Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Nearly as fresh as you can get

It's been ages since I posted here. I've been busy this summer, though still enjoying my food!

Tonight, I needed to make a quickie dinner. Adam threw some water on for pasta, and I raided the CSA share and our garden. I chopped up:

2 fairytale eggplants (from the garden)
1 onion (from the CSA)
2 cloves of garlic (CSA)
1 tomato (farmer's market)
a bunch of basil and parsley (garden)

and sauteed it in olive oil, salt, and pepper. When the pasta was done, I threw it all together and dinner was done!

I also made some iced tea using loose black tea and mint from the garden, and I made a salad for the side using an itty bitty cabbage, some fennel fronds, a bit of fennel stem, and small yellow tomatoes, all from the CSA. I added salt, pepper & and a commercial dressing (an organic red wine vinaigrette) because I was out of time and we were hungry!

All in all, a nice, quick dinner made almost entirely from fresh & local ingredients! Yay!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2011 CSA, Week 2

It's week 2 of the PVF CSA, and the shares are getting a bit bigger! This week we were told to choose 7 including at least one herb. We also have an egg share Today, we chose:

1 giant zucchini
a bunch of baby leeks
1 very large fennel bulb with fronds
a bag of lemon basil
a bunch of swiss chard
a bunch of kale
a small box of red & yellow cherry tomatoes

And of course a 1/2 dozen eggs.

We still have a little bit of the salad greens from last week, as well as some of the turnips. This is one thing that I really like about the market style CSA. If we just had a regular mini share, we might have ended up with more turnips or salad greens, which we really don't need right now. We picked items that we did not get last week, with the exception of the chard (which is so universally liked in this house that it only seems right to get more), so we should not find ourselves with too much of one item that we don't necessarily want a lot of. Now, as for the fennel, it's one of my husband's favorite things in the world, so as long as they look good, we'll probably continue getting them.

It was good to see that the number went up this week from 6 items to 7, and I can appreciate that they wanted you to take at least one herb.

We got a recipe for grilled fennel; I think I'll make it later in the week with fish and using the fronds to help season the fish. The kale will likely become chips. The chard, well, we'll see how we're feeling but I'm thinking egg pie :)

Oh and the kids totally went for the tomatoes. I had to grab the box away before they did to the tomatoes what they did to the peas last week!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What to do with Swiss Chard

If you belong to a vegetable CSA in Northern Virginia, you probably get a lot of swiss chard. I know we do! I am pretty sure we get chard all summer long, in fact.

So what to do with all of that chard? Well, first of all, know how it cooks up: unlike with some other greens, you can eat the stems. They have a similar texture to celery. If you get rainbow chard, you can end up with white, green, red, orange, and yellow stems, which can cook up really beautifully! The leaves are usually green but can be red as well. As with most greens, you can cook them up nicely with garlic & olive oil or butter.

But for something other than a side dish, you can try some Swiss Chard & Chicken Quesadillas for starters.

Or make some Swiss Chard pies! Here's a recipe:

Preheat oven to 350

Make your favorite pie crust. Or look online for a tasty crust and make it. Roll it out to 1/8" and cut into 6" rounds.  Or, go get a refrigerated pie crust (not frozen!) and cut that into smaller rounds. Set these aside.

For the filler, you'll need:
1 bunch swiss chard
1 garlic curl or 2 cloves garlic
some onion or spring onion or scallion tops
3 slices of bacon, cooked & crumbled
about 1T maple syrup
about 1T wine or apple cider vinegar

Chop everything, keeping the chard stems separate from the leaves. Saute the chard stems, onion (or scallion), and garlic (or curls) in a little olive oil until they start to soften. Add the chard leaves, salt & pepper, and saute until everything is wilted. Remove from heat and add in the bacon, syrup, & vinegar.

Now, take your mini pie rounds. Add some of the mix, fold over, and crimp with a fork. Repeat for the rest of the rounds. If you have any leftover mix, refrigerate it for later use. You can always make more pie crust or use it in another recipe. Pierce tops of the pies to release steam. You may want to do an egg wash on these but it's not strictly necessary. Place on a baking stone or cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Delicious!

If you have leftovers, use them for breakfast! reheat them in a pan in the morning and add some eggs for a tasty omelette. You can use the same mix to go into a quiche or Egg Pie (just remove the squash/onion/garlic curl pesto from that recipe and replace with the mix from this one!)

You can generally use Swiss Chard in any recipe that calls for spinach, just remember that the chard will take a little longer to cook.

Do you have a favorite swiss chard recipe?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

2011 CSA, Week 1

Once again, we decided to do our CSA with Potomac Vegetable Farms, and I have to say, I could not be happier. Well, I could be a little happier if we had had the money to do the regular share this year, but instead we did the mini share, because we were poor in February when we had to pay for it. It's ok though! Because PVF will have a farm stand later in the summer, and they are at the Reston Farmer's Market on Saturdays as well.

This year, they are doing an experiment, having the Wednesday group do a "market style" CSA.  They set up the CSA room like a farm stand, and you get to pick your items. You get to choose based on your share size. So today, minis got to take 6 items, regulars got to take 8, and robust shares got to take 12. I took the kids in to the room and it was amazing! We also got eggs again this year because they are the best eggs ever. Micah decided he wanted:

kohlrabi (he picked a purple one). He did not know what it was but I told him it tasted like broccoli stems so he thought that would be a good pick.
salad turnips (it was a pint sized container with small salad turnips)
sugar snap peas
a bag of salad greens
a bunch of garlic curls
a bunch of swiss chard

Plus of course we picked up our eggs. Seeing the other items made me wish we could have had the regular share, because they had zucchini, leeks, spring onions, spring garlic, and a ton of herbs. But we're growing our own herbs this year, and like I said, we can supplement with the farm market this weekend. In fact, I had picked up spring onions and garlic at the market last week, so we actually did have some already.

Hana, who is the woman who runs the CSA, was present in the room when we were picking up, making sure everyone knew what to do since it was the first week. When I told Micah that there was swiss chard, he said, "Oh YES! I love Swiss Chard! It's my FAVORITE!!" She got a big kick out of that, and said "Oh my gosh, then you're with the right CSA!" It's a big joke among PVF people that we start and end very very leafy.

If the amounts of food are anything like last year, we should have more picks as the summer goes on. I'm really looking forward to it!

Oh and by the way, the sugar snap peas are already gone. We ate them for lunch with sandwiches. I got 5 of them and the kids ate all the rest.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Eggs

Wow, it's been a while since I wrote anything here. Hi!

It's just about Easter, and this year, we decided to try to dye eggs using natural dyes!

Eggs dyed without pellets!
I had tried this many years ago with little luck, but this time, I had the internet! So, to add to the collected knowledge, I am sharing what I did.

Blue Eggs

Hard boil eggs first and set aside
Chop up one head of red cabbage, place in a pot, and cover with 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 40 minutes. Strain into a bowl and keep the cabbage for eating (I just added salt & pepper and it was tasty). Add 2T vinegar and 2T salt to the mix and stir.

Add eggs carefully to the bowl and allow to sit overnight. They come out this gorgeous cobolt color. You can take them out sooner and be a lighter shade of blue. Note that the color does scratch so be careful! You can see some places where I scratched mine as I took them out of the dye bath.

Red Eggs

Hard boil eggs first and set aside.
Chop up three large beets or equivalent (peel them first so they will be tasty for eating). Place in a big pot and add 1.5 quarts of water, a big splash of vinegar, and a couple tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer for an hour. Remove Beets. (They will now be partially pickled and you can just add more seasoning to them for a tasty side dish.)

Add a splash more vinegar to the beet water, and add eggs to the water. In about an hour you'll have light pink eggs, and after 5 hours you'll have dark pink eggs like in the picture. Remove carefully. They don't scratch as badly as the blue but they are prone to fingerprints.

Yellow Eggs.

Hard boil eggs first and set aside

OK, so I tried to do this with collard greens and it was a disaster. Don't do that. Instead, boil water and add 2T vinegar, 2T salt, and about 1/4 cup of turmeric. Stir well and cool a bit, then add eggs. In 2 hours they will be a fairly bright yellow.

Orange Eggs


You will need the papery part of onion skins. I used yellow onions for this. You should probably use muslin or cheese cloth too, but I used viva paper towels. No kidding. But they were perforated and 2 of them broke. So don't do that. Use muslin or cheese cloth.

Lay out a piece of muslin or cheese cloth. Take your raw egg and rub it down with vinegar (thanks for the tip, Martha Stuart!)  Lay out a big piece of onion skin and place the egg on top. cover the rest of the egg with onion skin. Too much is OK. Too little is not so OK. Pull up all of the sides of the cloth and tie with a piece of string. place in water in a pan for boiling. When they are all done, start the water and allow to cook for about 20-25 minutes. Remove, cut strings, pull out eggs from the oniony mess. I hope that I get the chance in the future to do these right. Even with doing them wrong, they still came out a lovely shade of orange!

If you do any of these please let me know how they come out!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This post is not about food! It's about Holiday Cards!

It's true. I am writing about something other than food. Because Shutterfly is offering free photo cards to people who blog about which of their new holiday card styles they like. And since I was going to order cards from them anyway, well, you get the picture! Many thanks to Lady Ozma, who told me about this.

So for those of you who think I'm just spamming about Shutterfly, you, too, can blog about what cards you like and get 50 free ones. Info here:

So here we go. I've actually been using Shutterfly for years. I have 2 Shutterfly share sites to share pictures with my family, and I make books just about every year. I have sent cards from them for birth announcements, Christmas, and birthdays.

I have also made calendars and note cards over the years. One year, I did a calendar of our trip to Hawaii, and gave it to my parents for Christmas (since they love Hawaii too). Another year, I did a calendar of our trip on the San Juan River. Still another year, I had a really cool idea: I got a bunch of blank note cards using photos of flowers I took in Hawaii. I probably had 5 different photos and got 15 of each. Then I put together my own packs of stationery, so everyone got a few of each photo and envelopes to go with them. They made a great extra gift for everyone, and I still receive them occasionally when people use them as thank you notes.

This year, they have a bunch of new Holiday Cards. Here are some of my favorites:
Love this one. First, it's got that handmade card look, without me having to cut out little trees. And it says Happy Holidays, which makes it more universal, especially for my family. And you can have a picture on the inside as well as the outside! Hooray.
Again, we've got season's greetings, which may be a cop-out for those who don't want to send out 6 different kinds of holiday cards. But still, love the places for all of the photos. It's kind of like a combined card and letter. Sweet. I'm also a big fan of the agey scrapbooky look.
This one gives a donation to the American Lung Association, which is a good thing. It's also simple and elegant.
I have a thing for snowflakes, and I love this one. Simple, elegant, and in blue and silver. I am pretty sure I am going to use this one myself, except that the kids are all wearing green in the pictures this year. We'll have to see how it looks.

For a somewhat less expensive option, you can go for the flat cards. I love this one:
It makes me joyful.

If you want the links to the main parts of the site that you'll need, here they are:

Christmas Cards
Christmas Photo Cards

Finally, they do still have the old style photo cards, but I do love the new 5x7 cards so much. I absolutely love that you can write whatever you want on the inside, from a one-liner to a short letter. I was planning on just sending off a single photo but now that I have seen these cards, we'll be sending out something much much cooler. So go check it out! And do forgive the trip away from food for a while.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kitchen Update

So many people are asking for an update, so here it is.

We had a bit of a regression with the kitchen.

We decided that we really did not like the cabinet above the sink. It was hanging too low, and we could not put in the faucet that we wanted. We finally decided that we are going to take it out and replace it with 2 different cabinets. We went to Ikea yesterday to pick up these new cabinets and return the unusable doors.

We have to modify the over-microwave cabinet, as it is also too low hanging, and we would not be able to put a big pot on the stove (to make, for instance, pasta or beer). So that cabinet needs to come down and be modified. We returned those doors as well and will do a lift-up as we are doing for the modified over-fridge cabinet.

Speaking of the over-fridge cabinet, the hinge solution we had was not working very well. We need to find a new solution for this one as well as the over-microwave cabinet.

We are getting another pull-out spice rack, this time for the 6" space above the other one that we put in. I need to order it.

We found a good solution for the doors for the pull-outs--we will be using 2 6" x 15" drawer fronts. I was hoping to find a 6" x 30" drawer front to use, but Ikea doesn't make it. It's ok. It'll look good (and better than just using filler wood)

Because we have to re-do the over fridge cabinet, we have to wait to attach the cover panel that goes from it to the floor, to the lower cabinet on the other side. Because of that we can't get the granite yet.

So, everything is related to something else. We're getting it done, but there's been some bumps. Meanwhile, these are really end-of-project problems, so we're hoping we can get it all done soon.