Sunday, June 21, 2015

Kitchen playtime: Summer produce is finally here!

Well, I've been here, there, and everywhere, or that's how it seems. The past month and a half has included trips to North Georgia, Athens, Dallas, Seattle, Okanagan Valley, and Vancouver. I do plan to blog on some of those, but I wanted to get back to the basics. I'm ready to get serious about reporting on my kitchen playtime, which I will try to do every week. Yes, I hear you scoffing. That only motivates me further. Hmph.

Here in the South, we have four seasons:  rainy, pollen, hot/humid, and dark too early but pleasant. You can guess where we are now with highs in the nineties and humidity that makes my naturally curly hair shrink up about an inch every time I walk outside. Mindfulness teaches us that nothing is all good or all bad, so as much as we hate going outside in the summer, we do get the benefit of amazing summer fruits and vegetables. Here in Atlanta we have several farmers markets that focus on local organic produce, and Hubby and I hit the Freedom Park market yesterday after we ran the Braves Country 5K. Yeah, next year I think I'll go back to my "no races during the summer" rule.

My first two recipes are courtesy of the July and June 2015 issues of Cooking Light, respectively. In the first, Greek Tomato Cucumber Salad with Farro, they return to a familiar combination of tomatoes, cucumber, feta, and vinaigrette that they first introduced me to in the early 2000's with wraps, which I couldn't find the recipes for. Let's play compare the pictures. Here's what their salads looked like:

And here's mine:

Yes, it's in a big bowl because we doubled the recipe so we could have leftovers for lunches. But aside from the plating difference and the fact that their recipe hides the farro and includes the cheese, I'd say I got close. The farro cooked quickly, and the biggest hassle of the recipe was all the chopping, but even that wasn't so bad, especially since I got the pre-halved, pitted kalamata olives. The best part - it didn't heat up the kitchen.

The next recipe, Tomato-Leek Pie with Quinoa Crust, didn't have that advantage. It's not a quick recipe, and it, too, has a lot of chopping but this time in a kitchen with a preheated oven. We were so hungry by the time it was finally done I didn't get a picture until after we'd gotten into it:

I have a habit of buying berries when they're in season and then freezing them with all the best intentions of making smoothies. This can result in us having several "vintages" of berries. Since the oven was already on, I decided to go ahead and clear out last year's vintage as well as a few stray strawberries from 2012 (don't ask) and make a mixed berry cobbler:

Oh, and some of the blueberries had already been used for pancakes this morning:

The cobbler recipe came from The Joy of Cooking, and the buttermilk pancakes from Cooking Light. Links not included because I couldn't find the CL one, and the Joy of Cooking is a book not a website.

Finally, our wine of the week is the Thralls 2014 Rosé of Pinot Noir. I once overheard one guy say to another at a rosé tasting, "If you're a dude drinking pink wine, you're going to have to take some [stuff]." It's really good, and even if you're a dude drinking this pink wine, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Hubby, who is notoriously picky about rosé wine actually likes this one. It pairs well with vegetables, light grilled meats, and hot flashes. We're in the wine club, so we got a discount, but this one is well worth the price.

So where do you go after all that lovely vegetable-ness? We ordered pizza tonight.

Oh, and to share my kitchen dumbassery of the week, I found out that when berry juice goes all over your counters from berries that thaw way more quickly than you expect, it looks like someone was murdered.

Have a lovely week! Just a reminder, if you'd like to sign up for my newsletter to find out about my books, sleep tips, and extra wine info, click here. I only send one out every one to two months, so you don't have to worry about getting them too often.

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