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DSC_0042We have a new addiction: refrigerator pickled veggies. We’ve always been big fans of regular refrigerator pickles (our favorite recipes to come once the cucs start coming), but this year, I had one week where I inadvertently ordered 20+ pounds of carrots and way too much cauliflower from the co-op. It turned out to be a very fortuitous mistake because I experimented with pickling them both – and they were delicious, easy, and addicting!

Make these soon – you’ll be eating more veggies in no time!

Pickled veggies
Adapted from Food in Jars (also a wonderful cookbook – check it out!)

Ingredients

1 cup filtered water
1 cup apple cider vinegar (make sure it’s commercial vinegar that is at least 5% acidity)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tsp crushed bay leaves
1 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 tsp coriander
1 clove garlic, sliced

1-2 pounds carrots, peeled and trimmed into long sticks (so long as they fit in your jar)
or 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces

Optional additions: small onion (sliced), jalapeno (sliced)

Directions

Pour the water, vinegar, salt and spices into a small saucepan. As it comes to a boil, pack your veggies and garlic into a freshly washed jar.

Bring the brine to a boil, then pour it into the veggie-packed jar, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace.  Screw a lid on the jar and let it cool down. (The lid may seal during the cooling process, but this doesn’t mean that it’s safe to store outside of the fridge). Once the jar has cooled, put it in the fridge. I like to wait 2-3 days to eat up so that the veggies have time to absorb the flavors. They should last about 3-4 weeks in the fridge, but ours never last that long.

Easy tip: once you’ve eaten all of the veggies out of the jar, just add more veggies in the existing brine, adding a bit more brine based on the directions above if/when needed. We can usually get two uses out of one batch of brine before having to make more.

The next recipe reminds me of bread and butter pickles. Growing up, my favorite after-school snack was to make a sandwich out of bread and butter pickle slices and cheddar cheese. These seem like a grown up version.

Bread and butter pickled carrots
Adapted from Food in Jars

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups filtered water
1 tablespoon coriander
2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of powdered ginger

1 pound carrots, peeled and trimmed into long sticks or sliced into “coins” – your choice

Directions

Prep your carrots and set aside. Bring the brine ingredients to a boil. Add the sliced vegetables to your clean jars. Top off the jars with the brine. Let cool, and then put in the fridge. (Alternatively, these can be processed for ten minutes in a boiling water bath).

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This picture is so hideous-looking that I’m reluctant to even include it, but I promise this stuff tastes better than it looks! We get grass-fed beef from a local farmer who processes the whole cow into ground beef instead of going to the trouble of butchering the cow into separate cuts. It is so delicious that we make sure that we always have a stock in the freezer. That being said, I’m always looking for new ways to use ground meat because it’s inexpensive to find local, pastured ground beef (and pork and venison).

I made this about a month ago, and it’s made it into our meal rotation. It’s easy and tasty. It is a nice change of pace from our usual burgers, meatballs, taco night drill.

(Ground) Beef Stroganoff
Adapted from Easy Real Food

Ingredients

1 pound ground meat
2 tbsp butter (or fat of your choice)
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (if desired)
2 tbsp flour
2 cups stock
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Brown meat. When the meat is about halfway done browning, add the mushrooms and butter. After the mushrooms have browned, add the diced onions and continue cooking until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic and cayenne and saute just until you start to smell the garlic. Then add the stock. Cook down for a few minutes. Add the flour to the sour cream and mix thoroughly. Then add the sour cream mixture to the meat/mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over brown rice, potatoes, or some sauteed spinach or kale.

wendellFrom a Sabbath poem:

Because we have not made our lives to fit

our places, the forests are ruined, the fields eroded,

the streams polluted, the mountains overturned.

Wendell Berry

 

 

So we’re going on vacation in a month. To a beach. Without kids. We may or may not be counting down the hours at this point. We also would like to eat and drink whatever we want on vacation and not worry about it too much. So we decided to “do a Whole30,” which is basically a more stringent version of the paleo diet, for 30 days: no dairy, sugar, alcohol, grains or legumes. I also read Good Calories, Bad Calories in the midst of all of this, which has really just made my head spin. I’m still reading and thinking and learning lots, so I won’t make any conclusions yet, but even just three weeks of this Whole30 thing has taught us a few things:

  1. We really eat pretty “paleo” already. We only eat real, whole food. We only eat sustainably-raised meat from local sources. We eat mostly vegetables and a lot of them.
  2. We eat a lot of beans. Beans are forbidden on the Whole30 (read here for why), and I really think that has been the hardest thing to get used to. I’m already planning on adding legumes back into the diet, but my research has reminded me of the benefits of properly preparing them.
  3. We use carbs (even whole grain ones) as fillers when we could easily use a more nutrient-dense substitute. For example, we have these free concerts at a park close to our house on Thursday evenings in the summer. I usually make a few appetizers and head over there to as many as possible. For the past several, I’ve made dips, but served them with carrots or broccoli or cauliflower instead of chips. Or we grill out a ton when it’s warmer, and we’ve been having (local, happily-raised) brats or burgers on greens instead of buns. I don’t want to cut out carbs altogether, but I think we’ll certainly be using them much more sparingly in the future, even though I don’t think we ate it quite as much as we thought we did.
  4. I stay fuller longer without carbs, especially sweets.

I’m not a dietitian or anything obviously, so do what is right for you, but I do think this little experiment has been helpful for our family. It is a little bit more difficult to do paleo as a vegetarian, even though I think when you think “paleo,” you think a big plate of meat, which I don’t think is really accurate. I made this for Meatless Monday one week, and I think it will become a staple around our house. The sweet potato and turmeric give the frittata a totally different taste than what we’re usually used to, so it was an easy way to spice things up.

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Frittata with sweet potato crust
Adapted from The Nourishing Gourmet

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, shredded
1 onion, diced
2 cups (about 6 large leaves) kale, chopped finely
6 large eggs
1/2 cup milk (almond or coconut milk on the Whole30)
3 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
1 tsp turmeric
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper

Optional: 1/2 cup cheddar or Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. A food processor with the shredding attachment makes this whole thing about a fifteen-minute meal. If you have a food processor, shred the sweet potato, then dump the sweet potato, oil, turmeric and onion into your pan (I like to use a cast iron pan for frittatas so that it’s a one-dish meal). While that is sauteing, mix your eggs, milk, and thyme in a bowl. De-stem your kale, and put the leaves in the food processor with the regular attachment. Pulse the kale until it is in small pieces. (If you don’t have a food processor, you’ll just have to shred the sweet potato and chop up your kale – it’s still a quick meal). Once the sweet potato mixture has softened up a bit, push it down into the pan to form a crust. Add the kale over the sweet potato crust, and let it cook at medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes. The heat will harden the sweet potatoes a bit into a crust, while also letting off a little steam, which will cook the kale. If you’re using cheese, spread some over the kale, and then pour the egg mixture over the kale, making sure the eggs seep into all of the nooks and crannies. Remove from the heat and top with some salt and freshly ground pepper. Put in the oven for about twelve minutes or until the eggs have browned a bit in some spots.

 

 

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We use a lot of lemons around our house. They are one of those definitely not-local things that we tend to have around the house. A little squeeze of lemon can take an ordinary dish from boring to delicious. A little olive oil and lemon juice make an always delicious dressing for any salad. And we don’t drink much besides water, tea, and coffee, so a treat for me is a lemon shake-up (basically just the juice of a half of lemon + ice water!).

I can’t even remember where I read this originally, but I found a very simple way to get more juice from your lemons: slice them long ways. For some reason, slicing them from end to end instead of down the middle (like I always used to do) produces quite a bit more juice than the other way. I also roll it around on the counter first to separate the skin a bit from the fruit, which also helps produce more juice.

Just an easy tip to get more bang for your buck out of your citrus!

In the June 2013 issue of The Progressive magazine,

The solution, many times more complex and difficult, would be to go beyond our ideas, obviously insane, of war as the way to peace and of permanent damage to the ecosphere as the way to wealth. Actually to help our suffering of one man-made horror after another, we would have to revise radically our understanding of economic life, of community life, of work, and of pleasure. We employ thousands of scientists and spend billions of dollars to reduce matter to its smallest particles and to search for farther stars. How many scientists and how many dollars are devoted to harmony between economy and ecology, or to amity and lenity in the face of conflict?

To learn to meet our needs without continuous violence against one another and our only world would require an immense intellectual and practical effort, requiring the help of every human being perhaps to the end of human time.

This would be work worthy of the name “human.” It would be fascinating and lovely.

Wendell Berry

I loooove garlic, so the few weeks that all of those garlic scapes come from the CSA are like Christmas. I think they taste like a green onion and a garlic clove had babies, which are really two of my favorite vegetables (alliums, but whatever), so my weird excitement is not all that surprising. I usually make garlic scape pesto, freeze it, and add it to salad dressings, pasta sauce, meat marinades, etc. I had a ton of garlic scapes though, so I decided to make a little dip, as well. I saved a few extra scapes to just add to salads and soups that I’ve made over the past few days. Since they’re milder than an actual garlic clove, they’re really versatile.

DSC_0001Garlic scape pesto
Adapted from Food52

Ingredients

1 cup garlic scapes
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Throw all of the ingredients except the olive oil in your food processor and pulse until everything is well blended. Then, with the processor on, pour in the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. I like to freeze my pesto in ice cube trays because that makes the perfect portions to add onto roasted veggies, mix with some extra oil for a salad dressing, spread on some tasty bread with some tomatoes for bruschetta, or to add a little something extra to pretty much any soup. Be adventurous!

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Creamy garlic scape dip
Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Ingredients

1/2 cup garlic scape pesto (above)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
Dollop of sour cream (optional)
Handful of Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Directions

I made the pesto, filled up an ice cube tray with it, and then used the leftover pesto in the food processor to make the dip to minimize the dishes. Just add the yogurt and sour cream (if using) to the food processor, and mix thoroughly. Serve with veggies or pita chips as a dip. Or we used this on baked potatoes, which was delicious. I also mixed it in with the yolks of some hard boiled eggs for deviled eggs too, which was super easy and tasty too. Feel free to experiment!

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Pizzology is one of our favorite treats – they support lots of local farms (and breweries!) by using locally and seasonally-sourced ingredients as much as possible. They have this grilled romaine salad that is so delicious. I attempted to recreate it last week, and it was so easy! I used romaine, but I think you could easily use red or green leaf lettuce too – just remove the outer leaves for a regular salad, so that you’re left with the tighter cluster of lettuce.

Grilled Romaine Salad
A Pizzology Copycat

Ingredients

1-2 heads of romaine
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Fresh herbs (if available) – we used basil and oregano because that’s what we had in the garden
Handful of cheese (optional) – we used feta above, but any blue cheese or Parmesan would be delicious too
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat grill until it reaches at least 350 degrees. Wash and thoroughly dry the lettuce. Cut the romaine hearts down the middle, but not all the way, so that the base keeps them mostly intact. Drizzle the romaine liberally with olive oil and salt and pepper. Grill for a few minutes on each side until slightly charred. Remove from grill, squeeze the lemon juice on top, garnish with fresh herbs and cheese if desired. Serve immediately.

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This is a little random, but I figured it might help a few people, especially during allergy season. Do you neti? (yes, I just made that a verb) If you don’t, I highly encourage you to try it. It’s a little freaky at first, but it’s a lifesaver if you suffer from allergies and/or sinus infections. My only beef with neti-ing is those little packets of the saline mixture that you buy…they’re so wasteful! I couldn’t find anywhere that sold the stuff in bulk, so I decided to make my own. I saved a little spice jar that was empty and started experimenting. Now this may not be the most sanitary thing in the world, but we’ve been using it every week for the past two+ years and haven’t noticed any differences in efficacy over those wasteful little packets.

It took some experimenting, but we settled on a ratio of 60 percent salt to 40 percent baking soda. We use sea salt with no additives (you definitely want non-iodized salt). I usually add  a scant 2/3 cups of sea salt and a heaping 1/3 cups of baking soda to a bowl, and then mix thoroughly. Then I use a funnel to dump it into my jar(s) of choice. When I’m ready to neti, I add a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of the saline mixture to the neti pot, add the eight or so ounces of water (I just fill to the line on our neti pot), and neti away.

I find that I only have to make this 2-3 times a year and that makes enough for both Grant and me to use it most weeks during the winter and spring.

If you haven’t been to Spencer’s (or your local you-pick strawberry farm if you’re not in central Indiana) yet this season, you better hurry – I think this is peak week. We’ve been twice already, and I’m trying to find some extra time to go back before the end of the week. I’ll have some more recipes to come, but this is Grant’s favorite way to use up local strawberries besides just popping them by the handful directly into his mouth. I double the topping (hence the “double” in the name) of the original recipe because Grant loves the topping best.

I picked up some rhubarb at the farmer’s market and froze it in batches, so that I can make some of this in the middle of January to remind us that spring is coming (and for Grant’s birthday in September!).

Double strawberry rhubarb crisp
Adapted from Five and Spice

Ingredients

4 cups rhubarb, chopped into one-inch pieces (fresh or frozen)
2 cups strawberries (the local strawberries don’t need to be sliced and hulled, but if you buy those supermarket ones, you’ll probably need to)
½ cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup warm water
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ cups butter, cut into chunks

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine rhubarb, strawberries, honey, and vanilla in a pot. Turn heat to high until the rhubarb and strawberries start to boil and cook for a few minutes more. Stir in the water and cook, stirring, until it thickens, just a minute or two. Remove from the heat.

In another bowl, mix together all the topping ingredients except the butter. Add in the butter and blend it in with your fingers until the mixture is soft and crumbly (this is a great job for a four year-old!).

Butter a 9X13 baking pan, pour in the strawberry-rhubarb filling. Spread the topping in top. Bake for 45-50 minutes until it’s bubbling and the topping is golden. Allow to cool, so that it sets up a bit. Serve on its own or with whipped cream or over ice cream. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it…

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