You’ve gotta try these jalapeno poppers!

If you like jalapeno poppers, then I’ve got a treat for you!  We got jalapenos in this week’s share, and I combined them with the hot pepper cheese curds from the Fun Share, some roasted garlic cheese, cream cheese, and feta cheese (that’s the secret weapon!) for an out-of-this-world spicy treat.  Best of all, they are baked, not fried.  I cooked mine on the grill this week just because I didn’t want to turn on the oven and they turned out beautifully.  The recipe is here.  Give ’em a try and I hope you love them as much as I do.

Grilling in the backyard: summer squash, fennel, & tomatoes!

This week’s share gave us patty pan squash (y’know, those little squashes that look like flying saucers?), fennel, and Roma tomatoes.  Oh!  And BASIL.  So I decided to grill for dinner last night, and I added a sweet onion, a few mushrooms, and some Brie cheese to the mix.  Then I topped everything with a balsamic vinegar reduction.  It. was. yummy.

To make the reduction:

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine everything in a small saucepan and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, for about 20 minutes, until the vinegar has reduced to a thick syrup.  Turn off heat and let cool.

For the few leftovers that remained, I tossed them into my butter lettuce salad with some cucumber, bell peppers, and sunflower seeds.  Then I topped with the balsamic vinegar reduction for the dressing.  I’m pretty excited about lunch today, too.

For our CSA members: if you are looking for ideas on how to use your fennel, check out these sources:

http://www.finecooking.com/recipe/tomato-soup-with-fennel-leek-potato  You might save this one as we’re going to get leeks and more fennel in the next week or so.

http://www.marthastewart.com/286398/fennel-recipes

http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/fennel-recipes

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/11/fennel-recipes_n_1152097.html

These should get your brain humming wildly with fennel possibilities!  And for this week’s video…

 

Heat got your appetite down? Maybe this bean and grain salad will sound good!

Dang it’s been hot lately!  I think July is going to set some records here in Helena and elsewhere around Montana.  When it gets really hot sometimes my appetite goes the way of the dodo and nothing sounds good to eat.  I tend to focus on juicy fruits and vegetables–apples, nectarines, tomatoes, cucumbers, sugar snap peas (my favorite!)–that way I am eating, but I’m also getting lots of water, too.  It seems like a win-win situation.  That was the inspiration for this week’s CSA recipe.  This salad combines a ton of veggies with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette and plenty of herbs.  I hope you’ll try it!  Looking for the recipe?  It’s here.

Roasted garlic & arugula spread

I know I’m a little late posting this video this week, but I think the wait was worth it!  This is a 2-part recipe: a roasted garlic & arugula 1) butter and 2) cream cheese.  I put the garlic arugula butter on some toasted bread and it was terrific!  Then I made a sandwich with the cream cheese and loaded it up with some cucumber and turnip slices–that was one of the most delicious, most refreshing lunches I’ve eaten in a while!  Intrigued?  Check it out and make it!  It’s so easy and so yummy.

 

Homemade ranch dressing & dip mix

I love ranch dressing–and I love the powdered mix you can buy in those little packets in the grocery store, but they are expensive, and they always have hard-to-pronounce ingredients in them, including monosodium glutamate, or MSG.  MSG has its issues (I have a friend who claims it gives her migraines) and so I try to avoid it whenever possible.  Thus this copy cat recipe for making my own ranch dressing/dip mix.  It’s perfect for mixing with some sour cream to dip snow peas in (if they even make it out of the garden, which most don’t).  But I also toss this mix with potatoes and a little oil prior to roasting, and I also sprinkle it on popcorn.  And what about ranch Chex mix?  Yes, please.  I’ll post the recipe…one of these days when I get a little more time to write it up.  Until then, you’ll just have to pause the video to make sure you have all the ingredients!

Garlic scape obsession

Garlic scapes have arrived with Week 3 of the CSA–one of my all-time favorite produce items.  Many of us get really excited when the garlic scapes arrive.  There are a lot of ways to use garlic scapes, but this is my go-to recipe because it is so versatile.  You can add any number of herbs, nuts, cheeses, or other goodies (sun-dried tomatoes, anyone?) to the base pesto mix of garlic scapes, salt, and oil–you have limitless possibilies!  I also made a loaf of bread stuffed with the pesto and some Brie cheese–talk about a yummy taste bud experience:

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Today’s garlic scape pesto uses oregano, a touch of basil, parsley, green onions, and sunflower seeds.  Last year I showed you how to make 3 different garlic scape pestos, including sage and walnut, the Asian pesto, and another parsley variety.  I’ll post those recipes on my website soon–but there are other priorities right now, like harvesting buckets o’ strawberries, for example!  Yesterday I harvested about 3 pounds of strawberries from the garden, and there’s more to come later this week.

But the video will show you the basics until I get get around to posting those recipes!  Enjoy–and be on the lookout for vampires!

So many greens: how to preserve them

This early in the season, we get a lot of greens in the CSA shares: bok choy, chard, spinach, arugula, lettuce, kale…that’s what grows in Montana this time of year.  I’m not complaining, though.  After a long winter, the abundance of greens is most welcome.  That said, there are only so many days in a week.  So what to do if you can’t eat all of those greens before the next CSA share arrives?  Preserve them!  This video shows you how I prefer to freeze my greens and enjoy them well into the winter, long after the CSA is over.

 

 

CSA week 1: baby bok choy potstickers

The first CSA pick up was yesterday, and as promised, I created a video to demonstrate a way to cook up your shares.  I used 5 of the 7 items in our share (I was so hungry after I finished making the celeriac chips that I forgot to use the mixed greens –oops!).  Not a bad way to start of the season.  Enjoy your share and thanks for choosing to eat locally!  I’ll post the recipe later this week here.

Cabin cookin’

Last weekend I went chasing after Sandhill cranes–my girlfriend and I have done this for a second year in a row now and we have deemed it an annual event now.  We mounted our cameras on tripods and set off through the willows, looking for these beautiful birds.  We found some, but they are skittish creatures, so we were never able to get very close for good photos.  We scurried from shrub to shrub like ninjas, with our tripods and packs, and I’m sure it was quite a site to see.  This pair was hard to spot–we actually heard them give away their location.

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And even if we didn’t capture any award-winning crane photos, we had a great time anyway.  The scenery was spectacular!

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We stayed in a Forest Service cabin and I cooked dinner.  We had a grilled pork shoulder steak marinated in Osaka Sauce, rice noodles with Asian garlic scape pesto, and peach-huckleberry cobbler with cranberry whiskey and vanilla Greek yogurt.  This dinner did not disappoint!  I made a video of our cabin cooking adventure, and though it is very unstructured, it does capture the essence of our dinner party in the mountains pretty well, I think.  The recipe for the Asian garlic scape pesto is here.  We’ll make this pesto (in a more structured kitchen setting) when the garlic scapes arrive in the CSA shares next month!  So stay tuned!