Monthly Archives: May 2012

What’s for Dinner: May 27 Part 2

The rest of the week follows. I’ve noticed that when I talk about the farm share, people feel compelled to talk about how regular I must be. I think this is odd, so I won’t bother to comment on my system. What I like is that I’m eating fresh, local veggies, grown by students who are actually caring about sustainability. I do many things, but gardening is not one, so I’m happy there are those willing to do it.

Zucchini Pasta with Arugula

Tuesday: this was a boring, easy dish. I didn’t even bother to take a picture of it. I started with a recipe from Vegetarian Times, but it morphed into something that I make a lot: the broccoli pasta. That one is a favorite in the house and this is more or less the same thing. Here’s the formula:

  1. 8 ounces pasta. We usually use the penne, but have fun with the shapes. Pick a nice sturdy one that will hold the sauce.
  2. Veggies. We’ve done broccoli, parsnips and kale, leftover stuff in the fridge and now zucchini and arugula. I also threw in rosemary and basil, because it was there.
  3. Sauce. I’ve done some olive oil and parmesan (which ROCKS on the broccoli), I’ve made a sauce with leftover coconut milk (which is delicious and somewhat sweet), and of course, we’ve done tomato sauce. I’m not an enormous dairy product consumer any more, so I’ll do a 1/4 cup of olive oil and a sprinkling of cheese. Then I serve the cheese on the side for others who might prefer more cheese.

Whatever way I’ve made it, the family always happily eats it. We’ve got a solid lunch serving for the husband, since he ate the rest of the spanakopita today (which meant he had a meatless day hee hee.)

Left: radishes, two squash, broccoli and cauliflower, a lot of lettuce. Thinking I’ll share the lettuce with coworkers.

Potato and Squash Torte

This one was a slam dunk. The tough part was figuring out how to squeeze it in to the evening. I skipped the last two Jazzercise songs, ran home to slice 2 pounds of potatoes and 1.5 of those enormous yellow squash and threw this sucker together. I skipped using the flour, just drizzling with olive oil and sprinkling the spices (I still had rosemary, so that, salt and thyme were used) and parmesan between the layers. I turned on the oven and ran to pick up the kid. Came home and cleaned up and waited for the husband to return from his workout. Wednesdays are wacky. Anyway, he finally returned and we scarfed this one down. A major success, but it’s pretty standard fare, so I thought it’d be hard to screw this one up.

Squash Chips

And I had most of a second squash left. What to do with it? So, I got creative and made squash chips. I figured if you could make them out of potatoes or kale, certainly it would work with squash. It does! Take a squash and slice it with a mandolin. (NOTE: be very careful. My friend Amanda still has a nasty scar from her mandolin accident, which I believe required a visit to the emergency room.) Then arrange on a baking sheet THAT HAS PARCHMENT PAPER ON IT.  If you don’t, you’re going to end up throwing away the pan, because they will probably become one with that pan. Heat the oven to about 250-275. Spray/drizzle with olive oil and then the spice of your choice. I tried salt: waaaay too salty. I tried tumeric, cumin and that was good. I tried pepper and was apparently overgenerous with the pepper, but they are good! Just have water close by. Then I googled it and found out someone had already done this. I waited until they were mostly light brown. Then we ate them all up.

Food left this week: still some lettuce, some radishes and the broccoli and cauliflower. If my husband doesn’t get around to using it, I’ll roast that and make him more soup. Looks like we’re eating out on Thursday and Friday.

What’s for Dinner: May 20

WHEW. A month in and here’s the number one thing I’ve learned about a farm share: it’s work. If you don’t love cooking, don’t do it. DON’T. It’s great and amazing but you will cook your ass off.
I’ve started doing the majority of the cooking on Sunday, to ensure that I use the veggies before they wilt or go bad or whatever.

Friday night, I came home and washed and stored the kale and the beet greens, which I put into ziplock containers, along with the romaine, which I stuck in the salad spinner container.

Saturday, I was being ridiculous, running the Warrior Dash. So today, I spent most of the day in the kitchen.

Instead of telling you what we ate each day, I’m going to list it by ingredient.

Arugula: using on salads, which I eat for lunch. Also the radishes and the romaine will be used in the same salads, if not just gifted to coworkers.

Squash: made a squash gratin from Joy of Cooking. Joy of Cooking was the first serious cookbook I bought myself, which I got by not returning the book club postcard in the mail. (Remember those? Anyone?) I got the book and was fascinated by all the information in there and it’s been my go to for 17 years now.

Now the bad thing is that my husband likes his squash gratin heavy on the gratin. Me, I’ve cut way back on cheese consumption. So, we compromise. I make it light on the cheese and then he adds cheese to his serving. And, since I had a bunch of broccoli, I added that to this dish. I also served it with farro, which is a really yummy wheat grain.

Steam for 10 minutes:

  • 1 pound of squash
  • Broccoli to your liking

Add:

  • Milk (called for cream but I wasn’t going to buy cream just for this dish, so I just used milk)
  • Parmesan cheese (a couple of tablespoons)
  • Mozzarella cheese (called for a 2/3, again I used half of that)
  • A splash of white wine if you have it (I didn’t)
  • A t of coriander
  • And a good shake or two of oregano
  • Salt and pepper
Spread in a 9 x 13 pan, sprinkle bread crumbs (ideally Panko, which I thought I had, but I didn’t, so I used cornmeal instead) and more parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes at 350.
Serve hot, with cheese available for those that can’t resist the stuff.

Beets: I stored the beet greens right away. Today, I used two beets and half the beet greens. The beet greens were used in a beet green pesto, which I got from my friend Heather. This was immediately put in the freezer.

  • Boil the greens from about 3 beets for 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the water. Put in a food processor with about a 1/3 cup of walnuts, 2-3 cloves garlic, salt and 1/3 cup of oil.

The beets I roasted while I made another batch of zucchini muffins. Those I peeled, chopped and stuck in the fridge. I’ll use that and the rest of the beet greens along with brown rice to make a beet pilaf, which I got from the Mollie Katzen Vegetable Heaven book.

Zucchini: one will be used in salads. I don’t care so much for cucumbers, but raw zucchini is just fine with me! I also made more zucchini muffins, as these were a big hit last week. However, I put them in the freezer this time, keeping only a handful out at a time. They will turn on your by mid-week. Who knows what I will do with the last zucchini.

Kale: Kale soup this time! And this time, it went directly to the freezer. I made this almost exactly as the recipe called for, except I added a lot more vegetable broth. The whole box. Also, I only used half the kale she called for, so I could continue to have my kale banana smoothies, which are suprisingly delicious. It’s not at all what you would think it is.

Cilantro: gave to a friend. I didn’t have any plans that worked for cilantro this week.

Turnips: storing. We like turnips, but I can only eat so much. UPDATE: went to lunch with a friend who revealed that she likes turnips, so I gifted three to her, kept the other three for ourselves.

Cauliflower: I do not like cauliflower. I just don’t. My husband, on the other hand, loves it. Unfortunately, he’s not around to eat it, so I made roasted broccoli cauliflower soup instead. Very simple and he was happy. I did cook the broccoli and cauliflower a LITTLE long because there was a huge family squabble in the middle of this. Still, he said it was good and added a smoky flavor. He plans to bring it out, add milk (it’s THICK), add cheese and enjoy it.

Green onions: will use as garnish on the beet pilaf.

And that leaves the cabbage: Again, not a huge fan of cabbage, but I’ll try it. So, I made cabbage rolls. I changed the original recipe a bit. I just couldn’t grind a cup of almonds! Continue reading

Warrior Dash the Sequel

Last year, I did the Warrior Dash up in Huntersville, NC. I more or less did it alone, so I buzzed through it as though it was an actual race, finishing in 35 minutes. It was a whole lot of fun, but it was over quickly and I didn’t have as much fun as everyone else racing, who did it in groups.

So this year, when I got wind that my Atlanta running buddies (who I know through an old college friend) were running it, well SIGN ME UP.

I even whipped up a graphic for us, which said “Running for the Hell of It” a reaction to some shirts I saw at a race that said “Running for Jesus.” (Yes, I’m sacrilegious, but I don’t care. I liked the play on running being a certain kind of hell.)I even gussied up the whole outfit with devil horns and striped stockings (thank you Party City. Oh and bonus: stockings did NOT rip and they helped protect my knees. Must be made of tyvek or something.)

Here’s what was different this year:

  1. I ran a whole lot slower and I didn’t care at all. We ran as a group and had a great time. We stood on top of obstacles and yelled “I’m king of the world” and felt like we were. So much better to do it with friends.
  2. I brought the wrong shoes. When push came to shove, I just wasn’t ready to part with the old running shoes. Instead, I went with old Jazzerciseshoes. Huge tactical error; NO tread on these shoes whatsoever and when you were on very muddy trails through the woods, well, you’re gonna slip. And boy, do I have a bruise on my ass to prove that.

    Before race

  3. I forgot my own advice.I didn’t bring a towel AGAIN even though I told everyone else to bring a towel. Clean up was in a lake instead of from a water truck, so you were going to go home still fairly muddy no matter what you did. I did bring just about everything else: change of clothes (including undies), flip flops (a MUST), water, vegetarian food (although I appreciate the Bear Naked granola!), my photo ID. I forgot the plastic baggies, but then they had those anyway, which I then forgot to grab one. I managed to pack it in the bags that the hats came in. (Where does my kid get her ADD? No idea.)

    During race

  4. It was muddier. Much muddier.I chalk this up to the change in location. Last year, I believe there was no natural body of water around. This year, they had a nice little lake. So, water was central. We waded through a football field length, getting to points where I had to swim. We jumped off a dock, onto some sort of wobbly plastic floating thing and back in the water. As a result, the ensuing trails were soggy. I feel for those that went after us, as it was only going to get much worse!

    Post race

  5. It was still in the middle of nowhere,but not as much in the middle of nowhere. It was north of Clayton (which is a cute little mountain town), where we were shuttled up in school buses. Mountain City is a bit of a camping spot, with lots of cabins and grounds and the like around it. As a result, there were lots of small businesses set up: lemonade stands, showers, pretzels, you name it. So, it felt a little more like a carnival, which was very cool!

    “Cleaned up” and annointed warriors

  6. I swear, there were a lot more obstacles this year. Still, this was also awesome. I lost count around 7. We climbed walls with rope ladders, up blocks, with ropes. We trudged through water and mud, even swam. We climbed over cars and walls. We crawled under nets (which will catch devil horns) and barbed wire. Heck, we even slid down gigantic water slides, which is the reason I have angry red scratches on the other cheek, because at the end I slid into a mud puddle with a lot of grit.
  7. It was a little less organized-feeling this year. Maybe it’s because the registration table was right next to a slope. Maybe it’s because the dude that got my registration looked for it under PARDO despite handing him my ID. Maybe it’s because the gear check line was crazy because they couldn’t find someone’s bag for 20 minutes. It was still GREAT but a little more chaotic than the one in NC.
  8. Check out the dude pointing at me

    There was a LOT less running this year. And I don’t think this was because we were hanging as a group, either. Lots of this went through what really wasn’t running trails, but hiking trails. Plus, the thing was dense with obstacles, so it wasn’t like you were going to sprint 50 feet and stop to wait in line. Still, when we broke out of the woods, I flew down the hill, arms over head yelling, ready to leap over fire, which I gleefully did twice. A crawl through a fairly long mud pit and I had another Warrior Dash medal, which I made sure to mark with lots of mud.

Me and my friend Martha. We are warriors. But we knew that already.

I’d advise anyone to put this on their bucket list. It’s just the silliest, funnest day ever. A gigantic adult playground for those that aren’t afraid of dirt and mud and germs and heights and water. I’ll be showing off my warrior wounds with pride. (OK not the scratches on my ass. No one really needs to see that.)

UPDATE: a video of this reminded me of all we did, so here’s the breakdown:

  1. Water walk: get wet right at the start! Your shoes are trashed half a mile into this one, folks. And, if you’re short, you’re gonna be swimming briefly. Still, nice and cool, felt good.
  2. Net walk: you crawl through mud under barbed wire into a net that goes across sand until you are able to stand. This was the only obstacle where the horns were a problem.
  3. Barricades: under barbed wire and over (what for me is) chest high walls. Piece of cake.
  4. Rope wall: secret: I LOVE this wall. It makes me feel strong, climbing up it. It was a little precarious at the top, as you had to figure out the end of the rope and putting yourself over the other side.
  5. Tire walk: a mere blip of an obstacle.
  6. Water dump: jump in and it’s deep! You climb up on this plastic thingy and crawl over them, jumping back in the water and swimming across. Note: good core muscles pay off here.
  7. Muddy hill: don’t know if this was an intended obstacle or not, but it was one of the toughest. Uber-slippery!
  8. Rope ladder wall: no problem! Fun fact: top of wall, where you could stand: totally muddy from previous obstacles.
  9. Climbing wall with pole: another obstacle that was just tougher on us short folks (I’m a hair under 5’2″.) Here I am grateful for Jazzercise and my natural flexibility as my knee was under my elbow as I reached for blocks to haul myself up the wall. The pole was more intimidating than it looked. I looked to the volunteer for advice on sliding down. This was the one obstacle where I hesitated this year.
  10. Spider walk: awkward but fun.
  11. Water slide: this looked to be a blast! It was, except unlike others who got stuck at the bottom, I made it all the way and right into the mud at the bottom. I’m not scared of the mud but my backside got some fierce scratches on it. No flesh-eating bacteria today; they’re healing up.
  12. Junkyard: so hilarious to crawl over old cars. “I’m King of the WORLD” hell yeah.
  13. FIRE: once you’re done with the cars, you’re in an open field. I ran past that, down the slope with my arms in the air and leapt over the fire. My absolute favorite moment.
  14. MUDPIT: not only are you crawling under barbed wire to a very watery mud pit, you get commentary. Fun fun fun.

What’s for Dinner: May 13

The farm share! The farm share giveth and giveth and giveth. And this is the SMALL share, wow.

This week, the small family share included:

  • Curly kale
  • Chard
  • About 10 radishes
  • Romaine
  • Tatsoi
  • A pound of squash
  • A pound and a half of zucchini
  • A head of broccoli
  • Collards
  • Arugula, which I skipped this time

That’s a lot of greens for two people, since my husband is out of town. And, since he was out of town starting Mother’s Day, we went out to our favorite fun special occasion spot, Bella Vita. (If you’re near here, you really gotta try this place. Three courses, all delicious plus the owner/chef comes out and the whole restaurant of about 24 seats sings “That’s Amore” while he points at a picture of an moray eel. I’m not kidding.)

I’ve had some doubts if the farm share was worth it or not. I don’t know if it comes out ahead financially, but the food is super fresh and yummy. However, the grocery bill this week was really small: $66, which included $25 worth of Clif Bars that my husband and daughter seem to love. (It was 15 bars.) Subtract out the $25 and you’re at about $40. Still, we also had a fair number of staples already in the house, so I can’t say how accurate that really is.

Sunday, I did some cooking, getting ready for the week. Now I realize that “meal planning” is a totally square activity, for those that are boring human beings. It’s completely lacking spontaneity. However, it surely takes the stress out of the week and saves money and makes life a whole lot easier, so call me boring. Whatever. And, with a farm share, it’s just a necessity.

Taking the advice of another member, it’s farm share for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So, with two of the three zucchini, I made zucchini muffins. I used almond milk instead of soy milk and cut the sugar by a third, so half a cup of sugar and instead of making a loaf of bread and letting it cook for an hour, I made mini muffins. The kid was very dubious about this whole thing, so dubious that she said she wasn’t in the mood for baking. She loves them and spent the rest of the day sneaking them. So she’s set for breakfast for the week (assuming she doesn’t continue to sneak them.) The other zucchini I will use in my lunch salads. I suspect we’ll be making a lot of zucchini muffins this summer. This is fine. The kid popped a few more as an afterschool snack on Monday.

Since I had the food processor out for the zucchini, I went ahead and made the kale pesto I’ll serve on pasta later this week. That was simple enough. It still had a harsh taste to it, so I added a little smoked paprika and salt to it along with a little more oil.

Then, I washed it again and let it roughly chop the rest of the kale so I could stick it in a container in the fridge and use it for kale banana breakfast smoothies. That meant I only had romaine, collards and chard taking up space in the beer fridge.

Now the tatsoi was starting to age quickly, so first up for meals was the stir fry. I basically made the same stir fry that I made last week, except I stuck a Jazzercise work out in the middle of this. No run today; it was raining. Here’s how that worked:

  • Make a pot of brown rice.
  • Chop the tatsoi, including the stems (treat it like celery only it actually tastes good)
  • Break the broccoli off into spears and wash. Peel the spears and chop. Dump both of these in your large salad spinner and stick in the fridge.
  • Put the dried portabellas in a bowl and two cups of water in the microwave and leave detailed instructions for daughter to merely turn on the microwave and pour now hot water on the mushrooms on the counter when the timer goes off. Go to Jazzercise.
  • Return home from Jazzercise to find that the water is still in the microwave. Heat water and get mushrooms going, only going for 10 minutes instead of 30 after reading the package that says they don’t need to soak that long after all.
  • Make stir fry. This time, I also added tempeh. Eh on the tempeh. It was OK, but didn’t add a lot to it. Maybe some protein, but a dirty little secret is that greens are some of the highest source of protein per weight there is. You just have to eat a LOT of it because it doesn’t tend to weigh very much. (Nothing against omnivores, mind you, but just don’t worry about us vegetarians if we’re eating the greens from the farm.)

Later that night, I wanted a bit of a dessert, so I finally got around to trying the no bake brownies I had favorited a while back. So, I pulled out the food processor AGAIN and made these. Super easy and delicious, but next time, I will know to pit the dates. Whoops! And, also adored by the kid, who snuck one before going to bed. Hoping to wean her off expensive Clif Bars and onto these homemade treats.

With that, I felt like I had washed every dish in the house twice, and certainly the food processor four times, and so I declared myself DONE. Tomorrow, I will make more rice (didn’t make enough for two nights, whoops) and if there isn’t enough stir fry, maybe one of us will eat that and the other some kale pesto.

Monday: Kid is quickly gobbling down the zucchini muffins. These will be a staple in the house this summer, I think. I also tried a kale banana smoothie which I made with almond milk and that was surprisingly good! (I did NOT make it with two cups of chopped kale. Maybe half to one cup. My friend Amanda swears by the juicer. Me, I have an immersion blender, so I’m stuck picking kale out of my teeth in the early light of day.)

Not a lot of cooking today. I adore leftovers, I swear. My family never ate leftovers, probably in part because there was five of us and so there probably wasn’t enough left to feed us two nights in a row. But I live by them. If the meal is eaten in one sitting, I’m a little depressed. Tonight, the kid had Kuk Sool, so I went for a run on the dikes. Once we came home, we heated up the leftover stir fry and had a preview of the kale pesto on some sourdough bread a colleague brought in as a thank you for bringing her romaine two weeks in a row. (The kid LOVED the pesto and she was dubious.) She also tried to give me cabbage. I flat out refused to take it. Tomorrow, I may still wait on the kale pesto and instead make the swiss chard.

This post is long enough after Monday night, so I’ll call this part one and share Tuesday-Friday later on. WARRIOR DASH ON SATURDAY!

This one is getting a lot of hits before morher’s day. My privilege to be a mom to my kid.

Thoughts from the end of the world

Dear daughter,

Today was Mother’s Day and without you, I wouldn’t be honored on this day. So, first off, thanks for being born so that I could experience motherhood.

Everyone says motherhood is hard and it can be. And I think too many times, we honor our mothers because they work hard for their families. I’m not saying that is in no way honorable, but I would hope that we would want more out of our mothers than clean clothes and good meals and getting from school to doctors or extracurricular activities.

And yes, motherhood can be hard because parents (both moms and dads) are trying to shape young people into responsible young adults. That to me, more than the free maid service, is the real challenge.

But here is the great thing about motherhood. Because of you, kiddo, I have been forced to take a long look at myself…

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