Category Archives: cooking

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A zucchini a day keeps the vegetable drawer okay

This community-supported agriculture experiment has surprising benefits. I’ve eaten more zucchini in the past week than I have in the preceding year. It’s the combination of:

  • loss aversion: powerful force in behavioural psychology
  • lack of choice: commitment device; also makes surprising contributions to happiness – people feel unhappy when overloaded by choice; I know I sometimes blank at the supermarket, and my lists are sub-optimal because they focus only on a small set of produce
  • thousands of Internet pages dealing with zucchini recipes: because lots of other people have been in the same boat

The other day, I made zucchini fritters. Today I decided to make zucchini pancakes. I mostly followed the recipe, except for the following moments:

  • “Soy milk? I’m fine with dairy, so I’ll just use regular milk.”
  • “Ground flax seeds. Hmm, I can do that… <grind grind grind> ARGH, this is taking forever! I’ll just add some egg replacement powder.”
  • “Honey… Hey, that’s not vegan. Fortunately, we don’t have any dietary restrictions. I wonder if it works with crystallized honey…”

Result: W- woke up to a yummy and filling breakfast. He said, “Is it the weekend already? Did I sleep all Friday?”

I like zucchini pancakes more than I like zucchini fritters. This zucchini brownie recipe I’m trying needs some work, though. It’s a bit dry and crumbly. I hate to admit it, but I think it needs more zucchini. Then again, I didn’t quite follow the recipe for that one. The other two zucchini turned out to be cucumbers, so this batch has just one zucchini. I’ll try it again with the next CSA batch. (Because there’s always more zucchini…)

Zucchini zucchini zucchini. Slowly getting the hang of this!

Strawberry rhubarb baking

Okay, I was wrong. I guess it’s baking season all year round.

The strawberries from the garden are lovely, red and firm. I’ve baked strawberry shortcakes before, so I thought I’d give strawberry rhubarb tarts a try. Rhubarb is available so rarely – all the more reason to experiment. (I think we’ll plant it next spring!)

Recipe from Joy of Baking:

  • 454g / 1lb sliced rhubarb – the recipe called for 1″ pieces, but I had big chunky field rhubarb, so 0.5″ slices might be better
  • 454g / 1lb sliced strawberries – this one’s a mix of garden strawberries and local strawberries
  • 1/4 cup (35g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150g) white sugar

Mix all ingredients. Fill purchased tart shells or home-made pastry circles (see original recipe). Chill assembled tarts for 15-30 minutes in the fridge. Preheat oven to 400F (200C), with the rack in the center of the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes until crust is golden. Cool on a wire rack before serving. (The original recipe suggests serving with whipped cream or iced cream, ooh.)

Strawberries from the gardenTart with purchased shellsStrawberry and rhubarb homestyle tart

I liked spending my Saturday afternoon baking, trying out new recipes. It’s a little like going to a cooking class, except much cheaper. =) I shared some tarts with neighbours so that we wouldn’t have too much dessert in the house. (Particularly as we’re still planning to bake brownies too…)

(500) days of salad

I’m nearly done with the community-supported agriculture box’s haul of lettuce, although I still have Awesome-Garden-Lady’s lettuce to get through. This one is a grape and walnut salad. Next time, I’ll probably slice the grapes to make them easier to spear with my fork.

I’m learning that I like these in salads:

  • Crunchy and nutty warmth: Toasted sliced almonds, toasted pine nuts, and home-made glazed pecans; walnuts not as much as the others, actually
  • Something sweet: strawberries and grapes so far; maybe apples or pears? (oh my)
  • A simple dressing, a bit on the sweet/sour side: balsamic vinaigrette, mostly, but I don’t need fancy oil
  • Maybe some additional protein: sliced eggs, nuts, or pairing the salad with a lentil soup

I just have to get through enough salads so that I can get back to writing about other things. I’m getting better at photography, though! =)

An abundance of cilantro, now freezing in cubes; strawberries and peas

Awesome Garden Lady down the street gave us two large bunches of lettuce and a bag of cilantro, so I made an Asian-inspired salad yesterday: toasted sesame seeds, cilantro, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and the rest of our bag of baby greens, dressed with tamari and olive oil. The cilantro made it feel like eating one of those Vietnamese sandwiches, except without the meat. Yum.

Today I spent the morning chopping up the rest of the cilantro and packing it into our ice-cube tray for freezing. That way, we can easily add cilantro to stir-fries, soups, and other meals.

Many herbs freeze well, which is a good thing because they usually come in large bundles.

In other news, look at what’s in the garden:

The first of many, I hope!

Getting the hang of community-supported agriculture

I’m starting to get the hang of working with our community-supported agriculture box: a weekly assortment of fruits and vegetables from farms in Ontario. I finished last week’s lettuce today, supplementing it with lettuce from our cut-and-come-again planter (which is actually working as planned!) and topping it with two eggs from last week’s share.

Today we picked up baby greens, two kinds of lettuce, broccoli sprouts, two tomatoes, kale, basil, green onions, and a dozen eggs.

I like processing the vegetables as soon as possible so that I can lock in their freshness and avoid waste. I chopped the green onions and added them to last week’s freezer bag; they’ll see us through many recipes. I made lentil soup with the leftover asparagus stock, the green onion ends, and some carrots we had in the fridge. I ground the Genovese basil into pesto and popped it into the freezer. I baked half of the bunch of kale as chips, making sure to go easy on the oil and salt. The results:

 

The kale chips came out just right.

Kale chips: Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Wash, dry, and tear a bunch of kale into bite-sized pieces, removing the stems. Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of salt. Spread kale on a baking sheet covered with parchment. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or however long it takes for the kale to become crispy but not burnt. Munch away guiltlessly.

Summer is short enough as it is. I might as well eat like it. =)

Make-ahead meals

Patricia wanted to know what sort of meals we like preparing in advance. We often make large batches of frozen meals so that we can take them to work or have them as quick, no-fuss dinners. Here are some of our staples:

  • Shake’n Bake chicken: well, really, the generic equivalent of it; baked breadcrumb-style chicken with rice and vegetables
  • Jerk chicken: mostly W-, as it’s too spicy for me
  • Lasagna
  • Chicken curry
  • Tomato sauce for pasta
  • Pesto
  • Rotisserie chicken from the supermarket
  • Roast turkey
  • Soup
  • Rice and beans
  • Baked beans
  • Home-made bagels or biscuits
  • Chicken pot pie or turkey pot pie
  • Shepherd’s pie

What are yours?

2011-06-15 Wed 20:33