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Monthly Archives: December 2013

How Sweet It Is

Last night we used up the remainder of the teeny, tiny, amazing locally grown sweet potatoes.  I had an entire small basket full, most no wider than a banana, and many much smaller.  Obviously too small to bake, I peeled and simmered these in salted water then mashed them with just a hint of real maple syrup.  Yum.  They were the centerpiece of supper.  Like eating dessert first!

Of course, all that sweet needs some personality and greens always fit the bill for bitter.  I had two final farm share bunches of kale and swiss chard, so chopped those & quickly sautéed in olive oil with a bit of garlic and splashed with apple cider vinegar.

The least exciting item on the plate was a garlic and sage crusted roast pork tenderloin.  Eh.  It was conventionally raised and we are so used to grass-fed and/or pastured meats that this was just fine.  Protein on the plate.  We ate it and throughly enjoyed the veggies.  It made me realize why we gave up meat for year.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat if my girl (and I suspect my active boys) didn’t need maximum iron.  (And please no comments on how meat is not necessary for optimum health.  My girl was severely iron depleted and I did not even know it.  Plus, I’ve been a carnivore, vegetarian, and short-term vegan and realize every person (family) needs to make their own personal diet choices.)

Anyway, here’s my daily bucket … Image

What you can see (clockwise from the top):

  • eggshells (scrambled eggs for breakfast again)
  • banana peel (smoothies too)
  • lemon half (my morning brew of lemon, hot water, apple cider vinegar & local honey)
  • garlic paper
  • sage stems
  • sweet potato peels (lots hiding underneath too)
  • kale stems
  • swiss chard stems
  • clementine peels (snacks)

Now, what’s for dinner tonight?  And Christmas is right around the corner … need to make plans NOW!

 

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Oh, Yes! Organic!

Paging back through various entries, I’ve noticed that I’ve omitted indicating whether our vegetables are organic or conventional.  That’s because the vast majority of veggies we’ve eaten over the last few months have come from our weekly farm share and are grown without the help of chemicals.  While not officially labeled “organic” (because that process is labor intensive and pricey) these vegetables have been grown locally using natural farming methods and no pesticides.  The additional veggies I’ve picked up to supplement are primarily organic.  I’m not a big fan of GMO’s.  I don’t want them on our table and I surely don’t want them in our compost pile reaching their little genetically modified roots into my own lovingly tended organic veggie beds.

Not sure which veggies suffer most from conventional farming methods?  Check out this list and this one for some interesting reading.  I find it fascinating that sweet corn is on the “Clean Fifteen” list when it is one of the most widely publicized GMO crops.  I routinely buy organic frozen corn unless it’s the middle of summer and Publix has Georgia corn on sale for twelve ears for a dollar.   But it’s nearly winter now and fresh corn of any kind won’t be on our table for months …

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2013 in Compost How To, Musings

 

My Compost Overfloweth

 

You might think that between going Christmas shopping, attending and hosting parties, baking, going to Mass and Confession, writing cards, and studying for exams (not me, thank heavens) that there would be less time for cooking, and consequently compost.  You would be incorrect.

 

Remember the Bible verse from Proverbs, “Raise up a child the way he should grow and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  I’m keeping my fingers crossed on my kids’ moral and spiritual futures, but as far as food is concerned, even my pickiest sugar fiend who routinely stops for a dozen “Hot Doughnuts Now” on the way home from school (truly he has the app on his phone) wants to eat at home.  That means smoothies and eggs for breakfast,  lunch on their own (often packed by me) and a hearty dinner with lots of veggies.  Phew!  It tires me just thinking about it.  But honestly, I love to cook, especially with food from our garden.  Sadly, I have not had much time to document it.

 

So, here are the last week’s buckets with the quick odd comment and a goal to be more timely with my trash talk  in the coming holiday weeks…

 

Sunday Supper: This required two photos since there was so much food, including Beef Brisket, Chili & Ginger Glazed Carrots & Turnips, and of course Mashed Potatoes.  Dessert was cookies from a dear friend’s cookie exchange party the same day.  My contribution to the exchange was Gingerbread Thumbprints with Eggnog Frosting & Crystallized Ginger.  What you can see (clockwise from top):

 

  • turnip greens (they look fine here, but trust me there were wilted, and I was not in the mood for any more greens, plus I kind of hate turnip greens)
  • carrots scrapings
  • turnip root tips
  • russet potato peels
  • photo #2 yucky on the other side iceberg lettuce (that could not wait till Toss It Tuesday)
  • photo #2 banana peel
  • photo #2 red onion skins & stem ends

 

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Many cups of tea (for studying), smoothies and a quick Spaghetti Carbonara with Swiss Chard.  If you’ve never made carbonara before it can quickly become your BFF for nights when you have no clue what to make for dinner.  Trust me.  You can’t ruin this recipe and you have to eat it the minute it is finished.  But, typically if it’s a carbonara night everyone is standing around the island waiting to fill their bowl.  (Recipe says it serves three but I can serve three hungry teens AND me, so it’s hearty.)  What you an see in the bucket (clockwise from the top):

 

  • brown banana peels (if it’s a weekday, there are bananas in my bucket)
  • teabags (and several more hidden underneath)
  • lemon halves (to go with the tea)
  • colorful Swiss chard stems (one day I will get around to pickling these, probably when chard is out of season)
  • spent spider mum petals (lasted less than a week from my supermarket eco-friendly, higher priced  “green bouquet”.  No, that does not make me happy.)
  • eggshells (we go through at least two dozen pastured eggs every week in case you were wondering)

 

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This “bucket” (or paper towel, which I toss on the compost pile too) is nearly as pretty as the finished Sausage and Kale Strata I made to eat after one of my daughter’s Christmas choir concerts (she sings in both church and school choirs).   Add raw milk, challah and fontina cheese to the stuff below and you’ve got dinner!  Full confession: I actually made two strata (strati?), one with spinach and sausage, one with just kale for my sausage hater.  Not sure which was better.  We ate both with lightly dressed local hydroponic salad greens and celebratory sparkling apple cider.  What you can see (clockwise from the top):

 

  • lemon halves
  • kale stem ends
  • red onion skins & stem ends
  • a dozen eggshells

 

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Gosh, I hate wasting the tops of leeks!  Every recipe and even cookbooks ignore them and I’ve ranted on this before, but with a spare ten seconds I searched the internet and found, voila!  You can use them to make stock (technically a broth, since there are no bones.  I may actually do this since I’m always in the market for a good veggie broth and boxed ones are bleh!).  You can also sauté or even frizzle them.  Who knew?  And as this article points out, it’s likely the dark ends are the more nutritious part anyway.  Let me know if you already cook these or if you give it a try!  Anyway, I made Potato Leek Soup to celebrate my boy getting home from college unexpectedly early (woohoo!).  What you can see (clockwise from the top):

 

  • green leek tops
  • potato peels (lots hidden too)
  • onion skins

 

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And that’s it for my week … what ended up in your compost pile this week?

 

 

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Christmas Cookie Party

You can’t tell from looking at these buckets, but there’s a whole party in there!

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What you can see (clockwise from top):

  • onion peels
  • banana peels
  • orange peels
  • lots of eggshells
  • lemon halves
  • parsley leaves and dill stems
  • cucumber peels (hidden underneath)

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What you can see (clockwise from top):

  • spent hothouse roses (from a gorgeous bouquet my mom brought to Thanksgiving)
  • more eggshells
  • lemon halves
  • grapefruit halves
  • black banana peel
  • shallot stem ends and peels (hidden)
  • thyme stems (hidden)

So, tis the season and everything … You see, it’s become a bit of a tradition to host some friends for an early December gathering to decorate cookies for Christmas.  Lots of girls, lots of sprinkles, lots of finger food, lots of fun.  Here’s the menu that came from those buckets:

Cookie Decorating Party Menu

Sparkling Apple Cider Punch

Hot Chocolate

Cucumber Dill Tea Sandwiches

Homemade Nut Bread with Nutella MiniSandwiches

Mini Shallot, Pancetta, and Thyme Quiches

Green and Red Grapes

Chocolate Mini Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Mini Cupcakes with Eggnog Frosting & Crystallized Ginger

Lots and lots and lots of Sugar Cookies

That’s a lot of food and no recipes, but really, it was kind of a no recipe, tweak old standby recipes kind of shindig.  If you have your own party, it’s kind of key to use the easy foods you know and love.  That way your stress level is way down and the fun level is over the top.  Oh, and the sugar cookies?  They are my grandmother’s recipe and she is long gone, but she still said I can’t share it with anyone, sorry.  But here’s a picture to inspire you to create your own.

cookie

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2013 in The Daily Bucket

 

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Green Soup Sam-I-Am

Next time you wondering what to do with all those leafy greens that seem to be ubiquitous, check this recipe out.  I admit, it is kind of a scary color for soup and it does look like the beginning meal of a cleanse regimen, but, I assure you that not only is it delicious and an oft-requested recipe in my house, it also uses up all the greens in my farm share bag!  Yay!  So here’s the official Bon Appetit photo.

What did I tell you?  Beautiful?  I have endlessly adapted this recipe to use up kale, collards, and chard and played with the mix of leafy herbs accordingly; parsley, cilantro, basil, mint … I’ve used homemade veggie and chicken stock … goat cheese and feta … this soup is endlessly forgiving and if you pair it with some nice crusty bread you’ve got a memorable, delicious meal.  IF you are a green veggie fan.  Full disclosure: one boy will NOT eat this meal and it’s leftovers for him.

And my bucket?  It’s awfully pink for a green soup …

swiss chard 12.6.13

What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • spent Alstomeria blooms
  • colorful swiss chard stems
  • eggshells
  • tangerine peels
  • Swiss chard stems (can’t see on bottom)
  • parsley stems (can’t see on bottom)

Now, please, go make your own soup.

 

 

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Living On Leftovers

Well, it’s never happened before.  My family happily ate Thanksgiving leftovers in one form or another for nearly a week.  Even I was beginning to get kind of grossed out by the idea of more turkey related fare, and it really was the best bird we ever bought.  This is all I accumulated over the course of four days:

turkey day after 2013What you can see (clockwise from top):

  • orange rinds
  • banana skins
  • eggshells
  • iceberg lettuce core

When we finally did surface for real food we chose FRESH.  CRISP.  SALAD.  With Fried Tortellini on top.  Because football was on television.  And it was delicious!

lettuce & radishes 12.1.13

If you’ve made Turkey Tetrazzini, you know it’s a good serviceable leftover using meal.  In the mood for a new twist, I made this recipe and won’t make it any other way!  Give it a try!

 

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Blessed Bountiful Feast

All the planning, all the shopping, all the feasting … all totally worth it!  Such a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving and hope yours was too.  Not surprisingly, with all our veggie-heavy sides, there were LOTS of compost buckets filled to overflowing, but it’s easier to see that from a quick look at the pile:

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Can you tell I was prepping this meal for DAYS?!  Here’s a close-up look at the individual buckets…

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What you can see (clockwise from top):

  • pineapple core
  • lemon peels
  • dozen egg shells
  • onion ends & skins

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What you can see (clockwise from top):

  • green parts of leeks (WHY do they sell leeks with all this greenery – NO recipe EVER calls for the dark green parts)
  • stem ends of leeks
  • celery stem ends (I already have enough celery re-growing in my garden for my occasional celery use or I would have planted this one too)
  • more eggshells

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That is a sink full of the peels of ten pounds of organic russet potatoes.  Mashed potatoes could qualify as one of the major food groups in our house.

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What you can see (clockwise from top):

  • more leek tops
  • tough collard green stems
  • brussels sprouts ends
  • onion skins

Shall I give you a quick peek at the menu for the feast?  It makes me hungry again to type all these dishes in, and I thought I could never be hungry again after that meal!

Drinks:  Apple Cider Punch & Cranberry Pomegranate Margaritas

Appetizers: Baked Brie with Spiced Cranberry Chutney

Main Menu:

  • Sweet Tea Brined Local Free Range Turkey  (This was a 20-pound Southern brute that we nicknamed “Benjamin” because he was in excess of that currency.  It was the most flavorful bird anyone ever tasted.  Really.  People went back for SECONDS and we are all about the sides in this house.  I left a FB message on the farm site telling them this was the best turkey EVER.)
  • Traditional Bread Stuffing (My sweet mom’s recipe with even more butter than she ever used.  Fabulous.)
  • Cornbread Dressing with Leeks (As much as I’d like to dig up a Southern relative, fact is I’m a northern gal.  Since I’ve lived in the South for well over twenty-five years, I think I’m entitled to create my own Southern recipes.  Besides, my kids were all born at Piedmont Hospital and you can’t get much more Atlanta that that.)
  • Grandma Buzzy’s Mushrooms (hot mushrooms steeped in vinegar, whole allspice, peppercorns and onion.  Can’t have Thanksgiving dinner without it.  It’s one of “those” recipes, but it’s delicious.)
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes (No casserole with marshmallows for us.  These were farm-share organic teeny-tiny gems and they were delicious straight from the skin.  We gilded the sweet potato lily with lots of butter and brown sugar just because we could.)
  • Corn Pudding (A Southern Living classic recipe that I’ve been making for over a decade.)
  • Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Shallots (NOT the soup and canned green bean recipe.  We used fresh ingredients and made them taste canned.  Not really, but that’s the idea!)
  • Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts (My kids can’t live without these.  They make the whole house smell like cabbage but since I love my kids I make these lots during sprouts season.)
  • Creamed Collard Greens (Another Southern goodie we love.  Cook collards with lots of fried onions in heavy cream and I dare you to say you are not a collard greens fan.  I’m even including a similar recipe so you will try it.)
  • Mashed Potatoes (See all the peels above, made with raw milk, homemade butter and cream just because.)
  • Pan Gravy (Hopefully your mom taught you take make gravy from the drippings.  Every year, every gravy required meal actually, I panic for a millisecond because gravy is supposed to be hard, then I whisk cream or butter or some cornstarch or flour into the pan drippings and present delicious gravy every time.  I think the gravy gods smile down on me.)
  • Spiced Cranberry Chutney AND Citrus Spiked Cranberry Sauce (Just because I love cranberries.)

Desserts:  I’ll be honest.  I was worried I might have more desserts that real food, but I pared the potential recipes WAY down.  These were all homemade and yes, I made my own pie crust and whipped my own cream for pies.

  • Apple Pie (Made with organic farm share Fuji and Pink Lady apples this was amazing.)
  • Classic Pumpkin Pie (I made this raw milk instead of canned evaporated milk and it was a bit less firm, but so delicious.)
  • Salted Caramel Pecan Pie (Oh. My.  Another Southern Living recipe and a total keeper!  My pie, made with local fresh pecans looked exactly like the cover photo.  If you are a fan of the chocolate coma I highly recommend.)
  • Pumpkin Roll (Made by my sister and there were basically no leftovers so does that tell you something?)
  • Brownies (Made by my best girlfriend because, really, is there anyone who doesn’t crave brownies?)

So that’s it… here’s hoping that you had a lovely celebration of your own!  And remember, Give Thanks, every day, not just on Thanksgiving!

give thanks 2013

 

(That’s me on the left.  My younger, thinner, more beautiful, not-twin sister on the right.)

 

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