It’s been a bit busy here

First I made a lasagna and then the power went out.

But I’m thrilled to say the lasagna is safe!

Also, if anyone has ideas for a pound of new potatoes and a pint of cherry tomatoes, fire away. I was thinking a skillet with tofu but it’s not thrilling me to the point where I want to make it.

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What I Had for Lunch Today

I had the day off work today, so I decided to use the time cooking things that are sometimes too fancy for everyday meals.

First up: beet soup. I had a bunch from the last couple weeks’ CSA pickups, and it’s kind of dreary out today, so it seemed appropriate. I followed this recipe from Allrecipes. (Without the heavy cream.)

After roughly chopping an onion, I threw in some fresh, uncured garlic that came from the farm. Check this out!

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The cloves have a lovely pinkish skin that peels off as easy as a jacket. They don’t smell very strong. It’s not really what I imagined. A couple of times I’ve driven through Gilroy, California, widely known as the only place in the world you can season a steak by hanging it outside. This definitely doesn’t smell like Gilroy on a summer afternoon.

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Next I peeled and chopped the beets (and also clogged the garbage disposal, but luckily all it needed was a good plunging). The recipe called for 6 medium beets but I used 8, because 4 were small and 4 were large. I like that the different sizes are different varieties. They look so nice piled up like that.

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Anyway after a million years (approximately) of simmering I got to pull out the stick blender my boyfriend gave me for my birthday (is he not the best? He totally is.) and I made a nice chunky puree. I could have gone smoother but I liked the texture as it was. Also I was *really hungry.*

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The end result was buttery and sweet, strongly reminiscent of sweet corn. Next time I need to add something to sharpen the flavor. More black pepper, maybe. I had some with a chicken and squash stir fry over brown rice, and two hours later I’m still pretty full. I’d consider that a win.

Later, I’m going to make calzones with chicken, ricotta, and more of that damn Swiss chard, as well as basil from the CSA. The dough will be from scratch, of course. I just need to get up the energy for it. Lunch was a four-burner event.

Fear me, for I have made cheese.

I have made cheese. Twice now. The first batch was ok. Bland, but decent. Sadly I accidentally left it out on the stove all day and I had to pitch it. The second batch was quite lovely. It got eaten on crackers with mango chutney.

As it turns out, this is pretty easy stuff to make. I followed a recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and it worked out pretty well. Below, some pictures from the making of the first batch. Continue reading

Quiche. Lots and lots of quiche.

(In answer to the question: what are you going to do with more chard, beet greens, and scallions?)

This will be the week I cook Swiss chard and like it. I am determined! And the way I’ll make this work is with other things I like, namely, cheese, ham, eggs, and a crust. Friends, fat and carbs make everything better.

I also got lettuce, which will probably used in some kind of salad with roasted beets, and summer squash. There are about 11 billion ways to cook squash – one of my favorites is a stick-to-your-ribs vegetarian rice loaf. However, that takes about 2 hours to make, between cooking the brown rice and then baking the loaf. So I’m thinking zucchini bread.

My birthday is tomorrow, and I’m having a bring-your-favorite-takeout party. But because I’m incapable of making too much food for these kinds of things, I’m making roasted chickpeas, homemade cheese (with mango chutney for mixing), and cake. It just isn’t a party without cake.

So, what are our favorite quiche and zucchini bread recipes?

Well that sucked.

So it turns out I don’t know the first thing about cooking chard. My lunch this week did not work out the way I wanted it to, and after two attempts at eating it I’m throwing in the towel.

Next time, I’m going to try cooking chard in butter (I draw the line at bacon fat) and adding vinegar. Also, I might use it in lasagna or an Indian-style dish. (By the way many thanks to twitter and facebook friends for the suggestions.) I’m definitely going to reserve the arugula and beets for a raw dish – they got soggy and lost all their flavor and texture.

So my first major experiment wasn’t edible. That’s ok. I know a little more about what to do and I’ll do better next time.

Instead of focusing on failure, let me share one amazing success of the last few days: roasted chick peas. I got the recipe here. I’ve already eaten my way through an entire batch and I plan to make one more for this week and probably a couple more for a party this weekend. It’s the perfect crunchy salty snack that isn’t potato chips. Want…more…now…

First CSA Haul! (And what I’ll do with it.)

Last night we had some wicked weather. Rain, thunderstorms, a tornado – even a waterspout in the Chesapeake Bay. Amidst all this, two dear friends of mine welcomed a brand-new baby son into the world. Ari, child of thunderstorms, is destined to be a superhero.

Overnight the sky cleared, the temperature dropped back from unseasonable highs, and today dawned perfect. All the windows are open, and everything smells fresh and clean and slightly mulchy. A farmer’s-marketing I went!

First up, we have a lovely bunch of arugula.

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Next, five of the largest scallions I’ve ever seen (they must each be over a foot long):

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And beets. I don’t know that I’ve ever willingly eaten a beet. These still have the dirt from the farm on them – you can tell they’re fresh!Image

Strawberries (not from the CSA but who could resist? They come with their own hairnet.).

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A head of broccoli that came with two inchworms as a bonus. At least they looked like happy inchworms. I liberated one outside and the other went down the sink by accident.

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Swiss chard:

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Finally, romaine:

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Not pictured: some homemade pasta and a small pack of Russian tea cakes. The samples get me every time. I was hoping for homemade cheese but that vendor wasn’t there. I really should get around to making some before too long.

So what am I going to do with all this stuff? The arugula, chard, and beets (roasted) will go on the pasta with some chicken. It’ll make me the envy of the lunchroom. I think the romaine will be for sandwiches, and the scallions, at least some of them, will find their way into eggs. Roasted broccoli will make a nice side for sandwiches.

What else can I do with this stuff? Are beet greens edible?