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.