Bountiful Farm Share

Keeping up with a farm share is tough sometimes.  We are eating several vegetarian meals this week, and we still have items we haven’t touched.  Good thing we only got a single share this year!  Here’s an example of a meal I cooked to use up our recent goodies.

Roasted Baby Beets with Mint

Carrots, Garlic and Onion with Herbs de Provence

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Parsley

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beet Greens with Vinegar

Squash with Maple Syrup and Chile Powder

Putting it all together … the full plate

Fiddleheads!

The first meal I cooked after coming home from the hospital with my son was inspired by local fiddleheads.  It was ambitious to make dinner from scratch, but we had dough all made in the freezer, which was a huge help.  We didn’t eat until about 10pm, but it was so worth the wait.

I started with a basil olive oil base.  Plenty of sliced garlic too.  Then I added toasted pine nuts and asiago, making a sort of deconstructed pesto.

Then came the toppings: fiddleheads (blanched first), artichoke hearts (frozen, then heated on the stove to get some moisture out), goat cheese, and mozzarella.  Chuck had the brilliant idea to par-bake the crust, and while he wishes it had risen a bit, I enjoyed thin-crust style for a change.

The Verdict: A Rousing Success

 

What to Cook When You’re Expecting

I’m expecting to give birth in the next couple weeks, so I have really kicked the cooking into high gear lately.  I feel fortunate to have the time to stock my freezer with some of my favorite foods and try a new dish or two as well.

So far I have made my father’s sugo bolognese (for only true lovers of meat).  I have already declared that it’s not as good as dad’s, but I know I couldn’t have gone too far wrong with it.  I also made meatballs and sauce.  You can’t go wrong there.  There are some individually wrapped frozen burritos somewhere in the freezer.  I kept it simple – beans, rice, seasoned pork and cheese.  After leaving Chuck to fend for lunch on his own a couple weeks ago, he has declared that they are a success.

My friend Jamaica brought us some delicious squash and portabella lasagna.  I know it’s delicious because I already ate some.  Shhh!  I hadn’t thought of putting portabellas in in lasagna, but this was a real winner of a dish.  I can hardly wait until I can eat it again!

My mother is making carnitas and enchiladas.  They were on my list to make, but I would just be using mom’s recipes, so her contribution is more than welcome.

A few days ago I made 50 gyoza – 25 chicken and shrimp and 25 chicken, pork and chive.

I was planning to make manicotti.  I made the pasta rounds for it, but this was my first attempt at “mannigot,” as Chuck calls it.  Growing up in a big Italian family full of fantastic cooks, I can’t really see how I could go astray with this, so  I’m not worried.  Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, the manicotti is going to have to wait a while, but I have some of the components waiting in the freezer.

And with that, my freezer will be pretty full.  And I will keep waiting for my baby.  Impatiently.

DIY Seltzer: Clementine and Cranberry

Very briefly, here are a few of the flavors I’ve made with our carbonation system.  Or seltzer maker.  Or beer recarbonator.  Or whatever you want to call it, depending on how we’re using it at the moment.  They do contain sugar (sucrose), and I vary the amounts, but I’m not ingesting high fructose syrup or many of the unpronounceable ingredients on food and drink labels these days.  Still, probably the lesser of two (or more) evils.  The basic idea here is to make a simple syrup.

Clementine

2 1/2 clementines
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups water

Peel the clementines.  Using the skin of all of them, and the flesh of half of one, add them to a small sauce pot with the other ingredients.

Simmer for 20 minutes.  Chill and add to water mix for seltzer.

Note: I used 1/2 of clementine because the other half was rotted.  Adjust as you desire.

Cranberry

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh (previously frozen) cranberries

Heat the water and sugar over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Add the cranberries.  Simmer 10 minutes.

Strain the solids and add the syrup to your seltzer.

Note: I found that 3/4 of a cup per 2 liter bottle was sufficient for a hint of flavor but not overwhelming.

Adventures in Carbonation

So I haven’t really been doing much fun stuff in the kitchen.  I’m about 6 months pregnant, and I just don’t feel like cooking.  My mother-in-law says she had an aversion to the smell of bacon when she was pregnant.  Well, I seem to have an aversion to cooking.  I still do it, but it’s rarely inspired, and it’s certainly nothing to share with the world.  I can only hope that my passion returns in a few months (when my time is otherwise occupied, of course!).

There is, however, something new and exciting happening in my kitchen: Carbonation!  You may have seen carbonation systems, most commonly one called the SodaStream.  Well, my creative husband decided to build me a carbonation system for Christmas, and it’s really really fun!  His primary motivation behind this DIY project was basically dedication to flexible, open source usage.  You see, with the store-bought systems, you have to use certain bottles and you void your warranty if you get too creative in your choice of beverages to carbonate.  My system may not be pretty, but Chuck is excited about the prospect of carbonating ANYTHING!  I am more enthusiastic about creating flavors than carbonating things like iced tea or coffee this summer.  And so I’ll be posting my trials here.  I’ve got some clementine syrup cooling in the kitchen right now!

The Mediterranean Week’s Winners

Wow, eating and cooking Mediterranean was fun!  It was a little complicated because of the number of dishes, but the prep was relatively quick and easy.  The best dish we ate was a delicious Sicilian-style grilled squid, which, unfortunately, we didn’t photograph.  Our favorites are listed here:

White Beans and Green Onions in Olive Oil

I drastically reduced the amount of olive oil in this recipe.  The intro to the recipe explains that this is quite authentic and one of the Turkish “olive oil foods,” but I just couldn’t do it.  I also found that I had to use quite a bit more water to get my beans softened, but it was still very flavorful.

 

 

Olive Oil-Bathed Fava Beans with Tomato and Lemon Juice in the Palestinian Style

I used my pole beans instead of favas, and therefore did not cook them nearly as long as the recipe called for.

 

 

 

Cabbage Salad with Lemon and Garlic in the Syrian Style

I probably could have rinsed the salt off this more thoroughly, but the salt was not entirely unwelcome in the final dish.

 

 

 

Cucumber Cups with Eggs and Radishes 

So this was a little fussy, but it was quick and easy and fun.  I used zucchini for the cups instead of cucumber.  If you’re not a “fishy” person, then this is one to avoid.  But if you love anchovies, as I happen to, this is a tasty morsel!

 

 

Bevy of Basil and Beans

This time of year Vermont is full of gorgeous produce.  We have waited all summer, tending gardens, watching as stalls at farmers’ markets fill up a bit more each week.  I dare say this is the peak.  Of course, we don’t have the luscious asparagus of early summer, and we have lots of fall crops to look forward to, but when corn and tomatoes are so plentiful in the farms all around me, I sleep better at night.

Last week, I had a dream about coming home to ripe tomatoes. Nope. I came home to tomato plants so full of bright green fruit that they had toppled over, stakes and all.  My tomatillos are threatening to follow suit.

While those crops, along with a few others, are testing my patience, my basil, pole beans, radishes and wax beans are anxious to make it to the dinner table.  I had never grown pole beans, and I wasn’t quite expecting them to be quite so long.  Below you can see their flat, very long pods, especially in comparison to wax beans.  I also plan to make some pesto, given the bumper crop of basil I just harvested.  I have never had much success with purple basil, but all my basil in the garden just won’t quit.  Even after today’s pruning, the plants look healthy and leafy and will certainly need harvesting again soon.  I will be happy to oblige.

Now if I can just figure out how to make dairy-free pesto…

A Challenging Week

Last week Chuck and I were on vacation.  We consumed meat and cheese daily and ate a very different, albeit delicious, style of cooking from my own.  But now that we are back in control of our diet, we are dramatically cutting our meat consumption, and, at Chuck’s request, completely eliminating dairy this week.  Personally, I think cutting dairy entirely is a ludicrous proposition and have no intention of trying to survive a week without cheddar.   But I am happy to oblige his request, given its allergy-driven nature.

So the question was: what are we going to eat all week, given that butter and cheese are out?  I dug out one of my favorite cookbooks for answers: Little Foods of the Mediterranean.  It screams olive oil and lots of vegetarian salads and dishes.  And it’s not your typical Italian and Greek fare.  It includes dishes from Syria, Lebanon, and Morrocco, to name a few.  Last night we ate Fresh Shrimp in Garlic and Olive Oil (Italian) and Lentil Salad in Olive Oil with Egyptian Spices.

Other items on the week’s menu include:

  • White Beans and Green Onions in Olive Oil
  • Olive Oil-Bathed Fava Beans with Tomato and Lemon Juice in the Palestinian Style
  • Poor People’s Summer Squash
  • Tomato and Avocado Salad from Andalusia
  • Green Bean Salad with lemon and Dill in the Greek Style

If there are any standouts, I’ll be sure to post pics and recipes.  Keep your fingers crossed!