Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Our Foodie Summer

Our summer has been full of food milestones:

We were asked to take part in a sweet corn taste test. The corn is a genetically-modified hybrid developed by Seminis to protect the crop from insects. It was fabulous! I'm all for reducing pesticide use if possible. 

My first homemade banana nut muffins. It was a great use of too-brown bananas.
I hate throwing away food! While the bananas were obviously not local, I used a packet of Weinsenberger Mills Biscuit Mix instead of Bisquick (which my Betty Crocker cookbook called for). Weisenberger Mills is located in Midway, Kentucky and purchases grain from many of my farmers!

We put out our first official garden. I prepared the spot with my trusty garden claw and some of my horse manure. Then we just stuck in some seeds. We planted tomatoes, cucumbers, scallop squash, carrots, and beans. The beans emerged first, followed closely by the squash and cucumbers. The cucumber beetles have really enjoyed our garden, but they seem to be gone now. Keeping the weeds out is also daily work.

This mysterious plant cropped up about two feet behind the garden in the hard clay. We are still unsure what it is. Someone suggested it may be a gourd. We will see. It's getting bigger by the day.

Our first harvest. Not enough to feed a family of four, but I did cut up the squash and add it to some spaghetti sauce. I am about ready to harvest a few cucumbers.

The wild blackberries are thick at our house. There are about 50 or more bushes on our property. I loaded the kids up with Deep Woods Off and bowls and off we went. I am amazed they have grown so well without human intervention. It has been very dry here this spring and summer, but I guess we had just enough rain.

The first of many blackberry cobblers. It was so delicious. I'm also thinking about trying my hand at blackberry preserves. For breakfast the other morning, I added them on top of a whole wheat tortilla and peanut butter. Roll it up and you've got a great on-the-go meal.

I lost all of my original laying hens to coyotes and hawks.I purchased two new hens and they did not take to the coop. We have yet to catch them, but I recently found where they were laying their eggs... in my hayloft. They are half the size of what I was getting before. I sure do miss my girls. If I try chickens again, I will have to put up a fence. So much for free-range chickens. 

Do you have any good summer food stories? 
Share them here or on Twitter - use #summerfoodfun and tag me - @foodmommy. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

My Meatless Monday: Broccoli Cheese Soup

If you’ve read my other posts, such as “Why I choose to eat meat,” you know I’m a full-fledged omnivore, and not the least bit interested in trading in my steak knife. Occasionally, however, I do think it is perfectly acceptable to have a meat-free meal as I believe in providing a variety of proteins in my family’s diet. But be forewarned: my broccoli soup is far from vegan. The dairy cow was my best friend in helping me achieve this delicious, kid-approved meal.

Finally, My Perfect Broccoli Cheese Soup

I learned to love broccoli cheese soup after having it at several restaurants. It was also a food I never had a problem getting the kids to eat. I’ve tried a few recipes, but never quite got one I loved until this one. I started with a recipe I found online, and modified it a bit after trial and error (believe me, I had lots of errors. The last time I made it, I accidently used seafood stock instead of chicken stock – my sensitive-palleted husband was not happy).

Large broccoli crown or 2 small crowns – You need about 3 cups of chopped broccoli
1 medium onion
1 large carrot
3 Tbs. butter for onion
½ stick butter for rue
½ cup wheat flour
2 cups milk & 2 cups heavy cream (or use 4 cups half and half)
4 cups of chicken stock
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese
Salt and pepper

Involve your kids! Learning to cook encourages them to try new foods.
  1. Sautee’ a medium white or yellow onion in 4 tablespoons of butter. Set aside.
  2. Chop broccoli into fine pieces (about 3 cups). Set aside.
  3. Grate a large carrot or several baby carrots. Set aside.
  4. In a stockpot, melt a stick of butter (1/2 cup) and add 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, stirring constantly for 3-5 minutes on medium heat.
  5. Slowly add a mixture of 2 cups milk and 2 cups heavy cream while stirring.
  6. Add 4 cups of chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes. You may need to turn up the heat a bit, but be sure to stir often.
  7. Add the broccoli, onions and carrots. Cook for 20-25 minutes.
  8. Salt to taste (my kids don’t like pepper, so I don’t use it). I also learned something from seeing the Voltaggio brothers (Top Chef) at the Incredible Food Show in Kentucky. “If something doesn’t taste quite right, you probably only need to add salt or sugar.”
  9. Add 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese and 1 cup of Monterey Jack cheese, and stir until melted.
  10. Serve with your favorite bread, another serving of veggies, and fruit for dessert.

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