Sunday, August 30, 2009

A week in review, meal plans, and the week ahead

I finally canned peaches this past week. The new method (post to come soon) is soooo much easier than the method I used last summer. I also froze more corn kernels, beans, and zucchini. Still didn't have time to do regular salsa, though. Maybe I can find the time for that this week, though it'll be tough. I have a feeling I'll be working long days this week with several all-day meetings scheduled. Even the long holiday weekend is pretty booked up. We'll be going to a wedding reception on Saturday. Then Sunday, we'll be at the lake for a family party, and Monday we're heading to Lansing to celebrate Kevin's Grandpa's birthday. This Friday will be my last Friday off of the summer... I've had almost every Friday off all summer, but that ends this week, sadly. I'll still be off every other Friday, at least, though.

Anyway, here's what I'm thinking for meals this week...

Sunday - pork loin roast (from the pork that my BFF's brother raised) with local organic potatoes, local organic onions, and local organic carrots in the crockpot; sliced fresh pears and organic grapes; apple pie
Meatless Monday - zucchini (from the garden) black bean (home-canned, organic) burritos; all-natural tortilla chips; home-canned pineapple-peach salsa; sliced fresh local pesticide-free peaches
Tuesday - BBQ pulled pork sandwiches (if there is enough leftover from Sunday's roast, otherwise we'll have burgers); not enough leftover from the roast and Kevin took it for lunch, so burgers it is; baked zucchini fries (from the garden); sliced fresh pesticide-free nectarines and organic grapes; leftover apple pie
Wednesday - organic whole wheat penne pasta with local organic cherry tomatoes, local organic onions, zucchini from the garden, local organic garlic, organic EVOO, and parmesan cheese; sliced fresh local pesticide-free peaches and nectarines
Thursday - taco/nacho bar, fresh mango and organic bananas
Friday - chicken parmesan in the crockpot; sauteed green beans (from the garden), zucchini (from the garden), local organic onions, and local organic kohlrabi in EVOO and local organic garlic; canned mandarin oranges; pigs or kraut bierock; fresh mango and organic grapes
Saturday - We'll be in Greenville for a wedding reception.

As for extras this week, like I said above, it'll be quite busy this week, so not sure how much time I'll have. I know I'll be harvesting and freezing more beans, zucchini, peppers, and carrots from the garden. I think I am going to dry a couple trays of carrot coins, celery, and some more zucchini, too. I planted tons of carrots this year and am just starting to harvest them, so I'll need to come up with some creative uses for them, I think. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

And like I mentioned, if I have the time, I'd like to make up a batch of regular tomato salsa. We'll just have to see what time I have, though. I would also like to make up some polish cabbage rolls and german meat pockets to freeze to use some of the cabbage from the garden. I think my grandparents are going to come over on Friday afternoon to make up some large batches of pigs and kraut bierock and to get some play time in with Carson.

I also have some shopping to do this week. I need to get a few things for Carson... some long-sleeve white onesies if I can find any that fit still, otherwise just some long sleeve white tees to wear under things. A good part of last winter's/spring's clothes still fit him, so that is good, though they won't last long... the sleeves are getting short. We had to put most of his pants up because they're too short - and he's too skinny for the next size up (18-24m), so I need to find another belt. He has one, but I'd like another one, too. I wish they made boys' pants in slims like they do girls' pants so we'd have a chance of finding pants that fit well... And I want to buy his Halloween costume, too. Hopefully I can manage to get all the shopping done during lunch on Thursday since it'll be the only lunch I take all week.. the rest will be working lunches during all-day meetings.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Zucchini Fries

We've had these a couple of times now, just haven't had the time to post them. My SIL Mary posted this recipe/method for baked zucchini fries at the beginning of the month and I knew I wanted to try them right away. I've made zucchini fries in years past and have had them in restaurants many times, but they've always been deep fried. These are so yummy and much better for you! I've been freezing zucchini cut into fries from our garden so we can enjoy these year-round, too!

I'll update later with a picture.

Baked Zucchini Fries

2 medium zucchinis, cut in 3" sticks
1 egg white
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded parmesan (I just used the boughten grated parm)
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Heat oven to 425. Beat egg white and milk in bowl. Mix cheese and bread crumbs in another bowl. Spray baking sheet. Dip zucchini in egg mixture. Then in bread crumb mixture. Place on baking sheet. Bake 25-30 min. Flip them half way through to evenly brown.

Oven Fried Okra

I spent the first 6+ years of life down in Memphis, Tennessee. I had a southern drawl, called all of the carbonated soft drinks 'coke,' and loved one of the traditional southern vegetables - okra. Living in Michigan ever since, I've lost the southern drawl, have learned to call soft drinks 'pop' (though the generic 'coke' reference does surface from time to time by accident), but luckily have never lost my love of okra. I love it and definitely don't cook with it enough up here in the north. I wish it had grown better in my garden this year - I was really looking forward to a good okra crop. But I planted it late (forgot about it) and that coupled with the cool summer we've had, it just hasn't had a chance. From the farmers I talk to at the farmers' markets, they're having very low yields, even planting it on time. Maybe next year I'll get it right and have a nice okra crop of my own. For now, I'm relying on the farmers' markets. Even though I love okra, Kevin could take it or leave it, really. He really likes it fried, but I really hate frying things - both for health and I hate getting burned with drops of oil flying about. So I usually oven-fry my okra - always in seasoned cornmeal and usually with some egg to help adhere the coating to the veggie. But I came across this method on RecipeZaar recently and thought it'd be worth a try. All it does it eliminate the egg step. It actually worked out ok and it tasted great! I'll probably use this as my default method from now on.

I'll update later with a picture.

Oven Fried Okra

1 1/4 cups cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
(I add garlic powder, too)
4 cups fresh okra
nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine corn meal, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Wash okra; drain. Trim ends and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Dredge in corn meal mixture to coat well. Okra should be moist in order for corn meal to adhere. If necessary, rinse okra again in water before dredging. Spread okra in a single layer in prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Meal plans and the week ahead

Just a quick post of the meals this week...

Sunday ~ We're going down to Rochester Hills to hang out with our good friends, Ben and Kati, and go out to eat at TGI Fridays.
Meatless Monday ~ herbed baked eggs, sauteed green beans, kohlrabi and zucchini, whole wheat toast with home-canned strawberry jam, fresh grapes, cantaloupe, blackberries, and red raspberries
Tuesday ~ grilled steak, zucchini fries, steamed green beans and corn, fresh grapes, cantaloupe, blackberries, and red raspberries
Wednesday ~ another meatless meal... peas and cheese tortellini (with peas, zucchini, corn, and bell pepper), sliced fresh nectarines, pears, and blueberries
Thursday ~ I'll be in Windsor all day, so we'll need something easy... grilled chicken breasts marinated in italian dressing, grilled corn on the cob, green beans and kohlrabi sauteed with garlic and EVOO, sliced fresh nectarines, plums, and pears Carson ate at my parents' house... Kevin ate leftovers... and I couldn't stomach anything at all the entire day...
Friday ~ We'll be meeting up with SIL and her kids in the morning and visiting my grandma in the afternoon, so probably will do chicken corn chowder with chipotle in the crockpot, fresh blueberries, peaches and plums change of plans do to feeling too sad to see people... ran a few errands, but mostly just stayed home... grilled steak, oven fried okra, sliced fresh nectarines and pears
Saturday ~ We'll be going to East Lansing in the late afternoon - first to Impression 5 Science Center, then to dinner at Noodles and Co., then to a party at my old boss' house in East Lansing.

Hopefully I'll be doing some heavy duty weeding in the veggie garden this week... if the mosquitoes settle down a bit at least. I can't even stand being back there to harvest the veggies for more than five minutes at a time right now... they are sooooo terrible! I might also can some peaches if I find some at the farmers' markets this week. We'll just have to see about that. I might try making and canning a peach BBQ sauce, as well... but maybe not. Just depends on how much time I end up having.

Pineapple Peach Salsa

I came across another salsa recipe on RecipeZaar that I knew I wanted to try. It was for peach salsa, but I wanted to make a pineapple-peach salsa. So I substituted half of the peaches for canned pineapple. Just a heads up, you cannot use fresh pineapple and safely boiling water bath this salsa, as the fresh pineapple has a lower pH than does the canned pineapple. So I made this tonight. It's so yummy! I can't wait to have some! We love to eat chips and salsa, so this will be a great salsa to have on hand!

Pineapple Peach Salsa

3 cups chopped peaches
3 cups chopped canned pineapple
3 large fresh tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped red onions
4 medium jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 large sweet red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons liquid honey
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Blanch peaches, cool in cold water, peel, pit and chop to measure 3 cups. Drain and chop canned pineapple to measure 3 cups. Blanch tomatoes and cool with cold water, peel, remove seeds and cut into chunks. In a large stainless or enamel cooking pot, combine peaches, tomatoes, onion, Jalapeno peppers, sweet red pepper, cilantro, vinegar, honey, garlic, cumin and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. If the mixture is too sloppy or soupy, boil for a few minutes longer so that some of the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add more cayenne pepper if you desire a spicier taste.

Ladle salsa into hot jars to within 1/4 inch of top for headspace. Remove air bubbles by sliding a rubber spatula between the glass and salsa. Re-adjust the headspace to 1/4 inch. Wipe jar rim to remove any stickiness. Center lid on top of jar; apply screw band just until finger tight. Place jars in a hot bath in a canner and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Remove jars and place on a towel, then cover with another towel to cool slowly.

Makes 8 half-pints.

Lissan Al Kadi

I decided to try an Iraqi dish for dinner last night. It is this month's challenge on the Walima arabic cooking blog. I love, love, love middle-eastern foods, so I was very excited when I came across this blog a month or so ago. I've never had anything that I've known to be Iraqi cuisine, but these sounded simple and tasty enough. We don't like eggplant at all, so I substituted zucchini instead, but otherwise kept everything else the same. So I guess its not truly authentic or anything, but it sure was good! And actually quite easy to make, too! Definitely a keeper for us! (I'll update later with a picture once I upload them off the camera)

Lissan Al Kadi - Eggplant Wrapped Meat

2 large eggplants
1/2 - 1 cup corn oil (if frying eggplant)
2 lbs. Lean ground meat
1 medium onion (1 cup) finely minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

For the sauce:
2 tbsp corn oil
1 large onion diced
1 large tomato sliced (optional)
1 large tomato peeled and chopped
14 oz. tomato sauce
1 cup beef or chicken stock
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp turmeric

Peel eggplant, trim off the top and bottom. Stand eggplant up on cutting board and slice vertically, 1/8" thin. Sprinkle generously with salt, place in a strainer for about 1 hour. Rinse off the salt and strain eggplant to dry.

Heat about 4 tbsp corn oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant slices in batches, turning once to brown both sides. Be careful not to burn. Add more oil as needed. Drain cooked eggplant slices on paper towels. Low fat alternative: Place eggplant slices on baking sheets lined with foil and brushed with corn oil. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 20-30 minutes until brown, turning the eggplant halfway. (I baked mine)

Mix together the ground meat, onion, salt and pepper. Divide the meat into sausage shaped portions 1" thick and 2" long. Place a portion of the meat stuffing at one end of an eggplant slice and begin wrapping the eggplant around it. Place the rolls in a baking dish and layer the tomato slices on top (optional).

In a saucepan heat 2 tbsp oil and saute the diced onions. When soft, add the chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper and turmeric. Add tomato sauce, beef or chicken stock and lemon juice to taste. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Pour the sauce over the rolls in the baking dish, cover with aluminum paper and bake for 1 hour (or until done) at 450 degrees.

Zucchini Salsa

So we're back from vacation and I haven't wasted much time getting back into the kitchen. As expected, the garden is overgrown with weeds and veggies ready to harvest, so I've been picking and freezing yet more green and yellow beans... I never thought I'd say I regretted doing so many succession plantings... but I'm ready for the beans to be DONE. We had so many zukes ready for picking... 14 of them!! That's a lot of zucchini! I have given half of them away and am trying to use up the rest of them before we have more ready for picking today or tomorrow... I think I'll be giving some more away. :) We also had peppers and tomatoes ready to be picked, as well as our first few ears of sweet corn, and I can start digging up some of the carrots anytime now, I think. Maybe I'll get to that later today... At least the weather is a little cooler these next couple of days... it'll slow things down a bit. :) Anyway... on to my post... and then on to getting ready to meet up with my SIL, BIL, and their two kids for breakfast!

I came across this recipe on RecipeZaar and figured I should try it out. It had great ratings, I've been wanting to try some different kinds of salsa this year, and I have a major bumper crop of zucchini, so I figured this was a perfect recipe to try. It was very easy to make... especially since I cheated an used some organic canned diced tomatoes. :) I only made a half batch since I didn't think I really needed 10-12 pints of one particular salsa. Plus, I only had enough peppers and onions on hand to prep a half batch yesterday morning. It says its a 2-day process, but I just prepped it early yesterday morning and let it sit all day. Then did the second part and canned it in the evening right before going to bed last night. Worked out great! I tasted it as I was filling the jars and its delicious! I'm very excited to have this sitting on my pantry shelves! Next up... pineapple-peach salsa!! :) (I'll update with a picture once I upload them off my camera)

Zucchini Salsa

10 cups zucchini, peeled & shredded
4 onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped (I substituted a medium-heat Hungarian wax pepper)
1/4 cup pickling salt
1 tablespoon pickling salt
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pepper
5 cups chopped ripe tomatoes (I used organic canned diced, drained with the juice reserved)
2 tablespoons ClearJel
12 ounces tomato paste

Day one: In a large bowl combine; Zucchini, onions, green pepper, red pepper and the salt Mix together cover and let stand over night.

Day two: Rinse, drain well and put into a large pot then add mustard, garlic, cumin, vinegar, brown sugar, pepper flakes, salt,cornstarch, nutmeg, pepper, tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars and put lids and rings on. Pressure can at 5 pounds of pressure for 15 minutes.

Yield: 10-12 pints

Note: I pressure canned mine b/c of all the low-acid veggies. Some people think it'd be ok boiling water canning it for 15 minutes. I'd rather be safe than sorry, though. So I did the pressure canning. :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

And we're off!

We're off on vacation this week, so no meal plans or any posting while I'm gone. We'll be headed north to Kevin's grandparents' trailer up on Big Star Lake in Baldwin, MI. We're planning to do many different day trips to Ludington, Traverse City, maybe Pentwater, maybe the Sleeping Bear Dunes. We're going to just play it all by ear. And maybe we'll be home earlier than expected if the weather forecast holds true... cross your fingers for no rain!!!!

I hope we don't miss a lot of stuff from the garden while we're gone. Beans and zucchini are still coming in strong. Last night, I went out and picked another seven zucchinis... and tons of beans... and I'd been out there two nights before. I shredded all the zucchini into another ten 2-cup bags of shredded zukes that are now in the freezer. I froze the zucchini I'd picked on Friday night into fries, so we've got a gallon of zuke fries in the freezer now, too. And I blanched and froze all the beans. I also picked up another couple dozen ears of corn this week, which we used some of in our meals. I blanched and froze some on the cob, and then some off the cob again, too. Our freezer is getting full!

Anyway, that's enough for now. Have a great week!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fresh Corn Saute

I tried another side dish recipe from my Simply in Season cookbook for a fresh corn saute. Its very simple, very quick, and very tasty! A great way to use up some fresh corn while its in season!

Fresh Corn Saute

3 Tablespoons butter
1 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
4 cups corn
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons red sweet pepper, diced, optional
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I left this off)
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (I left this out since I cannot eat bacon)

Melt butter in frypan. Saute green pepper and onion for 2 minutes. Add corn, water, honey, salt, pepper, and red pepper and stir well. Cover and cook over medium heat 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle cheese and bacon over top and serve.

Cheddar Corn Fritters

I made cheddar corn fritters from Taste and Tell this week. I've been wanting to try them for ages, but just hadn't gotten around to it. I figured, with all this yummy sweet corn in season right now, this would be the perfect opportunity. These were so, so good! We all loved them. Carson ate a whole one by himself and part of a second one. So I'll definitely have to make these again with the local corn I've been freezing these last few weeks. I've seen fritter recipes using other veggies, too, so I think they'd be good with other veggies in there as substitutes for the corn, too. I'll have to do some experimenting. These made a lot so I froze quite a few... not sure how they'll thaw... but figured I'd try it so they didn't go to waste.

Cheddar Corn Fritters

3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
3 ears corn, plus corn milk (or 2 cups corn kernels)*
3 tablespoons diced red or green bell pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons melted butter
Vegetable oil for pan frying

If using fresh corn, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the shucked and cleaned corn to the water and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from water. *Cut kernels from ears of corn and then scrape the cobs with a table knife to release all the milk. Catch this milk in a bowl and add to the batter. Stir together flour, sugar, chili powder, if using, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Combine corn and corn milk, if available, bell pepper, if using, eggs, water and cheese in a bowl. Add to flour mixture all at once. Stir just until batter is evenly moistened. Stir in melted butter.

Pour oil into large skillet to a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat over medium heat until it registers 350 degrees on a deep-frying thermometer. Using a serving spoon and working in batches to avoid crowding, drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil. You will make about 16 fritters in all. Pan fry on the first side until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. Turn once and fry until golden brown on the second side, 2 minutes more. Drain fritters on absorbent towels and season with salt.

If needed, you can keep the first batches of fritters warm in an oven at 200 degrees while you finish frying the rest. Serve at once.

Tuna Macaroni Salad

I'll be playing catch up again. I have so many posts that I'm behind on... I doubt I'll get to them all before we leave for vacation, but we'll see. Here's the first and actually the most recent since I just made this early this morning. I decided to take this salad to the going away party for my cousins this afternoon since I had all the ingredients on hand already. I got this recipe years ago from my BFF Jaime's mom, Bev. This is soooo yummy! I love the eggs in it - I'd never had eggs in a tuna salad before this. I add peas and green peppers for some more veggies and some green color since I skip the olives. Definitely a great cold salad to take to potlucks.

Tuna Macaroni Salad

1 lb. elbow macaroni (I used organic whole wheat rotini)
1 can tuna in water
3 boiled eggs, chopped
1/4 small onion, diced very small (I used about 1/2 of a small organic Walla Walla)
sliced green olives (left these out b/c we don't like them)
just less than 1/4 cup milk (organic)
1 teaspoon mustard (organic)
1/4 teaspoon sugar (organic, free-trade certified, raw)
salt to flavor
3/4 cup Miracle Whip Light

Boil pasta, drain. Make sauce without salt. Add noodles, olives, and onion. Cut up eggs, add. Stir to incorporate.

(I added half of a green bell pepper, diced small, and about 1/2 cup frozen peas).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Zucchini Tacos

I tried a recipe from my Recipes from America's Small Farms: Fresh Ideas for the Season's Bounty cookbook for zucchini tacos on Monday night. I continue to harvest more zucchini than I know what to do with (almost... I have frozen a lot of it that I can't use fresh), so I'm looking for all sorts of ways to use it up. These sounded very interesting when I read through the recipe in the cookbook, so I figured we should try them. I'm so glad we did! We all loved them! Even Kevin said he thought they were really, really good... he did say it'd be nice to have some chicken in them for some meat, but thought they were great just as they were, too. He didn't even complain once about taking the leftovers for lunch the next day. They were so good! They were nice and sweet and creamy and so fresh-tasting! This is a definite keeper for us! I'll update with a picture once I get it off my camera.

Mexican-Style Zucchini Tacos

1 1/2 Tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped OR 2/3 of a 28oz can of whole tomatoes, drained (I just used a can of organic fire-roasted crushed tomatoes)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large fresh poblano peppers (I just used a bell pepper since that's what I had)
Kernels from 1 large ear of fresh corn
4 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 Tablespoons cilantro
2/3 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream (I used heavy cream)
1/2 cup mexican queso fresco (I just used shredded cheddar since that's what I had)
fresh, warm tortillas

Preparing the flavoring base: Measure the oil into a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until richly browned, about 8 minutes. While the onion is cooking, coarsely puree the tomatoes in a food processor or blender. Add the garlic to the browned onion, cook for 1 minute, stirring. Then add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Roasting the peppers: Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, turning regularly until the skin is blistered and blackened on all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand for 5 minutes. Rub off the blackened skins, then pull out the stems and seed pods. Rinse briefly to remove the stray seeds and bits of skin. Slice into 1/4 inch strips. (I skipped the roasting step and just added my peppers to the skillet when I added the garlic. I'll try the roasting next time, but I just needed to cut some corners to save a little time.)

Finishing the dish: Uncover the skillet and raise the heat to medium-high. Stir in the peppers, corn, zucchini, cilantro, and cream. Cook, stirring frequently, until the zucchini is crisp-tender and the liquid has thickened enough to coat the veggies nicely, about 8 minutes. Taste and season with salt. Serve in a decorative bowl, sprinkle with cheese, and pass the tortillas separately for do-it-yourself tacos.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A week in review, meal plans, and the week ahead

A little later than normal this week, but better late than never! Its been a very busy week. Lots of farmers' markets or farm stands, shopping, garden work and harvest, extra cleaning in the house, etc. We moved Carson into a toddler bed yesterday - its a race car! And he LOVES it! So we re-arranged his room a little and I did some extra deep cleaning in there. I've cleaned about half of his closet, too, and I plan to finish up the other half this week. And we started packing up a bunch of toys - his infant toys. We've been feeling overrun with toys lately, so its nice to regain just a little bit of order on that front again. With all the rain we had yesterday, we couldn't work outside, so we decided to re-arrange our living room and do some extra cleaning in there, too. Its nice to have change - we've had our living room furniture arranged the old way for the last two years now, so it was much-needed!

So on to the farmers' markets and farm stands... Carson, my mom, and I went to the Grand Blanc farmers' market last Sunday. They were having one of their kids' days, so Carson got to sit in a fire truck and check out a police car, a road commission truck, and some old cars. He also got to sit on a pony - though he liked petting it better than riding it. I didn't buy much... but here's the run-down:
~ Fresh, locally made jerky and sausage sticks (Carson LOVES the sausage sticks!)
~ 2 quarts blue crop blueberries
~ 1 fresh, Great Lakes salmon fillet

I also made a quick trip to Eichelbergs' farm down the road from me for 2 dozen ears of corn last Sunday. Their corn is the best corn we've ever had... by far! Even though we're growing our own corn this year (not ready yet, though), we can't resist the Eichelberg corn! We always end up frequenting their farm stand at least once every couple weeks every summer. We ate a dozen of those ears fresh and I removed the corn from the cobs of the other dozen, blanched it, and froze it.

On Thursday, I made another stop at Eichelbergs' to pick up:
~ another 2 dozen ears of corn (all of which was blanched and frozen)
~ 2 small cantaloupes (for fresh eating)
~ 1 quart potatoes

I also stopped in at the Fenton Farmers' Market on Thursday evening. I picked up:
~ 1 quart sugar plums (for fresh eating... soooooo good, juicy, and sweet!!)
~ 2 quarts redhaven peaches (for fresh eating and baking)
~ 1 quart blueberries (for fresh eating and baking)

I also harvested tons more beans, zucchini, and cauliflower from the garden. I've frozen another two 1-gallon bags of beans, three bags of grated zucchini in 2-cup portions, half a 1-gallon bag of cauliflower. And we've eaten the rest fresh.

On to the meals this week...

Sunday ~ We're going to a local county fair for a Moto-X race, so we'll eat fair food... yeah... not really looking forward to the fair food, but oh well. :)
Meatless Monday ~ mexican style zucchini tacos, cheddar corn fritters
Tuesday ~ grilled chicken, zucchini fries, fresh corn saute. We went out to eat (at Olive Garden) with the Odykirks to see my Great-Aunt Sandy who is in town from Oklahoma.
Wednesday ~ kohlrabi with peas and potatoes, bruschetta
Thursday ~ stir fry to use up all the misc. veggies in the fridge before we're gone for a week
Friday ~ slow cooker enchiladas
Saturday ~ We'll be going to my cousins' going away party - they're moving to Williamsburg, VA soon. I'll be making something to share, but haven't decided what that will be yet...

Most of this week will be spent getting ready to be gone next week... we're going up to Kevin's grandparents' trailer on Big Star Lake for a good part of the week. We'll be heading up next Sunday and will stay through Thursday at least, maybe head back on Friday morning. We'll be kind of playing everything by ear. We'll spend some time out on the pontoon on the lake, just playing at the small beach at the trailer, and we'll be doing some day trips - Ludington, Traverse City/Leelanau Peninsula, and possibly to Duck Lake to meet up with my SIL and niece.

So, in preparation for vacation, I'll be making sure we're caught up on laundry, working on packing throughout the week (need to make a packing list first, though! :) , and getting everything caught up in the garden and kitchen. Its prime harvest season, so I'm sure we'll come back to lots of work in the garden (and kitchen) when we return from vacation. I doubt I'll do many farmers' markets this week, unless its to stock up on stuff to take with us to the trailer. Although, we won't be taking a ton of food with us up there since we're planning to do so many day trips, we won't really be at the trailer to cook much... it'll be nice! I do know that I'll be making some zucchini brownies on either Saturday night or Sunday morning next week to take along for something sweet at the trailer. But other than that, I haven't given it much thought as to what we'll eat while we're there... need to get on that soon, too... :)

One extra thing that I really would like to do... but might have to put off till the weekend we get home... is can some pineapple-peach salsa. I found a super yummy sounding canning recipe for it and would really like to make some. We'll just have to see what time allows, though... I'm guessing I'll have to put it off till the following weekend...

Zucchini Yeast Rolls

This recipe comes from my Simply in Season cookbook. I've been wanting to make these for a few weeks now, but finally had some time for it last week. These are so very yummy! And healthier than a normal roll. You really can't taste the zucchini... its a nice way to sneak in just a few more veggies! :) I got 25 rolls out of this (just larger than golf balls when I rolled them). I kept some out for fresh eating with meals and have frozen the majority of them. I'll update later with a picture once I upload my pictures.

Zucchini Yeast Rolls

2-3 cups shredded zucchini or summer squash
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup dry milk powder (left this out b/c mine was old and I threw it away)
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon ground mace (optional... I left it out)
1 3/4-2 1/2 cups bread flour

Combine the zucchini/squash, water, sugar, oil, and salt in a saucepan and heat slowly until warm, stirring to blend. Or warm in the microwave.

Combine 1 cup bread flour, whole wheat flour, milk powder, yeast, and mace if using in a mixing bowl. Add liquid ingredients and beat well until smooth. (I used my KitchenAid mixer). Stir in enough additional bread flour to make a soft dough. Knead 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, turn to grease both sides. Cover with a damp towel and let rise for 10 minutes. Shape into rolls and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees until golden brown, 25-35 minutes. Brush with milk for a soft crust and let stand 5-10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Compound Butters

This is from my Asparagus to Zucchini cookbook. We've grilled corn on the cob every year when its in season for as long as I can remember, so this is nothing new, but I've almost always just used plain old butter when grilling them with a little salt and pepper. So this is basically for the compound butters. I'll post all four of the compound butters, I used the lemon thyme butter - so tasty!! I think we'll try the ancho scallion butter next time. And I just used the foil method, which is generally how I grill corn on the cob. I've done them in the husks, but I like the foil best. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture, but I think you can get a pretty good visual since most corn on the cob looks the same. :)

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Compound Butters

Husk method: Pull husk back on corn without removing it. Remove the silk, then pull husks up over corn. Twist top of husks to help close them. Soak corn in a bowl of water for about 10 minutes, then put onto a hot grill. Grill for about 20-25 minutes, turning the corn so that each side cooks evenly. Be careful when opening the husks - they're hot. Serve plain or with compound butters.

Foil method: Remove husks and silk from the corn and soak the cobs in water for about 5 minutes. Smear about 1/2 tablespoon of butter on a square of aluminum foil, then place the cob onto the foil and wrap tightly. Put foil packets onto hot grill and cook about 20 minutes, turning so corn cooks evenly on all sides. Pass the compound butter and dig in!

Compound butters: The method is the same for the following butters. Put all ingredients in a mini food processor and pulse until all ingredients have combined. The butters can then be rolled into logs in plastic wrap and refrigerated or frozen for future use.

Jalapeno Lime Cilantro Butter:
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon finely minced jalapeno
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon minced cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt

Lemon Thyme Butter:
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt

Ancho Scallion Butter:
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 Tablespoon finely chopped scallion
1/2 teaspoon salt

Roasted Pepper Butter:
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon minced roasted red pepper
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
dash fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Peach-Blueberry Cobbler

I've got a lot of catching up to do with posts from last week. First up, a fresh peach and blueberry cobbler. I found a recipe on RecipeZaar that sounded like a good one to try. I used some fresh chopped peaches and some fresh blue crop blueberries. This was so yummy! Definitely hit the spot! My parents tried some when they stopped by and thought it was delicious, too. I think most cobbler recipes are pretty similar, so I doubt this is anything special, really, but it'll be one of my go-to cobbler recipes from now on.

Fresh Peach Cobbler

6 cups peeled sliced peaches (I just eye-balled it between peaches and blueberries)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Filling: Mix peaches, sugar and flour together and pour into a 15-inch baking dish.

Batter: Combine 2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in food processor. Process to combine. Add the milk and melted butter. Process until smooth. Spoon batter over the peaches, making sure you spread to edge of dish.

Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon over the top.

Bake in center of oven about one hour.

Crust should be brown and crisp on the outside and cooked all the way through. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Variation: Blackberry, blueberry or raspberry cobbler--omit cinnamon and nutmeg.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

I also had time to bake a batch of blueberry zucchini bread tonight. It was a productive evening! I found this recipe on AllRecipes and it sounded too yummy not to try it. You can use your favorite zucchini bread recipe and just add the blueberries if you want, too. But this one is very tasty! I made some modifications to the recipe, which I've noted below. I made enough to freeze some, too... three mini loaves and one large loaf to freeze, plus one medium loaf to eat this week. We'll be lucky if it lasts a few days, as good as this stuff is! Carson LOVES it, so do Kevin and I... and Kevin doesn't normally care for zucchini bread... but the blueberries in this remind him of blueberry muffins, so its all good. :)

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil (use applesauce or grapeseed oil)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour (use 1 cup whole wheat pastry and 2 cups whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 pint fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease 4 mini-loaf pans.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Fold in the zucchini. Beat in the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Gently fold in the blueberries. Transfer to the prepared mini-loaf pans.

Bake 50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of loaf comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

***UPDATED 7/12/2010... I made this bread last night with healthier ingredients. I used grapeseed oil instead of canola oil. I also substituted 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour and 2 cups whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour. The bread was still super moist, soft, and delicious!

Salmon in Foil Packets

I changed up the meal plans this week after my visit to the Grand Blanc farmers' market yesterday. The Bayport Fish Co. was there from the thumb area with fresh Great Lakes fish, so I had to buy some salmon. I decided to try a Giada DeLaurentiis recipe for salmon in foil packets. This was a super simple, quick, and tasty recipe! We all really liked it. This was Carson's first taste of real salmon (he'd had the canned stuff in those salmon cakes a few months back, but that's it) and he really liked it once he tried it. He's in this phase right now where he doesn't want to try anything until you prove to him (by eating it) that its good. Anyway, this is a great keeper recipe! I just made two servings tonight, so I'll be trying another salmon recipe tomorrow night to use up the rest of the side of salmon. Its so nice to have good, quality seafood for a decent price!

Salmon Baked in Foil

4 (5 ounces each) salmon fillets
2 teaspoons olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, drained
2 chopped shallots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sprinkle salmon with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir the tomatoes, shallots, 2 tablespoons of oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Place a salmon fillet, oiled side down, atop a sheet of foil. Wrap the ends of the foil to form a spiral shape. Spoon the tomato mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the fish and tomato mixture, covering completely; seal the packets closed. Place the foil packet on a heavy large baking sheet. Repeat until all of the salmon have been individually wrapped in foil and placed on the baking sheet. Bake until the salmon is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the foil packets to plates and serve.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Green Bean Stew

Tonight I made an arabic green bean stew. I've been looking for a good, authentic recipe for awhile now, and this is definitely a great one! Its from Jaime's Aunt Pati and it is DELISH!! Definitely a keeper recipe and something we'll have again and again. Its very easy to throw together, but it does take some cook time... but its effortless cook time. I used fresh yellow beans from our garden since that is what I'd picked this morning. It'd look nice with a mix of green and yellow beans, which is probably how I'll make it next time (using the frozen beans from the garden next time). If you don't like or have lamb, this would be very good with beef, or even with potatoes to make it vegetarian. Also, a note... you can find the mixed spices at your local arabic grocery store... almost all of the decent sized cities have them nowadays. If I can find it in Flint... anyone can find it! :)

Arabic Green Bean Stew

2 lbs green beans
1 to 1.5 lbs lamb meat, cubed
1 onion chopped
3 tbs butter or olive oil
1 to 2 cloves garlic minced (to taste)
2 C water (approx)
1 small can tomato paste
1.5 to 2 tsp allspice or mixed spices
1.5 tsp salt (to taste)
.5 tsp pepper (to taste)

In a 6 quart (or larger) stock pot, brown lamb meat, onions and garlic in oil or butter. When meat is evenly browned on all sides and onions are becoming transparent add allspice or mixed spices to the pot. Stir until evenly distributed. If using fresh green beans, add now and sauté for 10 mins. In a separate bowl, combine tomato paste and water stirring with a whisk to combine thoroughly. Add tomato mixture to meat along with salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for approx 55 mins. If using canned or frozen beans, add approx 20 to 25 mins after simmering starts. Serve with rice.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A week in review, meal plans, and the week ahead

I only hit up one farmers' market this week - on Wednesday. We had too much going on last Sunday to make it to Swartz Creek or Grand Blanc and that's ok because our garden is producing very well, so we're making up for it that way. Here's a recap...

Wednesday, I went to the Allen Street market in Lansing. I picked up:
10 pounds Blue Crop blueberries
4 purple kohlrabi
3 green kohlrabi
2 huge tomatoes
6 heirloom lemon cucumbers
2 huge heads of broccoli

I've frozen a good amount of the blueberries, we've eaten a good amount fresh, made some blueberry muffins, and I made a blueberry buckle with some, too. The blueberry buckle did not turn out at all. I'm going to give it another try, but in a larger pan, I think. The middle just never set up. The recipe said to use an 8x10 pan and bake it for 25-35 minutes. Well, I used that size pan and had mine baking for a total of 55 minutes and it still hadn't set up. I'm not sure what is going on. The flour isn't old and I've used it successfully in other baking recently. I went back over the recipe and didn't skip any ingredients or get the wrong quantities. The only thing I can figure is that my oven temp. was off just for that morning, for some reason... it was fine before that and has been fine since. So who knows... I'm going to try again, though. Anyway, back to the produce... the kohlrabi... we'll be using some this week and some in later weeks (it keeps a good month in the fridge). The tomatoes are for fresh eating, so are the heirloom cukes. And the broccoli has been blanched and frozen.

The garden is still going strong. I harvested tons of beans, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes again this week. And our first heads of cauliflower! I've either used them fresh in meals, or have frozen them already.

There are lots of things going on this week. We're not really sure what our plans for the weekend will entail... we're waiting to see what Jaime and Jeff are up to (they'll be back from Phoenix on Wednesday and then they are moving out there next Monday morning). So we'll see what their plans are before we really figure out what we're doing. Friday morning, Carson and I have another Toddler Science Day at Impression 5. And there are a few festivals that we wouldn't mind going to if we have the time... the Frankenmuth Farm Fest and the Great Lakes Folk Festival in East Lansing. We'll play those by ear... if we make it, we make it and if we don't, we don't. It won't be a big deal either way. Next Sunday, though, we really want to go to a Moto-X race out at one of the county fairs, so that may sway us to just stick around the ranch on Saturday instead of going to a festival. Anyway... on to the meals... which may change as the week goes on...

Sunday ~ arabic green bean stew, rice, blueberry muffins
Meatless Monday ~ kohlrabi, peas, and potatoes; leftover blueberry muffins... I know we usually do meatless meals on Mondays, but I need to use the salmon I picked up yesterday... so we're having salmon baked in foil tonight instead
Tuesday ~ since I didn't make it last week... crustless quiche with zucchini, beans, and goat cheese using up the fresh salmon before it goes fishy... asian grilled salmon, sesame braised pac choi
Wednesday ~ leftover green bean stew and rice, Ithink maybe I'd do a meatless stuffed zucchini
Thursday ~ I'll be in Detroit all day for meetings and there is a special ski show tonight that we're thinking about going to, so we'll leave it as TBD for now.
Friday ~ TBD... depends on what our plans end up looking like. If we're home, I think I'll just grill burgers, corn on the cob
Saturday ~ TBD... again, it depends on what our plans end up looking like. If we're home, we'll have grilled chicken, grilled zucchini, corn on the cob, and beans

Today, we're hoping to hit up both the Swartz Creek and Grand Blanc markets. There is an ice cream social at the S.C. market today. And G.B. has the organic produce farmers that I'm missing since I didn't get a chance to chat with them last week. So we'll hit both if we can. This week, I'm planning to do some more baking... zucchini-blueberry bread and maybe a blueberry pie. Our corn isn't ready yet, but Eichelbergs has some of their early corn in that I want to pick up this week. They have the best corn in the state, I think... its so good! I'm going to buy enough to eat fresh and to cut off the cob and freeze a gallon bag. I don't want to do too much of it right now since the best stuff is yet to come and we'll have lots of our own corn, too, once its ready. I'll also be working in the garden, as is usual... trying to keep up with the weeds. And we'll just have to see what the week brings before I figure out what other tasks I'll tackle.