Menu Banner
  1. Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Menu 229 Menu…and a few thoughts on eating locally

    Each week I like to have a photo for the weekly menu post, and I think for the summer I’m beginning to develop a theme – my CSA produce! It’s kind of fun sharing the various things that are in season in our neck of the woods, so I hope you don’t mind! This week we received a cantaloupe. It came from somewhere a little further south of where most of our CSA farms are located, but still relatively local.

    Have you ever read Under the Tuscan Sun? The thing that stayed with me the most from that book was realizing how out of touch I am with what foods are in season when. Throughout the book (a memoir about an American woman buying a home in Tuscany), the author visits Tuscany in the summertime. So much of the writing is about the food she cooks and eats during those summers. Then, at the end of the book, she and her family have their first Christmas in their newly renovated home. When the author heads to the market, she is stunned to discover that none of the foods she was expecting to see are available. It was winter and the assortment was quite different. She learned to embrace this way of eating, a way that was more in touch with the earth. That’s how I’ve felt being part of a CSA…I’m finally learning when food actually grows and planning our meals around that, rather than just heading to the store and getting whatever I want whenever I want, which oftentimes results in eating out-of-season produce or food that has traveled a bazillion miles at great environmental cost. Not to say we didn’t pick up a watermelon from Mexico last week, but at least when I bought that watermelon I was actually aware of where it came from…i.e. really far away from my kitchen!

    And now, this week’s menu!

    Potato Leek Soup (yup, we got potatoes and leeks in this week’s CSA bag)
    – Yummy bread

    Vegetarian Chickpea Burgers (didn’t get to these last week)
    – Fruit

    – Last day of school! I think we’ll go out to celebrate!

    – Leftovers

    Homemade pizza – I need to use up some honey goat cheese in the fridge, and Finley had “Pear, Arugula and Prosciutto Pizza” on her menu last week…doesn’t that sound divine?

    – Eat out after Cate’s 1st annual dance recital!

    – Beef Stroganoff (this was on Fran’s menu last week, one of my favorite meals as a kid…think I’ll give it a whirl, it’s been a while!)
    – Salad or veggie with bread

    You know the drill…this is when I beg you to share your menu for the week! Let’s see what you got!

  2. Friday, June 10, 2011

    Jennifer Garner, My Almost Friend

    As a member of Martha’s Circle, I was invited to participate in an event hosted by actress Jennifer Garner for Frigidaire’s Kids’ Cooking Academy, which also supports Save the Children. Alas, the event was in upstate New York, and I’m in, you know, CALIFORNIA. I’m beginning to feel like my life is a constant 2-degrees of separation from Jennifer Garner. First my dear friend Allison got to hang out with her TWICE (you can read about her fun experiences here and here), and now this event that I was invited was, well, in New York. I have such a hard life, eh? Definitely whine-worthy. ANYWAY…since I couldn’t be there myself, I sent one of my far-flung correspondents to pretend he was me. Here’s his report (which, by the way, just made me even more sad to have missed it!):

    To tell the truth, life as a far flung correspondent really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. So when I had the opportunity to leave Manhattan on the hottest day of the year (so far) to visit a world-class restaurant and meet a celebrity, I was outtathere in a New York minute.

    First the setting: Chef Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barn is a localvore’s fever dream. Once a Rockefeller estate, the complex is now a self-sustaining organic farm where nearly everything that arrives at the table is grown practically right outside the door.

    For the event, Blue Hill’s kitchen director, chef Adam Kaye, demonstrated three farm-to-table recipes to a dozen or so kids ranging in age from 2 ½ to six or seven. As the kids worked on crispy zucchini with parmesan, a spring vegetable salad with baby peas, asparagus and edible flowers, and strawberries with mint, yogurt, and honey, Jennifer would pitch in with the demo, or stroll  along the table helping the kids out. This lady definitely knows her way around a whisk.

    THIS WEEK FOR DINNER: How did you learn to cook?

    JENNIFER GARNER: I grew up in a house where my mom cooked dinner every night, and I learned from her. I would help out sometimes, though I don’t think I was much help to her. Growing up that way makes it odd to pull something out of the freezer and put it on the table rather than a home-cooked meal.

    TWFD: Do you cook with your kids?

    JG: I do a lot of cooking with my daughter. Mornings are for baking, and she has her banana bread recipe memorized, so sometimes she’ll suggest variations, like “Let’s make it with some whole-wheat flour,” or “Let’s add some chocolate chips.”

    TWFD: What are some of your favorite recipes to make with her?

    JG: One thing is, we make pizza every Sunday. I got a great recipe for honey-wheat crust from Sarabeth’s Kitchen. And I got an ice cream maker as a gift many years ago. It’s so easy to make homemade! Sometimes I substitute the cream for whole milk. I like that you can control the fat, and just add any fruit you’ve got in the fridge for flavor. Also for dessert, I love Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Busy Day Chocolate Cake. I make a little 8” pan of it — so quick and easy.

    TWFD: As a mom, do you make sure your kids only eat homemade from scratch?

    JG: I don’t really try to restrict what they eat. I want them to know that all food is great in moderation. Some days are just junk food days!

    TWFD: How did you get started advocating for children’s causes?

    JG: I think it’s shocking that one in four kids America are at risk for hunger. It’s really a silent problem, because these kids don’t have a voice. They can’t rally in Washington. ‘Save the Children’ is doing such a wonderful job fighting hunger in the U.S., going into impoverished rural communities, providing physical activity, healthy foods, and 0-5 early-education programs. The difference these programs make in the vocabulary of these children is so impressive; it’s something you can’t ignore. And I have to hand it to Frigidaire, which has made a $500,000 commitment to ‘Save the Children.’ If other corporations made that kind of commitment, think of what we could accomplish.

    There you have it, Jennifer Garner, my almost friend. Hope you enjoyed this little interview with her…and maybe one day I’ll actually get to meet this lady! 😉

    Visit to learn more about Frigidaire’s Kids’ Cooking Academy. Every time you do, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children’s U.S. programs, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a new Frigidaire Gallery French door refrigerator.

  3. Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Time for Freezer Jam!

    I have boxes of pectin and pounds of sugar sitting on my counter right now.

    You know what that means…it’s that magical time of the year when we make tons of raspberry and strawberry freezer jam! We just ran out of last year’s supply, so the timing is perfect.

    I’ve written about freezer jam before. Three times, in fact (here, here and here). Because if I accomplish nothing else with this blog, I hope I can get you non-freezer jam people to jump on the freezer jam bandwagon. It’s easy to make, you don’t have to sanitize or can anything, and it tastes better than pretty much any other jam on the planet. Why wouldn’t you make this stuff?

    Gotta run! The 10 pounds of berries in my fridge are calling!

    Click here for a follow-up post that tells you how many strawberries and raspberries to buy for jam.

    Note: I now use Pomona’s Universal Pectin, click here for reasons why and the recipe for freezer jam using Pomona’s. Also, click here for a Freezer Jam ingredients buying guide for both Sure-Jell and Pomona’s.

  4. Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Call for Recipes: Green Beans

    We haven’t done a real honest-to-goodness Call for Recipes in ages. It’s about time, don’t you think? I love getting you all to share your favorite recipes and I really should make you do it more often!

    I have a big old bag of green beans sitting in my fridge from last week’s CSA bag. They want to be eaten, and they want to be eaten well. I usually just steam green beans then sauté them with olive oil, salt and pepper. It’s delicious. But today I was thinking, green beans have so much more potential!

    So let’s tap into that potential, folks. Summer is here. Green beans are too (or will be soon!). Share your best most favorite recipes with green beans or your favorite way to prepare them. Nate loves green beans, so I have a feeling he’s going to be very happy with today’s post!

    P.S. If your recipe involves a can or frozen bag of green beans, bring it on! We are equal opportunity green beaners around here.

  5. Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Week 228 Menu

    Look what we received in our CSA bag this week:

    Peaches? Seriously? Already? We are so spoiled here in California! I need to really enjoy this CSA while we’re still living here. (And, no, that is not an announcement that we’re moving or anything…just anticipating the future possibility of moving from this produce heaven.)

    – Hot dogs. I know. Fancy. Healthy. All that.
    – Fresh fruit and green beans from our CSA

    Orange Chicken
    – Rice and veggie

    Vegetarian Chickpea Burgers

    – Leftovers

    – Nate will be camping with the girls…so I’ll probably just get some yummy cheeses and baguette and pig out on that.

    – Eat out

    – Breakfast for dinner…I’m seeing waffles in our future

    Your turn – please share your plan for the week! Last weekend was a holiday, so I gave you a free pass…but now it’s back to business! Get your menus up here! ALL of you! (Does that sound drill seargeantish enough?)

  6. Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Kitchen Tips: Maximizing Dryer Sheets

    Okay, today’s kitchen tip about dryer sheets doesn’t have anything to do with the kitchen. BUT…it’s a tip I love, so I’m sharing it anyway. Plus, I store my dryer sheets in the kitchen, so technically it is a kitchen tip in the Maynard household!

    Let’s begin with this…I love dryer sheets. Not for the smell, I use fragrance-free dryer sheets. I just love how they keep clothes from getting all crunchy-like and also keep static in control. I never dry clothes without throwing a dryer sheet in with the clothes!

    Years ago when I was visiting my Aunt Barbara, I needed to do some laundry at her house. When I popped open her box of dryer sheets, they were all cut into strips. Barb simply said, “You don’t need a whole dryer sheet, a strip will do it!” I believe her because she lives in UTAH…the driest, static-iest place I’ve ever been to!

    And you know what? She’s right. You really do not need a whole dryer sheet for one load of laundry. Cut those babies up! Or just rip off a piece, which is what I usually do. I usually use 1/3 or 1/2 of a dryer sheet, while Barbara uses only about 1/4 of a dryer sheet.

    And, can I tell you, my boxes of dryer sheets last FOREVER. It’s kind of awesome. Saves money and resources, can’t beat that!


  7. Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Roasted Garlic Bulbs

    When I went to college in Boston a while ago, there was an Italian restaurant called Vinny Testa’s (I frequented the locations on Boylston Street and in Lexington). Vinny Testa’s was similar in style to Buca di Bepo, except not a national chain, so automatically more awesome. I think maybe the best thing they served was roasted garlic bulbs with bread. The first time I saw those bulbs I thought, “What the?!?” But I tried it. And it was seriously amazing. For some reason you think the garlic will be overpowering and strong, but it’s surprisingly not and is in fact divine.

    Side note: I think Vinny Testa’s might be closed. Can you Bostonians fill me in? I have a sneaking suspicion their roasted garlic bulbs will now forever be a memory.

    This weekend we went to Monterey for a day trip and, on the drive home, we stopped in Gilroy to buy cherries. And of course I had to buy some garlic, it is the garlic capitol after all. With four garlic cloves on my hands this week I decided it was the perfect time to try out roasting some bulbs on my own! And the result was fantastic…Cate was seriously sitting at the dinner table last night after all the bread was gone salivating and chanting in a low, obsessed voice, “Garlic, garlic, garlic.”

    It is SUPER easy to make and such a great side to serve with dinner. Your house (and your breath) will probably smell pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty garlicky (any Larry David fans in the house?), but it will be worth it! Spread this garlic on your bread and you will be eating hands-down the best garlic bread ever.

    I tried roasting the garlic two ways – wrapped in foil and not wrapped in foil.

    As you can see, the bulb that was not wrapped in foil went kind of nutso…beyond caramelized, the bulbs popping out of the bulb. It also cooked much faster this way.

    I personally liked the bulb cooked in foil better. The taste wasn’t different, but I felt like the cooking was more controlled, albeit a little slower. You still get a bit of caramelization on top, but all the bulbs behave themselves. Here’s a side-by-side, cooked with no foil on the left (after I cut the crazy tops off) and cooked in foil on the right.


    Roasted Garlic Bulbs
    Cuisine: Side Dish
    • Garlic bulbs (as many as you think you’ll eat”¦probably two small or one large is enough for several people at a meal)
    • Olive oil
    1. Peel off the papery outside of the garlic bulb, leaving the cloves in tact and their individual skins attached.
    2. Cut off the top of the bulb so the cloves are exposed, probably about ½”³ or so. Sometimes you get a few bulbs around the outside that are too low to make the cut, so I just cut their tops off individually.
    3. If you are going to cook the garlic in foil, place the bulb in a piece of foil, then slowly drizzle olive oil all over the bulb, letting it seep down into the cloves. Wrap the foil around the garlic and place on a baking pan or dish.
    4. If you are not going to use foil, place bulb on a baking dish and drizzle slowly with oil as described above.
    5. Bake garlic in a 400-degree oven for approximately 30 minutes in foil or 20 minutes if not in foil. You basically cook the garlic until the cloves are nice and soft.
    6. Let cool a bit then serve with a knife. Dig the cloves out of the bulb with the knife then spread on your bread.
    7. You could also use the roasted garlic for cooking (think sauces, vegetables, the possibilities are endless!).