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.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Potato Corn Chowder

I got this recipe from Boistfort Valley Farm. Turns out they have tons of recipes on their site. I'll definitely be making use of those.

3-4 ears of corn (I used 4 smallish ones)
1 1/2 quarts vegetable broth (I made mine with organic Better than Bouillon base, because it's cheaper and less wasteful to make broth that way than to buy it in Tetra-Paks or cans. I also actually used chicken base, because I don't have any vegetable base.)
2 vegetable bouillon cubes (or 2 more teaspoons of Better than Bouillon, which is what I used)
Potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch cubes (I used 4 medium red potatoes)
1 large carrot, halved lengthwise, then sliced 1/4 inch thick
Olive oil (a tablespoon or so)
1 onion, chopped (the original recipe calls for a medium onion, but the one I used was ridiculously huge)
1 bell pepper, chopped (I used a red one, and I'm glad I did, because it added to the amazing color variety in the chowder)
Chopped flat-leaf parsley (a couple tablespoons)
1 medium bay leaf
2 cups milk (The original recipe calls for heavy cream but lists milk as an option. That's what I had on hand. As a bonus, it's slightly--or should I say "slightly"--lower in calories, if also slightly lower in rich flavor.)
1/2 t. white pepper
1/8 t. ground cayenne

Cut the corn kernels off of each cob. Then hold each cob with one end resting on a cutting board (or in a wide, shallow bowl), and scrape down the whole length of the cob with a knife to glean the "milk" from the cob. Set aside the corn kernels and "milk." Put the cobs in a stock pot along with the broth, the extra bouillon, the potatoes, and the carrots. Cover the pot and bring everything to a gentle boil. Boil, covered, for about 10 minutes (or until potatoes and carrots are fairly tender but not disintegrating), stirring occasionally. Remove the cobs and compost them. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, and sauté them until they're somewhat soft. Then add the bell pepper and continue to sauté until both the onions and bell peppers are tender. Add the onion/bell pepper mixture to the stock pot along with the corn, corn "milk," parsley, and bay leaf. Cover the pot again, turn down the heat, and allow everything to bubble very gently for a few minutes. Then stir in the milk, white pepper, and cayenne (and salt, if you think the chowder needs it). Remove the bay leaf and compost it before serving the chowder.

Very tasty--an excellent autumn meal. I liked the hint of kick from the white pepper.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Beet and Pear Purée (guest post)

We had some dear friends over the other night, and we made this. Well, I can't really take much credit. Missy made most of it. I just stirred it a little. Because this was mainly Missy's culinary effort, the recipe below is written largely by her.

Beets, scrubbed (we used 4 huge ones)
Butter (a couple tablespoons)
Onion, chopped (we used 1 whole medium yellow onion, none of that 1/2 cup nonsense!)
Sugar (a couple teaspoons)
1/4 c. (or so) balsamic vinegar
Pears, cored and chopped (we used 3 and didn't peel them first)
Salt (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the beets in an oven-safe dish, and roast them in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes (until you can poke a fork in them). If the beets are huge (like ours were), cut them in half before roasting them, and roast them facedown in the dish. Allow the roasted beets to cool somewhat. While the beets are cooling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, sugar, and balsamic vinegar. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the somewhat-cooled beets. After the onion mixture has cooked for a while, add the chopped beets & the pears to the simmering onion goodness. Let it simmer all together for about 10 or 15 minutes, reducing the vinegar/liquid and melding the flavors. Transport (by thirds) to the blendy thingy*--give it a few pulses to just chop everything, but try to keep it coarse-ish (you don't want to make beet PASTE). Return the coarse purée to the pan to keep warm. Oh, yeah--add salt to taste at the end of cook time.

*Right. Food processor. Blendy thingy is not a real term, is it? You could do this with an immersible blender or a regular blender if you don't have a blendy thingy. It'll be a bit more effort, but it'll work okay. We don't have a blendy thingy either, but Missy and her family brought theirs!

YUM. This is definitely worthy of repeating. It would be an awesome side dish at Thanksgiving. Thanks, Missy!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

CSA, Week 18

This week's share:

Not pictured: Berries. We ate all our berries before I managed to get this photo taken.

Berry Choice (straw or rasp; we chose one of each)
Green Beans
Herb Choice (we chose stevia*)
Red Onion
Summer Squash

*I was super intrigued to get stevia in this week's share. Stevia is used as a sweetener, and its leaves are indeed incredibly sweet. We had a few leaves shredded on our berries this morning. In the past, there has been controversy over the safety of stevia, but recent studies show it to be safe and possibly even beneficial to people with diabetes and hypertension.