Wild Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna

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While I still receive a box of local foods each week, I have to admit that I haven’t selected many items that required actual cooking. For example, one of the vendors is a bakery that offers delicious scones. In the great debate of kale vs. scones, the scones won.

So what possessed me to order the oyster mushrooms? I don’t know. I guess it was one of the few times I had seen mushrooms of any kind on the list and I like to try out food from new farmers. I was unfamiliar with oyster mushrooms and rather surprised by the enormous size of the item in the plastic clam shell box lurking in my refrigerator.

I was about to forgive my ordering mistake and throw it out, but then thought, no, I’ll try to cook something with it…to my delight, I found a recipe that used not only the giant mushroom but also the guilt-inducing bag of spinach (also from the co-op).

The recipe was actually very good – who knew? Three out of four family members liked it (and the fourth didn’t want to eat it at all as it contained mushrooms). I would make a few changes in the future (like substituting a more conservative mushroom) and increasing the amount of sauce, but the flavor was nice. And, I didn’t even notice the oyster mushrooms once they were cooked.

The original recipe, from Martha Stewart, makes a large 9″ x 13″ pan of lasagna. I was at the mercy of the quantities of spinach and mushroom that came from the co-op, so I halved everything.  I also made a few substitutions to match the existing items in my pantry: sherry for the Madeira, Parmesan for the Romano, boring lasagna noodles for the fresh spinach ones, and button mushrooms for the topping (a marketing move on my part). Click here for the real recipe. I’m sure the published recipe is good too!

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Apple Pie MmmMarmalade

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While shopping at the Artists’ Colony’s recent local food event, I also had the fortunate opportunity to sample Mrs. Picky Fanicky’s North Carolina Apple Pie MmmMarmalade. Wonderfully delicious!

The jar suggests using it as a topping for biscuits, toast and bagels. At one of our family afternoon teas, we tried it on biscuits and immediately thought, “this would be even better on ice cream.” Of course, ice cream may not be a lite locavore item, but in small quantities…why not?

Vegetarian Chili

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This past weekend, we had the opportunity to sample local NC products at the Carolina Artists Colony here in Sanford. The foods were delicious, and I came home anxious to try out the new items. While I tend to buy fresh NC produce from my food co-op, the NC foods at the Artists Colony centered around jarred yummies like salsas, sauces and jams.

First on the cooking agenda is a chili based on Cane Mountain Farms’ Fresh Tomato Salsa. The sample we tried had ground beef, and I was planning to add some local NC grass-fed beef to my version, but decided to go vegetarian at the last minute.

The process was simple – to the slow cooker, add cans of: chick peas, pinto beans, corn, and diced tomatoes. Stir in the jar of Salsa and cook on high for awhile. We served lunch after about 2 hours of cooking, and I let it continue simmering for another 2 hours. We topped ours with shredded cheese and sour cream. Very tasty! (And easy too!)

Stir Fry (and an Iris)

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Blue Iris

I spent a bit more time this week painting than I did cooking. I’m not the neatest painter in the world and I often have multi-colored hands, which while completely sanitary as I bathe them in rubbing alcohol, is not visually conducive to activities requiring clean hands, like cooking or laundry (or any household chore, right?) At least, I can rationalize it that way.

Anyway, I did manage to put together a stir fry of local foods. A benefit of ordering perishables from the food co-op is that they are ordered when one has excellent resolve about good diet and arrive later when the resolve is not so high. Luckily they are also the source of guilt (okra excepted) and loom in the refrigerator until I break down and cook them. The napa cabbage was especially guilt-inducing as it was enormous and took up a lot of space.

The stir fry was actually very tasty. A newcomer was Red Asian Greens (the reddish leaf in the photo). Prepared in conjunction with the cabbage, broccoli, ginger, spring onions, and some tofu, it was a good meal. I must confess that I had turkey instead of tofu as my protein. I’m sure there is some witty joke in there about putting the turkey back in Tofurky.

The iris painting is my first ink to use a solid black background. I’m thinking that this technique might be nice for some food paintings. I can see onions, beets, or carrots against the black…we shall see!

Roulette Salad with Tangerines

Mixed salad greens are the starring local foods of the week. Full of beauty and variety, they make a gorgeous salad even with limited toppings (like tangerines).

We affectionately call the salad from the co-op “Russian Roulette Salad.” While many of the leaves are mild, there are a few greens with an amazingly bitter punch. They add a bit of danger and excitement to salad eating. I suppose one could take the time to taste test each type of green to figure out which ones are problematic…but that would take all of the fun out of it!

Lacking any other salad worthy fresh vegetable, I turned to the bowl of tangerines on the counter (did you know that 40 lbs of tangerines bought to support the local high school marching band are a lot of tangerines?). I made a vinaigrette with the juice and zest of one tangerine and sectioned another to add to the greens. Very fresh and delicious (minus the one roulette bite…)!

Roasted Carrots

This week’s lite local food is the Carrot.

Because the co-op took a few weeks off over the holidays to revamp their systems, I needed to draw on my refrigerator’s inventory for something to make. I found local potatoes, garlic, and quite a few carrots. As carrots are one of the foods that I can’t eat raw, I considered several cooked options (like ginger carrot soup or traditional glazed carrots). I chose the roasted version because, well, I just like roasted carrots (and their friends, roasted onions and potatoes). Delicious!

Roasted Carrots (with Onions and Potatoes)

A combination of roasting veggies – carrots, potatoes, and onions, cut

Fresh rosemary

Garlic, minced or pressed

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 400F and line baking sheets with foil. Gently toss the carrots, potatoes, and onions with enough olive oil to coat (but as little as possible), garlic and rosemary. Spread the veggies out on the baking sheets and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes or until desired brownness.

Baby Ginger Lime Tea

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The Carolina Locavore is going Lite for 2012. Instead of focusing on trying to eat only local foods (or 80% local) and cooking from scratch, I have reduced expectations for 2012. I’ll be happy cooking a recipe or two a week highlighting locally grown foods.

The other objective is to feature waistline friendly recipes. Spending hours on end cooking (and eating) followed by months of consuming fast food during election campaigning have left me unable to fit into my favorite black pants. While I have temporarily solved the problem by purchasing new black pants, they aren’t the same as “favorite black pants.” So, the recipes will be on the lighter side.

Today’s recipe is about as light as one can go…Baby Ginger Lime Tea. No, the lime is not local, but the ginger is! Baby Ginger is picked at a younger age than mature ginger – the skin is thinner and lighter, and the texture is less stringy. The taste is also more gentle.

Gentle ginger is a plus because one of my previous attempts at Ginger Tea left us all feeling as though our throats were seared. No throat burning with this version, and the lime is a pleasant touch! For stronger tea, feel free to increase the quantity of ginger and/or the steeping time.

Baby Ginger Lime Tea

3 Cups of Boiling Water

Thinly sliced baby ginger (or regular ginger)

Lime juice

Thinly slice the ginger (I used 7 g of ginger but I was cautious! Feel free to try more) and set in the tea pot. Add 3 cups of water and let steep for 15-20 minutes. Add a bit of lime juice to taste( I used the juice of about a sixth of a small lime). Enjoy!

Produce Box – November 20

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The return of the produce box.

This week’s mystery box included a few pleasant surprises…namely raspberries and strawberries, grown in November thanks to solar energy and plastic.

The box also included at least 6 types of green leafy items yet to be identified. A new game…name this green! I’m not sure if any of them are tasty raw, but I’ll find out soon enough. In the pottery bowl are various root vegetables (I see roasting in their future).

I expect to be making Indian food this week with one of our house guests. She brought with her several delicious sounding recipes that may incorporate a few of the produce box items. We also plan to visit the Indian Market for new spices. We’ll be sure to share our creations via the blog later this week.

Local Honey

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We recently received a special package in the mail – a gift of honey from a friend of Patrick’s who keeps bees. While Bob’s honey isn’t local to us, it is local to him and a special treat!

This honey, shown on the right (at left is some NC honey), comes from San Francisco where the bees collect pollen from local areas including Golden Gate Park. Thanks for sharing the delicious honey!

While Patrick likes to use honey on his cereal, the girls often spread honey on warm biscuits.

Tomorrow we will receive the produce box…it has been a few weeks since our last adventure with the produce box, otherwise known as vegetable triage…I wonder what we’ll get?

Good Moms Cook Tofu

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Good Moms Cook Tofu…it sounds a bit like Good Boys Do Fine Always,  All Cows Eat Grass and other useful ways to remember the notes on the bass clef or what cows eat for dinner.

In this case, though, it is a reminder that my vegetarian child would like me to serve tofu more often (or ever). I have been a good supporter of soy – edamame and soynuts – just not tofu. However, a dear friend and neighbor came to the rescue and brought some tasty tofu to my lovely daughter. She sent a link to the recipe to me so that I could regain a few lost “mom points.”

Pictured is a sample of our stir fry with tofu. Everyone liked it (I was fine with it taste wise, but not too keen on the texture) and I will make it again. I was a bit rushed and did not dry cook the tofu as long as the recipe indicated – but next time I will!

Here is the link to the recipe: http://melissaraydavis.hubpages.com/hub/How_to_Cook_Tofu_Like_the_Pros

In other news, I made 7 new scarves this week. The scarves are available at two shops in Sanford: the Carolina Artists Colony and Afternoon Tea at Mrs. Lacy’s. I will post some on-line scarves soon. So much to do!