Week 11 CSA 2012: Carrots and Beets, Roasted in the Oven

How gorgeous can you get? Yum!

BEETS!!!

I’ve been waiting all year for them. I don’t really know what’s wrong with me exactly, but I’m obsessed with roasting beets and eating them. Warning to newbies: your pee might change colors and be slightly pink. Last year I thought I had some kind of infection, but this year I was not worried one bit. I roast them with olive oil and salt. I also fried up the greens (I think one of you kind readers told me last summer that the tops of beets are edible) and pureed them into tomato sauce (another tip from a reader).

Russian Red Rain

 I just don’t want to see that green again. I’m sorry, but it was not my favorite.

Lettuce is a far more comfortable green for me. It’s also fun to shoot with a camera (yeah, I’m weird).

Tomato Mountain CSA: Carrots, Beets, Red Russian Kale, Lettuce

Mrs Q’s News: Ancient Poop, Chefs, and A World of Giant Food

Three links for this Monday:

  1. Ancient Poop Gives Clues to Modern Diabetes Epidemic — “The native people who lived in the deserts of Arizona would have likely eaten traditional stews with glycemic indexes around 23.” That’s really low. And they ate “thousands of years of incredibly fibrous foods, 20 to 30 times more fibrous than today’s typical diet.” Truly fascinating.
  2. Chefs recall their least favorite school lunches and dream about how they’d fix them. Cute.
  3. And for fun: Big Appetites: Miniature People Living in a World of Giant Food.

(In anticipation of the move, I pre-scheduled this post. Please continue sending those positive vibes my way!)

Moving, moving, moving

When you read this, I’ll be sweaty, dirty, and possibly close to exhaustion. We’ll be in the midst of a move. I won’t be near a computer, that’s for sure.

I mentioned before that I moved a lot as a child. Many of those were cross-country (back and forth from Wisconsin and some western states). As an adult I’ve continued moving frequently. And while I have moved every three to five years since graduating from college, I’ve lived in the general Chicagoland area now for 13 years. That counts as stability in my world.

Being from the Midwest, I claimed Chicago as my own like many people in my generation. And if you’ve never visited, I really have to insist that you must. It’s a big city that feels small. You know, I really love living in Illinois. I guess I need to apologize to some of my Wisconsin friends now. Many Wisconsin people that I know love Chicago, dislike Illinois. Strange rivalry between the states.

Although I briefly considered a move back to Wisconsin, I couldn’t convince my husband that was wise financially. After much soul searching, I realized that some of what pulls me in that direction is of course family, but even more nostalgia and escapism. My husband and I met while we were in college in Madison at the University of Wisconsin. Those were great years. Every time we go up to Madison to see family, we have fun. It’s tough not to think of all the fun we could have if we lived up there full-time, but really our lives are here. Moving out-of-state was nothing but a fantasy.

So we’re staying in Illinois, but still moving. I’m not going to reveal where in a public space, but it’s farther away. I need more space and I’ll be a bit closer to my home state. We bought a house so we will be putting down some real roots. I’m committed to not moving every three to five years in my son’s life. I want him to know what my husband experienced (since he virtually never moved from age two through high school): a safe neighborhood, a family home, and a community.

The real point of this blog post is that I need you to send positive vibes my way. I expect the move to be…well, I expect the unexpected. Then I’ll be without out internet for…24 hours? 48 hours? I hope it’s not as bad as it was the last time I moved. We didn’t have internet for three weeks! I didn’t have a smart phone then and I wasn’t blogging, but I was desperate to check my email (after I put my son down I would leave my hubby at home and run out to a coffee house with my laptop for a precious hour of connectivity). Now I’m blogging and doing lots of stuff online — internet access is critical, but at least I have my smart phone to keep tabs on the world.

So, if you read this, please send me happy, calm thoughts! Even though I’ve done this before, I’m getting a little anxious to say the least.

Week 10 CSA 2012: 3 Uninspired Ways to Eat Up Strawberries

I didn’t do anything creative with our strawberries, but none were wasted. Here’s how boring I was (and you can be too!):

1) Snack on them “straight.”

2) Make strawberry pancakes. Just chop and add them right to the batter

3) Put them on your cereal.

I really, really wanted to make a strawberry pie, but I couldn’t find the time. How lame is that? Maybe I was a little bit scared, too. I haven’t ever made strawberry pie before (and certainly never gluten free).

Now don’t forget there is a major delay in my CSA posting — life just got in the way. This box arrived at my door more than a month ago:

Garlic scapes

Rainbow chard

Lettuce

For those of you hanging on until this series is over, I’ve just got a couple more weeks to post (and I think I’ll double up on CSA posts next week) and then I’ll wrap up my CSA blog posting.

It’s the height of the growing season so farmer’s markets are overflowing with produce. For the rest of the summer (after I wrap up CSA posting next week), I‘m going to be blogging about what I buy at the farmer’s market and how you can incorporate more fresh fruit and veggies into your diet.

Tomato Mountain CSA: Strawberries, Garlic scapes, Rainbow chard, Lettuce, Tokyo Bekana

Day 10, Eat at home Challenge: Did you make it?

Our dog

Eating at home means eating with your pet. Our dog spends virtually every meal with his head on my husband’s leg. He doesn’t beg by whining, but instead just sits there with his entire head on my husband’s thigh. If he’s too hot, then he passes out on the tile floor under the table.

How did you do eating at home for ten days? I have to say that the first ten days (before I even blogged about it) were easier than the second (when I started blogging about it). My creativity dissipated over the course of the second ten days. We’re moving so I’ve been shopping less and eating down our reserves, which is part of the problem. We just don’t have the food to go around. Twenty days of eating at home prior to a large move? Definitely not the best idea ever, but I really have figured out my “triggers” for eating out. The biggest one being “no food in the house.” Ahem.

There’s still time to enter the giveaway for a coupon holder (the saying on the front is priceless). Please leave a comment on this post or any of the previous posts.

What did you learn about yourself eating at home? My key learnings:

  1. I need to menu plan more often. I just don’t feel on top of all my meals. So I just joined a meal planning service: The Fresh 20. Maybe that’s what I need.
  2. I underestimated how frequently we eat out as family. By focusing on eating at home for practically the whole month of July, I’ve become more mindful.
  3. I underestimated how much the cost of eating out. Again, now that I’m aware, I’m more focused on money. Mindfulness is so important.

Previous posts:

Mrs Q’s News: Summertime, childhood, and fast food marketing

My son with a dragonfly — (My husband caught it only because it was already on the way out…)

I hope that you are enjoying summertime as much as I am. It’s been so nice to get all this sunshine. I could do without the extreme heat, but I’m making sure to get 10 minutes of rays per day without sunscreen. I don’t know if you remember, but right after I completed the school lunch project, bloodwork revealed that my level of Vitamin D was very low. It was the winter and many people’s reserves of Vitamin D diminish over the winter months. Additionally, I have since discovered my gluten intolerance and that indicates some degree of mal-absorption of nutrients in my gut. All that to say, I don’t think it was the lunches.

Now I am sure to restock on Vitamin D every summer, while I can get it without taking a pill. Read up on how much Vitamin D does for our bodies (who knew it acts as a hormone?) and I think you’ll be converted, too. If you suspect that you might be low, consider talking to your doctor about having some blood taken.

Without further delay, here are some news tidbits for your enjoyment:

1) The Rise and Fall of the American Childhood — Childhood has completely changed over the past 100 years. Some things for the better, but others for the worse. This article resonated with me.

2) When fast food marketing to kids is restricted, they want fast food less. From the article: “In Quebec, for the last 32 years, it has been illegal for fast-food companies to advertise to kids in print or electronic media. Researchers estimate that, as a result of this ban, children in Quebec consumed 13.4 to 18.4 billion fewer fast food calories per year, and spent $88 million less on fast food than they otherwise would have. And guess what? Quebec has one of the lowest childhood obesity rates in Canada, despite the sedentary lifestyle many children tend to lead there, according to the study.”

3) Two-thirds of the United States is under a drought. The USDA is declaring 1,000 counties is 26 states as disasters. Anyone think food prices are about to spike? This is coming as poverty in the US is on track to rise to its highest since the 1960s. I’m thinking that all of this will turn into the perfect storm for the National School Lunch Program…

2012 CSA Week 9: What to do with garlic scapes

Garlic Scapes

 I find Garlic Scapes to be delicious and interesting. They are strong raw, but a little sauteeing makes them a bit more to my liking. I’d describe their flavor as a cross between garlic and an onion. I use them in place of onions and or garlic in any stir fries. They are really versatile like garlic and actually last a long time in the fridge. Chop them, fry them in a little olive oil, and then use them any way you want. I fried them with some chard and it was a wonderful little side.

Can you spot the bug? There was a little passenger

 

 

 

It was another bounty — again this is delayed so these were my spoils from June. I like the mix of familiar (lettuce, spinach, green onions, strawberries — even scapes) with more challenging. Maybe after I do this for a couple years all of it will be familiar to me.

Tomato Mountain CSA:  Garlic Scapes, Lettuce, Green onions, Yukina Savoy, Russian Red Kale, Strawberries.

Day 5, Eat at Home Challenge: Failing as a Cook

Pretty tomatoes at the farmer’s market. I didn’t buy one.

[First post: Eat at Home Challenge: 10 Days in the Kitchen]

The more you eat at home, the more prone you are at falling on your culinary face. I hate it when I ruin a meal and then have to cook the next night. I sound spoiled when I say that, but I usually feel like eating out the next night. I just want to escape the kitchen.

When I had my first car accident in high school, my dad came home from work and immediately tossed me the keys. He wanted me to get behind the wheel again and not be afraid of driving. I was very nervous about that because I had spun out on a cold December day with the hot, long-haired, guitar playing, German exchange student and my best friend in the car. I only dented the car on a small birch, but I gave my friends a major fright and humiliated myself. I’m grateful to that birch because that tree and its little friends prevented the car from going straight down the embankment into a large pond.

There’s no culinary equivalent to a car accident, aside from burning down your kitchen, I guess. But my dad taught me a life lesson that maybe I haven’t fully internalized yet. It’s important to keep trying even when you are ready to give up.

I mentioned some successes in the kitchen in my previous post including my first decent risotto and then a good “white girl” Pad Thai. Well, I didn’t mention that I screwed up baked drumsticks AND stuffing that same week (two drumsticks were undercooked at the bone and 25% of the stuffing was hard as a rock). How white am I if I can’t make stuffing, right? It’s times like this where I’m grateful for my husband, Mike. He’s willing to eat anything with minimal complaints and then helps me out by excusing it. “Stuffing is supposed to be in the bird where it stays moist — don’t worry about it.” I didn’t have a bird so all was forgiven.

Mike was my culinary victim again when I made a spaghetti sauce from a jar that I couldn’t tell if the contents were good. In my defense, it did come from the farmer’s market and smelled okay when I opened the jar. Using a method my mother employed constantly when I was young, I decided to “jazz it up.” I sauteed and pureed some chard and stirred it into the sauce, turning it a greenish. I had to try it and found it was very spicy. I grabbed the jar to see that one of the ingredients was Thai peppers?! So my husband had to eat that sauce by himself that night (since my son and I can’t handle spicy food) and I had to frantically find something to cover my noodles. Mike commented that it didn’t look very much like spaghetti sauce. Dagger to the heart. When my son asked us to do “Cheers” with our water glasses, I simply stated to my husband, “I hope the food doesn’t make you ill.” I’m happy to report that he did not suffer after the meal was over.

But then tonight I made a tamale pie, which was astoundingly good and simple. I never poured a batter onto another stew/sauce before so I hoped that it wouldn’t be raw after it baked. The meal was a huge hit all around. Wow, redemption! Feels good to be back in the driver’s seat.

How are things going with your Eat at Home Challenge?