09 May 2010

Spring Farmer's Markets and CSA

It's been  a terribly long time since I have posted.  If I had regular readers, I would at this point apologize for disappearing for months.  I just haven't had anything of interest to share, I guess.  Of course, those of you who know me are right now rolling your eyes.

However, I am back!  I have launched a new program for the summer (and by summer I mean any day between the end of March and the beginning of November when things are green and one can go outside for a walk and not fear death.  Although... there are times in late July when death could be a concern... but IMHO death by being too hot is preferable to death by freezing; but I digress).  Anyway, my new program, hobby, obsessive focus, whatever you'd like to call it will be my primary topics for blogs.  I'm kicking it off today... Mother's Day.

The first real week of spring and the farmer's markets has just ended.  It was week #2 for the Omaha Farmer's Market and this week, I noticed even more home-gown goodies than I did last week.  Yesterday, however, was a horrible day weather-wise to wander around the market.  The temperature was in the very low 40s and the wind chill had to be in the low to mid 30s.  It was freezing.  I just went to pick up a few things that I know I needed, primarily some herb plants.  Normally by this time of year, I have potted some of my favorite herbs, but due to my time-consuming work schedule recently, I hadn't had the energy to do so.  Last week I had to use *gasp* store-bought dried rosemary on my asparagus!  But early asparagus is my favorite... so fresh, so green, so crunchy, so delish... that it didn't really matter what herb I used to compliment the flavor, it was still very tasty.  I ate the spears all weekend like they were chips.  I couldn't resist nabbing one every time I went into the kitchen!

I got several small herb plants:  2 rosemary, minette basil, chocolate mint and cilantro.  I haven't ever grown cilantro before, but it seems to be a rare commodity here and I love it in my August salsa. 

I also picked up our first week of my two shared CSAs.  After the mesclun fiasco of 2009, the three of us got into two very good CSA this year.  GreenLeaf farms and a co-op style CSA from Omaha's indoor, year-round farmer's market Tomāto Tomäto.  It's going to be a fantastic year for culinary pursuits.

Which brings me back around to my summer project.  I plan on doing food preservation in various ways.  On top of that, I'd like to try and make food that contains ONLY items that you can get from the market, or at least buy locally.  On the eastern edge of the Great Plaines, this isn't a difficult feat as just about every type of farmer is within spittin' distance.    I will journal my adventures on this blog.

I will be freezing with the aid of a vacuum sealer, drying with the aid of a dehydrator and canning (with the aid of a big pot of water and jars with lids). 

All I've really done so far is make rhubarb sauce and bought some new knives.  My chicago cutlery knives need sharpened, but I also need more than 2 knives in the house.  The rhubarb sauce is the easiest thing ever to make!  I used to stir the pot when mom would cook rhubarb when I was a kid so I knew what to expect.   Here's the simple recipe:  melt 2T butter on HIGH which when I did it nearly became "brown butter", add 2 cups of rhubarb and 1/2 cup of sugar.  Cook and stir on medium-high until it looks like something you'd want to put on your ice cream and you're done!

I promise every week won't be a long blog like this one.  If you have any hints on recipes or growing herbs please pass them along!

23 August 2009

Cooking Breakfast

I've been making yogurt lately. I'm on the third batch and each time I fine-tune the process. I've found that non-homogenized milk is the best to start with and overall is better for you. I get a gallon of milk, organic of course, and heat it up to about 180 degrees. Then I pour it into a bowl and let it cool to about 110 degrees. At that point I get my yogurt starter out of the freezer and add about half a teaspoon of starter to a few tablespoons of the warm milk and stir it up before adding it to the larger bowl. Doing it this way seems to disperse the culture throughout the milk better. Then I keep it warm for around 15 hours and then put it in the fridge!

I've also been making granola. I've tried a couple of recipes but haven't really made a batch that I love yet. My breakfast of choice now is Blue Planet coffee, black or with a bit of half 'n half, with my homemade yogurt with my homemade granola mixed in.

This time around I put some fresh blackberries into a few containers of the yogurt with a bit of agave nectar for sweetener.

I'll let you know when I get the granola recipe figured out. If you have any tips, let me know!

10 August 2009

The Summer of 2009

This has been a good summer. I have felt more like myself this year than I have in a long time!

I've been dieting which has brought me closer to my passion: eating locally. I've lost about 30 pounds and have thoroughly enjoyed visiting the farmer's markets every Saturday. I've frozen corn, green beans and an assortment of berries... which should get me through about a week of the off-season. I've also done a bit of canning of some spring berries and plan on making salsa in the next week or so.

I've been walking/jogging in training for a 5k run I'm doing in Chicago in September. I realized today that I only have 16 training session left until the run. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to walk most of the race... which is unfortunate, but it's kept me motivated!

I've started making my own yogurt and granola, I'm eating lots more veggies and fruits than I ever have and in general I'm pretty happy.

So to recap: so far it's been a good summer!

until later!

01 July 2009

Diet Drag

What's really frustrating is that I've lost almost 25 pounds... and I'm only a third of the way to my goal!