Monday, August 31, 2009

cook it yourself

While it rained (and rained... and rained...) Saturday afternoon, I spent some time reading. My sister and I were joking that it was like we were practicing for winter - we had pork roasting in the oven, tomato sauce bubbling on the stove top, children playing board games... all we needed was the snow coming down, and it could have been December!

Anyway, on this bright, sunny Monday (thank you, sun!!) I wanted to share the link to the New York Times Magazine article Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch by Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivore's Dilemma).

I admit to watching Top Chef pretty regularly, and Iron Chef and other Food Network shows once in a while. But until reading the article, I had never given much thought about how these shows are about competition and conspicuous consumption so much more than they are about cooking and enjoying food - nor had I paid much attention to what the focus on food products, food "games," and consumption (rather than creation) might say about our culture as a whole. As usual, Pollan gives us much to think about - I especially like that he ends by reminding us of the impact a "cook it yourself" philosophy can have on our health and our lives.

If you decide to read the article, I'd love to know your thoughts!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

cinnamon beasts

Yesterday's Newmarket Happenings post promised something called "cinnamon beasts" at today's Newmarket farmers' market (being held inside the Stone Church on account of the pouring rain). As soon as R and Rb heard the words, they were ready to head out the door to the market - they love cinnamon, and couldn't wait to see what a "beast" was. The drive in the rain was well worth it - cinnamon beasts turned out to be wonderfully yummy treats, and already Rb is talking about "when we go back to get another one next week..."

On the way to the market, we stopped by Warren Farm to get some more corn - since they said they're only going to have fresh corn for about 5 more days this year, it's time to stock up! And in addition to the "beast" we got potatoes, onions, and leeks in Newmarket. Since it's so rainy and cold outside today, we're going to roast a New Roots Farm pork tenderloin for dinner, and roasted potatoes (with garlic and onions) should make for a great side dish!

yard sale friday

Since Tropical Storm Danny is making Saturday in New Hampshire a rain-event this week, a bunch of folks in our area decided to hold their Saturday yard sales a day early. Last week, I lucked into an outdoor dining set at a yard sale in town - this week, my finds are a little less "practical" and a little more "fun" - but I couldn't resist this cute little plate, and the Buddha figurine will fit in well with a small collection that I have in an old cabinet that came from my grandmother's house. I paid a total of 30 cents for the 2 treasures - works for me (grin)!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

lee country fair

Another hint of Fall's approach - the sign is up for the Lee Country Fair! The Lee Fair is a fun agricultural fair held right in downtown Lee, NH. Well worth checking it out if you're in the area!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

food and farming articles

I read a couple of interesting articles recently, and thought I'd share the links.

The New York Times had an op-ed piece about vertical farms that had me imagining what it would be like to see skyscrapers dedicated to growing vegetables, and cities full of places where residents could easily access locally grown food.

And Time has an article about the "high price of cheap food" - I enjoy stories like these, as they remind me of how much impact local eating can have on the world, and of how far we have to go before local, sustainably-grown foods are truly both affordable and accessible on mass scale.

Happy reading!

csa - and pumpkins??

Today on the way to CSA, we stopped at the farm up the road from us, to see if they had any more spaghetti squash since the one we picked up earlier this week was so tasty. Sure enough, they did have another spaghetti squash - but Rb was very, very excited to see that they also had little pumpkins. I can't believe pumpkins are starting!! It doesn't seem like Fall can really be this close - like Summer can really be drawing to an end... seems it's time to get serious about preserving those veggies for winter-time use!!

Speaking of veggies, it was another great CSA share this week. Cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, eggplant, onions, carrots, kale, and (for the first time this year) purple cabbage. Looking forward to lots of salads this week!

Monday, August 24, 2009

farmers' market trip - and spaghetti squash!

This afternoon, we headed to the Durham farmers' market, and on the way stopped at a farm stand up the road from us, and at Tecce Farm in Durham. Tecce Farm's roadside stand opened recently for the season, and while there we got some of their own corn and apples (I can't remember the variety but they said they taste similar to McIntosh), as well as some UNH-grown plums. At the farm stand closer to us, we picked up 3 lbs of tomatoes, a cucumber, and a spaghetti squash - and at the Durham market, we got a melon and a red onion. I heard that there have been melons already at some of the other area farmers' markets, but since we didn't make it out to any last week, this will be our first of the season.

For dinner tonight, we're going to make a spaghetti squash dish that we enjoyed last year - thought I'd share the recipe!

First you need to cook the spaghetti squash - you can roast it, boil, steam, or microwave. Since it's hot today and we'd like to avoid using the oven, we'll probably microwave. You just poke 10-12 holes in the squash, place it on a microwave-safe plate, and cook on "high" for about 10 minutes, turning every 2-3 minutes, until the squash is soft on the outside. Then let it cool for about 5 minutes, cut carefully in half (don't get burned!), remove the seeds, and scoop out the squash using a fork to separate it into strands.

Next, melt a few tablespoons of butter in a pan. Add some garlic and chopped onion, and then add cubes of zucchini, carrot, green pepper, red pepper, or any other veggie that sounds good to you. Depending on what you choose, you may have to add them 1 by 1, so that each veggie can cook as long as it needs to, without becoming mushy. Once everything is crisp-tender (or cooked the way you like it), add the cooked spaghetti squash to the pan to heat through. When hot, transfer to a serving dish, top with chopped tomato, serve, and enjoy!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

yard sale saturday

We haven't been having too much luck at yard sales the past several weeks - but today, we found a great wooden table and chair set, that fits nicely in our screened porch. For $20 it seemed like a bargain - I'll clean it up a little, put a tablecloth on the top to soften it up, and I think it'll be perfect for outdoor dining!

blight is bad

Well, after several weeks of harvesting tomatoes from our backyard garden, we went out this morning and saw the tomato plants (which just yesterday had been beautiful, green, and healthy) looking quite, quite sad. Literally overnight, the majority of the leaves had browned and shriveled, and the plants looked like they might in November in a "regular" year - ready to say good-bye.

Guessing this would be the arrival in our yard of the blight which has been plaguing farms and home gardens this year, and which so far our neighborhood had seemed to avoid. So, we pulled all the plants and bagged them for the trash (they can't go into the compost, as bagging them helps prevent the blight from spreading further) - and we brought in the tomatoes that were remaining "on the vine" in hopes that they'll ripen. It's a sad thing, to lose such an important part of the garden in an instant like this - but luckily there are area farmers who have tomato plants that are still blight-free and producing fruit. Looks like it's time to go to the farmers' market!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

peaches!

Picked up peaches at Warren Farm today - don't they look yummy? Haven't decided yet if some of them are going to become peach cobbler, or if we'll try to freeze some... I do know that R and Rb already gobbled one down "as is" - and I'm sure a bunch more will be enjoyed that way over the next couple days! Anyone have any tasty peach recipes??

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

csa - a wonderful share!

What a great CSA share this week - lettuce, kale, summer squash, zucchini, onions, beans, tomatoes, onions, peppers, eggplant... and the list goes on! More vegetable-filled meals coming up this week - looking forward to it!!

zucchini parmesan sandwiches

I usually make sure we've tried a recipe before I share it here, but I mentioned this one earlier in the week and it does sound really tasty (I haven't tried anything from the Moosewood Cookbook that hasn't been great!). So, I thought I'd go ahead and post it, especially since it is the time of year when zucchini tends to pile up!!

We have 4 baby zucchini out in the garden that should be ready for harvest soon, so we'll be making the sandwiches later this week. Guessing they'll be quite yummy!!

So here we go -
Zucchini-Parmesan Sandwiches -

2 cups diced fresh zucchini
1/2 cup minced onion
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tbs olive oil
salt, pepper
fresh tomato slices
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
4 pieces of toasted bread

Saute onions and garlic, with salt, basil, and oregano, in olive oil until onion is translucent. Add zucchini and saute until soft.

Spread onto toast, topped with thin slices of tomato and a sprinkling of fresh parmesan. Broil and then serve.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

crisp cucumbers and shells

Still had more cucumbers from CSA to use up, and I picked up some Brookford Farm yogurt at Blue Moon Market in Exeter this weekend - so R decided to make Crisp Cucumbers and Shells using a recipe that I cut off the back of a pasta box a long time ago. It's chilling in the refrigerator now, and will make for a tasty lunch on this hot, humid day!

Here's the recipe - we used fresh dill from our garden, but other than that we followed everything "as is." Enjoy!

1 cup (4 oz) large shell macaroni (or rotini) uncooked
5 cups (2 large) coarsely chopped cucumber
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup (8 oz) plain yogurt
½ tsp dried dill
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp dry ground mustard
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp white vinegar

Cook pasta; drain. Rinse with cold water to cool quickly; drain well. In large bowl, combine cooled pasta, cucumber, and onion; set aside. In small bowl, stir together yogurt, seasonings, and vinegar; beat lightly with wire whisk until smooth. Stir ½ cup yogurt dressing into pasta mixture. Toss well. Cover and chill, stirring occasionally. Store remaining yogurt dressing in refrigerator for later use. Makes 6 servings, 1 cup each.

Monday, August 17, 2009

squash supper

Tonight for supper, we had planned to have zucchini parmesan sandwiches. But when I looked in the refrigerator and saw lots and LOTS of squash (some from our CSA share and some from our own garden), we chose to save that recipe for later and instead find a way to use up more. We ended up deciding to stir fry cubes of zucchini, pattypan, and crookneck squash - and we added green beans and garlic from our own garden. Seasoned with dark soy sauce, and served over spaghetti - and it was an awesome squash-filled supper!

Tomorrow we'll be going to Warren Farm again to pick up more corn, as I want to start freezing some for winter. Right now, we have chopped green peppers, chopped scallions, and whole tomatoes in the freezer, as well as home-made tomato sauce and chicken stock. My great-aunt emailed over the weekend and reminded me that we can shred zucchini and freeze it in 1-cup portions, so we can pull it out later and use it to bake zucchini bread. Sounds like a great way to preserve the squash we still have left in the refrigerator after today's dinner!!

one local summer

Last night's very local, very vegetable-filled dinner was a yummy one! We picked up corn from Warren Farm, and boiled it up. We sliced fresh tomatoes from our own garden, and made a salad with the tomatoes plus cucumbers from our CSA share. And then we steamed some green beans (also from our CSA) and topped then with a little Cabot butter. Add some homemade French bread toast, and it was a perfect meal to end a super hot day of 90+ degree temps and lots of sunshine!!

Today we're going to use home-grown zucchini and homemade tomato sauce to try a zucchini parmesan sandwich recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook I picked up at a library book sale. Stay tuned for the recipe!

Friday, August 14, 2009

so cute...

Had to share a Yoda picture - I think he's getting both bigger and cuter every day! He's almost 3 months old now, and has already been very busy doing his job of providing us with manure for the gardens. He enjoyed spending the morning today in a pen on our back deck, hopping around and checking out everyone who walked by. He's a super friendly and curious little guy - I never realized how much personality rabbits have! We're still working on figuring out what we want to do for outdoor housing for him - so for now, he continues on as Rb's roommate. And our chief garden assistant!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

walgreens deal

At Walgreens this week, they have Listerine, Reach toothbrushes, and Reach floss on sale 3/$9.00, with $6.00 in Register Rewards back when you buy 3. If you've saved the Listerine and Reach coupons from recent Sunday papers, you can use two $1.00 off coupons, plus the $2.00 off Reach "value pack" toothbrushes coupon - buy 3 items, pay $5.00 after coupons, and get $6.00 back in Rewards to spend next time. I picked up a "value pack" of toothbrushes, bottle of Listerine, and pack of floss yesterday - nice deal!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

csa - and easy eggplant spread

This week's CSA share has kale, lettuce, summer squash and zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, green peppers, and a nice big bag of green beans! Should make for a fun week of cooking - and eating!

We're going to use the eggplant to make "Easy Eggplant Spread" - the recipe (from Green Earth Institute) is below. We tried it last year when eggplant was in season, and it's definitely yummy!

Easy Eggplant Spread

1 medium, firm eggplant
1 clove garlic, cracked away from skin
2 pinches ground allspice
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 handful flat-leaf parsley leaves
A drizzle extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to highest setting, at least 500 degrees F.
2. Cut 2 or 3 slits into whole eggplant and place directly on rack in the middle of the oven.
3. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes. Keep the slits facing up so that the eggplant does not loose liquids as it roasts.
4. Remove eggplant from the oven.
5. Using a sharp utility knife, carefully peel skin away from eggplant flesh.
6. Add cooked eggplant flesh and juice to food processor and combine with garlic, allspice, salt, and pepper and parsley.
7. Pulse grind into a paste, add a drizzle of olive oil.
8. Serve with slices of crusty bread. Makes 10 servings.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

today's harvest

Looks like there'll be green beans and baby zucchini with dinner tonight!! This is the first zucchini we've harvested from this year's garden - but we have several more on the vine, so they should be ready soon. The beans started coming in last week, but we were only able to pick a couple each day - so this is a pretty good handful that we got today.

Also, a little hard to see in this photo (lots of sunshine today!) - but this is our row of snap peas that we planted from seed a little over a week ago, in hopes of a Fall harvest. We might have waited too long to plant, but we'll see - they're already a couple inches tall, so that seems good!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

time for salsa

Now that summer has finally really arrived in New Hampshire and the days have been warm and sunny, our tomatoes are ripening and we have more to pick each day. Hooray! This is most of the week's tomato harvest from our garden (a couple other tomatoes found their way into salads before I could take a picture!).

I love fresh salsa, and since we have lots of tomatoes, we'll be making some this weekend - thought I'd share the recipe we use. You can adjust as needed for quantity and to taste, and you can definitely add peppers (spicy or not). Fresh salsa is great as a dip with tortilla chips, or as a "topping" for grilled chicken or other dishes. Yum!

You'll need:
3 tomatoes, chopped
½ red onion, chopped
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
juice of one lime
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Combine onions, tomatoes, and cilantro.
2. Stir in lime juice and olive oil.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Chill, or serve "as is" at room temperature. The flavors seem to combine best when the salsa is put in a covered bowl and then chilled for a few hours.
5. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

csa - summer in full swing

Cucumbers, zucchini, pattypan squash, tomatoes, green peppers, beets, kohlrabi, red potatoes, and FENNEL!! Oh my - I'm excited about this week's share, for sure!

I've never tried fennel before, but I think we may try Roasted Fennel (recipe below). The recipe is from my very favorite online recipe source, Green Earth Institute. The recipe section of their site has recipes for every CSA and farmers' market vegetable we've ever brought home, and it has a menu that lets you bring up a list of recipes according to the vegetable you want to feature.

So here's what they say for Roasted Fennel - sounds tasty! Anyone else have ideas for what to do with fennel? Please share!!

Blanch whole fennel bulb in boiling water for 10 minutes and drain. Halve it lengthwise; place in roasting pan, cut side down. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste. Return to oven; roast for 10 to 20 minutes more.

Monday, August 3, 2009

wiggly worms

It's worm harvest day - R and Rb are busy separating the worms from the compost they've made for us. The worms will go into a new tray of food in their Can-O-Worms habitat, so they can get directly back to work, and the compost will go to the garden outside. Rb thinks it's a very fun project - as you remove the compost layers and the worms are exposed to the light, they try to flee by burrowing downward, and so he turns it into a contest - can he catch the worms before they bury themselves back in the tray of compost??


To harvest, they take out one handful (or in Rb's case, spoonful) of compost at a time, search for worms (and worm eggs) to put into the new tray of food, and then put the compost in a separate bin so they can bring it outside. There are other means of harvest (sifting, waiting until the majority of worms crawl up to the next layer of the bin themselves, etc.) - but they find this to be the simplest and fastest way they've tried.




This is the food layer that the worms are going into next. Since the Can-O-Worms has three layers, some of the other worms that are not part of today's harvest have already been working here, so there's a mix of compost, damp newspaper, and ready-to-eat veggie scraps in the tray already. Within a month or two, this next layer will be all compost and no food or paper - and then it'll be ready for harvest too. We add a lot of eggshells to the trays - the worms seem to congregate around and inside them, and that's always where we find lots of worm eggs. Lots of eggs means lots of worms, so that's definitely a good thing!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

one local summer - the week in review

One of our biggest challenges is eating more locally in the non-growing-season months - we'll be working on doing better with that this winter, and have already started thinking about how we can save more of the summer bounty for the colder months.

But for now, this time of year, we do much of our "grocery shopping" right at the farmers' markets and local farm stands, and many of our meals are either all-local, or include local dishes alongside their non-local counterparts.

So this week for local fare, we've enjoyed... meal-sized salads made with veggies from our CSA share and market trips; totally local fried eggs and bacon (one of R's favorite "breakfast as dinner" meals!!); grilled local chicken with ratatouille made with farmers' market and CSA veggies; roasted local red potatoes with home-grown garlic; steamed local broccoli; and French toast made with homemade bread and local eggs.

R also used the leftover bones from the farm-fresh chicken we've been enjoying lately, plus local carrots, oregano, and onions, and home-grown dill and garlic, to make homemade chicken stock yesterday (that's the photo above, taken just after he put everything in the pot). We'll be freezing the stock, so we can use it in other recipes. It also makes for a pretty good soup - during last December's ice storm, we heated chicken stock from the freezer on our wood stove, and had mugs of warm homemade broth while we waited for the power to return. A happy memory!