Friday, July 11, 2008

My 1st Local Fresh Produce Delivery!

Wednesday afternoon was an exciting time. I rushed home from work eager to peak inside the cooler I left on the front porch to see what treats had been delivered. I knew I was to receive the "local produce basket" but what that meant, I wasn't quite sure.

It was my very first vegetable delivery by a local company (The Homefield Organic Food Co.)that delivers fresh local & organic produce grown on farms in our region. Some of the organic produce does come from further away (California/Mexico) so I chose not to have those items included in my order. In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, I am trying my hardest to buy only local foods (including packaged goods). This is easy to do in the summer when produce is bountiful in this region - winter will be another story (stay tuned). I tried to do this last week at the local grocery chain and came home with a meagre selection of tomatoes, lettuce and mushrooms. Most other items were imported from far away places. The majority of packaged and canned goods were not local but I tried my hardest to stick to Canadian items such as cheese from Quebec and canned goods from Ontario.

I was completely surprise when I opened the lid of the cooler. For a mere $27, I got the following:

In case you can't see everything, here is a list:
  • strawberries
  • apples
  • cremini mushrooms
  • onion
  • bunch of beets
  • radishes
  • lettuce
  • zucchini
  • cucumber
  • rhubarb
  • potatoes
  • vine tomatoes
  • broccoli
  • snap peas
  • AND, 2 organic chocolate chip cookies that didn't make it past the front porch

I have to say, that is a lot more veggies than we would normally eat in one week so I think I'll be doing some frozen meals or soups. Regardless, I am pleased as punch with this service and blown away by the quality of produce that is grown just down the road. Now I don't have to get up at 7AM on Saturday to go to the Farmer's Market! Homefield Organic Food Co. also delivers a plethora of other items such as dairy, eggs, bread, grains, pasta, cereal and pantry items (sauces, pickles, beans, jams and bulk foods etc.)

Last night, I made a vegetarian "baked surprise" (LOL) that turned out very well. I used my fresh tomatoes and cremini mushrooms (among other things) in that dish. We also had the local potatoes which I roasted with rosemary from my own window-box garden. Fantastic!

Tonight I will bake a strawberry-rhubarb pie and prepare a salad of beets and snap peas. Another post to follow with pics!

Next year we will be buying a share in a local CSA for the summer, but for now the Homefield Organic Food Co. seems to be a sure thing! Look for a similar service in your area!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin

Wow. I never would have believed it but my husband has managed to amaze me with this one. He has claimed that this VEGETABLE recipe is now firmly planted on his top 5 list for favorite meals. Admittedly, this dish is so delicious that you completely forget it is cauliflower, but I am still quite shocked!

In my continued effort to not eat meat (again, a post is needed for this - soon, soon!), I am trying some new ideas at the dinner table. I saw this recipe on French Food at Home, with the ever delightful Laura Calder, before our vacation and vowed to try it when we got back. The episode was "Truckstop French". I changed a couple of things just slightly. The results? Amazing comfort food.

Link here - for everything you don't know about cauliflower.

Ingredients & Preparation: (from Laura Calder's French Food at Home, Food Network TV)
Serves 4 as a side
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used skim and it was perfect)
  • 1 x bay leaf (I used 3 as they were a bit old and not very fresh)
  • 1 clove garlic split
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyère cheese (I used extra old white cheddar and mozzarella)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste (I used white pepper - love the flavour)
  • 1 lb. cauliflower florettes
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used Japanese panko crumbs instead - excellent!)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Make the sauce: Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan with the bay leaf and garlic. Cover, turn off the heat, and let infuse, about 15 minutes. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute to remove the raw flour taste. Gradually whisk in the milk. Cook, stirring, until thick. Stir in the cheese, season with salt and pepper, and reserve.

Heat the oven to 425°F/210°C. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Salt it, as for pasta, and blanch cauliflower until just shy of being tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well. Pat dry with a tea-towel. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with the sauce and dump into a gratin dish. Scatter over the breadcrumbs (or panko) and Parmesan and bake until bubbling and gratinéed on top.

I served the gratin with some Indian-inspired lentils and a green salad. Supreme!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Pad Thai with Tofu

Super tired today. But, I still managed to get myself to the grocery store to buy some food for dinner. I wanted to do something quick and easy. Pad Thai with Tofu seemed to be the answer! I'm off meat for now and probably forever (more on that later - requires a separate post) so I cooked with tofu for the 2nd time in my life tonight. I've eaten it many times but never prepared it myself. Dinner was delish.

Ingredients & Preparation:
Serves 2-3.
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • 1/2 "brick" of firm tofu, diced into little pieces
  • 2 tbsps canola oil
  • 1/2 package of broad rice noodles
  • 1 package of pad Thai sauce, store-bought (A Taste of Thai brand is good)
  • fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • green onion, diced
  • handful of peanuts, chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into quarters or smaller for garnish
  • bean sprouts, optional

Cook your tofu in the oil for a few minutes until hot (add salt if you like). Set aside. Scramble your egg and set aside with tofu. Cook your noodles according to package directions. Heat the sauce. Mix the noodles with the sauce in a large serving bowl. Add the tofu and egg. Top with cilantro, green onion, peanuts and garnish with lime. Bean sprouts are good if you have them. I had them tonight but forgot to add them until it was time to eat.

Feel free to add some grilled shrimp or chicken to this dish instead of the tofu.

This is much better than takeout!