Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Recent Dinners, Part Two: I Ate Peas

I finally remembered a way to use peas that wasn't awful. They weren't my CSA peas unfortunately (though I look forward to using my now-local-pea-enriched compost next year), but at least now I can be prepared should I get them again.

The dish was inspired by one I had at Petit Pois many months ago: gnocchi with a roasted carrot sauce with peas. In my version, I used tri-colored gnocchi, organic carrots, homegrown thyme, a sauteed quarter of a local onion, a clove of local garlic, organic chicken stock, a dollop of local sour cream...and some peas I found in my freezer.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Field Trip: Eating Locally in the Chesapeake Bay

I'm proud to say that my wife and I just celebrated our fifth year of marriage.  To commemorate the occasion, we spent the weekend at The Tides Inn, a small, fancy-pants resort on the Rappahannock river near the Chesapeake Bay.

Needless to say, we had a great time.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Dos and D'ohs! of Gardening, Part Three: I Made a Pepper!

Here it is, the first product of the vegetable garden I re-planted a few weeks ago: an Anaheim chili. I probably should have taken a picture of it while still on the plant, but I was too excited. I did manage not to eat it raw, however, opting instead to save it for the chicken and veggie tostadas I made last night.

Gardening is awesome.

Friday, June 18, 2010

More squash...but aren't they cute?

I seem to be on a bit of a squash kick lately, but I just couldn't pass up this trio of baby rounds from Down Branch Farms via Retail Relay (or Relay Foods, as they are now called). Pretty as the were, I couldn't bear to do anything but simply halve, season, and roast them. As for the leftover zucchini and yellow squash from last week: they had a date with my shredder.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Recent Dinners

As described in my last post, I got a couple's share from Horse & Buggy CSA last week with all kinds of goodies inside. I'm happy to say that I've been able to use every one of those goodies, save one: the peas. I'll admit, I'm not a big pea fan, but that wasn't why I didn't use them. I think it mainly came down to the fact that I have no idea how to cook them. Do you boil them? Blanch them? Split, roast, and mash them?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Horse & Buggy Produce: Couple's Share

On Friday I got my most anticipated order from Retail Relay yet: my first share of fruits and vegetables from Horse & Buggy Produce. I felt kinda like the cooks on Food Network's Chopped, opening their black mystery baskets to uncover the assorted goodies inside.

I can't say I was disappointed by the variety. This week's 'mystery basket' contained:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Adventures with Rhubarb

I have had very little experience with rhubarb in my life. In fact, I don't even recall being introduced to it until sometime in my teens, and then it was only in passing. I do recall believing it to be some sort of celery, so that probably didn't help things (I'm not a big celery fan...unless it's prettied up with some peanut butter and raisins).

Just recently, however, my curiosity was piqued by a recipe I saw in the spring chapters of Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for strawberry rhubarb crisp. So, I allowed my burgeoning inner seasonal eater to take the wheel, and a'rhubarb shopping I went.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I Made Cheese!, Part Two: And It's Healthy!

Using the organic grass-fed milk available through Retail Relay (and in some stores here in Cville), I've made a fair bit of microwave cheese since my first post on the subject a few weeks ago. I've found it's great in enchiladas, lasagna, and on bread instead of butter, but an old friend of mine just posted some interesting info that has nothing to do with taste.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pasta Valente: Vegetable Pasta

This was my second dinner based around Pasta Valente's all-natural tri-colored vegetable pasta (I would have reported on the first, had I not forgotten to take pictures). The first, over a week ago, was a play on pasta primavera with zucchini and carrots; this time: goat cheese-stuffed meatballs and organic marinara.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Dos and D'ohs! of Gardening, Part Two: Forget Band-Aids, I Need Beer

So, with my dad's help, I finally got around to moving my garden to the other side of my backyard. About an hour into digging the 36 square-foot plot, he summed up our efforts pretty effectively: "You know, they used to make prisoners do this kinda stuff."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dad's Strawberries

Here's just another example of home-grown produce proving itself superior to its commercially-available cousins: My dad dropped by late last week with a bowl full of just-picked strawberries from his front yard. They were grown without chemical sprays and pesticides; just sun, water, and the dirt on which I played as a kid...and they were frickin' good. 

If you'd like to learn more about strawberries, including how to grow them and the benefits of eating organic and/or home-grown berries, click on the links provided.

Oh, and thanks Dad. They were awesome.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wade's Mill: Herb Beer Bread

As quick breads go, Wade's Mill's herb beer bread is far from the worst I've ever had, but unfortunately it's not anywhere close to the best. I will say, however, that it was probably the easiest to assemble. Besides the one pound bag I bought through Retail Relay, this mix required exactly one other ingredient: a bottle of beer.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Dos and D'ohs! of Gardening, Part One: %#@$!

So I finally built my summer vegetable garden. A raised bed in my backyard using posts from my old fence, compost I've been making since the fall, and some organic soil from Lowe's. Thirty-six square feet of sweat, blisters, and potential.

It's just a shame I didn't consider the big trees all around it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Babes in the Wood: Ground Pork

Mmmm....pork. My favorite protein. Thanks to Babes in the Wood and Retail Relay, I got myself a good pound of the stuff just to make this recipe. I wish I could say that the scallions and the mushrooms were local and organic too, but I can't. Maybe next time. The soba noodles, however, were organic. But enough of that...was it any good?

Monday, April 26, 2010

I Made Cheese!

Boiling water aside, it's quite simply the simplest thing I've ever made. Soft, creamy, and wonderful, all it took was two cups of milk, two tablespoons of distilled vinegar, a little salt, and four(ish) minutes in the microwave.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wolf Creek Farm: Stew Beef

My journey towards Wolf Creek Farm's stew beef tacos started many months, a few steps, and one important realization ago...

Sometime this past winter I was standing in front of my stovetop preparing ground turkey tacos, a household favorite. (I liked ground turkey because of the lower fat content, and my wife liked turkey because "supermarket* beef is just gross.") Anyway, we were accustomed to buying an Old El Paso taco dinner kit and flavoring our ground turkey with the "seasoning mix" that came inside. Of course, I knew all along that I had spices in my cabinet, but that little packet was so easy to use. I didn't have to think about it. Just dump and stir. That one evening, however, as I ripped open the packet and looked down at its orange-tinged contents, a question popped into my head: "What the hell is this stuff?"

ISO Better Food

As a home cook of several years, I take pride in the fact that I know how to prepare a wide variety of healthy, flavorful meals, and until recently I thought I had everything pretty much figured out. In the past few months, however, I've begun to understand the importance of organically- and locally-produced whole foods, as well as the negative aspects of many of the "healthy" foods I was buying at my local supermarket. By creating this blog, I'm hopeful that I can inspire myself, and maybe a few others, to take a good look at what we eat and discover new ways to take advantage of the wealth of healthier, local food that surrounds us.

Let's see what I can find.