SOLE Food Eating

Follow us on the next level of our journey at http://www.solefoodkitchen.com. We’re having fun with new recipes, more local eating and all new menus and weekly budgets for farmers market eating!

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Day 296–A Healthy App–Farmanac!

Produce

The Farmanac app gives you resources at the farmer’s market and at the grocery store!

I’ve posted before about how technology can help us navigate the world of healthy food and help us make good choices. Sometimes these apps work well and sometimes they don’t. Here is another new app that I think is pretty good!

Farmanac is a new iTunes store app that lists produce by name and by PLU code (the code that grocers use) to provide photos of the produce, information on the residual pesticide level (ties into the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen test scores), information about the produce, how to select it, how to store it, and when it is locally in season in your area (see below).

The app is very easy to use and includes some interesting historical and agricultural information! I like the photos, too. In my experience, grocery stores don’t always label their produce correctly, so it’s nice to be able to check what you are buying! Also great to see where the produce falls on the pesticide scale so you can find out quickly if it is preferable to buy organic.

The screen visuals are nice and easy to see. Here is a screen shot about cabbage from my iPhone. Pretty sure it would look fab on my iPad as well, but I don’t take that shopping, so I only used my phone to test.

Where this app falls short is its listing what is “in season” for various regions of the US and Canada. News to app makers: yes, Kentucky and Texas were both Confederate states, but their growing seasons are very different. Please don’t lump them together as “The South.” I’m sure folks in say, western Canada feel the same way. If the app makers can refine that portion of the app (maybe by growing season instead of by state) and include links to recipes, this would be golden.

For now, though, it’s still very good and at $1.99, a good resource to have while shopping or meal planning.

Day 265–Crock Pot Applesauce

I’m not sure who invented the crock pot, but I love them. I mean, I enjoy getting in the kitchen and cooking, but there is something magic about putting ingredients in a crock pot in the morning and coming home from work to find something wonderful…and finished! And while I find stirring risotto to be soothing, standing around cooking apples doesn’t have the same appeal to me. Not sure why, but there it is.

So I am loving this crock pot applesauce recipe that came with my Produce Box this week. I’m not a huge fan of cold applesauce, but I do love it warm. And mix it in with some steel cut oatmeal and I feel like I’m wearing a warm, fuzzy Snuggy all morning long. Except people aren’t rolling their eyes at me. I think it would be great with the Maple Oatmeal Bread from Sugar Dish Me also (note to self: stop dreaming about this bread and make it already).

You can alter the sugar and spices (I added clove to mine) to suit your taste. This recipe makes about 8 cups of sauce–enough to eat now and freeze some for another day!

Crock Pot Applesauce

  • 4 pounds of apples, cored and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  1. Put sliced apples (I leave the skins on–more fiber is never bad, right?) in a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle lemon juice over the apples.
  3. Mix sugar and spices together in a small bowl and sprinkle over apples. Using a spoon or your very clean hands, toss the apples and the spiced sugar together until coated well.
  4. Put all in your crock pot. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
  5. Mash with a potato masher for chunky sauce or use an immersion blender (careful–sauce is hot!) to blend all together.
  6. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze in freezer bags to enjoy up to 1 year later.

Day 261–Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

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On a chilly night, this butternut squash risotto is pure comfort food!

 

Winter squash is a great budget saver and so absolutely satisfying to eat on a chilly day that I have a hard time getting my fill. Like sweet potatoes, winter squash can be used in either sweet or savory dishes, which makes them incredibly versatile. I never used to make squash much because the peeling/chopping/steaming just seemed to take too long, especially on a workday. Now I never bother with all those steps. Instead I just cut the squash in half and roast it cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet for about an hour, scoop out the roasted pulp and freeze it for later. The skins can be composted–nothing goes to waste!

Butternut squash all ready for the oven!

This is how they look after roasting for about 40 minutes!

A couple of weeks ago, I received some butternut squash with my Produce Box. As nice as it was to see squash again, it was about 90 degrees outside and I just wasn’t ready. So, while I was roasting some tomatoes for sauce, I popped the squash in the oven as well and then froze the cooked pulp for later. I received more in my box yesterday and decided to roast it while I took my evening run. It was all kinds of yummy goodness by the time I came home! Just perfect for butternut squash risotto–a great supper (or side dish) on a chilly evening.

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

  • 2 cups of roasted butternut squash (2 small or 1 large)
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  1. To roast the squash, cut the squash in half remove seeds and sprinkle the cut sides with olive oil. Bake (cut sides down) on a foil lined baking sheet for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Roast until soft. Cool squash and scoop out the pulp. Use the pulp immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and keep warm. Warm stock will incorporate into the rice much more quickly and you won’t have to reheat the rice each time you add stock.
  3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add minced onion and cook until very soft–about 3 minutes (the longer you saute the onions, the sweeter they will be–just don’t burn them!)
  4. Stir in the rice and continue cooking and stirring until the rice is glossy and starting to become translucent, about 3 minutes more.
  5. Pour in the wine and stir. Cook until wine has cooked down and is absorbed by the rice. Stir in one cup of the hot stock and one cup of the squash. Cook and sir until the stock has been absorbed–about 5 minutes.
  6. Continue adding the stock, one cup at a time, letting the stock fully absorb into the rice before adding more. With the final cup of stock, add the remaining squash. Cook until stock is absorbed. This will take about 35-40 minutes.
  7. Add the Parmesan, salt and pepper (to taste). Turn off heat and let risotto sit covered for about 5 minutes. Stir and serve!

Day 239–Starting Week 35–Budget and Menu

What is it about school starting that throws the world into a tailspin? Or maybe it’s just MY world that goes into mild chaos… Suddenly, there are evening meetings, tutoring, extra-curricular clubs and ridiculous amounts of laundry. I really enjoyed the lazy pace of summer, and my adjustment to the school year…well, let’s just say it hasn’t gone well. So this is another easy menu week that takes advantage of what is available at the farmers markets. I’m not tackling anything crazy or time-consuming because I’d like to keep what little grasp on reality I still have! The good thing is we’re on budget at $95.42 for the week and that includes some very fresh, lovely NC fish. Yay!

Budget

  • The Produce Box (apples, watermelon, tomatoes, corn, sweet peppers, organic zucchini/yellow squash, sweet potatoes): $23.00
  • Hilltop Farm ( organic cherry tomatoes, organic basil): $9.00
  • Homestead Farm (eggs): $4.00
  • Locals Seafood (black sea bass): $19
  • Farmhand Foods (hangar steak): $12.00
  • Trader Joes (frozen fruit, yogurt, soy milk): $28.42

Menu

  • Wednesday–Pan seared sea bass with cherry tomatoes, creamed corn, roasted okra
  • Thursday–Barbecue quesadillas (carryover from last week), roasted okra, field peas
  • Friday–Pasta with cherry tomatoes and roasted vegetables, salad
  • Saturday–Red pepper tart, cucumber and onion salad; peach pie
  • Sunday–Leftover red pepper tart, oven baked sweet potato fries
  • Monday–Grilled hangar steak, peppers and onions, corn; peach pie
  • Tuesday–Southwestern black bean pizza with leftover steak, veggies and cheese

Day 232–Starting Week 34–Budget and Menu

How in the world is this week 34 out of 52? There are only 18 weeks left in the year? It seems impossible, yet the apples and butternut squash at the farmers markets tell me otherwise. We’re at the cusp of a food shift that will usher in fall vegetables and fruits and send us pining for peaches and strawberries again.

Last week’s menu was a lot of fun. Many of the recipes came from other bloggers and all of them were wonderful! I had planned to do that again and then I looked at the calendar. This is one of those frenzied food weeks where we all have something going on in the evenings, so I’m planning some quick meals this week instead.

I am just over budget this week at 103.70. This overage is due to an indiscretion of mine. I made a frivolous purchase this week through The Produce Box. They are carrying some locally produced nut butters and when I saw “Coffee Vanilla Peanut Butter” I could not resist. I probably should have ignored it, but I didn’t. So that will somehow be worked into dessert this week. Any suggestions? Thankfully I had some Mae Farm Italian sausage in the freezer. That’s a carryover from a previous week.

We’re also using our own tomato sauce and barbecue sauce this week–YUM! Since I didn’t add the cost of making these into our weekly budget, I am paying us back by charging those against our grocery account for this week.

  • The Produce Box (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, grapes, butternut squash, corn, coffee vanilla peanut butter): $40.75
  • Mitchell Pantry (one jar jam, one jar barbecue sauce, 1 package tomato sauce): $9.00
  • Locals Seafood (scallops): $12.00
  • Mae Farm (pork shoulder, eggs): $15
  • Trader Joes (oatmeal, rice, cheese, yogurt, soy milk, tortillas): $26.95

What are we having this week? Here is the list, which reflects a bit of fall!

  • Wednesday–Egg salad sandwiches, pickles (Girl Scout night)
  • Thursday–Mixed green salad with leftover pork loin and homemade ranch dressing from Creative Noshing (Girl Scout leader night)
  • Friday–Pan seared NC scallops on butternut squash risotto; salad
  • Saturday–Crockpot barbecue with homemade roasted pepper barbecue sauce; roasted okra
  • Sunday–Barbecue quesadillas, carryover quinoa
  • Monday–Pasta baked with roasted tomato sauce and Mae Farm Italian sausage
  • Tuesday–Leftover pasta (PTA night)

Day 226–Starting Week 33–Budget and Menu

Whole green beans in a carton.

We still have plenty of summer here in NC, and I am enjoying every last second of it. This week’s menu takes advantage of our sweet corn (thank you, rain!), tomatoes, okra and squash.

One of the wonderful parts of this journey is getting connected to so many other people who are interested in locally sourced foods (and cooking!). Most days I make notes of posts that feature stunning recipes or new ways to cook old favorites. Usually, the list is so long that I get overwhelmed. But this week I’m picking some yummy dishes from some awesome bloggers and I plan to do that next week as well. It’s fun to try something new!

We came in just under budget this week at $98.32. Not too bad! Two weeks in a row under budget. Let’s see how long I can continue that! Here’s how it breaks down this week:

  • The Produce Box (all organics this week!–cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, Yukon gold potatoes + conventional okra, scuppernog grapes): $39
  • Local’s Seafood (NC wild caught shrimp): $10
  • Hilltop Farms (organic green beans): $3.00
  • Mae Farm (bacon): $10
  • Trader Joes and Lowes (shallots, rice, shredded cheese, sour cream, burger buns, pita, yogurt): $24.32
  • Farmhand Foods (small pork roast that is a carryover, ground beef): $12.00

So, what are we eating this week? Here’s the menu!

  • Wednesday–Sweet corn and bacon pasta (from Rachel’s Table)
  • Thursday–PTA volunteer night; everyone’s on their own
  • Friday–Shrimp and bruschetta risotto; local peaches (from Local Kitchen)
  • Saturday–Grilled burgers w/roasted pepper ketchup, roasted okra, sautéed squash
  • Sunday–Pork roast, green beans w/bacon & shallots (from Creative Noshing), roasted potatoes
  • Monday–Southwest black bean pizza (from Sugar Dish Me)
  • Tuesday–leftover buffet

Thanks to these wonderful ladies for sharing their recipes, their ideas and their passion for good food! Have a wonderful and delicious week!

Day 214–Your Cookies Will (Probably) Not Explode

Gasoline explosions, simulating bomb drops at ...

A friend sent me this link to a recent Huffington Post article about sugar and salt in our food. The premise is that our taste buds have been altered over time to expect our foods to be sweeter and saltier. It’s a funny piece that also drives home the point that we do indeed have the power to alter recipes, and that (probably) our baked goods won’t explode if we veer from the prescribed levels of sugar and salt.

My only issue with this article is that the sugar and salt levels that are so damaging to our health probably don’t come from home cooked foods. Rather, I believe the use of processed foods and convenience foods are a bigger, more insidious culprit. Still, the article is funny and it’s a good reminder to really think about the recipes we make and to take the time to experiment a little with adjusting ingredients. And it’s good to know that if we do, we don’t need a HAZMAT suit 🙂 Probably.

Click HERE for the article.

Day 213–Local Shrimp and Pasta

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My wonderful daughter brought a gift to me a couple of months ago and I am just now delving into it. Knowing how much I absolutely LOVE Italy, she brought me the “Under the Tuscan Sun Cookbook.” Not only are there wonderful recipes using fresh vegetables and seafood for summer, there are lots of hearty baked dishes to try when the weather turns cold. YUM!

When I say I love Italy, you need to understand that I love it so much I changed my will to have my ashes sprinkled in the olive groves of Cinque Terre. The food we had during our trip around Tuscany featured fresh, local foods that were cooked simply and were absolutely amazing. No crazy food towers with mystery ingredients and very little, if any, processed foods. And, of course, wine. With everything. Well, not breakfast, but you get the idea.

This recipe is adapted from the Tuscan Sun Cookbook using what we have locally. We had this last night and we agree that this is definitely a “do again” recipe. It is super healthy, quick and very, very easy to make. We use only local shrimp, but any US shrimp would be fine. We steer clear of shrimp not wild caught in the US because of the environmental degradation caused by many oversees shrimp farms, but you could also substitute almost any shellfish here or sub fresh mozzarella cubes for the shrimp and make it ovo/lacto vegetarian!

Buon appetito!

Local Shrimp and Pasta

  • 3/4 lb. orricchiete (“little ear”) or small shell pasta
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh shelled peas
  • 1/4 c. onion, diced
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. local, wild caught shrimp
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When water is boiling, add a generous helping of kosher salt and the pasta. This pasta will need to cook about 12 minutes.
  2. While pasta is cooking, add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to a saute pan and heat at medium low.
  3. Add the shelled peas and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the onion, salt and pepper and continue sauteing for another 3 minutes until peas and onion are just softened.
  4. Add pea mixture to a bowl and puree with an immersion (stick) blender (you could also use a food processor). Set aside.
  5. In the same skillet, heat the remaining olive oil and add the shrimp, garlic, salt and pepper. Saute until shrimp are just pink and remove from heat.
  6. When pasta has cooked, drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Add pasta and all other ingredients to the pot and stir to combine.
  7. Serve and eat up!

Day 212–Starting Week 31–Budget and Menu

Now that our suitcases are unpacked, the beach toys are put away and the sand is (mostly) vacuumed up from the car, we’re ready to get back on track with our locavore menu. It has been hot here, but not the insane hot we had in early July. Just our regular ol’ dog days of late summer in NC. I’ll still take this over ice storms any day! Still, the heat and the tremendous rains we have had mean that berries are almost completely gone from the farmer’s markets. We still have peaches, though, and that makes me happy!

Our menu this week represents some of what is best about late summer–plentiful seafood, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and peaches. At $120.27, our budget is over by a lot, but I ended up ordering TWO produce boxes–one a mix of veggies and fruit and one just fruit so I have enough to can and make my sweetie some blueberry muffins for work. Also, I am stocking up on some staples (frozen mango and organic beans and rice) and those will actually last several weeks. But, all-in-all, I went over budget and will try to get back on track next week. Here’s what we got:

  • The Produce Box (peaches, blueberries, sweet peppers, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon):  $36.00
  • Hillsborough Cheese Co. (mozzarella): $6.00
  • Harvest Farm (eggs): $4.50
  • Locals Seafood (scallops and shrimp): $28.00
  • Farmhand Foods (local hangar steak): $15.00
  • Trader Joes (frozen mango, lemons, yogurt, black beans, kidney beans, Ezekiel bread, soy milk): $30.77

Here is the menu for the week!

  • Wednesday–Shrimp and pasta; fruit salad
  • Thursday–Olympic Salad Building (Saladpalooza w/a new name)
  • Friday–Scallop risotto with roasted red peppers
  • Saturday–Grilled, marinated flank steak w/rosemary roasted potatoes
  • Sunday–Leftover steak and mushroom risotto
  • Monday–Turkey tacos with salad
  • Tuesday–Make your own flatbread pizza

Have a wonderful and healthy week!