Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Farmer's Market Adventure - Baby Red Russian Kale w/ Pasta

The Downtown Farmer's Market has started up with a springtime flourish, and I'm loving every early Saturday morning, bag in hand, visiting the stands lined up and down Main Street under their cheerful white tent tops.

I'm exploring trying something unfamiliar to me each week, doing what I can to feed my family with what's local, with what's in season. Which, for me, means the necessity of trying things that I've never tried before and finding a delicious way to cook them.

And this week it was Baby Red Russian Kale. Hmmmmmmmm.

Very unlike it's thick, curly, slightly bitter cousin, it's tender and mild and, in my opinion, much easier to get along with.

With a little bit of a boiling, a light sauteing in garlic, and tossing with pasta, goat cheese and red pepper flakes, it became a star.

I cringed a little when prepping and young noses started poking around the kitchen . . . kale? . . . goat cheese?

But the Baby Red Russian Kale came through! The dish was delicious. At the end of the meal, the bowl was empty and the troops were crying for more!

Enjoy this week's offering from the Farmer's Market!

Baby Red Russian Kale with Pasta

1 Bunch Baby Red Russian Kale (this stuff really cooks down---start with a large bunch!)
1 pound spaghetti (my choice was quinoa)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
Pinch of dried chili flakes
Extra drizzle of olive oil

First step is to pull off all the tough stems and then cook until tender in boiling salted water until tender. Remove kale from the water and set aside to cool. 

Return water to boiling and cook pasta.

While pasta is cooking, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and pour in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir in the greens and heat through. Move the greens to the side and add garlic to the middle of the skillet. Allow garlic to cook for a minute and then stir in the greens. Season with salt as desired.

Drain cooked pasta and reserve some of the cooking liquid. In a separate bowl, combine the drained pasta, greens, goat cheese, chili flakes and extra drizzle of olive oil. Stir, allowing the goat cheese to make a creamy sauce. Add cooking liquid if necessary for consistency.

Enjoy bite after bite of delicious, tangy springtime. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Salmon in Tomato Caper Butter

There is a thick, oblong roll of delicious fresh butter, rolled up in crinkly, waxy paper. The butter is sitting in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator. And it's calling me. Away from those sad little perfect rectangles of what the big box store calls butter to its own creamy freshness.

And I know just the dish to showcase that creamy buttery-ness. Salmon in Tomato Caper Butter!

The absolute secret is in the delicious sundried tomato pesto and its satisfying marriage with said creamy buttery-ness.

Four tablespoons of one, two tablespoons of the other, mash well and voila', the secret alchemy that's going to transform mere rice and salmon to a dinner to write home about.

My journey around the kitchen has me pan searing the salmon, making a red wine vinegar reduction, whisking in the wonderful buttery pesto, and introducing little explosions of briny tartness in the form of capers. ::swoon::

Nestle to the side fresh green beans, blanched, sauteed and rolling in crisps of garlic, and you've got a meal to savor indefinitely! In fact I'm still savoring it this morning. ::drool::

Salmon in Tomato Caper Butter

Juice of a lemon (or 3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets
8 ounces angel hair pasta or 3 cups cooked rice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons capers
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons sundried tomato pesto

Mash together butter and pesto. Set aside.

Cook pasta or rice per package directions. Keep warm.

On medium high, saute' salmon 4 minutes. Turn fish, cover and cook 4 more minutes. Remove from pan, season with salt and pepper, and cover to keep warm.

Reduce heat in same saute' pan to medium. Place vinegar, capers, lemon juice, and oregano in pan. Cook and stir several minutes or until liquid has reduced by half. Remove from heat and whisk in one half of the tomato/butter blend.

Stir remaining tomato butter blend into rice or pasta.

Serve sauce over salmon.

Sigh deeply with contentment.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


My heart has always swooned over the idea of "homestead." Whether it was Pa and Ma on the prairie or Kristin and Mark Kimball diving headlong into draft horses, raw milk and radishes, the idea appealed to my inner idealist. In my mind's eye my homestead was plenty of acreage (whatever that might mean!), a creek meandering through the property, a flock of docile hens, happily pecking in the dirt, a clothesline stretched across the backyard with sheets snapping in the breeze, and a farm house, as white and crisp as the sheets.

Ummm . . . yes, that would be just perfect.

But reality moves in to take the place of the idealistic dreaming. And the farmhouse melts away to a very lovely, new, brick, two-story. The acreage transforms into the respectable 1/3 acre. And the subdivision restrictions assure that neither chickens nor flapping sheets will ever be seen in the backyard.

And so the dream slowly evaporates and is gone right? So, then why does this desire for "homestead" linger on and knock inside the heart. And what even is a homestead anyway?

 home·stead - the home and adjoining land occupied by a family

Oh, really? It's just my home and land? My homestead can be these very common and ordinary bedrooms and bathrooms? The laundry room that wasn't made for 7? The back fence a scant 10 feet from the door? Two cats and zero chickens? Well, okay then! 

This then is my homestead and these are its tales.