RSS Feed

Tag Archives: crock pot cooking

The Accidental Vegan

That would be me. By whatever means, I have become the cook that brings the vegetarian/vegan contribution to the parties. Whether it is the amateur radio Field Day, or the contribution to my brother’s dinners (for my vegetarian in-law’s in-laws), or the potluck volunteer luncheon, I bring the veggie-centric dish that is satisfying and different.

We feed the volunteers, the garden clubs and the vendors at our Holiday Craft Fair every December at the Conservancy.

I share cooking with my friend who also coordinates and cooks for our Amateur Radio Field Day. We have become quite skilled at meeting the needs of those who partake. We have all sort of dietary restrictions and preferences. I get large amounts of vegetables in my farm share (aka Community Supported Agriculture)

Add to that, my lactose intolerance, which has me modifying recipes to take out the dairy.

Last week I made two dishes for the holiday event. They were vegan. Easy for those with restrictions. One was a vegan cole slaw. The other? One awesome butternut squash and black bean chili. Recipes were requested. Here is the response.

I began cooking many dishes using squash once we started seeing behemoths like this in our box. I do hummus, I do lasagna, and now I do chili using them.

This chili was easy. Two large cans of black beans. One diced, roasted butternut squash – large. Two large onions. One can of roasted red peppers, sliced. One can of Rotel tomatoes and chilis. One can crushed tomatoes. Those pumpkin spices. Choose those you like. I am partial to cinnamon, cumin, and coriander. Some garlic powder. Salt and pepper. Crock pot all of it. Kick it up with more heat, or more garlic.

As for my cole slaw. I used Savoy cabbage, carrots and Granny Smith apples. All chopped. I made a vegan dressing for it. It was mustard, vegan sour cream, white wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. That vegan sour cream makes this dressing a great alternative for those who are avoiding dairy.

You don’t miss the meat when you add tons of flavor using herbs and spices. We certainly didn’t.

 

Soup Season

Posted on

Somewhere in the last week the weather changed. It got cooler and breezy and it rained quite a bit. Just the type of weather to make me pull out the crock pot and make soup.

deck-and-soup-022

This week it was split pea soup with ham. Ham from last winter’s CSA meat share, and a bag of split peas. I tend to buy the meat share from our CSA in fall and winter. The fall share is just eight weeks long and the winter share is 13. Not as big a commitment as a 26 week summer share, so you get to kick the tires, so to speak.

I made this simple soup with leftover uncured bone in ham. From a March delivery. I have been working at drawing down that freezer. Dump a bag of split peas in the crock pot. Add a pint of chicken stock and a pint of water. Add an onion, diced. Shred the ham and add it. Add the bones, too, if you have a bone in ham. Salt, not much, and pepper. That’s it. Eight hours in the crock pot. Two dinners for us.

Served with the last of my ripe tomatoes.

deck-and-soup-027

Some goat cheese. Asiago pepper dressing. Spring onions. Salt and pepper.

The other star of dinner. The bread.

deck-and-soup-028

Again, compliments of the CSA. We get an amazing variety of vegan whole grain breads. They last a very long time, and have that denseness and chewiness that a good bread should have.

Finally, the wines.

deck-and-soup-024

We did a Sauvignon Blanc throwdown, between Linden and Glen Manor. Linden makes theirs in the style of a French Fumé. Glen Manor, reminds me of a New Zealand pineapple-y SB. It was fun to compare against the richness of the soup.

Now, on to more experimentation with soups. Next up, pumpkin soup.

csa-and-more-interesting-veggies-002

The Triamble (also called shamrock) pumpkin that we got today in our box is supposed to be amazingly tasty, and I have a few soup recipes that I want to attempt with it. I will be roasting pumpkin this weekend, for sure.

Rainy Days

Finally, we get a good soaking rain. Good enough to give the sod a fighting chance to survive.

wegmans-and-rain-and-soup-037

Although it also kept the carpenters from working on the deck.

wegmans-and-rain-and-soup-039

I will be happy when they get done with the work and we can finish seeding the sodding the yard. The mud runs are getting a wee bit eroded.

The good news also, the tomatoes in my garden got much needed relief from the heat and drought conditions.

wegmans-and-rain-and-soup-040

I am running low on ripe tomatoes, and there are many green ones on the plants up at my garden.

Today though was cooler, dreary, just the type of weather that screams “SOUP!” and has me reaching for the pans and the crock pot.

wegmans-and-rain-and-soup-016

I dug into the freezer and took out a package of my Maple Lawn turkey drumsticks. The last ones from my visit at Thanksgiving. I freeze them with two to a pack. Just the right amount to make turkey stock, and crock pot soup.

Don’t make the mistake that I made and put frozen turkey into the crockpot. It could crack your ceramic from the thermal shock. I started my stock this morning on the stove.

wegmans-and-rain-and-soup-017

The turkey will defrost, and you should take it out and let it cool down enough to shred. What you see above is the bones, skin and tough pieces, used to make a hearty stock. Those shredded pieces?

wegmans-and-rain-and-soup-022

Went here. In the crock pot. This is a two step process, but yields at least four meals.

In that stove top pot, I placed the legs with carrots, onions and celery. Tarragon, parsley, salt and pepper. I forgot that I didn’t have carrots in the freezer, so Jenny’s came to the rescue here. I will miss the market when it closes in five weeks.

wegmans-and-rain-and-soup-023

When she opened this morning, I bought enough carrots to use today and to cut, blanch and freeze some for when I need them in the winter. The freezer is getting back to being ready for the end of the markets.

In the crock pot, I put water, the better parts of the carrots, celery and onion (I use the ugly stuff in the stock, and then discard them). After I got the turkey ready, I shredded it to remove all those pesky little bones that turkey drumsticks have. Seasoned and left to slow cook all day. I just added the egg noodles at 4 pm, so they will be perfect when we are ready for dinner at 6.

A nice bowl of soup. Some of our awesome CSA bread.

deck-and-csa-034

Last Tuesday we got a loaf of miche.

deck-and-csa-036

One of my favorites from She Wolf Bakery. I definitely will be getting bread in my fall CSA share, as I love the vegan breads we get. They stay fresh all week. No mold. Don’t get hard and stale. Bread and butter, with soup. A perfect meal to herald the change of seasons.

wegmans-and-rain-and-soup-033

The flowers? Just a bit of sunshine on a rainy day.

Chili Weather

Posted on

Another day. Another snow event. Seems to have become the norm around here. After the blizzard a few weeks back, I saw many people posting about the lack of chili ingredients in the local stores. There must have been a run on onions, beans, beef, and peppers.

Never one to be unprepared, I have figured out how to always be ready to make chili. Mostly crockpot chili. Yesterday while we were finishing up on a renovation task around here, I made sure that we had chili fixings, and put the pot on the counter.

Here’s how to be sure you don’t face a chili ingredient “emergency”.

I always have some sort of ground meat in the freezer. Mostly from the CSA or Friends and Farms. Beef, chicken or turkey. Depends on what I have two pounds available at the time. This time, I used CSA ground beef.

My stash from the pantry. I always have three items there. From Costco. Tomato paste. Diced tomatoes. Black beans. I also stock up on Harris Teeter’s beans when I see them on sale. This batch of chili used their organic chili beans in sauce.

In my freezer, from the summer, I have bags of roasted sweet peppers and of caramelized onions. If I can’t find onions at the store, or if I’m out of CSA onions, I can substitute. This time I used shallots, and the hot peppers left in the container from the olive bar. That’s where the heat was introduced in this chili.

cooking, birds and squirrel, attic 034

Then, there’s the four C’s.

cooking, birds and squirrel, attic 038

My secret to a sweet, hot chili. Those four ingredients pictured above. Add a little salt and pepper. Put everything into the crockpot. No, I don’t measure. Chili is such a forgiving recipe. Use more beans if you like. More peppers. More cilantro. Skip the cilantro. Whatever tastes best to you.

super bowl 2 006

There will be a couple of dinners out of my latest batch. So far though, we’re just thankful this is supposed to be less than a six inch snow event.

100% Amish

Posted on

I just noticed this about tonight’s dinner.

farm academy and amish meal 048

The food completely was sourced from the Amish farms in our Community Supported Agriculture. Including this absolutely lovely roast from Tussock Sedge Farm.

csa and tuscan 003

I went to their web site (yes, the Amish have web sites, usually maintained by a sales manager) and read all about this grass fed beef. It tells you to slow cook this beef for best results. I did a 20 hour slow cook in my crockpot, overnight and all day. I can say this is some of the best beef I have ever had. Falling apart. Incredibly tender.

Served with another new item we received. Kennebec potatoes

fandf rad bb 012

I think I have a new favorite when it comes to potatoes. These were very creamy and full of flavor. I just microwaved them for about three minutes. Perfect consistency. They would make awesome mashed potatoes.

The vegetables on the side were cauliflower and broccoli. Steamed for just about three minutes. A little Trickling Springs butter and salt and pepper. We got both of them last Tuesday in our delivery. Food just days out of the ground. Nothing like it.

And, enough leftovers for two more meals, plus a hearty broth that will make that last meal probably be a beef noodle soup.

farm academy and amish meal 055

It doesn’t get much better than this, and it was very simple to make. Turn on that crockpot and go about your business.

Thanks to Lancaster Farm Fresh, I can make a great Saturday night meal without running all over town.

Just Another Soggy Day in the ‘Hood

Posted on

The Fourth was a real bust around our house. I just couldn’t get into it, after spending Friday trying to salvage much of my waterlogged garden. The weather data around here showed June giving us 9.6″ of rain. Seventeen days in June it rained.

field day 2015 050

And we already slogged through last weekend at our Field Day site. Somehow I wasn’t inclined to make it two Saturdays in a row, so we stayed home and I cooked. I really had to do something with these.

garden and eggs 004

That would be the 75 onions I harvested on Friday. I had to do it. They were starting to crack, and to get softer at the crown.

garden and eggs 008

This pile couldn’t be hung to cure. They have various bruises and cracks but are a decent size. So, they became crock pot caramelized onions.

garden and eggs 017

All of them into the pot, for 16 hours, the last two uncovered. I ended up with about 32 ounces of onions. Four one cup containers. Three in the freezer to use this winter. Making them is simple. Salt, pepper, a splash of water.

I can definitely sympathize with our local farmers. This weather is seriously affecting crops. We got newsletters from both Friends and Farms, and our Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA, telling us to hang in there. The fruit and vegetables aren’t as good when the temperatures won’t rise enough to ripen them, and when excess rain waters them down, or splits them.

Still, I can be thankful my garden is producing.

garden and fandf eat local 002

Be Prepared

Posted on

That Boy Scout Motto. It resonates around here. We try to stay on top of the weather. The news. The calendar. Those food deliveries. And more.

But, in the winter. It is mostly about having things that are necessary and convenient within our reach. You know, in case it really does snow.

Like Super Bowl Sunday 2010.

winter 2010 134

When you really don’t want to shovel your way out there. Or, when that pizza delivery guy is NOT going to get here.

We recently watched as the Buffalo area was hit with a blizzard. And now, New England. We hear people lamenting that their roads aren’t open. That they can’t get out. They are running low on food (seriously? Not a problem around here).

We keep the pantry and freezer stocked with things we can easily make. In case we lose power. In case we are snowed in for a couple of days. It’s simple to have a ready stock of staples to tide you over until you can resume your routine outside of your home.

Like my Tuscan salad.

italian 063

Thanks to that Williams Sonoma book for giving me this often used recipe.

Instead of milk and bread at the grocery store, pick up a few cans and a couple of onions.

the pantry and freezer 001

I use Costco to provide me with tuna. Harris Teeter for all my beans. Besides the tuna dish, I can easily make couscous with chickpeas and salsa. Or, slow cook a chili dinner.

Having a well stocked freezer also helps.

the pantry and freezer 013

Bacon and eggs for frittata. Ground beef for meat loaf or meatballs and spaghetti.

Do me a favor. Stock up on beans. You can do so much with them. Even if you get that blizzard like we did Super Bowl Sunday five years ago. You can still make some awesome food. Just remember to have one manual can opener in the drawer. In case the power goes out. That tuna recipe doesn’t need cooking.