Author Archives: Her

When “The Girl Who Follows Recipes” Proved She Can Improvise

Spring 2019 is an interesting season for us. Clay is adventuring in Wisconsin for six weeks of making theater (and living out of a very nice little hotel room with an efficiency kitchen), and I’m at home in Connecticut with the cats, the long commute to New York, and the CSA share.

He’s been more than idly afraid that I’ll choose to subsist on chips and guacamole for the duration of the trip, and I have been defiantly proving him wrong by preparing my own meals all week (with the exception of one extremely late night when take-out was the difference between eating and going to bed hungry). The catch is that I’ve been relying on leftovers or my go-to dishes, specific things that I know how to make from a precise list of ingredients. Last night that changed.

I left for the farm around 5:30, focused on arriving before they closed up shop at 6 and I missed my collection window. The whole way, I thought about what I might make from the yet-to-be-revealed bounty. I mentally ticked through the list of ingredients back home – a pint of lovely mushrooms Clay bought just before he left, a few glugs of red wine left in a bottle, a half dozen small potatoes, the end of a loaf of sourdough bread, a red pepper or two, several different cheeses, a pint of cream, and a pantry well-stocked with dry goods. Betting that – like in the last three weeks – there would be some salad greens and spring onions in the mix, I settled on a creamy mushroom sauce over egg noodles with a green salad (dressed with goat cheese, toasted pecans, and chive blossom vinaigrette).

I arrived at the farm just in time and read the list of share items for the week. Having promised that I would not accept anything I did not believe I would eat (since Clay is far more vegetable-loving than I am), I collected the arugula flowers, salad greens, asparagus, and green garlic but left the mustard greens and tatsoi greens (since bitter leaves are rarely my thing) and the basil and tomato seedlings (since after four years of trying I have accepted that my yard doesn’t receive enough sun to support either).

The lack of onions didn’t bother me; Clay had stocked the freezer with chopped onions for me before he left, so my plan was intact with the addition of mild garlic to add to the sauce, and enough asparagus that I could add in those languishing peppers and make a tiny lasagna primavera for myself this weekend.

I arrived home with my bag of beautiful produce and got to work. I pulled some onion from the freezer and tossed it in a pan over low heat to defrost while mincing a stalk of the garlic. (The other two were popped into a jar of water, roots down.) When the onions were thawed, I added a bit of oil to the pan and turned up the heat to soften them and earn some color, then pulled the mushrooms out of the fridge.

And the mushrooms had turned.

The star of my dish, a mushroom sauce I had seen many chef-type people make on countless food shows but not made myself before, was absolutely out of the question. But the onions were glistening and sizzling in their pan, with a fragrant pile of minced garlic on the cutting board next to them.

Follow-the-recipe Lissa would have tossed the onions and oil, washed the pan, and pulled out a cookbook. Learning-to-improvise Lissa thought on her feet.

“You’re hungry. If you stop now, you’ll order pizza or something else equally not-home-cooked and lose the game. Think about what you can do in 30 minutes with what’s already started. And move.

Yank open the refrigerator door and pull everything that you see onto the counter. Steak that Clay had seared but left too pink in the center, cooked potatoes, the aforementioned peppers, a tiny amount of mashed sweet potato, and two dozen kinds of sauces. Okay, two separate meals, to be cooked simultaneously.

Turn down the heat on the onions, stir the garlic into the pan, wipe down the cutting board, and set a cast iron skillet to heat on another burner. Run to the garage-pantry for a can of crushed tomatoes and pull out the spice box. Pour the tomatoes into the pan with the onions and garlic – now translucent but not yet browned – along with a cup of red wine, a palmful of salt and black pepper, a hearty dash of dried basil, and the usual seven shakes of Cavender’s seasoning blend. Turn the heat to medium so as to reduce the liquid, and pivot to the cast iron skillet.

The leftover steak was brushed with chive butter and chopped into three pieces before becoming leftovers, so goes into the hot skillet butter-side down. While it browns, chop the ends off the asparagus and carefully trim baby arugula leaves off of the flower stems. Flip the steak just in time to keep it from stepping more toward char, turn the oven to warm and set a large plate inside, and taste the sauce – still too watery.

Push the mashed sweet potato through a ricer and into the pan of sauce, shake in a few red pepper flakes, and turn up the heat. Meanwhile, take the steak out of the pan and onto the plate in the oven to keep warm. The outside is a gorgeous, rich brown just bursting with flavor, but the center is still too pink for someone who likes her meat “well done”. Fix it later. Place the asparagus into the skillet just vacated by the steak, and toss it in the herby, buttery drippings. Grind a mass of pepper over the top of it, and think.

Grab the slightly-too-hot-to-handle-comfortably plate from the oven and slice the New York Strip as if it were a London Broil – a quarter inch thick. Tip the perfectly cooked asparagus out of the skillet and pop the steak back in, pink sides down. Forty-five seconds per side and it’s a gorgeous mass of steak cooked as if to be “the browned bits” in the bottom of a beef stew. Pop into the warming oven with the asparagus.

Shove the leftover potatoes into the microwave to reheat and stir, stir, stir the sauce. Consider grabbing the food processor to smooth it out then realize that’s crazy talk and pour it into a quart-sized mason jar to cool. Clean as you go – there’s no joy in having to wash the dishes *after* eating dinner.

Pull the potatoes from the microwave and whip them with a wooden spoon. Consider adding cream, then remember that you just made a steak cooked in butter and vow “no more fat this weekend”.

Realize you made a steakhouse dinner for two. Assemble a bowl for yourself (because every meal is better in a bowl!) and a container of leftovers for the fridge: mashed potatoes spread across the bottom of the bowl, top with asparagus spears in a log-pile on the left and steak tidbits on the right, shake a bit of Worcestershire sauce over the steak (to cut the richness), then scatter torn baby arugula leaves over the top.

Wipe down the counter, put the jar of sauce and pyrex dish of leftovers into the fridge,  then sit down to enjoy your dinner – 35 minutes after you walked in the door with the CSA bounty – basking in the pride of a successful improvisation.

Lissa's Accidental Steakhouse Dinner

Lissa’s Accidental Steakhouse Dinner

P.S. I ate lunch while writing this: a bit of sausage roll with thick, chunky tomato sauce. It, too, was delicious.

Lissa's Accidental Tomato Sauce

Lissa’s Accidental Tomato Sauce

New Year, New CSA

I’m lounging in bed on a lazy Saturday morning, listening to the chirps of young birds and looking out the window at the baby leaves of a maple tree and the last blossoms of a yellow forsythia bush. I’m so grateful that spring has arrived; I love the winter, but part of that love is in knowing that it ends. And this year, spring is not just in the yard and outdoor parts of our life, but on our plates: yesterday was the first pick-up day for a new-to-us CSA!

We’ve explored many CSA options over the last several years – Simpaugh Farms from West Suffield, CT last year with a weekly delivery to a nearby farmer’s market; Norwich Meadows Farm from Westchester, CT two years ago with home delivery every week; and when I lived in Manhattan I supported Windflower Farms from Valley Falls, NY (right down the street from where my Nana lives) for years – they had a share delivery directly to my neighborhood.

This winter, I saw a post for The Hickories on Instagram, and was over the moon with excitement; this beautiful farm is just 12 miles from our home.  They use hoop and green houses in addition to fields so their growing season is exquisitely long and the CSA shares run from the end of April through Thanksgiving, and include a wonderful variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs, preserves, and pick-your-own crops. Members collect shares every week directly from the farm stand, which is attached to the sheep barn!

Yesterday I visited the farm for the first time. After a 28-minute drive through beautiful winding roads, I met Farmer Laura and the baby lambs – the little nibbler in this photo came over to the fence to greet me and lick my hands.

Inside a barn a small white lamb nibbles hay. In the foreground, two brown lambs and one white lamb rest.

Lambs!

After spending some time with the wooly friends, Laura brought me back into the farm stand room and showed me how collection works. I signed myself in for the week, and brought my giant canvas bag to the wall of CSA produce bins to collect our share:

  • I weighed out a half-pound of beautiful spinach leaves
  • Collected a bag of freshly picked and washed arugula
  • Gathered a bunch of bright Hakurei turnips
  • And another of lovely scallions
  • Was introduced to a bouquet of kale raab
  • And chose a beautiful jar of salsa verde

Yesterday’s share newsletter was a wonderful education in raabs: these are the first new growth of bolted brassica plants (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, etc) each spring, and are entirely edible! I’ve eaten broccoli raab but had never seen it or any other growing; since my bunch still had a few flowers attached, I cradled it like a bouquet.

In years past, figuring out how to store our veggies was a big part of share day, but now that I’m using The Jar Method of prepping and storing the produce that comes into our kitchen, it was nearly effortless to put these beauties away.

Week 1 Share: Kale Raab, Salsa Verde, Spinach, Hakurei Turnips, Arugula, Scallions

Week 1 Share: Kale Raab, Salsa Verde, Spinach, Hakurei Turnips, Arugula, Scallions

I stored the Kale Raab and the Scallions each in a 1-quart mason jar of water as a bouquet. I dried the spinach and arugula leaves and tucked each into their own half-gallon mason jar, with a bit of folded up paper towel at the bottom to absorb moisture. The salsa came in it’s own packaging. The turnips have given me a bit of trouble so currently they’re still in a bunch on the counter. Storage tips welcome!

The other ingredients will be so easy to use, though:

  • We used a third of the raab in a shrimp linguine dish last night, and the rest will be chopped for tomorrow night’s stir-fry along with the scallions.
  • The salsa verde is just what we need to make our favorite InstantPot chili with pork shoulder from the freezer.
  • The spinach will become a salad, along with strawberries, goat cheese, pecans, and some balsamic dressing.
  • Arugula is a wonderful sandwich topping for turkey sandwiches, especially with hummus and red pepper tapenade as the condiments. Time to get some bread dough rising…
  • As for those turnips? I’m a sucker for a pun and a huge fan of poutine, so am seriously considering an adaptation of this Turnip the Disco Fries recipe.

(If anything we make is worthy of sharing, Clay will certainly post about the adventure.)

P.S. While at the farm stand I also bought a bouquet of antique tulips and a new-to-me magazine: Edible Nutmeg. I’m looking forward to digging in later this weekend!

Edible Nutmeg (Spring 2019 edition) and Antique Tulips

Edible Nutmeg (Spring 2019 edition) and Antique Tulips

Simpaug Farms CSA: Weeks Twelve, Thirteen, and Fourteen

It takes approximately 10 weeks to form a new habit. It took approximately 10 weeks (as evidenced by the diminishing level of detail in our “cataloging the share” posts) for collecting and processing our share to become routine.

At some point between 10 and 2 each Sunday, I tidy the fridge, dispose of anything spoilt, wash any dishes, and head to the Farmer’s Market to collect our share. I unpack the crate of goodness into cloth bags, load them into the trunk, and drive home. (The market is three times farther away from our home than the grocery store is, and this process still takes less than half the time of a typical grocery run. No lines!) Once home, I unpack the items, store them appropriately (this now takes less than ten minutes!), and move on with my day.

In the first weeks of receiving the share, I spent hours with the fresh veg – meticulously photographing each item, washing and drying and trimming and wrapping and placing each one in its storage spot, poring over cookbooks and farm magazines looking for just the right recipes to showcase our farm-to-table goodness, and then feverishly batch cooking it all.

Now, it’s just food.

Well. In our house, nothing is “just” food, but bringing the share into our home isn’t a project – and it’s so much less effortful than making lists and choosing each item and packaging them. Sundays are, once again, full of ease.

What’s in Our CSA Share?

For the last few weeks, each of our shares have been remarkably similar: eggplant, tomatoes, onions, garlic, sweet and hot peppers, fresh herbs, acorn and butternut squashes, green beans, lettuce mix, watermelon and pullet eggs.

We’ve eaten watermelon by the slice, and I’ve relished baking cakes with these beautiful, yolky little eggs. Clay developed a new InstantPot chili recipe using acorn squash instead of beans, and a butternut+Parmesan pasta sauce. We’ve made creamy tomato soup and roasted ratatouille, and put up a few jars of salsa for the winter. I made a dozen mini quiches last week that we enjoyed for take-along-breakfasts. And salad is back in season, with a different custom dressing (see yesterday’s post about our thwarted desire for hot oil).

I’m craving a squash-and-potato soup with sharp cheddar cheese, so that’s on this week’s to make list. I’d like to give Ina Garten’s mini Italian frittatas a try. And I’ve been baking stone fruit skillet cakes and fall-fruit hand pies – I’ll keep at both of those!

What’s happening in your kitchen?

How NOT To Make “Hot Oil”

Pretty doesn’t always equal tasty.

Our favorite local pizza spot is a pub that specializes in the Hot Oil Bar Pie – a paper-thin, crisp crust smeared with aromatic marinara, a blend of cheeses, and an olive-oil-soaked jalapeño pepper placed in the center of the pie (so the spicy oil disperses throughout as it bakes). The heat is all up-front, so people who can’t handle a lingering spiciness can still enjoy a slice. This is an amazing pizza.

Since the predominant kitchen motto in our house is “I bet we can make that”, and since we’ve received a half-dozen jalapeño peppers from our CSA share in the last few weeks, I followed the instructions received from our waitress on our last visit; topped the peppers, removed the seeds and ribs, packed them in olive oil, and left them to cure.

The result: moldy peppers and cloudy oil!

I’m assuming that the folks at Colony take a few more steps, and that their peppers are packed tightly (like cucumbers for pickles); slicing mine made them less sturdy and more slippery, which probably means they were less likely to stay submerged in the oil.

I’ve done a bit of reading on making other spiced oils, and have a new idea: rather than retain the peppers for use, I’ll chop them, infuse them into heated oil, then strain the solids and retain the oil for use in dressings and marinades and finishes. Sadly, the new plan may have to wait until next Sunday; I packed yesterday’s jalapeños into a new jar albeit without slicing them, before checking on the originals. (A classic food-preservation blunder!)

Simpaug Farms CSA: Weeks Ten and Eleven

For the second time this summer, we lost a Sunday entirely; I picked up the box of vegetables between errands last week, tucking the carton into the fridge as-is and Clay actually looked through it and started making a meal-plan sometime on Tuesday. We ate well all week, but it wasn’t what you might call “well-planned”.

By contrast, this morning’s collection was leisurely – tucked as it was between Clay’s substitute-church-organist gig and my volunteer board meeting. I managed to lose myself in another bookshop on the walk between the meeting and the Farmer’s Market, but Clay kept us on task from that point forward, collecting our share and some extras (globe radishes and summer peaches). We had lunch, a little nap, a little exercise (running for Clay and yoga for me), and are settling in for a few hours of cooking.

What’s In The Share

These last few weeks are the reason I love the CSA so much: lush heirloom tomatoes, vibrant peppers (sweet and hot), and delicate garlic define summer for me. We haven’t had such a glut that we’ve needed to preserve any of it, until this week.

Vegetables

  • Beans, Green
  • Chard (untouched from last week, so a bit wilted)
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce, Green
  • Onions, Red
  • Onions, White
  • Onions, Yellow
  • Squash, Acorn
  • Tomatoes, Heirloom
  • Tomatoes, Roma
  • Tomatoes, Cherry
  • Peppers, Bell
  • Peppers, Bull Horn
  • Peppers, Jalapeno

Herbs

  • Dill
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Other

  • Eggs, 1 dozen

We have a few other ingredients at our disposal, too – either intentionally chosen or leftover from another time:

  • Asparagus (a few spears)
  • Baby Lettuces
  • Blueberries (from my uncle’s garden)
  • Peaches, 6 medium-sized
  • Potatoes, Heirloom Minis
  • Radishes, 1 bunch with their greens

What to Make With this Week’s Share

Eggplant Caponata

Clay made a delicious caponata inspired by our grocery stores “Recipe Ideas” Magazine. It’s a combination of grilled-then-pureed eggplant with diced tomato and onion, minced garlic and basil, and an assortment of spices. We ate it over the top of crostini toasts as one meal and as a fantastic pizza topping (along with fresh mozzarella cheese) for another. We’ll make another batch of it tonight that’s chopped a bit more finely, and use it as a salad layer in sandwiches.

Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches

Since we opted to stay in Connecticut this weekend rather than travel to hang with my family, we’re missing out on the hometown fair near Nana’s house. Rather than skip all the fun we’ll grill up a few onion slices and bullhorn peppers to make our own sandwiches with heritage breed pork sausage. (I’ll spoon some of the caponata onto mine…)

Pico de Gallo

We opened the last jar of last year’s salsa for a party yesterday, so I intend to preserve at least a few half-pint jars of a chunky salsa for this winter.

Perfectly Delectable Pasta Sauce

Since more tomatoes and peppers is never a guarantee, we’ll make another batch of that perfect summer pasta sauce we stumbled into a few weeks ago.

Pepper Paste

The mid-August episode of The Splendid Table included an interview with Maricel Presilla where she described making a hot pepper paste from chili peppers. I can’t handle very spicy food, but I think a variation of this made with bell and jalapeno peppers and a single dried chili from our spice cabinet will be terrific for Clay’s homemade chili this fall, so we’ll turn any peppers that aren’t used for other recipes into paste, stored in the freezer.

Compound Butter

Speaking of the freezer, we’ll combine the fresh thyme springs with sweet marjoram from our garden and a little garlic to make a compound butter. We wrap it in butcher paper to freeze and slice off small rounds to use with steaks or roasts.

Herby Potatoes

The other herbs – dill and sage – will season a pan of roasted mini potatoes. The potatoes are great to eat alongside a breakfast omelette!

Autumn Chili

Reading up on Acorn Squash, I know it will keep in the fridge for several weeks – but luckily for us it won’t have to. Next weekend is supposed to be cool and damp, and Clay starts tech week for a new show. That’s a perfect circumstance for autumn chili with cornbread, so we’ll make a pot of pressure cooker beef chili with cubes of acorn squash substituting for beans.

And Ideas for Baking

It’s nearly cool enough to fire up the oven for long stretches of time, so I fully intend to bake this week. My fall issue of Bake From Scratch includes three recipes I’m terribly excited for: Rosemary Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Concord Grape Jam, Plum Skillet Cake, and Poached Ginger Pears.

My aunt and uncle grow concord grapes; while I’ll use store-bought jam for these sandwich cookies, the taste will remind me of them. As for the skillet cake, I’ll make that with the gorgeous peaches we bought today instead of plums. And since I made a gorgeous ginger syrup two weeks ago, I’ll use that to poach some pears as soon as they come into season!

What are you most looking forward to cooking this weekend?

How To Make A Three-Egg Omelette

Breakfast in the garden of the Little Red House by the Sea

Now that we’re back into the rhythm of commute-work-commute-work-commute-work at home, I’m missing the restful vibe of our vacation week. I’m always much happier inside my own home than in any borrowed house, but long afternoon walks, lazy hours curled up with a good book, and uncounted moments listening to the wind chimes and watching the waves were respite for a weariness I didn’t quite know I carried. I’m trying to capture a bit of that quietness over this holiday weekend that marks the end of summer breathing in greater New York City – even for those of us who don’t have to consult a school calendar.

As part of my master plan, Clay has just agreed to a 5am wake-up alarm tomorrow so we can brew coffee and tea in to-go mugs and head to our local beach for a sunrise walk. I’m bribing him through his dismay with the promise of omelettes for breakfast when we get home – just like my Mom made them for us at the Little Red House by the Sea.

How to Make a Three-Egg Omelette

  1. First, gather your tools.
    Pour hot tap water into a small bowl to warm it. Preheat your oven on the broiler setting. Set a small, oven-proof skillet containing a drizzle of olive oil on the range over medium heat. Set up a cutting board and chef’s knife.
  2. Second, prepare your filling.
    My go-to combination is a bit of whatever meats are leftover in the fridge with three spears of asparagus (cut into 1/2 inch pieces), a mushroom or two (thinly sliced), a half dozen cherry tomatoes (quartered), and a tablespoon of sharp cheese (shredded) – but choose whatever you like. You’ll want approximately 1/3 cup of filling per omelette.
    • Toss any raw vegetables into your skillet and saute them until they’ve lost their crispness. Add any pre-cooked ingredients like meat of other vegetables to the pan and stir to warm them through. Pour the water out of your now-warm bowl, dry it out, and move your vegetables into it. Wipe out your pan and place it back on the range over medium-high heat, with a teaspoon of butter tossed into it to melt.
  3. Third, taste your filling – especially if it’s made up of leftover ingredients, or any brined vegetables. Season to taste, with the plan that all flavor and seasoning will come from the filling. (I usually add black pepper liberally, but find that using pre-cooked meat means there’s no need for added salt.)
  4. Fourth, cook your eggs.
    In a small bowl (I use a glass measuring cup), beat together three eggs. We get ours directly from the farm as part of our CSA share, and they’re a combination of giant chicken and small pullet eggs; let’s assume an average size of “large”.
    • When the butter in your skillet is melted, bubbling, and fragrant, lower the heat to medium and pour your beaten eggs into the pan. Turn the pan to evenly distribute the eggs through it; as they set on the bottom, use a rubber spatula to lift the set portion and allow raw egg to run underneath.
    • When the eggs are nearly set to you your liking, remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Fifth, Assemble the omelette.
    Working quickly, scatter your filling over one-half of your cooked egg, adding any cheese as the top-most layer. Place the skillet into your oven under the broiler; leave the oven door slightly ajar to monitor the cooking/melting/browning for forty-five seconds. When the eggs are fully set and slightly browned and any cheese in the filling has melted, remove the skillet from the oven, and immediately fold it in half so that the “filled” half is covered by the “unfilled” half. Press lightly down on the top of the omelette so that the melted cheese can glue the two halves together.
  6. Sixth, serve.
    Slide your omelette onto a warmed plate, alongside a piece of hearty toast spread with tomato jam and some sliced fruit (peaches are divine just now). Hand the plate to your bleary-eyed spouse, along with a fork, a kiss, and a second-cup of coffee.

What’s your favorite “vacation” breakfast?

Simpaug Farms CSA: Week Nine

Sage

After a week away from home, I’ve been overjoyed to spend two days in the kitchen; we needed to stock up on all of the homemade staples that we used up at the beach! Yesterday we focused on bread, granola, and yogurt, and today has been about trying new things: hazelnut plum shortcakes, a cardamom-rye cake, and a new-to-us cheesy squash casserole.

Irony: this week’s CSA share is the first of the summer that doesn’t contain any squash. Thankfully we had a large patty pan leftover from last week and adapted the casserole for it. Speaking of the share…

What’s In The Week Nine CSA Share

Vegetables

  • Beets, 16 ounces
  • Garlic, 1.5 ounces
  • Green Beans, 16 ounces
  • Miniature Purple Eggplant, 16 ounces
  • Onions (1 red, 1 white), 10.5 ounces
  • Peppers (Bell, Bull Horn, and Hot), 34 ounces
  • Sage, 0.5 ounces
  • Savoy Cabbage, 44 ounces
  • Swiss Chard, 8 ounces
  • Tomatoes (Heirloom, Slicing, Roma, and Cherry), 79 ounces

Other

  • Eggs, 1 dozen

Leftovers and Market Gleanings

We did have a few things left over from last week, and peak local produce is available at our supermarket; we love to support the local farms who can supply grocery stores, so have quite the haul of “additions” this week.

  • Asparagus, 12 ounces
  • Avocado, 1
  • Bananas, 3
  • Blueberries, 48 ounces
  • Butter Lettuce, 8 ounces
  • Carrots, 10 ounces
  • Celery (stalks and leaves), 10 ounces
  • Corn (on the cob), 4 ears
  • Crimini Mushrooms, 8 ounces
  • Green Pepper, 6 ounces
  • Jalapeno Pepper, 2 ounces
  • Lemon, 1
  • Lime, 1
  • Red Plums, 20 ounces
  • Savoy Cabbage, 30 ounces
  • Slicing Cucumber, 8 ounces
  • Strawberries, 35 ounces
  • Yellow Onions, 16 ounces
  • Yellow Peaches, 50 ounces

That’s 30 pounds of produce for two people! Yikes.

What To Make With This Week’s CSA Share

Omelets

My mom taught me a new method for making omelets which I quite enjoy, so we’ve had delicious egg-and-vegetable concoctions for breakfast several mornings in the last week. Any vegetables can become a terrific omelet filling as long as we balance bitter and savory flavors, fill it out with a bit of cheese for structure, and add some acid in a sauce.

Squash Casserole

The patty pan squash and a bit of red onion have become a fabulous-smelling miniature take on a popular online casserole recipe. We substituted stone-ground wheat crackers for butter crackers, jack cheese for cheddar, and salted butter for unsalted butter + salt, and it smells like a perfect accompaniment for charred corn and grilled steak (tonight’s dinner plan).

Eggplant Parmesan

With a fistful of fresh mozzarella in the fridge, a quart of homemade marinara sauce in the freezer, and a box of pasta in the pantry, the eggplant is crying out to become eggplant parm. We’ll be able to add a little heft to the dish by tearing the chard into super fine pieces and sautéeing it as an add-in for the sauce, and making a tomato-pepper-cucumber salad with a zippy dressing to serve alongside.

Burgers and Sides

I am strongly hopeful that the avocado, butter lettuce, and a slicing tomato might turn into the fixings of an excellent made-at-home-on-the-grill burger, alongside some roasted beets and fingerling potatoes dredged in sage, and another glorious coleslaw. I’m not sure what Clay’s plans are for Tuesday’s supper, but that’s my vote!

Pork Chops with Mushrooms

Any chard that isn’t consumed with the eggplant parmesan will be a lovely side dish to pork chops with mushroom sauce – especially if they’re tossed with some cold roasted beets dressed in a citrus vinaigrette.

Yogurt Parfait

The weather has cooled enough that a pre-set yogurt parfait will survive my commute, so on-or-after-the-train breakfasts this week will include fruit + yogurt + granola combinations.

Roasted Pepper Hummus with Crudité

We really enjoy making Alton Brown’s from scratch hummus, and with all of the peppers available, and the nuts stocked in our fridge, we’ll be able to make a well-flavored one. I usually take “last night’s dinner leftovers” as packed lunches during the week, but hummus with fresh veggies is Clay’s go-to summer lunch, so I’m sure he’ll make a large dent in the stock of green beans, carrots, celery, and cherry tomatoes.

Salsa Fresca

With the beautiful salsa spices we have from Penzey’s, I’ll turn the tomato, onion, garlic, hot peppers, and any leftover corn into a fresh salsa.

Blueberry Peach Buckle

The peaches are a little underripe; when they are ready, I’ll make a pair of blueberry peach buckles to share with friends. One will be for dessert with dinner guests on Saturday, and the other will be for the casting team at one of the theater companies Clay works with for their season general auditions on Sunday.

Baked Treats

I’ve spent this afternoon making cakes which will serve for tonight’s dessert with the plums. In addition to that and the buckles we’ll make a loaf of banana bread for breakfast toast at mid-week (when the bananas have ripened), and if we have any other fruit left by Saturday morning I’ll turn all of it into a freeform tart.

And suddenly it seems that we’ve made short work of the overwhelming bounty we were struggling to put away a few hours ago!

This garlic is so delicate…