Savory bread pudding–how to use your share from Week 2

Hello, everyone!  I thought we were getting morels this week in our share.  But they didn’t arrive on the truck.

I know!!  Major. Bummer.  We’ll try again next week.

Despite not having morels to include in tonight’s dinner, it still turned out fantastic!  All you need is some stale bread (it doesn’t really have to be stale…you can use fresh bread), some eggs, milk, and your choice of veggies.  Easy!  No formal recipe yet; hopefully I can get to that soon.  So you’ll just have to watch the video if you want to make it.  Enjoy!

Week 1: use 6/7 of your CSA share to make a delicious salad!

CSA season is here at last!  For some of you, it has been a long 6 months since our last CSA pickup, which was right before Thanksgiving.  Well, rest assured, you have 20 more weeks (and potentially 4-5 weeks of a fall share) to keep you eating delicious, healthy, locally grown organic produce.  Ahhhh, that sounds pretty good right now, doesn’t it?

I took the liberty to show you how to make a salad.  I know, that sounds pretty dumb.  But this is a pretty spectacular salad, if I do say so myself, and since it’s been a while since I’ve posted a video I thought ‘What better way to ease back into the swing of things than with a total home run of a video?’  So here it is.  Enjoy!

Homemade pumpkin pie–totally from scratch!

I’ve been radio silent for a couple of weeks–other priorities have taken my time away from videos and blogging.  Such is life, I suppose.  This is the last week of the CSA and then I’ll have a bit of a break.  We had a really good season, but I am looking forward to focusing on other things for a few months.  Videos will continue throughout the winter, but may be more sporadic–who knows?

But I’ve got two, count ’em TWO, videos specifically tailored to Thanksgiving this week.  This is the first installment, which walks you through how to make a pumpkin pie, completely from scratch:  from pumpkin to pie.  And you know what?  It’s really not that hard!  Sure, it’s more time-consuming than opening a can of pumpkin puree, but this is better.   Waaaaaaaay better than pumpkin from a can!

The second video will show you how to dry brine a turkey.  Never tried it?  Well, you should!  I think this will be my go-to turkey preparation for Thanksgiving forevermore.  Look for that video tomorrow!

Upcoming recipe: winter squash & beluga lentil burgers + chipotle coleslaw

What’s the point of this post?  To get you excited about next week’s CSA share and help you prep your pantry & fridge for items on this coming week’s tremendously exciting menu!

It is winter squash season, so we’ll be getting a different winter squash every week.  This week we got ‘Fairy’ winter squash, which I have yet to use, but I plan to make good use of it this weekend.  Next week we’ll try another variety (maybe ‘Lower Salmon’ or ‘Kabocha’) and I’ll put it to use in this veggie burger recipe with some black beluga lentils.  So what’s on the menu?

Winter squash & beluga lentil veggie burgers with homemade hamburger buns.  Chipotle coleslaw.  Roasted baby carrots & baby beets.

I don’t know about you, but I am EXCITED about this upcoming meal.  And if all goes according to plan, we’ll get most of the ingredients with next week’s share.  Nearly all of the remaining ingredients we’ve gotten in previous shares, which means nearly 100% of this meal will be made with locally sourced ingredients.  Yay!  Wanna make these burgers?  And/or the coleslaw?  Here’s what you’ll need:

For the burgers:

Winter squash (this & next week’s share)

black beluga lentils (next week’s share) -OR- other lentils/pulses/grain of your choice

smoked Monterrey Jack cheese –OR-cheese of your choice

parsley (this week’s share)

thyme

onion (recent shares)

oatmeal

eggs

cornmeal

For the coleslaw:

cabbage (next week’s share)

celeriac, also known as celery root (next week’s share)

carrots (recent shares & next week’s share)

watermelon radish (this week’s share & next week for those who didn’t get theirs)

dried cranberries

chipotle pepper (dried or canned in adobo sauce)

I’m really hopeful we get everything we order so I can make this meal.  If we don’t, oh well, that’s how the baby beets roll this time of year in Montana.  I’m also hoping to acquire some arugula in next week’s share to serve on top of the burgers, along with some sliced tomatoes that we got in this week’s share.  And I’ll make some chipotle mayo to slather on the buns as well.  Of course, I’ll make a video to show you how to throw it all together, too!  It will be fun!  ‘Til next week, dream of warm winter squash-based meals!

 

 

 

It’s that time of year again—the preservation season is upon us

This is one of the busiest times of the gardening season.  Right now, it is raining/snowing outside and my garden season is essentially over.  What the deer (or my little rascal, MaeBelle) didn’t eat of my tomatoes and other veggies, I have harvested and either eaten or frozen or dried or canned in some form.  In a way, it’s a relief to be finished with my own garden right now so I can focus on other things for a while.  Garlic-planting is still to come—but not until late October.  The summer CSA is still going strong for another 4 weeks, then our fall share will begin immediately afterwards and take us through Thanksgiving—so I’ve still got over 2 full months of fresh produce coming my way.  So between the CSA, what I’ve harvested out of my own garden, and what my neighbors have given me, I’ve been busily preserving all sorts of foods for the past few weeks so I can enjoy them this winter and early next spring.

Since my tomatoes were nearly a complete bust this year I bought a 10 lb box of cherry tomatoes to eat and preserve.

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This is maybe half of the 10 lbs left to eat & preserve–what beautiful little jewels!

I ended up drying 2/3 or more of the tomatoes because I absolutely love dried tomatoes and I use them all winter long for my tomato fix.  And drying tomatoes is so easy AND economical!  I cannot purchase sun-dried tomatoes at the supermarket.  First of all, I don’t really like the oil-packed ones, and secondly, they are insanely expensive.  If you have a food dehydrator (and if you don’t have a food dehydrator, you should seriously consider getting one if you want to preserve food) you can make your own dried tomatoes for pennies compared to those expensive jars in the grocery store.

I simply cut my cherry tomatoes into halves or thirds, depending on how large the tomato was, placed them onto the dehydrator trays, stacked them up (I have 4 trays), placed the lid on top, plugged in the dehydrator, and walked away.

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All cut up and ready to dry, cap’n!
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I’ve had this dehydrator for YEARS, and I love it!  They still make it and it’s very inexpensive.

Some of them dried overnight, others I had to dry a little longer because they were still a little too juicy.  I dry mine until they are leathery, with just a little bit of give to them when you bend them.  Because there is still moisture in the tomato, they are not shelf stable—meaning you can’t store them at room temperature or you risk spoilage via mold and/or bacteria.  So I toss mine into a plastic zippered baggie and store them in the freezer.  When I want to add that little sweet spark of dried tomato to a dish, I just reach into the bag and pull out however many I want.  Easy peasy!  Sometimes I re-hydrate the tomatoes by putting them in a small glass bowl with a little bit of boiling water, sometimes I just chop them up and add them to whatever dish I’m preparing.  It varies depending on the dish and, more often, my mood.  If you preserve no other food in your house, and you like dried tomatoes, you should seriously consider making your own.

For the remaining 1/3 of the tomatoes, some I used to make a balsamic vinegar caramelized onion & cherry tomato conserve a few weeks ago that was beyond words yummy on a slice of bread with some cream cheese.  And I simply ate a ton of them—just popped them in my mouth most of the time, though I did get on a kick of making this awesome cherry tomato, cucumber, mozzarella cheese, basil, and balsamic vinaigrette salad for a week or two.  Sweet, tart, tangy, cheesy, herby—oh, it was so good!  That’s the stuff summer is made of.  I will miss that salad in January, but I know I’ll be able to enjoy it again next summer with fresh, locally grown veggies & herbs…and that the wait will be well worth it (because I know damn well if I make it in January with a cucumber and tomatoes from the supermarket I will hate myself because it will have absolutely no flavor—so no giving in!).

Last weekend I made some plum & blueberry preserves.  This weekend I’ve got several things on my plate.  I need to make some pear preserves with the 10 pounds of pears my neighbor gave me, I need to smoke the backlog of cheese I have in the fridge (this week’s video!), and I need to make garlic scape pesto from those garlic scapes I harvested waaaaaay back in early summer and have been sitting in my fridge, patiently waiting for me to make time for pesto.  It will happen this weekend.  It has to happen this weekend because I’ve got the next 4 or 5 weekends booked up with work, festivals, travel plans, in-laws visiting, (rifle) hunting season beginning, and finishing the fence, among other things.  I also need to render some more lard (more on that in another post) to clean out the freezer in preparation for hunting season—right now, we have no space to put any meat!  But that will have to wait until late October as well.

No rest for the weary this time of year.  But you know what?  When I slather a spoonful of pear preserves onto a biscuit this winter or sprinkle some chopped dried tomatoes on my pizza I’m going to be so glad that I put the time in to preserve this bounty of food that I am incredibly fortunate to have.

More ideas for using tomatillos!

My friend Patty sent me this recipe for tomatillo salsa tonight.  It sounds really yummy, so I may have to try this.  Note to self: add avocado to the grocery list….

I do not know where she got this recipe, but here it is.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound Fresh Peeled and Washed Tomatillos

  • 1/2 Bunch of Fresh Cilantro

  • 2-3 Cloves of Peeled Garlic

  • 1 Fresh Jalapeño

  • 1 Medium Avocado

  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Peel tomatillos, clean, and quarter.

  2. Add tomatillos to blender and blend to reduce.

  3. Add cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, avocado, and lime juice to blender. Blend to preferred consistency and salt to taste.
  4. Enjoy!

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.

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.

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.