Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CSA - Week 16

This week we got parsley, edamame, 'taters, cucumber, yellow squash, tomatoes and okra or for the first time ever a "What the fuck? I don't want to eat that."

But I am sure I will find something to do with the okra.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vanilla Pound Cake with Thai Basil Tea Syrup

I wanted something sweet but not overly so when I decided to bake a cake this past weekend. I settled on pound cake and since I had Thai basil from my CSA, I thought I would make a Thai basil tea syrup to pour over the cake.

The syrup provided a sweet contrast to the dense vanilla cake. The tea was the star but the Thai basil provided a subtle licorice flavor. If I didn't have other plans for the cake (hopefully a post in the next few days), I would have poured the syrup over the top of the cake before it cooled to allow it to soak into the cake. But adding it after baking was just as good too.

For the cake
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the syrup
1 cup water
1 tea bag, I used regular Lipton
1 bunch Thai basil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

~Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 6-cup (8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch) loaf pan; set aside.

~Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; add vanilla and salt. With mixer on low, gradually add flour, beating just until combined (do not overmix).

~Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour (tent with aluminum foil if browning too quickly). Let cool in pan 15 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack, and turn upright to cool completely. If glazing the entire cake, brush top of cake with syrup while still warm.

To make the syrup:
~Bring one cup of water to boil. Add tea bag and steep for 15 minutes. Return to a boil and reduce to a simmer and reduce by half, about 20 minutes. Add the basil and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.

~Meanwhile, in a separate pot, combine 1/4 cup sugar and water and heat over medium heat until sugar dissolved. Allow to cool and combine with the tea basil reduction. Brush on top of warm cake or serve on the side.

recipe modified from: here

Monday, August 29, 2011

Twice Baked 'Tater Casserole

'Taters so good, you'll slap your momma.

I love twice backed potatoes, even though I only grew up on the kind that came out of a box. Something about the smooth silkiness of potatoes with the crunch of bacon, or as in the case of the boxed kind - fake bacon.

But even though I love TBT, they are always such a bitch to make and really, I don't end up eating the baked potato bottom anyway. So it was a wonderful moment when I found this recipe on Pinterest.

It was way better than the time I just made cheesy bacon mashed 'taters. It was just so smooth and decadent. That might have something to do with the butter and cream cheese and sour cream and bacon and cheddar cheese. I could have eaten the entire pan, but I showed restraint, something my blood sugar appreciates.

I did make this all organically, with bacon and garlic from my CSA and the other ingredients organic. That's not to say that made a difference, but I did feel a little better about all the fat and carbs I was eating since they were organic. I bet my fat ass begs to differ.

6-7 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
10 slices bacon, plus more for top
8 oz cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
8 oz sour cream
3-4 cloves garlic
3-4 green onion, sliced
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for top
salt and pepper to taste

~Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place peeled and diced potatoes in a large saucepan, and add enough cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender and easily pierced with a paring knife, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a colander to drain; return to pan, cover, and set aside.

~Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon, and cook until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain; let cool, and crumble into pieces.

~In a small sauce pan melt the butter over low heat. Add the garlic cloves, peeled and crush and allow to steep in the butter for 5 minutes. Remove the garlic and set aside.

~In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand held mixer, combine potatoes and blend until fluffy and smooth. Add the cream cheese, garlic butter and sour cream and blend until combined and smooth. Add cheddar cheese, half of the sliced green onion, half the bacon, salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined.

~Transfer to a buttered 3-quart baking dish. Top with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Bake until top is slightly golden and potatoes are heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; garnish with remaining bacon and green onion. Serve immediately (and slap your momma).

recipe modified from: here

Sunday, August 28, 2011

CSA - Week 15

This week we got peppers, tomatoes, apples, green beans, kale and thai basil

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

View from a Country Mouse

Even though, as a kid and young adult, troublemaker, teen, I lived fairly close to St. Louis, my small town was still pretty rural. Less than 30k rural. So while not as rural as I am now - less than 10k - still fairly country-ish.

In my wild days I might have gone cow tippin' and been chased off some land by farmers with shotguns, and gotten my car stuck hopelessly in the mud. I might have dated boys that bailed hay and detassled corn in the summer. I might have gone to college that was literately in the middle of a corn field. And not in the "I literately died" way.

But as I have grown up and gotten older and learned to read Census Bureau stats, I have learned that only 16% of the country lives in areas 250k or less. That makes me feel...........small. How can I be only part of 16%? Everyone I know is rural too. *no shit*

But just as I have no idea what it is like to live in an urban area, I am sure there are readers out there that have no idea what it's like to live like a country mouse. So I offer the following:

That is about 3 minutes away from my house, on the way to town. And that's a good road. Notice the lines? Yeah, that means it's a main drag, or a two-laner (for two lane "highway"), as we like to call them. This is the pinnacle in the hierarchy of roads.

Two-laner > blacktop > country road > township road

Blacktops usually don't have the lines, are narrower and usually filled with tractors this time of year. Country roads usually aren't paved and township roads don't even have gravel and still make me nervous to this day. Telephone poles and corn and/or soybeans are the staples that dot the landscape. You can easily go 2 hours on a road like this and not hit a town.

Every once and a while, you will come to an intersection and get to gaze in the face of vast nothingness. Of miles and miles of gently blowing GMO corn and government subsidized land.

There are days when I wish for a better view. I would love to live in the mountains or on a coast, but I think the black farm soil of Illinois is in my blood and I would have to move back home. I would miss the small towns with one church, one bar, a K of C hall and one post office. I'd miss the view shared by only 16% of the country.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Please pray for the DC earthquake victims

The devastation was unimaginable today when a 5.8 earthquake struck near DC. Please keep everyone in your thoughts.

photo credit:

Monday, August 22, 2011

CSA - Week 14

We are at the half way point in our CSA now.

This week we got white cucumbers, taters, beets, garlic, parsley and chard

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Breakfast Taco

This is another dish I made quickly on a CSA pickup night, and everything minus the tortillas came from the farm that night. Shit, except the salt and pepper and milk and oil. But you get the idea.

Ever since I had the egg taco at the Farmer's Market downtown, I have been obsessively making them. For every meal. Even second breakfast.

1 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 kale leaves, stems removed
1-2 tablespoons oil or butter
2-3 eggs, roughly one per person
splash of milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon goat or cream cheese, I used goat
1 small tomato, cubed

~In a large saute pan, over medium heat, saute onion, garlic and kale in butter or oil until soft.

~Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pan and allow to set for 30 seconds. Push the cooked egg into the edge of the pan and allow the liquid eggs to run to the center. Repeat this step until the eggs are cooked. Stir in the cheese and allow to melt.

~Once the eggs are cooked, spoon into tortillas, top with tomato and serve warm.

recipe by:The Good Wife

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Snack Stations

This is one of those organizational things that seems so easy once you do it and you totally kick yourself in the ass for not doing it sooner.

The Good Daughter loves to snack. She usually has one right after we get home from daycare and then again before bed. It is easy to just give her a small bowl of cheese crackers and let her hang out in the living room while I cook dinner. But I have found that pouring out of the box into the bowl lets her know there are MORE CHEESE CRACKERS!!!!!! So she normally tries to get a second and third bowl out of me b/c she knows I would be a lying whore if I were to say, "all gone" when she totally saw the entire box sitting on the counter.

I have found that if I give her a small pre-filled container full of snacks, I get less complaining when they are all gone since she never saw the source and can't call my bluff. So I decided to use the dozen or so plastic, square baby food containers I had saved from when TGD started solids. I had kept them since I didn't know what to do with them, and then I realized they were a perfect size for snacks. Plus I didn't want to use my good rubbermaid containers (you know you have some too) for just snacks.

I built two separate snack stations, one for the pantry and one for the fridge.

The pantry snack station features cheddar bunnies, graham cracker bears, pretzels, dry cereal (in the red rubbermaid container), homemade trial mix (red container also), some pieces of candy that are really for Mamma and a backup juice box. I store them all in an old ziplock container I wasn't using any more.

The next snack station I keep in the fridge. This contains healthier snacks. In this snack station I have sliced cucumbers, dried cranberries, cheese sticks, baby carrots, sliced apples, juice boxes and peanut butter and celery sticks (red rubbermaid container). I put it on a shelf in the fridge where TGD can reach, so she can have her pick of snacks. This cuts down in tantrums since she gets to choose what she can eat and she feels some independence.

I can reuse the containers as opposed to buying single servings of her favorite snacks, so I cut down on waste. I am looking for some reusable cloth bags to replace the plastic baggies, but I haven't found any yet.

Helpful Hints
~To prevent sliced apples from browning, soak in ginger ale or lemon-lime soda for 10 minutes. This will keep apples fresh for up to two days.

~To make your own cheese sticks, I slice a block of organic cheese into 9 equal sticks and wrap it in plastic wrap.

~To store peanut butter and celery, I place one tablespoon of peanut butter in the bottom of the container and stick the celery ribs in the peanut butter vertically.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

CSA - Week 13

This week we got taters, basil, mint, green and white cucumbers, carrots and kale.

I already ate the taters and the kale, so they aren't pictured.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mac and Cheese for Elizabeth

My good friend Elizabeth emailed me that other day and asked why the hell didn't I have a mac and cheese recipe on the blog?

The truth is I have always been very hit and miss in the mac and cheese making department and I have yet to find one full proof recipe. That is to say until now.

But only after I spectacularly fucked it up the first time. I had a dog and a husband and a kid running through my kitchen like a tornado on meth and I so fucked up the first batch. And just like the evil Mommy I am, I made The Good Daughter eat it and after I gave her a bath and put her to bed, I made the second batch which turned out great.

Distraction free cooking is the best.

The original recipe called for several hippy-grade cheeses that I didn't have available to me. It also called for bacon that I ate the last of the day before. So I swapped out some of the cheese and to get the smoky flavor the bacon would have given, I used applewood smoked cheddar cheese instead.

I also halved the recipe b/c this makes A TON. So please use caution since I am posting the full, massive thing below.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 to 7 cups whole milk, heated
4 large egg yolks, lightly whisked
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups freshly grated Asiago cheese, plus more for the top
1 1/2 cups White Cheddar, plus more for the top
1 1/2 cups Applewood Smoked Cheddar, plus more for the top
1 cup grated Fontina cheese, plus more for the top
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, Romano and Asigao, plus more for the top
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked just under al dente
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

~Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 3 quart baking dish and set aside.

~Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until lightly golden brown. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in 6 cups of the hot milk, increase the heat to high and cook, whisking constantly until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.

~In a small bowl whisk in the eggs slightly. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the hot milk mixture and whisk. Add several more tablespoons of the hot milk to the eggs and whisk to combine. Pour the egg and milk mixture back into the saute pan and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the thyme, cayenne, and all of the cheese until completely melted, season with salt and pepper. If the mixture appears too thick, add some of the remaining milk 1/4 cup at a time.

~Place the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, add the cheese sauce and parsley and stir until combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Combine together the remaining cheeses in a bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the macaroni. Bake in the oven until heated through and the top is lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

recipe modified from: Bobby Flay

Friday, August 5, 2011

And now for something I never do

~UPDATED~ Thank you to everyone that took the time to vote for The Good Daughter. She didn't win, unfortunately. But I sincerely thank each and every one of you that took the time to vote for her. Thank you.

The Good Daughter is in a local cutest baby contest. She could win a $500 savings bond. At this point it is the only money she would have in her college fund, save our change we dump in her piggy bank when we break a dollar.

If you could just take a second and vote for TGD, I would love you more than I already do.

Voting ends Sunday night and you can vote as many times as you want.

Click this link to vote<

How to vote:
~Scroll until you find The Good Daughter's photo. She is number 73. (She is in the 19th row from the top, first one on the left. She is in a red shirt with white ruffles.)

~Click on the radio button under her photo

~Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click the Vote button.

She has some stiff competition for actual cutest baby so she needs any vote she can get.

Thank you so much for taking the time to vote. TGD and I really appreciate it.

SarahBeth and Abby

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Easy Garlic Dill Pickles

We got cucumbers in our CSA way back in week 9. We used one in a salad and the other two I used to make easy garlic dill pickles. I'm not really a huge pickle fan, but I thought this would be a great way to dip my pinky toe into the canning process.

They were super easy to make and I didn't kill anyone with botulism. And I was able to add a shitton more garlic to the batch I wanted to eat. I tried to put the dill and the garlic in the middle of the spears but I don't think the order really mattered. I just wasn't able to get a photo with the garlic cloves visible.

I made these on a Tuesday and they were gone by the weekend. I would make a couple of batches.

1 quart mason jars with lid
12 ounces of cucumbers (about 6 small or 2 large cucumbers)
3-6 cloves garlic, depending on your tastes
8 sprigs fresh dill
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2/3 cup white vinegar
1 cup water

~Wash the mason jar and lid in hot soapy water, rinse, and let air dry.

~Quarter the cucumbers into four slices each, lengthwise. Cut the garlic cloves in half.

~In an extra mason jar or covered container, combine coriander seeds, sugar, kosher salt and white vinegar. Tightly close the lid and shake vigorously until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the water to the mixture.

~In the clean mason jar, tightly pack the sliced cucumbers, sliced garlic, and dill. Pour the brine mixture over the cucumbers. Tap the jar on the counter to release any air bubbles and top off the jar with extra water if any cucumbers are exposed. Place the lid on the jar and screw on the ring until it is tight. Leave the jar in the fridge for 24 hours before tasting. The pickles last up to one month refrigerated.

recipe modified from: A Couple Cooks

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CSA - Week 12

This week we got corn, cucumbers (green and white), taters, onions, tomatoes and basil (not pictured)

I am very happy about the corn again this week but it might be our last, depending on how the crops look next week. The Good Daughter and The Good Husband were both very excited about the tomatoes.


We eat a lot of eggs in The Good House. They are usually a quick and easy meal that will fill you up while still being healthy. For a while I have wanted to make quiche but I knew The Good Husband wouldn't eat it. So instead of making an entire quiche just for me and the kiddo, I decided to make mini quiches.

Then I tried to serve it to her. And she wasn't having any part in it at all.

"Come on baby, eat your eggs."


"Oh, you like eggs. This is just an egg pie. I promise."

"Nooooooooooooooooooooo" which implied, "bitch, I know these aren't eggs."

This is for a 9 inch quiche.

Pastry for Single-Crust Pie (recipe to follow)
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 beaten eggs
1 cup half-and-half or light cream
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash ground nutmeg
1-1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
4-6 asparagus stalks, diced
1/2 cup diced, cooked ham
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

~Prepare Pastry for Single-Crust Pie. Line the unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of heavy duty foil. Bake in a 450 degrees F oven for 8 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes more or until pastry is set and dry. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

~Meanwhile, in a skillet cook onion in butter over medium heat until tender but not brown.

~In a medium mixing bowl stir together the eggs, half-and-half, milk, salt, and nutmeg. Stir in the onion, asparagus and ham. Toss together shredded cheese and flour. Add to egg mixture; mix well.

~Pour egg mixture into the hot, baked pastry shell. Bake in the 325 degrees F oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. If necessary, cover edge of crust with foil to prevent overbrowning. Let stand 10 minutes.

Pastry for Single-Crust Pie: In a medium bowl stir together -1/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in 1/3 cup shortening until pieces are pea-size. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cold water over part of the flour mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat moistening flour mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all is moistened (use 4 or 5 tablespoons total). Form dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten dough. Roll dough from center to edges into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. To transfer pastry, wrap it around the rolling pin. Unroll pastry into a 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate, being careful not to stretch pastry. Trim pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold under extra pastry. Crimp edge as desired. Do not prick pastry. Bake as directed.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On raising a girl

is this the bane of my existence?

The Good Daughter has a pink play kitchen. My daughter has a fucking cotton candy pink play kitchen. How could I have let this happen and why am I getting worked up over a toy?

First of all I got it as a hand me down. If I didn't take it from a neighbor, she was going to throw it away and as a crazy, "green" hippy, I couldn't let that happen. So I told her I would take it. And TGD likes to play pretend anyway, so I knew she would like it.

So what's the fucking problem you ask?

I guess the most important is how obviously gender stereotypical this is. A pink play kitchen for a girl. A pretty common girl toy since the Great Depression and a hold over from the era of the most rigid gender oppression that is currently providing nostalgia through Mad Men.

By giving TGD a play kitchen I am subtly telling her, her place is in the kitchen. She might not know yet it is b/c she is a girl, her place is in the kitchen but she knows girls are in the kitchen most of the time. She sees me in the kitchen daily. She sees me cooking dinner and lunch and snacks and me cleaning. She knows there are Mamas and Dadas and that her Mama is in the kitchen most of the time.

But just as a play kitchen reinforces the idea that girls should be in the kitchen, the most powerful chefs or the ones most accessible through food network are men. Mario, Bobby, Emril, Morimoto, Wolfgang. These are the men that are making the most money from being in the kitchen. Yet there are no play kitchens marketed to boys. Or at least I have never seen a pink play kitchen marketed to boys.

Which brings me to another pain in my ass. Pink shit.

I hate pink shit. I don't hate the color per se. I just hate what the color implies. And I loathe the fact that makers of everything from tool kits to sports jerseys to board games (here, here, here, here, here and here) to guns think that women will only buy their product if it is pink. It also sends the message that the girl version is the "other", a deviation from the norm since scrabble is inherently nongendered. It wasn't until marketers thought of slapping pink on it to attract girls that it became gendered and that gender - girl - is not the default.

I won't even touch on the absurdity of the pink for breast cancer shit.

And I know I have pink on my blog. I do so ironically since I am also not a perfect or good wife.

Just as I struggled with how I can enjoy domestically as a feminist, I am struggling with how to raise a girl in a sexist and very unfeminist world. I will admit that I didn't want to have a girl as my first born. I worry about her growing up oversexualized. I worry about her only finding her worth in a man and I worry about her trying to cope with the pressure of being skinny and beautiful and vapid surrounded by media that holds up Taylor Momsen and Paris Hilton and Britney Spears (who both will be 30 this year, mind you, just like I will) as enviable instead of Gabby Giffords or Sonia Sotomayor or Hillary Clinton.

So do I ban all pink and girly things?

Clearly I haven't since she has a pink play kitchen and barbies and princess crap and pink clothes. I also dress her in dresses.

I'm just tying to find the line where she can play with a pretend kitchen and a pink princess tea set but also with trucks and tools and not know there is a difference between "boy" and "girl" toys and just see toys.

But can she just see toys when I am hyperaware of the difference? Can I limit her exposure to pink and princess and girl things without making them forbidden and thus so totally desirable? Can I teach her to be a lipstick feminist?

I wish I could say with 100% certainty I could. I wish I could say that pressure from media and society and friends will not have an effect on her if The Good Husband and I can be strong role models. But I just don't know.

And that scares me more than an entire room filled with fucking cotton candy pink play stoves.