Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Menus, Belated

Our first CSA pickup was last Thursday, and we're never going to manage to eat all these greens! It was a huge amount, and more coming tomorrow...but, we're valiantly trying, and it's a good kind of challenge. Local organic kale, lettuce, and spinach is not a bad thing to have in overabundance, even if it requires some creativity. (Though truthfully, the green onion overabundance has me rather stumped.)

Gorgeous 'Skyphos' lettuce -- it was almost too beautiful to eat. Almost...

Monday: Refried potatoes, butter lettuce (*picture above) salad bar, oyster mushrooms
Tuesday: Bean/kale/potato soup with sausages, cornbread
Wednesday: Tuna-noodle-spinach casserole
Thursday: Stir-fry with baby bok choy, pea pods, and garlic scapes
Friday: Pizza, kale chips
Saturday: Pupusas, salad
Sunday: The Usual



White Russian kale
Lacinato or Dinosaur kale

Monday, May 30, 2016

Monday Menus

Today: Polenta with cheese and tomato sauce, peas
Tuesday: Cuban black beans
Wednesday: Curried potatoes, corn
Thursday: Asian chicken salad
Friday: Pizza, some kind of fresh farm veggies for a side -- our first CSA pickup is Thursday!!
(CSA stands for community-supported agriculture, or in other words a weekly share of the season's goodies from a local farm.)
Saturday: Lovely pre-packaged, seasoned wild salmon (thanks, Costco!), rice, and cooked carrots
Sunday: Sourdough pancakes and waffles, applesauce, syrup, and bacon

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Menus

Today: I have a gigantic bag of tortilla chips, an avocado with no particular purpose, some experimental homemade salsa verde, a jar of regular store salsa, and some leftover Mexican crema from Cinco de Mayo. Oh, and there are tomatoes and lettuce in the house, and probably I can find a can of refried beans in the cupboard. Sounds like dinner-ish stuff to me, right? Sure.

Tuesday: Chef's salad
Wednesday: Tuna noodle casserole, carrots
Thursday: Potato salad, maybe some cooked spinach or some such on the side
Friday: Pork chop-rice bake, corn
Saturday: Baked beans, beets, bread or biscuits
Sunday: The Usual

Monday, May 16, 2016

Really Good Food Weekend

Besides the (impromptu) fancy pizza in the post below, last weekend had especially good food. Check out this honey-pecan shrimp for our brand new 16-year-old:

And then this black forest masterpiece for his cake (S. did the outer whipped icing, due credit for an awesome job):

Though shocking trivia, there's only a cup or so of flour in this whole thing.


Last year it was good as a double-decker with your goopy pie-filling in the layers; this year I went for the whole triple-decker it called for (using a springform cheesecake pan as a fill-in for a third cake pan), AND soaked it in cherry juice a whole day before serving it. We were all in such heaven!




Finally, for Mother's Day, my wonderful hubby made me cheddar-jalapeño waffles with sausages and peppers on top. 
It was the kind of weekend that definitely did damage to the waistline -- and we don't regret it a bit! 
Though I think we're all cooked out for a while.



Monday Menus

Monday: Probiotic ramen galore
Tuesday: Mulligatawny stew
Wednesday: Cauliflower gratin, baked sweet potatoes
Thursday: Dhal makhani
Friday: Pizza, chips and dip, lemonade
Saturday: Niçoise salad
Sunday: The Usual pancakes

A little note, I got fancier than usual with my pizza last week. I used a loaf's worth of my ooh-la-la artisanal bread dough for the crust, after reading about a related type of technique, and it turned out deliciously. If I started with an artisanal recipe meant for pizza, the result might even end up being mind-blowing. But it was one of those pleasant experiments that turned out pretty well the first time through. We all definitely noticed an increase in tastiness.


Until next week!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Monday Menus

Today: Pasta parma rosa, green beans
Tuesday: Mung bean and coconut curry, rice
Wednesday: Roasted potatoes, salad, peas
Thursday: Chicken chilaquiles, refried beans
Friday: Pizza, carrot and celery sticks
Saturday: A big ol' 16th birthday boy is having honey-walnut shrimp, black forest cake, and peanut butter ice cream
Sunday: Mother's Day, so I'm guessing some kind of breakfast in bed and goodies in general

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Menus

I missed last week's menus...I worked over 13 hours at my part-time farm job, plus travel time, so it cut into luxury pursuits like blogging!

But here's for this week.

Monday: Scones, vegetables au gratin
Tuesday: Stir-fry
Wednesday: Fish sticks, pasta with pesto
Thursday: Carrot soup
Friday: I'll try cooking that dopiaza I mentioned a couple weeks ago, along with a salad
Saturday: Baked beans, rice, beets
Sunday: Pancakes and waffles, applesauce, eggs
(Though, our electric griddle is out of commission since we lent it out and it came back with the wrong cord. We haven't yet been able to track down where the correct cord might have ended up, so we're using a frying pan in the meantime. Less elegant and efficient.)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Monday Menus

Chicken dopiaza

Mango lassi
We had a really delicious lunch on Saturday with a friend who showed me how to cook some of her excellent native Indian dishes. A basic urud dhal, a crumbled paneer dish, and chicken dopiaza, all with rice and roti, and mango lassi as dessert. It sounds all fancy-exotic, and it was in its way, but it was also earthy and flavorful and right up my alley. I had never cooked with paneer before, and probably would never have dared use such copious amounts of fresh ginger if I hadn't watched her do it and tasted the result; but there weren't really any ingredients there that I had never worked with otherwise. (Well, there was a specialty pepper or two, but they were sorta optional...)

So, I'm excited to try myself sometime soon. Even having spent two hours in the kitchen helping her, those first bites were really magical -- I couldn't believe those ingredients became that amazing food. As a side note, I'm proud of my kids too, they all dug in and loved the food, and it was really a fun time with the two families eating together. We were all very full when we went home.

So, tonight we get to enjoy some awesome leftovers she sent home with us.

Today: Leftovers
Tuesday: Sesame noodles
Wednesday: Baked potato bar
Thursday: My husband's fortieth! He requested 'something delicious with vegetables, especially eggplant', and blitz torte. So I'll go with ratatouille and poached eggs, and possibly a kale salad mix from the store.
Friday: Ramen for the kids, while S. and I are going out for another guy's surprise 40th birthday party. Pretty sure he won't read this blog and ruin the surprise. :)
Saturday: Baked sweet potatoes, fish sticks
Sunday: The Usual, but with bacon instead of scrambled eggs


We also tried these really cool little Indian candies, local to our friends' childhood home, that are apparently not in US stores anywhere.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Monday Menus

Today: Chef's salad
Tuesday: Cuban black beans
Wednesday: Corn chowder
Thursday: Lasagna
Friday: Sesame noodles
Saturday: Salmon burgers, roasted carrots, salad
Sunday: The Usual

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Pie and Sauce

I still don't really know what we're eating this week -- we're on Spring Break, caught between a major yard sale one weekend and a bathroom renovation the next -- but here are a few things we had recently:

Steamed asparagus and (ta-da!) hollandaise sauce for Easter.
My 'Eggs Kristin' recipe, made extra-nice with some avocados a friend bequeathed us on their way out of town. 
(Toast, fried egg, a white sauce with a tang of mustard and curry powder, and avocado.)



And, a while back, pecan pie for Pi Day, March 14th.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday Menus

Today: Asian chicken salad
Tuesday: Mushroom pizza
Wednesday: Tostadas with refried beans and salsa verde
Thursday: Niçoise salad
Friday: Minestrone
Saturday: Eggs Kristin (eggs and curry sauce over toast), mixed veggies
Sunday: Easter dinner combined with some friends, TBD

Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday Menus

Today: Pies! Still TBD, but most likely a pecan and an apple, and maybe a salad to round out our food groups a little.
Tuesday: Curried potatoes, artichokes, roasted carrots
Wednesday: Chilaquiles and frijoles
Thursday: Pasta with pesto, salad
Friday: Pizza, mixed veggies
Saturday: Niçoise salad
Sunday: The Usual

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Menus

Trying to get back into the groove after a week away for a family funeral. Both the groove of cooking (hallelujah, I had a nice break) and the groove of eating a little more healthily. In my extended in-law family, we don't have TMI moments, we have TMF. As in, even in death, my mother-in-law still provided Too Much Food. And when I stepped on the scale back at home yesterday, whooey! There are a few rather hilarious food stories from this past trip, but I'll save them for a family blog post.

This week --
Monday: Rice, garlicky green beans
Tuesday: Pasta with pesto, garden salad
Wednesday: Pan-fried fish, cornbread, cooked cabbage
Thursday: Carrot soup
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Burgers and such at a church dinner
Sunday: The Usual pancakes

Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday Menus

Monday: Spaghetti, garlicky green beans
Tuesday: Cuban black beans
Wednesday: Pad thai
Thursday: West African peanut soup
Friday: Fish sticks, tomato soup, corn
Saturday: Chef's salad

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Menus

Monday: Tagliatelle with peas and creamy saffron sauce, cooked carrots



 (Sounds fancy, and I suppose it is in a way, but I literally had not figured out what to cook for dinner until an hour before. Mix a little noodle dough and roll it out, put a few saffron threads in some hot cream, simmer it all. Yay. Plus I've had that saffron for years and never use it. I'm not even sure it actually tastes like anything, but for the price I'd better pretend that it does!)

Tuesday: Bean soup, simple side salad, bread
Wednesday: Vegetable pot pie
Thursday: Chicken stir fry
Friday: Niçoise salad, popcorn
Saturday: Pizza and mixed vegetables, both straight from the packages in the freezer
(We'll be coming back, hungry, from my daughter's choir concert an hour away)
Sunday: The usual pancakes

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Meat Dishes

I have, at last, done a little more work on the cookbook blog. Check out
littleredhencooks.blogspot.com
for my meaty dinner recipes.


And also, I'm reposting this greatly entertaining statement I read:
"Before [promises of ease in the kitchen took hold in the 1940s and 50s], books about cooking largely admitted what every homemaker knew to be true: that feeding people was backbreaking work, and then you died."
(It came from an article in the Atlantic, here.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Book Picks of the Year


Today, instead of menus, I'd like to look over my favorite books from last year. I had my best reading year ever, at least according to my stats on Goodreads; I finished 36 books, and rated 14 of them at 4 out of 5 stars.


Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry, was one I never would have read without my book club 'making' me; but it turned out to be wonderful. Really very sentimental, despite its Wild West façade.

The best part about it, though, was reading large chunks of it out loud with my husband. He'd read it before, of course, but it had been a while and it was a tender experience to go through it together. And maybe we both cried, I won't tell...

Then we had a movie marathon night as book club ladies and watched the miniseries, which was also just delightful.

Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith, was another stellar book, though it was probably R-rated. But it was just so good, and again, it was one my husband and I found to read out loud and really enjoyed. During that book, we looked forward to bedtime like never before, and scrambled to get the kids down and go relax and read together.

The story is a police procedural-type mystery set in 1980's Russia, and it was really hard to put it down and go to sleep when every chapter felt like a cliff-hanger. The main character is well-drawn and intriguing, and both S. and I have now read the next two books in the same series, though not out loud. There are 3 or 4 more with that main character, and I plan to get through all of them eventually -- though it's good to take breaks between such intense books.

Post Captain, by Patrick O'Brian, is another book that's part of a large series; in this case it's book #2 of the Aubrey & Maturin epic, which runs to 21 volumes. It's basically my husband's favorite series and author in the entire world (closely followed by Elmore Leonard), and he's wanted me to read some for years.

I tried a time or two but couldn't get into it, though we read #3 (H.M.S. Surprise) out loud ten years ago, not long after the movie Master and Commander, and I found it all right with his company helping me enjoy it. I didn't take up the series on my own, however.

But it seems that for some reason, this author's style and flow is much better when spoken aloud with your favorite person, because I thought this recent book was so interesting and funny. We laughed out loud often and heartily, and still can make each other instantly smile with inside-joke quotes from the story.

This particular volume is set mostly on land, though it's a naval series, and S. likes to describe it as Jane Austen-esque in its attention to dialogue. All the naval officers (Napoleonic era) who are so comfortable commanding a ship, braving the seaman's life of danger and uncertainty, are completely out of their element when 'peace breaks out' and they're subject to a gauntlet of debt-collectors and ladies in upper-class drawing rooms. Though of course, there are still great sea battles in the story to round things out as needed.

I won't go into intense detail on the rest of the books I might recommend from my 2015 list, but here are a few more, both fiction and nonfiction.


Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal -- A lightly magicalized version of Pride and Prejudice.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple -- A funny send-up of suburban mommyhood, with a little bit of a mystery woven in.
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr -- A surprisingly good addition to the WWII historical fiction genre, this book has won so many literary prizes that it can be quite a wait to get it from the library. Worth the wait.

Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, by Steven Strogatz -- This went right along with some of the online courses I've taken in chaos theory and dynamical systems, but even aside from that, a good and interesting layman's read as well.
The Legal Analyst: A Toolkit for Thinking about the Law, by Ward Farnsworth -- We had to get this one on interlibrary loan, but my husband and I both found it very clear and insightful. (And he's already a lawyer!)
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert -- This was fascinating and eye-opening, and I found myself talking about it and thinking about it a lot in other contexts while I was reading it.

Oddly, I only read one food-related book in 2015 (if you don't count cookbooks) -- The Third Plate, by Dan Barber. I only rated it 3 stars at the time and felt like it was a little too, I don't know, esoteric and on the fringes of what average citizens like myself could care about. But then throughout the rest of the year (I read it in January), I kept seeing news and ideas and farm philosophies (as I got my new job at the farm) that went right back to a lot of what he had written. So it turns out the book had more relevance than I expected, and I'd say it's a decent pick to read.

Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Artisan Breads

I've still been experimenting tons with various fancy-shmancy artisan loaves. Today I baked a batch of white-with-poolish. 

I know, what a name, I had been procrastinating trying it because I almost felt embarrassed to be working with something so strange- and foreign-sounding. But it turned out fine, though I still prefer the richer flavors of real sourdough levain. My kids, however, love what we're starting to refer to as 'restaurant' bread.

Here are a picture or two. To go with all the soup this week.


This was the poolish bread. If you look closely in the holes, you'll see the glossy crumb of a long-risen, well-fermented loaf.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Menus -- Soup Season!

We finally got our first snowfall, with more on the way, so we've been enjoying hot cocoa, slippers, and our long weekend to hibernate. Also, soup.

Monday: Asian chicken salad, tapioca (the most amazingly creamy homemade, large-pearl batch we've ever made)
Tuesday: Caldo verde, beets
Wednesday: Mulligatawny
Thursday: Sesame noodles
Friday: Corn chowder
Saturday: Chef's salad
Sunday: Pancakes, applesauce, scrambled eggs

Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday Menus

Monday: Split pea soup, beets
Tuesday: Carrot soup, bread
Wednesday: Tuna melts, tomato soup
Thursday: Dhal makhani
Friday: Spaghetti carbonara, garlicky green beans (this has been one of our favorite menu items lately)
Saturday: Taco salad
Sunday: The usual pancakes