Wednesday, May 26, 2010


KISS - Keep it simple, stupid! That's not exactly what Darin said after dinner the other night, but that was the general thought....without the stupid, because Darin would never call me stupid!!

I was trying to get creative with the green beans and did a little saute with green beans, mushrooms, onions, garlic, olive oil and some red wine. I had cooked the beans a while ahead of time to soften them ( I don't like my beans al dente). I thought it was all really good but he smiled and said they were ok. He didn't want to criticize because he knows I'm trying really hard here and he's a good (and smart) man. After much pestering, I got him to admit basically this: the few veggies he does like (like regular old cooked green beans), don't mess with them! Don't do anything different with them. Fine. That's easy!

So, last night we had regular old green beans (cooked in chicken stock), some chicken in the oven with soup on it, and rice. We all loved it!!! There go my fancy ways!

Tonight's dinner was a weird combo as I was trying to eat most of the things we have before we get our new box of veggies tomorrow. We had fried eggs (a favorite at our house with toasted challah bread from McFaland's Bakery on Main Street in Hendersonville). I sauteed the spinach and beet greens with olive oil, garlic and red wine (sound familiar?). I scrambled mine with my eggs, didn't even give Noah any (he had a spinach salad with homemade challah croutons), and put Darin's greens on the side of his eggs. I loved it! I really like that green combination! Darin's just not a green eater, yet. I still don't love them, but I'm eating them a bit more than he is. I'm still hopeful about Noah and the greens!

For our after dinner snack (because they took sooooo long to cook they weren't ready for dinner), we had roasted beets, potatoes, and zuchini with olive oil and sea salt. Cooked about 1.5 hours and was fabulous!!! Crispy and sweet on the edges and tender on the insides. Small bits were broken up in the pan and crispy-licious! Best after dinner snack I've had in a long time and I have leftovers for lunch! Roasting veggies is easy and we all like the taste. I think I'll be doing more of that in the near future.

I think the mustard greens may be composted. They're still in the crisper in the fridge, so I've not given you hope yet. Will keep you updated about their status.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Great Collard Catastrophe!

My first mistake was getting cocky with collards from my first box of veggies and assuming I could cook something tasty without a recipe. I admit my mistake. Mia culpa!

Tonight's Menu:

Turkey Burgers
roasted root veggies (potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, onions)
cooked collards
sliced cucumbers (for me, only)

The burgers and root veggies were very yummy and universally appreciated! The collards, while washed well and grit-free, were tough and not tasty! I thought I recalled (ahhhhh, therein lies the mistake -- "I recalled") collards could be cooked well with olive oil, garlic, and chicken broth. I did this for about an hour. I thought that would be plenty 'o time. Alas, it was not to be. The road to wasted veggies is paved with "I thought" and "I recalled" and.... no recipe.

I actually spit out my first bite of collards because they were so tough! Then, not thinking clearly because of the disappoint of spending so much time cooking the crummy collards, I asked the DS to try them! The DH laughed and said, "really?" Then I realized how dumb that normal parental request was (we have a rule that the DS has to try one bite of everything). I let him off the hook since even I had deemed them inedible!

I still was not able to compost the cooked collards, so I bagged them and put them in the fridge. Beth, my partner in veggie-dom, walked down with her family after dinner and I told her my collard chronicle. She suggested "throwing them in a pot" with some cheese tortellini and other things and making a soup. "I do it with spinach all the time, " she said!
Spoken like a true natural cook.

"Just throw some things in a pot!' Another friend, and natural cook, Anne Marie often says the same thing. I don't really know WHAT to throw in that pot, though. Another fear is that I'll ruin a perfectly good package of cheese tortellini by putting it in a pot of crappy collards!

Do I try to reconstitute the cooked collards? Do I compost the crude crinkled collards? Or, do I admit the collards have conquered me and ask Beth to take all the rest of the collards from the boxes of veggies in exchange for some nice simple broccoli?

Oh the conundrum!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

They're Here, They're Here!!!

I picked up my first box of veggies today from Miss Karla, the farmer (as my DS is now calling her)! Beth, my neighbor/partner in veggie-dom met us at the tailgate market with her tiny baby boy in tow. After perusing all of the other goodies at the Flat Rock Tailgate market and buying a yummy cookie from Dave at Flat Rock Bakery, we got our box!

Included in our box today was:
collards (a scary surprise because remember-- no pork in our family! How do you cook collards with out bacon fat?)
two bunches of broccoli
a bag of mixed salad greens
a bag of pole beans
a bunch of beets with greens attached
4 large green onions
one cucumber
one zucchini

This being the start of the growing season, the box was not as full as it will get when all of Blackbird Farms' crops start coming in. I saw the boxes at the peak last summer and there will be plenty 'o veggies for our two small families to share! Actually, this was a nice, unintimidating quanitity for me to begin with.

Even so, I got home and almost had a panic attack! COLLARDS! A huge bunch o' collards! What do I do with them without bacon? It was 5:30 p.m. when I got home and started dinner and the DS begins bedtime routine about 7:30 and we have to get homework and bath done in there, too. So, with limited time, I scrambled for a recipe for collards! I had that beet recipe that I posted last time ready to go (but not enough time, so I'll make that this weekend); I had the swiss chard ideas from others ready to go; I had the turnip recipe ready to go...but collards!! Soooooo unprepared for the collards.

Then, it hit me, I don't have to cook the collards tonight! Yes, I know, sometimes my anxiety gets hold of me and I don't realize the obvious things right away! For dinner tonight, I decided to focus on what I knew: steaming broccoli and making a salad! I decided to make omelets for dinner (which is weird because I never make omelets) so I diced the onions and decided to try sauteing the beet greens with the onions in a little olive oil with a garlic clove. After a quick call to the MIL to get her approval of my choice, she suggested cooking the greens longer than just a saute, so I threw in some chicken broth and simmered them slowly while I cooked the omelets. Good call on her part, as usual!

I put this sauteed greens mixture into the omelet with some sharp cheddar and was done.

My DH was very good about being open minded about the mixed spring greens for the salad. He's a straight Romaine lettuce kind-of-guy and doesn't normally go for the spring greens. But tonight, he tried it and liked it, Sam-I-Am!! He also enjoyed the beet greens in the omelet but with one caveat: they were gritty!

I guess I'm so used to using store bought lettuce that has been washed pretty well that I only have to rinse that I forgot that I was getting fresh veggies straight from the farm, ie: straight out of the dirt!! So...I just lightly rinsed those beet greens and cooked them! I was really disappointed because the flavor of the greens, onion, garlic olive oil and broth together was wonderful! I really liked it and so did the DH and neither of us are big fans of greens. But the grit (aka: dirt) kinda ruined it.

Ahhhh...the lessons of a newbie! WASH YOUR GREENS REALLY WELL!!!

So here was tonight's menu:

salad of mixed spring greens
steamed broccoli
omelets with sauted beet greens and spring onions

(I took pictures of the meal but they look so dumb compared to the really yummy pics other people post of the food they cook that I couldn't bring myself to post them! I also took pics of the box o' veggies but will post that later. )

All-in-all, I'd say a fairly successful healthy, mostly local dinner!

I think Our Veggie Adventure has begun in fine fashion! Day one and No Wasted Veggies yet!

(Can you hear the battle cry? NWV!! NWV!! NWV!!)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Five Days and Counting!

I get our first veggie box this coming Thursday, May 13th! I am looking seriously at recipes so that I can start cooking right away and not have the veggies sit in my fridge while I scour the internet for recipes. My primary source of recipes is because they have a great way to search for recipes by ingredient and their rating system seems to be pretty much spot-on for me. Everything I've tried from that site that has a 4.5 or 5 star rating, I've enjoyed. Also, the comments that others give in the ratings on how to improve or change the recipes a little is very helpful for a novice cook like me.

I don't know exactly what will be in my first box of veggies or how much will be in there. I really have become quite the nerd about this!! I'm really, really excited about Thursday!! My partner in veggie-dom, Beth and I will pick up our first box together and take some photos to post here so you can see the "first box" (imagine the sound of trumpets here)!

Blackbird Farms Website ( says that in May we will get, among other things, radishes (ewwwww!) and turnips (double ewwwwww!!) and "beets with tops" (not too eewww). I have no idea what to do with the top of a beet. I'm assuming by turnips they mean the root and not the greens. The greens I could figure out how to cook with one phone call to my southern cookin' Mama! I have eaten (but never prepared) some yummy cold beet salads with balsamic vinegar but I don't think the DH and DS will go for something so obviously beety, so I found a roasted beet recipe that looks good that I'll try (see all recipes below).

For the turnips, I think I'll try a caramelized turnip recipe. Anything caramelized is good to me! Everything's better with butter!!! But, I will try to go light on the butter to stick with my healthy eating goal. For the radishes, it's either try something completely new or give them all to my sister-in-law who loves to nibble on them raw! I'll try a couple of recipes and if no one in my house eats them, I'll give them to the SIL! I think the grilled radish recipe looks interesting. What do you think?

Roasted Beet Wedges

1 pound medium fresh beets, peeled
4 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 sprigs fresh rosemary

1. Cut each beet into six wedges; place in a large resealable plastic bag. Add olive oil and salt; seal and shake to coat.
2. Place a piece of heavy-duty foil (about 12 in. long) in a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Arrange beets on foil and top with rosemary. Fold foil around beet mixture and seal tightly. Bake at 400 degrees F for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours or until beets are tender. Discard rosemary sprigs.

Caramalized Turnips

3 cups diced peeled turnips
1/4 cup water
1 cube chicken bouillon
1 tablespoon butter, or more as needed
2 tablespoons white sugar

1. Place the turnips into a skillet with the water and chicken bouillon cube over medium heat, and simmer until the water has evaporated and the turnips are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the butter, let melt, and sprinkle on the sugar. Gently cook and stir the turnips until the butter and sugar cook into a brown, sticky coating on the turnips, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Grilled Radishes

20 ounces radishes, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 cube ice
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the grill for high heat.
2. Place the radishes, garlic, butter, and ice cube on a double layer of aluminum foil large enough to wrap contents. Season with salt and pepper. Tightly seal foil around contents.
3. Place foil packet on the grill, and cook 20 minutes, or until radishes are tender.

I found all of these recipes at