Archive for June, 2010

June 29, 2010

Picky no more?!

Loyal readers, the picky eater prepared the meal pictured here with her dad last night…. and ate every last bite.  Something appears to have happened while I have been focused on the chaos of my day job.  So, I came home last night after a long day, and the house was quiet.  I walked into the kitchen to say hello and found the picky eater engaged in intense food preparation with her dad.  There were two large chicken breasts being thinly sliced, a pile of lemon basil waiting to be chopped, a farmer’s market peach, and multiple cherry tomatos from our garden.  As I watched, they prepared an herb crust with zatar and lemon herb seasoning and lemon basil, prepared not one, but two salsas (one sweet and one tangy), and sauteed the seasoned chicken pieces. 

Prepared and served beautifully, the best part of this entire meal was that the picky eater not only shared in the cooking, but sat down and ate the entire thing, chicken and both salsas.  I am still in awe, and not really sure how long this will last, but it was really fun to watch her dive into the process and eating with such enthusiasm!

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June 13, 2010

A Multitude of Berries

Berry season is here!  Berry season is here!  Notwithstanding the protests of the berry-hater, the Family Foodie indulged in many, many varieties of berries today at the farmer’s market.  Thank you, Westmoreland.  The colossal blackberries are here, sweet as candy.  Strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and raspberries completed our berry stash.  As well as berries, we bought a few early peaches, and some adorable apricots. 

It was actually a treat to go to the market without having to think much about the green part of our diet. Our CSA has made sure that we don’t need to worry about that….and can I say that the lettuce from Potomac Vegetable Farms has been delicious!!! Pickled beets, brocooli raab and orzo salad, multiple mixtures of greens, and fresh mint in our iced tea will make for a wonderful local food weekend.

June 9, 2010

The First CSA Pickup: Gotta Love ‘Em Greens

The time has come.  Our first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) pickup was yesterday.  I must admit to being quite excited…you don’t know what’s going to be in your bag until the morning that you pick them up, so I got to spend the past week dreaming about what I could be eating this week.  The other members of the family aren’t all on board yet, but I am planning to convince them with all the wondrous meals that we’ll be preparing this summer :)!

Dreaming became reality when I picked up:

  • 1 head endive
  • 1 head red butter leaf lettuce
  • 1 head green butter leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch beets
  • ½ lb of fava beans
  • 1 lb of broccoli raab
  • Garlic curls
  • 10 salad turnips
  • 1 bunch mint

Yum!  When we picked up yesterday we still had one small head green cabbage and ½ head of fennel remaining from our visit to the Falls Church Farmer’s Market, so I needed to make sure that those were incoporated into our (new) weekly meal planning.

So, what are we going to eat this week?!

Tonight, we made an Italian inspired chicken, garlic curls, cabbage, and capers sautee, with farmer’s market butter (from Blue Ridge Dairy), olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar.

I think this falls into the Ditch the Recipe category – I knew that I wanted some protein (the chicken), wanted to add some crispy vegetables, with a little sauce to flavor the starch that accompanied the meal (egg noodles in this case).  Given that I needed to use the cabbage, and wanted to try the flavor of the garlic curls, I decided to move into an Italian flavor by using the olive oil plus balsamic combination.  Sprinkled with a lemon-herb spice mixture, and served with fresh parmesan, it was quite tasty.

We rounded out the meal with featured local produce: a three-lettuce salad with fennel and shaved Parmesan, and a baguette from Lyon Bakery stand at Union Station that I bought on my way home tonight.

For the rest of the week, we’ll make:

And, then, we’ll revisit the pantry and make a plan for the Farmer’s Market on Friday.

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June 6, 2010

Reflections on Meal Planning

Our first week following a meal plan described in our earlier post was quite successful.  Having a complete meal plan meant that our week was not characterized by the “what do you want for dinner? I don’t know, what about you? Let’s see what’s in the fridge/freezer.” conversation that has become typical in our house….and it meant for a pleasant week.  And it didn’t really influence our ability to be flexible and spotaneous.  We followed the script pretty closely until Wednesday night, when the man of the house had a late meeting, and the picky eater had dinner with friends followed by a soccer game at 7 pm.  The boys were left to fend for themselves  – and prepared ramen noodles with pulled pork – which they were quite pleased with.  Thursday we then had a choice – spaghetti and meatballs or lentil salad — and wouldn’t you know, we made neither!  Instead, I had come across an old favorite recipe as I was thinking about possible dishes for next week (an excellent outcome of meal planning), and we had what we needed to make it – so we made that instead.  In the theme of pasta, but a different, lighter sauce (ham, Kalmata olives, lemons, fresh thyme, olive oil) with linguine, accompanied by lightly steamed broccoli.  And then, as planned on Friday night, we visited The Butcher Shop at the Westover Market, and ended up ordering kielbasa sandwiches  – which were delicious!

The hope of less waste was realized – we ate nearly everything produce-related this week, and what remains is durable and can be incorporated into our food planning this week.  I only ended up needing milk yesterday, which is technically the new planning week.  And, I didn’t hear as much complaining about the lack of snacks.  So far, so good.

Our planning for this week is a bit off cycle – we raced in the Race for the Cure yesterday morning, and so didn’t make it to the farmer’s market.  And since our first CSA pickup of the season is Tuesday evening, I think our planning will be pantry focused for the first couple days of this week.  But we already know that tonight we are having the Salade du Lentilles du Puy originally planned for last Friday – accompanied by a vinegar-mustard-olive oil new potato salad.

June 5, 2010

Making Pulled Pork

We love barbeque, and in our opinion, there’s nothin’ like North Carolina BBQ.  We have many stories about BBQ that we plan to share, but readers of this post only need to know that when we travel, we seek out BBQ.  For decades, my husband, his dad, and anyone accompanying them in the trip to or from Ocracoke Island, NC learn that one of the two mandatory stops is for BBQ.  Over the years, the places we’ve eaten have changed as roadside stands have gone out of business or reopened as restaurants, but we all look forward to a plate of pulled pork as a marker of the journey. Because we love it so much, the man of the house decided to learn how to recreate the North Carolina pulled pork sandwich in family-sized portions, and that is what we made for our Memorial Day weekend treat.  For any of you interested in trying it yourself, a recap of the process is below. 

Step 1. Clear the calendar, ‘cause this is an all day event.

Step 2. Prepare the grill, preferably a Weber, with a deep well where you can keep the coals far enough away from the meat while it cooks. For our family of five, a smoker is not necessary.  Make sure you have enough charcoal and wood chips and chunks.  Remove the grill upon which the coals rest when you usually grill, and place the coals directly on the bottom of the bowl of the grill. Light the charcoal and get your coals going good.  Then, move them to one side and add a good amount of hickory smoked or other hardwood chips – a mixture of small chips and bigger chunks – ‘cause you really want this fire to burn for a long time.

Step 3. Cut the 4 pound pork butt that you plan to smoke in half.  One piece should be bigger, the other smaller.  The different sizes of meat will cook differently – one softer, one a bit drier, but when mixed together, the sandwich will have texture.

Step 4. Rub the pork butt all over with a dry rub.  While there are many variations on this theme, the husband relies on lots of paprika, some red cayenne pepper, a little salt, much pepper, a good amount of sugar, and some chili powder if there is any around.  The key is to have a sweet and spicy mix of flavors, and the sugar is critical to the outer crust of the meat.

Step 5. Place pork on the grill, on the other side of the grill from where the coals are.

 

Step 6.  Wait until coals have established a reliable base, and then put the top on the grill with ventilation open at bottom and top. The flame will go out, but the heat will remain, and the grill will just smoke. This is good, because the goal is to maintain the smoking for 7-10 hours or so.  Periodic checking will reveal that the meat is slowly smoking….

 

Step 7.  About half way through your estimated cooking time, rotate the meat so that the other side is facing the coals.  As the meat cooks, the dry rub will form a hard outside crust – looking burnt, but never having been touched by flame.  The crust that forms aids the cooking and ensures that the meat will be  crazy tender.

Step 8.  After 8 hours or so, the meat is ready.  Take out those chunks of meat, cut them in half to release the heat, and be amazed as the meat falls off the bone.  Let the meat cool enough so that you can hand-shred the meat.  Rip it up into fairly small sizes –mixing the soft inner meat with the drier meat from the small piece, and the burnt bits of crust.

 

Step 9.  Then, make the vinegar sauce.  Mix ¾ cup of apple cider vinegar and ¾ cup regular white vinegar.  Then add hot or pepper sauce (Tabasco in our house), salt, pepper, and not too much else.  Mix meat with vinegar sauce.  There shouldn’t be much of a liquid residue left, it should be absorbed in the meat.

And then, serve on buns with additional sauce (a current favorite is Scott’s Barbeque Sauce) and/or a vinegary coleslaw, and enjoy!

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