To start things off, let me just say that 2013 was a pretty darn good year to be a member of one of the many CSAs in the Lawrence area.
Unlike the past two summers, which were so hot things couldn’t grow, this one was varied enough that nearly every crop seemed to thrive, or at least produce a little bit.
When you’re buying a weekly share from a farm or a collective of farms like the one I subscribe to, Rolling Prairie, that sort of variety is exactly what you’re looking for.
Because we had such great weather, this year we received everything from okra to tat soi to melons to mushrooms from our CSA at various parts in of the season, which started in late spring and roared through October.
Just as I did last year, I tried to find my favorite recipes of this season.
It was tough to pick, but I went for a top five (in no particular order) plus two bonus cookie recipes I threw in during the season just to shake things up. The recipes range from a delicious double squash dish to an eggplant lasagna that was a lot of work but totally worth it.
Honestly, though they are things I made during the spring, summer and fall of 2013, I'm pretty sure they could be satisfying year-round.
Bonus cookie recipes:
What was the recipe that became your favorite over the 2013 CSA season?
Admittedly, there are no local ingredients in the recipe I’m sharing today. I just felt like for the week of Halloween we all needed a cookie break.
A seasonal cookie break.
If you still need a little something to have around the house or bring to a party at Halloween, these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies are the cookie to bring.
Admittedly, they’re not the healthy fare I usually share in this space. But I don’t feel totally guilty, because you do get some modicum of vitamin A when you eat them (how’s that for rationalization?). But, really, eat them because they are totally, amazingly delicious.
Honestly, these cookies are my secret weapon this time of year. The recipe makes a ton, everyone always loves them and they are appropriate for everything from Halloween to Thanksgiving.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
2½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup shortening, margarine or butter
1-½ cups sugar (I often use half coconut sugar)
¼ cup regular or soy yogurt (vanilla, plain or maple)
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put parchment paper on two cookie sheets.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour through cinnamon (all dry ingredients). Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together your shortening/margarine/butter with the sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Beat in the yogurt and then stir in the pumpkin and vanilla.
Gradually stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. When all combined, add chocolate chips.
Drop by the teaspoonful onto parchment. Flatten a bit with clean fingers. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
Yield 50 cookies.
So, what’d we get on our last week of Rolling Prairie for 2013? Eggplant, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, leeks, green onions and kale.
OK, I realize peanut butter cookies do not seem like a CSA-friendly treat, but they are. Just stick with me.
You see, these peanut butter cookies use two ingredients you might see in your CSA or at the Lawrence Farmers' Market: honey and eggs.
Now, I didn't get either of those ingredients in my Rolling Prairie CSA last week. Rather, we got strawberries, snap peas, green onions, head lettuce, asparagus and Swiss chard. Those items were all accordingly eaten the normal ways: strawberries and snap peas out of hand, asparagus steamed, head lettuce and green onions in salad and the Swiss chard was juiced.
Now, I could've shared that juice recipe, but I know many of you don't have a juicer or the inclination to juice. Yes, I know my veggie juice is a tad bit inaccessible. Peanut butter cookies? Not so much. They're generally pretty easy to make, and, allergies not withstanding, they work well in large groups.
This recipe is an adaptation of a recipe given to me by my friend Dorian. They are super soft and chewy, plus they don't use any white sugar or flour, which is great if you're avoiding that sort of thing.
Honeyed Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
2 cups peanut butter
3/4 cup local honey
3/4 maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs or 2 flax "eggs" (2 tablespoons ground flax seed in 3 tablespoons hot water for each egg)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. The dough will be very wet. Scoop by the rounded teaspoon onto the parchment, leaving a good amount of space between each cookie.
Bake 8-10 minutes. When they start to brown, pull them out and let them "bake" about 5 to 10 minutes more on the warm cookie sheet before moving them to a cooling rack. They'll be very soft.
These freeze well, though they may stick together if not separated. Makes about 40 cookies.
What'd we get this week? Beets with greens, basil(!), head lettuce, snap peas, kale and broccoli.
Honestly, folks, this is going to be a pretty short post this week. I'm sorry about that, but when I tell you the reason why I think you'll understand.
My grandmother passed away this week. It feels strange typing this, not only because it's still such a foreign idea in my mind, but also because I didn't think I'd be telling anybody in this fashion.
I'm not telling you this for your sympathy, though it's appreciated. Honestly, the only reason I'm sharing this at all is because my grandmother was a fabulous cook and taught me so much of what I know about food. She left a giant, flour-coated impression on me and colors my food writing whether she knew it or not.
I spent a huge chunk of my childhood in her kitchen, watching her work her magic. She made the best desserts known to man, and I've told many, many, many people that if she'd ever opened a bakery it would've become a sweets-lover's destination, a national chain, or both. Chocolate pie, strawberry shortcake, peanut brittle, chip chocolate cookies (NOT chocolate chip, mind you), muffins ... the woman could do it all. And it was all so very good.
So, in her memory this week — we're working very hard to celebrate her life and how fantastic she was, rather than dwell on the sadness we all feel — I thought I'd share my favorite recipe of hers: peanut clusters.
They're simple — there are only three ingredients — but they're out of this world.
I've made them many, many times and they've been loved by people all over the country — I've made them in Kansas, Pennsylvania and Florida, and my mother has whipped up a batch or 20 in Alabama.
Honestly, I've probably known the recipe by heart since I was 10 or so, but when I got married, my mother's best friend asked for everyone in attendance to provide a recipe, hand-written on a recipe card. My grandmother wrote out the recipe in her beautiful handwriting and, now almost 10 years later, I still have it, as clean as the day she wrote it out.
So, in her memory, I'm going to share it with all of you. Honestly, it's not as healthy as most of the recipes I share in this space, but it's fantastic, and I hope you all enjoy it. The day she died, my husband insisted we make some as a little tribute. I even had one even though they're not vegan (or "funny" as my grandma would've said), and I'm glad I did.
Grandma Jeanne's Famous Peanut Clusters
1 (6-ounce) package chocolate morsels
1 (12-ounce) package butterscotch morsels
1 (12-ounce) package salted Spanish peanuts
Combine chocolate and butterscotch morsels in a double broilers (or microwave) until melted, being careful not to burn them, and stirring often.
Stir in the peanuts. Drop by the teaspoon onto waxed paper. Let set until firm either in the freezer or fridge. Store in an air-tight container in the freezer.
Last week, I promised a holiday cookie recipe. And, boy, do I have one for you. It’s super tasty, extremely easy and about as healthy as a holiday cookie can be. Plus, it is reminiscent of a holiday favorite: the peanut butter-chocolate yumminess that is the “buckeye.”
Yes, buckeyes without the powdered sugar and butter, but with all the taste. (They’re Megan Stuke/Flying Fork approved, so yeah, they’re GOOD.)
Now, I’ll quit my yapping and cut to the recipe, because I’m sure you want to get started.
Healthy Free-Form Buckeyes
1 cup puffed kamut or brown-rice cereal (I used Arrowhead Mills Puffed Kamut)
½ cup smooth peanut butter (or other nut/seed butter)
½ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup chocolate chips
Cacao nibs (optional)
First, cover a cookie sheet in parchment or wax paper OR fill a mini-muffin pan with liners — you will be freezing your buckeyes either on the paper or liners, it’s up to you.
Next, in a food processor, mix together the maple syrup and peanut butter until smooth.
Add cereal and process, taking care to stop the machine and scrape down the sides when necessary. Process the dough until it gets to the “ball” stage.
Next, use a teaspoon to scoop out loose balls onto your parchment or into your mini-muffin liners.
Once all the dough has been used, pour your chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl or Pyrex and melt them in the microwave, going at 30-second intervals and then 15-second intervals as you get closer to all the chips being melted. Stir in between stints in the microwave. When your chips have all melted into a thick liquid, use a teaspoon to drizzle the chocolate on top of your buckeye balls. Top with cacao nibs if desired.
Next, put them in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes. The chocolate should get hard, while the dough will stay chewy. Enjoy!
Kids and cookies go together like Santa and his reindeer. And for some Lawrence kids, cookies are just what they need to help bring holiday cheer to their preschool.
The Lawrence Arts Center Preschool Cookie Sale begins at 9 a.m. Saturday as a fundraiser for the award-winning preschool, which teaches arts-based education. Cookies will be sold for $6 per pound and will be on sale within LAC's preschool classrooms at 940 N.H. until only crumbs are left says Linda Reimond, preschool director. Limited bagels and barbecue will also be served to those cookie shopping during breakfast and lunch.
In addition, individual cookies will be sold at the Gingerbread House Festival and Viewing beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Carnegie Building, 200 W. Ninth St.
The cookies are a combination of treats made by the kids, contributed by their families or donated and then decorated (both Munchers Bakery and Great Harvest Bread Co. both contributed undecorated cookies).
On Wednesday afternoon, preschool kids and their parents visited Meadowlark Estates in West Lawrence and decorated cookies with elderly residents. Reimond says about 10 dozen cookies were prepared by the kids and Meadowlark residents.
"I love the fact that there were grandparent-age (folks), and some of the moms were there, and then the kids. That was what was so special to me, that they were going to do it together," Reimond says before running through this year's treats. "You won't even believe all the cookies that will be here. There will be some decorated cookies, some holiday cookies, and one of the preschool classes made dog biscuits. So we can even have cookies for your pet."