Thursday, June 30, 2011

Couscous fail

Couscous is delicious and easy and you can do anything you want to it. Which is one (3?) of the reasons I've never been making couscous for dinner, thinking to myself, I should take pictures of this for the blog. It's easier than a grilled cheese sandwich.

So while dealing with the farmshare foods (making salad, washing things, determining if anything needed to be frozen) on Tuesday, I decided to do up some couscous for our lunches, using the fluffy chard we got. I sauteed up some chard in garlic and cooked the couscous in homemade veg stock and chopped sundried tomatoes, and a fontina rind. Black pepper. Done. It took 10 minutes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

CSA 2011 - The Goods - Week Four

Another pretty week in the farmshare.  Green and orange and purple and red.  After four weeks, I'm realizing that it's pretty easy when you choose your own veg.  There are no beets that way, and no weeks where you get three bunches of scallions, and you can always be sure you have salad on hand.   This week was a slight disappointment, as we found out over the weekend that something went wrong and those of us who had ordered arugula weren't going to be able to get it, but I had no problem swapping out for kale, and that's why we do this, right?  We buy the produce that's available now, and we're helping to balance out the risk of farming - if this farm had to deliver arugula to Shop Rite, they'd be screwed, but since it's me, I'll take kale.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dining Out: Horizons

Me and the girls had struggled for months to find a good date for dinner.   Seriously, you'd think we were working on world peace.   We're busy ladies.  Everybody has a baby or a job, and either a social life or volunteer stuff or a marriage to sustain.   Finally, we got it figured out.  And just in time.  We'd been planning on going to Horizons for months, a "modern vegan" restaurant near here - one of us is vegan and all of us like food - and then we heard that they were closing.   The clock was ticking. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Steak Fajitas

Fajitas are a default/easy/go-to in our house.  Either veg or chicken, usually.  This was a first for steak. Pretty quick and easy, except for a bit of marinade time. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Grilled Pizza, again.

I contacted Maya, the winner of the bowl covers, and she said the following:

I can't even remember the last time I won a contest! My senior year in high school my name was picked first out of a hat to choose a passage from Hamlet to memorize. But I don't think that counts.

She selected this bold, fun print and they're on their way. 

Anyway, I said there'd be food. 

Sometimes you and your friends get together and make your own ricotta, make up some pesto, and grill up fantastic pizza, but you're not at home and you don't take photos of the process and then somebody jumps in and takes photos once it's over and tells you you should post it.  And you know, it's good pizza and people like to hear about good pizza, so you post it. 

Sometimes that happens.  And it's nighttime, and you're grilling and you're eating outside, so the photos look like this.

And sometimes one of your friends makes a salad that sounds mind-numbingly simple but might be life-changing. Chickpeas. Red Onion.  Tomato. Oil. Vinegar. Scapes. Nom.  

And sometimes eggplant gets that rich smoky flavor that makes it seem like it's not just a veg with a bit of tomato sauce and a blanket of there's something way more complicated going on.

Hot tip on pesto.  

I used a ton of basil and a good amount of parmesan and pine nuts and olive oil... it was like two a half cups of basil, 1/3 cup oil, 1/3 cup pine nuts and 1/2 cup garlic clove, black pepper, salt...  and it was kind of lame. I mean it tasted good, but not super basily.  A little too salty.  Then I let it sit an hour and it got awesome.  Like fight over the leftovers awesome.  Dip your finger in the bowl, again, awesome.   So let your pesto develop. 

Giveaway Winner

To celebrate 100 posts, we're giving away a gorgeous set of bowl covers from Sew Much Style on Etsy.  The contest details are here.

Drumroll, right?  Let's do this.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Guest Post: Mexican Hot Dogs

When your wife hits 100 posts on her blog, she gets a night off from cooking. In case that first sentence didn't clue you in, this is Sous Chef Brian giving you the goods for a day. Nine times out of ten, when Rose isn’t cooking we order in or go out somewhere, but this is one of those one out of ten times where I end up making something.  There is a reason why I don’t cook much. I’m really not all that confident with it. It’s not that I can’t cook… really I can do a few things around the kitchen, but there is always the potential that I’ll add something or forget a key step that ruins a meal. So usually the best things I do are simple. So I had a simple plan to make one of my favorite things to get out, the Mexican hot dog.

Many of our favorite local spots have offered some version of it. For a while I was terrified of it, but after I tried one I was hooked on them, and if I see one on the menu someplace it’s really hard for me not to get one. For those of you who don’t know, a Mexican hot dog is a hot dog but with bacon wrapped around it and topped with the some combination of mayo, jalapeños, onions, tomato, salsa, and cheese (usually Cotija, but it could be cheddar). Sounds crazy right? CRAZY GOOD YO!

My version is as follows:

First, throw some hot dogs in the oven. We usually go with Hebrew National, because we at least know they hold themselves to some kind of standard.

While the dogs were a'cooking I spread a thin layer of Vegenaise on the buns. Note that since I used Vegenaise instead of mayonnaise this is completely healthy meal.

Next,  I made up some bacon. Since we like our bacon crispier than most, I didn’t wrap the bacon around the hot dog as per the traditional Mexican technique that was surely passed down from the Mayans.* I think I’ll try the wrapping technique next time, but with a slice of bacon in every bun there was always that wonderful bacon flavor in every bite.

With no tomato on hand, I was a little worried that the dogs might be a bit dry. With that in mind, I quickly threw together a sauce that was equal parts ketchup and brown mustard. Then I added as much hot sauce as I was comfortable with - and then I added some more.

Once the dogs were up, I threw them in the buns and topped them with the sauce, jalapeños, freshly diced yellow onion and cheddar cheese. All that's left is for you to snarf it down.

This got a rave review from Rose, which is good because she would never make these (or at least, she'd never tell y'all that she made them).

That's all I've got this time. See you all in some arbitrary amount of time...  

* I’m now convinced the whole 2012 Mayan Calendar end of the world thing is based on the Mayans foreseeing Americans finding out about the hot dog wrapped in bacon just a few years prior 2012 and bring about their own fatty demise, while dragging the rest of the world down with them. I mean, that makes sense right? **

** Did I just footnote a footnote? You're damn right I did. I’m drunk with power! Anyway, here’s a New York Times article on the Mexican hot dog. Apparently, it wasn’t passed down from the Mayans. Whatever.

There is still time left, but not much.  Enter now!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CSA 2011 - The Goods - Week Three

Subtitle:  I don't know what endive is.

Picked up our third farmshare box this week.  It's really different, being able to pick out the produce in advance.  Last year it seemed like such an adventure, finding out what was in the box and figuring out what to do with it.  This year is less so.  There are positives and negatives to both styles.  One negative is that this year it's a bit like flying on Southwest.  You ever do that?  There are no seat assignments, it's just a mad dash.  My farmshare is a bit like that.   I got an email when it was time to place orders for this week, and the email said that peas were limited, and only to select one type of pea (one bunch of peas?  one box of peas?) I don't know how peas are distributed, because I got no peas.  I got the email midday, was at work, spoke to my dear husband about which produce to pick and then before I left for the day went to make my selections and peas were gone.  So were a few other things.  So what I got is what I picked, and what I picked was nearly the full range of what was available.  This week, like last week, I chose endive.  Last week I was disappointed to not see it in the box, but noticed I had received 3 lettuces, rather than 2, so at least I got something in it's place.  This week, again, I didn't see endive, but an extra lettuce.   I got to Googling. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Garlic Scape Pesto Chicken Pasta

Yeah, the title of this one is just a bunch of food words strung together.  I could have used the word tomato too, but I thought that would be pushing it.

I made a ton of garlic scape pesto a few days ago.  I mixed it with red wine vinegar and a bit of oil and called it salad dressing for lunch, and then heated it up with my pasta and chicken and called it sauce for dinner.  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Vegetarian Cat

I heard there weren't enough cats on the Internet, so felt compelled to post this.

I mentioned in the 100th post that I had posted several pictures of my cat over the last few months.  That's true, but it made me feel bad - like I only have one cat.  Sabrina is the one who is typically photographed with meat.  She's into it.  Ainsley, however, is weird.

We adopted Ainsley when she was too young, and I blame that for most of her problems.  Not that we took her away from her momma, we got her second-hand from someone who rescued her.  Third-hand, really.  Anyway, she's "off."  She's tense and skittish.

If we're eating or cooking meat or dairy, Sabrina is nearby, howling.  Ainsley is in another room, typically staring off like a depressed teenager (that's her thing).  But if we're making a salad, Ainsley is right on hand, waiting to catch whatever drops.  She doesn't know what's in her kibble, so she thinks she's a vegetarian.

Here's a fairly blurry action series of Ainsley, Sous Chef Brian, and a leaf of red leaf lettuce.  Ignore the messy office in the background, please.

She's into greens. Speaking of into greens... NYT recently had an Friday on Meatless Mondays, and the title cracked me up: Meatless Mondays Catch On, Even With Carnivores.   No, only with carnivores, right?  Because other folks are already going meatless on Monday and everyday.  So carnivores are your target population.   If you're working on convincing vegetarians to go meatless, you're doing it wrong.

If you haven't entered the Saturday's Mouse 100 Posts Contest yet, you're missing out.   We're giving away some fabulous kitchen goodies.  You have until Thursday, June 23rd, so get to it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

100th Post Freebie/Contest/Giveaway

At the end of January this year, a friend suggested I start a food blog.  As I've said before, she was likely kidding, or at least just sick of my Facebook status updates about what I made for dinner.   For several months (years, if we go back), Sous Chef Brian and I had been making a concerted effort to cook at home more and to make more legitimate food.  "Making food out of food."  Two summers before, we had made a point of eating a new vegetable each week, and last year we joined a CSA for the first time.  It was an adventure - fairly stressful, cooking mystery veg - but we learned a lot and added plenty of new good foods to the repertoire. And I fully learned to respect the power of the freezer, and start preserving what was coming in.

I'm learning by doing.  I post successes and fails, a few rants and some praise for the kitchen tools that make it all possible.  I'm honest about the outcomes, and let folks know when the ideal way might not be the way I did it.  I'm thrilled when I hear that someone made a recipe I had posted, or was inspired by some ingredient.  I'm honored when I get emails letting me know my blog helped somebody.  I think a lot of us are doing this, moving towards making more foods at home, and it's comforting to hear from those voices as well, as we learn together.   If you told me two years ago I'd be making all of my own bread, I wouldn't have believed you.

In 100 posts, I've posted 55 full recipes, 8 total fails, written with both anxiety and optimism about cooking CSA veg, posted pictures of my cat 3 times, made several kinds of bread, and insulted a well-respected food advocate.  It's been an exciting time for me. 

Here are some of the highlights, in my opinion (the lows are all tagged "fail," you can see them on your own):

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Garlic Scape Pesto Spread

Garlic scapes come around for this brief window in June before garlic is harvested.   When they're here, they seem to be everywhere, and then they vanish, not to be seen for another year.  I showed up an hour too late to the farm market two weeks ago to find one scape for sale.  Like one scallion.  One radish.  One sad scape.  Because when they're here, they're in demand.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CSA 2011 - The Goods - Week Two

This is week two of our Red Earth Farm CSA. 

Plenty of lettuce.   Enough scapes to give a good handful to my mom.  Chard, because I rely on it in everything.  Salad turnips. Apricots.  Strawberries.  And an unphotographed tiny basil plant - my third this year (keep it in your thoughts).

The apricots are gorgeous, but I picked one up and asked Sous Chef Brian if he was a fan, and he was all, "I don't think so, but you know, I get surprised.  I generally don't like things with giant pits."  I took a bite, and I think that if you really like apricots, it might have been a really good one.  But I'm not really an apricot fan either.  Sous Chef Brian had a bite of mine, which confirmed that he's not a fan either.  I can eat them, but if you have any ideas on what else to do with them, or what to cut them up and mix them with, I'd be happy to hear.

I wandered out of the kitchen to write this up and he stayed in there to clean up (prepping for the great washing of the greens) and yelled, "Oh God!" so I ran in, sure that he'd cut himself or something, and he said, "These strawberries are incredible!"  And they are.  They're perfect.

Not much work to do here - it's still hot out.   Send your salad tips and turnip tips and really, please, apricot tips my way.

And remember, I'm doing a Freebie/Contest/Giveaway for the 100th post coming up this week, so keep an eye out for that and win a thing!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chard and Zucchini Quesadilla, and BIG NEWS

I pick up my farmshare on Tuesdays, and go to the grocery store on Sundays and hit up the farm market on either Wednesdays or Sundays. So when we get to Saturday, most of whatever's in the fridge has been there a while.  It was time to clean house.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Scallion and Scape Chicken Salad

I love chicken salad, and Sous Chef Brian does not.   Every few years I make a new one and he patiently tries it and tells me it's "a texture thing."  He eats tuna salad, and potato salad and coleslaw and everything else you can douse in mayo and call food, but for some reason chicken salad doesn't resonate with him. 

So I make it rarely.  Sometimes, I'll order it out, but I need to be feeling pretty adventurous.  Why's that?  Because I went to graduate school for Public Health.  Public Health people know better than to eat the mayonnaise.  In every epidemiology class, there is an outbreak investigation... 19 people showed up at the ER after a banquet.   At the banquet there was steak, fish, and egg salad.  Here's a table of what everyone ate.  And it's always the mayonnaise people who end up in the hospital.  

There are two big problems that stand out to me from that assignment.  

1) The people in the example who get sick report a sore throat (not a symptom of salmonella, last I checked)

2) Who the hell is catering this banquet and using homemade mayonnaise in the egg salad?

A jar of Hellmans is not going to give you salmonella, because the eggs are pasteurized.  I mean, it might give you salmonella, in the same way that spinach or alfalfa sprouts might, but it's not more likely than spinach to make you sick.  The risk is in homemade mayo with raw egg.  You know I'm not someone to bash homemade foods, right?  Know your farmer.  Know your eggs.  Make mayo and be happy. 

Me, I'm not going to, but there are several things I learned in school that have given me unreasonable fears, and I'm not going to pass all of them on to you.   At least not all at once.

I think chicken salad has a few key components - something crunchy, something onion, something sweet, and something creamy.   Also chicken.  So those are the basic rules I follow.   Here's what I did last night.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Salt and Pepper Asparagus

This isn't a recipe.  Just roast or grill some asparagus.  These are the photos that were lost in my SD card, in my CD slot.

When no one wants to bother cooking, these are a bit heartier than just picking at sliced cucumber and radishes.   When they're part of a meal, that's awesome too.  They get crispy and salt and peppery outside but stay kind of creamy and smooth inside.  Use these to sub for french fries.

Take asparagus.  Wash it. Break off the ends (wherever they snap, that's the right place).  Spritz with olive oil.  Salt and pepper it.  Toss.  Roast or grill.  Nom.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pasta Salad with Shallot and Parmesan Dressing

Thanks for the suggestions on how to use the farmshare veg.   I had a suggestion here for scape wontons(!!) and a scape cheeseball, and on Facebook I got a recommendation for scape pesto (of course) and a lesson on how scallions work.   It's in the high 90s these days and heading to 100 today, which is upsetting, and so per my half-joking plan of making this a week of pasta salads and salad salads, I started with pasta salad. 

Pasta salad, like pizza, egg rolls, omelets, is a great place for whatever you've got.  I don't think I ever make two that are exactly the same, and so I don't expect anyone to follow this like a recipe.  That's not how pasta salad works, at least for me.  I'll post the dressing recipe. But put things in your pasta salad like what I put in this one, and it'll be like this one.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CSA 2011 - The Goods - Week One

Last night was my first CSA pick up of the season (yay!).   I had been so nervous - last year in the beginning I was so overwhelmed with serious greens that I spent hours blanching and freezing in the early weeks.  I think since this one started a full month later than last year's, maybe I avoided some of that.  It was a pretty easy veggie prep night, which was great, because it meant I got to give everything a good wash and run out the door with Sous Chef Brian and our Mystery Sunday Night Dinner Guest for a Craigslist shopping adventure.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fig and Prosciutto Pizza

What sort of pizza you have varies a lot by your neighborhood.   When we lived in the suburbs, pizza was like meat or veg on dough, and that was pizza and it was fine.   The farther north we went (read: Jersey), the better a plain slice of pizza got.  Then I was in the city all the time, exposed to things like buffalo chicken pizza and white pizza and pizza with dollops of ricotta and (seriously) french fry pizza and such, but Sous Chef Brian didn't see these things.   By the time we moved to the city, I was horrified by all the misc foods folks were putting on pizza, but there was still fancy pizza.  Pizza with asparagus and feta, or with fennel and blue cheese, or with figs and prosciutto.  Fancy pizza was a whole new thing.  

We've made far more "fancy" pizzas than we've ordered.  If we're ordering pizza these days, it's probably a whole wheat "caprese" pizza, which is basil and chunks of mozzarella, but if we're making pizza, it's whatever veg or meat we have in the house plus some interesting cheese.

So several months ago I suggested we call up the known "fancy" pizza place, and Sous Chef Brian was like, "Yeah, let's get a plain pie and compare it to what we usually get."  But I talked him into fancy.  So we got a fig and prosciutto pizza, and in the end he said he liked it, but it had too much fig.

Neither of us had really ever eaten fig outside of Newton format.  I don't think either of us had ever eaten prosciutto outside of hoagie format. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm an ass

Hi there.

It's not like I had anything thrilling to tell you about.   It's gross hot, and it's only early June, and no one wants to use the oven.
I actually tried - I made the two day whole wheat bread, but it rose too much and isn't bread-shaped.  One of the two loaves is usable, just made t-shirt shaped slices, but the other was too far gone, so I made two day bread crumbs and two day croutons.   

But really, other than that, recently cooking has meant busting out the melon baller or washing off some snow peas.   Because really, it's hot.

My CSA starts tomorrow.  I'm super-excited.  The first week is "farmer's choice," like a regular CSA, but after that we'll be choosing our own veg.  So I have no idea what's coming, which made shopping this weekend really interesting.  "No leafy greens, I bet we'll be overwhelmed with them."  "Ok, enough leafy greens to last us to Tuesday, but that's it."  Will there be cauliflower?  Will there be tomatoes?  But seriously, it's hot, so our menu for the week is like pasta salad and salad salad.

My plan is to get what I get tomorrow, tell ya'll about it and see if I get some awesome suggestions for what to do with it.  You'll help, right?  Then I'll post a few of those things throughout the week.

That's the plan, at least, but as above, I'm as ass.  Check out my recent Google search results.

Yeah.  At least it wasn't some once in a lifetime vacation photos.  It was asparagus. 

I don't have a paperclip, so I tried a leg from a binder clip with no success.  I'll borrow one from work today.  Thinking I was smart, the first thing I did was eject the CD drive, and I think I heard the computer swallow the SD card at that point.  

Slick design, Steve (or Jony Ive, or whoever) but there's only like 1/3 inch gap between the SD hole and the CD hole, and from the looks of the Googling, lots of folks do this.

So I'll post pictures and reasonable posts as soon as this is resolved, or start putting up iPhone photos again. (Eew).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Garlic Naan

Yesterday, I posted the faux-tandoori chicken from last night's dinner, as well as the greens.  Today I'll put up the garlic naan and acknowledge that there was also rice. 

There are a ton of naan recipes floating around there, with wide-ranging ingredients and prep methods.  I read  a lot of them.  Some call for just flour and water, others are more complicated.  They're cooked in frying pans and on pizza stones, over open flames, etc.  The goal is fast high heat.

click the thing you want to read about