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White bean soup for Emma
Friday October 29th 2010

Our little monster, um, daughter, has been requesting white bean something for a while, and I finally got my act in gear to soak some cannellini beans overnight for a soup. But that’s when Melinda, the resident soup expert took over. First she got some onions going in a pot, then added some Farm Box carrot chunks, and then some nice guanciale from Boccalone. Those flavours simmered together for a while …

… before adding a light veggie stock …

… and then the white beans, and a rind from a parmesan block (that’s what’s floating there at 1:30 in the picture), and at the last minute some turnip greens from the Farm Box.

The picture doesn’t do it justice. This was a smokin’ good soup. So much so the kids asked for some leftovers in their box the next day!

The plan for this weeks Gigante bounty
Friday October 29th 2010

Pretty nice looking bounty from this week’s Farm Box, eh? Here’s what’s there:
Winter Squash (Carnival/Acorn? and Delicata) there at 11 and 12 o’clock under the kale
Lacinato Kale
Italian Parsley
Red Butter Lettuce
Carola Potatoes
Mei Quin Choy

The lettuce is pretty amazing. The head is seriously heavy it’s so dense with leaves. No light half stale number you get in a grocery store – thi sone is super crazy fresh.

The carola potatoes are going to be roasted this weekend in the rain and doused with good salt and some of that parsley and munched on while watching the Gigantes kick some Texas butt.

The strawberries are already gone!

The parsely could become a salsa verde for some good meat on the grill, while, um, watching the Gigantes kick some Texas butt!

The kale will go into a minestrone type soup.

These are likely the last of the tomatoes so I’m going to give ‘em a good summer time treatment and make a gazpacho! Nothing tastes like summer like gazpacho!

The choy? Ugh, I dunno. If it gets eaten it’ll be a miracle!

What are you going to make with your box?

braise for Sara/Jim/Jack/Finn
Wednesday October 27th 2010

Sara and Jim brought their two boys home last week. To say it sounds like chaos over there is an understatement! I can only imagine what it’s like to have two screaming kids to feed, change diapers, put to sleep. Must be non-stop!

So in an effort to make sure they keep their strength up, especially given the rainy weather, I made them a braise.

First I browned up a nice piece of Marin Sun Farms beef (well, there’s two there, I know, I can count too – one was for us!). You’ve got to make sure it’s nicely browned – these ones could have done with a few more minutes of browning…

Then I used the same pan and browned up a mirepoix of carrots, onions and celery.

Dumped a bunch of beef stock and a half bottle of hearty red, and cooked it low and slow for about 3 hours.

I took out the beef, then poured the liquid and veggies into a blender and whized the whole lot up. The liquid was still sort of thick so I reduced it down in a pan for a while and it got this lovely thick consistency. Then it went in the fridge cuz you know, a braise is always better the next day!

Jim actually had a 45 minute hall pass so I took him to the Phone Booth for a beer, and on his way back home he was able to stop by and grab his dinner!

I think I may need to make them something else this week! They probably need it!

Rainy day braise for Sunday supper
Tuesday October 26th 2010

It was raining on Sunday and we got invited over to the Bickert/Drennans for another lovely edition of Sunday Suppers. They made a bunch of food and I offered up a braised piece of Marin Sun Farms pork shoulder.

First I browned it up real nice in a pan …

… then I got a mirepoix going. First onions, then a buncha buncha carrots (the sweetness carrots impart is great), then some celery, then a thumb size piece of ginger all chopped up…

Then I deglazed some some sweet wine I had laying around (the sweetness goes real well with the ginger and pork) and then added some smoked pork stock and some chicken stock, and a can of coconut milk. This gives a thick richness and an asian style with the ginger.

After a few hours braising, I scooped out the hunk of meat, whizzed up the soft veggies and sauce in a blender, and then all back together into the fridge to cool.

The next day all I had to do was warm it up at the Bickert/Drennans. Sorry for the crappy photo quality – damn phone only – it tasted ALOT better than it looked!

Joe and Kate made a bunch of things, including some Farm Box cauliflower …

And a bean soup. Kate got a bunch of Farm Box veggies going in a big pot, then tossed in a bunch of white beans …

… then did the Italian thing – whizzed up most of it, then added the whizzed up soup to some reserved white beans. This is for the texture. A bunch of salt, acid (lemon in this case), and olive oil was stirred in …

Damn fine soup, and a damn fine Sunday Supper with the Bickert/Drennan clan, followed by a good old fashioned whooping at the ping pong table from Joe. Thanks for the great evening guys!

Rainy day pork
Monday October 25th 2010

Ah, the rain has started! The “summer”, if I can call it that, is coming to an end. I had taken out some nice Marin Sun Farms porkchops out and put them in brine, hoping I could grill them, but nope, it was not to be. So I ended up doing them on the stove-top, with a brief finish in the oven.

A trick I learned from Stuart with the freshly butchered pig from Pig Fest was to brown the meat in the pan, then toss in a knob of butter, a couple whole cloves of garlic (in the paper even!), some herbs from the garden…

… and do some basting. The flavour of the pork had already been boosted by the brining, but this just punched it up a little bit more.

Then while the pork was resting on a plate, I deglazed the pan with some white wine (an off-dry riesling I happened to have around, which was good because it added some sweetness) and did a final thickening with, um, a bit more butter! I told you, it was raining and cold!

We had a tonne of cauliflower from the Farm Box, so a head of that got pan roasted, and at the end some chopped garlic and some olive oil went in the pan. It went back in the oven just for a minute as I didn’t want the garlic to burn.

Carrots from the Farm Box got cut into fairly large chunks and then boiled. Just before they were cooked I threw them in a big pan with some butter, and put them under the broiler. I was hoping for a browned roasted edge that never really panned out. Oh well, win some lose some – but they still tasted good!

We were all in the mood for a wintery treat for dessert, but we’re not really a dessert house, but The Gordo volunteered to brave the rain and go to Ray’s Corner Store and get something …

.. and did Emma love Gordo for that!

This week’s bounty
Thursday October 21st 2010

Wow, that looks pretty good, eh?

I want to espouse for a minute on those apples there in the picture at 7:00. They are so so different from anything I’ve been getting in the store (usually Rainbow). And I don’t think it’s variety related, though that’s some of it, that’s for sure. There’s a freshness and a snap to these apples that make them so so appealing. There’s even a sort of texture to the skin, something that feels like the almost fuzz you get on the skin of a just-picked tomato. Do you know what I’m talking about? Anyway, damn, these apples are good.

So what am I going to do with these veggies?

If it really does rain all weekend, the turnip greens are going to be added to some sort of white bean based soup, served as a main course for dinner. Maybe even chunks of turnip too, just to confuse people!

The apples are going into the kid’s lunches.

The sorrel (that’s sorrel there at 11:00 isn’t it?) is going into a sorrel soup

The carrots and spring onions will be combined with some ginger and (homemade!) peanut butter into a cold soba noodle salad.

The squash and cauliflower will be roasted and served as sides for some sort of meat dish, made hearty if its raining.

What are you going to do with your box?

A huge salad for dinner
Thursday October 14th 2010

It was a bit of a leftover night last night, what with some leftover beet and feta salad, and some pieces of lamb, but it turned out to be a smokin’ dinner.

So we had the beets, sure …

And I grilled up some rings of squash. Damn, I forget the name of these squash … delicata? And then were so so tasty and literally just take a few minutes to cook in the oven, turn em over, cook a bit more, done. I hit them with a little sherry vinegar before serving. Fabulous – you should try this.

But then I had the leftover lamb, too. So I sliced it thin, and put it on the same quarter sheet pan I had just used for the squash, and put it under the broiler. The meat heated up nice and fast.

Then I took one of the big heads of lettuce from the Farm Box, sliced up some red pepper also from the box, tossed it with balsamic and olive oil, added some crumbled fresh goats cheese (from Sierra Nevada – isn’t that the beer company?!) and the heated up lamb, tossed it all, and voila, a beautiful tasty healthy salad. Uncle Henrik thought there was no way we were going to finish it, but he underestimated the salad eating capabilities of Emma and Alexis! It was all gone in 20 minutes!

this week’s bounty
Thursday October 14th 2010

Pretty nice looking box this week, eh?

So what to make, what to make..

The tomatoes are super ripe, so they’re going to become a salad real fast. Or possibly oven roasted/dried and put into a jar as tomato sauce.

The jalapenos will be cut in half and dried in the sun if this heat keeps up. If it gets cool then I’m going to finish the drying in the oven. Once they’re dry I’m going to knock out the seeds and do a brief spin in the blender to make hot chili flakes. The rest of the pepper will be more finely ground into chili powder and used as a seasoning throughout the winter. Yes, it’s as easy as that – and tastes way better than what you get in the store.

The pumpkin might get decorated for Halloween by the girls, but might get experimented on in the kitchen and turned into ravioli stuffing maybe?

Romaine is caesar, ‘natch.

Collard greens is an inaccurate name for that vegetable in the top right there. Really they should rename it “Collard greens with bacon” cuz you can’t eat collard greens without some pork fat!

The girls really liked the dried strawberry slices as a snack so I might redo that.

The fennel will be caramelized and used as a topping for many different dishes. Of if the heat wave continues it could become a sliced fennel salad (with parmesan and lemon and olive oil) or I might make a coleslaw/kraut with it.

The long spring onions will likely be grilled and then brought to room temperature with some vinegar (champagne maybe?) and served as part of an antipasti or maybe a side dish?

The summer squash (aka zucchini!)? Well, I dunno. Really I dunno.

What are you going to do with your box?

Firing up the grill for the first time
Wednesday October 13th 2010

I finally got a chance to fire up my new Hasty Bake grill the other evening! My Danish uncle had arrived after a little backpacking trip through Australia, and Yvette and The Gordo came over too to see the christening of the grill!

I brined up some Marin Sun Farms Pork chops in a salt/sugar brine, let them sit for the day and then grilled them up. As you can see from the uneven char, it’s going to take a little while to figure out the grill. But I gotta tell you, I love the way I can raise and lower the coals – sort of makes it like an enclosed Santa Maria grill.

Since the grill was hot, I charred up some of the tomatoes from the Farm Box. These tomatoes are definitely not a fresh cold salad tomato – they need some heat to release some of the sugars.

Then I also made up some of the carrots, and made one of my all time favourites – mashed sweet potatoes. The catch is that I find sweet potatoes so rich and sweet so I squeeze in a lemon or two at the end and that seems to balance it out. Another way is to make them up, put them in a casserole with lemon and butter on top and then brown it under the broiler. Yumm.

Putting up tomatoes for the winter
Monday October 11th 2010

Saturday was the big day – tomato day! Time to ”put up” some tomatoes for the winter. I try every year to put up some different foods from the farm, but at a minimum I always do strawberry jam and jars of tomatoes.

I picked up 120 pounds from the Ladybug Truck Farm Buying Club on Thursday – Julia was parked at one of our local favourites, Hogs and Rocks and I pulled up, double parked and loaded up six boxes of tomatoes.  Then Saturday morning it was time to get started.

First they had to get cleaned. Okay, before I get started, no comments about the attire, okay!? This was not a high fashion day. Clogs were needed cuz of the knives and boiling water, and my long aprons were dutifully given to my slaves workers, Jim and Uncle Henrik, so I was stuck with one of Alexis’ aprons! But anyway, the tomatoes got dumped into a bucket …

… washed in water …

 … and then swished around and drained by Alexis and Emma.

My Uncle Henrik is in town visiting, having done a little backpacking through Australia, he’s now (Continue Reading…)