My Yummy Local Life











Happy Easter!!

So I have gotten carrots in every CSA box so far, large carrots, and this week I didn’t get to any of the current weeks carrots since we were still using up those from last week.

Then I had this thought. Carrots are in plenty now, but they are seasonal too. What if I want to make carrot cake or stir fry with carrots in the dead of summer?

So I decided to freeze my carrots. I have done this with squash and other gourds so I figure the carrots will be alright.

Step one: Shred the carrots on a cheese grater.

Step two: Portion into one cup packed sizes and put each into an individual bag.

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Step three: Label each bag with the contents and date, in this case “1 c carrots 3/28/13”. As a rule I try not o leave anything in my freezer beyond one year.

Step four: Use a straw to suck as much air out of each bag to seal it and spread the carrots out flat.

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Step five: Place on a single layer on a tray and put into the freezer. After they are frozen, I usually put these bags into a larger bag to prevent freezer burn.

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Enjoy having yummy local carrots all year long. (And carrot cake too!)

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{March 29, 2013}   Yum Yum Produce Box # 4

Week 4 of my box is here! Thursdays are quickly becoming my rearrange the food from the refrigerator to the freezer day. I think I could use an extra produce drawer in my refrigerator.

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So here’s what I got this week:

1 bunch of Swiss chard
1 bunch of mustard greens
1 head of cabbage (!!)
1 bunch of turnips
1 bunch of radishes
1 bag of sprouts
9 (NINE!) oranges

Can you tell what I am excited about? The oranges definitely made me happy. They were the first thing I noticed. I mean how could you not notice that beautiful orange in a sea of green food! I don’t think they will make it into any recipes (some of the zest might tho), but in my opinion during spring time fresh fruit is for snacking!

Notice what is missing…no massive carrots this week, and no more collards at the moment. I’ve been taking myself into liking the collards in smoothies and we made a lovely carrot cake this week that got the hubby to eat some carrots.
(I shredded and froze many of the carrots I had left so I can still add carrots to things later)

At least part of the cabbage is going to become okonomiyaki because it looks delicious and I have never met an Asian dish I didn’t like yet.

Our box newsletter came with a recipe for Indian mustard greens so we may try that out as a side dish sometime this week.

We put some turnips with some white potato this week as mashed potatoes which was really good- we might try that again as a side too. We’re having a dinner party this week so I know we’ll need more sides that normal.

I’ve a couple new ideas for radishes. This fish and radish curry sounds pretty yummy. Also, I like the idea of this radish dip. Hubby is talking about making radish art too…I’m good with playing with food sometimes 🙂

I’m in the market for new ways to use Swiss chard. I only have one go to recipe, and I am bored of it. Do you have a favorite way to eat your chard? It would be nice to have some salad now that its getting warmer. I might try some of the chard that way.

What was the best thing in your box this week?

Check out the other blogs at In Her Chucks link up.

Have a yummy local week!



{March 26, 2013}   Yummy Basics: Veggie Stock

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So a while back we figured out that it is oh so much easier to make stock in the slow cooker than on the stove. Main reason? You can leave the house without turning it off! Stock takes a long time to make, but its worth it to make your own. The ingredients in any stock are typically things you will be throwing away anyways, the cost of some salt and other herbs and a few cups of water and you have FREE stock! Sure beats $4 a box from the store!

We have been saving our veggie scraps in the freezer, then when we run out of stock or have a bag of frozen veggie scraps, we make some homemade vegetable stock.

Here’s how to make your own:

1. Roast the veggies on a baking tray for around 15 minutes (optional but it makes the overall process a bit quicker).

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2. Dump the veggies into your slow cooker, add salt and pepper to taste. I usually throw in some garlic, onions and a bit of dried herbs for more flavor in the veggie stock. Cover the veggies with water.

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3. Turn the slow cooker on low.* Let the stock go for 5-15 hours. If you roasted the veggies it will need less time. You can also let it go overnight. (If you add meat bones it may take even more time but that’s a future post).

4. After the stock is the color you like, turn the slow cooker off and let it cool down a little.**

5. Once the stock is cool enough to handle, strain it through a colander to get all the big bits out.

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The strained stock will look like this:

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6. Strain through a smaller sieve if you have one (to get out the herbs and pepper seeds) into the containers for storing the stock. If you think you’ll use it in less than a week store in the refrigerator. If you want to keep it more long term, you can freeze it for a pretty long time. I think we’ve had some up to 6 months in our freezer.

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My 4 quart slow cooker usually makes about 10 cups of stock.

* Don’t try to rush this by putting your slow cooker on high. The stock will be more clear if you don’t give it the chance to boil!

** I have left my veggie stock out on the counter overnight to cool before, but don’t do this win meat stock. Get any meat stocks into the refrigerator as soon as they are cool enough.

Have a yummy local week!

This post is linked up on frugally sustainable’s blog hop.



{March 22, 2013}   Yum Yum Produce Box #3

Week 3 is here (already!). I got a little backed up so I spent today making veggie chips (chard and radish) and a new batch of carrot top pesto, so I could have space for the new box contents. Well here’s what we got this week:

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1 bunch of HUGE carrots
1 bunch of mustard greens
1 bunch of collar greens
1 bunch of radishes
1 bunch of turnips
1 bag of spinach leaves
1 small bag of sprouts
4 sweet potatoes

I invented some carrot cake waffles today. I’ll try to get pictures and post them on a future post. Hubby even like them (hidden carrots!!). Thanks to In Her Chucks for suggesting carrot cake (I’ll probably be making some regular cake/cupcakes soon too). Do you think I can freeze shredded carrot-like you would shredded zucchini/squash?

I don’t have an excellent plan in mind quite yet for this week. We really liked the radishes cooked in stir fry last week, so we may do another one this week. We thought they tasted a bit like water chestnuts once they were cooked.

I have a feeling that most of the sprouts and spinach will go for lunches as part of salads or wraps. It’s warm enough to want a cool lunch instead of something hot all the time.

So I did try to collard leaves as a wrap and also in a green smoothie. I didn’t love them as a wrap, but it was kind of an off day so I might try them again this way sometime. I DID like the green smoothie, and made the leftover into popsicles for snacking. I will definitely be drinking more greens.

Does anyone have a favorite collard recipe? I just find them very bitter every way I’ve had them so far except when masked with fruit.

Mustard greens…here’s another one I’m not sure I like. I haven’t hit up the Internet for ideas yet, but hopefully I can find a way to like them.

Not sure what we’ll make with the turnips this week yet. We still haven’t made the turnip sweet potato gratin from last week as I’m writing this, so they might just get added into there.

SWEET POTATOES! Basically one of my all time favorite foods. I let out a little squeal when I saw them hiding in the bottom of my box. True story. I don’t really care what happens to them as long as they get into my belly- we have some javelina chorizo sausage still so we might make up some sweet potato chorizo casserole. It’s one of our go to recipes from the Almost Meatless cookbook.

Thanks to Yum Yum for another great box!

Check out the other CSA yumminess at In Her Chucks link party.



{March 15, 2013}   Yum Yum Produce Box #2

Well here I am again, just picked up my second Yum Yum Produce veggie box.  There are a few more things I am unfamiliar with this week, so let the challenge begin.
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This weeks box contains:

1 bunch of carrots

1 bunch of brocolini

1 bunch of turnips

1 bunch of radishes

“Quelites” aka lamb’s quarters aka wild spinach

1 bag sunflower seed sprouts

1 bunch collard greens

1 bunch Swiss Chard

WOW! Where should I start?  So there are a few things here that I am not sure if I like (or have ever had).  Turnips and Radishes I maybe had as a kid, but I definitely do not have any fond memories at all of them.  I remember raw radishes on salads and always picking around them.  Turnips I may have never had in my life.  I’ve also never had quelites.

Last week we had our collard greens sautéed as a side dish with rice and “tortured” (read: SPICY) sole filets.  I concluded that I don’t really like collard greens in their cooked state.  If we can find some frozen fruit on sale, I’m thinking I might try them this week in this green smoothie, but if not we might try some collard wraps. My thought here is to hide them with foods I know I like and maybe trick myself.  My hubby also made a “collard wrap” this week with a collard leaf, cheese and hot sauce in a tortilla; I’m going to try them this way next time he makes them as well.

This stir fry recipe looks really good and includes two things from my box: radishes and quelites. Might throw some of those sprouts on top of it too. I know for sure I’ve never had radishes cooked (and neither had my hubby), so I’m interested to see how they are in this.  If radishes turn out to be a not-favorite, we can always make them into cinnamon sugar radish chips 🙂 Everything is better as chips right?

Speaking of chips, last week I made my kale into chips, which were delicious as always, then I hopped on Pinterest and discovered that you can make swiss chard into chips too, so I’m going to try that for snacking this week!

So the other thing to tackle is the turnips; I am thinking turnip and sweet potato gratin, because I know I like sweet potatoes and cheese. Might as well make my first experience with turnips a good one 🙂

Going to make a brocolini cheese sauce with pasta to go with our fish this week while my sister is in town–she doesn’t eat anything with fur 😉

There is also some beans and rice on the menu this week, and we’ll be going out to get Mexican food somewhere in Cottonwood (my sister wants to get “real mexican food” while she is the closest to Mexico she’s ever been).

Looks like carrots might be a staple. I’ve been snacking on them, but does anyone out there have a favorite recipe that uses carrots?

Check out the other CSA deliciousness people got this week over at In Her Chucks link party.

Have a yummy, local week!



{March 13, 2013}   Yummy Basics: Kale Chips

Alright friends. Here is my way of making kale chips, which is something you should do often.

Why? Because Kale is a superfood and kale chips are tasty 🙂

Start out with one bunch of kale (any variety). These are the beauties I got in my Yum Yum Produce box last week.

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Set your oven to 350°F while you prep the kale.

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Clean and dry the kale if needed, and chop off any thick stems. Place the leaves in a bowl and drizzle about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over them.

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Leaf by leaf, massage the oil over the kale evenly and then place the leaves in a single layer on a foil lined baking tray. Don’t skip this step. The olive oil is good for your skin and the chips will be evenly crispy if you make sure the oil is coating them evenly.

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Generously sprinkle with salt and any seasonings you’d like. Today I did one tray with just salt and a second try with salt and chili seasoning.

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Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they are the crispiness you prefer. Pour into a bowl and serve. (Or they will keep for a few days in a sealed container). I like to dip them in ketchup or just have them plain.

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Einstein thinks kale chips are fun to play with, but he leaves the crumbs on the floor for me to clean up. This dog will eat almost anything but not leaves.

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{March 8, 2013}   Yum Yum Produce Box #1

I got my first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box this week! So far I am incredibly pleased. Here’s what the box contents looked like:

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This is what all we got:

1 bag of micro greens (I think they are sunflower seed sprouts)
1 bunch of Swiss chard
1 bunch of fennel
1 bunch of kale
1 bunch of collard greens
1 bunch of broccolini
1 bunch of carrots with tops
1 bag of oyster and shiitake mushrooms

I am excited that we know how to use almost everything that we got in our first box. Hubby is going to try to get me to like collard greens.

I was very excited about the mushrooms, and the promise that there are more to come. I could eat mushrooms every day.

We are going to try out a recipe for carrot top pesto that I found. Might as well use everything if we can, right? Have you ever used your carrot tops before? If so- what did you think?

We already used up about half of the sprouts. We had them on top of our vegetarian bean soup tonight. (It was vegan until we decide it would also be good with cheddar cheese on top-oh well)

The carrots are going to be my vessel for eating hummus this week, and the kale will probably get made into chips for snacking.

I think we’ll use the mushrooms (and the pesto) for a pizza.

There is sweet potato quesadillas, stir fry and Stromboli on the menu this week to which will all incorporate a few veggies.

My box came from Yum Yum Produce. If you live in the Verde Valley area you should check them out 🙂

I’m linking up with In Her Chucks. Check out the other veggie boxes people got this week.

Have a yummy local week!



{March 4, 2013}   52 weeks of Bread: Weeks 6-8

I’m trying to make a different bread every week of the year.  So far this is what I’ve got:

Week 1: Challah bread

Week 2: English Muffins

Week 3: Oatmeal Rolls

Week 4: Harvest Grape Bread (pull apart rolls)

Week 5: Potato Rosemary Bread

Alright, so in 3 weeks I have made 5 breads (of sorts) but two were for snacking so they didn’t really go with any meals or anything like that.

Week 6: Casatiello bread

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This bread is our all time favorite from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice book.* The hubby calls it “meat bread”. It can seriously be a meal by itself…if it’s not a disaster like it was this time around. This loaf went through THREE rises instead of two, since Einstein decided to eat some of the raw dough on the first two rises. He was VERY sick for it** and the bread turned out about 1/3 the height it usually does.

Week 6 bonus: King Cake

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This was my first time making my own king cake for Mardi Gras. I didn’t know it was leavened. It turned out pretty tasty. I think I’ll try a recipe with cinnamon or some other filling inside next year.

Week 7: Focaccia Bread

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This was only my second time making fococcia and it was delicious. I tried out a few toppings on it this time too, which was an excellent idea. (Stuffed Olives, mozzarella cheese and local AZ pecans)

Week 8: Italian Bread

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I needed some Italian bread for this recipe, so I went ahead an made a whole batch (normally 2 big loaves) so we would have some with dinner too.

Week 8 bonus: Plain soft pretzels/bites

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We needed a snack. These were perfect. I used half whole wheat flour and half plain.

* Unless otherwise noted/linked up, all of my bread recipes come from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Book, which I would highly recommend.

** NOTE: Raw dough with yeast is extremely dangerous to dogs; the yeast continues to ferment in the warmth of the stomach- this can cause bloating, obstruction, diarrhea, and even alcohol poisoning   If your dog gets into some dough, try to get him to throw it up. We could’t, so we kept a close eye on Einstein for 2 days and fed him pureed cooked pumpkin to soak up the yuckiness in his tummy.  He is feeling good now, but not so keen to ‘help’ bake as he used to be.

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et cetera