Thursday, July 14, 2011

Simple Food: Cooking in the Moment

     My first cooking class at Trillium Haven CSA this year! It was wonderfully fun, deliciously different and as always, educational! Our table was set with delicate bran muffins (from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson),  grapefruit marmalade, peach jam, rye soda bread slices and re-baked slices that were more like crackers to go with the herbed butter! The grapefruit marmalade was bitter and sweet, and perfect combination for the muffins. I always forget about the simplicity of herbed butter. Evidently the key is to use sweet butter (unsalted) to let the herbs shine through. This butter was made with parsley, dill and chives. It was creamy, soft, subtle and fresh tasting on the soda bread. I enjoyed the "twice-baked" slices that were crispy and held the flavor nicely. Ann mentioned that by baking both recipes together you can use an entire carton of buttermilk (not something I keep in the fridge on a regular basis). I've made the muffins 4 times now and my family loves them!

     Next we tried homemade power bars! These were a tasty surprise! They reminded me of a healthy Rice Krispies Treat. The chewy, sweet, tangy goodness was further accented by ginger! The recipe calls for brown rice syrup and I had a hard time finding that so I'll be substituting agave. While looking for unsweetened brown rice puffs I came across a new, gluten free Rice Krispies made with brown rice! The other challenging ingredient was crystallized ginger. Meijer had a very small jar for $7, but a trip to Harvest Health yielded a 16oz bag for $6! Happy Day!
    We followed the bar with a small cup of Stoneybrook Farm vanilla yogurt with a dab of roasted strawberry jam! ROASTED! The flavor had so many layers! Not just the sweet, tangy, juicy top notes of a typical strawberry jam, but a subtle, smoky flavor that wasn't over powering, just intriguing.
     Then it was on to the 3 course buffet!

The green rice was light, refreshing and delicious all by itself! Anja provided the recipe for this one, but told us that she used Herdez green salsa instead of the fresh tomatillos, cilantro, onions, garlic and chile. The black-eyed pea/chard soup tasted familiar and I think it was in the Mediterranean class. It has a light, lemon flavor and the creaminess of the beans makes it one of my favorites. The slaw in this trio was my absolute favorite! Although there was no recipe provided for this one, we delighted in "picking apart" the salad to list the ingredients. We found crunchy red cabbage, tiny currants, salty pistachios, chewy/sweet apricots and the dressing (we had to ask about this one) was made from yogurt, pomegranate syrup and Dijon mustard! DELICIOUS!

Round two consisted of a delightful lentil dish poured over pasta! Rustic Lentil Soup from "Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen" The creamy lentils, firm pasta and smoky flavor was a perfect blend. And, as many of us have discovered, children eat food with pasta in it much more easily than a bowl for brown soup! :)  The Creamy Coleslaw from Jack Bishop's "Vegetables Every Day" was a traditional slaw. The only thing setting it apart would be the tarragon leaves. A nice summer staple.

 Round three was a black bean dish that Anja whipped up to compliment the green rice. It was WONDERFUL~! It brought back memories of my mission trip to Costa Rica where we would be served black beans and rice every breakfast with a delicious white cheese sliced over it. The hot, filling black beans paired with fresh cilantro and the green rice was perfect! The Spicy Cabbage Slaw from "Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys" by David Tanis, is bright, fresh and SPICY!! The juice from 3 limes gives it the bright, summer flavor and the jalapeno gives it the heat!

For dessert we had deliciously fresh cherries and two different cookies: Walnut and Pine Nut Drops and Almond Cookies. Both were very light and a perfect end to a delicious luncheon!

Anja is VERY passionate about using farm grown produce to make delicious dishes! 
These are just a few of her cookbooks!

Ann and Cyndi helped prepare the food and always have excellent input for the recipes.
Another wonderful class with LOTS of possibilities!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Week Two of Trillium!

Mmmmm another delicious haul~! We have a bag of spinach, and a bag of mixed greens, two heads of lettuce, scallions, kohlrabi, kale, cilantro and the cool twisty things are scapes (scapes are to garlic as chives are to onions). Of course I found myself with a plethora of greens still from last week so I started my green smoothie breakfasts and altered a recipe for calzones that incorporated some of the fresh spinach!

Unbelievable Spinach and "Sausage" Calzones (altered from


  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Mrs. Dash Italian Medley
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package MorningStar Farms Sausage Style Crumbles
  • 1 pound fresh spinach, washed and cut into strips
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 loaves of frozen white bread dough, thawed 


    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
    2. In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, eggs, Italian Medley, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and "sausage." Set aside.
    3. Divide each loaf of bread dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece out to about an 8 inch circle. (You may need to let the dough rest in between rolling so it will stop contracting back when you try to roll it out larger) Spoon about 1/4 cup of the ricotta filling onto each circle, add a generous 1/4 cup of the spinach and mix into the cheese filling. Fold over and seal the edges. Place onto a greased cookie sheet.
    4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until nicely browned on the tops and bottoms.  **We recently got a convection oven, and I found it only took 15 minutes to bake them with the convection fan.**

 Admittedly, these photos were taken the next day. We were too busy enjoying the calzones to stop and take a photo! :) They're great cold, too! I added a few strips of salami to Kendall's and she enjoyed it. I could have easily added more spinach and may even try adding some of the "mixed greens" next time. I always try to make some extra to freeze, but they seldom last that long!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Week 1: Back to the Farm!

It was a beautiful, sunny day and after school I trekked to Trillium Haven CSA to make the first pick up of the season. Seeing friends and experiencing the sheer beauty of the environment soothed my soul. It's been almost three weeks since I lost my mom. She had been battling cancer for eight years and although she had many reprieves (3 years, then almost 2 years then finally just 6 months cancer free) she was weary of the treatments and their many dreadful side effects. You can see her story at then search BonnieArney (one word). Last year while she fought so valiantly I would call her from the farm every week. It was so peaceful there I felt like I could really put the outside world on hold and connect with her. She had a flower garden then later a produce garden when we were growing up. I, of course, didn't appreciate it like I should have. I saw hours of weeding instead of weeks of miracles! I enjoyed telling her about the current harvest, describing  the plants and critters I saw. I know I'm going to miss her dreadfully this season, especially, but I'm focusing on the beauty and the fellowship to get me through.

The first week brought more choices and a greater abundance than I expected! We have 1 bunch of radishes, 1 bunch of green onions (or chives), one bunch Bok Choy, two bunches of delicious, buttery lettuce, a bunch of Friese, a pound of spinach and up to 1 1/2 pounds of greens! I also purchased a very interesting cookbook called: The Cleaner Plate Club: Over 100 Recipes Your Kids Will Love! My kids are already boycotting THAT book! HAH!
A fun addition this year, was a spiral bound calendar of events from Trillium. It outlines pick up dates and cooking demos as well as the classes in which I LOVE to participate! I ran out of time and energy to clean, and store all the goodies tonight. I did, however, pick up some of the special produce bags from Meijer. I couldn't find the "Debbie" green bags anywhere, but finally, by the other food storage bags, I found a set from Brawny: Produce Protector Reusable Bags. 5 large and 5 medium. They're not green, but pink, and hopefully they will work as well as the "Seen On TV" bags. I'll keep you posted!

Only one more day of school and our summer schedule begins, and this beautiful combination of God's bounty is a GREAT way to start~