What’s Cooking Double Dose

Last week’s CSA shipment: Beets, 2 head of Romaine, Green Beans, Blackberries and Peppers

This week’s CSA box: Garlic, Hot Peppers, Swiss Chard, Beets, Peppers

Did you know?

That China is the garlic Czar of America? Most of our grocery store garlic comes from China, and lots of it has had contamination issues. With the option of local garlic, why go for Chinese garlic that has been shipped stored, and is pretty old by the time it gets to you? I guarantee if you even pick up one bulb of local (or even regional garlic) you will be surprised at the difference in flavor, texture and cooking quality. Above is a hardneck garlic that once every two weeks I peel, pop in the Cuisinart with a bit of Organic Olive Oil, and then jar for the next two weeks. It takes a bit of extra time, but the flavor is really out of this world!

So why do lots of grocers use Chinese garlic? Why else? It’s cheaper. Click here for a great NPR article that further discusses this issue.

Fiery Beet Salad

This past Saturday we had our CSA supper with B&H,  which I had been excited about since June. We had no Internet for a few days, and had been talking about how excited we were to go on Sunday… then we got the Internet back, checked our email ( at 3 PM on Saturday), and discovered that the dinner was in 3 hours! I needed something tasty and with speed! I had roasted another batch of beets to make pickled beets (Seriously, all summer production in small batches IS the way to go 🙂 ), and decided that I would attempt to make a beet salad for the masses. Eric, my fiance, is generally not a beet fan, but he went gaga for this spicy salad, and has eaten it 3 days in a row. I must have done something right!

Ingredients
6 large local, organic beets without stems or bottom “tails”
1 large, local organic carrot – shredded
2-3 local, organic cubanelle peppers – chopped
Spicy peppers of your choice (I used 3 hot wax peppers) – diced fine
6 TBSP  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TBSP local, raw honey (I used Buckwheat)
1 tsp of lime juice (fresh would have been best – I was in a pinch though)
20-30 organic mint leaves (from our garden – I used apple mint)
1 bunch of local, organic cilantro
3 cloves of local, organic garlic – finely chopped
1 small ginger root (mine was the size of my thumb or smaller)
1/4 cup organic sesame seeds
sea salt
tri-color pepper

1.) Roast the beets at 350 degrees for about an hour. I paint them lightly with olive oil, put them on aluminum foil, and put a sheet of aluminum over them (making a beet pocket). They are ready when they are soft.
2.) Let the beets cool before peeling them. I peel by hand, but lots of folks use a paring knife because they don’t want pink hands. I have never had a problem with stained hands (cuticles a bit sometimes, but usually no).
3.) While your beets cook, or cool, mix your other ingredients in a bowl. I did liquid and spices first, then I added the carrots, garlic and peppers.
4.) When your beets are cooled, cut into little julienne strips. Add to mixture, stir, fridge, and eat whenever you like!

What’s Cooking – Special Edition!

Happy Thursday! (If you follow the blog, this is the official announcement that “What’s Cooking” will now be a Thursday feature.)

So, I was recently granted a beautiful blogger award from a fellow blogger who is a revolutionary riot grrl looking out for all of our furry friends, Life of Bun! She mans a great cruelty free blog, with gusto. Thanks to Life of Bun, and I graciously accept!

With that being said, when you accept such an award, it is customary to list 7 random things about yourself, and pass the award on.

First, I would like to pass this award to In Her Chucks, and Maggie’s One Butt Kitchen. Check out their blogs for some yummy ideas! In Her Chucks is an ardent CSA supporter, and Maggie’s One Butt Kitchen is just chock full of crack food that makes me wish I grew up in her house!

And on to the 7 random things:

1.) I have had over 35 jobs ranging from being a perfume model to teaching ESL to llama shearing to costume design, and am only 27! In other words, I am a jack of all trades. I usually hold down more than 1 job at once, so largely they are part-time things and there is overlap.  I haven’t been a lounge singer yet though, and that was “what I wanted to be when I grew up.”

2.) In addition to our lovely ladies (chickens), I also have 4 cats, Dylan, Cleo, Bebe and Vishnu. They needed their 15 minutes.

3.) I’ve broken my nose 4 times…. There is no cartilage left in the front, so it is squishy now.

4.) In my “real” life, I currently work for a college in the Alumni Relations office, assisting with coordinating, planning and executing events, as well as with Down Home Acres selling organic produce.

5.) I was a vegetarian for 10 years before doctor’s told me I had to stop. I still eat largely vegetarian, but admittedly when I took that first bite of a pizza burger hoagie after 10 years, I was pretty blissed out.

6.) I have a degree in Creative Writing with a focus in Non Fiction and Poetry, and my first official published poetry chapbook “Heart”, debuted in 2006.

7.) I’m an only child, and actively work to defeat the stereotype.

Thanks for reading everyone, and thanks for the award Bun! 🙂

This week’s bounty – Salad Mix, garlic chives, beets, peppers and potatoes!

Almost Too Easy Bruschetta Grilled Chicken

This took me like, maybe 10 minutes to prep. SOOOO YUMMY!

Ingredients
4 small, local, organic chicken breasts
2 large, local, organic orange tomatoes (mine probably weighed 2 lbs together for perspective)
2 moderate to hot local, organic peppers – I used Czechoslovakian Black from our garden
15-20 small, organic, local basil leaves – I used variegated pesto basil from our garden
1 TBS local, organic garlic – chopped
4 TBS as fresh as you can get Parmesan, Asiago or Romano Cheese – I used a blend
Organic 4 color pepper
Sea Salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to taste

1.) Mix it all in a bowl. Let sit in the fridge to chill. Grill chicken. Top grilled chicken with summer bruschetta. Done and done!

How’s that for simple! 🙂 Mine is pictured with Yukon Gold mash with dill and sautéed Swiss Chard.

Beets, potatoes, blackberries, romaine, tomatoes

Did you know the blackberry is not an actual or true “berry”, but an aggregate fruit ?

Kelyn’s Rainbow Tomato Sauce

Ravioli with home-made sauce and dill butter garlic beans.

Sometimes in life, we just have to say I am sorry. I am SO SORRY that this recipe is late to the blog! I promised it to a few lovely patrons of the West Reading Farmer’s Market by 9 PM last evening, but alas, wedding decorating took over our home, and then my mother-in-law to be dropped off the first official bouquet of garden grown flower lovin’ for the wedding (next August), and to be honest, by the time I settled down, I was ready for sleepy-time. 🙂

With no further delay, here is the recipe for the best tomato sauce you will ever eat. I am a fan of tasting the vegetables, not overwhelming them with unnecessary seasoning. We just kept saying all of Saturday night, “Why isn’t there more!?!?!?”, and milling around the house like lost children, opening cupboards and expecting that maybe I somehow jarred some in my sleep. I hope you enjoy this simple and healthy recipe as much as I do.

Ingredients

The mix of veggies in the pot, pre-cooking.

1 quart mixed color heirloom, organic, local tomatoes (mine were largely yellow and orange, with a few red and purple)
1 large, local, organic carrot (mine was purple!!!)
1 small, local, organic sweet onion
1 large, local, green bell pepper (or 2 small ones)
1 extremely hot, local, organic hot pepper (adjust to your desired level)
1/2 a bunch of local, organic, basil – I used spicy bush, sweet Italian, and purple
6-8 cloves of local, organic garlic
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Cut all of the tomatoes into chunks. Everything will eventually go through a food processor or blender, so large sloppy chunks are AOK. You can also “Hulk Smash” with your hands, if you prefer. Put into a large sauce pot.
2. Chop up onion, carrot, peppers, basil and garlic. Add to the sauce pot. Drizzle with a bit of oil. Simmer over medium-ish heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. I like the fresh taste of the veggies, so I don’t simmer more than 30 minutes.   Once your skins on your tomatoes start to get wilty and weird, you are ready.
3. Remove from heat. If you are fearless like I am, you just pour this steaming hot pile of awesome directly into the food processor -otherwise let it cool for a few minutes. I use my Cuisinart on high for maybe 30 seconds, so that there are still some pieces of veg, but the food processor/blender is the trick to thickening it up. Check every 15 seconds until you hit your desired texture. IF YOU DO THIS HOT – BE CAREFUL! The steam can cause burns.
4. Serve over your favorite pasta with fresh grated Parmesan cheese. We ate it over cheese ravioli, and then I steamed green beans and added a garlic, dill butter that I like to make and keep around. I find that this needs no salt, but I also don’t eat very much processed food, and thereby which, find a lot of things to be too salty. Feel free to add some sea salt if needed!

Peppers, Yukon gold potatoes (These are now my absolute favorite potato. I seriously could live on these.), Swiss chard, blackberries, monster cabbage!!!!

A Czechoslovakian Black Pepper from our garden.

Did you know that the inside of a purple pepper is green? After the purple carrots last week, this was somehow not so surprising.

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