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Showing posts from 2012

Thanksgiving Butternut Squash Spread

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and as you may imagine, it's kind of a big deal around here.  The planning typically begins in August when seeds go into the ground, along with a hope and a prayer that maturity will be reached by mid-November.  Radish, beets, swiss chard, a spicy mesclun mix from Johnny's and  shelling peas are still growing well (albeit under a low tunnel with a 4 mil greenhouse film covering) and should be a part of our dinner this year.

As for planning the meal itself, recipe selection began today.  It's kind of like the NFL draft, all past recipes on one side, possible new recipes on the other.  There are some non-negotiables in our family.

1.  Fresh turkey, in any form and cooked in any manner.  We've deep fried them, dry brined, wet brined, Cajun injected, spatchcocked, de-boned and rolled, stuffed, unstuffed and broken down to cook legs and breasts separately.  This year's method is yet to be determined.

2.  Mashed potatoes and gra…

Last Minute Gifts for Your Favorite Cooks

A Guest Blog by Cyn

Hello Holiday Shoppers!

What to get the Cook in your life?  It's been a hot topic of conversation lately, with friends and family all wondering what to procure for each other for the holidays, and some of my foodie friends sharing their lists for Santa with me.  We've got some great ideas, some of which are even free!!!

For the avid cheffers in your household, here are my favorite to get and receive gifts:

Wicked sharp paring knives, the semi-disposable kind that come in a multi pack at your local home store.  We don't always want to use our 'good' knives for some of the more menial tasks in the kitchen.  Loud and obnoxious colors are a good thing for handles, so don't be afraid to color it up a bit.  The hotter the color the less likely we are to lose the knife in whatever we're peeling.


Kuhn Rikon Swiss Peelers are the best vegetable peelers for my money.
And as veg peelers are nearly impossible to sharpen, you'll want to buy them…

One Year Of Meatless Mondays

On November 3, 2011, I wrote and posted my very first blog entry.It explained why I was making a commitment to observing Meatless Mondays for one year and why I felt the need to blog about it.Well, here we are a year later and I'm happy to report I did it!

For those of you unfamiliar the Meatless Monday movement, it is a global initiative to eliminate meat products from their diet one day each week (or about 15%). There are lots of reasons to consider going meatless one day each week. Some do it for health reason, others to promote a better environment and others still for ethical reason. In my case, I'll readily admit that my reasons were different (and maybe even more trivial) compared to the others. Very simply, I wanted to see if I could do it. Nothing more, nothing less. It sounded interesting and I wanted to challenge myself. If you want to know more about Meatless Mondays and the global movement, click here.

As I stated in my first post, I'm not a vegetarian. I don…

You’ve Got To Pick a Pepper or Two!

A Guest Blog by Anneli
I asked Al to guest post for me over on Delicieux and happily he agreed and it kind of turned into a little ingredients cook off! Wanting to keep it seasonal and from the garden if possible, Al suggested ‘peppers’ as he still had some beauties just turning ripe. We too had peppers a plenty although somewhat smaller and less fabulous! But the ‘Pepper-off’ was born and so here we are!


Immediately my mind was racing with possibilities and I found myself lying in bed at night pondering ingredient combinations. In my usual manner, I came up with lots and narrowed it down, but still couldn’t settle on one outright favourite. So I set about a week of stuffed pepper suppers! I knew I had to try them all to make up my mind.


A little oddly, eating this many peppers did not become dull. Every dish was interesting and enjoyable and reminded me just how damn delicious peppers are! In fact I am not a fan of peppers raw but roasted they are just so sweet, juicy and full of flavou…

The Comfort of Carrots

A guest blog by Cyn

Seventy nine cents a pound ($.79) is the cost for a pound of fresh organic carrots at my local supermercado.  Granted, you have to buy a 5# bag to earn that cost, but a pound in plastic is still only $.89.  You can't buy a soda or a decent candy bar for $.89, never mind the eventual cost to your health for going there.  But oh, the places you can go with carrots!

They may be my favorite veg.  You can dress them up or dress them down, make them sweet, savory, spicy - or all three at the same time.  Recently I renewed my vows to carrots when my foodie and gardening BFF Judy forwarded a soup recipe from Eating Well to me.  Judy, like me, loves great food, prepared thoughtfully and simply, with a nod to the season and the best ingredients you can afford.  The soup is simple.  And it is fabulous as is, but thinking of the permutations available staggers me - because the carrot is such a team player.  It boosts and amplifies the flavors of whatever you add to it.  Gi…

The Trouble with Tribbles, err, Zucchini

OK, if you're not a geek like me or aren't old enough to remember the classic Trouble with Tribbles episode of the original Star Trek, that title line probably confused you. You see, Tribbles were these cute little furry pets that were brought aboard the Starship Enterprise and began to reproduce at a rate that would make rabbits look lazy. If you've ever grown zucchini, you know that they're kind of like Tribbles. Well, we had the typical bumper crop this season so we're still working hard at finding new ways to feature them in our Meatless Monday meals.

Our most recent use of zucchini was as a pistou, a cold sauce typically made from garlic, basil, olive oil, nuts and cheese.

Ingredients
4 tsps extra virgin olive oil, divided2 1/2 cups zucchini sliced 1/4" thick (about 3/4 pound)1/2  cup packed basil leaves2 tbps pine nuts, toasted1/2 cup (2 oz) shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese, divided 4 garlic cloves (2 minced, 2 whole)2 cups chopper Vidalia (or other swee…

Days like this are why we garden.....

Some days the garden seems ready to give more than other days. This past Sunday was one of those special days. It wasn't so much the quantity of what we were able to harvest, but the variety that made is seem just a little bit special. We went out to pick things early in the evening when the sun was very low in the sky and the light made everything look just a little more perfect.

I recently posted about the garden changing as the summer passes. I think Sunday night was one of the change points because things from the early part of the growing season were still there but fading a little and being replaced with things that we had planted later and were now thriving.

So, enough waxing poetically -- here's what we were able to pick in just about 10 minutes last Sunday. I like this picture as much as any I've posted in any of my blogs.





Ch-Ch-Ch Changes (In The Garden)

In honor of the recently completed London Olympics I thought this post needed a little nod to a great Brit - hence the Bowie referrence in the title.
One of the wonderful things about a vegetable garden is that it keeps changing as the seasons progress. Here in Northern Virginia we have a pretty long growing season and with the help of a little low level technology, we can make it even longer.
Back when it was still cold we were happily growing things like lettuce, beets, radishes and kale in our simple cold frame. There are few more satisfying things for a gardener than to have to take off winter gloves to harvest some lettuce that you'll wash and eat that day!

As the weather started to warm, our soil amendments made over the winter paid off handsomely in a bumper strawberry crop. Some heavy rains shortened the yield a bit but we really had all we could eat this spring -- and they were delicious. 


Spring and early summer also gave us kale, spinach, swiss chard, garlic (don't fo…

Okra - The Rodney Dangerfield of Veggies

That;s right, okra gets no respect I tell ya. These beautiful green pods, often called Ladyfingers in Indian and other Asian cultures are misunderstood and under appreciated. I'll admit, cooked badly (and it often is), okra be pretty nasty. It can get slimy and funky tasting. Cooked correctly, this member of the mallow family, can be amazingly delicious on its own or a tasty addition in a variety of dishes -- like this one.

We recently ate at a wonderful Indian restaurant about 1/2 hour from our home called Rangoli and, among other "small plates" we had a fried okra dish that we so good we ordered a second helping. We enjoyed it so much we wanted to try to recreate it at home. Here's Cynthia's version.

Ingredients
1/2 cup AP flour1/4 tsp smoked paprika1/4 tsp cumin1 scant tsp (sweet) paprikaseveral grinds of black peppervegetable oil for frying1 - 2 dozens okra pods, the smaller the better but you'll need a few moresea salt, finely groundPreparation
 Mix the flo…

Trouser Legs for Meatless Monday Dinner?

What's that you said? That's right, trouser legs -- also known as calzoni, literally translated from the Italian.

Last night was one of our "re-purposing" nights, you know, making use of things from the refrigerator and pantry that just happen to be sitting around. Not quite a Refrigerator Orphans event, but pretty close. Cynthia makes her own dough which we typically use to make Grilled Pizza. She usually makes more than we need and freezes the unused portions for later use. Initially, we had decided to make pizza so the dough was already out defrosting when she called me to say the plan had changed and we were doing something different and that she was going to use up some of the "never-ending supply of zucchini" that our garden seems hell bent on producing. We also had a red pepper from our garden and an eggplant from the farmer's market sitting around. So, vegetable and ricotta calzones it would be.

Ingredients
1/4 Pizza dough recipe (find the recipe…

The Art of the Tomato Sandwich

Guest Blog By Cyn

Along with the copious amounts of zucchini now coming from 4 plants. (we really only need one, but I cannot seem to 'thin' the seedlings), the first wave of tomatoes is coming on hot and heavy.  One of my favorite ways to indulge myself in summer is with a couple of slices of fresh-from-the-garden tomato on toast. Sounds simple, doesn't it?  The beauty of it is, it can be as simple, or as complicated as you like.  
Step One, make toast.  Fresh bread will not hold up to a ripe slice of summer so well, so please toast to armor your bread against a juicy meltdown.  The bread selection is key -- too soft and you'll end up wearing your bread, too hard and you'll break a tooth.  My favorite of late is a miche from our neighborhood Wegman's bakery, a nice hearty sourdough, toasted lightly.  
Step Two, choose a bread spread.  It's for the additional barrier to the wet tomato and to elevate the flavor as well, you are shooting for Tomato Nirvana after…

Summer Pasta with Fried Zucchini Flowers and Radicchio

My last post was called Here Come the Zucchini. Well, they're here -- in full force, and like many of you, we're always looking for great new ways to use them. This week for Meatless Monday, Cyn put together a wonderful pasta dish using not only the zucchini but garlic, Greek oregano, Tuscan rosemary, Thai basil, Italian parsley, chives and zucchini flowers all from our garden!

If you've never cooked with or had zucchini flowers you really need to give them a try. If you grow your own zucchini, you will have these beautiful yellow flowers on every vine.

They're used in a variety of ways in Italian cooking and we've done one of the simplest but most delicious preparations here -- a light batter deep fry.




Ingredients 


Pasta
3 tbsp butter, divided2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil2-3 tbsp shallots, sliced thin (half a medium)salt2 big pinched of crushed red pepper (or to taste)5 cloves of garlic, sliced thin 1 cup of white wine -- we used an un-oaked Chardonnay1 medium zucchin…