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Return of the Bison Burger (also, this blog and some other stuff)

I finally cooked something again! I made mushroom bison cheeseburgers, along with honey-glazed carrots, served with some pasta salad (not made by me). The burgers had sliced rainbow longhorn cheese from the Easton Amish market and sliced and sauteed cremini mushrooms I picked up at Easton Market Square today. The carrots came from Provident Organic Farm and I used this recipe to make them.

I cooked the burgers in my grill pan for the first time. I really liked the way they turned out, though my house filled with smoke. Not enough to set off the smoke detector, but enough to make pretty sunbeams in the bathroom.

As I was making the glaze for the carrots, I admit that I was a bit worried. It smelled so strongly of vinegar. I’m happy to report that the vinegariness cooked away and they just had a very light apple flavor instead. I used unfiltered apple cider vinegar, so your results may vary if you use the Heinz stuff.

The pasta salad was from Piazza Italian Market. I went there for pesto pasta salad and indeed this was labelled pesto pasta salad, but it was not, at least not traditional, pesto pasta salad. It had a lot of cheese and sliced almonds and a few bits of asparagus. Aside from not really being pesto pasta salad, it was quite yummy.

Garden Update:

After a toasty March, April has been a bit chilly. My seedlings have been staying indoors for the most part and therefore haven’t benefited from much direct sun. I have them situated during the day in front of a south-facing window, but it’s just not the same exposure as they get on my front porch. That’s where they were today. So far, I have basil, arugula, carrots and kale that have sprouted. Tomatoes, spinach and parsnip seeds have been sowed.

Baby Kale!

Arugula seedlings.

Barely-there carrots.



Vegetable Soup with Corn Dumplings

This is one of my go-to winter soups. I used a lot of the veggies that I froze over the summer: green beans (in place of the canned beans), zucchini, yellow squash, corn and tomatoes. I also added onion, carrots and part of a huge sweet potato purchased more recently (I boiled and froze the rest of the sweet potato for later use). I used vegetable broth that I made in my slow cooker today (using a recipe from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook).

The recipe makes a ton of soup. I have four pints to take for lunches this week and still more to have with dinner throughout the week.

Close-up of the dumplings.

It’s important to store the dumplings separately from the soup, otherwise, they’ll dissolve into it.

I didn’t have one of the corn dumplings tonight. Instead, I had a cup of the soup with a fried flounder sandwich. I used New Belgium’s Snow Day in the batter for the flounder (and omitted the nuts).

Experimental Curried Turkey and Peach Sandwich

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a bottle of Curry Garlic Sauce made by Chesapeake Bay Old Style Sauce Company. One of the first things I wanted to try it with was the turkey leftovers after Christmas dinner. I also had some leftover brandied peaches and cranberry sauce.

I decided to mix the curry sauce, turkey and peaches together and see what happened. The result is pretty good. I had it on a sandwich roll using the cranberry sauce as a condiment. I ate the sandwich with some leftover Sweet Potato Crunch.

I probably won’t combine the curried turkey with the cranberry sauce again — the flavors were competing with each other too much. I have a pint of the turkey mixture leftover and I am freezing it for use later — I may try and make it into a rice dish. I also have a frozen pint of the cranberry sauce and I want to find new uses for that too.

The Haul: Catching Up Edition

I didn’t make it to the markets last weekend because I was out of town, so I made up for lost time this morning. Thank goodness I drove to the open-air market, because I was quite loaded down by the end. I bought:

  • 1 loaf Vermont sourdough bread*
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Small white potatoes
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Yogurt
  • Smoked salmon salad (lunch today and tomorrow on the sourdough)
  • A piece of lemon-poppy seed poundcake (from the Talbot Hospice bake sale; for breakfast)
  • A small brownie (prize for donating extra to the Hospice bake sale; with Ghiradelli chocolate chips; for second breakfast)

The bake sale lady informed me that she’ll be back next week for a cookie sale benefiting Talbot Humane. The idea will be that you purchase a box and then fill it with a variety of cookies of your choosing. Fun!

Then I went to the Amish market for my weekly milk purchase and to grab some ingredients for two dishes I’m making tomorrow. I also ordered my Christmas turkey for pick-up on Christmas Eve. I bought:

  • 1 gallon of milk
  • 1 dozen free-range eggs
  • 1 lime
  • 1 lemon
  • Chicken bouillion powder with parsley flakes
  • flour (I anticipate I’ll be baking more once my oven is fixed)

Tomorrow I’m planning to make this recipe for pumpkin soup (which called for the lime) and, since my oven is broken, a slow-cooker recipe for whole chicken with mushrooms and potatoes. It calls for the lemon and bouillion. I bought the chicken through Provident Organic Farms earlier this summer. If it’s good (and I’m sure it will be), I’ll be ordering more from them.

*Anyone local will be thrilled to find out that Against the Grain bakery will move to the Easton Market Square building when the open-air market closes 12/17 and they’re planning to be open on Christmas Eve, so you can have fresh bread that weekend! Provident Organic Farms also will continue to sell from the Easton Market Square building.

Dinner Tonight: Spicy!

My aunt's homemade chili plus a grilled cheese sandwich (7-grain bread with monterey spicy jack cheese).

The Haul: Hurricane Irene Edition

This was a two- or three-part haul, due to the hurricane bearing down on us. On Wednesday night, I stocked up on non-perishables in anticipation of lost power (more on that in a different post). Last night, I went to the Amish market after work, in case I needed to minimize my time out of the house this morning. When I woke up today, it was gloomy out, but not rainy or windy yet. I ventured down to the open-air market, where less than half the normal vendors had set up shop.

My plan before the hurricane became a reality was to stock up on still more tomatoes and corn this weekend, as their seasons are starting to wind down (and I still hadn’t bought any fresh corn this summer!). I decided only to get a couple of slicer tomatoes instead of a bunch of romas for freezing. The slicers will keep well at room temperature and it will be nice to have something fresh to eat if I have to dip into the packaged food stores should the power go out.

I mentioned to one of the vendors that I really wanted to buy a bunch of corn and freeze it, but I was afraid that would be a waste if the power went out. He said that the hurricane will most likely blow down the remaining corn on the stalks and so this was the last of the fresh corn. That sold me. I bought six ears (half what I had planned).

As soon as I got home, I shucked the ears and boiled them for five minutes. I reserved one ear to eat later with dinner and cut the rest of the kernels off the cobs, separating them into quart-size freezer bags (one or two ears per bag). I also bagged the cobs and threw it all in the freezer (with my fingers crossed). I’ll either boil the cobs some more in a stock or defrost them and throw them in the compost bin (currently dismantled and in my shed, locked up tight).

Here’s what else I bought over the past two days:

Pork bbq and sauce (there was an end-of-summer cookout at the Amish market yesterday — this is dinner tonight and tomorrow)
Hot dog buns (the only rolls left at the market; I figured they’d work just as well for bbq)
Kettle corn (an important staple in emergencies like this)
Smoked salmon salad (lunch today — and hopefully tomorrow — to be served on some whole-grain Italian bread I pulled out of the freezer)
Red bell pepper (also keeps well at room temperature and good to snack on)

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes!

My kitchen is overflowing with tomatoes this weekend. Here’s how I’ve been preparing them:

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Sandwich:

Pretty self-explanatory.

Freezing Tomatoes:

Per my Aunt Teri’s instructions, I took about 5 lbs. of plum and other assorted tomatoes and scored the bottoms. Then, I dunked them into boiling water for a minute, and then into an ice bath, to make them easier to peel. After peeling them, I diced them and divided them into quart-sized bags, ending up with 2 1/2 quarts of tomatoes, which I popped into the freezer. That’s one batch of Mom’s spaghetti sauce, one batch of chili and a soup ingredient in the making, folks! Nothing like cooking with fresh summer tomatoes when it’s cold out!

Summer Pasta with Fresh Tomato, Ricotta and Baby Basil:

Multiplies easily:

1 serving dried pasta of your choice
1 Tbsp ricotta
5-6 baby basil leaves, torn
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tomato, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile put a dollop of ricotta in a bowl along with the torn basil leaves, set aside. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and toss in the garlic. Saute one minute and then pour in the tomatoes. Stir occasionally for a few minutes and then turn down heat to low.

Use tongs or a pasta fork to extract the pasta from the water. Don’t worry about draining completely. Toss on top of the cheese and basil. Pour on the tomato mixture and toss well to melt the cheese and incorporate the basil. Add freshly cracked black pepper and enjoy.