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.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Greenbrier Farms CSA, week 1

This week, we got our first bag o' goodies from our CSA from Greenbrier Farms. As you know, we recently had some hail as well as some unseasonably cold days in the area, so our first delivery was going to be a bit sparse. Here's what was in our bag: kale, green onions, bread, a dozen eggs, and six different plants: lavender, parsley, oregano, sage, thyme, and green onion. 

I am particularly excited about the lavender! And the eggs, too. I really miss having fresh eggs.

Oh, and also, all of this is locally grown and organic!

Mike scoured after getting the kale and decided to make Cornmeal and Kale Spoon Bread with Red Peppers! Should be yummy, as always. I'm pretty lucky to have such a great cook for my husband. :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Strawberry Season

Here in Greenville, it's that time of year when the strawberry stands come out. Last year we discovered the sweet tasty goodness that are local strawberries. Months after we purchased a couple gallons from up the road, we bought some from our local grocery. Not nearly as tasty, what a difference! It was obvious they had been picked before ripe and then ripened en route to the grocery. But not those guys up the street. So we've been making our plan ever since.

I've bought some at various places and even picked my own. My favorite are the Strawberry Hill ones sold at the roadside stands just north of Travelers Rest. At $13 a bucket they aren't the cheapest, but they taste the best to me. So this season I've come home with four buckets.

This past week we've dried a batch for my favorite granola. Frozen a whole lot for smoothies and strawberry shortcake. And for the first time, I've tried making strawberry preserves. My first attempt didn't gel so I attempted to fix that batch with an online remedy of more pectin, sugar and lemon juice.

These berries are hardly cheaper than frozen ones from the store. But they taste much better. And they're local which is always a plus to me. And I figure my homemade preserves cost less than $1 for a half pint each which is a great deal. I made 8 half pints, enough to last us at least a year.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Summer Is Here!

Sorry for no update lately, but summer is here and there's been lots going on. I put my garden in a month ago and despite a freak hailstorm, most of my garden has survived. Unfortunately, I'm losing the battle with the kudzu bugs to save my beans and basil and battling my dog to stay out of my herb garden.

Penny size hail collects in the street
Even though my garden is all planted I still manage to come home every week with some new plant that I wind up putting into an orange 5 gallon Home Depot bucket. Classy, I know. So far I've planted:
  • 2 types of peas
  • Green and yellow bush beans, green pole beens
  • 2 types of carrots
  • Garlic and shallots (planted in winter, will harvest soon)
  • Spinach
  • 8 tomato plants (Roma, Goliath and an heirloom)
  • Basil, parlsey, cilantro, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
  • Assorted colors of Bell peppers
  • Peppermint and lemon balm
To help keep my water bill from going through the roof, I added a water barrel to the front of the house and am working on adding one to the back. I've found its easier to dunk a couple watering cans rather than drag the hose out. 

Basil plant: round two. Growing indoors.
Most of time has been spent outside, but otherwise I've been homebrewing, and making the usual stir fry, burritos, granola and dried tea. I even made a funky version of my tuscan vegetable soup by adding cabbage and purple sticky rice. The rice turned everything an intense purple color! Not what I was going for but tasted alright. We froze some fresh local strawberries last week and our CSA program starts soon. We'll have lots of fun food adventures here soon. 

I'm hunting recipes for tomato sauce, salsa, and pesto if anybody has one they'd like to share!

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