Category Archives: Food

Creative reuse

Despite the reduction in major food projects around these parts, we ate pretty well over the holidays. The part I was a bit smug about, actually, was how I used up the many leftovers that were packing the fridge after Tom left.

For Christmas Eve we recreated the dinner from two years ago: steak, celeriac puree, and wilted spinach salad with bacon. I am totally hooked on that purée technique (cube up root vegetables, sauté some garlic in olive oil, add the vegetables and soften a bit, add stock, cover and simmer until soft, purée with a dash of cream and butter if you’re feeling fancy) and have had great success with rutabaga as well as celeriac. Dinner was tasty, though I over-cooked the spinach:


PSA: If you don’t have an immersion blender, do yourself a favor and get one ASAP. Over the last few weeks I used mine to whip cream (whisk attachment), purée things in their pans (blender attachment), and chop up stuff (mini prep). I have this one and it’s the best $40 you can spend on a kitchen gadget.

But somehow we ended up with mountains of the celeriac. I mean, ridiculous leftovers. We ate it with the leftover steak but there was a still a huge bowl sitting around. A few days later I got sick of looking at it, so I popped it all back in a pot with some milk (fine, and a little more cream), heated it up, made grilled cheese, and called it soup. It took a while, because I forgot to turn on the stove. But normally it would have taken about 5 minutes.



Early in Tom’s visit we made potato-leek soup, and we accidentally peeled too many potatoes. Tom diced up the extra and parboiled it, and used some for omelets and things while he was here. We also had two huge bunches of kale from the final winter CSA share, and I cooked it as per usual but we somehow had a ton leftover. Also I had a lot of bacon, since I planned to cook it for Christmas breakfast and we never got around to it thanks to a gift of Zingerman’s cinnamon rolls from Christy. And we’d made a batch of carnitas in the slow cooker, forgotten to uncover it to cook off the liquid, and thus scooped out some of the extra liquid, cooked it down (Tom again, always thinking!) and thrown that in the fridge where it turned into a gorgeous jelly (bone-in pork shoulder). AND Ben made pasta one night and cooked the whole pound, so there was a bunch of cooked rotini in a ziplock.

As you can imagine, all those bits and bobs were rendering the fridge a bit chaotic, and I was pretty much out of storage containers.

Here’s what I did: (This seems so simple, but guys, it was awesome.)

-Cooked some of the bacon as lardons, pulled it out
-Diced up some onion and cooked that along with the potatoes in the bacon fat
-Threw in the pasta to brown up a little bit and get heated up
-Added some of the pork jelly to glaze it all and provide a bit of moisture and sauce
-Mixed in the kale, heated it all up, topped with parmesan.


The potatoes were key here. SO GOOD. In fact, it’s 11 a.m. and if I had any of that in the fridge now I would be eating it. I’m hungry.

CSA Weeks 16-20: The wind-down

Oh, hello. I have a blog? Hmm.

We’ve come to the end of the regular CSA season, though I’m signed on for a winter share again and will get vegetables every other week until Christmas.

Week 16, 9/21:
CSA Week 16

Week 17, 9/28:
CSA Week 17

Week 18, 10/5:
CSA Week 18

Week 19, 10/12:
CSA Week 19

Week 20, 10/19 (Note the Freak Beet that is the same size as a squash. It was in the swap box. I traded cilantro for it!)
CSA Week 20

In the first October share I got gorgeous leeks–two bunches, because there was one in the swap box (??!!?). Who doesn’t like leeks? I had a few minutes to deal with them and I decided to cook off all of them at once, because I thought I remember my mom saying I could freeze them once they were cooked.


I use a Jamie Oliver tip for cleaning leeks: Slit them almost to the root and then rinse away from the root so the silt falls out the top.



Once they were cut up I really had a huge pile of them. Riches!


Into the pan with butter and a bit of oil. Low heat. Long slow cooking. (…hee.)



Once the leeks were cooked I used them in a frittata with some leftover pasta:


Parmesan in with the eggs:





The key with a frittata is to keep pulling the edges back and letting the raw egg run under the cooked part. And then eventually you use a plate and flip it over to finish.





The leftovers made good sandwiches for the flight out to CA that weekend. And coming soon, re. that trip: I finally got to eat a sunday supper at Lucques! And I took photos. And met Suzanne Goin. But I didn’t take a photo with Suzanne Goin, because I do have a LITTLE pride.

CSA Weeks 11-15: Summer to Fall

Wow, newborns are really time-consuming. I think Tucker can sense when I’m thinking of getting back to blogging, because that’s inevitably when the previously-silent monitor lights up with a ravenous scream. He’s a great baby, a solid night-time sleeper, and awfully cute, but during the day he doesn’t take well to naps in his bassinet, preferring me to walk my legs off all over Cambridge trying to get enough hours of sleep in for him. I finally went on Google Maps yesterday and measured how far I’d walked, and it was 4.5 miles for the day. (To the library! To Trader Joe’s! To Harvard Square! Walk walk walk walk walk!)

In the month (!!?!?!!!) since he was born, we’ve moved from summer to fall in the CSA. Here are the shares:

Week 11 (8/17)

CSA Week 11

Week 12 (8/24)

CSA Week 12

Week 13 (8/31)

CSA Week 13

Week 14 (9/7)

CSA Week 14

Week 15 (9/14)

CSA Week 15

The tomatoes were fantastic this year, thanks to the hot, humid weather. A few days before Tucker was born (in fact, the day I started labor!) I made BATs (Bacon, Avocado and Tomato!) to celebrate the bounty.




Ben had spinach on his:



I was lucky to have Ben’s mom here for almost a week after we got home, and my mom (and eventually my dad) came out from Oregon the following week. A joint production between Christy and Ben (who figured out the pork rub himself!), featuring delicious corn salad with the basil butter I made in July:


My mom made me lots of stuff to freeze, including a triple batch of pesto, which will keep us in pasta through the winter (I have a gallon ziplock full of little plastic containers in the freezer!). We ate some of the pesto the first night, along with more tomatoes and some leftover steak:


Now that the weather is cooling off and the CSA shares are heavy with potatoes and squash, it’s time to get back to the kitchen and dust off the oven. Now, to figure out how to cook while Tucker is demanding all my attention!

Coming soon: The epically awesome granola my mom has been making my entire life. (I have 6 bags in the freezer, aren’t you jealous?)

CSA Weeks 9 and 10: Full-on summer

No baby yet!

Week 9:

CSA Week 9

-New potatoes
-Purple cabbage (a frilly, pretty one)
-Summer squash
-Green peppers
-Cavolo nero!

Oh, August. You make dinner so easy. I steamed the corn and cut it off the cob, and mixed it with some of the basil compound butter I made a few weeks ago and froze.


Boiled the beautiful little new potatoes and dressed them with more of the butter, along with salt, pepper, and a hit of white wine vinegar. (I also put a little vinegar in the boiling water, Cook’s Illustrated tells me that helps them get tender without crumbling.)




Sliced up the tomatoes and drizzled w/ olive oil and salt, a bit of fresh basil over everything, grilled sausages for protein and voila! Easy easy dinner.


Week 10:

CSA Week 10

-Pattypan squash
-Purple beans

The Kitchn ran a recipe review of a french tomato tart from David Lebovitz last week, and it cried out to me. So simple! So pie-like!

I used frozen pie crust from Trader Joe’s (quite good; I recommend it), and fresh mozzarella instead of goat cheese. This led to some issues down the line. (I’m still having camera issues. We can have things blah and reddish and dark or way overexposed.)


You spread mustard on the crust; I didn’t taste it directly but I could tell it added nice flavor.


A layer of gorgeous pink lady tomatoes and some basil (I seeded the tomatoes and blotted them dry to try to reduce the moisture in the tart):


Then the mozzarella (or, if you’re following the recipe and don’t loathe goat cheese like I do, a nice goat cheese). I had marinated it briefly with some herbs, salt, pepper and oil to try to make it more interesting.


Close up the edges like a crostata, and bake it:


Two-thirds of the way into baking I realized that the water from the mozzarella was bubbling out the bottom and we were going to have some majorly wet crust. I transferred the whole thing onto a wire pizza rack and perched it over the baking sheet. Unfortunately there wasn’t really time to get it very dried out; next time I will use different cheese and start on the wire rack from the beginning, I think.


Still, despite the flabby bottom crust, this was mighty tasty and SO easy. I’ll definitely be experimenting. And I know I should feel guilty about not making my own crust, but honestly? The pre-made stuff was good, and made this a crazy-fast weeknight meal. A few minutes to assemble and then it bakes for 30 minutes.


CSA Week 7: Compound butter and fabulous corn

The disaster of the previous week’s corn was forgiven once we ate this duo. Oh man, was it good!

The haul:

CSA Week 7

-Zucchini/summer squash.

I wasn’t going to get to the basil before it turned black and sad, so I decided to make a compound butter that I could freeze.


I put the ingredients in my new boyfriend, the Vitamix, in roughly the order implied by a compound butter recipe int he binder that came with it. Unfortunately my butter wasn’t actually very softened and I was using totally different ingredients. Um, oops.


It did work eventually, but it took doing. And it was so hard to get the butter out of the bottom of the blender! I think the cuisinart wins on this sort of task.


The butter could have used a little more zip, but I have loads of it in the freezer so I’m going to be positive.

That night I applied it lavishly to the ears of corn we’d received. I’d soaked the ears in water for about 20 minutes, then peeled back the husk and desilked before buttering and closing them back up.



10 minutes on the grill and the corn was just barely cooked, incredibly tender and sweet.


Another night, I plowed through that summer squash, riffing on a suggestion from my mom to roast it and mix it with feta and mint. I added cherry tomatoes and used basil instead, since I still had some.

(I didn’t use the giant one in the end.)



The downside was using a 450 degree oven on a hot day. And I was too eager and put the tray in before the oven was hot enough, so the squash softened before getting really brown. Luckily I have plenty more where that came from to try again!




We ate it with sausage:

I made leftovers into a killer sandwich the next day, btw. And it would also be great tossed with pasta.

I had my baby shower this weekend! I am just 2.5 weeks out from my due date, if you can believe it. I don’t think I’ve posted a single photo of myself since I have been showing, so here you go, complete with a giant flower showing where the baby is. Between the hand gestures and the weird talking facial expression this is a very accurate photo of me!

Baby shower

My friends Lauren and Megan hosted in Lauren’s backyard. It was lovely, and I ate QUITE a bit of Megan’s totally ridiculous key lime pie. (She’s promised me the recipe. I will fully make this even with a newborn at home.)

Baby shower


And just to be silly, I brought craft-store wood veneer masks as favors, with Crayola markers to color them. Everyone was very sporting about it.

Baby shower

CSA Week 6: Oh, right. Zucchini season.

We were at the lake for the first part of last week, thanks to many of you fabulous people. More on that after the vegetables.

Ben went to pick up the share after we got home on Tuesday, while I lay flat in the air conditioned bedroom and bemoaned the lack of lake outside our apartment. He took these photos, too, and I guess he saw the flower-like gorgeousness of the lettuce and thought a purple pepper would make a nice accent!



-Bell pepper
-2 ears of corn
-Green beans

I still had a bunch of zucchini from the week before, and we are WAY backlogged with eggs, so I decided to make a frittata for dinner and use up some of each. I got rid of my much-hated Oxo mandoline a while ago (HATE HATE HATE) so I just sliced the zucchini thin with a vegetable peeler. (Also Oxo. Not hated.)


Salted the slices a bit to draw out some of the water:


Softened shallots and then sauteed the zucchini briefly:



Added in six eggs, which I’d beaten with salt, pepper and a big handful of grated parmesan.


So to cook a frittata you start by sort of pulling the edges back gently to get the raw egg to run under the cooked. Eventually if you’re my mom you flip it onto a plate (she never splashes egg everywhere doing this, but I always do) and slide it back in the pan to finish cooking, or if you’re less brave and more traditional, you slip it into the over to finish that way. I opted for the oven because I could tell I had some sticking problems.

Before going into the oven:


After (check with a knife in the middle to make sure it has set all the way through):


I also made green beans with shallots:


And steamed the corn from the farm.


The beans were amazing, so fresh and small and delicious. The corn was awful; I took one bite and spit it out. Starchy and mushy and flavorless; I guess it wasn’t really ready to harvest? I don’t know. Blech. I made sandwiches with the leftover frittata; it is delicious cold or at room temp.

Before we left for the lake I used half of a little CSA cabbage and a kohlrabi, plus a non-CSA carrot, to make slaw:


We ate it with burgers so fully loaded you can’t see the burger in the photo!


Ah, Squam. Thanks to the many of you who voted for me in the Rockywold-Deephaven Camp‘s contest, we spent the weekend in the wooded/watery bliss of the lake.

The weather was gorgeous:


The lake is always amazing:


I love everything from the rustic rooms (box fans provided plenty of cool air at night, even though it was steamy in the city) to the birch trees.


We were generally blissed-out and water-logged, and both got pretty tan (as evidenced by my freckles). (Tan, for us, is relative.)


Thanks to all of you who voted, and to John and Becky at RDC, for the fantastic visit!

CSA Week 5: No, I won’t turn on the stove.

Ok, I just looked at the 10-day forecast and there’s no break in sight. The heat, it is here to stay. The stove, it is staying off as much as possible.

This week’s share:


-Summer squash
-2 cabbages (one was a swap for MORE cilantro)

We’ve been out of town or not eating at home a lot, again, so I’m playing catch-up with the mountains of greens in the fridge. Luckily the fresher your greens, the longer they last. Heh. I had two bunches of kale, one flat-leaf and one curly, and no desire to touch the stove, so I finally dug out a raw kale salad recipe I saw over at The Kitchn a million years ago and off I went.


The recipe was for one bunch of kale but it was more than enough dressing for two. After cutting out the stalks, roll up the leaves and cut them into thin ribbons.



Add a bunch of pecorino (I’ve seen similar recipes that use parmesan or ricotta salata), then dress with, according to the recipe, the juice of two lemons and a half cup of olive oil. And pepper. Hold on salt.


Whoooooa. So puckery. I think I should have added more oil but I couldn’t bear to. This was so lemony it was as if I had gone crazy with salt, even though there wasn’t any except in the cheese. Next time I’ll start with one lemon and proceed cautiously, because in theory this is fantastic.

You let the salad sit at room temperature for at least an hour so the lemon softens the kale up a bit. Toasted walnuts would have been a great addition.


We ate it for dinner with toast. I ate leftovers with toast. And then I made egg salad and put the last bit on top. I highly recommend that last idea.


Another thing I highly recommend: Corn Chex. I’d forgotten how much I like them until eating them at Ben’s mom’s house this weekend. I am not a cereal person but pregnancy changes you.


I’ve also been brewing iced coffee using my dad’s method, which is definitely worth trying if you have a Bialetti pot.

And I’ve been hiding out in the living room, where we put in the big air conditioner. It’s a mess because I have my work stuff scattered around, along with things I’m reviewing for my Fit Pregnancy blog. Poor neatnik Ben hasn’t cracked yet, but I’m guessing it will happen soon. Maybe not, though: We’re going to Squam this weekend! Nothing could be better.

CSA Week Four: Fast “cooking” for hot days

Still very green in CSA-land:


-Kale (2 bunches; I traded my cilantro for kale in the swap box: BEST SWAP EVER)
-1 turnip
-1 kohlrabi

It was crazy hot earlier this week, and I wasn’t feeling particularly prone to extended cooking sessions. I still had a handful of cabbage from a previous share, so I just quickly sauteed the peas, added in the cabbage to wilt, dosed them both with a bit of rice vinegar before pulling off the heat, and dressed with sesame oil and soy sauce. I think it took 5 minutes from start to finish, including heating the pan.






We ate the vegetables with Trader Joe’s “Bool gogi” (sic), which wasn’t half bad.

I know this is lackluster, but guys, I’m 8.5 months pregnant. Ben is lucky we’re not eating chinese takeout every night. (We did have that last weekend. It was luscious.) One fast/easy/delicious thing we ate this week was another Trader Joe’s product, their chile/lime chicken burgers. I hate chicken and turkey burgers as a general rule, but we tasted samples of these and they are really good. They come frozen; we grilled them and I mashed avocado with lime, salt and pepper, spread that on top, added pickles, and we were good to go. (Oh, on rolls. Obviously.) I would eat one of those right now, I think, and it’s 8 a.m.

The main news around here is the purchase of….wait for it….A VITAMIX!!! I have a LOT to say on this subject, and will try to get around to saying it early next week. Enjoy the long weekend, happy birthday America, etc.!

Summer food: Variations on a theme

(No CSA this week; we were out of town and a neighbor picked up my share.)

As if pregnancy hadn’t already made me an incredibly lazy cook, summer really lowers my level of ambition in the kitchen. As I flipped through photos from the last couple months there were two things I kept falling back on, each of them easy to adapt to nearly any situation: Pasta salad and sliced steak over salad.

Pasta salad first. I never understood the stuff. It always seemed clammy and gluey and all-around blah. But then I started needing to take side dishes to picnics, or needing a side dish for a barbecue, and the revelations of Lydia’s pasta salad, and Bridge’s Greek version, and the BLT salad from Matchbox in DC all conspired to make me sort of obsessed.

Recent versions of each:

Lydia’s, modified for extra flavor:

(Tomatoes, red onion, mozzarella, basil, pasta. Everything except the cheese and pasta sat for a while in sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to get juicy. Cheese added once the pasta had cooled.)



(Tomatoes, red onion, bell peppers, feta, olives, summer squash, pasta. Again with dressing the vegetables first and adding the cheese last.)

BLT, again:


(Tomatoes, red onion, pasta, bacon, iceberg lettuce & creamy dressing of your choice (bacon/lettuce/dressing added just before serving))

Meat on salad:

Perfect for nights when it’s too hot to turn on the stove at all. Grill something and slice it on top of a salad that you’ve fancied up with whatever sounds good.

First up, skirt steak (marinated in ginger/soy/etc.) and served over butter lettuce and avocado with carrot-ginger dressing from Smitten Kitchen (I found the dressing bland and need to play around with it more. I might have used too much carrot?):



Next, gluten-free cooking for Ben’s mom, with a totally unsuccessful marinade that we will not legitimize with a link, but with very successful corn salad on top of the greens:



(I have made this version several times (adding avocado to the corn salad, sometimes), but not with that gritty gross marinade, EPICURIOUS.)

And in a variation on the theme, a taco version with ground beef that I cooked with homemade taco seasoning and served on lettuce with corn, avocado, tomatoes and a little cheese. Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream) and crumbled chips added to taste at the table.


Hmm, revisiting these has solved my dilemma about dinner tonight—I just need to decide which one sounds best. I think I want to give that carrot/ginger dressing another shot.

CSA Weeks 1 & 2: Back to the greens

Summer! Forget Memorial Day. Despite the calendar and no matter how freakishly cold or hot it is, the first CSA pick-up of the season marks the beginning of summer for me.

Last week in the first installment, I brought home a light and chlorophyll-packed bag of greens:

CSA Week 1

-Kale (I scored an extra from the new swap box)
-Napa cabbage
-Spring garlic (I think that’s what it’s called. It’s juicy and hasn’t hardened yet)
-Salad mix

I came home and took moody portraits of the garlic.

CSA Week 1

Then I chopped it up, removing the tough outer layers but not bothering to peel the cloves.

CSA Week 1

CSA Week 1

Obviously since I had a pile of kale that and the garlic were going to go together. Per usual. I do love kale.

CSA Week 1

CSA Week 1


This week remained green.

CSA Week 2

-Red leaf lettuce
-Rainbow chard
-White turnips (with greens)
-Garlic scapes
-Basil plant (Which reminds me, the poor thing is languishing on my sink waiting to be replanted. Drat.)

I figured I’d use up as much as I could in one meal, so I decided to cook the chard and turnip greens and serve them over pasta dressed with scape pesto.

I am always amazed by the grit that comes off nice field-fresh greens. Proof of local rain storms!

Greens and Scape pesto

I zoned out while making the pesto, and forgot to add in parmesan. I kept thinking, “this is bland and not quite like pesto,” but I didn’t clue in to the missing element until I was serving the pasta. Oops! Well, that kept it a bit lower fat, right? If you try this, add a good amount of grated parmesan. Anyway, I chopped the scapes just enough to throw them in the cuisinart, and added a bunch of walnuts and enough olive oil to make everything blend and get to the right texture. A bit of salt and pepper, and voila!

Greens and Scape pesto

Greens and Scape pesto

(Adding an extra handful of walnuts with the seasoning)

Greens and Scape pesto

For the greens, I cooked the chard stems for a minute or two, then added the chard, then the mustard greens, and a dash of chicken stock.

Greens and Scape pesto

Greens and Scape pesto

Bacon and feta on top gave much-needed creamy/salty/savory flavors. (I cooked the lardons first, and used the same pan/bacon grease for the greens.)

Greens and Scape pesto

Enjoy the hot weather! We have a busy week coming up, so I’ll probably check back in next Thursday. BTW, I’m now blogging at Fit Pregnancy’s website every Thursday, chronicling my preparations for the baby from a nursery/gear perspective. Check it out if you’re so inclined!