One of my favorite vegetables is asparagus. There are plenty of fancy ways you can cook it, lots of delicious ingredients that you can combine it with. The best in my opinion though? Fresh asparagus, roasted with olive oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper. This weekend the farmers market had a few bunches of asparagus and I stood in line to make sure I had one!
Snap the woody ends off - they'll break naturally at the tough point.
Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper (I like to crack it fresh over the spears before putting it in the oven)
400 degrees, 10 - 15 minutes depending on how browned or crunchy you like it
This past weekend I was sprawled about watching Giada on the food network and she started rolling out pizza dough and arugula on a cream cheese base...and I was drooling. Knowing I had arugula in the fridge from the CSA pick up that day before, I was wondering if I could somehow make pizza myself. Most of my future attemps at pizza have failed epically...making pizza is my husbands department. Nonetheless, I headed off to the Coventry Farmers Market with pizza on my mind.
I was about to leave the market when I stopped by one last vendor who was selling bread, cookies and assorted other baked goods. They were also selling prebaked pizza shells. No rolling or rising of the dough, no stretching it into perfect little circles, all the work was done for me! How does it get better than that? I bought them with every intent on making pizza - I just wasn't sure how the ingredients were going to fall together yet!
Tonight - I had pizza success. There's nothing very healthy about this pizza, but it was delicious and used up some stuff in my fridge as well!
I had leftover spinach dip from a baby shower this past weekend and instead of a cream cheese base as in Giada's, or the standard white or red sauce, I spread a layer of spinach dip on each pizza crust. I then topped it with big handfuls of arugula from my csa share. Shaved parmesan and mozzarella cheese and in the oven at 400 degrees they went for about 15 - 20 minutes, until nice and browned.
YUM! The dip base and the cheeses provided for a decadent, rich pizza - almost too rich so I could only eat a couple pieces, but it was very satisfying!
In May, Aimee and I went to White Silo Winery for their annual asparagus festival!
The asparagus based menu was amazing - asparagus blt's, asparagus soup, teriyaki asparagus stir fry, lemon chicken and asparagus stir fry, asparagus frittata...My favorite on the menu was the asparagus blt. If you friend White Silo on facebook, the recipe's on there - I can't wait to try to duplicate it!
The grounds were beautiful, the people awesome and of course we had to do a wine tasting. White Silo specializes in fruit wines (my favorite!) and the tasting sure did not dissapoint. I left with two bottles of raspberry dessert wine, along with a bottle of blackberry wine.
Since there was still time in the day - we next checked out Digrazia Vineyards and this was such an awesome place. Relaxed atmosphere, great people, really, really great wine. I've been a fan of Digrazia for quite some time anyways, but had never visited before, and it was so nice to do a tasting and try some of the other wines avaliable. At home I had already had a bottle of their Autumn Spice wine (tastes like pumpkin pie) and a bottle of their Wild Blue (blueberry wine with brandy), but I ended up leaving that day with a bottle of Pomegrenate and Pear Wine. Can't wait for the chance to drink it!
Last winery stop of the day was Gouveia Vineyards,
The whole place was gorgeous - you can just imagine attending a wedding here as the sun's setting. The wine wasn't necessarily to my tastes, except for a white wine which I bought a bottle of. I would definitely return here with my husband and a picnic lunch though and just relax for a little while. The view makes it well worth it!
The best part of the day, other than the obvious wine drinking, was knowing that with every purchase I made I was supporting a local vineyard, and in many cases - a family business. When I look at my wine rack, I'm thrilled that most of the bottles on it come from places where I can get to within an hour or two drive. My husband's coming home in a few short months, and I'm trying to save these bottles to share with him...but that's getting more and more difficult. Another winery trip might be in order!
According to blogger...the last time Aimee or I posted was April 7th! Goal for the current: get better at updating blog. We have had plenty of food adventures in the meantime and hopefully I can get some updates and pictures up asap!
I have a tendency to lean towards lazy when it comes to cooking....at least I have the past 9 months that I've been in my apartment alone every night while my husband serves our country. Now, there are plenty of lazy meals that I could actually make....grilled cheese, soup, real food. Not for this girl - my lazy meals involve a take out menu, a telephone, car keys and a debit card. Chinese and grinders rank up there right at the top of the list, followed next by the hot bar at the local grocery store less than 5 minutes down the road. When neither of these options are viable, because it's 11pm at night and I just realized I never ate dinner, a box of crackers and a brick of extra, extra sharp cheddar will suffice. Healthy? Not at all.....
I've been saying for most of the past 9 months that I need to start cooking again. When Jer was here, we would cook almost every night of the week. Due to busy and often conflicting schedules, it was actually easier to cook a meal, leave it on the stove and the person getting home last would just serve themselves. We rarely ate together during the week but we also rarely ordered take out. Once Jer left it was easy to justify not cooking. One - I didn't feel like it. Two - I was going to have leftovers that I wasn't going to eat. Three - no one was here to tell me that the meal was good. Four - I was settling into a new routine, my husband had just deployed and I was trying to figure everything out and keep everything going - bills paid, animals fed, house cleaned....cooking and eating well fell way down on the priority list.
So, I decided when Lent rolled around this year to make cooking for myself and eating well a priority again. I also gave up Diet Pepsi (this was a nightmare at first...I'm a caffeine junkie even without the diet pepsi, but wow, I felt horrible). Was I successful? Let's see....
At the beginning of the Lenten season I had a full meat share in my freezer (10 lbs of beef, pork, chicken) along with various bags of frozen vegetables. In the other freezer I had seafood and fish (which were sufficiently freezer burned and mostly ended in the garbage...what I get for not cooking I guess). I had plenty of staple items in the cupboards. So, I would avoid take out for Lent, minus going out to eat (that doesn't count - I'm not eating alone). I managed to cook almost every single night that I was home. I did cave in and order a grinder once - just once and just a grinder. I didn't even order the jalapeno poppers on the menu (this in itself is a miracle). I did have a night where I ate crackers and cheese....but it was either that or order Chinese. The result? I have more energy and feel better, my clothes fit better even if the scale stayed the same, I learned how to make stir fry and my freezer, as of last night, has no meat in it - I have cooked a full CSA meat share for the first time ever. Tonight's the monthly pick up and I'm so excited to see what I have!
They say it takes up to 3 weeks for a habit to stick....I agree. I don't want to go back to ordering take out or eating at the grocery store. I've stopped buying lunch every day because I'm taking the dinner leftovers to work with me. Food's become exciting again. I decided that I'm worth cooking for. There's also more money in my bank account.
As for the diet pepsi habit? Success. I still gaze wistfully at the Pepsi cooler at the store, but I'm determined to stay away from my fake sugar chemical lover....
I'll just come out and say it - I don't like goats. I think they're strange animals and not very friendly. The one exception is the goat the was kept as a pet at the farm I get my meat CSA. On that note - I only think this one was friendly because he was raised by a little boy. Friendly might not even be an accurate term....once it grew out of goat toddlerhood into an adult goat - it bit me and would butt me in the leg with its head. Did I have some childhood trauma involving a run away goat chasing me down? No, not at all. The only goats I saw as a child were in a zoo or from the distance. I don't know where my irrational dislike of goats came from, but it's there.
I never liked goat cheese either - didn't care for the texture or the taste. I'm a cows cheese type of girl and much prefer a sharper cheddar over anything else. Cabot and Granville Country Store would rank at the top of my list of preferred cheeses - Private stock and Seriously Sharp from Cabot, and any of the cheddars aged past 12 months from Granville. Delicious - sharp cheese heaven.
A couple weekends ago, Aimee and I were up at Robinsons Farm in Hardwick, MA and when I was picking up some beef bones to make beef stock and she was getting some raw milk, I noticed that they carried goat cheese made by Westfield Farm. I must admit - it did look really pretty in its little rolls and the varities sounded so good. So, maybe it was the warm weather going to my head and causing me to lose my senses, but I purchased a little package of Chive goat cheese having no idea whatsoever what to do with it OR if I would even like it. For a couple weeks it just sat in the fridge, taunting me...it ended up pushed to the back after that. Last night I checked the date on it - still good. So, I bit the bullet and took it out. I cut a tiny piece off, took a deep breath and took a bite - it wasn't bad. Tangy, sharp, a little bit crumbly but creamy and not repulsive at all. I couldn't see myself eating it on a cracker tho so now I was trying to figure out what to do with it. I ended up stuffing it in a couple pieces of chicken and tossing it in the oven. I lost track of time tho and where as the chicken wasn't overcooked, the cheese had melted out of the chicken. Tonight was take two - I made hamburgers and sandwiched a slice of chive cheese in the middle of each burger before cooking. Believe it or not, it wasn't bad. It was creamy and a little bit tangy, but I would eat it again.
I can't see myself ever giving up my sharp cheddar, but I'm more open to trying new cheeses that I wouldn't have gone near before. And where as I don't see myself ever having a goat as a pet, I would definitely recommend checking out Westfield Farm and their cheeses. If I liked it, I'm sure you will too. www.chevre.com
I've been to a lot of weddings over the past several years which means I've returned home with a lot of wedding favors. Everything from matches to a cd of songs the couple loves to bottles of wine. Candles, packages of seeds to plant to remember the happy couple every time a flower blooms and coffee cups. This past weekend though - I came home with perhaps the coolest wedding favor yet - a bag of coffee. Not just any coffee but fair trade, organic coffee distributed by a company called Dean's Beans in Orange, MA. I don't drink coffee, but my husband does so for us it's a very useful gift and I loved coming home with something that wasn't going to end up collecting dust on a bookshelf or be quietly (and feeling very guilty) tossed in the trash pile a year down the line. You can check out Dean's Beans at http://www.deansbeans.com/ .
And....most important of all....Congrats Steph and Will!