Sunday, October 5, 2008

Keeping up with it all

I've definitely not been having an easy time keeping up with everything: This blog, the CSA veggies, my own tomatoes, all have been neglected. At least the blog doesn't turn brown, gather fruit flies or start smelling funny if I neglect it for a while!

I at least got in and cleared out my tomato jungle yesterday. By the time I was done, there were more vines pulled out than left in, but what was left had a number of still potentially viable tomatoes still on the vine, so we'll get the last of that harvest. We've not been eating at home as much as we should. I'm still eating mostly local foods when we do - that's a lot easier to do when that's mostly what you have in the house! The last dinner I fixed was chicken from The Farm, spaghetti squash from Community Organics, and salad from Swallow Acres and Community Organics. Unfortunately, the last dinner I ATE was from "Fish On," though it was seriously yummy.

In these crazy financial times, I want to put in another plug for MoneyNing. I subscribe to this blog by email since he does a good job of explaining what's going on nationally and globally, and has good suggestions on what we can do individually. I'm hoping to win a Starbucks card from them; I can't cost-justify Starbucks normally, so this would be such a lovely treat! I probably wouldn't get something prepared there, though - this would be my excuse to get some good teas and coffees for home.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Eggplant pepper spread yumminess

Take the eggplants (stems removed) and sweet peppers (seeds and stems removed) from my CSA that are starting to look not-so-good (which still leaves a whole bunch that still look good, with more arriving this week) and toss them into the oven at 350 until they collapse.

Take several large cloves of garlic from the CSA and run it through the mini food processor with some olive oil until thoroughly smushed.

Scrape the innards out of the eggplant and do a token removal of skin from the peppers. Toss all the good stuff into the food processor. Add some salt to taste.

Eat large quantities of this with crackers while dicking around online since it's too damn hot to do all that much outside (I already gathered another large vat of tomatoes and did a bunch of weeding) and I'm using BabyGrand napping as my excuse for not doing much inside (I am doing laundry though).

Nom nom nom nom nom.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Supporting local businesses

Sometimes it's not just about consuming things that are grown here. I've started also being very conscious about supporting locally produced goods, and locally-owned businesses. And no, that's NOT just an excuse to continue to drink Dogfish Head Beer! ::grin::

I just discovered one online today that has me squealing with Cute Overload:, which makes hand-painted baby and toddler shoes and accessories. With BG's shoe fetish and bug obsession, I definitely see a pair of Ladybug Mary Janes in her future. It's a mama-run small business, which of course makes it even more special.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Local leftovers

I just commented to someone on twitter about this blog, then thought to myself that with the chaos of the start of the semester, I'm really not doing all that well with local eating.

Then I looked down at what I was eating: Leftover mashed potatoes made with local potatoes, local milk, and butter made by one of my farmer friends from raw milk from pastured cows purchased from just one state over, topped with leftover sauce from another meal that is made primarily from local tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and tomatillos. The only things not local in this meal are the salt, pepper, olive oil and onions.

And around 75% of last night's dinner was tomatoes from my own garden. Tomatoes that I am, in fact, practically drowning in, as many rot on the vine because I can't pick them fast enough and most get tossed into the freezer since I can't eat what I pick fast enough. Yesterday I picked at least two gallons of tomatoes. What really cracked me up was when my CSA, to try and make up for accidentally selling my melon from last week's share, included extra tomatoes this week. Gaaaaaaaaaah!!

That's all pretty damned good, I think, for being in that time of year when I don't feel like I have two minutes to think about what I'm going to eat. And it fits perfectly into my primary goal, which is to get to the point where local eating isn't something I'm making a deliberate effort to do, it's just automatically what I'm doing.

Except tomorrow night, when I'll be dogging pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw and french fries, plus perhaps a brew or two: I'm taking Elder Granddaughter, who is so very excited to see a presidential candidate whose skin is close to her own light coppery cafe au lait color, to the biggest local party for watching Obama's acceptance speech. I'm counting (obviously) on an Obama win this November, and I want her to have lots of distinct high-energy memories of this historical moment: I want her to be in her fifties, talking about her memories of where she was and what she was doing, first when Obama was nominated then when he was elected. Some things are far more important than local eating.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Imam Bayildi

I lived in Turkey for most of the time I was in high school (waaaay back in the early 70's), and there was so much to love about that country including the food. I haven't eaten eggplant for a couple of decades because for a while it was doing nasty things to me even with one bite, but I was getting so much from my CSA (plus my reactions to other foods had changed so much) that I decided to try fixing something.

I remembered one eggplant dish that I particularly loved, that would also address our over-abundance of tomatoes, and thanks to Binnur's Turkish Cookbook recipe blog, I finally found it and was reminded of its name: Imam Bayildi, or "The Imam Fainted."

I used his recipe as inspiration but made some changes, some intended some not.

First I sliced open two small round eggplants , cut strips of peel from the outside including one carefully planned to help the halves lay flat, and then salted them all and let them sit for about a half-hour.

I sauteed up ann onion in a bunch of good olive oil, then added a bunch of chopped tomato and crushed garlic plus a big spoonful of sugar, and set it to simmer. When it was reduced, I took it out of the pan (my Granny's deep cast iron "chicken pan") and added more chopped tomato since I wanted some chunkiness. I washed out the pan, added more olive oil, then sauteed the eggplant on all sides (rinsed and squeezed it out first, of course). I then took the eggplant sections and did my best to create an opening in them -- part by cutting them open, part by scooping out seeds, part by just mushing around the insides. I set them back into the pan (which still had the olive oil) and then spooned the tomato mixture into them. I then added some water (about 1/4") to the pan on top of the oil, turned the heat to low, covered the pan, and just let it cook for around an hour.

Oh. My. God. It was SOOOOOOO good. You're supposed to serve it cold or at room temp, but I couldn't resist taking a few bites while they were still hot, but it really was even better once it had cooled down. And my stomach didn't complain about the eggplant either so I guess my system is ok with them again!

I very highly recommend it for anyone faced with excess eggplant and tomatoes!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

This is a challenging time of year for me

Gardens - my own and our CSA's - are going gangbusters, we just got back from 10 days in California and so we're seriously backlogged, our garden is bombarding us with tomatoes. And on top of this, I'm back to work getting ready for the start of the semester which often puts me in a place where I barely have time to grab fries and a milkshake from Hardee's.

But I'm hanging in there. Today, having no other ideas for dealing with too many eggplants and tomatoes, I made a favorite food from my teenage-years in Turkey: Imam Bayildi, or eggplant slow roasted in olive oil and stuffed with onions, garlic, and lots of very fresh tomatoes. I'm a little nervous: I haven't eaten eggplant in many years because it consistently does not like me at all. But so far so good.

It's so delicious, I need to get some more.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back to real [Married!] life!

We're back home, and after over a week of indulging in the exquisite food that is offered in the foodie-heaven of the San Francisco Bay area, it's definitely time to get back on track. We have a couple weeks of CSA foods to catch up on (though much is getting tossed into the freezer) plus the tomatoes are going gangbusters, so a whole lot of those are getting frozen as well. They are sooooo delicious, though; there is just nothing like a sandwich of cheese, fresh basil, a bit of onion and sweet Italian frying pepper sauteed in a really good olive oil, and super-thick slices of a perfectly ripe tomato. YUM!!

While in SF I got to dine at Chez Panisse, one of the first restaurants that proved to the world that you can have delicious gourmet-quality food that is made with local, natural, seasonal ingredients. We also went to several others that claimed to focus on local, natural ingredients, though not to the degree that Chez Panisse is famous for.

The wedding went beautifully, especially for something planned at the last minute. Some pictures are posted here, thanks to a talented friend who did it all with her toddler strapped to her back! I wish I had more pics of the front and inside of the beautiful old house, now a bed & breakfast called Noe's Nest, where we held the ceremony. You can see the garden in the pictures, and the house itself is every bit as lovely. I stayed there last year, and highly recommend it to anyone staying in the San Francisco area.

Here we are, just after having been declared legal spouses: