Saturday, June 11, 2011
Our share came with eight pickling cucumbers and fresh dill, so I'm hoping to make some tasty dills this week. We also got garlic scapes (my favorite CSA item!) but I already knew that I wanted to try to pickle them, too, so we picked up another bunch of scapes for cooking. We also grabbed a big bunch of scallions and I might even take half of them for pickling, like I did with spring onions recently, since we never manage to use a whole bunch of scallions. We are hoping to go to the infamous Fante's tomorrow and I plan to buy an asparagus cooker so that I can do one jar canning on our indoor cooktop. (I wish I had come up with this idea, myself, but I must credit the awesome Food in Jars maven with the inspiration.)
So here's the full list of our haul:
Strawberries (farm stand)
Rhubarb (farm stand)
Italian Loaf (farm stand)
More Scapes (farm stand)
Scallions (farm stand)
Mint (farm stand)
The mint is for the gallons of fresh iced tea that we make and drink all summer long. While we're at Fante's tomorrow, I'm sure we'll hit the spice store in the Italian Market for a bunch of beautiful tea blends for this summer's tea experiments and some more of the pickling mix.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The Song of Spring Onions & Asparagus
Let's all take a moment and bow our heads in admiration for the baby swing which makes the writing of this blog post possible...
If you read this week's ShoppingMama post, you know that I've decided to make an effort to eat better, but not to worry too much about my calorie intake. I can't remember a time in my adult life that I haven't been hyper aware of the caloric value of what I was eating, even if I was eating something with a ridiculously high amount of calories. Like counting my billable hours when I still practiced law, I have spent years doing the math in my head at every meal, adding up the calories and either being proud of coming in under the wire or pushing down the shame of exceeding my limits while enjoying something sinful. But too many of the women I trust most have told me that a strict calorie count could affect my precious breastmilk supply, so I'm going to try my hardest to stop doing the math and just enjoy a good, well-balanced pig-out for the next few months.
We used the lettuce and some of the spring onions last night when we grilled a nice piece of steak and sliced it over salads. I also added some pecorino cheese that came in our last winter CSA share. My favorite salad dressing is a simple homemade one of dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Always a winner.
I came across this recipe in my Google Reader, yesterday, and liked it because a) it had a dijon mustard dressing and b) it could be made in starts and stops, something that is helpful when you have a little one who likes to wake up and feed just as you start to get into some sort of non-baby-related activity. It used our asparagus and a few of our spring onions, plus I love anything pickled! I did the pickling early this morning when Charlie and I got up for the day. Then I boiled the potatoes and cooked the veggies during his mid-afternoon nap. After I got him fed and into the swing, I chopped and mixed all the components and made the dressing, to be added at the last minute, before we eat. We will be pairing it with some grilled salmon steaks and BEER. Yes, beer.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Aaaaand we're back!
In case you haven't been following my other blogging adventures over here, Charlie arrived on April 18. We've had our adventures so far, but all-in-all he's been amazing. The only unfortunate thing is that it's been awfully hard to cook a nightly dinner, so our diets have suffered greatly. Of course, I don't need to worry too much about how much I'm eating since I'm nursing Charlie, but I would like to see the quality of my food intake go back to what it was during my early pregnancy and before.
I'm hoping that our first summer CSA share, which Charlie and I picked up this morning (see picture), will put us back on track. We finally got into the summer CSA at Greensgrow, which is much closer to our house than last summer's CSA. I'll miss going to an actual farm to get our veggies, but the convenience of Greensgrow can't be beat, as well as the fact that we can purchase garden plants/flowers and other food goodies while we're there. Plus, the fact that Greensgrow sources their veggies, dairy, and meat from a number of local farmers means that we get alot more variety from week to week. Here's what we got:
Red Leaf Lettuce
Strawberries (beautiful strawberries, I might add)
Misty Morning cheddar from Calkins Creamery
The only item that I'm wondering about is the Dandelion Greens. I think we got them in last year's CSA, but they might have been one of the casualties of our first weeks when we were still trying to figure out how to use everything. With Greensgrow, half share members only pick up every other week, as opposed to going every week and just getting less stuff. I'm hoping that two weeks between pickups will make it easier to plan and use everything we get.
We did get a TON of leeks and sweet onions. Anyone have any advice for how we might cook and save those items to use in multiple recipes over the next couple weeks? I was thinking we could somehow saute them and then freeze portions. Any experience with this would be greatly appreciated.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Preparing for baby...with food.
I know, I've been a bad BAD blogger. Admittedly, our food intake has been a rather boring topic since I've had to stick to a gestational diabetes diet for the last couple months. But our new son is coming tomorrow and so I've been looking forward to eating "normal food." Really, I'm just looking forward to eating carbs besides brown rice and whole wheat English muffins...oh, and condiments like BBQ sauce. Everything else I've eaten has been pretty normal. We got our last winter CSA pickup this weekend, and I figured I should challenge myself to somehow preserve as much of it as I could in dishes that could be frozen and easily prepared while holding a screaming newborn.
We had spinach left over from our last pickup and got another bunch this week, along with a bunch of kale and some leeks. We also had a bunch of eggs and milk from the CSA, as well as a hunk of romano cheese. What can easily be made with all these items? QUICHE! So I picked up a few more items (more cheese - feta and goat - some bacon, onions, and my favorite whole wheat pie crusts from the hippy section at Wegman's) and went to town, this morning.
Three varieties, and five quiches later, I had quite a supply. I liked the idea of making quiche because it can be eaten for any meal of the day. Plus, they can all be made relatively the same way by sauteing the vegetable ingredients, spreading that on the bottom of the a pie crust, adding cheese and/or cooked bacon, and then pouring a simple mix of beaten eggs and milk on top. I like to bake at a higher temp (425, usually) for about 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 for another 15, or until the center is solid. We got two kale/bacon/romano quiches, one leek/spinach/feta, and two leek/spinach/goat cheese. Yum!
And then, just for fun, and some tasty comfort food during that first week of insanity, I made this fancy tuna noodle casserole. I froze the whole thing before the baking step and plan to just defrost overnight and bake as per the directions.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Let's talk sloppy joes for a minute...
NJ sloppy joes are not what you think. They are not manwich style loose meat sandwiches on hamburger buns that are like something out of a Happy Days episode. No no no. These are serious sandwiches. Behold:
Photo courtesy of www.staceysnacksonline.com
Yes, what you are seeing is indeed called a sloppy joe in the language of Northern New Jersey natives. It consisists of two "decks," all on rye bread. One deck holds the meat (usually turkey, roast beef or ham, but there are new school varieties that I refuse to recognize), the second deck holds swiss as well as house-made coleslaw and russian dressing. I prefer the version that is served by the deli in my hometown, although residents of other municipalities are quick to argue that their local's version is better. Do not listen to these people. I've tried other versions and they either use subpar deli meats, overcrowd the sandwich with bread sliced way too thick, or do not manage to replicate the delicate balance of flavors in Millburn Deli's secret coleslaw and dressing recipes. The true key to the Millburn sloppy joe is purchasing one that was pre-made in the morning and kept in the take-out deli case. The flavors have had a couple hours to meld together and the pickle slice that comes wrapped in with the sandwich is nice and crispy. It also MUST be paired with some of the deli's homemade iced tea. No excuses.
I also want to issue a plug for the other food provider at the shower. Gian Marco Trattoria is another favorite place to "manga" in my hometown. They provided amazing bruschetta (heavy on the onion, just how I like it), a ceasar salad with egg-free dressing for the pregnant lady, fusilli con asiago (tricolor pasta with spinach, red pepper, and garlic), and a chicken rollatini that was filled to the brim with even more spinach and cheese. The pasta leftovers are still being enjoyed in our house but the chicken rollatini got scarfed within a day.
All that food, together with a delicious custard-filled cake and a chocolate fountain, made for a pretty enjoyable cheat day for this gestational diabetic.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
My blood sugar can kick your blood sugar's ass...
But, I have had time to start writing a weekly post for The Shopping Mama blog, which was founded by my college friend and former work colleague, Kate Marsh Lord. Check out my first post here which will update you on the diabetes saga and give a little insight into what I'm doing other than working and trying to find cool things to make from CSA materials. I'd like to parallel the Shopping Mama posts with writings on here that relate to the foodie side of whatever I'm talking about. We'll see how that goes.
As far as my food life is concerned, it's a bit boring these days thanks to the ol' gestational diabetes. The one highlight has been my husband's unending support of the dietary changes I've had to make in light of this condition. It's hard to imagine, but I was most upset that I'd have to stop making super delicious meals for him every night. But he has eaten everything I have to eat and has made every effort to eat the heavily-carbed food outside of my presence (even though I tell him it's okay to munch in front of me). The other day, he asked me if lentils and bulgur were on my diet and I said yes, as long as they were measured carefully. He then took it upon himself to research and make mujadara from scratch, which we ate with light whole wheat pitas, a touch of hummus, and some pickled veg. It was awesome...and we're still working through the huge batch every day for lunch or dinner. I think it might become a staple even after the GD process is over.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Dealin' with "the sugah"
So I failed my glucose screening, last week, and have been ordered to undergo the big 3-hour glucose test that will determine if I have gestational diabetes. I don't underestimate the seriousness of such a condition, but I'm okay with the idea that I'll have to eat higher protein/lower carb meals, drink even more water than I already do, and walk for exercise every day. I don't believe that my current diet is unhealthy, but I definitely kept a tighter reign on what I ate before I got pregnant. Since I got the news that I failed the screening, I've implemented a higher protein regimen, and I've also been trying to get some extra calcium and folic acid, since both of those nutrients are increasingly important now as my boy grows strong bones and a healthy nervous system.
From what I've read, GD meals don't have to be NO carb, but there does need to be a good dose of protein to balance it out. A couple weeks ago, I attempted to make an asian soup with buckwheat noodles and these delicious all natural chicken and cilantro wontons from Costco, but it came out sort of bland. The broth needed some additions and there needed to be more of a variety of ingredients than just the wontons and the noodles. So I tried again tonight, with the idea of adding protein and folic acid to the meal to make it GD and baby growth friendly. I started off again with chicken stock, but this time I added garlic and onion powders, soy sauce, and a touch of sesame oil. The resulting flavor was lovely and smelled great. As the broth came to a boil, I dropped in a couple eggs and quickly broke them up, egg-drop-soup-style. I broiled some lean pork chops from the freezer and chopped them up to add them to the soup, so between that and the eggs, the protein element was complete. I added a few wontons (but less than last time), some organic soba noodles, and the final touch - a bunch of frozen spinach. I threw a sprinkle of chopped scallion on each bowl after serving.
The result was a vast improvement over the first attempt. M added sriracha which was probably a nice touch. Next time, I might experiment a little more with the broth, but for the most part, I'd say tonight was a GD/folic acid success! (Plus it took a total of 30 minutes to make from start to finish.)
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
I had the main idea for dinner already formulated as I scrolled through my Google Reader, this morning. When I saw this biscuit recipe I knew it would be a great way to use up some of the FireFly Farms Chevre that we got in a previous CSA share. The bottoms got a little more crispy than I would have liked but they were still delicious.
Between the biscuits and two ingredients for the main course, I had to figure out ahead of time how to juggle things in and out of the oven. Timing for cooking of different portions of a meal has always been a weakness for me. I preheated the oven to 500 degrees and made the biscuit dough while it warmed up. Sliced CSA pears, tossed in a bit of sugar and melted butter, and two chicken cutlets went into the oven together to bake. I put the skillet for the biscuits in with the pears and the chicken to heat up as per the recipe. When the peaches and chix were done, I reduced the temp of the oven, buttered the skillet, scooped the biscuits into it, and put it in to bake. The recipe suggested a five minute cool-down for the biscuits, so I turned the oven off but put the pears and chicken back in to warm up a bit. Those two items were layered on top of CSA arugula, chopped walnuts and a sprinkle of parmesan. I threw on a simple dressing of olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and the meal was complete.
I think that arugula is officially my favorite green. I tend to be picky about greens, but the peppery tang of arugula is a no-fail option for me. Another one of my favorite arugula salad recipes is this Real Simple ditty, which includes shredded rotisserie chicken, potato, and a delectable dijon dressing. With both salads, there were already great flavors to compliment each other but the arugula adds that special element that leaves me practically licking the plate clean.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
A night without recipes...
Tonight's dinner was a good dark days meal. This week's CSA included chicken apple sausages from Griggstown Quail Farm and our choice of a variety of cheeses from Calkins Creamery. I selected a hunk of the Old Man Highlander, an aged natural-rind gouda. We had an onion left over from a previous CSA pickup, so that got carmelized over low heat and then I cooked up the sausages. One half of the bread was lightly buttered and the other was spread with whole grain mustard. And then the sandwich was built with the onion, slices of the Old Man, and halves of the sausage. It sure was tasty!
For dessert, I called up a memory of a sweet treat that my mother used to make when I was a kid: baked apples. Her method was simple - cut the core out, pack it with brown sugar, top with a dollop of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until the apples are slightly soft and the sugar has carmelized. We topped ours with a little bit of vanilla ice cream and it was delightful.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Countdown to sushi
Photo credit: Bryan Jones
If you have never been pregnant, you might not know about the exhaustive list of foods that are forbidden during those special 40 weeks. I've been good about caffeine by indulging only occasionally in a half-caf or london fog. While I'm not really a drinker, I do love craft beer, but I've also sacrificed that indulgence for the little guy. And I've cut out canned tuna and most of the high-mercury fishes. I've admittedly half-assed it with some of the rules. There have been a few cold cut sandwiches, albeit only from places that I trust to store the stuff properly. I've eaten cheeses that were probably unpasteurized. And even though they were cooked, some mushrooms have snuck into my diet.
The one food that I've cut out entirely, mostly out of fear of food poisoning but also because of the mercury issue, is sushi. I've been a fan of sushi for a good many years, now, but it's just one of many foods that I like to eat. Inexplicably, though, I have been missing and craving it daily since finding out I was pregnant. I constantly miss the heat of a spicy tuna roll, the tang of good yellowtail, the smoke of a philly roll. I even miss my personal ritual of eating sushi: open chopsticks, rub them together (to smoothe them), pour the soy, put the wasabi in it, mix it up, put the ginger in the soy to soak, place one piece of ginger atop each piece of sushi and dig in. So precise. So tasty.
It's gotten to the point where I am keeping two time lines: how far along I am in the pregnancy and how much longer I have until I can eat sushi. I'm 29 weeks pregnant which means sushi shall be mine in about 11 weeks. Do you think I could just have a few rolls delivered to the recovery room in labor & delivery?
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I sort of expected this, but we fell off the wagon a bit over the weekend. It started on Friday when, after a particularly horrific day at work, I refused to cook and demanded that we eat at our around-the-corner favorite, The Memphis Taproom. I assumed that a few meals over the weekend would not be made at home, either, but we did have a breakfast and a lunch from our own kitchen so I consider it a small victory.
We've been back on the wagon this week. Breakfasts and lunches have all been made and taken to work with us. Last night was an ultimate dark days meal as I made this with farmers market smoked sausage, CSA apples and onions, and the rest of my gigantic head of cabbage. It turned out to be a deliciously comforting dish that tasted even better today as leftovers for lunch.
Dinner tonight was laborious but resulted in the aromatic and pretty item that is pictured above. It used some CSA winter squash that we've had since the end of the summer CSA, which I baked last night while the sausage dish was cooking, to save a step tonight. I used this recipe and followed it to a tee, but if I made it again, I would use more squash, chard, and mushrooms so that there could be one extra layer to the lasagna and a little more girth to all of the layers. The recipe called for one bunch of chard but I think I've been spoiled by all the big-leafed healthy chard that we got through our summer CSA. The chard I picked up at the grocery store was a small-leafed disappointment and added a gritty quality to the lasagna despite the fact that I washed it before chopping it up.
In other news, we got another view of our little guy at yesterday's ultrasound. His head is a bit bigger than normal but still in the normal "range." We've been making fathead jokes ever since. Perhaps we should be spending our time saving money for the therapy he's going to need as a result of our sense of humor instead of cooking!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Bagels for breakfast. Leftover pork chop and pasta (withOUT pea shoot pesto, thank goodness) for lunch. Dinner was a quickly made meal of more leftover pasta, broiled chicken cutlets (from the storage freezer), defrosted BASIL pesto that was made over the summer from our veggie garden basil, and green beans (also from the deep freeze).
Dinner literally took 15 minutes to make, which was awesome. I grew up in a house with very little culinary variety, so I make a real effort to make different things as often as possible. The "30-minute" type recipes that I've found in the past are usually unhealthy or unappealing. You know the recipes I'm talking about...the ones you find on the side of a Campbell's can or at the Kraft website. I just can't do those. I learned more uses for a can of cream of mushroom soup from my mother than I care to ever remember. Sometimes, however, making a new recipe means that dinner takes for. ev. er. to get on the table.
Anyone have any good, quick recipes that are both diverse and healthy?
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Pea shoots, you have forsaken me
Breakfast was, again, a freezer bagel with cream cheese and V-8. Lunch was leftover Otsu. Snack was yogurt with some canned blackberry sauce that did NOT age well. Back to the drawing board on that one, this summer.
My original plan for dinner was to take our CSA pea shoots and stir fry them with sliced up pork chops from the freezer. But we had Asian flavors last night, so I switched the plan last minute and went with a combo of this recipe and this one. We didn't have enough pea shoots for both pesto and salad, so I used CSA lettuce and carrots for our veg. I also added some thin spaghetti pasta to use up some more of the pesto.
I'm a big fan of pesto. I like it alot. I make tons of it every summer from our garden basil. But the pea shoots version just doesn't do it for me. The basil adds a certain flavor that was missing. Maybe I should have toasted those walnuts, put in a bit more garlic, or added some extra cheese or salt, but it just didn't taste good. It added a nice tang to the pork chops, but with just the pasta it tasted too...I don't know..."greeny?" I've actually already thrown a batch of frozen basil pesto into the fridge to defrost so that we can eat it for tomorrow's dinner and make up for tonight. Next time we get pea shoots from the CSA, it's stir fry time!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Breakfast - bagel from the freezer, cream cheese, V-8
Lunch - leftover cabbage slaw, steak, and potatoes from yesterday.
Snack - more yogurt and pickled peaches, orange
Dinner - Otsu!
The aforementioned S. made Otsu for dinner one night when I was visiting and it was divine. She used this recipe from Amateur Gourmet, but replaced the out-of-season cukes with in-season cabbage. We tried it in our own kitchen a few weeks later and went with still-in-season-cabbage and it was still delicious. That was nearly two years ago and we continue to make it a few times a year. We've tried it during the summer with CSA cucumbers and I have to say it's just not as good as the cabbage-y version.
Monday, January 24, 2011
I've got a thing for cabbage...
I am proud to say that on Day 1 of my "Eat from Home" week, I spent exactly $0 additional dollars on food! Here's how it broke down:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with craisins and brown sugar, all from our pantry, and CSA milk.
Lunch: Bagel (purchased over the weekend and frozen), cream cheese, can of soup from pantry, V-8 (Costco purchase). I am still obsessed with all things tomato, so I bought a case of V-8s to curtail my habit of buying one every single day.
Snack: Farmers market yogurt with pickled peaches that I canned over the summer and an orange (Wegman's).
Dinner: Grilled steak (from storage freezer), mashed potatoes with chevre and scallions (all ingredients except the scallion - a Wegman's purchase - were CSA), apple and cabbage slaw (apples from CSA, cabbage from Wegman's).
A note about the slaw - I seem to forget how much I love cabbage until winter comes and it's one of the most readily available veggies at farmers markets. I love buying a head of it and seeing how many different dishes I can make with it. My friend S. turned me on to the simple slaw that I made tonight: shredded cabbage and diced apple (she also adds diced onion) dressed with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. It was salty, sweet, crunchy, and after a little time in the fridge to mix the flavors, it was tasty! I plan to use more of the cabbage for tomorrow's dinner recipe...another suggestion from S. that we've been enjoying for the past couple winters.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
A rambling attempt to get back on track...
We had another CSA pick-up yesterday - apples, pea shoots, lettuce, carrots, milk (it's not raw, by the way, so I drink it by the glassful), amish butter, goat cheese, focaccia rolls, and smoked turkey. Then we made our monthly trip to Costco. I know that it seems counter-intuitive to shop at a place like that when we buy other things locally, but there are still budgets to consider. One would be surprised at how many of their products (especially meat) are organic, hormone-free, free range, etc. They aren't local, but at least they are somewhat responsible in other ways. We love Costco because they treat their employees very well, work hard to maintain a low price point for their products without sacrificing quality, try to use as little extraneous packaging material as possible, and have started installing solar panels on the roofs of many of their stores! I stop myself from making impulse buys there, as the total can add up quickly when you are buying in "bulk." It can be a very helpful place if one is disciplined.
After a quick stop at Wegman's - which included the purchase of a head of locally-grown cabbage - we headed home. As I unloaded our bounty into our storage freezer, I was amazed at all of the frozen goodies that were still sitting in there and had gone unused. And so a new organizational project was born: I inventoried our storage freezer, refrigerator, and pantry shelves with the determination to plan five weekday dinners that could be made entirely from what we had in the house. And it worked! We have made a pledge to eat entirely from our own kitchen, for all three meals each day, for this entire week. And I hope to write a quick blog recap each day to track our success.
Today, in celebration of the first football game that we will watch all season (now that evil dog killer Michael Vick and his Eagles are out of the running), we will have nachos made from tortilla chips and salsa that have sat unopened on our snack shelf since Christmas, avocado, refried beans, and some leftover cheddar from our last CSA pickup. While the game is on, I'll cook the potatoes (also from the last pickup) that will be mashed for tomorrow night's meal. I'm trying to recreate the potatoes I ate last week at Kraftwork which had goat cheese mixed in. We have that chevre from this week's share to make it happen.
All of this is part of a larger plan to lighten our impact and form healthy habits, especially since we are adding another person to the world. I hope we can get back into the practice of eating at home so that it's old hat by the time the little guy is here. I'd like to set an example that good food comes from home and that even a working mama can put a healthy homemade meal on the table. The husband has taken it upon himself to replace all of our food storage containers with BPA-free versions. We're hoping that I will breastfeed for as long as possible and that we'll use cloth diapers that we'll wash at home. It's alot of work, but for a good cause...to raise our son with an awareness of his footprint.