Tuesday, September 8, 2009

CSA Box - September 3

In our CSA box this week: several types of tomatoes & peppers, yellow beans, thyme, edamame, onions, cucumber, summer squash, carrots, cabbage, beets, shallot, and beets.

For extras this week I picked up more onions, carrots, beets & mushrooms.

And, who could pass up a bag of 4 dozen ears of corn? We love to boil, cut from cob, bag and freeze! So far we have frozen about 80 ears worth!

We have now entered apple season, so G and I have been making small batches of applesauce - and he must taste test every batch. I have also been testing different recipes of apple chutney - SO GOOD with so many fall and winter dishes!

Friday, August 28, 2009

CSA Box - August 27

The week of August 27 we have in our CSA box:: a variety of tomatoes and peppers, cabbage, summer squash, beets, cucumbers, carrots, onions, sweet corn, eggplant and lettuce!

For extras this week I picked up more onions, dill, mushrooms, beets and a few bunches of radishes. So nice to have radishes again!

Friday, August 21, 2009

CSA Box - August 20

I've been seriously behind on posting my CSA boxes this month...as well as recipes. I have been working hard in the kitchen - preserving, freezing, canning, drying. Whew! It is a lot of work to try to preserve enough food to last through the winter, but I know it will be well worth it in the end. I do appreciate that there is this much work with modern conveniences - I can only imagine a century ago how gardening, food prep and preserving consumed so much of the year!

The week of August 20 we have a lot of goodies in our CSA box: cucumbers, several types of tomatoes and peppers, summer squash, onion, basil, sweet corn, beets, lettuce, and kohlrabi.

I also picked up some extras - cherry tomatotes, onions, beets, and dill. There has been a lot of pickling going on, so I have been going through a lot of dill and onion!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

CSA Box this Week - Aug 13

In our CSA box this week: cucumbers, onion, daikon radish, basil, peppers, beans, sweet corn, summer squash and lettuce.

I did pick up a few extras this week: mushrooms, garlic, kohlrabi and parsley.

My favorite road side farm stand finally has peaches! I picked up only a few pounds - to dehydrate and freeze for smoothies and granola this winter. Mmmm.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

CSA Box August 6.

In our box this week: mixed peppers, cucumbers, mixed herbs, beets, swiss chard, summer squash, eggplant, 2 types of lettuce, and fresh garlic!

For extras this week I picked up our usual mushrooms, as well as a few more bags of basil for pesto making, and parsley for the dehydrator!

This time of year the garden is in full swing, we are preserving every single day - canning, drying, freezing - I am in awe of how much we have coming in from such a tiny yard. It is pretty constant work, but not hard work. And it is very satisfying. We of course know we want to preserve enough to last through the whole winter - our goal is no store bought produce through June 2010 (but for citrus:: oranges, lemons, etc. which we cannot find local) and we are doing great. As we have gone on, we realized that while we are preserving the harvest to last throughout the winter, we can also preserve so much in the way of herbs too. We have over 25 canning jars of dried vegetables, fruit and herbs so far - with many more to go! We plan to make soup and stew mixes, granola mixes, and mixed herbs for cheeses and breads. SO GOOD!

Friday, July 31, 2009

CSA Box - July 30.

This week in our box we have basil, broccoli, peppers, summer squash, green beans, fresh garlic, beets, onion, cucumber, and 2 types of lettuce.

This week I picked up some extras - more basil, cabbage and onions. I keep making batches of pesto. It is quick and easy to make in large batches, and I can keep some in the fridge fresh, and then freeze the rest. Yum. I like to add a tray in the dehydrator each time too, so that I can have dried basil for pasta and seasoning in the winter.

It is switching into fruit season here too. We have many spring fruit around here, but August is when it really kicks into high gear. Peaches, cherries, plums, blueberries...yum. We picked up a bunch of fruit this week. I am dehydrating some cherries & blueberries - which is YUMMY in fresh home made granola. We also love to make jams, syrups and pie filling for winter. So good!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

CSA Box - July 23.

In our CSA box this week: purple beans, beets, pepper, swiss chard, onions, eggplant, 2 types of lettuce, parsley and basil!

The 'extras' I picked up this week included more beets - to pickle some - beans, and mushrooms.

Each Thursday when we return from our CSA pickup, we make a run through the garden to pick too, and then get to work in the kitchen. I rinse and bag foods for meals throughout the week and put those in the fridge. I then take the extras and that which we won't eat that week, and blanch, dry, or can. With beans I usually blanch for 3 minutes, plunge into ice water, drain, and then pack into freezer bags. They are great in January, I tell ya!

Monday, July 20, 2009

dehydrating time.

This time of year I'm already busy in the kitchen. I blanch, bag, freeze. I dehydrate and dry. I can. We love to eat fresh veggies all summer but our plan includes preserving food to last all winter too!

While I love putting away canned and frozen foods I also love my dehydrator. I can dry fresh herbs, vegetables, fruit...and use them in just about anything. We love eating dehydrated cherry tomatoes like chips. Or adding dried raspberries into home made granola. But in February with feet of snow on the ground, it is also extremely satisfying to make a vegetable soup with carrots, squash, beans, peppers, tomatoes and herbs grown right in our own yard.

This week I started hanging my shallots, dill and cilantro/coriander to dry outside. That works great for the big plants. I bring other herbs to dry inside - savory, oregano, parsley, basil, chives, lovage, shisho...all quick and easy to dry in the dehydrator. One of the best things about freezing and drying is that it can be done as we go - no big prep, sterilizing or huge batches. I can just keep doing a bit a day if needed, all summer! And it adds up!

I like taking the herbs when they are dry and putting them in canning jars. Keeping them as whole as possible keeps the flavor better and you can just crush into your recipe when you need them!

I also dry a LOT of vegetables - peppers, tomatoes, summer & winter squash, beets, carrots  - easily bagged or stored in canning jars to be used in the winter! Right now I have a few trays of peppers going and the house smells amazing. I do love the dehydrator. It doesn't take much space or energy, is easy to clean, and I can dry a lot of food. All good!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

CSA Box This Week

This week in our CSA box: parsley, basil, pepper, onions, eggplant, beets, chard, beans and 2 types of lettuce!

We picked up a few extras again this week:

mushrooms, more beets & beans!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

CSA Box This Week

Today was CSA day! In our box this week: beets, peas, beans, daikon radishes, broccoli, onions. basil, pepper, kale, 2 types of lettuce.

We also picked up a few extras. Summer squash, mushrooms and more kohlrabi.

This time of year means a lot of greens, and so that also means I've been busy blanching and freezing. More on that soon!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

CSA Box This Week.

CSA Box Today:: snow peas, snap peas, purple beans, kohlrabi, spring onions, kale, 2 types of lettuce, chinese cabbage, garlic scapes, oregano, beets.

I also picked up a few extras at the CSA farm - mushrooms, more beets and some broccoli. Planning on making some beet kvass with the extra beets. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

CSA Box This Week - Week 2

In our CSA box this week: kohlrabi, swiss chard, red & green head lettuce, fresh garlic, fennel, kale, peas, garlic scapes, dill.

We have so many greens between our garden and CSA, but I think it is a good thing to have enough to share! The heat has been like a furnace all week, so the greens will be slowing down just as the rest of the garden is kicking into high gear. Can't wait!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

CSA Box - Week 1

Yay! It is time. Our CSA season has started. We switched to a new farm this year. We found one a bit closer, and in the perfect location to easily combine our farm pickups so that we can get eggs, dairy, meat and veggies all in one big loop each week.

We did visit this organic farm many times last summer to get a feel for them. Last week we finally had a farm open house, and then this week our first box! I can't wait to see what we get each week - a full season from our home garden, local farms and our CSA!

In our box this week: spinach, leek, spring onions, garlic ramps, kohlrabi, radishes, strawberries, fennel, kale, cilantro and 2 types of head lettuce!

Monday, May 25, 2009

back into the groove.

It is time! I didn't forget about this blog...I've just been stewing away some new ideas and projects for the upcoming year, as well as planning and planting all of our food gardens. With a family community garden plot, our home garden, and a CSA share, we have a whole season ahead of us of gardening, cooking, preserving, drying, canning and freezing. We had our first radishes this weekend, and are into our second round of greens. It is under way!

I plan to get back into the groove with cook.eat.think...growing as the garden is growing. I will be posting as we get rolling here, and will be updating the look and links as well. Looking forward to a long season!

Friday, February 20, 2009

home made mozzarella.

We get two gallons of fresh from the cow milk from a local farmer each week. We often make our own yogurt, yogurt cheese, and cream cheese, and sometimes butter. We have been wanting to delve deeper into cheesemaking, but just haven't done too much yet. After seeing a quick segment on a PBS gardening show about making mozzarella, I decided it looked like a fun and easy project to do with the boys.

Yesterday we looked up a recipe, and discovered that we had all of the ingredients needed already! This is so easy to make and the cheese is so good. Other than the time we waited for milk or whey to heat up, this took almost no time at all and was very simple to do.

::making fresh mozzarella at home::
*This recipe is adapted from the book Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll

2 tsp citric acid
1 gallon raw or whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
1/4 tsp liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup water (we use the vegetable rennet from here)
1 Tbsp sea salt
candy thermometer to check liquid temps


Pour the milk into a large pot, put on the stove on low/med-med heat. Add citric acid to the milk and mix well. Stir in the diluted rennet with an up and down motion, continue heating until the temperature reaches 105ºF. Turn off the heat and let the curd set for 5-10 minutes.

Scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon (or strain them with a fine mesh strainer) and put them into a large heat resistant bowl. Press the curds gently with your hands, pouring off as much whey as possible into a bowl. Reserve the whey.

Pour the whey back into the pot and heat it to at least 175ºF degrees. Add salt to the whey and stir.

Ladle the hot whey over the curd in the bowl (just to cover) knead the curd with 2 wooden spoons until the curd is smooth and pliable.

The internal temperature of the curd needs to reach around 165 degrees to become pliable and stretchy. If the curd breaks, it needs to be reheated (by pouring more hot whey over the top). If you want to add any dried or fresh herbs, do now. I added a teaspoon of an herb mix I put together which included ground pepper, dried garlic, and an italian herb mix.

Pick the curd up with your hands and quickly squeeze into a ball, tucking the ends under to make smooth. Go fast, will set immediately.

Eat immediately while warm, or if you want to store it for later, place your balls of mozzarella into a bowl of very cold water (you can add more salt if you want, to help intensify the cheese flavor). Let sit a few minutes. Wrap and store in the fridge! Eat within a day or so.

Yield: 3/4 - 1 pound

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I like recipes that my boys can make. They love to measure, pour, knead and bake. I particularly like recipes that use metric measurements and not only the US cups...not only is it more accurate for baking, but we can pull out the scale and the boys can set the scale to the correct measurement (g/oz) and then weigh each item themselves. They are learning about ounces and cups and grams and milliliters and pounds. They are learning the relative measurements and understanding the relationships between 250 grams of flour vs. 2 cups of flour. They are looking at the scale and comparing quantities on the recipe to the scale readout. Perfect.

Today we made pizza. We have been loving the recipes from the book "Baking Bread with Children" by Warren Lee Cohen. This pizza recipe fit the bill. It was quick and easy, and it had measurements listed in all of the above. The boys did all of the measuring, kneading and rolling. We only tweaked the recipe a bit using our favorite flours for pizza. Turned out great!


250g (2 cups) strong 00 Italian pizza flour (or strong white bread flour)
250g (2 cups) whole wheat pastry flour (recipe calls for 'plain' or pastry flour, I used whole wheat pastry)
15 ml (1 Tbsp) honey
10ml (2 tsp) sea salt
10ml (2 tsp) good yeast
300 ml (10 oz = about 1 1/4 cups) warm water (body temp or so)
45 ml (3 Tbsp) olive oil

pizza sauce, cheese and toppings.

In large bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the honey. Let it sit in a warm spot for about 10 minutes until it is bubbly and smells yeasty.

Add the salt, olive oil, and then slowly add in the flour. The dough will start to come together - it should still be slightly sticky to touch. You can use your hands for this part, or use a Kitchen Aid with a dough hook just to incorporate it.

Sprinkle some flour on your counter and hand knead the dough for about 10 minutes.

Oil a bowl with olive oil. Put the kneaded dough (ball) into the bowl and cover it with a moist towel - put in a warm spot. Let it rise for 1.5 - 2 hours until double in size.

Pull the dough out of the bowl and cut into two pieces (or 4 pieces if you want little individual pizzas).

Roll or stretch into a round or whatever shape you want and put onto a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina flour (to keep from sticking) ...

Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.

Put on the sauce, toppings and cheese. Let the prepped pizzas sit and rise for 15 minutes while the oven pre-heats.

Bake for 7-15 minutes or so, depending on how thinly you rolled your dough...bake until golden and cheese bubbly.

Let cool a bit before slicing.

ingredient tip:

00 pizza flour is a high gluten finely ground flour. It is usually called Italian Tipo "00" flour. It looks like baby powder - it is a finer ground than normal flour, is high gluten, and it will give your dough an incredible super-smooth texture. I find it at the local Italian deli. I liked this recipe using the '00' flour mixed with the whole wheat white flour. It was a great texture and was still a light crust with the whole grain bonus. It is really good - my kids will eat it, and they are picky about pizza dough!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

banana bread.

While I haven't had a recipe or post up for a bit, we have been busy in the kitchen. I have been experimenting with some new bread recipes. We have been soaking/sprouting/drying wheat berries and making our own (malt) flour and learning to use it. I also have found a new local source for wheat (hard red winter) and so have been testing how it works with both the standard and soaked loaf breads to get a feel for its chemistry. We have had a few flops, but have had some really great tasty bread too. I have also been testing a different wheat grinder to see the difference in a finer flour! In between all of the bread baking we have also been making some other goodies.

Today I had a sick boy, so we were home and pretty quiet. I decided to make a loaf of whole wheat banana bread. It is sooo good. I like it because it uses 100% whole wheat pastry flour, but the flavor doesn't overshadow the bananas at all and it is a nice moist bread. It also isn't too sweet, but is rich with flavor. It made the house smell amazing, too!

::whole wheat banana bread::

1/3 cup softened butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar/muscavado
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup yogurt (I used home made vanilla yogurt)
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder

In one bowl cream the butter, honey and brown sugar together, and then add the vanilla, eggs, bananas and yogurt. Mix to incorporate. The bananas should be a little chunky, but not big pieces (using a fork to smush helps).

In a second bowl mix the dry ingredients together and stir a little to mix.

Mix the wet into the dry a bit at a time stirring to incorporate. Don't over mix.

Spoon into a buttered bread loaf pan and put into a pre-heated 350ºF oven. Bake 40-50 minutes, until done. Pop out of the pan onto a rack to cool. So good served with fresh butter.

ingredient tip::
Bananas are at the top of my list to buy organic. Commercially grown bananas not only are grown in not very environment/worker/wildlife friendly ways, but the end product exposes us to a cocktail of chemicals as well. No thank you. Look for fair-trade organic bananas at your local coop or Whole Foods/Wild Oats type of store!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

whole wheat strawberry-orange muffins.

We have a freezer full of delicious strawberries we picked last June. We have been working our way through them for desserts and smoothies - but there is something extra wonderful about the color, taste and smell of strawberries once January hits. I opened the bag today and the smell was spectacular. Yum.

I used this basic muffin recipe for the base, but tweaked it a bit to add additional liquid so that I could use whole wheat flour rather than all purpose white flour. By using the juice of a mandarin, I got that extra liquid as well as a really good flavor boost. The muffins are so good - the flavor is more like a tea bread...not too sweet. But the texture and crumb is all muffin.

I sprinkled unsweetened organic shredded coconut on top before baking. Nice combination with the strawberries.

::whole wheat strawberry-orange muffins::

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup turbinado (granulated) sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup milk (room temp)
1/4 cup softened butter
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
zest and juice of one organic mandarin (small orange or clementine would be fine too)
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped frozen strawberries
unsweetened shredded organic coconut (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

In a second bowl, beat together the milk, butter, vanilla, and eggs until creamy. Squeeze in the juice and add the zest.

Toss your chopped frozen strawberries (not cut too small, but not whole) into the flour. Turn to coat. Putting the fruit in the flour first will help keep it from sinking to the bottom during baking.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Lightly stir to incorporate. Do not overmix. Let the mix sit a few minutes.

Fill paper muffins cups or a lightly greased muffin tin about 2/3 full. Sprinkle on coconut (optional). Put in the middle rack into your pre-heated oven. Bake about 15-20 minutes...until done.

Makes about 18 normal sized muffins.

If you use normal all purpose flour (and not whole wheat), leave out the mandarin juice (keep the zest if you like) or the batter may be too thin.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

split pea soup.

I love making soups in the winter. I know, I've said it a million times. I just love making a big pot of soup in the slow cooker and having it for lunch for a few days. Packing it for my husband to take to work. To eat for dinner with a bit of freshly baked bread. So good on a cold winter day. I picked up a bag of split peas at our local coop last week and had to make some split pea soup. I think the first time I LIKED split pea soup was in my 20s. Up until then all I knew was the nasty canned stuff my mom kept from 1971 in the back of the pantry. But while at a little cafe in Chicago I tried the soup of the day - an amazing bowl of split pea soup. I knew then how good it could be, and I was hooked!

I know the traditional split pea soup uses a ham hock or chunks of ham, but this smoked bacon version is gooooood. I had gotten some pastured organic smoked bacon from a local farm - the flavor and aroma is amazing - and it just seemed perfect for soup. It is! While the smoked bacon gives a rich flavor, this would make a good veggie soup too...

::split pea soup::

5-6 cups stock (hot)
16 oz. dried split peas
3 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, sliced
2 med. potatoes, chopped
1 lb. smoked bacon*, cut into 1" or so bits

1 Tbsp coconut oil
bay leaf
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
sheet kombu
dash sesame oil
fresh parsley

Into your slow cooker/crock pot, add about 5 cups of your HOT stock and all of the split peas - turn to high to get it going.

Cook your bacon - I like to bake mine to manage the smell throughout the house. I put mine in a small cake pan and into a toaster oven set to 350º/bake. I just cook until it is done. Skillet is fine too. When cooked, cut into small pieces.

In a skillet, add the coconut oil and toss in the garlic and onions. Cook on high until beginning to get translucent. Add to the crock pot. When the bacon is done put that in too - and then add the potatoes, carrots, bay leaf, kombu, a dash of sesame oil (even a dash adds so much flavor!), and about a tsp of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Turn down to LOW, and let cook, stirring occasionally for 3-4 hours. Add a little more stock during cooking if needed...how much you need can vary based on how big your carrots/potatoes are, etc. In the last 30 minutes, pull out the bay leaf and what is left of the kombu sheet - add a handful of freshly chopped parsley. Season with more salt & pepper to taste.

I like to whiz with an immersion blender at the end to really make it more creamy - it blends the flavors, and gives that split pea look and texture. I do like to leave it chunky, so only do it enough to get the liquid to thicken a bit. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can take 1/2 of the liquid and whiz it in a food processor.


ingredient tip::
*When buying pork, be sure to buy pastured. Pastured pigs are not kept in confinement, and are free to root and dig and behave in natural ways with other pigs in the sunshine. Pastured pork is not only more humane for the pigs and better for the environment, but is also better for you. Pastured pork has higher levels of vitamins and Omega-3's. Not to mention it just tastes better. Extra bonus if you can find organic pastured pork. If you live in a farming area go find a farm! The farms where we purchase pork let us go out and visit - see where the animals are raised and walk right up and say hi to the animals (and meet the farmers!) - and we can also buy on farm directly from the farmer.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

dark oatmeal cookies

In my ongoing quest for good whole wheat flour cookies, I have also headed into the realm of oatmeal. I love the texture of oats, but don't really like using the quick oats, and don't like when cookies are too sugary tasting. This recipe turned out great. The dark sugars and molasses work well with the oats and whole wheat flour too - making a very rich robust chewy cookie (lots of flavor) that is soft fresh out of the oven and yet doesn't fall apart when stored. Even my 5 year old who doesn't like seeds or chunks in his food ate some - they smell so good!

::dark oatmeal cookies::

1 3/4 cup steel cut oats (not quick oats)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/4 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup turbinado (or granulated) sugar

1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp molasses

Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. In a mixer/Kitchen Aid, mix together sugars and butter until creamy. Add in egg, molasses, and vanilla - mixing a little in between each addition. Scoop in the dry ingredients from the bowl a bit at a time on low-med until all incorporated.

On a lined cookie sheet drop 1-2 tablespoon sized balls a few inches apart. Put into a pre-heated 375º oven (middle rack) for 10-11 minutes until golden brown! If you like them softer, pull out a minute early - if they are going in a cookie jar, leave them in the full time. Let sit on pan for 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack.

ingredient tip::
Even a little bit of good quality molasses is a good thing. In addition to providing quickly assimilated carbohydrates, blackstrap molasses can increase your energy by helping to replenish your iron stores - blackstrap molasses is a very good source of iron. Blackstrap molasses is also an excellent source of manganese and copper and a good source of iron, calcium, vitamin B6, potassium, selenium and magnesium.