Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weekend meals

Friday night we went to a make-your-own pizza party. We contributed zucchini, broccoli, sundried tomatoes, and fresh basil, along with some of the basil and garlic scape pesto I made and froze a while ago. Other contributions ranged from local goat-cheese feta to salami to fresh tomatoes to olives. Let me tell you, those were the best pizzas I've had in a while.

Tonight was a glorious day, so we barbecued salmon with zucchini marinated in a balsamic dressing, and the potato-kale-garlic scape packets that Kenneth invented a while ago. Ria discovered that string beans are much tastier and more fun when dipped in dressing, and didn't eat anything else! We still have lots of produce left - better get going before Tuesday arrives. Maybe I'll make zucchini muffins for holiday breakfast tomorrow.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Prima (Seconda?) Verde Pasta

Tonight I made pasta with fresh veggies - not exactly the first garden veggies of the season, so I'm not sure I can call it Prima Verde, but close enough. I could eat pasta like this every day of the year, I think. You'll find it a little watery if you're used to store-bought pasta sauce, but this is what I've been served in Casa Rugatino in Waterloo, Ontario - which is as authentically Italian as you'll get in Canada.

I use a big wok, and toss ingredients in in the order of toughness (ie: garlic scapes and kale stems cook longer; zucchini medium; peas at the last minute). You can use almost any vegetable: cook a little garlic (I used garlic scapes) in a bit of oil, then add vegetables, and at some point in the process add some tomatoes (fresh is best, but canned works fine) and some red wine, salt and pepper, and lots of herbs. Then toss the cooked pasta in the wok, and you're set.

Tonight I used garlic scapes, kale, aubergine (the only thing not Taproot, I think!), zucchini, and freshly shelled peas; oregano and thyme from the garden; and at the last minute stirred in lots of ripped basil.

If you're having trouble using up the box, this is a very adaptable dish that is quick and easy, and uses as many vegetables as you want - and I promise no one will mind eating vegetarian.


pork with yellow beans and rice

Last night Kenneth made a delicious bbq'd pork steak with some of this week's meat share. I think he kept it simple - just some barbecue sauce brushed over - but, having grown up in the era when mothers lived in fear of diseases caused by under-cooked pork, I am always startled that pork can taste succulent and juicy and not completely dried out.

Steamed yellow beans on the side - my grandmother's favourite vegetable, I think, and a hit with Ria too. But the pièce de résistance was the rice: Kenneth mixed in the callaloo leftovers and the rest of the can of coconut milk. It was a little soupy but very very tasty - spicy and creamy and everything good.

Leftover pork sandwiches for lunch today!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

zucchini bread

As promised: the Use-Up Zucchini Bread recipe I plan to make later today. You can double the recipe and freeze a loaf if you like.

(This recipe is one I invented after a little experimenting because most recipes I found used at most a cup of zucchini, and many had oil, etc. This is about as healthy as it gets, I think! You can probably use water - or oil - instead of the milk if you want to make the recipe vegan.)

2 c grated zucchini
3/4 c white sugar
1/3 c milk
1 c white flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
nuts, seeds, etc. if you like

Mix zucchini, sugar and milk. Separately mix the dry ingredients. Combine. Pour into greased loaf-pan. Cook at 350 for an hour (sometimes a little more, depending on how 'wet' your zucchini is) until a toothpick comes clean.

This can also be made with frozen zucchini thawed; the batter is a little wetter but it works out the same.


A week of Taproot

We haven't been very good at posting lately, partly because we were away camping for the weekend. Patricia noted on the blog that some people are finding it hard to use up the whole box, so I'll let you know how we used up last week's box(es) and also suggest some emergency use-up possibilities. There are only the two of us, plus Ria (who can go through apples like you wouldn't believe but probably doesn't make too much of a dent in things), and we get a full-size box, so I think most families should be able to use up the whole box.

-strawberries, raspberries
-meat-share homemade sausages

-salads with lettuce, sliced peapods, carrots, balsamic-vinaigrette dressing
-broccoli salad with leftover soba noodle dressing (see below), raisins, cheese
-couscous salad with cranberries, sunflower seeds, and coriander (dressed with sesame oil, wine vinegar, lime juice and a dash of tabasco sauce)

-whole pea pods

Dinners last week:
-summer vegetable stew with meat-share chicken wings, zucchini, canned tomatoes, olives, and herbs
-tilapia with bbq'd potato fries (in tin foil), couscous, zucchini and eggplant kebabs, and salad
-bbq meat-share chicken wings with potato fries and raw pea-pods
-meat-share hamburgers with cut up raw veggies
-homemade-from-meat-share bbq sausages with lettuce salad
-soba noodle salad with green onions (I've posted the recipe for this previously)
- tilapia (can you tell it's been on sale this week?) pan-fried with a Caribbean-spiced breadcrumb coating, perogies, and callaloo cooked with garlic scapes (we didn't have onion), coconut milk, butter, salt, and dried red chili peppers.

Still left over: zucchini, garlic scapes, potatoes

We've been pretty good about using everything up this year, but there are weeks we don't manage. These were some of the fall-back tricks we used last year:

-wash and chop kale and freeze. Throw into soup in the winter (I hate making soups in the summer, but like having the summer ingredients in the winter). My favourite is Italian Wedding Soup with kale, but I also have a kale tortellini soup which is good. I actually prefer kale this way to on its own
-make zucchini bread and freeze. I have created a use-up-zucchini bread recipe which I'll try to make (and post!) later today, which uses more zucchini than most recipes (and no oil).
-grate and freeze zucchini in 1 cup baggies. This can be then used to make zucchini bread in winter, or in the really really tasty (really really) rolls that are in the Simply in Season cookbook.
-apple sauce. Kenneth can't eat raw apples so many of our apples last year went into sauce; this year Ria and I are making more of a dent in them and we don't have so many leftovers. Applesauce is the easiest thing on the planet to make: peel the apples, chop into chunks, put about half an inch of water in the bottom of the pot, cover, cook on low until the apples are mush (stir occasionally) (this can take 4-5 hours but you really can let it sit on the stove and forget about it, as long as you don't let it get dry), add cinnamon and 1-2 T lemon juice, and either can or freeze.
-slice fruit (apples, peaches, plums) and put in freezer bags; use in crumbles or pies in winter
-chop carrots, celery, beans, peas (though these never last long enough in our house) and store in cup-size portions; throw into soups and stews in the winter. You're supposed to blanch these before freezing but we never do.
-cook turnip and beets and freeze in small portions for your toddler's lunches!
-make pickled carrots, beans and beets (these take a little more time but are worth it). I'll post recipes for these as I make them over the summer.

Hope that helps! I'd love to hear what works and what doesn't for you. Or if you'd like more complete recipes for any of the above, let me know.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Tuna Steaks with potatoes and zucchini

Tonight was a quick meal, but even the quickies taste gourmet with fresh produce.

We barbecued tuna steaks, with Taproot zucchini, potato and fennel on the side. The zucchini I just sliced lengthways, brushed with garlic scape pesto (the stuff I made a few weeks ago then froze in ice-cubes), and grilled over high heat beside the tuna. The potato I fell back on our standby bbq tinfoil packages, thrown on the bbq while I'm getting everything else ready; but I switched it up a little by slicing fennel in with the potato, tossing in a bit of fennel top green stuff, and brushing them with garlic scape pesto.

Box day tomorrow, and we still have two zucchini. Maybe I'll make zucchini bread. I'll post my custom-made Z-bread recipe: designed to use up as much zucchini as possible. Unfortunately it doesn't include kale.


a weekend at Swallow's Nest

Hi folks,

Sorry I haven't been blogging but we spent a lovely weekend with friends at Swallow's Nest at Taproot Farms. Actually, it wasn't even the whole weekend, since we went up there Saturday noon-ish and only stayed one night - but it was a lovely getaway, and felt like a proper holiday.

I've been meaning to put up the saag paneer recipe we made with the spinach last week - and the paneer we made with the milk that has been continually going off, even though the fridge is cold enough to freeze the stuff in the back - but it wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be. So I think I'll hold out for a better version and post that.

At Swallow's Nest we ate steaks from our friends' meat share (not Taproot, although they get the veggie box), along with roasted veggies - mostly Taproot. We contributed a salad, some of which was from our box, but some of which we just wandered out and picked from the farm. You can't get fresher! Kenneth also made rhubarb pie with the last of our rhubarb.

Saturday evening we went to see Beowulf, which is being put on by the "Two planks and a passion" theatre company at Ross Creek farm just a bit past Canning (15 minutes from Swallow's Nest). One of our friends' friends is the stage manager, and her husband looked after Ria, our friends' four-year-old, and his own two-year-old while we watched the show. A brave man - but he said everyone got along fine (with the help of a few Dora dvds and Kenneth's pie). The show was fantastic. I had had my doubts - I am a medievalist by profession, so was leery of any adaptation of Beowulf. But the performance was excellent, and the adaptation stayed far enough away from the actual text - filling in the blanks of what wasn't told, rather than retelling the story more poorly - that it worked. And they even managed some alliterative poetry that was pretty good, even though the show itself is in Modern English. I strongly recommend that you go if you get the chance; and it's in a beautiful outdoor setting that really adds to the atmosphere.

Sunday morning breakfast was fresh local strawberries, bacon, and scrambled eggs made with picked-that-morning garlic scapes, beet greens, and zucchini - not to mention copious bowls of cheerios for the kids (what is it with toddlers and those things?). The rest of the day we spent lazing around, napping (kids and adults!), and wandering around the farm. Swallow's Nest is a beautiful place, huge - we could have been twice the number and wouldn't have noticed - and fully stocked with books, kids' games, and beautiful scenery. You bring your own food but Patricia and Josh say that you can pick whatever produce you like. It was a fantastic weekend.

Hope your summer is going as well as ours!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Kohlrabi

Hi folks.

I made up my kohlrabi this evening using this recipe:

I have to say that it tasted really good, but with this much butter and cream, it's hard to make anything taste bad. Especially with fresh parsley from the herb garden. In fact, the only drawback of the recipe is that I could not taste the kohlrabi much. That was too bad, because it smelled fantastic when I was chopping it up.

I recommend this recipe, but I will be trying some others recipes – if the Taproot gods provide us with some more kohlrabi – just to see if I can't make the ultra-fresh Taproot kohlrabi live a little more on the plate.

Bon appetit!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Swiss Chard artichoke dip and leftovers

Saturday night I tried out a recipe I've been wanting to try for a long time. It's supposed to be an appetizer, but I couldn't think of anything else to serve it with, and it seemed pretty much like a meal in itself (4 food groups, filling, probably enough calories for a meal!) so we ate it as a main course. I think I originally got the recipe from Canadian Living, but I changed so many ingredients (feta for ricotta, yoghurt for sour cream, mozzarella for parmesan) it bore little resemblance to the original.

1 bunch Swiss Chard
2 cans artichoke hearts
3/4 c. white kidney beans
1/2 c. feta
1/3 c. yoghurt
1/2 c. mozzarella, grated
2 t lemon juice
1 clove garlic (probably use more!)
salt and pepper
1/4 c. parmesan

Chop the chard and wilt it in a pan. Drain it then puree it in a blender with all the other ingredients except for 1 cup artichokes, mozzarella and parmesan. (This was harder than it sounds and takes a while.) Stir in the rest of the artichokes and the mozzarella; put it in a shallow-ish oven-proof dish, sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake 350 for 35 minutes. Serve with nacho chips or pita pieces.

We didn't come close to finishing this between the two of us, so tonight we made pasta and tossed most of the rest with the pasta (I actually preferred it this way!). I served it with barbecued chicken thighs and zucchini slices, both brushed with a mix of garlic scape pesto and basil pesto (frozen from last summer).

Mmmm, barbecued zucchini. Tastes like summer.


A week of Taproot

Oh dear, it's been a week since I've posted. Some of that is busy-ness, some of it is because we didn't really use many new recipes or ideas I hadn't blogged about before. But I'll give you a run-down of the meals last week so you can nonetheless see how we've been using up the box:

Monday: we were pretty low on box veggies, so I made a plum curry with plums frozen from the fruit box last summer, chickpeas, and our second-last (!) jar of tomatoes.

Tuesday: Kenneth made a really tasty quick stir-fry with whole pea pods and sliced fennel; a bit of white wine, I think, and some herbs. He served it with a fish casserole - tasty.

Sometimes I think kids have an instinct about how food 'naturally' looks - Ria ate pea pods straight out of the box on Tuesday, but refused them when cooked and on her plate. Likewise she'll eat carrots if I send the baby carrots we've been getting recently whole, unscraped (merely washed) in her lunch bag, but not if they're cut up into sticks. Ditto for radishes - straight out of the box covered in dirt, but not if they're sliced on a plate. She eats arugula, parsley, chives and mint straight out of the garden, but not only won't touch lettuce at dinner, she scatters it on the floor in protest. Tonight she ate raw zucchini when I was preparing it for dinner but turned up her nose at the cooked version.

Wednesday: We were planning on having friends over for a BBQ but there was a mix-up, so by the time we figured that out we were starving and it was late. So we ate the kale chips and french-cut oven-baked potatoes which we had made (I think I've provided the recipes for both before), tossed a salad, and saved the hamburgers for the following night. Ria actually enjoyed the kale chips for a while - yippee! the first leafy-green veggie she likes (at least the first not covered in dirt) - before starting to throw them on the floor. Oh, and we ate the strawberry-glazed pie!

Thursday: The friends came over so we had hamburgers made from meat-share ground beef, a fresh salad they prepared with some of their Taproot produce and some from their own garden (already!), and pickles from the cold cellar.

Friday: Celeriac soup and wisdom-teeth chicken soup (the best soup I have ever tasted - Kenneth promises to post the recipe, which he invented, sometime) defrosted from the freezer and mixed together.

Lunches: salads, salads and more salads!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

T-bone steak dinner

This morning I made strawberry muffins - recipe from Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet. I didn't have enough strawberries so I used half rhubarb, and that worked well. We still have apples from the fruit share, but I think everything else is gone now ... :( Oh well, it's almost Tuesday!

Tonight we barbecued a T-bone steak we got in the meat share. It tasted fantastic, and I don't think it's my cooking (though the new BBQ might help). But grass-fed and natural really does make a difference, I think. With the last of the box mushrooms and some fried onions - mmmmm.

With the steak we had potato skewers, which look fancy and are really easy. Boil the smallest new potatoes you have, just until you can insert a fork (don't over boil). Thread onto bamboo skewers. Mash some fresh herbs (I used chives and thyme) in a little olive oil, and brush over the potatoes. Grill on the BBQ until the skins are nice and roasty.

We also had an arugula salad: Taproot lettuce but the first arugula (rocket) from our garden. This is a really good recipe for arugula:

handful arugula
handful lettuce if you want
slivered parmesan cheese
toasted walnuts (or other nuts)
drizzle of olive oil
drizzle of maple syrup
freshly ground pepper
This sounds weird but the syrup's sweetness balances the peppery arugula, the sharp cheese and the bitter nuts.

Arugula seems to be the first lettuce-type thing Ria likes. Although as always she prefers it unwashed from the garden to on her plate!


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Canada Day and Saturday tapas

Yesterday we had a fantastic Canada day. We picked up some cheese and bread at Foxhill Cheese and then went to Taproot for the picnic and strawberry fest. If you haven't had a chance to go, then do - we had a great time. We got to meet new people, and heard that people are actually reading the blog, which is gratifying. And it's always fun to wander around the farm and actually see where the food is coming from - trying to identify different just-sprouted vegetables; noting the gaps in rows of lettuces and fennel that made up last week's box; anticipating tomatoes and chard and basil and other lovely things we saw growing. Ria had a blast running around the farm, seeing all the animals, and playing with Lily (Patricia and Josh's daughter).

Visiting the farm also reinforces my appreciation (and my guilt - we probably should be paying twice as much!) for how much work farmers do - I don't know if other people noticed, since they were on one of the further fields, but the Taproot farmers were planting even on Canada Day. No holidays for them.

Tonight Kenneth and I, having failed to find a babysitter for our anniversary, had one of our favourite meals at home: loosely based on mediterranean tapas or mezze, it's an assortment of of small dishes from which we pick and choose. Tonight was homemade baguette, cheese from Foxhill and Pete's, olives, various pickles made last year from Taproot or garden produce, and kale chips. I know the world has discovered kale chips, so I probably don't need to blog about them, but they really are a pretty good way to eat kale. (Just don't believe the people who tell you they taste 'just like potato chips' and you won't be disappointed.) All you do is tear washed kale up into bite-sized pieces, spray them with olive oil, sprinkle salt and chilis if you want over them, and roast them at 300 for 10-15 minutes. Ria refused them whenever offered them, but then at the end of the meal pulled the bowl over and tried one - and then was disappointed when told they were 'all gone'!

Tapas is a great way to eat a variety of veggies - you can put out whatever you have, served with a bit of cheese, olive oil, some olives and fresh bread - and it's nice not to use the hot stove on a summer day!


Potluck contribution - beet and carrot salad

Canada Day is my brother-in-law's birthday, and he always has a potluck BBQ and a bonfire. Our contributions were hamburgers made with meat share ground beef, and a beet-and-carrot salad. I felt that it was cheating a little bit, since it was getting rid of some beets I had cooked up and frozen ages ago and which Kenneth won't eat - but I justified it by rationalizing that if I brought it, I knew there would be at least one thing Ria would eat. And most of it disappeared - so apparently not everyone shares Kenneth's prejudices!

Carrot and beet salad
4 c cooked beets, grated
2-3 large carrots, grated
2-3 T olive oil
2 T white wine vinegar
2 T lemon juice
chopped parsley