A few thoughts post-Easter

Here I am, continuing to mark time until CSA season begins, though we’ve just passed one of my favorite days for cooking: Easter.

This year was a transition year for us. Our winter was crazy – we moved in December, my mom died in January, and we had a baby in February. I want to move into hosting Easter, rather than traveling for it, but I (understandably) did not have it in me for a crowd, so we just had my in-laws (parents and siblings) over, and it was a really lovely day.

We did the standard Polish Easter fare that I count on each year, but when it came to golombki, I was in a bind. I love stuffed cabbage, but the thought of putting in all that work this year seemed like a drag. However, I remembered that there was an article about exactly this in an old issue of Simple & Delicious! AND, to boot, I’d marked the recipe in that article in my new organization system! (Yes, this recipe index is already proving useful!)

Thus, we made Slow-Cooker Golombki. Folks, this recipe was fabulous. It would take something special to convince me to go through the trouble of making regular golombki again, I think. This tasted just as good with hardly any effort. I also substituted ground turkey for the ground beef, to lighten it up, and it tasted great.

I didn’t document much of the cooking, though I do have a very satisfying picture of my plate before I dug in.

Happy Easter!

Peach Season in Review

So, peach season came and went without me getting myself together enough to post the delicious things happening in my kitchen. So, let’s do a quick recap now before the onslaught of apple & squash season, ok?

Of course, my first stop on the peach train was this Peach-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce that I thought I mentioned last year… upon looking for a link, it seems I never finished & published that post, oops! This time, whoops, I realized partway through that I was out of bourbon. (These days, I really only use it to cook – not much hard drinking going on with small children in the house.) There was, however, the remainder of a bottle of rum hiding in my cabinet, and I took a chance. Sure enough, it was sweet & smoky enough to do the job. I’d recommend it as a substitute in a pinch.

I’ve mentioned before that my family has a tradition of “pickins” (known to the rest of the world as “apps” or “tapas”) while watching a movie, usually on Friday nights. One week, it featured Thug Kitchen‘s Grilled Peach Salsa. Yummmmm. It was worth the rush to grill the peaches before the rain resumed; I won’t even begin my rant about this summer basically being monsoon season.

Grilled peaches, yum!
The finished product

I took a chance on a new recipe with some of the peaches. I’ve yet to actually cook it up, but I’ll let you all know how it is when we finally do enjoy it. I found this recipe for  make-ahead Slow Cooker Asian Peach Chicken Thighs, and I set up a couple of future dinners.

“Nature’s candy in my hand or can…. or pie…”
Dinner assembly
Blurry, but ready to freeze
Reminders to myself that the remaining steps are saved on my computer. God help anyone else who tries to decipher this gibberish.

Little Chef insisted that we make a Peach Cake. He did this on the same day I was making barbecue sauce, so his perception of what ingredients we needed was a little… off.

Peaches, eggs, butter, brown sugar… lemon juice? Orange juice? Ketchup?? Lime juice???

Never fear, we found a credible recipe. We used this one, and I substituted brown sugar, since Little Chef was insistent that that was what he wanted. It turned out delicious.

The finished cake, sans barbecue ingredients

You Win Some, You Lose Some

It’s not often that I pick a dud for dinner. I have startlingly good luck with the recipes I choose, which I’ve always chalked up to understanding my family’s tastes and preferences. Tonight, though? Total let-down.

In my diet and lifestyle makeover that began a couple of years ago, I invested in several “lightened up” slow-cooker cookbooks, one of which is Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution.  I’ve made several meals from here that I enjoyed, and the pictures for Thai Eggplant Curry looked enticing. I love Thai food. I love curry and lime. I love eggplant.

… I didn’t love dinner tonight.

The texture was all wrong. The sauce was too thin, and the eggplant was too chewy. The curry taste was not strong enough – I think I’d have to double the amount of curry paste to get in the ballpark of what I like. I added fresh basil leaves in an attempt to perk it up, and even that didn’t do it for me. I wasn’t alone in my assessment; my spouse graciously ate his serving, though with the same lack of relish I was experiencing, and Little Chef picked out his rice, peppers, and beans and left the rest. (I used green beans instead of snow peas, because it’s what’s in season and was in my share.)

I’m going to take the leftovers (boy oh boy, there were a lot of leftovers) and add them into a basic Pad See Ew tomorrow. I’ve got noodles and a big head of napa cabbage, so hopefully I can salvage the bulk of the eggplant that way.

I’ll share pictures from the cooking process, when everything smelled so hopeful. Don’t bother making the effort to make this, though. It was disappointing.

Sweet and Sour Beets and Meatballs

I had beets hanging around in my fridge – I got them both in last week’s and this week’s Coeur et Sol share. (Things overlapped a little, since I picked up on Thursday last week, but got my share on Monday this week.) I broke out Skinny Slow Cooker and made a recipe I’d tried once before, and I was not disappointed.

Sweet and Sour Beets and Meatballs with Wheat Berries

Now, of course, I tell you this and then have to explain all of the things I did differently. First, I substituted farro for the wheat berries, since that’s what I had in my pantry. It worked perfectly well. Both are grains that hold up to long cooking times, and both get a chewy, dense texture when cooked down. Second, I omitted the apricots, because I just don’t care for them. Thirdly, I ignored their instructions for the meatballs and made my own turkey meatballs, using garlic chives from my share, parsley from my yard, and a ton of garlic.

The colors are not as vivid in my finished product as in the cookbook. Partly, of course, that’s because the cookbook picture is staged and lit, but a couple of things worked against the coloring of my dinner: half of the beets were golden beets, not red, and the red onions I used were very pale once you got past the first layer, so there was little distribution of the deep red color.

It doesn’t matter. It was still delicious. My picky preschooler even ate an entire serving!

Off-season Cooking

I’ve been rather quiet so far this off-season. Frankly, my “day job” has been taking up a lot of my time. It’s midterm season, so it feels like my house has an endless stream of teenagers in and out of it. (I’m a private tutor.)

I’ve been working on an organization project in preparation for next season, but that will get a blog post entirely of its own sometime.

The magic still continues in the kitchen, despite the dormancy of winter, though. I’m always most grateful for the efforts of “July Me” in January or February. I certainly felt that gratitude while prepping dinner two nights ago.

I’ve been sick all week, so I needed low-effort meals that were comforting and nourishing. We had jambalaya (my mom’s recipe, done in the crock pot) on Monday, but what I want to talk about was the delicious Pork, White Bean, and Kale Soup we had on Tuesday. I got the recipe from my Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook, but thankfully, they made the recipe available online, as well.

I had the pork in my freezer – a previous purchase from Wrong Direction Farm. I also had this beautiful bag of greenery from July:

THANK YOU, JULY ME.

This is what the finished product looked like. Yum.

It was exactly the comfort food I needed on a sick January weeknight.