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Stove Top Suppers

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I was standing at the stove cooking Friday night. Using three of the four burners. Sipping a glass of wine, and chatting with my husband. For whatever reason, it brought back memories of growing up. My parents making a meal, sometimes mom, sometimes dad. We would be doing homework at the table under their eyes, while the day wound down.

Suppers were in the kitchen.  Dinners, on Sundays, and special occasions, were in the dining room.

I don’t know when things changed and we stopped cooking from scratch. When did prepared foods take over our lives? Throw in microwave, hit button, and eat when hot.

Back then, there were simple suppers. Burgers. Hot dogs. Fish Sticks. Mac and cheese. Liver and onions. Scrapple and scrambled eggs. Yes, back then we did “brinner”, breakfast for dinner. And, yes, we actually loved liver and onions, with gravy.

What have we lost, by not cooking as a family? Back then, we learned to cook, by watching our parents. We could scramble eggs. Make burgers. Make meat loaf (yes, I know, not stove top).

To me, now, it is interesting that I have reverted to cooking from scratch. Dirtying pots and pans. Frying. Not fancy stuff, and not preservative  laced, sodium laden meals.

Friday night is date night around here. Dinner and a movie. Or, catching up on our favorite shows. For a fraction of the cost of going out. Dinner cost less than $20. The expensive part of the meal. The Wegmans marinated sirloins for $10. Pan fried.

Served with butter beans from Harris Teeter. I still buy simple flash frozen vegetables to use in soups and stews, and these beans were leftovers. About a buck worth of beans, heated and served with butter. Lovely pappardelle that I picked up at Boarman’s. Half the $6 bag. Homemade pesto, from the scraps of our CSA. Carrot tops, radish greens, celery leaves. A handful of blanched almonds. Handful of parmesan. Olive oil. The almonds were probably the most expensive part of the pesto.

I had a pan frying steak. A pot boiling pasta. A small pot heating beans in a pat of butter on low. Yeah, some clean up required, but the dinner was wonderful.

Stove top cooking. Taking it easy and enjoying the results. Remembering the days of our youth watching our parents cook for us. Not a bad idea to just make it simple and savor a meal.

CSA Tidbits

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It’s been a while since I talked about my farm share from Lancaster Farm Fresh. Our spring/summer 26 week season is about to end next Tuesday, and then fall shares begin. We have already transitioned to fall vegetables, which I love, but the official “seasons” are off by a few weeks.

Some of the favorite things we get these days.

Radishes.

Exotic ones, like the watermelon radishes. I swapped this week to snare some of these. The medium shares got them, and we didn’t. Radishes come in spring and fall, and some of the hardiest ones, the daikon for example, come in the winter. These more delicate radishes can be enjoyed raw, with a sprinkling of salt. Those daikons, and the really heavy black radishes of winter, they have to be roasted to bring out their flavor.

Turnips.

Hakurei are my favorites. They can be eaten raw, and unpeeled, but I like to roast them or cook them with their greens, like Vivian Howard, of the Chef’s Life fame, has in her cookbook, Deep Run Roots. The “pot likker” alone is worth it. Yesterday I cooked up a mess of greens and added these roots to the pot. Nothing like intensely flavored greens, and buttered turnips. No pictures of those. They weren’t that photo worthy.

What is photo worthy? This.

Restaurant quality, if I say so myself. Greens from the CSA. A Cherry Glen Monocacy Ash cheese, picked up at Evermore Farm when I got my meat share. The blackberries? From Baugher’s in Westminster, right down the road from Evermore Farm. I love to stop there after getting my monthly allocation of meat and eggs. The blackberries were end of season, and a bit mushy, but still bursting with flavor. I ended up mixing some plain yogurt with lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and mint, for the dressing.

There are a few slivered almonds there, too.

Finally, the first soup of the season.

Lentil soup. Made using some fresh stuff, some frozen stuff and a bag of French lentils. Started with celery, a leek, carrots and onions, all from the CSA. Added a quart of turkey stock made in the spring and frozen, using Maple Lawn farm turkey drumsticks. The bag of lentils. A bay leaf from my plant. French thyme from Penzeys. Salt. Pepper. After it cooked about an hour, I blended part of it to make it creamy. Added a cup of milk at the end of cooking.

Enough for at least three dinners. One Tuesday night. One this weekend. One will be frozen for later this winter. It was the first time I made lentil soup and it won’t be the last time.

Before I sign off on this CSA update, I have to include the picture from Tuesday.

$33 a week. All organic. If I priced this out at Roots, I know it would be much higher, even if I could find all these items there. Watermelon radishes are hard to find. So are Hakurei turnips. French breakfast radishes.

I love getting the tops of the radishes and the turnips, too. They made that dinner last night. Rainbow chard, radish greens, turnip greens, all cooked down for a long time. The lettuces will be gone by the weekend. Salads at lunch and dinner. I will be roasting cauliflower this weekend. Tuscan kale. Destined for a salad on Sunday. The sweet peppers? Stuffed with goat cheese and Canadian bacon. Served with short ribs this Sunday night. With a little planning, a CSA share can give us a week of healthy eating.

 

Pilgrimage to Penzeys

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Ever heard of Penzeys. The spice place. Known to bakers, cooks, and those who love the freshest of ingredients. I went there today to find fresh whole spices for Indian cooking.

Because of this cookbook.

The October selection of our cookbook club. A cuisine that we both have loved ever since we first met. There are many excellent Indian restaurants in our area. Ananda comes to mind as a personal favorite. And, garam masala is a staple in my cooking.

But, this book is different. Home cooking, not restaurant meals. Simple, flavorful, and tempting me to create my own garam masala from scratch. And, to make simple dishes like the masala omelet.

I think I am set to continue my cooking, and to grind my own masala. Not pictured are the peppercorns. I do have cloves which are also called for in her recipe for garam masala.

Penzeys store is located in Rockville, even though their website says Penzeys Bethesda. Just south of MD 28 on Rockville Pike. Right now, if you go to their store and spend $50 (not hard to do with spices), you get two free jars.

Not going in my Indian cooking, but definitely a plus for some of my other recipes. Their prices are actually comparable to good sources of spice in specialty stores, but they are so fresh.

I also stocked up on a few staples, like these.

Yeah, I know, addicted to cooking. Just like my mom, who couldn’t pass up a yarn, knitting, craft store.

You can also buy online, if you don’t have a store close to you. What’s to keep you from having some awesome dinners?

 

 

San Francisco Bay

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Coffee.

If there was only one environmentally friendly packaged coffee out there, I hope it is this one. We have a Keurig for convenience, for those days we don’t want a whole pot. I do buy some Green Mountain coffees, but don’t like their wasteful packaging.

Way back when, I discovered this family business that packaged their coffees without all that extra plastic stuff.

Use it. Put it in the compost. Even their outer wrap for the 10 pod packages is made of compostable material. I made special trips to Wegmans to buy it.

Now, it’s gone. Probably because it doesn’t work in K-2 machines. It was a bargain. Less than 40 cents a pod.

But, you know, when you can’t find something, you can always turn to Amazon, can’t you? Yep, the 80 cup pack on line for less than what we paid at Wegmans. With Prime, and free shipping, 30 cents a cup.

And we wonder why brick and mortar stores are hurting.

By the way, this is an excellent dark roast coffee. Low in acid. High in flavor. The dark roasts are so much nicer for those of us who want to avoid acid.

Designer Kale

Kalettes. Ever heard of them. Neither did I until they showed up in my Community Supported Agriculture share last Tuesday.

They even have their own website.

They remind me of red Russian kale. They are a cross between Brussels sprouts and kale. Easier to digest. Nutty in flavor.

After seven years in our CSA, Lancaster Farm Fresh, I thought they couldn’t come up with much I hadn’t seen before. And, yep, they did.

I finally got around to using them yesterday. Some of them in soup. The rest. Today will become sautéed side dish for my shrimp and grits.

As for the soup, I am currently cooking from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. For the cookbook club. Refining my techniques. I made a variation of the Tuscan bean and kale soup for dinner.

Definitely a variation. What did I use for this soup? A quart of my homemade chicken stock. Scallions. Purple carrots. A small, cubed Beuregard sweet potato. A can of low sodium cannellini beans. A smoked ham hock. Some of my cherry tomatoes from the garden.

The only seasoning added was a bay leaf, pepper, and oregano. I like the kalettes. They are milder and easily wilt into the soup.

Now, to find them locally. That should be interesting. I wonder if Whole Foods has them?

 

 

 

No Bones About It

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Bare Bones, that is. A local restaurant that hosted the blogging community and what seemed like a boatload of politicians from our county.

There were over 100 people at the popular “ribs” bar on Monday night. An opportunity to schmooze. Catch up with old friends. Meet people running in our next election in 2018.

Scott Ewart and Bill Woodcock hosted the event. They found sponsors that helped make the night special. A big thanks to Performance Tinting, who brought goodies to share, and who conducted a raffle of baskets with many of their auto-related products offered at their business. We use them to detail our cars. They did an amazing job on our pickup truck, getting those fabric seats beautiful and stain free. To support them, we bought a few raffle tickets, and then, surprise, we won the big basket. All sort of cute little items including some potential Christmas stocking stuffers.

Thanks to those who made the night out so special. And, I have to say, they still have some of the best BBQ ribs. We stopped visiting after an hour and sat down to indulge.

The Monday night special. A rack of spare ribs. Two sides. I picked their butter beans and corn fritters. Brought home half that rack, which became dinner the next night, along with my better half’s leftovers. Not a bad deal for $18.99.

Bare Bones also has their own beers. We enjoyed a pint while talking to some of the long time bloggers.

Eat In or Carry Out. Really good ribs. Trust me.

The Buy Local Challenge

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Today is the kickoff day of the annual Maryland Buy Local Challenge. Simple. Pledge to eat at least one local item every day for nine days. It’s just 1/40th of the year. It should be so much more.

How about taking it up a notch. Pick nine items to buy locally for the entire year. At least buy most of those items, even if you don’t do 100%, a significant commitment to supporting local businesses is well worth it.

Things like these. Wine, beer, jams, ice cream, bread, meat, cheese, distilled spirits. Maybe fruit for as long as it’s available. Eggs. A Community Supported Agriculture share. Locally roasted coffee, or chocolate.

In other words, help the local small businesses who could use the support year round, and not just for nine days in July. If you eat out, make the small restaurants your favorites, and stop going to TGIF or Applebees.

Do you go to the farmer’s markets? Buy more from them. Go to the Breadery. Or Atwaters.

Head over to the Breezy Willow Country Store in Ellicott City, and see what they are selling. Go to The Rooster and Hen in Catonsville.

What other ideas do you have to put more money in our local economy?