Thursday, June 30, 2011

Salad Greens for Breakfast

Today's breakfast was whole grain rye toast spread with my favorite jalapeno-cilantro hummus and topped with salad greens and scallions from our farm share this week.  The hummus is from NH, so can be considered local.  It's Merrimack River (I think) Hummus and comes in several varieties, others of which I also like a lot, but the jalapeno cilantro is the best hummus I ever had.  I get it at a natural food store on Maine St here in Brunswick. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Quick and Easy

Needed something quick tonight for supper, so I sauteed some broccoli stalk and the white part of a few scallions, along with garlic, crushed red pepper and some dried Italian seasoning, then added the florets and some chard.  Made an omelet for Bill, placed it on part of a mini loaf of brown bread that had been cut in half and topped with the veggie mixture.  I had an open face omelet--instead of folding the egg over the cheese, I left the egg flat, turning once.  After flipping, I topped with the last of some leftover brown rice, some cheese, and the veggies.  I had this with the rest of the strawberries from our share this week.  They do not last long!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pick-Up Again!

We went off to the farm this afternoon for another veggie pick-up.  All I had left from last week were a few lettuce leaves and one kohrabi (the only reason I had that was because I was waiting for Bill to photograph it, which he has now done).  I finished the chard/kale/bok choy for lunch, sauteed with a bit of onion, kohlrabi, chili and garlic powders with cheese over rice.  I tested the little antennae things on the kohlrabi because I wasn't sure whether they would be too woody to use.  They were fine to eat raw, so I just chopped them up.  I had about a quarter of a started kohrabi bulb from last week, which I peeled and chopped.  I added this to the onion and cooked in a bit of olive oil, then added the garlic and chili powders and cooked it a bit. Then I threw in the greens that I had chopped and took the pan off the heat.  They wilted nicely while the rice was heating up.  A little habanero cheese topped it all off nicely!

So today we picked up a head of leaf lettuce, a mix of spinach, lettuce, and escarole (could have gotten some endive as well, but Bill doesn't care for it, so I left it there), a bowl of chard (could have mixed this with kale, but chose not to), 2 bunches of scallions, a kohlrabi, a bunch of broccoli, and 3 containers of strawberries.  We also picked up a package of garlic sausage and chorizo, as well as a 2 pound bag of locally grown dried beans from the farm store. 

It's hot again today, so we will be having tuna sandwiches (with plenty of lettuce and scallions!) and the leftover macaroni salad for supper.  I have divided the strawberries--some for tonight and some for tomorrow!  Bill has to leave very early and bring his lunch with him tomorrow, so I have put his strawberries into a container for easy grabbing and will be making him a big salad with the mixed greens, scallions, broccoli, sausage, grated kohlrabi, and cheese.  Some whole grain bread will round his lunch off nicely.  I will also do the yogurt thing--a little lemon curd stirred into vanilla yogurt along with blueberries and walnuts.  I also like coconut in mine, but Bill's not much of a coconut fan unless it's in a candy bar :-)

We were greeted by a sign at the door to the farm store/pick-up room that said peas will be ready next week!  Yay!

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Menu Staple

Our supper tonight will not contain anything from our farm share--supposed to get hot today (80ish) and since I do not want to be cooking in the heat, I have thrown together a macaroni salad for tonight that we can have with a sandwich.

We will, however, have greens in our lunch!  The past few days have been cool and rainy, so I have felt free to use the oven.  The other night I did a variation on the rice and eggs bake that I made almost two weeks ago.  I used a little more rice and added most of the greens (a mix of kale, bok choy, and chard) to it.  I can see that this will be a new menu staple here.  It is quick to make, tastes great (even reheated), leftovers are just as good as the first day, and it is so versatile.

So here's what I did--bear in mind that you can alter this in any way you want.  It is very accommodating, so exact measurements are not necessary.
3 1/2- 4 cups of cooked brown rice--place in bowl.
Chop an onion and saute in a little olive oil.  Chop greens.  When onions are just about brown, turn off heat and add greens, stirring until they wilt.  Add to rice with herbs/spices of your choice.  This time I used garlic powder, chili powder, and oregano.
Add grated or cubed cheese.  This time I used about 1 1/2 cups of a mix of extra sharp cheddar and hot habanero (very little of this as it has lots of heat).
Lightly beat eggs--I used 8.
Mix everything well and pour into greased pans.  I used an 8 inch square pan and a 9 inch pie plate this time, but I could just as easily have used two pie plates.  If you use a 9 by 13, cooking time may be longer.  Bake at 400 or 425 for about 1/2 an hour or until browned and set.  Cut into squares/wedges and serve..

I wanted to make a lot for leftovers.  We had this for dinner Saturday and Sunday with chicken apple sausage.  You can make less very easily if you want.  Bill pointed out that it would be good with sausage bits in the rice dish itself and I think he's right.  We got some Italian sausage at the farm last week that would be great in this--just saute with the onion after chopping into small pieces. Bacon or ham would work well, too, I think. Change the veggies if you want or add peppers or other things.  It would be good sweet, too, I think.  Just change the cheese to cottage cheese or ricotta.  Cream cheese?  Add a bit of cinnamon and a dash of sugar if you want.  Vanilla extract?  Fruit juice?  Put in fruit instead of veg--peaches, pears, berries, apples--whatever you want.  This is essentially a bread pudding with rice instead of the bread cubes and that's great for me--sometimes the bread is too heavy and sits like a brick in my stomach.  The rice works better for me and I like the taste better, too

The fact that this can be made in so many ways means that you won't get tired of it and it can be made with whatever you have around.  The fact that leftovers reheat well and taste great means that it's good for any meal of the day.  It is also good cold, so it can be cut into squares/wedges and packed in lunches or grabbed for a quick breakfast.  I can see that I will be making a lot of this.  I will be able to make it in the summer on days when it is not too hot and have the leftovers available for days when it is too hot to use the oven. 

Tomorrow is pick-up day again. I am looking forward to seeing what new thing is in our share this week!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Week 3

The strawberries are here!  Yay!  According to the farm blog, the weather has been much better for the crops and the farmers.  If it does not rain too much, we may get another batch of strawberries in the near future--fingers crossed!

Besides the two containers of strawberries, we also picked up 2 heads of leaf lettuce, spinach, arugula, hot mustard and tatsoi.  On the other side of the room were kale, chard, baby bok choy, and 2 kohlrabi.
This comes at a good time--it is warm enough here today that I don't care to turn on anything that sends heat out into the air, so we will have salad tonight.  This will probably consist of lettuce, spinach, arugula, hot mustard, tatsoi, grated kohlrabi, cheese, hard boiled egg, and tuna.  We have corn muffins left, made with cornmeal, oatmeal, and whole wheat flour, so we can have that with the salad.  And some strawberries afterward :-)

I love the kohlrabi.  It is the purple kind and so like an abstract sculpture.  It is like a natural piece of art.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Last of Last Week's Chard

Tomorrow is pick-up day at the farm again.  Actually, we can choose to go on either Tuesday or Friday each week, but Tuesday is the more convenient day for us, so we go then.  I had some chard and a little bit of lettuce left from last week's pick-up.  I finished the scallions yesterday and the chives from two weeks ago on pizza Saturday night.  The lettuce will probably be eaten for lunch tomorrow--perhaps on a tuna sandwich or something--we'll see.  Tonight for supper, though, I wanted to use up the beautiful chard.  It is just so pretty and colorful--the dark green leaves against the bright red and yellow stems.  So into a pan went some olive oil, a sliced onion, and a package of spinach and garlic chicken sausage that I had chopped.  I cooked this until the onion was starting to brown.  I started a pot of water to boil so I could throw in some frozen tortellini.  I added some Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper to the onions and sausage, turned the heat down to medium, and stirred once in a while as the water boiled and the tortellini cooked.  When that was ready to be drained, I added the chard that I had roughly chopped to the onion and sausage, turned off the burner (electric stove, so it stays hot for a time after it's turned off) and let it sit while I drained the tortellini and put it in bowls.  I stirred the chard around a bit just until it was a really bright color and slightly wilted.  This I spooned over the tortellini.  We also had corn muffins.

I don't know yet whether there will be more chard in our farm share tomorrow.  I kind of hope there is--it's so versatile.  I have used it both cooked and raw in salad this week and it has been great both ways, so I would certainly welcome more, but we'll see tomorrow afternoon!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Variation on the Theme of Muffin

I made another version of my stand-by soaked oat muffins this morning--lemon-peach-almond.  All of the variations of this recipe have been inspired by the "Lynne's Muffins" recipe in the New Laurel's Kitchen Cookbook.

Put 2 cups of uncooked rolled oats (thick cut or regular--you can use quick if that's all you have, but I don't like this as much) in a container with a lid.  Pour 1 1/2 cups of vanilla coconut milk (the kind in the refrigerator case next to the soy milk) over the oats.  If you don't want to use this, use soy milk or regular milk.  Place the lid on the container and refrigerate overnight or for at least several hours.

When ready to bake, pour oat mixture into a bowl.
Add:
1/4 cup sugar or brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten (you can add only 1 egg if your oat mixture is very wet, but I usually add two)
2 teaspoons lemon extract
I threw in some poppy seeds, too, because I found some in the cabinet that I had bought from the bulk jar at the local natural food store, but these are quite optional)
Mix this all together and then add:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Stir together just until blended and then stir in some chopped peaches and sliced almonds.

Spoon into greased or papered muffin tins.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. 

Remove from pan and cool on rack.

As I think I've said before, these are great because you can make them in a bazillion different ways; they are healthy; they taste great; they are filling; and they are great to grab and go.  Bill gets up and goes to work very early and I always try to have these on hand for him to take along.  These are not greasy and fluffy like many muffins that you buy--they are actual food.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Veggie Appreciation!

This afternoon for lunch I had a big salad.  There are times that I crave salad--usually when the weather gets warm (when it's cooler out, I crave soup).  This was one of the simplest salads I have ever eaten and probably the most delicious.  We've all had the restaurant side salad that consists of a bowl of white iceberg lettuce and a wilted cucumber slice, along with a wrinkly tomato wedge.  Today my salad was also made mostly of lettuce and it hardly seems right to call them both salad.  I had a big bowl of lettuce mix and spinach from the farm, to which I added a farm scallion, a hard boiled egg and a bit of cheese.  I drizzled this with some of the vinaigrette I made last night.  Heaven!  I was reminded again that when you have really fresh food that has not been bred for long life rather than taste, you really do not need elaborate preparation, sauces, etc.  It's simple food and it tastes amazing.  It is too bad that most of us have forgotten what real food actually tastes like!

Supper tonight--I pondered all morning.  I knew it would involve chard.  I decided to do a rice experiment, so I cooked one cup of brown rice--I would have used leftovers, which I usually keep in the fridge, but I did not have enough, so had to cook more.  I'll have to plan better next time!  I took some out for Heather to eat plain and I did have a little left in the fridge, so I would say that I ended up with 2 1/2-3 cups of cooked rice, to which I added some farm chives that I snipped fine, and some dried herbs.  I chopped up some reduced fat provolone cheese and threw that in the bowl.  Then I beat 4 eggs and added those, mixing everything together.  I put this into a square pan that I had sprayed with cooking spray and baked it for half an hour at 400 degrees.  I cut it in squares and topped with veggies that I cooked in a little olive oil.  I put some chopped broccoli stalk, the white part of a few scallions, and a chopped green bell pepper in the pan first.  When those were about done, I added the florets of the broccoli.  I chopped a few chard stalks and put those in, but there were no large ones, so I just roughly chopped the leaves and added those last along with the green part of the scallions.  I cooked them just enough to wilt them.  This was almost instant.  I spooned out some veggies over a rice square and left the rest in the pot, to which I added some leftover spaghetti sauce--Bill likes sauce on his stuff.  It was really good!  Next time I think I would add a little crushed red pepper. 

I am thinking about variations on the rice, too.  It would be great as a base for some Mexican toppings.  Some minced jalapeno would be great in the rice mixture! Or you could leave out the cheese and herbs and use cinnamon and fruit to make it for breakfast.  Lots of possibilities!  Since it is supposed to get hot tomorrow (80ish) I will not be using the oven, so my variations will have to wait!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pick-Up #2


We just got back from the farm where we picked up our farm share for this week.  We were greeted by a field of sheep, who did not want to be where they were and started demanding that someone move them--and since we were standing there, they seemed to think we were the ones who should do this--as quickly as possible!!

The weather is starting to have an affect on the crops, according to Farmer Seth.  It has been mostly very cloudy and cool here with a fair amount of rain.  There have been a few days of warmth/heat and sun, but mostly not (everyone who knows me knows that I LOVE this kind of weather!).  So in the member email yesterday, it said that the broccoli heads would have been bigger and our share would have been larger had the weather been different.  So, OK, I might have to just suck it up and hope for more summer-like weather if I care about the veggies!  But all is not lost--this is just the first planting of broccoli and there is more to come.  The arugula was also affected, apparently.  The other side of that coin, however, is that the greens are LOVING this weather!  I got a big bag of Swiss chard today that is just beautiful with green leaves and yellow or red stems.  I could have mixed some kale with it, but the chard was just so wonderful that I got all chard.  The lettuce mix was also excellent today.  We had the option of mixing and matching with escarole (I think I grabbed a few leaves of this), and frisee, but Bill doesn't like that, so I didn't take any.  There was also more tatsoi, but again, the lettuce was too good to pass up, so I got that.  I brought home some great spinach as well.  I am looking forward to some nice salads, starting with dinner tonight!  Oh yes, we also got two nice bunches of scallions.  We still have a few chives from last week, too.

It is interesting to note that even with the funky weather, there is, as you would expect, more available today in week 2 than there was last week.  I expect there will be more next week.  We have been told to look forward to strawberries, kohlrabi, and zucchini very soon, among other things.  I have already warned Bill and Heather that organic strawberries might just be the thing that causes me to become very, very selfish and hog them all for myself!

 We polished off the soup for lunch today.  Tonight I will make some pasta and ground turkey meatballs with onion and green bell pepper in the sauce.  I will make a side salad using some of our lettuce mix, spinach, scallions, and a vinaigrette that I will make.
good looking chard

Monday, June 13, 2011

Used 'Em Up

I finished the greens from last week's CSA pick-up in a Crock-Pot full of soup I made yesterday.  As I always do, I made extra, so we will have soup again for supper tonight and for lunch tomorrow (which also happens to be pick-up day again!)  I had the soup over rice last night and tonight it will be over some sort of stuffed pasta--tortellini, pierogies, or ravioli.  This batch of soup is something of a bonus.  I love soup, but not in the summer.  I figured that I would be waiting a long time for soup weather, but it was in the low 50s yesterday and raining, so it seemed like a good day to sneak a soup day in there.  More clouds, chance of rain, and 50s again for today and tomorrow.  Yay!

To make the soup, I cut up some boneless, skinless chicken breast (it is easier to do this when it is still partially frozen), and put it in my Crock-Pot along with chopped veggies: 2 small red onions, a green bell pepper, and several carrots.  I added some frozen peas and some chicken broth that I had made and kept in the freezer (I let this thaw before adding).  I cooked all of this on high for a few hours, then turned the pot down to low and added some dried herbs--oregano and basil, along with garlic powder--and the rest of the greens that I had chopped up.  I had swiss chard and bok choy left.  I let this cook for another hour and a half or so and served it over cooked brown rice.


I still have some chives left from last week, but they are doing just fine and the flowers look so pretty there in the jar of water.  I meant to grab a couple and snip them on top of the soup, but I forgot.  Maybe I'll remember tonight!

Friday, June 10, 2011

American Wasteland

I just finished Jonathan Bloom's new book, American Wasteland, which documents the amount and types of food waste in the US.  I was not surprised that a great deal of food gets wasted, but I had no idea of the amount.  My mind is still reeling as I try to wrap my mind around the idea of so much food being wasted EVERY DAY that it would fill the Rose Bowl or that the average family wastes over $2200 worth of food every year.  I should not be surprised at all, though, really.  Food has become something that is no longer respected--it's just another disposable thing in a disposable world.  So much of what people eat these days isn't really food anyway, it's pseudofood, as I call it.  Bloom made the point over and over again in his book that there is a generational divide here and that people who lived through the Great Depression or WWII have very different attitudes toward food--waste to them is shameful, as it is to me.  There is an ethical and a moral dimension to this for me.  It can be illustrated by this story from a dharma talk I listened to last night about preparing rice in a Korean Zen Buddhist monastery.  The rice had to be carefully washed, but not one grain could be wasted.  This was important because people worked hard to provide that rice to the monastics and it was to be highly respected and valued.  That is how we should see our food.  When I worked with Alaska Native people, I heard all the old stories about how one should treat the animal one killed for food.  There were specific rituals one had to engage in otherwise the seals or other animals would not return and the people would starve.  Today we have factory farms, fake food, and we treat food like so much junk.  Or we see it as a hobby or entertainment.  But food is not those things--or, more precisely, it can be those things, but it is so much more.  I was struck by the chapter in the book where Bloom observes a "typical" couple and sees what they have in the fridge and what leads to waste in their home.  He comments that stuff gets lost in the fridge because people can't see it.  I was wondering whether we have become so lazy that we cannot bend down.  Organization is another problem.  Also, people buy ingredients for a recipe, don't use the rest and so it gets wasted.  Well, then, either plan ahead and figure out how you will use the rest before you buy something, substitute something else, or don't buy it.  The best soultion will vary depending on the product.  For example, buttermilk was often wasted in this household.  That one's easy--you don't even have to buy buttermilk.  You can just add some vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk and use that. 

This just shouldn't be so hard.  Yes, it is true that people's habits and attitudes need to change, but we see that this clearly is the case--we know it to be true, or at least most of us do.  As with almost everything else having to do with our patterns of consumption in this country, the way we deal with food across the board is unsustainable and it will change one way or another.  We can embrace this and direct the change or we can continue on as we have been and scramble to deal with the change once it has happened.  So we need to change and the good news is that we can!  We can change our habits, become more aware, and make better choices.  People say they are busy and they just don't have time to cook/think about food/etc.  But you know, people have always been busy and this is important.  And the truth is, being more organized in terms of food preparation really saves time in the long run, in all kinds of ways. 

If we value something enough, we are willing to do what we have to do.  It may be easy to toss a bunch of buttermilk down the drain because after all, it's just buttermilk.  It's not worth much.  But say that buttermilk cost $2 and someone used up 1/4 of it.  What remains is worth $1.50.  If you took that $1.50 and tossed it into the toilet and flushed it, people might be a tad more upset, because they value money--it has worth to them.  Maybe we need to start seeing the worth in food.  I do not just mean its monetary value, because it is much more than that.  But since money is what we value most perhaps that is where it needs to start.  Remember as you are tossing some food into the garbage that you worked to earn the money to buy this food.  It you are throwing away $2200 dollars worth of food every year, then you are, essentially, throwing away $2200.  How many hours did you have to work to earn it?  What else might you have spent that money on?  Would you really take $2200 in cash and throw it away?  Every time you throw away a bit of food that could have been used with a little more planning or careful thought, you are basically throwing away the money that it cost you to buy that food.  Now let's go see what's in the fridge that can be used for lunch today!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

More Greens!

Of course, I used some more greens in last night's supper.  This time it was kale, chard, and baby bok choi.  I had some leftover brown rice in the fridge, so I did a simple saute of the greens and an onion.  This went over the rice and I made an omelet with green bell pepper and some of the chives to go along with the greens and rice.  To do the greens, I put some olive oil in a cast iron skillet.  I chopped up two small red onions and sauteed them in the oil until they were starting to turn a little bit brown.  I had chopped up the kale and I put that in and let it cook for a few minutes.  Then I added the chopped chard and bok choi and cooked until it was wilted.  I sprinkled with garlic powder, black pepper, and some crushed red pepper.  That's it!  None of the greens had thick or woody stems, otherwise I would have chopped those up separately and put them in the skillet with the onions.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Greens

Last night for dinner we had some of the greens that we had picked up at the farm in the afternoon.  They had picked them in the morning.  Fresh, indeed!  Since I knew we would be getting greens, I had planned for this.  Earlier in the day I had cut up some boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cooked them in a little olive oil with a chopped red onion.  I sprinkled them with garlic powder and black pepper.  I also made a kind of Mexican-ish potato salad.  First, I peeled the rest of the potatoes I had in a bag.  Normally I would leave the skins on, but these were sprouting a little and peeling seemed easier than scrubbing and trying to remove all the little sprouts.  I put them on to boil and chopped up a red onion, which I placed in a colander.  I added some frozen corn.  When the potatoes were done, I poured them over the veggies in the colander to drain.  This also thawed the corn and took a bit of the edge off the onion!  This went into a bowl to which I added some finely chopped green bell pepper (or you could use a different colored bell pepper or a couple of jalapenos or other chili peppers of your choice), plus a can each of rinsed and drained kidney and black beans.  I sprinkled some garlic powder, oregano, black pepper and chili powder on this and mixed it up.  I had some chipotle salsa left in a jar so I threw that in and then I poured some vinaigrette over and mixed well.  The chicken and the potato salad went into the fridge to chill.  I used the chicken for sandwiches--cut open a whole grain pita pocket and added some of the greens from the farm (tatsoi, lettuce mix, and mustard greens, snipped into smaller pieces) and some snipped chives.  Then I added the chicken.  For the potato salad, I put some more of the same greens and chives into a bowl and simply spooned the potato salad on top.  For lunch I will have some leftovers and add the chicken to the potato salad instead of having it as a sandwich.  I might add some extra sharp cheddar as well.

For the potato salad, you could use bottled dressing, but I throw together a simple vinaigrette.  This is really easy if you save the mustard bottles you have that just have a little bit of mustard left--you know, that last bit that is really hard to get out of the jar/bottle and onto your bread!  I used a Grey Poupon jar to make the dressing yesterday.  I simply added 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup vinegar to the jar and shook it up.  because I was adding herbs to the salad, I did not need them in the dressing, but you could add herbs if you'd like--fresh or dried.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pick-Up Day #1


We just returned home from the farm where we did our first pick-up of the CSA season. We had gotten an email saying there would be greens and chives this time. I was thinking of greens in terms of that spring mix you use for salads. But there was more than that! There were actually 6 different kinds of greens--they divided them up between 3 types of greens that you would eat raw or cooked, and 3 types that would be cooked before eating. Each group had a metal bowl to mix and match, so you could fill the bowl with all of one type, or you could do two or all three. I chose some of each. So in the raw or cooked category--which I will probably mostly use raw--I got mustard greens, lettuce mix, and tatsoi. In the cooked group, I got kale, baby bok choy, and swiss chard. I separated things when we got home and put each type of green in its own bag. We tasted some mustard when we got home, as I do not think I have ever had it before. It has a little kick, which I really like! My bunch of chives still has the flowers on top and they look so pretty, so I pulled out a few chives to use with dinner tonight and placed the rest of the bunch in a jar of water. I will just pull them out as I need them! They provided an information sheet about greens and the particular type of greens that we got today. It included cooking ideas, a recipe, and storage tips--very helpful information.

It was pretty low-key today. They said that Tuesdays are usually slower than Fridays and earlier is slower than later, so I wasn't surprised. I was trying to imagine what it would be like when the season really gets going--there will be many more bins of different kinds of food and people milling about trying to decide how they want to mix and match. The U-pick fields will be bustling. Anyway, we have begun!
Farmer Seth and his apprentices

(from l-r) baby bok choi, chad and kale

Chives are in the green container

kale, chard and bok choi

lettuce mix, mustard greens and tatsoi

Saturday, June 4, 2011

CSA Begins!

We got the call from Crystal Spring Farm this morning--our CSA pick-ups begin next week! Yay!