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

Summer Squash Soup

I started off the summer with a brutal cold. Bummer? Yes. Does this happen more summers than I care to admit? Yes.

The Summer Squash Soup from Thug Kitchen made me feel a lot better in the throes of it. It’s super simple, and it’s a great way to use up extra summer squash that are lying around. It freezes well, and my preschooler actually requests it. Winning all around!

 

Blueberry Season

Today is it. Blueberry day.

Bloomfield-Montclair partners with a farmer in Hammonton – the home of the domesticated blueberry – to do bulk purchases of blueberries every year. I am a GIGANTIC fan of blueberries, so I look forward to this with varying levels of mania every year. I feel like I got extra lucky this year; our delivery  usually comes right before July 4th, which usually coincides with our yearly trip down to southern Delaware  with the family. On more than  one occasion, I’ve carted absurd amounts of blueberries down to Delaware and back, simply because we’ve done pickup as we’re pulling out of town.

This year, I have all of the time I need to wrangle the berries. I’m looking forward to it.

Pickup isn’t until 2 pm, so for now, in anticipation, I present photos from a recipe I made over the weekend. I was on the team to provide food at coffee hour this week, so I popped over to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning to buy some blueberries from Ginger. (The farmer who provides our fruit share has a stall at the Walnut Street Farmer’s Market in Montclair. Tree-licious Orchards. Give her a visit if you’re local!) I proceeded to make a Blueberry Buckle.

Shocking to no one, this recipe came from Thug Kitchen. The original calls for blackberries, but at the end, they say you can use any berries you please. I’ve always made it with blueberries, and it’s always come out stunningly well. The cutesy reason for calling this a “buckle,” rather than a cobbler or coffee cake or whatnot, is apparently that there are “so many berries, it’ll make the pan buckle.” Groan.

First, there are the blueberries throughout the batter. I really like the texture this comes out, by the way. The trick seems to be that it’s part oat flour and part regular flour.

Then, you take more berries and sort of lightly smush them into the top of the batter.

Topped with a crust made of all sorts of good things, like brown sugar and oat flour…

Baked until it looks like this little piece of heaven.

Learn from my previous mistakes and put a layer of foil on the rack underneath your baking treat. Blueberry juice boiling over is pretty much inevitable.

Peanut Slaw

At some point during the summer, we got some red cabbage, and I finally tried Thug Kitchen‘s Creamy Peanut Slaw recipe. It was heavenly. Peanutty without being sticky and cloying. A welcome change from a mayo-based or yogurt-based slaw.

I was faced with a choice this week, as I stared at this beautiful, HUGE head of Napa Cabbage that came in our share.

I could do the tried-and-true thing and make my own summer rolls or egg rolls. I could make my own Pad See Ew. Or…. I could make a twist on the peanut slaw. The choice seemed pretty clear, especially with these beautiful scallions we also received:

First, I thinly sliced the cabbage

And the scallions

We haven’t talked about stock yet, but when you’re cutting most vegetables, particularly varieties of onions and garlic, you can save the scraps to make your own (healthier, basically free) vegetable stock for cooking. My ultimate reference point for vegetable stock is here, on Eileen’s blog. You’ll notice, as she recommends, that I did not set aside any of the cabbage. Adding cabbage to your stock is a one-way ticket to Stinkytown. I save my cuttings in gallon-sized plastic bags in the freezer and make stock mostly as needed. I’ve been known to can it when my freezers (3 of them; I’m ridiculous) get too full.

That’s all I used for veggies – if I’d had sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, or radishes hanging around, I would have added them, but I did not. I then made the sauce as per the recipe – peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, warm water, lime juice, ginger – and mixed it in with the cabbage. It always shocks me how much coverage you get out of what looks like such a small amount of sauce!

I added some sesame seeds for good measure, and ta-daa! A delicious side.

I had a ton of leftovers (it was only my son and I for dinner last night, and cabbage is one of the few things he’s not interested in… which I’d say is not surprising or terrible at three), so I got creative one more time this afternoon for lunch. I boiled up some tofu shiratiki noodles and made a cold noodle bowl with some of the slaw. I added some extra soy sauce to help the noodles to stop sticking together and distribute evenly, and then I decided to add some Sriracha for a kick. Hot sauce is actually in the original dressing recipe, but I omitted it out of toddler-mom-habit, not thinking about the fact that he would likely not eat the salad anyway.

I was not disappointed in my experiment. I would’ve liked some peanuts to top it with, but the whole point was that I was just working with things that were on hand, so beggars can’t be choosers.

Thug Kitchen

Hang around here long enough, and you may get sick of hearing about the one subject that dominates my conversations almost as much as CSA: Thug Kitchen.

Thug Kitchen is a series of cookbooks, blog, twitter account, etc. The authors live in LA and declare that their mission is to make eating healthy – and, specifically, vegan – accessible, affordable, easy, and delicious. They do this stunningly well, over and over and over again. I have two out of their three cookbooks, make meals from them regularly, and never have encountered a recipe that I’ve disliked. If you want healthy comfort food, Thug Kitchen is for you.

The one caveat is that you must not be offended by swearing. Their gimmick, from which the “Thug” in their name comes, is that all of the recipes are written in street-sounding language. There are a lot of f-bombs. Being from northeastern New Jersey (think Sopranos – it was shot nearby), I find this hilarious and endearing.

Below are some visuals for why this cookbook is worth every penny. Please, try not to drool on the keyboard.

Eggplant with Soba Noodles

 

Blueberry Buckle
Red Lentil Burger

This is not the last you’ll see of Thug recipes coming from my kitchen. Yum.