One more

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Just used the tomatoes and a couple of the onions in a batch of lacto-fermented salsa. This is the first ferment I’ve used any kind of starter on (in this case whey). The recipe is Wellness Mama’s, I used ground chipotle instead of chilies though. Also didn’t have a lime, so I used the juice of an extra large Meyer lemon from my lemon tree. It’s really yummy already, can’t wait until it ferments a bit.

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Catching up

The box contents for last Thursday were one small eggplant, green beans, banana peppers, white sweet corn (very sweet), onions, tomatoes, new potatoes, and cucumbers. I used the corn, onions, and new potatoes to make a corn chowder with natural Polish sausage and turkey bacon. Also added a couple roasted poblanos, bay leaf, thyme, and some celery. Turns out the perfect thing to use to cut the corn off the cob was my mandolin. Worked extremely well. A lot of the vegetables have been going into vegetable ferments. I had the thought that the Italian condiment called giardiniera was probably originally a ferment. So I thought I’d see if fermenting gave it that tang that I was used to getting from a little vinegar. Chopped the banana peppers and a couple serannos. Added sliced garlic and fresh rosemary. Put it all in a quart jar with a brine made at the ratio of 2 tablespoons Himalayan salt to a quart of water. Added an airlock and let it go. I moved it to the refrigerator at about two weeks. I’m probably going to drain it and refill the jar with olive oil, that shouldn’t affect the preservation. I did a similar concoctions with the eggplant from a couple weeks ago. Salted the eggplant first for a couple hours. Rinsed, packed with garlic, oregano, and crushed red pepper. Same brine. Instead of following the conventional wisdom and refrigerating after two days, I just tasted and as long as I liked what was going on I let it go in order to allow it to create as many probiotics as it could. Today I started some green beans, adding a bruised fresh bay leaf, garlic, crushed red pepper and dill. Have some cucumber slices going too with the same mix, plus a few fresh grape leaves to help them stay crisp. Planning to fry this week’s eggplant to have as a side for some Greek turkey burgers. Saved a couple ears of corn back from the chowder to wrap with bacon and grill.

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Strawberries, Done!

Used up the strawberries last night. Started with the remaining salad greens, added some minced wild onions (if you get a scent of onion when you mow the grass, odds are you have wild onions growing in your lawn. This time of year they are sticking up above the grass. If you don’t spray your yard with chemicals, they are perfectly safe to eat.), and the sliced strawberries. Salt, pepper, a drizzle of high quality olive oil, and a spritz of balsamic and it was an amazing complement to the tenderloin steaks we put on to of it. Looking forward to more strawberries this week. I used to avoid raw strawberries like the plague, wouldn’t eat strawberry shortcake on a bet (actually leverage a well-timed case of prickly heat into a contention that I was allergic to strawberries in order to not have to argue about it. Just raw ones, pie and jam were fine). Turns out I just don’t like the varieties that are grown commercially. I have a small patch in my garden that is just starting to get going, the first berries from it last year were a revelation. The ones in the box were just as good.

Still have the beets (big surprise, I actually still have all the beets from the Fall share in my reefer), scallions, and one bunch of kale to use up by Thursday. Oh, and the micro greens. Looks like it’s eggs and micro greens one night this week. And borscht, maybe?

Lettuce Soup!

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Those amazing heads of lettuce from the first box are now a pot of Lettuce Soup. Perfect for a cool evening. Not as Primal as it could have been. Because I used some Spanish style chorizo, adding a can of garbanzos seemed like a no brainer. Here’s the recipe.

Spanish Lettuce Soup

12 oz. package Spanish style chorizo
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 small can garbanzo beans
1 box chicken broth (I used one that had garlic in it)
2 heads leaf lettuce, chopped

Brown the sausage and onion in the coconut oil. Add the cumin, garbanzos, and chicken broth. Simmer for about half an hour. Add in the lettuce, cook about 15 minutes. I didn’t add any salt, thought the boxed broth was plenty salty. Do what you like.

Other box items that we’ve already used up are the snow peas (steamed with soy sauce and sesame oil, served with salmon), and the Brussels sprouts (also steamed with Irish butter and served with steak). And one batch of kale chips for the Super Bowl.

Cauliflower & Chicken In The Slow Cooker

I finally got around to cooking that mondo huge cauliflower. We have a family recipe that is basically cauliflower, chicken, chickpeas and rice. I could never make it the way it was supposed to be made, but I love the flavors. Over the years I’ve done different riffs on it, and of course, now rice is out. This time I just dumped everything into the slow cooker and let it go. In case you haven’t noticed I’m not big on precise recipes, I just don’t cook that way, but here’s the gist of it.

Arabic Chicken

Chicken (today I used about 2.5# of skinless boneless chicken thighs)
Arabic Seasoning ( we make our own blend, but Garam Masala mixed with salt will work)
Cauliflower florets (used 1 whole very large one)
2 cans of organic garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (yes I know beans aren’t Primal. Sue me)
1 box organic low-sodium chicken broth

Toss the chicken with the seasoning mix (I use a ratio of one Tbsp. per pound I of meat. My sister will tell you that’s wrong. It’s a matter of opinion). Dump in slow cooker. Add everything else. I cooked on high for about four hours, but do whatever you need to based on your cooker. Haven’t decided for sure yet if it needs a little quinoa or not, but I’m thinking not. At least not today.

Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup (Slow Cooker)

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Finally got around to the bell peppers in the box. Since they varied wildly in size, but I was in the mood for stuffed peppers, I went with a soup format.

8 bell peppers, chopped (pretty chunky)
2 lbs. grass-fed organic ground beef
2 large cans organic crushed tomatoes
Salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste
1 cup quinoa

I just chopped the peppers, dropped in random chunks of the ground beef, added the canned tomatoes (rinsing the cans with water), and seasoned the top. Let it cook for a while to ensure the beef will stay chunky before stirring. Unless you don’t want the beef to stay chunky. About an hour before dinner (probably at about 6 hours on low), I stirred in the quinoa. All of the comfort food factor without the hassle of actually stuffing. Yum.

Kale Chips, Take Two

‘Chipped’ the rest of the kale. This time I used a little regular olive oil, some sesame oil, and soy sauce instead of salt. Had to make a couple adjustments, the normal cooking time (20 minutes @ 300 F) wasn’t right this time, either because the soy sauce added too much moisture, or having two pans in the oven changed things. I increased the time by five minutes for the second batch (which also got a touch of sambal oelek) and they came out perfect. And sticking the soggy ones back in for another 15 minutes rescued those as well. I think I may have some soy sauce powder that I bought for making backpacking food, I may use that next time I go the sesame oil route. Finally got motivated to ‘fix’ my second stoneware jelly roll pan to fit in my oven. I have a bad habit of buying pans that don’t fit in my oven (and trust me, you don’t want the revelation to come after a new pan has already been used to stack a lasagna). I’d been trying to decide if I wanted to go with cast iron or stoneware jelly roll pans (I’m trying to eliminate non-stick cookware). Found a good deal on some stoneware so bought two of them. And they didn’t fit. They were close though, so I grabbed some sandpaper that I have for glasswork, and went to town on one of them. Just took off enough on the handles to get it in. It rides on the rails for the racks. I’ve been using it more than I ever used the pans it replaced. But only having the one was cramping my style so today, since I was doing two bunches of kale and didn’t want to spend all day on it, I finally sanded down the second one. Life is good.

Signed up for the Winter CSA at Wood Duck Farm. Pretty happy that kale is on the list of expected harvest items for that one too (I’m hooked). Starts the end of January. Going with the same plan, alternate weeks, full share. Now I can just turn my garden over to asparagus (have a perfectly painless permanent planting), peppers, tomatoes, onions, and herbs. Let the farm handle the variety items, I was never all that successful with them anyway. Life is very good.