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Kitchen Wiz

Right off the bat, let me apologize for the lack of pretty pictures, or — more accurately — any pictures. I meant to take one of the beautiful bowl of chopped veggies waiting to go into tonight’s soup, and then I got to talking on the phone, which caused me to completely forget about snapping a shot before making said soup.

You’re not missing much. Imagine a square quart-sized glass bowl filled with a chopped rainbow of vegetable goodness. Ahhhh. There you go!

Now — back to business. This week, I have been killing it in the kitchen! Now, to put that in perspective, I’ve not yet broken even with those who actually cook all their meals at home and swear off all things processed. Oh my, no. However, by merely putting on my apron and bossing myself around a bit, so far I’ve:

  • caramelized a big batch of onions (because that’s the only way anything onion-y is going to make it into any of my food)
  • baked three loaves of artisan bread
  • cooked up a pot of applesauce*
  • made a half-batch of jambalaya
  • roasted tomatoes and garlic for sauce, thus salvaging the tomatoes that I could almost watch going soft on the counter
  • froze some chocolate covered banana bites for snack
  • baked up a tray of Coconut Granola Bark

Dinner was a pot of creamy any veggie soup [scroll down – it’s the second recipe on the page]. I make this soup about once every two weeks or so, and it really is a little bit magical. It looks absolutely terrible, though, but everyone at my table slurps it down. Tonight’s combo was pretty wild — broccoli, carrot, tomatoes, Swiss chard, black radish, and golden beet — and it still worked. Our youngest member complained about the spice, but that wasn’t until the last bite. (It wasn’t spicy.) This soup is a terrific way to clean out the crisper and any other annoying leftover drips and dabs in the fridge, including any last cups of stock you might have.

Speaking of stock, I loved reading this post, especially the part about the chicken stock hanging over her head. I can relate! A couple of weeks ago, my mom and I were talking and I was telling her that I just couldn’t stand the thought of fooling around making a pot of stock and having to mess with straining it and all that. She agreed, but then she said, “It’s really not that hard.” What just happened? Totally the opposite of agreeing! But she was right, and just hearing her say that made me think, “Oh yeah! It isn’t that hard”, so I put on the pot and — four hours later — froze several quarts of stock.

The hard part is facing how often I’m just unwilling to put in the time, and how easy it is to sit and think for hours on end about how hard “it” is. Yikes.

But that’s not today! Today we dined at home!


*I didn’t have any apple juice in the house, and as a result almost didn’t make the applesauce for the third week in a row. Then, I remembered that we do have running water, and subbed that. Still delicious. The key to kitchen success: Know when not to be a slave to your recipe!


31 Days: Make It Work


I can cook a nice meal or I can do the grocery shopping, but I can’t seem to bear doing both in the same day. Therefore, shopping day requires a different — much more thrown together — plan. This week featured a humdinger of a good salad: romaine topped with leftover pork chops, thinly sliced apple, and balsamic vinaigrette. The grown-ups added granola [surprisingly delicious on a salad!] and feta cheese. Since I’m still going for the gold, though, I did whip up a white bean and artichoke spread to top the ciabatta toasts; that filled things out nicely.

We started the morning off with a power outage, but it went up from there. The high point was going to the mall and finally buying seasonally appropriate shoes for the girl. Turns out she is long overdue, but it’s hard to remember when it’s hot every other day, and Crocs are pretty forgiving. That’s what I’m telling myself, at least.

Til We Meet Again, Tomatoes

The heat is definitely on here in Houston, and so — sadly — the number of tomatoes in our farm share is beginning to dwindle. Turns out that the plants don’t set fruit well after the blazing heat begins. First there was a pound of perfect, ripe beauties. The next week, three pounds! And today…four.

Not pounds — just four lovingly grown but not quite ripe tomatoes. *sigh*

It was good while it lasted, though. We’ve eaten quite a bit of delicious sauce, that’s for sure. I may have even started to burn the rest of the crowd here out on the sauce, but I don’t really care. During the wonderful three-pound week, I roasted enough for three batches of sauce, and had two lonely tomatoes leftover. What to do, what to do?

I say, hit the Easy button and grill up some bruschetta. Every TV chef is doing it — why shouldn’t we? There are plenty of recipes for it, but I just went quick and dirty with it: Slice up some bread (I used ciabatta) and throw it on the grill. Once both sides are nicely toasted, rub one side of each piece with the cut side of a clove of garlic. I never think this is going to really do anything, but it does add quite a bit of flavor. Then for the topping, chop up a tomato or two; chop up a couple of leaves of basil, while you’re at it. Throw it in a small bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Voila! Now you’ve got a topping for your crispy little bread, and it’s dinner time.

Not that I got away with serving just tomatoes on bread for dinner, but you know.

Also in today’s box: a squash that looks like a giant, light green zucchini (another patron said it was a cochon), and Asian long beans. Oh, and okra — lots more okra. Time to make some pickles!

The Product Placement is Gratis

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It is totally summertime out on our CSA farm, and I couldn’t be happier. On top of the fact that I’m falling behind in cabbage consumption [aside from yakisoba and as a garnish for fish tacos, it doesn’t get much play around here] and am glad not to see it out on the table for pick-up, it was sooo exciting to see all the cucumbers and even eggplant! Yummy eggplant!

Before we start getting all crazy with the eggplants, though, something needed to be done about the whole zucchini/summer squash situation. Those were starting to pile up, so yesterday I whipped up a couple of zucchini lasagnas — which used up all of the zucchini and most of the squash — along with a nice cucumber-heavy green salad. The second lasagna is in the freezer. The plan is to roast that one up in a couple of weeks to see how well it turns out after being on ice. It’d be great to have a pan or two on-hand for when a family needs a meal, but not if it comes out of the oven as a pile of goo. Even a liberal dash of Frank’s (which makes everything better, don’t ya know) wouldn’t help that situation.

These are the thoughts that plague me, but they’re not going to hold me back, I tell ya!

Know what else is occupying my brain today? The thought of making the season’s first batch of theĀ Best Tomato Sauce Ever for dinner tonight with the tomatoes we received this week. Oh, dinner’s going to be delish!

Fresh From the Farm

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So far this year, we have been blown away by the beautiful produce our CSA farm has been delivering this spring. It’s amazing what a little rain will do!

This is last week’s selection, which pretty much represents every other week in April:

The password is “greens”.

Chard, collards, lettuce, beet greens, kale and more kale — lots o’ greens. There was a cauliflower or two at first, but that ship has sailed. Now come the onions. What am I going to do with all of those onions?? So far, I’ve only used one; good thing they keep a while! Do you think it would stink up the freezer if I caramelized a bunch and put them on ice?

Hey, do you see the big white thing in the bottom right? It’s a watermelon radish. Biggest radish I’ve ever seen. Tasty, too! And those brownish things are Indian Corn Cucumbers — such a delicious cuke.

This week, I neglected to take a picture before packing it all away, but here’s the rundown: more cucumbers, chard, beets, onions, zucchini, summer squash, carrots, and blackberries. I’m thinking of making pickles out of some of the cucumbers and carrots, because the thought of wasting even one is too terrible. As for the beets, they’re starting to pile up a little, so tonight I made a batch of chips to go with our sandwiches.

[Oh would you look at that. I managed to use the one chipped plate for my little photo shoot, here. Nice!]

This is the recipe I use for the chips. The only change I made was to toss the vegetable slices with olive oil rather than spray the pan, and that’s only because I didn’t feel like using the spray. The beets roasted up in about ten minutes. The whole bunch of beets only makes enough for about four servings, but they don’t really keep so it’s perfect.

I’m telling you, I can hardly wait to see what’s waiting for us next week. They say that melons should be coming soon. MELONS!



Quick Meal Monday: Sweet Pork Lettuce Wraps


This week, I’m jumping on-board for Heather’s Quick Meal Monday. Oddly enough, Mondays are probably my least busy day, but a quick meal is a must because I hate to spend my one free evening with the kids tied to the stove. However, since it is the least busy afternoon, I do have time to devote a little more time to dinner prep at the last minute. Tonight, we’re having one of my favorites: Sweet Pork Lettuce Hand Rolls (from one of my favorite get-it-on-the-table cookbooks, Time for Dinner.)

The kids have come around to liking salad, so the lettuce doesn’t provoke much of a fuss. That’s a plus. We’ll be having this with brown jasmine rice, which I’ll drown in the sauce [for me, this recipe’s all about the sauce!] and maybe a pat of butter. Maybe.

Some nights, instead of serving this as a make-your-own feast, I’ll just toss everything together as a salad. I’m crazy like that.