Monday, March 4, 2013

Dreaming of doughnuts

I bought this yesterday:
Wilton Doughnut Pan

Because I love those gourmet cake doughnuts that don't require a fryer, all you need is special pan and some creativity. Why did I wait so long to buy said pan? Well, first it would require shopping and that is one of my least favorite activities. Next, they were generally $10-12 a pop and that's too much money for me. And then I saw this:


Apparently, I could suddenly get two for less than the price of one. And I was sold. And then I went on a mad Pinterest spree and found these incredible recipes:

When I finally try them out, I'll let you know how it goes. Plus, I plan on figuring out my favorite O Doodle Doos doughnut: Maple Blueberry Pancakes with Bacon Doughnuts. That's right. BACON.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

CSA: A review of a summer of farm- fresh produce

Yesterday was the first CSA-free Saturday since a summer chock full of fresh fruits and vegetables began (with the exception of the sad, post-Irene Saturdays). So I figured today was a good day to review a summer of deliciousness before my fall/winter shares start up.

From week one... the final week...

...the experience has been a mix of emotions, running the gamut from giddy to guilty to grateful. The first week's delivery of berries was a great kick off and left me excited for the coming weeks. Somewhere in the middle, after trashing almost every single item in a delivery, I was left feeling guilty and more annoyed that I had months left before I wouldn't have to worry about cooking all this food. By the end, I was so happy to get deliveries after a week of nothing that it finally hit me that this had been a great experience. I've made some great food along the way, too. From chocolate zucchini cake to corn chowder to roasted eggplant and caramelized onion pizza, we've definitely ate well this summer. And more than that, we've ate well without spending a ton of money. So here comes the moment of truth. You know, the one where I share that pesky price breakdown that proves how awesome the CSA is.

Price Breakdown

Note: I priced my veggies by using the Harris Teeter Express Lane website, which allows you to shop for your groceries online. Whenever possible, I used the organic options, since my CSA follows organic practices.

All in all, I think the verdict is the same that I thought it would be way back at the beginning, when I assumed I'd get a lot of better quality veggies for cheaper if I signed up for a CSA. The only downsides were my failing, simply that I sometimes didn't have enough time to cook all that amazing food. I can't imagine what I would have done had I purchased a full delivery instead of the half deliveries. Hopefully, when I get to enjoy my fall/winter encore in a month I'll do better.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

CSA Week 20: End of summer

Well, my little experiment has finally ended. And I would say it's been a roaring success, with the exception of my occasional inability to cook all the food. That's my fault and it's something I'll have to start planning around since the fall share starts up in a month! That's right, I loved this so much that I went ahead and signed up for deliveries in November and December. I'm not sure what I'll do come January since I won't be getting my weekly dose of inspiration.

This week's delivery was actually a double delivery, meaning we got more than we normally would because she was making up for the post-Hurricane-Irene missed delivery. Remember that post saying it would be a loss for us? Yeah, just kidding about that. Anyway, here's this week's price breakdown. I'll be following up soon to share the season-long totals and some more reflections. I just have to find the time to put it all together!

Price Breakdown

  • 1 head of cabbage: $6.27
  • 1 watermelon: $7.99
  • 1 pound of butter beans (that's what these crazy Southerners call lima beans): $3.58
  • 2 acorn squash: $5.96
  • 2 butternut squash: $7.45
  • 2 cucumbers: $3.58
  • 4 tomatoes: $7.98
  • 6 red potatoes: $2.90
  • 4 Granny Smith apples: $6.73
  • 4 Red Delicious apples: $5.98
      • Total cost: : $58.42
    • Total savings: $16.42
      (Out of $42, since this was a double delivery)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

CSA Week 19: Fall in a bag

Fall has finally arrived, and despite the watermelon hiding in this week's delivery, my CSA announced it with a bag of apples.

And just in time for me to make the apple pie I've been wanting to bake. =D

Price Breakdown

  • 1 watermelon: $5.99
  • 1 pound of green beans: $1.99
  • 3 cucumbers: $5.37
  • 4 red delicious apples: $3.98
  • 4 granny smith apples: $6.73
  • 8 red potatoes: $3.87
      • Total: $27.93
    • Total savings: $6.93

Saturday, September 17, 2011

When inspiration hits

It had been a while since I was inspired by the items in my CSA delivery. So it's seems odd that it took an onion to kick my inspiration back in gear. Specifically this onion:

Yes that's my CSA delivery from right before Hurricane Irene and, yes, that is a honking big onion, pulled right out of Suffolk's rich soil and brought to me by my favorite food fairy, Jan of Clayhill Farms. And it got me wanting to create something using only CSA items, or at least something that didn't require me to leave the house. And looking at my delivery, I suddenly lit upon the idea of mixing roasted eggplant and caramelized onion. I had never done either, but I figured it couldn't be that difficult. And then, after discovering leftover pasta sauce and two kinds of cheese, I knew I'd be making pizza.

Specifically roasted eggplant and caramelized onion pizza with feta and mozzarella. And it was so good, I figured I'd (finally) share the recipe with you.

Roasted eggplant and caramelized onion pizza
Makes enough topping for two pizzas
1 medium eggplant, skinned and cubed
2 tbsp. olive oil
sea salt
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp. honey
Pizza sauce (fresh or store bought)
Fresh pizza dough (you can make this or buy fresh dough at most grocery stores)

For the eggplant:

  • Skin and cut into cubes. Salt and leave covered on the counter or in the fridge for at least a half hour. This will draw out the juices, which can leave the eggplant bitter when cooked. (You can skip this step but if you have a more mature eggplant, you'll regret it.) Drain, rinse and pat dry.
  • Toss cubes with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary, chopped. Scatter on a baking pan and roast in a 400 degree oven until browned. 

For the caramelized onions:

  • Cut onion(s) in half and then slice into thin strips. You can go thicker, but I just wanted the onions to almost melt away so cut them as thinly (read safely) as a could. 
  • Coat the bottom of a wide, deep saucepan with 1 tbsp. of butter per onion or a mixture of olive oil and butter (I only used one onion, so I just did at tablespoon of butter).
  • Add onions and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and 1 tsp. of honey (optional). Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes to an hour, or until the onions have reached your desired color, tenderness and taste. I only did 30 minutes. 
  • Try to avoid stirring constantly. You need to butter/oil to brown but you don't want the onions to burn. 
For the pizza:
  • Your oven should already be at 400 degrees, but if not, preheat it. Put your pizza stone in there to heat up while you assemble your pizza.
  • Roll out your dough using cornmeal to keep it from sticking to your paddle. Press out from the middle and fold over the outer rim to create a crust. You want this dough thinner so it crisps up enough to handle the toppings but also thick enough to handle the toppings. It's pretty much trial and error here folks.
  • Add sauce, mozzerella, eggplant, onions and feta. 
  • Bake until the cheese is brown and to crust is crispy. Eat as is or drizzle with balsamic vinegar to cut through the rich earthiness of the roasted eggplant and carmelized onions.
  • When I make pizza, I use a pizza stone preheated in the oven. I slide the pizza onto the stone with a pizza paddle. Don't have these items? Get them, STAT! Or add them to your Christmas list, as we did. Why? Because pizza stones make the best pizza. However, you can also just cook this on pan, round or square. You just have to shape the dough to fit the pan and be aware that it won't be as awesome as my pizza, though it will still be delicious.
  • Yes, these are a lot of steps and yes it took a lot of work for two pizzas. But they are amazing pizzas. Consider making one pizza and then using the leftover ingredients for a layered pasta dish on another day. The toppings will keep for a week or so in the fridge and can be used in many ways.
  • As I always say in pizza posts, customize away.