Tag Archives: farmer’s market

Weekly Menus: Week of 8/4/2013 (What Happened to Summer Edition)

Gentle Readers, could you please send out an APB for summer? August, really? Tomatoes are here, corn is here, and I’m eating anything that involves watermelon. I had forgotten how much I enjoy the subtle crunch that fresh corn and diced zucchini provide to any number of dishes. I was in a bit of a food rut, and I find myself newly inspired and ready to meet some old ingredient friends in the kitchen again.

The Tower of Tomatoes from Guglhupf!

The Tower of Tomatoes from Guglhupf!

First order of business, I’m going to the farmer’s market this week. Second order, we are eating fresh when possible again, because we have more exciting food travel on our horizons, including New Orleans. I haven’t been since before Katrina, so please send your suggestions and thoughts for must-eats!

My lunch almost every day last week. Summer craving: tomatoes and cheese!

My lunch almost every day last week. Summer craving: tomatoes and cheese!

Now, the Weekly Menus:

Weekly Menus: 8/4/2013

Weekly Menus: 8/4/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 8/4/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 8/4/2013

Which all translates to:

Sunday: Dine Out!
First I must conclude some more field research. So far this week I’ve remembered I love chicken liver, met a vegetable mix at G2B in Durham that I want to make at home and possibly marry, and rekindled my dessert romance with sticky toffee pudding.

Grilled vegetable melange, I love you.

Grilled vegetable melange, I love you.

Sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel ice cream from Piedmont Restaurant.

Sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel ice cream from Piedmont Restaurant.

 

Monday: Salad
If you need to ask why, see the above paragraph. I love salad though, with it’s infinite possibilities. This will be a clean out the crisper drawer variety.

Tuesday: Pasta Surprise
I see a primavera in my future. Fresh herbs, lemon, good romano. Yum.

Wednesday: Omelets
I miss omelet bar, so we shall eat it again. A dab of this and that, featuring whatever we have or buy at the Farmer’s Market. Plus some good bread.

Thursday: Sausage and Pierogie
A family favorite, I may try my hand at Savoy cabbage as well, another favorite from one of my favorite local chefs, Carrie at G2B.

Savoy cabbage with bacon and almonds from G2B.

Savoy cabbage with bacon and almonds from G2B.

Friday: Dine Out!
Travel calls again, and I can’t wait for this one. Beignets for dinner? I have no objection.

Saturday: Leftovers?
We will probably do more adventure eating, but I recommend Saturday as movie and leftovers night. We have found all sorts of ways to make finger food healthier and fun. Try savory popcorn mixes, small sandwiches, and cut veggies and fruit. Peanut butter and celery is a favorite here right now.

What’s on your table this week? Share your meal ideas and New Orleans secrets! Post a comment below or say hello on the Twitters.

Send extra weeks of summer, tomatoes, and good wishes to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Up next (on Wednesday): An Ode to Eggs–One Ingredient Three Ways

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Weekly Menus

Weekly Menus: Week of 8/12/2012

Gentle Readers, it is hard to believe that summer is drawing to a close. I will fully admit that I’m reaching the end of my tomato consuming capacity, I’m done with humidity, and I look forward even to the structure the school year will bring. Perhaps that’s because this was a summer like any other for Team Practical Cook: we embraced it with both arms and squeezed.

Mango dessert at ONE Restaurant. "I'm going to eat this until it's gone." --The Youngest

Mango dessert at ONE Restaurant. “I’m going to eat this until it’s gone.” –The Youngest

I haven’t been in the kitchen as much it seems, but when I am, there has been great joy and relative simplicity. It has been about cooking with and for more people, new adventures, new places, new tastes. There’s an incredible backlog of things to try, and I look forward to working through that list this fall. Please keep your challenges and questions coming, they will be addressed as the seasons turn.

Summer adventures in the Guggenheim.

Summer adventures in the Guggenheim.

Enough waxing poetic, we still all have to eat. Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

Weekly Menus: 8/12/2012

Weekly Menus: 8/12/2012

And the Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 8/13/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 8/13/2012

The above is still so lean because we continue to get vegetable drive-bys from the family. Not complaining, just explaining how I can feed the family without ever apparently shopping for food.

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Eggplant Parm or Dine Out
I know, I know, we are dining out a lot. But the Juniors have a much richer social calendar than I do, and I have to accommodate the requests for their time. Field research has been fantastic, more on this upcoming. Otherwise, we’re making Italian food at home.

Monday: Nachos!
A family favorite. We’re taste testing different chips, and this is a good way to use them up. Our version is with black beans and sweet potatoes, cheesy without being gloppy, and no meat.

Tuesday: Salad Surprise
The other trick of this summer has been lots of salad. Great way to use up leftovers. Always evolving, and make it according to your own personal style.

Wednesday: Pancake Courses
We’ve been challenged to create a 3-course pancake meal. This will either be the test run or the live edition, if the guest of honor (aka, the challenger) is available. It will be appetizer pancakes (small cornmeal ones), savory crepes, then a dessert pancake (like an apple fritter).

Thursday: Beef and Veg
We really have to use up the cow in the freezer. It’s becoming a friend at this point.

Friday: Soup and Sammie
The heat has broken enough that soup (not just gazpacho) is on my mind again.

What is your summer food memory for this year? Share your comment below! It’s wide open there, like the beach first thing in the morning.

Send all challenges, strokes of brilliance, and gold medals to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up Wednesday: Simply Herb Pasta Recipe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Weekly Menus

Simply Squash: Summer Meets Winter

Gentle Readers, simple is so often the best way forward with vegetables. The thing about cooking in the summer, it’s hot. There are days where I would like to subsist on nothing but watermelon and dreams of fall, but alas, one must eat. And sometimes, amazing vegetables fall into your lap from your family. Okay, that’s just my good luck being from a farming family.

Sweet Dumpling Squash: Winter Visits the Summer Table

Sweet Dumpling Squash: Winter Visits the Summer Table

We identified these as Sweet Dumpling Squash, and proceeded to cook them for lunch. The Practical Cooks Junior assisted and ate the whole thing in one sitting. It was a much-needed break from typical summer fare. Winter squash, not just for winter.

Simply Squash: Sweet Dumpling Squash Recipe

Wash and dry your squash. Jab it a few times with a sharp knife. Avoid your fingers. Put it on a plate, and microwave for 5 minutes. Turn it over, microwave for another 5 minutes. See if the squash feels soft. If yes, let it sit for a few, then slice in half, scoop out and toss the seeds and the membranes. Then scoop out the flesh (like a squash zombie), add some butter (I don’t judge), and a pinch or two of salt and nutmeg. Mash. Eat. Thank me later.

Beautiful Sweet Dumpling Squash Pre-Scooping

Beautiful Sweet Dumpling Squash Pre-Scooping

What are you craving this summer? Confess all by posting a comment below. Or Tweet in my direction.

If you are actually reading this fine print, feel free to email me at practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

On Sunday, Weekly Menus!

Leave a comment

Filed under Punt!, Recipes

For the Love of a $4 Tomato: A Guest Blog of Epic Proportions

Gentle Readers, today’s guest blog post is truly a work of pure genius. Have you ever selected a tomato at the Farmer’s Market, only to find it costs somewhere between an arm and a leg? Me too. And sometimes, that tomato takes on a life of its own. Without further adieu, I give you the real-life story of Lindsey McGuirk .

It all started with those dreamy bedroom eyes. They call to me every Wednesday at our local farmers market. The handsome farmer with his wares. I couldn’t think of a good way to strike up a conversation with him, so I grabbed the closest thing to me: a tomato.

“Beautiful day, isn’t it?” I say as I hand the almost too-ripe fruit to him. “Yeah. It’s amazing out,” he replies as he sets the tomato on the scale. “That will be $4.” We look into each others eyes, his registering the shock that I’m doing a terrible job at hiding. $4! For a tomato?! I reach into my wallet, and pull out my money, reluctantly handing it over to him. I could’ve told him I didn’t want the tomato. That I actually wanted the radishes. Yes, the radishes. That’s right! I’d put them in my salad instead of the tomato. But it was too late. He hands me the change from my $5 bill, as well as my tomato. My stupid $4 tomato. Those stupid dreamy bedroom eyes.

I take my $4 tomato home. “You better be good, $4 Tomato,” I say, glaring at it. It remains silent.

The next day, I go to work, still unsettled that I had spent 4 bucks on a tomato. I mean, that’s two pastor tacos from the taco truck. The damage had already been done and now all I could do was move past it. I mean, it wasn’t $4 tomato’s fault that it was $4. I didn’t know any better. Right?

When I get home that day, I’m stopped dead in my tracks. It seems that $4 Tomato not only knows better, it knows exactly how much better it is.

"Bow down to me." --$4 Tomato

“Bow down to me.” –$4 Tomato

“Bow down to me.”

I couldn’t believe it. $4 Tomato sat on its little royal throne, donning its tiny crown (where the heck did it even find these things?)  I rip the tiny crown off its head and dethrone $4 Tomato. “No, $4 Tomato. I will not bow down to you.”  Stunned, I put it back in my fridge.

I start making dinner and can’t find myself able to put $4 Tomato to use. Seeing it on that throne really creeped me out and the thought of ingesting it turns my stomach. “It’s ok, Lindsey,” I think. “It’s just a tomato who let its hefty price go to its head.”

Dinner prepared, I carry my plate to my dining room table and am struck by a humiliating sight.

Seriously, $4 Tomato?

Seriously, $4 Tomato?

Seriously, $4 Tomato?!

Where it even got the book, I have no idea (I swear!) I grab the book and throw it across the room. “$4 Tomato, you’re pushing my buttons.” It just stares at me.

My appetite thoroughly spoiled, I carry my plate back into the kitchen. As I start cleaning up, I hear music faintly moving toward me. “What in the world?” I walk into my living room, and there sits $4 Tomato at my piano, playing “Chopsticks.”

"I'm a little Mozart." --$4 Tomato

“I’m a little Mozart.” –$4 Tomato

“I’m a little Mozart.”

Okay, that is cute. I had to give it that. I plop down on the couch to enjoy the concert. It finishes the song and starts playing another round of “Chopsticks.” “Know anything else, $4 Tomato?” I ask. It stops, turns to me, and continues playing. “Okay,” I think, “I’ll listen to another round.” When the song is over, I wait to hear another. Instead, “Chopsticks” rings from the piano again. “Okay, $4 Tomato. I think concert time is over,” I say, but it keeps playing. “Seriously, $4 Tomato. That’s enough.” Rather than stopping, though, $4 Tomato starts banging out the notes, furiously. Enraged, I grab it and return it to the fridge, slamming the door. “I need to get out of here,” I think.

I grab my purse and storm out to my car. I reach into my purse for my keys, but can’t find them.

Vroom vroom! --$4 Tomato

Vroom vroom! –$4 Tomato

Vroom vroom!

“Not cool, $4 Tomato! Give me my keys.” The engine comes to life. “Oh no you don’t,” I shout, turning the keys in the ignition and pulling them out. “Back into the fridge you go!” I walk $4 Tomato inside, throwing it into the vegetable drawer. Satisfied with that extra precaution, I leave to meet a friend.

After a couple of hours, I return home, fully recovered from the day’s events. I decide that I need to sit down with $4 Tomato. That yes, we’d gotten off to a bad start, but we could repair the damage. I walk into my place, throw my keys onto my table, and head toward the kitchen to retrieve $4 Tomato from the fridge. All the patience I’d convinced myself to have drains away from me.

Glug glug. --$4 Tomato Gone Wild

Glug glug. –$4 Tomato Gone Wild

Glug glug.

“Are you kidding me, $4 Tomato?! I was only gone a couple hours. Get your loser friends out of here!” As I watch all the tomatoes scatter, something in me snaps. I can’t take anymore of the havoc $4 Tomato has created in my life. I grab the overpriced fruit and scowl at it. “We’re done, $4 Tomato.” Again, it remains silent, which infuriates me even more. I know the time has come, know exactly what I need to do.

And so, as quickly as $4 Tomato had entered my life, $4 Tomato entered my belly.

Nom nom. --$4 Tomato a Love Story

Nom nom. –$4 Tomato a Love Story

Nom nom.

A small part of me misses that little guy. But I have another $4 burning a hole in my pocket for those dreamy bedroom eyes.

Lindsey McGuirk knows she’s a hot tomato, because her mommy told her so. She lives & breathes naps, white chocolate mochas, and books. You can snoop around her reading pleasures here: http://www.villagebooks.com/village-books-lindseys-picks

I have not stopped laughing since I first saw the $4 Tomato don the crown. Have a story to share? Post a comment below. Let us know about your adventures in the farmer’s market and beyond! Thank you Lindsey, the next sammie is on me.

Send your overpriced produce, kitchen secrets, and food challenges to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up Friday: Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes with a Side of Bacon.

4 Comments

Filed under Kitchen Philosophy

Weekly Menus: Week of 6/24/2012

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook must confess something, yet again. Please lean in close. Last week, I patently ignored my Weekly Menus. Wednesday is my CSA day, and it involves a visit to the Carrboro Farmer’s Market. At said market, there is a food cart from The Pig in Chapel Hill. The Eldest Practical Cook Junior can read. The Youngest Practical Cook Junior is not afraid to place an order. They had allowance money in their pockets and are experts at collaboration.

Hot Dog from The Pig with Ketchup, Mustard, and Relish

Hot Dog from The Pig with Ketchup, Mustard, and Relish

Two hot dogs later, we ended up having salad for supper. Thus is the rhythm of summer. A bit chaotic and vegetable fueled, with a fair bit of pig thrown in. Alas, I try, but bacon follows me.

Bacon Family Photo: We Just Can't Help Ourselves

Bacon Family Photo: We Just Can’t Help Ourselves

But I shall fight the good fight, and I’m putting out a menu again this week. However, I encourage you to fill your house with vegetables and then commit to using them. It’s summertime, and the meals should be easy.

Summertime starts with corn on the cob!

Summertime starts with corn on the cob!

So here is my weekly menu (aspirational):

Weekly Menus: 6/24/2012

Weekly Menus: 6/24/2012

And the Four-Square Grocery List to back it up:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 6/24/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 6/24/2012

The CSA from Brinkley Farms includes:

1 dozen eggs
1 bundle swiss chard
1 bundle carrots
1 lb red tomatoes
2 green peppers

Which may or may not translate into:

Sunday: Cookout!
Happy birthday to The Practical Cook’s Mom. You don’t look a day over <redacted>. We’re having burgers, dogs, and watermelon, with a bunch of sides I’m not actually making. My SIL rocks, as does TPCM. I am however bringing Scotch Chocolate Cake:

Gratuitous Scotch Chocolate Cake Pecan-Side View

Gratuitous Scotch Chocolate Cake Pecan-Side View

Monday: Salmon, Green Beans, Potatoes, Fruit
The other joy of summer, guests! We are hosting almost once a week these days, and we are happy to be doing so this night. It’s a great time to cook a little bigger than usual, and break out some traditional favorites. For one of our guests, fruit is not optional, and it’s a great addition to the table in the summer.

Tuesday:  Sausage and Pierogies
I just have to keep the freezer clean! Still laden with the spoils of the winter and spring, I’m going to cook something heavier but string out the consumption of it.

Wednesday: Tapas Night!
If I get near the Farmer’s Market, I will buy something extra. I have goat cheese and bread at home, I can top it with a green and call it crostini. Mama Tapas, as we call it at Chez TPC, can be any series of small bites. Great way to use up bits and pieces of leftover food.

Crostini with Broccolini

Crostini with Broccolini

Thursday: Dine Out!
Okay, I’ve got an event. More on that, follow my Twitter stream for more details. I plan to leave the at-home team with either sammies or lasagna. Let’s see if it goes to plan.

Friday: Spinach Quesadillas
This says, Punt! I know I’ll be tired, there’s a big week ahead, and I predict feelings of laziness and exhaustion. Martha won’t mint this recipe, but the kids will eat veggies.

Saturday: Dine Out!
There is always more research to be done! Send a suggestion my way, and I’ll put it on the list!

Do you find yourself cooking more extemporaneously in the summer? Do you cook at home more or less now? Post a comment today! It’s free AND easy.

Send your birthday candles, fire extinguishers, and veggies to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up Wednesday, Nuevo Southwestern Salad Recipe!

2 Comments

Filed under Punt!, Weekly Menus

Weekly Menus: Week of 6/16/2012

Gentle Readers, it is so very good to be back in the kitchen. Finally, access to food on a regular basis, and the simple bliss of cereal. The vegetable choices are exploding, and I’ve gotten a couple of great challenges to work on in the test kitchen (both involving using up found ingredients, more on this upcoming). School’s out, appetites are in.

Typical lunch for me last week. Not optimal.

Typical lunch for me last week. Not optimal.

Thanks for some fantastic feedback this past week. Knowing that I’ve made a difference in just one person’s dinner, that I’ve convinced just one person to try cooking again, that makes it all worthwhile. Thank you.

On the menu this week:

Weekly Menus: 6/17/2012

Weekly Menus: 6/17/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 6/17/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 6/17/2012

The CSA from Brinkley Farms:

1 lb filet beans
1 cantaloupes
1 green summer crisp lettuce
1 bundle Swiss chard
1 bundle carrots

Which all translates to:

Sunday: Lasagna and Salad
This has been on the request list for some time. I make veggie lasagna, sometimes red and sometimes bechamel, and sometimes hybrid. I’ll report on the outcome. Great way to use zucchini and mushrooms, not just spinach and red peppers.

Monday: Juevos rancheros
One of our most popular meals to date. I love that everyone can size the meal according to their needs. The Eldest Practical Cook Junior can easily out-eat me on this one.

Juevos Rancheros, Practical Cook Style.

Juevos Rancheros, Practical Cook Style.

Tuesday: Sammies!
There’s some bread that needs to be used up, so it’s sammie time!

Wednesday: Pasta Night!
That gets an exclamation because we’ve been highly experimental here in the test kitchen thanks to eating Big Night style a few weeks back. The Juniors have strong opinions here. Wonder how that happened?

Linguine with slightly creamy lemon sauce and asparagus. I wanted to swim in it.

Linguine with slightly creamy lemon sauce and asparagus. I wanted to swim in it.

Thursday: Steak and Potatoes
Believe it or not, this is the hardest meal to sell in. Still working on how to serve mashed potatoes and steak in a way everyone likes. I think it’s texture.

Friday: Pork chops and chard
I heart pork chops. The local ones we get taste like bacon. That is all. 🙂

Saturday: Dine Out!
The Eldest, due to the unfortunate breaking of her ankle on her birthday, has not had her traditional birthday meal at the establishment of her choice. This will be that night. I can’t wait to see what happens.

What are you cooking these days now that school is out (assuming it is), and the weather has turned a bit (assuming it has)? Post a comment below. I am hungry and ready to read some good ideas!

Send your queries, kitchen confessions, and secret ingredients to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up on Monday, Reviews from the Road, San Diego Style!

Leave a comment

Filed under Weekly Menus

Weekly Menus from The Practical Cook’s Mom, A Guest Blog of Sorts

Gentle Readers, though The Practical Cook does like to make a general eating roadmap for the week, she is all for spontaneity. Apparently this runs in the family. Perhaps you recall when I left The Practical Cook’s Mom at the helm in the kitchen a few weeks back. I had one set of menus, we conferred, keep it simple. This is what actually happened:

Weekly Menus, Courtesy of The Practical Cook's Mom

Weekly Menus, Courtesy of The Practical Cook’s Mom

So this week, as I travel one more time, I’m not planning anything. Here’s her list. I’ll run you through the highlights reel so you can follow her method. I should also note, that she brings her own cooler of food, too, so stocking up is futile pursuit.

Monday: Tacos, pintos, fried okra, lettuce and tomato
How does okra pair with tacos? This is one of the many mysteries I faced in my youth. I still don’t have an answer for you.

Wednesday: Baked ham biscuits (you know them as Ham and Cheese Tea Sandwiches), steamed mixed vegetables, okra/beet pickles, pinwheel pasta salad
Yes, this is enough food to feed the troops. If they were running a marathon. Leftovers are very important in meal planning!

Thursday: Fried Chicken, rice, slaw, kale, crudites
Why have one vegetable when you can serve three? Welcome to dinner from a farming family in the summer. And believe me, there were probably more veggies lurking.

The Moral Here: Make a lot of food, focusing on vegetables. Ignore any and all rules of what vegetables pair with what. Serve.

The Second Moral: My kids always eat a ton when my parents are in the house. TPC’s Mom’s food just tastes better.

Do you cook like or with your mom? Discuss by posting a comment below. My mom might show up at your house with a cooler if you do.

Send suggestions, challenges, and heaps of praise to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

On Wednesday, Three More of My Least Favorite Things, Summertime Edition.

2 Comments

Filed under Weekly Menus