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Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

Tuesday is CSA pick-up day. Kind of like Christmas and a vegetable mystery rolled into one. ‘Cuz we get some unusual stuff in our box, and lots of it!

Today for example, we got black radishes. Ok, a radish. I know what to do with that. Put it in salad, eat it raw, slice and eat on buttered bread.

But we got three of them and they’re the size of large oranges. Any one of these big guys alone would be enough to exhaust my radish recipe repertoire (put it in salad, eat it raw, slice and eat on buttered bread).  Add them to the two pretty sizable ones we got last week and I am stumped.

Giant black radishes

Giant black radishes

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Roasted root vegies and Brussels sprouts

So, I tried roasting them along with the other root vegetables and Brussels sprouts we got today. OH were those Brussels sprouts yummy! I used this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa and could not stop eating them hot out of the oven. Crispy, salty, sweet, heaven. And the roasted parsnips, carrots and celery root – yummy. The radish…not so much.

In desperation I turned to the internet to find dozens of hits for “black radish recipe” that all began with, “What is this mystery vegetable and what can I do with it?” Or something along those lines. This site has information about the black radish and a list of recipes. I will start with the black radish and potato salad. If you go the site with the recipe, read the comments, too, for more suggestions on what to do with them.

Next up – the bag of mystery greens labelled “salad greens to cook.”

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Making tortillas

We made tortillas to use in our quesadillas the other night. Once again, it’s something that is remarkably easy to make at home and is cheaper and tastier when you do. Of course it  takes a bit more time and planning than opening a package, but it’s more fun, too.

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One of my helpers rolling out tortillas. Good help makes it much quicker!

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They’re almost round!

 

The recipe is really quite simple:

Flour Tortillas

Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon garlic or onion salt. Then add 2/3 cup water and knead until smooth. Make 12 small balls and roll flat. Cook over medium high heat. 

 

But why do it? I mean, quesadillas are supposed to be my easy go-to fast meal when everyone is tired and hungry. Is it really just about feeding the independent, stubborn streak in me that just likes being able to do it myself? Am I just making life difficult for myself for no good reason? No and no. The tortillas we find in the store here are all imported from the USA. That’s a whole lot of food miles. And they are name brands, big corporate brands, and our corporate system is my least favorite investment! Those are the real motivating reasons.

Slowly, I am trying to wean us off of corporate and imported food. There’s the garden, of course, and locally grown fruits and veggies, but I’m talking about the dry goods and stuff we can’t grow ourselves. I find it much harder to convince my family to embrace alternatives to the pasta, tortillas, rice, etc. that we use pretty often. As expats, it can be easy to want and buy familiar American brands of food, much of which you can get here if you are willing to pay the price. I’d rather not and the food miles really put me off.

Here’s a list of some of the things we like and some alternatives we’ve either switched to or I am in the process of slowly, unnoticeably converting to (don’t tell the girls!).

  • Tea – We mostly use teas that we gather or grow, like sage, lemon balm, and mint. I am trying to add more herbs for teas, and buy fair trade tea if we want some black or green tea.
  • Maple syrup – This was hard to give up! But the cost here is crazy and it comes from so far away. So, we use homemade jam instead. Two years ago we started making jam from wild plums and I think the girls actually prefer it now. The other substitute is dandelion honey, from foraged dandelions, of course!
  • Dairy products like milk, butter, eggs, cheese  – You can buy local dairy products easily, even in the big chain stores. But we get almost all of our dairy products from a local organic dairy called Biovavrinec. I started buying at the Farmer’s Market, but this dairy also has an e-shop. Several folks from my work joined together to place an order every week to save on delivery charges and now we can get these products all winter, too.
  • Pickles – We’re not huge pickle eaters, but we (my mother-in-law, actually) canned 11 quarts last year from our own cucumbers!
  • Tortillas – we’ll make them most of the time now. It’s really quite quick.
  • Pasta – I suppose I could make this, too, but there is a vendor at the farmer’s market that makes wonderful fresh pasta. My favorites are the whole wheat tagliatelle and the spaghetti.
  • Rice – This doesn’t actually grow here, so getting local rice is not an option. And we love risotto and sushi and stir fries, so what to do? One strategy is to use other grains. With our stir fires, we often have millet, bulgur or buckwheat. We like quinoa, but that comes from even farther away. For risotto, I’ve started using barley.

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Not a dog. Not a commercial for cat food.

A Pennsylvania Dutch traditional food. I can remember my mother and grandparents raving about it.

Commercial chow chow

Commercial chow chow

It’s pickled vegetables – beans, corn, carrot, cauliflower. Here’s a typical recipe.  I’d try it as a kid, but I never really like it.

I’m just not much of a pickle fan. I don’t like relish (except my zucchini relish!!) I don’t like pickled anything, really.

But in late summer, with a glut of cabbage and green tomatoes, I was paging through an old Pa. Dutch Cookbook I stole from my mother* and came across a recipe for chow chow that was unlike the chow chow I knew. No beans, no corn, no carrots…instead, green tomatoes, cabbage and onions. And lots of mustard and ginger.

Desperate to do something with my produce, I gave it a try.

Revelation! Chow chow is delicious!! I love it. Olivia loves it. We eat it on sandwiches and with hot dogs (you know those horrible vegetarian hot dogs that even your dog won’t eat? Chow chow makes them taste great!!) and with potatoes or just as a side dish with anything, really.

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Chow Chow Recipe

2 quarts chopped cabbage (I shredded mine)

1 quart chopped green tomatoes

6 large onions, chopped (I shredded these, too)

3 sweet red peppers, chopped

2 lb. sugar

4 Tbs. dry mustard (I didn’t have quite this much, but it still tastes mustardy)

3 Tbs. white mustard seed

1 1/2 Tbs. celery seed ( I only had ground celery seed and threw in a bunch)

1/2 Tbs. ginger (I used more to make up for the missing mustard!)

vinegar to cover (about 8 cups)

1 Tbs. cloves

Put each kind of vegetable in a separate bowl and sprinkle a small amount of salk over each. Let stand for 4 hours. Press juice from each vegetable and combine. Mix the dry ingredients and rub into a pete by using a small amount of vinegar. Then add all the vinegar and heat to boiling. Put in the vegetables and cook slowly for 20 minutes. Pack into sterile jars and seal. Cover jars with boiling water and process for 15 minutes. Makes 2 1/2 quarts.

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*This is the stolen cookbook.

AAAA photos of cookbook and recipe

On the inside cover is a price tag – $1.00 at the Provident Bookstore, now the Friendly Bookstore in Quakertown, PA. It’s copyrighted 1978, but in a quick Google search,  I couldn’t find  the publishing company, so I presume it no longer exists. You can still get copies of it, though, even on Amazon.

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Squash Madness

Between my local CSA and our garden I am getting about 10 squashes – zucchini, yellow summer squash, patty pan, spaghetti squash – a week coming into my kitchen! What to do with it all?!

Squash soup, stuffed squash, baked squash, fried squash, squash fritters, squash bread, squash spread, squash relish, squash in salads, in stir fries, in pasta sauce, in omelets…every day, for weeks now…My family is very tolerant and my freezer is full! And I will probably get 10 more squash next week!

Here’s how I cook squash

Squash Soup

one medium onion or leek

one large potato

6 cups vegetable stock

marjoram and salt to taste

lots of squash

Sautee one onion or leek in some butter and oil. Add squash chunks, marjoram and salt.

[I make this with zucchini or patty pan or a combination. Patty pan squash makes a nice thick soup when pureed so I leave out the potato.]

Add stock and simmer until the squash is soft. Puree.

Squash Fritters

(adapted from “The Victory Garden Cookbook” by Marian Morash)

2 eggs

2 C grated zucchini or yellow squash

1/4 c flour

1 T melted butter

salt and pepper to taste

3/4 t dried mint

2 T finely crumbled feta cheese

Beat eggs and combine with remaining ingredients/Spoon 3-4T of mixture per fritter into hot oil and fry on both sides until browned and crisp.

Makes 6-8 fritters.

Zucchini Bread

(adapted from “The Victory Garden Cookbook” by Marian Morash)

3 c flour (combination of white, whole wheat and spelt)

1 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

1 t salt

2 t cinnamon

1/2 t nutmeg or ground cloves, or both

3 eggs

1 – 1 2/3 c sugar (I use 1 cup, half brown)

3/4 c vegetable oil

1 t vanilla or 1 packet vanilla sugar

2 c grated zucchini

raisins and nuts, optional (I use dried cranberries or chocolate chips)

Beat eggs, sugars and oil. Add spices and vanilla. Mix well. Add in dry ingredients. The batter is very stiff. Add grated zucchini and any other add-ins you wish. Bake 50-60 minutes at 350F in greased and floured loaf pans, or 25 minutes in muffin tins. Makes 2 loaves or 2 dozen muffins.

Zuchini Spread 

thanks to Allison for pointing me to this recipe from “the kitchn”

Sauteed Zucchini and Onions

1 or two onions thinly sliced into rings

a medium zucchini thinly sliced into rounds

butter and oil

salt and pepper

cheese to melt on top

Sautee onion and zucchini until onion is translucent and zucchini is softened. You don’t want mush, but you don’t want crispy either. Season with salt and pepper. Melt cheese on top.

Here’s how I preserve squash

Freezing: Squash don’t freeze well, but you can freeze the bread, the spread and the soup. I also tried freezing one cup portions of shredded zucchini for use in making zucchini bread later in the year.

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Zucchini Relish

(from “Food in Jars” by Marisa McClellan)

6 cups copped green bell peppers (about 8 whole peppers)

6 cups grated zucchini

2 1/2 cups grated onions

4 cups apple cider vinegar, divided

2 cups sugar

salt to taste

2 T mustard seeds

1 t celery seed

1/2 t red pepper flakes

Combine vegies in pot. Stir in 2 c vinegar and simmer about 30 minutes until veggies have cooked sown. Drain and return veggies to pot. Add remaining 2 cups vinegar and the rest of the sugar nd spices. Simmer 5 minutes. Pour into hot jars and process 10 minutes. Let sit in the pot 5 minutes before removing to prevent bubbling over from a swift change in temperature. Makes 5x 500 mL jars.

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Anticipation

My yogurt is making me wait.

There it sits, doing its magic. At least that is the theory. I’ve never actually made yogurt before, so I can only hope it’s going to turn out okay.

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Doesn’t look like yogurt, you say? Looks like a red box on the floor. Well, I’m using a method I read about where you put the prepared milk with starter in a cooler and insulate it with towels. I have a hot water bottle as a heat source and by morning I should have 4 jars of fresh yogurt. Here is a good source for how to do it, though I didn’t use the hot water method described in the post. I can’t remember where I read the dry method and I got tired of searching.

Insulated with towels

Insulated with towels

But I’ve also read that it doesn’t always work the first time…you have to get the hang of it a bit. So, here I am, just waiting…

But I have faith in micro-organisms. Tune in tomorrow to see if they lived up to my trust!

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We were half way through dinner before I realized it’s Monday!

Menu

Mixed Salad: lettuce°, arugula*, lamb’s quarters*, carrot°, tomato°, chick peas

Pasta° with zucchini* sauce

Like most gardeners who plant zucchini, I have loads and loads of it towards the end of the summer. We haven’t harvested much yet, but more is on the way. I started using it in pasta sauce a couple years ago to use it up and it has become one of the girls’ favorites.

Zucchini Sauce

1 or 2 cups shredded zucchini

onion finely diced or garlic minced, to taste

cream (I use soy cream)

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

optional: other herbs of choice, grated parmesan

Sautee onion, zucchini and garlic. Add herbs if using, salt and pepper to taste. Add in as much cream as desired. I probably use a quarter cup or so, just enough to make it look like a cream sauce! I suppose you would’t need to use it all if you don’t wish to. Let it simmer a little while. Add parmesan at the end if you wish (I do). Serve on top of pasta or rice.

With more zucchini on its way, look for more zucchini recipes soon, including zucchini muffins and lemon zucchini.

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Monday Menu

Due to celebrating with friends Monday evening, the second installment of my new feature is a day late. Well, it was  a good run while it lasted!

Today’s featured menu comes from Sunday night.

buckwheat kasha with mushrooms° and onions

sauteed grated carrots° with spicy peanut sauce

green salad (meant to have fresh greens from the garden*, but it was raining, and well, you know…)

pumpkin* ice cream

Ack! No photo…but at least a couple of recipes:

All my American cookbooks say to mix buckwheat groats with egg, cook until dry and then add water. But buckwheat is quite common here and the cooking instructions much simpler. Add to boiling salted water, let boil for a minute or two, take off the heat and wrap the covered pot in a towel. Drain and serve. I drained and added to sauteed mushrooms and onions. Two big thumbs up from the peanut gallery on this one! (It made a ton, so I used half in this meal and half the next night in a sort of hamburger helper stove-top, one-pot meal, using buckwheat instead of hamburger. No enthusiastic thumbs up, but they ate it without too  much grumbling!)

The carrots are easy. Grate, saute in a little butter until slightly soft but somehow still crisp. The girls had it plain, but I added spicy peanut sauce.

Spicy Peanut Sauce, from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

3 Tbsp peanut butter

1/4 cup water

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 to 1 fresh chile*, minced

2Tbsp cider vinegar

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1/4 cup diced tomatoes (I skipped this ingredient – didn’t have any)

2 tsp. grated fresh ginger root

2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (skipped it – don’t like it)

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Puree in a blender until creamy. Keep in the fridge.

Like I said, the intention was to add the fresh arugula and mustard greens to the store-bought romaine, but I didn’t feel like going out in the rain to get it. If you’re looking for a perfectionistic purist, look elsewhere!

The pumpkin ice cream is so good. It’s your basic ice cream custard with pumpkin puree added. I used the last of my pumpkin from the fall. I added fresh ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg and it s sublime!

Happy eating!

°= from farmer’s market

*= from our garden

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