Archive for ‘Dinner with the Family Foodie’

May 5, 2013

A Real Food Kind of a Day

I like challenges. My family, not so much. Let’s just say that they indulge me.

This year we decided to have a bag of veggies delivered to our doorstep each Friday from Hometown Harvest instead of buying into a CSA. And Hometown Harvest apparently knows that I like challenges (or maybe it’s just that we ALL like challenges) and have decided to ask their customers to join in with them on a 30-day real food challenge. I have been following 100 Days of Real Food for quite a while now, but have never decided to do her challenge. Until now. I am working on getting my blog-writer-self back into a regular routine, and this seemed like a great way to do it.

So, the family has their Real Food Bracelets, and we embraced the challenge with gusto today.

(We have been slowly working up to this – the challenge officially started May 1st, but I was in San Francisco, and then 3/5ths of the family was away from Friday-Saturday, so today was the first day that we were eating all together all day).

Here are the rules (that draw lots on Michael Pollan’s most excellent advice):

“YES” Foods:

  • Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry
  • Lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Dairy products like milk, yogurt, eggs, and cheese
  • 100% whole-wheat and whole-grains (check the Understanding Grains post for more info: our Spring Mill sandwich breads fit the bill!)
  • Seafood (Wild caught is preferred…stay tuned for Alaskan Salmon from HH!)
  • Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken (preferably in moderation)
  • Beverages limited to water, milk, all natural juices, naturally sweetened coffee & tea, and, to help the adults keep their sanity, wine and beer!
  • Snacks like dried fruit, seeds, nuts and popcorn
  • All natural sweeteners including honey, 100% maple syrup, and fruit juice concentrates are acceptable in moderation

“NO” Foods:

  • No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat…not just “wheat”)
  • No refined sweeteners such as sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or the artificial stuff like Splenda
  • Nothing out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than 5 whole-food ingredients listed on the label
  • No deep fried foods
  • No “fast foods”

So, we are pretty good already on the Yes foods – but we do like sugar in our coffee and tea, and My Picky Eater is a white bread kind of a girl – our clear stumbling blocks will be in those two categories.

I’m sure you are just dying to know what we ate today, right? Well, if I say so, I think we ate pretty well….but it was Sunday and I was home all day to make sure we ate well J!




  • Belgian Beef Stew with beef from Valentine’s Country Meats and onions from Hometown Harvest
  • Red Quinoa from our local grocery store
  • A cucumber, tomato, feta salad featuring local produce and cheese from Toigo Orchards, Hometown Harvest, and Fields of Grace
  • Wine for the adults, milk for the boys, cider for the girl

And to cap the day off, a rhubarb-apple-maple syrup-walnut-balsamic vinegar bake (apples because the strawberries were all gone!)

My belly is full. I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring, but today was a success!

December 26, 2012

Holiday Highlights From The Family Foodie!

It has been a festive time for the foodies in our house.  We started with a Christmas Eve goose!  Cooked simply, that is, just like a turkey, it roasted quickly in the oven, and served as our centerpiece for Christmas Eve dinner. 

Christmas Eve Goose

Accompanied with roasted curry cauliflower (from the farmer’s market) and sweet potatoes (from our CSA), everyone devoured it all up. Rich, we didn’t need huge amounts to sate our hunger.

Goose Meat

After a breakfast of pumpkin muffins, we laid out our traditional Christmas brunch featuring products from two of our favorite local stores, Arrowine and The German Gourmet.

Christmas Brunch Spread

And then this morning, we made Ho Ho Hole-y Popovers….

An extraordinarily simple recipe, but one that I have resisted making — for no good reason at all — because they are super dooper easy. On my husband’s recommendation (and he is the popover expert in this house), I followed the Joy of Cooking recipe. 

You start out with a few simple ingredients (we doubled the recipe) and a preheated 450 degree oven:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

All You Need For Popovers

While you let the ingredients get to room temperature, butter the muffin (or if you have them popover) tins.

Then beat (or stir in my case) those ingredients until smooth.  Then you add in 2 beaten eggs.

Adding The Eggs One At A Time

Fill the buttered baking cups three-fourths full, and bake at once.

After 15 minutes, lower the heat WITHOUT PEEPING to 350 degrees and bake about 20 minutes longer.

Then you can take them out and they will look like this:

Fresh from the oven

Gently release them from the baking tin and serve.

If you are a young child, you might want to turn yours upside down and put the butter in from the bottom.

Holy Popover!


If you are more interested to see what they look like inside, before you add the butter and jam, you can slice them open.

Popover AirCool huh?!

We served our popovers with some sausages from one of our favorite vendors at the market, and apple cider.

Day After Christmas Breakfast

Here’s hoping that you have been having a wonderful holiday season … and that warm popovers are in your future!


December 3, 2012

The SOLE Routine in the Dark Days

It’s relatively easy to eat locally in the summer season. The market is overflowing with more abundance than one can possibly cook, and the CSA delivers overflowing bags of produce, and the garden outside of the kitchen door ALWAYS has something that needs to be cooked.  But as the month of December dawns, the farmers’ markets are dwindling in size, the CSA has stopped, and although our arugula is trying hard to keep on growing (and 65 degrees today surely helped), our garden is no longer a reliable source of food.

So, what is a family to do when we are trying to eat at least one  entirely SOLE-sourced meal (for those of you new to this acronym…that is Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical)?

Well this family is truly blessed to live where we do — because although the types of local food clearly reflect the realities of the winter season, we are by no means deprived.

In fact, at our market on Saturday (East Falls Church Market, our regular Saturday market), we saw, and purchased, this incredible ruby-leaved lettuce.

Can you believe the rich color of the leaves? Oh and they are delicious too!

Can you believe the rich color of the leaves? Oh and they are delicious too!

Now this lettuce played a starring role in salads that accompanied dinner both Saturday and Sunday. But before I share that with you, let me tell you our other SOLE sources over the winter season.

Our walkable Westover Farmer’s Market just got approval for a Sunday morning market, so we can get our favorite bacon and newest favorite bread (Portuguese corn bread)!

And on Tuesday morning, we wake up to our milk and eggs from South Mountain, as well as whatever else we have decided to order (Swiss cheese and sweet bologna for tomorrow).

If I need some chicken for dinner midweek or some local beer and wine, I’ll head over to The Westover Market and Beer Haus, and for some jam and organic grains The Local Market is a great source….

And so really, runs to my local grocery store are reduced to TP, organic beans and rice, and citrus needs.  I am pretty sure that I can live like this for a  long time.

And our local meals for the weekend?

Saturday morning:

Sunday morning:

Sunday night:

Easy as can be, right?

If you’d like to see what my fellow SOLE-food bloggers are up to this winter, please follow along at our Google Reader log.  Lots of wonderful stories to read, and if you eat venison, apparently we will learn lots about different ways to prepare it from Annie and Susan this winter!

Please do join in … we are looking forward to an awesome adventure through the winter months.

September 10, 2012

Sweet and Tasty SSFC Meal: Southwestern Shepherd’s Pie

Hamburger and sweet potatoes. That is what I had in my need-to-prep local food stash. Hamburgers and sweet potato fries would have been easy, but I didn’t have any buns. And, besides, it seemed kinda boring – which is one of the biggest challenges with cooking, at least for me.

So I pulled up my Epicurious app, put hamburger and sweet potato in the search list, and picked Southwestern Shepherd’s Pie. A one-dish meal that allowed me to pull from ingredients in my pantry, and my back yard. We modified a bit as a function of what was in the house…something I never used to do, but now find that I do regularly!

With no further ado, here is my featured SSFC meal for the week:

1. Dice one medium onion (from our CSA, Potomac Vegetable Farms) and one small green pepper (from our garden). Sautee in 2 tablespoons olive oil for about 10 minutes or until soft.

2. Add 2 cloves garlic (from our CSA) and one chopped green jalapeno (from our garden).  Cook for another 2 minutes.

3. Then add 1 pound ground beef. Ours came from South Mountain Creamery. Brown for 5 minutes.

4. Then the recipe says that you should add tomato paste, chili power, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper, and simmer. We just added some barbeque rub, and let it simmer. Then, the recipe says to add tomatoes, black beans, and corn. We added some diced fresh tomatoes and a can of Wolfgang Puck tortilla soup. I know that sounds odd, but I didn’t have any prepped black beans. So, I added in this can of soup that needed to be used.  And 4 tablespoons of cilantro from PVF. And it simmered away.

5. Meanwhile, I had peeled, chopped, and steamed the sweet potatoes (6 medium sized ones). They were nice and soft at this point, so I massed them, and mixed them up with 1/2 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of butter. Both from South Mountain.

6. Then I put the meat filling into a baking dish, covered it with sweet potatoes, and baked it for about 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Next to it in the oven, a pan of corn bread was baking.

And, then, it was dinner time. Served with cilantro on top and sour cream.

The verdict: 3 thumbs up (me and the boys), 1 okay (it was a bit too sweet – from the Man of the House), and 1 there is no way I am trying that (guess who?!).

Next time – more beans and corn to balance the sweet, I think, but it will reappear!

September 9, 2012

What’s For Dinner? Lessons Learned from Week 1 and Planning for Week 2

Last Sunday I wrote about our meal plan for the week – reflecting my hope that by planning I could reduce some of the stress associated with the start of a new school year. Before I jump into a discussion of what we think we might eat this week, I want to do a quick recap of how last week went.

So here was the plan and what we actually ate:

Sunday, we ate out. No changes there. Food was good, and it was a nice way to start of the school year.

Monday, we had a green meatless Monday. Pesto pasta, roasted green beans, cucumber and tomato salad. Visited South Mountain Creamery and got the andouille we needed for the gumbo.

Tuesday, we did have the gumbo as planned. We ate dinner quite late though — so Lesson 1 in menu planning – don’t plan long cooking times unless you’re sure you are going to get dinner started as early as you had anticipated…

Wednesday was the night that I was out. The man of the house decided to go with the frozen pizza and other “fending” items. This meant that the hamburger that was defrosted for his use needed to be prepped on Thursday. This led to the first modification of the plan for the week.

On Thursday, we were going to make a black bean and sweet potato chili but we needed to cook the hamburger….so, I pulled up Epicurious on my Nook and found a recipe for a Southwestern Shepard’s Pie. That made use of both the hamburger and the sweet potatoes…I will share the recipe tomorrow in my SSFC blog. Accompanied by corn muffins and roasted green beans, it hit the spot for all of us (well, not the Picky Eater, but you probably already knew that).

Friday I was up for making the leek, chard, and corn flatbread…but the rest of the crew turned their noses up. Instead, we made a pizza using up the last andouille from South Mountain and red peppers.  Accompanied by another cucumber and White Queen tomato salad it was quite tasty.

Last night, all bets were off as the power went off — again — so we went out to dinner to the East West Grill and had wonderful kebabs.

So, what else did I learn from my first week of planning?

Lesson 2. Having recipes in mind is great, but sometimes recipes are too much work in the middle of the week.

Lesson 3. Knowing what is in the fridge makes deciding what to make much easier, even if the meal plan doesn’t work.

Lesson 4. Plans only work when you share them with other chefs in the house.

Lesson 5. Planning on Sunday doesn’t take into account the CSA very well (since the CSA comes on Tuesday).

And for Week 2? I think I’m going to just list out the recipes I’m thinking we’ll make, but not associate them with a date….many of these come from the latest edition of Saveur that conveniently arrived on my Nook on Saturday. Recipes aren’t showing up yet on the Saveur site, but will link up when they are there!

Sunday (well, this one I can do because we’ve already eaten). Pork tenderloin, corn on the cob, green salad.

Senate bean soup with Gougeres (cheese puffs)

Seared salmon with green peppercorn sauce, rice, sauteed swiss chard

Chicken fingers, colcannon, summer squash salad

Cheese tortellini with roasted Roma tomato sauce, green salad

Gan bian si ji (dry roasted green beans with ground pork), lemon grass chicken rolls from Trader Joes, rice

Carbonnade (Belgian beef stew)

So this is where I am – I will need to run to the store to get a few basics that I am out of, but otherwise we should be good to go – and as the evenings are going to be cooler this week, cooking will be something we look forward to!  In fact, I think I’m already hungry…

September 3, 2012

What’s For Dinner? First Week of School Edition

School starts tomorrow.

It’s a big year for us. The Eldest is going to be a senior in high school…when the heck did that happen?!?…and the twins are going to be eighth graders. Lots of consequential decisions being made this year, and I haven’t filled the calendar in yet because I am relishing the illusion of emptiness for a couple of more hours.

But knowing that schedules are going to be insane, I am going to try to do some menu planning this fall. If it goes well, I might even extend it into 2013 :).

So, here’s what this week looks like in my house, I think:

  • Sunday (last night): Dinner out at the Mad Fox Brewing Company in celebration of the end of summer.
  • Monday: Pesto pasta, roasted green beans, cucumber salad.
  • Tuesday: Gumbo (but with season-appropriate okra instead of asparagus), corn bread. We get our CSA delivery today, so veggies for the rest of the week will depend upon what we get!
  • Wednesday: I have a dinner engagement, so it’ll be up to the Man of the House. There will be hamburger so he could do tacos, or straight up hamburgers. And there are mushrooms, so he can sautee them to accompany.
  • Thursday: Black bean and sweet potato chili with polenta. I’m going to make it in the slow cooker.
  • Friday: Leek, Chard, and Corn Flatbread from SmittenKitchen.
  • Saturday: Chicken Normandy, to feature some of the delicious apples that I will get at the market.

We’ll give it a go, and see how it works!

Hope the first day of school is smooth for everyone who starts tomorrow.

September 2, 2012

The Eldest Cooks Now and Then

As a little boy, the eldest loved to help out in the kitchen. Especially when helping meant that he could be part of the cooking itself. I was browsing through pictures this afternoon and found two pictures that captured his favorite type of participation.

Making Dinner Then

Dad stirs.

The Eldest adds corn to the wok.

What is wonderful is that his comfort in and love of the kitchen continues to this day.  He spent the past year working in the kitchen of our local beer garden and deli, and has had the opportunity to work closely with professional chefs. Best of all is that we now get to benefit from his expertise and ease in the kitchen.

Returning home from a visit to my mom the other day, the Eldest and I were talking about what to make for dinner.

“What,” he asks, “do we have in the kitchen?”

“Hmm…” I said, “we have some ground pork from South Mountain that I’d to use.”

“Okay,” he said, “any veggies?”

“I think we have some red peppers, tomatoes, and onions from the CSA.”

“I know,” he said, “I can cook all that up, and add them to some pasta, and we’ll be good to go.”

At this point, I am sure that I looked over at him with a huge grin.  He’s not headed to college for another year yet, but I know that he’ll be able to cook for himself…although I believe the reputation of college cafeterias remains a key component of his decision to apply to some colleges over others!

Making Dinner Now

We got home, and he got right to work.

First, he cooked the ground pork.

While the pork was cooking, he chopped the peppers, and got the water boiling for the pasta.

Then, he exhibited some professional kitchen skills (at least they looked that way to me). He moved the pork to one side of the frying pan, and added the peppers in so that they could sautee (and the meat stay warm).

Meat to the side of the skillet, peppers cookin’ up!

Meanwhile, he found some parsley in the fridge, and chopped that up nice and fine while the peppers cooked.

Check out the excellent chopping form

Then he mixed up the peppers and pork, and added the parsley, 

Mixing them up

and some wonderful cherry tomatoes to the mix.

It’s more fun when you can “flip” the tomatoes.

To finish it up, stir in the rotini.

Ta da!

Pork Pepper Pasta a la Eldest

Besides no longer needing to stand on chairs to cook, the main difference these days is that doing the dishes doesn’t have quite the same draw that it used to.

Doing the dishes used to be fun!

Happy Sunday all!

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

June 26, 2012

SSFC Week 4: Mexican Chorizo, Tomato Salad

It’s hard to believe that summer only officially started a few days ago.  It has been so warm, and as the farmer’s at the market have been telling us, everything is about two weeks ahead. And this means that we are already eating cherry tomatoes daily.  Not that I’m complaining mind you.

So, for our SOLE food challenge this week, we thought we’d feature the tomatoes front and center. (Click on the badge if you’d like to see what the other members of the challenge are cooking).

First, you start with  bowl of beautiful multi-colored cherry tomatoes.  Sungolds, black cherries, and “stripies” — not sure if that’s the official name or not :)!

And then you add whatever sounds good to the bowl! We added cucumbers, fresh mozzerella from Blue Ridge Dairy, basil from our CSA, and dried orange mint from last year’s garden. Tossed it with  homemade balsamic vinagrette. Yum.

While the cutting and dicing was happening, we were pan frying some Mexican chorizo from Smith Meadows Farms.

And, we were adding toppings to our vissychoise (still had some left), sliced fennel, fresh feta, and cilantro.

The rice cooked away in the rice cooker.  And then it was time to eat.

No leftovers from this meal.

P.S. For those of you readers who are local, the Mexican chorizo was really good – even the Picky Eater ate hers all up!

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