Sunday, July 31, 2011

Preserving Fruits 3: Apricot Jam II

Six Jars of Apricot Jam
Good Results of a Jam Session

Recipe by Happy Girl Kitchen


As I promised in my Apricot Jam I post, I’m posting another recipe for Apricot Jam as taught to me by Happy Girl Kitchen, our local food preservationists. This small family-owned business tried many combinations to get the perfect apricot flavor, color, and gel. They experimented with alternative sweeteners such as agave and honey, but did not get as good results. I have to agree that even though this uses more sugar than my recipe, it looks better, keeps longer, and has a more complex flavor. The addition of lemon is key in both color and flavor. Lemon also adds acidity, and acidity is what makes preserved foods keep safely.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Apricot-Plum Stuffing for Apricot-Honey Glazed Hens

Hen Drumstick and Thigh with Stuffing on Side
Apricot-Honey Glazed Hen with Apricot-Plum Stuffing

Recipe by Robin, inspired by Hawaii Kai Cookbook


Although you could choose to stuff something besides hens this, as I’d said in my Apricot Glazed Cornish Hens post, I wanted to create a stuffing for the hens with local California apricots, plums, and almonds. My first attempt was a success, largely due to some panko breadcrumbs that I happened to have on hand from a failed recipe. I’ve read that you can make your own panko crumbs by leaving a slice of white bread out overnight and crumbling it up the next day.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Week 17 Menu Plan

Blackberries Growing on a Fence
Pick up Some Blackberries When You Go Out

Featuring radishes, berries, apricots, green beans, potatoes and purslane!


Instead of red potatoes this week, we received the first yellows of the year. My fellow blogger Mira over at Grains and More posted a recipe for Purslane Soup that I want to try, possibly without the peas because we don’t have them. Plenty of arugula or greens, though, if that would work—NOT!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Week 17 Veggie List & Ideas

Our Wacky Apricot Tree: Still Providing Apricots!
It’s the middle of summer and nary a ripe tomato or pepper in Santa Cruz county, thanks to our cool rainy spring. We are getting lots of green beans, potatoes, blackberries, and raspberries. Apricots keep ripening on our crazy tree that fell over at a 45 degree angle last spring, and there are plenty of ‘cots at the local Farmers Market too. I’ll be posting another Apricot Jam recipe soon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Preserving Fruits 2: Berries in Light Honey Sauce

Six Jars of Assorted Berries
Red Raspberry, Red/Golden Raspberry, Golden Raspberry

Blackberry-Wine, Blackberry, Blackberry-Raspberry

Recipe by Happy Girl Kitchen, tweaked by Robin


A most intriguing idea for preserving berries came to me in a jam-making class by Happy Girl Kitchen, and it’s not a jam. It’s berries preserved in a light honey sauce. You can experiment with the amount of honey that you like. Happy Girl uses 1 part honey to 10 parts water, and warns that using more honey can overpower the fruit. But you might like extra honey flavor!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Preserving Fruits 1: Frozen Stone Fruits

Frozen Apricot Halves
Frosty Fresh-Frozen Apricots

Recipe by Debbie from Live Earth Farm


Next week is the middle of summer, and my thoughts turn to preserving the bounty of this time of year. I was talking with my sister Chris about the jam making class I took from Happy Girl Kitchens. She’s in the Southwest, so her local seasonal foods are quite different from ours on the central CA coast. She’s all about the chilies, and especially likes hot and sweet sauces: chilis combined with everything from bananas and mango to strawberries and rhubarb to apricots and plums.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Quick Asian-style Collard Greens

Asian Style Collards on Japanese Plate
Quick Asian-style Collards Plated

Recipe Inspired by Live Earth Farm


This recipe is a variation of my Hot Kale Salad with Balsamic & Hot Chili Oil, which in turn was inspired by Debbie Palmer, kitchen wizard and Live Earth Farm’s CSA coordinator emeritus. Debbie’s original recipe uses lemon juice in place of vinegar and parmesan in place of sesame seeds. She uses this to dress all kinds of greens. I've made more complex sauces for Asian Greens, but this simpler, faster recipe is surprisingly tasty.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Week 16 Menu Plan

Basket of Red and Yellow Apricots
Apricots from our Tree

Featuring potatoes, leeks, collards, green beans, large radishes, zucchini, berries


Potatoes again this week, and they keep getting bigger. Luckily, we are still getting leeks and enjoying the simple goodness of potato-leek soup with and without milk. Perhaps I’ll change it up with some fresh marjoram from the garden this week. Our bounty of green beans this week are inspiring me to make a healthy bean casserole--just like Mom used to make, but without the canned fried onions and cream of mushroom soup. I’m combining two recipes (one for onion topping and one for bean part), with a few tweaks of my own and will share if it’s post-worthy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Week 16 Veggie List & Ideas

Returning Strawberry Baskets to LEF for Reuse
This is the 16th week of our CSA’s 16th season. That means Live Earth Farm has been providing farm shares to subscribers since 1995! Although we’ve only been members for 3 years, I’ve known Live Earth Farm since about 1999, the first year that Farmer Tom and Constance asked me to play music at their Summer Solstice Celebration, an annual party in the fields for members. One of my favorite parts of this Celebration is the U-Pick strawberries. In fact, the deliciousness of the strawberries, year after year, is what finally convinced Bruce and me to become members.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summertime Roasted Beets

Beets with Dressing Served over Greens
Roasted White & Rose Beets on Their Greens

Recipe by Robin


I have a few recipes for roasting winter veggies that I’ll share come January. When we received rose-and-white baby beets this week, we wanted to roast them along with some Lemon Ginger Chicken we were baking, to fully utilize the energy our oven consumes. So I adapted a winter recipe for summer. I substituted apple cider vinegar for the heavier balsamic and red wine vinegars, and freshened it up by using fresh parsley in place of dry thyme.

Monday, July 18, 2011

No-milk Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup

Recipe by S. Folkart from Community Gardens of Santa Cruz


One of the first recipes I learned to make when I moved to Santa Cruz in the late 1970s was potato leek soup. I had never seen, much less eaten, a leek before I came to California, but I had read plenty about them in various cookbooks. Although I’ve already published my recipe for Potato Leek Soup, I recently found this recipe in a 1979 local cookbook, The Vegetable Gardener’s Cookbook, published by Community Gardens of Santa Cruz, to which I belonged at the time. Although I did tweak a couple of things, credit goes to Community Gardens member S. Folkart for the original no-milk-or-cream recipe.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Poached Fish with Herbs

Poached Fish Plated
Cilantro and Capers on Tilapia

Recipe from “Good News”


“That’s a good recipe,” said my husband about some leftover fish.  He meant that it’s tasty, but it’s also easy to remember and simple to prepare. The recipe was given to me by a woman who was selling fresh fish at the local farmer’s market in the late 1990s. Her husband and son caught the fish from their small fishing boat. I was looking for a way to prepare the skate wings I’d just bought.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Week 15 Menu Plan

First Apricots from our Tree

Featuring potatoes, baby beets, baby leeks, basil, cilantro, and baby fennel


Lots of herbs this week and trying to think of a new use for cilantro.  If anyone has a good salsa recipe, please post it to share! I’m thinking of making pesto, either my almond variety or my original Italian recipe from Todd’s mom. One more try at the no-milk-product variety of potato leek soup and it will be ready to share.  Bruce wants to make a cannolini bean “tabouli style” salad—go figure because he doesn’t like tabouli (maybe it’s the bulgar). Canned cannolini beans taste “canny” to me (too many cans in this sentence!), so I’m going to experiment with cooking them in the slow cooker. There’s a lot of contradictory advice about this on the web, so wish me luck!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Week 15 Veggie List & Ideas

On this 15th week of our CSA season, because our weather has been cooler than usual, we are still enjoying late spring veggies. We’ll be getting the first of the green beans (we hope, as broccoli was substituted last week!), my husband’s favorite. Looks like the first of the young collard green too, and I serve them with Asian-style ginger sauce. Like last week, we will make a delicious non-dairy potato-leek soup that uses just the tiniest bit of butter and garlic, and hopefully perfect the recipe enough to post.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lemon Hummus

Hand Holding Carrot with Lemon Hummus
Carrot: Perfect Vehicle for Lemon Hummus

Recipe Adapted by Bruce from “Cooking By Moonlight”


My husband Bruce loves hummus. I shy away from it because, at least in Santa Cruz county, it is often packed full of raw garlic that overpowers the other tastes and sometimes upsets my stomach. I knew that Bruce was looking for a good hummus recipe, and the one in Karri Ann Allrich’s excellent Cooking By Moonlight intrigued me because I love lemon. Bruce was interested because the recipe doesn’t call for tahini. It seems that when we’ve bought tahini for the small amount needed in hummus, the rest goes to waste. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Victorian Glazed Carrots

Plated Yellow, Red, and Orange Carrots Sprinkled with Cinnamon
Victorian Recipe: Simple, Local Ingredients

Recipe from "The Secret Garden Cookbook" by Amy Cotler


I have several recipes for glazed carrots, but this one comes from the wonderful Secret Garden Cookbook by Amy Cotler. According to my review on Goodreads, this cookbook embodies the sense of both time and place from the Victorian classic that inspired it. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden is all about children growing strong by eating fresh local foods and exercising outdoors [read my review on Goodreads].  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chocolate-dipped Strawberries for Potlucks

Glass Platter Filled with Chocolate-dipped Strawberries
Chocolate-dipped Strawberries Ready for Potluck

Recipe by Robin


Summertime is the perfect time to bring chocolate-dipped strawberries to a potluck. I can guarantee that both you and your dish will be popular. I recently went to a potluck and emailed the host to ask how many would attend his “small potluck,” so I could bring the right amount. He responded that since I was bringing chocolate-dipped strawberries, plan for about 100 guests (followed by a smiley-winky face). I said I’d just fill up the platter, which turned out to be 30 strawberries.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Early Summer Pasta with Red & Green Sauce

Plated Miracle Noodles with Red and Green Sauce
Chunky Red & Green Sauce on Miracle Noodles

Recipe by Robin


In the spring, when our CSA farm share was full of green garlic and several kinds of onions, I created a recipe for Pasta with Onion-Garlic Red Sauce and Veggie Crumbles. It was one of my more popular blog posts. Seasons change and summer  has its own bounty, and I found myself short of onions when making this dish today.  So I added a bunch of chopped spinach to make an early summer variation, and substituted fresh herbs from the garden for the dried herbs.

Week 14 Menu Plan

Woven Basket with Young Red Potatoes
Young Potatoes Destined to Join Young Leeks in Soup

Featuring potatoes, baby leeks, spinach, summer squash, cilantro & giant radishes


I can’t count the number of leeks we got from our CSA farm share last winter. I do know that by the end I’d made the world’s worst leek dish, and didn’t even feel bad about wasting the leeks...because we had still more. In March I thought we’d never finish them and never want to cook with them again, but this week I’m thrilled to get the first baby leeks of the year. Especially since we also got young potatoes and I found an old recipe for vegan potato leek soup.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Week 14 Veggie List & Ideas

Green and Yellow Apricots in Green Foliage
Apricots on Our Tree
The weather is really warming up on the central CA coast at last, and this week we’ll enjoy the first of the green beans, my husband’s favorite veggie. Along with our standard farm share, we also subscribe to a fruit share. We’ve been enjoying many weeks of scrumptious strawberries, and now we’ll also be getting raspberries and Santa Rosa plums. I love the fruit at this time of year, and I’m wondering when we’ll get some apricots. Our tree (yes, the one that collapsed on the house in May) is listing at a 45-degree angle. Bruce trimmed it away from the house, and miraculously its little green apricots are getting bigger and yellower every day. If only I can beat the squirrels and jays, I’ll be able to harvest soon.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Strawberry Sauce for Shortcake or Ice Cream

Classic Strawberry Shortcake: Before

Recipe by Mom


Happy July 4th, Everyone! Here in the States, one of our most traditional foods on our Independence Day is Strawberry Shortcake. This is a natural, since strawberries are ripe and ready just about everywhere in the country.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Slow-cooked Turkey Chili and Soup

Turkey Chili Topped with Cabbage and Cheddar Cheese
Turkey Chili with Cabbage and Cheddar

Recipes by Jenn and Robin


What’s better than a simple-to-prepare recipe with only two ingredients that is low in calories and high in protein? A recipe created by a special friend that is so versatile that it can easily be made into three separate dishes!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Week 13 Menu Plan

Wooden Bowl with Green Salad and Grape Tomatoes
Salad Days Ahead!

Featuring braising greens, onions, mature broccoli, carrots, and radishes


Welcome to July! It’s hot this July 4th weekend, and we mostly plan to be around home. Salads are good cooling fare, and easily prepared. Strawberry shortcake is traditional, as is some sort of BBQ—although we’re not exactly traditional, and in fact don’t have a grill at the new house yet. A bounty of radishes means it’s time to eat them both raw and cooked. And the spicy greens can be eaten along with the other greens. I'm trying out the slow cooker again this week for some simple, low-prep recipes.