Friday, August 22, 2014

Recipe from the Farm Box: Using up tomatoes


Quick! Look to the left hand side of the blog... Do you see it? That's right! The Suggestion Box is up and running! This blog is constantly evolving, dear sweet readers, and in the end that evolution is all about YOU. So if you have a suggestion on how to make it better, or a recipe I should try, or anything you can think of, reach out to me at

Of course what I am SURE you are more excited for, is the prospect of being involved in the fantastic torture that is the Chopped Challenges. So if you have a suggestion of an ingredient he should try, or a combination of ingredients, now you can write The Husband at 

You might just see your suggestions on this very page! 

Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Programing!

I've been slacking, dear sweet readers, The Box ingredients have been piling up in my Fridge and on my counter and some of them have gone to that sweet sad place, the trash, because of my neglect. So when The Husband walked through the door, The Box in hand,  I knew the goal was, this week, to get rid of some of the items I have in over abundance. Here is what I got:
  • Dinosaur Kale
  • Celery
  • White Eggplant
  • Red Tomatoes
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • NY White Garlic
  • Leek Flowers
  • Peaches
Dear sweet reader, that brought the Zucchini count to at least 4 big fatties in my crisper drawer. The Green count to One HUGE bunch of Swiss Chard (about to go bad) and two kinds of kale. Three fat cucumbers, and an EXCESS of Tomatoes. This weekend will be about cleaning out my fridge BEFORE things go bad. The first step, USE UP SOME TOMATOES, and I know exactly how to do that.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chopped Challenge: Pita Pizza?

This was one of those weeks where I feel like I never really stopped rushing about. Added to the fact that even though I was rushing about, this week took FOREVER. How is that even possible, dear reader, that I could feel like I haven't sat down all week and yet the week just stretched on. So when The Farm Box came, I barely looked at it except to say "oh great... kale."
Needless to say, when The Husband brought home this week's basket, I just wanted to make something quick and easy. I was hoping for an obvious stir fry. Something yummy but FAST, with a good deal of mindless knife work. What I actually got was the following:
Bing Cherries, Pita Bread, Sugar Snap Peas, and  crazy spicy chicken sausage. I took one look a the Pita bread and thought. Frick it, I'm making Pizza.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Chopped Challenge: Sometimes It's just not interesting

So I have been trying to be REALLY original with my Chopped Challenges. I've been working on upping my flavors, and being creative, and meeting the challenges head on. Unfortunately, the honest truth is sometimes the food that results, just isn't that interesting. I mean, it's edible and all, but boring, ho-hum, despite what the basket may have contained. And you know what is REALLY hard to write about? Boring food. Take last week for example. The Husband brought me home the following:
Dragon Fruit, Pork Chops, Tomatillos and Dried Edamame.  The ingredients seemed so exotic that I was eager to dive in. But the surety of what to do was lacking and the best I could come up with was to slice the chops thin, pound them out, crust them with edamame and some cumin and give them a good fry. Then I made a gravy with the Tomatillos (roasted slightly along with garlic, onion and a hot pepper) and the dragon fruit, which, although it looks pretty, tastes like barely sweetened water. I just kept adding and adding the fruit to the sauce, and then reducing it down as much as I could but no matter what I did, it just wasn't interesting.

In a desperate effort to do something creative I took the Parsnips from the Farm Box and tried to make parsnip fries. The only problem was the Parsnips from the box were too thin and not conducive at all to slicing into even fries. The Result: burned parsnip fries, only a handful of which were worthy of the plate.

In the end, my pork chop was dry, the breading to meat ratio was off with way to much breading to meat. The Sauce tasted interesting, but not yummy and mostly bland. The parsnip fries were overcooked and lacked seasoning. And the overall image, brown on brown on white. Not at all what I wanted.

This was a very frustrating meal. Unworthy of even writing down the recipe. But Failures come with the territory when you are cooking without a plan and when you are dealing with new ingredients. Every now and then you either eat the result despite it being lack luster, or if it is truly bad, that is why God invented Pizza Delivery Men.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Recipe From the Farm Box: Just Like Grandma Made It

My Grandmother was a saint. When I say Grandma Jenny was a Saint I don't mean she was a good person, I mean she is a literal Saint. Saint Jenny, at least she is well on her way. She was the Matriarch of a very Italian family. As smart as they come, never had an unkind word to say, deeply committed to her faith and her family. When she died in 2010 I knew that if she was right and there is a heaven, a god, and god had a son named Jesus like she believed so truly, then Grandma Jenny was up there talking his ear off while she watched our family grow. I miss her a lot. But her faith, her love and her intelligence isn't what convinces me she is on her way to sainthood. See to become a saint, in accordance with the Catholic Church, you need to perform at least two posthumous miracles, meaning from beyond the grave. And I know for a FACT my Grandmother already has ONE under her belt.

You see my extended family owns a house in Seaside Heights. This house is beloved by all who have spent many a summer there, and although my Grandfather and his brothers built it with their own bare hands it is fair to say that, well, it's a shore house and it's a little rugged. The shore house is a block from the Boardwalk, really prime location.  But when Superstorm Sandy Hit in 2012, the family was SURE it was gone. More modern homes had succumbed and squashed to nothing. The House had had a good run, we were prepared for the worse, but anxious for news. It took a while for the authorities to allow access to the Island, but when they did, wouldn't you know it, that old house was still standing. And more than that, it was standing with NO damage. Two blocks down, flooding, two blocks the other direction, wind damage, homes destroyed, millions of dollars of devastation, but our little shore house apparently stood its ground. Not even water on the first level and this year we celebrated its 50th anniversary. It was a miracle, I know it, and only one person had the love capable of preserving something so dear to the family she loved so hard, and that was my Grandma. Now I just need to keep my eye out for Miracle number 2 and I'll be direct dialing the Pope.

Anyway, ok dear reader, why am I, this little Jewish girl, telling you this story? Well because it's an awesome story, and so that you can understand why the simple recipe that follows remains one of my favorites. And it is deliciously created with only a few simple ingredients. One of which, is Broccoli.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This is why you do your research

This is one of those weeks where even though it is only TUESDAY and yesterday was only MONDAY I already feel like I don't have enough time for anything ever again. It's probably because The Husband and I have a fully booked August, and I am not quite sure if I am ever actually going to get around to watching all the TV currently building up on my DVR. Hypothetically I know it will slow down eventually but for now it feels like rush, rush, rush. Anyway. Last night The Husband walked in quite late with the Farm Box in his arms. Actually in a Large Bucket in his arms. Apparently our Farmer has been over feeding his crops. I mean some of this stuff was HUGE. And all really exciting. It makes me want to cook for days. Here's what I got:
  • Chard
  • Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers
  • Parsnips
  • Broccoli
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Red Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • NY White Garlic
  • Blackberries
  • Sweet Basil
Oh man do I really just want to bake and cook for the rest of my life. And everything was so OVERSIZED. The Zucchini looks like it was trying to escape the farm by growing weird and large. The Blackberries were fat and plump. The Heirloom tomatoes barely fit in my two hands. The Chard was as big as my head, at least and a gorgeous hot pink. And the Parsnips had greens attached that were at least 3 feet long. 

As I am going away this weekend, I wanted to try and make sure my produce lasted as long as possible. So I was doing some research on storage. One of the things I wasn't sure about was the Parsnips. I figured, since they were attached, that the greens were edible and was wondering if I should store them separately or still attached. Of course it didn't take me long to learn my mistake. Parsnip greens are NOT edible. I repeat NOT EDIBLE. This is why you research folks. Not everything that comes from the ground is safe for eating, no matter how pretty they are. Ah well, into the trash they go. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Chopped Challenge: Today we are FRENCH.

The strange things about these Chopped Challenges, isn't just the basket ingredients. It's that I am starting to worry that my skills are about to hit their limit. Cooking without a recipe requires more then a basic ability to pair flavors together, it requires a knowledge of techniques. And although I watch more cooking shows, read more blogs and listen to more podcasts on cooking then I would care to admit, I don't actually have the breadth of knowledge necessary to make any grand idea come into formation on the plate, even though I may have seen the technique once or twice.

This is especially true when it comes to Baking. Where cooking is a art, baking is a science, and it takes a lot of repeat baking to learn what in a recipe is REQUIRED and what is merely window dressing. Ratios are INCREDIBLY important. Even the order that ingredients are added can matter. I like to bake, but it would be a cold day in hell before I baked without a recipe. Unfortunately, there are certain basic baked goods I would like to be able to use when The Husband sets a basket in front of me. So, yesterday, I spent a good 2-3 hours reading, and re- reading and memorizing various ratios for.... pie crust. Why you ask? So that when The Husband sat The Basket in front of me on Monday, I already had an idea in my head as to what I was going to do with it. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Recipe From The Farm Box: Infusions

This Week's box brought forth an abundance of Veg fit to be consumed. But once again, nothing in particular screamed "make a recipe with me." Most of it was just "useful". Here's what I got:
  • Curly Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Lemon Cucumbers (Looks like Lemons, is a Cucumber)
  • Alexandra Heirloom Zucchini (is what that big ugly thing from last week was)
  • Mixed Potatoes (Red, White & Blue)
  • Eggplant (long and thin)
  • Chives
  • Lemon Basil
  • Lime Basil
So we're in the swing of Zucchini season, which is nice because it adds well to most basic dishes disappearing into the background but adding some texture and fiber where needed. Also fun are the Mixed Potatoes, which will sit until I am ready to use them. Everything else. I mean useful, but nothing really screaming USE ME. My only problem is that Lemon Basil and Lime Basil don't exactly stay. They tend to go bad immediately. I knew I needed to do something with them to capture those truly amazing basils but I wasn't really sure what. Until I remembered something I had consumed in a fancy rooftop bar in washington DC... Infused Liquors. I remember the bartender talking me up about his own PERSONAL infusions as he served me a cucumber gin martini. It was delicious. The flavor breaking highlighting the gin. And so I thought, if you can do that with cucumbers, could you do it with herbs? Could I infuse The Husband's booze of choice, gin, with the basils and make my own unique PERSONAL infusion.