Monday, June 30, 2014

Very Garlicky

Tonight I made garlic scape pesto with all those garlic scapes we keep getting from the farm.  Each week the distribution has been 15 scapes, which is quite a lot.  I used a few to make a spinach frittata yesterday for brunch, but I figured the only way to not let them go to waste would be to make pesto.  Tonight we had pesto with sausage tortellini and cheese ravioli.  This was the first time I got to use the Cuisinart I borrowed from my mom.

In the food processor I pureed all the garlic scapes (on the order of 25 or so) plus 1 cup of toasted almonds and some parmesan cheese.  I drizzled in about 1/4 cup of olive oil and then, when the pasta was done, added pasta water until it was the consistency I wanted.  I probably could have made it even more watery but it seemed OK at the time.  Everyone felt it was a little too garlicky.  Maybe the proportions were off and more almonds were in order?  Likely so.

The rest was frozen in 4 small bags for another day.  We also had broccoli and snow peas, and finished the snap peas for a snack.  I still have some bok choy, herbs, radishes and Hakurei turnips but it's much more manageable now.  The next distribution is tomorrow!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hoppy Beer, Day One

We've been meaning to find time to brew a batch of beer in which I could use the wild hops I found last fall.  Time just keeps getting away from us.  Finally, we got the kick we needed to get started; my husband's work is having a homebrew showcase in a month or so.  We'd like to enter this beer.  We hope it's worthy.

After a lot of discussion with the proprietors of the brewing supply store my husband came home with a kit for something called "Hopehead Pale Ale."  To that we plan to add our own hops during the second rack, which will be next week sometime.  Today we steeped the grains, boiled the wort, and it's currently cooling enough to pitch the yeast.  Then it will ferment for about a week before we move to the second rack.  Initial SG appears to be about 1.042 with a potential alcohol of 5.5%.

I felt badly about throwing away all the steeped grains, and I thought about making horse treats with them.  A quick search online suggested they made a good bread.  The only problem with this is that my yeast must have been old so after mixing all this damp grain with flour, sugar and yeast and kneading and waiting, it didn't really rise.  I thought maybe I could bake it anyway, like a quick bread, but that was an epic failure.  Next time, I will either make sure I have new yeast, or just make dog and pony treats (both are possible, recipes are different).  There are enough dogs and ponies in my life that they can at least enjoy whatever I come up with.

In other news, I made strawberry-chocolate chip pancakes this morning and now we only have 1 quart of berries left.  Since this bread didn't work out, I think I will make strawberry muffins and give some to our neighbors when I return their plate which arrived last weekend with cookies on it. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Limited Time

It's not as if I don't have a lot to do, or that I have to leave for work at 3 pm, or that my fridge isn't already overflowing with food.  Nope.  I needed strawberries.

To be fair, it's only strawberry season for a little while and locally grown strawberries are a real treat.  So I dragged the kids out of bed at 6:30 so we could be among the first people there.  We were third in line to get into the parking lot and we were able to get onto the fields and pick 9 pounds of strawberries in half an hour.  Just long enough for the temperature to go up about 10 degrees and the crowds to start to get in the way.  We did time it just right as it rained yesterday which meant fewer berries picked and more for us!

After the berries were stowed in the car, we ate a breakfast of strawberry donuts, visited the rabbits and goats (we, of course, were more interested in the rabbits) and headed home.  I dove right into making jam and have made a batch of strawberry jam (including 2 jars for the fair) and a batch of strawberry rhubarb jam:  1 pound rhubarb, 3 pints strawberries, 7 cups sugar, and 1 package of powdered pectin.  That batch made 10 cups of jam which I put into pint jars.  I am now out of frozen rhubarb so hopefully I'll find some in the store that's less than $4 a pound.  Then I made strawberry-banana smoothies for lunch: 3/4 c. homemade yogurt, 1/3 of a quart of strawberries, 1/3 of a banana, 1/4 c. orange juice and some honey in each.

There are 2 heaping quarts left - one for eating plain, and one for strawberry shortcake.  Which I will make tomorrow.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Almost Overwhelmed, but Not Quite

The farm stepped it up a notch or two this week.  In between pockets of rain I got the share and even managed to not get rained on while I was out picking peas, strawberries and cilantro.

In the share: 2 heads of lettuce, 1 head of bok choy, 1 bunch kale, 1 bunch radishes, 15 garlic scapes, 2 pounds of broccoli, 1 small bowl of arugula, 2 large bowls of spinach, 2 quarts strawberries, a pint each of snap, snow and shelling peas, and a bunch of cilantro (I could have gotten dill and other herbs but I still haven't used the ones I have).   Since I've been home I have made a strawberry-rhubarb pie (with the accompanying raspberry jam tart, which has already been consumed by my children and a visiting friend), a salad consisting of both kinds of lettuce, arugula, shelled peas and strawberries, and kale chips.  I am still somewhat surprised at how much I am enjoying kale chips; I think I could have eaten the whole batch as they came out of the oven!

My plan is to make pesto with the garlic scapes and maybe also with the cilantro.  I expect that a lot of the greens will eventually find their way into Mocha's stomach, although I would prefer it if some of them made it into my children's stomachs.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Enough For Jam

Week 2 of the farm share and I brought home a bunch each of scallions, radishes, and Hakurei turnips, 15 garlic scapes, a bowlful of spinach, some komatsuna (that's what the long, bok choy like vegetable from last week was), a large bunch of kale, some dill, cilantro, and tarragon (most of which I promptly added to a small bottle of apple cider vinegar), and 3 quarts of strawberries.

Yeah, you heard right. 3 quarts.  The share distribution of berries has never been that large.  One quart, sure, but three?

They were pretty ripe so it was clear I needed to do something with them soon.  After consulting with the 12 year old who originally wanted a pie but acquiesced when it was clear I didn't have time to make a crust before dinner, we decided on a batch of jam.

Well after dinner, after the kids were in bed, and well after I should have been sleeping, I made a batch with those two quarts:  5 cups crushed berries, 1 box pectin, 7 cups of sugar.  It made 9 8-oz jars and a bit more.  We had a friend over after dinner who watched me do all this; he got to take a jar home.  It was almost too hot to carry!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cherry Rhubarb Jam

As I've said in previous posts, cooking is a stress reliever for me.  But, what happens if you are so busy you don't even have time to cook?  Nothing good, that's for sure.  I can tell you that I need to apologize to the car repair people for being a little...high strung...and that I finally crashed and fell asleep at 6:50 pm last night.  I should probably drink less coffee.

So since I'm not taking my car in today to be fixed since the above-mentioned car repair folks didn't have the part on time, I found myself with a few hours and some fruit.  Cherries have been appearing in the store, but on the order of $8/pound.  I finally found some on sale and bought some yesterday in anticipation of making cherry jam.  Luckily for me, I had time this morning.

Using the cherry jam recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, I swapped out 1 cup of cherries with a cup of frozen rhubarb.  Otherwise, I left everything the same:  4 cups of fruit, 4 T. lemon juice, 1 package of powdered pectin, 5 cups of sugar.  Most of this jam is in 3 10+oz jars, those ones from Quattro Stagioni that have 1 part lids.  I received some as a gift and, since this jam is rather pretty, thought they were a good combination.  The final tally is 3 of those jars and one 8-oz Ball jar.

This afternoon I'll pick up the farm share and then will have a lot of greens and spring veggies to eat.  I decided I wouldn't plant a lot of vegetables on my roof this year because I have the full share to myself, which means, thankfully, one less thing on my to do list.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Thus Far

This year I am not splitting the farm share which means that in a few short weeks I will be inundated with food.  However, the first few weeks are always easier to deal with.  Way back when I first joined the CSA, my half of the first week share was enough for one meal.  Not this time!

So far we have finished off the radishes, strawberries, bok choy, and oregano.  My mason stopped by with some lettuce and we've had some terrifically fresh salads.  I even made an Italian salad dressing with the fresh oregano.  I stir fried the bok choy with ginger and a hoisin based sauce.  The hamburgers last night had fresh rosemary mixed in with the meat.  I used the last of the oregano today to marinate some salmon.

Today I made kale chips using the bunch of red Russian kale.  I used this recipe for a spicy nut butter topping (I halved it for the amount of kale I had) and it is really tasty!  Hopefully that will help satisfy my craving when I need something crunchy.

What's left - a few more fresh herbs, two Hakurei turnips and mustard greens.  I plan to use the cilantro in a day or two to make guacamole and will probably dry the sage, rosemary and dill that are left.

The mustard greens will get taken care of by the rabbit.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

First Day Back

The farm share started today, and I had to miss it because of work.  Thankfully, my friend was able to go for me, and I came home about 30 minutes ago to a big pile of produce on my counter.  Yay!

All I had time for today was to wash it all and put it in bags in the fridge:  1 bunch of kale, 1 bunch (rather large) of mustard greens, 2 skinny and long bok choy like things, some radishes, some Hakurei turnips, a pint of strawberries, and some herbs.  A nice selection of herbs, too - dill, oregano, cilantro, rosemary and sage.

I suspect Mocha might get a fair amount of the mustard greens, but maybe I can make a kale salad or something in the next day or so.  And I know my Dad and I will enjoy the radishes tomorrow!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Springtime in the Backyard

We went to my parents' house for the weekend and, in our absence, the flowers bloomed.

Also, the mint has been growing, and my mom loves mint jelly.  Time to make a batch, with fresh mint!  And, by fresh, I mean, new growth, picked and immediately washed, ripped by hand and steeped in hot water for 10 minutes.  This is, I think, the reason my mint jelly is so...well...minty.  2+ cups of shredded mint leaves, 4.5 cups of water, steeped for 10 minutes, then strained.  Take 4 cups of that mint tea, add 4 drops of green and 1 drop of blue food coloring.  Mix with 1 package of the powdered pectin, and then 5 cups of sugar.  This makes 6.5 cups of jelly which is processed the usual way.  I've set aside 2 jars to enter in the fair; I would think this falls under the category of "Herb Jelly," don't you?

Lastly, I will leave you with this little bit of excitement.  About 6 years ago I planted a Concord grape vine.  And I've waited, and waited, and waited.  This year, for the first time, little tiny grapes!  We'll be watching their progress all summer.

Friday, June 6, 2014

I Was WAY Off

If you had asked me to describe a new snack that my 9 year old would enjoy, the same child whom, over the years, has said no to just about everything, the words "raw," "vegan," and "gluten-free" would not have been in my vocabulary.

Who knew?

We were visiting a friend in Maine over the weekend.  She's a painter, and a raw food enthusiast who has created a home business selling raw, vegan, and organic snacks.  Elizabeth went to high school with my husband and ended up in Maine, learned how to paint, and started selling her artwork.  Her incredible talent and energy comes through every painting she does.  We have bought at least 10 paintings over the years and this most recent one we were picking up was a commissioned work for my boss, who retired last week.  Well, we showed up at her house and the kids were hungry.  She had her raw food wares on a table, ready for sale.  The next thing I know, the 9 year old has opened up a box of the Go Bananas cookies and was chowing down.  And LOVED it.  The 12 year old also ate some and, between the two of them, 6 cookies were gone in about 5 minutes.  Then they got to work on the fruit leathers and 2 of those were gone in a heartbeat.  Needless to say, the 9 year old didn't eat a whole lot of lunch, but even that was a vegan crepe with flax seeds and it went over well.  Before we left for home, I purchased another box of cookies, some kale chips (I like the mustard ones best), blueberry gRAWnola and a healthy supply of fruit leather.

Now, my diet is about as far from a raw food vegan diet as one can get.  And, I was under the impression that it was a lot of work.  Elizabeth convinced me otherwise, but it is mighty helpful to have a dehydrator and a food processor.  I have neither of these things, at the moment.  But, given how much the 9 year old liked those cookies, and how much I want that 9 year old to eat good food, and how healthy those cookies are, I decided to try our own version.

I took this recipe I found online, doubled it, and instead of almonds I used half pecans and half cashews.  As, I mentioned, I don't have a food processor, so the blending part was fairly difficult and likely took longer than it should have.  Dehydrating is also taking longer than it should have, since I'm using my oven.  I had them in a warm oven until I went to bed and then turned it off but left them in there.  This morning I have the oven on again, then will turn it off again when I leave and keep the cookies in there until I get home.  They are sticky.  But they look like cookies.  I set the 9 year old to unwrapping chocolate kisses and putting them in the middles of the cookies - we used the kisses to spread the batter flatter before we set the kiss in the middle.

Now I'm wondering, will this kid of mine be moving even more in this direction?  Am I going to have to learn to prepare more vegan entrees?  I will note that the kale chips were not a favorite, so maybe we're just going to have to pick and choose.