Thursday, June 28, 2012

Food to the Elders

Today Bill was scheduled to do the food delivery to the elders through MidCoast Hunger Prevention Program.  There are deliveries each Thursday--two routes each week and four altogether.  Those who are enrolled in the program call in every 14 days to say what kind of food they would like and what their bread preferences are and stuff like that.  Then volunteers put together the boxes.  When the delivery people show up, they gather the bread, load the boxes into the vehicle and set out.  Since I was not scheduled for the soup kitchen on this Thursday, I went along to help.  What a comedy it turned out to be!  Bill has gone out three times with various people to familiarize himself with the routes, but today we got some places he had not been.  We found the first four places just fine and got the food to the elders.  One woman asked us to take the food out of the banana box and take the box back with us, so we did.  Then she came to the door as we were getting ready to leave and asked if we could come back in and take some of the food, too.  She said she requested "no green stuff" so she would rather see it go to someone who could use it.  The green stuff consisted of some kind of cooking greens, a quart bag of broccoli, and a small cucumber.  The last two things went to the next person on the list, but she didn't want the cooking greens--she tasted it and declared it yucky.  That ended up back at the food bank.  The next place on the list was not familiar to us, so we relied on the sparse general directions that were on the sheet.  These were wrong, as it turned out.  We drove around in circles for a while and then stopped and asked for directions.  We were very near, but the directions had said to bear right and we were supposed to bear left.  So we did.  We still could not find the road, so we asked a woman standing near the road talking to her friend.  We had gone past it.  We turned around and saw, hidden in the foliage, the street sign we were looking for, which led us to the next street, which is where we were supposed to be.  But wait!  The fun did not stop there!  The sheet said we were to go to #27.  Too bad the numbers stopped at 21!  So, did we want #2, #7, or #21.  It was a mystery and we drove back and forth looking for the non-existent #27. Happily, the recipient saw us and since he was expecting his food box today, figured that if he ever wanted to actually get it, he had better come out and gesture a little, which he did!  It was #7.  Finally we were down to one.  This was a complete and total mystery as neither of us had heard of the road or the trailer park the road where the road was located.  We ran into the library, Bill grabbed a computer and we pulled up the Google direction thing, I squinted at the map to orient myself and scribbled the directions.  Off we went again, back to where we had been and past it.  We got off the main road and looked for our left turn.  One and a half miles later, we found it.  Then we had a hairpin curve that I do not remember on the map.  The street signs petered out before we got to Franklin Parkway (when I think "parkway" I usually think "garden state" along with it, not some dinky road in an out-of-the-way trailer park in Maine, but I digress.) but by a process of elimination, we found the road we figured must be it.  Some guy was delivering something to one of the places on the road, so we stopped and asked, thinking he must know where he was!  He did and we were in the right place.  Our elder was not at home, but the directions said to leave the box on her deck in that event, so we did.  I hope no critters got into it.  We drove through a rain shower on the way home--hope her stuff didn't get wet.  We finally found our way back 2 hours after we'd started.  It probably should have taken 45 minutes or an hour.  Maybe next time. 

I really did not feel like cooking supper, but I did it anyway.  I had a little bit of unsweetened plain soymilk that needed to be used, so I cooked a couple of pieces of chicken in the Crock-Pot overnight and left it in the fridge to chill.  This afternoon I removed the skin and took the meat off the bones.  Heather had some plain chicken and rice, and I made curry for Bill and myself.  I used the chicken, the broccoli we got the other day from the farm, some scapes, an onion, a few carrots, and a couple of jalapenos with the ribs and seeds removed. When the veggies were crisp-tender, I added the soymilk--it was probably about a pint--and some curry powder.  I had cooked some brown rice, so we had it with that.  We both ate tonight and there are leftovers for a couple of lunches as well.  Tomorrow we plan to barbecue as it is supposed to be hot this weekend and I like to have the stuff cooked and ready in the fridge.  I will make a corn and bean salad to go with the stuff and we have salad stuff as well.  I am prepared with iced tea and coffee in the fridge and I just got another 1/2 gallon of chocolate soymilk to go in my iced coffee.  I am as prepared for this summer weekend as I will ever be!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Herbs and Eggs and Stuff

Tonight's supper was simple--egg sandwiches with garlic scapes, purple scallions (bulb and green part), jalapeno, thinly sliced cheddar cheese, salsa, and cilantro.  I put a little olive oil in a small pan and added some chopped scapes, the chopped scallion bulb, and a jalapeno with seeds and ribs removed (Bill) and with only a few removed (me).  I stirred this around a little and added two beaten eggs, making sure the egg spread to cover the bottom of the pan.  When the bottom was cooked, I flipped it over, added the cheese and folded it in half.  When the egg was thoroughly cooked, I placed it on thinly sliced whole wheat bread and topped with salsa, the snipped green part of the scallion, and some snipped cilantro.  It was quite good.  We had bowls of the strawberries we picked at the farm yesterday on the side.  If I want dessert later, I will have a bowl of lowfat vanilla Greek yogurt with mixed berries and maybe a sliced banana.  Yum!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Soup Kitchen, Scapes, and CSA

I went in to help at the soup kitchen this morning because two of the three people who share cooking duties on Tuesdays were not there.  I helped the cook who was left--we made strata.  Let me tell you that 18 dozen eggs are heavy and hard to beat, even with an amazingly large whisk!  Adding 5 quarts of milk does not really make it any easier, either!  Ah well, a little upper body workout never hurts.

The cook really did not need any help once the six large pans of strata (24 servings per pan) were in the oven and we had cleaned up, so I came home, bringing with me some garlic scapes that a food pantry volunteer had brought in.  I had not had these before and I was happy to try them.  They are quite good!  This reminds me that I want to get some garlic to plant.  I did this 30 years or so ago when we lived in New Hampshire--I planted the garlic and kept the pot in a sunny window.  It was not the kind of garlic that produces scapes, but it did produce a scallion-like green shoot that tasted garlicky and I would cut these and use them in my cooking.  I need to get some of that going again.

This afternoon we went off for our trip to the farm to pick up our CSA share.  We got two heads of lettuce--I do not think that I have ever really paid so much attention to lettuce and how absolutely beautiful and varied it is until now.  We get different kinds through the CSA and we are getting other kinds at the food bank when the local farms that sell at the farmer's markets in town donate the most incredible lettuces I have ever seen.  Bill is going to take some photos soon that will be printed and matted to be hung around the food pantry.  Anyway, we got the lettuce, along with chard, kohlrabi leaves (which we are told are like kale), purple scallions, purple kohlrabi (I love the purples!  There was green kohlrabi, too, but it just does not look as festive.), and two heads of broccoli.  Then we headed down to the strawberry field, where a section was available for U-pick.  This is the best strawberry year the farm has had, they say, and they cannot keep up.  So they are letting people pick their own.  We were encouraged to sample as we picked, so we did.  I have to say that I really appreciate these little berries because they taste absolutely incredible and the season is so short.  I know I will be able to get strawberries in the grocery store and I love strawberries, so I probably will.  But the strawberries we get from the farm might as well be a completely different thing. That is the case with many of the things we bring home from the farm--when something is grown right here and travels two miles to my kitchen instead of 3000 or more, it just tastes better!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Baby Broccoli, Leeks, and Potatoes with Pesto

I cooked this for lunch yesterday.
On the weekends, Bill works until 7, so we have our big meal at lunchtime and our smaller meal in the evening--he eats at work.  Yesterday and today lunch was some baked salmon with baby broccoli, leeks, and potatoes with pesto. I was thinking how to use the last of the pesto that I had taken out of the freezer last week.  I had thought it was gone, but when I was organizing the freezer to get ready for the upcoming veggie season, I discovered 4 more containers that just needed cheese added.  After I did my happy dance at this wonderful discovery, I left two in the freezer and took out two.  I figure this will last us until it's basil time again. We had some left in the fridge that needed to be used, but I did not really want to use it on pasta, so I decided to use it with veggies.  I happened to have the baby broccoli that needed using first, but I could have just as easily used the regular broccoli I have in the fridge.  I put a glug of olive oil in the pan, added a chopped leek and the baby broccoli and stirred it around.  I added some chopped, cooked potato, garlic powder and black pepper.  I dumped this in a bowl and folded in the pesto.  While I was doing this, the salmon was in the oven baking.  I had sprinkled it with garlic powder and Italian seasoning and ground some black pepper on it.  There is still salmon left, so I might make some salmon salad.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Eating from the Fridge

Yesterday was still hot, although not as miserable as the day before, so I did not want to eat anything that felt too heavy.  I decided to use up the rest of the grilled chicken we had in the fridge.  I cooked a chopped Vidalia onion, diced grilled chili peppers, a zucchini, and some corn I cut off the cob in a little olive oil.  I topped some brown rice with this mixture, the grilled chicken, some salsa, and some snipped fresh cilantro.  In mine I added an extra cherry pepper.  It was quite good. 
This is why I love having leftovers and why we grill a lot of food when we do grill.  It's convenience food that is actually food and not the junky pseudo-food that comes in all of the boxes at the store!  Because we grilled extra the other day, I had what I needed and this literally took me less than 15 minutes to throw together.

Today Bill is working an extra long shift because one of his coworkers has the day off.  He took leftovers for supper and I will probably make myself my version of a chef's salad, since I still have plenty of beautiful lettuce from a local farm--I will add some carrot, bell pepper, hard cooked egg, tuna, and a bit of asiago cheese, I think.  I have a jar of lime vinaigrette in the fridge with which to dress the salad.  I have cooked a lot this week, so I think I will take today off :-)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Soup Kitchen: Day 2

I went in this morning for my second job shadow shift in the soup kitchen.  Different day, different crew, same great time.  Of course, every group has its own dynamics and I did see how Thursday works slightly differently than Tuesday, but each group got the job done--we fed lots of people--and that's what counts!  Today we served 134 meals--in an hour and 15 minutes.  I have noticed that the same thing happens when I work in the food bank and the soup kitchen.  I go in at 8:30 and right away the crew is faced with lots and lots of food that has to be either processed/sorted and moved into the food pantry or prepared and cooked.  It seems like there is no way it will happen on time.  And then it does.  We work pretty efficiently and steadily most days and there comes that moment where it gets quiet and I look around and realize that we did it again.  In the food bank, that's basically when we go home and let the food pantry people take over.  In the soup kitchen we all sit down for a few minutes before we move to the next phase of the operation, which is serving.  Then things get busy again for a while.

I decided to try and volunteer at MidCoast Hunger Prevention because I felt my usual spring depression coming on a little earlier than usual this year and I knew that things would not go well if I simply sat inside all summer and brooded about being hot, tired, and eager for it all to be over.  I knew I needed to do something that would get me out and interacting with people at a scheduled time each week and that was useful in some way.  I had no idea how great this would turn out to be.  I have met some wonderful people.  I think the work done at MCHPP is exceptional and I am happy to be a part of it.  Things are well organized; people make extremely good use of the available resources; and food waste is as minimal as possible.  I enjoy what I am doing a lot--and I have found that my strategy seems to be working.  I still do not like the summer.  I will still be glad when it is over.  But I am actually enjoying myself in spite of it all.  I am not depressed as I usually am at this time of year.  I am really glad I am where I am and that I listened to my gut--I am right where I need to be at this moment!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Herb Demonstration

Today I did a cooking demonstration for food pantry clients at MidCoast Hunger Prevention Program.  In a nice bit of luck, I had decided to give out cold food, so the only cooking that needed to be done was to boil potatoes.  Bill did this for me yesterday morning when I went off to cook at the soup kitchen, so they were nicely chilled this morning.  Today is the hottest day of the year so far--just above 90 with humidity that pushes up the heat index.  The space in which I work is relatively small, especially when 30 people crowd in, so adding heat of any kind would not have been a good idea!  I made a handout with various suggestions on how to use different herbs and I included a few recipes.  I made two of them there in the lobby today--Herbed Potato Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Bean and Corn Salad with Herbs and Lime Vinaigrette.  Some people were put off by the abundance of vegetables, but those that did try it liked it.  The bean/corn salad was the more popular of the two--and I think the potato salad would have been better with some add-ins, but I just left it plain.  Rather than adding cilantro to te serving bowls, I snipped some into little cups and let people take it if they wanted it.  When I told them it was there, most people responded with, "I don't even know what that is."  A few people seemed surprised that they actually liked the food and some came back for seconds.  Most of the handouts were taken and I had some good conversations with people.  I talked while I was making and serving the salads about ways to store and use herbs--several people said that they don't take them because they spoil quickly or because they don't know what to do with them.  Because I had worked in the food bank processing the food for the pantry before my demo, I was able to tell people what was in there and how they might use it.  Many of them said they would take the herbs when they were offered and try them out--whether or not they did, I have no way of knowing, but at least some of them might be more willing to try them out!  The food pantry coordinator said that she would make more copies of the handout and leave them in the pantry by the herbs so people can take them when they come through.  I have been doing these demos on Wednesdays, but the pantry is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Handout is below!

Herbs are a simple way to add flavor and some nutrients to your food. They are not hard to use. You can easily preserve them by hanging them in bunches upside down in a dry place. They will dry out and you can crumble them into jars for later use or you can use them as tea. Mint is especially good for this. A tea made from fresh rosemary can be used as a hair conditioner. Simply place a sprig or more of rosemary in a cup or jar and pour boiling water over the top. Let steep for 15 or 20 minutes, remove rosemary and let liquid cool.

The simplest way to use herbs is to throw them into a dish you are already making. You can chop or snip fresh herbs into salads of all kinds.
--put rosemary and/or sage in pan while roasting potatoes

--sprinkle herbs on top of twice-baked potatoes or deviled eggs

--parsley, cilantro, chives work well in Mexican dishes

--oregano, basil, and parsley can be used in pasta dishes

--herbs can be added to scrambled eggs or omelets:
Beat 3 or 4 eggs. Add ¼ cup finely chopped parsley leaves, 2 sprigs of tarragon that have been snipped (stems and all), and 1 bunch of chives, snipped. Pour into pan and scramble. Top with shredded cheese. Serves 2.

--put dill, parsley, chives in potato salad:

Potato Salad with Herbs and Lemon Vinaigrette
Chop and boil potatoes. Drain them. Place in bowl and let cool a little bit. Add some chopped hard cooked egg, if desired. Add a bunch of chopped parsley leaves, snipped dill, and snipped chives to the bowl and mix everything together. Pour dressing over the top, refrigerate until chilled. You can add frozen peas, if you want—just put them into the bowl and pour the drained hot potatoes on top of them.

When you are making the potato salad, use as much dressing as you need and refrigerate the rest for use in other salads. You can easily change the amount of dressing you make—my rule of thumb is 2 parts oil to one part lemon or lime juice or vinegar. If you use olive oil, it will get hard in the fridge. This is normal. Just take it out and let it come to room temperature before using.

--2/3 cup oil
--1/3 cup lemon juice—either bottled or squeezed from the lemon—I squeeze lemons and limes and put the juice in ice cube trays. Once frozen, I take the juice cubes and place in plastic bags to store in the freezer. These can be thawed out and used in the dressing or just use the cubes in water, iced tea, or smoothies
--about 1 teaspoon mustard of your choice—if you have a mustard jar that is empty, you can make your dressing right in the jar—you will not have to add any mustard because the stuff that clings to the side of the jar will come off when you shake everything together
--garlic powder to taste
Place everything in a jar and shake or whisk together. Store in refrigerator.
Bean and Corn Salad with Herbs and Lime Vinaigrette
Drain and rinse one can of black beans and one can of corn (or use frozen corn or corn cut off the cob). Add a finely chopped jalapeno or other chili pepper, if you like them. You could also add chopped bell pepper if you don't like the heat. Add a bunch of snipped chives. Either add the cilantro to the salad or sprinkle some on top for those that want it. You can also add parsley if you want, either along with the cilantro or instead of it. Pour lime vinaigrette over everything, place in fridge for several hours for flavors to blend.

Optional add-ins:
If you prefer pinto or kidney beans, use them instead. If you like, add some chopped, cooked potatoes to the salad, too, or cooked rice. Cooked chicken would be great here, too!

Lime Vinaigrette
This is the same as the lemon vinaigrette above, except using lime juice. You can also add a sprinkle of chili powder to this if you like.

--2/3 cup oil
--1/3 cup lime juice
--about a teaspoon of mustard
--garlic powder to taste
--sprinkle of chili powder, optional

Place everything in a bowl and shake or whisk together. Store leftovers in fridge.


Both of the dressing variations can be used in many ways. Use them to dress tossed salads, chef's salads, pasta salads or chopped vegetable salad. You can cook any vegetables you like until they are crisp-tender, add the chopped herbs of your choice, and dress with either of the dressings here. Chill.

All of the salads here are great for barbecues, cookouts and summer eating in general. You do any cooking in the morning when it is cool and have a selection of cold salads ready to eat straight from the fridge!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fish from the Grill

Tonight for supper, we had leftover fish that we grilled last night.  This was placed on the still hot but expiring coals as we left them to cool.  I put a little oil (you could use non-stick spray) on a piece of foil and placed very thinly sliced potato, onion, and red bell pepper.  Then I placed a piece of haddock on top of the pile.  I forgot to sprinkle the herbs onto the first packet, though I remembered for the last two.  I had the plain one tonight, topped with chopped fresh cilantro and grilled hot peppers--an orange chili and a cherry pepper.  We had a lovely salad as well, with red romaine lettuce, scallions, radishes, and tomato.  Bill had some cooked carrot in his as well.

Soup Kitchen: Day 1

I went in this morning for my first job shadow training shift so I will be able to start cooking in the soup kitchen next month.  What a great group of people I worked with today!  They were so helpful--very clear directions and they explained and demonstrated things so well that I learned a great deal.  I feel like I have a good handle on how things work and what needs to get done.  They were all very friendly as well.  I had a great time.  We made sloppy joes and garden salad and there were sliced strawberries as well as potato and pasta salads from either Bowdoin College or a local restaurant--(the person who knew was out picking up more food!).  And there was lots of dessert from the Hannaford bakery.  The dessert is always popular!  The sloppy joes went down pretty well, too--we served lots of seconds and even a couple of thirds.  Altogether we served 132 meals today between 11 and 12:15 and my colleagues told me that was a slow day!  I will go back Thursday this week and then next Tuesday to finish training and then on Thursdays in July I will be cooking in the soup kitchen!

Getting Out the Grill

Shortly after moving into this apartment, Bill was going down the street when he saw a grill by the side of the road with a "FREE" sign on it.  He decided to look, even though he figured it would have holes or something.  It was practically new.  Since it was October and we figured we would not be doing much grilling at the time, he brought it home and put it in the attic, where it stayed until a couple of months ago.  For some reason, although we talked a lot about getting it down and grilling last summer, we never did. We have a lovely large yard here with lots of big trees, wild roses, iris, and other green things.  There is a concrete rectangle under a nice big tree as well.  The other day, the people that own the building put a nice big table out there along with 6 very comfortable chairs.  I was standing at the sink on Friday when I spotted this new addition out the window and made my afternoon plans accordingly.  After lunch I took my book and some iced tea out there, sat down, read, and visited with my neighbor.  It was very relaxing.  The table and chairs make spending time out there--whether reading, visiting, grilling, or anything else, much more comfortable, so we decided that since this is one of Bill's days off, we would bring the grill down--and I told the others who live here that we will leave it there for all of us to use. 

When we grill we like to make a lot of food--none of the heat given off by the coals is wasted and I get lots of leftovers to use for days to come.  Since it is supposed to get miserably hot midweek, this was a perfect day to get things cooked and ready to eat, so we planned accordingly.  First we put a cut up chicken on the grill, along with a bunch of hot peppers.  A little later, we added some turkey burgers.  Heather likes hot dogs, so those went on as the peppers came off.  Finally, when everyting else was done and Bill was ready to close the grill and let the coals die down, we placed the foil packets--there were three of them with very thinly sliced potatoes, onions, red bell pepper strips, and haddock that had been sprinkled with garlic powder and Italian seasoning, and two with the potatoes and onions sprinkled with garlic powder and black pepper.  We always try to do this so we can utilize the heat that is still being generated as the coals die down--usually we just leave them on the grill with the lid down while we eat and clean up and find a moment to go get them in. 

Bill and I had a turkey burger tonight on whole grain bread piled high with beautiful red romaine lettuce leaves, sliced tomato, onion, and pickle.  We also had a fruit salad.  The rest of the stuff is in the fridge where it can either be the basis for some inspired meals or something that I can grab and eat as I try to survive the heat.  I take heart in the fact that even as we approach the summer solstice and will see the hottest days of the year so far, they will not last long this time and best of all, by the end of the week we will be losing daylight a little bit every day, as we head toward the wonderful part of the year that is not summer!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chips and Stuff

Yesterday morning I made another batch of tortilla chips.  I get extra thin corn tortillas, put a stack on the cutting board, cut in half and then each half into thirds.  I bake at 400 degrees until they are crispy.  These have a lot of flavor with no fat or salt and they are very versatile.  We have been eating a lot of homemade salsa over the past week and using the chips to scoop.  For the past few days I have been using them to scoop up hummus--I tried an avocado hummus for the first time and it was quite good.  We have also used them for Mexican style bean dip and they are great for nachos because they don't sog out or break as easily as the chips in a bag.
You can also use them like crackers.  In the past I have also brushed them with a little olive oil and sprinkled chili powder on them, but usually when I make them now I leave them plain so that they will go work with whatever foods I want.

We've been eating some of the pesto I found in the freezer the other day.  We had it yesterday with whole wheat penne and chicken.  This afternoon, Bill had a repeat (on the weekends we usually eat our bigger meal in the afternoon before he goes to work) and I had some thin toast spread with pesto and thin slices of extra sharp cheddar cheese.  I also finished the leftover bok choy and onions from the other night.

Next week I am starting my "job shadow" training to be a cook in the soup kitchen at MCHPP.   I guess the average number of people served in a day is 120.  I have never before cooked for that many people. I do have a tendency to cook more than we need for a single meal because I so highly value leftovers, but this is a whole other proposition.  Still, I am looking forward to it.  I am sure I will learn a lot.  At the very least I will learn how to maneuver in an industrial kitchen!

On Wednesday I will do a demo on the theme of herbs.  Sometimes a lot of fresh herbs come into the food bank/pantry and because people don't know what to do with them, they don't take them.  I got some information from my cousin, Karla, The Artful Herbalist ,which helped me a lot when I was making my handout.  I was able to provide information and general ideas about what herbs to use with what foods.  Because it is supposed to be in the upper 80s and I will be working in a very small space, I decided to go with cold dishes based on the herbs and foods we frequently see in the food bank/pantry.  So I will be making Herbed Potato Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Black Bean and Corn Salad with cilantro and Lime Vinaigrette.  Lemons and limes come through a lot, too, and this is one way to use them.

Tomorrow we plan to barbecue a bunch of stuff in the backyard so I will have lots of precooked food ready to use in various ways.  It is shaping up to be a busy food week!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Smoothie Season

This morning I went through the freezer in order to see what was there and to make room for the upcoming veggie season.  I only discarded a couple of little things, so that is good.  I did take out a few packages of chicken.  I used one tonight for supper and there is a little left.  The other two have gone into the Crock-Pot with a little water to cook overnight.  I was overjoyed to find 4 little containers of pesto that just need the cheese added in the back corner of the freezer.  I took two out and left two in--this should tide us over until pesto season is in full swing again :-)  I will cook some whole wheat pasta for one night and some brown rice for the other and I will do something with that and the chicken and the pesto.  I also found that I had two small containers of greens left from our farm share last year, one of beet greens and one of chard.  I thought I had used up all the pesto and greens.  I did know that I had a bag with a few green beans from the U-pick field buried in there somewhere.  I found them and put them in a more accessible place so I can use them up.  So, will all that organizing and taking stuff out, I now have some room for ice cube trays.  I use these quite a bit, but rarely for plain water ice!  I squeeze lemons and limes and freeze the juice in ice cube trays.  I can use the juice in cooking or just plunk a few cubes into my water in the summer.  I like to freeze vanilla and chocolate soymilk for use in smoothies.  And I freeze orange juice for smoothies, too.

Here are my favorite smoothies--these ar great for a light and refreshing dessert on a summer night!  They are fast, easy, and they taste great!!

Freeze orange juice in ice cube trays. Put cubes in blender and cover with vanilla soymilk. Blend.  OR freeze vanilla soymilk in ice cube trays, place cubes in blender, top with orange juice and blend!

Freeze vanilla or chocolate soymilk in ice cube trays. Place cubes in blender. Cover with cold leftover coffee. Blend.  This is particularly good with falovored coffees--try blueberry coffee with vanilla soymilk, caramel coffee with chocolate soymilk, or whatever other combination strikes your fancy!

Place peeled peaches, bananas, frozen strawberries, or other fruit and/or combinations of fruit in blender. Cover with vanilla or chocolate soymilk. Blend.  Especially with the frozen berries, the more berries you use, the thicker the end result.  If you use more strawberries and less soymilk, you get something you can eat with a spoon.

By freezing the juice or soymilk, you do not need to use water ice, which dilutes your smoothie.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New Season Started!

Yesterday we did our first CSA pick-up of the season.  We have a half-share this year that was generously donated by Crystal Spring Farm via Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program, so we will pick up our shares every other week.  This week we got two pints of strawberries, two bunches of scallions, a bag of lettuce mix, and a bag of baby bok choy and kale.

 Tonight for supper, I baked some pollock and made some tabbouli--someone gave me a box, so I jazzed it up with tomato, scallions, and lettuce mix.  I also chopped up a large Vidalia onion and threw it in a pot with a bit of olive oil, a finely chopped chili pepper with the seeds and ribs removed, and the chopped baby bok choy stems and stirred them around until the onion was translucent then sprinkled with garlic and chili powders.  Then I added the bok choy leaves and the chopped kale.  I turned off the heat and stirred until it was starting to get wilted.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

No Shortage of Strawberries!

Strawberries were on sale at Hannaford (our local grocery store) last week.  Even if I had not seen the flyer, I would have been able to figure this out simply by doing my shifts at the food bank over the past week.  The place was overflowing with strawberries!  I went in last Wednesday and there were 6 of us processing food.  Other people do the sorting of individual pieces of produce, like peppers, apples, oranges, etc.  We do work on stuff that can be trimmed or cut up.  When we get containers of berries, we dump each one into a tray and pick through them, tossing any that are mushy, moldy, or too far gone into the bucket for the pigs.  The six of us stood there for over an hour and a half picking through strawberries and blueberries (also on sale).  I think one person did a few heads of lettuce, but other than that, all six of us who were processing did nothing but berries!  A couple of us carried tubs of berries into the food pantry as they were setting up to let the clients come in and get food.  The cooler was full--top to bottom--with berries, so we had to take them into the big walk-in cooler to be kept for another day.  We were stacking the tubs on top of those that were already in there! And the pigs got a pretty hefty portion for themselves, too.  This morning it was more of the same, except that there were only 3 of us processing and there was some stuff besides strawberries--but not much.  One of my co-workers worked on lettuce, cauliflower, and broccoli.  Myself and the other person did--you guessed it!--strawberries.  For a little over 2 hours, we did strawberries, with 4 containers of blueberries, 2 raspberries, and 3 blackberries thrown in for variety.  Today we were told that we could put the "iffy" ones aside for volunteers to take home, rather than giving them to the pigs, who are probably sick of strawberries anyway!  When we trim and prepare the food for the food pantry, we do it in such a way that the food will last for a couple of days.  Lots of the berries did not look like they would make it that long, but they were fine if eaten within a day or two.  These are the ones we kept for ourselves and the other volunteers.  I brought home a few containers for us to have, even though I will probably see mountains of strawberries in my dreams!  I had some with lunch and for supper, I made scrambled eggs with sauteed peppers and onions, and whole grain waffles with a strawberry topping.  I sliced a couple of pounds of strawberries and put them in a pot with some water, then added a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar, brought it to a boil and then turned down the heat and let it simmer for a little while.  It was yummy!