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Posts tagged with Groceries

Cooking away the CSA, week 22: Frosty melon chiller

Cantaloupe plus spinach plus mint equals one really cool drink.

Cantaloupe plus spinach plus mint equals one really cool drink. by Sarah Henning

Last week, we got a huge, sweet-smelling cantaloupe as part of a major CSA haul: slicing tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, hot peppers, bok choy, edamame and said cantaloupe.

In my eyes, it was the perfect variety, especially on a week that would be nuclear-hot by the end.

And, though it was a lot, I can honestly say we used everything. Making fajitas, stir-fry and keeping cool with a really delicious smoothie.

I’ve made a version of this smoothie before, but it was super hot and I felt like I needed an extra nutrient boost because I’d gone on a long run and really needed to be rehydrated with some good stuff. So, I decided to add mellow spinach to my icy-cool cantaloupe smoothie. It worked really well, and added to the green rush brought on by the mint.

Unfortunately, my mint plants have turned brown with the weather (I have faith they’ll bounce back), so I had to use mint extract instead of real leaves. I prefer real leaves, but I needed to drink something right then and I didn’t want to trudge to the store just for a few leaves.

Cool Green Cantaloupe Chiller

½ cantaloupe, chopped or spooned out of rind

2 handfuls baby spinach

Few mint leaves or drop of mint extract

2-3 ice cubes

Water, as needed

Put all ingredients in blender. Add just enough water to get above the blades. Blend. Serves 1-2.

So, what’d we get this week from Rolling Prairie? Two kinds of tomatoes, garlic, green beans, potatoes, basil, cucumber, bell peppers and cantaloupe.

Two kinds of tomatoes, garlic, green beans, potatoes, basil, cucumbers, bell peppers and cantaloupe.

Two kinds of tomatoes, garlic, green beans, potatoes, basil, cucumbers, bell peppers and cantaloupe. by Sarah Henning

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Cooking away the CSA, week 17: Travel eats

Lunch on the road.

Lunch on the road. by Sarah Henning

If you try to eat healthy, travel can pose certain problems.

Not only temptation, but just plain logistics. It turns into a sort of either/or situation: Either you eat what’s available (and it probably won’t be healthy) or you have to lug your own food on your plane/train/automobile.

Neither are very appetizing choices, to say the least. They make it very easy to just say, “To heck with this, I’m on vacation!” and leave good intentions abandoned on the roadway for a week or two.

Now, I totally succumb to the “I’m on vacation, I deserve a treat” school of thought, for sure. But I try to do as good as I can most of the time, because I don’t want to feel like crap my whole vacation, which I know I would if I just ate chocolate the whole time (which I’d totally do if I could get away with it).

And, believe me, chocolate made it into the equation every single day of our week in Colorado for this vacation. But because we were driving, I felt like I could have a little more control over what I ate on the way out there and the way back.

There, I brought a salad from The Merc, and ate it as rest of my family munched on Quiznos. Probably not totally polite, but no one seemed to care. I would’ve eaten it outside if it had not been foggy and rainy and cool (in the 60s).

The way back, I was able to do double duty in that I used up leftovers and have a pretty awesome rest stop lunch. While the boys chose to make honey and peanut butter sandwiches to have on the drive, I had a salad (above) of baby spinach, a Hilary’s Eat Well veggie burger (formerly the veggie burger at Local Burger), roasted butternut squash and nearly finished store-bought, honey-mustard dressing.

Sounds weird, but tasted great, while sitting at a picnic table in Arriba, Colo.

Before and after lunch, I also had a couple of handfuls of car-friendly trail mix, very much like the one I snuck into "Skyfall."

There was some real chocolate eating, too, because it was vacation, of course. Most notably, my mother bought the kiddo a book on the bear who broke into the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Estes Park, Colo., last summer.

Thus, we then had to go to the store:

http://www.lawrence.com/users/photos/2013/aug/05/259526/

And buy the handy-dandy bag of goodies they sell sampling everything the bear ate:

One of everything the bear ate.

One of everything the bear ate. by Sarah Henning

As you can see, it was delicious.

He thinks the bear had great taste.

He thinks the bear had great taste. by Sarah Henning

So, what’d we get in this week’s Rolling Prairie CSA bag? Watermelon, tomatoes, snap peas, cucumbers, starter onions, yellow squash and peppers.

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Cooking away the CSA, week 15: On raising a kid who likes vegetables

Ahhhhh, what's up doc?

Ahhhhh, what's up doc? by Sarah Henning

Every Monday when we pick up our CSA bag from Rolling Prairie, our 4-year-old son goes with us. And every Saturday when we go to the Lawrence Farmers’ Market, he goes too. And when we harvest (or work) in the garden, he’s out there, bending over the rabbit fence, checking to see how our peppers are doing.

He knows so much more about food than I ever did at his age. This is not a knock on my parents at all. I think I just wasn’t interested like I am now, and as he’s turned out to be.

And let me tell you: I’m so happy he’s interested. Because we’ve had a much easier time trying to get him to eat healthy, real food, I think because he knows what it is, sees where it grows and helps us pick it or buy it or lug it home from our CSA.

We’ve tried to be as transparent as possible with where food comes from, and I think finally it’s starting to rub off.

You see, I wouldn’t say our kid eats any better than yours.

It would be completely wrong of me to suggest he’s a little angel who thumbs his nose as ice cream while chowing down on kale. Truth is, he absolutely loves ice cream and only eats kale if I hide it in his morning smoothie (though, usually, he can tell it’s there and will tell me it’s “gross”).

Yes, he does eat (and enjoy) ice cream.

Yes, he does eat (and enjoy) ice cream. by Sarah Henning

At dinner, he’d prefer to have some form of cheese and carbs (quesadilla, grilled cheese, etc.) as his main meal with a side of fruit and avocado, followed by chocolate/ice cream/or nothing if he didn’t clear his plate. The vegetables he’ll eat out of hand — and usually with some sort of bribery involved — are pretty much limited to baby carrots, cooked peas and corn on the cob, if I’m being really honest.

But, every so often, we have a breakthrough.

You see that carrot pic? He hadn’t eaten a carrot like Bugs Bunny in a long time, but decided this week to go for it. He even peeled it himself.

Same goes for cucumbers and sweet peppers — he used to turn his nose up at them, but now he’ll eat them sliced and he’s happy to do so, no “if you eat five bites, you can have a chocolate chip,” type bribes. And most of that is thanks to our repeated growing and buying of those two vegetables locally. We must have offered slices of each to him a thousand different ways, and this summer, it’s finally taken.

I say all this because I posted that carrot pic on Facebook and one of my friends commented that it was really great that we were raising our kid to eat healthy foods. I think it’s sweet that someone thought we’re doing a good job, but here’s the thing: While we are raising him to eat healthy foods, he’s still a kid. And kids are notoriously willful about what they’ll eat.

He doesn’t eat junk — I firmly believe in avoiding having it around to begin with — but is he going to eat carrot a la Bugs every night? Probably not, even though that would be lovely if he did.

We do our best and that’s all we can do. Perfection would be, well, perfect. But balance is much, much more attainable. Even if it kills me to admit it.

So, this is my message to Lawrence parents, who probably fret, like I do, if our kids are eating healthy enough: Just try. And don’t beat yourself up if your kid doesn’t take to kale right away.

It’s easy when you read a blog about someone else’s life to think they’re perfect or at least pretending to be. I try to make this blog as accessible as I can, and I just thought I’d point out that though fruits and vegetables are king and queen of our household doesn’t mean we’re glaring at you for doling out ice cream sandwiches instead of watermelon on a hot day. Nobody should do that to anybody.

I’d much rather spend my energy on teaching my son about good food than yelling at him for enjoying something that isn’t idea.

Instead of expecting him to be perfect and non-ice-cream-sandwich-loving, we spend our time immersing him in the act of growing, picking and purchasing food than do trying to force-feed him kohlrabi. We also spend time making dinner with him and letting him help by stirring, peeling and just generally being a part of the whole eating process.

And that is working for us at this point.

So, of our CSA goodies from last week — kale, potatoes, green beans, onions, squash, broccoli, corn on the cob — how much did our son eat? Only the corn. Yep, and that’s OK. Even if it’s not perfect.

Our goodies this week? Cherry tomatoes, Swiss chard, yellow squash, cucumbers, onions, blackberries and potatoes.

This week's goodness: cherry tomatoes, Swiss chard, yellow squash, cucumbers, onions, blackberries and potatoes.

This week's goodness: cherry tomatoes, Swiss chard, yellow squash, cucumbers, onions, blackberries and potatoes. by Sarah Henning

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Cooking away the CSA, week 14: The juice on dealing with abundance

Green juice: My produce secret weapon.

Green juice: My produce secret weapon. by Sarah Henning

We’re officially halfway through the CSA season, and therefore we’ve turned a corner where tomatoes are the norm, local sweet corn makes its brief appearance and basil goes with every meal.

Abundance is coming.

And it is both amazing and amazingly rough.

Having plenty is a fabulous feeling, but the worry of having it all go bad before you can use it all? As horrible as plenty is wonderful.

Some people deal with abundance by canning. The lovely Megan Stuke is fabulous at this. Me? I’m fairly certain I’ll give myself botulism if I so much as try canning. I’ve been trying to talk myself into trying it for years. Yet the fear wins out.

Here’s what I do instead with my abundance: Freeze it, dehydrate it or juice it.

Obviously, freezing it is the most accessible option. You just freeze something (like, say, cut-up local peaches) on a cookie tray lined with parchment, and when they’re nice and solid, transfer them to a plastic bag, remove the air and you’re done. This works with almost anything.

I’m lucky enough to have a dehydrator, and I often use it to dry out slices from local apples or pears, make zucchini or kale chips or dry out herbs like rosemary and basil.

But here’s the last abundance-eater, juicing: You get to enjoy you abundance IN THE NOW.

If you do it right.

Because here’s the thing. Last week, I juiced both my chard and my yellow squash received from our Rolling Prairie CSA pickup. Those probably sound like the worst things in the world to juice. Probably.

But: If you can train yourself to make vegetable juice, you can not only knock out your abundances, you can basically have a homemade vitamin shot in a pint glass.

Because all of this:

An example of green juice veggies (pre-juicing, of course).

An example of green juice veggies (pre-juicing, of course). by Sarah Henning

Can become this:

The spoils of the previous vegetables.

The spoils of the previous vegetables. by Sarah Henning

And, if you leave out the fruit, or at least keep it very minimal, like a tart apple or two, you won’t be sugaring up your system. I used to always put an apple or pear in my juices, but I’ve trained myself to just spice it up with lemon or lime juice to cut some of the “green” flavor. I also add ginger or garlic to make it taste different. And before you turn your nose up at garlic: If you juice some basil with it and add lemon, your juice might actually taste like pesto, which isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Now, a word about fiber: Yes, fiber is great for you. Eat it. But, no, your veggie juice will not have fiber. Make sure you get it, but, yes, you’ll be losing some of it here. I’m not a doctor, but personally, I think that’s fine as long as your juice isn’t some pear-apple-pineapple fruit bomb, that, while delicious, is pure sugar and vitamins. I’m no doctor, so that’s all I’m going to say about that (and what I’ve said is my opinion).

So, if you’re brave enough to try vegetable juice and own a juicer or have access to it, here’s a juice I made this week that I recommend as you try. You may find it disgusting, or you may end up craving it. But the more you drink, the cleaner your fridge will be, and the more food you will have eaten that didn’t go bad or get saved for later.

Summer Strong Green Juice

1 bunch kale, Swiss chard or romaine

1 head celery

2 cucumbers, zucchini or yellow squash (or a mix)

1 handful basil

1-2 carrots (if you want it sweeter)

1 clove garlic or 1 thumb ginger (if you’re brave!)

1 or 2 hefty squeezes of lemon (or run 1 to 2 lemons sans peel and pith through juicer)

Run ingredients through juicer. Guzzle.

Note: I also like to mix in my liquid probiotic. Because it’s sour, it goes well and helps the lemon to “cut” the green flavor.

So, what’d we get this week from Rolling Prairie? Kale, potatoes, green beans, onions, squash, broccoli, corn on the cob.

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Cooking away the CSA, week 12: Replenishing after vacation

Massive, yummy tempeh sandwich from the Morning Glory Cafe in Eugene, Ore.

Massive, yummy tempeh sandwich from the Morning Glory Cafe in Eugene, Ore. by Sarah Henning

The week before last we achieved the foodie equivalent of Inbox Zero: Nada in the fridge.

I’m generally super horrible about this — buying and buying and buying until we have duplicates and triplicates and suddenly have to make massive batches of something just because I couldn’t say no to the kale at the store (true). Thus, my family works hard to keep up but are often tripped up by my nearly daily jaunts to the store and/or farmers market.

If I actually got through all my food in a reasonable fashion, I might seem a bit European, hitting up the market daily for fresh items to use that day. But as I’m an over-scheduled (by choice) American, I am, in reality, a food hoarder.

It’s a sickness, I tell you.

So what was different about the last week?

We went on vacation. (See above a pic of a beautiful lunch I had in Eugene, Ore.)

Therefore, we ate our way through the fridge with aplomb, trying to leave nothing exceptionally perishable behind. What we couldn’t eat (a few avocados, carrots, Brussels sprouts and items from the garden), we gave away to the good friend watching our dog.

Thus, we came back to a very empty fridge.

And, as you might imagine from my earlier description of my food-buying addiction, I love an empty fridge. Ooh, the things we can fill it with!

It’s tabula rasa as far as dinner is concerned.

How do I restock the fridge? It’s all about a list and what looks best. I should be more of a menu planner like my fellow columnist, Megan, but I we actually only get a chance to cook two or three meals per week, and thus I have a hard time staying on a schedule and menu (this is hard for me to admit). So, rather, I ran through the staples we didn’t have and mixed that list together with what looked amazing at the store.

A sample of what we ended up with:

From the Lawrence Farmers’ Market:

Cucumbers

Kale

Chard

Peppers (Italian)

Garlic

Onions

Goat cheese

From the store:

Almonds

Baby spinach

Mixed greens

Sweet peppers

Strawberries

Raspberries

Cantaloupe

Watermelon

Mangos (fresh and dried)

Celery

Carrots

Coffee

Avocados

Bread

Tortillas

Sweet potatoes

Eggs

Milk

Almond Milk

Yogurt

Kombucha

And, of course, I’m going to include the wonderful items we got from this week’s CSA:

Our CSA pickings this week, minus the cherry tomatoes: beets, basil, onions, potatoes, mushrooms and Swiss chard.

Our CSA pickings this week, minus the cherry tomatoes: beets, basil, onions, potatoes, mushrooms and Swiss chard. by Sarah Henning

Cherry tomatoes

Onions

Potatoes

Swiss chard

Mushrooms

Beets

Basil

Now, all these items mix with what we already have in our pantry and freezer. Don’t think this is all we eat as a family of three! Plus, I probably forgot something. I did go to the store three times before I wrote this.

Now, I must know: When you’re restocking the fridge, what is the one thing you can’t live without?

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