Come on in, the okra’s fine


I decided to tackle our okra first thing this week — I wasn’t sure how long it would keep and was dang curious about what it tasted like.

It seems like most recipes that call for okra are for soups and stews, which I didn’t feel would allow us to really experience its full IMG_5856flavor. Ditto with frying it. (Plus I don’t really fry stuff.) But this recipe for Roasted Okra seemed to fit the bill and was simple to boot — even simpler when I used my Trader Joe’s olive oil spray instead of drizzling olive oil over the okra pieces.

The roasted okra was a tad slimy, but not to distraction, and had an interesting flavor. We easily finished off the entire dish with grilled pork chops and patty pan squash sliced thin and fried in butter. (OK, so I do fry some things.)


CSA, hooray! Chapter 8


I can’t believe we’re two months into CSA season. Our weekly box selection is definitely getting interesting:

  • okra
  • green bush beans
  • radishes
  • little leaf cucumbers
  • Japanese cucumber
  • zucchini
  • red Italian onion
  • tomatoes
  • Swiss chard

This week’s “what in the heck do I do with this?” veggie: Okra. I’ve never eaten it, let alone cooked with it.

Like I said, this is getting interesting.

So many snow peas

An abundance of snow peas has us agreeing wholeheartedly with the old adage that you can have too much of a good thing.

(Mike would also say this is true of Swiss chard, although he doesn’t necessarily consider it to be a “good thing.”)

Since it’s not really stir fry weather, and there are only so many times you can make a snack of snow peas and hummus, I tried this Food Network recipe for Glazed Snow Peas. How the mixture looked before going in the skillet, and after:



I’d repeat this recipe, but I unloaded our last bag of snow peas on a neighbor before heading out of town for the weekend.

CSA, hooray! Chapter 7


This past week was a farm share fail. We ate out three times, way more than we like — especially when our refrigerator is full of fresh vegetables. But one night we drove to Milwaukee for the Paul McCartney concert (amazing); one night Mike was starving and not excited about the salmon and Swiss chard I had planned for dinner, so we tried the new Thai Burrito restaurant around the corner (interesting); and last night we went out for a nice dinner at Mon Ami Gabi, also in our neighborhood, to celebrate our shared birthday (really delicious).

Needless to say, we have plenty leftover from last week’s CSA, and today added:

  • leaf lettuce mix
  • snow peas
  • green bush beans
  • garlic
  • little leaf cucumbers
  • Japanese cucumber
  • zucchini
  • basil
  • broccoli
  • onion

I got right to it tonight, making pesto with the basil and garlic to top the salmon that was already thawed. I served it on top of plain Israeli couscous and sided it with my now-favorite recipe for Swiss chard, which Mike not-so-lovingly refers to as the “new kale.” I followed this easy Basil Salmon recipe from the Taste of Home website, which I’d recommend for when you don’t have any pine nuts in the house. Because really, who has pine nuts just lying around?

Plus, it was tasty. See for yourself:


Zucchini bread

It’s a gorgeous summer day in Chicago. So why not stay inside, fire up the oven and make zucchini bread?IMG_5738

With two zucchinis in this week’s CSA share, and surely more to come, I was itching to attempt my first ever loaves. I found this recipe for Mom’s Zucchini Bread on, which left me wondering why my mom never made zucchini bread when I was growing up. When I called to ask, she said, “Because I don’t like it.” I’ve found this is her standard explanation for why we never had myriad foods I discovered as an adult.

I grated the larger of the two zucchinis in the food processor in mere seconds. The recipe calls for two cups, but I ended up with about 2 1/2 cups and threw it all in. My only other modification was substituting a cup of whole wheat flour for a cup of the all-purpose flour. The batter was really thick until I added in the grated zucchini, and tasted delicious. (Yes, I still lick the beater.)

No complaints about the end result:


CSA, hooray! Chapter 6


Scotch Hill Farm didn’t disappoint this week:

  • leaf lettuce mix
  • snow peas
  • green bush beans
  • bright lights Swiss chard
  • little leaf cucumbers
  • Japanese cucumbers
  • zucchini
  • patty pan squash
  • radishes

First off, yay for patty pan squash. I discovered these super cute little squashes last year, and am excited to cook with them again.

Second, I don’t know what to do with all of these radishes. I slice one up on every salad, but we still have an abundance. My brother Daren recently told me that he eats a good five radishes a day with hummus. I’m just not sure I can get on board with that.

Third, and last, one day in and we’ve finished off the green beans, a third of the lettuce and one of the leaf cucumbers. What to use tomorrow …

Swiss chard success

I finally did it. I managed to successfully cook Swiss chard as a side dish — not as a dessert!

I followed this Food Network recipe for Sautéed Swiss Chard, but used about half of the melted butter. (I didn’t drag out the scale, but I probably had about half the Swiss chard, too.) It was delicious, and super easy to make.

As I always am when sautéing greens, I was amazed at how little there was when I emptied the pot. Thankfully, I’d suspected that Swiss chard would be too kale-like for Mike’s liking, so also steamed some broccoli for him. But really, I couldn’t have been happier to have it all to myself.


Cookbook love: ‘Mickey Mouse Cookbook’

My first cookbook came into my life on the day of my first holy Communion. Walt Disney’s “Mickey Mouse Cookbook” was the perfect present Mickey Mouse Cookbookfor the kid who was always “helping” in the kitchen. Truly, some of my earliest memories are of me standing on a chair pushed up to the counter, watching my mom make pie crust and emulating her with my own miniature rolling pin and small ball of dough.

I fell hard for this cookbook. Not that I was the hugest Mickey Mouse fan, but it was a cookbook, it was hardcover, and it was mine. You can still see the dots I penciled next to the ingredients of Mickey Mouse’s Sugar Cookies. Once, my mom came home from work to find me at the stove, making Winnie-the-Pooh’s Baked Custard — incorrectly, with all of the ingredients tossed together in the pot at once. I obviously didn’t read the recipe all the way through before diving in, as Jiminy Cricket clearly advised in the front-of-the-book Kitchen Rules.

My junior year at Michigan State, when I moved into a house off campus with seven friends, these “favorite recipes from Mickey and his friends” came along. Oh, did my roommates mock me. They simply couldn’t see past the Pinocchio’s Pea Soup with Cheese Cracker recipe, which calls for just a can of condensed green pea soup and a cup of cheese crackers. If only they’d dwelled instead on those Kitchen Rules, specifically No. 10: “and remember to clean up when you’re finished in the kitchen if you want to be welcome there again!”

I’ve weeded my cookbooks many times over the years, but the “Mickey Mouse Cookbook” remains — even though I haven’t cooked out of it since grade school. But thumbing through it today, I suddenly have a hankering for some sugar cookies. À la Mickey, of course.

CSA, hooray! Chapter 5


Our holiday weekend was a whirlwind, with a wedding and a last-minute barbecue invitation, so I’m just now processing what exactly was in our CSA share this week:

  • radishes
  • turnips
  • snow peas
  • cucumbers
  • leaf lettuce mix
  • onions
  • basil and oregano

Plus, I stopped by the farmer’s market at Lincoln Park High School on Saturday morning, and picked up fresh peas and raspberries from two great Michigan farmers, as well as bangers for the grill. It looks like we’re in for a tasty week!

Have veggies, will travel

I’m spending a few days at my parents’ home in northern Michigan. Rather than let the vegetables from last week’s CSA share rot in the refrigerator, I packed them in a cooler and took them with me.

I can’t say they received all that warm of a welcome. My mom likes to plan meals when the whole family is up to the lake, and my bok choy, turnips, photo copysnowpeas and the like didn’t really fit in. (She did use my radishes in her tuna macaroni salad and the leaf lettuce to dress grilled hamburgers. And I added onions to one morning’s scrambled eggs.)

But tonight, my final night here, I had no choice but cook everything else I brought or haul it back home. And that simply wasn’t going to happen.

My dad fried bass and pike he caught on Lake St. Helen — a family tradition. My mom broke out baked beans, along with her macaroni salad. I roasted the turnips and kohlrabi in vegetable oil, since I couldn’t find any olive oil in the house. Surprisingly, they went over well, much better than the bok choy, Asian greens, snow peas, garlic scapes and broccoli I sautéed in butter. (Again, no olive oil.)

p.s. Enjoy the view I’ve had this week!


Photo by Bailey Smith