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CSA 2015: Weeks 9, 10 & 11 (AKA taking this show on the road!)

Whew. We made it to the end of August. Things have been a little quiet on the blog lately, thanks to our ridiculous summer schedule. The last couple of weeks have been full of produce triage (canning peaches, making jam, blanching and freezing carrots, making refrigerator pickles, just to name a few things) and vacation prep. Andy and I are getting ready to hit the road again for a couple weeks of boot camp training relaxation. (Our vacations tend to include a LOT of hiking up mountains. He calls it relaxing; I call it work. Now, the time in the hammock with a book? That’s relaxing. Anyway…)

In addition to our weekly produce share, I also ordered 1 1/2 bushels of fresh peaches, which we have been enjoying in SO many forms. We’ve had peach cobbler, peach pie, peach sangria popsicles, brown butter peach shortbread bars… and of course, dozens of peaches on their own.

CSA 2015 Week 9
Week 9:

  • Sweet corn
  • Cabbage
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Onions
  • Zucchini/Summer squash

I don’t have a lot of new “this is what I did with the veggies” things to share, but we did have one five-star home run dish with the produce over the last few weeks. Martha Stewart came through for us with a zucchini-orzo-corn-feta salad. It was amazing. I made half a batch (with a full amount of feta cheese), and we had enough for dinner and a couple of lunches. It was so, so good. And don’t look now, but even Mr. I Dislike Pasta Salad loved it. Maybe he’s turning a corner… ;)

CSA 2015 Week 10

Week 10:

  • Sweet corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Green bell peppers
  • Banana peppers
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumbers
  • Beets

I’m going to be the first to admit that I couldn’t come up with an idea for the eggplant. It’s a challenging vegetable for me. I was going to roast it and turn it into dip, but time got away from me. Thankfully, my friend Karen loves eggplant, so I sent it home with her so it wouldn’t rot in the fridge while we’re gone.

CSA 2015 Week 11

Week 11:

  • Apples
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets
  • Cucumbers
  • Sweet corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Poblano peppers

I’ve been trying to work as much produce as possible into our camping meals (easier said than done when you need to fit two weeks’ worth of gear into a Nissan Versa). Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • Coleslaw (goes great with burgers and brats)
  • Beef stew (perfect for some of those carrots)
  • Sliced cucumbers (perfect for snacks and lunches)
  • Pickled banana peppers (for my pie-iron pizzas. BEST. TOPPING. EVER.)
  • Tortellini soup (uses the tomatoes from our CSA and Swiss chard from our garden. Win-win!)
  • Chopped peppers/onions/tomatoes (again, for pizza.)
  • Peaches and cream muffins (Sounds like a good start to our mornings, if you ask me.) 
  • Homemade pico di gallo to go with our rice and bean meal (also used some of those jalapenos! Win-win!)
  • Tomatoes (for burgers and pizza) 
  • Apples (for trail/road food) 

We’re also taking green beans to have with a couple of meals, so I won’t feel nearly as bad about the massive amounts of chex mix that we’ll be eating on the trail. ;) By the end of the trip, we’ll be down to things like spaghetti and rice and beans (you know, stuff that keeps well without a refrigerator).

I’m taking Kirsten’s advice and having my friend Bethany pick up our CSA share while we’re gone. After all, I’d hate to see the food go to waste. So, you may get lucky enough to hear from Bethany about her experiences with our veggies too!

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Our Kind of Coleslaw

As a kid, I was staunchly opposed to mayo. I knew it had its place in tuna salad, but I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why anyone would want it on a sandwich or a burger. And those people who dip their french fries in mayonnaise? Ugh. Not for me, thank you very much.

Of course, this meant that I avoided coleslaw like the plague. Soggy, shredded cabbage and carrots drowning in a mayonnaise bath? Umm, no thanks. When I finally grew up matured, I realized that mayo isn’t nearly as terrible as my 10-year-old taste buds had feared. (Not that it’s my favorite condiment – that spot is reserved for mustards of all types.) But I didn’t hate it anymore, and I could appreciate a traditional coleslaw for what it was.

Andy on the hand? Not so much. He still hasn’t outgrown his distaste for mayonnaise (and at his age, I’m guessing that it may never happen), which meant that for the first few years of our marriage, I didn’t make coleslaw. Not that this was an issue – after all, neither of us had a burning desire for the stuff. Then we joined a CSA, which meant that all kinds of vegetables ended up in our kitchen. And when your CSA cabbages regularly come in weighing more than some newborns, you realize that you’d better come up with something to do with ALL.THAT.CABBAGE. (Besides the ever-popular cabbage and noodles, that is.)

Thankfully, friends of ours introduced us to fish tacos, and with them, a vinegar-based slaw. I don’t know why I never thought of it before, but that’s when I realized that coleslaw could be more than just mayo and soggy veggies. And Andy liked it! So, I asked Josiah for his recipe, and I started making slaw whenever we had fish tacos. Pretty soon, I was making slaw just because we had a cabbage in the house. No problems, right?

Well… I kind of get bored if I make the same thing over and over again. Not that you’d ever guess that, right? ;) I needed a new slaw in the rotation, and thankfully, my favorite cookbook came through for me. Again.

It’s like coleslaw and my favorite “quick pickles” got together for a party.There’s the tang from the vinegar and the crunch of the fresh cucumbers and cabbage.  I made it for a work picnic earlier this summer, and then I made it again just because we had all of the ingredients in the fridge. It’s crisp and refreshing, and it goes well with brats and burgers, making it the perfect summer side. It’s easy to put together, which means that I can make it in the morning before work and have one less thing to do at the end of the day when I’m making dinner. It keeps well in the fridge, and I also think it would travel well in the cooler, which means I need to buy some more vinegar before our camping adventures at the end of the month.

CucumberVinegarSlaw

This is all that was left 24 hours after I’d made the coleslaw, thanks to Andy sitting down and eating it straight from the serving bowl while I prepped the rest of dinner. ;)

 

Vinegar Slaw with Cucumbers and Dill

1 medium head of cabbage, about 2 pounds, thinly sliced or shredded (I used about 2/3rds of a CSA cabbage clocked in at 3+ pounds.)
2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced (Deb says to use English cucumbers; I used the regular seeded ones that came in our CSA.) 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (I used half fresh and half dried, since my dill plant isn’t as prolific as I’d like.) 
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons kosher salt*
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup cold water

In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers,dill and shredded cabbage together.

In a 2-cup measuring cup, whisk the vinegar, salt and sugar together. When the sugar and salt have dissolved, add the cold water to the mix. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss the salad with a pair of tongs.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour, tossing occasionally to distribute the dressing. Serve cold.

*Deb recommends the Diamond brand kosher salt and says that other brands are going to be “more densely salty.” I used a heaping tablespoon of my Morton brand kosher salt, so I’d recommend starting with a tablespoon and seeing how it tastes from there. 

From the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2015 in Side Dishes

 

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CSA 2015: Week 7 & 8

Ahh, summertime. The breezes are warm, the sun is bright, and the refrigerator is overflowing with zucchini. No, seriously. Between coworkers, neighbors and our CSA, we have lots of the green monster around here. I foresee a lot of bread and fritters in our future.

 
CSA 2015 Week 7

Week 7:

  • 4 tomatoes
  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 1 head of lettuce
  • Summer squash
  • Zucchini
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Cucumber
  • Jalapeno peppers

I made a jalapeno-cheddar zucchini bread with part of the jalapenos, and the rest will probably end up in a batch of homemade pico de gallo. It should come as no surprise that we ate the sugar snap peas and blueberries all on their own. In attempt to branch out from the ever-popular fritter, I made zucchini lasagna rolls with the summer squash. (They were good, but kind of putsy to put together. I might just layer the filling on the lasagna noodles next time, rather than rolling them.) The lettuce ended up in a salad along with the cucumber and some tomato.

And, believe it or not, we actually didn’t eat the corn by itself. (I know, I was shocked too.) My latest issue of Southern Living had a corn and potato chowder that sounded too good to pass up. It was delicious, although we both decided that it would be improved with a little bit of bacon. But, then again, what isn’t improved with bacon? ;)

CSA 2015 Week 8

Week 8:

  • 4 ears of sweet corn
  • 4 beets
  • 1 patty pan squash
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 pound of beans

I think I can start breaking this list down into two categories: “Things we eat as-is” and “Things that become ingredients.” ;) Topping the as-is side of things would be the sweet corn and the cucumber. The cauliflower and beets are still hanging out in the fridge, waiting for a cooler day so I can roast them. I’m planning on turning the cabbage into coleslaw, and the beans are going to be a side dish one of these nights. I made a loaf of zucchini bread with the summer squash, and the rest of the squash and zucchini went into the fridge. I’m either going to have to shredded and freeze them soon or turn out several more loaves of bread.

In other produce news, we crossed off something that’s been on my bucket list ever since we moved to Wisconsin: cherry picking in Door County. Andy’s always been on the fence about the idea, since he prefers sweet cherries over the tart pie cherries, but I finally won him over (and combined the trip with a bike excursion that we’d been talking about all summer as well). We picked two pails of cherries, and while I’m sure most of them will wind up in pie, we discovered that they make perfect frozen treats all on their own. :D

And get this: We FINALLY figured out what to do with those two fennel bulbs that we received a few weeks ago. Thanks to those handy produce-saver bags from my Grandma, the bulbs were still in perfect shape in the back of my refrigerator. I was flipping through an old issue of Everyday Food when I discovered an entire section on grilled pizza. OK, so grilled pizza is nothing new in our world, but this was a fennel-onion-fontina grilled pizza. The fennel gets caramelized with some onions and then used as a “sauce” on the pizza. I figured I’d give it a shot, and to our surprise, both Andy and I really liked the caramelized fennel-onion mixture. (When I made the pizza last weekend, I added some leftover steak slices, and it was amazing. I’d blog about it, but there are no pictures. Whoops. Maybe next time.)

 

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Worth the Splurge

For the most part, I’m a very practical person. I rarely succumb to impulse buys. (Unless I find a stellar deal on fruit or cheese. I make no promises then.) I opt for Keens over slip-ons when I’m sprinting through an airport. My purses always have a cross-body strap for easy schlepping. I’m opposed to uni-tasker items. (Except for my doughnut pan. Thanks, Emily!)

And then I caught the popsicle bug. I blame recipes like this, and this. Oh, and did I mention these? Let’s not even get started on things like this and this. And yet, I still didn’t buy a popsicle mold. I kept reading blogs, seeing recipe after delicious recipe, thinking to myself, “if only I had a popsicle mold…” So I did what any rational woman would do. I started dropping hints.

“Look at these popsicles! Don’t they look good?”

Crickets. I tried less subtle hints.

“If I had a popsicle mold, I could make things like PEANUT BUTTER PUDDING POPS.”

More silence. Have I mentioned that Andy is even more practical (and more opposed to single-use items cluttering our cupboards) than me? I moved on to the direct approach.

“I think I want a popsicle mold.”

“Well, if you think you’d actually use it, and you really want one…”

Sold! (Actually, it took me a little while to order one – I looked in various stores, including IKEA, and wasn’t happy with what I found. I ended up going with this one from Amazon, and I love it.) 

When the package arrived two days later (love that Prime shipping!), I asked Andy what recipe we should try first, and he said, “Fudgesicles.”

OK then. This chocolate girl can get on board with that, especially when the recipe comes from one of my favorite sources.

I doubled the recipe, since I knew that four popsicles would last about 10 minutes in our house. It’s ridiculously easy to put together, which is something that I’ve noticed about most popsicle recipes. They take about half the prep time that ice cream does, and they freeze A LOT faster. Win-win,if you ask me.

They’re also loaded with chocolate flavor, and somehow, are thick and fudgy enough where they don’t melt off the stick while you’re eating them. And while we’ve made several other popsicle flavors this summer, this is the one that’s on repeat most often in our kitchen. Let’s hear it for more impractical, uni-tasker items! ;)

Fudgesicles

Fudgesicles

4 tablespoons or 1 1/2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups whole milk
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a medium saucepan, melt the chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly until they are smooth. Add the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt and milk to the melted chips. Increase the heat to medium and continue to the stir the mixture. Cook until the mixture has thickened, between 5 and 10 minutes, stirring often.

Remove the pan from heat and stir in the vanilla and butter, stirring until the butter is melted. Let the mixture cool slightly before pouring it into the popsicle molds.

Insert the sticks into the popsicle molds and freeze until solid. Unmold the frozen popsicles and place in a freezer-safe container. (I fill the sink with several inches of warm water and then dip the popsicle mold into the water before unmolding each popsicle. Then, I place the popsicles in a single layer on a cookie sheet and refreeze them before putting them in a Ziploc bag.) 

From Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from On a Stick

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2015 in Dessert, Ice Cream

 

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What We’re Eating & CSA 2015: Week 6

Would you believe that I didn’t put a meal plan together for the last couple of weeks? I guess that’s what happens when you’re gone more than you’re home. I blame the airplanes. ;) In an attempt to get organized after a week of craziness, here’s our meal plan for this week.

Monday 7/27 – Burgers, corn on the cob and cucumbers (I have a tomato and corn from our CSA for the burgers, along with cucumbers from our garden to use! So excited!)
Tuesday 7/28 – Zucchini fritters, peaches and broccoli
Wednesday 7/29 – Grilled chicken and pasta with kale and garlic scape pesto
Thursday 7/30 – Maple-glazed salmon, a TBD vegetable (waiting to see what comes in Wednesday’s CSA delivery!), bread and cheesecake for dessert. (We’re having some friends over for dinner, and she’s making the bread. We also heard it was national cheesecake day – definitely a holiday worth celebrating.) ;)
Friday 8/1 – French dip sandwiches and a TBD vegetable

CSA 2015 Week 6

My friend Bethany was kind enough to pick up our CSA veggies last Wednesday while we were at EAA. It was so nice to come home to a fridge full of vegetables (and a hilarious note on the kitchen table). Here’s our loot from week #6:

  • 4 ears of sweet corn
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 bunch of carrots
  • Summer squash (I can’t decide if this is one or two… they’ve grown together!)
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 cucumbers

I put some of the tomatoes on a pizza and in a salad for lunch. The last one went on our burgers last night, and obviously, the corn went last night too. We’ve been snacking on the broccoli and the cucumbers. I’m kind of at a loss for what to do with the carrots. Should I cook with them, or just eat them on their own? It always amazes me how much more flavor home-grown carrots have, compared to their grocery-store cousins.

In garden news, our beans have started to produce (although not in great numbers, which has me concerned that I won’t get to can any this year). Our cucumber/pickle plants are going like crazy though! We planted “bush pickles” since the plants would be smaller, and they are giving us at least two cucumbers every day or so! I’m going to try making some pickles with them tonight – now I just need to decide if I’ll make refrigerator pickles, or if I should can them. (Slicing cucumbers and putting them in the refrigerator sounds much nicer than breaking out the canner on a 90+ degree day.) 

Our tomato plants are looking rather sad as well. I don’t know what’s going on, but three of the six plants look like they’re about ready to give up the ghost. I may have to buy extra tomatoes to can this fall. We did harvest our garlic this past weekend, digging nine cloves from the ground. Now I have to decide if we should put anything else in its place – a fresh crop of lettuce, maybe? We’ll see…

 

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Summer Snacking

Guess what day week it is!

EAA 2014 038

Yes, this is one of last year’s pictures. I haven’t made it down to the brown arch for my 2015 picture yet.

That’s right, we are smack-dab in the middle of EAA Airventure. It’s arguably the world’s largest aviation celebration/event/convention/party, and we are lucky enough to live just up the highway from the excitement. Andy and I share a love for all things aviation, and we spend as much time as we possibly can down in Oshkosh this week. (Side note – and shameless plug – for the event: Even though the airplanes are cool, the people are the real reason for going. Yesterday, we got to hear three WWII vets talk about their experiences in a B-17. Priceless.) 

Several days at an airshow means several days of packed lunches and dinners. (Yes, we could buy food there, but this is cheaper, healthier AND tastier.) Our typical airshow snacks include fresh veggies (cucumbers and green beans from our garden), cheese and crackers, fruit and whatever else sounds good when I’m packing the cooler. This year, I decided to make something new for airshow snacking.

Several years ago, I saved a recipe for a maple nut snack mix from the now-defunct Cooking for Two magazine. I don’t know why it took me so long to make this, but I’m glad I finally did. It was easy to make, and I had nearly all of the ingredients on hand. I substituted pecans for the walnuts, since that’s what was in my pantry, and I added some dried cranberries to the mix after it came out of the oven. The result was a super-addicting, sweet-salty snack that’s perfect for enjoying on the flight line (or wherever your summer adventures take you).

Maple Snack Mix

Maple Pecan Snack Mix

6 cups of rice chex cereal
1 1/2 cups pretzels
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 cup real maple syrup
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the cereal, pretzels, pecans and sesame seeds. In a glass measuring cup (yet another use for the 2-cup Pyrex cup!), whisk together the maple syrup and butter. Pour the butter-syrup mixture over the cereal mixture and gently stir until it is completely coated.

Spread the mixture on the prepared pan and bake until crisp, about 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before adding the cranberries to the mixture. Store in an airtight container.

Adapted from Cooking for Two, Spring 2007

Click here for printable version.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2015 in Appetizer

 

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Strawberry Ice Cream, All Grown Up

So, July is national ice cream month, and for once in my food-blogging existence, I am actually sharing a recipe before the “season” is over. Not that ice cream has a season, at least in our house. We eat it year round. (Although, we have been on a popsicle kick lately. Best investment of the summer.) :D

A few months ago, one of my friends gave me a bottle of strawberry balsamic vinegar. The stuff is amazing. I’m talking “drink it straight from the bottle” good. It took my salads to another level (especially with some crumbled blue cheese and sliced strawberries). It was perfect in one of my favorite summer pizzas. I drizzled it on top of my birthday cake (chocolate red wine cake with a strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream, in case you wondered). And then, I saw this recipe and realized that my fancy vinegar would be perfect for ice cream too.

I know that strawberry season is over, at least for most of the Midwest. (We’ve moved onto blueberries, raspberries and peaches now. Oh, how I love summer produce). However, one of the best things about strawberry ice cream is the fact that you can use frozen berries and still end up with a great-tasting ice cream (at least in my opinion). So if you were crazy lucky enough to put 40+ pounds of berries in the freezer, you’re all set.

This recipe is a little more involved than some other ice creams that I’ve made, since you cook the strawberries and then the custard base, but overall, it’s not too much work, and the flavor is definitely worth it. The vinegar isn’t overpowering; it just makes it a little more “grown up.” And while it won’t rival chocolate or moose tracks for my favorite flavor, it’s definitely good enough to make again. You know, since we have a few berries in the freezer. ;)

Strawberry Balsamic Ice CreamStrawberry Balsamic Ice Cream

3 cups of strawberries (fresh if they’re in season, frozen if not)
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup of sugar, divided
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, divided (I used my fancy strawberry balsamic, but any good balsamic vinegar would work fine.) 
5 egg yolks
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large, nonreactive saucepan, combine the strawberries, 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries are softened and the juices have thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Using an immersion blender, puree the strawberries until smooth. Refrigerate the puree until you’re ready to churn the ice cream.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar and salt. Heat the milk mixture over medium heat until it simmers, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar together in a medium bowl or measuring cup. (I use my 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup for this.) Reduce the heat on the saucepan to medium.

Slowly add the warm cream to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. (I use my 1/2 cup measuring cup to transfer the milk from the pan to the measuring cup.) You want to gradually add about 1 cup of warm cream to the egg yolks. Then, gradually add the yolk mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining milk, stirring constantly. Cook the mixture until it thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon. Remove the custard from the heat.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and pour the cooked custard through the strainer. Chill the custard in the refrigerator until it’s fully cooled, or overnight.

When you’re ready to churn the ice cream, whisk the strawberry puree and the remaining 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar into the custard. Freeze the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Remove the ice cream from the ice cream maker and place in a freezer-safe container. Freeze until firm.

From Pink Parlsey, who adapted it from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2015 in Dessert, Ice Cream

 

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