Monday, November 26, 2007

Southern Harvest Soup

Last weekend for my birthday, the Cajun and I took BC on a hike to the Eno. It was a gorgeous day, with the leaves finally changing, just right for jeans and a long sleeve shirt, and one of the few upsides of the recent drought was no mud. We packed a picnic of sourdough whole wheat bread, a nice brie studded with mushrooms, a cucumber and a thermos of what I like to call Southern Harvest Soup. And if you promise not to tell on me, we even took the pup off the leash while we ate. Sshh. There's some leash-law aficionados lurking about. Who needs jewelry when a girl gets the perfect afternoon?

Southern Harvest Soup

2 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 lrg onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1 med butternut squash
1 lb sweet potato, diced
1 cup fresh or 1 can or 1/2 cup soaked overnight butterbeans
1 bunch collards, rinsed, de-stemmed and chopped
4 cups vegetable broth

To prep butternut squash, cut in half, scoop out seeds, place cut side down on plate with 1 in water, then wrap in plastic wrap, before microwaving on high for 15 min.

In a large stockpot, sautee onion and garlic in olive oil or butter. When translucent, add broth and bring to a simmer. Add in sweet potato, butterbeans and collards and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Stir in butternut squash, adjust seasonings to taste, then simmer uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.

Or, if you're lazy like I was, combine all ingredients except garlic in crockpot and cook for 8-9 hours on low, then add garlic powder in last 30 minutes of cooking.

Serves 6-8

P.S. Still working on the food photography.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sweet Potato Dog

I'm sure anybody who has a pet can sympathize with this. Oh the sheer determination combined with that look so innocent it makes you feel guilty.

Once BC managed to get an angel food cake from the center of the kitchen table and out of it's packaging. When I responded to the weird crunching noises, I discovered him with the entire circle of cake hanging out of his mouth and an ecstatic body wiggle. When I ordered him to sit and drop it, he obeyed and continued wiggling out of sheer joy and pride in himself. I picked up the cake and he followed me to the trashcan, where I dropped it in. He then defeatedly dropped to the ground and whimpered. 3 hours later when I went to bed he was still there, staring at the graveyard of his hard-won prize.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

CSA Pasta

The only downside I can see to CSAs is the fact that you often receive the same vegetables for week after week, and it can get tiring to think up new and different ways to use up that eggplant and green peppers sitting in your crisper. However, once a week, I have a group of friends over for dinner, each with their own cooking tastes, and it turns all recipe creations into a committee decision and brings in an infusion of fresh ideas. Last night's pasta sauce was one of our best efforts.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in skillet over medium heat, while cutting...
1 medium eggplant, quartered lengthwise, then thinly sliced
Sautee in pan, covered, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes while preparing...
2 green bell peppers, coarsely chopped
2 small or 1 large onions, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Add to uncovered pan and sautee until softened. Then stir in...
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
4 sliced roasted red peppers
2 tbsp sugar
salt & pepper to taste

We served it over whole wheat pasta, and grated cave-aged raw gruyere over top of it all.

It was enjoyed by all, including B.C.

He was particularly partial to the noodles.

(No, I did not actually feed my dog garlic & onions, as I know they are poisonous to him.)

Crockpot Baigan Bhartha

I realized that I never followed up last week on one of my favorite crockpot dinners. I adore Indian food (as you can see by my choice of last dinner) but it takes so long to cook it right, that I started experimenting with putting it all in a crockpot. I think I finally have a close approximation to baigan bhartha, that's fabulous on grey days. Last time I also threw in 2 bell peppers that I had in my crisper, you could also add in zucchini or squash, but just eggplant is also heavenly. I typically do veggie chopping the night before, then the morning of, pop the insert in the cooker and add whole spices. Ground spices are best when added in the last hour or so of cooking. Also, I strongly dislike adding fresh garlic, as it tastes bitter after stewing all day.

1 lrg or 2 med eggplants, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

Layer all veggies in crockpot, then pour tomatoes over everything. Add...
1 tbsp whole cumin
1 tsp whole mustard seed
1 tsp fennugreek seeds
2 tbsp butter

Cook on low for 8-9 hours. Then add...
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
salt to taste

Adjust heat to high and cook for 30 more minutes. That's the perfect time to cook some rice, or take the dog for a quick walk before heating some naan. Makes 4-6 servings.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I guess my first post is bound to be awkward, but I'm giving this a whirl. I like food, I like running, I like my town, and I like blogs, so why not make a blog about food and running around my town?

My usual CSA decided this year to run a winter program, which I'm incredibly excited about. I know my vegetable options will be limited, but it forces me to get creative with all those greens and winter squashes.

Last night I picked up our first share, but since I had to go vote, I didn't get a chance to start cooking until after 7, so it had to be fast. I sauteed garlic and onions in olive oil, and shredded kale directly into the pan. Salt, red pepper, some rice wine and a splash of lemon juice made a subtle and healthy twist on my grandmother's comforting greens. While sweet potatoes were cooking in the microwave (I'd rather cook them in the oven, but I was going for speed), I dipped slices of green tomatoes in milk and lemon juice, then coated with cornmeal and Tony Chachere's before pan frying. Someday I'll have to learn how to cook green tomatoes without frying, but not just yet.

This morning unfortunately did not feature a run, thanks to the after effects of the Raleigh marathon and a raging head cold. But perhaps this evening will involve a walk to Duke Park withBC the pup before enjoying my crockpot dinner.