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Archive for September, 2009

Nice haul this week!

9-30

  • basil
  • apples (These look like baking apples, but they’re my favorites for eating.)
  • radishes with greens
  • lettuce
  • butternut squash
  • Pioneer porridge
  • pepper jelly
  • onion
  • bean sprouts
  • eggs
  • baby squash and zucchini
  • okra
  • Asian eggplant

Online store order

I restrained myself this week and only ordered sorrel and garlic from the online store. Next week: sausage, cheddar cheese, and goat milk soap! Or maybe goat cheese. So much deliciousness to choose from.

9-30online

I’m planning on ordering garlic every week it’s available for the rest of the season. It keeps, and we go through gobs of it in my house.

Usually, I only get a few sorrel leaves so I eat them in a salad. Or I just gobble them up Wednesday afternoon while I’m taking pictures.

But this week I have enough sorrel to attempt sorrel sauce. It’s supposed to be wonderful. So I only snuck one leaf today, and Saturday I’m going to make sorrel sauce and pasta. If I run across some fish in the meantime, I may cook that with the sauce instead.

It’s salad time

Had a nice salad for lunch today with lettuce, bean sprouts, radishes, tarragon flowers and summer savory from last week’s herbs.

9-30-2lunch

The sprouts are really good. I started snacking on them while taking this week’s picture. They’re crunchy!

Radish-alanche

So many radishes! I’ve divided mine into three sets: for salad, for baked radish chips, and for sliced radish and edamame salad.

radishesdivided

I plan on having the edamame radish salad for supper at some point tonight. I’m also going to make an Asian noodle dish with the basil, some chili oil, and leftover catfish. I don’t plan on eating it all tonight. I’m going to need to take a lunch Friday.

The radish greens I turned into radish green-artichoke dip. Very tasty. I’ll probably bake radish chips this weekend and dip them in this.

radishdipGrinder grounded

The blade for my food processor attachment broke! This is a problem. I have pesto and baba ghanoush to make – stat! Neither the basil nor the eggplant is getting any fresher. I’ll hit craigslist and see if I can’t find a cheap one for sale.

So long, summer!

Fried okra and squash muffins with pepper jelly will make an appropriate end-of-summer celebration meal. And, don’t worry, I’m not making squash muffins with these delicious-looking baby squash. I’ll use the end of last week’s yellow squash for the muffins. I’ll sauté the baby squash with onion or make tian.

Butternut sasquatch

Man, we could eat for a week from this butternut squash. We’ll bake it in sections with maple syrup and butter. We’re still into that winter squash recipe. I’ll roast the seeds with salt and olive oil, too.

I read a recipe somewhere for making a butternut squash pie. I think it said to section and boil the squash and then just make it like pumpkin pie. (I think roasting would be better than boiling, though. Squash loses some flavor when it’s boiled.) So if you have a big butternut and aren’t sure what to do with it, try pie!

Empty nesting instincts

Chris and I will start on the porridge soon. James left for college today, so we’re now two for supper (and lunch and breakfast) for the foreseeable future. What does that have to do with porridge? Well, porridge makes a good supper for Chris and me. We eat late and often don’t want a lot. But nineteen-year-old James would mutiny if I tried to pass off porridge as dinner.

Now that we’re empty nesters, I think I’ll be able to feed us almost entirely from our CSA Family pack, gourmet upgrade, and ½ dozen eggs add-on. I’ll try to keep track next month and see how it goes.

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I saved the seeds from the acorn squash we had for lunch yesterday and roasted them according to this recipe. It calls for tossing the seeds in olive oil and salt and roasting them at 275 for 10 minutes or so. Since there weren’t that many seeds, I roasted them in the toaster oven.

Before...

Before...

... and after.

... and after.

They were really good! My only complaint is there weren’t enough of them. I ate them all in two or three handfuls.

Now I’m eyeing the enormous butternut squash I got in my CSA box today. It probably has plenty of seeds.

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A happier meal

Today’s lunch was a far happier meal.

Chris had fried green tomatoes,

The last two tiny tomatoes from our garden!

The last two tiny tomatoes from our garden!

and then we had pan-fried catfish topped with fresh herbs, microwaved acorn squash, and Napa cabbage and Vidalia coleslaw.

9-29lunch

Can’t wait to see what comes tomorrow!

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Grr…

Sunday’s supper was no fun at all.

I’d planned pasta with mushrooms and fresh herbs. (How to Cook Everything, p. 518 for those following at home.)

I chopped up some parcel, lovage, savory, and tarragon.

choppedherbs

Then I chopped up some garlic and two tiny little green onions from our garden.

garlicandonion

Then I chopped up the mushrooms.

evilmush1

However, when I started to cook the mushrooms, the kitchen began to smell distinctly like Pine-Sol. A few minutes later, it smelled like the zoo.

evilmush

Not ZooAtlanta with its happier enviornments, but the old Atlanta Zoo with the indoor cages.

At that point, I took the pan outside and turned to Google.

It seems that when fresh mushrooms spoil they smell like ammonia and that lots of moisture speeds up the spoiling process. Lots of moisture, eh?

So I continued on with the recipe without the mushrooms. I sautéed the garlic and onion in olive oil, deglazed the pan with some beef stock (well, bouillon, actually), and added the herbs and pasta.

But the bouillon overwhelmed the herbs and the whole thing just tasted like Lipton Cup-A-Noodles.

9-27supper

At least it didn’t smell like elephant pee.

The squash tian next to the noodles wasn’t pretty, but I really liked it. Wish there’d been more.

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Solo meals

Here’s a salad made of sorrel, nasturtium leaves, salad burnet, and sliced radishes. Made me feel like a fuzzy brown bunny nibbling on fresh leaves.

herbsalad

Saturday I lunched alone but very happily.

9-26lunch

  • Tomato soup, a.k.a. a can of V8 with a little red wine, lots of summer savory, and Parmesan cheese
  • Two scrambled eggs with chopped tarragon
  • Multigrain bread with wildflower honey and butter
  • A pretty little apple and lemon verbena tea for dessert (not pictured)

Scrambled eggs are a great way to use fresh herbs. I used tarragon here, but fennel, parcel, or savory would have worked, too. As often happens, I didn’t think about adding herbs until the last minute. So I ran around trying to find and chop the tarragon, soften the butter for the bread, not burn the eggs, and not boil over the soup. It’s a good thing my kitchen’s tiny. Everything’s just a lunge away.

Find an excuse to make scrambled eggs with CSA eggs. I noticed that they’re available on the online store again. If you haven’t tried CSA eggs, order some and see what you think. Or find another local source. But whatever you do, try some really fresh scrambled eggs. They’re so good!

Tomorrow I’ll be on my own again, so for lunch I’ll have Natalie’s steamed edamame and sliced radish salad. I’ll probably make baba ghanoush, too. Hopefully, I have more pita in the fridge.

Last week I made baba ghanoush from Asian eggplant. In the past, I’d had problems with using Asian eggplant because of the variety’s small diameter. After roasting them uncovered in the oven like the regular Globe kind, there’s not a lot of usable meat left per eggplant. So this time I peeled the eggplant, put them in a dish, covered it with tin foil, and roasted them in the oven.

bbg1

I still couldn’t use all of the flesh because the outer layer dried out. So this time, I’m going to drizzle olive oil on them, wrap them in tin foil en masse, and then place them in the roasting dish.

One thing I learned last time while making the baba ghanoush is not to lose hope if it doesn’t taste right at first. I had a preliminary taste after mixing up the roasted eggplant, garlic, and tahini. I was not impressed and more than a little disappointed. Then I added the olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and it was suddenly delicious and I couldn’t get enough!

And for my solo supper tomorrow, I’ll have “tomato soup” again, squash tian, and radish greens-kale-artichoke dip with baked radish chips and crackers.

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9-23

  • radishes! (I’ve been looking forward to these.)
  • onion
  • eggs
  • apples
  • kale
  • breathtakingly pretty lettuce
  • edamame (This is about half of my order; I gave the rest to my neighbor Lucy.)
  • Zephyr squash
  • a large quantity of wonderful herbs

Herb bonanza!

After I put everything else away, I went through the herbs that were part of my gourmet upgrade. There was a lot to find.

Clockwise from top left: lovage, sorrel, Mexican tarragon, Nasturtium leaves, salad burnet, chives, and parcel

Clockwise from top left: lovage, sorrel, Mexican tarragon, Nasturtium leaves, salad burnet, chives, and parcel

And more!

fennel, summer savory, chocolate mint, spearmin, mystery lemony herb

fennel, summer savory, chocolate mint, spearmin, mystery lemony herb

After figuring out (for the most part) what the herbs were, I bagged them wrapped them in moist paper towels according to use. And gathered the loose flowers and leaves for tonight’s salad.

9-22herbs3

Tea herbs: spearmint, mystery lemon herb, and chocolate mint. I probably won’t use the chocolate mint for tea, but it seemed like the best place to put it. I’d love to dip the leaves in chocolate like the last time, but it was such tedious work!

Girly salad: Sometime this week, I hope to have a salad of sorrel, nasturtium leaves, salad burnet, radishes, and mint and savory flowers. I’ll make a vinaigrette with some of the other herbs, too, for dressing. It won’t make enough for more than one. And if it did, I’m not sure Chris would appreciate it. I could add the sorrel and nasturtium to stretch the beautiful lettuce, but I hate to dilute the flavors. So one afternoon, I’ll make Chris some Southern green beans and eat my herb salad.

Soup herbs: Lovage, parcel, and savory will be great with a chicken soup. Or maybe onion soup. I’m totally craving French onion soup.

Vinegar herbs: The fennel and tarragon may end up as vinegar. I always have a hard time making it through the tarragon. So I’ll give it a few days to see if I come up with any other uses.

Online store order

This week I ordered two pounds of coffee and 4 ounces of mushrooms. I have no pictures of the coffee because Chris already transferred the coffee to his coffee cans to be ready for the morning. But here are the mushrooms.

mushrooms2

I love the color! I planned to make mushroom kale pasta. But I wonder if that heavy cream sauce will cover up the taste of the mushrooms. Now I think I’ll make a mushroom and fresh herb pasta dish and a separate kale alfredo pasta. Mmmm… more pasta.

Tonight’s supper

As part of the gourmet upgrade, we got two beautiful pork chops from Gum Creek Farms.

porkchops

But what do you do with two pork chops when you have three people for dinner?

I thought about drawing straws, but the odds weren’t good. What if I was the one who ended up pork chop-less? Then I considered holding a fixed drawing of straws.

Then I remembered I had some lemongrass stems left to use, so I chopped up the pork and dumped it in a lemongrass-garlic-soy sauce marinade. Everybody wins!

The only CSA meat I’ve had so far has been ground – either beef or sausage. So I was really surprised when I started working with these chops. They just felt different and cut up like butter.

CIMG1952

I’ve frozen the two bones in the hopes of finding a good recipe or an even better dog.

The pork is marinating in soy sauce, chopped garlic, and lemongrass stems. To prepare the lemon grass, I chopped off the ends, scored the stems, and then pounded them with the butt of my knife. That way they release their oils, but they’re still easy to pick out before serving.

porklemongrass

By the way, I love the CSA garlic because the cloves are really big. So many recipes call for one clove of garlic. So I pull out a clove and think, “Oh, yeah! One clove, comin’ up!”

I’ll stir-fry the pork and serve it over noodles maybe with some of the Asian chili oil and chopped parcel on top. I’ll also boil and reduce the marinade for a sauce.

The salad will be lettuce with radishes, salad burnet and random herb flowers. Can’t wait!

9/29 Update

Here’s how it turned out.

really yummy with chili oil

really yummy with chili oil

Other plans

We’ve ended up with a whole bunch of breakfast radishes. Before I saw that I had some in my box, Lucy mentioned she had some from last week. Then when I began raving about radishes, she gave me hers. I felt pretty silly when I got home and started going through my stuff.

If Lucy doesn’t want me to repatriate her radishes, we’ll have too many for salad. So I’ll slice them longways and make baked radish chips. And dip them in radish green-artichoke dip! I think there are enough usable radish greens for that.

_________

I’m going to boil the edamame for a salty snack. All the directions for edamame call for boiling the pods in salted water for 8-10 minutes and then seasoning the pods. I want to use some nice salt and some of the summer savory for seasoning. But why do you season the pods if you don’t eat them? According to The Food Virgin,

…As for eating the pods, technically, they won’t harm you if you do decide to eat one, but edamame pods are nowhere near as chewable as snow pea pods.  If you put one in your mouth, you’ll be chewing, and chewing and chewing… long after the sushi chef has packed up his knives and gone home.  Make life easy for yourself– pop the beans out into your mouth, and enjoy.

Because I don’t I want to waste savory or salt, I think I’ll shell the beans and season them directly.

_________

For the squash, I’m kind of tired of stir-fried squash, so I’m thinking squash muffins or squash tian (or both!) this week.

_________

Stay tuned for baba ghanoush and the saga of the very large Napa cabbage!

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much rain. I hope everyone’s doing okay. Looks like the farmers and CSA packers will have a couple of rough days getting this week’s orders ready. I know how drought affects what’s available. Guess we’ll see what too much rain does.

At this point, there are few bright spots to all the rain. So let me share one. We have a real creek running through our woods now! It’s usually a tiny rivulet that comes and goes. But today you can even hear it from the house. Yesterday afternoon, I took some pictures and posted them here. This was before the last 20 inches of rain and the major flooding. It was easier to be upbeat about the situation then.

falls2

Orange mint honey

What do you do at 3 in the morning because you can’t sleep from non-stop torrential rain, thunder, and lightning? Make orange mint honey and drink herbal tea!

For the honey, I followed Fran’s easy instructions from the online store: warm the honey with the mint leaves, cool, and store. I used 6 mint leaves to my 6 ounces of clover honey. The picture doesn’t show much, but the taste is great for tea.

orangeminthoney

Green beans

I’ve been making green beans by the handful for meals instead of all at once. It’s pretty easy.

1. Wash and snap enough beans for the meal.

CIMG1884

This is enough for three because one of us still isn't crazy about green beans.

2. Put the beans in boiling water. Boil for 3 minutes after the water returns to a boil – maybe six minutes total. If you don’t let the beans boil long enough, they’re squeaky when you eat them. Still good, but squeaky.

3. Once the beans are done, plunge them into ice water to stop them from cooking and to preserve the pretty bright green bean color. Drain once they’re cool.

4. Melt a little butter in a skillet on medium-high (or use olive oil). Add anything that might flavor the butter. This week, I’ve used garlic, chopped sage and rosemary. Ginger, chopped tomatoes, and other herbs would be good, too. I tried lemon zest, but I think this is too soon to add it; all the lemon flavor disappears by the time the beans are done.

5. Toss the beans in the butter. Let them cook for a few minutes stirring occasionally so that the beans cook evenly. Add salt and pepper. (This is where I wish I’d added the lemon zest.) Taste after a few minutes to judge if they’re ready. At this point, the beans are completely cooked. It’s just a matter of how crunchy you like them.

CIMG1885

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Just got back from Arizona visiting family. A few days in Arizona makes me appreciate the climate here. I don’t like dry, and neither do my sinuses.

Thankfully, my neighbor Lucy grabbed my CSA box Wednesday – including the largest head of Napa cabbage we’ve ever seen.

9-16

  • herbs
  • green beans
  • muscadines
  • Napa cabbage
  • apples
  • clover honey
  • Asian eggplant
  • sweet potatoes
  • eggs
  • nut mix

Herbs

I was happy to get a bag of mixed herbs this week. (Not that I’m complaining about the basil I’ve been lucky enough to score recently.) But it’s fun to learn about the different herbs and figure out how to use them them.

I made a pot of herbal tea last night with 1 catnip leaf, 2 bee balm leaves, some hyssop leaves and flowers, and 2 orange mint leaves. I crushed them a little before putting them in my strainer.

herbaltea1

The result was a really nice relaxing evening tea. I added a drop of the clover honey, too. I’ll happily make at least two more pots with these herbs.

In the CSA store, Fran suggests adding orange mint leaves to warm honey for a twist. I think I’m going to try that with the clover honey. I think the orange mint flavor will show up better with the lighter flavor. Then I’ll use it in my morning (non-herbal) tea.

Green beans

These are beeyootiful green beans. I’m going to blanch and sauté some tomorrow for lunch along with leftover field peas and scrambled eggs. I don’t think I’ll go the green bean casserole route with these beauties.

We had our first with lunch today: scrambled eggs, field peas, green beans, and bread with honey butter.

9-18lunch

I blanched the green beans first for 3 minutes. (Next time I’ll go longer, though.) Next I heated half tablespoon of butter with a chopped-up sage leaf, garlic clove, and some lemon zest. Then I sautéed the beans in the butter for a few more minutes.

Eggplant

I’m going to try baba ghanoush with Asian eggplant again. This time I’ll peel the eggplants and wrap them in tin foil and bake them whole. I think it will be easier to get more “meat” off them that way.

Napa cabbage

Do you believe the size of that cabbage?! I’ll need lots of ideas for cabbage over the next week. Right now I’m thinking coleslaw, sautéed cabbage with different seasonings, and chopped up cabbage for fried rice.

Muscadines?

Not sure what to do with muscadines yet. My husband says he’ll eat them all, but he doesn’t sound to happy about it. I know there aren’t enough to make wine…

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Chili oil

Thursday James mentioned putting chili oil on pasta, and I remembered drying hot peppers last summer and putting them away. So I dug them out and made two kinds of chili oil: Asian (with canola and dark sesame) and Italian (with olive oil).

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With gloves on, I seeded and chopped the dried peppers – about 3 tablespoons. I divided that in half and put each in a jar.

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I heated 1/3 cup olive oil till it was hot then let it cool for 3 minutes and poured it over the chili flakes. Then I did the same with the canola. I didn’t add the dark sesame oil till the end, though. Then I capped the jars and left them for a day.

The next day I strained the oil through a layer of cheesecloth, and here’s what I got.

CIMG1857

We haven’t tried it yet – I hope it works! The recipe said you could use chili flakes more than once. So I saved them in case we love it and want to make more.

Egg Drop Ramen

I love egg drop soup, and James loves ramen noodles. Since he’s off to college next month, his ramen consumption will hit an all-time high. So we decided to experiment with adding eggs to ramen noodles to improve their nutritional value and deliciousness.

We cooked 3 packages of ramen for about 5 minutes on the stove. Then we beat 3 eggs and poured them slowly into the ramen for the last minute of cooking, stirring constantly. The results were delicious. The ramen was thick and eggy.

9-10lunch

Tale of two suppers

For supper Thursday, we had flat-iron steak with the Back Porch spice rub and caramelized onions, bread, lettuce, stir-fried squash, and field peas.

9-10supper

The spice rub was good, but for this kind of steak I prefer marinating it in soy and Worchestershire sauce. I’ll definitely use the rub on pork, chicken, and some vegetables, too. The brown sugar and cumin make it sweet and tangy.

Last night’s supper was shrimp and grits, sweet potatoes, and sorrel. The shrimp was leftover from lemon-basil pasta earlier in the week. I also cooked some half an onion to go with it.

9-12supper

The sweet potato was delicious! The couple I’d gotten earlier in the season were dry and not very good. But these are so wonderful you can eat them down to the skin. The grits were from Farmers’ Fresh, too, and for the first time I cooked them without any sticking to the bottom. The secret is to catch the pot just after the water boils and stir until the heat reduces to a simmer.

Poached pears

For dessert last night, I poached the pears in wine sauce. We ended up with three pear halves because one pear was all mushy on one side. For poaching liquid, we used red wine, water, sliced lemon, and a cinnamon stick.

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After the pears were poached (about 15 minutes, flipping every 5), I reduced the sauce to half a cup and poured it over the pears. It was intense and definitely a good use of pears.

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Next time, I’ll try to be patient and reduce the sauce even more to make something closer to syrup.

Leftovers

Tonight we’ll finish off the egg drop ramen, sweet potatoes, and sorrel. Tomorrow we’re going out of town for a couple of days, and I think we’re okay food-wise. The basil, lettuce, and sorrel, squash, apples, and pears are finished. We still have some field peas and okra to cook, but they’ll be fine when we get back mid-week.

See you then!

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Here’s what I got this week.

9-9

  • apples
  • sweet potatoes
  • pair of pears
  • pancake mix
  • basil
  • lettuce
  • sorrel
  • field peas
  • okra
  • squash
  • eggs
  • spice rub

I also ordered onions and garlic from the online store.

9-9store

However, for lunch today, we ate leftovers: sliced tomatoes, field peas and black rice, and green bean casserole that looks oddly like macaroni and cheese.

9-9lunch

Supper was another story. We had shrimp in lemon garlic basil cream sauce over fettuccine and lettuce.

9-9supper

It’s my kind of dish, and I loved it. For the shrimp, I followed the “The Simplest and Best Shrimp Dish” recipe from How To Cook Everything. It does not lie. Then I deglazed the pan to make the sauce.

Tomorrow’s plans

Tomorrow night, I’ll use the spice rub on a flat iron steak. With the steak, we’ll have some more lettuce, the last tiny tomato, either stir-fried squash or fried okra, and possibly some caramelized onions. And maybe some field peas, too. My husband loves field peas – I think he’d prefer them to the steak. These field peas have a reddish tint to them. Can’t wait to see if they taste different.

I think I’m the only one that likes raw sorrel. And I love it, so I have no qualms about eating it all up myself. There are some perquisites to being Chief Food Officer.

Run down for the week

Apples will get eaten as snacks. No need to do anything else with thes’uns.

Sweet potatoes will be baked in the oven or the microwave. The last few sweet potatoes didn’t turn out so well. But these two look like they’ll be delicious.

Pears will get poached with red wine sauce. (Darn! I should’ve ordered some goat cheese!)

Basil’s already done. I used some of it in the shrimp fettuccine and turned the rest into pesto.

Lettuce and sorrel will be washed, spun, and eaten fresh with minimal dressing.

Field peas will get cooked with onions sautéed in a little leftover sausage drippings. Heat the drippings, sauté the onions, add the peas, cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes to 8 hours. So easy and good!

My okra always gets fried in cornmeal. I’ve never learned to like okra any other way. (Well, it’s okay in soup, but that’s more indifference than liking.) I may try frying it in a little olive oil instead of deep frying in canola. When I’ve been frying eggplant recently, I noticed that olive oil doesn’t smoke as easily as canola. Just keep it on medium and keep the batches coming. Wonder if I could cut the okra long ways so that the pieces would be bigger and easier to fry in less oil. More like Asian eggplant slices.

Squash will be stir-fried. Possibly some of it will be used for squash muffins.

Eggs will make us happy in many ways: cookies, pancakes, scrambled eggs…

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