Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

eat seasonally, valentine ...


Valentine's day is this Friday. (Happy heart day!) I'm not a huge celebrator of this holiday of Love, but I do remember candy hearts and making valentine bags for collecting cards/candy in elementary school. It was definitely not the day to be sick at school! One year, my best friend bought me a surprise carnation and I was so happy. I ran up the stairs to show my mom and tripped up one of the last steps ... the flower snapped off right at the blossom! Ugh ... I was seriously devastated.

(This klutz still trips up the stairs, but you didn't hear that from me.)

All of that to say, holidays are high time for eating. And, most likely, not seasonally. For instance, I literally just saw a local advertisement for a pound of strawberries at $1.88 this week.

Um, it's February.

There is snow on the ground.

No Kansas strawberries in sight. 

strawberries from our garden, last June
Oh, they're in Kansas, all right. Waiting patiently at the grocery store. For all of us loves to come, buy and consume with chocolate.

Personally, I'm not buying strawberries this year. Not only because they are on the "dirty" list, but mostly because they aren't in season.

I love this quote from an essay in Less is More,

As Helen (Nearing) put it, "There is something extravagant and irresponsible about eating strawberries in January." When I first heard this comment, I was a bit put off: I found it quote ascetic and demanding. But now, although my own gardening and eating practices are never quote as pure, I understand more fully what she means. Eating in line with the season is eating on nature's time, not on culture's consumptive clock. No wonder that the kale we harvested from our garden this week tastes so sweet. We ate in step with the heartiness of kale in autumn, in step with the November frosts that kiss the bitterness off of the leaves.

There is something so right about eating seasonally. But it is so difficult- especially in the winter and when growing in Kansas is very difficult. Almost anything and everything is available in grocery stores year-round ... we are so spoiled. Spoiled to the point of not even knowing, much less caring, about eating with the seasons. Mostly, I fall into this category.

I don't have the chance to grow and/or store a ton of food. So, what are your tips for eating seasonally? Help!

What do you do with leftover pumpkins?


What do you do with the pumpkins that have graced your home for October and November? 

First, you drag them to the Thanksgiving table for a pretty {natural} centerpiece.

Then, you cook them, of course!!

This may sound silly, but I hate tossing our hard earned pumpkins in the dumpster when it's time to decorate for Christmas. Did you know that any pumpkin (provided it's not gone bad or molded from being carved) is edible? Some taste better than others, like pie pumpkins, etc. but from what I've read, you can cook up any gourd.

So, we did.

My mom helped me cook and puree these babies into 10 cups of homecooked goodness. That's the equivalent of 5 cans of pumpkin. Sweet! I popped them into my freezer when I got home where they now patiently await to be used in delicious recipes.

Pumpkin baking instructions: halve pumpkins with sharp knife, scoop out seeds and pulp, place them cut side down on baking sheets and cook at 350 degrees fahrenheit until very soft and can be easily poked with a fork or knife (an hour or more for larger pumpkins). Cool, then scoop pumpkin from skin and puree. A tiny amount of water can be added if your blender isn't cooperating. 

The seeds can also be baked into a yummy snack! 

harvesting: strawberries!


I've harvested a little bit from my garden -- 2 bunches of fresh dill, 1 parsley and 1 cilantro to dry. And we finally have strawberries this year!! Mmm. First picking yielded 12 rubies and the next day was 10. A couple days later 13! Not bad for my tiny little patch.

I celebrated this garden victory with a little strawberry shortcake (with real hand-whipped cream) - YUM!

recent reads - American Wasteland


In honor of Earth Day this past Monday ...

I'm usually one to fly through a book in a day or two, but this one took at least a week. It's full of good info, but chock full of stats and information, it's a bit sluggish.

However, I'm glad I read it and have taken several things from it.

First, I am more aware of my waste - even though I have been careful, there are some things I've just been lazy about. It's nice to have a heightened awareness without feeling guilty. Creating a "game" out of using up leftovers or making new creations (heard of "ketchup soup" from the Depression era?) is motivating to me. 

Second, I feel more willing to ask for things that might go wasted (heard of reclaiming food before??).

And finally, he includes intriguing research on anaerobic digesters - machines that actually "digest" food waste and provide natural gas to live (cook/heat) on! How cool is that!?

Have a great weekend!

Reading about Food.


Lately, I've run across some resources for clean/organic/local/better eating and after our CSA experience last year, I've kept my eyes peeled for different ways of eating. Because, truly, something has to change

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser provided an in-depth look into the "dark side" of American fast food from its history to its modern day practices. Overall an informative (and yucky) read on fast food - something that I wasn't overly interested in eating in the first place.


Many, many of these types of books are very negative toward food, corporations, mass production, etc and understandably so! There is some junk going on in the industry that is controlled by only a very few and will probably not change. However, in presenting the same information, Barbara Kingsolver shared her family's year long eating experience in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and put a completely positive spin on it. I loved that! It was a long read, but well worth it.


Finally, The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan was also a very long but informative read about the author's journey through attaining four (very different) meals in the USA. First, fast food, then a supermarket organic meal, a completely local meal from Polyface Farm and finally a hunted and gathered meal. I have to admit that he pretty much lost my interest at the end with the hunting/gathering so I didn't actually read the last section of the book, however I read what I wanted to. This opened my eyes to the corporate organic companies and takeovers and solidified that local is probably the best. Currently, we're looking for the best organic/local/grassfed meat options for our limited budget ( I'll let you know who we find!

I'm looking forward to reading Pollan's follow up called In Defense of Food.


We're watching documentaries including Food, Inc., Tapped, Fresh and King Corn.

And I just came across another web resource for Clean Eating (Thanks Jess!). While I was disappointed at the misnomer ("clean" really only means less processed foods rather than truly organic foods) it was a great resource for substitutes and less processed food items in every day places. A great first step for people trying to eat better. 

CSA Week 17


This week in the CSA world we got...

... a half dozen brown eggs, a bunch of turnips, a bunch of braising greens (4 different kinds of greens), several cups of salad mix, several small sweet peppers, a pint of cherry tomatoes, and a lb of wax beans.

Anyone know about wax beans? Are they the same as green beans? I'm excited to find out and try these!

And, a few recipes as promised.

Fresh Salsa (small batch)

1/2 small white onion
1 garlic clove
1 small jalapeno pepper
1-1/2 lb plum/grape/cherry tomatoes
1-2 T lime juice
2 T cilantro
3/4 t salt

Pulse together in a food processor just until combined.

Applesauce Spice Cake (8" or 9" square cake)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 5 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

    Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts (if using). Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely. Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated. Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.
So yummy! A dense, moist cake.

Apple Butter (from Valerie, but adapted crock pot version)

5-6 lbs apples reduced to applesauce

1-1/2 c sugar (more or less depending on sweetness of apples)
3 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. nutmeg

Combine ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low 8-10 hours removing lid for last 1-2 hours until desired spreading consistency is achieved.

I froze mine in bags because I don't have canning supplies. :-( Hopefully it'll be just fine. We'll see how that works out!

CSA Week 12


I'm a week behind, but the computer is gone again all week, so forgive me. I'll play catch up next week.

Last week's pick up included...

... 1/2 dozen brown eggs, 1 lb okra, 1 lb potatoes, several sweet peppers, one fat cucumber, 2 white globe eggplant (baba ganosh?), four slicing tomatoes and a head of garlic. 

My pick of the week is garlic. Ever since we lived in Haiti, we got so spoiled using fresh garlic - among other things! A garlic press was a must on my wedding registry and we go through quite a bit in a year.

Growing it yourself is so easy! Split a head apart and stick the cloves (each one will be one head in the spring) in the ground in October (in Kansas at least) and let it sprout. It'll winter over, start growing again the next spring and by July you can pick it, dry it and it will last until it's gone.


CSA Week 9


This week's pickup included...

... 4 cucumbers, a pint of cherry tomatoes, 8 small peaches, a watermelon (yum!), a pound of okra and 2 cups of basil.

And the pick of the week is ... CUCUMBERS! Added the four to my stash and I have quite a few. (Too many.)

Any cucumber recipes you're dying to share?! I could use some!

CSA week 8


This week's CSA pick-up included...

1 lb okra, 2 lbs white onions, 1-2 lbs asian green beans, pint of cherry tomatoes, 4 slicing tomatoes, two small cucumbers and two ears of sweet corn. Oh, and a crazy toddler. :-)

... and the pick of the week is... OKRA! I grew up with a family recipe of okra, and (Dad) I am proud to say that I snatched up this okra over beets (any day) and I'm gonna make our fried okra recipe. Excited!

But do check out these Asian green beans. Have you ever tried these? They are like 4 times the length of regular beans!?! Insane.  Not sure how to prepare them, so more research is in order.

I ventured into the fennel realm last week and came out kicking. It smelled very strongly of anise (black licorice - which I despise) so I was slightly skeptical, but I kept my reservations on hold until I tasted it especially after reading that someone who also hates anise liked this and a friend confirmed.

But, no siree! Not me, fennel is on my black list, friends. It tasted so much like anise to me that I almost gagged. Seriously, I'm not a picky eater at all, but I just couldn't do it.

And beets are not my favorite (much too earthy for my taste) but I did enjoy a "slaw" of carrots, apples, a small beet, raisins and walnuts tossed in lemon juice last week.

CSA week 7


CSA pick up seemed pretty sparse this week...

a pint of cherry tomatoes, 1 squash, 2 small cucumbers, 4 slicing tomatoes, a bag of shallots, 2 garlic cloves and a half dozen brown eggs.

Here's the CSA pick of the week! (Except ... I don't know what kind of squash it is or how to cook it...)

Update: It's a scallop squash, a.k.a. patty pan squash.

So my corn is completely dead after I pulled it all up. I peeled back part of a really sad looking corn husk and indeed, it was drying up. Boo! The drought is only going to get worse ... and I wonder what it will do to the CSA farms?

But for now, we're enjoying a bountiful harvest of multicolored tomatoes and I put them all together. Pretty huh?

(Here's to hoping little fingers stay out of them ...)


And, here's a few pictures of recipes I made last week with CSA ingredients. We are really enjoying all of the fresh goodness. (Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a food photographer, so if my photos gross you out, my apologies.) 

First up, Margherita Pizza with whole wheat crust, garlic/olive oil herb sauce, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes.

Feta, cucumber and tomato salad with salt, pepper, balsamic and oil dressing.

Purple potatoes = lavender mashed potatoes. Kind weird, but tasted the same.

And, finally, a European specialty ... tomato slice topped with a piece of fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf then drizzled with olive oil. YUM!

Until next time, friends!

CSA - Weeks 4 & 5


happy 4th to all those Stateside. (I'm sure there will be more on our laid-back festivities tomorrow, but for now...)

CSA pick-up last week wasn't happening without a kind friend to kick it on over to the farm and pick-up for us.

She said there was ... 2 small cabbages, a small bunch of broccoli, leeks, basil, peaches, and eggs.

This week (week 5!) there was:

2 mini cabbages, celery, beets, eggs, cherry tomatoes, green beans and red potatoes

Wahoo! The celery is more leaves than stems, so I'll probably try to use those and I'm not sure about the green cherry tomatoes. Does anyone know? Will they ripen if they're picked green? Or do we need to find a green tomato recipe?

And ... my CSA pick-of-the-week is these beauties.

Farm fresh eggs are such a treat to those on a low food budget - and it's not like we live in Amish country to just pick up a few on the side of the road (ahem, in-laws).  The taste is great, the yolk is a lovely orange and I don't think I'd need to refrigerate them if I didn't have to. I love it!

We've also gathered in a little from our garden (which is slowly withering away from the intense heat ...).

Some garlic.

And my cherry tomatoes have started to turn red!! There are so many on the two bushes I have yet to ripen, but I am excited (and I'm willing to water them so they live too)!

I've gotten so much cabbage - I'll share a cabbage recipe next week with you that is easy, delicious and we love!

Until then... sayonara!

Living Simply: Food



A subject I love and hate. I love to eat and used to love to cook (bake, more specifically) but lately, I've just been so hard-pressed to come up with even a simple meal! Read on to see how I've just recently ventured into something that's completely helped motivate me!

I used to eat really well (with a few necessary sweets). Then, I got married.

Okay, so it's not Jeremy's fault, but I wanted to please him, make what he liked, and I wasn't going to make him food and different food for me. So, I just started to eat what he liked and my healthy eating has gone down ever since. Not horrible, but just not great. White rice and pasta instead of whole wheat. Less veggies, fruits, etc. Plus, with our very limited budget, it's difficult to buy fresh - it's just expensive! And organic is almost out of the question.

And when I don't have much choice of food, I get unmotivated very quickly.

But, I've been wanting to find a way to eating less processed (more simply) on a budget. We still eat plenty of processed foods, but I'm working toward more whole foods in our diet, especially since the girl is eating table foods and we want her to eat well, which means we need to also!

"Even though we cannot draw the line precisely at the point where sufficiency ends and excess consumption starts, a standard appropriate to the present world situation would insist that the majority of Americans consume far too much."

So, here are some of the ways we're working on simplifying our diet.

Gardening (although our "property" is not nearly large or fertile enough to support us fully),

Gardening provides organic, pesticide free food for us. A recap on what we're growing this year: corn, watermelon (maybe?), red and yellow onions, garlic, sugar snap peas, green beans, tomatoes, dill, basil and parsley.

Have you heard of the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen"? If not, follow this link on pesticides, a guide to what you should buy organic and what are fine to buy non-organic. Onions are at the top of the clean list and apples, celery and strawberries are at the top of the dirty list (ones you should always buy organic). This has really opened my eyes to what I'm feeding my family and myself! I don't want our babe to be ingesting traces of 50 different pesticides with every bite of a strawberry! So these I either won't buy or will get organically.

Well, I've finally found a way to do this.

Joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) 

Basically, a CSA is a subscription to a farm to buy produce directly from the farmer every week throughout the growing season (May through October). We are paying $17 a week for the produce (market prices with sales tax added) and it's basically a surprise every week!

In last week's CSA bag (from left): 6 brown eggs, 1 med cabbage, 5 green onions, a HUGE Napa cabbage, 2 cups sugar snap peas, 1 bunch Swiss chard, 1 small bok choy, beets and on the end, our very own green beans.

week 1

My favorite one of the bunch, Swiss chard. Isn't it gorgeous?!

This week's CSA included 1 small cabbage, a bunch of red kale, two large kohlrabi, 1 bag salad greens (3 cups), 14 shallots, 1-1/2 cups red raspberries and two little roma tomatoes from our own garden (a toddler got one of

week 2

And my favorite of the week?? The raspberries! I can hardly wait to make something yummy with them. I grew up with a big red raspberry bush and got so spoiled with free fresh raspberries. Mmm!

For some reason, this way of getting produce has completely transformed my thinking about cooking. I'm motivated by the produce to find new recipes and new ways of cooking. Luckily, my husband is a good trier of new things (thanks love!) and even if he doesn't love it, it's okay. I'm excited to cook now! And I must meal-plan to 1) use all of my produce and 2) stay within my budget after the $17. (As opposed to spending $17 at the farmer's market every Saturday and still not knowing what to get.)

Awesome, right?

I'll be doing a weekly update on what CSA produce we get every week in case anyone is interested in trying it out!!
Finally, we were given an awesome anniversary gift. Our teflon cookware (Jeremy bought over 5 years ago) was getting scratched and sticking. It was time for new. Teflon can give off harmful chemicals when it starts to break down and stainless steel is a much better (healthier) option.

We've switched to cooking with stainless steel! It definitely has a learning curve after cooking for so long with non-stick cookware, but it's so nice to stir something with a wire whisk and not be afraid flecks of Teflon are contaminating the food. I love it! (FYI: We did keep a very small omelet non-stick pan for pain free fried eggs.)

 (Ladybug posing with our new 10-piece set of Berghof pots and pans.)

Share your food tips with me! And what do you think of my new adventure into a CSA?

Favorite Recipe: Dark Chocolate Muffins


I made one of my favorite muffin recipes on a whim a couple of days ago. So yum. I thought I'd share the recipe with you.

It's actually a dieters' recipe, so it has some strange ingredients, but why can't it be one of my favorites?! Don't turn your nose up at the weird ingredients until you try them. You'll be surprised too! I just sneak in quite a few more chocolate chips and you have yourself a scrumptious, filling dark chocolate muffin recipe. And these aren't your boxed fluff muffins, nor are they cupcakes. A perfect mix of in between and homemade goodness. (Plus they almost taste better the next day!)

Dark Chocolate Mini Muffins

1-1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. molasses
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (or about a cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat about 48 mini or 18 regular muffin cups with cooking spray, set aside. In a bowl, combine flours, sugars, coca powder, soda and 1/4 tsp. salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside. In another bowl combine milk, applesauce, oil, molasses, vinegar, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Stir in half of the chocolate pieces. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each between 1/2-2/3 full. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. Bake minis for 8-10 minutes or regular for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes. Remove and serve warm or cool completely and freeze for up to 3 months.


Our First Berry Goodness!


From our very own berry patch.

And ... when we went to eat them later after Jeremy got home, I handed her one again and SQUISH!


My two favorite recipes


AND ... we're back!

More on the long weekend coming soon. So, in lieu of real news, here's my two favorite recipes to make with sweet bell peppers.


I've REALLY been struggling in the meal planning department. I don't really enjoy cooking these days (I'd much rather be thrifting or sewing) and I just get so discouraged when I have no ideas!!

The other day chicken was on sale (thank goodness!) and I stocked up and promptly made two of my favorite recipes. I price matched a three pack of peppers at (cough) Wal-mart - from Aldi - for 99 cents. Score.


First up...

Sweet and Sour Chicken

2 chicken breasts, cubed
1 T paprika
2 T olive oil

1/4 c. sugar
2-3 T. cornstarch
1 can pineapple chunks, juice reserved
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)

1-2 bell peppers, cut into chunks
1/2 medium onion, chopped

Saute chicken breasts sprinkled with desired amount of paprika and salt in oil until cooked through. Add bell peppers and onions, steaming for a couple of minutes. In a separate bowl combine sugar, cornstarch, pineapple juice, vinegar and soy sauce. Pour over chicken and vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened.

Serve over steamed white rice and enjoy!!

((Sorry, I've tried to photograph SSC before and it never looks good. I'm really not a food photographer. So, just imagine with me.)) 

Homemade Fajitas

1-1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. oregano
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. red pepper
1/4 t. black pepper
1/8 t. garlic powder (or 1 clove, minced)
1/8 t. onion powder

Cut 2 chicken breasts into strips and saute in olive oil. Add seasoning and a little water. (I usually at least double the seasoning recipe because we like it better). Once the chicken is cooked through, I add the sliced bell peppers (about 1-1/2 large ones) and 1/2 sliced onion. Cook until crisp tender and serve with warm tortillas, taco sauce and sour cream if desired.


Do you have a go-to recipe when you are out of ideas?? Do share!! I'm in need!