Archive for August, 2012

August 21, 2012

Food Trucks Invade The Beach

We love Ocracoke because it is beach and just about only beach. There is a town, but there is no boardwalk, and the beach is just beach. Like so. Usually a bit more in focus, but you get the  idea.

It’s been two years since we’ve been here, and since then, food trucks have come to Ocracoke. This is not a problem on my account.  In fact, all of the family foodie was ecstatic to see additional eating options.

The boys immediately got on their bikes and headed over to Eduardo’s Taco Truck after the beach yesterday,  but the gals decided that our first food truck adventure on the island would be the crepe stand. The Picky Eater is a crepe afficiando, and joins us at the market on Saturday morning precisely because she can have crepes. Given that, a rainy day at the beach was greeted with, “Can we get some crepes? Please?”

No way that we can say no to that.

The boys went off to do the rainy day clamming (so that we can make our Ocracoke Clam Chowder), and the gals went off to shop and eat crepes at The Corner Crepe.

Choosing required some deliberation.

Savory or sweet?

The adults went for the savory, Southpoint (avocado, bacon, jack cheese) and the Frenchie (spinach, mushrooms and swiss)

the girls, the sweet: the modified Elvis (nutella, bacon, and powdered sugar) and the Pierette (strawberries and chocolate ganache)

The modified Elvis was the favorite of all – sweet and salty is an amazingly good combination – and bacon makes everything better, right?  All of the crepes were lucious – and the boys, jealous that we went while they worked for our dinner! If ever you head down Ocracoke-way, do stop at The Corner Crepe.

August 20, 2012

Preserving Summer Produce: Quick Pickles

Many of you may think that getting ready for the beach entails laundry and shopping and packing. For me, this year, beach preparation involved thinking about how to make sure that none of the produce that we have from the garden and the CSA was wasted. And so, pickles.

We had some beets from several weeks ago, carrots, and more yellow squash than we know what to do with. A few quick Epicurious searches later, and I was in quick pickling heaven.

We made 5 quarts of pickles: yellow squash, carrots, and beets. The yellow squash pickles have already become a mainstay of our beach cuisine – everyone is pleased with them.  The best thing about quick pickles is that other than chopping, the time involved is minimal.

First – prep your veggies – cut into bite sized pieces, blanch the carrots, boil the beets, no need to cook the others.

Second – peel and smash a couple of cloves of garlic.

Third – identify any spices from the fridge you might want to add- dill or parsley or fennel in our case.

Fourth – boil some vinegar, sugar, salt, peppercorns and/or fennel seed for about two minutes, or until the salt and sugar have dissolved.

Fifth – pour over the veggies in a clean glass jar.

Sixth – cool and then put in the fridge.

Then, let sit for a day or so in the fridge and enjoy…

Easy peasy – and quick to be consumed!

If you want actual recipes, I found lots on Epicurious.

August 9, 2012

Yellow Squash Casserole and CSA Week 10

I was visiting with my mom the other day, explaining just how much yellow squash I had in my house… and she said, “You know, I really love the yellow squash casserole that they serve at Ted’s (Ted’s Montana Grill that is).”  Now I rarely try to reproduce meals that we love from restaurants, but I thought that we could give this one a go, since no one in my immediate household had ever tried it.

So, once I got home, I started the Internet search, and came across a recipe on the Food Network. It looked straightforward, so I jumped in. (For the full recipe, do visit the link – I’m just going to hit the highlights here).

First off, turn the oven on to 350 degrees.

Next, chop up lots of yellow squash and a couple of carrots.

Barely cover them with water, bring to a boil, then simmer until tender (I was tempted to skip this step and go right to baking it in the oven, but I believe it was critical to the creamy texture that you get at the end…)

While the veggies are bubbling, you should melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, add one chopped medium yellow onion, and sautee slowly until translucent. Then add a minced garlic clove and let it soften too. Remove to a mixing bowl.

Then, add another tablespoon of butter to the skillet, and add 1/2 cup of crumbled Ritz crackers. Toast ’em until they are golden.

Drain the squash (which should by now be plenty tender) and mash slightly when you add to the onions. Add 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (or more to taste), a dash of hot sauce, and 3/4 cup of crumbled Ritz crackers (try to keep them on the counter… I found that they kept going all over the floor).  Mix it all up good. Add salt and pepper. Stir in 2 lightly beaten eggs.

Then, put it in a greased medium baking pan, and cover with the toasted crackers. Let cook for about 30 minutes, uncovered.

Then eat! Although I was greeted by the family with some questionable expressions when it was served, they all enjoyed it — and even went back for seconds.  I’m not sure if this actually counts as healthy, but we sure ate some squash!

What else came in our CSA this week?  Here’s a photo for the records:

More pesto making and some slow roasting of tomatoes, and some creation of tomato sauce are on our weekend plans — and some baba ganoush too, I think!

What are you planning to do with your summer produce over the weekend? Any plans to preserve some summer goodness for the dark days of winter?

August 6, 2012

SSFC Week : Considering Corn Chowder

Now you may think that August is not soup weather. And generally you would be right. But when the Family Foodie moves into August, we moving into the time for our almost annual trip to the beach. And the beach means Ocracoke Clam Chowder.

This week, as I was considering the bountiful produce in my kitchen, I had a brainstorm — let’s make a chowder with the corn and the potatoes and the tomatoes. It won’t be Ocracoke Clam Chowder, but it will surely get our taste buds ready for the real thing.

So, for our SSFC meal this week, Corn Chowder was made. Following the ever useful Mark Bittman*, here’s what we did.

1. Remove the kernels from 6 ears of fresh corn. Keep ’em in a bowl until Step 3.

2. Place the corn cobs and 2 cups of water in a pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the water bubbles gently, cover and cook, for a half hour or so. Leave the cobs in the water until you’re ready to make the soup. Then remove then and save the broth.

This step is totally worth having made the recipe. I would not have thought to do this, but what a great way to make some wonderful flavorful broth to add to the soup. And for the clam chowder, adding this delicately flavored broth will nicely cut the sometimes strong flavor of the clam broth…

3. Then you make the roux. Well, he doesn’t call it a roux, but that’s what it seems like to me. Put 4 tablespoons of butter or oil in a soup pot. When the butter is melted, add 1/2 cup chopped scallions (we actually used little leeks) and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. When the scallion is soft, turn the heat down a bit and stir in 1/4 cup of flour. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture turns golden.

You’ll have a nice roux at this point.

4. Now, add 1 quart of milk or half-n-half (we used half-n-half) and the reserved corn cob broth to the pot, and raise the heat to medium-high.  Stir or whisk constantly until the flour is dissolved and the soup starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.

It’s starting to smell quite delicious.

5. Stir in 1 peeled large potato, cut into small dices, and the reserved corn kernels into the soup. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower the heat. Stir occasionally until the potatoes are cooked.

6. Add diced fresh tomatoes to the broth when the potatoes are beginning to soften.

7. Taste and season.

Because I was thinking about clam chowder, I added some Phillip’s seafood seasoning for some additional flavor.

Accompanied by a cucumber-pepper salad with a soy sauce-rice vinegar vinegrette, all was good!

*Bittman’s recipe can be found in his book, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

August 5, 2012

Grilled Eggplant Guidance

As we are well into squash season, and there will be mountains of eggplant soon to follow the yellow squash and zucchini, I wanted to make sure that if you hadn’t seen the Bittman Sunday Times feature on what to do with grilled eggplant, that you knew it was out there. It is hard to know which one to prepare first – but I am keeping my fingers crossed that eggplant will be in our CSA pickup on Tuesday. This picture was from the last week of July two years ago…

Image

 

August 4, 2012

Livin’ the Local-Loco Life

The past 6 weeks have brought more chaos to my life than I had anticipated for my summer.  I was expecting a regular old, somewhat busy but not-to0-busy, summer.  However, that is not how it has gone so far.  Personal (my mom’s health and my sister’s wedding planned and carried off within 2 weeks), work (a week-long trip), and climatic (the derech0) challenges have meant little time to blog about the shopping, cooking, and eating that our family has been engaged in. Survival has absolutely been the name of the game. Simple food preparation has kept us all sane and the bounty of summer produce has not let us down. The benefits of the milkman bringing milk, egg, butter, cheese, and meat to the front door once a week cannot be underestimated.  And, we have made it to the farmer’s market nearly every weekend…

So a few local highlights are captured below:

The CSA that greeted me when I got back from my trip.

And the CSA from this past week:

The multitude of cherry tomatoes from our garden, and the peppers and squash brought by friends to share with us.

 

Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of the peaches and melons and corn and bacon that we have been devouring from the market.  Needless to say, we haven’t gone hungry through the chaos. We have resorted to many simple go-to meals, such as,

  • Fresh tomato-basil sauce over pasta, accompanied with roasted eggplant, squash, pepper, and cherry tomatoes.
  • Homemade tomato sauce with delicious local beef served over linguine.
  • Tomato-cucumber-feta salad is a frequent accompaniment, and beet chips are new favorites for us!
  • A curry featuring red peppers, potatoes, and onions.
  • Sweet summer corn appears routinely on our table these days. 

Work has settled down, no imminent power-killing storms are on the horizon, my sister is married, and my mom is stable. I am hopeful that tomorrow will bring a day of rest and lots of food preparation to my house.  I have some tomato sauce, pesto, and zucchini bread to make.  And some pictures to take too. I am ready to return to the blog-o-sphere now that some semblance of order has returned to my household, and can’t wait to catch up on what everyone has been cooking!

Happy August all!

 

 

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