Archive for the ‘Before Foodie’ Category

You all know I’ve been a fan of Greenling for a while. Well, they recently approached me about maintaining their Eating Out of the Local Box blog, and I gladly accepted their offer! Starting in the next week or two, look for my posts over there. They’ll feature recipes that use the contents of each week’s Local Box, a bin of tasty, fresh, in-season local produce. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll be receiving a free Local Box each week (which I am so, so excited about, btw).

I’ll still be blogging here, of course. Because I occasionally make food with non-Greenling items. And because sometimes I may want to write random stuff that has little or nothing to do with food.

Anyway, I’m really grateful for the opportunity to write for Greenling. Here’s to the next great adventure!

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I usually spend Sunday evenings fixing a meal that takes a lot of time, something we can eat from for a few days. Tonight, though, I went with something easier, but still delicious — gotta have time to watch the Oscars! It’s sort of a tapas spread, with yummy cheeses, cured meats, and a few different spreads.

Peppered salami and a salami made with Chianti:

Two kinds of crackers, strawberry chipotle jam from local Blanco Valley Farms, classic Maytag blue cheese, smoked gouda, local Wateroak Farms chevre, and Wensleydale cheese with cranberries (could they sound more British?):

Homemade hearth bread with flaxseed:

Antipasti spread from the olive bar at HEB: artichoke spread, bruschetta, and peppadew peppers. Yum!

Some of it plated. I added grapes and apples to the cheese and meat:

My plate. Mmm! A few combos I tried were blue cheese and apple, and strawberry-chipotle jam and chevre. So good! I added some egg salad to my spread to get in some extra protein. Oh, and we had a Finca el Origen malbec with the meal. Nothing like a lush red to round it all out.

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Just as I thought I was done with cabbage after last week’s huge one, another large Napa cabbage showed up in my Greenling box this week. This one was a runt compared to last week’s, weighing in at only 4 lbs, 7 oz. But that’s still a big veggie.

So, I started an Internet hunt for recipes that use a LOT of cabbage. This scalloped cabbage casserole looked promising so I gave it a shot. After making several tweaks to adjust the flavor (1 tsp of marjoram is a lot) and healthiness (so is 5 tbsp of butter), we had a winner.

Even if you don’t like cabbage, this casserole could win you over. It involves cabbage and carrots parboiled until crisp-tender, combined with a light bechamel sauce, and covered with cheese and breadcrumbs. I promise, at the end, it doesn’t taste anything like that boiled cabbage your parents made you eat on New Year’s Day.

Scalloped Cabbage Casserole

8 cups thinly sliced cabbage (Napa or green)
2 large carrots, shredded
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp Smart Balance (or other trans-fat-free butter substitute)
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups reduced-fat cheddar cheese (or cheddar cheese blend)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cabbage and carrots and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Melt 2 tbsp of Smart Balance in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and milk in a small bowl, whisking until smooth. Add to onion and cook 2-3 minutes, until thick. Remove from heat.

Place half of cabbage mixture in a greased 2-1/2-qt. baking dish. Top with half of the sauce; sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat layers. In a small skillet, melt remaining butter. Add crumbs, marjoram and thyme; cook and stir until lightly browned. Sprinkle over casserole.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until the top is browned. Makes 8 servings.

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Does anyone else remember the book The Celery Stalks at Midnight from when they were a kid? About a vampire bunny who sucked the juices from vegetables, turning them into zombies? I swear I am not making this up.

Anyway, I got a Napa cabbage in my Greenling box this week, and it’s one of the most ginormous vegetables I’ve ever come across. If it were a zombie cabbage, it would be dangerous. Ryan seemed to feel this way too, because he said “no!” every time I tried to get him to hold it so I could take a picture. This was the closest I got:

See the size of that thing? Out of curiosity, I weighed it on my trusty food scale. It weighed 6 lbs, 7 oz. Ryan weighed 6 lbs, 6 oz when he was born. This cabbage weighs as much as a newborn. Think about it.

Here’s another comparison shot, with the paper towel holder:

I should also mention that these pics were taken after we used a few leaves in an Asian noodle salad recipe that turned out not so good. So it used to be even bigger!

Anyway, I now have more than six pounds of Napa cabbage that I have to do something with. Any suggestions?

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I want to talk about tempeh for a minute. As meat substitutes go, I place it far above tofu. Don’t get me wrong, tofu is fine, but it takes some work to prepare and it’s difficult to get the texture right. Tempeh has a nutty, slightly soft texture, cooks up quickly, and absorbs flavors readily. I’ve also found that people who are hesitant about meat substitutes like it better than tofu. It’s best if you marinate tempeh for about 20-30 minutes before you cook with it, but besides cutting it into pieces, that’s it for prep work.

I had some mushrooms in the fridge from last week’s Greenling box, and when I spotted carrots, green onions, and broccoli in this week’s box I knew I wanted to combine them all in a stir-fry. This one is salty and slightly sweet, and coated with a rich sauce that doesn’t need cornstarch to thicken. In fact, it’s really salty, so if you want to temper the sodium a bit, use low-sodium soy sauce instead of the tamari in the marinade. I served over quinoa.

Tempeh stir-fry with mushrooms, carrots, and broccoli

8-oz package tempeh (I like this brand)
1/4 cup tamari (or soy sauce)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 tbsp. peanut or canola oil
1 cup thinly sliced carrots (1/8 in.)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup small broccoli florets
1/4 cup sliced green onions (1 in.)
1/8 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup black bean sauce
1 in. piece ginger, minced

Dice tempeh into 1/2 in. squares or small, thin triangles. Combine tempeh with tamari, vinegar, sesame oil, and hoisin sauce in a zip-lock bag and marinate in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Combine soy sauce, black bean sauce, and minced ginger. Have this sauce and your veggies ready to go, as stir-fries cook quickly.

Heat peanut or canola oil over high heat. When oil starts to sizzle, swirl pan to coat evenly. Add carrots and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broccoli, mushrooms, and green onions and cook 2 minutes. Add tempeh (including marinade) and soy sauce mixture. Reduce heat to medium high and cook 3-5 more minutes, stirring frequently, until tempeh is heated through and sauce is thick.

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A new focus

I’ve been blogging a long time now. I tend to write about a lot of things, from my family, to food, to the occasional political post, etc. While that’s all well and good, I realized recently that this blog needs a focus. Not that I can’t write about all things, but that it’s better if I don’t write about all things all the time.

That said, I’ve decided to focus on food here. I spend a lot of time creating recipes and I’d like to be able to document them (so I don’t forget what I did) and share them (in case anyone else is interested). Also, as a recent convert to vegetarianism, I want to document what it’s like creating food in a house with a veggie and a meat-lover (and a toddler who eats anything). You’ll see vegetarian recipes, recipes with meat, and recipes with both veggie and meat versions.

This doesn’t mean I’m never going to post about Ryan again, or about how much I don’t like Time Warner Cable. It just means that most of what I share will be filtered through my love of food. I have a crappy camera, so you won’t get those awesome photos that come with most food blogs, but I’ll do my best to take decent pictures to accompany the recipes.

Hope you enjoy it!

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We’re breaking up

Dear Time Warner Cable,

We’ve been together for a long time — 9 years or so.  When we first hooked up you were my only option (sorry to be so blunt), but things were ok! I saw my first American Idol episode with you. You brought me together with my favorite weatherman, Burton Fitzsimmons, whom I trust every morning to tell me whether I should wear a coat or short sleeves.

We got a Tivo DVR from Mason’s parents when we got married, and man, how we loved that DVR! We never had to remember when our shows came on. And we could pause them! And watch them over and over! It just made our relationship more secure.

Then we got an HDTV. Of course, we wanted to upgrade to an HD DVR. And you came through again, with a DVR that cost less than the HD Tivo version. I remember how happy that made me.

Sadly, this is when things began to go downhill with us. It started small, with you not recording the last minute or two of a TV show I’d seen before, like an episode of Scrubs. I’m pretty forgiving, so I got past it.

Then things got worse.

Like not recording the last few minutes of American Idol just when they were about to announce Jordin Sparks had won. Not that I’m bitter, but that was annoying. I guess you didn’t notice. You started ignoring scheduled recordings altogether. If I set up a recurring recording and decided to cancel one of the occurrences, you’d delete all of my scheduled recordings. Sometimes, you’d record an episode in chunks. So 22 minutes in the recording would suddenly stop and we’d freak out until we realized that the rest of the episode was there. Just in another file.

I’d call you and try to talk about it, but you’d blow me off or make hollow promises about things getting better, when they never did. That all sucked, but I kept telling myself things would improve.

Then you did the worst thing you could do. You messed with the season premiere of Lost.

23 minutes in we realized you’d chunked a recording again. Into FIVE PIECES. One was two minutes long. Really? Really?! It was then I realized that, despite all our years together, you had no respect left for our relationship. Things were never going to change.

So this is it. You forced my hand and I’m moving to AT&T next week. You are making me give up Burton, and that’s a big deal. Big deal. But sometimes you have to make hard choices, and I think this is for the best.


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