Monthly Archives: June 2011

CSA Box #4

It’s a green green week for our fourth Featherstone Farm CSA box. That is just fine by me! I like almost anything green. This box this week came with dill, swiss chard, broccoli, romaine lettuce, mixed baby lettuce, sugar snap peas and cilantro.

I am most excited about the romaine, since it looks so big and fresh. I have a hard time finding good romaine in our grocery store. The cilantro I might be turning into pico de gallo, as I will use any excuse to eat chips and salsa. That dill will be going home with one of our Richfield pal Kate; I am not a fan of dill. It’s worse than rhubarb!

 

 

 

CSA box #3

In today’s box:  Salad Mix, Strawberries, Sugar Snap Peas, Garlic Scapes, Garlic Chives and Red Oak Leaf Lettuce. I’m really exicited about the strawberries and sugar snap peas! And the fact that rhubarb was a no-show this week.

Layer cake success

I have only made a layer cake once or twice in my life. It seemed easier to ice a sheet cake, leave it in a pan and call it a day… but it’s just not as pretty.

I hosted book club a few weeks ago, and I decided a cake was in order. I would have loved to make a cake from scratch, but Betty Crocker is nearly as good and v. easy so I decided a mix would suffice for a weeknight cake. Devil’s food seemed like a good choice since it is a little lighter than a dense chocolate cake.I followed the directions on the back of the box and then Pam’d two 8″ circular cake pans. I wanted the layers to be even so I decided to weigh the two cake pans and try to get them to near the same weight.I got them to within about  5oz of each other, so I was pretty pleased. I guess I’m not so pleased that my food scale is super dirty, but at least that means it’s well used. I prefer to weigh ingredients rather than using measuring cups as it’s more accurate.

I shook the cake pans around a bit to get the batter even before baking and then tossed them in the oven.After they were out is where I had to face my fears… I was afraid one of the cakes was going to get stuck and get ruined in the pan. So, I set up my camera phone to show you the results.

Success! Both of the layers were fairly pretty and  even, so I didn’t have to do any shaving or evening. Then, although buttercream is pretty easy to make, I used a store bought vanilla icing to ice the cakes after a night in the fridge. I don’t have a cake plate, so I turned a large plate upside down and it worked really well.I think I’m just writing this post to show these sweet plates I found at a place called The Vintage Shed in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin last summer. It was the first time I got to use them!

I should go make a cake now. You know, for another excuse to bust out those pretty plates.

Primavera Pasta.

Spring! One day, I’ll quit talking about how excited I am that it isn’t winter anymore. But not today!

This dish is one my Mom and I saw on Rachael Ray’s 30 minute meals TV show. I used to claim to not be able to stand her perky personality and meals that seemed to be thrown together, but I’m okay with her now. In fact, I actually really like her magazine–you should give it a try.

Most recipes my family or I see on TV/in a magazine/in a cookbook/online etc that we decide to make tend to get modifed in some way.  My Mom modified this recipe to make it more fresh and less creamy, and also vegetarian! Pro Tip: read recipe reviews/comments to get tips and tricks. Or just keep coming back here and I’ll dole them out!

The Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 zucchinis, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked tiny pasta (I used Ditalini)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, a handful
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

1.Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil.

2. Add garlic and onions and cook for about 1 minute.

2. Add green pepper, zucchini and carrots. Saute 5 minutes, or until veggies are cooked.

3. Add in your favorite tiny pasta (orzo is the best, but whatever you have works!) Stir in parmesan cheese, parsley and peas. Season with salt and pepper, to your taste. Add some garlic salt if needed. 

The picture barely does this recipe justice. Add a salad or a piece of baguette to this meal and enjoy. Maybe even take it and eat outside!


CSA box #2

Another Friday, another awesome CSA box from Featherstone Farm!

This weeks contents; Red Oak Leaf LettuceMixed Salad GreensSpinachCarrotsAsparagus, Green Garlic, and…Rhubarb.

So today’s box is a little like last week’s box but with the new addition of carrots and red oak leaf lettuce. Awesome! I can’t wait to have a huge salad tonight.

I’m still not sure what to do with all this rhubarb, but our weekly newsletter said they might have some strawberries in the box next week so maybe a strawberry-rhubarb combo is in my future.

Greek-ish Cous Cous, revisited.

Another backyard party is in my near future, and I just need to remind you about the deliciousness that is my Greek-ish Cous Cous. This is one of my go-to recipes, because I usually have everything on hand, and everyone pretty much likes it. It’s lemon-y and summer-y.

Will these pictures entice you to get up and make this dish?

Greekish-Israeli Couscous Salad: The Ingredient List
1 box Israeli Couscous (Trader Joe’s brand is the best)
3-4 T red onion, diced
2 T italian (flat-leaf) fresh parsley, chopped small
2-4oz crumbled feta cheese
1/2 a lemon’s juice
2-3 T red wine vinegar
Pinch of salt + pepper

Directions

1. Mix lemon juice, vinegar and a tad bit of salt and pepper together in a bowl. If you like olive oil, go ahead and add about a tablespoon to the mix.

2. Follow cooking instructions on the Israeli Couscous box.  Add cooked couscous to the bowl containing the dressing. Toss with the vinegar/lemon juice and let it cool down for about 20 minutes in the fridge. I like to stir it around a few times to make sure there is enough dressing on the thing as the couscous will absorb the dressing as it cools.
3. Add the onion, parsley, and feta cheese. Add more lemon juice/vinegar if needed. If you have any other veggies (tomatoes! cucumbers! olives!) that you like, throw them in!

You can also try to use 1 serving of Trader Joe’s brand Ancient Harvest Grain blend, I like it even better than plain Cous Cous.

Fridge Stir Fry

I didn’t stir fry the fridge, but I stir fried pretty much everything in it. Stir fry is awesome when you have a an assortment of veggies in your crisper with no plan in mind for them. I had the following orphaned veggies laying around, all of which other parts of them had previously been used in recipes: I got pretty lucky with this bunch! Though I’d never stir fried green beans before, I decided to try it. I say, whatever ingredients you want to use that you think would taste good with soy sauce, chop ’em up! Here’s what I did:

Mandatory Ingredients
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T ginger, minced or grated
1/3+ cup soy sauce
2 T rice wine vinegar
1-2 T vegetable oil
pinch of sugar

Directions:

1. Chop all of your veggies to as equal of a size as you can get them.

2.In a big frying pan or wok, heat 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil up for a couple of seconds and drop in the ginger and garlic. Let it cook for about one minute.

3. Add the diced onion to the garlic/ginger mix and stir every few seconds for about three minutes or until the onion is cooked. Make sure the garlic/ginger combo don’t burn. Then, transfer the contents of the pan to a plate and set aside.

4. Pam your pan or wok and add in the veggies that will require the most cooking time. For example, I added in the green beans and a bit of water and put the lid on for a few minutes, and then did the same in the following order; carrots, broccoli, green pepper, jalapeño (I only used a little) and put the lid on my wok and let them steam.

5. When the broccoli is about half-cooked, add in the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar. Then add the onions/ginger/garlic mixture back in. I also added more than 1/3 of a cup of soy sauce because I wanted my stir fry soy-saucey!

6. I like my sauce thickened and so the easiest way to do this is to make a corn starch slurry. I used about 1 tablespoon of corn starch and 3-4 tablespoons of water, mixed it up, and poured it into the stir fry. After stirring the slurry into the stir fry, let it bubble and simmer until the mixture thickens.

7. I added a dash of red pepper flakes and green onions right at the end.

The meal was delicious. I made some brown rice to go with it but glass noodles or another kind of rice would be just fine with this. We didn’t need any side dishes as this was clearly a complete meal!

And, it was once again, accidently vegan. See, vegan food is so good and easy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! But…I promise to make something with cheese ASAP.

Outdoor dining on a budget.

When I moved to Minnesota, I became obsessed with being outside in any sort of decent weather. We all spend a good 5+ months inside due to the freezing and long winter, so when it was time to move last summer I knew I needed a porch. One of the big reasons I chose my current place was that it had the outdoor space needed for hanging out and dining on nice nights. The porch is also a sweet office space to some work and hang out with coffee and Maeby in the mornings.

So, the current place came with a front porch and a nice back patio area. These parts of the place have saved tons of money. HOW? Well, I spent the first two summers in Minneapolis in an awesome apartment thats downside was that it came with no outdoor area. I would go out to eat/drink on different patios in the neighborhood all the time because I just wanted to be outside; even after spending the day walking around the lake or window shopping.

To go with my theme of the fact that the porch saves us money, I decided to cook up a cheap dinner of corn on the cob, mushrooms two ways (fancy!) and a baked potato. This was a dinner for two, with a glass of wine each, considering it was one of the first porch meals of the season. And it was delicious!

The cost breakdown:

Mushrooms: $2
Mushroom ingredients: 50¢ approx.
Corn on the cob: 50¢ for two.
Potatoes: 50¢ for two (we got a 5lb bag for $3)
Two glasses of wine: $2.50 (the wine I buy is $4/bottle)
_________________________________
Total: $6 or $3 a person including wine! $3 is less than I spend on any Starbucks drink, including the one pictured above.

In my previous patio dining days, I would have spent more than five times that minimum! I  still LOVE to go out, especially on a rooftop patio,  but hanging out on my porch is a good alternative.

If you want some more tips and recipes for cheap meals you should check out one of my favorite blogs Not Eating Out in New York. She gives a cost breakdown of each meal, and her meals are often vegetarian friendly, easy and healthy. In the meantime, here is how I spruced up a box o’ mushrooms; do it, make yourself an inexpensive meal and hopefully hang out outside.

Way 1: Frenchie mushrooms

Ingredients
1/2 a box of mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
Splash of white wine

Directions:
1. Pam a frying pan and heat up a tiny bit of Olive Oil.put the garlic in. Let it cook for a minute.
2. Add the mushrooms and a splash of white wine. Let them cook until soft/done. It takes only a few minutes.
3. Add the chopped parsley right at the end, stir and serve.

Way 2: Asian-ish mushrooms

Ingredients:
1/2 box of sliced mushrooms
1 T soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
Pinch of sugar

Directions:
1. Pam a frying pan, put mushrooms in the pan.
2. Add soy sauce and vinegar.
3. Let them cook for a few minutes, add a pinch of sugar, stir and serve when done.

The best part about the porch dining experience is that Maeby can hang out too. And eat some corn on the cob. Normal.

EDIT: I just noticed this meal was totally vegan!

Asian Noodle Salad

It’s spring and this awesome weather is the start of backyard parties and BBQ’s in Minnesota. It’s been nice for about two weeks, and I have been to three backyard happenings  so far. What does this mean for this blog? The introduction of a whole range of summer side dishes!

I like to bring something that will not spoil in the heat, that is relatively healthy, that people will enjoy and eat so I don’t have to bring home a ton of leftovers!

This Asian Noodle Salad gets made by tons of people with tons of different recipes. This version is one my Mom made up that we call “Mom’s Rip Off of Whole Foods Asian Noodle Salad.” IT’S VEGAN!

The Ingredients:

Dressing:
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Kosher salt

Noodles + etc.:
1 pound thin spaghetti (I use the white pasta)
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, toasted for a few minutes in a dry fry pan (I was out and used white, but it wasn’t the same!)
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded, and thinly sliced
2 carrots, julienned
4 scallions (with and green parts), sliced diagonally
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. For the dressing; whisk together the vegetable oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey or brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl. Or mix it in a mason jar, like I did.

3. Combine the spaghetti, carrots, red peppers and scallions in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the spaghetti mixture and mix. Add the cilantro and sesame seeds and mix again.There will be a bit of extra dressing in the bottom of your bowl which will get soaked up by the noodles. I like to make this dish the night before to let the dressing properly soak in and coat all the noodles; it just tastes better.

Another tip, it tastes better at room temperature, so it’s perfect for backyard parties where everyone is eating at their own pace.

Delicious and super easy.

CSA box #1

This year, I decided to sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share from Featherstone Farm.

What is a CSA? According to Featherstone Farm’s website:

“Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a form of subscription farming that helps family farms become and remain sustainable.  Shareholders pay before the season starts so that the farm can use the funds in the least profitable times of year (when seeds are purchased and planting begins, but there are no real sales to serve as income).  In return for their investment, shareholders receive a box of produce each week during the season.  These boxes are delivered at dropsites throughout the communities the CSA serves.  While the investment is not 100% without risk because no one ever knows when the weather will impact the crops, shareholders can expect a consistent weekly box delivery throughout most seasons.”

It’s my first year, and I’m really excited. Every Friday I get box of surprises and get to attempt to cook with vegetables I love or maybe never tried before. I’m also excited to eat organic food that was picked a few days ago and not feel guilty for sleeping in on a Saturday and missing the best produce at the Farmers Market.

Brent has Fridays off (lucky!) and will be getting the goods for us. I’m pretty jealous that he gets to see it first, but he’s a good guy and he sent me a picture.

Green garlic, asparagus, spinach, radishes, mixed salad greens and rhubarb were in box #1. I can’t wait to cook with all this stuff, and be able to post the recipes all summer long!

So… what should I do with all that rhubarb?!