Archive for August, 2010

August 30, 2010

Meatless Monday: Long Live Lentils


Preparing meatless or mostly meatless meals is becoming a more and more regular occurrence in our household…and the boys are loving it.  As we were preparing dinner: Green Lentil salad, Roasted Potatoes and Yellow Peppers, and Heirloom Tomato and Cucumber salad, the boys emerged from the basement, noses first, and asked what was for dinner.  A quick peek in the bubbling pan, and an unauthorized look into the oven, and there were exclamations of joy all around…except for the picky eater (but she is another story altogether). 

Although I have not been a consistent full-scale meal planner this summer, we have been doing a much much better job at eating everything in the fridge.  And the meatless meal described above reflects what we had in the kitchen that needed to be consumed prior to tomorrow’s CSA pickup.  The red onions onions, yellow peppers, red potatoes, fennel, hierloom tomatoes, cucumbers, as well as the fresh thyme and bay leaves were all from local sources – our CSA, our farmer’s market, and our own garden.

Every recipe is easy and painless to prepare.  All that is required is a good knife, high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and some cookin’ music.  A step-by-step guide is below:

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees or so.  Quarter small red potatoes, half a red onion, and a yellow pepper. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika.  Place in the oven.  Let them roast while you get going on the other parts of dinner.

Second, follow the Lentilles du Puy salade recipe on David Leibovitz’s blog.  Get the lentils in some boiling water with a fresh bay leaf and fresh thyme. Slice and dice carrots, onions, and fennel.  Sautee.  Add the vegetables to the lentils when the lentils are done (after about 25 minutes).  Drain, if necessary.  Then mix up the olive oil, balsamic, and some good dijon mustard, and add to the lentils.


 And while the lentils are cooking, slice up the wonderful variety of tomatoes you bought from the farmer’s market, add sliced cucumbers from your garden (as well as the ones your neighbor brought over for you to eat), and toss well with a balsamic dressing.

Dinner is served.

August 26, 2010

Picky Eater Meal Plan

I try not to isolate one of my kids too much when I blog, but tonight’s dinner merits a post.  For dinner, we had a simple meal plan: steak (marinated over the course of the day in a sesame-soy dressing), sweet potato fries, and a salad which incorporated arugula, fennel, yellow peppers, and yellow squash from the CSA.  Simple, sweet, and to the point.  I even cut up extra yellow peppers and put them in a bowl separately for my picky eater.  No contact between the sweet potato fries and the steak on the plate. And then, she comes to the table, takes four sweet potato fries, eats her yellow peppers, puts her head down and refuses to touch her steak.

At this point, her dad asks her if she’s going to eat her steak and fries.  No response. Again he asks. Again the silent treatment.  Finally, he says, that she needs to let him know if she’s going to eat or not.  If not, he says, then she will need to prepare her own dinner.  A head shake signals no, she gets up, and this is what she comes back to the table with:

What, you might ask, is this?!?!  Salami, ham, melted swiss cheese, between two cinnamon toast Eggos.  I don’t know what to say, other than she won’t go to bed hungry, and she did also eat half of a fresh yellow pepper.

August 25, 2010

Kids cook and draw too!

Wait – they have a kids’ version – need to add that too!! Kids Cook and Draw.  Maybe I can convince my foodie kids to participate….

August 25, 2010

Coolest Food Blog to Date

Check out this site: They Draw and Cook.  While I can’t draw to save my life, my cooking has improved.  Full of inspirations! Enjoy!

August 21, 2010

Back to the CSA

You don’t know how lucky are….

Nothin’ like a little music to sing along to.  After missing two weeks of our CSA because of vacation, I was totally psyched to get back to DC to pick up our CSA.  Who would imagine how much I would miss my weekly produce allottment…

What was in the bag this week?

  • Lots of tomatoes (it’s August after all)
  • A salsa kit
  • Two beautiful round eggplants
  • Several ruby-colored heads of lettuce
  • Three cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Sweet red peppers
  • Fennel
  • Thai basil
  • and some greens.

It’s been so fun to jump back in and figure out how to use the treasure of the CSA delivery.  Okay so maybe that’s a bit overstated – but that’s what I’m currently feeling!  Here’s how we’ve been making good use of it.

1. Grilled eggplants and red peppers (seasoned with dried orange mint from our garden)

2. Pasta served with fresh tomato sauce (no cooking necessary – just a little tomatoes, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, onions, garlic…) and parmesan!!

3. Tomato, cucumber, feta salad

4. Green bean, dried shitake mushroom, fresh cremini mushroom stir fry served with Exotic rice blend from “The Valley Pantry”; ruby-red salad with cucumbers and fennel

5. Salsa served with torta.

What remains?

Random greens

Some fennel

Some Thai basil

Yippee yeah!

August 18, 2010

Ocracoke Clam Chowder

So we’ve been on vacation for the past two weeks, and what counts as local eating has been a bit different from normal… Over the past several decades, we have vacationed on Ocracoke Island in North Carolina, and every year, we make Ocracoke Clam Chowder. 

The path to chowder requires some hard work, however.  For those of you unfamiliar with Ocracoke, it is famous as Blackbeard’s favorite hiding place, and as one of the greatest beaches in the world.  The reason for both of these facts is that it’s not easy to get to for most of us.  For those of us in Northern Virginia, you have to drive 7-8  hours just to get to the ferry, which after a 40 minute crossing will get you to Ocracoke. Once you get there, however, the pace of living slows dramatically, and life becomes all about sleeping, reading, going to the beach, and eating…!  Hours are spent planning what to bring with us to prepare, but we always know that at least one of our nights will be a seafood feast, anchored by Ocracoke Clam Chowder.

On an overcast morning, midway through our holiday, the boys and men of the family slather on sunscreen and bug repellent, head over to Tradewinds, rent clam rakes, and then head over to their favorite spot on the Pamlico Sound to get the clams for dinner.  While there is often discussion of where that favorite spot actually is, (not here, but it’s an awfully great picture of the Sound), they eventually get there. 

And then, they begin to search.  The little boys will use their feet and hands to seek out the clams, but are typically in charge of the cooler, and the larger boys and men use the rakes.  Quotas of clam acquisition are always set, and are generally exceeded.  This year, the group brought back 107 clams (the little boys contributed 6 clams to this process, the large boy got 22, and the one adult male at the beach is responsible for the rest).  Here’s the haul. 

Since we had a small group this year (only 8 of us), there were more than enough clams to make a chowder to feed us all.  

After the clams are brought back to the house, they need to be rinsed, and placed in the fridge for several hours. Now is a good time to go to the beach.  When you get back, you can easily open the clams (for clams on the half shell with lemons and hot sauce as a treat during the chowder preparation), and put the remainder in a pot of water on the stove to steam open.  While they steam open, there’s quite a bit of chopping to be done (onions, potatoes, corn).

After a bit of time, the clams will open,

and then it’s time to extract the clams from the shells.

After all that, the 107 clams look like this:

And it’s time to put all of the ingredients (clams, potatoes, onions, corn) in 6 quarts of water, and let them bubble gently.  And then you add some fried salt pork to the pot, and you wait.

And then, you eat:

Accompanied by sautéed shrimp caught by local fishermen in the morning, and fresh corn bread, it was indeed a Seafood Feast.

And for those of you wondering, the Picky Eater had macaroni and cheese with her cornbread. Sigh…

Following the basic recipe by Edna O’Neal that is laid out in the Ocracoke Cook Book, here’s the version of Ocracoke Clam Chowder we made this year.

Prepare the ingredients below:  

  • 3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels cut off
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 3 pints clams, chopped
  • 6 quarts water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. salt

Bring the above ingredients to a boil and then simmer about 2 hours.  Meanwhile, fry out 2 thick slices of salt pork.  Add pork and grease to the above; cover.  Stir occasionally.  If water gets low, add a little hot water.  When potatoes are tender, clams are ready.

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August 1, 2010

Eating the Rainbow – CSA Week 8


It’s so easy to eat well when the colors of the rainbow all come in one quite heavy bag.  I’ve been thinking about eating nutritiously as of late, and remembered one of my favorite ways to make sure that we were doing that…making sure that our plates are multi-colored.  As you sing along to ROY G. BIV, here’s the rainbow in our CSA bag, with a little help from the farmer’s market.

  • Red:  Tomatoes
  • Orange: (okay this is from the market, not the CSA) – peaches, cantaloupe, and carrots from last week’s CSA
  • Yellow:  corn, yellow squash from last week’s CSA, onions
  • Green:  swiss chard, peppers, zucchini, cucumber, squash, cabbage from prior week’s CSAs
  • Blue:  and there are blueberries from the market in the fridge
  • Indigo: blackberries
  • Violet: eggplant, red onions

As you can see, the rainbow lives in the Family Foodie’s house.  Now, it’s time to follow the rainbow to the pot of gold at the end.

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