Refreshing Cucumber Drink — Two Ways

The first summer that we got a farm box from Genesis Growers, it was the summer of the cabbage.  It felt like we were getting cabbage week after week after week.  I had to get creative to figure out uses for cabbage night after night.  Since then, I’ve cataloged cabbage recipes in preparation.  However, almost disappointingly,  this summer has not been the summer of the cabbage.  Instead, it has been the summer of the cucumber…beautiful fresh cucumbers.  And we just haven’t been able to keep up with them.

To quickly keep up with the cucumbers each week, I have made two different cucumbers smoothie recipes.  The first is not very pretty, but it was darn good and a great way to get my vegetables in the morning.   I found the idea on Joy The Baker and blended together frozen strawberries, almond milk, and a whole cucumber.  It wasn’t very sweet, but it hit the spot that morning.

My second cucumber drink was icier and more refreshing.  I found the idea somewhere online, but can’t remember where right now (call it “Tired Mommy Syndrome”).  I blended together lots of ice, 1 whole cucumber, honey and lime juice.  Voila!  Instant icy treat to wash down our meal.

Now I am prepared for our next influx of cucumbers.  When I just can’t get to them in time, I’ll be ready with some quick ideas to make my veggie drinkable.

I drank it before I could take a picture…frothy and soothing

Cool and refreshing on a hot summer’s day

WOULD I MAKE THIS AGAIN? Yes, and I have already.

FOR NEXT TIME: Use a bit more honey if not feeding to baby, makes it more palatable for the hubby.

WHAT DID BABY THINK? She tried the Strawberry Cucumber Almond Milk Smoothie.  After a few seconds, I realized that I shouldn’t have given it to her since I hadn’t given her nuts yet and I remembered there was almond milk in it, but luckily she was fine.  She thought it was really fun to drink and kept smiling.


Cabbage + Sausage

On this particular weeknight, I was exhausted and it was HOT outside.  I did not want to spend much time standing at the stove.  But…there was a head of cabbage in the fridge that needed to be cooked up.  Two summers ago when we first got our CSA farm box from Genesis Growers, we got so much cabbage that we were “cabbaged” out by the end of the season.  I tried SO MANY CABBAGE recipes and even found a few favorites (like this one), but none were calling to me that night (certainly not one of my many recipes for cabbage + white bean soup).  I needed something fast and easy.  I decided to try Farmer Vicki’s suggestion from her weekly email about the farm box to cook cook up the cabbage with onion and sausages.

I don’t make meat very often, usually about once/week and never more than twice/week.  I keep Kosher meat frozen in the freezer and pull it out when needed.  Lucky for us, I had some frozen Romanian garlic sausages and pulled two out for the quick meal.

Ingredients:

1 onion, halved then sliced into rounds

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 garlic sausages, sliced into rounds

Half head green cabbages, sliced into small pieces

Method:

1. Sautee onion, garlic, and sausage together in a pan.  You do not need much oil–as you brown the sausage the fat will be released.

2. Add cabbage to the pan and cook until soft.

See….really really easy! I sometimes surprise myself when I make such an easy meal.  I served this with corn from the farm box–some of the best corn I have ever eaten!

Chopped cabbage

Onion, Garlic + Sausage

Add the cabbage

Corn with Cabbage + Sausage

WOULD I MAKE THIS AGAIN?  Maybe…it is a last resort since I don’t cook with meat very often.

WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENT: I might serve this over a baked potato…that would make it more hearty.

WHAT DID BABY THINK? She didn’t get to try it, it was eaten and finished while she was sleeping.


Creamy Pesto Pasta

I don’t cook pasta very often, so it seems funny to me to post a two pasta dishes in a row.  I didn’t actually cook them two nights in a row…I think they were about two weeks apart.

We could smell the bushel of basil as soon as we got the vegetables home.  I love the aroma of basil and it was calling out to me all week.  “Make pesto,” it said.  When I saw some leftover heavy cream in the fridge, I knew what I had to do.  My very favorite restaurant dish from my childhood at Semolina’s Restaurant in New Orleans–creamy pesto bow ties.

Semolina’s was always a special treat and remember going most often with my high school friends.  We would fill up on soft French bread and garlic butter, but leave enough space to lick up the bowl of creamy pesto.  I don’t remember ever eating dessert there, we were always way too full.  So, sometimes when I want to head back to that place I like to mix my pesto with cream.

Ingredients:

1 bunch fresh basil

2 cloves garlic

High quality extra virgin olive oil

Handful Parmesan cheese

8 oz mushrooms (sliced)

Heavy cream (I used about 3/4 cup, but you can use what you like; half + half would also work here)

Bow tie pasta

Fresh tomato

Instructions:

Step 1: Make the pesto, by pulsing the basil, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan in food processor.  I dropped the cheese straight into the dish.

Step 2: While cooking the pasta, sautee mushrooms in butter.  After the mushrooms are soft, add the pesto and cream sauce to combine.

Step 3:  Drain pasta and coat with pesto cream sauce.  Incorporate fresh tomatoes.

Pasta, salad, and bread

Yum!

WOULD I MAKE THIS AGAIN? Absolutely.

TIPS FOR NEXT TIME: Fresh tomatoes are a great addition!  Semolina’s always had a tomato sauce, but the fresh tomatoes were a perfect compliment to the cream.  Remember to make garlic butter for the bread.

WHAT DID BABY THINK? She ate this up.  She especially loved the mushrooms and tomatoes.


This Blogging Thing is Hard

I love reading my favorite blogs and I get excited when I see that new posts are up.  How do they do it?  Some people make posts multiple times a day with videos and photos.  It’s mind boggling!

I have diligently been taking photos for the past few weeks, but it really takes focus to set aside the time to upload my photos and write about them.  Between working full time, spending time with the baby, keeping the condo in shape, and getting all my work done at night, I just haven’t had time.  I am going to work on a system to make this happen.  I’d like to blog on CSA night–to think about my new veggies and what I’ll do for the week.  Then, I want to pick two-three meals to write about.  I need to realize that every night is just too much and choose the best of the week to post on.  I’m going to do my best to catch up on the best of the meals from the past few weeks and then I hope to get into my groove.   Wish me luck!


In-House Bakery

I’m really lucky.  Andy likes making bread…and I like eating it.  As an engineer, something about the science of measuring out the ingredients and watching it rise is really fun for him.  And I get to benefit from it!  Here is a photo of his most recent bread — a buttermilk bread using the leftover buttermilk in the fridge.  It was really tasty!  It is perfect with butter and jam.


Baby finally eats…

As someone who loves cooking, it was really exciting when my baby started eating her first solids!  Even the first purees were exciting for me.  I steamed and pureed apple, pear, squash, and peas.  She HATED the peas (I mean, would you like to eat mushy peas?), but gobbled everything else up.  Now that we are onto chewing, making her food has gotten so much more fun.  With our farm box, I get new vegetables every week to cook up for her.  Last week, we got some adorable small summer squashes.  I peeled them, chopped into small pieces, and sauteed in olive oil with garlic from Henry’s Farm at the Evanston farmer’s market and dried oregano from our spring farm box.  The result?  Perfect FINGER food for Baby N to munch on.

Summer squash!

Cooking the squash with garlic and oregano

Making Nava’s food for the week ahead of time! Steamed carrots, cooked squash, and white bean rosemary spread.


A Beautiful Green

Swiss chard can compete for most beautiful vegetable.  The vibrant, brightly colored stalks always pleasantly surprise me when I pull them out.  Not many other vegetables have the same range of hues–pinks, reds, yellow, dark green.  Swiss chard is one of those vegetables that always seduces me at the farmer’s market–I buy it for the color…who doesn’t like pretty vegetables?

For my precious Swiss chard, I chose a recipe from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now. I love this cookbook–I courted it from the library for about three months before giving in and buying it.  It follows the year month by month and provides seasonal recipes.  Basically, it is a one-stop shop for creative delicious recipes for my farm box.  The “Bulgur Pilaf with Swiss Chard and Dried Apricots” is a Turkish-inspired recipe with a surprising flavor.

I had never cooked bulgur before, but was excited to give it a try.  As soon as I tasted it, I realized why I had never cooked it before.  I don’t like bulgur.  Or to be more precise, I thought I didn’t like bulgur.  I think I have had one too many bad taboulis at Middle Eastern restaurants.  This freshly cooked bulgur with cinnamon and apricots was superb.  I even put some of the grain mixture aside for the baby to eat, which she happily gobbled up all week.

Bulgur “Pilaf” with Swiss Chard and Dried Apricots

From Cook This Now by Melissa Clark

1 cup bulgar

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup roughly chopped raw pistachios (I used pine nuts)

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped (I used the onion that was in my farm box that week)

1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves chopped (I kept some stems, too pretty to trash)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Freshly squeezed lemon juice or pomegranate molasses (I used the molasses, what else am I using it for?)

1. Bring pot of salted water to boil. Add the bulgur and cinnamon and cook for about 9 minutes.  Add the apricots and cook until bulgur is tender.  Drain well and discard the cinnamon.  (I accidentally cooked for too long, but it worked out fine…the water just evaporated).

Bulgur + Cinnamon

2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter.  Add the nuts, cumin, and some salt.  Cook, stirring until golden brown.  Transfer to a bowl.  (I usually don’t waste time by transferring to a separate bowl, but this was well worth the extra step).

Following the directions to use butter

3. Wipe out the skillet (yes, still worth the extra time) with a paper towel.  Return it to medium heat and add oil, garlic, and shallot.  Add the charge, the remaining salt, and cook until chard is wilted.  Melissa Clark says this should take about 3 minutes, but it took closer to 10 for my chard.  Stir in the bulgur mixture and the nuts.  Toss over heat until warmed through.  Transfer to plates and drizzle.  Top with a fried egg to make it a full meal.

Lovely looking vegetable

Didn’t I say it was lovely

Adding pomegranate molasses to the dish

With egg on top!