Week 2

Even though this last week was incredibly busy, I still found a little time to put up some asparagus sauce for soup or to use on pasta.  I didn’t have a chance to use my asparagus from the previous week, so I had the perfect amount to make 2 containers of sauce and put them in my freezer.  I got the recipe from Relish insert in the Daily News.  It was so simple.

In addition to asparagus, we got 8 oz of strawberries, 1lb green beans, 8 oz lettuce mix, 4 oz of green garlic/scape, 1 head of red butter lettuce, 8 oz spinach and a bunch of dill.  The strawberries didn’t last the night, they were so much more tasty that the extra big California strawberries.  I cooked the green beans using my favorite recipe – Garlicky String Beans – from the Food to Live By cookbook.   What I really like about this recipe is that the beans can be eaten warm or room temperature – using either a fork or your fingers (my kids really like this part). 

Garlicky String Beans

1 lb green beans or yellow beans (or a combination of both)

salt

1 TBS olive oil

 1 TBS fresh garlic

1/2 red bell pepper (optional – it really adds a nice color)

Fresh ground black pepper

1. Fill a large bowl of water with ice cubes and set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Add the beans and 1 tsp of salt and cook until the beans are just crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.  Immediately drain the beans in a colander, then plunge them into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  Drain the beans again in the colander.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and bell pepper.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the drained beans and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot or at room temperature.

When I made this recipe I used my green garlic and a couple of tablespoons of sliced garlic scapes.  It was good, but I really like a lot of garlic in this recipe, so I would use regular garlic instead. 

Of course we’ve had salad with nearly every meal – sometimes even breakfast.  I’m still learning how to be creative with lettuce and salad mixes.  I did make a couple of salad dressings.  One using cilantro and lime juice and another using red wine vinegar and maple syrup.  Both provided us with some nice options for toppings.  I also used the dill to make a dill dip that we can use on sandwiches or with raw vegetables.  I’m going to either blanch and freeze my spinach, or make creamed parmesan spinach.

My most exciting recipe experiment recently was to make braised radishes.  I really like radishes, but my family isn’t as excited as I am.  I still had a bunch from week 1.  I have to say, the experiment was very successful.  My whole family ate them!

Week 3 is just around the corner and I’m exited to figure out ways to ‘use it up’.

And we’re off . . .

Week one:  I picked up my first box of produce on Tuesday.  I was pretty excited to see what we were going to get.  It feels a little like getting a Christmas present every week.  We got 4 oz of lettuce mix, 1 head of red butter lettuce, 1 1/2 lbs of spinach, 8 oz of radishes, 1 lb of asparagus,  1 1/2 lbs of rhubarb and a small bunch of cilantro.  We ate radishes the first evening, but everything else went into the fridge.  I learned awhile ago that putting cilantro in a cup of water (like a bouquet of flowers) will help keep it fresh a bit longer.  It seems to work pretty well.  We didn’t get a chance to use too much of our produce on Tuesday as we were still eating leftovers from my steak taste testing on Monday.  (I will talk more about that later).  Wednesday evening Ray and I went to see Jewel at The O’Shaughnessy, so we didn’t eat at home.  She was absolutely amazing, by the way.

Here are some things I plan to do with my veggies this week.  I am going to make some rhubarb muffins today.  I will put them in the freezer right away though as  my son needs muffins for a school function next week.  I am also going to make some salad dressing with my cilantro.  We are going to have a wilted spinach salad for dinner tonight.  I bought bacon yesterday and will boil some eggs this morning.  I find that it’s really easy to get my family to eat salad greens if they have a little bacon on them.  I think we’ll also have pasta one day.  I have pesto in my freezer and will steam the asparagus to use with whatever noodle I have.  We will eat salad in some form with every meal until next Tuesday and then I’ll be ready for Week Two.

Dinner, May 17-23rd

Monday 17th – We finished up the last of the beet soup and had a salad with some freshly picked spinach from my farm.

Tuesday 18th – My kids and I have piano until 6pm and my son has soccer practice at 6:45 so on Tuesday, dinner has to be quick.  We had sandwiches. We used summer sausage from Earth-Be-Glad.  We also ate coleslaw from my freezer slaw recipe.

Wednesday 19th – We had sandwiches again.  This was a request from the kids.  I guess they really like the make-your-own concept.  Oh well, it was a really easy dinner to prepare.  I just put out all the fixin’s.  We also finished up the rhubarb bars I made on Sunday.

Thursday 20th – I made some corn chowder.  I have lots of sweet corn in my freezer and had a couple of potatoes in the fridge that weren’t looking the best any more.  They were fine for the soup though.  I served it with bread and salad.

Friday 21st – Pizza again as usual.  We tried a cheese pizza with Roma tomatoes from Papa Murphy’s.  It was ok.  I really need to learn how to make my own pizza at home.  I’m sure it would be cheaper and probably taste better too.

Saturday 22nd – We went out for dinner.  We met our card club friends at a local restaurant to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries in the month of May.  The food was good and the cakes Ann brought were amazing.  Ann made a double chocolate and a coconut cream cake.  I had a walnut burger and so did about 6 or 7 other people.  They’re really good.

Sunday 23rd – I put some t-bone steaks in a marinade on Saturday – so we grilled those.  I also served rice and some caramelized onions.  I also put out the usual dilled green beans, freezer pickles and some leftover salad.  We had ice cream with rhubarb sauce for dessert.

Rhubarb, rhubarb . . . rhubarb

So happy for rhubarb

It’s nice to have friends – and especially nice to have friends who have incredible rhubarb gardens.  My friend Rhonda lives on her grandparents farm.  The rhubarb patch on this beautiful farm is the biggest I’ve ever seen.  For the last couple years she has been very willing to share this wonderful spring crop with me.  This year I picked enough rhubarb to fill a large size grocery bag.  Here is what I did with my rhubarb . . .

 
 
 
  
Can you ever have too much rhubarb?

The first thing I made was bars.  I live in Minnesota and we all love our bars, ya hey!  I chose a recipe that included a butter, powdered sugar crust and a custard like topping.  I also made a family favorite – rhubarb ketchup.  It’s a savory, slightly spicy chutney like sauce that we like on pretty much everything.  I still had plenty of rhubarb left, so went in search of another way to use it up.  I decided to try a recipe that was posted on Orangette.  I made two batches of roasted rhubarb.  I made one batch with some left over white wine.  I put it in a container and then into my freezer.  I hope it will taste alright when thawed – sometimes I just experiment.  I also roasted more rhubarb with red wine and a little crystallized ginger.  Ginger and rhubarb are an amazing combination.  I highly recommend using a little crystallized ginger in any rhubarb recipe.  I can’t seem to get enough of the roasted rhubarb and red wine.  It’s a much more intense flavor and is really good with vanilla ice cream.

I washed and cut all of the remaining rhubarb (about 2 1/2 lbs) into lengths that would fit into freezer bags and will be able to use that over the next year for more bars or ketchup.  I love a ‘little taste of summer’  all year ’round. 

 

I am the mighty hunter

I went hunting recently – morel hunting, that is.  I’ve never hunted for that tasty elusive seasonal delight before and I have to say that I’m definitely not a natural. 

Morel Mushroom

I went hunting with my trusty scout Hanna.  She knew exactly where to go and within a couple of minutes pointed out two large mushrooms.   My foodie sidekick, Jennifer and daughter Carina joined me as well.  Everyone was finding them – except me.  When I finally spotted a morel, I literally yelped. 

Carina and a morel

 

Morel mushrooms are an early wild crop and their season is short.  They can be found in the spring – after a rain and a few warm days – according to family legend.  Did you know that the morel mushroom is Minnesota’s state mushroom?  They are generally found under and around dead or dying elms, but can be found under ash, cottonwood and apple trees as well.

I didn’t find enough mushrooms this year to preserve any, but am looking forward to the hunt again next year.

May 16

Since I had fresh rhubarb, I made bars.  The recipe came (again) from Allrecipes.  The only modification I made was to add some minced crystallized ginger to the topping.  I love the combination of rhubarb and ginger.  I also made sloppy joes using beef from my freezer.  I used ketchup, yellow mustard, garlic and a little brown sugar in the beef.  They were super!  We ate those open-faced on regular bread.  I also served coleslaw.  Last fall I shredded cabbage, green pepper and a little carrot, then added a brine over the top.  Then I put it in quart bags and froze it.  When I want coleslaw, I thaw a bag, rinse it lightly and add dressing.  It will last in the fridge for quite a while and tastes delicious.  I also put out dilled green beans, freezer pickles and some chips.

May 14 & 15

We are a busy family and usually end our week with a pizza on Friday night.  This week we got a pizza from Papa Murphy’s in Winona.  I don’t know much about their food sources, but at least you can see them put it all together.  We got a vegetarian and a taco pizza.  We didn’t realize how big they were and only ate one of the pizza’s on Friday night.   Since we  has a fresh pizza in the fridge, we ate that on Saturday.  The pizza’s were good, but we were all ready for something else on Sunday.