Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's Bountiful

For several years now, my friends have been telling me about a food co-op called Bountiful Baskets.  Okay, so it was more like them singing their praises and urging me to join too.  The only caveat?  There is so much food, my little family of 3 may not be able to eat it all.

So I finally did.  And this is what I got on Saturday:

2 bunches of celery, a head of Romaine lettuce, broccoli, green beans, 7 sweet potatoes, 3 tomatoes, a package of champagne grapes, a bunch of bananas, 3 Valencia oranges, 2 mangoes, 7 peaches, and a lot of small plums.  In the back you see the 5 loaves of 9 grain bread I added to my order.  So much good food!

And all of it for only....


The produce basket is $15.  The bread was an optional add-on, and was $10.  All orders have a $1.50 processing fee.  And for new people, the FIRST time you order, you will also add a $3.00 new member fee.

The real deal is this: It is a lot of produce for the money.  I personally have had some quality issues with some of the fruit being spoiled, but it is generally not much.  The produce is generally ripe and ready to eat when you get it, so you will need to be able to use it or store it within the week you get it, and you don't get to select what you will receive.  Also, remember that this is a co-op, so everyone working is a volunteer.  You also have to make your purchase online, and there is a deadline to do so -- generally it's no later than Wednesday, and pick up is on Saturday.  There is a 20 min. window to pick up your order, and if you miss it, your food will be donated to a charitable organization, with no refunds or exchanges available for any reason.

Bottom line is that this is a good deal on produce if you can use it up within the week, especially if you don't have a Farmer's Market nearby.  You may have some quality issues, but, since I'm the only person I know that's actually found any rotten fruit, the odds are that it will be okay.  So, I do recommend it, but it's not for everyone, and I won't be participating anymore.  And since it's available in 8 states, there may be one near you.  If not, and you wanted to participate, you could always check into bringing it to your area.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Refried Beans

Living in the southwestern United States, one thing that we are blessed to have is excellent and authentic Mexican food.  Since I enjoy cooking, re-creating this food in my own kitchen is a must.  Before we get started on the recipe, I will share with you the secret to authentic, delicious Mexican food: Lard.  Yes, it must be lard.  Yes, it really does make a difference in the taste.  No, you really can't substitute.  No, it won't kill you to use it.  Okay, now that we've sorted all that out, let's get started.

You will need:
1 lb. of dried beans (pinto beans are traditional, but you can make it with other types.  For this recipe I used small red beans and navy beans, in the past I've used black beans.  Feel free to experiment.)
1/4 - 1/2 C. of lard
fresh garlic cloves, to taste
water (or stock of your choice)
salt, to taste

Rinse and sort the beans, then soak overnight and cook according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.  Place the lard in a large sauté pan.

Mince the garlic and add it to the pan.

Add the beans to the pan, as well. 

Turn the heat to medium high, and keep stirring everything together so it doesn't burn. The lard will melt, the beans and garlic will start cooking, and your house will begin to smell amazing.

When the beans have started splitting, get out your potato masher and coarsely mash those beans.  Then add the water (or stock).  Add enough that the beans can continue to cook and become creamy as the liquid evaporates, but not so much that they are swimming.  When it's done it will look a little something like this:
Serve warm with some cheddar cheese melted on top, a dollop of sour cream, and a spoonful of salsa or sprinkle on some chopped green onions.  So easy, so tasty.  Make some tonight.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Peanut Brittle

I love the alchemy of making candy.  I'm always amazed that such simple ingredients and a bit of heat can turn into something so tasty.

I used this recipe, substituting dry roasted peanuts for the raw, because that's what I had in my pantry.
The recipe made about 1 1/2 lbs. of the candy.  So simple, so good.  Make some, but make sure you have a cup of ice water nearby when you do.  When cooled, it is a taste of heaven; when molten it burns like hades. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

And The Winner For Best Music Video Goes To...

Well, Hello Again

I've always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with technology.  On the one hand, it's a wonderful way to keep in touch, find things I'm looking for, and, in some ways, simplifies writing.  On the other hand, it is another thing I have to deal with and, for me, a bit of a time thief.  It's the discipline I lack.  I'm working on it. ;)

I also tend to be a bit of a procrastinating perfectionist, who lives what is, to my mind, a very happy, full, and ordinary, life.

So what does that have to do with anything?  Well, when the two get together I decide that nothing much is happening, so why write about it.  So I don't.  Then, of course, it's just easier to continue not to, even when there's bunches of things going on. 

And all that to say, yeah, it's been a while.  There has been a lot happening, I'll be updating as I can, and trying to stay a little more up-to-date.  I warn you, however, that this blog may be in serious danger of becoming a cooking blog in the process.  What can I say?  There's been a lot of cooking lately.  Maybe it's the weather.

Anyway.  Storms have damaged the local dog park, so I've been setting up playdates for Gypsy, and we've been taking some early morning walks.  The sunrises have been particularly beautiful.

Jay and I spent much of the summer focused on golf tournaments, where he did okay.  No, he didn't take home the top prize, but his game improved and he had an excellent time.  After the regular, local season came to a close, Jay opted to participate in the Oakley Challenge tournament in the big city, to extend the season, and the fun, for himself by another week.

It was very well run, the course was in excellent condition, Oakley and the course were giving out some participation prizes, and his teammates were all lovely people.  It was better ball format, and Jay had the best game of his life.  Despite not finishing it.

Jay was injured on the second to last hole.  He was scooping up his ball from the moving golf cart when he fell out, landing on his shoulder.  And breaking his collar bone.  Seriously.

Unbelievably, it looked even worse a week later.

The one on the right was the first one, the one on the left was after a week of "healing".  It's doing much better now, though he's going to have to wear the brace for another 5 weeks.  And stop falling out of golf carts.
There is a big change around here this year.  Jay decided he wanted to attend public school this year, for the first time in his life.  He had several reasons for wanting it, so after seven long hours spread over two days that were separated by a week (it was a nightmare, but at least we didn't fall out of any golf carts!), he's now a freshman at one of our local high schools.  Go Spartans!

One of the reasons he had for wanting this change was to join the golf team.  Yeah.  Considering the fact that he can't participate in ANY sports for the next 5 weeks, and that the golf season is only in the fall, well, that's not going to happen.  Poor kid.  Maybe next year.  If he stops falling out of golf carts.

Okay, okay.  I'll stop with the falling out of golf carts.

For now.       Tee hee!

Otherwise, he's enjoying the change and doing well so far.  It's only a week in, but still...

I, however, have been spending my time baking, cleaning, baking, crafting, baking, cooking, oh, and did I mention baking?  Good thing I enjoy it.