Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mystery Food Week 7 (Schoooool's out for sum-mer!)

(Insert sigh of relief here)

There were some tears and frustration, but I finished up all of my assignments for the semester. The Perl dragon has been slain. It feels so good to be on vacation for a little while. Yes, there's still work during the day, but now I can at least do fun things like garden and read on my Kindle when I get home at night. I haven't had two seconds to think about getting fantasy football set up for the season, so I'm looking forward to doing nerdy football research this week.

But, speaking of gardening here is Week 7's delicious bounty from Bull Run Mountain:

Potatoes, celery, garlic, salad greens, broccoli, tomatillos, apples, and PEACHES. I have been a peach-eating machine lately. This summer's are really are the closest thing I've tasted to the infamous "Florence fruit stand peach." I'm not sure anything will ever top that. It was a blisteringly hot day in Florence and my parents and I wandered up to this fruit stand with the most gorgeous produce I've ever seen. Hungry from doing the tourist-thing, we got some fruit and to this day that was the most delicious peach I have ever eaten.

Anyway, I digress. I made a big batch of veggie pancakes by shredding one of the potatoes with last week's zucchini, some peppers, onions, garlic, broccoli, and some herbs/spices. Add an egg and a few tablespoons of flour to the mix and then fry them in a pan for a few minutes on each side. They're really crispy and savory!

As for the 10 peaches, I made a batch of peach yogurt (peaches + pumpkin pie spice + greek yogur t+ drizzle of honey + dash of vanilla), ate a few raw, and roasted the rest with a little bit of butter, cinnamon, two small apples, and toasted oats.

Over the weekend, I was in Pittsburgh with the family for Jess' bridal shower. It was a lot of fun! I'd never been to a bridal shower before, but I liked the silly games and enjoyed a really tasty lunch with a lot of people I don't usually see when I'm home. I'm really looking forward to having fun with everyone at the wedding in August. Here I am with the beautiful bride-to-be:

When I came back yesterday, I noticed that I have three bright red cayenne peppers that are about ready to pick and two green sweet peppers that weren't even on the plants when I left! Yay! I was worried. I haven't had much success growing vegetables in the soil in my box garden…

It's good to be back in Arlington, but I already miss everyone. I'm looking forward to some more CSA goodies tomorrow, a week free from worrying about school, and a visit from my parents this weekend.

It's going to be a happy week.

Ciao for now!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Where did Neen and her notes go? (And Mystery Food Week 6!)

Yes, it’s true, I disappeared there for a week. But life happens, right? In short, I had a very important presentation for school, compounded by a Perl assignment I couldn’t seem to get a handle on and then wound up with the stomach flu. It was a rough week. I picked up my CSA share (a delicious basket of potatoes, squash, basil, cabbage, purslane, kohlrabi, and a few other items), but froze most of it because I wasn’t up for eating much or taking a picture. But this week’s is beautiful and is further down in this post…yum!

Fortunately, as of Saturday afternoon things started getting a lot better.

My birthday was Saturday, and it started off with a trip to the farmer’s market and then a group presentation on Elluminate. It was the first time I’d done an online presentation and it went really well. I must attribute some of the success to having a wonderful group to work with and a class that seemed genuinely interested in the topic (biographical reference sources). Want to see our presentation? Go to: http://stuckinthestacks.blogspot.com to view it in its entirety.

After that was done, it was off for a quick run, which was VERY refreshing after being sick all week. (I tried to run on Friday and barely made it down the block).

And then…the culmination of four months of waiting: Billy Joel and Elton John Face to Face!


At Nationals Park:

Yes, it was amazing (as always), but even more special that it was the first concert at Nationals Park AND on my birthday. Sometimes the stars really do align. The sustain pedal on Elton’s piano got stuck during the opening set, but it didn’t cause a major problem. Billy’s band came on and he did his set while they took Elton’s piano off for fixing. (It didn’t seem to phase him much---Elton opened his set with Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding and it brought down the house).

Billy Joel was walking on top of pianos, running around throwing microphones, and even dived under Elton’s piano during the technical problem to try and fix it. Very spry and excitable for a man that just turned 60 and is going through divorce #3.

I was really impressed that they went on for 3 and a half hours in the 90 degree heat and very sticky humidity, considering both men were wearing full, dark colored suits. Their bands sounded incredible too. Mark Rivera was dynamite on sax and Crystal Talifiero was her usual “jack-of-all-trades” self, playing everything from bongos to horns.

So, THANK YOU JOE for a wonderful birthday concert experience.

This week has been kinder so far. I finished the impossible Perl assignment and feel like I’m finally starting to get the hang of the language and its syntax. Looking at the CGI book really helped considering I’m a lot more familiar with programming for the web than I am with command-line programming. Oh, but you didn’t come here to listen to me go on about Perl, you came for Mystery Food!

That is a delicious bunch of goodies including zucchini, cucumber, tomatillos, potatoes, garlic, basil, Lodi apples, and (my favorite) peaches. The peaches are like candy. (For breakfast this morning, I had something really delicious: Dice one peach and mix it with 5 oz. of plain greek yogurt, a teaspoon of raw honey, sprinkle of cinnamon, and a 1/2 oz. of chopped mixed nuts. Happy in a bowl. It’s also perfect post-workout recovery food. Vanilla or almond extract might be a nice touch, too.)

Tonight for dinner, we’re having lots of local treats…

Last night, I seasoned, herb rubbed, and seared a bison chuck roast and sautéed onions, garlic, tomatillos, and some heirloom tomatoes. I put everything in the crock pot in the fridge overnight. This morning I added some chopped potatoes, kohlrabi, a cheese rind, and about a 1/2 cup total of broth/red wine to the pot. The crock pot is now making me dinner while I’m at work. Total time/effort? About 10 minutes of chopping and sautéing. (You could do everything the night before, but potatoes can get kind of gray and mealy on you if you cut them too far ahead of cooking.)

I hope that everyone out there is having a great week. I’m really looking forward to getting this summer semester finished so that I can focus on other things (like blogging, my brother’s wedding, Slow Food stuff…etc.) for a little while. It’ll be nice to have a month where I have no required reading. I’ll be getting very friendly with the Kindle!

Oh, and no, I did not indulge in a birthday cake this year, but there was a birthday frittata instead!

Weird, yes. Delicious, definitely.

Ciao for now—stay local, folks!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mystery Food Week 4

...was a really busy week, but here's the loot from last Wednesday (7/1):
Salad mix, sorrel, Italian basil, garlic scapes, radishes, and a big purple kohlrabi!

Most of this week's goodie bag ended up in various parts of our early 4th of July cookout on Friday. It was a wonderful meal with friends, and we supported some excellent local farms in the process. On the menu: Hot spinach dip, cool Italian bean dip, fresh vegetable crudite, brined smoked chicken breasts, bison-beef burgers, braised barbecued pork shoulder, and whole wheat peanut butter chocolate-chip cookies and fruit sorbet for dessert.

Unfortunately, class calls, so that's all I've got for now. Oh, except that we went to a really cool pig roast with the good folks from Slow Food DC....yum!: