kitchen scribble

November 25, 2015

summer/fall CSA, week 23

Filed under: CSA, weekend cooking — kat @ 2:23 pm

This was the last week of this year’s Breezy Willow CSA. It’s like a picture of what’s awesome about fall.

Huge heads of cauliflower and broccoli, brussels sprouts, Golden Delicious and Fuji apples, sweet potatoes, onions, spinach, Cacoctin Kettle Korn, eggs, and bread (Breadery ciabatta).

And that’s it until the spring. [sniff]

Week 23 was actually two weeks ago, and we’ve now eaten all of the stuff in the pickup except the sweet potatoes, which are currently still waiting patiently on the dining table. They’ll get roasted up sometime this weekend, I’m sure.

Today is the final day of a three-day workweek, which meant that I got to pack only three days’ worth of lunches this past Sunday night. I was pretty excited about having the week mostly taken care of on Sunday. Check it out: three days, twelve lunches.

K and I have chili over rice with spinach; the Little Prince gets rice with green beans, chicken, and a smidge of bacon (bribery), the Little Princess gets pancakes, spinach scrambled eggs, and bacon (breakfast foods are good finger foods), and you can also see the Little Prince’s fruit sides (mandarin orange segments with dried cranberries); I only made two but it was easy enough to make the third last night.

It takes a lot of prep for everyone in the family to get homemade meals every day, but if you do things in bulk, it pays dividends in time on busy weeknights.

I’m really looking forward to our multiple Thanksgiving meals this weekend (two local families = two Thanksgivings and no arduous travel! We’re really lucky). The best thing about Thanksgiving is the potluck nature of it all; if you do things right, you only need to make one or two dishes out of several, and then you get to stuff your face with family and friends.

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone.

November 6, 2015

summer/fall CSA, week 22

Filed under: CSA — kat @ 1:26 pm

Every fall is always filled with mixed emotions for me. I love fall — the slight chill in the air, the crunchy leaves, pumpkins and gingerbread and apple cider — but on the other hand, the farms are shutting down. Next week will be the last week of the CSA, and the last week of the HoCo farmers’ markets. I’ll have to actually buy my produce from a grocery store again, from cashiers who may not be able to identify the items on sight.

You take a lot for granted when shopping at a farmer’s market. When you pick up an item, you can ask: is this eaten cooked or raw? Do you have any tricks for preserving it? How do you prepare it? And not only is the farmer happy to talk with you (assuming the stall isn’t slammed with customers), but you’ll soon have a dialogue going with the other shoppers, who are also happy to share their experiences, recipes, and recommendations. The community feeling is just incredible, and not something you generally get at your local grocery store.

(Not to slam Giant, Safeway, or Harris Teeter. I patronize them too, and I do appreciate their all-hours convenience and their endless rows of clean, brightly-lit produce. But it’s not the same as the love I have for the farmer’s market, where I may not quite find what I was looking for, but I come away with stuff that I’m excited about.)

ANYWAY. The penultimate week of the CSA brought us a pound of spinach, 3 pounds of white potatoes, a pound of brussels sprouts, a spaghetti squash, five large rainbow carrots, another enormous head of cauliflower, eight apples (the all-red ones are Staymans, and the yellow-reds are Jonagolds), and the usual eggs and bread (Great Harvest challah).

summer/fall CSA pickup week 22

I love brussels sprouts; cut in half and tossed with olive oil and spices, and roasted until the edges caramelize, they turn into crunchy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside little nuggets of awesome, and I consider them the perfect food to nosh on while watching a football game. As a bonus, the Little Prince likes them too. Pick the little ones; they’re the sweetest.

November 2, 2015

summer/fall CSA week 21; dark chocolate buttercream

Filed under: CSA, weekend cooking — kat @ 5:24 pm

Guys, guys! The trees outside are all beautiful colors, the weather is incredibly mild, the fruits of the harvest are rolling in. Let’s just ignore the fact that I haven’t posted in, um, apparently ten weeks? Instead, let’s just admire last week’s beautiful pickup from Breezy Willow:

summer/fall CSA, week 21

That’s an absolutely enormous cauliflower, a pound of kale, brussels sprouts, a spaghetti squash, white mushrooms, red-skinned potatoes, two kinds of apples (Golden Delicious and Stayman, I think), and the usual eggs and bread (Breadery ciabatta).

I’m eating one of the Golden Delicious apples as I type and although it’s a tad mealy, the flavor is so sweet and refreshing, I still love it.

Let’s also check out this gigantic sweet potato that Casey brought in from the field (and apparently decorated).

this huge potato is such a sweetie

Yes, it’s as big as a loaf of bread. Crazy, huh?

The Little Princess turned one this past weekend, which means that K and I have been able to keep two kids alive simultaneously for an entire year. We threw a party to celebrate, with plentiful food. We stuffed three pumpkins (bacon & cheese, chard & cheese, wild rice & mushroom) and I made a cake, horse-shaped for my little Year of the Horse girl.

horse cake for a Little Princess

Eyes and ears are made of white chocolate, with dark chocolate scribbled on top to provide details. I’m pretty proud of the cake, even though structural instabilities meant that the head fell off halfway through the party. It’s okay; it was all edible, so we just gave the head to the Little Princess to eat. And that dark chocolate buttercream was darn tasty, if I do say so myself.

And now, of course, post-Halloween, the house is full of candy, which I’m using to bribe my son to finish his dinner. Whatever works, right?

Happy fall, everybody! It’s my favorite time of year.

Easiest Dark Chocolate Buttercream

Food processor buttercream is my new favorite thing. Forget separating egg whites; forget running the stand mixer over and over again to beat in sugar in batches. Just dump everything into the food processor and let it whiz until buttercream miraculously appears. For an adult note to the flavor, add a pinch of sea salt.

To get the contrasting color, you can make a non-chocolate batch by omitting the cocoa powder and 1/2 stick of butter.

This makes enough frosting to cover a horse-shaped cake 7″ long and 2-4 layers tall from back to front, as well as two dozen cupcakes, so it’s a LOT of frosting. Adapted from smitten kitchen.

12 Tbsp Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder (I’m sure you can use regular, but then you won’t end up with Dark Chocolate buttercream)
1 cup + 4 Tbsp (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 3/4 cups powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
4 tablespoons half-and-half or whole milk
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of sea salt (optional)

Dump everything in the food processor, cover it up, and start spinning it. I like to pulse it a few times to get everything mixed up before letting the processor really rip. You’ll have a beautiful thick buttercream in no time at all.

August 25, 2015

Lunch scribbles / CSA week, uh, 11 I think?

Filed under: CSA — kat @ 3:02 pm

For lunch today, I ate a frittata of diced kielbasa, tomato, green pepper, and onion, served over white rice with a side of sauteed celery, and a little bit of beef gravy to give it some flavor and moisture. Frittata: a great way to stretch a single kielbasa sausage into six meals.

Last night I made six “adult” meals as described above, plus two “little prince” meals consisting of leftover toad-in-the-hole and cut up green beans, as well as two “little princess” meals of pureed vegetable and cut up fruit (her bottles of pumped milk can’t be prepared too far in advance, or I’d do those too). I love The Unmanly Chef‘s series of 5 Days 5 Lunches but right now, with two adults, a three-year-old, and a ten-month-old, and limited fridge storage to boot, I’m happy to just get two or three days ahead of the game.

Honestly, parenting is like treading water; you’re busy just keeping your head in the air. I’ve been neglecting the blog, but rest assured that we are still eating the fruits of summer and loving it here at the K household. Our patio garden has been going crazy and drowning us in hot peppers and cherry tomatoes. Every week, I get the CSA pickup and then drop by the Miller Library farmer’s market to fill in the gaps (usually with peaches from Lewis Orchard, onions and bacon from TLV Tree Farm, and sweet cherry tomatoes from Love Dove).

I may or may not do a CSA catch-up post… the previous pickup photos are scattered across various devices (old phone, new phone, tablet) and my record keeping is not all that it could be. Let’s just talk about the most recent week for now:

summer CSA, week 11

So many beautiful colors! We’ve had corn every week and here it is again, 6 ears of it. There’s also cantaloupe, yellow squash, rainbow carrots, nectarines, green peppers, eggplant, beautiful ripe tomatoes, eggs, and bread (Great Harvest challah).

The corn got simply boiled (Little Prince’s favorite preparation) – I brought a pot of water to a boil, and then, so as not to waste the hot water (and the time it took to get hot), I used it three times: I blanched green beans, added salt and cooked a box of penne pasta, and finally sprinkled in some sugar and boiled the corn.

The yellow squash got sauteed with some shrimp to go over the penne; eggs, green peppers and (some) tomatoes went into the frittata; later we’ll turn the eggplant into baba ghannouj or baingan bharta, and I’ll make glazed rainbow carrots (as well as steam some for the baby). Cantaloupe and nectarine are perfectly good as is, and fortunately both kids love fruit. Keep the fruit coming, Breezy Willow!

July 7, 2015

summer CSA weeks 3 and 4, + cinnamon pickle

Filed under: CSA — kat @ 11:01 am

Week 3 of the CSA brought us another beautiful rainbow of produce (fitting because the SCOTUS decision was announced that week):

summer CSA, week 3

We have kale, green leaf lettuce, yellow zucchini, mushrooms, green beans, white potatoes, sweet cherries, blueberries, eggs, and bread (Great Harvest challah).

I like yellow zucchini much better than yellow squash, because squash that doesn’t change diameter as you go is just a lot easier to deal with on the cutting board. That way you don’t have to work too hard to cut everything the same size for even cooking. It’s the little things.

The little container off to the side is a cinnamon stick pickle from Farm Boy Pickles (available at Breezy Willow Farm):

cinnamon stick pickles!

It’s a sweet pickle with a bit of cinnamon kick – basically a bread and butter pickle with a little touch of spice. I was dubious at first about the concept, but when I tried a sample, I was hooked. I’ve been eating a couple of bites after dinner in place of dessert. I love it.

Every fourth week of the CSA brings a special bonus item, and for this week 4, we got to choose between Breezy Willow’s barbecue sauce and their horseradish mustard. I went for the mustard. The rest of the pickup consisted of corn, broccoli, green beans, red potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, cucumbers, eggs, and bread (Great Harvest challah again; I know what I like).

summer CSA, week 4

It’s the beginning of what will likely be a giant corn avalanche this summer. We always get a ton of corn in this CSA. My family loves corn in all forms – boiled, grilled, cut off the cob and creamed – so it’s no hardship at all. Before the Little Prince was born, I used to blanch and freeze the corn for use in winter. Now, though, he eats it up as fast as I can prepare it.

June 18, 2015

summer CSA, week 2

Filed under: CSA — kat @ 1:09 pm

This is a chromatically pleasing pickup! Perfectly sweet blueberries; kale, green leaf lettuce, green beans, cucumber, and an extra bunch of parsley; a huge stack of yellow squash; red-skinned potatoes; orange (brown) eggs, and a loaf of soft golden challah.

summer CSA, week 2

Kale, lettuce, and green beans disappear fairly quickly in our house, but not so much the yellow squash. I’ve got my eye on smitten kitchen’s squash and potato torte recipe. It looks kind of fiddly* to prepare, what with all the slicing and arranging and so on, but I think I can find time this weekend. As a bonus, I can fold in some of the green onions and thyme that are going gangbusters in our container garden.

*as a salary mom with an infant and a preschooler, who can only really cook on evenings and weekends, I now evaluate recipes on the basis of “how easy is this to prepare while the kids are awake?” So anything that needs lots of fine knife work, or constant stirring on the stovetop, has to be tabled until after the kids go to bed. This torte, for instance, looks like a great contender for a prepare-the-night-before, bake-up-the-next-day type of approach.

June 15, 2015

Got upsold at Mrs. K’s Toll House

Filed under: local, peevishness — kat @ 2:56 pm

Say you ordered a vegetarian dish, and got an add-on of meat; of course you’re willing to pay a little extra for the add-on, but how much is acceptable? If your dish is an $18 risotto, would you accept an extra $5 for some shrimp? How about $8?

How about $16?

This past Friday, I met up with a few friends at Mrs. K’s Toll House Restaurant. It’s in an old converted toll house, just north of downtown Silver Spring. It’s surrounded by green, manicured gardens, and the location itself is a beautiful building full of antique furniture. I loved it. Great ambiance. The service was wonderful, too, very attentive and courteous, and the food was delicious.

I even remembered to take a picture of my dinner, the mushroom risotto:

mushroom risotto from Mrs K's

Yes, that’s more than just mushrooms. When I ordered, the waitress asked if I would like to add on some shrimp. And I said, sure! I didn’t mind paying a little extra for protein. The shrimp, blackened and just a hint spicy, was a delicious counterpoint to the rich, creamy risotto. It was an great pairing – kind of like an amped-up shrimp and grits.

Really, everything was going swimmingly until we got the bill, which showed that I had spent $18 for my mushroom risotto, and $16 for the add-on of shrimp.

I called the waitress over, just to make sure there wasn’t some mistake, and she verified that yes, I had paid $16 – almost 90% of the cost of my entire entree – for five pieces of shrimp.

That’s $3.20 a shrimp.

I mean, it was good shrimp, but not that good.

This meant that my shrimp-and-mushroom risotto came to a grand total of $34, which, I believe, made it more expensive than anything on the menu except the crab cakes and the filet mignon.

Sure, I could have (and should have) asked what the charge would have been for the shrimp add-on. But, you know, if adding on a protein effectively doubled the price of someone’s dish, you’d think it would be polite to mention it, right?

I thought briefly about stiffing the waitstaff on the tip, but the service really had been exceptional otherwise, and besides, our party of five had an automatic service charge on the bill. So I let it go.

But I’m definitely not going there to get upsold again.

June 11, 2015

summer/fall CSA, week 1

Filed under: CSA — kat @ 3:14 pm

The CSA is back! *throws confetti* I’ve managed to get by with the farmer’s markets, but there’s no substitute for picking up a week’s worth of vegetables that I, uh, had no say in selecting. (Well, technically I can select my beets from a pile of other beets. But I still can only get beets. Especially since there were nothing but beets at the trade table. Fellow CSA members, can you truly be soured on beets already?)

First week of the summer CSA brought us a ton of leafy greens to eat: green leaf lettuce, rainbow chard, spinach, and the greens from the aforementioned beets meant that it was a very leafy pickup. Also in the pickup: spring onions, mushrooms, zucchini, and the usual eggs and bread (Breadery 3-seed).

summer/fall CSA, 2015 week 1

I cut up and washed the green leaf lettuce right away. Lettuces don’t hold up well in the fridge. We had it alongside white rice and a frittata of kielbasa, spinach, and cheddar cheese. The Little Prince actually ate his entire serving of “egg pie”, much to my delight.

No fancy plans for the rest of the pickup; I might end up just sauteeing the beet greens together with the chard, let the thick-stemmed greens hang out together. Zucchini is fantastic tossed with a bit of olive oil and spice, and baked on a sheet pan or quickly sauteed on the stovetop. Spring onion greens might go in another frittata with the mushrooms (there are oh so many eggs in the house right now), and I’ll save the spring onion bulbs to throw on the grill next time it’s fired up (they turn sweet and smoky and fantastic; I highly recommend it). Beets, I’ll probably try some sort of pickle. Or puree into soup with a little garlic and cream.

The weather yesterday was beautiful and I was absolutely loving being at the farm. It was nice to see the llamas again, too. Hi, llamas!

llamas say hi

May 28, 2015

spring CSA, final week

Filed under: CSA, local — kat @ 2:42 pm

For the final week of this year’s spring CSA, we had: beets, apples, asparagus, Vidalia onions, cucumbers, green leaf lettuce, kale, green beans, eggs, and bread (Breadery sourdough).

spring CSA, week 11

Saying goodbye to the spring CSA is nowhere near as bittersweet as saying goodbye to the summer/fall CSA. The spring CSA ends at a great time; the farmer’s markets are just starting up, strawberry picking is beginning in the fields, my little container garden is providing herbs for our meals, and I can already see the beginnings of baby hot peppers on our plants. And the summer/fall CSA starts up in just two weeks, so it’s hardly a period of privation.

Yesterday afternoon I went to the farmer’s market at Miller Library, just to stock up on eggs. The guy at the TLV tree farm promptly talked me into buying more. Like he said, they’ll be fine for weeks in the fridge… and at under $4/dozen if you buy three, these fresh brown eggs from cage-free hens are comparable to supermarket prices. He also talked me into buying twice the strawberries I came for (picked that very morning). Dude is smooth.

farmer's market haul

While I was there, I also picked up a bag of mixed greens from Love Dove, challah from The Breadery, and zucchini from the stand next to the Stone House Bakery.

The strawberries came in handy right away; I used them to bribe the Little Prince into finishing his salad greens. The kid will do anything for strawberries. They were juicy, sweet, and perfect. I’m already itching to make strawberry jam.


I’ve said this before, but: I really love spring in Maryland.

May 14, 2015

spring CSA, week 10

Filed under: CSA — kat @ 2:33 pm

The haul: 5 Stayman apples, 8 Fuji apples, rainbow carrots, asparagus, radishes (though the overhead shot really shows more radish green than radish root), a pound of spinach, a head of (really sandy) romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts, eggs, and bread (Breadery honey whole wheat).

spring CSA, week 10

We ate the asparagus immediately; it was so fresh that some of the ends didn’t even snap. I love asparagus for its ease of preparation: snap the ends, rinse the spears, tumble them into a pan with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them until they start to look a little shriveled. Done! They get all tender and delicious. Even the Little Prince loves them.

The apples are really piling up; we are drowning a bit in apples here. Since the Little Princess is just starting solid foods (she seemed to like her puree of CSA spinach last night), I think I’ll be making applesauce this weekend. And apple cobbler for us older folks, too.

I also dropped by the Miller Library farmer’s market yesterday. It was great to see all the farm stands again! Not much in the way of fresh produce yet but if you want to stock up on little baby herb and tomato plants, now is the time. I picked up two little cherry tomato plugs from Love Dove Farm; really looking forward to fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes this summer, assuming I can get to them before all the back yard wildlife.

Breezy Willow’s spring CSA runs for just one more week, and then it’s a two-week break until the summer one starts up. I’m looking forward to doing a lot of farmer’s market shopping over the hiatus.

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