Archive for September, 2009

Got soap?

Green bean casserole

Green bean casserole turned out pretty yummy. I’m glad I added the wine although I used too much. I recall casseroles like this tasting kind of  insipid (if you’ll forget the horribly judgemental word). This wasn’t bad, and I’m sure we’ll do it again with some of the beans I froze earlier this summer.

Again with the Asian pear crostini

We finished up the Asian pear with another round of crostini.


I sautéed the diced pear in olive oil and then put it on top of some toasted bread smeared with a mixture of cream cheese, lemon zest, and goat cheese from Kroger.

Goat cheese from Kroger is a mean joke.

I didn’t think store-bought cheese would be as good as the fresh stuff, but, wow, what a difference. When I eat fresh goat cheese from Farmers’ Fresh, my first thought is CREAM. Then some lovely subtle flavors follow. With Kroger goat cheese, the flavor comes first. And it’s not subtle. Or lovely. Guess that’s the pasteurization. It was okay mixed with the cream cheese on the bread.

Tomato pasta

Tonight we had tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil over fettuccine.


It was good except for the soap.… I don’t think the pasta pot was rinsed so well the last time it was washed. We wouldn’t have noticed it except I decided to be all chef-y and add some of the pasta water to stretch the sauce. We ate it all anyway. What are the signs of dishwashing soap poisoning?

Five Guys for lunch tomorrow

I’ll make us a plate of green bean casserole and field peas before we go so we can enjoy our burgers sans guilt. I’ll also slice up our two remaining tiny tomatoes. Aren’t they the cutest?


Or maybe they're really big...

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Winter squash are great!

They keep a long time on the kitchen table and are easy to prepare. We use this method for acorn squash and the bottom half of butternut squash. It comes from this recipe at Allrecipes.com. The comments for this recipe have a bunch of interesting tips including how to make the squash in the microwave instead of the oven.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (Actually, you can use almost any temperature. If you’ve got something else to go in the oven, just throw the squash in and it’ll be happy.)
  2. Bake the squash whole for about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the squash and slice the squash in half long-ways (or longitudinally, if you prefer).
  4. Scoop out the seeds and the goopy parts.
  5. Put the squash halves in an oven pan with the peel down.
  6. Place a pat of butter and a teaspoon (or more!) of maple syrup in each squash half. You can substitute brown sugar for the maple syrup. If you’d like not-so-sweet squash, see other seasoning ideas at the end of this post.acorn1
  7. Pour half an inch of water in the pan. This keeps the squash moist.
  8. Place in the oven. You can check it after 30 minutes but longer is better. Use a fork to see if the flesh is soft.
  9. Allow a few minutes for the squash to cool before serving. Serve the halves intact or scoop out all the flesh and serve that.
  1. Baked acorn squash with butter and maple syrup

Butternut squash neck slices

After baking the whole squash for 30 minutes, cut off the bottom. The bottom can be cooked using the method above. Then peel the neck and slice it into ¼ to ½ inch slices. Place these on a cookie sheet and drizzle with butter and maple syrup or brown sugar. Bake for 12 minutes or so at 350. The slices are done when they’re soft, but be careful not to leave them too long or they’ll get dry.


Whichever part you use first (neck or bottom), wrap the other in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator when it’ll keep just fine for a few days.

Not-so-sweet squash

We like our squash with butter and maple syrup, but you could play around with other flavors. For instance, you could use olive oil instead of butter and cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, or lemon zest instead of maple syrup.

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First the bad news…

I forgot the eggplant in the oven again. “I’ll just turn the oven off and leave them in there for a little longer,” I said. Ha! That’s the recipe for Abandoned Eggplant.

So, no baba ghanoush for me this week.

The good news…

Last night we had a nice fall supper in two courses starring mushrooms and acorn squash. (It’s in two courses because the acorn squash needed more time in the oven. From now on, I’m counting on at least an hour even for the little ones.)

For the first course we had mushroom fettuccine with honey lemon cream sauce based on this recipe. It tasted fresh and delicious, but the lemon juice was a little strong – maybe because I only had 2 cups of mushrooms instead of 4. No real complaints, though, and we wiped our plates clean with some bread. I meant to add some fresh basil from the garden but forgot.

First course: Fettuccine in mushroom lemon cream sauce

First course: Fettuccine in mushroom lemon cream sauce

I considered trying Noodles with Mushrooms and Lemon Ginger Dressing. It sounds really good, but I didn’t think the Asian style would match the acorn squash.

Second course: Baked acorn squash with butter and maple syrup

Second course: Baked acorn squash with butter and maple syrup

It tastes like fall! This method of making winter squash is so easy and good. The only problem is I usually forget to add the water at the bottom of the pan. That makes the outer part of the flesh is a little dry.

Green bean casserole

I made a green bean casserole last night with the wax beans. Since it’s for tonight’s supper, I wasn’t planning to bake it last night, but when I cranked up the oven for the acorn squash, I figured it was better to get it done.

I followed Paula Deen’s recipe pretty much. I put in extra onions instead of chopped mushrooms. And I rinsed out the soup can with some of the white wine I used for the mushroom pasta. The recipe calls for boiling the beans in chicken broth and then draining them. But that makes it sound like you pour the broth down the sink! That seems kind of lame. So I kept the broth and tried to cook the mixture down before baking.


The results still look a little soupy, but I’m hoping it won’t be a problem.

If I was more familiar with green bean casserole, I might have considered using the oyster mushrooms and the farmhouse cheddar on top – Gourmet Green Bean Casserole! But it seemed like a waste. I figure when a recipe calls for a can of cream of mushroom soup, it’s not going to be about subtle flavors and fresh tastes.

Speaking of the farmhouse cheddar, it’s really yummy. We had slices on Triscuits with apple wedges for lunch yesterday. For lunch today, I’m going to heat up some tomato soup and grate some of the cheddar on top. By tomato soup, I mean a can of V-8. I can’t stand it cold, but heated up with cheese is good! And I’ll have one of the last peach muffins, too.

More plans

The green bean casserole will go well with the field peas for a couple of meals. I still have tomatoes, too. I may slice up the round ones and make another cucumber-tomato salad. The rest of them will get cooked with garlic and served on pasta or bread along with what’s left of the pesto.

I bought some chevre from Kroger to make crostini again and use up the pesto and the Asian pear. I’ll be interested to taste the difference.

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Feelin’ like fall

Is this a wonderful fall-like day or what? And it’s only September 2nd!

This week’s produce has one foot in summer (tomatoes, basil, green beans, and eggplant) and another in fall (mushrooms, acorn squash, and apples). These kind of week’s are fun because you get a chance to appreciate the summer stuff as it peters out for the year. And you get new fall stuff to try, too.


  • basil
  • oyster mushrooms
  • acorn squash
  • green beans
  • eggplant
  • eggs
  • cheddar cheese
  • apples
  • tomatoes


UPS delivered 20 pounds of fettuccine to my house today. Amazon had it on sale for around a dollar a pound shipped. I don’t remember what the six-pound bag of spaghetti costs at Sam, but I don’t think it was less than that. Plus, I was getting awfully tired of spaghetti.

The basil’s already pesto. We’ll have it on fettuccine some night soon or spread on some toasted bread. We can always freeze it, but I don’t think it’ll come to that.

Tonight we’re having pasta and pine nuts with green beans and tomatoes on the side. (And I’ll still be eating cabbage even if everyone else has given up.)

The rest of the tomatoes will get cooked with onions, garlic, and wine another night and then tossed with pasta. If I need some fresh basil, I’ve still got a little growing outside.

Baba ghanoush and brownies

The globe eggplants will be baba ghanoush since I’ve still got lemons, garlic, and tahini lying around. I’ll roast them in the oven tonight because eggplant’s like basil – the sooner the better. Might have to put something else in the oven with the eggplant … like brownies.

It’s been an awfully long time since we had brownies. One of the best part of Farmers’ Fresh eggs is being cool with licking the brownie bowl. Salmonella contamination is directly related to the size of the flock and the chicken’s general health. I’ve met the chickens at Red Hott Tomatoes, and they are happy, well-adjusted birds living in flocks of about 10 (compared to as many as 30,000 in an industrial chicken farm). Plus, if one of the chickens were sick, Nancy and Jacque would know (and care). Same goes with the other farmers.

I’m not suggesting downing raw eggs in mass quantities, but getting to enjoy a little brownie batter is pretty darn awesome. I appreciate the farmers’ skill, hard work, and care that allow me to pass around the joy that only brownie batter-covered bowls, beaters, and spatulas bring.

Easy fall items

I’m excited to play with the mushrooms, cheddar, and apples. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do yet, but I want everything to be simple to get at these tastes. Maybe some kind of mushroom and rice dish and then cheddar and apple snacks. I’ve also got a little Asian pear left to add to that mix.

I love acorn squash! It’s easy to make, too. Half the squash, scoop out the seedy bits, put a little butter and maple syrup in the cavities, and bake at 350 for about half an hour. Stick a fork in it to see if it’s done. When in doubt, leave it in for a little longer; it’ll only get better. It’s so good for a late supper on a chilly night.


Here’s what we have left to eat up from last week.

  • red cabbage (just a couple of servings more!)
  • peach muffins
  • field peas (some cooked, some uncooked)
  • Asian pear (We have about a third of a really big fruit left. Maybe I’ll revisit the stir-fry idea without all the sauce.)
  • a handful of green beans (I’m cooking these tonight.)

So we’re in pretty good shape. We’ll have field peas with all the fall items and finish them up in a few days.

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Knife skills

Last night, I sat down to read the first couple of chapters from How to Cook Everything about basic techniques – including knife skills. Bittman points out that his grandmother had poor knife technique and was an excellent cook. And that proper knife technique probably only saves you 10 seconds an onion. Nevertheless, I’ve always wanted to chop better – especially now that I do lot of choppin’.

After absorbing Bittman’s comments, I found this 50-second video.

My first problem was holding the knife wrong. The right way is to hold the blade between the  thumb and forefinger instead of shaking hands with the hilt. At first it felt spooky having my fingers on the blade. However, after a handful of grape tomatoes, a small onion, and two cloves a garlic, I was sold.


I thought a new grip would take time to get used to, but it’s so much easier to control the blade! I cut myself a couple of times last week – not badly, just little slices on my fingers. I don’t think it could have happened if I’d been using this grip. (That’s not to say that I won’t find new and exciting ways to cut myself.)

I’m going back to watch the longer video on dicing technique next.

Asian pear stir-fry

Last night we had beef and Asian pear stir-fry and the final round of cabbage. The stir-fry was good, but I added soy and oyster sauce that overwhelmed the Asian pear flavor.


The cabbage was my favorite so far. I sauteed some garlic, onion, and ginger in canola and sesame oil and then added the cabbage. After ten minutes or so, I added a bunch of rice vinegar, a little sugar, and salt and pepper.

Everyone else is tired of cabbage. Too bad! We have a little left to finish with egg drop soup later this afternoon.

Pizza-Like Objects

My first plan for lunch today was top-your-own pita crisps. But I couldn’t get the pita quarters to separate. So I put them on a baking sheet, topped them with the last of the ricotta, some Italian cooked tomato goodness (tomatoes, onion, garlic, wine, olive oil, salt and pepper), and parmesan cheese, and put them in the oven. They came out great!


We added pesto, parmesan, and red pepper flakes as needed.

Tomorrow is Wednesday!

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Sometimes meals are so yummy that I forget to take pictures. And sometimes I remember halfway through.


This is James’ plate, and he always saves his favorite thing for last. He is most of the way through his red cabbage, sliced tomatoes, and mashed potatoes,  but he hasn’t touched his sausage.

We also made peach muffins with frozen peaches from last summer.


They made perfectly good muffins.

I planted some lettuce, carrots, and garlic chives Monday. No pressure, really, but I’d love to have extra lettuce this fall.


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