Monthly Archives: July 2012

What’s for Dinner: July 22

A less successful week this week. It’s been a wildly stressful month, with work being hectic and my mother and father bracketing the month with surgeries and I believe the menu this week showed that. I gave away a fair amount of food and what I did make was less than successful. That said, I’ll post what I attempted, with the thought that it might inspire someone to improve it, or tell me what I could do better.

Pumpernickel from the Clemson Farmer’s Market

Ratatouille

It almost had to be made, didn’t it? I looked around and found several recipes, with the cooking times varying wildly. I noticed on the one that cooked longer that people complained about soggy veggies, so I ultimately went with the Emeril recipe. If you like your pepper extra crunchy, then use this recipe. Very disappointing. Maybe I didn’t dice it enough.

Chard Bean Stew

I just couldn’t keep making Spanikopita out of the chard, so I thought I’d try something else. This one looked like it would be acceptable to everyone, so I gave it a shot, making it exactly as prescribed. For me, it was a little flavorless. Maybe it needed hot sauce or something, but it needed more. And, to add insult to injury, the white beans torn me up. Now I love beans, but black beans or kidney beans apparently treat me nicer than the white beans. If I make this one again, I will be eating a lot of Beano first or I will feed it to my family only.

Moroccan Couscous

Now this was awesome and it always is awesome and as soon as I saw we were getting a butternut squash, I KNEW I’d be making this. MMMM. I’ve missed you Moroccan Couscous.

So what do we think folks? How do I make ratatouille that everyone will eat?

What’s for DInner: July 15

The farm share was just ridiculous this week. An insane amount of food included:

  • 5 Potatoes
  • 1/2 pound Green beans (blanched, froze)
  • Green pepper
  • Biscayne pepper
  • Okra (which I conveniently forgot although I did mean to get it)
  • 5 tomatoes, including two really really large ones
  • 3 small eggplants (gave away one of these)
  • 1/2 a bag of basil (a bag is one of those plastic bags, so a lot of basil)
  • Scallions
  • 2 butternut squash (gave away one of these)
  • 2 Collard plants (gave away one of these too)
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 pounds squash (gave away a squash)
  • Garlic
  • 10 ears corn (used 3; blanched the rest and froze it)
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • 3 pounds peaches

Good grief! Plus, I found out that yes, there are three more pickups after this one, but they take a three week break and then this goes on for 12 more weeks! I can’t believe it. It’s really an incredible bargain, if you can be disciplined to use all the food.

So, first thing I did was to give a collard plant, some leftover cukes and those little cherry tomatoes I got the week before to my neighbor, who was delighted. Husband is always like “give it away” so now that I know it’s costing me almost half what I thought it was and that I’m getting insane amounts of food, yes, give it away.

Saturday, after a stressful couple of weeks, we went with comfort food. I pulled out a loaf of sourdough from the freezer. I’d bought it at Granny Zuerker’s a couple of months ago, but we didn’t eat it. We made grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. I know I made tomato basil soup last week, but this week, I added corn. You’ll see I didn’t change much from the original, but I’m finding if I don’t also include the recipe, I run the risk of the link disappearing.

Tomato Basil Corn Soup

  • 6 tomatoes. seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 ears corn (or in my case, 3 bc one of the ears was a bum ear), kernels removed
  • Veggie broth
  • Basil to taste. I went with a lot, because I like it and I’m swimming in basil.
  • Salt to taste

Start by sauteing the onion and garlic is some oil of your choice (grapeseed for me) in a large pot until the onions are nice and translucent. Probably want to do this over a medium heat, folks. Those onions and garlic can get bitter if they burn at all.

Add the tomatoes, corn and basil and get to a boil. Then simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree that with your fabulous immersion blender. (Oh you could do it in a food processor or a blender but what a mess.) Then add salt to taste and cover and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

For dessert, I did something with my watermelon. I’ll admit it: I’m not the biggest fan of watermelon. Now my dad, absolutely. But, he’s not supposed to eat it anymore because it’s high in potassium and he’s supposed to avoid that because of his kidneys. Also, the damn thing actually cracked on the way home, so it wasn’t in a form that you could just eat a slice anymore. So, I found this little recipe, which was inspired by someone saying “oh I made watermelon pops out of ours from last week.” Brilliant.

Watermelon Yogurt Pops

Deseed 4 cups of watermelon. If yours has split open, your watermelon is going to be a pulpy mess, so you’ll be sorting through it with globs of it in your hands. Plus, you don’t really need to worry too much about it, because it turns out the seeds do NOT get chewed up in the processor.

Puree that in your food processor, then take a sieve and strain it. Toss the pulp.

Add 2 cups Greek yogurt and sugar to taste. Now me, I went with honey and that made it taste a little funky. So, if I do it again, I’d go with just plain old sugar.

Pour that into popsicle molds and freeze. It only takes 2-3 hours to freeze. If you can’t find popsicle molds, you could always use Dixie cups and popsicle sticks that you perhaps have left over from a kids’ art project or teaching Sunday school.

Pasta with Eggplant and Pepper Tomato Sauce

What to do with all these eggplants? I like to make it grilled, but these are too dang small for that recipe. So, I went to the trusty internets and I found this recipe. Perfect. I had tomatoes, and boy did I have peppers.

With the heat, I surely didn’t want to turn on the oven, so I tried pan roasting them. This worked OK. The longer, thinner peppers worked great! The bigger ones, less so. Here’s my version:

  • 1 large can of peeled, no-salt added plum tomatoes: I found this in a paper box. Yes! So exciting! What a great way to store tomatoes.
  • 2 small sized eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Roasted peppers: I used a green pepper, a red pepper and two biscayne peppers. And a teeny tiny purple pepper that I don’t know what it was but it was cute.
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shot of good red wine
  • Fresh oregano, chopped
  • Fresh basil and I used a LOT. Because I had a LOT.
  • Adobo
  • Penne
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Italian parsley, for garnish
  1. Roasting the peppers. I put these suckers on a nice hot cast iron pan. Again, what a great way to get some iron into your entree! We just flipped until we got them fairly black, stuck them in a paper bag for 20 minutes and then tried to peel them. This was met with mixed success. I used a peeler for some of it, then chopped them up.
  2. Heat some oil (went with grapeseed) and saute the eggplant until covered and slightly soft. Add the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, until the onion is a little translucent.
  3. Add the tomato, the wine and the spices and simmer for about 45 minutes, covered.
  4. When the simmering is nearly done, cook the penne. I cooked my whole bag. Add the pasta to the sauce and serve. Top each serving with parmesan and fresh parsley.

This was a HUGE hit with the family.

I also made the collard bulgur salad and they chose to eat the leftover pasta instead of the salad. I ended up eating this all week and to be honest, it was way too oniony for my tastes.

Peachtree 2012

First year running Peachtree! Here’s how it all went for me.

First, I am very lucky to have good friends in Atlanta who let me crash their experience and help me out. Lord, navigating the MARTA or finding a hotel or the like would be a massive dent in the experience for me otherwise. SO … a big thanks to Mark and Martha and all those associated with Mark and Martha that make the difference in these races for me.

Peachtree is a long honored tradition in Atlanta, the prize being a tshirt at the end. The only way to get this shirt is to run the race. And the only way to get in the race is by lottery. As it happened, the lottery was open while I was down there for the half marathon in March and on a whim, I signed up. They take 60,000 entries and from what I understand, they get about 62,000 entries. So, why have a lottery, I wondered? The lottery apparently started when the race would fill up in one day, before they expanded it to 60,000, and they have some checks in place so that those that have run it before have an easier time getting in.

I found the communication about the race to be fantastic, very easy. Plenty of emails and the number showed up about a week or two before the race. Having picked up my number in the Bridge run and that being a fiasco, and picking it up for the half in March and that going OK, I went for easy this time. I’d been to the expos before and they are fun … but I wasn’t really in the market for anything running-related, so I skipped it this year. (Sorry, I can’t review it! If it was like the other expos related to the Atlanta Track Club, it was terrific.)

Bag contentsThe stuff IN the folder that came in the mail as well as the bag afterwards … eh. The information was extremely clear, and I read that about five times. The magazine was OK. The rest of the stuff? Sorry vendors, mostly junk. Here’s what I got:

  • A coupon for Blue Bell Ice Cream (OK, not bad, don’t eat a lot of dairy but that’s good)
  • TWO coupons for a free waffle at Waffle House that made me giggle. (I’d consider using this but I don’t think they will honor this outside Atlanta.)
  • Gayle’s great tips to a great race, also from Waffle House, with an offer for free hashbrowns.
  • Two $10 off coupons at Sports Authority (good, again probably won’t use as there’s not one nearby)
  • Two flyers from UPS saying I’m awesome (thanks, and what shall I do with this? How were you planning on tracking the effectiveness of these flyers?)
  • An offer for an energy efficient heat pump from Georgia Power and one to replace my gas heater for an electric one. (Again, from SC so thinking this won’t work for me.)
  • Georgia Natural Gas countered with two flyers for $50 in bill credits if I signed up. (Not sure what I was signing up for, but then again, didn’t apply to me.)
  • WSB AM/FM radio, reminding me that I don’t need to worry about traffic reports where I live.
  • 11 Alive TV telling me to watch race coverage (this came early, but most of us were AT the race. Maybe we were supposed to record?)
  • Sometime from the Atlanta Journal Constitution telling me they were more vital today than ever.
  • Two flyers telling me to watch for a heart attack from Emory Healthcare.
  • A cool thing from the Path Foundation that builds trails around Georgia for bikes and the like.
  • Two flyers for the Atlanta Marathon in October and the Half on Thanksgiving, which I’ve run and it was a great race and I may do it again.
  • Three flyers reminding me of the Expo.
  • Another flyer from the Atlanta Track Club, telling me where I could find results (which were up THAT AFTERNOON WOW.)

That was a LOT of paper and most of it didn’t really mean anything to me. (Sorry sponsors. I greatly appreciate the sponsorship but … )

Since I had my number in hand and Martha picked hers up early in the day, this meant there was no huge rush for me to get down there. I aimed for about 5 and got there about … 5:05. Perfect. We meandered to the Dekalb Farmers Market and ate dinner there. Now the ambiance here is a total zero. I will give them credit for real plates and silverware, but you are sitting at cheap tables, set off from the rest of the market with latticework you see on patios. It’s kind of loud and without charm but the food is fabulous, so it’s worth it. You pay by the pound. I believe together, our meals ran to about $12. I had carrot cake, roasted squash, a nice salad with beets on it, some Persian rice and some lentils. All delicious! The bonus is after this is done, you can shop! I highly recommend this: the spices are so incredibly cheap and the tea is a bargain and the selection of olive oils is amazing. They also have a great meat and fish market and amazing amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables. Bonus if you like to buy your rice 20 pounds at a time.

A banana, some water and we were off to the races, waking at 5. We stopped at a friend’s house and parked close to midtown in a “special spot” this friend had. That was the easy part: at 6 am on a holiday, no one but runners were on the road. Proof of that was when we got on the train: all cars were full of runners.

Now we took MARTA, which was highly encouraged, and when we exited, on our way to the race, they handed us these little pocket holders you are supposed to wear around your neck. Not exactly running friendly, and it seemed these were mostly used to hold some of your stuff, then discarded after relieving yourself before the race. Lots of these were around the Port-a-Potties.

Now Peachtree is legendary for being hot. I’d practiced by running in some extremely hot weather and my friends were all telling me that it wasn’t hot enough unless there were 59,999 other people around me. And we had a massive heat wave the week before, going from highs in the low 90s to highs of 105. We got extremely fortunate with thunderstorms the night before, which meant by the time we were finished, it was around 80-85. I was informed this was not a hot Peachtree. I’ll take it!

My friend dropped me off at corral F, since she was walking it this year with a friend and we said our goodbyes. The seeded runners began at 7:30 and each corral was about 2-5 minutes behind that, going all the way to corral X (as far as I know.) They were extremely prompt with this, with our corral taking off at exactly 7:55. The other fabulous thing about this was my corral did not feel too terribly crowded. I’m guessing each corral had about 300-400 runners. We started at Lenox Square, underneath an enormous American flag, hanging off a crane. Lenox was where I used to like to hang out in Atlanta before I got over being enamored with big name brand stores and malls and the like, so it was a little surreal to stand outside the mall.

The race is full of bands and water and even beer and pizza. There was at least one band every mile and in fact, I believe early on, there were even two almost competing with each other. There’s lots of water to drink and to run through, more than you might really need. (Again, not as hot as usual, might have felt different had it had been 10 degrees hotter.) A friend of mine had a piece of pizza at the Mellow Mushroom as well as a beer later on. More than a race, the Peachtree seems to be a celebration of just moving.

The first half of the race is mostly downhill. I worried about the last half of the race, being more uphill, even one point earning the name “cardiac hill.” I did not really run up any hills I found to be heart-attack-worthy, and have certainly run up far more difficult hills even in Atlanta races. Still, this is a fun 6 mile run and extremely well organized. After 43 years, they have this one down to an art.

I will say that the Bridge run had a ton more fun party atmosphere at the end of it. Mounds and mounds of food everywhere, and I didn’t see that here. I did get a water and a shirt, as well as an ice cold wet towel, but not much more. This was fine; I had planned to go to a party at my friend Mark’s house so I didn’t need a lot of that. Perhaps when people are done, they don’t spend a lot more time outside. Perhaps they have planned events immediately following the race that involves being inside. Perhaps the party here IS the race.

Would I run this race again? YES. This is a great event and I love 10Ks anyway. There just aren’t enough of them!

What’s for dinner: July 8

Tastes better than it looks here

Pretty simple week this week, as there was a lot of other stuff going on. Still, two new recipes.

Tomato Basil Soup

I had a big bag of basil and someone brought my parents a ton of tomatoes they didn’t want, plus I had other tomatoes from the farm share. I was stressing about what on earth I’d do with all these ingredients. Then it hit me: DUH, we love tomato basil soup. So, I used this recipe.

  • 6 pounds of tomatoes (I mixed the types here)
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • A dash of red pepper flakes
  • 2 ounces fresh basil
  • Veggie broth

That’s one massive tomato

Roughly chop and seed the tomatoes. Put them on a baking sheet (I line mine with parchment) along with the onions and garlic (which should be chopped) and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 40-50 minutes.

Put this mixture in a pot and add a cup of veggie broth and the basil. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Take your immersion blender and puree that bad boy.

Squash Collard Risotto

Again, I’m thinking “I’ve got squash, I got collards, what do I do?” Off to the internets and I turned up this recipe. Now admittedly it’s WINTER squash but I really needed to use up the rest of this squash.

So, here’s my version:

  • Squash (two medium here), cubed: put this on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 20-30 minutes
  • One collard plant, blanched and cut into ribbons
  • 1.5 cups arborio rice
  • 1 quart veggie broth, 1 quart water
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Tumeric
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Parmesan cheese

Pull out your PRESSURE COOKER. (If you don’t have one, follow the directions from the link.) Saute the onions and garlic until translucent. Add the rice and stir until covered with the oil. Add the wine and wait until the wine evaporates. Add the liquid and then the collards and about two thirds the squash. Get the pot up to pressure, let cook at high for 5 minutes and then let the pressure come down naturally. I’d let it sit for about 5-10 minutes to continue to absorb the stock. Then, add parmesan cheese to taste.

I also made the tomato-cucumber salad as well as the spanikopita. Made the spanikopita with basil but the husband seriously hated that. Wouldn’t eat it at all. I liked it, but have promised to never do that again.

And that was the week. Lots of veggies this week. LOTS. It’s insane. Three more pickups and then … I’m forced to go to the grocery store for everything again.

What’s for Dinner: July 1

Fish tacos!Some repeats this week, but I’m posting about it because I cooked a lot of it at once and it was so crazy efficient and worth it.

The heat wave that has covered much of the midwest and the northeast finally, unfortunately, creeped its way down here. We’d had stupendous weather so far for the summer and this week, we finally got hot weather. And I mean crazy hot weather, like 105 hot weather. Just in time to run Peachtree! I’d like to say I deliberately ran at 9 instead of, say, 7 as a way to train but the truth is I was just tired.

The hot weather also means my husband really doesn’t want me to turn on the oven. But, we got Swiss chard again this week, and that means he’s counting on the Spanakopita that I make, which means I turn on the oven. So, we compromised: I’d turn on the oven if I made a bunch of stuff at once and made it worthwhile.

Here’s what was in the share this week:

  • Corn on the cob (5 ears, boiled on Friday and eaten with no salt, no butter and so so delicious)
  • 3 potatoes
  • 2 pounds squash, maybe 3 (Husband picked it up this week)
  • 1 pound green beans
  • 3 tomatoes
  • Romaine
  • Swiss chard
  • 5 cucumbers (!!)
  • Peaches, blueberries
  • Red pepper
  • Cantaloupe

As I went to the store to buy the rest of the ingredients I would need for my meals, I realized it must be a very odd cart to those that didn’t realize what I was doing. Here was that list:

  • Pack of feta
  • Pack of parmasan
  • Cat litter
  • Case of beer (for him, and he wanted a 6 pack but this was on sale)
  • 4 onions
  • Tamari sauce
  • Eggs

So, here’s what I made on Saturday:

I chopped 4 onions and 6 cloves of garlic. I washed and de-stemmed the chard. And I thinly sliced the squash, a potato and a handful of tomatoes. (We had more tomatoes than just the farm share: my MIL gave us a few and my daughter had bought some with the thought of actually making something and that didn’t happen.) I also then grated two more squash.

I then sauteed ALL the onions and garlic at one time and when they were done, I spread some of them for the veggie tian, put some in the food processor for the pie (sorry tired of typing spanakopita) and left the rest in the pan and added the grated squash. Then I managed to assemble the tian and the pie and throw those in the oven. They both needed to bake for 40-50 minutes. Then I assembled the squash triangles, which I made up in a desperate attempt to use up both squash as well as leftover fillo dough from the pie.

Squash Triangles

  • 1 onion
  • 2 squash
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Thyme
  • Parsley (or carrot tops)
  • Salt

Feta, if you aren’t too ditzy and don’t forget to add it like I did. I’d suggest 4 ounces.

Saute the onion and garlic in oil (going with grapeseed per my friend Amanda.) Add the shredded squash and the spices and let cook for about 15-20 minutes until a lot of the water from the squash has evaporated. Add the fillo if you can remember. (NOTE: mine were still tasty without the cheese.)

Cut your fillo sheets in half lengthwise. Brush a full sheet with oil (or mix oil and butter as I did) and stack them on top of each other. Place about 1.5T of the squash mixture at the bottom of these two sheets and fold up like a paper football. (Note: disregard the part about inserting the paper into the end to seal it. You’ll just go until you run out of dough and use a little oil as glue.) Brush with more oil and place on a pan with a parchment sheet. (Seriously people, make your life easier and use parchment. You can even buy the stuff cured without sulfer. Think of the water you’ll save scrubbing the pan.) Repeat until out of mixture and/or dough, and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Shirazi

When I go to my local Friends restaurant, I either get the Addas Pollo or the vegetarian plate, and I always substitute the Shirazi for the roasted potatoes. That’s the middle eastern name for tomato cucumber salad and it turns out it’s ridiculously easy to make. First, you sic your OCD husband (well only mildly) on the chopping and you end up with very finely minced cucumbers and tomatoes. We peeled one cuke and chopped one tomato. Then, you add salt and lemon juice. DONE. You can also add parsley or mint if you want to get all fancy, but we just had this. My husband made a point of saying “this is really supposed to go with, say, a shish kebob” and I just looked at him, because I know he meant a beef shish kebob and I don’t eat that. We ate it with the pie and it was good anyway. To hell with tradition, I say!

Tonight, fish tacos. We love our fish tacos. I made some black beans (1/2 cup dry) in the pressure cooker, then added a tablespoon of lime juice. I sauteed an onion and a green pepper until they got nice and soft, along with a clove of garlic and a teaspoon of chili powder, 2 teaspoons of cumin and a good shake of Adobo. Then, I mixed half of the onions and peppers with the beans. The rest, people could use on the tacos. The tomato and romaine from the share were really awesome. Husband will probably eat another potato and some of the green beans. That leaves me with some squash, some romaine and lots of cukes. Oh, and cantaloupes!