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Food list and planning

Food I have
1 apple
1 pears
6 radishes
spinach (5oz baby, 5 oz adult)
collard greens
2 cucumbers
snow peas
1 yellow squash (aging)
1 red bell pepper
4 rhubarb stalks
several pounds of pecans

Prepared produce
roasted eggplant
4 heads roasted garlic
2/3 can of tomato sauce (transferred to a jar)
chipotle salsa
chipotle in adobo sauce
orange juice
soy milk

sour cream
2/3 quart whole (unhomogenized) milk

end of a cheese/pepperoni bread
pita chips

beef strips marinated in black pepper sauce and pineapple juice

Meals from that
Thursday, June 25
breakfast: cereal with sliced apple on top w/ soy milk; 2 pears
dinner: out at an Indian restaurant (acquire mint clippings)
prep: set meusli to soak for Friday’s breakfast; candy rhubarb

Friday, June 26
breakfast: meusli – oats, milk, orange juice, dried fruit, pecans
lunch: at conference
5:30 dinner: quick spinach salad (grab tzatziki, hummus, pita chips, snow peas, and a serving dish)
7pm party

Saturday, June 27
breakfast: yogurt
10am yoga
11:45 pilates
1pm – second breakfast: greens on a bagel w/ cream cheese
(*hand off bridge table to its owner)
go to parents’
dinner: make dinner for parents – no idea what to make, since my father has been having trouble keeping food down lately

Sunday, June 28
breakfast: yogurt w/ candied rhubarb
10am yoga
noon: try breakfast at new cafe
2pm – D&D, dinner with those folks. Possible pack up some spinach for a side salad

Monday, June 29
breakfast: greens on a bagel
11am – meeting with home ownership services to see about programs to help me buy a house some day
1-9 work
dinner: turn roasted eggplant into Baigan Bhartha

Tuesday, June 30
breakfast: omelet w/ herbs
dinner: stir fry – marinating beef, yellow squash, red bell pepper, onion, carrot

Wednesday, July 1
go to produce truck

Herbs in my garden

I have managed to fill up all of my pot with herbs, and while I have plans to use some of all of them, I’m not going to be able to use all of all of them. So here’s a list of what I have, and if you are in the area feel free to swap or trade (or just plain ask) for some herbs, and I’d be glad to arrange a swap.


  • genovese
  • lemon
  • purple
  • Thai
  • variegated

Dill (fernleaf)
Fennel (bronze, does not form a bulb)
Parsley (flatleaf)
Rau Ram (Vietnamese Coriander)
Sage (variegated)
Summer Savory

(also in garden – because I love lists)
Delicata (still a wee plant)
Eggplant (Japanese)
Swiss chard
Tomatoes (1 grape, 2 early girl, 1 roma)

(and I have some lettuce and some chocolate-colored cherry tomato seedlings)

Mushroom Risotto

I love risotto. If ever there were a food suited to my hovering and fiddling cooking style, this is it. And that’s because I don’t work from a recipe at all for this… so the tale of the mushroom risotto will be all narration, rather than direction. Then again, if you’ve been reading this blog, you’re probably used to that.

Step 1 – buy mushrooms. I popped over across the street to the guys selling produce out the back of a truck, and I bought two quarts of baby portabellas for $1 each. Yes, I’m bragging.

When I got home, I looked over the herbs on my back porch, and selected the rosemary, parsley, thyme, savory, and chives.

Okay, so the set up was three pans: one sauce pan for warming the stock, the deep skillet with the very smoothest nonstick coating for the risotto, and the next smoothest for cooking the mushrooms. I couldn’t decide whether the mushrooms should go in before the rice (and get overcooked) or after the rice (and have weird moisture issues), so I decided they’d be cooked separately and then incorporated (but not cooked first and pulled out because I don’t hold with that letting your ingredients got cold and stop cooking business).

Yes, go ahead and start warming the stock. (Adding cold stock makes your rice slow down cooking every time it is added while the dish tries to come back up to temperature. You can do it, if you don’t want to wash an extra pot, but it’s smoother if you don’t.)

Since I wasn’t serving any vegetarians, I went to my freezer and pulled out a container of bacon fat because I think bacon fat and mushrooms are best buddies. (Okay, so I actually started with a teaspoon of olive oil and only later thought of the bacon fat, but we’re pretending I didn’t. On the other hand, if you are a vegetarian feel free to pretend there is only olive oil in this dish). So I melted about 2 teaspoons of bacon fat into the risotto pan and got everything up to temperature.

As soon as the bacon melted, I added 1 yellow onion, diced rather finely.

Once the onion was at the translucent/creamy golden stage, I added the arborio rice. And no extra liquid! I kept toasting the rice until it, too, started to look a bit golden and the onions started to caramelize. (I learned this trick from Rice-a-Roni, because I’m classy like that) How much rice? Until I had a mound that would spread out to about 2cm deep in the pan and could be stirred easily without spilling even after adding mushrooms, but would still feed several people.

Now consider the order in which you add your flavors. A chef friend of mine swears that the ones you add first are more central to the dish and all of that ritual. I’ve just gotten in the habit of adding the wine first. So I opened up the bottle of white wine (I’ve made mushroom risotto with pinot noir before, too, but be aware that it will add a grey-ish tinge to your rice) (Oh, and this was a blend of several varietals with a sweet and fairly bright taste) and poured about 1/3 cup of wine into the dish – it should boil immediately and if it stops boiling, then you are pouring too much for the heat to keep up with. Stir. Cook. Stir.

Then I added 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the mushroom pan and a teaspoon of finely minced rosemary. If you let the rosemary toast, it’ll get crispy and won’t give you those obnoxious chewy bits. And then I added half of the mushrooms. Cook. Cook. Stir. Grind pepper over and add a light sprinkle of salt.

Note: as your wine cooks down, it can start tasting very salty, so skimp on your salt additions to risotto until you can taste it at the very end

After the rice starts to look dry again, add a ladle-full or two of the warmed stock. Stir. Cook. Stir.

Once the mushrooms look mostly cooked down, add them and their liquid to the risotto. Start more oil and rosemary, and then cook the rest of the mushrooms.

Keep adding stock as it needs and stirring and cooking.

For the second batch of mushrooms, I added 2-3 drops of truffle oil, too, as I was finishing it with the pepper and light touch of salt.

If you run out of stock, at this point you can add a bit of water without damaging the flavor – or a fruit juice would also work. Apple cider would probably be very tasty. I used exactly all of the stock I had, and that turned out just right. Your stock mileage may vary.

After I added the rest of the mushrooms and the risotto was getting soft and near ready, I added the minced chives, parsley, thyme, and savory. I started with a little and then ended up adding about 1/4 cup of minced herbs based on smell and taste-testings. Your herb strength may also vary, so taste as you go.

Then I started playing a bit. I added 1/2 teaspoon of white balsamic vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon of dijon mustard to give the flavor a bit more dimension.

And then to finish it off, I added a generous splash of half and half. If I’d had hard cheeses to grate in, I would have done so, but it turned out happy without.

And then garnish with more herbs.

Nom nom nom.

Pasta Sauce in a jar

Yes, I have a garden. And, yes, I grow tomatoes.

No, I do not make my own pasta sauce.

Usually, I can get through all of the summer’s tomatoes fresh. If not, there are salsas and chicken creoles to make.

Besides, I think the higher end jarred salsas are delicious, especially when treated as a base with fresh vegetables added.

So I’ve started selecting my jars of sauce by which comes come in mason jars because I find that those tend to be tastier, and I like having the jars to reuse.

On a whim, I recently tried Classico Vodka Sauce.

It is delicious. I ended up eating it with a spoon while I was cooking! It tastes like it is parmesan cheese and cream held together by tomato sauce. I felt absolutely sinful eating it, and I’m not sure I should trust myself to buy another jar.

Also, after my last serving of pasta, I had just a quarter of a cup or so of sauce left that I just couldn’t fit on the dish, so I put it in a separate container to wait until I found the perfect dish for it. And I thought and thought, and I had no idea what to do with it, so I figured I’d mix it with cream cheese (about 4 ounces) and see if that gave me more inspiration.

That and a visit to Satellite Cafe and their signature wrap (spinach tortilla, cream cheese, pesto, roasted red peppers, and fresh spinach) was good for inspiration.

So the next morning’s breakfast was a quesadilla of my cream cheese and vodka sauce spread with caramelized onions and fresh spinach. Mmmmm!

It’s a little too salty for a straight dip for crackers, but maybe with a dry whole wheat type cracker, it could be the base for another topping.

I loved this pasta sauce in a jar.

Miscellaneous root vegetable cottage pie

This isn’t so much a recipe as a narration. I accumulated food, and then I ate it.

So there was someone at the farmers’ market selling an assortment of intriguing root vegetables in early summer – woo! So I ended up with a parsnip, 2 rutabagas, and 1 celeriac. I also had some carrots hanging around. And then one of my co-workers came in with a bag of turnips from her CSA farm share that she didn’t want, and I yoinked it because they looked arrow-shaped and somehow much more appealing than your standard turnip at the store.

And then the root vegetable sat for almost a week because it was summer, and not really root vegetable time. I saw a post on roasted root vegetable pizza over at Straight From the Farm, but I do not posses pizza-making mojo, so instead of making it I forwarded the link to a friend who does bake well (and owns a pizza stone) to see if we wanted to make a project of that some time. That was not, however, scheduled in the near enough future to provide the fate of these tubers.

So I did the easiest thing possible – I cut them into chunks, piled them into foil packets (with some garlic cloves), and roasted them. One packet was seasoned with Penzey’s Turkish seasoning and the other one was Penzey’s fajita seasoning with some extra crappy paprika that I got from my supermarket when I ran out and think has red dye in it (and yes, I’ve bought better since, but I’m having trouble convincing myself to throw anything away unused). And I baked it on 350, but I didn’t really pay attention to how long – I think roughly the length of time it took to clean my kitchen and play a round or two or three of bubble spinner.

End result – the packet with the Turkish seasoning was delicious, and the packet with the fajita seasoning was just okay and kind of unimpressive. But I am really loving the Turkish seasoning – it was a freebie in with another order, but when I run out I’d buy more. But I had a lot of food in the house, so the tubers did not end up a meal on their own.


I also had leftover rice hanging out in my refrigerator. Rice is the one thing I have found, where your results are much better if you are cooking on an electric range.

So for this one – have one burner on high and one burner almost as low as it will go.

Add to your pot with a lid: 1 part rice (in this case, 1/2 cup), 2 parts liquid (in this case, the tail end of jar of salsa and enough water to fill up the rest of the 1 cup measurement), 1 teaspoon lipid (forgotten in this case), a pinch of salt, and anything extra (in this case, the pinched and powdered head of 1 clove, 1 teaspoon turmeric, and 3 dried tomatoes sliced into thin strips).

Put pot onto high burner, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir once, cover, and transfer to the low burner. Wait 20 minutes – and then you have perfect rice.


And then I had a cheap roast of beef. I cut it into thirds and only prepped part of it to be a real roast (embedded garlic cloves and rosemary and then froze it), but this part was sliced into thin strips against the grain (because otherwise this cheap meat will be tough and stringy).

I tossed the meat with a third of a taco seasoning packet my mother had bought in bulk from Amazon. And then I cooked it down quickly with some sliced onions and minced garlic and jalapeno (flesh only).


Cottage Pie

So then I pulled out my pie plate (the right size for how much food I had, if there had been more, I would have used a casserole dish – your call).

On the bottom, I lay out some thin slices of a very ripe tomato.

Over that, I layered a mixture of the beef and onions I’d cooked and the leftover rice with sundried tomatoes. I sprinkled over that the rest of the tomato, diced.

Then I heated up the roasted root vegetables and mashed them with some cream cheese and salt – and then spread that over top of the meat.

Baked at 350F until the top was getting nice and crusty.

And the end result was deliciousness and many leftovers turned into actual food and lunches.