Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The KidAdult at Camp and Eggplant Parmesan Reinvented

My youngest child is no longer a little or a middle. He has now grown into a KidAdult and is away at camp for the next month.


A month without my baby. Double GASP.

He was accepted into the CIT (counselor in training) program at the same camp he has attended for the past 5 years. Only this time it is for 4 weeks instead of 2 and he is in a leadership position.

The first 13 months of his life he did not leave my side. He was "one of those babies". The ones who refuse a bottle, refuse to sleep and refuse anyone except his mama. He nursed, he slept (sometimes) and clung to me like a shipwreck survivor clings to a life raft. Maybe he was afraid of his hair.

Some days I dreamed of the day he would sleep through the night. Or at least stop nursing. Or at least let someone else hold him. Eventually he discovered activities he could enjoy his own. I should have known it was the beginning of his independent and adventurous spirit.

Now he is at camp.  For 4 weeks!

He has been excited for weeks. WEEKS! He packed himself, made lists of things he would need, even shopped at the last minute for toiletries. By himself. He also assured me and TBHITW that he was fully capable of doing all of this himself, knew everything he needed to know and didn't need our help in anyway.

Except for one thing. He wanted to make sure that we would email him everyday. EVERYDAY. The camp holds 'mail call' every morning and delivers packages, letters and emails to the campers. He also asked me to make sure nanna and pop-pop and all his aunts and uncles had his email address "just in case you know, like maybe they would want to write too. You know, like just maybe and you should write too mom cuz you'll be like bored and stuff, you know?"

My baby still needs me. :-)

I am on a caprese kick. Ever since buying that log of fresh mozzarella cheese I have been dreaming up recipes. Here is my version of a lovely summertime Eggplant Parmesan - lightened up and perfect for a summer dinner with friends.

Caprese Eggplant: serves 4

One large eggplant, peeled and sliced (in the round) into 3/4 inch slices
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour
1 cup plus panko crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive or canola or vegetable oil
Caprese Mozzarella roll (see yesterday's post titled Caprese Pizza) sliced thin
1/3 cup tomato sauce (use your favorite pizza or marina sauce, freeze the rest)

Place flour in large plastic or paper bag. Add eggplant rounds and shake to coat.
Whisk eggs in a shallow pie plate
Combine panko and parmesan cheese in another pie plate.
(this is your breading station)
Preheat oven to 375.
Remove eggplant rounds one by one and dip in egg, then in panko / cheese combination. Place on cookie sheet. Repeat until all the eggplant is coated.

Pour oil onto a rimmed cookie sheet, place in preheated oven for 3 minutes. Carefully place eggplant rounds on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until underside is golden and crisp. Flip.

Continue to bake for 7 more minutes.
After 7 minutes, remove from oven and top with 1 tablespoon tomato sauce and a slice of the mozzarella / caprese roll. top with another teaspoon of sauce.

Return to oven and bake for another 5 minutes or until sauce is hot and cheese is melted.

Serve with a mixed green salad. And don't forget to love on your KidAdults or littles or middles. They grow up so fast.

A Cook's Notes: Proof - this meal is now one of TBHITW's and my favorite summertime indulgences.

Monday, June 28, 2010

What Is A Marriage and Grilled Caprese Pizza

What makes a marriage?

This country is in a state of uproar over that question.

Is marriage between a man and a woman?

A man and a man?

A woman and a woman?

Who should marry?

What makes a "legal" marriage.

On Saturday my older brother and his fiance (a woman) exchanged vows that sounded very much like marriage vows. They promised to love, honor and cherish each other until death parts them. (I noticed this, they did NOT say until someone better comes along) Then they exchanged simple silver bands that they placed on each other's left hand ring finger. They did this in front of about 50 family and friends in the  beautiful back yard of the home they share.

There was an ordained minister present and the preacher recited from the bible part of Paul's beautiful first letter to the Corinthians.

13:4 Love is patient and is kind; love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud, 13:5 doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil;13:6 doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 13:7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 13:8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 13:10but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with. 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known.13:13 But now faith, hope, and love remain—these three. The greatest of these is love.

Everyone present than stated that we would support and love them in their journey as life partners. 

There were no blood tests, nor license from the state as is required in the state of Pennsylvania.

So, readers, I ask you, are they married?

Grilled Caprese Pizza: - makes one 10 to 12 inch pizza

What could be better? Fresh summer tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and spicy basil all wrapped up and sitting on top of a crisp, smoky grilled crust.

One store bought or homemade pizza crust
Red Sauce
One 12 ounce BelGioiosa Unwrap and Roll Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
2 ripe tomatoes (1 yellow, 1 red or your choice) - preferably home grown
1 bunch fresh basil - preferably home grown
olive oil

Unroll cheese on a clean cutting board.
Slice tomatoes very thin.
Clean and dry basil leaves.
Lay tomato slices on cheese, top with basil, drizzle with olive oil.

Roll cheese with tomato/basil filling.
Using a serrated knife slice very thin (about 1/4 inch or less)

Preheat grill to medium or oven to 450 degrees.

Roll out your pizza dough in a square or circle - be creative! Be rustic! Be a little okay with whatever shape it takes.

Brush one side of the pizza dough with olive oil and place on grill. Cover and grill for about 4 minutes. Remove, brush other side of dough with olive oil.

Spread sauce on grilled side of dough. Top with caprese slices. Return to grill, cover and grill until crust is crisp, sauce is hot and cheese is melted.

A Cook's Notes: want to skip the pizza? Serve the caprese slices as a salad, just top with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and serve with a crusty loaf of bread and a very cold bottle of Pinot Grigio - and say cheers to love in its many forms.

Friday, June 25, 2010

CSA Share Week 5 and Berry Season

If fresh produce is any indication, summer truly is in full swing here in the Northeast.

This weeks goodie box contains:

3 tomatoes
Red Leaf Lettuce
Green String Beans
2 Zucchini
1 Cucumber
English Peas
Snow Peas
Sugar Snap Peas
Bok Choy
Romanesque Broccoli
Chinese Radish (white)
Bibb Lettuce

Let's start with the Romanesque Broccoli (also called Roman or Romenesco Broccoli). Have any of you ever seen this stuff? I've served it before, really as a novelty, because it's just so darn cute!!

When you pull the florets off the main head they look like little Christmas trees.. could you just die? Is it just me or is that the coolest looking vegetable around? You cook the Romanesque Broccoli the same way you would regular broccoli - only just a tad time shorter - it is more delicate and less woody than traditional broccoli. Romanesque B is also excellent in crudites because of its more tender sensibilities.

Let's move on to those berries! Blueberries, gooseberries and currants, oh my!

Blueberries - well don't we all know about these little gems? They are an excellent source of vitamin C which aids in the absorption of iron and promotes a healthy immune system. Blueberries are also a good source of dietary fiber AND have recently been recognized as an amazing source of antioxidants. You can eat blueberries 'out of hand', throw some into your breakfast cereal, bake them into muffins, coffee cakes and pies, or throw a handful into your pancake batter. Blueberries freeze beautifully and keep up to 6 months. Who wouldn't die for local grown blueberries stuffed into a muffin in mid-December?

Fresh Currants are new to me as I have only ever worked with the dried variety. Currants are a member of the gooseberry family. Currants are an excellent source of anthocyanins which are thought to reduce inflammation. In addition, the antioxidants in currants are thought to help promote heathy aging and neurological functions and recent studies seem to suggest they can protect against Alzheimer's disease.

The question is then, what should I do with my currants? I could bake them into some scones for a lovely Friday afternoon tea, squeeze the juice out and create a refreshing Friday evening cocktail or really get down to it and make the famous French preserve, Bar de Luc. But alas, I don't have the required goose quill to remove the seeds by hand (nor the patience). Perhaps a few tossed into a salad dressing, sweetened just barely with a touch of honey?

This brings us to the gooseberries.

Gooseberries (and blueberries and currants) should be available from now until mid-July. Like blueberries, they are an excellent source of vitamin C. They freeze well and do well preserved. In the sixteenth century gooseberries were used to treat plague victims as the juice has been known to reduce fever. Since no one has the plague in my house I think I'm going to make mine into a whole berry sauce that will compliment a pork loin this weekend.

How about you? What will you do with the berries that are all coming into the market?

Gooseberry Sauce: (this is much like a whole berry cranberry sauce you would serve at Thanksgiving)

1/2 pint Gooseberries, washed and stems removed
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
rind of one orange

Bring water to boil and add sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar and maintain boil. Add Gooseberries and orange rind. Continue to cook at a high simmer until berries are soft and split open. You can pass through a sieve or keep whole.

Excellent with poultry or pork.

Don't forget, send me your fresh market questions and I'll post answers on Monday in my Ask Me Monday post.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Class of 2010 and Free Hugs

Here she is.

The latest High School graduate from our home.

We are proud of you Julia. High School was just the beginning, college and the world awaits.

Be good. In all ways.

And to all the 2010 graduates, I wish you a lifetime of Free Hugs, Good Friends and always,
Great Food.

A Three Legged Dog and Grilled Shrimp with Lime Cilantro Marinade

My beautiful 20 month old girl has gone lame.

We have been nursing her for a pulled ACL for the past two months with the hopes that it will heal. It hasn't.

Our options are limited.

Another trip to the vet. Another discussion. Decisions. Decisions.

Grilled Shrimp with Lime and Cilantro Marinade: serves 2

1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes

Skewer shrimp for grilling and place on rimmed cookie sheet or a shallow bowl. Whisk all the above ingredients together and pour over shrimp. Place in fridge for 15 minutes. (any longer and the lime juice will begin to 'cook' the shrimp).
Heat grill to medium high.
Grill shrimp 4 to 6 minutes, turning often and basting with any leftover marinade. Cook 1 minute longer after last brush with marinade.

Serve over rice with some grilled zucchini or summer squash on the side.

Shrimp marinading on skewers

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Incredible Edible Egg - Purple Eggs and Deviled Eggs

Summer is officially in full swing.

That means picnics, trips to the beach (lake or seaside or creekside, your choice), picnics, eating al fresco, picnics, BBQ's, picnics.

Did I mention picnics?

When it comes to picnic food is there any food more versatile than the egg? We mash them into potato salad, we boil them and serve them cold, we devil them, we bake them into meringues and whip them into angel food cakes. We cook them into custard to make that wonderful summertime treat, homemade ice cream.

And if you are from Pennsylvania, you pickle them.

Yup, pickled eggs. When I was growing up no picnic was complete without a big gallon jug of purple eggs. Sweet with beets and tangy with vinegar, hard boiled eggs are brined in a combination of beets, beet juice, sugar, vinegar, water and onions and left to soak over night in the refrigerator. We called them purple eggs. My mom even had a special glass gallon jug that she used just for purple eggs.. My brothers could eat 5 or 6 or 8 of those eggs. They would brag about how many they ate in the car ride home (and we always kept the car windows open and it wasn't because we didn't have air conditioning).

Many a good old boy Pennsylvania bar will have a gallon jug of pickled eggs resting in their cooler. Nothing tastes better than a cold beer and a purple egg in a good old boy Pennsylvania bar.

If you are looking for a native Pennsylvania egg dish or just something different (but delicious, I promise) try Purple Eggs, if that doesn't sound right to you I've included my recipe for Deviled Eggs.

Before you get started on any of these recipes I have a question for you. Have you ever made deviled eggs and when you sliced them in half the yolk was too far off to the side; making one side of the white too thin for stuffing or making your finished eggs lopsided? Here's a trick for perfectly balanced, yolk in the middle, eggs every time:

About 3 hours before boiling your eggs, tip the egg carton on its side. Doesn't matter which side. The yolks will center themselves inside of their shells. I'm serious. Try it.

Perfectly centered yolks, every time.

Purple (Pickled) Eggs - Makes 1/2 dozen

1 15 ounce can of red beets, with juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1 small onion (or a small bunch scallions), sliced

Place the eggs in a deep pot and cover with COLD water. Bring to a boil. Take off heat, cover and let stand in the hot water for 12 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and peel.

In the meantime, combine beets, beet juice, sugar, vinegar and onions in a saucepan. Bring to boil.

Place the eggs in a large bowl, jar or other some such vessel. Pour the hot liquid over. Make sure all the eggs are covered with the beet mixture. Cover and store in refrigerator overnight. A perfect pickled egg will have all of it's white, all the way through to the yolk colored (and flavored) purple. Ride home with the windows open.
Beet mixture with scallions

Going into the fridge.

A finished, ready to eat 'purple' egg - we like them with salt

The Good Cook's Deviled Eggs (with perfectly centered yolks) makes one dozen

6 eggs, hard boiled using the technique described above. Cooled.
1/4 cup mayonnaise (your favorite, but I like Hellman's)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, finely grated
pinch of salt
smoked paprika (optional)

Peel the hard boiled eggs and slice in half the long way. Place the yolks in a small bowl.
Add mayonnaise, mustard, cheese and a pinch of salt and mash well using the back of a fork.
Taste. Adjust seasonings by adding more mayo, mustard or salt.
Stuff the eggs using a teaspoon - about a teaspoon in each egg center*.
Sprinkle with smoked paprika**

*you can get fancy and use a pastry bag to fill the egg whites but I like to keep picnic food casual and unpretentious.
**some variations: add a daub of caviar (oo-la-la), a slice of olive (ole) or a daub of relish (how american!) or just leave plain.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. 

A Cook's Notes:

Eggs are so ingrained in our culture we have incorporated them into our common vernacular. 

He's an egghead.
Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Common paint color? Eggshell.
You've got to crack some eggs if you want to bake a cake.
Don't egg him on.
Remember Humpty Dumpty?
Eggo Waffles
And I'm sure you can think of some of your own. What is your favorite eggcellant egg recipe?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ask Me Monday - Teriyaki Broccoli

Good Morning!

Today is the longest day of the year. This means there is plenty of daylight to accomplish everything you set out to do today. Especially if one of those things is creating a beautiful meal for yourself.

It's time for Ask Me Monday: 

Sara @ Domestically Challenged wrote me:

"Okay, got a great teriyaki broccoli recipe? I love that stuff but have never made it. "


This is one of my families favorite too. So easy, yet loaded with flavor, adding a simple teriyaki sauce is  a great take on broccoli.

Teriyaki Broccoli: (one head serves 4-5)

1 head broccoli, washed
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced into wafter like slivers (chips)
1 teaspoon sesame oil (or you can use olive oil if you don't have it...)
3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

Cut the head of broccoli up into florets, keeping some of the stem on the florets - the stems are loaded with nutrients and as long as they are not too thick are tender and sweet.

Place broccoli in a microwave proof casserole. Add 1 tablespoon water and cover. Microwave on high for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes - you want to steam until just crisp tender - not soggy! Conversely, you can also steam the broccoli on your stove top. 

Set aside. 

In a large saute pan (large enough to eventually hold all the broccoli) add the sesame oil. Heat over medium low heat. Add the garlic chips and saute just until fragrant - do not brown - this will keep the garlic sweet, not bitter. Add the teriyaki sauce and heat until the sauce is hot, swirl the pan around to combine the oil and teriyaki sauce. 

Add the steamed broccoli and toss to combine. Transfer to warm serving bowl, pouring any of the sauce in the pan over the broccoli. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional) and serve immediately. 

Don't want to stand over a hot stovetop on the longest day of the year? You can roast the broccoli in your oven. 

Preheat the oven to 400 F. 
Toss cut broccoli with sesame oil and minced garlic
Lay the broccoli out on a rimmed cookie sheet. 
Roast for about 10 minutes, turn and continue to roast for another 10 minutes or until brown and slightly crisp. 
Place roasted broccoli in a bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce, top with sesame seeds and serve.

Don't want to be stuck in the kitchen while all the fun is outside?  Prefer to grill? 

Cut broccoli into very long, large pieces - about 5 inches long and 2-3 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. Brush both sides with sesame oil and place on grill. Grill each side for 2-3 minutes. Remove to platter and splash with teriyaki sauce and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Serve. 

A Cook's Notes: Teriyaki Broccoli pairs exceedingly well with chicken or fish. 

Got a question for The Good Cook? Email me at and then check back on Ask Me Monday. 

This Ask Me Monday was brought to you by the vegetable, Broccoli and Sara @ Domestically Challenged. 

Broccoli is high in vitamins C, K and A, as well as dietary fiber; it also contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties. A single serving provides more than 30 mg of Vitamin C and a half-cup provides 52 mg of Vitamin C. The benefits of broccoli's anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties are greatly reduced if broccoli is boiled for more than 10 minutes - so stick to steaming, microwaving and grilling. Broccoli consumption has also been shown to be beneficial in the prevention of heart disease. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

CSA Share Week 4, Grilled Romaine and Ask Me Monday

My vegetable and fruit bins runneth over.

This week's share consists of:

Blueberries (NJ is famous for blueberries, corn, eggplant and tomatoes)
Bok Choy
Head Lettuce
Oak Leaf Lettuce
Red Leaf Lettuce
Romaine (star of today's show)
3 zucchini
2 yellow squash
Collard Greens
3 tomatoes (hot house)
yellow carrots

You would think that with all of these vegetables every week facing yet another farm box full of greens would be unthinkable, but to my delight and surprise, we are consuming everything from week to week. That is a 1/2 bushel of produce people! Okay, I do tend to "hand over the fence*" a head of lettuce or two here and maybe a beet or squash there, but for the most part, we are incorporating more vegetables (and all the fruit) into our daily lives. Yeah!

*hand over the fence = share with a neighbor

Grilled Romaine: (1 head serves 2, adjust servings accordingly)

One head Romaine Lettuce, washed and sliced in half vertically
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat grill to medium high.

Drizzle romaine with olive oil (or better, spray it) making sure to get a bit into the heart of the lettuce. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and allow to rest for about 30 minutes.

In addition to all the vegetables in my farm share, the market had some corn from Georgia (the farm trades some northern produce with a southern farm "cousin")

I chopped up some fresh herbs, mixed them with olive oil and drizzled on the fresh corn. Keep the husks intact, just peel back the husk, remove the silk, rinse the whole cob in water, making sure to really wet down those husks, drizzle with olive oil and herbs and pull the wet husks back over the corn.

Place on the corn on the grill. It will begin to steam and spit. When one side is toasted, turn, continue until all sides are roasted and husks are crisp.

Back to the romaine. Place cut side down on hot grill. Grill for about 3 minutes, turn, grill for two more minutes or until wilted and marked by grill.

Off the grill, sprinkle with a bit of Parmesan cheese (optional)

The rest of dinner:
tomatoes mixed with avocado and fresh mozzarella and basil

Dessert - fresh berries

My farm share is paying me back twice by the way. All the waste (husks, outer leaves, peels, stems) from the vegetables and fruits goes into my compost bin, the waste degrades, and then gets worked into the soil of my gardens. It's the perfect arrangement between food and human. Grow, eat, degrade, grow again. Eat again.

Fennel growing organically in my garden

Cucumbers. Naturally fertilized with compost. Marigolds around the border of the garden act as a natural insect repellent.

Ask Me Monday:

I've come to realize that many people do their marketing on the weekend. Farmers Markets are popping up all over the country as crops are ripening.

New and wonderful products are appearing - what do you do when you are tempted to buy a bit of produce that you have never had before? Do you simply pass it up because you are unsure of how to prepare it?

Or are you just tired of making broccoli the same way, week in or week out?

Okay - The Good Cook wants to help you expand your palate and your recipe repertoire.

Next time you are at the market and spy a beautiful Kohlrabi or Swiss Chard or Golden Parsnip or an incredible bunch of Kale, BUY IT. And when you get home, email

Every Monday I will pick a couple of email questions and supply you with information, cooking techniques and recipes for your Farmers Market buys.

So don't forget, when you are out marketing this weekend, go a little crazy, be brave, support your local farmer and purchase something you have never tried before. Then email me, and I'll supply you with a couple of tried and true recipes.

Talk to you all on Monday, happy marketing!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Life Story of The Leg of Lamb

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that I am just as particular about the origin of my food as I am particular about how my food is cooked.

My extended family and friends are most likely bored to death hearing me extol on about where this chicken or turkey or pork chop or hamburger or zucchini or head of romaine originated. Yes, I know the name of not only the farm, but also the farmer responsible for 90% of the food in my home. Those Cheez-Its? Not a clue.

Unlike real estate, with food, it is not just all about location, location, location (although I do try to stay local). Equally important is how my food has been handled (read: raised).

Last night's dinner was a wonder to me. Each component had been lovingly raised, picked or processed and arrived at my home at its quality best. I was able to tell the story of each ingredient's life.

I won't bore you (like I did the rest of my dinner guests) with the life story of the carrots (Alstede Farms) or the potatoes or the garlic or the bread but bear with me while I tell you the story of the Leg of Lamb.

 One 6 1/2 pound boneless leg of lamb.

Once a year I purchase a whole lamb. Several years in a row I have purchased a lamb from a farm in upstate NY, from a friend of my girlfriend Michele. This year I purchased a 1/2 lamb from Burning Heart Farms here in NJ and another half from a rancher in Montana* (I wanted to try a specific breed).

Last night's leg of lamb came from Montana. The lamb was naturally weaned from its mother and then allowed to graze on sweet grass, in addition to being offered a vegetarian grain feed, until the age of 6 months. (this is much older than the lamb you will find in a grocery store). It was then humanely slaughtered on site (no stressful trucking, no feedlots), packaged, given a serial number and shipped overnight to me. If I have any questions regarding this particular meat I can call the farm and reference the serial number. The rancher can tell me exactly when the lamb was born, who its parents were and where and how long it grazed as well as tell me the day it was processed.

Please believe me that it all makes a difference. Humanely raised. Sustainable farming practices. Picked at its peak. Respect for the animal.

There is an old Indian Proverb that reminds us to "take the time to thank the food".  I want to add to "take the time to thank the wonderful ranchers and farmers who are raising our food with dignity and respect for both the food and the land".

Rotisserie Leg of Lamb

One boneless leg of lamb (preferably from a local rancher)
6 cloves of garlic, slivered
12 sprigs of fresh rosemary, cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces
one lemon
kosher salt and pepper

Remove leg of lamb from refrigerator at least 1 hour before preparing.

Heat grill or rotisserie.

Using a small, sharp paring knife, slide the knife between the outside layer of fat and the meat. Insert garlic slivers and sprigs of rosemary. Make about 24 slits all over the leg of lamb (depending on size).

Squeeze the lemon all over the lamb, then generously salt and pepper the meat.

If you are planning to rotisserie, skewer the leg. If you are going to roast, heat oven to 400 degrees F and place in an ungreased roasting pan on a shallow rack.

Rotisserie or roast 20 minutes per pound for medium. This will yield a crisp, brown outer crust, followed by a rosy center.

Ginger and honey glazed carrots, boiled new potatoes with butter and parsley, and a crusty loaf of bread will round out this feast.

And if you shop carefully, each component of your dinner will tell you a story.

A Cook's Notes: The rest of the lamb story:

Sweet Grass Natural Lamb is a cooperative of five sheep producers from Sweet Grass County, Montana. Sweet Grass Natural lamb raises a cross of Targhee and Suffolk Lamb.

The first private individual began breeding
Targhee in 1929. The breed was named after the Targhee National Forest where the sheep grazed during the summer.

VanWagoner, as well as the other producers, have farmed for five generations. Harv claims, “We eat what we raise so we can attest to the quality of our lamb”. The farms range from 1900 – 6400 acres.

Sweet Grass Natural Lamb belongs to the Western Sustainability Exchange. The ewes roam freely and graze on native and tame pastures for nine months of the year. They are fed alfalfa hay and whole corn in the months of March-May. The lambs wean themselves naturally in the fall without any hormones or antibiotics. Sweet Grass Natural Lamb is available at

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Flowers, Littles, Whales and Sauteed Spinach with Garlic

Yesterday I spent the day at the beach with two of my favorite people.

Hannah, age 4 - doing a "mermaid sea" dance for me.

And Jillian, age 2 - just being happy Jillian

They are small, but mighty. Speaking of mighty, we were lucky enough to see a whale; about 300 feet off shore he (or she) happily breached a half-dozen times for us before swimming away for deeper waters. I hope my littles will be blessed in their lives and see many, many more of these magnificent creatures. I guess it really is up to us, isn't it?

When I got home I was again blessed to find that my lilies had bloomed.

My shasta daisies should be next. Littles, whales and flowers. How lucky can one girl get?

I have a huge bunch of spinach from last week's CSA share. Since I also have an abundance of mixed greens (and the family has forbade me to make salad today) I decided to cook this bunch, rather than salad-fy it.

Lightly sauteing the spinach allows it to retain some of its crunch, the addition of garlic gives it a punch. I hope you find happiness and lucky sightings in your daily adventures.

Sauteed Spinach with Garlic (serves 4)

2 BIG Bunches of fresh spinach, rinsed well and torn free of the largest stems
6 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced in half if large or left whole if smallish
2 tablespoons olive oil
splash of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Pecorino Romano Cheese, freshly grated (or freshly grated Parmesan)

In your largest saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic cloves and saute for 2 minutes or until fragrant and just getting golden. Add all the spinach and toss around to coat. Smash a lid down on the spinach and cook for 1 minutes. Check for wilt. Toss around the spinach and cook for 1 more minute. The spinach should just begin to wilt.

Spoon everything into a bowl, splash with vinegar and sprinkle with cheese.

A Cook's Notes: I am serving this tonight with simple grilled shrimp, a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine. Bon Appetite!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

And The Winners Are....

Two lucky people had their names drawn out of a hat (okay, a big pile of folded up papers on my bed) this morning:

And the winners are:

Nancy from Life In The Second Half


Marci from Littlebit

Ladies, email me your address and I will ship your FireWire Skewer set to you. email:

Thanks for playing everyone, if you didn't win but still want a FireWire set of your own, you can purchase it at Bed, Bath and Beyond, Williams Sonoma, Ace Hardware, and True Value stores. They are also available online at and

Friday, June 11, 2010

CSA Share Week 3 and Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi with leaves removed

Wow. My CSA farm share is growing (pun intended). This week's produce haul included:

Green Leaf Lettuce
Red Leaf Lettuce
tomatoes (hot house)
yellow squash
cherry tomatoes
Bok Choy
carrots (yes!)

And my own garden has started offering up zucchini blossoms, fennel and basil, along with its year round gift of rosemary, sage and thyme. (oh my)

Let's talk about Kohlrabi. 

Kohlrabi is a low, stout cultivar of the cabbage family that will grow almost anywhere. Once the fare of kings and peasants alike it fell out of favor in this country and is not enjoying a revival. The name comes from the German Kohl (cabbage) plus  Rube (turnip) because the swollen stem resembles the latter. Its origin in nature is the same as that of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens and brussels sprouts. They are all the same species as the wild cabbage plant. 

The taste and texture of kohlrabi are similar to that of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter.

Easy to grow, the plant reaches maturity just 55 to 60 says after sowing. It also stores well, holding for up to 30 days after picking. 

Kohlrabi can be eaten raw (peeled) as well as cooked. The leafy greens can also be eaten. Several varieties are available, Purple and white danube, purple and white vienna, grand duke and gigante (also known as Superschmeltz - notice the german influence?


If you have several Kohlrabi, you an peel, cut into 1 inch pieces, toss with olive oil, garlic and salt and roast in a 375 degree oven until done - about 20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

Peel, shred and toss into salads

Pureed: (one of my favorites)

3-4 Kohlrabi heads, peeled and cubed
Kohlrabi leaves, washed and rough chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream (or half and half or milk, your choice)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salted to water to a boil. Add kohlrabi cubes and cook until tender. Meanwhile, add a tablespoon or two olive oil to a saute pan, add garlic and saute over low heat until fragrant, add kohlrabi leaves and saute until wilted. Add 1 or two tablespoons cooking water (from the cubed kohlrabi) and saute another minute or two. 
Drain cubed kohlrabi and add to saute pan. Cook for about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Place contents of saucepan in food processor, pulse. Add cream (start with 1 tablespoon), butter and parmesan cheese, pulse again until smooth -  if needed add another tablespoon of cream. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Serve as a base for pan seared scallops, halibut or other white fish. Also great with a roasted chicken breast. 

Do you have a favorite Kohlrabi recipe? Have you ever eaten it? Are you now tempted to try it?

Don't forget to comment on my Things That Make Me Happy post for a chance to win a FireWire Stainless Steel Skewer set - deadline is Saturday, 12:00 midnight EST.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Things That Make Me Happy and a Giveaway

Things that make me happy:

Lillies blooming in my pond make me happy

Feeding the pond fish every morning is nice

Flowers in my garden make me smile

Butterfly Bushes are beautiful

My dog waiting patiently for me and my gardens that have been certified as Wildlife Habitats are a source of joy

A porch with a rocking chair is a good place to rest

My rain barrel makes me and my plants happy

Whimsical Garden Art is fun

Flowers on the steps are cheerful

Carved Wooden Bears are handy hose guides, they keep everything in line.

And FireWire

Wait, what? FireWire? 

YES! FireWire. FireWire is a flexible stainless steel grilling skewer that holds twice as much food as a regular skewer. But that's not the best feature. FireWire is dishwasher safe, won't rust and is reusable. AND you can marinate right on the wire. Just load your FireWire with food, place in a bowl or resealable bag and add marinade. When you are ready to grill, just remove the FireWire and place on the grill. How non-messy is that? 

But since The Best Husband In The World (TBHITW) is the grill master in the house, I handed over my test mitts to him. Here's what TBHITW had to say,

"Some of the best features that I noticed right away:
the tips of the FireWire Skewer remain cool so you can easily move your food around the grill and the food does not "twirl" on the skewer, so there's no battling with it in order to grill it on all sides. I also liked that the FireWire Skewer could hold a lot of food, I wasn't stressed out trying to turn 10 or 12 skewers all at once, trying to keep everything evenly cooked."

"Once the food was cooked, it released easily from the FireWire; no handling hot metal skewers, or worse, splinters in your food from charred, wooden skewers."

Vegetables marinating

We skewered the old way and the new way, with FireWire... TBHITW nominated FireWire as the winner. Since he is the grill master, I bow to his nomination.

The tip of the FireWire remains cool for easy handling

You can grill in a "loop" or in one long line ... 

Dinner is served

Want your own FireWire? 

Tell me what makes you happy in the comment form. 

Two lucky winners, randomly chosen from all comments received by midnight, Saturday, June 12th. 2010 will each receive a set of FireWire Flexible Grilling Skewers, just in time for Father's Day and grilling season! 

So, what makes you happy? I'll post the winners on Sunday, June 13th. along with a list of retailers where you can buy (if you don't win) your very own FireWire.

*I purchased my FireWire a few months ago and was so happy with the results, contacted FireWire and asked them if they would supply me with a few sets for a giveaway for you, my readers. FireWire happily obliged. I have not been compensated for this review, nor am I in any way (other than a happy consumer) affiliated with FireWire or Inno-Labs, makers of FireWire. - Geez.. what I don't go through for you people. 
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