two meals at the Forest Diner

We’ve passed over the Forest Diner a lot, I’m afraid. Its neighbor, the Double T diner, is so big and airy and welcoming, and behind the Double T is Honey Pig, which provides Korean bbq at all hours of the day. For a long time, the Forest Diner was a place that we drove by on our way to other places.

We did finally stop in for breakfast (I love diner breakfasts) one Saturday morning. The exterior of the diner is old and worn, and the interior pretty much matches it; lots of scratches on the wood and tiles, very faded fabrics, with a real diner car in front. You feel like you’re going back in time when you walk in there. The woman who worked there was very friendly, and brought us menus right away.

For breakfast I ordered eggs, corned beef hash, and grits. The eggs were nicely done (over easy with runny yolks, just the way I like them) and the grits were buttery and delicious, but the corned beef hash obviously came straight from the can — it was still in a circular shape, and had merely been browned on the outside. Next time I’m getting another type of protein. K, on the other hand, was delighted with his crispy home fries and his creamed chipped beef. People, you have never seen such a huge pile of creamed chipped beef.

a mountain of creamed chipped beef

It was tasty, too.

We went back another evening to try the fried chicken, which the sign outside proudly proclaims to be the world’s best. I had my doubts, but we ordered the four-piece meal: thighs, legs, and wings with two sides for $10.99. Incredulously, I asked the waitress if we could get any four pieces for that price: say, four thighs? She said we couldn’t get four thighs, but we could get two thighs with a leg and a wing, so we did that.

One of the thighs was a bit shriveled, but the chicken was still wonderfully delicious, with crispy, flavorful skin and moist flesh inside. The dark meat was definitely better than the white meat, which was overcooked and slightly dry. We split the meal between the two of us. It’s a pretty good deal when two people are happily fed for $10.99.

Apparently they’ll only be open for a couple more years, so definitely stop by and try the fried chicken if you can. Just be sure to get the dark meat.

summer CSA, week 3

Week 3 of the summer CSA: romaine and green leaf lettuces, beets with their greens, cucumber, giant zucchini, mushrooms, cherries, blueberries, and a loaf of plain white bread. There are no eggs, and it’s my fault; I forgot to get the eggs. At the farm, everything is up on a table except the eggs, which are on a pallet on the floor… and I walked right by them. Oh well.

summer CSA week 3

You can see a much prettier picture on Allura’s blog, where she is also tracking her CSA experience.

It was a beautiful day to visit the farm, actually. The littlest members even got to get up close and personal with some of the sheep.

the sheep are happy to get lettuce

Even though I forgot the eggs, I still stood in line to buy some extra pints of blueberries and cherries. The berry season in Maryland is tragically brief and you have to get the good stuff while you can. I picked up blueberries from Giant and Harris Teeter to tide me over between CSA pickups, and they just didn’t compare. I don’t know what goes into these Maryland blueberries, but they’re ten times sweeter and more delicious than anything in the stores. People, get yourselves out to the farmer’s markets and get those blueberries while you can.

We did pretty well eating the food from last week, too. The lettuce and cucumber went into salad, the kale got baked into chips, the yellow squash went on skewers on the grill, the mushrooms and potatoes accompanied K’s fabulous cast-iron steak, and I boiled the eggs for quick afternoon snacks at work. We finally got around to eating the green beans with lunch today.

(Quick green bean treatment: rinse, trim the ends, toss with olive oil and seasonings (I like salt, pepper, garlic powder), put in microwave-safe bowl and microwave two minutes; remove bowl and give the beans a toss. If you think they’re done (that is, if you like your beans crunchy), stop there; if not, microwave one more minute at a time until done, checking as you go. There are other ways to prepare green beans, but this is the quickest I’ve found by far.)

I’ve also been making good use of the toaster oven in this heat. Almost everything does well in the toaster oven.

toaster oven cooking

Swiss chard tuna salad

I had some Swiss chard from week 1, with gorgeous dark pink stems, and used them in Farmgirl Susan’s recipe for Swiss Chard Tuna Salad. She mixes the chard leaves into the tuna salad, and chops up the stems and uses them like celery. I figured it would be a nice way to appreciate the chard without having to cook it down.

Changes: I used cilantro instead of Italian parsley (I really meant to buy parsley; I just grabbed the cilantro instead), reduced the amount of green onion (ten stalks, really?) and I used 5-oz cans of tuna instead of 6-oz.

It’s good on a piece of toasted sourdough bread.

I like it, but the olive flavor is really strong. If I make this again, I’ll reduce the number of olives, or at least take out the bit where she adds two extra teaspoons of the olive brine. The mixture was pretty watery, too, which might be because I didn’t use enough tuna. Still, it’s a pretty tasty way to eat chard.

(Related story: I tried to share this recipe with a friend and fellow CSA subscriber who was underwhelmed with his chard, which he had simply sauteed. He said, “It sounds good, but my wife doesn’t like olives.”

“That’s okay,” I said, “I don’t think the recipe really needs the olives anyway.”

“And I don’t like canned tuna,” he said. “When I make a tuna salad, I put all sorts of stuff into it to disguise the canned tuna taste… sriracha sauce, mustard, lots of pepper…”

I gave up. “Forget it. Between you and your wife, you’d ruin this recipe.”)

summer CSA, week 2

This week’s CSA pickup from Breezy Willow: a pound of kale, a head of lettuce, four little broccoli crowns, two cucumbers, a pound of green beans, a pound of yellow squash, a bag of button mushrooms, two pounds of small red potatoes, and BLUEBERRIES. Oh, and eggs and bread (parmesan sourdough).

week 2 CSA pickup

The blueberries were the first to go. Usually I don’t mind splitting our share with our friends, but I was pretty sad to say goodbye to half that pint of blueberries. They were plump, sweet, and tasty… and now they’re all gone. Maybe I’ll find some more at the farmer’s markets.

I’m happy to see broccoli crowns and little red potatoes again, too, because what I did with them last week was so delicious that I wanted to make it again. Basically I cut the potatoes into quarters, cut the broccoli into small pieces (after peeling the tough outer fiber off the stem), and tossed both of them in olive oil with generous amounts of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then I scattered the pieces over two foil-lined trays and put them in the oven at 400 degrees. I took the broccoli out when the florets turned dark green and just a little crisped, and took the potatoes out a bit later when they looked browned around the edges. While they were cooking, I fried up a salmon patty (from a Costco tube of frozen patties made from wild-caught Alaskan salmon; they’re delicious). I split the salmon patty between the two of us. Total time to dinner: about twenty minutes.

weeknight dinner

in which I go on at length about faraway food

I spent the last week and a half traveling, so I missed the first week of the CSA. Sorry, folks. We split our share with another couple, so they took care of the CSA last week. I forgot to ask them to take a picture. From what I hear, though, the pickup involved mostly root vegetables and a metric ton of lettuce greens. When we got back, they were able to give us some potatoes, radishes, beets, and chard — I’m thinking of roasting the potatoes, pickling the radishes and beets, and trying Farmgirl Susan’s recipe for Tuna Salad with Swiss Chard. I’ll let you guys know how it goes.

But let me tell you about the food I encountered on my travels, because some things are just too good not to share. This is a week and a half of pent-up food blogging, so brace yourselves; this is going to get long…

Continue reading