Last weekend I visited my good friend and her family. When I arrived, she immediately told me to keep my shoes on- we were going out back to see her compost. “I got my compost pile to steam!!!” Of course, this was something I wanted to see. She and I have long been on the same wavelength about the way we want to live our lives. We take immense satisfaction in doing things ourselves- even if it takes a little longer- in order to maximize food enjoyment and minimize our impact on this earth. In high school, we baked together and went berry picking together. We’ve long dreamt about our adjacent farms, complete with chickens for eggs, goats for cheese, vegetables and fruit galore, and and a brick oven for baking bread and pizza. Clearly, her parents have something to do with ingraining this lifestyle in her, because when they got married and purchased their home 30 years ago they planted many fruit trees, which are now thriving. They have lemons, oranges, nashi (kind of like asian pears), persimmons, nectarines, and apples. When I saw the apple tree, I asked what they were planning on making with the apples. My friend said that her parents don’t use the apples because they tend to be very “buggy.” She asked her parents, and they said I could take as many apples as I wanted! Hmmm…..it didn’t take me long to decide I would make my year supply of apple sauce to freeze. So we set out to pick apples, and boy did we pick apples- 17 pounds in all! I also ended up with about 5 lbs each of lemons and nashi. Yum!
For the next 3 days, I was cutting and slicing apples (making sure to cut out any bugs, of course!) and cooking the slices down into applesauce. The recipe is a very simple one- apples, a little lemon juice (to keep the apple slices fresh until you are ready to cook them down) a little water (if the apples seem dry), sugar (if the apples are tart), and cinnamon (if you’re a cinnamon kind of person). Really, all you need are apples. The other ingredients are up to you/the apples. It’s also up to you whether you peel the apples or not. I opted to not peel them, but I did run the sauce through the coarse setting of a food mill to break down the peels a bit after cooking them. Once the sauce was ready, I jarred it, labeled it, and put it in the freezer to be enjoyed throughout the winter and spring.
Oh and in case you’re wondering, 17 lbs of apples ended up filling 12 pint jars, plus several smaller jam jars and a medium-sized tupperware container.
Thanks you Travis’ for all the apples, and the nashi and lemons too!
Yesterday, for the first time, I tried my hand at canning. Tomato sauce, to be specific. I purchased a large amount of organic heirloom tomatoes from a guy who had somehow decided that he needed to plant 40 tomato plants in his backyard this summer. Tomato overload for him=lucky day for me! He gave me a very good price for a beautiful harvest of tomatoes (more on this in a future post). Suffice to say, I was exhausted last night and definitely not in the mood to cook more. So I had Trevor grill some steaks from Prather Ranch (grass-fed beef purchased from the Campbell Farmer’s Market), and I sliced up & sauteed some Cocozelle Squash, which were purchased, along with the tomatoes, from my newest overzealous gardening friend. The beef was a delicious treat, and exactly what we both needed after a hard morning workout for Trevor and a kitchen “workout” for me. The squash, though, was my favorite. I was unfamiliar with this type of squash and O.M.G. it was so scrumptious! I could eat it everyday. For the rest of my life. I’m not sure Trevor would be quite so enthusiastic about it (he doesn’t usually get as excited about vegetables as I do), but lucky for him they’re surely only ridiculously delicious at the peak of their freshness- in the summertime. This brings me to my locavore thought of the day- If you eat what’s in season, you’ll never get bored with any one fruit or vegetable in particular. You might tire of zucchini at the end of a particularly healthy summer harvest, but after abstaining from it for 8+ long months, you will be more than ready to start zucchini overload all over again. So go enjoy the last few weeks of summer produce! Soon I’ll be writing about winter squash, potatoes, kale, beets, spinach and all my other favorite fall produce.
Picked up the CSA veggies today and we got this HUGE head of cabbage. Actually, looking at this again I don’t feel that the picture does it justice. But really, it’s big. And heavy. And chock-full of vitamin C. I’m not sure yet what this cabbage will end up in, but I’m sure it’ll be tasty. It might not even be in a fraises et tartines creation, since we are now splitting the CSA box with a friend, but nonetheless I’m sure it’ll be tasty (unlike many people, I’m actually a cabbage fan).
Up next…what do you do when life gives you 17 lbs of apples…?
I’m always a little apprehensive about venturing out to my patio garden after a long time away. We do have a drip system now (thanks to my wonderful, handy husband!) so the odds of my plants shriveling away have significantly decreased. But you never know when a hoard of aphids will attack poor unsuspecting tomato plants! When we got home Sunday night I took a quick peak outside and everything looked okay…better than okay, in fact. We had a bunch of new cherry tomatoes popping up and a new little eggplant! The eggplant…plant?…also has a bunch of flowers on it, so hopefully there’ll be more eggplants to come. I see eggplant parmigiana in my future!
This morning I snapped a few pictures of the tomatoes and eggplant to share:
Sweet 100 Tomatoes
I haven’t been the best lately about photographing and posting our veggies from Two Smalls Farms each week. Last week was a beautiful box, so I couldn’t resist snapping a few shots of our loot. Here it is! …including the huge red cabbage that I finally finished today! When my co-workers saw my lunch yesterday and today I definitely got a few “Wow…red cabbage AGAIN??” Good thing I love it!
Once again I’ve let several weeks go by between posts. This must be a sign that it’s no longer summer, and I’m back to work. I’m loving my internship at the preschool, and I’m still cooking fairly often….just not taking the time to photograph and write about the food. I’m going to try to be better though!
This recipe was one I just had to post because Trevor loved it so much. A supposedly “healthy” version of mac and cheese, by Martha Stewart. I actually found the recipe on Kitchen Gadget Girl’s blog, as she planned on cooking this up for her family after receiving a squash in her CSA box a few weeks ago. Seeing as we belong to the same CSA (Two Small Farms…a great option if you’re looking for a local food source!), we also received squash in our box a few weeks ago. In fact, we’ve gotten some delicata squash, some butternut and a sugar pie pumpkin…and this is just the beginning of the fall/winter squash season (and I love it!). Winter squash are wonderful because they’re so versatile, and you can save them for a long time before using them if you’re overwhelmed with other more perishable veggies. Plus, they’re so wonderfully comforting and bring about a strong feeling that fall has finally arrived!
The “Healthy Macaroni and Cheese” recipe from Martha Stewart calls for 1 small butternut squash, but you can substitute any winter squash. Kabocha would be great if you have one, but I had delicata squash, so I decided that would do the trick. As I mentioned earlier, my husband Trevor loved this recipe and would never have guessed that there was squash in the mix so I guess this is a good thing if you’re cooking for a picky eater.
Ingredients for 6 servings:
1 small butternut squash (about 1 lb)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp coarse salt, plus more for water
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound macaroni or shell pasta
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
4 Tbsp grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tsp olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel, seed and cut the squash into 1-inch pieces. Combine the squash, stock and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork (about 20 minutes). Spoon the squash into a food mill (or alternatively, smash with a fork), and puree the squash, milk and stock together. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, 3/4 tsp salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add salt. Stir in macaroni pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta and 2 Tbsp of Parmesan. Stir until well integrated.
3. Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer pasta mixture to dish. Mix breadcrumbs, remaining Parmesan and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over pasta.
4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove foil and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top- about 30 more minutes. Serve immediately.
A few weeks ago, we decided to try out a new CSA, after a recommendation from Kitchen Gadget Girl. Her photo of purple cauliflower pushed me over the edge, and I decided it was time to try CSAs again. We stopped using Eating with the Seasons earlier this year, because there wasn’t enough variety of produce, and the quality of the produce was a bit unpredictable. We’re only on week 2 with Two Small Farms, but so far, we’re extremely satisfied. The value is phenomenal ($22/week)- great quality, LOTS of produce, plus they include one or two herbs each week. We’re doing a 4-week trial right now, and honestly, I’m not sure if we’ll continue just because we can’t keep up with all the produce. But I’m definitely a satisfied customer.
Here is what came in the box last week:
We got: Carrots, potatoes, onions, broccoli, fennel, Serrano peppers, tomatoes, a sugar pie pumpkin, and a bag of lettuce mix.
And here is what we got this week:
And a view from the top:
This week’s box included: Basil, golden beets, 2 heads of orange cauliflower, San Marzano tomatoes, scallions, bell peppers, a big bunch of chard, a head of romaine lettuce, and celery.
I’ll keep you updated on whether we end up sticking with it. It’s a wonderful program, I just can’t keep it up if food is going to go to waste.