Friday, June 27, 2008

Worm for a week

The weekend:

A yummy lunch of pea shoots
with an asian sauce over ramen
noodles & a little cold tofu....and
some sorrel leaves, which are
an herb by the way, so do not
cook them like I did or they
turn brown! Don't make my
mistake! Slice and add as a

I need to learn more
about the less popular herbs.
I need to stroll the herb gardens at our CSA and pay closer attention to those lesser known varieties. But until then, can any of you out there suggest a good website with photos of different culinary herbs?
Popsicles on the porch steps: frozen layers of soy yogurt & fresh strawberry puree.

Ryan had his first day of
"Farm Camp" at our CSA.
He brought a snack, lunch,
and contribution to the
farm's daily Stone Soup.
Each day all of the farm
employees, work-for-
sharers, regular
shareholders fulfilling
their work hours, volunteers, and kids are welcome to share lunch at the big picnic tables under the apple tree. Everyone contributes something for the vegan soup, or brings along something to accompany the meal such as bread, cookies, etc.

Ryan brought a can of
organic black beans and
some barley for the soup.
And he brought his own
bowl and spoon, since
everyone either brings
their own dishes or uses
the big wooden bowls that
belong to the farm.

In addition to Stone Soup, Ryan brought a bento with Alton Brown's Cold-Fashioned Potato Salad, tofu salad sandwiches, an orange slice, cucumbers, & carrots. He had an organic juice box, which I had frozen beforehand to use in place of an ice pack in his lunchbox.
For his snack he had an Odwalla bar, and of course a big bottle of water.

The kids harvested baby carrots, drew pictures, and made their own wormeries to take home. So we now have a pet worm living in the dining room for the week.

Our CSA share is starting to grow:
- basil, thyme, oregano...and a few other's I'm not sure of! (that's what happens when I'm not there to pick them and my husband takes over.)
- 3 quarts of strawberries
- 1 head green leaf lettuce
- 2 quarts sugar snap peas
- 1 large zucchini
- 1/2 lb. mixed baby greens
- baby beets with greens
- 1/2 lb. spinach
- a dozen garlic scapes
- 18 stems rainbow swiss
- a bunch of baby carrots
with greens

Dinner was whole grain
spaghetti with zucchini,
garlic & garlic scapes,
oregano, & capers. So

Ryan's lunch for farm camp: strawberries; almonds; fresh peas; mini-corn muffin; carrots; crescent roll sandwich with smoked Tofurky slices, soy cheese, & lettuce. Not shown: juice box, Luna bar, water.

Lunch at home: pasta
with leftover zucchini
sauce mixed with a
marinara sauce & sliced
green olives. Oh man
was this good!

From the local
Farmer's Market:
- 1 loaf white bread
- 1 loaf wheat bread
- red new potatoes
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 green bell pepper

What makes these local
greenhouse grown tomatoes
so tasty is that they are
sown right into the ground inside the greenhouse.

Ryan shows off his wormery.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cookbook Review: Gourmet's Fresh

I think it's strange that the first cookbook I choose to review isn't even vegetarian! But during the local CSA and farmer's market season, I find myself using it all the time. Gourmet's Fresh: From the Farmer's Market to Your Kitchen Table was published almost 9 years ago, but I find I use it even more than our own CSA's recipe collection when it comes to finding recipes for unique local ingredients.
The recipes are organized in 4 segments, 1 for each season. Since I live in New England, even though it is technically summer, I am still using recipes mostly from the Spring section. There are wonderful (and easily vegan-izable) recipes for asparagus, peas & pea shoots, strawberries, rhubarb, radishes, young asian cabbages, mushrooms, spring herbs, and even one for purslane (commonly thought of as a weed that typical grows like crazy in between rows of vegetables).
Summer obviously concentrates heavily on tomato dishes, along with basil, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, green beans, corn, melons, cherries, peaches & plums.
Fall features the typical apples & squash, potatoes, cranberries, pears, nuts, & onions.
Winter includes heartier fare like soups & chowders, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables, conserves & cakes, & cool weather greens.
Each section ends with a good assortment of drinks and desserts, and there are menu suggestions for assembling multi-course meals.
Chances are your local state agriculture website has a comprehensive list of farmer's markets in your area. Here are the Massachusetts listings. And here is a list of CSAs and similar farms in the United States. Both farmer's markets and CSAs/food coops are great ways to reduce your carbon footprint and purchase locally grown foods.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fresh Farm Meals

No snacks this week since it's the first week of summer vacation!
On the weekend I made everyone's favourite dinner "The Yummiest of Yummy Tofu Dinners" as Ryan calls it, or ma po tofu with veggies:
I think I could make this every
night for a week and nobody
would complain. And it's a great
way to use green vegetables,
especially asian greens and beans.
This week I used our baby bok
choy from the farm.

Yummiest of Yummy Tofu Dinners

1 T. peanut, canola, or safflower oil
3 chopped scallions
2 chopped garlic cloves
1-2 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. hot sauce, red pepper flakes, or a small diced hot pepper
1 large head bok choy or 2-3 heads baby bok choy, chopped with stems & leaves separated
1 lb. firm tofu, cut into bite-size triangles
1 small can sliced bamboo shoots
2 cups frozen haricots verts or green beans
3 T. soy sauce
3 T. rice vinegar
3 T. cooking sherry
1 T. sugar
1 cup vegetable broth
2 T. cornstarch + 4 T. water
2-3 packages ramen noodles or rice noodles, cooked & drained (optional)

Heat oil in large pot or wok (I use a large cast iron pot) with scallion, garlic, ginger & hot sauce.
Add bok choy stems and stir fry about 2 minutes.
Add tofu and bamboo shoots and stir fry for another 1-2 minutes.
Add bok choy greens.
Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, cooking sherry & sugar. Add to pot.
Add vegetable broth and green beans. Stir and cook at a low boil for about 5-7 minutes, or until greens beans are just wilted and soft.
Turn off heat. Stir in cornstarch mixture. Serve in big bowls over noodles or as is.

Father's Day:

The day began with a bunny
stick puppet show and pancakes.
I wasn't up to doing anything
extra special...being very
pregnant and having 3 boys
is enough!

For lunch I made this absolutely
fabulous "Pea Shoot Salad with
Avocados and Bacon" from the
Gourmet's Fresh cookbook. The
dressing was fantastic. And I used
Lightlife fake bacon that cooks
up crispy.

We ate out at a Mexican
restaurant for dinner, then
came home to enjoy an
apple-rhubarb pie with
Soy Delicious Neopolitan
ice cream. Dada is a big
pie fan.

Husband's lunch: bell
pepper strips; steamed
asparagus; grape tomatoes;
purple grapes; more pea
shoot salad....there was
plenty of leftover dressing
for a few more servings.

Another recipe from Gourmet's
Fresh: "Farfalle with Roasted
Garlic and Pea Puree". A yummy
way to use peas. I decided to add
the pea greens to the pasta
cooking water at the very end
instead of adding them raw.
Very tasty.

Another one of Ryan's creations:
a sandwich filled with Tofutti
cream cheese, carrot, grapes
& avocado. He loves to tell me
about when he grows up how I
can come visit him and all the
delicious meals he'll cook for me.
I can't wait! LOL.


I must admit I am not a fan
of raw radishes. But they are
easy to grow and we always
get plenty from the farm, so
I am determined to find new
ways to prepare them so I
can enjoy them. I tried this
simple Pickled Radish recipe
online. It is so easy to slice
radishes, throw them into a
glass jar or container, shake
a few times, and in 24 hours
watch them transform into
something new and delicious.
I ate the whole batch myself!

Lunch: chinese-style asparagus
and super spicy eggplant over
Our last item from the previous
farm season is garlic, still hanging
in the basement stairwell, plant
tops and all. I just snip off a head
whenever needed.

CSA share:
- 1 bunch summer savory
- 1 head red leaf lettuce
- 1 head romaine lettuce
- 1 bunch rainbow swiss chard
- 1/2 lb. spinach
- 1/2 lb. mixed baby greens
- various herbs: sage, oregano,
thyme, sorrel
- 1 bunch pea greens
- 1 bunch scallions
- 2 quarts strawberries
- 1 quart sugar snap peas

Dinner: child & adult portions of:
strawberries; snap peas; sauteed
swiss chard with garlic & raisins;
tofu herb ravioli with sauce.

Dinner: pasta primavera with
leftover pea sauce. Lots of
veggies including peas,
broccoli, carrot & bell peppers.

local pickins from the Farmer's Market: red & yellow new potatoes; flat-leaf parsley; a loaf of white bread (what a treat!); yellow squash & zucchini; 5 hothouse tomatoes.

I was so exhausted after a
visit with my midwives and
food shopping that I wanted
a simple comfort food dinner.
I whipped up a sun-dried
tomato & parsley hummus
spread on some onion focaccia
bread & topped with capers.
Oh, my, gosh...soo good. That
and a salad & some snap peas to munch was all that we needed.

Next week Ryan starts CSA farm I'll have at least a couple of kid lunches to post!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Restaurant Review: Acapulcos

We love Mexican food, especially when it's at a family friendly place like Acapulcos. The original restaurant is in Sudbury, MA on route 20, the location closest to us. But there are 12 locations around Massachusetts, and 1 in Connecticut.

On Father's Day at 5pm
the restaurant was already
pretty crowded. Service is
always quick though, with
a basket of hot tortilla
chips and both mild & hot
salsas delivered immediately.

The staff all speak Spanish
& English, and there were
a few Spanish-speaking families there that sunday evening as well, always a good sign.

The menu is large, and there is even a vegetarian section. We always order a few huge veggie green burritos for everyone. There is a children's menu, but nothing on it is vegan.

The portions are big! Here is
the veggie green burrito: rice
& black beans, tomato, onion,
peppers & lettuce wrapped in
a flour tortilla and topped with
fresh cilantro, tomato, onion
& salsa verde. We order ours
without the cheese or sour cream,
but there is a nice side of chunky
fresh guacamole with each dish.

Despite only ordering 3 burritos
for 5 people, we always leave
with leftovers (which make a
fabulous breakfast by the way)!

And there are crayons with
placemats to color, water for
the kids with tops and straws,
and helium balloons to take home.

No matter what your diet or how picky your kids are, you're
bound to enjoy Acapulcos!...or as the kids call it "Ah-po-cocos".

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Firsts & Lasts

It was a week of many firsts and lasts.

First farm pickup of the season, first hot weather, first popsicles of the year, Nate's first time playing in the pool, opening of the local farmer's market, first time I've had a kid officially "graduate" from something.

Last day of preschool, last preschool snack bentos of the school year, last month of pregnancy (I hope), last of our frozen stash of pumpkin & pesto from last year.


Popsicles in the pool. It was in the 90's for a few days.

Monday:Ryan called this his "spring scene" snack: blue-tinted rice; dried apricot & carrot for the sun; cucumber grass; green bean stems; red & yellow bell pepper flowers; marinated mushroom halves.

AJ's snack: pumpkin-carrot-apple mini muffin; rice ball; green beans; banana piece.
Ryan's lunch for grandma's house: pbj sandwich; banana piece; orange slices; carrots; chocolate sandwich cookie; Animal Parade vanilla calcium vitamin.

Dinner was some simple sushi: cucumber & sesame; asparagus; oshinko (pickled daikon); avocado. And some inari, cold tofu, & watermelon. Perfect for a hot evening.

Ryan's snack of leftovers: watermelon; maki & inari sushi; small squeeze bottle of soy sauce.

First CSA farm share
of the season:
- 1 bag mixed baby greens
- 1 head red leaf lettuce
- 1 head romaine lettuce
- 2 baby bok choy
- big bag of pea shoots
- 1 bunch kale
- 1 bunch red radishes
- 3 stalks rhubarb
- 1 bunch chives
- 1 marigold plant

We immediately used the
kale for dinner with a whole
wheat spaghetti with the
Barbara's Kale Cream Sauce
Over Pasta recipe from
Debra Wasserman's cookbook
Simply Vegan. A salad of
romaine & mixed baby greens, chives, & local greenhouse-grown tomatoes completed the meal.


AJ's snack: bunny onigiri; mini corn muffin; cold tofu; baby carrot; chocolate moon.
Ryan's Indiana Jones snack: cucumber slices; chocolate moon; "crystal skull" onigiri; mini corn muffin; cold tofu, nori & black sesame seed "map"; baby carrots. (No, he hasn't seen the new Indiana Jones movie, but grandma got him a small Indiana Jones Lego set.)

Dinner: curried tempeh
salad in rice wraps with
mixed baby greens &
pea shoots.


boys' lunch: tofu salad
sandwich on whole
wheat roll; orange slices;
baby carrots.

Ryan watering some flowers.

With only 1/2 a dozen
vendors, the first local
farmer's market of the
season in our town is
small, but it was still
nice to visit. I picked
up some local red potatoes
dug that morning, along
with an animal-free soap
from a local artisan.

I arrived home to a wonderful surprise: a package in the mail with gifts for the new baby and I. Two and half years ago, when I was pregnant with Nate, I became friendly with a group of mothers from an online due date club on Mothering. Since then many of us have stayed close, met in real life, and some of us are expecting another baby.
Recently I discovered that my favourite sling and mei tei had been ruined in the back of my car over the winter due to a leak in the trunk and had become covered in mold. One of the items in the package was a brand new Babyhawk mei tei, along with other gifts from Little Willow which is a natural baby products store owned by one of the mamas in our group. I was so touched!

Dinner: spaghetti & broccoli
with marinated mushrooms
and the last of our frozen
pesto from last season.

I made some mini loaves of pumpkin bread with the last of our frozen pumpkin to give to Ryan & AJ's preschool teachers on their last day. Ryan also picked some wild roses from our yard.
Here is Ryan getting a graduation certificate from his preschool, along with a collection of his artwork from the year, a photo album, a small tree to plant, and the book Be A Friend To Trees.
Then his class enjoyed some popsicles together.

AJ also received a portfolio
of his artwork and a small
gift from his teacher. His
class had an ice cream
sundae party (which we
brought along vegan ice
cream, sprinkles, whipped
cream & chocolate sauce for
of course).

Nate enjoyed checking out
the train table and toys in
the classroom where he will
be in the fall.