Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Harvest Monday: Hoop house spinach

March 12, 2012

With warm temps and sunshine, the hoophouse spinach is beginning to grow more quickly.  We invited Dan’s mom to join us for lunch and to give the new stove a workout. Dan picked about half a pound of spinach destined for pizza and salad.  I sautéed some spinach with garlic and olive oil, spread it on the dough and added feta cheese and thinly sliced red onions.  (It was pretty tasty even though I forgot to salt the spinach while cooking it, which makes a huge difference.)

Garden sourced toppings included my roasted tomato sauce, home-grown garlic, and pesto from my basil.  The final pizza was caramelized onion with blue cheese and walnuts.

The new range performed like a champ.  The convection feature makes a big difference.  The crust was tender tasty, and lightly charred on the bottom, the toppings cooked, the cheese browned.  It was so good, someone couldn’t wait to taste it!

The spinach in the salad was sweet and tender.  I am so happy to be eating from the garden again!

See what other gardeners are enjoying on Daphne’s fabulous urban gardening blog, Daphne’s Dandelions.

Mamma’s got a brand new… range!

March 10, 2012

Long time readers will know I do a lot of canning, enjoy cooking and baking, and love to make pizza.  Well, my pizza/canning/cooking tools have been improved:  Henbogle has a brand new range.

Dan and I were shopping for refrigerators, looking to see if there is one that will fit our quirky kitchen’s space, (there is not) when we learned my gorgeous new range was available at 60% off.  Agonizing about buying a range when it wasn’t on the list ensued.  Dan talked me down, pointing out that the old range was going to need oven repair as the igniter was unreliable, and that new ranges with the features I wanted would cost more than the new range did on sale.  Sensible, is the Dan man.  The range has 5 burners, including a super hot burner in the middle perfect for bringing a full canner to a boil, grates that will make it easier to move said full canner around on the stovetop, and a convection oven.

Yesterday, my new baby came home.  We christened it with cast-iron cooked comfort food:  grilled cheese sandwiches.  Pizza tonight!

Occupy Henbogle

February 28, 2012

The Rain Forest Action Network organized a day of social media action today around food supply issues, calling it Occupy Your Food Supply.  Although I’m crazed with work this week, I still decided I wanted to participate in some way.  Thus, I decided to cook as nearly 100% local meal as possible and blog about it. So here we are at Occupy Henbogle headquarters with tonight’s dinner:  Spicy Shrimp and Grits.

The grits were made with stone ground Painted Mountain Corn grown just a few miles away at Fairwinds Farm.  It was seasoned with Maine sea salt and some of my Cowboy Candy, finely diced, and graced with some delicious Hunter’s Seriously Sharp Cabot Cheddar.  The local Maine wild-caught shrimp were made with sea salt, my garlic, local beer, local bacon from Ruit Farm North, and chile and pimenton from unknown lands.  Served with a fried eggs from you guessed it, my backyard.  If I’d planned better, I would have added spinach from my backyard, but opted instead to keep it local.

Knowing my readers, I’m preaching to the choir about the need to re-diversify our food supply, support local farms and farming, pay fair prices for locally produced foods, protect farmland and our environment, and keep our supplies of seed secure and safe.  But if you don’t know much about these issues, the link above to Occupy Your Food Supply is a great place to start, and your next stop should be your local farmer’s market or a nearby farm/csa program.

Oh, and dinner?  It didn’t photograph well, but man was it tasty!

Super sprouts for a snowy Sunday

October 30, 2011

The forecast was right.  It began snowing at about 8 pm and snowed hard all night,  big heavy wet flakes of snow.  This morning, the snow is packed down and doesn’t appear to be that much in volume, but the shrubs and plants bowing under the snow tell the tale more accurately.

To take my mind off the hideous weather, I tried a new recipe today, Dilly Brussels Sprouts.  I tasted some made by a Maine company, Mike’s Maine Pickles, and once tasted, had to make them for myself.  I found a recipe for them in my old Ball Blue Book, and yesterday at the farmer’s market, bought 7 stalks which became about 7 lbs of sprouts (I have 4 plants in my garden, but am saving them for fresh eating).

Dan helped me prep the sprouts last night, and this morning, I turned them into pickles. Here’s the recipe I used, from the 31 edition Ball Blue Book, published in 1988.  I noticed Mike’s recipe used dill weed and mustard seeds, and I did not.

I can hardly wait to taste them, but they should sit for about a month or so to mellow.  I’m counting the days….


October 20, 2011

Saturday Dan and I picked up some apples at our local orchard.  I was itching to make a pie again, so we purchased a selection of cooking, dessert, and utility apples.  The utility apples all had some damage from a bad hail storm that hit the area in late August, but were otherwise fine.  We got half a bushel, and I spent a good part of the day on Sunday turning it into applesauce.

Being naturally lazy, I just wash and quarter the apples, remove the blossom scar, throw them into a big pot, adding a little cider, and cook them until they are soft.  The skins impart a nice rosy shade, and probably add a few vitamins too.

I then use my trusty tomato press to sieve the apples, removing the peels, cores and seeds.  Once through the press, the sauce is ready to process or freeze.  I prefer a sauce on the tart side, so I never add sugar before canning — I can always sprinkle a bit of sugar or add some maple syrup or honey when I’m eating it.  This batch, made with unknown varieties, proved plenty sweet anyway.

I like canning it in half-pint jars to take to work for lunch or a snack.  In such small quantities it might make more sense to freeze it, but freezer space at Henbogle is at a premium just now, so I chose to can the whole pot.  A half bushel of apples translated into 38 half-pints of sauce.  At the end, I ran out of small lids so I have a few larger jars.

Homemade applesauce is inexpensive and delicious.  It would make a great learn to can project.  We’ll be enjoying this all winter.  I’m going to include this post as part of Robin’s Thursday Kitchen Cupboard series on her blog, The Gardener of Eden.  Check it out to see what other gardeners are putting up for the winter.

Crisp over pie, Bittman? I don’t think so!

September 12, 2011

I enjoy reading Mark Bittman’s column in the NY Times, and I’ve learned a lot from Bittman, but he disses pie in favor of crisp in his most recent column, saying “It’s that pie crust adds little to a fruit dessert apart from heft and calories.”  WRONG!

First, don’t you know how to make a good crust yet?  A good pie crust sets the stage and allows the fruit to shine with a beautiful and delicious vehicle to carry it from plate to mouth.  Second, all that cinnamon, and oats and nuts in a crisp distracts from the fruit, the supposed star.  No star likes to be upstaged, especially by some nut.

And by the way, Bittman, cornstarch is a bad choice to thicken fruit desserts (or much of anything in my opinion).  First of all, it is too gloppy when it does thicken, (recalling the horrors of cafeteria desserts) and it doesn’t consistently thicken due to the varying acidity in fruit.  Tapioca is a much better choice, and flour is terrific in some pies, such as apple.  Harumphh.

Show me a streusel-topped crisp that is as mouth-wateringly appealing as any of these pies, and I’ll reconsider my stance.

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Canning chaos

September 11, 2011

Annie’s Salsa and roasted tomato sauce in process, with more tomatoes awaiting attention.

I love my tomatoes, but I wish I could get them to ripen before I return to work in the fall, especially since by the time I’m done with the tomatoes, it’s grape season, and by the time I’m done with that, I need a firehose to clean my kitchen.  Sigh.  At least the eating is good!

Sage advice

July 31, 2011

If you haven’t been using the sage you grow in your garden, it is time.  Purchase some butter, yes real butter.  Since you are at the market, you might as well pick up some fresh pasta, too. Then, make Sage Butter Sauce with Parmesan for dinner.  Trust me, you will not regret it.

The other day, we had some friends come for a visit and dinner, so I decided it was time to use up some sage.  I made the pasta, but also experimented with another way to use sage — Chicken with Sage, Prosciutto and Parmesan.

I pounded some chicken breasts flat, then trimmed them into uniform pieces.  I sprinkled freshly ground black pepper and some Smoked Sea Salt on the chicken, then layered prosciutto, sage leaves and shaved parmesan.

I had hoped to roll them, but didn’t get the chicken thin enough so I folded them, brushed them sparingly with oil and cooked it on the grill.  I served it with the pasta and fresh garden veggies and it was divine.  I am looking forward to trying that again very soon.  Fortunately, I have more company coming for a visit this week.  My former student Ellen, now a college graduate, is coming to Maine for a job interview.  I am thinking we might have to try this dish again while she is visiting.  And of course have some lobster, too!  And ps, send some good vibes to Ellen for her interview!

Salad dazed

June 6, 2011

I picked more lettuce this morning, and washed all of it and prepared it with my salad spinner, then packed it in my largest plastic container.  There’s probably 3 lbs of lettuce and spinach all ready to be thrown in a bowl and eaten.  I line the bowl with a clean (kitchen use only) cotton men’s hankie, which absorbs the moisture from the washed leaves so they stay crisp, not slimy.  I love my convenience foods!

Dan and I are eating a lot of salads these days.  I read with interest Daphne’s post about garlic scape salad dressing, and thought I need to shake things up and try some new salad dressings.  So tell me, what are your favorite salad dressings? What do you like to put in your salads?

One of my favorites is Lemon Parmesan Dressing, especially with an arugula salad.  Wow.  I drool all winter thinking about it.  I have several dressings listed in my recipe blog, Yankee Pantry, which can be accessed through the categories drop down menu.  Please share your favorites with me!


EDIT 6/7/2011

I awoke this morning thinking about another terrific summer salad which mixes savory and sweet, fruit and greens, with Maple-Lime dressing and blue cheese.  My friend Nikki taught me this recipe years ago, and I think it will be on the menu for tonight.

Why didn’t I buy a bigger fridge?

June 4, 2011

It is the time of year where the food comes in almost faster than I can eat it or give it away.  From the upper left:  Clear liquid=hummingbird nectar, pickled golden beets, mayo, pickled beets #2 (why?), box of cleaned lettuce, salad spinner tub with cleaned lettuce, & spinach, one lone beer (I hope more are in the back!), asparagus, cheese bin, tub of spinach #2 with red lid, bolting pac choi from the hoophouse, more lettuce…. And the produce bins below hold the last of the farmer’s market carrots, and sadly, some supermarket cabbage, peppers and cukes.

Every summer I wonder why refrigerators are not designed better for storing produce.  And then I remember I’m a freak.  Sigh.  Is the answer a larger fridge, or a second small fridge that runs only in the summer and fall?