Cookin’

Hands down, Noah’s new favorite place to be is in the kitchen. He’s like his daddy that way.

If the fridge is open, he’s there. If the sink is turned on, he comes running. The clank of putting dishes away is music to his ears. He even puts his apron on himself & tries to muscle his helping stool into position.

Not the most efficient way to get supper fixed or clean the kitchen, but it really doesn’t get much sweeter than this:

“Yo-yah cookin’…”

Take note toddler ladies – we are learning him up early. And believe me, you want a man who knows his way around a kitchen. Let’s just hope his Bowen genes will pull through and he won’t need a stool at that point.

Advertisements

CSA: In the Box (Week 10)

Slow food meets fast food on our trek home after a tasty CSA pick up – Noah just couldn’t help himself with the crispity crunchity pickles. They are that good…

“I’m not a pickle. I’m a cucumber.”

 

Raise your hand if you love fresh green beans?

In case you can’t see me, I am not raising my hand.

I know, I know – how un-southern of me.

And in case you can’t see him, Chris has both hands up. And he’s standing in his chair.

Not really about the chair, but that’s quite the visual, huh?

Noah is still on the fence – he could take them or leave them, mostly leave them.

But alas, I will not be defeated by the bean:

Lemony Cheesy Creamy Beanies (feeds 4)

4 cups of fresh beans – snapped & steamed until tender, but not noodley

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup of sour cream

1 tbsp all purpose flour

1/4 tsp grated lemon zest (believe me, this is plenty – if you like lemon, crank it up)

pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded cheese

1/3 cup dry bread crumbs

1 tbsp butter, melted

1. Preheat over to 350. Snap, chop, & shred all ingredients.

2. Cook onion in butter until tender.

3. Mix together sour cream, flour, lemon peel, & pepper. Throw in the beans & cooked onion. Mix it up evenly.

4. Plop mixture in a baking dish & top with cheese. Melt butter & mix with bread crumbs – spread over the cheese.

5. Bake for about 25 minutes. Voila!

I actually enjoyed this combination & would make it again (go ahead mother, rejoice) – it was the first time in 27 years I haven’t had to swig milk in my mouth and hold my nose to choke down each bite. What a big girl I am…

Horn of Plenty

It’s hotter than the devil’s hiney in east Tennessee & we’ve started harvesting and clearing out the summer garden crops – cabbage, basil, carrots, garlic, tomatoes (lots & lots) – to save them from the scorching heat and hungry caterpillars.

 

We’re making way for the fall plantings – swiss chard, lettuce, kohlrabi, radishes, kale – that will be used to feed folks in our dining hall as well as the critters in our Nature Center. I’ve never planted fall crops before, we’ll see how it goes. I’m pretty jazzed about fall gardening – but not so excited to sit in the sun and put the seeds in the ground – whew! It’s worth the pay off in the end though, right?

At least I will have some company…

Praying Mantis - Who says gardening isn't a form of meditation & spirituality?

 

We might even let the chickens do their “thang” in the garden before planting the new stuff, but that requires vigilance, chicken tractors, maybe leashes… but it’s oh, so good for the dirt. Maybe –  if I am feeling particularly adventurous…

CSA: In the Box (Weeks 8 & 9)

Camp has come to a close this season and we Fords have been laying low for the past of couple of weeks… hence, the blogging hiatus – and especially the CSA hiatus. We’ve been taking bike rides, playing with the chickens, working in the garden, traveling to weddings, sitting in the hammock, sewing fun new creations.

Ahh. Pure bliss.

I love summers at camp, but I also love when I can cook meals for my family again in my own kitchen with tasty, earthy ingredients… there are only so many corn dogs and tater tots one can handle. Needless to say, we’ve been feasting well this past week since we arrived back from our travels – the type of cooking and feasting that is so simple it seems wrong and so good for the soul it’s gotta be sinful.

Tis the Season (for Squash)

1 squash per person you’re feeding (I made three zucchinis, as you can see)

1 slightly beaten egg

1.5 cups of breadcrumbs

1/4 cup of chopped onion

1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese

1 tbsp of fresh dill

1/4 tsp of salt

pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook squash whole for about 5 minutes in salted boiling water – drain and let sit for a minute. Cut the squash in half – scoop out the guts and place in a bowl, you will get to that in a minute. The squash should have about 1/4 inch of shell left.

2. Chop up the guts & mix with the egg, breadcrumbs, half of the cheese, onion, dill, salt, & pepper. Mix it, mix it real good.

3. Fill the shells with the mixture – plop it in there, don’t be shy. Place them in a baking dish so they won’t fall over.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes. Pull them out and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over top. Bake for another 5-7 minutes.

5. Serve warm.

Roasted Potatoes & Lemon with Dill (recipe from Real Simple – April 2011)

2 lbs of new potatoes, halved or quartered

1 lemon, thinly sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

Kosher salt & black pepper

2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh dill

1. Heat oven to 450. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes and lemon with the oil, 3/4 tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.

2. Roast, tossing once, until tender, 25-35 minutes (it only took 25 for ours). Toss with dill before serving.


See, so easy peasy your dog could do it.

Or your husband.

I kid. I kid.

**For the record, my husband, my father, & my brothers are all very good chefs of their own choosing.  Let me just throw that out there before the angry mob starts forming…

CSA: In the Box (Week 4&5)

After a mad dash to the market due to a power surge overnight that left us sleeping until 11:22am (it takes 35 minutes to get to Dixie Lee – and we have to pick the box up before noon, you do the math) last Saturday, cooking a scrumptious Saturday Supper for six, and a clingy little fella under my feet (Noah was pretty needy, too), I just didn’t have it in me to bring the CSA goodness recipes last week – which means, lucky for you, I am doubling up this week.

Small share ($17/week): (from bottom left) snap peas, strawberry jam, onions, summer squash, lettuce, cucumbers, turnips

 

Saturday Supper = summer staff enjoying  home-cooked, farm fresh delish to accompany whatever protein they bring to grill while hanging out with our family in our home + CSA doesn’t go bad before it can all be consumed + jovial conversation and lighthearted fellowship + I get to cook and try new recipes on real live people.

Clearly everyone wins.

Onto the recipes…

Fresh Dill Loaf (for bread makers – the kind that your dad buys your mom for a gift and it sits in the box for 10+ years until it is passed on to you…)

11.5 ounces of warm water
2 tbsp butter or margarine
4 cups bread flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 tsp salt
1-1.5 tsp dill
2 tbsp dry milk
2 tsp active dry yeast
 
1. Add liquid ingredients and butter to pan.
2. Add all dry ingredients, except yeast, to pan. Tap pan to settle dry ingredients, then level ingredients, pushing some mixture into the corners.
3. Make a well in center or dry ingredients; add yeast.
dill-icious.
 
4. Place pan in break maker, select crust color and bread type.
5. Let the bread maker do all the work. Wait 3.5 hours, let cool, and enjoy.
 

This makes a 2 lb loaf and is plenty big and more for six people. I would recommend either freezing or refrigerating what you don’t eat in the next day or so to keep it from growing green things.

I am have a hard time picking just one other recipe from last night’s SS – we had a caprice salad of sorts, pan-fried rosemary new potatoes, green salad, oven-fried turnips, sauteed summer squash with fresh herbs – so much lovely color and flavor.

Funny thing, looking at my list, there’s only one dish that we (my dearest friend & one of Noah’s “aunts”, Krystal and her hubs, Dan stayed the weekend with us on their way to the mountains) actually followed a recipe for – either that means I might know my way around the kitchen a little or I have sweet friends who eat my cooking because they love me and it’s free.

So I guess it’s not too hard to pick – otherwise the recipe would read “a dash of this – a smidge of that – cook til it looks edible”…

Slow-Cooked Thin-Sliced Summer Squash Showered with Herbs

2 lbs mixed summer squash
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup simmering water
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp torn basil leaves (or marjoram or oregano)
 
1. Slice the squash 1/4 inch thick.
2. Heat the oil in a wide skillet. Add the squash and cook over medium-low heat, flipping the squash in the pan every 3-4 minutes until it’s tender and golden, about 20 minutes. Add the water and continue cooking until none remains. Season with salt and pepper and shower the herbs all over. Slide onto a platter and serve.
 
*Recipe from Local Flavors, my market companion cookbook.
 

I suspect my culinary skills have been refined over the past few years and people aren’t just being polite – we had thirteen people ’round our table last night!  For us, this must be a record… for the Colvins, the folks that brings us our farm flavors, this is a regular supper for their family of fifteen.

Oh, Mama Colvin, bless your precious heart… and teach me the wonders of your ways.


Late July

When the Bo’s were here a couple of weeks back we ventured into Earth Fare to stock up on a few things after picking up our CSA. Mom stumbled upon these amazing chips that are a little party in your mouth with every bite – Noah thinks so, too.

But, wait! That’s not all! Chris discovered the best part of all (because he does things like read labels): with every purchase of a bag of chips, 10% of the sale goes to sending a kid to camp through ACA’s Send a Child to Camp Fund.

Buy a bag of chips, kids go to camp. Yes, please.

 

Amazing. And I’m not just saying that because I am the wife of a camp director, thought that does help a little.

Camp will change your life – the independence, faith in yourself and your higher being, lifelong friendships, adolescent hardships, life lessons, wads of memories that you will inevitably gain in a couple of weeks away each summer will intertwine into the very fabric of your being. Every kid should be afforded to opportunity of camp.

If you have kids of your own, neighbors, grandkids, friends, friends with kids, coach a team of kids, etc. that are camp age encourage them to go to camp.  Everyone knows at least one “qualified” kid, even if  only by proxy – buy a bag of chips or two and spread the word.

And enjoy a tasty snack. Everyone wins.

CSA: In the Box (Week 2)

“doe to duh mahh – kitt”    (translation: go to the market)

Good things definitely come in small boxes – kale, bok choy, spring onions, spinach, snowpea greens, lettuce – oh yes! 

Not to mention good conversation and recipe suggestions from the two Colvin boys at the market (we’ll get to one of those in a minute) – I think I am just as keen on small-talking with the boys as picking up our weekly goods.

 

When we walk up to the table I hear, “Hi Noah – I see you still have your green crayon.”(It somehow stays and travels in our market basket week to week.)

Noah does a little happy dance.

My heart does a little leap for joy.

The younger boy is also Noah and he is playfully aware that he and my Noah share a name – possibly even a sweet spirit of adventure and innocent mischief. Whether the kindred likeness is only my imagination or is actually true is neither here nor there. Life is mostly perception anyway, right?

At the recommendation of Caleb and Noah, I bring you this week’s recipe, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen:

Baked Kale Chips
Adapted from a bunch of inspiring places

1 bunch (about 6 ounces) kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet (I needed two because mine are tiny; I also lined mine with parchment for easy clean-up but there’s no reason that you must). Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.

                                                                                                   photo courtesy of smitten kitchen

I know. Totally weird. And totally tasty.

What the heck else do you do with kale?

You make pasta, of course – but you’ll have to check back for that one.


CSA: In the Box (Week 1)

Saturdays are my new favorite – my reason for plugging on through the work week – what I look forward to starting on Sunday – a little slice of heaven – the silver lining – the junk in my trunk.

And that junk tastes like dirt. Colvin Family Farm dirt to be exact – because Saturday is CSA day!

Oh yes.

And in the spirit of my thankfulness for our friendly farmer and his family who supplies the goods to our table for (more than) half the year , each week I will post one (at least) farm fresh recipe inspired by our weekly box. Hopefully you will be encouraged to find a CSA or Farmers’ Market near you (you can click the Local Harvest link on the right and put in your zip code and it will find it for you – handy, I know) and cook up something tasty and healthy for you and your little people.

Frick’s Bok Choy Salad

2 packages of Ramen noodles (I used all natural Somen noodles)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3 tbs slivered almonds
1 bok choy (CSA)
5-7 spring onions (CSA)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 tbs soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
 
1. Brown noodles, seeds, & almonds in pan.
2. Toss & mix chopped onions & bok choy with noodles, seeds, & almonds.
3. Mix olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, & sugar.
4. Mix & toss mixtures with bok choy mixture.
5. Stuff your face and enjoy.
 

Easy peasy & dee-licious!

And because I didn’t take a photo of the bok choy, here’s a photo of a CSA-fresh spinach salad, complete with CSA strawberries & leaf lettuce, almonds, sunflower seeds, and fresh Parmesan:

Mouth watering yet?

Next challenge – what to do with radishes?

Herbs the Word

I would like to think of myself as creative person, an artist even – usually.  I can sew, write, crochet, cook, bake, photograph (decently), felt, etc. to the extent that I would give someone one of the aforementioned creations.

What about painting, you ask?

Not. So. Much.

But that’s okay – because if I weren’t as bad as a two-year-old, blindfolded with their arms tied behind their back I would have never had (what I think) is this genius idea for an herb drying rack:

Putting on the finishing touches…

Drying: chives, oregano, & thyme

So this canvas was supposed to be a solid color with the words “Happiness is not a destination, it is the Journey” – inspired by an overpriced, “Made in China” version we saw last weekend in a store that shall remain anonymous. It was not my best work, so I slathered on a few more layers of reds to cover the words not really knowing what I wanted to do with it. It was about 10pm and I started scurrying about the house looking for eyelets and wire, totally focused on the goal – and voila! an herb drying rack.

I was so impressed with myself that I made two more 8×16’s  – one which is headed out to a special someone tomorrow. As soon as canvases go on sale again I will be racking up, whipping ’em up, and putting them in the shop to sell. If the Farmer’s Market (or booth already there) will have have me, I will try and sell them there as well.

How much would you pay for kitchen art with a purpose?

Sidenote: Herbs are great when dried. Hang the rack in a sunny and dry place – snip some  fresh herbs from your garden or buy some from your local market, bundle them up and hang with a clothespin, wait a couple weeks, then store your dried herbs in a glass jar. Use half the amount in recipes when using dry vs. fresh. Some good herbs to dry: thyme, oregano, sage, mint, dill, chives, rosemary, lavender…

Sow What

Temperatures are climbing, the sun is shining, green buds are peaking, birds are singing, daily walks with toddlers are commencing, compost is turning, CSA farm updates are flowing, Environmental Ed is gearing, seeds are being started – spring is in the air in East Tennessee.

Basil: pizza, pesto, egg/tomato/basil sandwich, fresh tomato sauce
Peppers: tacos, fajitas, fresh salsa, stuffed, raw
Tomatoes: Sauce, salsa, pizza, chili, salads, pizza sauce, tomato&mayo sandwich, sliced

 

Let’s all take a minute to breathe it all in.

Ahhhhh… mmm…tastes of springtime.