Saturday, September 18, 2010

csa box:: week 14

csa box week 14:: lovage, parsley, onions, bell & banana peppers, acorn & butternut squash, sweet potatoes, head lettuce, kale, garlic, broccoli and a few tomatoes

extras, week 14:: butternut squash, onions, dill, parsley, mushrooms, leeks


It seems like this year would have been a good growing year - hot and wet - but we've been feeling like we are missing some things this year in our CSA boxes. Very very (very) few tomatoes, not many herbs, and no beans! It is interesting to see how things change from year to year!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

csa box:: week 13

CSA Box Week 13:: spinach, lettuce (2 types), onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, sage, melon, squash and a sunflower.

Extras:: onions, garlic, mushrooms, butternut squash (soup!).

Monday, September 6, 2010

sunflower butter cookies.

Peanut butter cookies are a favorite in this house, but today we wanted something different...sunflower butter cookies! I adapted our favorite tried and true PB cookie recipe and sure enough, super delicious - slightly crispy with a little chewiness. Perfect! We will definitely make these again.

1 c. unsalted butter, room temp
1 c. creamy sunflower butter (a nut butter would be fine too!!)
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar (I used raw sugar)
2 eggs
1 Tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. finely ground whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp finely ground sea salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Cream together the butter, nut butter and sugars. Then beat in the eggs, molasses and extract.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Stir that into the batter. Mix well and then refrigerate for a bit.

Roll into 1-inch balls and place on a baking sheet. Flatten each ball with a fork - classic peanut butter cookie pattern.

Bake at 375ºF for about 10-11 minutes or so. Cool on a rack.

sunflower seeds/butter:: In addition to linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid), sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, some amino acids, Vitamin E, B Vitamins (especially vitamin B1 or thiamine, vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid and folate), and minerals such as copper, manganese, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, selenium, calcium and zinc. Additionally, they are rich in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

csa box:: week 12

CSA Box, Week 12:: onions, carrots, variety of peppers and tomatoes, delicata squash, garlic, two types of lettuce, kale, eggplant, zucchini, cilantro

With sick boys this week I didn't get extras for canning/preserving, but I have been craving a good carrot soup, so loaded up on orange goodness.

extras:: carrots, spinach, mushrooms, cilantro, garlic

Monday, August 30, 2010

csa box:: week 11

I had a sick little boy in the house last week, so I am a few days behind posting last weeks CSA box. You can tell we are getting to end of summer!

in the box this week:: a variety of tomatoes and peppers, a leek, summer squash, beets, kale, tomatillos, carrots, melon and beans.

extras this week:: slicing tomatoes, melon, parlsey, mushrooms!

What was in your last CSA box?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

csa box: week 10

This week is the half way mark for our CSA season - so much goodness still to come!

in the box this week:: pears, variety of tomatoes, purple cabbage, 3 kinds of peppers, lettuce, garlic, basil, parsley, delicata squash, yellow squash, melon, sweet corn

extras:: carrots, basil, mushrooms

What is in your box this week?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

red raspberry time.

They are here! While just beginning to ripen, I see a lot of red raspberries in our future. Jams, jellies, frozen...

I love how easy raspberries are to grow, how little space you really need for a decent return, and how delicious they are picked right from your own back yard. Yum.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

CSA Box:: Week 9

Another week another great box!

In the box this week:: watermelon, beets, cucumber, banana & jalapeno peppers, summer squash/zucchini, a variety of tomatoes, sweet corn, carrots, lettuce, garlic

extras:: onions, garlic, parsley, mushrooms, and...a case of tomatoes

While I didn't necessarily like our previous CSA farm any less just because the pickup was at a delivery point in town (someones garage), for me there is just something more substantial and more real to picking up right at the farm. I always love walking through the barn, counting or weighing each item, and putting it into my box. The boys help me with the box, weigh things, write on the chalkboard, chat with the farm person, and hunt for bugs in the flowers. And each week we can see what 'extras' are available - garlic, onions, pickling cucumbers, sweet corn, tomatoes - always enough for canning and preserving!

This week we picked up a case of tomatoes - cracked/ripe. As soon as we got home I rinsed them all off, cored them, and popped them into my large canning pot to simmer away.

We have a lot of tomatoes growing in our garden, but with a small yard never enough to make everything we want for the winter, so we always pick up extras. We make pizza sauce, ketchup, pasta sauce, caponata, and more. And as we go through the end of the season we freeze diced tomatoes, make lots of salsa and can whole tomatoes. There is something very satisfying about going from garden or farm to pot to canning jar. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way, and that I am not the only one who had tomato seeds plastered all over the kitchen this week. :) Ahhh, summer!

What is in your CSA box this week? What are you harvesting from your garden?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

home made vanilla extract.

One of the easiest things to make at home is vanilla extract. Most recipes call for the more common use of vodka and vanilla beans to make vanilla extract. While that makes a liquid that tastes just like what you buy at the store, I like making mine with dark rum. The rich aroma and mild sweetness really adds a nice fat vanilla essence to baked goodies. It is very very easy, and after you make your own, you won't ever want to buy bottles from the store again!

I make it in small batches, but you can easily double/triple if you want.

1 cup good quality dark rum (you can use a lighter rum if you prefer)
2 whole fresh vanilla beans
pint canning jar & lid

Put the rum into your canning jar. Slice the vanilla pods in half, and remove the seeds with the edge of your knife. Add the seeds to the jar. Plop the vanilla pod right into the jar alongside what you scraped off. Put the lid on the jar, and shake hard. Label the lid and put a date on it and place it in a dark cabinet at room temp. Let sit for a month minimum, shaking it from time to time. After a month, I start using it - and I keep the pods in the jar so that the flavor continues to develop. The flavor intensifies if you let it sit longer (3 months+). You can wait longer before using, but I find that I get the full vanilla extract aroma in a month or two!

I like the organic vanilla beans from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are plump and moist - not the hard dried out things you find at your grocery store - and their prices are great!

Monday, August 9, 2010

rum cherry compote.

I have a sweet surprise to share with you. One of my favorite summer fruits is cherries. We always buy both sweet and sour cherries when they are in season - to eat fresh, can, and freeze. We have made this a few times already in the past few is so good over pound cake (my favorite combo was over coconut pound cake - oh yes), with ice cream, and would be great with a good pancake. This is an adult cherry reduction that is oh, so, good.

I started by pitting and slicing in half about 1 cup of sweet cherries. Put them in a canning jar, add about 1 Tbsp of honey or a raw sugar, and fill just to cover the cherries with dark rum. I added the seeds and pod of 1/3 a vanilla bean - you could also just add 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. Let soak for a few hours.

Pour the mixture in a small saucepan, and turn heat to high. Bring it to a boil and keep it rolling for a minute or two. Turn down to medium (stir!), and let simmer for another 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it - it should be simmering, not boiling. This cooks off the alcohol a bit, softens the cherries, and reduces the liquid to a nice syrupy consistency.

Let cool a little and serve! There is a nice round aroma of the rum, but without any alcohol mouth burn. Such a rich cherry flavor - and not too sweet. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

in the kitchen.

While I love trying new recipes and often do, for a lot of my canning and fermenting, I do still rely on my trusted/tested recipes. Here are a few things we are making this summer, which I have made many times before.

lacto-fermented pickles:
Not vinegar based, nice and crunchy, mildly salty, not twangy like vinegar pickles.
lacto-fermented garlic::
I basically use the recipe from Nourishing Traditions. Take up to about 12 heads of garlic, remove the outer skin and then bake the cloves in an oven until the rest of the skin can easily be removed. The garlic is not mushy soft, but slightly soft and aromatic and beginning to look less opaque. Put the cloves in a clean jar. Mix together a few teaspoons of dried herbs (I used dried oregano and rosemary from my garden), 2 teaspoons of sea salt, 2 tablespoons of whey, and about 1/2 cup of water (If you don't have whey, increase salt to 4 tsp). Pour the liquid over the garlic, and add more water if the garlic isn't covered. Screw lid on tightly, keep at room temp for about 2-3 days, then put in the fridge. I crunch on these like they are candy. More mild garlic flavor, and oh so good.
refrigerator pickles::
A vinegar based fridge pickle. Great for small batches.
purple kraut::
I like having more than one type of kraut, and this is a nice mild version which is great as a side dish.

I have a few recipes coming up that I have promised :: pickled beets, pickled daikon, and freezer pickles!

Friday, August 6, 2010

CSA Box: week 8

With no other clues, I would be able to tell it was August by just the contents of my CSA box. The box, so heavy was practically dragged along, much heavier than I am 'supposed' to carry. Once home, the counters loaded, the dehydrator packed, the fridge full, and pots going to blanch and freeze. CSA day is much more than a pickup, it is also cleaning, sorting, preserving, and planning the week ahead!

In the box this week:: 2 types of onions, cabbage, garlic, beets, summer squash, 2 types of lettuce, banana peppers, green peppers, jalapeno pepper, basil, sweet corn, melon, swiss chard, cucumbers, and many kinds of tomatoes!

We are heading out for a few day 'staycation' so I didn't get much extra this week as I won' t have time for food preservation this weekend. So the only extras are mushrooms, garlic, parsley, and oregano!

What was in your CSA box this week, or what is in season in your garden?

Thursday, August 5, 2010


This is the time of year when we are plucking ripe tomatoes from the vine just about every day, but we are not yet in buckets-full for sauces or canning. There is nothing better than a sliced tomato, warm from the garden, with just a sprinkling of sea salt and a grind of pepper. I often stand at the counter after coming in from the garden, sampling the tomatoes (I love to grow new varieties every year).

As the early weeks go on, I make tomato salads, add tomatoes to dinner, toss together small batches of salsa, and of course start to make panzanella. A Panzenella uses good stale bread, which just soaks up the flavors and cuts the acidity of the tomatoes. It is a perfect summer salad.

To make the 'croutons':
I use bread that is hard - usually a French baguette, or a nice Italian rustic loaf. Slice the bread, lightly coat in olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and toast in a toaster oven for 5 or so minutes. When out of the toaster, cut into cubes (if you don't have a toaster oven, a regular oven set to 350ºF is fine). If you can cut your bread into cubes from the start - go for it. I find that baguettes in particular can be hard to cut when stale, and the toasting with olive oil makes them crispy, but easier to cut.

2 large or 3-4 medium slicing tomatoes, cubed
1 small mild onion, very thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
3 cups of croutons
3-4 Tbsp good balsamic vinegar
5 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt & pepper to taste
10-15 basil leaves - depending on how big/variety of basil you have, sliced
a few sprigs of parsley, chopped

Make your croutons. While they are in the toaster, cut your tomatoes, garlic and onions and put into a large bowl, sprinkle with a pinch of salt to get the tomato juices going. Add the balsamic and olive oil. When the croutons are out of the toaster and have cooled, toss them in with the bowl of ingredients. Make sure you toss/stir for a few minutes, to be sure that the croutons are evenly coated in the tomato/oil/vinegar mix. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Let sit for about 10 minutes, stirring here and there. Add the parsley and basil and stir. Taste, and add more salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately!

Other good additions to a panzanella:: sliced cucumber or peppers.

This is not an exact recipe - depending on how big or how juicy your tomatoes are you can tweak how much vinegar/oil you add to get your bread to soak it up nicely. It should soak in fully, but not have a lot of standing liquid. If your tomatoes are small or more meaty than juicy, just add an extra one!

Monday, August 2, 2010

summer cabbage.

While I love making sauerkraut, when we are getting one head of cabbage at a time in our CSA box I often find that head of cabbage sitting on my counter longer than I would like. One of my favorite recipes that uses that whole cabbage head is my take on a German style Apples & Cabbage. It tastes great as a side dish fresh out of the pot steamy hot, and is also good the next day cold from the fridge.

4 cups thinly sliced red or green cabbage
2 1/2 cups peeled/sliced apples (tart)
1 large sliced red onion
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider or beer (I use hard cider)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds & coriander seeds, ground (or you could go more traditional and use caraway seeds)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of nutmeg
ground fresh pepper to taste

Put the cabbage, apples, onion and cider/beer into a saucepan. Cover and cook on medium heat until everything is tender, about 5-10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir, reduce heat to simmer, and cook another 30 minutes. Add more beer/cider if needed to keep everything from sticking to the pan. Season to taste.


Did you know :: Red cabbage contains a lot more protective phytonutrients than white cabbage, and "The vitamin C equivalent, a measure of antioxidant capacity, of red cabbages is six to eight times higher than that of white cabbage." Red cabbage may be beneficial in prevention of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. In addition to being packed with Vitamin C, red cabbage is a good source of fiber, manganese, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids and a decent source of thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), calcium, potassium, magnesium, and even vitamin A!

Friday, July 30, 2010

CSA Box: week 7

It is sweet corn time in Wisconsin. Huge signs at every road side farm stand, poster board signs at the end of farm driveways, piles of it. It comes for only a few weeks, so we try to stock up enough to freeze for the winter. We love getting it in our CSA box too - so fresh and sweet you can practically eat it raw.

In the box this week: sweet corn, turnips, beets, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, head lettuce, onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes, slicing tomato, nasturtium blossoms.

Extras this week: mushrooms, garlic, onions, sage, parsley, thyme.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

CSA Box; week 6

The heat, sun and rain have been going all July and we are finally seeing some hot weather veggies!

This week: beets, dill heads, head lettuce, summer squash, daikon radishes, cucumbers, onions, garlic, pepper, broccoli.

Extras this week: cherry tomatoes, onions, garlic, thyme & mushrooms.

Monday, July 19, 2010

CSA Box.

Oh, I'm behind on my CSA posts! As many of you may know, my back (the one with two herniated discs) went 'out' again and I've been nursing it back to bearable for the past few weeks. I like to eat quick and fresh in the summer to take advantage of just picked produce, but with the back things were even more simplified. We have been having salads and stir-fry - whatever I can make quickly and easily. Of course how much fresher can you get with boxes of organic veggies from our CSA farm or something yummy picked from the garden.

This past weekend I was able to spend some time catching up on small batch fermenting - I have jars of garlic and beets lacto-fermenting on my counter - and made another batch of currant jelly and several quarts of my back healing bone broth. I even have several recipes I tested that turned out great. With several pounds of pickling cucumbers in my fridge, I know what I am doing today as well!

While I do have several recipes to share this week, I want to catch up on my CSA boxes for the past 2 weeks.

CSA Box:: July 8

Beets, broccoli, beans, romaine, head lettuce, spring onions, parsley, peas, garlic, peppers, summer squash, and a pint of raspberries!

CSA box:: July 15

Swiss chard, cucumbers, broccoli, onions, garlic, beets, chives, basil, head lettuce, summer squash, yellow beans.

And, feeling like I could handle more time in the kitchen this week, my extras included dill heads, pickling cucumbers, onions, cabbage, beets and mushrooms.

If you have a CSA, what is in season where you are??

Saturday, July 3, 2010

honey balsamic reduction.

Like just about everywhere, we are in the end of the fresh strawberry season. We are not picking enough for any big recipe, but love having a hand full for dessert in the evening. One of my favorite combos is balsamic vinegar, strawberries and whipped cream. It is super simple and so good.

::honey balsamic reduction::
1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp raw honey

Bring these two to a boil in a pot, reduce heat and simmer until reduced by about half (10 minutes or so). Take off the heat - it will thicken as it cools. Drizzle over fresh strawberries.

My favorite whipped cream is done by hand. I think using a big bowl gives you room for a better stroke and it doesn't take as long when using a whisk. I like to whip about a cup of heavy cream in with the seeds from about one half of a vanilla bean. Just as it is starting to thicken, I add a drizzle of honey and finish whipping to the desired thickness. Add a dollop of this over your balsamic strawberries - oh yes, it is REALLY good.

Friday, July 2, 2010

csa box: week 3

With parks, picnics, bike riding and playing with the neighbors in the alley I didn't post this yesterday.

So, here is our box for this week:: purple beans, basil, spring onions, fresh garlic, romaine, head lettuce, fennel, beets, cabbage, snap peas

I made a veggie soup last night (oh so good) since I had a fridge full of homemade stock. I don't like following a recipe with soups - in particular vegetable soup - I use what I have. Garlic, onions, peas, beets, mushrooms, broccoli, just cut herbs, fresh stock. Nothing else needed but some salt & pepper and a simmer!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

csa box: week 2!

We went through our first box quickly - I'm excited to see beets in this box, and while I normally buy as many extra beets as are available each week so I can make my favorite pickled beets, this weekend we have visitors, so I'm trying to keep my workload on the food front down. I have a bunch of fresh herbs and I plan to dry about half of them as well as make a batch of pickled daikon. Yum.

In our box this week:: beets, new garlic, kohlrabi, dill, snap peas, snow peas, broccoli, kale, romaine, leaf lettuce, daikon

My extras this week are:: mix of mushrooms, marjoram, lavender, sage, parsley, bag of basil

We are drying another bunch of lavender to make more goodies -- this week we made lavender bath salts & lavender sugar, and plan to make more of the bath salts as well as lavender honey this week. I think scones are in my future!

Friday, June 18, 2010

garlic scape pesto.

1 cup chopped garlic scapes
4-5 sprigs parsley (or basil)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon
(1/3 cup pine nuts optional)

In your food processor whiz the garlic scapes & parsley together until they lie flat in the bottom (10-15 seconds). Add the olive oil, lemon and Parmesan cheese one at a time until it looks like pesto. ;) You may need to add a bit more oil if you have big scapes. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Some recipes call for pine nuts or walnuts (about 1/4 - 1/3 cup) but I like the base recipe without. Why? I like using this as a base for many things, and it is easier for me to tweak the basic pesto for each recipe!
  • Of course it is awesome as a pesto on pasta (if you want the nuts, add roasted pine nuts when you toss it with pasta).
  • It makes a great base for salad dressings (just add more olive oil & a squeeze of lemon to thin and toss into your salad).
  • It is wonderful as a condiment on burgers/brats/grilled veggies.
  • It is a delicious dressing for steamed veggies like peas, swiss chard, spinach, etc. (after steaming, toss in bowl with the pesto...yum).
  • It makes a great dip for veggies or pretzels...mix with some fresh sour cream!
  • Use it instead of red sauce on pizza.
  • Make it using ramps (instead of scapes) in early spring...oh yeah.

I like making a lot of something at a time - it really makes it easier to just get a bunch done at once. From there, I can freeze small batches, store it in canning jars in the fridge, and of course use some immediately for dinner. It is pretty easy to double/triple this recipe during scapes season - we got some in our CSA box, and found them for sale by the bag full at our neighborhood farmer's market!

Scapes are part of the garlic plant, so contain the same health benefits as the cloves, such as immune system booster and inflammation reliever as well as good calcium, vitamin c iron and even protein! They just have a milder flavor than their bulby base.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

CSA box :: week one!

It has begun! Today was our first CSA box of the season. I love the farm we get our share from, and just the process of going, picking up our vegetables, saying "hi" to everyone there we haven't seen since last fall, and being outside at the barn...ahhhh, I can finally feel like summer is beginning.

Today in our CSA box::

romaine lettuce, fennel, swiss chard, spring onions, fresh garlic, peas, cilantro, kohlrabi, garlic scapes, fresh flowers, and...

...a bowl full of cherries. yum.

I always pick up a few extras:: kohlrabi, parsley, cilantro, lavender, and nasturtium blossoms.

I love how the garden picks up right when our CSA shares start...I know it is the start of eating a wide variety of fresh veggies and planning meals around what has been picked (or picked up) today - love it!

Tomorrow:: recipe for garlic scape pesto!!!!