Archive for the ‘recipe’ Category

Farm fresh and family friendly :: grilled pizza

September 20, 2010

I know, I know, grilling season is almost over. This is Sacramento, however, and I know we’ll be grilling for many weeks to come. So…humor me with one, end of season grilling post.

Grilled pizza. Super yum. There’s something about the way the crust cooks on the grill and the way the cheese melts over the other ingredients. Only grilling the pizza provides such a combination of flavors and texture.

With that said, a bit of prep is necessary. All toppings must be prepared ahead of time and taken outside–to the grill–for pizza assembly.

The dough must be rolled quite thin, cooked on one side (on the grill), flipped, and then covered in toppings.

We grill with a Webber and use a chimney to start the briquets.  Grilling pizza is probably a bit easier on a gas-powered grill, but don’t let a charcoal grill dissuade you!

Making pizza–inside or out–is an easy way to eat seasonally. Almost anything can be placed on a pizza. One of the pizzas we made this last time included pesto, potatoes, and eggplant. All local.

Just like pizza made in the oven, grilled pizza is kid-friendly. Depending on the age of your kids, they may or may not be able to help assemble the pizza (my kids are 5 and 2 and were not able to help throw toppings on the pizza), but all kids will love the way it tastes.

If you’re interested in trying grilled pizza, check out this post from 101 Cookbooks.

Bon appetit!


For more cooking and urban gardening ideas, trials, and errors, as well other things from the commonplace scene, please visit my blog at

Farm fresh and family friendly :: in season

September 6, 2010

For the past few months, I’ve discussed zucchini, eggplant, berries, and other seasonal fruits and veggies. With summer–the most abundant of seasons–soon folding into autumn, I invite you to stay true to the season.

Your initial reaction may be, “Sure, no problem. There’s so much to choose from at the Farmers’ Market. It’s so easy, however, to get caught up in convenience, efficiency, and mindlessness. With school starting, soccer leagues in full swing, and the sense of busyness that often comes during times of transition, I encourage you to stay connected to what the earth is providing us right now. Fully enjoy peach juice running down your arm. Corn–crisp and sweet. Tomatoes, warmed by the sun.

There’s no time like the present. There’s no time like the current season.

Farm fresh and family friendly :: eggplant

August 2, 2010

Eggplants are starting to appear at the farmers markets. Ranging in color from a light violet purple to a deep dark, rich purple, eggplants–like zucchini–are not always my favorite vegetable. Cooked up certain ways, however, eggplants are quite tasty. Here are a few ideas:

Fried egglplant

Super easy. Our kids love it this way. Heat a good amount of oil in a frying pan. Slice the eggplant into quarter to half inch rounds. Dip the rounds first in flour, then egg whites, and finally bread crumbs (in that order). Place the rounds in the hot oil and cook until soft in the middle and golden on the outside.

Eggplant-tomato sauce for pasta

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. Chop up a small onion and a couple cloves of garlic. Saute both for until the onions have softened. Dice the eggplant, placing it in the frying pan with the onions and garlic. Add salt, pepper, and fresh herbs of choice (basil, thyme, oregano), to taste. Chop a few tomatoes (depending on how much sauce you want) and add them to the frying pan after the eggplant has softened a bit. Cook until everything is heated through. Serve with pasta.

Mediterranean-style sandwich (from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics)

This recipe isn’t exactly kid-friendly. It’s been one of our summer favorites for years. When we make these sandwiches, we make the kids grilled cheese with tomatoes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 large garlic clove (pressed), 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of dried fennel, rosemary, or thyme, and a pinch of ground black pepper. Set aside. Slice 1 small eggplant, a red bell pepper, and a small onion and place in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Poor the vinaigrette over the veggies. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until the eggplant is very tender.

When the vegetables are done roasting, slice a baguette in half lengthwise. Place grated feta, mozzarella, or Parmesan cheese on one half of the baguette. Place the baguette in the hot oven for a few minutes, until the bread is slightly toasted and the cheese has melted. Once out of the oven, place the vegetables along the length of the baguette and top them with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil. Cover with the other baguette half and slice into thirds or quarters to make 3-4 sandwiches.


Farm fresh and family friendly :: homemade berry jam

July 19, 2010

My kids and I went raspberry picking last week (which you can read about here). With last summer’s raspberry jam almost gone, I’ve been eager to make more jam. Despite soaring temperatures outside, this had to be the weekend to make the jam, lest all the raspberries be eaten by little (and big) fingers.

I’m a novice preserver. My mother canned a lot when I was growing up (and still does) but I seldom paid attention or helped. Last year was the first time I tried to can anything and was surprised at how easy it was. Yes, there are many steps and yes you need to follow the instructions. But, fairly simple nonetheless. The strawberry and raspberry jam turned out well last year and I’m hoping for similar success this year.

So…if you’ve always been curious about making your own jam, go ahead and try it.

Most books and websites will tell you to by a canner, a jar grabber, and a jar funnel. If you don’t have access to these items, a huge soup pot, the jar grabber, and jars, lids, and rings will probably suffice. Most–if not all of these items–can be purchased at grocery stores. And of course you’ll need berries, sugar, and pectin. Here are a few resources with far more information than I could ever provide:

Later this summer I also hope to can tomatoes, pizza sauce, and salsa (with my mother’s help, which she has thankfully offered). I’ll let you know how it goes!


For more urban gardening and cooking tips, ideas, trials, and errors, as well other things from the commonplace scene, please visit my blog at

Farm fresh and family friendly :: summer squash

June 21, 2010

Summer squash. It’s that time of year. They’re popping up in many stalls at the farmers market. They’re maturing in many people’s backyard gardens.

I don’t really like squash. Nonetheless, I plant it every year. This year, we went a bit overboard. We have 4 very healthy zucchini plants and 3 or 4 other squash plants blooming away. Not only is it squash season, but squash recipe season. If I can successfully mask the flavor of the squash I’m good to go and ready to eat as much as my garden can provide (that may be an exaggeration this year).

If you’re like me and need help consuming squash, or if  your kids need a little help, or if you love squash, I have a couple of tried and true squash recipes to share today. My family loves both of these recipes and I hope yours does to!

The first recipe is a summer squash gratin recipe from 101 Cookbooks. It takes a little bit of time, but it’s easy and so good. Any type of squash will do. We made this last week, enjoying it with hot dogs and sausages (from Bledsoe Pork). Get the cheese the recipe recommends–either gruyere or feta. So tasty!

The second recipe can be found in Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The recipe can also be found online, here. We’ve made this recipe a number of times over the last couple of summers and will be making it for the first time this weekend. The ingredients are simple: zucchini, orzo pasta, onion, fresh herbs, and parmesan cheese (we substitute romano). It’s a great as a side or as a main dish mixed with some chicken. It’s also a great dish to make when you’ve run out of time to make dinner. It’s super quick!


Farm fresh and family friendly :: strawberries

May 17, 2010

Just in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s strawberry season. They’re everywhere. Farmers markets are overflowing and street corners are full of baskets and flats. And there’s really not an easier fruit to eat…especially for families. In the spirit of the season, I have a few suggestions on how to enjoy these luscious red fruits.  Some are healthy, some not so much. Enjoy!

  • On cereal. Who needs sweetened cereal with a sliced strawberry or two in the bowl?
  • In a smoothie. Add a frozen banana, your milk of choice (cows, soy, almond, etc.), some kale or spinach, a bit of honey and you have instant pick me up.
  • On salad. Wash up some spinach and add some sliced strawberries, walnuts, and a raspberry vinaigrette.
  • In a pie. Not only is it strawberry season, but also rhubarb. Strawberry rhubarb pie. Whip up a pie crust in your food processor or buy a non-trans fat containing crust at your local store. Mix the strawberries and rhubarb with some sugar, corn starch, and lemon juice and enjoy! If a pie seems too daunting, try a crumble or crisp. No dough required, but just as yummy.
  • Strawberry ice cream. There are a couple of ways you can go with this idea. Take some vanilla or chocolate ice cream and place a couple of strawberries on top. Or, make your own strawberry ice cream. We’ll be trying it this weekend!

For recipes,  simply Google any of the above ideas and you’ll find more information than you probably wanted.  There are hundreds of other things to do with strawberries, as well. Experiment, explore, or simply pop one in your mouth!

Farm Fresh and Family Friendly :: Fried Rice with Spring Veggies

May 3, 2010

Sacramento is surrounded by bounty. The Capay Valley. The Delta. Amador County. Placer and El Dorado counties. The rural communities surrounding Sacramento are always growing fine fruits and veggies for our plates.

Within Sacramento is bounty. Urban farming is on the rise (no pun intended). From Soil Born Farm along the American River to community gardens and backyard homesteads, local, seasonal produce is increasingly easy to find.

Not only does local, seasonal produce taste better than packaged produce from far away, it leaves a smaller ecological footprint and is generally less expensive. If growing your own veggies or participating in a CSA isn’t your thing, local farmers’ markets offer everything in season and well priced.

On the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month, I’ll be contributing a seasonal meal idea to East Sacramento Mom. I’ll generally include a recipe—from another source—but up-dated using local and seasonal ingredients.

During the past month or so, my family has eaten fried rice a couple of times. With the right ingredients, fried rice can be a complete meal and it’s easy to customize based on family preferences and locally available produce.

Using Heidi Swanson’s Fried Rice recipe from 101 Cookbooks as a starting place, I added asparagus, peas, and fava beans to our dish. Not counting the time it took to cook the rice and prep the fava beans (more on this below), the whole meal took roughly half an hour to make. The kids and spouse devoured the dish both times and we’ll be making it again.

Fried Rice with Spring Vegetables

3-4 cups of cooked wild or brown rice

1 scant tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 scant tablespoon olive oil

3 – 4 good quality eggs, well beaten with a big pinch of salt

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups cooked wild or brown rice

6 ounces extra-firm nigari tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, raw or browned in a skillet ahead of time

2 big handfuls of peas

½ a bunch of asparagus, chopped

1 large handful of fava beans*

1+ tablespoon tamari or soy sauce

In a large, clean skillet, heat the toasted sesame and olive oil. When they are nice and hot (but not too hot!), pour the eggs into the pan. Cook the eggs into an omelette and transfer to a cutting board to cool. Then slice into strips and set aside.

Don’t bother cleaning the skillet outright, just scrape or wipe out any remaining egg. There should still be enough residual oil to cook the onions over medium high heat for a minute or so. Stir in the cooked rice and tofu and cook until heated. Now stir in the peas, asparagus, and fava beans, and cook for 20 seconds. Gently add the eggs back into the skillet and finish by adding the tamari. Use a spatula to stir until the tamari works its way around the pan. Taste and add salt or more tamari if needed.

Serves 2-3 as a main.

* Fava beans are wonderful, but a require a bit of work. The beans have 2 shells: the shell on the outside covering all of the beans within the pod, and the individual shells around each of the beans. To shell, first remove the beans from the pod. Place the beans in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Drain the boiling water from the beans and cool with cold water. Slip the shells off of the individual beans. The individual shells should slip right off the beans.