Sunday, January 30, 2011

cabbage-apple curry fry; leek omelette with squash and potato latkes

The week got away from me a bit, and I haven't posted our menus.

Last Thursday I decided to use up the cabbage we still had left from the previous week. We also had some sliced apples frozen from the fruit share in the summer. I borrowed a recipe off of my mother-in-law - one that's pretty similar to the one Patricia suggested in the newsletter, actually - and added some hamburger just because we hadn't been eating much meat. This is a really easy supper that you can make in between playing cars with your daughter on the kitchen floor.

Cabbage-apple curry fry
1 lb hamburger meat, browned
1 cabbage, sliced
2-3 cups sliced apples
1 cup raisins
2-3 T curry powder
1 t cumin
1 T butter
pinch of salt

Brown hamburger meat in a large pan or wok. Drain most of the fat; add the cabbage with a bit of butter to the frying pan. Cook on low until slightly softened. Add the apples, raisins, curry powder and cumin. Stir to coat. Cover; cook until cabbage is soft but not mushy, and apples have released some of their juice. Add salt and more curry to taste. Serve with rice.

Friday night our stove refused to cook anything but nachos (I've told you about the quirks of our stove, haven't I?) so Saturday morning I decided I'd better make a bigger dent in the Taproot produce than we had so far. I got up with Ria and let Kenneth sleep in, and Ria was in a great mood, so I could make a big breakfast. I decided to make potato and squash potato pancakes with a leek and blue cheese omelette. The potato pancakes, or latkes, were adapted from a great cookbook by Anne Bramley called Eat Feed Autumn Winter - I love the trend towards Italian/mediterranean cooking, but it's getting hard to find recipes that don't assume one has year-round access to eggplants, or fresh basil, or red peppers. For local eating, one has to turn to more northerly-inspired cookbooks, and Bramley has lots of great old English, Scottish and German recipes. Anyways, she puts a bit of curry powder in the latkes, and they do taste better that way, but I didn't think it would go with breakfast. So I just grated up two potatoes and a couple chunks of squash, squeezed out the water, and mixed them with two eggs and three or four tablespoons of whole wheat flour and a bit of salt. Then you fry them in a bit of oil and sprinkle more salt over top.

For the omelette, I sliced up the leek (including the green part - most recipe books tell you to just use the white, but I think that's such a waste and the darker green parts taste lovely!) and sauteed it really low in a bit of butter. Then I mixed up 5 eggs, about a 1/4 cup of milk, and poured it into the pan after adding a bit more butter. Cook on low until there's no more liquidy bits left, and then crumble some blue cheese over the top; fold the omelette in half so the cheese gets melty.

If you're not a fan of blue cheese, I strongly encourage you to develop a taste, because it's truly one of the good things in life. Start with Saint Agur cheese - I've converted a few people to blue cheese with St. Agur - and a fresh baguette, and maybe a sliced pear or apple. It's a creamy lovely blue. A lot of people wonder why bother developing a taste for something you don't like, but I always think, food I like makes me happy, so why not have more things in this world which make me happy? Trust me, it's worth it.

Tonight Kenneth made a great roast with potatoes (store-bought, I'm afraid), carrots and garlic; canned beans from the summer on the side. Ria and I are eating apples and carrots in our lunches. Oh, and the rest of the brussels sprouts went to my mother-in-law, who likes them better than we do. Still in the fridge: 1 turnip, thawed canteloupe, 1 leek, half a bag of squash, carrots, apples ... and I think that's it. We'll see what Kenneth can make with that tomorrow!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

spaghetti "prima vera" with ricotta cakes

This is a pretty simple way to use up some of the fresher veggies from the farm, if you haven't planned a meal in advance.

"Prima vera" really refers to the first spring veggies, but not being Italian, I can extend the meaning a bit. Tonight we had carrots and leeks, harvested in the fall and winter, respectively.

Fry 1 carrot and 4 small leeks (tonight they were around finger-sized) in a bit of olive oil with pepper and a pinch of salt, just enough to make them soft. Let the pan cool down to the lowest temperature on the burner, and meanwhile whip up a roux with a trusty whisk. You don't need a lot of this, as this is only a frying pan's worth of pasta sauce. I used 1 Tbsp. of flour and an equal amount of butter. This was stirred in with the veggies. Once melted you can add milk or blend cream until you get a white sauce of a consistency that you prefer. Stir in any Italian herbs that you prefer. Tonight I used about 2 tsp. of fennel seed, 2 Tbsp loose of oregano, and 2 small bay leaves. Except for the bay, these were dried from our summer herb garden, and were still packed with their flavours. Delicious.

The ricotta cakes are simpler to make than the above, but the secret is to mix them up before you do the prima vera sauce, and then fry them after. Fry them right before the meal is served, in fact.

Take a cup or two of ricotta cheese, preferably the crumbly home-made version. If you don't make it, then maybe try asking at a specialty deli. Mix this with 2 Tbsp of ground parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp of flour, 1 egg, freshly ground pepper to taste, and a pinch of sea salt. Fry it at a medium heat for a few minutes, and then flip them for a final minute.

Throw the sauce on top of some spaghetti noodles, and place the ricotta cakes beside and enjoy. Tonight we were at a loss for steamed broccoli, but that is what I would also put on the plate, in a perfect world.

Bon appetit!


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Squash muffins, canteloupe muffins

Tonight's dinner was mostly leftovers: I fried some scallops, garlic and mushrooms in a cast-iron pan and reheated the roasted veggies from Thursday in the same pan. A one-pot meal - I like it!

Tonight I'm making muffins for tomorrow's Taproot potluck. Recipe #1 is for squash muffins; #2 is for canteloupe muffins, using some frozen canteloupe puree we had from the summer when we were getting a couple melons a week.

And so, for the first time in literally months, there is no squash in my fridge. Hurrah!

(I should note that it's not that I don't like squash - I quite like it, especially Hubbard. I just find it harder to use up than some things.)

Squash muffins - makes 24 (or 12 big ones)
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. white flour
4 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves
1/4 t allspice
1 c brown sugar
1 1/4 c milk
1/4 c oil
1 c cooked squash (about 1 small acorn squash)
2 eggs

Oven to 350. Mix dry. Mix wet (including brown sugar). Combine. Stir until fully moistened. Cook 20-25 minutes or until a toothpic comes clean.

Canteloupe muffins - makes 12
1 c flour
1/2 c oats
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 t salt
2 t baking powder
1/4 t ginger
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t allspice
1 c canteloupe puree
1 egg

Oven to 400. Mix dry. Add egg and canteloupe. Stir to moisten. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

roast & roast veg

This post will be short because the last two meals were pretty simple - no real recipes. Last night Kenneth combined the ricotta ravioli with kale, garlic and chilis, a bit of olive oil. Simple but good. Tonight I cooked a roast with potatoes, carrots, green pepper, celeriac chunks, onion and garlic. My first beef roast ever, actually, and I think I pulled it off - again, tasty and simple.

I should mention that our garlic comes partly from Taproot and partly from our neighbour, Lenny, who owns the only seed garlic farm in the province, I think. He is a lovely fellow who regularly drives up and presses garlic into our hands saying either "use in good health" or "for your health."

Brussels sprouts, carrots (which I take in lunches) and that durned squash still left in the fridge. Shoot - I was planning on cooking that with the roast. Ah, well, maybe we'll bring squash muffins or something to the Taproot shareholder meeting on Sunday. (I'm now envisioning an entire potluck made up of various squash dishes!)

Our stove, which came with the house when we bought it, has a really odd quirk: occasionally it just stops working for a few hours, then starts working again the next day with no problems. Amazingly enough, this always seems to happen on Friday nights, so we're forced to order in or go out for dinner. So we'll post again on the weekend!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winter green pasta recipe

Box day! This week: canned tomato sauce (or maybe crushed tomatoes?), potatoes, carrots, two small celeriac (I must figure out something to do with celeriac other than soup!), brussels sprouts, onions, cabbage.

Pasta is my fallback comfort food, so in the rush to get the groceries bought and the box picked up, and everything put away (Ria helped by putting all the potatoes and carrots into the crisper bins in the fridge and then proceeding to take them all back out and put them back into the box) I chose the quick and easy route. But - mmmm! tasty. And it used up most of the leftovers from last week's box - mushrooms and kale. The acorn squash still lurks.

1 onion, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
1 T olive oil, plus a little more
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
8-10 brussels sprouts, quartered
1/2 cup kale, sliced
1/4 c cream
1/4 c mozzarella cubes
2-3 T pesto
4 c whole wheat penne
salt & pepper
Saute the onion in a bit of olive oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the garlic, mushrooms, green pepper, and sprouts, and stir fry until the sprouts are bright green. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Distract your one-year-old with a story-book on the floor of the kitchen floor for a few minutes while everything is cooking. Just before the pasta is done, toss the kale into the pasta water and cook for a few minutes more. Pour about 1/4 c of the pasta water into the pan with the vegetables; add the pesto. We made pesto last summer with the abundance of basil Taproot gave us, then froze it in ice-cube trays, but store-bought would work as well. Drain the pasta and kale; add to the pan. Stir in just enough cream to make a smooth sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste, and just before serving, add the mozzarella cubes, so that they melt a bit but people still get lovely chunks of mozzarella in a few bites. Pick the brussels sprouts and mushrooms off the floor and feed your one-year-old more penne sans vegetables.

After dinner, Kenneth tried out a new gadget he got for his birthday. We started making our own pasta a couple years ago - I know, it's a bit excessive, but it tastes really good. (Don't worry - the pasta I used in supper was store-bought.) For his birthday he asked for a ravioli maker, and my sister and brother-in-law managed to find one on Amazon. We also tried out making pasta dough in the breadmaker (it seems to have worked really well, and it's way easier than by hand!). So we made ravioli tonight - half stuffed with the leftover squash, leek and blue cheese mixture Kenneth made last night, and half stuffed with Taproot spinach frozen from the summer mixed with homemade ricotta (I make it when our milk goes off, which it's been doing alarmingly often lately - it doesn't taste like store-bought ricotta, but it's good mixed into things). The ravioli mould worked like a charm. We'll keep you posted on how they taste! We feel very artisanal and domestic with so much homemade stuff - and a little sheepish, to be honest - but we have fun.


Monday, January 17, 2011

squash and leeks with blue cheese

I think that the real centerpiece of tonight's meal was the simple dish described in the title.

This was easy to make. First I cut up and steamed a largish butternut squash in our trusty double boiler with the steam insert. I steamed it thoroughly, but it need only be mashable. Then I let this cool for a while.

Later, I removed the peel, which explains why it helps to leave it to cool for a while.

Then I sautéed 3 or 4 leeks (whites and as much of the greens as were good to eat) in a small amount of butter. These went in with the squash and the lot was mashed with a wooden spoon until the leeks were fairly evenly spread. Then these mixed veggies were formed into a smallish casserole. Next the wooden spoon was used to cut some troughs in the mixture. Use some kind of pattern to do this – presentation is everything, don't you know!? Into these troughs I crumbled some inexpensive blue cheese. It sure helps to cook when your partner in crime has the forethought to stock the refrigerator with blue cheese. (At least I hope that's what she did!)

In any case, this went into the oven at about 375°F for roughly 30 minutes, and it was delicious.

What to eat with this?

We roasted a garlic which we split between the two of us.

I also half-boiled 4 or 5 medium-sized carrots, then lightly sautéed them with a minced clove of garlic, 2 dried figs, chopped small, and 2 slices of pancetta. I pre-fried the pancetta a bit so that it was crisp by the time the other veggies were done. Ria loved these, eating every bit.

It is rare that I make an all-veggie meal, but here it is (minus the pancetta, that is). This meal had roasted mushrooms instead of a meat, which worked well. Just take some white mushrooms, pop out the stems, stuff them with butter and garlic, or some ricotta. The stems can be minced finely, and added to the stuffing.

Bon appetit! – Kenneth

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fish and parsnip, turnip and potato chips

We were out at Kenneth's parents' place Friday and Saturday, so no CSA postings. Thursday we had German peasant food: sausages, potatoes and sauerkraut skillet. I come from Waterloo, Ontario, heart of German immigration in Ontario, so I spent my childhood avoiding German food - so Kenneth introduced me to this one. I'm a convert: homemade sauerkraut tastes so much better than canned, which was the only kind I knew. This week we got sauerkraut in the box, but Kenneth also makes his own, so this meal has become a standby.

We tried turkey sausages and they were fine, so we might be using those again in the future. Boil the potatoes until a fork can go into them relatively easily (don't overcook) while you cook the sausages in a cast-iron skillet. Cut up the sausages into bite-sized chunks, then return to heat with the potatoes and a good couple of handfuls of sauerkraut. I added a few leaves of sliced kale and it upped the nutrient (and colour!) content without changing the taste much - a good addition. I cooked the mixture on the stove for about 10 more minutes, until the potatoes had picked up the flavours of the sauerkraut and sausages. Kenneth says you're supposed to put it in the oven for 20 minutes or so, but we didn't have time!

Tonight the plan is healthy fish-and-chips: oven-baked balsamic salmon with Taproot parsnip, potato, and turnip chips. Slice the potatoes, parsnip and turnip into wedges or sticks, and toss with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Season with spices and a bit of salt if you want (they're good plain, too). Spread them out on a foil-lined baking tray or in a take-out-food tinfoil tray, making sure each chip is lying flat on the foil. Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes (the parsnips will burn first, so keep an eye on them). Turn the chips so another side is on the foil, and bake for another 10 minutes; repeat if necessary until the chips are mostly crispy. Serve with ketchup or dijon mustard mixed with mayonnaise - hey, it doesn't hurt to be a little unhealthy!

This should use up the parsnip, some potatoes, and the turnip we have left from a few weeks ago which we haven't managed to foist off on Ria. Kenneth and I have come around to turnip once we started cooking it this way! Still left: squash, kale, carrots, leeks. Mmm, leeks.... I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thai red cabbage; celeriac soup

Kenneth was in charge of dinner last night and tonight, and managed some impressively creative uses for the vegetables that have been hanging around for a few weeks. Last night he served Thai stir-fry red cabbage and green peppers with chicken, mostly using some Thai green curry paste we had made up in the summer when we had lots of cilantro and green onions. Ria wasn't a fan, but made up for it tonight, wolfing down a bowl of Kenneth's cream of celeriac soup. Nappa, kale and red cabbage coleslaw on the side (tossed with a bit of red wine vinegar and sesame oil) - lots of leftovers but I think we can count the cabbage 'officially' used up!

So we seem to be keeping on top of everything except the squash. There are three in the fridge looking at me every time I open the door.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Well, Ria's working her way through the beets and turnip in the freezer for lunches - neither Kenneth nor I are all that fussed about them, so we feed them to her!

For dinner, a recipe I invented a few years ago after going to an Afghani restaurant - I have no idea if this is anything like what I ate, but it tastes good.

Recipe for faux Afghani squash
1 hubbard squash
1-2 T oil
1 cup water
1 tomato, diced (or 1/2 can tomatoes)
2 T brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 c plain yoghurt

Peel squash then slice the long part into disks about 2 cm thick. Scoop out the seeds from the bell part, then slice it into crescent moons or chunks of roughly the same thickness. Fry these in a bit of oil over medium heat until browned on both sides. Mix together the other ingredients and pour over the squash. Cover; simmer until the squash is softened. Serve over rice with a dollop of plain yoghurt or sour cream.

Box day tomorrow, and we still have a cabbage, half a turnip, 2 celeriac roots, and some random parsnips and potatoes. The celeriac is sitting on the counter so I'm hoping Kenneth has plans for soup!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Saturday Dinner

My first real post, beyond the introductory one. I'm quite proud of dinner tonight - we have vegetables in our fridge from at least four weeks ago, and I managed to use up a lot of them. And tasty, if I do say so myself!

Tonight's meal:
-local lamb steak
-pear & apple chutney
-pumpkin pie tarts

This meal started with an idea for a delicata squash that I read in a new cookbook Kenneth got for Christmas, "Eat Feed Autumn Winter." It wasn't an actual recipe, just a side comment the author made. We had a squash leftover from months ago, but still good. I cut the squash in half, de-seeded, then roasted it cut side down at 400 for about 15 minutes. When it was soft, I sprinkled blue cheese in the squash boats, then returned them to the oven just for a couple of minutes.

For the colcannon, I boiled 4-5 potatoes, skin still on. I don't see the point of peeling potatoes, even for mashed potatoes - I like the taste of the peel, and it's more nutritious! Plus it's a lot less work. Drained the potatoes then sauteed some sliced napa cabbage and garlic in the potato pot, re-added the potatoes and mashed them with some butter and my Mom's secret ingredient in mashed potatoes - 2-3 T of cream cheese. Yum!

The kale we kept simple - for breakfast we had eaten unbelievably delicious smoked bacon from Chester basin that a friend bought us for Christmas, and there was still quite a bit of grease in the cast-iron frying pan. I cut up the kale, fried the stems for a bit, then sauteed the leaves in the bacon grease with a generous sprinkling of red pepper. Not the healthiest way to eat kale, but - c'mon, it's kale. I think you could deep fry it with a mars bar and it would still count as healthy, wouldn't it?

Kenneth had picked up some Nova Scotian lamb this morning - a treat. We kept it simple, just searing it to medium-rare, and serving it with some apple-pear chutney we had made in the summer when inundated with fruit from the Noggins fruit box (we get a fruit box only in the summer months). And for dessert some pumpkin pie tarts - from frozen Taproot pumpkin - Kenneth made yesterday.

Still in the fridge: one butternut squash from about 5 weeks ago, one hubbard squash from at least 3 weeks ago, red cabbage from two weeks ago, potatoes, parsnip, carrots, half a napa cabbage, and apples. We'll keep you posted!

Starting a CSA blog

Happy New Year! Welcome to our blog. We were going to get it going January first, but the rush of back-to-school overwhelmed. But we're still working on the vegetables from the first food box of the year, so we figure this still counts.

We belong to a CSA owned by Taproot Farms, located in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. CSA stands for Community Shared Agriculture - we buy a 'share' in the farmer's crop, and get a weekly food box all year round. We benefit, because we get super-fresh, local, mostly organic vegetables and fruit of a quality (and variety!) that you just can't get a grocery store. The farmer benefits because she gets our money at the start of the year (so she doesn't have to go into debt to buy seeds), and because we shoulder some of the risk - if it's a bumper year, we get bumper boxes (and the price for the farmer doesn't go down because of market saturation), but if a crop fails, we get smaller boxes. Although Patricia and Josh, our farmers, usually manage to substitute if something doesn't work out.

We thought we'd start this blog in part because we're pretty excited about the box, and remain so after almost two years of getting it; and we're proud of the healthy, tasty food we create for our family each week. Patricia also mentioned that some shareholders were finding it a bit hard to use up the whole box, especially in the root-vegetable-heavy winter months. So we thought posting our menus and some recipes might give other people ideas. Taproot shareholders can see what we do with our box each week; other people can get a glimpse of what belonging to a CSA is like, and hopefully be encouraged to join their own.

You can find out a little more about who we are in the 'about us' section of the blog. I (Kathy) am writing this post, but Kenneth and I will switch off posting, depending on who feels like it on any given day or evening. We don't promise to post every day, but we'll try to post at least a couple of times a week so you can see what we're doing with the box.