Mostly because we did a horrible job of grilling outdoors last summer, the hubby and I are trying really, really hard to better use our little Weber this summer.
We’re never going to be everyday grillers, or even once-a-week-when-it’s-warm grillers. But doing better than the two(?) times we grilled out last summer seems to be a nice goal.
Yes, you read that right. I did mean to tack potatoes onto the end of that sentence.
I’d never considered doing potatoes on the grill, because I always just sort of see them as a “stove” food, if that makes sense. But, nope, turns out you can grill them.
And they’re delicious.
Grilled potatoes taste like roasted potatoes, but with a little something extra from being on the fire. They also are wonderful in that you don’t have to choose between storing all those wonderful new potatoes that are available locally right now and turning your kitchen into the surface of the sun while simultaneously trying to cool your house down to a reasonable summer temp in the 70s.
So, the save energy and taste delicious. What can’t they do?
Grill-Roasted New Potatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds new potatoes, each 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, scrubbed and quartered
Prepare grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350 to 450 F).
In a medium bowl, combine the oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and stir to coat them evenly.
Brush the cooking grates clean. Grill the potatoes over direct medium heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until tender and browned on all sides, 15 to 20 minutes, scooping and turning with a wide spatula every 5 minutes or so.
Remove from the grill and transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl. Serve warm. Serves 6 to 8.
Note: We used a metal grilling pan meant for vegetables rather than putting the potatoes directly on the grill. We also didn’t check the temperature, but rather put them on early in the process when the grill was coolest. They cooked faster than the suggested 15 to 20 minutes, but they still tasted great.
— Recipe from www.weber.com
I know the date on the calendar assures us that summer is here (the temps are a good reminder, too), but it finally felt like summer in CSA land when we scored not only tomatoes but also summer squash in the same box from Rolling Prairie.
I was especially excited to see the squash because just recently I’d had some really delicious summer squash served up at Merchant’s Pub. It seemed simple enough: just summer squash sauteed with tomatoes. And the second I saw our little crooked-neck squash, I knew I’d have to try to recreate it. (Note to self: Why don’t I do this more often with great stuff I eat out?)
Though I had fresh tomatoes, thanks to the box, I decided to use canned diced tomatoes from our pantry. Mostly because I knew if I used all the brand new tomatoes in a single go, we’d be pulling our hair out in a few short days wishing we hadn’t used the fresh ones.
So, slicing the summer squash as thin as I could get it without breaking out the mandolin, I went to town, recreating the side we’d enjoyed so much. Pulled out the tomatoes, salt and pepper, olive oil and garlic and hoped for the best.
And the result was delicious. It wasn’t a frilly side dish or anything, but it was hearty and paired nicely with the salad, veggie burgers and leftover green onion potato pancakes we had for the rest of the meal.
Sauteed Summer Squash with Tomatoes and Garlic
1 pound or so summer squash, sliced thin
1 can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and let warm for a minute. Add in summer squash and tomatoes. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft, 5 minutes or more. Serve hot and season with salt and pepper. Serves 4 to 6.
Local beet season has begun. For beet lovers, that means about six weeks of uninterrupted, local deliciousness. For those who don’t have much love for the rosy roots, it can mean almost two months of avoidance tactics.
I am a beet lover. Always have been (thanks, Mom), always will be. My husband, on the other hand, isn’t. He’s more of a beet tolerator. He’ll eat them because I like them and because he has made a lifelong claim that he’ll pretty much eat anything (which is mostly true), but he most definitely doesn’t enjoy this time of year.
So, when we finally got a bunch of beets in our Rolling Prairie CSA, I was super surprised that he suggested we eat them. In a new side dish of all things.
Obviously, I was on on board.
Thus, because, amazingly, we haven’t made every recipe in the fabulous Rolling Prairie Cookbook by Merc savant Nancy O’Connor, we made for the first time a recipe that was quick and easy, even for a packed Monday night: Quick grated beets.
They were indeed super quick (we made them while reheating leftovers) and they were totally delicious (says the girl who ate three of the four servings). But, hey, the hubby ate one serving and suggested it.
That’s a total win right there. Thus, if your house is a house divided over beets, or even if it’s not, definitely give this little recipe a try.
Quick Grated Beets
4 medium-sized beets
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil (we used coconut oil)
1 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
3 to 6 tablespoons water or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh dill or parsley
Wash, peel and coarsely grate beets. Heat butter or oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-low heat. Add beets, and stir to coat well. Sprinkle with lemon juice, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally and add water or stock as needed to prevent scorching. Cook until just tender. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with dill or parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
— From "Rolling Prairie Cookbook" by Nancy O’Connor
I know I’m the one with the healthy eating column, but even I like to indulge from time to time. And usually if that indulgence makes it into this space, it’s obviously healthy.
That said, sometimes, an indulgence is an indulgence, even if it’s been modified a bit. And today’s recipe is just that: a slightly healthier version of an indulgence. But mostly it’s an indulgence in its own right.
But first: I’m sharing this indulgence along with an update to how our CSA eating is going this year. By now most everyone who has joined a local community supported agriculture program should have gotten a share or several to start off 2014.
For our family and our Rolling Prairie subscription (and probably yours as well) that has meant a lot of greens. For example, this week it was spinach, lettuce, mint, asparagus, peas and green onions.
It has meant a lot of side dishes.
Not that it’s a bad thing. No, it’s a very good, very tasty thing. Salads, roasted veggies and green smoothies have been on the menu for weeks now.
And because I’ve covered those well in this space, I decided it might be more prudent at this point to share what we had after one of those delicious meals featuring Rolling Prairie goodness: cake.
Honestly, I made this cake in all its pudding-like glory because my son requested it. I’d loaned the cookbook from which it’s adapted to a friend and just got it back and asked my 5-year-old to page through for a weekend dessert we could make. We had a family function planned, and I figured if I were going to make something for the masses, I should make sure my own kid would be excited about it first.
What he picked was something I’d never tried making in any capacity before (and I’ve done a lot of baking in my day). Yes, for some reason, I’d never attempted a pudding cake. I knew I liked them and their warm, gooey texture, but for some reason, I’d never tried making one. Must have been a baking blind spot, for sure.
That said, though it’s not the prettiest cake ever, this one got major brownie points for being super easy, relatively healthy (though it has more sugar in it than I typically use) and allergy friendly (no milk, eggs, wheat in it). We served it up with coconut milk ice cream, though in my opinion it didn’t really need it.
Kid-Friendly Fudgy Pudding Cake
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 1/2 cups oat flour
3/4 cup plus 1/3 cup coconut palm sugar, divided
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, divided
1/3 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (we used flax milk)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups boiling water
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly grease a 7-by-11-inch glass baking dish with coconut oil. In a small bowl, whisk the ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the oat flour, 3/4 cup of the coconut sugar, 1/3 cup of the cocoa powder, the chocolate chips, salt and baking powder.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flaxseed mixture, non-dairy milk, coconut oil and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth out the top evenly with a spoon.
In a small bowl or mug, combine the remaining 1/3 cup coconut sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons cocoa powder. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter in the baking dish.
Slowly pour the boiling water over the cocoa powder mixture, ensuring the liquid completely covers the mixture. The cake will now look like a complete disaster, but this is normal. Promise.
Bake for 27 to 33 minutes, uncovered, until the cake is semi-firm on top but bubbly and gooey around the edges.
Let the cake cool for 5 to 10 minutes before digging in. If desired, serve with ice cream.
— Recipe adapted from Angela Liddon’s Fudgy Mocha Pudding Cake recipe from "The Oh She Glows Cookbook")
It’s nearly May, and you know what that means, don’t you? CSA time!
For the past several years, I’ve been documenting how I use the CSA (community supported agriculture) box I get weekly through the spring, summer and fall from Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance. If you are new to the idea of CSAs, basically, you as a consumer make an agreement with a farm or group of farms to buy produce from them every week in a “share.” This means the farmers get guaranteed customers for a certain period of time and that as a buyer, you get fresh produce every week, usually at a slight discount.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved, in my opinion, but I’ve also done it for several years. If you’re newly signed up, it can actually be a bit daunting. Mostly because A: You have no or little control over which items you pick up each week; and B: Sometimes you have no idea what to do unfamiliar foods that can be part of the bounty (kohlrabi, anyone?).
Thus, in an effort to help keep all that local goodness from withering in your fridge (and mine), I’ve written for years about how I used my CSA box in hopes that it’ll help newbies and veterans alike use their produce and enjoy it.
That said, this CSA season, we’re going to try something a little different. Rather than writing about it each week, I’ll write monthly specifically about ideas for your bounty. Though I may write more frequently in the middle of the summer when we’re all drowning in tomatoes.
Fear not, there’s plenty of backlog in this blog for you to seek out if you need weekly inspiration. Just search and enjoy. Plus, this will allow me to write about gardening with kids, farmers market finds and other fun foodie things in the summer.
But, for those of you getting your first CSA box in the coming week or so, or who have overloaded at the farmers market with a bunch of pretty spring vegetables, I’ve got a great spring-y recipe for you to kick off the season.
My family signed up for my CSA’s “early bag,” which means we’ve been picking up local greens and other veggies for the past three weeks. And one of our favorite new recipes we’ve tried so far this season is from the cookbook I find the most helpful during the local growing season, Nancy O’Connor’s "Rolling Prairie Cookbook".
It’s a soup that helped us use up one of the hardest early veggies for me to finish: green onions. We enjoyed it with homemade veggie burgers, and it was the perfect addition.
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cups chopped green onions
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
6 to 7 cups water or vegetable broth (up to 1/2 cup of this can be dry white wine)
Several generous grinds black pepper
1 cup snow peas, sliced in half, on the diagonal (we used just regular peas)
1/2 to 3/4 cup cooked basmati rice (optional)
1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped green onions for garnish
Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat. Add green onions and ginger. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add soy sauce, water or broth and black pepper. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add snow peas. Simmer 1 to 2 more minutes. Serve immediately. A tablespoon or two of cooked white or brown basmati rice may be added to each serving if desired. Garnish with raw, chopped green onion. Serves 6.
— Recipe from "Rolling Prairie Cookbook" by Nancy O’Connor
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?
This past week was officially the last week of our CSA season. Though, because you’ll have to pry my fresh, local vegetables out of my cold, dead hands, it’s actually not the last week for us.
Rolling Prairie has a “late” bag and we’re signed up. Meaning, we’ll be getting veggies until Thanksgiving.
But, because I know most of you who come to this space for CSA cooking inspiration are finished, we’ll be moving on to your regularly scheduled program of recipes and cooking inspiration for the remainder of the fall, winter and part of spring. That is, after this blog and next week’s which will be a roundup of our favorite recipes from the 2013 CSA season.
So, how’d we use our “last” week of Rolling Prairie produce for 2013? We made a twist on something we’ve been making all summer: spaghetti squash topped with delicious sauteed items.
Last week we got eggplant, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, leeks, green onions and kale. The leeks and green onions were perfect for dressing our spaghetti squash, so we did that while snacking on cherry tomatoes.
The results were really, really tasty.
Green Onion and Leek Spaghetti Squash
1 spaghetti squash
2-3 green onions, chopped
2-3 leeks, chopped
1-2 bell peppers, chopped
1 tablespoon oil for the frying pan, plus a little to rub on the squash (we used coconut oil)
Marinara, as needed
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Halve your spaghetti squash lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and rub a little oil on the cut side. Place cut side down on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Bake 30 to 45 minutes, until the squash is soft and ready to be scraped into noodles with a fork.
Once the spaghetti squash has finished in the oven, heat oil over medium heat in a large frying pan/skillet/wok.
Add green onions and leeks, stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the peppers and stir until they’re heated through.
Split spaghetti squash into serving bowls, top with onion-leek-pepper mixture, marinara sauce and cheese, if using. Enjoy. Serves: 4.
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.
Last week, I hit the major personal parenting goal of getting the kiddo to eat salad. It was marvelous.
While I basked in the glow of that achievement for the rest of the following week, I also tried to recreate it. And I did. Multiple dinner times in a row.
Because, even though it finally got cold enough to turn on the heat, I really don’t want to believe summer’s over.
My strategy for this? Salads for everyone! All the time! Salad, salad and more salad.
I might be in denial.
So, anyway, my possible denial turned into a soup and salad night, using nearly all local ingredients.
We made our favorite butternut squash and apple soup using Rolling Prairie CSA squash and local apples from the Lawrence Farmers’ Market and then pieced together a delicious salad using delicate CSA salad greens plus local clover sprouts.
It was a delicious pairing, even if those lovely greens are about to go on hiatus.
Straight-Forward Seasonal Salad
Per each salad:
Two handfuls microgreens/baby salad mix
Several slices cucumber
Handful chopped carrots
Sprouts (to taste)
Balsamic vinegar (to taste)
Mix all the ingredients together and serve.
What’d we get this week? One giant sweet potato, cucumber, peppers, bok choy, salad mix, green beans, eggplant.
My kid really does eat amazingly well for a pre-K child. I’ve discussed many times that he does a pretty good job, even if he’s just like any other kid in that he’d take cookies over carrots any time.
That said, if there’s one thing I’ve barely ever gotten him to try, it’s salad.
I’m sure most parents have this problem. In fact, I’m pretty sure if I had a salad before age 13, it was probably just iceberg lettuce drowning in Dorothy Lynch. Totally healthy, of course.
So, I’m not one to expect a 4-year-old to eat salad. Even mine, who, like I said, does a really good job of eating his fruits and vegetables.
Therefore, I was quite surprised when the kiddo wanted to make salad as part of his dinner this week, we were all for it. His version of salad? Sliced CSA cucumbers, carrots and celery. Not a single leafy green in sight, but I’ll take it. His quote, while making sure I tried it: “Don’t put dressing on it, Mommy, it’s delicious.” And it was.
Meanwhile, we made our own Mommy/Daddy salad using more goodies we got from Rolling Prairie last week: Roasted sweet potatoes over CSA salad greens, topped with CSA roasted peppers, garlic olive oil and a bit of Landeria goat cheese.
What’d we get this week? Butternut squash, salad greens, new potatoes, sweet potatoes, radishes and bell peppers