Market Monday

This week, I forgot to stop for cash on my way to the farmers’ market, so I could only use our CSA punch card for purchases. But as you can see, I came home with plenty.

We’ll eat the green beans as a side with “tuna bake,” a casserole my mom made when I was a kid that Dexter has requested for dinner this week.

We bought regular large eggs, but then decided to get a carton of pullet eggs (left), which are the first eggs a hen lays when they are less than a year old. They are smaller than standard eggs. Some people think they are richer than standard eggs, but our pastured eggs from Salt Fork Farms are so good that it doesn’t really matter if they’re big or small.

The cherry tomatoes were just for Dexter. Although his sweet tooth usually pulls him toward things more like this, he loves popping back tomatoes. I don’t get it, but I do support the habit.

The onions and zucchini will go in spaghetti sauce, in omelets, and atop huevos rancheros.

We devoured the potatoes Saturday night with burgers. I tried an Amy’s veggie burger for the first time.

Last week, I had high hopes for cooking meals and following recipes. I’ve realized that since school has started, quick meals are the only ones that are going to get made. This week we’ll be eating:

  • Huevos rancheros, yogurt
  • Tuna bake, green beans
  • Omelets with zucchini, onion, and cheese
  • Spaghetti with store bought sauce ramped up with onions and zucchini, salad

What did you find at the farmers’ market this week?

Top Ten Sugary Things I Will Miss

Photo Credit: inya (click for source)

I recently discovered that a not-too-serious heart condition I have (mitral valve prolapse) may be the culprit behind some breathing problems I’ve had for the past six years. I gave up caffeine a few weeks ago, and can’t tell if there’s much of a difference in my breathing. There’s agreement all across the internet that the really important thing is to cut sugar out of your diet. I was desperately hanging onto hope that I could keep my sugar if I gave up caffeine, but it wasn’t meant to be.

In the long run, I won’t cut sugar completely out of my diet. I’ll have the occasional piece of birthday cake or a treat on a special day (I hope!), but in order to see if sugar is the key to my breathing trouble, I’ll be cutting it out completely for a while.

These are the top ten things I’m missing without sugar in my diet.

  1. Pop. I don’t drink pop very often–I never want a whole  glass. But I do love the occasional fizzy sip of Dexter’s Coke.
  2. Apple cider doughnuts. This farmers’ market tradition will have to be replaced with something savory, like a local burrito or an heirloom tomato and basil auf lauf.
  3. Chocolate chip cookies. These cookies beat out any fancy schmancy desert I can think of. The crispy-chewy-sweet-salty-chocolatey goodness will be hard to go without.
  4. Honey in my tea. I’m thinking that when I decide to cheat (and I plan to cheat if I can), I’ll cheat with honey. I drink tea a lot during my work day, and I’ll miss the little squirt of honey in my afternoon cup to fight off my craving for sweets.
  5. Weekend brunch baking. I am a fan of brunch. I love breakfast foods, and a lazy morning with eggs and doughnuts, scones, muffins, or quickbreads is something I look forward to all week. And let’s be realistic–I’m not in it for the eggs.
  6. Yogurt & oatmeal. I know people eat these breakfast staples without sugar, but I’d really rather not. Hopefully I’ll be able to load them up with enough fruit that they taste sweet enough.
  7. Chocolate. I have a friend who says she doesn’t feel right if she doesn’t have some chocolate every day. I think she’s got a point, and I might be a little crazy at the end of my no-sugar trial period as a result.
  8. Ice cream. And just after I compiled all those recipes! Maybe I’ll try to overload the ice cream with fruit.
  9. Restaurant desserts. Eating out is special, but ordering dessert makes me feel like I’m really on a date.
  10. Convenience. It’s a little tiring to check labels for HFCS, trans fats, animal products, and caffeine. Adding one more label to the list doesn’t sound fun. I’ll probably be making (even) more things at home.

(I know I could get lots of these things with artificial sugar, but at least for the time being I’ll be avoiding those because of the health consequences, the taste, and what they do to my…ahem…digestion.)

What would you miss the most if you couldn’t eat sugar?

Linking up to Top Ten Tuesday.

Market Monday

Saturday’s farmers’ market was nice and cool. I wore a sun dress and even wished I’d brought a cardigan. Even though the temperatures have been summery, in comparison to the recent sweltering weather, it feels like fall is here.

My breakfast came from Devotay, the makers of auf laufs. It was a tortilla espanola made with potatoes and onions, topped with aioli (a tangy, garlic mayonnaise).

Since our city has a festival about every other weekend during the summer (for art, jazz, books, you name it), we decided to check out this week’s festival: Sand in the City.

The city brings in professionals to build a massive sand sculpture in the middle of the street.

Local businesses create their own sculptures as well. Can you name this classic children’s book?

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the Thneeds.”  -The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss


Humpty Dumpty

This week, I picked up tomatoes, potatoes, onions, zucchini, eggs, and a whole broiler chicken from our CSA. (I still haven’t dared to cook the stewing chicken I bought in May. I see a whole-chicken-cooking-adventure post in my future.)

We bought the beets from Grinnell Heritage Farm and the corn from an old hippie-looking man whose sign advertised “bodacious sweet corn.”

I’ve really been enjoying the red onions from our CSA this summer. They leave a delicious caramelization on the bottom of the new not-nonstick pans I got for Christmas. Now I finally know what Rachael Ray was talking about when she exhorted me to scrape all the goodness off the bottom of my pan when I added my vegetable stock.

I’m headed back to work this week. I definitely have one of those “ugh” feelings about how busy things are about to get, but I’m also excited about having some structure back in my schedule. I imagine I’ll find time for things I never got around to this summer thanks to that structure. I hope to cook some low-stress meals as I get back into the swing of things.

This week, we’ll eat:

  • Zucchini, onion, and kale omelets, potatoes
  • Burgers and corn on the grill, baked beans
  • Beet soup (I’m in the market for a recipe!), bread, veggie
  • Scalloped tomatoes with croutons, salad

Did you make it to a farmers’ market this week? What’s cooking in your kitchen?

Market Monday & 200th Post Giveaway Winner

heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market

I wanted to buy everything at the farmers’ market this week. We’re actually getting both sun and rain here in Iowa (finally!), which means that the more colorful vegetables of summer are finally ready to harvest.

I went to our CSA stand first thing on Saturday morning to get eggs. We’ve become pasture-raised egg snobs around here. First, we love buying the eggs directly from the man who raises the chickens so we know that they really are pasture-raised–we’re not just relying on a sticker on an egg carton at the store. Second, the yolks are brighter, the whites cook up more tender, and we pretty much devour the carton of eggs within a few days of purchase.

From our CSA, we also bought four tomatoes, three cucumbers, three eggplant, a pile of tomatoes, a red onion, a head of garlic, and fennel.

I bought another bottle of Lemon Basil Balsamic Vinegar from Pickle Creek Herbal. We’ve been following the simple (1:2 vinegar to oil ratio with a drizzle of honey) recipe for salad dressing Jocelyn gave us when I first met her and have exhausted our first bottle. She also recommended using it on caprese salad, which I think will be a good use for those four tomatoes. (Or three tomatoes. See how the top one looks a little funky? It looks really funky now.)

I also stopped at a stand to by goat cheese for a muffin recipe I wanted to try for Sunday morning breakfast. I’ll share that recipe with you soon so you can see if you want to start waking up to goat cheese.

We bought the cherry tomatoes and yellow squash from an organic stand that was very friendly and helpful to Dexter one morning as he was getting his stand set up. Dexter loves these cherry tomatoes and will enjoy having them in his lunch in place of the carrots I usually send.

For the sake of full disclosure, I should tell you that we also bought apple cider doughnuts and a savory tomato auf lauf at the farmers’ market. They were devoured much to quickly and ravenously to make it onto the camera.

Some of the cucumbers will probably make it into a salad, but we’ve been using them to add some pizzazz to our drinking water. I fill the pitcher in our fridge with water and add five slices of cucumber and half a lemon, sliced thinly or cut into wedges. (Wedges make it easier to squeeze the juice directly into the water, but I’ve found that slices flavor the water well enough if left to sit.) I usually refill the pitcher without replacing the cucumber and lemon slices once or twice so we can extract all the flavorful goodness from them before tossing them in the garbage disposal. Dexter doesn’t like plain water, but he was enamored with this water when I made it once last month and has been drinking it almost as enthusiastically as he drinks coffee.

I’m not a huge fan of eggplant, but I really want to like it. I plan to bake it (like in the first half of this recipe) and then serve the crispy slices on top of spaghetti. It’ll be my adapted version of eggplant parmesan. (My beef with real eggplant–or chicken–parmesan is that everything gets soggy, and I don’t want to go to the trouble of making something delicious and crispy if I’m just going to dump sauce all over it. Does anyone else feel this way? Am I the only one who has soggy-parm issues?)

The large pile of yellow squash will go into Sunny Summer Squash Soup, which I found on Once A Month Mom’s August Vegetarian Menu. The onion, some garlic, and two of the potatoes will go in the soup, and the rest were eaten, grilled in slices, with Monday night’s dinner.

What I’m left with, however, is a bulb of fennel. I didn’t have any plans for it. It was sort of an impulse purchase. (You know you’re kind of a kitchen dork when fennel is your impulse buy.) Any suggestions for my fennel?

Finally, before I hit the sack on this barely-got-it-posted-on-Market-Monday, I want to announce that Sarah is the winner of the Eating Animals giveaway. Your book will be in the mail as soon as I confirm your address.

Des Moines Farmers’ Market Pictures

Last month, Dexter and I took a trip to Des Moines to visit his mom. In recent weeks, blogging has come in dead last on the list of things I want to do (I think I’m still recovering from mean-spirited comments), so I never got around to telling you about it. I’m sitting at my usual farmers’ market right now (my bare feet touching the chemical-ridden road, my back leaned up against a light post which I am sure serves as an urban tree for neighborhood dogs…I’m going to take a shower as soon as I get home). I’m saving my post about today’s finds for Market Monday, but I thought I’d post a few pictures from the Des Moines market in the meantime.

I want these for my living room. I would base my whole new color scheme on them.

des moines farmers market

des moines farmers marketPeach tart. Amazing.

des moines farmers marketA spinach pupusa. Pupusas are an El Salvadoran specialty I’ve heard about a lot from my students.

des moines farmers marketWheatgrass, beet, and something else juice. Less flavorful than you’d think, but still good.

There was music on just about every corner, from middle-aged cover bands to steel drums to this guy.

Why I Care About Animal Welfare

For a long time, I’ve had a heart conviction to be vegetarian or at least to buy meat that didn’t come from a factory farm. I didn’t, however, have a lot of scripture to back up what I believed. In the past several months, many familiar passages of scripture have spoken to me about this topic. The first one I stumbled upon is below.

Psalm 8: 3-8

 3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
   the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
   and the son of man that you care for him?

 5Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
   and crowned him with glory and honor.
6You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
7all sheep and oxen,
   and also the beasts of the field,
8the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
   whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

David begins writing about the care with which God exercises dominion over humanity. He notes that God has given humans glory and honor even though He has made things as spectacular as the moon and stars. After we’re reminded of God’s goodness and abundant grace to us, we are reminded that we have dominion over his animal creations.

No, it’s not a direct command to buy pasture-raised chickens. However, Christians are called to be imitators of God and to live a life of love (Ephesians 5:1-2). I believe that our responsibility to live a life of love extends into loving and caring for all of God’s creation.

Explaining myself at The Vanderbilt Wife.

Photo Credit

Wearing Red Lipstick on my (pre-)Anniversary Date

I am usually a fairly modest make-up wearer. I try to match everything from foundation to lip gloss to my natural colors, and wear it only to make all the colors look even. (I’ve come to the conclusion that my face is like a Monet. There are lots of splotches of perfectly normal colors, with a few abnormal splotches thrown in. It looks fine, make-up-less, from far away, but up close it gets a little…busy.)

Last week, however, I decided to go crazy and I bought a tube of red lipstick. (Revlon’s Certainly Red, to be precise, with red lip liner. Revlon doesn’t test on animals.)

I don’t know exactly where the idea originated–whether from Dexter or from me. Dexter has some hipster tendencies, and his taste in women–rather, in woman–is a little bit hipster, too.

I think he would much rather I sport the style below than long blond hair and contacts.

Dexter is one of the main reasons I’ve had short hair and glasses for the past several years (because if you don’t know what you want, you might as well get the haircut that one person in the relationship will love).

Dexter claims that he would have really liked the new Emma Watson short haircut on me.

It’s not that I don’t trust him that he would like it. (Okay, I a-little-bit didn’t believe it.) I was just pretty sure I’d feel like a boy unless I was wearing a dress, heels, make-up, and earrings. And I don’t have time time, money, or sense of style to make that work.

Plus, I think I might be coming into a hipster style of my own.

Plain, loosely gathered, feminine hair feels a little bit more me. The only thing I wouldn’t naturally have worn in this picture is the red lipstick.

So, I went ahead and tried it. I still expect people to laugh when they see me in my clown make-up.

I’ve worn it three times now. Once the first day I got it, to see how it looked.

I wore it again to the farmers’ market on Saturday, when Dexter didn’t recognize me as I was walking toward him. (I was wearing a new dress, sunglasses, and red lipstick, and I had my hair up. So I can’t exactly blame him. He even looked away from me because he didn’t want to start checking out cute girls at the farmers’ market. ::blush::)

I wore it again last night when we went out to eat at Atlas.

We sat out on the patio for the first time ever–it was gorgeous, just the right temperature, and we were in the shade.

One of their specials was a rhubarb spritzer. And since you know how I love rhubarb, I had to get it. It was pretty delicious and contained a house-made rhubarb syrup.

I got the Greek Goddess salad. Usually I get the Greek Goddess burrito, but I decided to spice things up. It was a good decision. The croutons definitely made up for the lack of tortilla.

Dexter got a buffalo chicken wrap. I had a bite. It was a little heavy (for me), with mashed potatoes and fried chicken, but it tasted delicious. (Their meat is antibiotic and hormone free, but they don’t provide any other information about its source. So it’s on the no-meat-if-i-stop-being-veg list for me.)

The reason we went to Atlas last night was because every year, they email you two coupons–a free entree for your birthday and free chocolate cake and champagne for your anniversary. Although our anniversary isn’t for a few more weeks, we decided to use the coupon early since we have other day-of anniversary plans.

Atlas is the home of the “chocolate paradise” I mentioned on Tuesday (see balsamic ice cream).

When it’s gone, it looks like this:

We rounded out the evening by talking about some of our favorite memories from the last five years.

Would you ever sport red lipstick in public?

Check out Alicia’s Homemaking for more Try New Adventures Thursday. And stop by The Diaper Diaries for more Things I Love Thursday.

*Click the top three pictures for sources. All others by Dexter and me.*

Top Ten Ice Cream Recipes

Dexter and I are alike in a lot of ways.

We love dogs.

We love to read.

We love pizza and ice cream.

(I know. Can you believe people with such uncommon interests found each other in this great big world?)

One thing we do not agree on is what kind of ice cream makes a good dessert.

Dexter likes vanilla. I found out a long time ago that it drives him crazy when you call vanilla-flavored things “plain.” (More recently, I found out that we are done with that joke at this house. So you won’t find any disrespect of vanilla’s identity ’round these parts.)

I, on the other hand, think of ice cream the same way I think of pie crust. Yeah, I like it, but I’m not going to waste my calories eating it if it’s not holding something else delicious. I’ll turn down a bowl of chocolate ice cream without flinching, but top it with toffee or peanut butter cups and I’m a goner.

One thing that complicates our love of ice cream is the source of the milk it is made with. Although I’ve made the switch to dairy from humanely-raised cows for all the dairy products we consume in our home, we haven’t yet given up going out for ice cream. But I want to.

Instead of going cold-turkey, I’m going to try the “switching addictions” technique. I need to stock my freezer with ice cream so good that we won’t want to go out. I also need to ensure that there’s enough variety available that we can both have flavors we enjoy.

Alden’s Organic Ice Creams are locally available to me. Their product is delicious, but their website does not delve specifically into how their cows are treated. In my eyes, the more detail, the better. (I’ve contacted them for more info to see if I should continue to consider it an option.) Also, a good sale for this ice cream is $4.50 for 1.5 quarts, which is about $.50 more expensive than the regular price of other high quality ice creams.

So this summer, I’m hoping to try to kick my ice cream shop habit with some of the delicious sounding recipes below. I’ll let you know how they turn out and try to come up with a cost analysis to see if it’s worth making my own.

Fresh Bing Cherry Ice Cream – Dexter requested this flavor after we picked up a bag of cherries from the co-op. They’re on sale for even cheaper this week, so I’m planning to make this as soon as I can! (Thanks to Karen from The Hazel Bloom for use of the photo.)

Vanilla Ice Cream – When you eat vanilla ice cream, you don’t have anything to cover up the flavor if you use a crummy recipe or sub-par ingredients. That’s why I went to Ina. It’s my theory that she tells Jeffrey about all the men she hangs out with throughout the week as he eats this ice cream, so he either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care.

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream – My mouth is watering. I will make this. I will eat it right away. And I don’t predict feeling any remorse. (Thanks to Joy from Joy the Baker for use of the photo.)

S’more Ice Cream – I love s’mores when I’m sitting around a fire, and I’m pretty sure I’d love them just as much in a bowl with ice cream! To make this totally cruelty-free, I’d use homemade marshmallows and slavery-free chocolate. (Thanks to Megan from Megan’s Cookin’ for use of the photo.)

Brown Sugar-Balsamic Swirl Ice Cream – One of my favorite restaurants ever serves an amazing, liquid-centered chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, strawberries, and some sort of honey-orange-berry concoction on the side. In college, my roommate and I referred to it as chocolate paradise. One day, they were out of vanilla and asked if they could substitute balsamic ice cream. I am so glad they did, because it was delicious, and I’ve been wanting to recreate it ever since.

Burned Peach Ice Cream – I discovered last week that I do not like grilled bananas. They seem to lose their flavor, get dry, and develop an extra layer of skin. I do, however, like grilled peaches, and can’t think of a better way to eat them than in vanilla ice cream.

Pumpkin Ice Cream – I love pumpkin, so I won’t wait for the holidays to try this one. You can use canned or homemade puree.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato – If I didn’t need the money so badly during college, I would have accepted the chocolate-hazelnut gelato from Capanna as pay. As a former gelato maker, I can tell you that this recipe will not make real gelato. It will make really good ice cream, though, if you live to far away from Europe or Capanna to get the real thing.

Bacon Ice Cream with a hint of Maple – If this isn’t incentive to start eating meat, I don’t know what is.

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream – This will be the perfect way to use the mint that has been flourishing (yes, flourishing!) on my front porch.

What is your favorite flavor ice cream?

Visit OhAmanda for more Top Ten Tuesday!

Market Monday

***Remember to enter my giveaway to win a copy of Eating Animals! The winner will be announced next Market Monday.***

Saturday was possibly the best farmers’ market day ever. We did get some good veggies, but the day started out spectacularly. After dropping Dexter off to work the market, I had my first successful morning run ever–and got one day closer to earning my new shoes. (And then on Sunday, I earned them!)

Aronia Auf Lauf and Spearmint Tea

Capanna’s stand was set up right next to Devotay‘s stand, so we forewent our usual apple cider doughnuts and bought “auf laufs.” Auf laufs are an Austrian version of crepes, but they’re a little thicker than crepes, and can be served with sweet or savory fillings like crepes. Dexter and I shared mango and aronia (also known as chokeberry) auf laufs. They were perhaps even more delicious (and probably one hundred times more healthy) than our doughnut habit, although they were four times as expensive. I also bought a glass of spearmint tea from Devotay for just a dollar–which included a free refill. I was happy to find a refreshing, caffeine free drink to sip on since it was incredibly hot outside.

At our CSA, we picked up a dozen eggs, several potatoes, a large head of broccoli, and a huge bag of kale and collard greens. We also bought a pork shoulder roast because I’ve promised to make Cuban sandwiches this week for dinner. They’re Dexter’s favorite. Finally, we bought a basket of yellow and purple beans from a stand we’ve never purchased from before. I forgot to take a picture of all the food before I cooked and ate it.

Sunday night, we ate baked eggs with greens and mushrooms (loosely based on the Smitten Kitchen recipe found here), roasted potatoes, bacon from Grass Run Farm, and some delicious whole grain cornmeal lemon-blueberry pancakes.

Tonight, we had stir-fry with broccoli, greens, carrots and last week‘s cabbage. I need to acquire some frozen fruit so I can use the gigantic bag of greens in my fridge in some green smoothies.

I’m hoping to try out this Bobby Flay recipe for Cuban sandwiches. Has anybody out there ever made a Cuban before? Any tips?

Did you make it to a farmers’ market this week? What’s cooking at your house?

Market Monday…er Tuesday (and 200th Post Giveaway!)

Forgive my Market Tuesday post. I had some technical difficulties and didn’t want to wait until next week!

Happy Independence Day to you, and Happy 200th Post to me!

I’m here to break my unintentional two-week blogging hiatus. My summer job scoring writing tests will be over tomorrow morning, and I did not anticipate the amount of time it would take up. I am so looking forward to Wednesday, and making some headway on those projects I wrote about last month.

Two weekends ago, I didn’t make it to a farmers’ market. Dexter’s family had a reunion at his mom’s place, so although we didn’t make it to a market, we did spend a day ingesting cake pops, apple cake, and even a s’mores pie topped with bacon. (Dexter’s family is serious about desserts. Entire tables are devoted to desserts at their gatherings–the meal-like foods are just a ruse in case any “outsiders” make it in to the reunion.)

Dexter got to meet (for the first time as an adult, anyway) his great-uncle Bernie. We discovered that Bernie’s vocation was graphic design and that he still sketches daily to keep his skills sharp. (Really, “sketch” seems like a silly word. He makes amazing color drawings and even takes a portfolio filled with fancy pencils and other drawing tools with him wherever he goes.) It was cool to find out that Dexter’s artistic interests could be a genetic echo of Uncle Bernie’s skills.

Fast forward to this weekend–I made it to the farmers’ market!

We bought some delicious iced coffee from Capanna (not that we’re biased) and apple cider doughnuts, which are our incentive to get out of bed early on Saturday mornings when we forget that we really do like the vegetables enough to get up early to buy them.

From our CSA, we got a dozen eggs, a bunch of turnips, several very dirty farm-fresh-looking potatoes, two heads of red romaine, a cabbage, and two heads of garlic. We also stopped at a mushroom stand and bought a carton of portobellos.

Two weeks ago, I cooked up a storm every night. We ate delicious, balanced meals, and I was constantly exhausted from trying to clean the kitchen. Last week, we were so busy I barely cooked. When our schedule slowed down, however, my desire to get in the kitchen didn’t come back. Dexter made oatmeal raisin pancakes and eggs on Friday night. Then, he made crepes filled with farmers’ market portobellos, potatoes, and turnips for dinner on Saturday night. They were delicious, and I was glad to get to run instead of cook. Dexter is the things-made-with-eggs master around here.

Since then, I have cooked, and it has been okay, but I’m still not excited about it. I do have a plan to use what remains of our farmers’ market finds. We’ll grill the potatoes tonight and serve them alongside the coleslaw I’ll make with our cabbage. The romaine will make lots of salads for side dishes in the evening and lunches for me now that I’ll be home during the day. The garlic will go in just about everything, and we’ve been eating so many eggs that they’re practically gone already!

Now, for the good stuff.

To celebrate my 200th post and in light of my recent controversial, freshly pressed post on Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals, I’ve decided to give away a copy of Eating Animals.

How to Enter:

Leave a comment below telling (or linking to a post where you tell) what you’ll be cooking this week and if you found any of the ingredients at a farmers’ market.

For up to three bonus entries (leave a comment for each), tweet, facebook, or blog about this giveaway.

The giveaway will close on Sunday, July 24 at 11:59 pm CST.

Thanks for reading! Here’s to 200 more posts!