Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!
Today's recipe is a favorite family dessert which we often had at the holidays, and for all of you who may not have the recipe saved you have it.

Chocolate Steamed Pudding
2 eggs well beaten
1 cup sugar
4 Tbsp melted butter
3 oz melted dark or bittersweet chocolate
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup milk
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
Steam in a pudding steamer for about 1-1/2 hours
Sauce: (the very best part in my opinion)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
Heat ingredients in double boiler until heated through
Serve the pudding warm (can be rewarmed in the pudding pan) with the hot sauce drizzled (or pooled) over the top
Whipped cream optional
Seasons Eatings!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

1 Day 'til Christmas

Christmas Eve...hopefully by now the presents are wrapped and the stockings are hung by the chimney with care....if not, while you're out shopping today, stop in at Babe's and leave me a big tip!
Today's recipe is a breakfast dish you can prepare tonight and bake in the morning and it's sure to be a hit with everyone.
Baked Orange French Toast
8 slices french bread cut 3/4 to 1" thick
6 eggs
grated rind of one large orange
2/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup orange liqueur (optional)
1 cup 1/2 and 1/2 or milk
3 tsp sugar
4 tsp butter
powdered sugar for dusting
Butter an 8-inch glass or nonreactive baking pan
Lay bread slices evenly in pan
Mix everything except butter and powdered sugar in a small bowl, then pour over bread and dot with butter
Refrigerate overnight
In the morning, preheat oven to 350° and bake about 30 minutes, or until puffed and set. Dust with powdered sugar. If desired, serve with a topping of butter, orange marmalade and maple syrup warmed in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Serves 2-4

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2 Days 'til Christmas

2 Days 'til Christmas and a winter storm is on the way. Time for some warm holiday cheer.
Today's recipe: Peppermint Hot Chocolate
For adults:
mix 1 1/2 oz peppermint schnaaps with one cup hot chocolate, top with whipped cream and garnish with a small candy cane
For kids:
mix 1/2 tsp peppermint extract with one cup hot chocolate, top with mini marshmallows and garnish with a small candy cane

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

3 Days 'til Christmas

3 Days 'til Christmas and still searching for the right recipe for our Christmas Eve Rabbit. I think I've found it on
Grilled Rabbit With Peanut Chili Sauce on Foodista
Grilled Rabbit with Peanut Chili Sauce
sounds right up our alley....check out the recipe and I'll get back to you on how it turned out.
I know, I know....rabbit??? But Farmer Paul from JenEhr assured me it was pasture raised, organic and delicious. And my research shows it is healthier than many other meats.
Whether I'll actually be able to swallow any is the question...but Tim eats most of the meat anyway!
I also researched how to cut up a rabbit, as I've never done that before.
Here's a couple of links that explain it pretty well.
EHow to Cut Up a Rabbit
The Rabbit Wrangler
Next for rabbit terrine or pate.

Monday, December 21, 2009

4 Days 'til Christmas

4 Days 'til Christmas
The cookies are baked, the candy is coated, the packages delivered to the post office, and I played Santa today at the Olbrich Gardens Holiday Train and Poinsettia Display and got the final picture for my 2010 calendar.
Now if I can just make it through the rest of the week at work, on Friday we can relax and stay home in our jammies playing games and eating Lobster Bisque.
Tonight, fresh, local greens with
Miso Vinaigrette:
1 Tbsp Miso (get it in the refrigerated section of your local health store or coop, or call me...I've got lots!)
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger (I buy a bunch, peel it, chop it in the food processor and then freeze it in ice cube trays for ready to use recipes)
1 Tbsp honey or agave
1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp lemon zest
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (or whatever you've got on hand)
Put everything in the food processor and process well. Drizzle over fresh salad greens, toss well and enjoy!
Don't have fresh greens...better stop by Don's Produce when the Dane County Farmer's Market opens up again on January 9th at the Madison Senior Center.
Bon Appetit!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

5 Days 'til Christmas--YIKES!

5 Days 'til Christmas--YIKES, that came fast! I still have to bake cookies and candy and prepare packages for the mail in the morning...better get a move on. First brunch with the gang...all the important things first, the rest in good time. It always amazes me how we manage to fit in time for holiday cheer with everything else going on...oh yeah, and the Packers too!
For gametime snacking...
Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip:
1 can artichoke hearts
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 lb steamed spinach (or whatever greens you have on hand)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan and romano cheese (or just parm if that's all you have)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
crackers or baguette bread
Place the cream cheeses, spinach and seasonings in the food processor or mixer and blend well. Add the artichoke hearts and mix just until the hearts break down into smaller chunks. Heat in a crock pot, on the stove top, or in the microwave. Serve with crackers or baguette bread and dip away!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

6 Days 'til Christmas

6 Days 'til Christmas and we're busy making candy and baking cookies.
Today was the last Farmer's Market of the year, so I went and stocked up for holiday meals.
I hadn't decided what to make for our holiday meals yet, and found some interesting options at the market. JenEhr Farms had fresh pasture raised rabbit for the first time. I have to admit, I'm more of a bunny hugger than kill-and-cooker, but I was intrigued by Farmer Paul's desciption of how their cook had prepared the dish on the grill, so I decided to give it a try. I'm letting the meat age and we'll enjoy it on Christmas Eve and let you know what we thought.
I'm researching recipes and found this one from Jamie Oliver that sounds intriguing: grilled and marinated rabbit (coniglio marinato alla griglia). I also picked up some beauty spinach from JenEhr. I purchased some chorizo, bacon, summer sausage, lamb chops and beef tenderloin from Jordandal Farms. I picked up eggs from Pecatonica Farms, cheese from Forgotten Valley Cheese, and sweet potatoes and lettuce mix from Don's Produce, carrots and garlic from Driftless Organics, and apples from Green's Pleasant Spring Orchard. By then my bags were full and my wallet empty so I headed home, pleased with my finds for holiday meals. I'm sorry that the market is closed for the next two weeks, but happy for the farmers that they will have a break from their busy schedules to spend time with their families enjoying their bounty for the holidays. The next market will be at the Madison Senior Center on January 9, 2010.

Friday, December 18, 2009

7 Days 'til Christmas

7 Days 'til Christmas: I finally got the cards in the mail today and finished my homemade gifts, now on to cookies and candy.
One of my favorite side dishes for holiday meals, or any meal, for that matter, is Wild Rice. It's super easy to make, extremely healthy, tasty and versatile. Make extra for leftovers, soups, casseroles, breakfast, whatever!
Wild Rice:
2 cups long grain wild rice--the real deal, not that Uncle Ben's nonsense
6 cups water
2 pinches salt
2 Tbsp butter
Rinse the wild rice then place in saucepan with water, salt and butter. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and cover. Wild rice takes about 1 hour to cook and will become soft and plump when finished. You should check it occasionally to make sure there is still some liquid left in the pan because depending upon your stove it may dry out and burn before the rice is fully cooked.
To help speed up the cooking time, rinse the rice and place in the pot of water for up to 8 hours before cooking. This will help ensure that the rice cooks in the 1 hour. You can easily prepare the rice a day or two ahead of your meal and simply reheat it in the oven, on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

8 Days 'til Christmas

8 Days 'til Christmas and I still haven't finished making presents or mailed my cards...better get crackin'!
Today's recipe is in memory of my good friend, Sandra Hammer, who died from Breast Cancer in 2007. Sandra LOVED lobster bisque, and because of her Tim and I have made Lobster Bisque a tradition on our holiday menu for Christmas. This recipe is super quick and easy to make, even if you don't cook I think you could pull this one off. Look for Better Than Bouillon Lobster Base in the grocery aisle where you find soups. Most stores will carry it. If you can't find it, you can make lobster stock by boiling the lobster shells in water, then strain the water and use that in place of the bouillon and 1 cup water. Look for Lobster Slipper Meat at your local seafood shop or in the freezer section of your grocery to save some money on the meat for the bisque. You can also make it without the meat if you prefer. This recipe can be increased for more servings.
Lobster Bisque:
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
3 Tbsp Flour
1 Shallot, Minced
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup Dry Sherry
1-2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1/2 tsp Paprika
White Pepper to taste
1 Cup Minced, Cooked Lobster Meat (optional)
1 Tbsp Better Than Bouillon Lobster Stock
1 Cup Boiling Water
Mix 1 Tbsp Lobster Bouillon in 1 Cup Boiling Water and set aside. In a large stock pot or soup kettle, melt 3 Tbsp butter then stir in the shallot and cook until softened and translucent. Stir in 3 Tbsp flour and mix well, cooking for just a couple of minutes until light brown. Add Cream, Milk, Lobster Stock, Sherry, Tomato Paste, Paprika and lobster meat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with White Pepper and serve immediately with crusty french bread for dipping.
Makes 4-6 Servings of rich and dreamy bisque.
You can also substitute crab meat and make it crab bisque.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

9 Days 'til Christmas

9 Days 'til Christmas
Another cookie recipe today

Candy Cane Cookies
1 cup softened butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup crushed candy canes (do this in the food processor-it's loud, but fast; also, the small ones work best)
3 Tbsp granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and the extracts and beat until well blended. Gradually add the flour and salt. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. Coat two baking sheets with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper. In a shallow bowl, combine the candy canes and the granulated sugar and mix well. Shape the chilled dough into 1-inch balls then roll each in the candy cane mixture. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until browned. Immediately remove from the baking sheets and cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10 days 'til Christmas

10 days 'til Christmas...I'm not sure this countdown was such a good idea...time seems to be moving quickly! Today's recipe:
Granny's Ginger Snaps
3/4 cups shortening (I use butter)
1 cup white sugar
1 egg beaten
4 Tbsp molasses
2 cups flour (granny's note: or 2-1/2 cups--what?)
2 tsp soda
salt (I'm guessing 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves (ground)
1 tsp ginger (ground)
Roll in round ball & dip in sugar or candies bake at 350° (she doesn't say how long...I'm guessing about 8 minutes)
I can't tell you how many it makes, probably depends upon how big you roll them. You gotta love Granny's recipes...makes baking adventurous!

Monday, December 14, 2009

11 Days 'til Christmas

11 Days 'til Christmas--YIKES!!! I better get crackin' on finishing my gifts.
Today's recipe:
Granny's Peanut Butter Snowballs
These delicious sweet treats are a hit with kids of all ages, and the kids will love making them too!
1 cup peanut butter
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup toasted, crushed walnuts
1 cup rice krispies
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
To roll:
Shredded coconut
Mix together ingredients and roll into 1-inch balls, dip in glaze, and then roll in coconut
Chill to firm them up and just see if you can wait to try them!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

12 Days Til Christmas

Just 12 Days until Christmas, and the kitties are snuggled all warm in our bed...
In honor of the twelve days til Christmas, I'm posting a holiday recipe each day until Christmas, and I hope you enjoy! I don't have photos of all of them but will share the ones I do have.
Today's recipe:
Lisa's Shrimp Gumbo
3 Tbsp Bacon Grease or oil or butter
1 Green Pepper, diced
1 Large Onion, diced
2 Stalks Celery, diced or 1 cup Cubed Celeriac
3-4 Cloves Chopped Garlic
3-4 Chopped Chipotle Peppers
3/4 Cup Red Lentils
3/4 Cup Brown Rice
6 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
1 can Tomatoes or 3 large ones from the freezer doused in boiling water, then peeled
1 can Tomato Paste
3 Tablespoons Chili Powder
2 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika
2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
1 Tablespoon Ground Cayenne Pepper
1-2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
1-2 Teaspoons Freshly Ground Pepper
1 Bay Leaf
1 lb peeled, deveined, tail off shrimp, chopped into smaller bite-sized pieces
...and a partridge in a pear tree.
To prepare:
Heat a large kettle over medium heat, then add the fat. Cook the onions, green peppers and celery or celeriac over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more before adding the bay leaf and spices. Next add the tomato and tomato paste and allow the tomato (if frozen) to continue thawing. Next add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the rice and bring the pot back to a boil, then turn down to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the lentils and bring the pot back to a boil, then turn down to medium and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 10 minutes more.
Serve with homemade cornbread and extra hot sauce for those of us who like it spicy!
Makes a big pot, so you can have leftovers for lunch or even freeze some for a quick hot meal on a cold winter day.
Approximately 8 servings
Start to finish time: 1 hour

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Record Snow

Just a couple of days ago we were saying Let it Snow....and it snowed, and snowed, and snowed!

This is the view Beast saw out the window at 4:30 am this morning. As of right now we are 1 inch short of an all-time record snowfall within a 24 hour period...I think we'll make it! It's the first time I can ever remember all 72 counties in Wisconsin being declared in a state of emergency.

Check out the main page of Lisa's website for more photos from today.

Now the wind comes and all this crazy snow is going to blow around all night while the temp drops well below zero. Gotta love Madison in Winter!

Happy Holidays

xxoo, Beast

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Slaving over the stove

Beast, who isn't allowed on the stove, occasionally falls asleep while "watching" the stove. Of course, it's one of the warmest places in the house, especially when there's a pot of stock cooking on the stove, and something else baking in the's hard to discipline this!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tim's 50!

Seen on Bashford Ave today....

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat

Even Beastie dresssed up for Halloween...that was his trick!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Meet Myrtle

I've been working on perfecting my sourdough starter poolish, which I named Myrtle. She's a bubbly midwestern girl, still struggling to find her place in the bread making world.

Our first couple of attempts at breadmaking were somewhat dismal...nonetheless, Myrtle keeps up her bubbly personality and keeps coming back for more bread-making attempts.

We'll keep you posted on her progress, and when we have something truly worthwhile to share regarding sourdough bread making...we'll check back in.

In the meanwhile, may you have a Poolish Halloween!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Something for Supper

Here's a great recipe from Kay Jensen at JenEhr Farm. What a fun way to use the fall bounty from your CSA or Farmer's Market.
1 quart turkey, chicken or vegetable stock-place in pan and turn on low to simmer
1/4 of a celeriac, skinned and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
2 thin slices kohlrabi, skinned and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
2 inches of leeks thinly sliced and washed
1/4 bunch of spinach, cut into thin ribbons
Put vegetables in a fry pan with a little oil, saute until slightly soft and bits of brown (about 5-7 minutes). Add to the simmering stock, along with the spinach. Simmer for 7-10 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the spinach is wilted. Add salt to taste. Leftover noodles or rice can also be added for the last 60 seconds of simmering.
Serve hot, nice with a grilled cheese sandwich.
Really easy and simple
Kay Jensen
JenEhr Family Farm
Printed with permission from Kay Jensen

Friday, October 16, 2009

Balsamic Maple Roasted Root Vegetable Pasta

Check out my recipe for Balsamic Maple Roasted Root Vegetable Pasta on!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hotter Than Hoooey Curry

This one dish wonder is a great way to clear out your sinuses and your refrigerator at the same time. This version is vegetarian, but you could add some meat that will withstand slow cooking and still enjoy the wonderful spiciness this simple dish offers.
1 lb fresh beans, trimmed and cleaned, and cut in half
1 eggplant, peeled and cut into slices about the same size as the beans
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
Zest of one lime
3 Tbsp green Thai curry paste
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
2-3 Tbsp Chili Garlic or Sriracha Sauce (optional)
-for garnish: 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro; 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (optional)
Rice to accompany
Directions: Place all ingredients except for the garnishes in a crockpot and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat all day. When ready to eat, prepare rice according to directions and serve curry on top of rice, sprinkled with chopped herbs.
WARNING: This dish is very hot with the Chili Garlic or Sriracha Sauce included. It gets even hotter after sitting in the refrigerator overnight and being reheated the following day.
Delicious! One of the best eggplant dishes I've concoted yet!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 Fall Cookbook

Check out my recipes in the Fall Cookbook on my post more coming this week. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bike The Barns

It's hard to believe that it's already been 3 weeks since Bike the Barns. It was a great day, and definitely the most challenging bike ride I've ever done. The event is a fundraiser for Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture's (MACSAC) Partner Shares Program, which helps ensure that those with limited incomes have access to fresh, organic local produce. The day was well organized, and there was awesome food at the beginning, the end, and each of the stops. And thank goodness for those stops, or the hills might have gotten the best of us! Here are some photos from the event. Many thanks to the MACSAC staff and many volunteers who made this a great day for the riders. Special thanks to the farmers at Primrose Community Farm, Garden to Be, and Snug Haven Farm for opening their farms to what must have seemed like a logistical nightmare. Also, special thanks to Underground Food Collective and the other food producers who fed us so well. We look forward to riding again next year, but hope the hills won't be so frequent!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beastie Treats

What do you do with the chicken innerds when you buy a whole chicken? OK, now I have to veer off and tell you a funny story before I tell you what we do with our chicken innerds...
When I was a teenager, maybe 15 years old or so, one day Mom told me to start the chicken in the oven for dinner before she got home. She instructed me to turn the oven on at 325°, wash the chicken, put some salt and pepper on it and put it in the oven...sounds easy, right?
Well, that night while carving the bird, Dad found the innerds still in the package inside the chicken. Mom said, "I told you to clean the chicken!" I replied, "You told me to wash the chicken, and I never told me that I had to look inside!"
Anyway, now on to Beastie part of our CSA from JenEhr Farm we get chickens each month and they come with, you guessed it, innerds in a bag. I'm not all that into meat to begin with, but I'm really not into some of the more interesting insides, like heart, gall bladder, liver, etc. I used to throw them out, except for the neck, which always goes into the pot with the carcass to make broth. The neck bones have a good deal of gelatin, which is super healthy, so even though nobody at my house eats the neck bone, we always save it for the broth. The rest of the innerds...we boil them at a slow boil for about 40 minutes, then puree and feed it to the kitties...super healthy, good for their coats and bones and geeze, they love the stuff! So, next time you're going to toss that package of innerds, think about your babies and cook some up for them. Dogs love them too---what animal can't pass up chicken!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pumpkin Time!

It's Pumpkin Time! The arrival of the pumpkins signals that delicious time of year when the leaves are turning and fall baking and cooking uses the bounty of the season. Baking with fresh pie pumpkins from the farmer's market couldn't be easier, and inexpensive too. To prepare the pumpkin, wash and dry it, then microwave for 2 minutes to soften it before cutting in half and scooping out the seeds and stringy pulp. Bake for 40 minutes at 350° with the cut side down. When it is cool enough to handle, turn it over and scoop out the meat, then run it through a food processor or mash it by hand before using. Left over pumpkin may be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for later use. Depending upon the pumpkin, one pie pumpkin should yield about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of pureed pumpkin. Try this recipe for Pear and Pumpkin Bars--they're great for breakfast!
Pear and Pumpkin Bars
Recipe by Locavore Lisa Lathrop

½ cup butter
¾ cup agave or 1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¾ cup cooked, pureed pumpkin
1 cup cored, diced pear (about 2 small pears)
1 cup unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp salt

Cream together butter and agave or brown sugar until light and creamy. Add egg and mix well. Add vanilla and pumpkin. Stir together dry ingredients and add to wet mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Fold in pears by hand. Bake in a greased, floured 8-inch square baking pan at 350° for 50-60 minutes if using agave and for 40-50 minutes if using brown sugar. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean when done. Cool on a rack before slicing. Store in the refrigerator if using agave, as baked goods with agave will mold quickly unless refrigerated or frozen.

Note: Agave is an all natural sweetener that is safe for diabetics and others with sugar sensitivities to eat. It comes in a liquid form similar to honey, but is thinner and sweeter.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This time of year there always seems to be an abundance of fresh basil to go along with the tomatoes and other yummy fresh veggies in the garden. When bringing home fresh basil from the farmer's market, the best way to store it if you are not planning to use it the same day is to strip the leaves off the bottom 3-4 inches, trim the very bottom of the stems and store it in water just like you would fresh flowers. If the leaves are sitting in the water they will rot, so be sure not to fill the vase, pitcher or glass too full with water, just enough to keep the bottom of the stems wet. They make a lovely addition to your counter or tabletop and will keep several days this way. The ones in the photo have been in the vase for 1 week. Some have even sprouted so I'm going to plant them and see if I can keep them growing indoors...will let you know how that little experiment works out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yellow watermelon, sweet and juicy

At the Dane County Farmer's Market recently one of the farmers at Alsum's Sweet Corn (and watermelon) explained that while the yellow watermelons are sweeter and juicier than the traditional pink ones, customers shy away when they find out that it is yellow. The yellow varieties are often smaller than most of the pink watermelons and many are round rather than oblong. Some are "seedless" too. From the outside you cannot tell the difference, in fact the farmers often mark them so they can tell which are which. The flesh of the yellow melons is also smoother and less mealy than the tradiational pink varieties. So, for your next fruit salad, add some color with yellow watermelons! The National Watermelon Promotion Board has some fun recipes to try--who know you could do so many things with watermelon!
Watermelon infused vodka--cut watermelon into small chunks, or scoop out small balls with a melon baller then place in a glass container and cover with vodka. Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks, then make a fun cocktail using the infused vodka. Watch out for the chunks of melon though, they're nearly lethal if you get one in your drink.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sauteed chard and pancetta with pasta

Chard and many other greens are abundant this time of year at the Madison-area farmer's markets. Sometimes it is challenging to think of new and interesting ways to use all these nutrition-packed greens. Here's one recipe that's quick and easy to prepare:

Sauteed Chard and Pancetta with Pasta

  • 1 bunch chard
  • 4 oz pancetta, thinly sliced, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 2-3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbsp bacon fat or butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • ¼ cup parmigiano reggiano
  • ½ lb cooked pasta
  • ½ cup reserved pasta water


Wash and dry the chard. Remove the leaves from the ribs and cut the ribs into ½ inch pieces. Slice leaves into 1-inch wide strips. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, melt bacon fat or butter then add pancetta and cook until it starts to get crispy. Add olive oil, garlic and chard ribs and cook until the chard ribs are just tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add chard and season with salt. Saute, stirring frequently until chard is just wilted, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar and add reserved pasta water. Allow the pasta water to reduce for 1-2 minutes then stir in the pasta, top with parmigiano reggiano and serve with your favorite bread and wine.

Serves 2

I'm on

I am now the Madison Farmer's Market Examiner for It is a new website with all sorts of topics written by locals. I found out about it while researching online writing opportunities and applied and was accepted. I'll still write Beast's Kitchen, but the content will be a little different than what I write on So, check it out and follow me there too!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Chocolate Chase

Who doesn't love chocolate? OK, of course not everyone does, but when I found out there was a charity bike ride with chocolate involved I signed up myself and Tim for a morning of exercise and chocolate! Today was the Chocolate Chase, sponsored by TREK, and a fundraiser for Team Survivor Madison, an organization dedicated to providing exercise, education and recreational activities for women who have or have had cancer. It was for us a fairly reasonable distance, 20 miles, but they didn't tell us how many hills there would be. I had actually said to Tim, "I hope there are some hills so we can get some practice for next week's ride, Bike the Barns", which will be very hilly. Well, be careful what you wish for. Good thing at the start, at every rest stop and at the finish they gave us chocolate, or I might not have kept climbing those hills. It was a very well organized ride, with a good route, great road directions, maps, loads of volunteers and sag wagons in case something went wrong. Along the way we saw some interesting countryside west of Madison and rode past some very large homes, where we couldn't help but wonder...what do all these people do for a living that they own such big homes??? In any case at one point we came across this barn, and I had to stop and take a picture because it was such a cool building. I must be looking forward to photographing the barns next week. In the meanwhile I brought home some extra chocolate to enjoy while we watch the Badger game tonight :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sauteed Chard and Pancetta with Pasta

Chard and many other greens are abundant this time of year at the Madison area Farmer's Markets. Sometimes it is challenging to think of new and interesting ways to use all these nutrition packed greens. Here's one recipe that's quick and easy to prepare:

Sauteed Chard and Pancetta with Pasta
1 bunch chard
4 oz pancetta, thinly sliced, cut into 1-inch strips
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
2 Tbsp bacon fat or butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt
¼ cup parmigiano reggiano
½ lb cooked pasta
½ cup reserved pasta water

Wash and dry the chard. Remove the leaves from the ribs and cut the ribs into ½ inch pieces. Slice leaves into 1-inch wide strips. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, melt bacon fat or butter then add pancetta and cook until it starts to get crispy. Add olive oil, garlic and chard ribs and cook until the chard ribs are just tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add chard and season with salt. Saute, stirring frequently until chard is just wilted, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar and add reserved pasta water. Allow the pasta water to reduce for 1-2 minutes then stir in the pasta, top with parmigiano reggiano and serve with your favorite bread and wine.

Serves 2

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers

I've been eating a lot of veggie burgers lately and my favorite are some that I get from Jim's Meat Market on Northport Drive. They have great meats and they supply the Madison Mallards with veggie burgers. They're super easy and fast to cook--straight from freezer to grill or stovetop. They are a bit fragile, so I recommend cooking them in a pan or a grill pan, rather than straight on the grill--otherwise you risk having part go through the grate. I decided to try making some of my own variety and here's what I used:
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 small onion minced
1 large handful fresh basil (you could substitute other herbs or just leave them out)
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 pieces bread or 1/2 cup bread crumbs. I used frozen baguette chips that I keep on hand for making bruschetta.
Mix together in the food processor or mash by hand--you want the beans to be pretty well smashed. Form into patties and cook or freeze.
Note: quinoa is a super food--inexpensive and very high in protein and other nutrients. You cook it like rice-1 part quinoa to 2 parts water about 25-30 minutes. It is great to add to salads or soups or served as a side dish. It soaks up the flavors of whatever you put with it.
Let me know what you think of the veggie burgers, or even submit your favorite recipe on the comments section.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Caramelized Tomatoes

Here's a great thing to do with all those yummy tomatoes in your garden:
Heat a medium sized saute pan over medium-high heat then add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 cup chopped tomatoes, the sweeter, the better. I've been using a combination of sungold, yellow pear and grape for this, but any tomatoes will work. If larger tomatoes have lots of pulp and seeds, cut them in half and squeeze that out prior to chopping. Toss with olive oil, add a little sea salt, and saute for about 5 minutes. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and saute 1-2 minutes more. These can be served immediately or chilled for later use. They're great with pasta or lentils. We made sandwiches with french bread, bacon, brie, basil and these tomatoes---delish! You could also use these to top bruschetta and add a bit of fresh basil and parmigiano reggiano.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Over the past couple of years I have tried many different kale recipes, trying to find one or two that I like. In general I find kale to be too bitter for my taste. In spite of that I know the nutritional value of kale is super, so I keep on trying. This year I tried Tuscan or lacinato kale and guess what?! I like it!
Here's a quick and easy pasta recipe to try:
Tuscan Kale and Pasta
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
4-6 Tbsp olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 bunch Tuscan kale
1/2 pound pasta--bowties or penne work well with this
Fresh grated reggiano parmesan or romano cheese
Saute onion and garlic, with salt and pepper in 4 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat for about 20 minutes until tender
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and boil the kale for about 20 minutes. Then scoop the kale out with a slotted spoon and add to onion mixture. Boil the pasta in the kale water and then scoop that out with a slotted spoon and add to onion and kale mixture. Add about 3/4 cup of the pasta water to pasta mixture and stir. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and add salt to taste. Drizzle 1-2 Tbsp olive oil over the top and enjoy!
Optional: If you like for extra protein you can add 1 cup of cooked lentils or you can saute some proscuitto with the onions and garlic.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Greens, Greens, Greens

This time of year we start getting a ton of green tops from various vegetables: beets, carrots, radishes, then soon to come parsnips, turnips etc., not to mention kale, spinach, mustard, collard and many others. We didn't grow up eating all these greens so I've learned over the last couple of years which I like and which I don't, and I still keep trying new ways of preparing the ones I think I don't like because often I find a way I do like them.
When we're overwhelmed with greens I clean, chop, blanch and freeze them for use during the winter in soups and stews. One of Tim's new favorites follows:
Ham Hocks and Greens
1-2 smoked ham hocks
8-12 cups cold water, salted with 3-4 tbsp salt
12 cups washed, chopped greens, such as collard or mustard
¼ cup sugar
3-4 Tbsp Sriracha Sauce
Optional: 2 Tbsp liquid smoke
Cover ham hocks with cold salted water and cook over medium heat for 3-4 hours. Check the water occasioinally to make sure the ham hocks stay covered in water. If necessary, add more hot water to keep them covered. You want to cook the hocks until they are tender. Then add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook for 1- 1 ½ hours more. Remove the bones from the ham hocks and shred the pork with a fork. Salt to taste and add more Sriracha if you like it spicier. This gets even better as it sits in the fridge for a couple of days. Enjoy!
Note: This is best prepared with hearty greens such as collard, rather than tender greens like spinach.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Carrot Tops

Did you ever think about using the greens from carrots, but not know what to do? Last year I started experimenting with them and found that I enjoyed their carrot-like taste and wonderful nutritional qualities. Here's a great website with some information and recipes to try:
Recently I made a pesto using carrot tops, parsley and basil with the usual garlic, olive oil salt and parmesan cheese. It was quite tasty and nobody even knew it was carrot tops!
You can also blanch and freeze them to use in soups and stews during the winter.
I've found there are many uses for the various greens from vegetables, so don't waste that great nutrition!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Spinach and Cheddar Savory Muffins

As the weather gets cooler spinach comes back and there are so many wonderful uses, but here's one of my new favorites, great for breakfast. lunch or dinner:
Spinach and Cheddar Savory Muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup whole milk
1 cup chopped fresh or ½ cup chopped frozen spinach (if frozen, thawed, drained and squeezed dry)
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease 12 cup muffin cups, or line with papers.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a mixing bowl.
3. Stir the melted butter, egg, milk, spinach, and cheddar cheese together in a large mixing bowl until evenly blended. Slowly stir in the flour mixture to form a batter. Scoop into muffin cups using an ice cream scoop, or fill about 2/3 full.
4. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Mediterranean Green Beans

I recently found out that I can't digest green beans that are cooked al dente...I know serious bummer. Anyway, Tim had some awesome Greek green beans at the Ariston Cafe that appeared to have been slow cooked and I decided to search for recipes that might taste good but cook the beans more thoroughly, without making them taste like school lunch. I came up with a winner:
Lisa's Mediterranean Green Beans
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 pounds fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed (I used flat Italian beans the first time)
3 large tomatoes, diced
2 teaspoons sugar or agave
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
1 ½ teaspoons dried marjoram
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
salt to taste
2-3 tablespoons Sriracha sauce to taste
1. Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir the onions and garlic in the skillet until tender.
2. Mix the remaining olive oil, green beans, tomatoes, sugar or agave, herbs and salt into a slow cooker, add the onion mixture. Cook on medium-low for 4-6 hours or on low for 6-8 hours if you’re going to be gone all day. Stir the mixture occasionally if possible. If not, stir them as soon as you get home. Before serving add the Sriracha sauce and cook just a few minutes longer.
If you prefer to do these more quickly just add the ingredients to the onion mixture in the skillet and cook over med-low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Note: these make a wonderful sauce so be sure to have some bread handy to soak up the sauce.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cucumbers, Cucumbers!

What to do with all those cucumbers?
Here are a few ideas:
  • invuse vodka with cucumber and mint or lemon balm--just remove the skins and seeds and dice or thinly slice the cucumers then place into a glass container with vodka and fresh mint, store in a cool place or refrigerate--wait a couple of weeks and enjoy in a tall glass over ice with some seltzer or club soda--garnish with a cucumber slice and a sprig of mint or lemon balm

  • make a simple cucumber salad-peel deseed the cucumbers, thinly slice then place in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with a little salt. Let rest refrigerated for at least 1 hour before serving--makes a great snack or side dish

  • make cucumber canapes--top with your favorite spread, or other veggies--the ones shown are topped with a smoked salmon spread piped onto the cucumber slices with a pastry bag

  • make cucumber pickles or relish and can it for enjoying during the winter

  • make cucumber salsa

  • make tzatzki (pronounced dza-DZEE-kee)--a yummy Greek dip: 16 oz thick Greek yogurt; 6 cloves minced garlic; 1/2 cup diced or grated peeled cucumber; 1 tbsp olive oil; 1-2 tsp lemon juice; 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh mint (optional): Prepare all ingredients in advance. Combine oil and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl. Fold the yogurt in slowly, making sure it mixes completely with the oil. Add the garlic, cucmber and mint, stir well and chill. Serve by itself or with veggies or pita bread for dipping-YUM!

  • make Granny's Sweet Cucumbers (my Granny's recipe): 6 cups cucumbers, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced; 1-2 cups thinly sliced onion rings; 2 cups sugar; 1 cup vinegar; 2 tbsp salt. Combine and let stand refrigerated for 2-3 days. Makes 2 qts full. Enjoy!
  • want more? surf the net--there are tons of fun, quick and easy recipes for cukes

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Savory Summer Tart

What to do with all that summer squash??? How about a savory summer tart!
It's quick and easy and delicious.
1 pie crust
2 oz bleu cheese (if you hate bleu, substitute another cheese that melts well, maybe gruyere)
1 lb summer squash sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 large onion, sliced thin
1-2 tbsp molasses (optional)
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 tbsp olive oil
2-3 oz chevre or other goat cheese
2 tsp dried herbs or 3 tbsp freshly minced herbs
Sea salt to taste
Carmelize the onions by cooking over medium heat in 2 tbsp olive oil for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they cook evenly and don't get crispy. Be sure to salt the onions so they release their juices more quickly. When the onions are soft and carmelized, you can add a tablespoon or two of molasses to give them that rich dark sweet color and flavor. Set aside the onions and place remaining oil in pan then saute the garlic and summer squash for about 7-10 minutes, until squash is still a little firm, but tender. Stir often to ensure they cook evenly.
You can either use a store bought pie crust or make one yourself, they're quick, inexpensive and easy. Then roll out the pie crust to a couple inches wider than your pie pan and place it in the pan and fill as follows:
1 oz Crumbled bleu cheese on the bottom of the crust
top with 1/2 of the sauteed squash and garlic mixture
top that with 1/2 of the carmelized onions
top that with 1 oz of chevre
sprinkle 1/2 of the herbs all over and then repeat the process
When you're done, fold the edges of the pie crust over the top so there is an edge of dough all the way around.
Bake at 400° for 30-40 minutes.
Can be served hot or at room temperature.
If making ahead, keep refrigerated until serving and then let stand at room temp or heat through in oven.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Recipes--Lemon Balm

This week I'm going to try to give you a recipe each day to harvest the summer bounty.
A friend contacted me today and said she had an abundance of Lemon Balm, and what to do? Well, first off, lemon balm is of the mint family and it will take over your garden, so if you're just starting out, plant it in a pot in the ground and then watch it and prune regularly...otherwise it will take over. There are some fun uses outside of the ones you might think of right off. Of course, you can make teas and vinegars with it, and it has the most incredible lemony flavor, but here are a few other ideas and one recipe:
  • Dry the leaves and store for winter teas--you can dry them in your oven, which works particularly well if you have a gas oven with a pilot light. Just wash and dry the leaves and lay them out flat, then turn them every day or so for 3-4 days until dried crispy. Store in an air tight container once dry. If you don't have a gas oven you can turn on your electric oven to the lowest setting for a few minutes just to warm it up, then shut it off and put the leaves in. You may have to re-heat the oven occasionally just to keep the moisture out, but they will dry to a crisp in a few days. You do want them crisp dry, otherwise they'll mold in storage.
  • Make Sangria with the leaves and other herbs, spices and citrus
  • Add the leaves to your bloody mary mix
  • Add fresh chopped leaves to salads for a lemony brightness
  • Add fresh chopped leaves to marinades
  • Use fresh chopped leaves mixed with basil for pesto
  • Add leaves to fresh made lemonade
  • Use leaves for a garnsih for macerated fruit, combining fresh lemon juice and minced leaves with a little grand marnier poured over fresh fruit as a marinade
  • Add chopped leaves to muffins or scones, both sweet and savory

Try this recipe for Valentino from The Herb Garden Cookbook by Lucinda Hutson:

2 oz unsalted butter, softened

8 oz cream cheese, softened

2 tbsp strawberry preserves or orange marmelade

1 tsp orange zest

1 tbsp Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur or fresh orange juice

3 tbsp chopped fresh lemon balm

Fresh Strawberries (optional garnish)

Fresh lemon balm sprigs (optional garnish)

Blend the butter and cream cheese with a fork. Mix in the other ingredients. Best made a day in advance for flavors to mingle; chill overnight and serve at room temperature. Keeps for a week. Serve as a dip for fresh strawberries, or as a spread on open faced sandwiches or with shortbreads.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ariston Cafe Litchfield, IL

During the long boring drive home from St Louis a couple of weeks ago we stopped to eat at a restaurant we had seen on a Route 66 special on Food Network, The Ariston Cafe.
We were tickled with everything about the place, and will definitely be back. From the moment you walk up to the entry you feel like you're entering a place of history. The original restaurant opened in 1924, and was moved to its current location in 1935 on historic Route 66. The restaurant is still family owned and operated and is much more than just a diner.
We arrived on a Sunday, early afternoon while Brunch was still going, and were pleasantly surprised to find that we could order off the menu or from the buffet style brunch, which is unusual. Most kitchens can only accommodate one or the other at a given time. The owners greeted us graciously and inquired whether we were travelling Route 66 when they saw my camera. The menu is extensive and features the usual diner options, as well as some unique offerings. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there is full bar service, which is not often the case at roadside diners. Tim selected one of the daily specials, a 14-oz Ribeye, which he ordered cooked rare, as he normally does. I chose one of the owners recommendations, Tamales, smothered with the house-made chili and loads of onions. Tim's meal came with the salad bar, which had some of the old standbys on it--great fun. His steak was cooked to perfection--really, truly rare, which is rare for a Ribeye. As you can see from the photos the grill marks were perfect too. He said it had a great grill flavor througout. He had ordered the vegetable which was a Greek style Green Beans and he loved those. The steak also came with sauteed mushrooms, which he normally doesn't eat but he said they too were cooked to perfection, not limp and overdone as is often the case. We have definitely found ourselves another regular stop on our trip to St Louis and recommend that you give it a try next time you're passing through Litchfield, IL.

Ariston Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Grillin' with Friends

On Monday we had the opportunity to enjoy a little slice of summer with friends for dinner. The atmosphere, company, food and beverages were delightful.
It seems like summer goes by so quickly and we often say we wished we had more time to do things like this, so when we do we always try to enjoy every little bit.
Our host had a festive atmosphere as we arrived and fed us quite well on a menu that included chips, salsa and guacamole for appetizers, along with a carmelized onion and summer squash tart that I baked. Then we had a trio of salads, grilled asparagus, shrimp skewers and steaks. Dessert was some of Gail Ambrosius' decadent chocolates. What a perfect end to a great meal!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Badger State Trail

Tim's on vacation for two weeks so he can watch the Tour de France and not have to stay up too late on a "school night" (aka work night). When he's not watching the race, and I'm not working, we've been working on some projects around the house and riding our bikes. On Sunday we rode the Badger State Trail from our front door to Monroe, WI. We stayed overnight at the Gasthaus and then rode home the following day. Round trip it was just shy of 100 miles, including meal stops. The section of the trail that runs from the Southwest Bike Trail in Madison to Purcell Road in Fitchburg is not yet completed. The train tracks were removed a couple of years ago but it has not yet been graded. Supposedly it will be completed next year when the funding finally comes through. The trail is only about 2 years old and seems like it is not yet heavily used by bicycles. According to the website, limestone provides a hard surface...not so much. The trip south to Monroe runs at a slight incline the entire way and the gravel was so thick at times that you would spin out. It made for slow, frustrating going and a long day. 48 miles later, upon our arrival in Monroe, tired and dirty from the trail we found that our motel was at the far south end of town and not near any local dining. So back on the bikes we went in search of dinner before it got dark and we had to ride our tired butts back in the dark. The highlight of the trail comes about 4 miles south of Belleville, where there is a 1200 foot tunnel, which I found out the hard way, with my sunglasses still on is quite dark and under water at the entry. Oh well, I took off my glasses and with the aid of my bike light and a flashlight could see much better, and my shoes and socks dried eventually. While going through the tunnel you can hear the bats singing their happy songs--good to have a bike helmet on if you're scared of bats!

Nau-Ti-Gal Fish Fry

Last Friday we stopped in for lunch at Nau-Ti-Gal. Tim had the Friday Fish Fry, which comes with deep fried haddock, fries and coleslaw. I had the Hot & Cold Shrimp appetizer.

The fish fry was hot and fresh and didn't taste greasy or like the oil was old, which happens at some places when you order fish fry. It is a generous portion that will fill you up even though it's not "all you can eat".

The Hot & Cold Shrimp comes with three peel & eat shrimp and three deep fried coconut shrimp, cocktail sauce and honey mustard sauce. The coconut shrimp were steaming hot and sweet enough on their own that they would benefit from a spicy mustard sauce instead of the honey mustard. All of the shrimp were quite large and had great flavor and texture.

Paired with an ice cold tap beer or a Pirate's Blood (Nau-Ti-Gal's special Bloody Mary), it's a great way to start the weekend!
Nau-Ti-Gal on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Nicoletti's Ristorante

When we travel we love to visit local restaurants, and we choose carefully because we only have so many meals to eat each day. When in St Louis we enjoy the thin crust pizza at Nicoletti's in Ballwin. On our last visit the restaurant was busy as usual, but we were able to be seated immediately. When you first enter you step directly into the dining room and at first glance it appears to be a small place. But once you look a bit further you'll notice quite a few tables in the bar area and an additional dining room off the main one. The decor is furnished with antiques and is quite charming.
While we were dining Mr Nicoletti stopped by our table to ensure we were enjoying ourselves and his food. We assured him that we were and that we stop in whenever we can while visiting town. The menu is traditional italian and offers everything from pasta to steaks. We've tried a variety of items offered but enjoy the thin crust pizza the most.
Nicoletti's Steak & Pasta on Urbanspoon

Uptown Grill

If you've ever driven from Madison to St Louis you know there's a long, boring stretch through Illinois with not much to look at, and not too many great places to stop and eat. We stumbled upon an unlikely upscale restaurant in La Salle a couple of years ago and now it's a regular stop whenever we're going through. The Uptown Grill menu is printed daily with specials featuring what's fresh and local. On our last visit I had a difficult time deciding between some of the specials but settled on a beautiful dish of mussels, one of my favorite things. They were prepared with a lemongrass sauce that was light and refreshing and had just a little kick of hot pepper added. There's always a wide range of appetizers offered, which you can make into a shared meal, or if you prefer your own dish, you're sure to find something among all the specials, salads, sandwiches and entrees made by the talented kitchen staff.
During warm months there is screened dining outdoors in addition to a large dining room and spacious bar area. The restaurant seems to always be busy with groups of all ages. The staff is well trained and the food is always outstanding. We definitely recommend you plan a visit on your next trip through central Illinois.

Uptown on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spinach Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

It's strawberry season and I'm loving every bite. I made a salad with fresh spinach, red onion, sliced strawberries and a quick strawberry poppyseed vinaigrette. When you clean the spinach, soak it in a large bowl of water or in the sink then remove the stems and spin dry the leaves. If the leaves are large I tear them into more manageable bite sized pieces. Reserve the stems in a freezer bag for the next time you make soup or broth...they'll add some extra nutrition. I also save the ends from the onion in my freezer soup bag, where all unused veggie bits are stored until broth making time. Anyway, back to the salad. For the dressing, it mixes best in a food processor, but if you don't have one a whisk will do too. As a general rule of thumb for vinaigrettes, you will use one part vinegar to two parts oil and any additional ingredients you choose for the mixture. For the strawberry poppyseed I added 1 tablespoon strawberry jam and 1 tablespoon poppyseeds and a pinch of sea salt. Voila, instant yumminess!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Grilled Asparagus

Here's my favorite recipe for's quick, easy and very healthy because you don't lose any nutrients in the cooking process. A grill pan is helpful to keep the spears from diving into the coals.
Rinse 1 lb asparagus and snap off the ends by holding the asparagus and breaking from the bottom end. Let the asparagus break naturally and this will remove the tough bottoms. Save the bottoms in the freezer for the next time you make broth.
Pat dry the asparagus then drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and top with lemon zest or a little lemon juice. Grill for 5 minutes and enjoy hot or cold.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Strawberries are Here!

The very first strawberries of the season are here. Yipee!
Last year on one of my visits to JenEhr Farm to pick up theCSA the crew was planting strawberry plants. Farmer Paul happened to mention to me that they had extras and I gladly volunteered to take some off his hands for my garden, and my neighbor Ben's garden too, it turned out there were a lot of plants in the bag Paul gave me. Sadly after they gave those away to us and we had already planted them in our yards, the floods of 2008 came and washed away many of the plants at JenEhr and they lost an entire bed of strawberry plants to the rain.

So, we've been eagerly awaiting the appearance of the first berries this season. Ben's kids even had a bet as to when the first ripe berry would appear. Yesterday while I was on the porch reading the Wednesday New York Times Dining Section, along comes Ben with a grin and a handful of freshly picked strawberries from his yard. You forget how good they are, the first precious ones picked at the perfection of ripeness and sweet and juicy, and especially from your own garden. I restrained myself and saved two for Tim, which wasn't easy...if he'd been 5 minutes later coming home from work they'd have been gone :)

The plants in our yard still have all green berries on them, but they'll be here soon, so dust off your canning jars and dig out your shortcake recipes. Summer is officially here!