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csa cooking: basil green goddess dressing

June 19, 2011

Our CSA started this week! We couldn’t have been more ready. This is our third year in a row getting a share with the Full Plate Farm Collective, and the second year in a row getting a fruit share with Finger Lakes Fruit Bowl. The Full Plate Farm Collective, for those of you non-Ithacans out there, is a group of three farms that work together to grow produce for all the shareholders in the collective. The model allows each farm to specialize in a few crops, and we as shareholders get to enjoy the bounty! Our share usually runs through mid-October, and we’re continually impressed with the variety of produce we receive each week.

To kick off the season, our first share included a (beautiful) head of lettuce, a spicy salad mix (baby kales, mustards, etc.), baby arugula, garlic scapes, a large bunch each of dill and basil, a bunch of kale, an overwintered beet, and a pint of jewel-red strawberries. We also received strawberries and rhubarb in our fruit share, so it was like Christmas came in June this year at the Eggs on Sunday household. We are so ready for locally-grown fruit!

I’ve been really into making homemade salad dressings lately, especially since late spring/early summer around here is salad green central. I like to make a big batch on the weekend, then have it on hand to drizzle over salads, spread on sandwiches, and use as a dip for vegetables throughout the week.

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Rhubarb ‘Big Crumb’ Coffee Cake

May 27, 2011

No need to bury the lede here: this is my holy grail of coffee cakes. My quest is over. Happiness is a slab of this.

My maternal grandma did not particularly enjoy cooking. Despite that fact, our extended family get-togethers at my grandparents’ house often featured delicious food; her chili and lasagna were some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Family gatherings were often busy affairs with lots of laughter and people and chatting, and being the oldest grandchild, I often wanted to straddle the worlds between the “adults” and “children.” My grandma and I shared a special relationship, and while she had no interest in baking a batch of cookies, she kept a stash of Drake’s coffee cakes hidden away in a cupboard just for me. She’d say, “Amy, you know I’m no baker, but these cakes are here just for you whenever you want one. No one else knows where they are. You take one and come into my room and we’ll talk.” And I loved it.

There are a few reasons these cakes were such a treat: (a) we never had packaged baked goods at home. My mom enjoyed baking and was good at it, and while I loved her cookies and treats, something about the forbidden nature of the packaged coffee cake was irresistible to me as a child. And (b), the ratio on these coffee cakes of brown-sugar-crumb topping to cake was highly tipped in the favor of the topping. I loved pulling chunks and boulders of the crumbs off the top of the cakes. (I still do, though now I eschew packaged baked goods for the real deal.) Read more…

Broccoli and Sweet Sesame Salad

May 5, 2011

March into April is always a rough period for me in the kitchen. Inspiration is hard to come by, and every cold/wet/gray day that passes adds to my frustration at how slow full-blown spring is to arrive. I stare despondently at my crisper drawer, trying to ignore the root vegetables that have been in there forever and are starting to look long in the tooth.

The Ithaca Farmer’s Market begins its season in April, but with this year’s loooooooooong winter and seemingly endless spring rains, we’re only just starting to see some greens. Peas, strawberries, and asparagus still seem like a long way away to me, even though I know I’ll see them in another month or so.

And even though it’s been rain central around here, the slightly warmer temperatures and occasional peek of sun (how I live for those moments!) has kick-started my craving for things that are crisp, green, and fresh. In other words, if I see another bowl of stew I think I’ll lose it.

So when Dana tweeted about a recipe for a Broccoli and Sweet Sesame Salad she recently posted, I made sure my next trip to the grocery store included the snap peas and broccoli to make it (I love you local produce, but I just can’t hold out any longer.) Luckily for me at our market this past weekend, I was able to find some lovely spinach at Stick and Stone Farm, as well as some French Breakfast Radishes from Red Tail Farm. Along with some eggs from our meat share, I knew I had the makings of exactly the kind of lunch I was craving.

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Overnight Steel Cut Oats

March 16, 2011

Is it too late in the season to talk about eating oatmeal for breakfast? I hope not. Because I’ve been meaning to share this for a few months now, and knowing how the weather rolls around here (and maybe around where you live, too), we still have some chilly mornings ahead of us — even though winter seems like it’s on the cusp of fading. Finally.

We’re big oatmeal eaters in this house, even little A. Our darling girl is also an early riser, and until only recently, would awaken us at 5:30 or 6am with a combination of wailing, screeching, and “ma-maaaaaaaaa….” Oy. Thankfully, she’s been throwing us a bone lately and waking more around 6:30, turning on the music box attached to the side of her crib, and jabbering away to her stuffed animals. Which is a MUCH nicer way for Mommy and Daddy (and her, I have to think) to wake up in the morning. All of this is to say, when we were getting up so early, it was all I could do to carry her downstairs, flip on the coffeemaker, and pop our bowls of oatmeal into the microwave (minimal assembly required.)

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Pumpkin Seed Butter

February 26, 2011

It kind of pains me to admit this (seeing how much I love to cook and eat and try different tastes nowadays), but from kindergarten through fifth grade, I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single day of my life. Why? I have no idea. My mom was always happy to fix different things for my brother and me for lunch, so who knows what inspired my devotion, but there you have it. In fact, I was SO sick of peanut butter and jelly by the time sixth grade rolled around that I didn’t eat another pb & j sandwich until I was in college.

And I also have no idea if there were other kinds of nut and seed butters commercially available in the 80’s, when I was growing up — maybe in health food stores, but probably not in the large chain supermarkets that we had in town. I suppose if there had been things like almond and cashew butter easily available, I could at least have swapped them with the pb occasionally for variety.

The top shelf of our fridge nowadays is stocked with all kinds of nut and seed butters — peanut butter (I like it chunky), almond butter, tahini, sunbutter (made from sunflower seeds), and now making her top shelf debut, pumpkin seed butter. We’ve been on a real nut and seed butter kick here lately, for two reasons: first, Little A seems to have a love/hate relationship with meat, probably because of teething (I am learning that so many of the toddler woes can sometimes be chalked up to teething, sigh) — so, I’ve needed to be creative about getting enough protein into her little tummy. Secondly, the pile of carrots and kohlrabi in our fridge, from our winter CSA share, is tremendous and frankly, we’re trying to eat our way through them any way we can, including afternoon snacks of carrot and kohlrabi sticks dipped in nut/seed butter.

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Raspberry Chocolate Tea Scones

February 12, 2011

During high school and on my trips home during college, my Mom and I would often visit a cafe in town for coffee and scones. They had great sandwiches and other food, but we always gravitated to the scones — I actually think it was probably my first exposure to scones, and from then on I’ve been hooked. Their blueberry and raspberry scones were really amazing; light and biscuit-like, using fresh fruit instead of dried, they are still the scone that I aspire to when I bake them for us (we’re currently doing “Sunday Scones” to satisfy our cravings.)

But scones with fresh fruit are a tricky goal: the fruit’s juiciness can increase the moisture content enough to render any plump scone to which you aspire into a spreading, flat pancake. (I’m speaking from experience here; can you tell?) Drier fruits like apples and pears seem to do well, but the few times I’ve experimented with fresh blueberries, the results have looked and tasted more like squashed muffins than the flaky, biscuit-y scones I imagined.

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Mac & Cheese with Squash and Spinach

February 6, 2011

Hello and Happy New Year! Long time no see. I’m not much one for official “resolutions” for the new year, but I’ve missed blogging here and I’m going to do my best to get on a more regular schedule again.

Lately, I’ve been pondering if, and how, what I blog about should change. My life has changed since I began blogging in 2008 — our daughter is now 14 months old, running around at full speed, spreading her joy with her wherever she goes — and so much of my time is now spent focused on her and our life as “three.” And with little A now an extremely active toddler, my time in the kitchen has shifted from leisurely weekend culinary projects towards…well, spending lots of time chasing after her! I’m not really spending hours at a time in the kitchen on the weekend, cooking up project-type recipes. My focus has skewed more towards cooking healthy, straightforward, delicious meals that she (as well as B and I) will love. (And still desserts, of course!) The food blogging landscape seems to have changed somewhat since I began blogging, too — monetization, blogging conferences, and sponsors, oh my! — but I still want to come here to do what I originally started this blog to do: share my enthusiasm for food, and share recipes that I think are really delicious. Pretty simple. 🙂

So, while the past few months have slipped by since my last post, the good news is that I have a few recipes queued up to tell you about. First on the list: mac and cheese. Who doesn’t love it? This crazy winter we’re having in the Northeast seems to have upped our craving for comfort-food dishes, and I started thinking about mac & cheese when I was brainstorming dinner dishes that little A would like (she, like most kids, can consume ungodly amounts of cheese.)

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