Friday, June 29, 2012

Jess & Nick's CSA Delivery #5 - June 28, 2012

I picked up our box of vegetables yesterday after work.  Aren't they lovely?  Especially that incredibly vibrant amaranth foliage up in the top left.  We also received our first zucchini of the season, which really makes it feel like summer.  Next are the beet greens; fennel; a gratuitous amaranth and fennel shot for color and texture contrast; onions; beet roots; and sweetheart cabbage.  We also got more snap peas and some arugula which are not pictured.

I am thinking of all the fun slaws I can make with the cabbage and fennel, and how delicious the first grilled zucchini of the season will taste.  Another idea I'm toying with involves cold, thin slices of roasted beets stacked alternatingly with goat cheese and drizzled with olive oil and fresh basil for a slightly different take on caprese salad.  And perhaps some baked callaloo just how we like it with coconut flakes and bacon.

As always, thank you Harmony Valley Farm!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 25, 2012

Weekend Morsels - June 23-24, 2012

Cheese "Pudding"

Peppered Salami

 Maple-Bacon Beer - an homage to Voodoo Doughnuts

New Blue Chairs!


It was a gorgeous weekend here in Minneapolis, and Nick and I were quite productive.  We participated in a beer tasting evening with some friends on Friday, where we enjoyed some lovely cheeses and charcuterie.  The highlight, however, was Rogue's Bacon Maple Ale.  As big fans of the Bacon Maple Bar at Voodoo Doughnut, and of Rogue Ales, we loved this brew.  It has an incredible aroma of maple and the taste is delightfully smoky.  Despite being inspired by a doughnut, this beer is not sweet, but it is strong.  We shared the bottle between four and that was all we needed.  It was good to switch to something lighter and more citrusy after this, and Hinterland's Saison fit the bill nicely. I think the Maple Bacon beer would be perfect on a crisp fall evening.

Unexpectedly, our new blue Adirondack chairs arrived this weekend.  They are designed by Loll Designs in Duluth, MN, manufactured in Duluth out of 100% recycled plastic, and can withstand all of the outdoor elements that Minnesota can throw at them.  Best of all, each has a built in bottle opener under the right arm and they are my favorite shade of blue.  I love them!

We also got to picking our first round of cherries from our Meteor Cherry tree in the front yard.  All told, we harvested about a quart, but there are more out on the tree that need a bit more time to ripen.  I'm hoping for a bumper crop and trying to decide what to use them for this year.  We will definitely do a pie, and with those remaining, perhaps another round of maraschino cherries for our beloved Old Fashioneds.  We have also been discussing the possibility of a cherry stout home brew.  We will have to wait and see how many we have to work with once the harvest is complete.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 22, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake - June 21, 2012

Fighting heat, high humidity, imminent thunderstorms, and voracious mosquitoes at my favorite U-pick farm, I picked our year's strawberry supply earlier this week.  Due to our somewhat odd spring here in Minnesota, the season was early and short.  Most of the berries were small and many were verging on over ripeness.  Despite this, I managed to haul home a solid five or so pounds of berries.  Most of these are hanging out in the freezer already, but I kept a few out so Nick and I could indulge in some seasonal berry desserts.

I made a batch of shortcakes from the recipe in my Foster's Market Cookbook.  They turned out well, with the exception of being a little flat.  It's probably time to get some new baking powder and soda for the pantry.  I've read that for best results, these should be replaced every six months or so.  That seems like such a waste, as I barely use any in that time frame.  Have any of you experimented with keeping them in the freezer?  Does that extend the shelf life at all?  I may need to do a bit of research on that topic.

Anyway, back to the shortcakes.  Filled with freshly whipped cream and topped with just-picked strawberries, this dessert is hard to beat.  We've enjoyed it the last two nights now.  The rest of the berries will likely get made into some jam, with some reserved for use in smoothies throughout the year.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Foraged Plums - June 20, 2012

Just as peach season wrapped up, we turned the Hartman house to plum central. A few weeks ago Richie discovered that some of the pretty flowering trees in front of some office buildings not far from our house were not just the typical ornamental cherries or ubiquitous Bradford pears but are actually fruit-bearing plum trees. He kept an eye on them and then when they turned ripe and started dropping onto the sidewalk in mass quantities late last week, we decided it was time to pounce. Early Saturday morning we threw a ladder, a basket, and a few canvas grocery bags into the car and came home with an astonishing 26+ pounds of fruit!

I then proceeded to spend the rest of Saturday working furiously to preserve as many as I could since they were ripening and splitting open in front of my eyes and I was about to leave on a three-day business trip Sunday morning.

Remembering the "Italian prunes" my mother used to can each summer for us to eat all winter, I put up 13 pints of whole plums in syrup. I also made two kinds of jam - one just plain fruit and the other plums with spices. 

Then this morning I made a small batch of this plum chutney that just happened to be posted on The Kitchn by the author of Food in Jars at the very moment I was looking for something else to do with the remainder of my plums! This was my first experience with chutney outside of the stuff you get at an Indian restaurant so I didn't know what to expect. I slathered some on a portion of the leftover smoked pork shoulder we did last week and stuck it between two slices of hearty bread and discovered it turned some ordinary leftovers into an amazing sandwich! I'm a chutney convert now!

We still have a few pounds of the least ripe ones left in the refrigerator and the remainder of a plum crisp I improvised Saturday night to eat, but the rest have been jammed and/or canned and added to my growing pantry stash! 

Kitchen Peak: Round 1 - June 20, 2012


As I've mentioned, the kitchen is still a work in progress, but here is the first little peak at what Nick and I have been up to.  We got new, white counter tops along with a new stainless steel sink and faucet.  I love it!  Since the counter tops are solid surface, they can support an under mount sink, which I think looks clean and streamlined while allowing me to wipe off counter crumbs directly into the sink, rather than working around that raised edge that always looked grimy.

Speaking of grimy, eek!  This is the reason we decided on a stainless steel sink.  I know they come with their own set of cleaning issues, but nothing can be as bad as the stains in the enamel sink.  A good scrub with baking soda or Bon Ami would take care of some of the issues, but in the end, that grime was pretty much permanent, especially that nasty, peeling drain spout for the food disposal.  Oh, and we got a brand new food disposal, too.  A "Badger" no less.  How could we not love that?

Here's a before and after of our faucet.  Notice the chipping and permanent black ooze around the seams.  As soon as I scrubbed that clean (with toothpicks to get into the cracks) it would just show up again.  The new faucet makes a world of difference, with it's smooth, shiny angles and curves.  It also looks more streamlined due to the under mounting, which allows the faucet to connect directly into the counter without the cover plate.

And, last for today, here's a look at the seam where the counter meets up with the wall.  Isn't that first picture charming?  Frankly, that seam frightened me.  It was cracked and black, with old paint remnants clearly visible.  It would expand and contract with extreme temperature changes, meaning that sometimes it was even more huge and gaping than usual.  For our new counters, we chose to eliminate the little three inch backboard and instead tile the back splash right down to the counter top.  It is so bright and clean now, with that smooth bead of caulk sealing everything up nice and tightly.  This might be my favorite improvement of the whole kitchen.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Prosciutto Pizza - June 15, 2012

Nick and I made up a batch of pizza this week and spread it out over a couple of nights.  We are starting to get a good crop of fresh herbs from the back yard and this is one of my favorite ways to use them.  Also making an appearance are some of the tomatoes that I canned last year.  My 12 quarts have lasted us all the way through the season and it won't be long now until we start getting this year's crop, especially if the temperatures stay up in the 90's like they've been this week!

The cast iron skillet method continues to thrill me with it's simplicity and it's dead-ringer wood-fired pizza taste.  It's perfect for those nights when the line at our favorite neighborhood pizza joint stretches around the block, which, sadly, is pretty much every night these days.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekend Morsels - June 16-17, 2012

"Princess Coffee"

Our first ripe blueberry!

More on the way

Nick and I had a relaxing weekend, free (for the most part) of house projects.  Even though the kitchen isn't done, we are at a point where we can't move forward until a couple issues are resolved.  Because of this, we opted to enjoy an unexpected little break. 

The first photo is what my coffee looks like on the weekends.  Wearing a rather large crown of milk froth studded with crystals of turbinado sugar, this concoction has been coined "Princess" coffee at our house.  Sometimes I feel like being fancy.

I excitedly picked our first ripe blueberry and noticed that a few others are on their way as well.  We planted three blueberry shrubs three years ago and this is the first harvest.  The progress has been slow and agonizing, but we finally have some fruit!  I have to be mindful that I get out there and pick these before the obnoxiously large population of chipmunks that live under our deck get their grubby little paws on them.

Speaking of shrubs, this hydrangea that I transplanted from another part of the yard is going gangbusters.  I think the puffy, white clouds of flowers look especially attractive as a backdrop to our blue Adirondack chairs.  Incidentally, Nick got me some new chairs for my birthday that are the same bright blue, but will hold up a little better in the elements.  Our current chairs, while pretty to look at, are rather unsafe to sit in due to some deterioration, which ultimately defeats the purpose of a chair.  The new chairs should arrive in about two weeks and I'm quite excited to make the switch.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 15, 2012

Jess & Nick's CSA Delivery #4 - June 14, 2012

Well, Hello there.  It's been awhile since I've been around here.  Nearly two weeks to be exact.  I guess that's what happens to a food blog during a kitchen remodelling project. It's still not completely done, and taking longer than I would have liked.  The good thing, however, is that we now have a functioning kitchen sink, dishwasher, and the stove is back in it's rightful place, so we are able to prepare meals at home again. Also, the stuff that is done looks amazing!  I promise that before and after photos are coming soon. 

Above is our latest vegetable delivery.  Since the weather was stormy and dark in Minneapolis yesterday, I didn't have the natural light that I usually photograph in.  Hopefully the photos, taken on our new counter tops for the tiniest of sneak peeks, convey the beauty of the produce.  Starting in the top left and travelling clockwise we have radish seed pods (just below the flowers are spears of spicy radish seeds); kohlrabi; greens; amaranth, or callaloo as it's known; sugar snap peas; fresh garlic; and strawberries.  Not pictured are the bag of salad greens; the romaine lettuce; and the pretty purple onions.

The delivery truck had some mechanical issues yesterday which delayed the delivery by about 3 hours.  I just wanted to give an extra heartfelt thank you to everyone for all the extra work put into yesterday's delivery.  The email updates were so helpful, the site coordinators were available for questions and concerns, and the drivers and mechanics really came through by getting the truck up and running again.  Thank you all so much for getting us these beautiful vegetables under less than ideal conditions!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 01, 2012

Hartman Garden - June 1, 2012

I can't believe I haven't posted a garden update yet since our late winter seedling start! Due to some very warm weather, I actually got all the plants in before April 1. I was a little nervous, but decided that I just couldn't pass up the chance to take advantage of the good growing conditions when temperatures were already getting up into the 80s. I figured that if we did get frost, we'd just cover the plants in the ground and bring in the containers. That wasn't necessary, as it turns out.

The containers are doing amazing, owing to their great access to sunshine. We have also done pretty well with the peas on the south side and the cucumbers and peppers I planted along that wall look promising. Can't say the same for the tomatoes and peppers that I put in the backyard. The trees, the fence, and our house just block too much of the sun.

This is the south eastern corner of the deck. We have an abundance of herbs (oregano, mint, rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley) as usual, a tomato plant in the corner, and the new addition of some self-watering "City Picker" planters that are home to an assortment of leafy greens (spinach, kale, lettuce, arugula, chard), pepper plants, and more herbs (lavender, tarragon, more parsley, more basil). These plantars are awesome! I plan on upgrading our tomatoes to these next year so I don't have to worry as much about them when we go away on vacation in the middle of summer.

Here is a tomato plant (or is it a tree?) in the opposite corner. I started three varieties inside and this is one of the beefsteaks.

The southwestern side of the deck has a few more plants as well as our patio furniture and electric grill. One of the plum tomatoes is in the corner and in the foreground is one of two basil plants that survived the transplant from their indoor start. Also you can see the top of of the peach tree. I actually do pick some of the peaches by lying down on the deck and stretching my arm out below the bottom rail. One benefit of urban gardening!

The other variety of tomatoes we started are sweet cherry tomatoes. Look how many are already here! Shouldn't be long now before I'm tasting summer!


Related Posts with Thumbnails