Farmers’ Market 07.09

When did it become July?!

I guess I missed it while I was working my butt off last week! Thanks for your patience and for your nice, encouraging comments here and on Twitter. In case you missed the update, I ended up getting called into work on Saturday the 30th and then I disappeared for a little while as I focused solely on my job responsibilities during a bit of a week-long emergency. I missed the South of the James farmers’ market, so no cooking or shopping recap for last week. But I did hit the farmers’ market this past weekend, as temperatures rose to 100 degrees, and I picked up some seasonal produce while I was there. It was pretty hot, but I felt like I had missed out on my market time, so I made the trek over there with Kyle and bought a few things before the sun melted me completely.

Here’s this week’s loot!

  • Zucchini (Victory Farms)
  • Carrots (Victory Farms)
  • Cucumbers (Walnut Hill)
  • Heirloom tomato (Pleitez Produce)
  • Poblano peppers (Pleitez Produce)
  • Bok choy (Manakintowne Specialty Growers… I think?)
  • Tat soi (Manakintowne Specialty Growers… I think?)

The tat soi is supposed to be similar to bok choy, but less bitter. I’m planning to do a little taste testing experiment later this week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Another thing I missed last week was the 4th of July. I heard some fireworks while I was on the computer one night but didn’t really see anything. I made up for it the following weekend with a little impromptu cookout with friends, so it was all good. I did make a little 4th of July holiday gift to you, but didn’t get a chance to post it so here it is, albeit a little late!

My red, white and blue roasted potatoes turned out a little more pink, white and purple than I intended, but they were super delicious. I simply cut red, white and purple potatoes into quarters, then tossed them in olive oil and salt, and roasted them in the oven. And I didn’t use just plain old salt. Almost as American as apple pie is this Applewood Smoked Salt from the Spice Diva.

This week will probably have a bit of a catching up theme, as I have a lot of things to share with you that are all a little belated.

Vegology turned two years old while I was living under a rock last week, so I have that post for you.

I also have a few simple recipes up my sleeve that I need to write up, so I’ll pick one out of a hat and post it this week as well.

If I’m feeling really ambitious, I might show you some updated photos of my vegetable garden. Spoiler alert: there are no vegetables. Thank God for farmers!

Veggie Redux: Caldo Verde

I recently found myself in a very chilly situation.

To warm up, I made a hearty kale and potato soup. The first time I made this humble soup, I feared that it would seem too boring for my dinner companion’s taste. So I spiced it up with a fancy name and an intriguing story. I introduced the soup as “Caldo Verde, the National Soup of Portugal.”

Kyle said, “ooooooooh,” as I had anticipated. He was pretty excited to try the beloved stew of a foreign land. Hook, line, and sinker. So when I took my first slurp of this easy, hearty soup, I was surprised to find that the bowl didn’t need a worldly title to grab your attention. One taste was all it took for me to realize that caldo verde is special in its own right. Thanks to spicy, chewy soy chorizo from Twin Oaks and tender leafy kale from Victory Farms, this soup fills your stomach, warms your heart and excites your tastebuds.

This was a new product to me and I definitely recommend it. Found at Ellwood Thompsons.

I suggest you make a batch before winter gives way to spring and hearty soups play second fiddle to fresh grilled veggies. There is a time and place for everything, and right now, while there is still a little chill in the sunrise and sunset, is the time for thick potato soup with leafy greens and spicy soy-rizo. No smoke, no mirrors, just soup. Caldo. Caliente. Yum.

Caldo Verde (6 hearty servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds white or russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 pound soy chorizo, crumbled
  • 1 pound kale, shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes, stock, and crushed red pepper. Stir to combine and cook, covered, over medium heat for one hour.
  3. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to puree some of the potato into the broth. Do not blend until smooth; leave some small potato pieces in the broth for texture is desired.
  4. Return to heat, add soy chorizo and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add kale and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve hot with crusty bread and the flair of a world traveler who is insecure about the humble beginnings of her potato soup.

Thanksgiving a la Vegology

There were a lot of firsts this Thanksgiving. And it was the best Thanksgiving I can remember.

It was the first time I hosted Thanksgiving dinner at my place.

It was the first time I spent Thanksgiving with my best friend.

It was the first time the Ravens had a Thanksgiving day game.

Because Kyle and I had to fit in three separate Thanksgiving family events, we did a lot of schedule shuffling before we compromised on an itinerary. The result was that we got to see almost all of our loved ones during the holiday, even though our families live 200 miles apart. It was delightful to visit with everyone, and I owe a major THANK YOU to my mom, dad and sister, who drove down to Richmond from Baltimore to make it all possible.

This is not Thanksgiving at my house. This is a cruise ship.

We started by driving out to a horse farm in Caroline County. There Kyle’s dad and his wife hosted a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I had a drink and nibbled on sides, because I had another meal to eat that night.

Then I drove back to Richmond to prepare dinner #2 with my family and Kyle. Three out of five people in attendance are not fans of turkey, so we knew from the start that we weren’t going the traditional route. The only requirement from my family was that we give our undivided attention to the Ravens game at 8:20 PM. My biggest challenge was that I was away from home until about 6:30 PM so I did not have time to prepare and serve an elaborate meal before kickoff.

I had the idea in the shower last week. I always come up with my best ideas while in the shower. I decided to do a slow cooked vegetarian chili (normal football fare in my home) plus a baked potato bar with all the toppings we could possibly want on our spuds.

This is where I want to make a joke about how it was “totally tuber-ular” but I won’t.

Okay, maybe I did just make that joke. Sorry. Can I make it up to you with some steamy chili shots?

The feast consisted of:

  • Baked sweet potatoes, baked russet potatoes
  • Vegetarian chili
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Homemade cheddar cheese sauce
  • Shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • Sliced avocado
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Crumbled vegan “bacon”
  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Salsa
  • Hot sauce
  • On the side: orange glazed baby carrots

I think everyone loved the tater bar, and it got us fed just in time for the main event. I highly recommend it if you need to make a no-hassle dinner for a crowd. Less time in the kitchen means more time for family and friends!

I failed to take a picture of all of us in our gear, so I’ll show you one from the 2010 playoffs instead.

Again, cruise ship.

I also failed to take a picture of this amazing dessert that I made: Pear Cranberry and Ginger Snap Crumble. Topped with some local Homestead Creamery vanilla ice cream, it was a smash hit!

The next day, all five of us headed over to Kyle’s aunt’s house for an Italian dinner for ten. We had so much fun at the kids table. Mind you, all “kids” were over the age of 22.

We had a delicious dinner, followed by party games and a movie. I learned a lot about our families during a round of The Game of Things. I’m going to leave it at that.

I am so thankful that I was able to be surrounded by the people I love for the whole weekend! I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Hope you had a tasty and memorable Thanksgiving weekend too.