Vegetable Soup Base

You know how people talk about “life hacks?”

Yeah, it kind of makes my skin crawl, too. But if there were a CSA-equivalent of a life-hack this time of year, it’d be the vegetable soup base.

This week, we had carrots, celery, peppers, and onions. I had garlic in the house, and I had weeks worth of potatoes backed up… time to make some soup base.

I made some vegetable stock with some scraps that were sitting in the fridge while I prepped other parts of the share, and then I began sauteing the vegetables for the soup…

Pretty simple – I combined this melange with the vegetable stock, salt, and pepper, and let it simmer for a while before packaging it up and sticking it in the freezer. Over the winter, it will pair well with any combination of: egg noodles, orzo, meatballs, sausage, turkey, or chicken. Every year, prepping this base has been useful… and on a week where I’ve already got meals covered, it’s a relief to have a purpose for this much of the share.

Happy prepping!

Eating From the Farm(s)

I’ve been flipping through my pictures as I’m queuing up some posts for the week ahead, and I had to just post this appreciation. There’s nothing quite as satisfying for me as looking at a beautiful plate full of homemade, locally-sourced food. This was dinner last night.

Honey-balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Homemade applesauce

Mashed potatoes with garlic chives

Crazy salad

The vast majority of the ingredients came from the farms – the apples from Tree-Licious, the pork from Wrong Direction, the veggies in the salad and the potatoes and chives from Circle Brook.

Eating local is where it’s at.

Sausage Crustless Mini-quiches

Of course, when any of us hears “CSA,” the vegetables are the first thing that come to mind. I can’t speak for every CSA out there, but in the case of mine, there are also shares available in fruit, poultry, eggs, and individual orders of meats and one-off crops, like blueberries. I’m ambitious (and have ample freezer space), so I get a dozen eggs, a package of apple chicken sausage, 2 lb of ground turkey, and a whole broiler chicken on alternate weeks. Today’s breakfast (made last night) showcases this side of my share. I made muffin-tin chicken sausage crustless mini-quiches. That’s a mouthful.

First, the prep. I cut up some red onion and red potato into small pieces. What’s pictured ended up being way too much – the remainder of the onion went into last night’s salad, and the potatoes went into the freezer to be hash browns on some winter morning. I also chopped up the greens from the radishes we got this week, and a few cloves of German White garlic, still hanging around from the garlic festival.

I squeezed the sausage out of its casings into a hot pan with a turn of olive oil. As it browned, I crumbled up the pieces.

When the sausage was mostly done, but not quite, I added the onions and potatoes. I let that cook for a couple of minutes, then added the garlic. Again, a pause for a couple of minutes, and then the greens, which I allowed to wilt and then I turned off the heat. Along the way, I chose to add some smoked paprika, but you could really season it any way you prefer.

 

This mixture got equally divided among 12 muffin tins.

I scrambled some eggs with some milk and parmesan cheese. I estimated six eggs (what I usually use for a fritatta), but ended up needing to add a seventh. I poured the scrambled egg mixture into each of the cups, fillingĀ  each most of the way. Next time, I plan to scramble the eggs in my big glass measuring cup – pouring out of the bowl into the small targets was tougher than I expected.

I baked them at 375 for somewhere around half an hour. The trick is to keep an eye on them and test them when they start to brown on top. If you can stick a knife into the center of the center-most quiche and it comes out clean, then they’re done.

These were a delicious and filling breakfast this morning, along with some applesauce and toast. Even my toddler cleared his plate!

Corn Chowder

This week, temperatures have been in the 90s. For Northern New Jersey at the end of September, this is unusual… and incredibly disappointing. I’m eagerly awaiting fall, which appears to finally be willing to creep in sometime later this week, according to my weather app.

Despite this, and thanks to living in the age of central air conditioning, I made chicken corn chowder this evening, and it was delicious. I meant to get a good picture of it in my bowl, but I totally forgot, so the pot will have to suffice.

The basic recipe I followed was from Simple and Delicious and can be found here. I’ve been trying to ease up on dairy in the past few months, so I substituted almond milk for the half and half. To compensate for that adding thinness, I added some flour to the cooking onions, to do a half-roux at the beginning of the soup.

I skipped the final step of mixing flour and more cream to thicken the soup, as well, and it came out just fine. I also added some leftover chopped cooked chicken, and served the soup with a nice loaf of Italian bread from the little meat market around the corner from my house. Easy, hearty, pretty healthy, and quick. I’ll be making it again… and I’ll take better pictures when I do.