Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Week 22 Veggie List & Ideas

Bowl of Cut-up Apples
Our First Apples: Worms & Bugs Removed
The last day of August already, and Labor Day on its way. Although it didn’t get very warm here in coastal California this year, summer is winding down. Days are shorter, and leaves are beginning to turn red and gold already. September and October are often our sunniest months, which hopefully will prolong the tomato season that just started. Bruce picked our first windfall apples off the ground and removed various insects. They’re tart and will make great applesauce and apple cakes. Stay tuned for fall recipes!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tomatoes with Basil and Balsamic

Plate of Tomatoes with Basil and Balsamic
Easy, Fast & Delicious

Recipe by Debbie from Live Earth Farm (?)

This morning my husband commented that our menu is totally dictated by this blog.  I hope that was a joke, or at least an exaggeration. He said it in response to me wanting to make this recipe “because it’s easy to blog about.” Actually, this is one of my favorite things to do with ripe garden tomatoes.  It’s easy to make and requires little time and few ingredients. Since our ambitious menu idea to make tomato sauce with squash and peppers over pasta never materialized, and  we ate steamed squash and roasted peppers instead, this recipe is the logical thing to make tonight, in addition to being totally bloggable.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Vegan Cilantro Pesto

Plate of Tomatoes, Bowl of Pesto, Small Plate of Tomatoes with Pesto
Pesto with Garden Tomatoes

Recipe by Sheryl Crow and Chuck White

Finally a vegan pesto, with no cheese whatsoever, and not much oil! Made with cilantro and almonds instead of basil and pine nuts, this seems more Cali-Mexican than Italian. It’s from the cookbook If it Makes You Healthy: More Than 100 Delicious Recipes Inspired by the Seasons by Sheryl Crow, her chef Chuck White, and Mary Goodbody who probably did most of the writing and editing.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lemon Herb Sauce for Fish or Veggies

Dill, Capers, and 
Sauce on Bass
Lemon Sauce over California Sea Bass

Recipe by Mom, Dad, & Robin

Another recipe inspired by my parents. They’re both gone now, but in their day loved eating fish, befitting their New England heritage. One of their favorites was Atlantic swordfish. According to NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Service, both Atlantic and Pacific swordfish populations are now at sustainable levels and not in danger of overfishing.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Week 21 Menu Plan

Pyramidal Stack of Tomatoes
This Week's Tomatoes

Featuring tomatoes, radishes, hot peppers, cilantro, and greens

This week we didn’t get the lettuce that we anticipated from our CSA. Instead, they substituted what looks like hot peppers. This calls for some serious creativity, so Bruce is going to make a variation on my Zucchini with Fresh Tomatoes, another dish inspired by my mother. We tried a great vegan Cilantro Pesto recipe last week that we’ll make again this week and share.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

No-cook Raspberry Vinegar

Two Bottles of Red Vinegar with Raspberries
Vinegar After 24 Hours

Adapted from Sissymae at

Raspberries are my favorite fruit. Often when I pop one into my mouth, I immediately go back in time to a summer morning long ago in my grandmother’s back yard. Gram is gathering berries for breakfast and I am holding a bowl for her. Every now and then I’ll put a berry into my mouth. The taste and texture are exquisite, like nothing I’d ever imagined or tasted before.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Week 21 Veggie List & Ideas

Two Large Heads of Radicchio in a Basket
Lots of Leftover Radicchio
The summer coastal fog has been light the past few days and I’m hoping for warmer weather through September, not just for my cold toes, but for the delayed tomato crop. Dry farmed tomatoes fresh from the farm…could there be a more delicious summer food?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mom’s Old World Beets

Plate of Shredded Beets with Bacon & Vinegar
Mom's Recipe from her Polish Ancestors

Recipe by Mom

After my last post about Mom’s fresh dill pickles, I became nostalgic for other foods that she used to cook. One of my earliest memories is of Mom cooking a Polish beet dish back in the early 1960s, and I’d wanted to recreate it for some time as part of exploring my Polish (cooking) roots. I’d hesitated because the first ingredient was salt pork—not very healthy, hard to find, and I have no idea how to cook with it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fresh Cucumber Pickles

Cut Glass Bowl of Pickles
Mom is Gone but her Recipe & Bowl Still Come to the Table

 Recipe by Mom

When my family moved from the country to suburbia, my parents continued to cultivate a vegetable garden, unlike the neighbors. While keeping the lawn neatly mowed and green, in compliance with an unspoken code of conduct for the neighborhood, my parents could not comply with accepted practice of using the back yard for only social purposes. They kept a garden—not for showy flowers, but for food, and I am a better person for it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Week 20 Menu Plan

White Turnip with Eyes, Nose, Mouth
Comedian Turnip from Last Week

Featuring tomatoes, sweet peppers, potatoes, cilantro, and greens

Our CSA didn’t deliver the green beans as promised this week (Mother Nature apparently had other plans), but we’ve got the first of both tomatoes and some sort of sweet pepper, maybe Anchos. We’re going to make a simple sauce for pasta after eating as many as we like on salads. Since the Pesto Dressing recipe was so delish, and we have tons of cilantro, I’m going to try it with cilantro in place of basil.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Week 20 Veggie List & Ideas

Basket of Tomatoes and Peppers
First Peppers & Tomatoes of this Cool CA Summer
It’s that time of year when the light turns golden and so do the redwood needles in northern California. It’s the warmest, driest time of year, and days are noticeably shorter. Soon fall winds will send the golden redwood needles flying, but until then, let’s revel in the golden light, and take some time off to enjoy it. You might have noticed that I took a little break myself, on vacation in Oregon last week, so didn’t post the usual veggie list and menus.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Preserving Fruits 4: Freezing Strawberries

Strawberries in Ziploc Bag
Frozen Strawberries for Next Winter

Recipe by Debbie from Live Earth Farm

In my last post I talked about how we’re not as excited about eating strawberries as we were early in the season, say in late April or even June. We’ve theorized that the berries themselves taste better earlier, but perhaps we just get used to them. In any case, we will be missing them come December or January, so why not freeze some now to enjoy during the winter? I’m imagining that Strawberry Sauce over chocolate pudding, or even a few plain strawberries, will soothe even the most winter-weary souls.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Balsamic Strawberries with Mint

Plate of Balsamic Strawberries Garnished with Mint
Quick & Easy Balsamic Strawberries

Recipe from Bon Appetit and Live Earth Farm

It’s that time of the season when we’ve grown accustomed to getting strawberries every week in our CSA share, and eating just a basket of strawberries for dessert doesn’t have the appeal that it did back in early May. Here’s a simple recipe for jaded palates featuring the goodness of strawberries. The idea of strawberries and balsamic vinegar seemed strange to me, but in combination with the sugar, the balsamic sauce takes on a strawberry flavor, along with a sweet sophistication.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pesto Salad Dressing

Tomato and Lettuce Dressed with Pesto Dressing
Pesto Dressing on Green Salad

Recipe from More Recipes From a Kitchen Garden

Back in the days before cell phones and PhotoShop, when I was employed as an Art Department Technician at a community college and had to bring a floppy disk and borrow a colleague’s Mac Plus if I needed a computer, I met a charming retiree-student named Fran. In addition to creating beautiful sculpture in her art classes, Fran had completed a challenging culinary program. She periodically brought me treats with specific instructions that they were for me, not to share with students!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spicy-Sweet Glazed Pork Chops

Red Glazed Pork Chop with Green Parsley
Hot and Sweet Glazed Pork Chop

Recipe by Robin

During the hot days of early August here in the Northern Hemisphere, many people are on vacation, and the rest of us wish we were. I’m all for simplifying food preparation at this time of year: firing up the BBQ and grilling outside, making a big salad with tuna for dinner, or making a meal of just steamed garden vegetables like my Mom and I used to do. It's summer--let's spend more time relaxing and less time cooking! Here’s a simple recipe for grilled pork chops, and I made it even simpler by using the electric frying pan instead of the BBQ grill (you can use either one).

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ode to Joy: Blackberry Cobbler

Joy Loved Summertime

Recipe by Joy and Robin

My dear friend Joy passed away rather suddenly early this year. Today, exactly in the middle of summer, makes me think of her. A fan of underappreciated holidays, she would have enjoyed celebrating today. Although Groundhog’s Day was her favorite day to throw a party, she did love summer, and hadn’t much use for the dark rainy days of winter. She would have loved contemplating why we celebrate mid-autumn (Halloween), mid-spring (Beltane), and even mid-winter (Groundhog’s Day) but not much is made of mid-summer. And we would have had fun exploring why summer solstice is called Midsummer, when it’s really the beginning of summer.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ruby Red Beet Soup

Beet Soup with Yogurt Blended in

Recipe adapted from Deaf Smith Country Cookbook

I tried out this recipe to explore the kinds of foods my Polish ancestors might have eaten, one of my cooking goals for this Vegetable and Fruit Year. I know that some people don’t like beets, and this recipe is not for them.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Natural & Healthy Green Bean Casserole

Retro-style Plate with Green Bean Casserole
Green Bean Casserole, both Creamy & Crunchy

Recipe by Robin

My Mom used to make this dish with frozen green beans, Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, and canned crunchy-fried onions, dubbed “Boonga” by my sister Diane and I.  Making the no-processed-foods version of this recipe makes me appreciate why my Mom and other 1960s cooks were excited by the simplicity of opening two cans and defrosting a package to make this. Each of the three parts of this casserole requires time and talent, and preparing the three parts so they will all be ready simultaneously requires some finessing.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Todd's Classic Pesto

Pesto with Sustainable Local Salmon

Recipe by Todd

Years ago I did production work for a jeweler lady who was very popular with men. One of her many admirers who used to come by the shop (garage, actually) was Todd. Unlike the other guys, Todd was an enthusiastic and talented chef, making classic recipes from his Italian family, which he knew by heart.

Week 18 Menu Plan

Basket of 4 Pickling Cucumbers
First of this Summer's Cucumbers

Featuring cucumbers, baby turnips, padron peppers, assorted greens, basil and beets

We still didn’t use our radishes from weeks past, so it looks like Sauteed Radishes with their Greens are on the menu soon. Carrots and celery from other weeks will combine well in my Steamed Fish on a Bed of Veggies (or whatever I named it!) and perhaps some padron peppers will add some unusual spiciness. Luckily, we never seem to tire of Tuscan-style Garlic Spinach & Arugula, a simple and very tasty, healthy dish that cooks down a large volume of greens neatly.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Week 18 Veggie List & Ideas

Two Apricots in Hand with Leaning Tree in Background
Last of the Apricot Harvest from our Leaning Tree
It’s that bountiful time of year again, the middle-of-summer harvest. We still have plenty of leftovers from last week. With more veggies on the way, we’ll have to be extra-careful about what my friend Barbara calls “refrigerator maintenance,” the art and science of eating and/or preparing all the fresh foods in the fridge before they go bad.  Wasting not it what this blog is all about!