Summer sauce

This week I came home with about 3 pounds of tomatoes. On top of that I had equal amounts of squash, 3 fresh onions, and a bunch of cucumbers (but those aren’t important to the story).

In addition to the tomatoes I got, I already had about a pound. What does one do with four pounds of tomatoes, and the squash and the onions and everything else?

Sauce!

This is the beginning of what I’m calling summer sauce. It blurs the line between chunky spaghetti sauce and ratatouille (sans eggplant).

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In this pot, you will find: three small onions, chopped and sauteed; a whole head of garlic, also sauteed; 2-3 pounds of pattypan and summer squash, chopped; a pint or two of cherry tomatoes, whole; 2 pounds of regular tomatoes, chopped; water; salt/pepper/other seasonings.

I brought it to a boil and now I’m letting it simmer for a few hours. I’m about an hour in and right now it’s looking pretty good. I’ll serve it with whole wheat pasta and meatballs. Yum!

Protopickles!

The farm share warned us that we would get a lot of cucumbers this week. And boy howdy did we ever. My half-share came out to two pounds. That is a hefty amount of cucumbers for one person to eat in a week.

Inspired by a recent-ish Fresh Air interview about fermented foods, I decided this week’s cucumbers would make ideal pickles. And so I present, protopickles. They’ll graduate into real edible foodstuffs Monday or Tuesday, but will be at their best in about two weeks, according to this very helpful blog post.

The whole process took me about half an hour, and I ended up with 6 pint jars full, and some spears left over to munch on. I’m looking forward to ripping into them this week and seeing how they went.

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Everything you need to make pickles: kosher salt (couldn’t find brining salt), apple cider vinegar, cucumbers, garlic, dill.

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This cuke is longer than a chef’s knife. It took up almost 3 jars by itself.

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My beautiful protopickles on their first day of life. Happy birthday guys!

Lemon chicken, skillet potatoes, squash fritters, zucchini bread

Happy Fourth/random Wednesday in July!

It’s very hot here. Hot and humid. So, without a doubt, it was the perfect day to keep the oven running for 6 hours straight. In my defense, the end results were pretty spectacular.

Late Monday night I marinated some chicken with lemons and some other stuff; this morning I baked it. I didn’t really follow a recipe but if you want to replicate this, have at.

Lemon Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes

1-1/2 lb chicken breast (or whatever meat/meat substitute floats your boat)

2 lemons

a couple tablespoons oil

2 cloves garlic (or more if you hate vampires)

salt and pepper

herbs and spices (I used parsley and tarragon)

one pint cherry tomatoes

Put the chicken in a baggie. Add the oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and spices. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into the bag. Then throw the lemons in for extra flavor. Marinate for a couple hours or overnight or a day and a half (if you’re forgetful, like me).

Set the oven to 400. Pour the chicken and marinade into a large pan, add the cherry tomatoes. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until you’re reasonably certain the chicken won’t kill you (hits internal temps of 165 or above).

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I also made some skillet potatoes to go with it. Couple of new potatoes (red and white) supplemented with a sweet potato, sliced thin, lightly fried with garlic, salt, and pepper.

Later, it was time to use up all the squash and beets I’ve been getting the last few weeks. I grated it all up (that took over an hour) and started making things.

These are pretty damn good. If you have 20 minutes and some leftover zucchini, you can make them. Mine of course did not look as nice as the picture…

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…but if they taste mighty fine, it doesn’t matter.

Finally, I made three double-batches of zucchini bread. All in all today I used eight cups of shredded stuffs and still had about 2 cups leftover. I followed Mark Bittman’s basic recipe for a fruit/vegetable quick bread, from How to Cook Everything. (Seriously, guys, if you don’t have a copy of this book, you are doing it wrong.)

In half the batches, I swapped in applesauce for butter. In the other half, I swapped in yogurt. I’ve tried both. I can’t tell which I like better. But I’m definitely going to keep leaving the butter out. In the future I will also start cutting down on sugar (a cup per loaf? really?), probably by adding some vanilla.

Here’s the batch that came out prettiest:

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The loaf in the glass pan had a devil of a time coming out. Ultimately I lost quite a bit of the bottom…which somehow made its way into my mouth. Ooops.

I hear in this week’s share I can expect lots of pickling cucumbers. The farm offered up a recipe for fridge pickles, and I can’t wait to try them! I love pickles almost unnaturally, and it would be great to have a few jars in the fridge I can feel good about eating.

By the way, I have plenty of zucchini bread for anyone who wants it…

Let’s play a game!

Hey everyone, it’s time for a game I’m calling What Would Happen If?

What would happen if I marinated a couple pounds of chicken in the juice of two lemons (with the lemon halves, why not), some oil, two fresh garlic cloves, salt, pepper, parsley, and tarragon?

And what would happen if I baked all that up tomorrow with some roasted potatoes and yogurt-cucumber-tomato sauce?

We’ll find out soon! Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion of…

What Would Happen If?

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.