Thursday, June 28, 2012

Holy Strawberries Batman

We got a ton of strawberries from our CSA, Dragonfly Farms. But we also had to throw away a ton of strawberries from our CSA, Dragonfly Farms. They would rotten so fast we couldn’t eat them quickly enough.

I would pick them up around 9:30 am on Saturday and would have to throw them out by Sunday morning if not earlier. I tried several different methods to keep them fresh:

1. put them straight into the fridge and clean them in a couple hours.
2. clean them right away and set them on the paper towel covered counter to dry out
3. clean them and store in them in tuberware in between layers of paper towels
4. soak them in a vinegar solution for a hour them clean them (Dragonfly Farm’s suggestion)
5. freeze them
6. eat them right away
7. bake them in something right away

Only two of the above worked. Eat them right away and bake them right away. Everything else failed to keep them fresh past Sunday morning.

So what is the deal? Store bought strawberries will last 2 to 3 times longer. Why are these spoiling so quickly?

First of all the CSA strawberries are by far juicier and flavorful than store bought. Plus the CSA strawberries are a bright and deep red. Store bought strawberries range from a red to pink to almost white. Plus store bought berries are hard, bland and sometimes a little sour. The CSA berries were always sweet! I believe the sweetness and ripeness contributes to the CSA strawberries’ short shelf life. Plus the CSA strawberries do not have any pesticides-organic or otherwise. So there is nothing on them to preserve.

The leading theory on why strawberries are called strawberries is how they were grown in the early nineteenth century. The farmers placed straw around the growing berry plants to protect the ripening fruit. Strawberries are very delicate when ripe. And if they grow on the ground they would ripen and then rotten before they could be picked. The straw could not only cushion them but would help the “shelf” life of the ripe fruit. So they could be harvested and eaten.

Because of the quick ripe to rotten ratio I had to find what to use the strawberries fast. Here are some of the ways Dave and I enjoyed them:

Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie—Yummo
Cream and Strawberry biscuits
Chocolate covered strawberries
Eating them straight
In a salad

But sadly the strawberry season is over and we will not be receiving any more strawberries. But I feel like I am better prepared now for a storm of strawberries so I am sad to see them go…for now.

But speaking of Batman…who is excited for the last installment of Batman (The Christian Bale Series)?

I know I am! I love me some super heroes and strawberries during the summer!

Week Five Roundup

This week's mission to use everything in the fridge. Okay that was a little overachieverish, but I really wanted to make a huge effort to use everything. So here is what happened...

What I used this week:
the loaf of wheat sourdough bread
all of the spinach (Spinach Grilled Cheese and Pesto)
3/4 Collard Greens (collard green risotto)
all of the tomatoes (soup)
all of the escarole (soup 1/2 for dinner and I froze 1/2)
all of the snow peas (Lemon-Butter Snow Peas)
2 pints of strawberries (eat and chocolate strawberries)
all of the yellow onions
2 shallots (salsa)
all of the elephant garlic
8 radishes (sweet potato and radish salad)
a few of the scallions
the rest of the kale (kale tacos)
the rest of the carrots (soup)
all of the sausage (soup)

What I have leftover:
1/3 collard greens
1 shallot
almost all of the eggs
a little of the romaine (which I will throw away)

Grade: B-

I know it looks like I did really well this week. But I have almost 3 dozen eggs!! That is a lot of eggs.

Week 6

Dragonfly Farms changed the deliver times. The new time is from 9:00 to 9:15. Which worked fine for me.

On Saturday I arrived at Harris Teeter a little after nine. Brett was waiting in the truck. When he gave me my crate he asked "would you like red flowers or purple". I said purple of course. And they are a rich deep purple. I don't know what kind of flowers they are but they are couple with white lilies. The combination is gorgeous.

Here is what we got this week:
1 bouquet of flowers
12 eggs
1 loaf of rye bread
1 small bunch of kale
1 head of boston lettuce
12 radishes
1 small head of broccoli
1 med-large onion
1 patty pan squash
3 shallots
1 bunch of scallions
3 tomatoes
1/2 pint of blueberries
1/2 sour cherries
1/2 sweet cherries
1 bag of green beans
1 cucumber

I know what you are all thinking....what is a patty pan? Well here it is:

Our menu for this week is:
Pork au Poivre with collard greens and salad
Spaghetti with braised kale and green beans
Quiche with broccoli, shallot and goat cheese with salad
Pizza with cucumber, radish and mango salad
Fried Egg Sandwiches with oven roasted patty pan with shallots and herbs

Blueberry pancakes for breakfast

Cherry pie for desert

Sounds really yummy, right?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The True Death for True Blood?

I admit it I am a True Blood addict. It all started several years ago when I got Season One on DVD. I asked Dave if he would like to watch it with me and it was all over for us.

When Dave moved into his new house, the FOIS guy gave him free HBO for three months. After the three months, Dave decided to keep the subscription (that is how they get you). So now we can watch True Blood on TV rather than on DVD.

Season five started on June 10th. And as true and loyal fans, Dave and I turned in at 9:00 sharp. Then at 9:59 I thought to myself, “Eh, I’m not impressed.”. The next day I told myself, “Self, you have enough summer shows on your plate. You should give the true death to True Blood and call it a day”.

But then on June 17th at 9:00 sharp my butt was seated on the couch next to Bella and Dave waiting for True Blood to start.

What happened? I told myself not to watch and that if I was not interested in the plots and general story lines I should just stop. But I didn’t and I don’t believe I can. Why?

It is called cult TV. Yup, True Blood is a cult TV show and I am but a minion in its world. Doomed to follow it wherever it takes me.

The premiere was watched by 5.2 million viewers and last sunday's episode got 4.4. million viewers. That is down slightly from last year but pretty darn good for a premium channel.

So the True Death for True Blood...not likely. It will live on just like a vampire (for now).

Week 5

Sorry for the delay in this post. I would like to post the weekly share inventory list during the weekend. I will try harder in the future.

I was early this week, and Brett was there waiting for me. I returned last week's crate grabbed this week's crate and was on my way.

What we got this week:
1 bouquet of persimmon lilies
12 eggs
1 loaf of sourdough wheat bread
1 lb of honey
1 lb freshly ground Zeke's coffee
1/2 lb sage sausage
1 large bunch of collard greens
1 head of escarole
1 pint of snow peas
2 pints of strawberries
1 bag of spinach
3 small yellow onions
3 shallots
1 elephant garlic bulb
5 tomatoes
8 radishes
1 bunch of scallions

Menu for this week:
Spinach Grilled Cheese with White Bean Escarole Soup (Spinach, Escarole, carrot, onion, garlic and sausage)
Collard Green Risotto with tomato soup and a small salad (collards, tomato, onion, and garlic)
Fish (not sure what kind yet) Lemon-Butter Snow Peas, Rice and salad (garlic, scallions, snow peas, lettuce and spinach)
California Steakhouse Burger with sweet potatoes and radish salad (onion, and radish)
Kale and Spinach Pesto with salad (garlic scapes, kale, spinach, lettuce, carrots, and scallions)

and maybe Kale Tacos (kale...hopefully all of it)

I normal make/cook 4-5 meals a week. Only 4-5 because...I don't want to cook everyday. But at the rate in which we are getting our fresh and pesticide free produce I might have to make/cook dinner everyday. To help use the produce and not make/cook everyday, I decided I need to pick a day and make/cook some meals in advance.

So on Sunday I made the tomato soup and the pesto. Hopefully that will help.

Wish me luck this week, I am shooting for an "A" for my Weekly Roundup!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Week 4 Round Up

This week went okay. I was a little behind but I think I caught up some. To make it easier to understand  what is in overflowing in my fridge, I am going to list what is leftover by week:

Left Over from Week 3:
A small amount of kale
some of the scallions
2 of the carrots

Leftover from Week 4:
12 eggs
3 slices of Rosemary bread
handful of spinach
1 head of romaine
the kale
1 bunch of scallions
1 shallots
1 tomato
4 carrots

I know that sounds like a lot. But as a optimist I think of it like....more to use for this week.

Here is what we used all of:
snow peas

What we ate this week:

Quiche with salad (eggs, spinach, scallions, red lettuce, carrots)
Stuffed Peppers with scalloped potatoes (tomatoes and scallions)
Mac & Cheese with Roasted Veggies (spinach, radishes and carrots)
Fishsticks with pasta and salad (red lettuce, spinach, carrots and scallions)
Tilapia with rice, salad and baked sweet potatoes (red lettuce, spinach, carrots and scallions)

We made Strawberry & Cream Biscuits with the strawberries. I had big dreams for these biscuits but they were "Eh". But still worth trying.

So because by fridge is so packed we can hardly fit anything my grade this week would be....


Really with all this leftover food I should give myself a D. But Dave and I ate really well this week and it was yummy so I can't give myself a D.

Wish me luck for this week

Red Lilies

The pic really doesn't do the color justice. They were really a blood red. And this pic shows the imperfections but they were "Wow".

Food Rating System

I’ve had a hard time developing this system. People like different flavors and varying degrees of cookedness. Some people like seafood and some don’t. Some eat meat, some don’t. Some people like garlic, some don’t.

So how do I make a Food Rating System which will accurately represent the quality of the meal?

I decided that you can’t. Everyone will have different opinions. There is no way around it. I know there will be a huge differences between people options. But that might make it more actuate.

So here it is:

1=Yuck…you can’t pay me to eat another bite
2=Eww…this is yucky but I could eat more if this was the last food on earth
3=Blah…this taste like unflavored cream of wheat.
4=Okay…tastes like elementary cafeteria food
5=Good…I could eat this again.
6=Yum… Seconds please.
7=WOW…this is fantastic. This is the best ever!!

Hopefully I will be able to post my and Dave’s rating for each meal in my Weekly Round Up.

If you have any ideas, let me know.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Wondrous and Magnificent Kale

On the back of Brett’s (our CSA delivery driver) truck is a bumper sticker. It says “Eat More Kale”. When I first saw it, I thought to myself, “Oh that’s cute”. The second time I thought, “That is an inventive way to promote eating local”. And now I think “Wow they are serious; I need to eat kale everyday to eat all that they are giving me.”
We have gotten kale every week from out CSA. And it is not a little bag. For three weeks it was the majority of our share. And this last week, it was obviously smaller in comparison to previous weeks but not a small amount.
What is kale anyway?
Kale is a leafy green. It is considered to be a common and an old form of cabbage. It will grow in the form of leaf rather than a head like traditional cabbage. It’s growing season is from the early winter to the end of spring. It is a hardy vegetable grown in a sandy soil.
Is it good for me?
Kale is not a prominent member of the produce section at Giant Foods. It is not a superstar people think about when dreaming of spring produce. But Kale is one of the most nutritious and healthiest veggies around. It is high 20 vitamins and minerals. Just one cup of Kale provides 1327% of your daily value of Vitamin K (which is key nutrient for helping regulate our body's inflammatory process) 354% DV of Vitamin A (which aids in immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication), 88% DV of Vitamin C (we all know how important Vitamin C is) and 27% DV of Manganese (which aids with bone structure, functioning of thyroid, sex hormones, regulating blood sugar level, and metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.).
Kale is a cruciferous veggie. Cruciferous veggies have anti-cancer nutrients in the form of glucosinolates. And Kale’s anti-cancerous properties have been linked to its high content and its broad spectrum of carotenoids and flavonoids.
Kale also has high levels of omega-3s which is important for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Kale aids our Cardiovascular System by lowering cholesterol. Kale will bind with acids in our digestive system and flush them out. To replace the acids our body will use our cholesterol to make new digestive acids.
All that from a leaf? How do I eat it?
If you are like me, you have had kale before but only when a recipe called for it. You didn’t go to the grocery store and say “Oh wow, the kale looks especially good today. I think I’ll take some home.”. So with all this kale I had to find ways to make it and make sure they were diversity and yummy.
Here is what we had made so far:
1. Kale Chips—yummo
2. Lemony and Garlicky Kale Pasta
3. Kale, Red Pepper and Feta Paninis
4. Spinach and Kale Turnovers
5. Regular salad with kale leaves

6. Stuffed Peppers
Since it is summer, I have been trying to avoid making soup. Kale is a big player in soup but “they” say kale loses some of it powerful nutrition when boiled.
I personally LOVE the kale chips. They are very delicate so I haven’t been able to take them to work.
Kale does appear to be a great when paired with pasta.

I guess it is a good thing Dave and I have been eating kale several times a week. What will we do when kale stops coming in our CSA share?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Week 4

Dave joined me this week on our share pickup. Which just like last week, went smoothly. We were home by 9:30.

We didn't get anything super special this week.

Here is what we got:
1 small bouquet of red lilies
12 eggs
1 loaf of rosemary bread
1 bag of spinach
1 head of romaine
1 smaller bunch of kale
6 monster sized radishes
1 pint of sow peas
1 large and 1 small pint of very ripe strawberries
1 bunch scallions
1 bunch of shallots
3 vine ripe tomatoes
6 carrots

We now have 2 heads of lettuce and 2 dozen eggs. So this week I will have Cobb Salad for lunch. But here is what we have are having for dinner this week:

Quiche (eggs, spinach, shallots and scallions) with salad (lettuce or kale, radishes, snow peas and carrots)
Stuffed Peppers (tomatoes, scallions, bread and shallots) and scalloped potatoes
Mac and Cheese with roasted veggies (radish and carrots)
Fish sticks (store bought but the fancy kind) with pasta and salad (lettuce or kale, radishes, snow peas and carrots)
Tilapia with mashed sweet potato and salad (lettuce or kale, radishes, snow peas and carrots)

We're trying incorporate more fish into our diet. But I do not like to cook it. So we are starting slowly by buying store bought for now.

I have written the Food Rating System Post. I just making some final changes and then it will be posted.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Week Three Round Up

As of yesterday, we used all of:
swiss chard

We still have:
12 eggs
less than 1/2 of the snow peas
just 2 stems of kale
all of the parsley
2 radishes
all of the dill
5 carrots
all of the red lettuce

I had to throw away the dill it wasn't keeping well and I hate dill. Every time I walked into the kitchen, I would smell it and it was yucky. I meant to chop some parsley at every meal or pluck a few sprigs to put on the plate. But alas I didn't. So that went into the trash too.

Because of the HUGE amount of kale (we have gotten kale every week) I made kale three times this week. We made kale chips. I made kale and feta paninis with our omelets. And Spinach & Kale Turnovers. 

Lessons learned:
Even if the lettuce looks clean and is wet it is still gritty. Always wash the lettuce and buy a lettuce spinner.
The Dragonfly Vinegar is really strong. Use a light hand.
We have to eat more eggs.

Grade: B

I know what you are all can you made a B with all the unused ingredients listed above???

I got extra credit this week

1. I made Blueberry Almond Scones with the leftover blueberries (store bought), almonds and sour cream. 
2. I made chicken salad with leftover chicken salad (with leftover grapes and the rest of the sour cream)
3. Mid week meal add on. I added the Paninis to the menu mid week. And I didn't have to buy any new ingredients.
4. There was only 2 kale leafs left over this week. That is a big deal!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Week 3

This pickup went the same as last week. I arrived at 9:21, Brett was already there. I grabbed my share and was on my way.

Here is what we got:

1 bouquet of flowers
12 eggs
1 loaf of bread
1 pint of strawberries
1 pint of snow peas
1 head of red lettuce
1 large bunch of kale
1 large bunch of spinach
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 bunch of scallions
1 bunch of swiss chard -- Special Item
5 radishes
1 bunch of dill
2 vine ripe tomatoes
10 carrots

Since we didn't get any spinach last week, they gave us a special item this week--swiss chard. It is hard to tell what is in the pic above but the swiss chard is to the right of the eggs.

Our menu this week:
Rigatoni with Swiss Chard and salad
Spinach & Kale Turnovers with Tomato Soup
Omelets with sausage (from week one) with kale chips
Sloppy Joes with Snow Pea, Radish, and Carrot Salad

I have no idea what to do with the dill. I am not a huge fan and I couldn't find anything to make with it that sparked by interest. Any ideas?

I am really excited about the Swiss Chard and carrots! I will let you know how it goes in a few days.

Summer Season 2012

Here are the shows I am looking forward to this summer season:

Rookie Blue (ABC)
The Glades (A&E)
True Blood (HBO)
Longmire—NEW SHOW! (A&E)
Awkward (MTV)
Dallas (USA)
Necessary Roughness (USA)
Suits (USA)
Big Brother (CBS)
Snooki &JWOWW (MTV)
Hell’s Kitchen (FOX)
Major Crimes—NEW SHOW! (TNT)

Bring it on!

Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family)

Season 2011-2012 Scorecard

Shows Renewed: 22
Shows cancelled: 11
Final Seasons: 2

Break Down by Network:

Hart of Dixie-renewed (but I stopped watching November)
Secret Circle-cancelled
The Vampire Diaries-renewed
Nikita-renewed (but I stopped watching in October)

SMASH-renewed (but I stopped watching after 5 eps)
Are you there Chelsea?-cancelled
The Firm-cancelled (but I stopped watching after three eps)
Grimm-renewed (but I stopped watching in December)

Terra Nova-cancelled
The Finder-cancelled

Castle-renewed (but I stopped watching in October)
Charlie’s Angels-cancelled
Pan Am-cancelled
Grey’s Anatomy-renewed
Private Practice-renewed
Once Upon A Time-renewed

Hawaii 5-0-renewed
The Good Wife-renewed

In Plain Sight-final season

Closer-final season

ABC Family
Pretty Little Liars-renewed
Switched at Birth-renewed
The Lying Game-renewed (but I stopped watching)

Please note this list only includes shows which aired between September 2011 and May 2012. And it doesn’t include reality TV. Of the three cancelled shows, I am the most upset about all three on FOX, The Finder, Alcatraz and Terra Nova. I really liked all three. I wish I had continued to watch Hart of Dixie, Nikita and Castle. I hope to catch up them this summer. My overall percentage of shows renewed was 62%. Which is not all that bad but I usually like to be in the mid 80s. 

I’m wishing for better luck next season!

Friday, June 1, 2012

End of Week Two Round Up

As of this evening, we used all of the:
bread (just three slices left)

We still have: 
Lettuce (even through I gave half to my mom)
All of the scallions
half of the kale
11 eggs
half of the parsley
one tomato
all of the watercress (we had to throw it away)

I am going to make kale chips with the kale. And I guess I am going to have salad for lunch tomorrow and sunday to use up the lettuce, scallions, and eggs. And as a snack I will have the tomato as a true southerner does. Sliced with salt and pepper.

Lessons Learned:
Putting the bread in the fridge and freezer keeps it fresh (thanks Claire)
Only use my tried and true and loved pie crust recipe
Use the asparagus and watercress as soon as possible (they don't store well)
Put parsley on everything as a garnish

Grade: C+  

I think I need to try harder. I need to pick recipes which use more of the ingredients. I also need to substitute more.

I'm a lil nervous for next week.

Finally Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Monday was the day. The day I finally made Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. I decided to use smitten kitchen’s improved recipe with the all butter crust. Both untried and new. I have a tried and true and loved crust recipe. But I used the all butter because Deb (smitten kitchen’s author) swears by it.

Dave helped make the filling while I rolled out the crust. Dave was very curious by the rhubarb, which looks like pink celery. He asked if he could try a bite…see pic below.  

Needless to say it wasn’t sweet like he thought. It was sour. I guess I should have told him it would be sour and not sweet. But the pie turned out great...

The filling was not too sweet and not too sour and it had the perfect consistency. It was almost perfect. But the crust just wasn't like my tried and true and loved crust. So needless to say I kicked myself for not making my crust. (from Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie by Bill Neal).

But Dave loved it and it always gives me great joy when he really likes something I cook or we make together.