Organic watermelon radishes from Hairston Creek Farm

Thursday, July 7, 2011

On the road

It is difficult for us to travel. Whenever we stop to eat, wether on the road or the hotel, nothing compares to the food we eat at home. We are on the way to Wisconsin and are already looking forward to checking out the local farmers markets so we can stock up on real food. I only wish real whole foods were not so elusive in this country so that we did not have to always travel with a cooler!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Fruit has been a long time since I posted. Sports have finally ended for the season, school is out, and Saturdays are once again perfect to go to the Farmers Market. We have been the last three weekends and the bounty is incredible! It would not seem so with the drought and the heat but these conditions must be ideal for I have never seen so much harvest. This weekend we got a gigantic watermelon and several super-sweet cantaloupes from Orange Blossom Farm. We have been enjoying them all week as a side. We also got eggplant and prepared our favorite recipe Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches with Red Onion and Aioli with eggplant and red onions from Johnson's Backyard. Tonight we will be eating Grilled Portobello, Bell Pepper, and Goat Cheese Sandwiches for dinner with mushrooms from Texas Pride, bell peppers from Johnson's Backyard, and goat cheese from Pure Luck Farms. I don't know why because I should know better but once again I am surprised by how much cheaper it is to buy our food at the market. The reason? No matter how expensive it is to produce organic food, loading up on mainly local fruits, vegetables, and cheeses will always be cheaper than eating processed foods and/or expensive meats. Make a point this weekend to visit your local Farmers Market!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cast Iron ROCKS!

I know I might be the last person on the planet to buy a cast iron skillet but I was one of those people brainwashed into believing that cooking with non-stick was better for me. You see, 11 years ago, after I had my last baby, I had some pounds to lose. I bought an issue of Cooking Light and made the decision to start cooking my own meals. Most Cooking Light recipes call for non-stick cookware so that is what I bought and used.

In the last few years and one at a time, I have made several changes that I believe are for the better (for my family and the planet). First our family started recycling what was picked up in our neighborhood (aluminum, paper, #1 and #2 plastics). Then we moved to recycling everything we could, even if we had to drive it to a recycling center (glass, #3-7 plastics, styrofoam). Then we started making decisions about what we bought based on the packaging (not buying products in non-recyclable or non-degradable containers when we could). We don't buy any conventional products if possible. We garden organically. But here we were, still cooking with non-stick cookware!

Last month, I decided to make one more change: switch over to cast iron. I just can't believe that it took me this long! In the past week I have made several amazing dishes using ingredients from our local farms, of course, all in my new cast iron pots. Cleaning has NEVER been so easy and the dishes have been awesome. I am including one of my favorites here, from Cooking Light, which in this case actually called for a cast iron skillet. Note: I used what I had on hand. Substituted corn for lima beans, tomatoes for tomatillos, and I used Bison from Thunder Heart Bison farm instead of beef:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bison at Cedar Park Farms to Market

Soccer season has started (and so has baseball season) and unfortunately for me that means I have to spend less time writing about what I am finding at the local farmers market so that I can find some time to actually cook it. However, I had to at least make the time today to mention a couple of the wonderful recipes that I have made in the past couple of weeks using the local ingredients that you can find at the market during February, one of those which, fortunately for us, is bison.

I usually have stock in my freezer but last week I spent all day roasting the two fresh chickens that I got from 6J Ranch and ran out of steam before I made the stock. I had thawed the ground bison meat that I got last weekend from Thunder Heart Bison (Cedar Park Farmers Market) and for dinner tonight I had to come up with a recipe that did not need stock, so I cooked a 'Bison Picadillo' and served it rolled up in warm whole wheat tortillas. Here is the recipe:

2 tsp olive oil
1 lb ground bison
1/2 lb potatoes, cubed small
1 can Muir Glenn tomatoes with chiles
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp sea salt
whole wheat tortillas

Boil potatoes for about 5-8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until soft; add bison, crumble, and cook until browned. Add cumin, chipotle, salt, and tomatoes. Cook until most liquid evaporates. Add cooked potatoes until warmed. Add some picadillo to center of each tortilla and roll up. Enjoy!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ground meat is easy to find at the farmer's market. We normally stick to chicken but last weekend we bought 2lbs of ground sirloin from 6J Ranch and a couple of days ago I took it out of the freezer so that I could cook it today. I wanted something easy and found a recipe for Sloppy Joes from Cooking Light. It was hard to get my daughter to eat it because she does not have fond memories from the Sloppy Joes that they serve at school. I assured her this recipe would be different and she agreed to try it. She ended up having 3 servings! Other delicious recipes we made this week are:

Roasted Beet Pizza (Cooking Light - we used regular and golden beets from Hairston Creek Farm)
Easy Pickled Beets (Cooking Light - regular and golden beets from Hairston Creek Farm)

Creamy Broccoli Soup (Real Simple - we used the romanesco cauliflower from Johnson's Backyard in place of the broccoli - see picture).
I could not find the link to this recipe but have included it here:

1 tbs olive oil
1 med onion chopped
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (we used chicken stock we made last week)
1 bunch broccoli, florets roughly chopped, stems peeled and sliced (we used cauliflower)
1 large russed potato (we used potatoes from Johnson's Backyard)
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 oz sharp white cheddar, grated

  • Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, untsil the onion is soft.
  • Add the broth, broccoli, potato, 2 cups water, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are very tender, 18 to 20 minutes.
  • Puree soup until smooth.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mid-week is hard if you don't calculate correctly how much produce you will need for the week. If we buy too much, we will waste food (and we sometimes do) because produce is perishable. Lately, we have been trying harder to get less so as to avoid waste. However, when we don't buy enough, then we run out of choices for dinner in the middle of the week unless we are willing to run to the store to get more food, which we are trying to avoid. Yesterday, I had a chicken that I could roast for dinner but not much else to go with it since we had run out of vegetables (except for a few carrots and some celery). I needed to make the dinner substantial since my kids had soccer practice and would be very hungry when they got home. After ransacking the pantry and with the help of some dry staples, we ended up having a delicious healthy dinner and had to share the menu (All Cooking Light recipes - follow the links for the recipes):

Lemon-Rosemary Chicken (We made it without the potatoes as we did not have any)
Drop Biscuits (Very, very easy recipe; biscuits are made in a muffin pan)

The Chicken was from the Cedar Park farmer's market and the rosemary from my garden; the milk was from Whole Foods but was from Texas cows :-). I saved a couple of cups of shredded chicken from the roast so that I could make something for dinner tonight. I made Chicken Noodle Soup with the help of the few carrots and celery I had and some stock that I had made with the bones from a couple of chickens we had eaten a few weeks ago. Of course, I froze the bones from this week's chicken so that I can make stock this weekend when I have more time.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Where is the fruit?

A little disappointment settled in when we realized that we would not be able to eat as much fruit if we stuck with our commitment to buy mostly local, seasonal foods. Although we might face weakness in the bleak months of winter when we walk through the produce section at Whole Foods (e.g., when we see the kiwi or pineapple), for now, disappointment has been replaced with the awesome realization that citrus fruits are plentiful during this time here in Texas. The past couple of weekends we have walked out of the farmers market with bags of these orange-like fruits from Orange Blossom Farm that are so sweet and delicious, even our daughter, who has never really liked oranges, eats two or more a day. I can't remember the varieties we bought but I promise that two weekends from now I will post the variety.

For now, I am including here a link to a favorite ice cream recipe. In my versions, I usually replace the mint with lavender, sage, or rosemary (see the lavender ice cream picture to the right) and the dairy with coconut milk since I am lactose intolerant. Today, I took a leap of faith and replaced the herb with left-over peel from all the citrus fruit we have been eating. The result was a creamy ice cream with a very good, yet subtle orange flavor:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Weekend bounty

Having a farmers market in Cedar Park has been a tremendous help as we no longer have to travel 30-40 minutes to get our produce. As a result, it has been easier to make it to the market every weekend and still have plenty of time to enjoy the local bounty! Tonight, the menu included Goat Cheese and Beet sandwiches, which was a big hit with the family, including the kids (the recipe is for an appetizer; I simply used the same ingredients to make the sandwiches). The Goat cheese was from Swede Dairy Farm and the Beets were from Hairston Creek Farm; I served the sandwiches with a side of Swiss Chard with Garlic and Oregano (another big hit!) and some salad greens, both from from Johnson's Backyard. It was such a good feeling to realize that we seem to be on the right track again!

The bread, unfortunately was not local but it is my plan to start making bread again this week. That is, as soon as I get some whole wheat flour, of which I am out. However, I did not see Richardson's Farm at the market and they are the only ones I know sell local flour so I must investigate!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In Season - Cauliflower

We got two beautiful cauliflower heads from Johnson's Backyard (one was green, the other cheddar) and wanted to do something different than simply roast them. We made this recipe from Cooking Light (click on the link) and served it with a side salad. It was a big hit with everyone, including the kids who said it tasted like mac & cheese: