Sunday, July 26, 2009


I am not a cucumber fan, but Thom likes them OK. So when we got cucumbers in our farm box, again, I decided to try to do something with one of them instead of just giving them all away. I had heard of gazpacho, a cold soup that has cucumbers in it. Thom even reminded me that we used to get it from a local catering company that had a take-out business close by before Aaron was born. But I can't remember it very well.

I found a basic recipe on and modified it. Although I often prefer to start with recipes from since I can see how other people rated a recipe, I had a hard time finding one with primarily fresh ingredients. Most called for tomato juice or canned tomatoes. Here is my recipe:

3 medium-large tomatoes, quartered
1/2 large cucumber, peeled and cut into thick slices
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into large pieces
1 large shallot, quartered
1 clove garlic
1 handful fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp tarragon vinegar
ground black pepper

Puree in a blender. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Thom liked it, but felt like it was missing something. He added celery seed to his, which he liked. I did see recipes calling for celery, but wasn't sure how well it would puree in the blender. He also liked it with white pepper. I liked the cilantro, which I only used because we had some fresh from the farm box. And The Flavor Bible confirmed that cilantro goes with cucumbers. If I was serving it to guests, I might garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of cilantro.

Some recipes suggest garnishing with sour cream or croutons, but I just served it as is. It was quick and easy to make and I didn't have to run the oven or stove which was a huge plus.

Giant Tomato

Our neighbors gave us some tomatoes last week, including the one on the left. It is a giant heirloom tomato, probably twice as big as our Mr. Stripey I posted a couple weeks ago. It must have weighed at least a pound. The one on the right came from our farm box last week. It is a good sized tomoto, although you can't tell from this picture. It filled the palm of my hand. We used the giant heirloom to make a big plate of caprese salad last night. Delicious!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gestatinal Diabetes

I was recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes, so my food focus has been on preparing meals according to my new diet guidelines. I find myself buying fruits and veggies I wouldn't otherwise buy outside of what I get from my farm share since my diet is restricted in so many ways. I probably won't be posting too much on this blog over the next few months, but I have started a blog dedicated to eating with gestational diabetes. You can get to it from my profile. Hopefully many of my meals will still be focused on locally grown foods and I will update this blog as I can.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Caprese Salad

This is our first Mr. Stripey tomato. It is an heirloom variety and the first time we've tried growing this kind. It's hard to tell from the picture without anything to compare it with, but this is a giant tomato, probably the length of my hand. The fruit is sweet and juicy. We used it to make caprese salad last night, although I was so hungry, I forgot to take a picture of the prepared plate.

Caprese involves tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil. We prefer to use bufala mozzarella, made from buffalo's milk rather than cow's milk. It has a distinct taste and texture, but it is more expensive. I think a ball of fresh bufala mozzarrella at Trader Joe's is around $6. But, considering our idea of eating out these days involves going to In-N-Out burger twice a month where the three of us can eat for under $11, we splurge on good food at home once in awhile.

To make caprese, I slice the tomato into 1/3" slices (it was more challenging with Mr. Stripey's odd shape) and lay them out on a large plate. Then I slice the mozzarella, only as thin as necessary depending on how many slices of tomato I have (usually we have 8-10 slices). We grind fresh pepper over the cheese, then top it with a basil leaf. Simple, but so delicious. It tastes like summer to me. Like our summer pasta, we only make this when we have home grown tomatoes in season, never with store bought tomatoes (although if we get tomatoes from our CSA farm, we will do it with those, too). So while the bufala mozzarella is expensive, we only buy it 2-3 months out of the year.

Update 7/21: Here is a picture I took 2 nights ago using another Mr. Stripey as well as two smaller red tomotoes (I'm not sure the variety).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini

We had two eggplants in our farm box this week. I once had eggplant Parmesan at a restaurant that was divine. And I've had eggplant Parmesan from the freezer section of Trader Joe's that is OK. But I think I tried to make it once without success. So I didn't know what to do with these eggplants. But since we were grilling chicken that night, I decided to try grilling the eggplant. And a zucchini, since I never know what to do with that, either. The zucchini came out decent. But the eggplant was disappointing. Eggplant has a strange consistency that seems hard to overcome. And a slight bitterness that needs to be masked. But here's how I made it.

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic (I used jarred minced garlic)

Mix ingredients together to make marinade.

I sliced a small zucchini in half and brushed each half with the marinade.

I sliced the eggplant into 1/3"-1/2" slices and brushed the cut side of each piece with marinade(i.e. not the skin side).

I cooked them on the rack in the back of the BBQ to start, so they were not directly over the heat. After about 7-8 min, I realized they were cooking too slowly and when I turned them over, I moved them over direct heat.

If anyone knows a good way to cook egglant, let me know. I'm not sure what to do with the other eggplant we received.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Oatmeal with fresh fruit

This is another recipe inspired by our backyard harvest. Our small peach tree is laden with fruit at the moment. The birds and critters are starting to enjoy their share. One of our apple trees, an Anna apple, we think, is also loaded with fruit. So this morning, I decided to use both in some oatmeal. I confirmed in the Flavor Bible that peaches go well with apples, as well as cinnamon, nutmeg, oatmeal, unsalted butter, vanilla and brown sugar. You can also make this with chopped nuts, which I would add at the beginning with the fruit.

I make my oatmeal with milk because I find it tastes richer and helps fill me up. But you can make it with water if you prefer.

1 cup quick cook steel cut oats
3 cups milk
1 medium peach, chopped
1 medium apple, chopped
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add fruit and brown sugar. Saute for several minutes until fruit is softened. Add oats and stir. Then stir in milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and cook stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.

Makes 2-3 servings.

This is even better with some maple syrup mixed in or more brown sugar. But I kept the sugar light this time because I'm trying to watch my sugar intake.

Summer Pasta

This recipe comes from our own garden, which I also consider part of community supported agriculture - it's just a very small community of our family. We make it up to twice a week while we have tomatoes in season. We never make it with store bought tomatoes, since it just isn't the same. Once the tomatoes are coming in, we buy a potted basil plant and use that to supply the basil for the recipe. It's simple to make and delicious.

Below is the recipe with suggested quantities. But I often use more tomatoes and basil when I have it.

1 package pasta (I prefer the Garlic & Basil linguine from Trader Joe's)
1 dozen cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters (I used both red and yellow cherries in this dish)
6 large basil leaves, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh Parmesan, grated

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook and drain pasta. Add pasta to bowl and toss to mix ingredients. Top with fresh Parmesan.

This makes two large servings.