Unfortunately, my New Year’s resolution was to eat more vegetables. Tom pointed out the poor timing of my piously healthful intention back in January, and I am now seeing his point. Frozen broccoli, kale and salad – those are pretty much my choices. I wish I was one of those intrepid gardeners who always had something poking up out of the ground – even in February. Alas I am not a gardener during any season, which is why I was so happy to write a check to our CSA farmers this week. They are getting geared up for spring, and I can’t wait until those boxes start coming. Despite the lack of fresh local vegetables, we have been turning out some yummy dishes this winter. Here’s a peek at what’s been cookin’ in our kitchen:
* This was an absolutely perfect winter dinner: chicken pie, roasted broccoli and caesar salad. The chicken pie is somewhere between a chicken pot pie and chicken and dumplings. Skip lunch, you’re going to want to eat a lot of it!
* Does there really need to be a recipe for soft-boiled eggs? I guess this is a method, not a recipe, from Cook’s Illustrated. And it is foolproof for perfect soft-boiled eggs: solid whites, runny yolks. Boil a half-inch of water. Add 4 eggs. Cover and cook for 6 1/2 minutes. Drain and cover with cold water.
* I am cooking all those frozen vegetables without water and finding it makes a big difference. Heat olive oil in a cast iron pan. Add veggies. Cook until tender. So much better than boiled or steamed!
* I adopted this idea from soulemama. I use a different colored cup and a different colored cloth napkin for each member of our family. Cuts down on dishes and laundry.
* My new favorite breakfast? Oatmeal topped with toasted almonds and coconut, drizzled with maple syrup.
* Vincent’s new favorite breakfast is something he calls “Chinese Breakfast.” Top leftover rice with a fried egg and serve with soy sauce. He has also used rice that had mixed vegetables in it.
* I’ve started making my chicken stock in the crock pot. And although I don’t like having it on the counter for 2 days straight, it does a good job with absolutely no attention from me.
* I love my canning funnel. It is the best $1 I’ve ever spent. In addition to making canning that much easier, it eliminates messy spills when storing soups and sauces in jars. Plus the jars take up much less room than containers in the fridge.
* One way I have been eating all that kale is lightly steamed and then tossed with olive or sesame oil, lots of garlic, crushed red pepper, a little bit of feta cheese and a handful of sunflower seeds or toasted almonds. (Almost makes you forget kale is involved at all!)
* This tip is from Ms. Martha: freeze stock in muffin tins. Pop out when frozen and store in freezer bags. Much better than all my little relabeled cream cheese containers.
* Tom is the clean up crew after dinner, and he swears by Bar Keepers Friend to keep our pots nice and shiny. The other morning he had the idea to use it on our unbelievably stained bathtub. (We were seriously considering reglazing or replacing it. We had tried EVERYTHING!) I wish I had a video tape of his reaction. It was a cross between an infomercial and Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Needless to say, it was a resounding success. He’s thinking of selling it door-to-door if his graphic design business ever tanks.
* We are well into soup season and usually eat it several times a week. Vincent adds dried mushrooms and/or soy sauce to give some depth to vegetable soups.
* My soup trick is to keep the grains separate from the soup until serving, so the grains don’t soak up all the broth. My other advice is to add the grains to the bowl straight from the fridge. It cools down the soup a little for the boys.
* I gave up sugar for New Year’s and had resisted all sweet treats for about 4 weeks. These brown sugar cookies that Vincent made were my undoing.
* Usually I prefer Manhattan clam chowder, but Vincent has made this New England version twice and it is really good. Comes together quickly and easily and is even better the next day.
* File away these Mardi Gras Jam Buns for next year. (Or go nuts and make them now.)
* We make these hot cross buns on Ash Wednesday and again on Good Friday. There is also a good recipe in Baking Bread with Children by Warren Lee Cohen.