10
May
09

Asparagus in Season

One of my professors told me a couple weeks ago that there is a U-pick asparagus place not far from here.  Much to my pleasure she told me in an email that the asparagus is now in season and U-picking is going on.

Since my sisters and I decided to make a fabulous brunch for our mother this Mother’s Day, I thought it would be great to make my contribution as local as possible by utilizing local cheese, eggs, and veggies for my quiche.  So the asparagus season could not have come at a better time.

Unfortunately, getting that aspargus proved much more difficult than I had imagined and the result was an extra hour of driving to make my local quiche a reality.  I went to the U-pick asparagus place and it was a sad sight.  The asparagus had been picked dry and two brave asparagus lovers were out in the field scavenging the last bits.  After standing at the edge of the field for a moment contemplating joining them, I noticed a bright yellow sign just past a small shack by the roadside that read “PICK YOUR OWN ASPARAGUS 9-10 SATURDAY MORNING.”  The time was 2:45 pm.

So I hopped back into my mom’s borrowed beast of a truck (Jordan and I are moving) and lumbered down the country highway to a place I knew had asparagus, not U-pick, but freshly picked and local.  Unfortunately that was about 30 mins away.

By the time I got to the only other place in the area that grows asparagus I was pretty excitable.  I don’t drive much or at all on most days and it has been a long time since I went on any sort of road trip.  So thinking back, I probably looked desperate and anxious to the farm stand worker because she looked a bit concerned, like she thought I was being followed a creep on a motorcycle or I just narrowly missed hitting another vehicle head on. (Just guessing.)  But really I was worried that they would be out of asparagus too and the thought of paying too much for imported veggies that are in season here was making me a bit crazed.

So when she asked “Can I help you?” I blurted “Yes, asparagus?”  which was maybe the most direct request she got all day.  She smiled and gestured to an aluminum bucket on the counter, just to the right of where I was standing.  There was a hefty amount left and I intended to take it all.  So I filled a bag and paid the $8.16 and sauntered out of the farm store with a feeling of triumph.

I stole glances at the bundle all the way home.  Thinking about what I was going to do to it…

The hassle was worth it becaue as I prepared the quiche this morning, I snatched a couple pieces of asparagus out of the pan at varying stages of doneness.  It is so flavorful!  I am so happy that I went the extra distance for the locally grown asparagus because I know this quiche is going to freaking rock.  It’s in the oven right now but I’ll let y’all in on the recipe now.

Crustless Asparagus Cheddar Quiche

1 onion chopped

3 cloves garlic minced

2 lbs asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces

6 eggs

1 cup of milk

2 cups shredded mild cheddar

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar

a generous pinch of cayenne

salt and pepper to taste

Canola oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a lightly oiled skillet cook onions on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally until  they are slightly browned.  Add garlic and cook a few more minutes.  Add Asparagus and cook about 15 minutes more, stirring occasionally.  In a large bowl whisk eggs and milk.  Add cheese, cayenne, salt and pepper and mix until combined.  Add onion, garlic and asparagus to egg mixture and combine ingredients.  Pour everything into a lightly oiled casserole dish and bake until set in the center and browned on top.  At least 45 minutes.

09
Apr
09

Tiny Green Trees from Mexico

I keep telling myself to hang on, hold out for the local produce that I know is not far off, but I could not resist buying some asparagus when I did my grocery shopping this morning.  It will probably not be amazing or anything, but it was one of those times that I knew if I did not buy it I would be sad, dreaming of the asparagus that never was.  Maybe not that sad but my desire for tiny green trees overcame my sustainable senses and I bought two bunches.

I am going to pick up another dozen eggs from a local farm tomorrow and I want to make an asparagus frittata.  I have never made a fritatta but this recipe sounds amazing and easy.  Of course I am open to suggestions…I would prefer to use a recipe that has been tested by someone I know but if not I will dish on how my frittata attempt goes!

More on that later, off to take a test in Age of Elizabeth!

04
Apr
09

OH excuses excuses…

Last month was so busy that every one of my hobbies (except cooking) took a back seat.  It was Women’s History Month and the Women’s Student Union has at least one event every week.  In addition, I was trying to get everything completed for my Graduate application (Which I did submit well before the deadline but I still do not know if I am accepted and every time something comes in the mail from Fredonia my heart flutters and I get dizzy.  I have heard about more people being rejected by graduate schools than being accepted and although I have a plan B, I will be very disappointed if I don’t get in).  I also worked part time for part of the month doing fund raising for the school.  And of course I kept up with my schoolwork so I am serious when I say that I just did not have time to blog.  😦

But there is always relief ahead and small lapses in between busy weeks award me some sanity.  I don’t have anything too important to do until Earth Week when Alyssa and I will be running around like mad women for a few days so I am going to attempt at least 2 weekly entries on the ol’ blog.  That seems resonable to me.

Alyssa had the brilliant idea to have a potluck slash wine tasting party tonight(so excited!) and my contributions are brewing.  I picked up some organic parsnips at Pride of Chautauqua (a local food sampling event) last weekend and I have combined those with some potatoes, carrots, soy milk and seasonings to make a sweet winter soup.  It was kind of tedious to peel everything and cook each vegetable separately(as Alice Waters advises in The Art of Simple Food) but well worth it.  I am also making Challah bread which I have made before and it ususally turns out quite nicely.  I love the way it looks after it has been braided, basted with egg yolk, and sprinkled with seeds.

Creamy Winter Vegetable soup

3 russet potatoes peeled and cut into small pieces

3 lbs parsnips peeled and cut into pieces

3 lbs carrots peeled and cut into pieces

2 tbs vegetable oil

1 small red onion chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

2 cups soy milk

2 cups water

2 tbs butter or soy garden

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp cinnamon

3 tsp sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Cook the potatoes, carrots, and parsnips separately in water.  I used the same pot and just took the veggies out with a slotted spoon and set them aside in a bowl and used the same water to cook them all.  Meanwhile sautee the onions and garlic until soft and slightly browned.  After all veggies are cooked, place in a large pot or crock pot and beat with a handbeater until potatoes, carrots, and parsnips are mostly pureed.  Next add soy milk, water, butter, spices, and sugar and mix together.  At this point you can try the soup and see if you would like more spice, salt, pepper, sugar, etc.  I used a crock pot and let it cook on low for a few hours before serving.

Winter Soup

Does not look pretty, but trust me it tastes good!

Challah

1 egg (I just started getting free range eggs from a local family.  They are so good!)

3/4 cup warm water

2 tbs vegetable oil

2 tbs sugar

1 tsp salt

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

For the glaze: 1 egg yolk and 1 tbs water

This is a recipe that came with my bread machine only I have changed it slightly.  I have no I idea how to explain how to make the dough without a bread machine, but I do braid the dough, let it rise again, baste, and sprinkle it with a seed and herb mixture after it has gone through the dough cycle in the bread machine.  After the dough cycle has finished, transfer the dough to a lightly greased cookie sheet.  I put about a tsp of oil in my hand and distribute it over my hands like lotion so that the dough does not stick to me.  Divide the dough into 3 equal balls.  Make each ball into a rope and by pinching the ends of each rope together, braid the dough.  Cover with saran wrap and let rise in a warm place.  I turn on the oven to 375 degrees at this point and let the dough rise on the stove top.  After about 35-45 mins the dough should be double its original size. Remove saran wrap and using a brush, baste the dough with the egg yolk/water mixture and sprinkle seeds, herbs or both on top.  Then bake at 375 for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.Challah Bread

As you can see the extra baste liquid runs off so a rimmed cookie sheet is best, or you could baste very lightly but thats no fun!

05
Mar
09

Not About Food

Fitting for this week because I have not cooked anything, unless you count toast.  Mostly Jordan and I have been subsisting on Luna bars, toast and the occasional slice of pizza on campus.   It has just been a crazy week.  But we ate dinner with my parents on Monday and my dad told us that he is a finalist in Outdoor Photographer’s Celebrate the Seasons Contest.  So I had to mention that!

Most of my time has been consumed by classes, clubs, and grad apps this week but I have some exciting (to me) cooking plans for the weekend, once again.  I want to make stew and bread.  I am craving some hearty fare to comfort me over the weekend.  So I am planning on making a vegetarian stew (incorporating sweet potatoes somehow) and some crusty french bread.  I have a decent recipe for the bread but I have never attempted to make a vegetarian stew, plenty of soups, but not a stew.  I want it to be hearty with big chunks of veggies in it and a thickish sort of broth.  If anyone has a good recipe for vegetarian stew I would love to hear about it!

But sadly, my digital camera is broken.  I can still take pictures with it, but the screen cracked and now I can’t see the image before I take the picture, which means I am taking horrible pictures!  I have no idea how but it is so messed up.  It should still serve my purposes of taking extreme close ups of food, but I can’t even view the photos until I transfer them onto the computer and all the other functions require being able to see the screen (deleting pics, changing settings, using picture frames).  So upset about this.

But on the bright side, I am nearly ready to submit my graduate application.  Just need to talk to my adviser one last time today to solidify my decision on what writing sample to use.

Look for food entries this weekend!

01
Mar
09

Finally Made Some Vegetable Broth–Spicy Style.

Mommustwrite had an inspiring post about broth making a while back, something that I have been avoiding because it seemed really complicated and I was kind of hooked on the organic vegetable broth I bought at the store every week.  But I finally got around to making some broth. It was so much easier than I thought.  I just used some extra vegetable peelings and scraps from dinner, put them in a pot with water and read Tamburlaine aloud while it simmered, to entertain myself, because of course it did need to simmer for a while.  I think I let it go for about an hour.  I really ought to start keeping a kitchen journal to increase the accuracy of my posts if nothing else.

I made it a spicy broth by adding some crushed red pepper to the vegetables and water while they simmered.  I wanted a spicy broth because Jordan and I put hot sauce on about 50% of the meals I make and another 25% of the meals I make are spicy already.  So by using a spicy broth I think I can save money on hot sauce and spices.  We’ll see how that goes.  We may just develop a taste for even spicier food.  But I made about 4 cups and it’s very concentrated and flavorful.  I put half in a container in my fridge and the other half in the freezer so I won’t be buying cartons of vegetable broth any longer!

The broth is also helping me to cut back on my grocery costs a bit and since food is a necessity I am even more enthusiastic about it.  Making my own broth from vegetable scraps will save me about $130.00 per year because I generally use one carton of vegetable broth per week.

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I thought the broth looked really pretty when I first put the veggies in with the water so I took a picture.

🙂

27
Feb
09

Top Chef Dinner Party

I got  into a reality cooking show this winter and the finale was Wednesday night.  My friend had a great idea to have a Top Chef Dinner Party and it was awesomely delicious.  There was a variety of food styles, ingredients and flavors.  I made my mac and cheese but sans cauliflower and I used local cheese.  I used two kinds of cheese from the Lapp Dairy Farm in Cassdaga: Cassdaga’s Cow (similar to feta) and sharp cheddar.  I took a picture of everything so that people can see what yummy food everyone made.

Sweet Potato Casserole made by Joanna.

Sweet Potato Casserole made by Joanna. With margarine and brown sugar it was very decadent tasting.

Curried Spinach and Potatoes made by Alyssa.

Curried Spinach and Potatoes made by Alyssa. Usually the recipe (from VWAV) calls for garbanzo beans but she used potatoes and we decided that it was amazing and should be made that way from now on.

Mac and Cheese made by me.

Mac and Cheese made by me.

Erica Bread made by Erica.  It has ranch dressing, onion powder, garlic and cheese baked on it.  Amazing!

Erica Bread made by Erica. It has ranch dressing, onion powder, garlic and cheese baked on it. Amazing!

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Apple pie made by Kayla.  The crust was rich and dense and the apples were all cinnamony and sweet.  I brought a piece home to my husband and he was so excited because he loves apple pie and he gobbled it right up.

27
Feb
09

Tea Party

It has been such a busy week and the whole time I have been hoping to find a window to talk about the Tea Party that my mom and sisters put on last weekend.  There was  cute dainty food everywhere, pretty decorations, and Barbie Dream Date (which we decided should be modernized so that Barbie can ditch Ken along the way if he gets too handsy or boring).  My favorite part about the Tea Party is the conversation because there are no men allowed (although a male puppy and a Tyler did drop by) and my mom and sisters always invite good friends and family that I have not seen in a while.

The idea to start having a Tea Party around Valentine’s Day came from a tradition that we took part in at Linfield (our old school in California).  Linfield used to host a mother daughter tea in the gym and attendees were able to decorate a table of their own, however they chose.  I was always a bit wild in my dress in highschool and animal print could be found on my person and my friends the majority of the time so my mom decorated her table with a leopard print table cloth and peacock feathers.  It was so cool and it made all of the pink flowery tables look so lame.  Incidently, the theme for the Tea Party this year was animal print so everyone showed up wearing something with animal print on.  I wore a zebra print skirt.

But I must not forget to talk about the food because it was delicious!  Alyssa took a bunch of pictures while I was gabbing away, thanks Alyssa!

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Alyssa and I made these green tea cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  We just made a basic sugar frosting  instead of a glaze and the little flowers are made of marzipan.

So much cheesecake!

So much cheesecake!

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Chcolate chip scones from Vegan With a Vengance also by Isa (I’m kind of obsessed with her cookbooks).

Cucumber Sandwiches.

Cucumber Sandwiches.

Spinach salad with mandarin oranges, cranberries, walnuts and a basalmic vinagrette dressing.

Spinach salad with mandarin oranges, cranberries, walnuts and a basalmic vinagrette dressing.

Fruit and creme puffs for dipping in chocolate fondue.

Fruit and creme puffs for dipping in chocolate fondue.

It was fun and I can’t wait til next year!