Day 220–Red Pepper Tart

I’m not sure why this isn’t called “Zucchini Tart” because it has more zucchini in it than red pepper, but the pepper sure makes it look pretty. This is another recipe adapted from the Under the Tuscan Sun Cookbook, which is rapidly becoming a favorite of mine. This tart was delicious–it is like a quiche, but with more vegetables and MUCH less fat (no milk or cream in this baby!). So light and delicious–I will definitely make it again. Ellie didn’t care for the zucchini, but she might try it with another vegetable subbed in. I think it would be great with asparagus in the spring or even with thinly sliced potatoes. Or Kale…or broccoli…or…well, you get the picture. Super easy, healthy and versitile. That is MY kind of recipe!

Red Pepper Tart

  • 4 farm eggs
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced very thin
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced very thin
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, plus scant amount to coat pepper
  • 1 c. shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 9″ pie crust
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Roll the pie crust into a 9″ pie pan and keep refrigerated until ready.
  3. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent–about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced zucchini and cook another 3 minutes until soft.
  5. Spread the zucchini and onions onto the bottom of the pie crust.
  6. In a bowl, wisk the eggs together. Add the cheese and blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over vegetables.
  7. Toss the red pepper slices in a scant amount of olive oil to coat. Arrange red pepper slices on top of the tart in a spoke pattern. Press them into the egg a bit.
  8. Bake tart for 30 minutes or until eggs are set and crust is lightly browned.
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Day 175–What’s Fresh at the Market

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My favorite tomato–German Johnson!

We are at zero hour here in NC. Two days of blissfully wonderful, spring-like weather and starting tomorrow temperatures are predicted to be over 100 degrees for the remainder of the week and weekend. If you have lived in the South, you know what that means–you can’t walk, talk or move without coating yourself in a sheen of humidity and sweat. Makeup? No way, Jose. Those cute little “summer sweaters”? Put ’em up or pack them in a suitcase and head to Maine. Like manic people before a snowstorm, everyone is scrambling around to get their “outdoor errands” done before tomorrow.

And for me, that means grocery shopping. Taking advantage of the lovely weather, I headed out to the Downtown Raleigh Farmer’s Market to finish my shopping for the week. I managed to get everything done on my lunch hour while the temperature was still in the low 80s. I’m planning to make some peach chutney, so I was especially interested in peaches and some jalapeno peppers (since the voles so kindly ate the roots of my plants). I also stocked up on raspberries because their season is just about over. Will make more jam tonight!

What’s fresh in central NC? Here’s a list of what I found!

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries (stock up–season is almost over!)
  • Peaches
  • Summer squash
  • Patty pan squash
  • Zucchini
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Beets
  • Okra
  • Tomatoes (heirloom tomatoes are ready!!!)
  • Cucumbers (all kinds)
  • Green beans
  • Wax beans
  • Butter beans
  • Purple hull beans
  • Black eyed peas
  • Eggplant
  • Herbs (all kinds–can’t keep up)
  • Potatoes (red, white and blue!)
  • Celery
  • Green peppers

Day 135–Week 19–Budget and Menu

After a few days of bad eating, we are back in the swing of things with another week of healthy, local food. I’ve missed cooking on something other than a fire or propane stove and look forward to cooking fresh vegetables again! I’m excited to see fresh zucchini and yellow squash at the farmers market. I know by July I’ll be sick of it, but it’s a new welcome addition to our menu! Also, it’s always super to see strawberries AND blueberries at the market. Unlimited deliciousness come from those two combined! I went over budget this week due to a weakness for fresh crabmeat. The last time we had crab was for our Super Bowl party and that came from India, which seemed really weird. The pork roast I picked up from Homestead Farms is huge and will carry over into next week, which should hopefully save us some money and bring us back into our $100 budget.

Here is how our budget broke out for the week:

  • The Produce Box (zucchini, squash, blueberries, broccoli, beets, pointy cabbage, sweet onions): $26.00
  • Locals Seafood (fish, crabmeat): $40
  • Hilltop Farm (arugula): $4.00
  • Homestead Farm (pork roast): $24.00
  • Melina’s Pasta (spinach fettucine): $6
  • Trader Joes (black beans, rice, tortillas, fat-free refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, frozen fruit, soy milk): $26.30

Here is our menu for the week!

  • Wednesday–Spinach fettucine with lump crab and arugula pesto
  • Thursday–Penne pasta with roasted squash and zucchini, salad
  • Friday–grilled sheepshead (this is a fish), sautéed swiss chard and beet greens, whole wheat cous cous
  • Saturday–Leftover pasta
  • Sunday–Cuban pork roast, black beans & rice, cabbage slaw, beets
  • Monday–Pork quesadillas, salad
  • Tuesday–leftover cleanup

Have a wonderful and healthy week!

Day 125–What’s Fresh at the Market and Strawberry Bread

We are just winding down on our strawberry season and at the farmer’s market this week, farmers were predicting another two weeks of berries. Nooooooo!!!! So, of course, I had to stock up like a hoarder. I made 6 more half pints of jam, froze 2 quarts and made some strawberry bread. I had never made that before and it was very good! The recipe is below. My freezer is now getting pretty darn full, so my request for Mother’s Day is a deep freezer and my goal for the week is to carve out some space for that in an area that won’t blow a fuse. I’m up for the challenge!

Here is a list of what’s available this week in our area of central NC:

  • Strawberries
  • Lettuce (red, green, romaine)
  • Greens (swiss chard, kale, spinach, bok choy)
  • Radish
  • Hothouse tomatoes
  • Sugar snap peas
  • English peas
  • Hothouse cucumbers
  • Asparagus
  • Spring onions
  • Fresh garlic

Hope you enjoyed shopping at the market this week. What’s new in your area?

Strawberry Bread (makes 2 loaves)

  • 4 c. fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 3 1/8 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 c. chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour 2 loaf pans.
  3. Place sliced strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Set aside.
  4. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a large bowl; mix well.
  5. Blend oil and eggs into strawberries and add strawberrie mixture to flour.
  6. Blend until dry ingredients are just moistened. Stir in pecans.
  7. Divide batter into pans and bake for 45-50 minutes.

Day 110–Our First Produce Box of the Year!

The Produce Box is here! The Produce Box is here!

Pulling into my driveway last night, I saw an unfamiliar car behind me. The car pulled into my drive and stopped. Someone looking for directions? Someone complaining about my lack of green grass in the yard? Nope. It was my Produce Box Neighborhood Organizer delivering my first Produce Box of the growing season! Life is good.

I’ve blogged about The Produce Box before (HERE), but this is the first box we have received since last fall, so it merits some additional blog time! The Produce Box sources all its vegetables and farm products (cheese, bread, honey, jam) from North Carolina farms, packages them into CSA-type boxes and delivers them to the house. Members also contribute a small fee (I think it was $3 this year) to provide small grants to local farmers to help address issues on their farms (some of this year’s grants included purchasing seed starting supplies, purchasing refrigeration units, educational opportunities, etc).

Because The Produce Box works with several farms, they do offer a greater variety of vegetables than a traditional CSA, which also reduces the risk of not receiving anything if one farmer has a crop fail. Members can pick among several boxes each week, including an organic box and a small box for folks who can’t consume all the veggies in the standard box. And I have to say it, I love having my vegetables delivered. One thing I can cross of my list. But you know, meeting with and talking to farmers has been a real joy for me, so even though I get my produce box delivered, I’ll still be heading out to the farmer’s markets to pick up anything not in my box as well as cheese, pasta, meat, eggs, etc.

What did we get in our first box? Due to a late season frost last week, this week’s box is smaller than usual, but still a very welcome sight! We received two packages of strawberries, sweet potatoes, spinach, a HUGE head of lettuce, greenhouse cucumbers, and carrots so fresh they still have the dirt on ’em. Yum. Just in time for saladpalooza night!

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