Monday, July 26, 2010

DIY Snack Mix

Trail Mix

I've been falling prey to the mid-morning sleepies at work lately, so today I took a small bag of homemade snack mix with me. It's just walnuts, almonds, and dried cranberries (if I'd had dark chocolate, I would have thrown that in there, too).  I think it helped!


Pick a Peck of Samosas.


Kohli's looks like a bodega or drugstore, but there's a prize inside.

Kohli's - for samosas

To-go samosas are served at the register.  90 cents each.

Peek at Samosas

We got a bag-full.


We could have eaten more.

Kohli's Indian Imports
319 S Craig St
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Photo Essay: Peace, Love, and Little Donuts.

Donut place
The building.

The line
In line.

Backwards Peace Love & Little Donuts
Before too long, we were entering.

The menu.

Donut machine
The machine.

Inside Donut Rack
The shop.

Funkadelic flavors

Little Donuts for now!
Depending on how soon you're going to eat them, they package them differently.  We bought some to eat right away and some to take home for the rest of our crew.  The "now" doughnuts were the best doughnuts.  These were ginger sugar and...lemon, I think?

Little Donut 2
My first Little Donut. Subtle ginger.  Warm and soft.

Little Doughnuts 2

Little Doughnuts 3

Donuts "To Go."  Cinnamon, Ginger, Raspberry, Chocolate.  Easily eaten.

Strip District
2018 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

p.s. The Pittsburgh Slow Food lady was really disappointed that I was going to blog about these because, "Their doughnuts come from a mix!"  Yes, but I ate them (and they were good).  There are probably better doughnuts out there, but this was a fun experience.  And this is not a slow foods blog (though I hope it is, sometimes, slow foods friendly).


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Photo Essay: Peruvian Picnic at the Canoe Club

Canoe away


One of everything

Dinner at the river

Plantains: my favorite

Outstanding food from:
Chicken Latino, Pittsburgh (PA)

Bonus Shot: Someone spotted this bee snacking on a mayfly and I managed to get a photo.

Bee eating a mayfly zoom


Two for dinner; one for breakfast.

Cupcake shop box

In Pittsburgh, PA?  Need cupcakes?  I have to recommend Graham's Bakery on Mt. Lebanon Blvd..


This shop makes the perfect chocolate frosting, as far as I'm concerned -- and that's hard to achieve.  The box had assorted vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, with both vanilla and chocolate frosting.  Of course, chocolate + chocolate was my favorite, but I liked the vanilla, too. 

To make sure they were as good as I thought they were, I ate three. 


How to Greet Your Guests


When we arrived in Pittsburgh, around 9pm, we were in serious need of a late supper before going to bed.  Luckily, we were staying with Dan's parents, who are great hosts under pressure -- especially when it comes to food.  Together, we made a lovely late night meal.


I'd brought a few "CSA leftovers" -- cherries, carrots, and radishes -- with me on the plane, so those were easy to wash and plate.  I didn't even peel the carrots; they were that fresh and good.


To this, Jim and Martha added juicy tomatoes with basil and mozzarella, as well as sliced bread.

Late-night dinner

Dan had also picked up some mortadella in Brooklyn, which added to the repast.  It turns out cured meat can be a good host/hostess gift if you don't have too far to travel.
P.S. Don't overlook my open-faced radish and butter sandwich.  It was simply delicious.


I am the United Nations of Snacking.

Scotch Eggs

 We watched the World Cup quarter-final match between Brazil and The Netherlands at Piper's Pub, a British Isles-themed sports bar and restaurant in Pittsburgh, PA.  While there, naturally, I had to try my first Scotch Egg.

Scotch egg half

A Scotch Egg is a hard-boiled egg that is somehow encased in a sort of bread-and-sausage batter and then fried.  Yow!  I was not expecting my eggs (which were cut in half and served to me with hot sauce) to  be so thick and large.  But, however overwhelming, they were quite good -- especially dipped in the hot sauce.  It took four of us to eat my serving, though.  This is a snack to share.  And eat it hot!


Oh, yeah -- I ate these, too.


Sour, gummy mushrooms, anyone?!

Not bad.


Pittsburgh Farmers Market

Farmers @ the Firehouse

I want to write a few more posts about my most recent trip to Pittsburgh, PA.  My trips there always include great food, no matter how long I'm there, and my stay over this past Fourth of July holiday weekend was no different.

One morning, Anna and Jim and I ended up at the Pittsburgh Farmers Market in the Strip District.  Though small, it had a lot to offer.

Goat cheese

A visit to one farm's table proved especially inspiring.  Fresh goat chevre being served on graham crackers with fruit jam inspired Anna and me to buy some of the cheese and make our own open-faced jam and cracker sandwiches back at the house.  The feta from this farm was also top-notch.

For kale chips

Naturally, I picked up two giant bags of kale so that I could make a batch of kale chips.

Pittsburgh Farmer's Market

Though we had a general plan of acquisition, we enjoyed wandering and checking out what everyone had to offer.

Bread table

Slow Foods Table 3

We had a chance to chat with several of the women at the "Slow Food Pittsburgh" table. I sampled a delicious, fresh applesauce and appreciated that they were set up to do on-site cooking demos.

Slow Foods Table 1

Slow Foods Table 2

Slow Foods/Local Foods

With so much in season, how could we not eat well?

Farmers at the Firehouse Farmers Market
Saturdays 9:30 am - 1:30 pm (May - November)
Strip District - 2216 Penn Avenue 


Thighs n Thighs

I have a new favorite dinner at local favorite chicken joint, Pies 'n' Thighs.  Surprising as it may be, this doesn't involve pie.

Watermelon salad with jalapeno

My current favorite side dish is the watermelon salad, which includes cucumber and jalapeño.  This is significantly different from how I like to make watermelon salad (with red onion, feta, and black olives), but it's light and refreshing.

Horchata - Pies n Thighs

The horchata is my beverage of choice this summer.  It's cold and tasty and spiced, without being too sweet.  I've had it at several restaurants, but the mixture at Pies 'n' Thighs is one of the best I've had.

Here's the main event:

Chicken Biscuit - Pies n Thighs

It's the "Chicken Biscuit," it's $5, it's decadent, and it's phenomenal.  What you see here is a sandwich of chicken breast with hot sauce and honey butter on a fluffy biscuit.   There's so, so, much butter.  It can't possibly be healthy.  Just watch it ooze:

I love it so much.  This is currently my go-to comfort meal, y'all.


CSA Adventures 2010: Weeks 4, 5 and 6 -- Heat Wave


So, it's been really hot in New York City this monthIt's been hot other places, of course, but NYC is where I live (and cook in a non-air-conditioned kitchen), so this is the weather that most affects my eating and blogging.  Some days I just can't bear to turn on the oven or stove -- or sit under the electronic heating pad that is my laptop.   

All this is to say I know I've left this blog looking pretty neglected for July. Still, I have to keep eating to stay alive and there's always CSA produce coming in, so I'm determined to post several more times before this month is over.  I'll get caught up, I vow. And maybe August will bring cooler weather.

As far as CSA vegetables and fruit are concerned, my weekly shares are getting pretty jumbled in the refrigerator.  At the end of some weeks I've still got a lot of leftovers to carry over to the next week.  However, so far, I've only had to throw away a little lettuce that got black and gross -- not even a full head's worth.  So, even as behind as I am, I still feel good about this season of CSA eating. 

In the interest of getting caught up, I'm going to combine the past three weeks' produce and recipes into one hot post and let you know what I got and what I've been eating.
Week Three Wrap-Up

These are recipes made from items left over from week three's share that I made and/or ate during week four.  Though the produce in question was delivered in week three's share, they weren't consumed in time to make it into week three's post. Confused?  Me, too!

1. Garlic Scape and Carrot Soup (leftovers added to more carrots and tops from week 4; see below)

2.  Salad of Beets (leftovers added to additional beets from week 5; see below)

CSA: Week 4!
Week 4 Produce
5 Radish
5 Carrots
3 Garlic
Fava Beans
Swiss Chard
[3 cucumbers**
4 squash**]

Fruit: Around 2 pints cherries

**I was out of town for week 4's distribution, so had a friend pick up my share.  I did not actually receive cucumbers or squash, but did end up with the rest of the items listed above.  I'm not complaining, though.  Some produce is always better than none, which is what I would have had without someone willing to pick up my share while I was gone.

CSA Share - Week 5
Week 5 Produce
1 Cabbage
1 head Lettuce
1 head Red Leaf Lettuce
1 lb Romano Beans
3/4 lb Sugar Snap Peas
1 lb Beets
4 Onions

1 Apple Juice
1 Grape Jam
1 pint Sour Cherries

CSA - Week 6
Week 6 Produce
Lettuce - 1 head
Basil - 3oz
Fava Beans - 1 lb
Mixed Greens - 1lb
Squash - 4 

Cucumber - 2
Heida Beans - 1lb

Sweet Cherries - 1 pint
Peaches - 3 lbs

Recipes Made - Weeks Four, Five, and Six
Radish Salad
1. Radish Salad With Pecans and Coconut Oil Dressing
Source: My little brain.
Notes: I've been reading about the benefits of coconut oil, so I created a dressing using it with lemon juice and zatar, a Middle Eastern spice blend.  The flavor was perfect with the nuts.  Ben came over and shared the work of prepping (and the pleasure of eating) this one.

Orzo "Risotto"

2. Cheesy "Orzo Risotto" with Swiss Chard
Source: I found this recipe on a website called Chez Loulou.
Notes: Wow!  This dish was so good, and the leftovers reheated over the next two days were still excellent.  The cheese lent a creaminess that balanced the slight bitterness of the greens, and the texture of the orzo (prepared like risotto) delighted me.  I'd make this recipe again, for sure, and I think it would be a great dish to share with friends.

Dan's with bread

Carrot Top/Garlic Scape soup 2

3. Carrot Top and Garlic Scape Soup
Source: This recipe was inspired by a recipe for Garlic Scape Soup found all over the internet, including here, plus a recipe for a Tuscan soup called "Minestra di Foglie di Carote" that is originally from Solo Verdura, by Anne Bianchi.

Notes: I really enjoyed this soup.  Here's how to make it my way:

Garlic Scape and Carrot Top Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
5 small carrots and their tops (use even more tops, if you have them, up to a cup and a half), separated and then chopped (don't mix)
2 ribs celery, diced
approx. 13 garlic scapes, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 cups broth (vegetable or chicken, or a mix.  I had 4 c. vegetable, 1 c. chicken, and 1 c. water)
½ cup brown rice
4 tablespoons grated cheese (freshly grated parmesan is very nice, but blends that come pre-shredded work well, too)
juice of 1/4 to 1/2 lemon (start with smaller amount and use more to taste)

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot at medium-low heat. 

Add the onion, carrots (NOT the tops), celery, and scapes.  Cook on med-low heat for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are starting to get tender and onions are softened and translucent.

Add the salt and pepper (go easy on the salt; you can add more later), pour in your broth, and turn the heat to medium-high.  Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low, then add your rice.   Cover your pot and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Taste to see if rice is becoming tender.  It could still be just a bit chewy, because it's going to cook another 5 minutes.

Add your carrot tops and cook 5 minutes.  Stir well.  Add lemon juice to taste, and add more salt if you think it needs some.

Pasta Bowl


Pasta and Fava Beans
4. Pasta and Fava Beans
Source: Joe told me my friend Jenny had made a delicious pasta dish with sausages from The Meat Hook (my favorite!) and CSA fava beans, so I decided to do the same.  I used this recipe.
Notes:  Oh my.  The flavor from the sausages gets all through the dish and the tomatoes (I used grape and cherry tomatoes) cook down into bright, warm pockets of fruit.  I'll certainly be making this again.

Dan's Slaw

Slaw 2
5. Coleslaw
Source:Dan made this.  I'm not sure what recipe he used.
Notes: CSA cabbage and onions went into this excellent coleslaw.  It wasn't too mayonnaise-y, either, for those of you concerned about that.

Cherry Smoothies
6. Cherry Smoothies
Source: Dan's smarty-pants brain.
Notes: Yogurt and cherries and blackberry ice cream were all in these smoothies.  The cherries were beginning to look a little tired, so blending them up into a beverage was the right idea.  Dan mixed tart and sweet cherries for more complex fruit flavor.

Giant Pasta Salad Pasta Salad = drama
7. Pasta Salad
Source: Dan's brain, yet again.
Notes: I have to thank Dan for coming to the rescue on several hot nights.  While I sat on the couch and moaned about the heat, he whipped up some tasty dishes.  This pasta salad was enormous, filled with CSA basil, and a real treat.  There are cucumbers and sun-dried tomatoes in there, too, among other things.

Beet Salad and Tintin
8. Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
Source: This salad was off the top of our heads
Notes: Golden and red beets from two different CSA weeks plus goat cheese and walnuts?  Nice.  It was still good for lunch the next day, too, despite already having been dressed.

Stone Fruit Slump
9. Stone Fruit Slump
Source:  I got the recipe for this from a cookbook I was given for Christmas.  It's called Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More, by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson.  This is the first time I've used this particular cookbook.  I'm not sure yet whether I'd recommend you buy it until I've tried a few more of the recipes, but it looks great.
Notes: I used cherries and peaches for this slump.  I don't think the cookbook's recipe for the "dumpling" dough that topped the slump was correct, as I had to add significantly more flour than called for in the recipe, but it came out just fine after my adjustments and a bit longer baking time.  It even kept well in the fridge for a few days, which I wasn't expecting. 

Best of all?  It cooked entirely on one burner, so I didn't have to turn on the oven.

A Sort of Cold Pizza?

Cold Lunch
10. Veggies on Pita
Source: Dan.
Notes: I wasn't home to eat this lovely-looking "cold lunch."  Dan made it for himself one afternoon while I was at work.  It looks like a great vehicle for CSA cucumber.  I'm sorry I missed it!

11. Grilled Zucchini Sticks
Source: Dan made these, too.
Notes: More sausages and grilled squash, please!

12. Raw Cucumbers with Hummus (not pictured)
Source: From Dan's brain to my mouth.
Notes: Terrific.

First Homemade Ice Cream

13. Peach Ice Cream
Source: unknown
Notes: We bought ourselves a new ice cream maker for our recent 9-year wedding anniversary, and Dan christened it by making ice cream from leftover peaches.  This was a perfect dessert AND a perfect breakfast.  In the photo above it tops leftover fruit slump.  Finally, I feel like we might beat the heat!

14. Sugar Snap Peas - eaten raw? Tossed in one of the salads? (not pictured)
Notes: I do not remember eating these!  But I love snap peas, so I bet I threw them into one of the salads we ate or munched on them raw as I cooked.  Or were they in the pasta salad, Dan?

Items Remaining at the end of Week Six
1 head Lettuce
1/2 Cucumber
1 1/2 Squash
1 1/2 Radishes
Fava Beans
Romano Beans/Heida Beans (they look exactly the same to me) -- CHALLENGE VEGETABLE!
a couple handfuls of Mixed Greens
4 heads garlic

Planned Recipe(s) for Remaining Items
  • Mixed greens salad with cucumber and radishes
  • I dunno -- something beany!  With squash?

Final Thoughts on Weeks Four, Five, and Six
I'm feeling good about where I am as I start week seven.  I've got some leftovers I can use up with two or three large dishes and I think odds and ends will blend well with the coming week's produce.  Now I'm just hoping for a break in this steamy weather.  

What's your favorite hot-weather meal?


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