Wednesday, June 27, 2012

CSA Week 4

Cabbage: another thing that appeared in our CSA box that I wasn't sure I liked in any form, but turned out to be delicious. We also got a couple of cucumbers, so I thought some kind of cabbage-and-cucumber pickle or tangy salad would be good. I found this recipe for a cucumber and napa cabbage slaw, and adapted it just a little to what we had on hand - mainly just using a smaller amount of cucumber, and regular (?) green cabbage instead of napa. Yum. Lime and cilantro is one of my favorite flavor combinations. To avoid actually doing any cooking, we had some of Trader Joe's frozen barbecue chicken teriyaki, but I think it would be pretty good with fried chicken too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Despite appearances, this has not become a cooking blog, and to prove it here's an update on my yarny projects:

Progress on the Villeray scarf! Obviously, I am going to have to get over my wimpy attempts at blocking to make this look decent when I'm finished, but in my eyes it's beautiful right now, especially after the tangled mess of last week. I'm pretty proud of myself for finally gaining the concentration or muscle memory or something to not skip any yarn overs, so for the past few repeats of the pattern I've been counting stitches just to make sure, not to find out where I made an inevitable mistake.

Also, because one project is nowhere near enough:

Another stash-busting attempt, using the African Flower pattern. The idea is to make enough hexagons for a pillow cover, or a couple of pillow covers (I'm also doing a purple-green-brown version). This should use up the Vanna's Choice and the Bernat worsted that have been lurking in my yarn box for four years.

Yes, I am still seized by the urge to obliterate my stash. It's like an itch in my brain knowing I still have so much unpleasant acrylic to use up. For a while I justified saving up my craft-store-yarn collection because it is pretty good for making amigurumi, which is still my first love - but then it occurred to me, or I admitted to myself, that actually, no, it's not very good even for that. Some of it is scratchy and unpleasant to work with, and the rest of it is splitty and unpleasant to work with. I don't want to sound like too much of a yarn snob, because I actually really love Lion Brand's cotton for amigurumi, and there are some other good cotton yarns at the big craft chains too. I just am completely out of love for the icky acrylics I stocked up on almost five years ago and it is time to use them up and make room in my yarn box for nicer things.

Like these Avengers mini skeins that I have no idea what I would do with, but urgently need.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Garlic scapes

Since I follow a couple of cooking blogs, I was aware of garlic scapes and that they were something elusive and cool, but I had not tried them, or even seen them, until we got a bunch in our first two CSA boxes. I relied pretty heavily on this post from Serious Eats for ideas and I was pretty happy with how everything turned out. I'm not sure I'm really turning into a fan of garlic scapes, but I liked trying something new.

For the first week, I made scape pesto following the recipe at the bottom of the above-linked page. I didn't really have a sense of what garlic scapes tasted like so I found the pesto a little overwhelming. It wasn't bad, but I think if I make it again, I'll follow the suggestion to use half scapes and half another herb, to cut the peppery-sharp taste a bit.

The second week, I made edamame hummus from this recipe, and compound butter following these instructions. I liked both of these better than the pesto, I think; the hummus had two scapes in it and the butter had three. The butter is especially nice, but then, it's butter.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Quesadillas with chard, zucchini, and black beans

Our first zucchini of the summer came in this week's CSA box, along with some more chard, which coincided perfectly with this recipe that my mom had just emailed to me. It made a perfect summertime dinner and would have been better only with a cold beer, but I'm still figuring out Pennsylvania's liquor laws.

Quesadillas with Chard, Zucchini, and Black Beans
adapted from Cultivating Sustainability


  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini (or any kind of summer squash)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium bunch of chard, chopped, including stems
  • 1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 oz shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • sour cream and/or salsa, for serving

In a wok or other large frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and zucchini and saute until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the chard and beans and saute for another 4 minutes, or until the chard is tender. Season with salt to taste.

Lightly oil another frying pan or skillet, and heat over medium heat. Assemble the quesadilla (either right in the pan, like me, or on a cutting board if you are better than I am at transferring it): sprinkle some cheese over the tortilla, add about 1 cup of the chard mixture and spread it out evenly, then top with more cheese and another tortilla. Cook until the bottom tortilla is browned, then flip the quesadilla and continue cooking until both sides are browned.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, and/or any other toppings or sides you like.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Two fennel salad recipes

Based on a single experience with a roast chicken and fennel recipe, we were pretty sure that we didn't like fennel. So I wasn't too thrilled to get a bulb of baby fennel in our first CSA box, but decided to make the best of it. And it turns out that fennel is not so bad, especially raw in salads. We got another fennel bulb in our Week 3 box, so I tried another salad variation. Both are good, and I apologize to fennel for judging it so harshly before.

Fennel Salad with Spinach, Orange, and Feta
adapted from these two Bon Appétit recipes


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs finely chopped shallot
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 6 oz baby spinach
  • 1 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
  • 3 oranges, segmented
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Whisk the first four ingredients in a small bowl, and season with salt and pepper.

Divide the spinach among four plates. Scatter the sliced fennel and orange segments over. Sprinkle with feta and drizzle with the dressing.

Beet, Orange, and Fennel Salad
adapted from Bon Appétit

  • 5 baby beets*
  • 3-4 oranges
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • sea salt

*This was all we had, and for me it was enough, but use more and/or larger beets if you like.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash the beets, place them in a small baking dish, and cover them with foil. Add 1/8" water to the dish. Roast beets until tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes for baby beets.

Meanwhile, segment the oranges. The instructions from the original recipe are: "cut all peel and white pith from all oranges; discard. Working over a medium bowl, cut between membranes of 2 blood oranges to release segments into bowl; squeeze juice from membranes into bowl and discard membranes". What I did was cut the oranges into segments, slice off the peel from each segment, and squeeze the little bit of juice from the inside of the peel into a bowl. Whatever works to give you a couple tablespoons of orange juice.

Add orange zest and lemon juice to the bowl.

When the beets are done, run them under cold water to cool and peel them. Slice thinly.

Divide fennel, red onion, beets, and oranges among four plates. Drizzle with orange juice mixture and olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Bonus! Tomato and Fennel Salad with Feta

This isn't really a recipe, just something I did to use up the leftover fennel from the first round. I chopped up about four tomatoes, then mixed them with the leftover fennel slices (maybe about 1/4 cup by that point), a handful of the fennel fronds, 1/4 cup of feta, and balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. Pretty good.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Beef stir fry with snow peas & green onions

For a while now, I've been posting links to recipes I've tried as @foodlings over on Twitter. I've let it lapse for a couple of months, first because of the move, and then because of the CSA. Not that I haven't been cooking a lot these days, but I have to use what's in the box, which means I'm modifying recipes or just sort of making things up. It's hard to convey all of that in a tweet, and I can't just link to a single page all of the time now.

Except, I have a blog! Yes, it's taken me this long to realize that I could explain all of my variations or write out recipes here, and link to my own posts. I've shied away from posting recipes for a long time because there are so many good, well-tested recipes out there from so many experienced cooks/bloggers. And, I don't usually have any food pictures to post, my excuses being a) I don't have any nice serving dishes or plates and b) I'm too hungry by the time I'm done cooking to stage a photo shoot.

But I don't want to let my foodlings Twitter lapse, or lose track of all the things I've made this summer, so here we go.

I can offer this picture, where you can sort of see the two things I used in tonight's dinner:

Beef Stir Fry with Snow Peas and Green Onions


  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 small bunch of green onions, cut into 2-3 inch strips
  • 1 lb beef, sliced into strips
  • 1 pint snow peas
  • 2 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • 2-3 tbs soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

In a bowl, whisk the rice wine vinegar, cornstarch, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

Heat 2 tbs oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ginger for another 30 seconds.

Add the green onions and saute them for 2-3 minutes or until they start to get soft. Add the beef and cook until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Add the snow peas for 2-3 minutes.

Pour the soy sauce mixture into the wok and stir it in well with the beef and vegetables. Let it cook another 1-2 minutes, then serve with rice.

Since this is a stir fry, there are really no rules. For example, I like my green onions pretty soft but if you want them crispier, you could cook them for less time. Adjust cooking times and ingredients as you like.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Villeray & rick rack

Last week, I finally got around to casting on Villeray. The pattern has been in my queue for several months and I bought the Neighborhood Fiber Co. yarn I mentioned a few posts ago for this scarf, but in the midst of moving and such, I didn't have the mental energy to start a new lace pattern. But, it's really not that hard. I'm probably getting way ahead of myself, since I still have to count after I finish every lace row to make sure I didn't forget a yarn over, but I think maybe lace will be my knitting "thing". It is what attracted me to knitting, after all.

As usual when I start a new pattern, for the first couple of days all I wanted to do from the moment I got up until I went to bed at night was work on this thing. And then this happened:

The middle of the ball was a complete wreck. So wrecked that I had to re-wind it from both ends to get it fixed, temporarily turning my knitting into a scary bird-as-spider-prey looking thing. But after a few hours of that, I'm ready to go again.

In the meantime, I finished my rick-rack scarf, which I will not post a picture of here because I couldn't get a good one at this time of the evening. I'm not especially thrilled with it so I think I might donate it. It was a nice tv project though, and a good way to keep burning through that irritating purple yarn - now I only have most of one ball left.


scapes! Today I made the edamame hummus and compound butter, as planned, using two scapes in the hummus and three in the butter. Both are very tasty, based on my sampling.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New home

I've been quiet the past few weeks because my attention has been focused on setting up our new apartment. We had internet from day one (priorities) but I haven't had much to say, since unpacking and arranging is only so interesting. But that project is pretty much finished now, and I'm starting to get back into what I consider to be normal life: cooking, eating donuts, making yarny things.

On the cooking front, we signed up for a CSA. We're in our second week and I'm enjoying it so far, although we've gotten chard, kale, and more chard in the first two boxes. I thought those were winter vegetables? It's slightly unfortunate in that most of the things I like to make with those vegetables - casseroles and soups - really don't go well with summertime in an apartment without air conditioning.

Other than the above-mentioned leafy things, we've also gotten lettuce, spinach, garlic scapes, baby fennel, green onions, mushrooms, fresh garlic bulbs, rosemary, and a couple kinds of cheese. The first week I made sautéed greens with cannellini beans, garlic scape pesto, ginger-scallion noodles with shrimp, and a salad with baby fennel, oranges, spinach, feta, and a shallot vinaigrette, inspired by combining these two recipes. To my surprise, since I thought that I didn't like fennel in any form, the salad was my favorite.

This week's box is in the photo above. Last night's dinner was mushroom and greens gratin (okay, but way too wintery) and I'm thinking of using the scapes in some edamame hummus and/or some compound butter.

On the yarny things front, today I'm planning my first visit to the local yarn store, and on the donut front, tomorrow is donut day and there's a bakery a few blocks over that I've got my eye on.