Showing posts with label seasonal offerings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seasonal offerings. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

sippy cups

My children seem to reach new milestones everyday. It happens faster with the second than the first child. Before you know it they are sleeping through the night (and waking at six in the morning), walking (and falling...lots), and talking (and repeating things you wish you hadn't said in front of them). Right now we are potty training my second child. And true to form, she is mastering this skill in no time. But when it comes to somethings we seem to be stuck. Sure we have moved out of bibs (and invested in more stain removal spray), but we still use sippy cups. Not that they can't drink from a real glass, but I clean up enough messes. (Did I mention we are potty training?) And, I don't need anyone - including me - crying over spilled milk, or juice, or whatever. So we use sippy cups. And after a day of new milestones, and a few setbacks, I like to have my own sweet drink to sip - like this refreshing watermelon cooler.

To make your own you will need:
Several slices of watermelon
4 strawberries, hulled
A few fresh sprigs of mint
Juice from 1/2 a lime, more for garnish

Place the lime juice in the collection container of a juicer. Add in the mint, berries, and melon to the juicer. Be sure to remove any rinds and seeds from the watermelon first. Juice ingredients completely. Stir and pour over ice. Garnish with more mint and lime. Serve immediately.

This is great (baby) poolside or even in the middle of a hectic day indoors. My kids even like it. Of course, I serve theirs in a sippy cup.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

castiron cobbler

Traditions are big in the South.  We believe that if someone is a minute older than you, you call them sir or m'am. We believe the everyone should read a lot of Mark Twain, and a little William Faulkner. We believe that Saturdays are football, and Sundays and for church. And birthdays are to be celebrated with a little something sweet. Sure most people want cake or ice cream on their birthday, but in the South we have pies galore - mile high coconut, overly rich chocolate pies, super sweet lemon ice box, and pecan to choose from. And then there is cobbler. So many fruits in the summer to pick from. And when it is your birthday, you get to have your cobbler and eat it too. I just made a version of this for my mother's birthday.

You will need:
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla
a pinch of salt
3 small peaches
1.5 cups of blackberries or blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the cast iron skillet. Melt the butter in a small pan or microwave. In a large bowl combine butter with sugar, flour, vanilla, salt, and baking powder. Add this mixture to the skillet. Peel the peaches, remove the pits and slice them. Place them atop the batter in the skillet. Then add in the berries. Bake for 55 minutes, or until the crust begins to brown and pull away from the sides of the skillet.

Serve warm with or without vanilla ice cream...or eat it straight from the cast iron skillet. Traditions be damned.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

honey do

My dear, sweet hubby has a never ending honey do list. He gets sent reminders all the time with things like - I need you to get ice cream and salmon on your way home, and could you see if anyone is still selling kiddie pools, oh, and the cable box in the kitchen isn't working, and the mosquitos are so bad in the backyard, can you fix that? Poor fella. He not only works full time at the office, but I keep him busy on his "down time" too. I do try to sweeten my requests by keeping him well fed with homemade goodies - like this strawberry honey jam. Good for a quick he can eat and then get to work ;)

To make your own you will need:
6 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
1 cup of honey
1 cup of sugar
the juice from half a large lemon

Bring a large pot of water to just below a boil. Place jars and lids in the pot and sanitize them for several minutes.

In the meantime, place the strawberries in a separate large pot along with the sugar and honey. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Use a potato masher to break up the fruit into smaller pieces. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add in the lemon juice. Stir on final time.

Remove a jar and a lid from the other pot. Using a funnel, add the jam to the jar. Careful not to overfill the jars, leave a little space at the top. Place the lid on the jar and close tightly. Repeat process until you are out of jam.

Return the now full jars to the already warmed pot of water. Bring the water up to a boil and cook for at least twenty minutes. Remove the jars and place them on a towel on the counter to cool for at least twenty-four hours. Do not move the jars. If you hear a popping noise you may need to re-process them. Store in a cool dry place or serve immediately.

My whole family loves this jam. Even my honey. Add making it to your to do list and you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

csa on a stick

When my CSA comes each week its like a little celebration. It reminds me of when I was little and I got to go to the fair. Rides, funnel cakes, carnival games - it was fun at every turn. And all the food on a stick. Candied apples, foot long corn dogs - you name it the food was fun too. So when my CSA came this past week, I decided to recreate the feeling in a way...a fresher and more healthy way...but still on a stick!

You need the following:
1-2 spring onions
2-3 summer squash
several cherry tomatoes
2 tblsp of olive oil
fresh herbs like basil and oregano
salt and pepper, to taste

Soak your kabob sticks in water for at least twenty minutes. Preheat the grill to medium heat. Slice the onions and squash. Place in a large ziplock bag with the tomatoes. Chop the fresh herbs and add them in. Finally pour in the oil. Seal the bag and toss til well coated. Add in salt and pepper and toss again. Let marinate at least an hour. Skewer veggies and place on grill. Cook for about eight minutes, turning every 2-3 minutes.

menu ideas:
I had these grilled veggies along with brown rice and green beans. The hubs grilled his own shrimp kabobs at the same time.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

peak of perfection

I love summer foods. Sweet corn, fresh okra, and juicy blackberries. In my opinion food doesn't get better than this. But above all things, when tomatoes hit their peak, it is my favorite time of year. I toss them in salads. I put them on sandwiches. I ate them straight with a bit of salt. I simply love a perfectly ripe local tomato. And this equally simple tart is a wonderful way to enjoy them.

You will need these ingredients:
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1/2 a large tomato, sliced
a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small head of green cauliflower
1/3 cup of crumbled goat cheese
several sprigs of fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prep a large baking sheet with non-stick spray. Roll out the dough into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Use flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to working surface and rolling pin. Top pastry with tomatoes, cauliflower, and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until crust is golden. Top with fresh thyme and serve while warm.

It is like the peak of summer served on a sheet of flaky dough. You can't beat that. Perfection!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

cooling off

 It is that time of year again. The days are getting longer. The air is getting thicker. And there aren't enough ways out there to keep me and the kids cool. The muggy Memphis summer is setting in. And in my house, that means it is popsicle season. While I have been known to by the pre-made pops, my son always asks for my homemade ones. This, of course, makes my foodie mom heart smile. But really it is a great way to get more fruit (and sometimes veggies) into their diet while rehydrating them all at the same time.

To make four refreshing pops you will need these ingredients -

3-4 medium slices of watermelon, seeds and rinds removed
5-6 large strawberries, hulled
2 sprigs of fresh mint
juice from half of a lime

Grab your juicer. Place the lime juice directly in the collecting container. Add the mint in the juicer first, followed by the strawberries and then the melon. Juice the items completely. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds. Freeze for at least two hours. (If you have left over juice just offer that to the kids too.)

Because the fruit is so fresh and sweet this time of year there is no need to add any extra sugar. We used strawberries that we picked ourselves and mint from our CSA (but we always have that growing out back in the summer too). The kids just love them. Personally, I think a grown-up version spiked with a bit of rum might be fantastic too...but maybe the heat has just gone to my head.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

baby fever

Ladies of a certain age are known to come down with a condition known as baby fever. I'm not sure when it really starts or ends, but I can tell you, despite having two toddlers I am not immune. One whiff of a newborn's head and I am looking at my husband with pleading eyes. And without so much as a word escaping my lips, he barks "No!" We can't help it. Babies are just irresistible.

In the food word, baby veggies can be quite alluring too. When some tiny squash and zucchini showed up in my CSA recently, I made this adorable little raw salad.

You will need:
2 cups of mini squash and zucchini
1-2 spring onions
1 small tomato
2 tbslp of olive oil
1 tsp of lime juice
1 tsp of lemon juice
1 sprig of fresh mint
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the baby squash and zucchini and place in a mixing bowl. Dice the onions and tomato, and add it to the bowl. Add the oil and juices. Toss the mixture. Chop the mint finely and add to the bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

It was so good even my baby couldn't keep her hands out of it. Isn't that adorable? I could just eat them both up!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

strawberry pickin

So, it has been a bit since I have done a post like this, but I really wanted to share with you all our family's experience picking strawberries this summer. We found a small organic farm here in Memphis, tucked away in a suburban neighborhood (of all places). After driving to a part of town that neither I (a native Memphian) or my husband (a transplant) have ventured to before, we easily found Windermere Farms.

The great thing was they were open til 6pm so we went one evening after my hubs got off work. We were given a couple of boxes and were let loose in the fields. The kids quickly spotted the red berries and were excited to help pick some fruit. They were also excited to take a few bites on some straight from the vine. (Probably should have given a couple of extra bucks for the berries that were eaten on site.) Anyway, for a big box that you are allowed to heap full with fresh organic berries you only pay $16!

Plus, it was great to show the kids. They not only running through the fields and picking berries, but there was also a couple of homemade seesaws they took advantage of too. It was a wonderful way to spend sunset before we went home to cook dinner. And of course, there were fresh strawberries for dessert.

We put the rest in the fridge and ate on them for a week. After that, I made a big batch of homemade strawberry honey jam. We have been enjoying that in PB&J sammies at lunch and on croissants at breakfast. My sister-in-law recently came for a visit and gobbled up some of the jam too. We have already gone through one jar and started another one!

Most of all it was a great experience as a family. We had a wonderful time getting outside and getting some fresh goodies together. I look forward to returning for pick your own blueberries and blackberries in the near future. We may even venture to another local orchard to pick our own peaches. Just think of the preserves I can put up. We will be tasting summer all year long.

Speaking of taste, I should mention these berries were delicious. The kids would ask for bowl after bowl as we splashed in the sprinklers in our backyard. The were juicy, tart, and sweet. Summer in its most perfect form. I am kicking myself for not making some strawberry shortcake before we ate our way through them.

So, if you get a chance take your family out to Windermere Organic Farm and pick your own berries. It is good, clean, and tasty family fun!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

summer club

Summer is by far my favorite time of the year. It has everything. From gazing at giant blue hydrangeas to jumping into pristine pools, every second is seductive to the senses. And the food is no exception. Succulent strawberries, sweet corn, you name it, it is just better in the summer. This sandwich contains several of my summer favorites.

To make your own you will need the following:
crusty french bread
fresh basil
fresh mozzarella
homemade pesto
salt and pepper

Cut the bread into long sections and halve it. Smear with pesto. You can try my traditional basil recipe or my spicy collard green version. Slice the tomato and sink into the pesto. Top with fresh mozzarella. Salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh basil leaves on top. I get mine straight out of my garden.

This caprese club is cool on a hot day and the bold flavors will leave you satisfied but not stuffed. Served with a slice of watermelon and a tall glass of sweet tea, you will be able to taste the season.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

sweet and savory

I keep trying to explain the difference between sweet and savory to my carnivore. I give examples - like brownies are sweet, but steak is savory. And he just looks at me befuddle. "But they both taste really good. I don't get it." Sigh. These are the burdens of being a foodie living with a man who has the palate of a five year old. I can't even bring up the idea of something that is both sweet and savory in the same dish.

But this grilled fig pie is just that. The sweet figs and honey are balanced perfectly with the strong blue cheese and buttery crust. Plus, it is simple to make. And while my carnivore might not like or understand it fully, it does involve the grill - which he can get behind.

To make your own sweet and savory pie gather the following:
1 ready made pie crust, thawed
1 1/2 cups of figs, halved
1/2 cup of blue cheese crumbles
local honey, drizzling
fresh mint, for topping

Start by preheating you grill on low. Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with non-stick spray. Place the crust on the foil. Add in the figs and blue cheese. Fold the corners of the crust to secure the filling. Wrap the foil up, creating a tent around the pie. Place on low or indirect heat for 15-20 minutes, until crust gets browned. Remove and drizzle with honey and top with mint. Serve warm.

We are lucky enough to have a fig tree in our backyard. Last year I had so many figs I many cinnamon fig preserves for everyone to have at Christmas. This year the squirrels were faster than me. But I am so glad I salvaged enough to make this pie. It was incredible. Sweet and savory.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

too much of a good thing

Remember Shirley McClain in Steel Magnolias? You know the scene where she dumps a bushel of tomatoes in her friend's lap. It goes like this:

Ouiser - Tomatoes. (put's em in Clairie's lap)
Clairee - Don't give these all to me!

Ouiser - Somebody's gotta take em. I hate em. I try not to eat healthy food if I can possibly help it. The sooner my body gives out the better off I'll be... I can't get enough grease into my diet.
Anelle - Then why do you grow them?
Ouiser - Because I'm an old Southern woman and we're supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt. Don't ask me those questions. I don't know why, I don't make the rules! *burps loudly*

This about sums up my house and tomatoes. Of course, in this scenario my hubby does the digging in the dirt. My last couple of posts have given you ideas for how to use up those final amazing tomatoes of the season, and here is one more. If you are lucky enough to live with a carnivore who will eat them, I'm jealous. If not - more tomatoes for you!

For this basic bruschetta gather the following ingredients:
4-6 heirloom tomatoes, diced
8-10 basil leaves, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil, for drizzling
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Once you have the tomatoes, basil and garlic prepped as mentioned above, toss them together in a large bowl. Drizzle the oil over the the mixture and add the salt and pepper to taste. Let set in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

I served mine on a tray with some bread from our CSA and another dipping sauce of oil and fresh herbs from my garden. Even my little omnivore got in on this tomato action. We gobbled up these goodies while we waited on daddy to get home for dinner. Good thing. I don't think I can eat all of these tomatoes myself!

P.S. A quick note of thanks to my friend Katie for sending me some version of this recipe several times!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

all up in my grill

The end of summer is nearing. No more swim diapers or splash parks for my family. Sad, I know. Even sadder, in my opinion, we are coming to the end of summer foods. Before we know it there will be no more juicy cantaloupe chins or strawberry stained shirts. And then there is tomatoes. Thanks to my garden and my CSA, we have enjoyed so many varieties of tomatoes in so many ways this years. Well...I say we...I mean me and the kids. Not so much the carnivore. But the beauty of how our family makes meals work is that I still get to enjoy summer's finest fruit while he enjoys his favorite foods, i.e. any meat on the grill. What can I say? That man loves to grill.

Take this recipe, for example. While he heated up a steak over an open flame, he also helped me cook these grilled tomatoes. I found the idea on a great Italian blog which you should check out here. I wasn't too exact with the recipe, but this is generally what you need:

Several small tomatoes (I used romas and mr. stripeys), halved
1/2 cup or so of grated parmesan cheese
enough olive oil to coat the cheese
freshly chopped herbs (I used basil and oregano)
a dash or two of garlic powder
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Start by cutting the tomatoes in half and then mixing together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Spray your grill. Then over a low heat place the tomatoes cut side down on the grill for about three minutes. Turn the tomatoes over and top with the cheese mixture. Grill for another two to three minutes. Serve warm.

Summer may be fading, but the taste of these sweet grilled tomatoes will linger in my memory for months to come.

menu ideas:
These grilled guys would make a great side dish at your next cookout. I had these as my main dish along side creamy pasta and sauteed zuchini. Like I said before, the carnivore had a steak with the same sides.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Remember when Sean Combs became Puff Daddy and then he was Puffy. Or maybe it was the other way around. And then he was P.Diddy or some craziness. It devolved from there I'm sure. I guess we have Prince to thank for all of this. I bring this up for two reasons - (1) I just heard Snoop Dogg is trying to change his name to Snoop Lion after a life changing trip to Jamaica. Not happening. He can clean up his songs and his image all he wants, but he still resembles a dobberman pincher. (2) This recipe has puff pastry and it also made me think of Puffy, or whatever his name is now.

Sorry for the the digression, but now to the food. This gorgeous dish is thanks to the over abundance of tomatoes in my house this time of year. My carnivore won't eat them unless they are in ketchup or marinara form, but he will grown them - lots of them. That combined with the numerous heirloom varieties I get in my CSA mean I have to come up with lots of ways to use tomatoes. And this dish couldn't be easier.

To make your own tomato puff you will need the following:
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
flour for dusting
several small tomatoes
fresh goat cheese, about half a small log
5-6 fresh basil leaves
a drizzle of olive oil
fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the pasty to form a long rectangle. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and place the the dough on. Slice the tomatoes and layer them on the pastry. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with goat cheese crumbles. Bake for 15-20 minutes until pastry puff and gets golden brown. Once ready, chiffonade the basil leaves and put on top. Slice and serve warm.

This dish is sinfully good and simply stunning. It is my favorite puffy of any kind, whatever you call it.

menu ideas:
This would make a beautiful starter at a dinner party. I had this as my main course along side sauteed green beans and buttered brown rice. The carnivore had grilled chicken with the same sides.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

it's not the heat...

We southerners like to say that it's not the heat, but the humidity that makes it so miserable to be outside in the summer. It is generally true. My husband went out the front door the other day, turned around and came back inside and said, "It feels like walking in a wet sweater out there." He was right. The air was heavy with moisture and burning up the mercury on the temperature gauges outside. Of course, when it is 108 degrees (as the digital bank sign read the other day as I drove past), it is just plain hot.

Of course, as I have survived several southern summers I do know a more than a few ways to cool off on a day when the air feels like soup.  Iced (sweet) tea helps. If you must get out sauntering, not rushing, where you need to go is the best idea. Dipping your feet in a pool, even a baby pool often does the trick. And then there is the ever cooling cucumber.

I have received several in my CSA already this year. I love slicing them in a simple salad with tomatoes from my backyard and a few onions (also from my CSA). I dress them in a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, red wine vinegar, a few sprigs of fresh oregano, kosher salt, and cracked pepper. I let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour so it can be extra refreshing.

I also like to sip a simple cucumber cooler on a hot day. I slice up a lemon and a cucumber and place them in a large pitcher with a few mint leaves from my herb garden. I top this with ice and water. I then let it steep for at least overnight in the fridge.

A nice creamy dill cucumber sandwich can make a lovely lunch. I have a simple recipe you can find here. And the cucumbers in a pita chip salad are crisp and cool. Click here to see that recipe.

Of course, my carnivore won't have any thing to do with any of these cucumber concoctions. It's not his fault. He was raised up north most of his life. But with this heat wave, maybe even his brain with melt and he will change his mind.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

changing your mind

My daughter is going through this really cute and somewhat annoying stage. She is learning to stand up. And as many of you parents out there can attest this is an amazing thing to witness. Little legs wobbling and hips rocking as she grips onto the nearest piece of furniture with all her might. And then she decides she wants to sit down, but she doesn't know how. So she cries until I sit her down. In a matter of seconds she has pulled herself upright again. And a few minutes later, you guessed it, she wants back down. We've enacted this ballet more times than I can count. (My mother swears I did the same thing. So, each time I just tell her it's okay as I plop her back down. After all, she is a woman and has the right to change her mind as many times as she wants to.

I have changed my mind about a few things over the years. Much to my husband's chagrin I have decided heavy pieces of furniture look better in different places. I have learned I do like real beer - you know the stuff not found in a frat house. And, I have recently decided I like brussel sprouts. Now coming from a vegetarian this may not be earth shattering news, but nonetheless its a paradigm shift in my mind.

I have found two quick and easy ways to prepare them. Inspired by this recipe I first tried them roasted in the oven. Since I was cooking for just me and the kids I used only one small bag of sprouts, two cloves of garlic, a quarter cup of water, and kosher salt and pepper to taste. I then baked them at 425 degrees for thirty minutes, tossing midway through.

Bullied by my success I next tried them grilled. I generally followed this recipe. I simply tossed the sprouts along with some home- grown grape tomatoes and a bit of horseradish mustard and olive oil. I skewered them and had the hubs grill them for about ten minutes rotating as needed. I then served the veggies with crumbled maytag blue cheese.

I really can't decide which way I like them better. But that's okay. I guess I am allowed to change my mind on that too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

give it one more try

As you know I am always trying to get the carnivore (and our kids) to try new food. This is especially true in the green vegetable category. His list of verde veggies that he deems edible is brief to say the least. But, I have something to admit. I too am not immune to banning a few fresh foods from my plate. It is a much much shorter list mind you. It includes beets, brussell sprouts, and asparagus. (And meat, of course.)

Well, to be fair to my hubby who I am constantly torturing with "just try one bite before you decide you hate it" pleas, I thought I'd give some of these guys another try. I started with asparagus. It is not that I wouldn't eat it. It's just if I never saw it again I wouldn't have missed it. Or so I thought...

Now, I'm a good Southern girl so I know better than to talk bad about anyone, especially my mother. But, bless her heart, I think this food phobia was her fault. Look, she worked hard as a single mom and raised my in an era when the TV dinner hit its peak. Long story short, her asparagus came from a can and was cooked til mushy. Sorry, Mom. Good news, it turns out I do like asparagus, just not yours.

To make your own it couldn't be more simple. Gather the a bunch of asparagus. Toss it on a baking sheet after rinsing it off and trimming the ends. Drizzle with olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about twenty minutes. It should be tender, but still crunchy - definitely not mushy.

Turns out asparagus can be fresh and tasty. Now, if I could only get the carnivore and the kids to come around....

Oh, and I promise an update on brussel sprouts soon. Beets may take awhile.

Monday, August 8, 2011

hot, hot, hot

It is hot out there. Really hot. They are issuing warnings here in Memphis, which seem a bit redundant to this native of the South. I mean, it's August people. It's gonna be muggy and miserable, even if you aren't as pregnant as I am.

That doesn't mean I don't appreciate a nice refreshment to cool me off. Every good southerner knows staying hydrated in this heat is essential. That and air conditioning, and maybe a quick run through the sprinkler, and definitely some loose light clothing (think seersucker). But I digress. Sipping on something chilly will cool your core even when it is literally 99 in the shade. Sure you can resort to the usual sweet tea or bottle of your favorite brew, but let me suggest this - a watermelon cucumber cooler. It is easy to make with the fresh goodies from your CSA and will rehydrate you in no time.

You will need the following:
4 cups of watermelon, de-seeded and chopped
2 cup of cucumber, skinned and sliced
juice from 1/2 lime
1 large spring of fresh mint
1/2 cup of organic honey
2 cups of ice
cucumber slices for garnish

Puree the watermelon in blender. Pour the fruit juice into large pitcher through mesh sieve. Push fruit with wooden spatula as needed to remove all of the juice. Repeat process with the cucumber. Add in the lime juice and honey to pitcher. Stir well. Drop in the mint and ice. Let sit in fridge over night. Stir again. Serve over more ice and a few slices of cucumber.

Sip and enjoy as you cool your heels in your kid's baby pool while you fan yourself with that piece of junk mail. Hey, every little bit helps in this heat.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

simply the best

Have you joined a CSA? Is your share starting to include juicy tomatoes? Have you created your own backyard garden? Are your tomato plants overflowing with red jewels? Or can you just not walk past these bright beauties at the grocery store without putting a few in your cart? In any case, if you are like me this time of year is one of your favorites - when tomatoes taste like tomatoes.

Sure thanks to modern farming you can get them year round, but there really is no substitute for the real thing in the summer. I could eat them straight like apples. Or, another southern staple - the tomato sandwich - is a big hit around here. If you are unfamiliar, it involves thickly sliced tomatoes, white bread, and not much else. That's because, in the words of my father, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

So, if you have your hands on a few of these fresh fruits let me suggest you keep it simple. Try this real quick recipe. Slice your tomatoes thick. Pair them with large sections of red onions. Coat these with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil. Top with a few oregano leaves (from your herb garden). And enjoy the real taste of summer in its purest form.

menu ideas:
I made this on a muggy summer night recently when the carnivore was grilling chicken. We had our secret summer squash pasta and fried okra as sides.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I'm not a gal who likes things that are too fussy, too perfect. I admire people who can created a three tiered cake and decorate it with flawless basket weaved icing. But, as my carnivore recently commented about wedding cake, "if I have to pick between a dessert that looks good or one that tastes good, it's not hard." That's why we like this rustic tart. It is easy, it is super sweet, and even if it isn't the prettiest dessert you ever serve, it maybe one of the tastiest.

To make it gather the following ingredients:
several small peaches and nectarines (I used what came in my CSA that week), about 3-4 cups, sliced
3 tblsp of brown sugar
4 tblsp of butter
1 refrigerated pie crust

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then remove your pie crust from the fridge. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil. Next peel and thinly slice your peaches and nectarines (this is the only time consuming part). In a bowl, mix the fruit and 2 tblsp of brown sugar. Toss and let set for about 3 minutes. In the meantime, roll out your pie crust on the parchment paper. Pour the fruit mixture in the center and fold the edges of the crust in. No need to worry about making them perfect, just create a barrier. Then dot the fruit with the butter. Dust the crust with the remaining brown sugar. Bake for about 40 minutes. If the crust begins to brown too early tent with aluminum foil.

When the carnivore and I had our large portions of this summer fruit dessert we served it with a scoop or two of all natural vanilla ice cream. Tangy sweet fruit combined with the creamy ice cream was melt in your mouth dreamy.

P.S. I have created a new category to help give you ideas for how to use your CSA goodies. Simply click on the CSA creations link on the right to see more.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

you joined a CSA... so now what?

For those of you who don't know, the carnivore and I joined a CSA this year. We are just a few weeks in, but already loving it. (Maybe me more than him - but I am the veggie lover and cook in our house, so that's to be expected.) If you are unfamiliar with the term CSA, it means community supported agriculture or community shared agriculture. In essence, a local farm has several people sign up for a goodie bag each week. You pay a set price for a number of weeks (ours lasts 26) and you go pick up your share at a set date and time. Ours comes from a great place called Whitton Farms. You can read more about them here.

The best thing about CSA's is the surprise. For me its kinda like Christmas morning. I count down the hours until I can go pick up my bag each week. As you can see from the picture we have already been blessed with all kinds of amazing fresh produce. Everything from strawberries and swiss chard to sweet potatoes and spinach. We have also received some organic staples, like brown rice and local honey. We have even brought home fresh herbal breads and pizza dough.

But, if you do join a CSA, you have to be flexible. You may have to adjust your weekly menu to work around the groceries you get. For me this challenge is part of the fun. So let's take my recent grab bag as an example. Since I got strawberries and honey I could make my goat cheese pumpernickle toast, since the recipe calls for me to top it with both the sweet berries and the sticky honey. I could saute some of the onions and put them on top of my blue cheese portabellas. I can boil some of the broccoli and tossed it in a primavera pasta, which I can serve with the rosemary bread. I can make a wonderful strawberry and spinach salad for lunch too. The snap peas can be a great accompaniment to a simple stirfry. The fresh pizza dough can make a great base for any number of gourmet pizzas or even a quick calzone, also a great use for some of the spinach.

I know as the seasons change from spring to summer and then to fall, my bag of farm fresh goodies will continue to throw me curve balls. But I am looking forward to the bounty that is to come - from heirloom tomatoes to huckleberries, and there are even promises of fresh eggs!

So, if you do join a CSA (and I really suggest you do - it supports small farmers, it is good for your family to get fresh local produce, and it is good for the environment too) remember, even if you get items that are unfamiliar a quick web search can not only help you identify them, it can also lead you to some great recipes. I promise to post my ideas, like adding diced radishes to a corn and black bean salad, as they happen. And if that fails, well, you can always have you taste tester try the wares straight from the bag. Mmmm strawberries!
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