Thursday, December 15, 2011

Baked Delicata Squash with Apple Filling

This is another Boistfort recipe. I like what Heidi and Mike posted about the recipe: "Get crazy when it comes to filling choices and use up your carrots or fennel or whatever. This dish is the meaning of fall. We often top with a little cheese and have even been known to add sausage to filling."

1 delicata squash
1 apple, chopped*
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/4 c. (or so) leeks, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/4 c. (or so) slivered almonds or chopped walnuts
Butter (a tablespoon or so)
Water (a couple tablespoons)
Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the delicata squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds, and compost them. Place the squash halves facedown in a shallow, ovenproof dish. Add about a quarter-inch of water to the dish. Combine the remaining ingredients (except the salt) in another small, ovenproof dish. Cover this dish with foil (or a lid, if it's fancy like that. I used a glass loaf pan, so foil it was for me). Put both dishes in the preheated oven, and bake for 45 minutes or so--until the squash is tender. Stir the filling once or twice during baking, re-covering it each time. Once everything is cooked, salt the squash halves. Add salt to the filling to taste, then scoop the filling into the squash halves.

*We rarely peel our produce (apples, beets, carrots, potatoes, etc.). It just doesn't seem necessary, because the texture of the peel doesn't bother any of us, it's often quite nutritious, and since we're using organic produce, we don't need to worry about the pesticides that would otherwise be present in large amounts in the peel.

Tasty. Liam and Annika loved it especially well. Steve and I liked it a lot too but felt that it could use a bit more salt to balance out the sweetness of the delicata and the apples. (We didn't sprinkle the filling with salt, but I added that to the recipe above, and we'll do it next time.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winter CSA, Month 2 (December)

Here's what was in this month's box from Boistfort:

Apples (cameo)
Cabbage (red)
Carrots (purple)
Celery Root (a.k.a. celeriac)
Onions (yellow)
Parsley (Italian, a.k.a. flat-leaf)
Pears (d'Anjou)
Potatoes (Yukon gold and French fingerling)
Winter Squash (carnival, delicata, and orange kabocha)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Buttercup Squash and Leek Soup

Here's another delicious, easy soup recipe for you. This one uses buttercup squash (different from butternut squash). The recipe comes from Boistfort. I made a half recipe, and it yielded about 4 servings. You can easily double the ingredient amounts if you want a bigger batch of soup.

I know this looks a whole lot like the Esau's Soup I posted last week, but I promise it's not the same photo.

2 c. (or so) sliced leeks--white and light-green parts only
1 medium buttercup squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/4 c. dry white wine (e.g., Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay)
3 c. chicken stock (or 3 c. water and 3 t. Better than Bouillon organic chicken base, which is what I used)
Salt, to taste (I didn't add very much)
White pepper, to taste (start small, because it can be powerful stuff)
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish (optional; I didn't use them because I didn't have any--my garden is sleeping until spring)

Put the sliced leeks, chopped squash, white wine, and chicken stock into a stock pot. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes--until the squash is tender. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool for 15 minutes or so. Carefully purée the soup with an immersion blender (a regular blender will work too). Add salt and white pepper to taste. Garnish with chives if desired.

This soup is smooth, thick, and delicious. We all loved it. The white pepper is a perfect touch; I don't recommend skipping it unless you absolutely can't find some.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sweet-Potato Black-Bean "Enchiladas"

I saw this recipe in a recent Penzeys catalog, and it looked too tasty and intriguing to pass up.

In retrospect, I really wish I'd cut the "enchilada" open so you could see the filling in this photo.

2 large sweet potatoes, diced (no need to peel them)
1/2 c. shoyu (soy sauce) or tamari
1 c. apple cider vinegar, divided
1 T. (or so) neutral-tasting cooking oil (I used canola)
2 leeks, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb. chorizo (optional; we opted for it)
1 t. (or so) cumin
Red pepper flakes, to taste
One 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed (or about 1/2 c. dried black beans, soaked overnight)
3 c. (or so) shredded cheddar, divided
Flour tortillas (6 big ones if you want huge enchiladas, or maybe 12 medium ones for more reasonable-sized portions. I used 6 huge ones and ended up eating half of one, because it was ridiculously enormous.)
Sour cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put the potatoes, shoyu/tamari, and 2/3 c. of the apple cider vinegar into a large saucepan over medium-ish heat. Bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the saucepan and boil, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are very soft and the liquid is mostly absorbed (30 minutes or so).* Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic, stir to coat, then add the chorizo and cumin and cook until everything is wonderfully fragrant and the chorizo is cooked through. Add the remaining 1/3 c. of apple cider vinegar, the pepper flakes, and the black beans. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover the pan, and continue to cook until it looks and smells too delicious not to taste. When the sweet potatoes are soft, mash them (but leave them somewhat lumpy). Combine the sweet potatoes with the chorizo/bean deliciousness, and stir in 1 c. of the cheddar. Divide the mixture evenly between the tortillas. Fold and roll each filled tortilla the way you would a chimichanga (go to the link and scroll down for photos of this process; skip the toothpick part unless you want to be picking splinters out of your teeth). Snuggle the filled tortillas together in a lightly greased 9x13" pan. Even if you pack them super tightly, you may end up needing a smaller auxiliary pan to hold the overflow tortillas. Top the tortillas with the rest of the cheddar. Bake them at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble. Then broil them for 3-5 minutes more, until the cheese is golden brown. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

*I actually had a lot of trouble with this step. I cooked those darned sweet potatoes for a long time, and I kept having to add more vinegar and shoyu, because it was absorbing (I suspect it was actually evaporating) at a rapid rate, while the sweet potatoes remained resolutely firm. I think part of the issue was that I cut the sweet potatoes into large-ish chunks. Dice would've cooked through more quickly. I've also upped the amount of liquid in the recipe to help, and I think covering the saucepan (which the source recipe didn't mention and I didn't do) should keep the liquid around longer. I'll admit that the instructions I've posted in the recipe are a bit of a guess; I'll update the recipe more firmly once I've tried my new method (I'd welcome your comments if you try it). It's possible that you may actually end up needing to uncover the saucepan to allow some liquid to evaporate once the sweet potatoes soften. I do think this recipe is worth a try, though. After all, I loved the finished product despite the procedural difficulties.

These were delicious. We all liked them well, and we'll definitely make them again. The cheese on top formed a delicious crust on the flour tortillas, and the filling had a wonderful spicy-sweetness to it. I put enchiladas in quotation marks in the recipe title, because these are not like any enchiladas I've ever had. I'm used to my enchiladas being made with corn tortillas and drenched in sauce. These were much drier (prior to the application of salsa and sour cream). And in texture, they were really more like chimichangas, though without the deep-frying.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Esau's Soup

I originally got this recipe from a Penzeys catalog; it was called Red, Red Soup. When looking [unsuccessfully] for a link to it, I found a virtually identical version here. The soup's two names come from the biblical account of Jacob and Esau--specifically the time when a very tired and hungry Esau (who, as an interesting side note, was very red and hairy at birth) got home, saw Jacob cooking some lentil stew, and demanded, "Give me some of that red stew!"

As you can see, this soup, unlike Jacob's, is not in fact red. But don't let that deter you.

Olive oil (a couple tablespoons)
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 potato, roughly chopped
The cloves from 1 garlic bulb, peeled and roughly chopped
At least 1 c. red lentils (I probably used about 1 1/2 c.)
6 c. vegetable or chicken broth (or 6 c. of water and 6 t. of Better than Bouillon, which is what I used)*
2 bay leaves
2 lemons, halved (if you're using lemons that are really big, you might want to use just one)
Ground cumin (1/2 t. or so)
Ground cayenne, to taste
Salt, to taste (I didn't add much at all, because I didn't think it needed much)
Fresh parsley, chopped (optional; I didn't use it, because I didn't have any)

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook until soft--about 5 minutes. Then add the celery, carrots, potato, and half of the chopped garlic. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies begin to soften a bit. Add the lentils and the broth, stir to combine, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer the soup for about 20 minutes. Then add the bay leaves, the remaining garlic, and two of the lemon halves (save the other two for later). Cook for 10 more minutes, then remove the bay leaves and compost them. Using tongs, squeeze the juice from the cooked lemon halves and stir it into the soup. Squeeze the juice from the two fresh lemon halves as well, and stir it into the soup too. Compost all the lemon halves. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender (in batches, if the latter), carefully purée the soup. Stir in the cumin, cayenne, and salt. Garnish individual servings with parsley (if using) and an extra dash of cayenne, if you like.

* Both source recipes called for only 4 c. of broth, so that's what I initially added. Once I puréed it, it was so thick that it was kind of like a cross between mashed potatoes and soup. I wanted it a bit soupier, so I added some extra broth. It was still nice and thick the way I made it.

This was absolutely delicious--we all thought so. It was so creamy and flavorful that Steve almost couldn't believe it didn't have any cream in it. I have a feeling it will be making its way into our stock pot on a regular basis this winter. The lemon and cumin were great touches. And I love that the soup is so inexpensive to make!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Garlic Mashed Parsnips

I've occasionally heard people talk about mashing parsnips like potatoes, and since I have so many parsnips on hand right now, I decided to try it. This particular recipe comes from here. I made 3 pounds' worth of mash, but I'll do what the recipe's creator did and list amounts for a 1-pound recipe instead.

1 lb. parsnips, chopped into big pieces
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled but not chopped (you could use granulated garlic instead)
1/3 c. (or so) milk
1 t. dried parsley (you could use chopped fresh parsley instead)
1 T. butter
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Put the parsnips in a pot and cover them generously with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Add the garlic cloves to the boiling water, and continue boiling until the parsnips are tender. Drain. Add the milk, parsley, and butter, and mash everything together. (I, like the recipe's creator, used an immersion blender, and it worked well. You could also use a food processor or even a mixer.) Once everything is mashed up, taste the mixture and then add salt and pepper as desired.

These are really yummy. I'm glad I made such a big batch, because we're going to enjoy the leftovers!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Italian Kale with Almonds and Raisins

Happy American Thanksgiving, everyone! In honor of Thanksgiving, here's a thoroughly unThanksgiving recipe. (That doesn't mean it doesn't make you want to give thanks!)

I've cooked with kale before, but this is the first time I've used Italian kale (a.k.a. lacinato kale). I got the recipe from Boistfort. I know a lot of my recipes lately have come from their site; they just have such a great database of recipes! You could make this with regular kale instead if you don't have any lacinato.

1 bunch lacinato (or regular) kale
1 T. olive oil, divided
1/4 c. (or so) slivered almonds
4-6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 c. water
1/4 c. (or so) raisins
1/2 t. salt (Seriously, start with just this much. You can always add more after cooking if you want.)

Remove the stems from the kale, and save them for another recipe (or compost them). Coarsely chop the kale greens. Heat 1/2 T. of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until they're beautifully golden and fragrant. Remove the almonds from the skillet and set aside. Add the remaining 1/2 T. of olive oil to the skillet, along with the sliced garlic. Cook for a minute or two, stirring frequently, until the garlic starts to brown just a little. Don't let it burn, though. Add the water, kale, raisins, and salt. Toss/stir to coat. Cover the skillet and cook until kale is tender (about 8 minutes), stirring once halfway through the cooking time. Stir in the almonds.

This is simple and delicious; it's got great flavor without being overwhelmingly salty. Of everyone at the table, Steve was its biggest fan. He thought it was fantastic.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Celery-Root Bisque

This is actually a hybrid recipe of this one and this one from the Boistfort site. This is my first experience cooking with celery root.

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced (about 2 c.)
1 large onion, chopped
Celery root (celeriac), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 5 1/2 c.)
Russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 12 oz.)
2 c. chopped celery stalks (including leaves)
1 1/2 t. minced fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
7 c. chicken broth (or 7c. water and 7 t. chicken base, which is what I used)
1/3 c. whipping cream
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Additional chopped fresh thyme (as a garnish)

Melt the butter with the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. When sizzling subsides, add the leeks and onion, and sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the celery-root cubes, potato cubes, chopped celery, 1 1/2 t. thyme, and the bay leaf. Add broth, increase heat to high, and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes. Compost bay leaf (oops--I forgot to do this and puréed it together with everything else). Using immersion blender, carefully purée soup in pot. (Alternately, carefully purée in batches in a regular blender or food processor.) Stir cream into soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with additional chopped thyme.

This is very, very good. It's smooth, rich (but not overly so), and has a beautiful celery flavor. The chopped thyme sprinkled on top complements the flavor of the bisque so well.

Happy birthday, Steve!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stir-Fried Radish Greens

I've been holding on to this recipe for months now, waiting for another bunch of radishes. I found the recipe here, though I've since found several similar ones elsewhere online.

1 T. (or so) sesame oil
Freshly pressed garlic (a couple cloves)
Radish greens (1 bunch), roughly chopped
1 T. (or so) shoyu (soy sauce) or tamari
1 t. (or so) rice vinegar
Hot sauce, to taste (we used Sriracha)

Put the sesame oil and garlic in a small, unheated skillet. Put over medium heat and cook until the garlic is sizzling and fragrant but not browned. Add the radish greens and stir/toss to combine. Continue cooking until the radish greens are wilted and tender--a couple minutes. Transfer the greens and garlic to a small bowl (discarding any liquid left in the skillet). Add the shoyu and rice vinegar to the greens, and toss to combine. Add hot sauce to taste. You can add the hot sauce to individual servings if desired.

These were absolutely delicious; I look forward to repeating the recipe. The one downside is that radish greens reduce so much during cooking that we were left with a total of maybe half a cup once I cooked them. One of the similar recipes I found mentioned using chard in addition to the radish greens or instead of them. That could definitely increase the yield and subsequent deliciousness.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Twice-Baked Potatoes

I've always been intrigued by the idea of twice-baked potatoes. They just seem like one of those naughty, delicious comfort foods that immediately decrease artery function by 50 percent. This is the first time I've ever made them, and it's also the first time I've ever tasted them. I got the recipe from Penzeys. I won't say it's healthy, but I think it's downright artery-friendly compared to some T-B-P recipes.

2 medium russet potatoes
1 T. butter
1/2 c. (or so) cheese (I used shredded white cheddar)
2 T. sour cream or Greek yogurt
Seasoning of choice, to taste (I used Northwoods Seasoning)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Poke the potatoes several times with a fork. Bake them right on the oven rack for 1 hour, then remove them from the oven (but keep the oven on). Let the potatoes cool until you can handle them without burning yourself. Cut each one in half lengthwise. Scoop out the innards, leaving just enough potato in the skins so that they keep their shape. Put the potato innards into a bowl along with the butter, and break up/stir until the butter is melted. Add the cheese, sour cream, and seasoning. Mash everything together. Then scoop the mixture back into the potato skins. Put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (foil should work too). Bake for 15 minutes, then broil for another 5 minutes until they're pleasantly browned.

Yum. These were a hit.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Apple-Cinnamon-Raisin Oatmeal

I know this one is a little out-there for a CSA recipe, but we did indeed get apples in our CSA box this month, so it's not cheating to post this! I came up with this particular iteration of the apple-cinnamon-raisin-oatmeal concept on my own, though I realize many people have done this before me.

4 c. water
2 c. rolled oats
1/4 c. (or so) raisins
1 1/2 t. (or so) ground cinnamon
1 large-ish apple, chopped
Brown sugar, to taste (I probably used about 1/4 c.)

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the oats to the boiling water and stir. Reduce heat so the mixture is barely simmering. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the raisins, and continue cooking for another couple minutes, until the liquid is fairly well absorbed and the oatmeal is the desired consistency. (If it gets too thick, you can add a little water or milk to thin it out a bit.) Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the cinnamon, apple, and brown sugar.

This was a perfect breakfast for a snowy Saturday morning (a rarity around here). Everybody liked the oatmeal; Liam and Annika were particularly vocal and enthusiastic in their enjoyment. Steve thought it could stand to be a bit sweeter, but that problem can be easily remedied by having more brown sugar available for individual servings. I figure it's better to err on the side of not-sweet-enough and let people add more sugar as they see fit.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sautéed Chanterelles

I was thrilled to see chanterelles in our share this month. I've heard rave reviews but have never (before now) had occasion to verify them for myself. This recipe comes from Boistfort.

Butter (a tablespoon or so)
Olive oil (a tablespoon or so)
Fresh chanterelles (half a pound or so), halved or quartered depending on size
Dry white wine (a splash or two)
Coarse salt, to tast
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh herb of choice (I used about a tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme)
Lemon juice, to taste

Melt butter with oil in a skillet over moderately high heat. Once the foaming mixture quiets down, add the chanterelles and sauté, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes or so. Then add the salt, pepper, and wine. Cook, stirring frequently, for a few more minutes--until the wine has evaporated and the chanterelles are pleasantly tender. Transfer the chanterelles (but not the remaining butter/oil mixture) to a bowl. Add the chopped herbs and lemon juice, and toss to coat.

Mmmmmmm. Chanterelles definitely deserve the rave reviews. And this method of preparing them definitely bears repeating.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Black Bean Soup

This is one of our trusty stand-by recipes. It ranks among my favorites because it is:

1. inexpensive,
2. easy,
3. healthy, and
4. delicious.

I got the original recipe from Stephanie O'Dea (a.k.a. The Crock-Pot Lady). A bonus about her slow-cooker blog is that almost all the recipes are gluten free. Which I'm not. But I know lots of people who are, so I can still appreciate it!

I'm not sure which labels/tags to attach to this recipe, because you really could probably use almost any veggie combination you wanted in it. I've tried lots of different veggies. This time around, I used a couple large carrots, some radishes, and some corn that I had in the freezer from our Pigman's summer CSA.

Black beans (three 15-oz. cans, drained and rinsed, or about 1 1/2 c. dry beans that you've soaked overnight and then drained)
Tomatoes (one 15-oz. can [I use diced with green chiles] or a couple fresh tomatoes, chopped)
Your choice of veggies, chopped if needed (a pound or so. I've used a bag of unthawed frozen organic veggies in the past, and that works great too.)
3 c. broth (or 3 t. Organic Better than Bouillon base and 3 c. water)
Hot sauce, to taste (enough to add flavor but not a lot of heat)
Garnishes (any or all of the following: shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, lime wedges, more hot sauce)
Tortilla chips

Put the beans, tomatoes, veggies, broth, and hot sauce in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally if you, like me, can't just let it cook undisturbed. Using an immersion blender, carefully purée the soup until it's smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can carefully transfer the soup--in batches--to a regular blender and carefully purée it that way. You may notice that I'm using the word carefully a lot. That's because this soup is, not surprisingly, hot. Stir more hot sauce into individual bowls as desired (I always add a lot), and garnish with some or all of what I listed. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping. You can also crumble chips over the top if you like.

Need I repeat that this soup is inexpensive, easy, healthy, and delicious?

Winter CSA, Month 1 (November)

We got our first Boistfort Valley Farm winter CSA box yesterday! I'm so excited that we don't have to go on a seven-month CSA hiatus. Here's what was in the box:

You may notice the change in photo locale.
Everything will have to migrate from the kitchen counter to the kitchen table for the next few months,
because the monthly winter deliveries are, as you can see, significantly larger than the weekly summer ones.

Brussels Sprouts
Buttercup Squash
Butternut Squash (This wasn't on our list, but it was in the box. I think maybe we got it because the pie pumpkin is so teeny.)
Celeriac (a.k.a. celery root)
Chanterelles (I was super excited to see these)
Delicata Squash
Gourds (not edible)
Italian Kale
Pie Pumpkin (a cute, tiny little one!)
Russet potatoes
Yellow onions

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Simmered Cabbage with Bacon

I got this cabbage recipe here (it's called Wilted Cabbage on that site).

Bacon, chopped (about 12 slices)
Onion, chopped (about 2 c.)
1/3 to 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. vinegar (I used chive vinegar, and it was a good choice)
2 t. salt, plus more to add later
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 large head of cabbage, shredded (we probably had about 14 c. once we shredded ours)

Cook the chopped bacon until crisp in a huge skillet over medium heat. If you don't have a huge skillet, I recommend using a stock pot. This is a lot of cabbage. Once the bacon is crisp, remove it from the skillet/pot, but leave the bacon grease and keep the stove on. Add the onion, sugar, vinegar, 2 t. of the salt, and the pepper to the hot bacon grease. Stir to combine, then add the cabbage. You may have to add it in batches and wait until a batch has cooked down a bit before you can add more, unless you want a stovetop covered with cascading cabbage. Cook uncovered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the cabbage has reached your desired level of tenderness, it's ready. Add more salt or sugar if needed. Serve the cabbage sprinkled with the bacon.

This was tasty. Steve said he thought it would have been even better with either less sugar or more salt. After hearing him say that, I realized I totally agreed, which is why I changed the recipe to include a sugar range, so to speak, rather than a specific amount.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Roasted Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)

I don't know if you know this about Jerusalem artichokes, but they are neither from Jerusalem nor artichokes. Perhaps you've never even heard of a Jerusalem artichoke/sunchoke before. In that case, I can tell you that it's the tuber from a type of flower similar to the sunflower that is native to North America. I was thrilled to get sunchokes in the final delivery of our summer Pigman's CSA, because I'd never prepared, eaten, or even seen them before. I decided to roast them along with the sirloin tip roast we were having (from our quarter of beef).

Sunchokes, scrubbed and peeled*
Seasoning, if desired

Preheat the oven. I preheated ours to 300 degrees F, because that's the temperature I was using to somewhat slowly cook the sirloin tip roast around which I nestled the sunchokes. But if you were just doing sunchokes, you could probably turn up the heat to 350 or more. They'd roast more quickly that way and perhaps brown better; you'd just have to keep an eye on them. Anyway, place the sunchokes in an oven-safe dish. Roast them in the preheated oven until they're fairly tender; a sharp knife should pierce all the way through one without much difficulty when they're tender. (Ours probably took an hour or more to cook at 300 degrees F.) Season the roasted sunchokes if you like.

* As you can probably tell from the photo above, I didn't actually peel the sunchokes before roasting them. I had read that the peel was edible, so I just scrubbed the sunchokes really well. It turns out that you can indeed eat the peel. But despite all my efforts at scrubbing, the sunchokes were still gritty. (Now that's some seriously tenacious earth.) After inadvertently polishing my teeth a bit with the grit from one piece of roasted sunchoke, I decided to peel the rest. It would've been significantly easier, I think, to do so before roasting. I certainly will next time.

These were decent in texture and flavor, but I'm going to withhold final judgment until I can try this recipe again with peeled sunchokes. The grittiness and post-roast peeling process made it difficult for me to give them a fair trial this time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Baked Acorn Squash with Apple Filling

I was hoping we'd get acorn squash this week so we could try this recipe. It's another Penzeys one, though I can't find it on their site.

1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
2 T. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. (4 T.) melted butter, divided
1 c. peeled, cored, and chopped tart apples (e.g., Granny Smith)
Zest from 1 orange
2 T. raisins
A dash of freshly grated nutmeg (ground nutmeg from a jar will also work fine)
A dash of ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes. When they're almost done baking, mix together the brown sugar and 2 T. of the melted butter. In a separate bowl, combine the other 2 T. of melted butter with the remaining ingredients. Once the squash is finished baking, remove it from the oven (but keep the oven on). Carefully turn the squash halves face-up. Prick the surface of each half several times with a fork, then brush each half with the butter/brown sugar mixture. Fill each half with equal amounts of the apple mixture. Put the baking dish back in the oven and bake the filled squash for another 30 minutes or so.

Tasty. The tart applyness of the Granny Smiths was a nice touch.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

CSA, Week 23

Well, this was the final week of the Pigman's CSA season. It's been a wonderful season. Thanks so much to Jan and Dean Pigman for all their hard work! We've so enjoyed their veggies these past few months, and we look forward to more starting next June. Our winter share with Boistfort Valley Farm starts in a couple weeks. In the meantime, here's a look at what the Pigmans put together for us this week. The last week of the extended season is a double share, so I actually had to take two photos to get everything in.

Acorn Squash
Bell Peppers
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage (HUGE!)
Carrots (lots)
Copra Onions
Delicata Squash
Jerusalem Artichoke
Pie Pumpkin
Raspberries (totally forgot to get these in one of the photos!)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pot Roast

To me, pot roast is just a cold-weather kind of meal. Growing up in Hawaii, I didn't eat a lot of pot roast. It's a bit jarring even to think about, honestly. But pot roast feels totally right when the weather is the way it was here in the Northwest when we ate this on Friday--grey and chilly. This particular recipe comes from the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook, which contains about a bazillion pot-roast recipes that are all just about the same. (Don't get me wrong--it contains a lot of recipes for things other than pot roast. Like twenty-something baked-bean recipes, for example. But really, it's a useful cookbook. Wow. Not that you'll believe me after what I've just said about it.) Ahem. This particular pot-roast recipe does differ considerably from the typical one in that it calls for a lot more liquid--more like what you'd expect to see in a stew recipe. I figured I'd give it a shot. Not counting our CSA share, our beef, and what we had in our cabinets, I had to buy exactly zero ingredients to make this. And that always brings a smile to my face.

Chuck roast or pot roast (3-4 lbs.)
1 envelope of dry onion-soup mix
Potatoes, cubed (I used 3 large-ish ones)
Carrots, sliced (I used 4 large-ish ones)
3 c. water*
1 t. beef bouillon granules (or 1 bouillon cube)*
Granulated garlic, to taste*
Salt, to taste*
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste*

Sprinkle all sides of the roast with the onion-soup mix, patting/rubbing in the mix so it sticks to the meat. Put the roast in a slow cooker along with the potatoes and the carrots. (I used a 4-quart cooker for this, and it was absolutely filled to the brim.) Mix together the water, the bouillon, and  a little bit of granulated garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour this mixture over everything in the cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. I always uncover and stir occasionally, despite the fact that some purists say this ruins everything.

*If you'd prefer, you could probably just use 3 c. of beef broth instead of these five ingredients.

This tasted like pot roast. It wasn't fancy, and it didn't have complex flavors . . . and that's just the way pot roast is. But it was tender, hearty, and filling. Annika had two servings and was miffed at being denied a third. Liam barely ate anything. Steve and I didn't eat until after the kids were in bed, and Steve came up with the brilliant idea of having our pot roast in open-faced sandwiches with homemade chipotle mayo (and the pot-roast veggies on the side). It was quite good that way. Here's a photo:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Seasoned Roasted Potatoes

This is a Penzeys Spices recipe. It sounded simple and delicious.

Potatoes with skins, cut into bite-sized chunks (I used 3 medium-to-large Yukon Gold potatoes)
Yellow onion, chopped (I used half an onion)
Seasoning (a couple tablespoons; I used Northwoods Seasoning, as did the original recipe, but you could use something else)
Vegetable oil (a couple tablespoons; I used canola)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put the potatoes and onions in a 9x13-inch baking dish (or similar). Sprinkle the potatoes and onions with the seasoning, and toss to coat. Add the olive oil, and toss again. Put the dish in the preheated oven. Bake for about an hour, stirring ever 10 minutes during the first 30 minutes of cooking, then baking uninterrupted for the next 30 minutes or so. The potatoes will be nicely browned when done.

We had these on the same night as the corn, and it must've been a disappearing-seasoning sort of night (aside from the steak, which was fantastic). The potatoes were so totally mediocre flavor-wise, despite the fact that Northwoods Seasoning has some serious flavor before roasting. Perhaps another type of seasoning would work better for this recipe, or perhaps it would work better to add the seasoning toward the end of the roasting process, because it was virtually undetectable the way we used it. However, the potatoes had a great texture and were excellent once we drizzled them with the reserved (boiled) marinade from the steak.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Teriyaki-Marinated Grilled Rib Steak

This is another one from Taste of Home: Backyard Grilling. The recipe doesn't call the marinade teriyaki, but that's what it is.

1/2 c. shoyu (soy sauce) or tamari
1/2 c. (or so) sliced green onions or chives (We used chives, because we have them in our yard. They were about to die due to the changing weather, and this seemed a fitting use for them.)
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
Freshly pressed garlic (a couple cloves)
1/4 t. (or a bit more) ground ginger
1/4 t. (or a bit more) freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 lb. (or so) beef rib steak

Combine all the ingredients except for the meat in a container about the size of the steak(s) or in a zip-top plastic bag. Add the steaks and move them around so they get coated with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours (we did ours overnight), turning occasionally to distribute marinade. Remove steaks and grill over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or until they're cooked the way you like them. You can boil the remaining marinade and pour it over the plated steak and/or you can drizzle it on a side veggie.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Seasoned Grilled-in-Husk Sweet Corn

Steve found this recipe last week in Taste of Home: Backyard Grilling, which he got as a birthday gift a couple years ago from my brother and sister-in-law. We thought we'd have to wait until next summer to use the recipe but were pleasantly surprised to see corn in our share again this week.

4 ears of sweet corn in husks
3 T. butter, softened
1 T. minced fresh parsley
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. garlic salt (If you, like us, don't have garlic salt, you can use a mixture of granulated garlic and salt.)
1/2 t. ground cumin

Carefully peel back the husks from the ears of corn to within 1 inch of the bottom. Remove silk and compost. Combine remaining ingredients and spread over the corn. Rewrap each ear in its husk and secure with string. Put the corn in a big pot and cover with cold water. Soak for 20 minutes, then drain. Grill the corn for 10-15 minutes or until tender, turning frequently.

This was tasty to the same extent that our regular grilled corn (minus the lime and Parmesan) is tasty. Meaning that all the effort of seasoning this was pointless, because it tasted the same as normal. I'm not quite sure what happened to all the extra flavor, which was definitely noticeable in the butter mixture before grilling. The seasoning was still visible post-grilling, but it didn't taste like anything anymore. On a positive note, we do think that soaking and grilling the corn in its own husk may help the corn be moister. We may do that again. But we'll skip the peeling and seasoning beforehand.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Soup

I first made this recipe about four years ago as baby food for Liam. The original recipe comes from Annabel Karmel's Top 100 Baby Purées, which is thankfully not what the name implies if read literally. She mentions that the recipe is so good that you could make it as a soup for the whole family. After tasting it that first time, I realized she was right. Baby Liam loved it too. Anyway, it seemed like a fitting recipe to post today (we actually made it on Saturday).

2 T. butter
1 leek, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 pie pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled* and cubed (pulp and seeds composted or saved for roasting separately)
4 c. vegetable or chicken broth (I made some broth using Better than Bouillon Organic Chicken Base)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the leek, and sauté until soft and lightly golden. Add the pumpkin/squash and cook, stirring frequently, for another 2 minutes. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Then simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin/squash is tender. Then mash the mixture, but leave it somewhat chunky (I used a potato masher to accomplish this). Add salt and pepper to taste.

* I found it much easier to peel the pumpkin after quartering it. I also found it easier (though also more dangerous) to use a paring knife rather than a vegetable peeler.

Tasty. Interestingly enough, the only one who wasn't a huge fan this time around was Liam.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mustard Greens with Garlic

Ever since our last experience with preparing mustard greens, I've wanted a chance to cook them a different way--a way that preserved their spiciness this time.

Mustard greens
1/4 c. (or so) broth (I used beef broth that I made with Better than Bouillon Organic Beef Base)
Freshly pressed garlic (a couple cloves)
Olive oil (a couple teaspoons)
Lemon juice, to taste

Remove the thick stems from the mustard greens and compost them. Tear greens into pieces. Heat the broth and garlic in a skillet over medium heat. When the broth is hot, add the greens. Toss to coat. Cover the skillet and cook for four minutes or so, uncovering occasionally to stir. When the greens are tender, remove them from the skillet and toss with a little olive oil and lemon juice.

This cooking method definitely preserved the spiciness of the mustard greens. I think it may have even enhanced it. The kids and I happily ate our portions, which were admittedly meager (mustard greens reduce a lot during cooking). Steve is the only one who didn't like the final product. He thought it was just too spicy. While I thought the end result was pretty good, I'd probably try some other method next time.

CSA, Week 22

In this week's share:

Copra Onion
Mustard Greens (We had a choice of mustard greens, chard, and kale. We chose mustard greens, because we've only had them one other time this season.)
Parsnips (Look at the size of the one in back!)
Pie Pumpkin (We had a choice of pie pumpkin, raspberries, or garlic. It was a tough choice between pumpkin and raspberries, but we chose pumpkin, because I had a recipe picked out for this week.)
Sweet Meat Squash

Next week is the final Pigman's share until next June. And in a couple weeks, the Boistfort shares begin!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Roasted Spiced Delicata Squash

Initially, I was just going to roast our delicata squash the same way I did the sweet meat squash a few days ago. But then I figured it would be a little boring for you if I did that, so I tried something a little different. I still roasted it, but I added some spices. I came up with the idea from this message board.

Delicata squash or other winter squash, chopped into 2-inch pieces (if you're using delicata, you don't need to peel it first*)
Olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Granulated garlic (freshly pressed would work too)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the squash pieces in a single layer in a shallow, oven-safe dish. Toss with a little olive oil to lightly coat. Add salt, pepper, and garlic to taste, along with a little bit of cinnamon and some cumin. Toss again to coat. Roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or so, checking occasionally for doneness. When the squash is done, you should be able to easily pierce all the way through a piece with a sharp knife.
* Yes, you can indeed eat the peel of delicata squash. Texturally, it's obviously a little different from the rest of the squash, but that didn't bother us. If you don't want to eat the peel, I suggest roasting the squash in large sections, instead of chopping it before roasting. Peel it after you roast it, because it's much easier to do so at that point. After peeling it, chop it.

This was a definite hit with the kids--particularly with Liam. Steve and I liked it too, and we'd gladly eat delicata squash again prepared this way. But we didn't think it was absolutely amazing to the same level that some of the recipes we've tried these past few months have been.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Roasted Sweet Meat Squash

In our share this week, we got a big chunk of sweet meat squash. It seems to me that minimalist recipes are usually best for winter squash, and what follows is definitely a minimalist recipe. But that's not a bad thing! I found the instructions here. If you follow the link, you'll also find a good overview of how to cut a whole winter squash.

Sweet meat squash or other winter squash, cut into pieces (I used one piece)
Oil (a couple tablespoons; I used canola oil)
Coarse salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the piece(s) of squash on a baking sheet. Coat the flesh with a little bit of oil, then sprinkle it with a fairly generous amount of salt. Roast in the preheated oven for about an hour. The flesh should be browned (though not burned), and a knife should slide easily all the way through. Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh away from the skin. This should be pretty easy to do after roasting. Cut into chunks and serve. Alternately, you could do what the original recipe's author did and mash the squash with a little bit of oil or butter.

This was simple and delicious. We all liked it. Annika ate every bit of her serving before continuing on to the other components of her dinner.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

CSA, Week 21

We're now started on the first week of our three-week extended share with Pigman's, before our winter Boistfort share begins. In this week's share:

Raspberries (we had a choice between raspberries, eggplant, and bell pepper)
Sweet Meat Squash

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kale with Garlicky White Beans

My mom clipped this recipe for me a few months ago. She got it from The News Tribune.

1 lb. dried white beans, soaked overnight* (I used great northern beans)
1 small onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 bay leaves
Thyme (4 sprigs fresh, or 3-4 teaspoons dried; I used dried, because it's what I had on hand.)
Coarse salt
Garlic (about 16 cloves)
Kale (1 bunch)
Olive oil (3 tablespoons or so)
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Sriracha (optional)

After soaking the beans overnight, put them in a stock pot along with the soaking liquid. Add enough water to cover the beans by 3 inches. Put the onion, carrots, bay leaves, thyme, and most of the garlic cloves into the pot. Reserve 4 cloves of garlic for use later in the recipe. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium or medium-low; you want the liquid to be bubbling just a tiny bit. Cover the pot and let it continue to cook until the beans are tender. This should take 1-2 hours. Once the beans are tender, add about a teaspoon of salt and let everything cook for a few more minutes. Drain the bean mixture, reserving about 4 cups of the cooking liquid. Compost the bay leaves.

Remove the center rib from each kale leaf (save the ribs!). Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Chop the ribs into small, thin slices. Thinly slice the reserved 4 cloves of garlic, too. Heat the olive oil in a huge skillet. If you don't have a huge skillet, I suggest a stock pot or a dutch oven. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the garlic slices. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Don't allow the garlic to burn. Then add the chopped kale stems. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the stems are tender. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds or so. (Make sure the flakes don't burn.) Then add the kale leaves in batches, tossing each batch to coat it with oil and let it wilt before adding more. When all the kale is wilted, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the skillet and cook for about 10 minutes--until the kale leaves are tender. Add spoonfuls of the cooking liquid from the beans as needed if the kale mixture seems to be drying out. (I probably ended up adding about 1/3 c. of liquid over the course of 10 minutes.) When the kale is tender, add the drained bean mixture and 3 cups of the cooking liquid. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cover the skillet again and cook for a few minutes to let the flavors mingle.

Steve and I ate our servings drizzled with Sriracha.

* When soaking the beans, make sure to cover them with plenty of water. They will absorb water and expand during the soaking process, and you want to make sure that they remain covered with water the whole time.

We had this as our main dish tonight, and let me just say this: Wow. It was so spectacularly not worth the effort. Steve and I agreed in retrospect that it would've been decent as a side dish, but it just didn't cut it as the lead. And even as a side dish, it wasn't exceptional. The cooking process was fairly time-consuming, and I wouldn't go to that trouble again for something mediocre.

Taco Soup

This recipe is from the most-recent Penzeys Spices catalog.

1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
Two 15-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed (or about 1 c. of dried black beans that you've soaked overnight and then cooked)
Kernels cut from 3-4 ears of corn (you could also use a 14.5-oz. can of corn, drained)
One 14.5-oz. can (or box) of diced tomatoes, undrained (you could also use fresh tomatoes if you make this when they're still in season)
One 16-oz. jar of salsa
1 pkg. taco seasoning
Chili powder or hot sauce, if desired (we used chipotle powder)
Shredded cheese
Sour cream
Tortilla chips and/or tortillas

Brown the meat in a stock pot. Drain off fat, if needed (we didn't really have any to drain). Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, salsa, and taco seasoning. Add water until the mixture reaches the desired level of soupiness. Cook over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes. Add chili powder or hot sauce to individual servings if desired. Garnish with cheese and sour cream. Serve with chips and/or tortillas for dipping.

Yum! For some reason, I couldn't find this recipe on the Penzeys site. I think that might be due to the fact that if you made it the way the original directions indicated, it would be so thick you could barely get the spoon in, and it would be really bland. BUT if you make it the way I've indicated above, it's hearty, flavorful, and spoon-worthy. A great fall dinner!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Brussels Sprouts with Buttered Pecans

. . . and it's another Boistfort Valley Farm recipe today! I've been nervous and excited about this one, because I don't have a lot of experience with brussels sprouts, aside from hearing a bunch of people say they don't like them (not you, Em!).

1/4 c. pecan halves, roughly chopped*
2 T. butter, divided*
Coarse salt*
Honey (about a teaspoon)*
Brussels sprouts, halved or quartered depending on size
Freshly pressed garlic (a couple cloves)
Lemon juice (a splash or two)
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread out the chopped pecans in a small, shallow baking dish. Bake for about 10 minutes, until they're somewhat darker and fragrant. While the pecans are baking, bring a large-ish pot of water to boil. Then salt the water and add the brussels sprouts. Cook the sprouts for about 5 minutes, or until just tender. Then move them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the sprouts and dry them off somewhat. (The original recipe said to pat dry, but this was difficult to do. I ended up squeezing them gently to get some of the water out.) When the pecans are finished baking, add 1/2 tablespoon of the butter to the baking dish, along with a pinch of salt and the honey. Toss to melt the butter and coat the pecans with the sweet, buttery goodness. Put the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and the garlic in a large [cold] skillet. Put the skillet on the stove over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is sizzling and fragrant. Increase the heat a bit, then add the sprouts. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Then add some pepper, some salt, and the lemon juice (the lemon juice will help deglaze the pan a little). Sprinkle with the pecans and enjoy!

*You really may want to consider upping these amounts, because the roasted and glazed pecans are so amazing that you're going to want to eat a ton of them while you're waiting for the brussels sprouts to cook. In fact, you may want to make a lot more and save the extras to put on other things, like ice cream. And sardines. And old rubber tires.

This was quite yummy. Definitely repeatable. (Go, brussels sprouts! Stick it to the brussels-sprout-hating public!) The original recipe said to halve or quarter the sprouts only if they were really large. But we decided that our halved and quartered sprouts had a better texture and also absorbed the flavors more than our whole ones, so we say chop 'em all!

Despite the fact that the final product was quite good, you might be wondering, Wouldn't you rather have had a plateful of just the glazed pecans? My answer? Absolutely.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kohlrabi Salad

This is yet another idea from Boistfort Valley Farm. I've actually had this recipe sitting around for months, and I finally decided to use it this past weekend.

1/2 onion, quartered and sliced thinly
1 large or 2 medium kohlrabi, peeled* and sliced into matchsticks
Lemon juice (a couple tablespoons)
Olive oil (a couple tablespoons)
Capers, drained (a couple tablespoons)
Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces (I used a whole head of green-leaf)

Rinse the onion slices, then pat dry (I did this by sandwiching the slices between paper towels). Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, and capers. Add this mixture to a large salad bowl along with the onions and sliced kohlrabi. Stir to coat. Add the lettuce, and toss to combine. Taste, then add salt and pepper as desired. You can also add more lemon juice, olive oil, and/or capers if you want.
*Use a paring knife, not a vegetable peeler, to peel the kohlrabi.

This was decent. Edible and not off-putting, but not extraordinary by any stretch of the imagination. We probably won't make it again.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

CSA, Week 20

This week's share:

Delicata Squash
Green Beans (we could choose this or brussels sprouts)
Potatoes (look at the size of the big one!)
Raspberries (we could choose this, blackberries, or a pie pumpkin)
Sweet Onion

...and a glass of shiraz to toast to a tasty CSA season! We actually have three weeks left, because we invested in an extended-season share, but this marks the last week of the regular CSA season. Cheers!

I'm especially looking forward to the delicata squash this week. I've never cooked one before, but I've heard they're delicious.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chard and Feta Pie

I listed out several chard-recipe options for Steve, and he voted for this one. It's another recipe from the Boistfort Valley Farm site. I wasn't entirely sure if the original recipe was calling for entire chard stalks or just the greens. I decided to use just the greens and save the stalks for another meal.

1 pie crust (I used a 9-inch frozen one)
Olive oil (a couple tablespoons)
1 large onion, chopped
Freshly pressed garlic (I used 6 cloves)
Basil, to taste (I used dried)
Rosemary, to taste (I used dried)
Thyme, to taste (I used dried)
Chard greens, chopped into fairly narrow, 1/2-inch-wide strips (I used the greens from 7 or 8 stalks)
Balsamic vinegar (a couple tablespoons)
Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c. crumbled feta

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prick the pie crust liberally with a fork. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. (Keep the oven on! It would've made my job a whole lot quicker if I had done this, instead of later putting the filled pie crust into the oven and "baking" it for 30 minutes in a cool oven. Sigh.) Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions, garlic, basil, rosemary, and thyme in the oil until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the chopped chard greens. The original recipe said to "cook until you see a color change." Pretty soon after I added the chard, the onions turned pink and the chard was wilted. I figured that was the color change I was supposed to be looking for. When this happens, pour in the balsamic vinegar, and stir to distribute. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the chard mixture to a large mixing bowl, and allow it to cool somewhat. Then add the eggs and 3/4 c. of the feta, and stir to combine. Pour all of this into the baked pie crust. Sprinkle the pie with the remaining 3/4 c. feta. Bake in the [heated] oven for 30-40 minutes.

This is really, really good. The flavors work together beautifully. Steve could barely answer when I asked for his opinion, because he was so busy stuffing his face. The most he could muster initially was "Mmmmmmm."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure where I got this recipe, and an online search didn't yield the answer. The recipe's origins may be a mystery, but that doesn't prevent it from visiting our kitchen regularly.

1/2 c. honey
Lime juice (a couple tablespoons)
Shoyu/soy sauce/tamari (a tablespoon or so)
Fresh cilantro, chopped (a couple tablespoons)
Freshly pressed garlic (a couple cloves)
Fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced (a couple teaspoons--optional, but tasty and not particularly spicy)
1 lb. (or so) boneless, skinless chicken pieces (in the past, we've used breasts, and they're good, but we used thighs this time, and they're even better)
Cooked brown basmati rice (optional)

Combine all ingredients except chicken and rice in a medium-sized, shallow baking dish. Then add the chicken, and flip it to coat it well with the marinade. Cover and chill for at least a couple hours--or even overnight. Flip the chicken pieces once or twice during the marinating process. After marinating, remove the chicken from the dish (reserve the marinade!). Grill the chicken over medium heat until it's cooked through and slightly crispy on the edges. Meanwhile, bring the reserved marinade to a rolling boil (to kill any bacteria that were lurking in the raw chicken juices). Serve the chicken with the boiled marinade spooned over it. We typically eat this with brown basmati rice, but you don't have to.

Delectable. My thanks--indeed, my whole family's thanks--go out to whoever came up with this.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Beef! (a.k.a. My Vegetarian and Vegan Friends Might Want to Skip This Entry)

I told you we would, and we did! We invested in a quarter cow.

We don't eat a whole lot of meat in our household--partly due to cost, partly due to health decisions, and partly due to wanting to be good stewards of creation. But we are in fact omnivores. And we're concerned about the origins of the meat we do eat. As much as possible, we want that meat to come from organically fed animals who were raised without antibiotics or hormones on small local farms. And we want the workers on those farms to be treated well and to receive fair wages. We also care about how the animals were treated. Perhaps this seems strange, considering that we plan to eat them, but we want the chickens, cows, and pigs who provide us with the meat we eat to have led low-stress lives during which they were able to express their chickenhood/cowhood/pighood before they were slaughtered. And we want to know that even the slaughtering process was as quick, painless, and stress-free as possible for the animals. 

I know not everyone has the options we have. I'm so grateful that we live in an area where there is plentiful water and space for raising animals and produce--and where sustainable, humane options are so readily available. Local, organic farms (for veggies and for meat) just aren't a reality for a lot of people.

Maybe you're thinking, Yeah, and meat like you're describing is a luxury that only the wealthy can afford! First of all, I'll acknowledge that in the global scheme of things, we're definitely wealthy. And I can almost guarantee that if you're reading this, you have electricity and running water, and you eat protein regularly. That means you, too, are wealthy in comparison with much of the world's population. Truly. That said, believe me when I say that our family is not wealthy by American standards. I'm well aware that non-factory-farmed meat is often a more expensive option. Our bank account has felt that. But for us, that has meant a decision to consume meat less frequently (and in smaller servings), not to make what we would consider ethical compromises on its origins.

I feel that I should clarify that when we are guests in someone else's home, we don't grill them on the origins of the food they've lovingly prepared for us, nor do we turn up our noses at it. The guidelines I've laid out above are in place for what we purchase, not for what others generously choose to share with us. It would be rather two-faced, I think, if we professed concern and gratitude for the workers and animals who produce the food we purchase, and yet we weren't similarly grateful as guests at someone's table.

Anyway, in our search for a source for local beef, we found Wilcox Angus Beef, which is within 25 miles of our house. Chris and Lisa Wilcox (yes, they are part of the Wilcox Farms family) raise a small herd of grass-fed cattle on their organic pastures. Each fall, they humanely slaughter some of their herd right there on the farm. Then the meat is transported 25 miles away to The Meat Shop of Tacoma, where it's dry-aged for 21 days and then cut, packaged, labeled, and quick-frozen.

Last Friday, we cleaned out and defrosted our [mostly empty] five-cubic-foot chest freezer. Then on Saturday morning, the four of us drove up to The Meat Shop of Tacoma to pick up our beef. The shop's name is a bit misleading, because it's actually a farm on a pleasant rural road far from downtown Tacoma. A nice, very soft-spoken young man helped us load the boxes of beef into our trunk, and we were off! On our way back to the main road, we passed piglets grazing by the roadside. Literally. When I got out of the car to open Liam's door so he and Annika could get a better look, the piglets scurried back through holes in a fence and into their pasture.

Once we got home, the process of sorting the beef and figuring out how to fit it all in our freezer began. Here's the final product of our organization:

Our chest freezer is in our garage on an awesome platform Steve built (props to him!). The platform is suspended over the hood of our car (it's in the photo--can you see it?). Taking this photo involved me looming over the freezer on a tall stepstool set on our garage landing. Steve stood on tiptoe next to me, holding aloft a bright shop light. Talk about professional photography, huh? Despite our photographic contortions, you can't get a feel from looking at this for how much meat is in the freezer. Each of those baskets is 14x8x6". And to give you an idea of how much beef is in the freezer itself, the bottom of the freezer is a good two feet below the packaged meat you can see. It's going to take us a long time to go through all of this meat. And that's just fine.

Buying this much meat all at once was a big investment, but it truly was way cheaper in the long run than buying individual cuts would be. In fact, if you take into account water weight lost in the dry-aging process, it was way cheaper than buying even an equivalent amount of wet-aged, grass-fed ground beef would be. And only 32 pounds (or so) of this is ground beef.

Last night as we sat down to dinner (which, incidentally, did not include beef), we thanked God for the cow that provided us with the beef that is now waiting in our freezer. Maybe that seems strange. Maybe it seems like we should shelter our kids (and even ourselves) from the truth of our food's origins. Or maybe it seems like if we were really concerned about animals' welfare, we wouldn't eat them. But that's not the decision we've made. We choose to eat meat. But we choose to do it as responsibly, humanely, and sustainably as possible. We don't have it all figured out, but we're trying.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Italian Omelet

This is a fairly frequent guest at our breakfast table. We usually make it with a red bell pepper and cheddar, but this time I made it with a green bell pepper and feta, because that's what we had. The cheese is optional. The source recipe (which, predictably, we've changed a bit) comes from the cookbook Toddler Menus, the problems with which I've mentioned before. This is one of the good recipes in the book.

Ingredients (for four single-serving omelets):
Butter (about three tablespoons, divided)
1 bell pepper, chopped (red, orange, or yellow will be sweeter than green, and I think red is prettiest in this recipe, but any of the four will work) 
4 eggs, divided
4 T. water, divided
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cheese (Optional. We've tried shredded cheddar and crumbled feta, and both work great.)

When we make this, we make one little omelet for each person, instead of making a big one and dividing it up. You could make one huge omelet if you like, but I'll warn you that it'll be harder to work with. Besides, it's just kind of nice to see a cute little omelet on your plate.

Heat about a tablespoon of butter in a small skillet or omelet pan over medium heat. Add the chopped bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it's fairly soft--about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and save for later. Return the skillet to the hot burner. Whisk together one of the eggs with one tablespoon of water. Add about half a tablespoon of butter to the hot skillet. Let it melt, then pour in the egg mixture. Cook the omelet until the edges are set--about 2 minutes. Then lift one edge of the omelet with a spatula, and tilt the pan so the egg mixture that's still fluid pours into the open space underneath. Continue to cook the omelet until the entire thing is set. Spoon one-fourth of the peppers over the omelet. Season with a little salt and pepper, then fold in half and move to a plate. Sprinkle with a little cheese. Repeat the omelet-making process with each of the remaining eggs.

This is such a simple and delicious dish. We all love it, and I bet you will too.

CSA, Week 19

In this week's share:

Bell Pepper
Brussels Sprouts (we had a choice of Brussels sprouts or cabbage)
Chard (we had a choice of chard or lettuce)
Green Beans
Kohlrabi (we traded in our huge share of potatoes for three big kohlrabi)

To be honest, I'm a little overwhelmed by the amount of kohlrabi we got as a trade-in for the potatoes. That's a lot of kohlrabi. I'm also wondering about the Brussels sprouts. I've never cooked with them before, and there are plenty of people who would rather eat dirt. But I'm not going to back away from a challenge!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Beet and Kale Salad

This is another recipe from Boistfort Valley Farm. I made some changes from the original recipe. For example, it called for walnuts, but I don't have any on hand. Besides, they make my mouth hurt. (Weird, I know.) So I used almonds instead. Also, I couldn't quite figure out how much garlic the recipe was actually calling for. Was it really a whole bulb, and if so, how was I to lay it flat, and what was I supposed to do with it after I cooked it? So here's my version of the recipe.

Beets, scrubbed and chopped into bite-sized pieces (I used 5 smallish beets, but more would've been fine)
Olive oil (a few tablespoons, divided)
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Garlic cloves, peeled (I used 6 cloves, but you could use way more)
Kale (I used maybe 6 stalks)
Almonds or walnuts, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 c.)
Balsamic vinegar (about 1/4 c.)
Crumbled feta

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the chopped beets in a large baking dish.* Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil along with some salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Place the garlic cloves in with the beets. Bake for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the center ribs from the kale leaves, and compost them. Chop the leaves into smallish pieces. When the timer goes off for the beets and garlic, take the dish out of the oven. Remove the garlic cloves and set aside. Add the kale and nuts to the beets in the baking dish. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and add a bit more salt and pepper. Toss to combine, then put the dish back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. While that's baking, smash the garlic cloves (I used a fork) and combine them with the balsamic. Transfer the contents of the baking dish to a large bowl and let cool. Add the balsamic mixture to the bowl and toss to combine. Top with some crumbled feta. You can serve this chilled if you like.

*I initially used a 9x9" dish, and it wasn't big enough. I had to transfer everything to a 9x13" dish when I added the kale, and even that was a tight squeeze until the kale cooked down.

This is absolutely delicious. Liam had two helpings. Annika ate all her beets and put everything else in her glass of water.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Glazed Carrots

This is the other half of the Cheese and Spinach Tart meal. The original recipe calls for frozen carrots, but you could use fresh.

Carrots (about 1 lb.; I used orange and yellow)
Slightly more than 1/2 c. water
Butter (about a tablespoon)
3 T. brown sugar
1/4 t. salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a skillet. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook over medium heat for 7 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the carrots are soft.

Very good. Nobody ever complains about these.

Cheese and Spinach Tart

I got this recipe* from Parents magazine back when I had an inexplicable several-years-long free subscription that I didn't even want. Frankly, I wasn't a big fan of the magazine, but we do like this recipe! The original recipe calls for frozen spinach, but you could use fresh. It also calls for mozzarella, but after trying it once with mozzarella, we've been making it with Emmentaler since. The sharper flavor of the Emmentaler makes for a way better finished product, in my opinion.

*Sorry; I couldn't find the recipe on the actual Parents magazine site.

Olive oil (just a touch)
2 c. chopped onion
One 9-inch frozen pie shell
1 c. milk
3 eggs
1 c. Emmentaler or Swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Spinach (a large-ish bunch of fresh spinach that you've chopped, or 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach that's been thawed and squeezed dry)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onions, and sauté on medium high for 10 minutes, until caramelized. Remove; let cool slightly. Meanwhile, prick the pie shell several times with a fork. Bake it for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Let cool. Whisk together the milk, eggs, cheese, garlic powder, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper. Add the slightly cooled onions and the spinach. Place cooled pie shell on a foil-lined baking sheet. The baking sheet will catch any drips that bubble over the edge of the pie as it cooks. Pour the egg mixture into the pie shell. Bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

Tasty and pretty mild. I think this might be the first time Annika has ever had it, and she had seconds.