0713 Pasta with Favas, take three

Fava beans weren’t on the shopping list on Saturday, but an impulse buy from Tantré Farms turned into stocking up when the helpful market staffer told me that they’d just done the last fava pick of the season.  No more favas?!  But we just found a new favorite pasta dish!  No more favas for another year?!  Such is the heartbreak of seasonal eating.

When I started shelling the favas, however, I understood.  Gone – mostly – were the wee bright beans of early summer, now replaced with large green-yellow beans of indiscriminate texture.  They made for a fine pasta tonight, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the rest of them, and frankly, I’m a little disappointed.

I’m also disappointed that we didn’t take pictures of each iteration of the pasta with favas, sausage, and tomatoes, as I wish I could show you how much the beans have changed in just 6 weeks.  Alas, you’ll just have to wait until next year, when I’m bound and determined that we’ll be planting favas of our own.

Recipe:
Pasta with Favas, Tomatoes, and Sausage from Smitten Kitchen

0628 Pasta with Favas, take two

For our second go-round with this recipe, I made a few alterations – some improvements, others just alterations.  Last time I drained and used a jar of whole tomatoes from last summer – we’ve since run out of tomatoes and didn’t pick up enough from the market, so I used a can of diced tomatoes in sauce.  This made a big difference in the resulting  quantity and consistency of the sauce.

Sauteeing onions

Second, we didn’t have any white wine around, and I didn’t want to buy and then open a bottle for a measly 1/4 cup.  I made a dubious substitution, using the Pillar Box Red that has been open in the fridge for *cringe* almost two weeks.  While iffy to drink, it was perfectly serviceable in the sauce – in fact, I think I preferred it to the white, which may have been overly sweet.

Third, in an effort to use up pasta leftover from a potluck a few weeks ago, I used whole wheat angel hair instead of the fresh sheets of pasta that the recipe requests, or the wee shells we used last time.  I quite liked the way the sauce coated the pasta, and the way the angel hair broke up amidst the beans and sausages, but Shane preferred the shells, so we’ll probably go back to them next time.

Pasta with favas, sausage, and tomatoes

I also made the whole recipe instead of halving it, remembering that we’d devoured every last bite.  Had we not cleared the table and exercised some self control, I have no doubt that we could’ve put away the entire thing tonight.  Fortunately, however, good sense prevailed, and I’m really looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Recipe:
Pasta with Favas, Tomatoes, and Sausage from Smitten Kitchen

0528 Homemade Pizza

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is impossible to be unhappy on a moped – at least on a day like today, when the weather is perfect, the ‘ped is running beautifully, and maybe you even get to combine those two things with a spontaneous lunch date, resulting a really pretty perfect afternoon.  On top of that, and with the help of a very nice listserv person, I finished the workday off by figuring out a tech problem that has been plaguing me for two months.  Pizza was definitely in order.

We had a couple of pork sausages to use up, so I squeezed them out of their casings and browned the meat while the toaster oven heated up.  I can’t tell you what a difference this toaster oven has made in our cooking!  I mean, it’s not like we’re cooking totally different things than before, but having a device that heats up quickly and maintains a consistent temperature without also heating up the kitchen makes things like pizza on a warm evening much more feasible.  I rolled the dough out into oddly shaped rectangles and pre-baked it for about 8 minutes, then topped it with a bit of concentrated tomato paste, a handful of sausage, and some mozzarella cheese.  Along with an Oberon, it was a just-right kind of start to the long weekend.

0525 Fava Beans, Sausage, Pasta

I bought fava beans at the coop late last week with no real idea of how to use them.  Or what they tasted like.  Or the fact that you have to peel them twice.  All I knew was that I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to figure out what the heck I could do with them.

A little internet research later, and I’d hit on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  In addition to being seasonal and lovely, it paired a new ingredient – the favas – with things we already had on hand – garlic and onion, tomatoes canned last summer, a package of sausage from our pig.  If I’d been more ambitious, I would’ve made pasta from scratch, but we stocked up on the dried stuff a few weeks ago, so we used small shells, an appropriate shape for catching the beans and sausage.

Apart from the double peeling of the favas, this dinner was proof that complex flavors don’t always necessitate hard work.  While the pasta water came to a boil, I sauteed the garlic and onion, then browned the sausage in the same pan.  While the pasta boiled, a bit of white wine simmered away, and then tomatoes and favas were added to the pan.  From start to finish, this recipe took about 30 minutes, and then we were treated to a bites of pasta cradling the nutty favas, savory crumbled sausage, and a delicate garlicky-wine sauce.

We’re out of favas now, but if I see more at the coop, you’d better believe I’ll be snapping them up.  We were both surprised by how much we liked this simple dish in general, and the favas in particular.  Perhaps we’ll do a Moroccan broad bean salad? Smashed beans on toast? Broad beans and pancetta?  So many recipes to try, and so few favas to eat.  Summer, you can’t come soon enough.

Recipe:
Pasta with Favas, Tomatoes, and Sausage from Smitten Kitchen

0518 Spontaneous Soup

Like last night, it was unseasonably cold and rainy tonight – a good night for a simple but filling soup and for sitting on the couch.  While Shane ran a few errands, I sauteed onions, garlic,  and a leftover sausage in a bit of butter, then added chicken stock and simmered the whole thing with a couple of handfuls of white rice.  Just before serving, I tossed in some fresh spinach and let it wilt while warming up leftover dinner rolls from this weekend.

I imagine we won’t have many more nights like this for a few months, so it was good to enjoy a last cold weather meal – and then some (kind of miraculous) PRETZEL M&Ms later during LOST.  That’s right: pretzel. m&m’s.  Pretty ridiculous if you ask me.

0516 Sausages and polenta again

With any good party comes the not-so-good day after – you know, waking up late, drinking coffee slowly, maybe eating a bit of greasy breakfast to counteract the previous night’s excess.  We had a little of that this morning – but we also had the most beautiful Sunday we’ve seen in a while, so felt like we couldn’t possibly stay inside all day.  So, after a morning of chores and Shane working on the ‘ped, we headed out to Pinckney for a hike.

After 5 miles of rolling hills, lots of trees, and minimal wildlife, we were both hungry and impatient – no time to make the batter for the galettes we’d intended to eat.  Instead, dinner was a re-run of Friday’s sausages and polenta, with a couple of handfuls of spinach added to the sauce to bulk it out since we had fewer sausages on hand than expected.  It was a warm and satisfying end to a happy but tiring weekend.

Even better, though, was tuning in to learn of the birth of Octavia, Jason and Sonya’s daughter, who arrived this evening.  We are beyond happy for the Wadsgreens, and can’t wait to meet her!

0514 Sausages and Polenta

A deceptively simple dinner on a really beautiful night: homemade tomato sauce, a couple of pork sausages, and polenta.  Kind of a riff on what we’d intended to make, except lighter, faster, and more familiar in flavor.  The lovely thing about meals like this is that you can do it all up from scratch – or you can short-cut just about everything to get dinner on the table.

Since it was a Friday night and I was home earlier than Shane, and since I felt like being all domesticky, I went the scratch route: a simple tomato sauce made from tomatoes I canned last summer, thickened with a couple of tablespoons of concentrated tomato paste.  Sausages sauteed until golden, then kept warm in the tomato sauce while I made the polenta.  Low wide bowls of yellow-gold.  So good.

Eating and Growing Locally: Week 16

Eating:

OMG local meal

Grilled bourbon bison sausage and roasted veg – purple cauliflower, pattypan squash, red onions, and whatever else we had around.

The roasted veg is our new killer meal option – just toss whatever veg you have in the crisper with some herbs, salt & pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, then place it all in a roasting pan in one layer.  Roast at 375 for about 45 minutes, or until everything’s cooked through and getting golden.  Really, really good with grilled meat of some sort, and also a really excellent way to use up the last bits of whatever.

Growing:

Nothing new to report, really.  Next weekend I plan on potting the herbs.  We have some chive blossoms hanging out.  Yum.

Eating and growing locally: week 12

Eating:

We caved and bought chicken at the store.  We eat a lot of chicken, and while we would love to buy it locally, it’s prohibitively expensive for not much meat.  We’re not perfect.

What we DID do this week was make 1 lb of ground pork into two awesome meatball-filled meals: spaghetti and meatballs on Saturday with a homemade sauce, and meatball sandwiches on chili-cheddar bread from Atwater’s along with leftover cole slaw on Sunday.  We also stretched 1 lb of pork sausage into 4+ meals – crustless quiche with local eggs, sausage, zucchini, and onions Monday night (with leftovers for lunches), sausage, zucchini, and onions tossed with pasta and homemade roasted tomatoes on Tuesday (with leftovers for lunch), and sausage patties with assorted other meals throughout the week.  Without even really trying, we had a couple of totally local meals, and a bunch of mainly local meals.  Hooray!

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the melon as big as my head that I’m still working on:

Literally bigger than my head

Growing:

We’ve hit the heat of mid-summer, and the plants look tired.  I keep hoping that we’ll have a bumper crop of tomatoes, and then I eat all of them whenever any are ripe.  There are beans ready to be picked, and the lettuce and herbs persevere.

Today we’re signing a lease on a new apartment in Alexandria.  We’re excited about the place, but one drawback is that there’s no outside space for our garden.  With a crazy Miss Mina (who is currently running around pouncing and meowing for no ostensible good reason) and a Basil who likes to bite plants, we’re not sure what we’re going to do – I think the bigger things will go to friends, and I hope to rig up something for the herbs in the kitchen window.  (Did I mention that there are windows in every room?!)

Eating and growing locally: week five

I have to say that we probably could have done better with our first OLS meal, but we were sooo hungry that we whipped something up with food from the market, smoked up the kitchen to the point that we had to have our patio door all the way open for half an hour to clear the air, and had our food completely devoured in under 10 minutes.

One Local Summer: week one

Menu:

French tarragon sausage from Cibola Farms, grilled on the grill pan.

New potatoes, quartered and boiled with a hella amount of salt until tender, then topped with a little butter.

Peas in the pod simmered with butter and a small amount of water (and wine, if we’d had it, but we didn’t), then tossed together with fresh mint before serving.


Other updates in brief:Week 5: growing

  • a few more strawberries
  • flowers on the tomatoes gives me hope!
  • thinned and transplanted the lettuce, which is doing well
  • planted beans

Week 5: eating

  • fresh cherries from the market! also broccoli!
  • sliced, sugared, and froze 3 containers of strawberries.
  • made 2 jars strawberry-rhubarb preserves (YUM).
  • I tried my first buffalo. I likes!
  • SB says no more chard.
  • bought asparagus for canning, but discovered that the pressure cooker doesn’t have a weight gauge, so we may have to eat a lot of asparagus this week.