Monday, August 29, 2011

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation

New York!
  • Vacationing in Ontario and celebrating Honey Bear's 2nd birthday *sob*
  • Enjoying a toddler-free babymoon in New York City (for more on our adventures, please see my Uncanny Preserves blog.
  • Battening down the hatches for Irene's arrival
  • Trying to salvage our half-assed attempt at a garden this year - so far, so good! Replanting beans, peas and beets means a late harvest, which isn't half bad
  • Solving the mystery of why my tomato plants look horrid (curse you, blight!)
  • Canning, canning and more canning. On today's agenda: more Crabapple Jelly
  • Opening and digging through the multiple boxes of baby clothes and pulling out the gender neutral 0-3 clothes and organizing the baby cloth diapers in very early anticipation of baby #2's arrival
  • Crashing on the couch by 8 p.m. and looking in horror at my swollen, Flintstone feet. (When I was overdue with Honey Bear, I asked Jeff to try some pressure points on my ankles to induce labour. He very cautiously asked me where my ankles were...)
  • Cooking up a storm, but little of it is blogworthy - we're talking BASICS! Whatever gets us through dinner in a way that's fast, nutritious and uses up our CSA goodies so nothing goes to waste.

How's your summer going?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dolled Up Tuna Casserole

Cheesy Tuna Casserole


Once again, I was inspired by Jane and her Adventures in Dinner blog about not letting food go to waste and now that we've been given the green light by Honey Bear's doctor to bring back dairy, we're going for it!

Nothing fills me with more satisfaction than making one meal we can all enjoy, especially if it's crammed full of vegetables. Veggies are still the last holdout for Honey Bear and I know it will come eventually, but if I can help foster that love by smothering them in cheese and butter, I'll do it.

Here's a grown up version of Tuna Casserole that is delicious, adaptable and is a great way to use up pantry/fridge items. We had some leftover Boursin kicking around the fridge and without crackers, it was wasting away.

Your Basics


Your "Dolled Up" Ingredients


Dolled Up Tuna Casserole
Adapted from this recipe: Boursin Mac and Cheese at Kitchen of Friends blog.

1-300 gram box of whole wheat rotini
2 cans light tuna
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Speerville flour
2 cups milk
2 tbsp grainy mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 package of Boursin cheese (I used garlic and chives)
1 cup mozarella
Diced up veggies, like parboiled green beans or carrots, onions, red peppers, peas.
1/2 cup parmasan cheese for topping

Directions:

1. Boil pasta in a big pot, about 2 minutes less than the recommended time on the box. Drain pasta and keep pot tucked aside for mixing.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk together until smooth, continue cooking for another minute or so. Very slowly and whisking constantly, add milk and bring to a slow boil over medium-low heat, about 4 minutes. Random tip: At this point, I like to switch from whisk to a wooden spoon, but whisk is perfect at ensuring no lumps in your sauce. When thickened, add in Boursin and mozarella, mustard, salt and pepper and any additional herbs and seasoning (like hot pepper flakes, thyme/lemon thyme, dill, etc).
3. In your large pasta pot, add pasta back in with your vegetables and pour your sauce overtop, stir to mix and then pour into a large casserole dish.
4. Sprinkle parmasan on top and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until piping hot. Enjoy!

We were definitely "Hungrrrrry" for Dinner!




Monday, August 8, 2011

The Summer That Never Was

So, unless my memory is sketchy (which is entirely possible), but it only seems like there was one week in July where the weather was absolutely perfect: three days of warm sun, a day of rain, three more days of sun and a cloudy day. May was a write-off with all the rain, the end of June had a frost warning (!) and the rest of July was relatively rainy and cold. August is heading in the same direction, with almost two solid weeks of rain. Our CSA is saying they are already 2-3 weeks behind in their harvests because of this weather and I know it's not just the vegetables that are suffering.

Does weather affect you adversly, like it does me? It could be because I'm as big as a house and lumbering with achy hips, or it could be this never ending lousy weather of an already too-short Maritime summer that's making me grumpy. Sackville is nestled close enough to the Bay of Fundy that our summer's are actually quite cool, rarely going above 26 degrees with little to no humidity, which is fine by me. It also means our winter's tend to be milder, so it's a fair trade off. This past winter was brutal though and one of the things that got me through was the promise of nicer weather ahead.

I was wrong and I feel a little cheated.

So hopefully you're enjoying some warm, sunny weather in your neck of the woods and with a vacation to Ontario and New York City coming up soon, I plan to steal some of it and bring it home! If you catch some swollen, pasty looking woman dancing barefoot in the park, it's most likely me offering up a dance to the sun gods in gratitude.

While not grumbling or lumbering, we're still working at using this time to prepare for the winter by visiting all the u-picks we can, including sour cherries, highbush blueberries and raspberries. While the cherries and highbush blueberries have been unaffected by this weather, the raspberries were flabby and flat tasting and it looks like my one batch of raspberry preserves is about all I can expect from this season.

When not canning, we're preserving the harvest in delicious, drinkable ways, like a hefty Mason jar of strawberry liqueur, some homemade almond extract made from cherry stones and thanks to Jeff's increasing homebrew skills, we have a gallon of strawberry wine mellowing and an exciting 3 gallon batch of blueberry wine:

Doing Something Homebrewy: Maybe an Acid Test? Sugar Test? Heck if I Know.

I continue to can up a storm for the market and our cold cellar and meals are still almost exclusively local, but definitely nothing to write about. Like tonight's dinner: I'm embarassed to admit I totally made this salad and completely devoured a huge portion of it. You might remember it from church picnics or potlucks:

Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad

You know the salad, with crisp bits of artificial tasting bacon and drenched in too much Miracle Whip/sugar/vinegar dressing that is a staple on every buffet table? I justified that at least the produce was local, the bacon was real and required that little extra step of frying and the Miracle Whip just needs to be used up. I cut the dressing back by a third (equal parts Miracle Whip and sugar with about a tablespoon of white vinegar). I ate it, glad no one was watching and declared it delicious and perfect with my boiled new potatoes and local pork chops drenched in some kind of sauce. We're definitely veering away from gourmet if it means dinner is on the table early enough for us all to enjoy it.

While the weather's gloomy, here's the silver lining: Honey Bear ate most of supper. Ate it. Chewed meat and declared it delicious. Something has come over her and she is eating like a truck driver. She can't get enough of eggs and bacon and when the pediatrician gave us the green light to try dairy again, we're not noticing any of the previous symptoms, which makes food preparation and eating together a sheer joy, even if it's church potluck food.



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