Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Have you ever had a head of cauliflower miraculously appear in your refrigerator? This strange but true event happened to us recently when we returned from vacation.

I’m sure it isn’t a common occurrence, but if it happens to you, I recommend making Cream of Cauliflower soup.

This soup was a delightful surprise, as it tasted quite good and not much like cauliflower at all. (I’m not a big fan of cauliflower and my last recipe experience with it was the South Beach recipe that attempted to pass off cauliflower as mashed potatoes (not a successful experiment in my opinion…)).

At any rate this soup used many local ingredients on hand and was appreciated by our entire household (some more than others). Here is my adaptation of Cream of Cauliflower Soup II from allrecipes.com:

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients

2 T butter

1/2 onion

2 cloves garlic

4 small potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

24 oz. vegetable broth

1 head of cauliflower, chopped

1 c skim milk

2 T sherry

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Melt butter in a large pot. Add onions and garlic and cook about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and carrots and cook for 5 more minutes. Pour in vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Stir in cauliflower, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until cauliflower is tender (about 2o minutes).

Remove from heat and puree soup. Return to low heat and add milk and sherry. Season with salt and pepper and, once heated through, serve and enjoy!

Advertisements

The Latest Plan

Garlic: Local and Super

The latest permutation is the Super-Locavore plan. It needs a better name.

While my goal is to serve both local foods and/or foods that are on Dr. Pratt’s list of SuperFoods, the super-locavore name suggests an even more limited geographic version of locavorism (like my back yard). Anyone who has read or witnessed my gardening acumen will know that is not a wise idea.

In my past plans, I have struggled with unintended consequences. One such consequence has been the preference of less healthy but local foods such as beef, cheeses, and breads over a healthier and environmentally better non-local options like beans and lentils (ok, maybe taste had a little something to do with it). This plan is yet another attempt to encourage the purchase and consumption of more healthy foods.

I still favor an 80/20 plan as it allows for some freedom and purchase of necessary, but off-list items. This time though, the 80% will encompass both Local Foods and Super Foods. The super foods may be found on the SuperFoodRx website, but are also listed on the Locavore Plan page. The super foods list is actually larger as each food listed is joined by sidekicks (for example, pumpkin is associated with other orange foods like carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and orange bell peppers). The good news is that many of the super foods are also local foods. The better news for me is that citrus fruits are on the list, as well as Dark Chocolate!

One further modification I will make for December (November house guests – do not fear, we won’t start while you are here! And December house guests, don’t fear either, we’ll can always be “on vacation!”), is a change in the dollar amounts. It appears that a certain percentage of the household food budget goes to entertainment oriented foods and beverages that need not be included in an analysis of locavore foods. As such, I will reduce the food budget to $500. 80% Local/Super = $400 while 20% non-local/super = $100. Of the $400 Local/Super, $200/month is local through the co-op (which includes a weekly produce box) which leaves $200 for super foods or other local items. Additionally, any food in the freezer is “free” – like all of the peaches frozen from this summer.

Hopefully this plan will work..or at least last a month!

The Carolina Locavore is Back!

Wow!

When I last wrote, I was attempting to cook from scratch, prepare for an art show and be the campaign manager for Rebecca’s bid for city council. As it turned out, my noble local cooking plans were supplanted by all too frequent trips to McDonald’s, Chick Fil-A (chicken biscuits!), Subway and Little Caesars (aka campaign food).

It is now November 14th – the art show came and went, and Rebecca will be sworn in to the Sanford City Council early next month (here’s a link to the 11/9 Herald article about the election). Congratulations Rebecca!!!

So, after a hiatus that went just a little longer than I anticipated, I am ready to become reacquainted with my kitchen. In fact, the girls are begging for healthy food. (We hit rock bottom the day after the election when, in packing their lunches, I gave each girl a sandwich, stuffed the rest of the lunch box with candy, and said “Trade for something healthy.”)

The good news is that the hiatus has given me time to reflect further on locavorism and make yet another NEW PLAN. To be continued…

The Apple Peeler

Tags

Here is the first video post for Carolina Locavore – a silent movie!

Not being able to eat raw apples, I hadn’t given a lot of thought to apple peeling convenience. But as we are trying to store local fruit for the future, apples have taken higher priority.

When I ordered the 40 apples from the co-op, I wondered how I would peel them all…I have always found peeling, coring and slicing apples to be a bit of a nuisance. Apparently a number of folks have…thus the invention of the apple parer in the 1800’s. For a nice history of this wonder, check out http://appleparermuseum.com

One of the cool aspects of the apple peeler is that the design hasn’t changed very much and it is entirely mechanical. The one I have has a 5 year warranty which suggests that it is probably a pretty reliable device.

While I haven’t stored any apples yet or baked a pie, the family has eaten a lot of apples – it is just so much fun to use the apple peeler!

I interviewed a family member this morning who requested an apple for breakfast. “It used to be so much work to prepare an apple. It would hurt my teeth to bite into an apple. This is fast and it peels, cores, and slices the apple.” What more could you want?

Baked Squash and Apple Casserole

Tags

, , ,

I’m not sure which is more exciting – my apple squash casserole or the apple peeler I bought which had this recipe in their instruction book.

OK. I am sure – it is definitely the apple peeler. What an amazing invention! I found a website dedicated to its history…but I’ll save that for another post when I take some pictures of the apple peeler in motion…our apple consumption has skyrocketed since the addition of the apple peeler to our home. This phenomenon also may have been influenced by my purchase of 40 apples…but why quibble?

At any rate, the recipe book had ideas for apple pie, shoestring potatoes, and a bunch of delicious sounding apple dishes. It also had one for butternut squash…with my mounting squash collection, it looked like a good choice.

The casserole smells wonderful and Patrick indicated that he liked it. I’m not sure about it…mostly because I haven’t acquired a taste for butternut squash. But, I suspect with further produce box purchases I will end up enjoying this (and maybe the addition of something crunchy on top…or vanilla ice cream…)

Baked Squash and Apple Casserole

from the Back to Basics Peel Away Peeler Instruction Manual

1 small butternut squash (under 2 lbs)

1/4 c cold margarine (I used butter)

1 T flour

2 Apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)

1/2 c Brown sugar

1 t salt

1/4 t Cinnamon

1/4 t Nutmeg

Pare, seed and cut the squash into small slices. Place the squash and apple slices in a baking dish. Blend the rest of the ingredients together until crumbly. Sprinkle over the squash. Cover and back at 350F for 45 to 50 minutes.

Curried Lentils with Potato and Apple

Tags

, , ,

The lentils are back – this time in a sweet curry with potatoes and a gala apple from the the co-op.

I started this morning by cooking a pot of lentils – didn’t measure, just followed Mark Bittman’s advice in Food Matters to cover with a couple of inches of cold water and cook until done.

Further along in the book, Bittman offers a recipe for Curried Lentil Soup with Potatoes. I started with it, but as usual diverged quite a bit. The result was a non-offensive, almost tasty lentil dish (not a soup). We ate it as a stand alone dish, but it could have easily been made more liquid and served over rice or other grains.

Curried Lentils with Potato and Apple

Olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 large clove of garlic, minced

Salt and Pepper

3 T curry powder

1/2 t ginger

Approximately 2 cups of cooked lentils and cooking liquid (forgot to measure)

Water (about a cup)

3 small potatoes, peeled and chopped (I used .834 pounds – I measured that!)

1 apple, peeled and chopped

2 T sugar

Heat the oil and add the onion. Cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute or so. Season with salt and pepper. Add the ginger and curry powder.

At this point add the lentils, some cooking liquid and a bit more water. Next add the potatoes and the apple and simmer until they are tender.

During the process, I added enough water to keep it liquid and ended up putting in about 2 T of sugar to counteract a slight harshness. The result was sweet and not too bad :).

Apple Muffins

Tags

,

It’s apple season!

While I still can’t eat raw apples, I love them cooked. This morning’s project was a batch of apple muffins for Annie (Ginevra is a huge fan of the cheesy egg things). This is my first attempt at apple muffins and I opted for a variation on two recipes. While the muffins were quite good, I will probably tweak the spices and the sugar content. I ordered 40 Gala apples from the co-op so I’ll have plenty of chances to experiment.

Apple Muffins

2 c flour

1/2 c sugar (could lower this a bit)

3 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1 c milk (tried 3/4 c but it was too dry)

1/3 c oil

1 egg, beaten

1 t cinnamon (would like to try cloves and ginger, for Annie)

1 c peeled, chopped apple.

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 12 muffin tins (I use silicone liners). Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, combine milk, oil, and egg. Add to dry ingredients and stir until moist. Add the chopped apple. Fill the muffin cups. Bake until done, approximately 20 minutes.

Thick Crust Pizza

Tags

,

Day 3 of the hiatus brings us a fairly locavore dinner: pizza made with crusts frozen from my big plan-ahead cooking day and baked on the pizza stones, homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella from two different local dairies, basil from the garden and onions from the refrigerator (I think they were store bought…)

It was great to have the crusts on hand. These were made with the bread machine pizza dough recipe from Day 23 but instead of making 4 thin crusts or 14 mini crusts I ended up with two nice thick crusts. Needless to say, we had plenty of leftovers!

One item we don’t have leftover is okra.

Action shot of the Okra Toss Co-Champion

The rather limp uncooked okra that had been haunting me became the key player in a number of games yesterday at our family Labor Day Party. The most successful one was “The Okra Toss” where participants attempted to toss 4 okra pods into a bowl. Watch out – if you try this at home -they are very bouncy! Most of the other okra games devolved into pelting the other players with okra. Also fun! We are slightly concerned that our hostesses’ yard will become the home of many new okra plants next year!

Another exciting piece of news is that our NC food co-op is offering ice cream! Home delivery of ice cream…it doesn’t get much better than that (okay, maybe making your own ice cream would be better) but I am thrilled!!!

Hiatus Day 1

Guess where?

One of my original premises was that I could eat locally, cook all of the food from scratch and still save money.

I still think that it is true, except that I didn’t anticipate the level of planning and amount of time it would take. It turns out that being an involved mother and wife, a painter who has a two-person show coming in October, and a Campaign Manager leaves little time to figure out how to cook the okra that is getting limper by the day.

So, I’ve decided to make a choice and I think the okra has to go….or at least wait a while…

We’ll still eat from the co-op and try out as many new local dishes as possible. And I’ll still post here and there…but I’d like to take September off from trying to keep to a locavore budget…thanks for your understanding, dear readers!

Day 64 – Lentil Tacos

Tags

, ,

While cooked lentils aren’t particularly beautiful to look at, they do have a resemblance to ground beef.

Ironically, ground beef can be local while lentils are not, but the health and environmental benefits of the mighty lentil make a certain amount of experimentation worthwhile. So I have begun a quest to try out lentils in place of ground beef in a variety of recipes. (Don’t worry, no hamburgers will be replaced by lentils in this experiment).

First up is the taco. Inspired by 49 cent taco seasoning at the Food Lion, I reheated some previously frozen lentils (I cooked a lot of lentils the other weekend!) and added the taco seasoning. It tasted reasonably close to taco meat and under copious amounts of toppings who would know the difference? Actually, one person – the house vegetarian, who liked it a lot.

We substituted cucumbers for the lettuce as we had no lettuce and three cucumbers were left from the weekly produce box. This was a nice addition and sparked thoughts of Tzatziki sauce – with some tweaking of the spices, we could go in a new direction!

Anyway, this taco version wasn’t particularly local or homemade, but there is no reason it couldn’t be next time around! The general verdict was that we should have lentil tacos often (and skip the beef…).

Lentil Tacos

Cooked Lentils (enough to approximate 1 lb of beef)

Taco seasoning (little package or make your own…I’ll investigate recipes or take suggestions)

Tortillas (purchased or make your own…the recipe I use is in the link)

Toppings of your choice: cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, random seasonal veggies, salsa etc.

Heat the lentils and add the seasonings. Layer the lentils and toppings on the tortilla, fold, and enjoy!