sausage sandwich-pickles_FeedMeDearly

Our CSA box #7 arrived, all to be cooked, photographed, documented, and presented in a post that I almost considered calling “scenes from a family table”…or “the gluttons”. Having two short weeks of cooking due to travel, I sorely missed the feel of a chef knife in my hand and the sound of onions frying on the stove. There is no place where I feel more at peace and secure than in the kitchen.

We’ve had fun together this summer. I’d venture to say that we’ve had more fun than we’ve ever had. Living at the lake has been a bonding experience for the family, giving us the opportunity to sit together, share meals, relax, talk, and enjoy an occasional sunset.

With busy school schedules, babysitting help, and long work hours, it hasn’t always been possible for us to eat our meals together. This summer we’ve not only grown closer as a family, but my kids have also become better eaters. For better or for worse, I’ll tell you why in a minute.

But first, this week’s box:

week 7_FeedMeDearly

1. Carrots
2. Cucumbers
3. Ghost peppers*
4. Celery
5. Garlic
6. New potatoes
7. Fairytale eggplant
8. Red radishes
9. Kirby cucumbers*
10. Red onion
11. Yellow onion
12. Broccoli
13. Dill
* purchased separately

When I saw the weekly Bialas newsletter come out, I was ecstatic that fairytale eggplants were going to be delivered. I remember them from last year – small and beautifully mottled, without the seeds typical of larger varieties. I served this dish – a Greek-inspired plate of sautéed eggplant, ground beef, and tzatziki – 10 minutes after I arrived home from the market.

eggplant beef_FeedMeDearly

To make the sautéed beef & eggplant:

Start by making the tzatziki by mixing an 8-oz container of Greek yogurt with a squeeze of lemon juice, 1 small cucumber shredded and squeezed dry, ½ clove of grated garlic, and a handful of chopped dill. Season to taste.

Next, season and sauté in a medium pan some minced onion and 1 lb. of grass-fed beef, breaking up the beef until the onion is translucent and the beef is no longer pink. Transfer the beef to a plate, leaving the fat in the pan. If you’re using grass-fed beef, there won’t be a lot of fat; if using a fattier grind, drain some of the fat off, leaving 2-3 tablespoons. Slice 6-8 fairytale (or other) eggplants lengthwise, and sauté them in the remaining fat on medium-high heat until golden. Season to taste.

On a platter, pile the eggplants, then the ground beef, and finally the tzatziki.

Back to that “for better or for worse comment”, the rest of the veggies were still lying out as we were finishing lunch, and while I eating my last few bites of eggplant, my three little mice disappeared to go sampling the vegetables from the new box. Which generally wouldn’t be an issue, but this week they went straight for the ghost peppers, which on the Scoville heat index, are twice as spicy as a habanero. 30 minutes, a bucketful of tears, one frantic call to Poison Control, and two bowls of ice cream later, Sam and Emma were playing anew, unchanged except for a newfound appreciation for chili peppers.

I had to get the peppers out of harm’s way; my first use was a ghost pepper and rosemary-infused vodka (which presumably they won’t drink, but at this point, I’m not entirely certain)…

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The rest of the ghost peppers went into batch #2 of the sweet and spicy fridge pickles that I told you about last week.

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Thanksgiving has come and gone. Fortunately, in our house, Thanksgiving isn’t a one-day thing. It’s a spirit. A mindset. A way of life that lasts for a few solid weeks. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my Thanksgiving prep usually starts way back in October when I make the turkey stock.

Then a few days before the big day, I start to prep the other dishes. My counter fills with all kinds of odds and ends: bread cubes drying for the stuffing, my poultry shears, my seldom used ball of twine, dug out from the murky depths of my cupboards.

When people hear that I love to cook, the response is sometimes “I hate to cook – all of that effort, and the meal is over in 10 minutes.”

I get it, and Thanksgiving is the ultimate example. The time spent preparing the meal far outweighs the time we spend eating it together.

But for those of us who love to cook, that’s perfectly fine. Cooking is my therapy. My drug of choice. I’m happy to spend weeks cooking a meal that disappears in minutes.

And for those of you who hate to see it come and go so quickly, I have uplifting news: leftovers.

Was that a letdown? Don’t think of it that way. I used to hate leftovers. I still hate the name. It’s not first date food, that’s for sure. Leftovers need a re-brand. Where are those prune people anyway? Dried plums have never been so popular.

But leftovers can be one of the best parts of Thanksgiving; all of those Tupperware containers stashed in your fridge are calling out to be used in new and interesting ways.

I’ve done a quick roundup of my favorites – some of these (the everything Thanksgiving sandwich, turkey Shepherd’s pie) I make every year without fail. Others (cranberry pancakes) are new to the rotation. Some aren’t recipes at all, but stern orders (make your stock, eat pie for breakfast).

So go forth, make the best of your remaining leftovers while you still have time. The clock is ticking, by Monday you won’t want to lay eyes on any of this stuff again. At least until next November.

If you have questions on how to make any of this, leave me a note in the comments below. If you need directions for how to make pie and coffee, we’re no longer friends. If you throw out your turkey carcass, we are also no longer friends. I’m not kidding. I take carcass seriously.

One last thing….go make yourself a mug of hot apple cider and add a splash of rum. We’re officially into the holidays, Yee Haw.



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