Wednesday, July 16, 2014

CSA Creations: Four Days (and Four Ways) of Strawberry Rhubarb

Since the last few weeks of school, we've received quite a few bags of rhubarb. I had no idea, but according to Andy, "It grows like a weed in Wisconsin." Who knew? Oh, Andy knew. And probably a lot of other people, too.

My main memories of rhubarb involve Ireland, specifically my grandmother and the rhubarb tarts she used to make. I remember the taste of it...not very sweet, but still so delicious and dessert-y, served with custard she made from Bird's Custard Powder. My mother still uses this to make her custard that she pours over her trifle - so creamy and perfect on top of any fruit based dessert, but especially fitting on rhubarb. I also remember the giant rhubarb leaves with pink stalks that grew in my uncle's garden. It was always confusing to me how those big, bulky leaves somehow ended up in that sweet little tart.

Fast forward to this summer. A few weeks ago, we also started receiving strawberries in our CSA from Christensens Farm, and it's all been downhill uphill from there. Sure, there are many things you can do individually with both strawberries and rhubarb, but why mess with perfection? The first thing I made was a pie. This was the second type of pie I've made in my life (I made two Maple-Bourbon-Pecan pies last Thanksgiving), and it turned out pretty great, if I do say so myself. I was all gung-ho about doing a lattice top but I think I lost track of the process at some point and ended up with this:


 The thing about pie is that it's the just the greatest and best thing ever. Oh wait, sorry. I lost my train of thought thinking about how great pie is. The thing about pie is that you can eat it at, and for, any meal. We brought this pie over to Gwen's and Linda's over Memorial Day weekend and ate about half of it, but then Andy and I enjoyed it for breakfast over the next couple of days as well. I love the turbinado sugar on top.
 Seriously - coffee and pie? Agent Dale Cooper would approve.
 My cousin Summer spotted some facebook pictures I'd posted and hinted about how good it looked and how she would love to taste it, so I made her a crisp for her baby shower a few weeks ago! The fruit base was covered with a simple mix of flour, oats, and a few other ingredients. Easy as pie, only easier.
 I've always wanted to try making jam, even though my family and friends have kept me well-jammed over the years. From Mom's marmalade to Anna's grape to Sara's blueberry-lime and Jess's strawberry rhubarb (could I even compare?!), I've really been treated well in the jam department. Who doesn't love jam (see: every jam moment with Joey from Friends)??

I started with a cup or so of each fruit, and a whole bunch of sugar.
 It was really puzzling to me how this pile of crap was going to turn into jam. Eventually, though, it began to change!




 Cooking is magic. This jam is SO GOOD. It was a small batch, so I filled part of two jars. It didn't last long. It's possible that one or more members of my household ate it by the spoonful.
 Now, there's probably about a zillion food items on which you can spread jam, but I wanted to take it to a different level. Why not make muffins with strawberry and rhubarb, and then top said muffins with jam made of the same stuff?! CRAZY, amiright? Here we go:
 The muffins were cakey and moist, and the fruit sweetened them just enough.
 Muffins and jam, basking in the glory of one another.
We're probably done getting both strawberries and rhubarb for this year, but I feel like I put them to good use!

Recipes:

Renee's Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Old Fashioned Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Easy Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam

Strawberry-Rhubarb Muffins

This week's favorite reading: Eleanor and Park and Fried Green Tomatoes (for the 100th time)
This week's favorite listening: Soundtrack to "Call the Midwife"
This week's favorite outfit: Bathing suit early in the week for water aerobics, and hoodies and socks yesterday and today, because it's cold out, dudes. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

CSA Creations: Garlic Scape Pesto and Strawberry-Mint Cocktail

This summer, Andy and I are participating in what is my first CSA. In addition, Andy is working at the farm from which we receive our produce and eggs (the best eggs I've ever tasted!). We have been receiving our CSA once a week for about five weeks now. Every week there's a couple of things I use often, and then at least one thing that's new or not my favorite. It's been fun and rewarding to come up with ways to use these unfamiliar items, as well as things that are not usually at the top of my list. Here's the haul from a couple of weeks ago:
Lettuce, spinach, strawberries, garlic scapes, mint, radishes, and eggs.
In this bunch, it was the garlic scapes that puzzled me. Actually, we'd received them the week before, so I had double what was in that picture. I decided, after some googling, that garlic scape pesto looked and sounded good.
Chopping the scapes into smaller pieces. The smell was amazing. 
I love pesto. Probably because it's full of cheese and oil, and I love cheese (and I guess, oil). This recipe was similar to what I'm used to: olive oil, grated parmesan, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. No nuts.
Parmesan courtesy of Ken's Meat Market. 
 And, of course, the Magic Bullet came out to help, and help it did!


Beautiful color, and amazing, garlicky smell.
 While I was cooking the pasta, I decided a cocktail was in order, because it was Monday and I felt like it. I'd had a strawberry-mint mojito at Laredo's the week before, and was inspired.

Making simple syrup.

This is called "muddling." You can do it, too!

Strawberries and mint covered with Tito's, simple syrup, and a splash of soda.
So delicious and refreshing!
 While the pasta was cooking, I also had time to make a salad for our side. Everything except the tomatoes came from the farm!
Spinach, lettuce, radishes, green onions, and tomatoes. 
 Finally the pasta was ready. I kept getting excited and thinking of things to add, though.
Delicious! No wait...

Let's add more parmesan!

And an egg for protein!
This was a delicious dinner, one of many meals we've been enjoying this summer. There is something very satisfying about being given specific items and figuring out how to use them in different ways. And who knew I'd come to like radishes?! I also love hearing Andy tell me what he planted this week, knowing we'll see it back in our CSA bag a few weeks later, and trying to get thing as locally as possible when we can. It feels good.

Recipes:

Garlic Scape Pesto
12 garlic scapes
3/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 c. olive oil
pinch of salt

Blend everything together in a food processor or blender. Add the oil last.

Strawberry-Mint Cocktail
4-6 small strawberries, quartered
6-8 mint leaves
2 tsp lemon simple syrup
as much vodka as you like
splash of soda or ginger ale

Muddle strawberries and mint. Add together everything else over ice. Drink 'er down.


This week's favorite reading: The Bean Trees
This week's favorite listening: Anything Blondie or Prince
This week's favorite outfit: Star-spangled sweatpants and black undershirt

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Something Borrowed: Orzo the Third


If you want to know about the title of this, please see previous blog. If you don't care, then go on, ya half-assed!








BOOM! Something borrowed. I borrowed some orzo and peas from my last orzo recipe and mixed it with chopped cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, some red wine & olive oil dressing, and salt and pepper. Like I said, boom.

So then...um...Something Blue. My goal is to figure out Something Blue for orzo by the end of the month so that I can claim an overarching "Month of Orzo" theme. IT WILL BE WORTH IT!!! Themes!!!

Anybody got any ideas for blue orzo? Anybody?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Something Old: Orzo Again

Welp. I made orzo again, hence the "Something Old." Next up with be some incarnation of borrowed orzo and blue orzo, don't you worry. I got home a little early from work tonigh, which always makes me feel more like cooking an actual dinner instead of having soup or a bowl of cereal or something. Tonight, the ingredients I wanted to use included peas, prosciutto, and goat cheese. I found a recipe that used those three ingredients, plus a pasta and lemon zest, and was excited at the low amount of ingredients. Sounds great in all ways!


Aren't peas pretty? I love peas. I used to eat frozen peas out of the bag in college.

 While the orzo was cooking, I crumbled up the goat cheese and sprinkled in some lemon zest. Well, let's be honest; it was actually peeled lemon skin. I don't have a zester, so I used my crappy vegetable peeler. Note to self: get a zester.

 Prosciutto! I think prosciutto is my favorite food in the world right now. I mean, yes, sandwiches are my favorite food. Hands down. But prosciutto...uh muh guh. I could probably eat like ten slices in a row, plain. Sure, it's great in a sandwich, or wrapped around cantaloupe, but I'll also eat it plain. In excess. With a full heart.

 I tossed in the peas for the last few minutes of the orzo boiling. They don't look nearly as pretty here...

...as they do here! Ooh, look at that mixture! I let it drain but kept it hot so I could mix in the goat cheese/lemon zest mixture.

 The cheese melted okay, but I had to add some water to help it melt more.

 I tossed in the prosciutto and mixed it all together. Frankly, though, I was sad to not just eat the prosciutto plain. As I may have possibly mentioned before. You remember - full heart.

 I added a little extra lemon juice and some black pepper to cut the goat cheese flavor, which was a little overwhelming. Next time, I'd probably use less cheese and more peas and meat. The cheese made it really rich.

 Overall, the food was pretty good, but it was beat out by the sides: roasted brussel sprouts...

 ...and red grapes, freezing cold from the fridge.

Alrighty, orzo! Give somebody else a chance once in awhile, will ya? Though, I do have some of the orzo/peas mixture left over, to which I'll probably add tomatoes and dressing to make a pasta salad. Will I post pictures of that process as well, and write it off as my next blog? Will it be the aforementioned Something Borrowed since I "borrowed" some of the ingredients from this recipe that I made? And the most important question: How in hell am I going to work the Something Blue angle?! Only time will tell, everybody. Let's just see where this goes.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Something New: Orzo

The other day, I thought to myself, "I should try to cook something new every week this year and blog them all!" Then it morphed into, "Or, at least cook and/or prepare 50 new foods or recipes this year...and also blog about them!" And then, it trickled into, "Okay, maybe do 50 new things, not necessarily cooking-based. Though most of them will probably be cooking because, hey, pictures of food are pretty, and that's mostly what this blog is comprised of anyhow!"

Then I decided to chill out, stop making silly year-long and list-based expectations, and just make some orzo because, for some reason, I've never made orzo before. Don't get too excited; I made something akin to the most basic pasta salad ever, just with orzo instead of other-shaped-pasta. And I decided that maybe I'll do some things, maybe they'll be new, and maybe there will be a blog about them. Hey, commitment, eh?

Here are all the lovely, fresh ingredients.


This is orzo! It is exactly the same as any other pasta, which is why the whole "new" thing doesn't totally apply...


Chopped stuff in piles. Pretty.


Rinsing the orzo. I know this sounds weird, but it felt really nice. Maybe spas should consider this as a luxury treatment; the cool-water-orzo-hand-rinse.

Mixing the ingredients while the orzo drains.

Putting it all together.

Dressing made with olive oil, lemon juice, and some herbs.

There it is! Delicious!