decided to make creamy pasta florentine--it is adapted from the New Laurel's Kitchen Cookbook--they call it vermicelli florentine.  It's a good idea and like most other things, quite adaptable, so I leave some stuff out, change amounts, put in different stuff, all depending on what I have--it's somewhat different every time, but it still has the creamy consistency that I find so appealing!  And I have to say that it tastes quite amazing with fresh farm veggies instead of canned tomatoes and frozen spinach!!  So here's how I made it this time--as usual, I measured almost nothing--just used what I had, so don't be afraid to play with your food and see what happens!

Creamy Florentine Sauce with Tomatoes
Put some olive oil in a large pan--I used my cast iron pan, but you could use a pot, too, if you don't have a big enough pan.  Add one chopped onion and one chopped bell pepper (or use jalapenos if you prefer).  If you don't have a fresh pepper, you can use the roasted red peppers in the jar.  Cook onion and pepper in oil on high heat until onion is translucent.  Turn the heat down to medium.  Add either 4 tablespoons of cornstarch or 8 tablespoons of flour--again, I was not terribly exact here--you just have to be in the ballpark :-)  Stir everything around until the flour is coating the vegetables and is absorbed by the oil.  Add 1 1/2 cups or so of milk--I used nonfat milk that I had left from another meal and needed to use.  I have also used soy milk in this dish and it works quite well, too.  Stir the mixture until it gets smooth and thick.  Add chopped tomatoes--you can use a can if tomatoes are not in season or use fresh if they are.  I used about 3 large tomatoes tonight.  Stir until everything is blended and add some black pepper and garlic powder.  Sauce should still be thick--the juice from the tomatoes will thin it down some, but if it is too thick, add more milk or some water.  Let this cook for a few minutes and then add chopped chard or spinach.  I used a mix of both, but I have also used thawed frozen spinach that I squeezed the excess water from--either will work fine.  I turned the heat down to low and stirred the fresh chard and spinach in until it was wilted and incorporated into the sauce.  We had it over elbow macaroni, but you can use any shape you want, of course.  Or spoon it over rice or some other grain.  You could layer it between lasagna noodles, add some cheese and bake it.  I spooned it over the macaroni and sprinkled the whole thing with Parmesan cheese.  I cooked too much macaroni, but that's OK because I have enough for breakfast tomorrow--even after putting some aside for Bill's lunch!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Peak Veg!

In the farm newsletter this week, Seth, said that we had arrived at "peak veg."  What a great concept!  Since we went away for a few days earlier this week, we did our pick-up today instead of our usual Tuesday.  We will go back to Tuesday next week, barring any lingering aftereffects from Irene, as Tuesdays work better for us.  This means that we went a week and a half between last pick-up and this one--and we still had stuff left in the fridge (some salad greens and carrots), and I got some stuff in the freezer before we left (green beans and chard).  We had some of our farm veggies with us as we were in a cottage with a little kitchen, so I planned simple meals.  We traveled Monday and before we left, Bill put in 6 hours of work, so I knew that when we got there--which we did at a little after 4--we would want to eat something without fuss.  So I bought some frozen ravioli that are little and made a ravioli salad using broccoli, onions, chicken Italian sausage, and pesto dressing.  We ate it cold and it was yummy!  I also had a rice bake with us that had broccoli, onions, and chard.  And we had pesto pizza with broccoli for supper on our anniversary.

Now we have a whole bunch of new stuff and will be going back for more in just a few days!  I will have more stuff for the freezer, and now that there are tomatoes, I see much salsa in my future.  I will make more pesto and make a pesto pizza with fresh cold tomatoes sliced on top. 

I read in the newsletter that there were slicing tomato "seconds" for sale at the farm in 10 lb flats.  I was afraid that we would be too late to get any, but happily there were two flats on the table when we got there today, so we bought them :-)  Yay!

After we put the tomatoes and eggs in the truck, we went off to the U-pick field where we just got basil, cherry tomatoes, beans (mostly the purple ones), and flowers.  There were more herbs available, but it was hot and I was uncomfortable and I did not want to cut any!!  I gave my neighbor some tomatoes and her usual jar of flowers.

Then it was time to get our weekly share.  It was not easy to carry it all!  There was lettuce, various salad greens, a red pepper, 2 eggplant, 2 cucumbers, spinach, chard/bok choi, a head of green cabbage, carrots, 2 slicing tomatoes, 2 large jalapenos, a big cantaloupe and a watermelon!  We had a wonderful chef's salad tonight for supper.  Tomorrow I will cut up the melons and put them in containers in the fridge; I will make salsa; and possibly process some tomatoes for the freezer.

When we were in Eastport, we naturally stopped at Rayes Mustard Mill--an Eastport institution--where I picked up some Heavenly Jalapeno Mustard, Hot and Spicy Mustard, Lemon Pepper Mustard, and the experimental flavor Tarragon and Pepper Mustard.  They have many different kinds, all available to taste on pretzel sticks.  Some varieties are available in the grocery store here, so I bought only what I would not be able to buy here.  I plan to make some interesting vinaigrettes for my many upcoming salads using my new mustards.  Too bad they are so far away because they really do make excellent mustard!!

I asked Seth this afternoon how he was preparing for Irene, which will probably be a tropical storm by the time she reaches us.  He said he is waiting to see a forecast tomorrow because it will be more accurate then.  At that point, he will decide whether or not to take down the high tunnel, which can apparently withstand winds of up to 60 mph.  I had no idea it was that sturdy!  It will certainly be a learning experience for the apprentices, who got a nice write-up in yesterday's newspaper.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Who'll Stop the Rain?

Don't know who stopped it just in time for us to go frolic in the U-pick field at the farm this afternoon.  It started raining fairly heavily and steadily last night and it was still coming down when I got up this morning.  I read the farm newsletter and really hoped we would get to pick stuff today, because we won't be able to on Friday and next week we won't be able to go until Friday to pick up our share.  So I was really happy when it was getting close to 2 and the ground was starting to dry up!  Yay!  Off we went and picked beans, cherry tomatoes, flowers, basil, chives, cilantro, and a little oregano and parsely, too.

Then we got our share.  I was rummaging in my cloth bags for the plastic bags we use every week and that I keep in the cloth ones, so I won't forget them.  I could not find them and we had used the ones I did have in the field.  Naturally when I got home and unpacked the bags, I found what I had been looking for :-)  No matter--I found a place for all of our amazing farm goodies.  We got a head of lettuce, mixed and matched salad greens, chose an Italian eggplant over the Japanese one (although the 2 Japanese ones I had in previous weeks made fine eggplant Parmesan!), a green pepper, a head of broccoli, a wonderful cantaloupe--just at the perfect level of ripeness, 2 cucumbers, mix and match chard/kale/bok choi (I got all chard again), mix and match carrots/beets (I got both), a summer squash, leeks, and a bunch of celery.  We also got our one teaser tomato in anticipation of more to come!

As I was standing in the kitchen this morning with the rain coming down and the cool breeze coming in the open window, I decided that it was close enough to soup weather to make a pot of soup on our return from the farm.  I think it was reading the newsletter and seeing that we were going to get celery.  I love celery in soup, but I don't always buy it because I don't use too much of it except in stuffing and soup.  Anyway, even though it was not that chilly by suppertime, we had our soup anyway!  I ladled it over ravioli and it was heavenly!  And I anticipate it will be even better tomorrow for lunch!  Most of what I used in the soup came home with me from the farm this afternoon, so it was about as fresh as it could get.  What did not come home today came from the farm last week.  The only thing that did not come from the farm was the turkey broth I removed from the freezer earlier.  I used a leek, the green pepper, the rest of the carrots from last week, some of the purple cabbage from last week, a bit of chard from last week, green beans, the summer squash, some of the broccoli, celery, green and purple beans, and fresh herbs--chives, oregano, parsley and basil. 

Even though I am getting stuff in the freezer, I have not been able to use everything in our share in the week between pick-ups--there is that much food.  And I have not been buying veggies at the grocery store except for yesterday when I bought a lot of Maine-grown broccoli because it was on sale--fortunately we love broccoli and use it in many ways.  We do buy fruit and hot peppers once in a while, but we decided to approach this CSA experience with the attitude that whatever we get in our share is what we will eat.  At first, our share lasted us the week, but we had none left by the time we went and got the next one.  Then I started freezing the chard and other greens, then pesto as well.  Now I am getting some green beans in the freezer, too.  And still now--even though a portion of each share goes into the freezer, we have veggies left at the end of the week--which is GREAT.  I use the things that won't keep well first, then the rest.  At the moment, we still have purple cabbage, some chard, and an onion left from last week.  We finished some of last week's veggies for lunch and supper today.  I am not really sure why some people think joining a CSA is overly expensive.  It is a lot to pay up front and I am glad I was able to do it--it was not that long ago in my life that I would not have been able to pay--and during that time the quality of the food I ate was not as good as what I am eating now.  But by committing to eat what we get, we cut way down on our grocery bill and if we were to try and buy this stuff in the store, or even a farmers' market, it would cost way more.  Besides, one of the things I have learned this summer is how it is almost like not even eating the same thing when you compare the taste of the food we get from the farm and the food we buy at the store.  Store food tastes like pretty much nothing.  And although everything for the store is bred now for appearance, the food we get from the farm is so beautiful to look at--bright, vivid colors and different shapes and textures.  Personally, I think the money we spent was well worth it and I wish everyone could do this.  There are interesting models being tried in the world of hunger prevention, so maybe in time, more and more people will discover the joys of CSA!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gonna Need More Bags!

We were loaded down this afternoon when we left the farm.  We got lucky--the clouds came and blocked the sun before we left for the farm, so we did our U-pick stuff in comfortable leisure.  Good thing, too, because there was so much to pick!  Bill picked beans and cut dill.  I cut oregano, parsley, chives, basil, cilantro and flowers.  There is definitely more pesto in my future--there were new patches of basil, cilantro, and dill in the field.

The dill is hanging to dry, the cilantro, oregano, parsley, and chives are in water in the fridge and the basil is in water on the table overnight.  It will be pesto tomorrow.  I will probably make some cilantro pesto, too.  I will freeze it and use on/in Mexican dishes in the winter.  There are more and more kinds of flowers each week--this week there are more deep purple flowers, which I love!  When the season started, I was cutting a flower or two of each kind and making up a little jar for us and one for my neighbor.  I still do that, but I no longer cut one of each flower--there are just too many!  They are beautiful, though, and really, they are a nice bonus.  I had not thought of fresh cut flowers when I joined the CSA farm, but I really enjoy having them each week and seeing the different kinds that bloom from week to week. 

After picking, it was off to gather our share.  It was crazy in there and the interns did a great job staying on top of the rapidly emptying tubs of veggies so that everyone could take what they wanted.  Greens are back--there were several salad greens to mix and match, along with lettuce.  We got an eggplant again this week, and a green pepper.  There was gorgeous purple cabbage, mix and match chard/bok choi, mix and match small carrots and beets, 4 cucumbers, 2 zucchini, and 3 more of the fabulous sweet summer onions.  We also picked up a dozen of the farm's eggs.

Then it was home and kitchen with all of our veggies.  I wrapped the cukes and zucchini in cotton towels and knit cotton swatches (this absorbs moisture and they last longer), I put all the herbs in their water and put those away, got everything else where it needed to be and made a couple of small flower arrangements.  Then I went and put my neighbor's where she would find it.  After that, I froze some more green beans and started supper/lunch.  Long day for Bill tomorrow and he gets up ridiulously early, so I make lunch and leave it in the fridge for him.  Often it is leftovers or the same thing we have for dinner--or at least part of it.  Tomorrow's lunch is no exception.  We had salads with supper and he has one in his lunch. I used greens, lettuce, cucumber, green pepper, and herbs.  Then to round out the supper, I cooked some onion and a little chard in olive oil and added a bit of crushed red pepper.  I placed this on a slice of whole grain, very dense rye bread, and then topped with an omelet.  On Bill's, I used some fresh dill and the last of a batch of pesto that was in the fridge.  Then I ground a little black pepper on the top. 

Tomorrow I will make eggplant parmesan.  I have last week's eggplant in addition to this week's, and the weather is supposed to cooperate by being my kind of day--rainy, cloudy and in the mid 60s.  I would prefer it to be 20-30 degrees cooler, but for August, I will take it!  And this means that I can turn on the oven without roasting myself!  I have not had eggplant parmesan in years!  I make it the way my old undergraduate advisor used to make it when he brought it to all the potlucks we had in our department.

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dodging the Raindrops

We sped through the U-pick field at the farm this afternoon so we could beat the threatened thunderstorm.  There was thunder and a few raindrops did, indeed, fall on our heads, but we managed to pick various herbs (including basil, so I sense more pesto in my future), a bunch of flowers, and green beans.  Then it was into the farm store to pick up our share, which included chard/kale--I got a little of each this week--arugula, an eggplant, a bell pepper, carrots, 3 large sweet onions, and 3 cucumbers.  I purchased 2 dozen organic eggs from pastured hens and a package of local bacon. 

Tonight we will have eggs and bacon with a salad and chipotle corn muffins.  The arugula, cukes, onions and herbs--possibly some shredded carrot, too--will be excellent on hummus sandwiches/wraps this week for lunches.  I will probably do one of those baked chard/rice/egg things at some point over the next couple of days, since it is supposed to be slightly cooler and I won't mind turning on the oven.  I will probably end up freezing the kale, although I might use all the chard this week instead of freezing some of it.  Not sure yet how I will use the eggplant, but I am sure it will come to me.  I did end up freezing a few green beans yesterday from last week and I may do a few more this week.  It is working out well for me to freeze stuff in smaller containers because I make a lot of soup in fall, winter, and spring using my Crock Pot.  I throw in a little of this and a little of that, so it is good to have stuff ready to toss in when the time comes.  It will be nice to have the variety of food and know that it's local.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pesto with a Difference

I just finished making more pesto.  I did two batches and put one in the freezer, so I got two containers in the freezer this week and one last week.  I am sure it will tatse really wonderful in the middle of winter!  This time I added a bunch of stuff besides the basil (I split the bunch that we got in our share between batches) for the leafy part.  For each batch, I used between 4 and 5 cups total of the following: basil leaves, parsley, oregano, chives, and chopped chard (stems and leaves).  I added 1/3 cup of walnuts and some granulated garlic.  I turned on the food processor and when everything was pulverized, I added 1/3 cup olive oil through the chute until everything was blended well.  At this point I put the first batch in the freezer.  I repeated for the second batch, but then added 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese and stirred it in with a spoon.  We will have some tonight with rice for supper and tomorrow for lunch with bread and cheese.  After that, who knows ;-) 

I will probably end up freezing the rest of the chard from last week's share, but I will wait a couple more days and see.  I still have a whole onion and some chopped bits from the first one, green beans, 2 or 3 zucchini, a partial head of cabbage, and some cucumbers left from the share, so I am not sure that I will get to the chard.  No matter.  I am thrilled to be able to be freezing stuff to have in the winter.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

All About the Farm Share

Last night's supper was all about the farm shares--old and new!  Since it was coolish, especially compared to last week, and I had some leftover pesto, made with last week's basil, I decided I could afford to turn on the oven for a few minutes.  So I sliced part of a multigrain baguette and spread each slice with pesto before placing on a cookie sheet.  I then topped each slice with a piece of provolone cheese and baked at 425 until the cheese was melted.  The bread got just a little crunchy and the combination of the cheese, pesto, and bread was yummy!

Earlier, after I had put away our farm share items we had picked up yesterday, I made an herbed slaw. I had 4 small carrots in the produce drawer (not from the farm), so I peeled them, cut them into chunks, and placed in the bowl of my food processor fitted with the steel blade.  I pulsed until the carrots were little bits.  I emptied these into a bowl and then put in the chopped outer leaves of the head of cabbage I had gotten and a slice off the side that I had chopped.  Again, I pulsed until everything was diced very fine.  The cabbage went in the bowl with the carrots.  Then I diced half of the green pepper from the share and snipped some fresh chives, oregano, basil, and parsley over everything.  I had an empty mustard jar, except for the bit that stays on the sides and is impossible to get out and actually use, so I made a lemon vinaigrette in the jar, just using lemon juice in place of vinegar.  When I shook the olive oil and lemon juice together, it cleared the mustard off the sides of the jar and I did not have to add any more.  I poured this dressing over the veggies and herbs.  We had this slaw for supper and I had some again today for lunch.  There is still more left.  I tend to make extra on purpose whenever I prepare something so that the leftovers will be readily available for lunches and future dinners.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cooler and Heavier!

Another afternoon at the farm--and it was much more pleasant this time!  Cooler and breezy.  Yay!  We bring two bags with us now--one for the share and one for the U-pick and our load is heavier each week.  There is more and more in the U-pick fields--this week there was dill, cilantro in flower, oregano, basil, marjoram, parsley, thyme, sage, chives, flowers and green beans.  I have hung the sage, thyme, and marjoram up to dry and will use the rest fresh--or at least I will use some of it fresh and if it looks like I won't use it before it goes bad, I will dry it.

In the share this week: 6 cucumbers, 7 zucchini/summer squash, 2 big sweet onions, a bunch of basil, mix and match chard and baby bok choi, cabbage (either Chinese or a darker green round compact head with ruffly leaves--don't know the name), and a choice between a green pepper or an eggplant. 

From the farm store I bought a dozen organic eggs from the hens that I see pecking around the field each time I come to the farm!

Tonight we are finishing the pesto that I made several days ago from last week's basil--at least the stuff that I didn't freeze.  This morning I froze a container of kale and one of chard from last week as well.  I will probably make at least one more batch of pesto for the freezer with some of this week's basil.  For the past few weeks I have been freezing all of the chard/kale that I get.  I might use a little of it fresh this week and freeze the rest.  We'll see.

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Picking Up the Pace

Another (HOT!!) pick-up day at Crystal Spring.  There was a pretty nice wind blowing, so it did not seem as bad as last week, but it was still too hot.  I was looking forward to going to the farm today as I had a 3 hour meeting this morning that I really did not want to attend, but kind of had to, so I went.  It was a waste of time, but the building was air-conditioned, so that was nice.  I got myself through it by telling myself that when the meeting was over, I could eat my lunch and go to the farm--a little mental bribe.  This shows me how much I enjoy these little outings--being among the flowers and veggies and seeing the pigs--it always makes me happy, even when it is miserably hot.

So in the u-pick field this week we got lots of flowers--I divided mine up so I could give some to a neighbor.  I don't have lots of space to put jars of flowers, so I share them with her.  I do enjoy looking at the ones we keep, though, even if I am not a flower arranger!  We also got peas--last until the fall, I guess, as well as cilantro, basil, and dill.  Chives and thyme were available, too, I guess, but I forgot those.  Maybe next week.

In our share, we got a head of lettuce, and the tatsoi and mustard greens were back!  We got a bunch of basil in addition to what we picked from the field.  There was chard/kale/baby bok choi for mix and match, so I got some kale and chard this week--I will probably freeze this.  There were more beets--without the tops this time, as well as sweet onions--2 big ones per share.  And there is no shortage of summer squash--we took home 5 zucchini and 5 cucumbers as well!

In the farm store we bought a dozen organic eggs from pastured hens and some local organic tempeh--not sure yet what I will make with that, but I will let you know!

Lots of happy eating in the week ahead!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ready for the Next Pick-Up

Today I made sure we were ready for the next pick-up tomorrow afternoon.  I had all of the chard from last week as well as the beet greens left.  I froze these.  I know that I will be glad I did when I have this stuff for soup in the fall and winter.

I also had some Chinese cabbage left.  I made a slaw with an orange dressing for tomorrow night's supper and chopped the rest to use on tacos/tostada tonight.

Also in the tacos were some of the beans that they sell in the farm store--the beige ones with the brown specks.  I have bought some of those and the brown with beige specks, but have not cooked any of the latter yet.  The other day I soaked some beans in water all day, then put them in the Crock Pot on low that night--it was probably about 7 or 7:30.  I happened to be up at 2:30 and they were done, so I turned off the slow cooker and let them sit.  A few hours later they were still hot and I drained them and put them in a container.  We have been having them in salads and I used the last of the cooked beans tonight.  They are quite good.  I still have some but will be buying more throughout the season so I have them later.

Tonight's meal was basically put together from leftovers.  I put an onion and the beans in a pot with some olive oil and cooked these together for a few minutes.  i added some chopped, cooked chicken and some cooked brown rice.  I sprinkled with chili powder.  Then I spooned this into taco shells/onto a whole wheat tortilla, and topped with chopped fresh jalapeno, pepper jack and hot habanero cheeses, the chopped Chinese cabbage, and salsa.  We eat a lot of Mexican-ish food.

It is miserably hot and getting hotter, although I am well aware that other people have it much, much worse.  I hate summer.  In a ridiculous attempt to stay a tiny bit cooler, I will not cook tomorrow.  I have the slaw and still have some chicken, so I will use the latter for chicken salad on whole grain bread.  I am sure we will get something in our share tomorrow to put on the sandwich or in the chicken salad.  Or something.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fish, Etc.Tacos/Tostada

Tonight I made fish tacos/tostadas.  I like the crunch of a taco shell but Bill prefers not to eat them because they always shatter into a million little pieces whenever he tries.  So he has his "fillings" as toppings instead, layered on a whole wheat tortilla.  This will also be lunch tomorrow.

I had a haddock fillet that we got the other day from a local fish market.  I also had scallions, cilantro, and Chinese cabbage from the farm.  I bought a few fresh jalapenos that were, according to the sign in the store, from a farm in Maine.

I chopped the white part and the thicker green parts of three large scallions and put them in my cast iron pan that had some olive oil in it.  I saved the more tender green parts--cut them in small pieces with scissors and set them aside as a topping.  I cut up two jalapenos and divided these as well--one for the pan and one for topping.  I took out the seeds, so they were not all that hot--fresh jalapenos usually are not, I find, although once in a while I am surprised. I tend to like things hotter than Bill does anyway, so if it were just for myself, I might have left some seeds.

 I cooked the scallion and jalapeno for a few minutes and then added the fish.  It was still a little frozen.  I didn't bother to cut it up--just put in in as a whole fillet.  I sprinkled one side liberally with garlic and chili powders, black pepper and a bit of oregano.  As the fish cooked, I broke it up with a spatula and mixed everything together in the pan.  It flakes very nicely this way and everything becomes melded.  It doesn't take very long--just a few minutes. 

I filled my taco shells and topped Bill's tostada as follows:
cooked brown rice, then the fish mixture, then some scallion tops, fresh jalapeno, pepper jack and extra sharp cheddar cheeses, snipped cilantro, and chopped Chinese cabbage.  I am not a huge fish fan, generally speaking.  It has to be the right kind of fish prepared in the right way for me to be interested in eating it, and usually I prefer salmon to white fish, but I love this stuff.  Bill loves fish--especially white fish, and he loves this stuff.

I could have added salsa, too, and probably would have if I had an open jar, but all I have is a full jar in the cabinet and I did not want to open it just for a couple of spoonfuls.  I think in future I would only use it if it needed using up because I really like this without it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Heating Up!

Hot.  Humid.  Miserable.  That is Brunswick today.  I know other places have it worse, but Farmer Seth hit the nail on the head when he commented this afternoon that, "This is the kind of thing that people come to Maine to get away from!"  Supposed to start improving tonight.  In the meantime, the veggies on the farm are going to town.  We've been having warm days and rain here and there.  Great for the plants.  The pigs might feel otherwise, though!  They were out of the barn today, lolling around by the U-pick field.  One smart pig was in the water trough sleeping.  S/he almost looked like s/he was smiling.  Others were crammed underneath a cart in the shade.  But two poor piggies had nowhere to go and were out in the sun.  They had their mud puddle though, and made good use of that.

We sort of raced through the picking today, getting more peas, cilantro, chives and flowers.  It was hot out there.  In the farm share pick-up area, we discovered two giant fans.  I considered getting a chair and plunking myself down for the rest of the day, but figured I would be in the way, so I picked up my food instead.  We got a head of butter lettuce, a bunch of huge scallions, a head of cabbage (we took Chinese again, but we also had the choice of regular cabbage), two summer squash, a cucumber, a bunch of beautiful red beets with the lovely leaves still attached (yay!  I will cook these), and of course, I got another bag of chard.  I did end up freezing last week's share of chard yesterday afternoon because I realized that we would probably be getting more today.  I have to say, the idea of having my chard for the vats of soup I cook all the time in the winter is very appealing!!  Next week the basil begins, I am told, so I may be freezing some pesto, too!

We also bought a couple dozen eggs and a bag of local dried beans from the farm store and stopped to chat with Farmer Seth--I was conveniently located in front of the giant fan. 

Because of the heat I think we will do another salad tonight--this is a repeat of last night.  I had made cole slaw Sunday night with the last of last week's Chinese cabbage, some carrots, onions, and a fresh jalapeno (these last 3 things were not from the farm).  I don't like cole slaw dressed with mayo, so I made a vinaigrette, but I poured a little too much on.  So yesterday I made a salad of it.  I added some lettuce from last week's share, a bit more onion, some chard stems and baby leaves that I had chopped before freezing the rest of the chard, a hard boiled egg, some extra sharp cheddar cheese, and some smoked trout that we had gotten from a local fish market.  I needed no dressing because of the overdressed coleslaw.  I still have some slaw left, so I will pretty much do the same thing tonight, although now I have chives, cilantro, cucumber, and peas to add to the bowl!  We should finish the red leaf lettuce from last week tonight.  I have some multigrain bread to go along with the salad.  There will be no unnecessary heat in my kitchen tonight!!!