Monthly Archives: July 2011

Budget Crisis Solved – Beer Sale

Beer - The cause of and solution to all of life's problems

Concerned about you melting in this summer heat we brainstormed how to help you cope. Beer!! Of course!! So, we cracked open a few beers ourselves to brainstorm the best heat-busting beers. We came up with a great list, then forgot it the next morning, then had to do it again. In the Featured section are some staff picks for favorite summer beers and all beer is on sale right now (Only available in Travis County). Further, if you’ve ever tried to purchase beer and were turned off by the MVR fee (it was $4.99, that’s what it costs us to verify your age), we’ve removed that. So give some of our beers a try. They will change your world!

Meet Hillside Farms – Local Farmer-Heroes

Hillside FarmsHillside Farms is quickly growing famous for their Juliet tomatoes (aka Baby Romas) – these mini jewels of local goodness are like candy, exploding with flavor when you bite into them. Kathryn, our local box blogger, even credits them for turning her into a local food convert! They’ve been featured in our local box throughout the summer.

Ginger Davis and her husband Anthony Micheli have been farming for 15 years now – both grew up on farms, so after leaving the business of custom home building, she says it was like going home. They purchased land in the hill country near Sandy, TX, where Anthony grew up. They are farming around 30 acres- on top of those gorgeous juliets, they are growing squash, peppers, beans & onions this summer. In the winter they’ll have cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli & spinach.

“We live within a few feet of our field, so the decision to grow sustainable was an easy one,” says Ginger. “There isn’t much money in farming, but the ability to stay home and live in the hill country makes it worth it.”

Farming is a tough biz and we are so thankful that people like Ginger & Anthony are up to the challenge. Their tomatoes have been the stuff dreams are made of and just finished their glorious season!

Late Summer Vegetable Soup

Is everyone doing a rain dance? Weather.com is saying a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico may bring us some much-needed drought relief this weekend.

To help bring on the water, we are pre-emptively posting a great rainy day soup recipe that utilizes  summer veggies. Cross your fingers!

Late-Summer Vegetable Soup

From MarthaStewart.com

Ingredients

4 ears corn, husks and silks removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
8 ounces green beans (stem ends removed), cut into thirds
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, in juice
1/2 cup orzo

Directions

Cut off tip of each ear of corn. One at a time, stand ears in a wide bowl. With a sharp knife, carefully slice downward to release kernels. Discard cobs; set kernels aside.

In a Dutch oven or 5-quart pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add broth and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Add zucchini, green beans, corn, tomatoes (with juice), and orzo; cook, uncovered, until orzo is tender, 8 to 11 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Local Box Meal Plan 7/25-7/29

We’re getting some awesome summer produce in the Local Box this week, including three kinds of fruit! Texas summers, especially in a drought, offer really tough growing conditions for fruit farmers, so weeks like this one are extra sweet! Here’s what’s coming in the Local Box:

Local Box 7/25-7/29

  • Yellow or White Peaches – Caskey Orchards & Cooper Farm
  • Mango – G&S Groves
  • Lady Cream Peas – Just Peachy, Gundermann
  • Onions – Gundermann Acres
  • Assorted Squash – Massey Farm
  • Assorted Eggplant – Engel Farms
  • Portobella Caps – Kitchen Pride
  • Cantaloupe – My Father’s Farm
  • Assorted Peppers – Gundermann, Animal Farm, Engel Farm
  • Red Potatoes – Gundermann Acres
Here’s what I’m planning to cook with the bounty:
  • Thursday: This eggplant pizza looks like a keeper, and I bet it would taste good with some sliced, sauteed portobello mushroom on top, too. I’ll be using store bought crusts to save time and serving mango smooothies for dessert.
  • Friday:  I’m going out on a limb by serving White Gazpacho with Canteloupe. White gazpacho is a traditional spanish chilled soup made with almonds, bread, oil and vinegar, and sweet Texas melon sounds like the perfect complement for those flavors.
  • Sunday: I’ll shred some of the leftover turkey breast and mix it with barbecue sauce for sandwiches, with grilled balsamic-glazed peaches for dessert.
  • Monday: We’re going to try for a healthy sloppy joe supper with this intriguing recipe for Vegan sloppy joes, which calls for lentils instead of beef or soy protein. On the side we’ll have simple potato packets.
  • Tuesday: Leftover awareness night!

(Note from Local Box blogger Kathryn: The format of the Local Box menu is changing to include more recipes and a full week’s worth of dinner menus. I plan my meals by the day so that I’m sure to use up delicate items, like cream peas, while they are freshest. I also try to put more difficult recipes on weekends when I have more time to cook. My meal plans always start on Wednesdays, since that’s when my Local Box arrives.

Venison Keftedes with Tzatziki

This meal is the result of two competing desires. The resolution of an epic struggle today between my compulsion to use up all the groceries in my fridge and what felt like the world’s strongest craving for Greek take-out from the restaurant down the street.

I was doing my Sunday chores like a responsible adult when I started craving pita bread and schawarma from Arpeggio Grill, the little Mediterranian spot down the street from my apartment complex. Their pita is so soft and light it practically floats up to your mouth, and it’s the perfect vehicle for spicy lamb.

My desire for pita was strong. However, we had a bunch of extra food in the house, and I just couldn’t bear to buy more while so many groceries went unused on the shelf. So I decided to approximate the pita and schawarma lunch special from Arpeggio Grill using ingredients that I had on hand in the kitchen.

Recreating their pita was pretty straightforward. I used the recipe and method from one of my favorite learn-to-bake blogs, “The Fresh Loaf.” That blog gives a comprehensive breakdown of each ingredient, plus specific step by step instruction with pictures. Perfect for a novice pita-maker like me.

To complement the keftedes and pita bread, I made tzatziki with an Indian cucumber from My Father’s Farm. Indian cucumbers are big, yellow vegetables that taste the same as green, English cucumbers. I like using them in recipes like raita or tzatziki because their bulbous shape yields a bit more flesh than green cucumbers once they are seeded.

c. swanksalot, http://www.flickr.com/photos/swanksalot/. Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons.

The schawarma portion of Arpeggio Grill’s lunch plate was more difficult to make at home than the pita or tzatziki, since the dish must be cooked on a rotissierie– not standard issue for any apartment kitchen I’ve ever seen! Since actual schawarma was out of the question, I turned to traditional fried meatballs called “keftedes” to recreate the Mediterranean flavors I was craving. I used ground venison hunted by my dad for the keftedes, along with eggs from Ringger farms and herbs from Pure Luck and My Father’s Farm. If you don’t have access to deer from a hunter, ground venison is available in Austin at Whole Foods or you can substitute a mixture of ground lamb and pork.

Although cooking three Mediterranean dishes from scratch was more time consuming than calling for take-out, I’m glad I put in the effort. I bought myself a big chunk of room in my crisper drawer, and I can rest easy tonight knowing that home cooked leftovers mean my lunch for tomorrow is already prepared!

Venison Keftedes (yields about 30, golf ball-sized meatballs)
3 slices bread
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
3 tablespoons minced fresh mint
1 tablespoon dried oregano (3 tablespoons if using fresh)
1 pound ground venison, can subtitute pork, turkey or beef
1/2 cup millk
2 eggs, beaten
Canola oil, for frying
All-purpose flour, for frying

In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, combine the first six ingredients. Process for 3-4 minutes, until mixture is uniform and all the herbs are distributed evenly through the bread crumbs. In a large bowl, mix together the bread crumb mixture, ground meat, milk and beaten eggs. Shape the meat into meat balls and cook by frying or baking, instructions below.

Frying method: Heat an inch or two of oil in a deep skillet until it reaches 375 degrees, or a bit of the meat mixture sizzles in the hot oil. Line a plate with a few paper towels. Dredge the meatballs generously in all-purpose flour and cook them a few at a time in the hot oil until they are firm and deep brown, turning often. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set them on the towel-lined plate to drain.

Baking method: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place rolled meatballs on a broiler pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until they are no longer pink in the center. Serve keftedes with tzatziki and warm pita bread.

Tzatziki (yields 2 cups)
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and shredded
7 ounces Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon white vinegar (use lemon juice if you have that on hand. I didn’t)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Mix the shredded cucumber and greek yogurt together in a small bowl, then transfer the mixture to a paper towel-lined strainer. Set the strainer over the bowl and let the mixture drain for an hour. Discard the liquid.

In a food processor, combine yogurt mixture with remaining ingredients. Process for a few minutes until tzatziki is creamy and well combined. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Meatless Monday: Gazpacho w/ Goat Cheese

Recipe found on Real Simple

This quick & refreshing gazpacho recipe incorporates lots of seasonal veggies – and you don’t even have to turn on the stove! If you haven’t tried local goat cheese, give Pure Luck Chevre a try with this one and you won’t be sorry.

Gazpacho with Goat Cheese
Serves 4

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Working in batches, place the tomatoes, garlic, onion, bell peppers, and cucumbers in a food processor and pulse until almost pureed.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.
  3. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with the goat cheese, corn, and cilantro.
  4. Drizzle with the olive oil and serve with the crusty bread (if using).

Watermelon Agua Frescas

Are you melting? Try this recipe for super refreshing Watermelong Agua Frescas, that one of our twitter pals, @yellowdoggrl, shared with us via @foodinjars:

Ingredients

3 cups chopped watermelon

3 cups water

3 tablespoons cane sugar wedges of lime for serving

Combine the watermelon, water and sugar in a blender or food processor and blitz until pureed.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a pitcher and pour the mixture in. Using the back of a spoon, work the juice through until all that’s left is the spent pulp.

Serve over ice and garnish with lemon or lime wedges.