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Falling for Apples & Pumpkins

September + Cool Temps + Family = Apple Picking Excursion

When the family is all together we’ve got to pack as much fun and together-time in as we can, so….even though there was some grumbling about the early hour, we managed to be first in line for apple picking at R & A Orchards in Ellijay.

The trees were laden:

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And we were laden too!  The orchards are rolling and gorgeous and in no time we picked four pecks of Mutsu, Red Rome Beauty, Stayman Winesap, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious.  Of course we ate our share of each variety – at least one of each kind.  Apple bloat-us.

We forgot to pick up anything from the obligatory farm store, so down the road we popped into the B. J. Reece Apple House for some hot fried apple pies, apple slushies and muscadine slushies.  Overkill?  Yes.  Necessary?  Yes.

We thought we’d hike it all off at Amicalola Falls Park but the traffic just to get inside was insane.  Not sure about you, but I’m not a fan of crowded hiking, so we shelved that plan for another weekend and much to my middle son’s dismay (Sunday afternoon football), we headed to Burt’s Pumpkin Farm.

A twenty year tradition in our family, Burt’s is fun but it fills up fast.  And it’s not a quick visit.  And it was crowded.  But we bypassed the hayrides, skipped the sweets, and focused on choosing pumpkins.  They have A LOT to choose from (and you can’t even see the interesting varieties).

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We chose well and headed home, weary and stuffed and satisfied.  Can you guess what I cooked up for dinner?

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What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • cinnamon stick
  • brussels sprout leaves & stem ends
  • 5 red raspberry herbal tea bags
  • carrot peels
  • lemon half
  • butternut squash peel & stem end
  • sweet pepper tops & ribs
  • stem end of fennel bulb
  • kale tough stems

What you can’t see:

  • Lots of russet potato peels

What I made with all of that:

Lots of roasted veggies including a carrot & fennel combo, mashed potatoes, and roasted butternut squash on cider sauteed kale with bacon.  Yum.  It was so good I took a photo.

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Can you see why?  The perfect end to a perfect day.  Make your fall perfect too!

 

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It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

This is the kind of day it was:

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Lily wanted to walk, but I preferred to stay warm and snug inside.  It was so dark all day that after a cup or two of tea and a more than a few pages of my book, even I was restless.    What to do?  Normally, rain equals baking in my book, but I was feeling more soup-y.  See if you can guess what I made from this bucket:

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You can tell how rainy it was from where I photographed my bucket: on the chaise underneath the umbrella.  Anyway, what you can see (clockwise from the top):

  • the tough end & outer leaves of two leeks
  • half of a lemon
  • scrapings from four carrots
  • a moldy raspberry
  • eggshells
  • garlic paper
  • peels from four potatoes
  • espresso grounds

What you can’t see:

  • skins from two onions
  • apple core
  • pear core
  • more eggshells
  • two banana peels
  • peel from two cucumbers
  • stems from fresh marjoram
  • two Tazo “Focus” teabags (my current fave)

What I made with all of that:

  • Potato Leek Soup
  • Lemony Italian Meatball Soup
  • Nutella Pumpkin Pound Cake
  • Hammy Cheesy Scrambled Eggs
  • Smoothie with Banana, Pear, Strawberries & Spinach
  • Pot of espresso turned into my version of Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Happy rainy days to all!

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2013 in The Daily Bucket

 

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No Place Like Home

The scent of burgers wafted on the air all afternoon.  Hot dogs sizzled on the grills and drinks were a mere $4 a bottle, $5.50 if you wanted a souvenir cup with ice.  We were enjoying a gorgeous family afternoon at the 2014 FedEx Cup at East Lake Golf Club from a shady spot on the twelfth fairway and it was a perfect day.  But after five hours on the course (and one meal already grabbed on the run), we opted for better burgers and fries. We headed to the home grill.

What you can see (clockwise from top)

  • sweet potato skins
  • banana peels

sweet potato fries 9.22.13

What you can’t see:

  • celery trimmings
  • carrot peels from two pounds
  • l2 onion skins
  • garlic papers
  • peel from six gala apples

What I made with all of that:

  • Grass-fed Burgers with Mushrooms, Sauteed Onions & Aged Cheddar
  • Baked Sweet Potato Fries
  • Chicken Pot Pie with Homemade Crust
  • Our usual morning smoothies …
 
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Posted by on September 22, 2013 in The Daily Bucket

 

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Aside

Over the summer my girl was diagnosed with vitamin D and iron deficiencies.  This came as relief because she had been feeling tired, no – exhausted, for weeks with no explainable reason.  When a 13-year old walks to the pool and is too tired to swim because of the walk you know something is definitely up.  When it happens repeatedly, you visit the pediatrician.

He prescribed 9,000 IU’s of vitamin D and 45 mg of iron daily and they he questioned our diet.  Up until that point I had been pretty proud of the fact that we were nearly vegetarian diet, leaning toward vegan (except we all love dairy so that was never going to happen).  My kids have never been completely fond of red meat so it was easy to drift to the land of grains and fruits and veggies.  It tasted clean and it felt socially virtuous.  I invented veggie cookies so, naturally, we should be vegetarians, right?

“Make sure she eats red meat,” said the doctor.  Um, okay?  That was a speeding curve ball and I’m not a baseball fan.  Other than grilling the occasional steak or burger I couldn’t even pull any meat centered menus from my brain.  Spicy Chickpeas with Broccoli?  Check.  Sauteed Kale and Baked Sweet Potatoes?  Yum.  And my daughter was momentarily horrified.  Sweet cows with big eyes provide red meat you know?  But we were on a mission.  Excellent health.

It was a process, but you know what?  It was kind of like riding a bike and we easily hopped back on the trail.  Funny how when you pair all those veggies and grains with meat (or chicken or fish) meals are appealing and satisfying and yummy.  Today, after three months of getting back to a basically “traditional” diet”, my girl has her energy back, her cheeks are pink, and she’s a happy little meat eater … at least a few days a week.  It’s actually a lot easier to plan what’s for dinner each night and everyone seems to be generally more satisfied overall.

The key is stay unprocessed!  We are blessed to be able to afford quality food, so we have focused on local grass-fed meat, pastured chicken, raw dairy and as many organic veggies and fruits as we can enjoy.

That said, here are two buckets from the last two days.  First up:  BLT Pasta or Bacon Meatballs, Kale & Orcchiette Bucket.  I’m including the recipe because it was pretty awesome if you love grass-fed beef and amazing bacon!  My kids actually preferred this pasta minus the “B” components … we are a work in progress!

bacon meatballs 9.18.13

What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • tough lacinto kale stems
  • banana peel
  • old sugar snap peas (Toss-It Tuesday!)
  • eggshells
  • yellowed kale leaf
  • very yucky old honeydew pushed to back of fridge (Toss-It Tuesday)
  • shallot skin & ends

The second bucket is the basis for a pretty classic American meal: Mashed Potatoes and Pot Roast


mashed potatoes & pot roast 9.19.13

A computer snafu means you only see half of this, sorry! (clockwise top to bottom):

  • espresso grounds
  • tangelo peel
  • peels from six russet potatoes
  • garlic skins
  • spent marigolds from window herb box
  • mushy tangerine

What you can’t see:  All the items from the bucket above.

A final note:  Meat is actually good for you, but not for your compost pile!  Not only is it the source of potential pathogens, will it turn rancid, smell horrible and attract all sorts of animal pests and flies.  Do yourself a favor.  Eat the meat.  Compost the veggies.

Eat More … Meat?

 

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Sunday Buckets

Perfect Atlanta weather calls for a perfect Sunday schedule: Mass, soccer game, grandparents for dinner.  We were able to check the boxes for everything!  Sadly, we lost the soccer game AND the Falcons lost AND Florida lost too.  Come to think of it, Azarenka lost as well … but life is not all about sports!  It’s about food!  Here’s my Sunday lineup:

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What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • A rotting homegrown plum tomato (darn!)
  • Cauliflower leaves and core
  • Husks & silk from six ears of corn
  • Watermelon rind, Vidalia onion tops & skin,
  • Sunflower petals
  • Thyme stems

What I made with all of that:

  • Local grass-fed Beef Burgers with Applegate Farms Sunday Bacon, Gorgonzola Cheese and Sauteed onions on on Buttered, Toasted Egg Buns
  • Corn-on-the-cob
  • Roasted Potatoes & Cauliflower in Dijon Vinaigrette
  • Watermelon

Here’s to late yummy late summer meals!

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2013 in The Daily Bucket

 

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Homemade Soaked Tortillas

For ages I have been wanting to make a soaked grain recipe.  (These are the kinds of things you contemplate as a trying-to-be-healthy baker.)  If you are not familiar with the concept of soaking your grains (flour) before you bake, essentially you are adding an acidic ingredient and “soaking” (basically fermenting) for 12-24 hours helps to make grains more digestible.  There is TONS of information out there (here is a good starting point) and I wanted to see if it made any difference in taste.  Added nutrients would be a bonus.  Since that 12-24 hour prep time is a deterrent in my last minute life, I was excited when the moon and stars aligned finally and I prepped my flour on Friday to make Flour Tortillas on Saturday.  Result?

Worth.  Every.  Minute.  Oh my gosh!  If you are a taco fan, run right out, get some whole wheat flour, olive oil, salt and good apple cider vinegar and make this recipe.  You know how 100% whole week is as heavy as a brick and even 100% whole wheat pastry flour feels weighed down?  You know how you eat the taco and leave the tortilla ends on your plate?  Not the case here!  These tortillas are light, airy and the perfect vehicle for a good filling.  In fact, if I hadn’t planned my filling, I’d be tempted to eat the tortillas plain dipped in salsa.  They are that good!  And I forgot to mention, they are a BREEZE to make role and nothing like their crazy cousins the corn tortilla … (another story)!

Sorry, there’s no photo of the tortillas, but here’s my bucket with all the other components of that meal:

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What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • Slice of red cabbage
  • Lots of wilted, yellowed green onion tops (I’ve been using the same bunch for two weeks and they were at the end of their prime)
  • Green onion root ends
  • Corn husks & silk
  • Lemon & limes
  • Red pepper core & ribs
  • Poblano pepper core & ribs

What I made with all of that:

  • Shrimp Tacos on Homemade Soaked Flour Tortillas, with Red Cabbage Slaw, and Chipotle Cream
  • Corn & Black Bean Salad with Peppers & Cilantro

You can tell the bucket is pretty full, so as a bonus, here’s what’s hiding underneath all those husks.  Early in the day I took a photo of my morning bits and pieces because they looked kind of artistic on the cutting board:

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Doesn’t that just scream breakfast?  Smoothies & fried eggs & toast.  My teens are pretty set in their breakfast ways!

 

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Toss-It Tuesday: Vacation

I’ve been away exploring beaches and climbing mountains in the Pacific Northwest while back in the ATL, fruit has been rotting in my fridge. Guess my house sitter opted for frozen pizzas and bagels instead of the good stuff…

What you can see (clockwise left to right):

  • onion skins
  • rotting peaches
  • a smattering of dried & fresh flower petals from my daughter’s fairy house construction (center)
  • Watermelon (cut up for more efficient composting)
  • black banana peel
  • a wrinkled peach
  • a rotting apricot
  • teabag (minus string & tag)
Toss-It Tuesday Vacation

Toss-It Tuesday Vacation

What you can’t see:

  • half of a moldy cantaloupe
  • more watermelon
  • paper from two garlic cloves

What I made with that:

In a nod to my coastal adventure, I made a quick Linguine with White Clam Sauce using onion, garlic, canned clams, butter, olive oil and white wine.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Toss It Tuesday

 

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