This winter, I took the plunge and ordered a CSA box from a farmer’s market vendor at work. We receive one box per month. I’m enjoying what we get so far. I’m not sure yet if I’ll keep it once summer comes, though. It has been a struggle to cook the produce when we get it – the rest of life keeps getting in the way!
I had rainbow Swiss chard and kale in my box. I looked up recipes online briefly, and came across a recipe for sauteed swiss chard with orange that sounded delicious and easy. It certainly was both!
The other day I made a delicious Butternut Squash, Cranberry, and Sorghum Salad. I’d never used sorghum before, but I had to try it when I saw an inexpensive bag of it at a supermarket a few months ago. I decided to try it when I had a squash around that I wanted to use. I cooked the sorghum while I roasted the squash. In addition to the cranberries, the salad also included pecans and pumpkin seeds (which you can toast while you dice squash) and a few bites of dates. The dressing was a touch of olive oil and salt – nothing more. This salad is nice in that you can prepare all your ingredients in advance and assemble it hot or cold.
This was pretty good. I didn’t know what to expect from the sorghum, but it was a very mild, soft grain. The flavors went together well. This was a great place to use a good, fruity olive oil as you can really taste it, since it’s the only dressing on the salad. The cranberries and dates provided lots of sweetness for the salad. You could probably go with cranberries only for simplicity. I enjoyed both the pumpkin seeds and the pecans, but you could also go with one to make the ingredient list shorter. I had more squash and sorghum than the recipe called for, so I tossed it all into the salad after we tried it. It was still tasty with the extra ingredients.
I really enjoyed the simplicity of this dish. It was tasty and easy to make, and I can see myself making it again – perhaps with a squash I already have. I might try barley or another chewy grain in it next time.
Can you believe it’s already September? With the continued hot weather, I have trouble believing it’s almost the season to make chili and pick apples and bake.
I made quite a few recipes this summer that I haven’t had a chance to tell you about. During warm spells this summer, I made a point of making salads. One of the salads I made a few times was Alton Brown’s Asian Slaw. I don’t like traditional cole slaw, so this is one of the few slaw recipes I’ve tried – and it’s a great one. Deliciousness aside, it yielded a perfect amount for leftovers, and was very easy to make with the food processor.
Now that the weather has convinced me that it’s fall, I’ve begun making seasonally-appropriate recipes.
I’m not generally one for dishes that require presentation. I don’t put effort into how my food looks, as long as it looks tasty, and I’m more likely to make rustic-looking food than pretty, decorative food. I thought that Curried Lentil-Stuffed Squash sounded good, though, so I decided to try it, presentation and all.
Summer in St. Louis is the pits. For those of you who say “summer doesn’t start until Wednesday,” I present you with St. Louis weather. Our high today was 96; drought conditions are spreading, yet humidity is high; and the next cold front that moves through here will knock the temperatures down to a cool 89 degrees.
Which, incidentally, is the temperature in my kitchen. Seriously. Every now and then, for kicks, I put the battery in my probe thermometer and measure the air temperature instead of the temperature of a roast or a chicken. After it told me that the air in the kitchen today, while I wasn’t cooking, was 88.5, I carried the thermometer into the office, where it tells me the top of my desk is 87.9.
Oh, and we have “central air.” Right now I’d rather have a single good window unit.
Now that I’m done complaining, I can tell you about what I’m cooking to cope. I barely turn on my oven. Nothing I cook uses the stove for more than a few minutes at a time. Tonight I made Rice Krispies treats (using the microwave, naturally). I made ice cream the other day.
Tonight’s dinner was Thai-Style Vegetable Rice Noodles. It used my stove minimally, and is supposed to be served cool or cold. I’ve had noodle bowls similar to this when I’ve got to Vietnamese restaurants and enjoyed them, so I was excited to try this. It was a great meal for today.
Cooking with peppers is fun. It feels so… exotic and dangerous. I didn’t grow up with particularly spicy food, so I didn’t buy chili peppers to cook with until the past several years. I like spicy food, but just a little bit of spice will keep my face warm for a while.
I decided to make Poblano-Jalapeño Chili last month. I know that poblanos are decidedly not hot and jalapeños can range in how hot they are, so this is nothing too adventurous. That said, I like my usual hamburger+tomatoes+beans+chili powder version of chili, so I usually don’t try chili recipes. I think it was the inclusion of the beer and the peppers that drew me to this recipe and convinced me to give it a try.
This weekend marks at least the 3rd or 4th time this year that St. Louis has had record heat. Who wants to cook anything when it’s 90 degrees outside?
For all the cooking I do, I haven’t mastered the art of cold meals. I don’t particularly like them. Cold is for snacks and desserts and beverages. Think of cold cereal and PBJ – convenience meals. Now, hot food on the other hand – that’s what’s for dinner. However, I conceded the need to reduce the amount of time that I used my burners. Salmon was on sale, so I decided to make Salmon with Spinach Salad and Miso Vinaigrette.
Happy Lunar New Year! I wanted to tell you about the dinner I made tonight for it, but I want to have the leftovers before I finish my blog post about it. Instead I’ll tell you about last night’s dinner, which was also very delicious and satisfying.
As an adult, I’ve discovered that I like several vegetables that I hated as a kid. Most of this comes down to textural issues. As a child, I learned to tolerate broccoli, but now I enjoy it, as long as it’s still relatively crisp after it’s cooked. Brussels sprouts are another of those vegetables that earned a bad reputation to my young self. Little did I know, until a few years ago, that they are delicious when they retain their structure and texture, and when flavored boldly with soy sauce or garlic. Roasting the vegetable brings out a hint of sweetness and mellows out their bitter tendencies.
I was definitely interested when I came across the recipe for Garlic Roasted Salmon and Brussels Sprouts. It had a satisfyingly short ingredient list (garlic, olive oil, white wine, oregano) and would be fast to make. It was the perfect thing to make with the pound of salmon that I’d bought but had no clue what I wanted to do with. The original recipe made 6 servings, but I decided that it would be best if I halved it.
Yesterday marked the beginning of my first full week in St. Louis. Although I had hoped that I would be gainfully employed once I moved, I look forward to spending a little of my extra spare time cooking and devoting a little more time to this blog. Quite honestly, I’ve missed both cooking and blogging about cooking.
While I wasn’t living at home or cooking in my own space, I wasn’t particularly interested in looking at new recipes. One of the things I did this weekend, since I knew that I’d want to cook, was clear through some recipes I hadn’t looked at. I bookmarked quite a few, but I decided that I wanted to make Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette soon, since autumn has finally returned.
I’d never made a spicy, Mexican-themed squash dish before, but the recipe looked simple. I particularly like acorn squash since the rind is thin and edible once it’s cooked. To prepare it, you simply need to cut the squash in half, remove the seeds (which I always roast later), and slice acorn squash into 3/4 inch strips. Toss with a little olive oil (or brush them with it like I did) and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 25-35 minutes, rotating and switching the position of the pans halfway through. Once the squash is tender, toss with the vinaigrette.
I made an extra batch of vinaigrette to use as a marinade for beef. I used bottled lime juice (because juicing limes is obnoxious); one minced jalapeno with seeds gave me enough chile to include about 1 1/3 teaspoons of jalapeno in both the marinade and the vinaigrette. I only used 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the vinaigrette because that’s how much was left in the bottle I was finishing off.
I cut my squash a little too narrow and so it roasted a little too long; after 30 minutes, the smoke detector started going off, even though I didn’t notice any smoky smells. [Getting used to a new oven with no stove vent is a downside of having a new apartment.]
Positives: the dish had heat but wasn’t too spicy. I liked that this recipe was also a little different from anything else I’d seen; generally I see squash coated with brown sugar and cinnamon, turned into a risotto, or used in soup or maybe curries. Overall, though, I was underwhelmed with this dish. Perhaps it was the over-cooked squash; perhaps it’s because I used bottled lime juice. I would have preferred a neutral oil instead of the flavor of olive oil. Maybe I would have liked it if it were spicier. Ultimately, though, I just didn’t like the combination of sweet, earthy squash with lime and jalapeno. Everyone’s tastes are different, and so perhaps you’d like it. There’s nothing wrong with this recipe, but I know I won’t make it again.
At some point before we moved, I finally had the time to read through my backlog of cooking magazines. I made a short list of recipes that I actually had all of the ingredients for, and that would thus be good to make to use up things in my freezer and pantry.
The recipe for Stovetop Fideos was a good contender. I’d never heard of fideos, but it’s a kind of toasted pasta or pasta dish in Spanish or Mexican cuisine. This vegetarian recipe was very easy to make and doesn’t take any special ingredients (unless you wanted to use the cheese that the recipe calls for – I made mine vegan). This recipe was just toasted pasta, cooked in broth with standard supermarket frozen vegetables.
The fideos cooked up quickly. I sauteed plain refined-wheat angel hair pasta (the recipe calls for whole wheat), broken into small pieces in olive oil and transferred it to a plate. Next, I sauteed onion, (thawed) green beans, and garlic for a few minutes, and added thawed corn, a can of tomatoes, and oregano (Mexican since I had it). I added bouillon and the pasta, brought the dish to a boil, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, perhaps less.
I enjoyed this recipe more than I expected to. Pasta with vegetables doesn’t sound very exciting, but this was simple and nourishing. It felt healthy, and it felt like comfort food. I enjoyed it as leftovers the next day. I’m not sure if toasting the pasta really added anything to the dish – I may have to try making it without toasting the pasta first to see how that turns out. This was a great way to use up some odds and ends, and was pretty fast and simple to make. I’ll definitely give it another shot.