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.

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!

The Fine Art of the Menu

My perception of home cooking has changed a lot since I was a child. When I hear the term “home cooking”, I still get the instant flash of a Donna Reed type in a red and white checkered apron over a crinoline skirt, pearls reflecting soft dining room light as she serves her perfectly cooked roast with a sparkly *ting* on her toothy smile.

If you asked that woman on a Sunday what she was making for dinner the next Thursday, she would likely have an answer. These women still exist, they are my fiance’s mother – who would know how to answer that question, and does serve dinner with a smile (just in modern clothes and less sexism swirling in the air) nightly.

My generation, however, is more non-committal, more flexible and spontaneous. If you ask us what is for dinner on Thursday we probably have no idea. Or a generic response like “something good”. We are the quick fix society that our parents and grandparents have ushered us into with processed fast foods – starting with the TV dinner. We are the end of the red checkered apron string.

In an effort to modernize the theory of planing your meals for the week, I present a fun and more accommodating option for the modern society person who wants to both save time and create tasty meals with produce/be a part of a CSA/try new things. Make a weekly or bi weekly menu. Sit down on the day you get your CSA/visit your local market, and let your imagination go nuts with the bounties of your harvest.

Type it up and print it out, or write in on the note pad on the fridge. My menus are composed of the same categories every time: Breakfast, Lunch, Meat, Vegetarian, From the Sea and Sides. I keep a running word document, so that the standards always remain (red beans and rice, vegetarian burritos, omelets, pesto etc.) on the list, and I just update the things I don’t replenish or replace. I print bi-weekly and just cross things out as they become non-options. Trouble with ideas? Google your ingredients and get inspired. Make 3 different recipes for the salmon you have so that when you look at your menu, you get the fun of choosing like you would at a restaurant. It allows you preparedness with flexibility – a modern touch for the non-committal or spontaneous chef.

My fiance will tell you he is spoiled for this, which maybe he is, but I see it is a practical way to know what you are eating for the week. I come home from work, I don’t feel like thinking about cooking – I just want to cook. I pass the menu off, he narrows to the things that sound good, and boom I am in the kitchen and ready to go – a.k.a. Kelyn’s fast food. No time squandered on a week night, decision made, tasty home cooked food on the table with speed – hold the crinoline and pearls.

 

 

 

 

Pickled Beets – My New Obsession

When I was growing up, I hated beets. I hated them until I was 24 because I had never actually tried one, and just instinctively put up that wall that we so easily and unnecessarily put up when we are considering new food options. One random day at a salad bar, I tossed a beet on my plate. I was overwhelmed when I ate it! It was earthy and rooty and sweet and tart. What a delightful find!

Fast forward to the beginning of the CSA. I wanted beets. I would pickle them and store their goodness forever. Though having canned salsa, jam, and other various things in the past, I had never tried beets. I write this blog to show that it is easier than you think to make tasty, organic food, and to promote it in South Eastern Pennsylvania. Though all of the recipes thus far have been my own creation, for something like pickled beets I wanted the expert word. That being said, see the link at the bottom of the page for the pickling recipe I have been using.

When I sell beets at the Farmer’s Market there are 2 things most people don’t seem to know.

1.) Beet Greens are delicious mixed in with salad mix, and they’re healthy for you, packed with a wallop of vitamins A & K, potassium and magnesium (among other things). They come from the chard family, and are quite tasty.

2.) People like pickled beets, but few people actually know how to pickle them.

That’s when I discovered this recipe.  In my experience with cooking, I try really hard to NOT boil any veggies. Boiling kills their vitamin and nutrient content, and all of the good stuff leeches into your water (which you then throw away). When boiling vegetables, they lose a lot of their value. That being said, I roast the beets instead of boiling them.

Again, this is not my recipe. Click the link to check out the full directions from What’s Cooking America.  They offer boiling or roasting as a method, and roasting is healthier!

Ingredients:

3 pounds fresh small whole beets (use similar size beets)*
2 cups organic apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 cups granulated, organic sugar
3 or 4 local, organic garlic cloves, sliced in half

* Small beets can be pickled whole. Larger beets can be sliced in 1/4-inch slices or diced. In this recipe, I used several different varieties of beets that were varying sizes that I sliced.

Now before I start feeling like Dwight Schrute from “The Office” I will get off my beet pedestal.


Shameless Music Promotion!

Wasabi King’s Submission in Camp Bisco – Battle To Play Bisco Contest.

The above link is to a song my fiance, Eric, (who enjoys all this yummy food!) wrote. He worked really hard, and I know he would appreciate it if you listen and then vote! Thanks to anyone who reads this! 🙂 I’ll send some good karma your way for the vote!

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