Sunday, April 19, 2015

Everything is better with BACON!

So I'm still suffering from CSA box bareness.  The box is pretty empty this week but I did get some turnip.  I love turnip.  Even if you don't, everything is better with bacon....

I cooked my lovely dish with a side of roasted rabbit.  Rabbit is fairly common in our meat share.  I was a bit skeptical to begin with but if Jacques Pepin cooks it, it must be good.  And it is!  If rabbit doesn't  float your boat or you can't find any, chicken legs would work great here.  Let's make this into dinner!

Roast Rabbit Legs with Mustard Maple Tarragon

Preheat the oven to 350F
Mix together the following:
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Maple Syrup
  • Dried Tarragon
Sear the rabbit legs in an oven proof pan (cast iron works great!). Turn them over and smear the mustard mix over them.  Pop the pan in the oven and cook until a meat thermometer reaches 160F.  About and hour or so depending on the size of your legs.

Turnip and Bacon with Mushrooms and Greens
  • 1 large turnip or 2 small (smaller are easier to cut)
  • 2 slices of thick bacon, use more if your bacon is thin
  • 1 medium onion
  • 6 - 8 mushrooms, I used cremini
  • 2 -3 handfuls of greens, I used spinach
  • a little salt and pepper to taste

  1. While the rabbit cooks, peel and cut the turnip into 1/2 inch chunk.  Get the turnip in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Cook until just tender with a fork, about 15 minutes.
  2. Dice the bacon into 1/4 inch chunks
  3. Put the bacon in a deep saucepan with 1 -2 inch sides and a cover.  But don't cover it yet!
  4. Saute the bacon until it's almost crisp
  5. Add in the onions and cook until tender and translucent
  6. Add in the mushrooms and cook until soft.
  7. Once the turnip is tender, drain it and add to the pan with the bacon mix
  8. Cover and turn to low until almost ready to serve.
  9. Right before serving toss in the spinach and cook until wilted.


If you like you can deglaze the pan the rabbit cooked in with some white wine and cream and toss it into the turnip mix.  Yum!

A pan of sauce and a pan of turnip!

The finished dish.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I eat, therefore I garden. (and make Roasted Cabbage!)

I love my CSA but this time of year the CSA box can be kinda bare.  Hold on.  Do you know what a CSA is? I realized in my last post I didn’t explain so let me take the time to do so now.  It’s formally known as Community Shares Agriculture or a farm share.  Instead of the farm having to rely on commercial/corporate methods to get its products to market, it sells directly to the consumer.  What makes the CSA different than going to a farmers market is that we consumers commit to buying from the farm.  We buy a share in the farm!  We get a weekly delivery of whatever the farm is producing for a set price, no matter what happens.  There is risk in that if the farm has a bad year then so do you.  The extra plus is that because we “own” shares in the farm we are welcome to visit and even work on the farm if we like. 

My shares are with Taproots which is in the beautiful Annapolis Valley here in Nova Scotia Canada and they are in the process of becoming totally organic certified.  They have a couple of different farm shares you can participate in, a veggie share, fruit share, meat share, egg share and flower share.  The veggie and fruit shares come in two sizes, one smaller for 1-2 people and one larger for 4-5 people.  The flower share only runs for 10 weeks in the summer but helps the farm ensure biodiversity.  And they’re pretty! 

For the last 2 years I’ve had a small veggie, small fruit and meat share.  This year, since I have a freezer full of fruit, I’m getting a small veggie, meat, egg and flower share.  They also do a “Full Monty” which is everything the farm produces.  I may have to consider that next year but I’m worried it will be too much veg and fruit.  As I mentioned last post, I’m also looking to do some growing myself this year.  I’ll never be able to grow enough to replace my CSA which is not my objective anyway.  I love the idea of knowing where my food comes from but also watching to grow.  My CSA combined with my garden will do just that!

My criteria for garden planning was to pick plants that I don’t get enough of in my CSA, should mostly do well in containers and be hardy for my damp cool climate.  The seeds needed to be direct sow since I lack the space to properly start seedlings indoors.  I am also looking to overwinter and/or cold frame garden into the winter (preferably right through it but I’m not delusional).  I’ve got some non-GMO seed, mostly certified organic to grow mustard greens, spinach, lettuces, swiss chard, peas, zucchini, eggplant, runner beans, kohlrabi and herbs of all sorts.  I’m in the process of getting my deck rebuilt and extended, same for the patio below it as I mentioned in my last post.  But get this… the contractor figures he’ll be done in 2 weeks!  That’s before planting season really begins!!  And the contractor saved whatever wood was salvageable for planters and raised bed.  Reuse!

Current state of my back yard.  The dogs love it...
My CSA box was pretty small this week but I did make a great recipe from something in it that I wanted to share.  Cheap, cheap, cheap and easy!  Roasted Cabbage.  This is not your mother’s cabbage.  It can be quite tasty when not boiled to death.  And a great local green in the dead of winter…

Roasted Cabbage.
·         ½ a large cabbage, sliced in ½ in slices
·         Olive oil, to coat pan and toss with cabbage
·         1-2 tsp dried thyme
·         A smidge of salt and pepper
·         2 cups of grated cheddar or any cheese of your liking.  I used part cheddar and part Monterey jack.

1.       Preheat oven to 350F
2.       Grease a 9X13 in pan, a lasagna pan
3.       Toss sliced cabbage with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper
4.       Layer in the pan
5.       Cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes
6.       Sprinkle with the cheese and cook another 5-7 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Back from my sabbatical

Ok, I wasn't really on sabbatical.  I can't believe it's been over 2 years since I posted last.  My joy for cooking hasn't waned, I just didn't need to talk about it.  I've been busy, working and living and enjoying a weekly CSA delivery.  But more about that in a minute. 

I needed to take some time to redefine my relationship with food.  I've always had a love of cooking going way back to being a latchkey kid who watched Jacques and Julia after school.  And I always had a love of healthy eating.  But somewhere along the way I went off in a whole gourmet, overindulging, overdoing it direction.  I got bored in life so I focused on the fun and joy in the kitchen.  About 2 years ago I got back the joy in my life so food no longer needed to provide me with that level of fulfillment.  Oh don't get my wrong, I can still whip up a gourmet meal.  They just tend to be lighter and simpler.  I still love to cook and eat well but my focus has changed.  It's back to healthy first and foremost.  We're talking about fueling the human body after all!

Now about that CSA.  It  has changed my relationship with my food supply.  Once you've experienced local, in-season food, year round, you'll never look back!  I am thrilled to see the local farmers markets becoming more and more popular even if in the dead of winter the local produce is scarce.  But it's hard to have local produce year round in this climate (it's cold people. very cold.  and snowy. lots of snow) so I have to supplement a bit at the grocery store and I did freeze a lot this past summer.  I have kale, turnip greens, stinging nettles all cooked and frozen, ready to pop into dishes.  I also get meat in my CSA.  Local, pasture raised, animals that I can go see anytime I want, the farm encourages it's members to stop by anytime.  And I have.  I've met the pork we're eating.  This year's CSA, which starts this week, we're also getting eggs.  Happy hen eggs!  We go through a lot of eggs in our house, always keeping a couple of boiled eggs in the fridge for quick, healthy snacks. 

Ok, I'm going to come clean.... This past weekend I went to boil 4 eggs, my usual Sunday morning chore.  I put them in the pot and put the pot on the stove.  I always listen carefully because to make the perfect hard boiled egg you should put the eggs and water in the pot, covering the eggs, put the lid on the pot, bring it to a boil and remove it from the burner, set the timer for 15 minutes while letting it sit.  Once your timer dings rinse them in cold water.  Tada!  Perfectly hard boiled eggs.  But you need to pull them off the burner as soon as they start to boil.  This is what you must listen for.  Well this weekend I heard a pop.  Did you notice the 3rd line above?  I put them in the pot and put the pot on the stove.... I forgot the water.  So when you put eggs in the pot with no water they pop and ooze out into the hot pot, cooking right onto said pot.  It was a lovely mess. 

In keeping with my love of local, I've developed a strong desire to grow more of my own.  I've always loved to garden but I really bought the yard for the dogs.  I've been watching British Cook and Author Nigel Slater as he his visits to his own garden and also local allotments (why don't we do more of these in Canada??).  I'm inspired by how much one can grow in small spaces.  So this year I'm going to garden around the dogs.  Containers, around deck posts, along the side of my house that's outside the dog yard....  I'm also getting my deck and patio rebuilt and my yard graded so I'm going to be dealing with delays to getting my garden set up.  I'm hoping to garden well into the winter.  Hoping.  We'll see! 

My seed order arrived just before Easter.  However the weather is not the slightest bit interested in cooperating....
Not a great picture but you get the idea of what my backyard is like at the moment.
How Canadian kids hang out.

It also snowed yesterday.  April 7th.  I can't even talk about it.  But once I get things growing under that snow in cold frames all that snow won't bother me one bit!