Thursday, July 5, 2012

The "N" Word

So, I took a bit of a break from writing. But I'm back full force today. Here is a quick and 100% true story that happened last week.

Scott and I were walking around our apartment complex. Or rather, we were chasing Maeve. A lot of the people who live in the buildings that make up our "complex" have dogs that they walk. We walk our 1.5 year old. It happens.

Fortunately, our puppy-esque daughter found a kindred soul. A neighbor we hadn't met yet was walking her adorable dog and offered to let Maeve give him a rub down. So there we were, watching our toddler play "gentle" with the dog. Three adults. Standing around. Breathing. The silence had to be broken.

Neighbor: "She's adorable. How old is she?"
Me: "She's 1 and a half."
Maeve: "Hi......hi.......hi.........hi"
Neighbor: "She's so cute! Hi, sweetheart. How are you?"
Me: "That's all she has so far. Just the two words, hi and bye."
Neighbor: "She doesn't say the 'N'word yet?"


Me: sputtering....stalling....."Uh, um...."
Scott: "Sorry, the 'N' word?" (husband coming up clutch)
Neighbor: "Yeah, the 'N' word. You know, 'no'?"


Thank God. In that moment when my brain was rolodexing through any and all alternate 'N' words, I began to wonder if we'd moved to Skinhead suburbia. Who would teach their toddler that word!? PHEW. I think from now on, we can just say "no" instead of abbreviating. It's not NEARLY that bad.

Friday, June 15, 2012

So, I made Sweet potato, mushrooms, kale and cous cous for dinner last night. I didn't have quinoa but the whole wheat cous cous was a fabulous substitute. 

But I'm going to be honest: the kale was a bit chewy. Is it supposed to be chewy? I don't know. Was this due to chef's error, or is it simply in kale's nature to be chewy? Seriously, I don't know. It was fine; I ate it. But this wasn't my favorite part of the meal. 

As for the recipe, I LOVED the sweet potato and mushrooms in the wine sauce! I might add a bit of broth next time because there wasn't much to put on top of the cous cous. And I am seriously considering adding sweet potatoes to just about every meal after this one. Sweet potatoes are such a gorgeous color and texture and flavor. Delicious times a million! 

Speaking of color, my Little Rainbow Pants has figured out how to climb up onto the table. Please see exhibit B below. It does look like she's getting into the spirit of things as she spices up my water with salt and pepper. Thanks, Boo!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rhubarb Raspberry Crumble

You read that correctly. I had actually higher hopes set on making this: rhubarb raspberry crostata. However, the CSA share did not yield enough rhubarb. No big deal, I thought. So I stopped by the grocery store. And then another one. And then I called 5 more stores. NO ONE had rhubarb. So, I was out of luck! Argh!

What could you possibly make with a single portion size amount of rhubarb and a 6 oz box of raspberries? Well, if you're like me, you can wing it.

Raspberry Rhubarb Crumble

serves 2
375 degrees, 25 minutes

For Filling (divided into two oven safe dishes)
6 oz raspberries
1 cup rhubarb chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

For Crumble (again, divide over oven safe dishes)

  • tablespoons brown sugar
  • tablespoons quick-cooking oats
  • tablespoon flour
  • tablespoon butter

  • Directions

    1) Put berries, rhubarb in dishes. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch on each.
    2) Mix Crumble ingredients until -you guessed it - crumbly. Top berries, trying to cover evenly.
    3) Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

    Now, the truth of the matter is this: the fruit filling was a bit tart. Next time, I would probably add a tablespoon of sugar to each bowl. Or, maybe I'd cook the filling up first more like a pie filling. That way you could taste it before you baked it. But the crumble was first-rate. And the whole thing was still palatable. It might not have been the Bon Apetit Crostata, but it did use my rhubarb in a delectable way. 

    I'm also realizing just how many bowls I have with handles. Wow.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    I've been rabe'd!

    Broccoli rabe that is. This stuff was incredible and is basically the reason I signed up for this CSA. I have heard of broccoli rabe before, but never tried it. I had been pondering what to do with it since we got it. It had a strong pepper-y smell and I was dubious about how I could work that into a meal.

    And then, as if PBS knew I was struggling, Lidia Bastianich had a recipe for broccoli rabe, sausage and pasta. It was meant to be! So, last night I tried it and my only complaint is that I don't think I had enough broccoli rabe! FOR REAL. The pepper flavor worked fabulously well with the garlic, the butter and the salty sausage. Seriously, this will be my go-to recipe for broccoli rabe from now on and it might make the entertaining list (ie: things to impress guests that I can cook fairly easily > fancy result, minimal effort.) A little red wine, a side salad, some scrumptious bread and you have quite a lovely meal!

    Monday, June 11, 2012

    Some years ago, I went to a Jewish diner in Brookline with a friend of mine who was Jewish. (No, this is not the beginning of a bad joke.) She ordered borscht. I had no idea what that was, so when it arrived, I asked her. She said it was a beet-based soup and one of her favorite things because it reminded her of her grandmother. Food is funny that way, isn't it? Flavors reminding us of things that go well beyond our ability to taste...

    Unfortunately, I did not taste her soup, so I had no idea how Borscht should taste. I went to Pinterest, as I'm apt to do, and found this recipe for borscht soup. And I made it. And it tastes...familiar. Weird, right? The closest epicurean ethnicity I could claim would be Irish: meat and potatoes. And there are potatoes and lots of cabbage in this, so perhaps it's that. I'm not exactly sure, to be perfectly honest. But it tastes earthy and good and the way soup should taste when paired with delicious whole grain bread. I don't taste the beets at all so if you're trying to hide them, I guess this is an (unintentionally) good thing. But I froze this batch for easy thaw later and moved on to conquering my second meal for the day.

    I wanted to use the beet greens in some way so I didn't feel like I was wasting them. So, as many veteran CSA-er's will tell you, 'when in doubt, cook up greens in a little EVOO and some garlic." So, I made a small side dish for dinner with that advice. I also boiled corn on the cob. (FYI: I looked up how to boil corn on the cob AFTER I started cooking it. Yeah, not such a great idea. Best advice says to boil the water, add corn and when it comes back to a boil, remove.) I baked some chicken and made these sour cream (I subbed greek yogurt) and chives mashed potatoes.

    So, on the CSA count, I used up all the beets, and beet greens, and all of the chives. Oh, and in between, I made my own granola bars. No big deal. They're just AMAZING. They didn't take long at all, they're chewy (hard to achieve, actually) and I know exactly what went into them. I didn't take a picture, but I guarantee if you make these you will be a happier person. Even if none of the ingredients are from your CSA.

    Saturday, June 9, 2012

    Day 2 - Me Hungry!

    No picture. No time. Toooo hungry!

    For Day 2 of the CSA challenge, I whipped up veggie burritos. We probably have these once a week. And it's spectacular. Every time. These ingredients = magic together.

    Black Bean Fajitas

    2 Bell Peppers
    2 small or 1 large onion
    2 cloves Garlic
    Crushed Chili Pepper
    Adobo Spice
    Salt/Pepper (if you want)
    1 can refried black beans

    Basically, I put a dab of oil and the garlic in a large saucepan and turn the heat up to Medium/Medium Low to let the garlic loosen up for about a minute. Then I add the peppers and onions. I give them a minute to warm up before I add the seasonings. I do about 10-15 shakes of each.

    Let me stop you right there. I know "shakes" are not a unit of measurement. But I simply do not measure. I try to give every vegetable a light coating of every spice. It's not scientific. You can always add more later but in my personal opinion its difficult to over-spice fajitas. So find that latin station on your radio and shake, shake, shake it out. Don't worry, no one is looking. Except your one year old. But she already thinks you are "loco."

    So, that's about it. It cooks for um, like 10 minutes? I don't know. Until the veggies look soft but not mushy. Maybe 15 minutes if you're closer to Low than Medium. You'll know. Meanwhile, you throw the beans in a small sauce pan and let them warm up. Keep stirring or the bottom will burn. Trust me on that one. Once they're warm, turn the heat down to low and they'll be ready to schmear on your tortilla.

    Then, toppings!

    Chopped Tomatoes
    Chopped Lettuce
    Greek Yogurt (think of it like sour cream with live and active cultures)

    I'm sure you already know this but the perfect fajitas is layered like so: tortilla, beans, pepper/onions, cheese, yogurt. This is why: beans act like glue and hold in the pepper/onions which are hot so they melt the cheese. Yogurt is top glue. Once you've rolled your fajitas into the burrito shape, you top with salsa. This might rock your world. Don't worry. That's normal.

    Friday, June 8, 2012

    I like bowls with handles

    CSA season has started! YAY! 





    Right. So, the only drawback to being in a Community Supported Agriculture program is that you get stuff you don't usually buy or use. Upon second thought, that is actually a benefit, isn't it? At the very least, it is a challenge. I like challenges.

    This week we got a variety of yummies. I obviously knew what to do with the strawberries, asparagus, tomatoes, chives and lettuce. Duh. But I had to get a bit more creative with the bok choi, radishes, beets, and broccoli rabe. Oh and I got rhubarb, too. (WAIT until you see what I'm going to do with the rhubarb!!)

    So, I've decided to adopt a 15 week challenge to document how I used my CSA bounties and prove that anyone who can read, can cook. I have zero training as a cook and would cite "Google" as my greatest culinary resource at this point in time. I also have to throw out a thanks to my sister-in-law Seanna Berry who gave me a delicious cookbook called "Moosewood Restaurant New Classics" for Christmas. That is where the first recipe came from last night (color signifies CSA veg). The picture says it all! 

    -------- ------------ --------------------------------
    6 ounces snow peas
    - or 8 asparagus spears (I used asparagus)
    4 cups sliced bok choy
    - or 6 cups stemmed fresh spinach leaves
    1 cup carrot matchsticks (I just used a grater to create "matchsticks")
    1/2 cup daikon matchsticks --  (this is apparently a fancy radish)
    3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
    3 tablespoons soy sauce
    1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
    2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root
    1/3 cup scallions -- sliced on an
    extreme diagonal (I cheated: I used the chives)
    1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds -- **
    lemon wedges

    ** Toast sesame seeds on an unoiled baking tray at 350F for 2 to 3
    minutes, until fragrant and golden brown.

    Serves 4 to 6
    Total time: 20 minutes

    Bring 1 quart of water to a boil on high heat. Remove the strings from the snow
    peas, if using, and blanch for 1 to 2 minutes. (Or, for asparagus,
    snap off the tough stem ends, cut the spears in half on the diagonal,
    rinse, and simmer until tender, about 7 minutes.) Remove with a
    spoon, drain, and set aside. Blanch the bok choy in the same water
    for 2 to 3 minutes (blanch spinach for 1 minute), then drain and set

    Meanwhile, whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, and ginger root.

    Toss the bok choy or spinach with half of the dressing and spread on
    a serving platter. Toss the rest of the vegetables with the remaining
    dressing and arrange them on top of the greens. Sprinkle with the
    scallions and sesame seeds.

    Serve at room temperature decorated with a few lemon wedges. Also, instead of kneading your lemon to release the juices before you cut it, just give it to your toddler. She'll take care of that for you.