Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Michigan Sweet Corn

At the end of August, Mike and I took a few days to visit family in Michigan. And, because we timed our trip just right, we were able to bring home some of that yummy Michigan Sweet Corn! We stopped by the Cornmobile in Richmond and loaded up our car with five dozen ears of sweet corn.

Two dozen were for Cathie, a friend who knew Mike back when the both lived in MI, and the rest of the ears were to blanched, cut off the cob, and froze for future use. Except, of course, for a few to snack on. ;)

Last year, we brought home corn after a cousin's Labor Day weekend wedding. The frozen corn in the freezer lasted us until the spring. We used it in soups, chilis, and other yummy meals.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The TV fast

Summer is here, the garden is in bloom and theres lots to do. So Tiff and I decided to try something new this summer. We're going to not watch TV, play video games, or even watch TV online for the next two months. Our hope is this will be an opportunity to go to bed early, get up early, break bad living habits and start new healthy ones. I'm looking forward to getting my day started earlier and having time to read my Bible, exercise, and start the work day ahead rather than even at best.

We have so many exciting things we're a part of, its nice to trade a lesser joy for a greater joy. The first of September we'll reassess and decide what we want to do. I'll miss my Xbox friends, but this doesn't mean we can't hang out in real life!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Greenbrier Farms CSA: Weeks 7 and 8

Sorry for not posting for a couple weeks. Not that there's nothing to write about, actually quite the opposite. Lots of good food coming and going and lots of neat experiments and things we're learning about.

Week 7 of our CSA included cabbage, fennel, leeks, carrots, kale, cilantro, and fresh homemade pesto. The pesto used walnuts an economical substitute for the typical pine nuts. 

Week 8 or our CSA included cabbage, fennel, carrots, rainbow chard, green beans, beats, and pizza dough. 

The past month, we haven't been cooking as much as freezing, drying and canning. The hot summer is bringing the end of the green vegetables, so I bought more kale and have frozen about 20 servings. I take back everything bad I ever said about kale. But I still hate chard. We've also been freezing beans from the garden as well as leeks and green onions. 

We've canned salsa verde and dill pickles. Tried adding red pepper flakes to a couple jars to give them some kick. We also invested in a pressure canner and lots of pint-size canning jars.

The cilantro went to seed so now we have some dried coriander. Also cut the fronds off the fennel and dried those for a simple licorice tea. This rain has caused our herbs to grow like crazy, so we're drying and putting up for winter soups.

I've never done much with cabbage and we've had a steady supply through the CSA. So I'm trying several approaches to making sauerkraut. You can see how the color changes, the jar on the left is a few days old, the jar on the far right is two weeks. It all smells terrible, but I cooked a sample yesterday and it was good! In fact it'll probably need another week or two.

This week, I was surprised to learn that fermented foods are actually very good for you. Saurkraut in particular is good for you. I've been homebrewing this year as well, so its interesting to apply the same principles to preserving these kinds of foods. 

The garden is loving all this rain and I've picked my first tomatoes. These are supposed to be Roma, but as you can see they aren't getting much bigger than cherry tomatoes. This is my first time planting in this part of my yard, I guess the soil will need some work.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Greenbrier Farms CSA: Week 6

Hard to believe it's already week six of our CSA. It's a been a cool experience and this week we got a couple new vegetables. This week we received a couple kinds of salad, arugula, rainbow chard, cabbage, carrots, leeks, cauliflower, and fennel.

We've gotten into the routine of consuming a large amount of salad every week. Finishing the carrots is no problem. The arugula will go into a stir fry and the leeks will go into the freezer for soup later this year. I'll fry the chard with some garlic and I've already used the cabbage for my second batch of sauerkraut. I'm going to try roasting the cauliflower and fennel.

Tonight's dinner was an epic fail. I tried making chicken butter masala with some spices from the Indian store. They were burn through your stomach hot. So this was our back-up plan, and it was so good...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Greenbrier Farms CSA: Week 5

Life has been busy, busy, busy, but here's a belated updated for this past week.

This week in our CSA we received carrots, greens, green onions, leeks, kale, two heads of cabbage and some tasty raisin bread. The bread was perfect toasted with a little butter, it is long gone. I finally took all our green onions and leeks and froze them for later. Carrots and greens for salads. And kale was blanched and frozen along with peas and beans from our garden. After two years, I finally went under the house and hooked up the ice maker on the fridge so no more going to gas station to buy ice!

Removing the stems, prepping to freeze
I wasn't too sure what to do with the cabbage, so I'm trying my hand at making sauerkraut. It sounds simple enough, we'll see how it turns out. Tiff won't eat it, but I'll find an evening when she has other plans and stink the whole house up with it.

Improvised weight to press the cabbage down
The freezer is slowly filling up with things for the rest of the year. I've frozen a lot of strawberries, kale, green onions and leeks, some broccoli, beans and peas. I boil and freeze batches of beans as we go through them. I'll keep adding as the growing season progresses. Our grocery budget is $400/month. We've been spending more than that, but will save later in the year. 

Trying to start two businesses and our neighborhood association, I haven't time to cook much new. I made some mediocre salmon the other day. And I improved on our saag paneer this week. My basil needed to be topped off and I had some left-over parmesan so I made pesto. Mixed with pasta, it makes a nice early summer meal. Or spread on some rye bread and made into a grilled cheese. I plan on making a bunch and freezing it before summer's over.

The garden is doing well, though we're having a serious lack of rain. My beans and tomatoes are both fighting some bacterial thing (early blight?), so I'm treating them with selectively placed fungicide. We have a perfectly good growing area along a fence, so I built 3 new 1 x 4 foot raised boxes and planted more peas and pole beans. I also had the opportunity to be a part of the community garden up the street so I planted a 4 x 12 foot section of corn and quinoa. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Artisphere & Saturday Market

So, in the summer months, there is a Farmers Market that takes up a few blocks of Downtown Greenville's Main Street. The first Saturday it was open, it just happened to coincide with Artisphere. One of our annual art festivals. I'm not sure if this is a regular happening or if it was just a coincidence, but it was nice to hit both events in one stop.

The Saturday Market is usually pretty crowded. Add in Artisphere and there are even more people milling about! The two events wove pretty seamlessly together separated by maybe one block. I don't really remember.

We decided we would walk all the way down through the market to Artisphere first. Check out the veggies and their prices as we walked, but wait until we came back through to buy any as to not have to lug bags of kale up and down Main Street.

My favorite part of Artisphere were the demonstrators. Glass Blower Ryan Gothrup from Virginia made a beautiful drinking glass which was promptly recycled for the next demonstration.

Ryan Calloway is a local blacksmith who had some amazing work on display. He was making curlicues for another piece.

I didn't get the name of this artist, they were giving away free prints! You would pick which one you wanted and they'd make the print right then. Pretty cool, eh?

On our way back through the market, we stopped at Parson's Produce for a couple bunches of kale.

They also had some other pretty produce that we didn't purchase, but I just loved their set up I had to grab a few photos!

We also bought some broccoli from a vendor whose name I committed to memory but now cannot drudge up. It was delicious, though!

And fresh peaches from Watsonia! I love getting peaches from these people because their tee shirts say "Peaches make you sexy!" Haha. :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Greenbrier Farms CSA: Week 4

Yesterday I completely forgot to pick up our CSA, so thanks to the guys at Community Tap for putting it in the fridge for us.

This week we received: three kinds of salad greens, leeks and green onions, kale, and broccoli. We still have spinach, green onions, and arugula from last week, so we need to eat some serious salad. Honestly I'm a little tired of salad and green onions, but that's part of eating with the seasons I guess. The kale will go in the freezer. I've been pretty busy too, so not much time to try anything new.

Tonight we made quick work of most of the broccoli. I've been wanting to try this recipe for Rustic Garlic Butter Pasta with Roasted Broccoli. It was very good. My only complaint is now its 9:45 and I'm starving again. This was the first time I roasted broccoli and I'll definitely do it again. Shaved parmesan is a nice treat.

Tomorrow night will be stir-fry with tofu, broccoli, green onions, arugula, snow peas from the garden, and a daikon radish from our friend Jessica. I'll probably fry the tofu in peanut oil, sauté the vegetables, then add the tofu with some teriyaki sauce and top with sesame seeds. Now I'm even hungrier.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Miso Soup

In our CSA we've been getting a regular supply of green onions. So with our efforts to not waste everything we've had to get creative. We were out eating sushi a few weeks ago and had miso soup with green onions in it. Which got me thinking about making it at home.

I visited the asian market and bought miso (soy paste). Miso is fermented soy beans. Its been eaten for centuries across Japan and China and has great health benefits.

I also bought some wakame, a dried seaweed. The tiny pellets turn into 1" sheets of seaweed in the hot water. Wakame is super good for you.

Chop one green onion and cut up a little tofu.

For one serving, I boil 3 cups of water with a couple heaping teaspoons of miso paste. But easy on the paste, it's high in sodium. Add a tablespoon of wakame, simmer a couple more minutes and pour into the bowl with green onion and tofu. For a more filling meal, I put 1/2 cup of rice in the cooker and eat it on the side. 

The container of miso will go a long way, as will the wakame. And they both keep a long time. Total cost for a bowl of miso soup is about fifty cents. I'll keep these on hand for when I need a good quick meal.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Coconut Curry Paneer

Our friend Gloria started a new blog called Foodie Gone Vegan and posted a delicious Indian recipe. I wasn't feeling very vegan tonight, so I made it slightly less healthy. Tiff and I enjoy paneer, an Indian cheese. You can make it yourself or pick some up at the Indian grocery. I've found most Indian recipes you can kinda interchange chicken, paneer, tofu and sometimes chickpeas.

You can't even begin to imagine how good this smells. Coconut milk, basil, garlic, and all those Indian spices. I didn't have chili sauce, but added a little garam masala. I also used cashews instead of peanuts because I had those on hand. I added the cashews at the beginning so they'd get a little soft. Also the basil so that flavor would get all over everything.

Delicious paneer. You know it's authentic when they get it from a freezer in the back and its in a ziploc bag. I paid $8.99 for a couple pounds I think. This'll make three meals.

Added the paneer and some baby bella mushrooms. And a little salt to taste. This meal takes almost no prep work. Just throw everything in. This is my new favorite Indian recipe to make at home.

Yum. Namaste.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Greenbrier Farms CSA: Week 3

Well the past two days we've finally gotten rain. My garden is happy and my rain barrels are full once again. I've been picking a handful of snap peas from my garden every day and i'm getting ready for (hopefully) a whole lot of beans and tomatoes here soon.

We just received our third installment of our CSA. This week we got a couple kinds of lettuce, spinach, arugula, green onions, bread, and rainbow chard. Chard is one of my least favorite things, someone please tell me how to make it taste good. Otherwise, I think we're just going to eat a ton of salad this next week. So far the amount of vegetables has been pretty much perfect for two people. We finish almost everything just in time for the next batch.

I hear huckleberries and peaches are ripe or almost there. Scheming to make some more preserves. Also planning to buy a few pounds of spinach, kale, and snap peas at market to freeze for winter soups and stir fries. Next year I know to plant way more. Also have been going through frozen strawberries like crazy since I started going to the gym and drinking smoothies afterward. I think I can still snag a bucket or two to freeze.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Greenbrier Farms CSA: Week 2

Yesterday we picked up the second bag of goodies from our CSA. Sorry for no picture, it's all in the fridge and I'm not dragging it all back out. This week we received a couple different kinds of lettuce, a big bag of spinach, more kale, more green onions, bok choy and pizza dough!

So here's the plan. With some tofu in the fridge, we have all the ingredients for my very favorite stir-fry (will use spinach for the asian greens). We also have everything we need to make another batch of Cornmeal and Kale Spoon Bread. We ate that pretty much every meal all weekend and don't hate it yet. I'll also buy a nice heirloom tomato and make a margarita and pizza.

The best thing is this first couple weeks we've been able to make use of everything. We've also been able to stretch it pretty far so we're eating a lot of healthy meals and spending hardly anything on groceries.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Black Bean Tacos with Corn Salsa

Tiff and I love Mexican food. Or at least our American version of it. Because seriously, who doesn't love greasy ground beef and cheese. So I decided to try a healthy recipe that would also fulfill our need for Mexican flavors.

The last of our Michigan sweet corn from last fall

Epicurious has a recipe for Black Bean Tacos with Corn Salsa that looked intriguing, so we gave it a try. I cooked the beans a little less than called for. I cheated and added just a touch of oil and a little cumin. Because cumin makes everything better. And I added a fresh chopped tomato to the corn salsa. Because how can you have salsa without tomato? Everything in this recipe is good for you and there's nothing not good for you. Except too much salt if you're not careful.

The results were very good. A nice healthy spring meal. And I had most the ingredients on hand or in the freezer. I ate about four of them to get full so the bean mixture is pretty filling. All in all, super easy to make and a nice healthy meal.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

How the Garden Grows

Here in South Carolina the past few months have been incredible for growing (except for the occasional hail storm). It seems like we'll have great sunshine for several days and then a good rain and then a few more days of sun, etc. I've watered my garden here and there, but nature's done most the work for me.

The peas are loaded with floors and I picked my first handful this week. It's doubtful any even make it into the house, they usually serve as my snack while I work outside.

This past week, the kudzu bugs have given my beans a reprieve. I noticed big new leaves and they've yet to get eaten. The dog finally succeeded in destroying my herb garden. So, using the new plants from our CSA this past week, I've replanted and wrapped the whole thing in chicken wire. I also cut the last of the spinach to freeze and replaced with chives and yet more pepper plants.

The tomatoes are all off to the races. I've planted some in the ground, some in buckets. Three different varieties. And some in compost, some in garden soil. So this will be a good year of learning. Overall, they're all doing well. I swear if you sat and concentrated, you could see them grow. I'm learning the importance of good soil. If the soil is good, the plant will be strong and healthy and you'll have much fewer issues with pest and disease.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cornmeal and Kale Spoon Bread

I enjoy kale about as much as a mouthful of chicken wire. So you can imagine my enthusiasm when I found about a pound of it in our CSA this week. But that's part of this deal, eating with the seasons, eating even those things we're not excited about, and eating it all before it goes bad. So I had my work cut out.

On the Epicurious iPhone app, you can enter multiple ingredients to sort recipes. Cornmeal and Kale Spoon Bread sounded like it might be alright and used a bunch of our items. The reviews said it was nothing special. Long story short, it was a lot of work, but turned out REALLY good. I'd totally make it again. And you know, I really haven't given kale a fair shot. I put it in soup once and didn't trim the tough stems off, yuck. My bad.

Since strawberries are everywhere, we've also been enjoying strawberry shortcake. I just slice the fresh strawberries thin, sprinkle with sugar and mix.

Let them sit out about 30 minutes so the sugar can draw out all that great flavor and juice. Then serve with a slice of shortcake (or angel food cake) and a little whip cream. Eating with the seasons is pretty awesome.

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