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Bitter Sweet

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Bitter like the greens. Sweet as the beets.


It may be a slow improvement, but still. The change to my lifestyle and my eating habits since retiring has been paying off. My annual physical was yesterday. Saw much improvement by moving away from commercially prepared highly processed foods and by cooking from scratch as much as possible.

I considered naming this post “A1C is the new LDL” since decades of eating low fat, or no fat, and not cooking with basic ingredients has impacted our health. Face it, we had significantly more sugar in our diets while we worked and commuted. Too many frozen dinners, carry out meals and high carb restaurant choices like pasta, or pizza.

Now, my generation fights the battle against Type 2 Diabetes. All those low fat meals contained hidden sugars.

I am glad I made the switch. Even though it is time consuming to cook this way. I also know that my CSA is the real reason I don’t give up.

That salad up there. I made the dressing. The greens and beets and berries are from my CSA. So is the cheese.


The creamy dressing. Yogurt without added sugar. A very tiny bit of preserves. White balsamic and good olive oil. A pinch of salt and pepper.

It’s not the only thing we have added to our vegetable share. We get cheese, fruit, meat, yogurt, and bread. I have added a grain and flour share for fall.

This is the bread we now eat.


A different one each week. No dairy. No sugar. The miche is awesome with soups and stews. Comes with our CSA delivery. Made in a bakery in Brooklyn NY. This one and the polenta are my favorites.


Today I threw a whole bunch of things in the crockpot. Minimizing sodium, sugar and preservatives. Yeah, I didn’t skip the fat. Mostly the healthy fats, like olive oil. A layer of greens. A layer of beans. Some lovely beef short ribs from Boarman’s.

I admit it. If I didn’t have a year round CSA delivery, I probably wouldn’t have stuck to the “real food” diet. I would have been lazier and bought some ready made items. Having those vegetables hanging out in the fridge and on the counter reminds me daily that I need to continue this path. I don’t want my golden years to be consumed by health issues. I don’t want to take all sorts of prescriptions to combat something that I can prevent with a little effort.

Here’s to my feeling good about the progress. Here’s to getting better, while not feeling old. Here’s to that heart healthy red wine. Can’t forget that.



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An overload of greens, and then some. The return of root vegetable season, and the return of really healthy greens with my weekly CSA basket.


This week’s medium share had some real weight to it. The turnips, beets and radishes all came with a massive amount of greens attached. Add to that a couple of squash. It is time to dust off the recipes that use greens and squash to make a harvest meal. The easy thing about greens. They can be used in a sauté recipe, puréed, or just torn up, blanched and added to other recipes.

You can also make fancy pesto with them. Like this one. Used in my green tomato pasta. I made a close cousin to that recipe just the other day. This next batch? Will be using radish greens, basil, beet greens and scallions.


Purple beets obviously have purple “greens”. The color of this pesto should be interesting.

Add to all the goodness from the CSA basket, I found a stray gongura plant in my garden. I think the seeds washed over into my tomatoes from a neighboring plot.


Sometimes called red sorrel leaves, it has quite a reputation as a staple in many Indian diets, and is not that inexpensive to buy. There are at least 10 plots in our community gardens that have this plant flourishing.

Finally, in the greens world around here, there are the last of the green tomatoes. I harvested three pounds today, to finish off my season. A few will be bagged and left to ripen. The rest are destined to be chopped. Some for a green tomato pasta, and the rest for green tomato jam. My friend, Kirsten over at Farm Fresh Feasts turned me on to this jam. You have to take the time and make it. Slather it on a burger.

Just think. The markets are still open around here. It is also easy to head out to Larriland and pick green tomatoes. And beets. Pestos. Jams. Spreads. Soups. The possibilities are endless for what you can do with all things “green”.


Buy your root vegetables from the local farmers and make sure you use up those greens. Don’t let them go to waste.

Soup Season

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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.


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.


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

The other star of dinner. The bread.


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.


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.


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.

Pepper’d and Squash’d

My Community Supported Agriculture basket is overflowing with peppers this week.


Including ghost peppers. Which I have no idea what I am going to make with them. We also got a healthy dose of squash.


Acorn and patty pan this week. Last week?


Zucchini and delicata.

It may say “autumn” in the next week around here, but the vegetables are still screaming summer.


Because there’s six ears of sweet corn in this week’s basket, too.

A little side dish, celebrating the seasons.


I took the zucchini. Sliced it. Covered it with items from the olive bar at Wegmans. Drizzled in olive oil. A very tasty side served with Boarman’s steak.

And, now, because my programs have failed me twice while writing this post, I think I will run off quickly before it dies again. Here’s to Indian Summer, enjoyable while it lasts.

The New Normal

These days. My typical Tuesday, to do all my shopping in one fell swoop.

Pick up the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share.


Lancaster Farm Fresh. An Amish cooperative of over 100 farmers. Organic for the price of conventional. We are in the last third of the summer season. Getting ready to sign up for the eight week fall extension.

Figuring out what to make with what we got. Thinking about stuffing peppers.

Heading off to Boarman’s market to finish my shopping. Those back roads from Braeburn to Hall Shop to Highland.


Picking up the proteins that now replace what I used to get from Friends and Farms. Sausage for stuffing. Filets for a date night dinner. Chicken breasts for tomorrow.


Finding local eggs there since there are no eggs left in the house. So much of what we eat now comes from the local sources and the small businesses around here. Not a bad way to shop.


The best part of these pick ups? That amazing bread from She Wolf. A real highlight of our CSA. Maple and Oat Sourdough.


And more trivial local interesting food stuff.

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Because every year I get drawn in by the signs on Rte. 32 that tell me Jenny’s market has fresh lima beans. Shelled by the patriarch of the family. If you have ever shelled lima beans, you know you do much work to get those tasty beans out of their shells.

The beans, corn and scallions in today’s version of succotash come from Jenny’s. The red pepper, from my CSA.

The cornerstone of one absolutely delicious Sunday dinner.

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Fingerlings from the CSA. Salmon from a trip to Wegmans. Wines?

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A local Sauvignon Blanc throwdown. I liked the Linden one. My husband, the Big Cork.

To me, around here, summer is always about fresh food. Bought locally. Prepared simply.

Slow(er) Food

A few days ago I blogged about fast food options at home. I got a few comments about my cast iron pan.

csa and lamb dinner and pans 015 And, about seasoning it. I have had my original two pans about a decade or so. I bought them at Tractor Supply. On sale. They are Lodge pans. I am not sure if others are as good, but these pans have handled just about everything and are very easy to clean, and to keep seasoned.

I only use hot water to clean them. With an abrasive sponge to scrub. I season occasionally with olive oil. Put in the oven. They are definitely non stick.

Besides using them for quick cooking, I do make dinners that take a bit more time. Like with these pork chops.

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I had seared them in the pan, then I put them in the oven with some apple cider to finish them while keeping them moist. Pork takes a little more time to cook.

As for other options that need more time in the oven, but not a huge commitment in active preparation, I have many meals that take 10-15 minutes to set up. Then, about half an hour to execute.

Like this week. This was my CSA basket.

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So many choices. The first night I decided to make lamb meatballs with stuffed patty pan squash and fingerlings.

I stuffed the squash with half a tomato from my garden, crumbled feta, herbs and olive oil. Boiled the fingerlings. Put the squash in the oven while prepping the meatballs. It took about 15 minutes to prep. 30 minutes to cook. The result?

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Excellent meal. By the way, I cooked the meatballs in a muffin tin. It wasn’t a very fancy meal but it certainly was full of flavor. And done in less time than driving to a restaurant, getting put on a waiting list and hanging out for 30-45 minutes waiting for a table.

We had a nice cocktail out on the patio. Once the oven timer went off, we came in, opened a pinot noir and had a leisurely meal.

I have learned to cook simply. Using the fresh ingredients from my CSA. Baking or sautéing a protein. Taking the time to sit at the table and have a quiet conversation. While not spending $50-$100 for dinner. :Like you easily can do around here. Those drinks, appetizers, wine, tip, taxes and desserts all add up.

We like to go out a few times a month, but can eat better foods, with incredible wines, by putting together meals with great local fresh ingredients.