Today is the first day of autumn and I thought it may be fitting to reflect on the past hot summer months this blustery evening. Summer started as a turbulent season for me with lots of change and rebirth in my personal life that one normally finds during spring. I was late to the party this year apparently. I found comfort in the country, seeing my grandfather’s garden in all of it’s glory during the height of the season and finding my favorite produce in the CSA box week after week. Here are a couple of the highlights.
My lovely friend Laura manages an organic farm in rural Ohio. Spending a weekend there in early June was just what I needed to recharge a little bit. That is also where I discovered I would never buy anything but local farm fresh eggs again. They will change your life, seriously.
This man has been gardening all his life and watching him labor over his cucumbers and peppers year after year as a kid definitely had an effect on me. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I would have been growing cherry tomatoes on my porch in college out of a bucket before I even liked tomatoes. (Which occurred a couple of years later oddly enough.) Gardening for gardening sake I guess.
Carrots are a new favorite in the mix of grandpa’s crops. There is nothing quite like pulling up a perfectly sized carrot and eating it right out of the garden.
Food festivals are staples of American culture. I mean why wouldn’t you go somewhere to eat all day in the street. Lately, it has gotten harder for me to enjoy these types of events because I can no longer eat gluten and you never know what is in anything when ordering perogies out of a tin tray from a little innocent Hungarian woman (definitely not something I should eat..but frozen bananas are cool.)
It was probably one of the better years for blueberries. I infused vodka with some of the berries that is close to a cordial by now since I haven’t strained the fruit out yet. It will be absolutely divine in February.
The tiny tomatoes rise again! I didn’t even plant them this year they reseeded themselves from last year because they just died out and returned with a vengeance. The most difficult to pick, but the sweetest and most exceptionally delicious to eat. Still not sure of the variety, but I don’t care. I just hope I get to enjoy them again next year.
How did summer treat you?
This past summer was not the best for berry picking, but I was determined to have a berry stash for the winter. After calling around to all the local berry picking farms within an hour drive of my house, I found one farm with berries left to pick, one. This particular farm had irrigation systems hooked up in their patch and it was probably the only reason they still had some fruit left on the bushes. It was sweltering hot that morning in the berry patch and I only lasted an hour and a half before I surrendered to the hot June heat. I left the farm with 2 pints of blueberries and 1 pint of raspberries. I took this photo after I got home and quickly froze as much of the bounty, all while knowing full well I would eat them all if I didn’t . Thankfully these made it into the freezer and I will enjoy them in the many short days of winter that lie ahead.
I still find it funny when people insist they don’t like vegetables, outrageous! Have you tried them roasted? Even the least favorite of vegetables taste better roasted. When we are down to the last of our vegetable supply and don’t feel like eating out, roasted veggies on a bed of couscous or rice is usually a go-to meal. For perfectly roasted veggies there are only three things really needed: oil, seasoning, and a hot oven.
Crash Course on Roasting Vegetables:
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Chop larger vegetables into 1-2 inch size chunks. Toss veggies with oil and seasoning of choice, I prefer extra virgin olive oil. Spread on cookie sheet and cook for 25 minutes or until soft and golden on the edges. Flipping vegetables halfway through ensures even browning.
Any favorite veggies to roast out there?
My least favorite side on the Thanksgiving spread was once cranberry sauce. Then it was my turn to prepare this giant feast. Being the budding foodie that I was at the time, I tweaked all the recipes with new ingredients and flavors that peaked my interest. Three years later, I can’t seem to get enough of these things on Thanksgiving, and (gasp) I may make them again. This side dish/ leftover tastes great on bagels, oatmeal, yogurt, and just as is by themselves.
American classics have been at the top of the menu lately in this house. For the last two weeks we have received beautiful cabbage in our CSA box. On a sidenote, if you are an avid farmers market person, I suggest a CSA for next year, best thing I did in 2011. Anyway, my first thought was to freeze it for soups in the winter, or a possible Fall haluski dish (!). Matthew suggested a better alternative so we could eat it now, coleslaw. I am not usually a fan, but I found a lovely little recipe that didn’t have any type of egg in it. With this recipe, the flavor seems to get better the longer it sits.
I had a craving for a spicy fish po boy style sandwich. We didn’t have any dry creole seasoning or tartar sauce but we had tilapia. I have taken to buying less and less condiments when I am at the store. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I put a bottle of salad dressing in my cart. Aside from disliking all the preservatives in all pre-made dressings, we can’t eat them fast enough to make it economical. Normally, I already have many of the ingredients needed on hand. Nothing compares to fresh 1000 island dressing, tzatziki, or in this case fresh tartar sauce. I have a version below that I first read in Everyday Food. Greek yogurt makes up most of it, and helps to cut the calories down without sacrificing the consistency. Enjoy!
With the 3-day weekend here, a break in the non-stop thunderstorms, and new propane for the grill, how can I not want to cook?!
For those of you who are beginner level grillers (like me), this recipe is unique yet simple enough to make without over charring dinner. I was skeptical about grilling oranges, but it proved to be a great compliment to the chicken. Don’t forget the cayenne pepper! It really pulls the flavors together with that extra heat hot sauce junkies (like myself) are always searching for.
Yes friends you read that correctly, 18 dollars per pound. Goji Berries are the new acai berries. A super antioxidant filled berry claimed to cure almost anything in the right dose. I was attracted to their muted orange-rasberry-ish color when purchasing supplies to make trail mix. Once I got home and put all the ingredients together, I realized they were dehydrated and lacked the flavor I wanted in the trail mix. It wasn’t a total loss, I add 2 or 3 to my hot tea in the mornings.