Monday, October 29, 2012

CSA Overload

In our third year of our CSA, I'm continually stressed, yet challenged, by our weekly box. Every Thursday when I bring home two bags of veggies - some familiar, some not - I have an internal meltdown as I try to figure out what to do with it all.

Hello, overwhelming amount of vegetables!

Our CSA (Harmony Valley Farm, for the record) has a newsletter each week with a small snippet about each vegetable in the box. Between that and The Google, I can usually a) identify what each item is and b) have a general idea about how to use it.

Here are some of the things I've done or made with our CSA veggies:

1. Freeze them! As a general rule, I don't like frozen stuff. It's hard for me to remember it's even there and my Picky Eater habits come out full force with mushy re-heated foods. BUT. But. The freezer is so handy for things like: onions, corn (pre-cooked or raw) and pesto. If I ever had trouble using peppers or beans (I don't) those are just a quick blanch away from being freezeable as well! Doing little things that will get cooked anyway get me over the re-heated food hump.

2. Green smoothies or Green Monsters or whatever you call them. Uses up: kale, spinach, celery.

3. Zucchini, while usually available in overwhelming amounts mid-summer, can be used it pretty much everything. Sauteed by itself, mixed in with eggs, made into bread, made into CAKE.

4. Greens, specifically saute-able ones. I put them in ANYTHING. Kale, spinach, arugula, frisee, red mustard greens, beet greens, whatever! All you need is olive oil, salt and maybe garlic.

5. Root veggies: One of our (too small) counters was overflowing with potatoes before we even got into the squash season. Now that we're here, it's the perfect time to use regular potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, squash (any variety) and chop them up, roast them in an oven and throw them into burritos, mix with rice or quinoa and some kind of beans for protein.

Carrot Love...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Saison: BOTTLED!

We bottled our Saison last night and here are my observations:

1. There were still plenty of hops floating around in the liquid. Hmmm...

2. When we started pouring it into the bottling bucket...hoooooo boy did it smell like alcohol. Tequila specifically. Made me a little nervous. However...

3. Our hydrometer reading only shows that the alcohol percentage is around 5% so why does it smell like Tequila???

4. When you have a lot of hops and a lot of malts in your beer this is what the bottom of the carboy looks like:

Ohhhhhhhh BARF.
In conclusion...this will DEFINITELY be a beer we will be drinking out of a glass, not the bottle...

Macaroni and Cheese, Irish-Style


That is the background. Then recently I came across this recipe on the blog, Food for My Family. Dubliner cheese in the recipe? OMG.

I kept putting off making the recipe because I wanted to get the Dubliner at Costco where you can buy a giant brick of it for less than $10. Alas, I never got around to begging my dad to meet me there so I could take advantage of his membership so I gave up and bought a tiny brick for $5 at Target. Oh well.

Anyway, on to the recipe. Because I can't just make things exactly as prescribed, here is my version, which differs only slightly from the original .

16 oz package of brown rice pasta*
2-3 Tb butter
1 Tb flour
1.5 cups milk (I used soy milk)
6 ounces cream cheese
1 tsp dijon mustard
black pepper
1 cup-ish cheddar cheese (I just used generic sharp cheddar. Eh)
1/2 cup Dubliner cheese
1 cup chickpeas
spinach, torn into small pieces
asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces
 1 piece of whole wheat bread

Cook your pasta and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan. (in the end it would need to hold about 2.5 cups or so of liquid) Add in the flour and whisk until the flour begins to brown (just a few minutes). Add in the milk and then the cream cheese and whisk until it melts into the liquid. Add the mustard and black pepper and salt to taste. Cook for another 5 minutes or so until the liquid is thick and creamy.

Add in the cheddar and Dubliner cheeses a handful at a time. I cut mine into 1-inch cubes and mixed them in until melted and then added the next bunch, repeat. Once all the cheese has melted transfer the noodles and cheese sauce into a greased baking dish. Add any proteins or vegetables at this point.

Use a food processor to break down the bread into crumbs. Lightly sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the surface of the noodles.

Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes and then bring it up to the top shelf of the oven and put it under the broiler for 5 minutes or until the bread crumbs have browned.

*I only bought this because I couldn't find whole wheat pasta in tube form. The closest I could find was whole wheat penne but I knew from past experiences that stuff is like chewing on cardboard and was just way too big to use for macaroni and cheese. The brown rice pasta instructions said to cook it for 16 minutes (waaaah???) which I probably did but it ended up quite mushy. Next time I will try harder to find whole wheat tubes or elbow macaroni shape...

Cheesy goodness with crunchy bread crumbs...

Egg Bake! Frittata! Whatever!

Just about every weekend morning Tom and I make some variation on eggs and soysage. Oh, what's soysage, you ask? It's this and it is awesome. In "fancy" grocery stores you can find it for upwards of $5. Puh-shaw, I say. You can get it at Trader Joe's for $2.69, if memory serves. Even Whole Foods charges a price similar to that. Don't go elsewhere.

Anyway, we've done just about everything under the sun: scrambled, omelette, fried, egg sandwich, etc. We love them all and it's nice to have a few options to keep it interesting.

Recently, I've been exploring the baked or more "solid" version of eggs. (sidenote: I'm not a huge fan of slimy things. I absolutely refuse to consider eggs in any other condition than no-doubt-in-my-mind-that-this-has-been-cooked-long-enough. Becoming someone who actually eats eggs was a slow transition. More on this below)

Example One: The frittata. Given our recent purchase of skillets that can actually go in the oven (whoa!) I was inspired to attempt the frittata. Here's a version I made the other week:

Blurry, yes. Maybe not the prettiest dish you've ever seen, either. But good!
4 eggs
1/3 of a tube of soysage (aka Gimme Lean breakfast sausage)
1/4 cup or so of milk (we use soy milk)
handful of spinach, chopped
goat cheese
hot pepper flakes

Cook soysage until browned. Combine soysage with the rest of the ingredients in an oven-safe skillet. Give the ingredients an initial shake to spread things out but otherwise you don't need to mess with it. Cover and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes until the egg is mostly set. Put under the broiler until the top of the eggs are browned and slightly crispy.

Up next: Egg bake!

Now, one of the ways I was able to transition into egg-eating was because of bread. The texture of eggs freaked me out but if I put them on bread, it was like a sandwich! Yum! So the egg bake allows me to incorporate bread in much smaller portions and makes consumption less messy and cumbersome.

Here's my version:

Sweet new casserole dish. It even makes eggs look pretty.

Close-up of egg bake. Cheesy and bready, just the way God intended.

5 eggs
goat cheese
hot pepper flakes
Bread, torn into crouton-sized pieces

Cook soysage until browned and then combine all ingredients except for the bread in oven-safe dish. Add the bread last so that it touches the eggs but is not fully dunked in. Bake at 375 until the middle of the bake is solidified. For this size of dish, it took about 40 minutes.

Double Chocolate Cookies with Cherries

WILL be making these cookies. Possibly for this weekend when we'll be making food for my family. And then more for Sunday when we've recruited a few friends for help on the house stuff!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fundamentals of Vegetarian Cooking at Kitchen Window

I just got back from my second cooking class at Kitchen Window. This course, Fundamentals of Vegetarian Cooking, was a 3.5 hour (!!) course that covered 5 (!!) entree dishes.

Y'all. I don't think I have ever eaten that much in 3.5 hours. I foolishly ate a little snack before I left for class and that, my friends...that was a mistake. The portion sizes they doled out to the 20 or 25 people in the class were more than just a sample. They were entire meals. And I'm not trying to sound fussy. I can throw down with the best of 'em. But when you eat flavorful, rich and delicious food? You just don't need that much.

OMG. I'll stop talking about how incredibly full I am right now and show a few pictures I snapped on my handy cellphone. (P.S. I know it's all chic now to take pics of food dishes on your phone but I still felt dumb. I also still haven't figured out how to turn off the fake camera "click" sound my phone makes when it takes a picture. Blasted technology! So I only took two pictures...)

Sweet Potato Millet Fritters with Roasted Red Pepper Chile Sauce

OMG. Amazing. Roasted mushroom enchiladas with black beans and local apple salsa

 I will definitely be attempting the mushroom enchiladas soon. I was too full to finish that plate and if I never have it again it will haunt me for the rest of my life...