Monday, November 29, 2010

Baby wants ziti

Pasta Bolognese. Spaghetti and meatballs. And yes, even spaghettios. This baby wants it all. I can't get enough of tomato based sauces with meat and pasta. Today, at about 4:30 pm, I got an overwhelming craving for baked ziti...but not the baked ziti from the pizza joint down the street. I wanted homemade, melty, tasty baked ziti. So I found this recipe and went for it, mainly because it had the added benefit of spinach. Gotta get that folic acid, ya know.

The best part of this venture was that I got to use my first batch of tomatoes that I canned over the summer. They pureed into a perfect marinara with the addition of tomato paste, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders, and just a tiny bit of sugar.

Our first winter CSA pickup is this Saturday! Pickup is every other weekend, but each pickup comes with dairy, a meat, and some other type of prepared food. Some weeks will have milk, which I'm assuming will be raw milk. Looks like I'm going to be doing some cooking with milk, or having some serious talks with the OB about raw milk and pregnancy. *sigh*

Monday, November 22, 2010

This is not the end

So the last week of the CSA came and went. We got a variety of root vegetables including turnips and parsnips. Knowing that we'd be outdoing ourselves with poultry later this week, I decided to make my first pot roast and use all of our wintry veggies at once. least the meat was good. Maybe they were in the pot too long, or they weren't cut to the right thickness, or they just weren't meant for this kind of dish, but the veggies didn't pick up the flavor I'd hoped they would and there was too wide of a difference in texture and "done-ness." The meat on the other hand was tasty and done just medium enough to satisfy my pregnant lady requirements. (Normally, I would have preferred it to be a little more red and bloody.)

In a few weeks, our winter CSA should be starting. Our summer CSA was great, but we chose it because we couldn't get a summer share at the place closest to us, where we managed to get ourselves into this year's winter program. Henry Got Crops is a little to far from home for us to do it again next summer, and we had a few snafus with their sort-of-disorganized billing system for staggered payments, but we had bountiful shares each week and there is something very fun about going to the actual farm to pick up our stuff. We won't get that experience with Greensgrow but we WILL get to be just a few blocks from our house, and we'll get the extra goodies like cheeses, dairy, and meats that come with each week's share.

Please feel free to pass on your most exciting potato and cabbage recipes in advance, since I have a feeling we will need them in a few weeks.

And so, I must find ways to pass the time until new CSA adventures pop up. Last year, I baked a loaf of bread every Sunday, so I might start that up again. We also have a room to clean out and make into a nursery. And before any of that, there is the greatest food holiday of all time: Thanksgiving. I'm throwing the "go local" thing out the window in favor of tradition. I'm making the age-old spinach dip, using Knorr's vegetable soup mix. I almost had to use the Lipton brand, this year, and was relieved to find the good stuff in my back-up grocery store. I'm also reviving a custom that my grandmother used to carry out each year - homemade chex mix. My grandmother is still around, but at 86, she finds it tedious to stand over the stove to toss the mix when it needs tossing. I figured I'd take it over for her. These are just "pre-game" contributions to a meal at my aunt's house which will be feeding about 20 people. All the Thanksgiving favorites will be on that table and I (along with my 2nd trimester appetite) can't wait! Oh, and of course, I'm psyched to see the family as well. Here's a list of how I imagine the meal will be:

Onion dip and ridged potato chips (my dad's standard)
Cheese and crackers (ritz and wheat stones, of course)
Shrimp cocktail
Spinach dip (I will bring veggies to dip, but everyone else will stick to the triscuits)
Chex mix

Homemade traditional stuffing
Mashed potatoes
Green bean casserole with the onion crispies on top (we don't always have this but my brother's girlfriend is making it and I'm HAPPY!!!)
Garden salad (with about 50 dressings options since everyone likes something different)
Candied yams
Some other vegetable
Cranberry sauce (probably the canned version, but I LOVE that stuff)

Ritz pie (another grandma specialty - I hate it, everyone else looooves it)
Apple pie
Pumpkin pie
Ice box cake (I hope - this is the greatest dessert ever)

What's going to be on your Thanksgiving table?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Going old school

So next week is our last pickup for this CSA. I'm sad that it's over, but glad to be free for a couple weeks before the Winter CSA at Greensgrow starts up. My appetite and desire to do anything more than sleep returned a few weeks ago, right at the start of my crazy work travel schedule, so this is the first weekend where I feel ready to do some serious food experimentation and actually have the time to do it. Below is the list for this week, as well as a few items from last week that are still good.

Daikon radish
Bok choy
Two different lettuce mixes
One head of butter lettuce
Collard greens
A TON of carrots
Butternut squash

I found what looks like a cool recipe for overnight pickled daikon radish, and I do love the quick pickling recipes! All of the wintry rooty veggies are going to be part of a nice slow cooker stew this weekend. The greens are easy to use up, too. But sunchokes. SUNCHOKES. Not quite sure what to do with this one. I know they are hip and a quick google gave me a good recipe, but if any of you out in the blogosphere have advice, please give it!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eating..but not Chicago

And the work travel continues.

I did Boston for a couple days - which included a semi-private tour of Fenway for a work event and a delicious lunch at my favorite Beacon Hill Hotel.

After Boston, I spent almost a week in Los Angeles. It was my first introduction to how pregnancy can really take a toll on your stamina when traveling cross country and running to an average of five meetings each day. One meeting was a very late, but deliciously decadent, dinner at the new and outrageously too-hip-for-the-likes-of-me Red O Restaurant in West Hollywood. The paparazzi outside was sort of a guilty treat, as was the spotting of Top Chef regular Hubert Keller, who was on his way out of dinner as I was heading in. Oh and yes, there was good food, too. Traditional Mexican flavors with rich meats and just-right portions made it clear that even tacos can be gourmet. The next day, I managed to get up for an early breakfast meeting (and another awesome lunch at Elements Kitchen in Pasadena) but crashed as soon as my meetings were over at 4 pm. I wandered over to a Wolfgang Puck Bistro by my hotel for dinner, figuring that it wasn't going to be fancy but that it would at least provide better nutrition options than the nearby Carl's Jr. I was disappointed by the caesar salad (who just throws a few full leaves of romaine in a to-go container and calls it a salad?) but the spaghetti bolognese more than made up for it. I fell asleep at 6:45 PST with a belly full of spaghetti and a world series game on the TV and didn't wake up until morning.

I am currently in Chicago on a half-fun-half-work trip. The husband is a U of C graduate, so we are both here for the weekend to see college friends from both of our undergrads. It's been quite a food weekend, so I'll give the highlights...

  • Our first meal was post-airport at the Pork Shoppe, when we rendez-vous'd with our friends and hosts for the weekend. Almost all of us had the pulled pork sandwich, and it was certainly a delight. But the highlight of the meal was the side of cole slaw. I'm not a slaw girl, but wanted to get some form of veggie in that night. The slaw was considerably un-mayo-y, just the way I like it, and had plenty of carrots as well as raisins and apple chunks. Savory and sweet and perfect.
  • The most anticipated trip was the one we took yesterday morning: Hot Doug's. We've been before, but since their options change so often, it is always a new experience. The line can be intimidating (and cold), but you endure the wait for their special fries which are cooked in rendered duck fat and only served on Friday and Saturday. The husband and I happily chowed down on five separate meat dogs in a variety of flavors, including kangaroo, apple chicken, buffalo, and others. There was one with fig mustard, and the cheeses on all of the items were a variety of grandiose that can not truly be explained in mere words. Get thee to this place if you can.
  • Dinner was a delicious Thai meal at Opart Thai in Lincoln Square. Philadelphia has a severe lack of serviceable Thai restaurants, unless you venture out to the suburbs. I usually just withhold my Thai food cravings until we can get to our old standby, Joya, in Brooklyn. But Opart definitely gave Joya a run for its money, even though I stand by my belief that nothing can beat Joya's beef pad see yu. Ever.
  • Breakfast today was at Over Easy Cafe, again in Lincoln Square. I enjoyed the breakfast sandwich with pancetta and gruyere while the husband indulged in the Salty and Sweet platter, which included pancakes that had bacon inside the batter. Divine, really.
So yes, we've eaten well, albeit in a vacuum void of nutritional value. We had to miss this week's CSA share for the trip, and I'm becoming increasingly guilt-ridden about our CSA slacker-ness as of late. But next week is the last week for this particular CSA, and in a month or so, we will start the Winter CSA at a place much closer to home, so the cooking adventures should start up again, soon. The husband flies out tomorrow, but I'm here for another three days for work, so I will try to follow up with any ensuing foodie braggery. I'll leave you, though, with the best picture of the weekend...our friend Rudy's reaction to our Hot Doug's haul...