Pin It

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Garden shots from early June

We've been planting gardens since early May. Spring was a bit odd, with lots of cold patches and rainy days. Thus, we were a bit late in getting some of our new raised beds built and planted. Once we saw a coyote heading towards our chickens (eeks!), our butts were kicked into gear, however, and we managed to capitalize on a few nice days and get most beds built and planted. Our raised beds serve as extra protection around the run, especially from diggers like coyotes.

Anyway, here are a few pretty shots from two weeks ago:

Trail of Tears Black Beans
Christmas Lima Beans
First cherry tomatoes poking through

Mother Stoddard's Beans


Rat-tailed radishes

Kale (planted early May)

Cabbage (planted early May)

Lemon Thyme (perennial)

Rocky, the rooster

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rhubarb-Strawberry Ice Cream

We celebrated Father's Day with my dad over Cuban Ham and black bean tacos for dinner and fresh rhubarb-strawberry ice cream for dessert. He definitely appreciated this gift. My dad is not one to request seconds, but he had another bowl of this luscious summer cool-down without much prompting. SCORE!

Every spring/early summer, there are two rhubarb treats I feel I must make time to create: rhubarb-ade (plain or in soda form) and a type of rhubarb ice cream. Spring just wouldn't be spring without them. Inevitably, there is a heat wave at the beginning of June, and both of these seem to exist for the sole purpose of taking the edge off.

Last year, we whipped up a batch of a simple rhubarb ice cream. It was perfectly tart and creamy. This year, we tried a rhubarb-strawberry ice cream. It turned out much sweeter, less tart, and very strawberry-y. For me, it's impossible to say which was better - any semblance of a real opinion would be completely mood based. However, for Andy, this version rocked his taste buds, and he's sold on this combination.

Here it is! Hurry and make it - only a week left of rhubarb season:

3 cups of chopped rhubarb
1 cup of water
1.5 cups of sugar
1 pint of strawberries
1.5 cups of half and half
1.5 cups of heavy cream
4 egg yolks

1. Bring water, rhubarb, and half cup of sugar to a boil. Once it's boiling, remove from heat. Allow to sit for five minutes. Drain.
2. Hull and slice the strawberries. Mix with a half cup of sugar.
3. Combine strawberries and rhubarb together. Mash or blend.
4. Whisk egg yolks with the remaining half cup of sugar.
5. Warm the half and half in a saucepan, stirring constantly so not to burn. When the half and half starts to foam, remove from the heat. Slowly pour this into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly as you pour so that  you don't cook the eggs.
6. Once combined, put egg mixture back into saucepan. Warm over low-medium heat, stirring, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon.
7. Remove from heat. Stir in the cream and fruit mixture.
8. Cover mixture and cool. Use ice cream maker to complete.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pineapple Salsa

We got a pineapple in our first fruit CSA box of the season! In a few nights, we're having the Poquettes over to celebrate a belated Father's Day. How do these two random sentences relate? GRILLED PINEAPPLE SALSA  for said get-together.We'll be serving these up with some tortilla chips before dinner. Huge yum factor!

Here's what we used:
pineapple, cored and cut into chunks
chili powder, to taste
2 garlic scapes
1 can of fire-roasted tomatoes (we used our last one!!! ...but you can also buy similar items at the store)
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 bunch of cilantro
juice of one lime

How we made it:
1. Sprinkle chili powder onto pineapple chunks and put into a grill pan. Grill over hot coals, tossing frequently. Do this until pineapple is soft.
2. Drain tomatoes and dice. Also, dice pineapple chunks.
3. Combine all ingredients and season to taste. Refrigerate. Let sit overnight if possible so that the flavors have a chance to meld together.

Vegetarian-Omnivore Harmony

Thoughts from Darcy, the vegetarian in the house
I've been a vegetarian for a decade as of May. I am committed. I don't worry that I'll ever be tempted to return to the Dark Side. I eat better now than I did when I was a meat-eater. I take in more protein because I am conscious about it. I feel lighter, fresher, happier. I love knowing that my dedication to more compassionate eating saves approximately 60 animals per year. I hold no judgements about my fellow meat-eating friends, but I am happy with my choice and intend to advocate for more thoughtful eating (on many levels, not just animal-based ones) until I am out of breath.

My husband knows this to be true; he participates in my rants about factory farming, sends me articles concerning rescues, abuses, and all things related, and he questions food choices all the time. But he can't make the no-meat commitment. He's an omnivore. A compassionate omnivore, but a meat-consuming man nonetheless.

Everyone always assumes that I am married to a vegetarian. When I reply that I'm not, people usually say, "Really? Does that bother you?"  ...and I have to say that before meeting Andy, I had idealized meeting some animal-rights advocating, environment-saving, continent-hopping vegan who I'd be inspired to emulate, realizing that my commitment to vegetarianism wasn't enough. The matters of the  heart don't always turn out the way we plan (of course), and I met and married a compassionate ... meat-eater!!! (SHRIEK!!  GASP!!)

But, he's taught me quite a bit. Meat-eaters can be thoughtful and considerate of the animal whom they're about to consume (CRAZY, I know!). Andy shops around. He doesn't eat at McDonald's (and no offense to those of you who do). He doesn't buy his meat at the chain grocery store down the road. He chooses his meat based on what the animal is allowed and given to eat. He thinks about how far from the farm the slaughterhouse is (because after all, those trucks are packed, moving fast, and scary). He investigates the farms on which the animals are raised, and if possible, drives by and/or visits. And he buys locally and from farmers he's talked with at the farmer's market, at the co-op, or through our CSA.When we have potlucks or go to them, he always volunteers to bring the meat to ensure what he and everyone around him is eating is something he wouldn't be embarrassed to present to Michael Pollen or Barbara Kingsolver.

We also are friends with many who hunt without all of the artificial baits. For me, this seems like a much more ethical, compassionate choice from which to obtain meat than the daily decisions many of us make. While most humans can't imagine shooting a deer, most also have no qualms about eating a steak from the grocery store - a steak that comes from a cow who was fed grain its entire life (not natural), who traveled, possibly across multiple state lines to get to a slaughterhouse, and who never was allowed to frolic or play in its surroundings. I think the venison sounds a bit more up my alley. In fact, had I married a hunter, I might be eating a different diet right  now. Who knows?

Ethical eating is a complicated thing. Food involves memories, tastes, textures, beliefs, culture, and family. One's choices offend someone, while to someone else those choices deserve applause. The best we can do is all work for kinder systems and cultural norms. Ones that harm the environment less. Ones that harm living things less. Of course, for many of my veggie readers, you might be thinking: Eating small-scale farm meat is not enough.Hunting is still killing., etc., etc. I understand, but I feel those are a beginning. And  compromises. I tend to think we veggies are not going to convert everyone, so we have to advocate for and support kinder, more compassionate farms, transport systems, and slaughterhouses, and we have to applaud those who venture into the woods to obtain their meat for their families naturally.

And, back to living with a (screech!) Meat-Eater!!!....People wonder what happens with The Meat in our house. The gross factor. The thick slab of flesh on the counter or the bloody one dethawing on a white plate in the fridge surrounded by smelly, red blood. Many of my vegetarian friends ask me, ""Really? You're married to a meat-eater? But how do you cook? Doesn't his meat gross you out?"

To that, I say...take a look at what we cooked tonight. We grilled. He had a burger (from Grazers, aka Harmony Valley Farm; Viroqua, WI) with grilled veggies, and I had grilled scallions and asparagus over arugula. I love these meals! So simple. So delicious. So us.  ...and as long as I don't have to actually touch the meat - no gross factor.

If you're looking for small-scale farms that sell Andy-approved meat, here are a few in Wisconsin. In and around Madison, these can be found at local farmers' markets, the Yahara River Grocery Co-op in Stoughton, either Willy Street Co-op, and Whole Foods. Some also accept online orders, and you can always make a road trip and visit the place directly to get your meat.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

CSA Recipe: Fresh Turnip Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

I love being part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. It is amazing to be part of a like-minded community, to invest your money in healthy food grown by hard-working, honest people (who we've met!), and to completely plan for and eat with the seasons. I even like the uncertainty of what kind of season we'll have, how much the weather will affect "our" crops, finding out what new veggies we'll be tasting each season, etc., etc.. But one of the best parts: the recipes we get! Tonight, we tried out Chef Boni's (from our CSA, Harmony Valley Farm) Fresh Turnip Salad with Curry Vinaigrette. Even as I write this an hour later, my taste buds are still dancing in delight (the Chardonnay couldn't have ANYTHING to do with that, could it?).  I'm already excited for tomorrow's dinner. Most definitely it will involve some of the leftover vinaigrette.

Here's the recipe for the vinaigrette:

In blender or bowl, measure the following ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons honey
1 green onion or green garlic, small chop
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Blend all of the above together. With blender running (or if in bowl, while whisking constantly), slowly add 1 cup sunflower oil. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Salad preparation:
2 cups salad greens
4 baby white turnip bulbs, thinly sliced. Break green tops into bite size pieces and add to salad.
4 radish bulbs, thinly sliced. Break greens into bite sized pieces and add to salad.
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/4 cup toasted almonds, slivered or roughly chopped

Mix gently, then portion onto four plates and drizzle with curry vinaigrette. you might be thinking, "I don't have all that!" No worries! We didn't either. In fact, we didn't have the radishes or radish greens, the almonds, or the sunflower oil. We just eliminated the first three, and for the oil, we just used olive oil. It was delicious. Maybe not as delicious as intended (though I'm having a hard time imagining a tastier salad), but wonderful nonetheless. That's the beauty of most in-season recipes ~ you can do with them what you will...and with what you have left in the fridge.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lemon Thyme Ice Cream...with Rhubarb Syrup

I have a few summer goals, two of which involve my health: weight loss and training for a 1/2 marathon. My intentions are good, my desire is strong, yet here I sit watching Breaking Bad and having a deliciously large helping of Lemon Thyme Ice Cream topped with Rhubarb Syrup for dinner. Hey - the lemon thyme and rhubarb are from the garden, so this can't be all that bad, right? 

Today was the last day of school with students. I graded exams, began packing up my room, and then came home to find two of my besties ill with  cases of the squirts...all over my house. So, I rushed Carmen the Cat and Franklin the Puppy to the vet, dropped all the money Andy and I will be making proctoring the ACT this upcoming Saturday (and then some), and returned home to clean up the doo-doo. A girl deserves a big helping of delectables after that, wouldn't you agree?

Since we planted a lemon thyme plant last summer, we've been hoping to use it for something wonderful. Kathy, Andy's colleague, brought him a recipe for lemon thyme ice cream last fall, but we never got around to using it before the snow (or it could have been because I was trying to lose weight and train for a 1/2 will power is rock solid, I swear!). Finally, tonight, we whipped up a batch.

It was well worth the wait. Tart. Sweet. Refreshing. Delicious. WIN.  ...and I'm gonna work out and eat well tomorrow. Seriously.

Wanna make your own? Here you go:
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 oz fresh cut lemon thyme (rinsed)
9 egg yolks
1 cup sugar

1. Put the heavy cream and whole milk in a saucepan and heat until it is about to boil.

2. Add the lemon thyme. Stir. Remove from heat and leave to infuse for one hour.

3. Slowly reheat the mixture and remove the lemon thyme.
4. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Then, slowly add in the milk mixture. Be sure to whisk quickly as you pour in the milk so that the eggs do not cook.
5. Return mixture to pan. Over low heat, stir continuously until the back of your spoon is coated.
6. Cool. Then, put the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow its instructions.
7. If you want, top with a yummy, tangy syrup like our Rhubarb Syrup. Or enjoy as is!

...and 8. If you have egg-laying hens, don't forget to give them all of the egg shells! Janis and Spindy were delirious when they saw the stash of calcium I was about to give them.