Thursday, September 26, 2013

Carrot cake cookies

It's still September, so I'm still not talking about pumpkin.

(I'm beginning to think I'm the only blogger who is not.)

What we're talking about today is carrots. Well, really what we're talking about is carrot cake cookies, but that's only because I'm slightly crazy.

Seriously: Am I the only person that gleefully plans and plants a huge garden full of vegetables, only to find at harvest time that I'm trying to turn them into baked goods instead of savory side dishes?

Crap: I finally may be developing a sweet tooth after all.

Even though we have had two pretty significant frosts already here in Vermont, I'm still getting a few things from the garden. I have a little bit of kale, which I had better hurry up and harvest before the deer find it (bastards!), and carrots.

This year marked my first attempt at growing carrots: It was a success! It's so rewarding to see the little orange tippity top of a carrot poking through the ground and then to pull it up. Gasp! It's a real carrot! That I grew!

(It's the little things, really.)

The fun and wonder begins to wear off as you pull up carrot after carrot after carrot. And realize that you don't particularly like cooked carrots.

Uh oh.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Slow cooker beef chili

I feel slightly disloyal by posting this chili recipe.

One of my favorite easy recipes -- and one of yours as well, given how many times it has been viewed and pinned -- is my crockpot turkey chili with butternut squash. It's my go-to lazy day recipe in the fall.

So I tried to keep it quiet when I decided to try a beef chili. I just assumed that there was no way it would be as good as my turkey chili and I could just move on.

Well, clearly I didn't move on.

Now, I'm not going to say that one is better than the other. They are distinctly different. The beef chili is old school with a twist, while the turkey chili is new school (so to speak) with old-school comfort and feel.

I will not make you choose. There will be no contest. There will be no declaring a winner or calling one superior or even the best (I reserve "best" for the cornbread that you will want to make to go with either chili -- best EVAH).

It all depends what you're in the mood for: nouveau or traditional.

Today, we're talking traditional. Beef, beans, chili powder -- the whole nine yards.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Roasted pear and cardamom butter

Holy crap, we've got tons of pears in the wee orchard!

Regular readers will know how amazing this is, after the Great Pear Theft of 2011 (thanks to the deer and possibly a bear) and the Great Season of No Damned Fruit At All of 2012 (thanks to the weather). Although, to be fair, the animal thieves did teach me that I could harvest the fruit by shaking the tree while I waited for my fancy new fruit picker to be delivered.

We have two pear trees -- a seckel and a Bartlett (I think) -- in amongst a bunch of apple trees, two sour cherry trees, one plum and one peach, which must have heard me talking about how I thought it was dead and was going to cut it down because it yielded a number of peaches in its own defense this year ("I'm not dead yet!").

When we purchased the farmette several years ago, I was more than a little excited about the wee orchard, envisioning the lovely pears and apples that I could pick and eat or turn into gorgeous desserts.

But it's time for a reality check: homegrown fruit is damned ugly.

Unless of course you want to spend most of your time -- I mean a LOT of time -- monitoring the trees, spraying for diseases and handpicking gross-ass caterpillars and bugs, you're going to end up with ugly fruit. Mr. Ninj spoke recently with the owner of a commercial apple orchard; he talked about how they have a team that walks around the orchard with a laptop, monitoring the trees and feeding the data into special software programs that show them the short time windows they have to spray the trees to avoid massive fruit loss due to fungal infections and the like.

Um ... no thanks. The Ninj and her laptop don't have that kind of time.

Monday, September 9, 2013

CSA Share Ninja Rescue 2013: tomatoes and winter squash (13 ideas)

This is the final installment for 2013 of my CSA Share Ninja Rescue, a weekly feature in which you tell me on Fridays what veg you got in your CSA share box (or found at the farmers' market) that you don't know what to do with and I'll give you a whole bunch of recipe ideas on the following Monday.

Even though I'm wrapping up this feature for this year, I know that many of you will continue receiving CSA shares well into the fall and perhaps even through the winter; if you need some ideas, feel free to message me or post your request on my Facebook page.

And rest assured that the CSA Share Ninja Rescue will be back in 2014 as well.

But for now, since it's nearly fall, I thought I'd leave you with ideas for two perfect transition veggies: tomatoes, which are signaling the end of summer (and the ramp-up of crazed canning season!), and winter squash, which heralds the arrival of fall.

Please note that I am skipping pumpkin. This is for two reasons:
  1. I respect seasonality. Therefore, I recently pledged not to jump into the pumpkin patch until it is truly pumpkin season (read: October 1), no matter what Starbucks' latte menu says.
  2. I'm sure you're being inundated on blogs, Facebook and Pinterest with pumpkin EVERYTHING, so I doubt you're out of ideas quite yet.
Many thanks to all of you who have made requests or left comments this year. As I always note, this feature is only successful when you participate and tell me what you need -- and we were very successful indeed in 2013!

Now, the recipe ideas...

  • Tiny tomato bisque: Easy and quick, this bisque is equally as delicious with fresh or frozen tomatoes (the recipe is at the very end of the post)
  • Tomato jam: Made with fresh tomatoes, this is a wonderful savory condiment to use throughout the tomato-less winter
  • Green tomato cake: I make a few of these spice cakes and freeze them when I'm forced, by an impending frost, to pull all the unripened tomatoes off my plants (that should happen soon, unfortunately)
  • Bloody Mary tomato salad: A salad that tastes almost like a cocktail -- one of my faves!
  • Fresh tomato and sausage ragu: Kick your pasta up several notches with this delicious sauce
  • Gazpacho: Perhaps the easiest and most delicious way to use up nearly everything from your CSA share all at once
  • Marinated Dried Tomatoes: ZOMG -- I love these! They are so wonderfully tangy on pizzas and even better when rehydrated in a cream sauce over pasta
Winter Squash

So ... what was your favorite recipe (or recipes) from the 2013 CSA Share Ninja Rescue? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to know.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Blueberry bread

Blueberry bread -- a sturdy, not-too-sweet bread with a delightfully crunchy top for breakfast for breakfast or snacking. 

blueberry bread -- perfect for breakfast or snacking

Yes, it is September and I am a food blogger -- but The Ninj is not posting about pumpkin.

It seems to me that the "Summer is dead, long live Fall" battle cry happened far, far too early this year. Weeks before Labor Day, I saw Halloween candy for sale in the grocery store, and the number of pumpkin recipes appearing on food blogs is overwhelming.

And, frankly, absurd. I can't imagine anyone has very many pumpkins popping up in the garden quite yet.

What happened to seasonality, people??!!

Which is why The Ninj is making a solemn pledge to stay out of the freakin' pumpkin patch until October, when pumpkins are seasonally appropriate. You have my word.

This is also why I'm sharing a great recipe for blueberry bread today. I'm still harvesting blueberries off my backyard bushes, and I just passed an open Pick-Your-Own blueberry farm yesterday.

Seasonality. Say it with me. Say it to your friends. Write it on your favorite bloggers' Facebook pages.