Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Habanero Chile Oil and Hot Sauce

Even though the season is technically over for a few more weeks, Guy and I are still working on some of our produce. The last of the tomatoes are starting to turn, a few squashes are still hanging in there, and we are finally seeing the end of our Habanero peppers.

Although we've done a lot with those little Habaneros, our favorite recipes by far are Habanero Chile Oil and Habanero Hot Sauce.

The chile oil is simple to make and extremely hot. It's really good on a stir-fry, although I think using a different type of pepper might make a more interesting oil. Here is ours in the microwave, bubbling away:

The hot sauce we made is possibly my favorite hot sauce ever. And I do not say this lightly as, until now, I've been quite the loyal devotee to Frank's. We've already gone through one recipe of this ourselves, taken a double batch to Taco Tuesday, and gathered the ingredients to make ourselves a second batch tomorrow. Here it is working its magic on brekkie:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Mayo That Never Should Have Been...

Friday I decided to try to actually make the mayo. I followed the recipe, using Safflower oil, as called for.

After whisking for what seemed like an eternity, it was time to add the second half of the lemon juice... but I added the leftover egg white. Doh!

I went ahead and added the lemon juice and it seemed like all was well. Into the fridge it went.

And there it sat until the following morning when we gave it a taste.


I don't know exactly what went wrong, whether it was the safflower oil (which was quite old) or the extra egg, but it was not eatable.

Will I try it again? Or move on to another episode? Who knows.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Mayo That Never Was...

Just before Thanksgiving (well over two weeks ago), I noticed we were low on mayonaisse and thought what a perfect chance to make the Good Eats mayo from The Mayo Clinic episode (Season 4, Ep. 10).



We ran out of mayo days later. We watched the mayo episode. And then.... nothing. No mayo.

Laziness set in. It was on our to do list every day and never got done.

Guy asked if we could buy mayo. I'm still holding out. Will I finally make the daggarn mayo or will Guy demand mayo for his morning eggy sammiches? Stay tuned...

CSA Haul #7: End of the Fall Season

This weekend at the farm was even more fun than usual. Guy helped Marie run rows of drop tape while I harvested lettuce, Pak Choy, and Mizuna greens. Then we both harvested chard. Marie stayed in the field working, while one of the other girls and I went to the front of the farm to start sorting out the food for this week's share and help the other CSA members get their haul.

When Marie came up to join us, she even made us cocoa and brought us cookies! This was a great treat, especially since the temperature dropped 10 or 15 degrees from the time we got there.

Here's what we got in our last share of this season:

From top left, anticlockwise: red and green mustard greens, green tomatoes and red tomatoes, Pak Choy, some kind of squash (Calabash, maybe, I don't know but now we have two of them), baby beets, half gallon of milk, dozen eggs, one carrot, 3 turnips, 1 daikon radish, 2 turban squash, bay leaves, chard leaves, and red and green leaf lettuce. :whew: We paid extra for the milk and eggs, which has been well worth it. (We get a better price from the farmer's because we're in the CSA.)

Folks, that's the end of our first season. Overall, we are both really pleased. Guy likes the structure it brings to our meal planning. If we get a basket a food that needs to get planned into meals for the week, we don't just play it by ear. Now we generally know what we're having for dinner every evening. I like that I am eating foods I wouldn't normally buy, like turnips, beets, and sweet potato leaves. Plus, we both enjoy working on the farm with Marie.

Green tomatoes and Curry

Our tomatoes are turning.

We have three batches of them: one from before Thanksgiving, one from after Thanksgiving, and one from this week. We've eaten most of the tomatoes from the first batch but there are still a few holding on. I'm really impressed with how well it works to just patiently wait for your tomatoes to ripen. We've been eating them in salads or raw with salt and with few exceptions they've been delicious!

Not all of our green tomatoes have had a chance to turn red, and here's why: Green Tomato Curry with Potatoes and Garlic.

I can't get enough of this recipe. We ate it last week for the first time and I was shocked at how different it was from what I had expected. I wanted more... and I usually get what I want. ;) So, this week it's on the menu again and probably next week's too!

<--- This turned into this -->

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thoughts on wasted food

So far in this endeavor, Guy and I have done a fair job of eating everything we're given. However, we haven't been perfect. This week I didn't pick much Pak Choy because we ended up throwing out ours from two weeks ago. That was the first time we had really just not used something at all.

It got me thinking. Lately, I've slipped back into an "eat out" habit. For me this is less about craving the food at restaurants and more about not wanting to do the work of cooking and the subsequent clean up.

When we're eating at home and things are running smoothly, I greatly prefer the food we eat to the "eat out" options. But the never-ending dirty dishes seemingly springing up from every counter in the kitchen is sometimes just too much to bear.

No amount of menu planning or do-goodery can overcome my laggard ways. Is there anything that can convince me to eat my delicious spicy salad of raw garden-y goodness instead of ordering a pizza on a whim?

CSA Haul #6

This week our CSA was supposed to be fairly meager because of recent freezes. In fact, we expect that there will be only two more hauls before the winter break. Our next 200$ payment is also due this month. But none of that was a worry for Guy and I as we were excited to get our hands dirty on the farm again after two weeks missed.

We spent our whole two hours pulling up the weeds (:shakes fist at bermuda grass:) and such from rows of old tomato plants, getting them ready to plant snow peas. The time went by very fast; we didn't even have time for grasshopper catching! (Of course we made time before we left so we could feed the hens. It's one of our favorite parts of visiting the farm each week.)

When we were leaving, Marie told us to just harvest what we wanted and to grab a few things from the farm house that she had picked earlier. From the top left anticlockwise, a few leaves of Pak Choy, summer and winter squash (another pumpkin, 4 patty pans, and some unidentified dark green squash), red and green mustard greens, red and green mizuna, red lettuce, green tomatoes and Habaneros.

Instead of being a meager haul, this was our biggest box yet!
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Turning tomatoes

Our little green tomatoes (of which we received 4 lbs last week!) have been sitting patiently in a paper sack on the counter.

Farmer Marie promised that if we were patient they would turn into beautiful little red tomatoes. She was right! They're starting to turn and I couldn't be happier for this little taste of summer as the weather turns colder.

We actually used about half our greens to make a delicious salsa because we just aren't *that* patient. But the rest of these babies are going to be salad tomatoes... in another week or so. :widegrin:
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Smoky, Amazingly Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Guy and I just got back from a holiday trip at my mom's house. We didn't do our work share or pick up our box of food this week because we were gone. (Actually there was no work share this week, either way.) I'm eager to get back out in the dirt next week even though I'm sure it's going to be cold.

Aside from the chilliness at the farm, we're loving the cold weather. Cold weather means SOUP! I recently received an email from Rachel Ray about a smoky spicy sweet potato soup that can be made in just 30 minutes. While I'm not a fan of Ms. Ray personally, I've had great success with several of her soups and stoups.

Instead of the one chipotle pepper and teaspoon of adobo sauce that is called for, I used about 8 peppers and 1/2 c of sauce. I also used the sweet potatoes that we had from our last haul.

This soup is an easy delicious way to greet the cold.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Flapjack Do It Again

This week we chose Season 3, Episode 7 "Flapjack Do It Again" as our Good Eats episode.

In this episode, Alton makes an instant pancake mix. We made the mix one morning when we had friends over for brunch and have used it several times this week. We even froze our leftover pancakes, which worked marvelously!

The plain pancakes are very good, but I liked adding blueberries or walnuts during cooking. The ease of making these pancakes in the morning have set me on a pancake streak.
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Winter is on it's way, or CSA haul #5

Our fifth haul from the farm:

Above (from top left, anticlockwise): 3.5 lbs of green tomatoes, 2 lbs of sweet potatoes, a few ripe tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers (Habanero and Purple Hungarian), mizuna greens, and green leaf lettuce.

Below: Two adorable winter squash (approximately 2.5 lbs)

We actually could have taken 3 lbs of squash and 4 lbs of tomatoes, but we were rushed this week due to a heavy work load. We actually had to cancel our work share on the farm for this week because of it.

Thankfully though, Marie let us pick up our share at the Green Spot, so we didn't even have to drive all the way out to the farm. Unfortunately, we'll also be missing this week because we'll be out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Sweet Potato Pie Remix

On Sunday, Guy and I attended a Friendsgiving potluck party. Our contribution was a sweet potato pie (because it had been such a hit before).

We enjoyed the Good Eats sweet potato pie, but wanted to make a few changes. We wanted to change the boring pre-made pie crust for something that would add more to the pie. We also wanted to add some bourbon to the filling because pie is better with alcohol.

Behold, our second pie!

It's got a gingersnap pecan crust and the Good Eats sweet potato pie filling. Sadly, I forgot all about the bourbon when I was making the pie. But I won't forget next time.

This pie was a huge success! Everyone at the party loved it and it was absolutely demolished. I'm glad I got my slice early.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saving it for Later: Pickled Cucuzza

One of the things we want to get out of the CSA is practice preserving foods for less plentiful times. Seeing as we've had so much extra Cucuzza squash around the house, as well as plenty of mason jars and vinegar, Guy decided to try his hand at a little quick pickling.

The recipe:
  • Boil 2 c apple cider vinegar, 1 c sugar, dash of garlic and onion powders.
  • Slice Cucuzza and onion. Pack into Mason jars with minced garlic.
  • Pour the boiling liquid into the jars to cover.
  • Apply lids. Let sit until cool. Refrigerate.
  • Enjoy in a few days!

The results:

Not bad at all. In fact, we kind of like them. They turned out much crisper than regular cucumber pickles. They do taste almost entirely of apple cider vinegar (which is not a problem for us) and they also have an odd look to them (but we think that can be fixed by removing the seeds before pickling). This is definitely a project we will try again soon!

Another week: CSA load #4

This week we worked at the farm on Friday and Marie let us take our haul home then so we didn't have to drive back out again on Saturday.

A full share received two heads of lettuce (your choice of red, green, or one of each), a bunch of Pak Choy, a Cucuzza squash, and one pound of "other veg."

There was a variety of things we could choose from for our other veg. We chose four Habanero peppers, two Rosa Bianca eggplants, and about half a pound of mixed tomatoes.

We could have chosen green beans, Mizuna greens, fingerling eggplants, or a variety of other peppers.

This was definitely not a big haul, but we still had a bit of peppers and a whole Cucuzza left from last week.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Potato, My Sweet

In an effort to use up our veg in interesting and delicious ways, as well as add to our paltry stock of kitchen items, Guy and I decided to eat our way through the Good Eats series. We'll learn about our food, try the recipes hands on, and have help buying those kitchen appliances and utensils that we so badly need.

Our CSA haul last week included four pounds of sweet potatoes, so we decided to start with "Potato, My Sweet" (Season 7, Episode 11). In this episode, Alton makes chipotle mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato waffles, and (oh my!) sweet potato pie. He also talks about choosing a waffle iron. We already have a good enough waffle iron (plastic and square and without any of the functions Q suggests, but it works for us). What we did need was a steamer basket (we thought ours was lost to the moving gods) and a potato masher. We got ours at Target for about 13$ total.

We jumped right in to the sweet potato waffle recipe and, of course, we served it up with delicious pan-fried chicken. Guy made the waffles and I made the chicken.

All told it took us approximately 30 minutes and every bite of it was fantastic. A few days later I saw this post on Serious Eats and now we want to try those waffles with some leftover turkey and a cranberry chutney. OMnom.

The next day we made the chipotle mashed sweet potatoes.
I used about half a can of chipotle instead of just one pepper because we love it hot (we are Texans after all). Next time I'll use the whole can. My only concern is that the adobo sauce might overpower the sweet potato flavor, but I'm going to give a try and see what happens. We served it up with blackeyed peas stewed with greens and a good chunk of steak. So good.

Sweet potato pie was our last recipe to try. Even though it wasn't in the recipe, our pie was served with Cool Whip. We enjoyed it and so did our friends who ate the leftovers. However, I
want to try this filling with bourbon added (like this recipe) and in the gingersnap pecan crust that this recipe uses.

Overall results: "Potato, my Sweet" was a win. My favorite recipe was the chipotle mashed sweet potatoes. Guy can't decide between them. The mashed potatoes are the most practical recipe, one we can whip up really quick and will probably use often. But the pie was delicious! And so were the waffles! He wouldn't want to make the waffles in the morning though; it's more of an afternoon chicken-and-waffles thing.

CSA haul #3

This is our newest haul of veg from Eden's Organic Farm CSA.

From top left going anticlockwise, we have two more Cucuzza squash, 4# of sweet potato, eggplant, purple bells, lemon basil (in the bowl), some kind of sweet green pepper, spicy purple peppers, Habaneros, fresh basil, Mizuna mix (2 kinds), spicy mustard greens (2 kinds).

This week our box actually started looking like it was meant for four people. Of course, we're still hoping that we get the overabundance that CSA's are sometimes known for. We're stocking up on canning supplies and learning about other preservation techniques.

In fact, we already started preserving. We're drying some basil and the rest of it got made into pesto with some walnuts and olive oil (and is now in the freezer). It was my first try at pesto and, boy, do I have a lot to learn...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

We joined a CSA!

Joining Eden's Organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) was a big step for us. We love the local food movement, seasonal eating, and the ideas behind CSA, but we were unsure we could afford it.

After going out to Marie's farm and getting to know her and her land better, we knew we had to get involved. And we have been since August.

We paid our 200$ (a full share for 4 people is 400$ or 200$ with workshare; we chose the latter) and started coming out each Friday or Saturday morning to work.

We moved compost piles, weeded, chased and squashed grasshoppers and caterpillars, planted
seedlings, and harvested whatever was ready. At the end of September, we got a surprise for all our hard work: our first little taste of what was to come.

There wasn't enough for shares yet, but here was our first taste of the farm.

A Cucuzza squash, a few fingerling eggplants, little spicy purple peppers, and a purple bell.

Neither of us had ever heard of Cucuzzas. It was our first CSA adventure and we loved it. We ate it raw in salads (like cucumber), cooked it into pasta sauce (like zucchini), and roasted it (like eggplant). This first taste of the farm became the better portion of two meals that week. Not really what we'd been hoping for with the CSA, but for a sneak peek, we were pleased nonetheless.

A few weeks later, almost 3 months since we paid and 6 weeks after we started working there, we received our first official CSA share.

It wasn't much bigger than our sneak peek. But the food was delicious and we told ourselves to be patient. This was the first week that the harvest was big enough to split between the 30 families that participate.

We received another Cucuzza squash, which got baked with tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. We had tomatoes and purple bell peppers for salads and pico de gallo. We roasted the Habanero peppers and added them to the pico. The Mizuna greens were braised and eaten with a slice of ham. We also got a bag of dried rosemary. Yum!

The next Saturday our share was even bigger. Our patience was paying off!

Our haul included green beans, Habaneros, Mizuna greens, sweet potato blossoms, fresh rosemary, fresh oregano, two Cucuzza squash, and four bags of sweet potato vine and leaves.

The green beans were a real treat. There were enough for two people for two meals.

We dried our herbs for future use. We ate all of the beans, greens, and peppers, but only one of the squash and only about half of the sweet potato vines/leaves. We ate our extra squash the following week and blanched and froze the extra sweet potato leaves. We did end up trashing some of the vines.

It was a good haul with a lot of food, but we found that the bulk of it (the sweet potato vines/leaves) were interesting but not our normal fare. We enjoyed experimenting with different ways of cooking them, but after eating them in some capacity every day for a week, neither of us wanted to see them in our next load of veg.