#FarmBoxEats - What Am I Not Making is the Question...


Oh, how I love my Farm Box every week - these 2 chicks started a fully organic, farm-to-table delivery service of such amazing goodies that I get dropped right at the front door of FLO every single week.  It literally makes my Sunday.  I crack a bottle of something chilly and delightful, dig into the box, lay out a bunch of thoughts on random recipe ideas and really just get to it.  "It" meaning a not-riddled-with-guilt-about--absolutely-nothing-totally-FREE-day to just explore all the elements of food that I love.

I break out the cast iron skillet (love of that straight from my grandads spot in TN) and char up any veg available (carrots and fennel are awesome), whip up some FLO house buttermilk dressing, drop it on a bit of lettuce with shaved carrot and perhaps some peppery radish; and you know I whip out the tin of heavy cream for some kind of leek, shallot, white wine, butter reduction to spread on everything.

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I take a whole chicken and shove it full of rosemary, lemons, oranges, garlic and then cover it with fresh squeezes of cara cara oranges, a little oil, crushed fennel seed and garlic + onion powder.  Then cook it on 300 for about 4 hours totally uncovered.   What comes out is a damn near revelation on the bird.  So easy, so delish, such a good smell penetrating the house all day.

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I toast some everything bagels smeared with butter, slap a ton of cream cheese on them, layer on some wild lox, salty capers, fresh Lily's eggs, and a ton of dill.  Once you pop on a blast of fresh lemon, watch out.  This little number blows AWAY versions I get from restaurants.

All the flowers, herbs, plants are coming back in - and I just love being inspired on Sunday.  It's the best day of my week, that's for sure.  Unless I bust up my SUP like I did the other day.  No worries, it's  being repaired...but dang...guess that is what Rose is for!

I'm also super inspired by my bud Ky's (@kyfurneaux) new veggie garden in her back yard...I am stunned at how quick all her greens came popping up...what deliciousness!

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Oh, and there's usually some kind of full on rearrange involved.  :)  Tiny space, but big living!  Loving this new layout - more palatial space for the dining table - more spreadout happening - just more life lived overall. 

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The Best Split Pea Soup Ever


Now that I am back in a real kitchen, all I can think about is cooking.  Which means trips to the farmers markets, Whole Foods expeditions and for some reason, lots of Zen coffee. 

I conjured up this batch of split pea soup yesterday that was literally mind-blowing. I just could not get past the flavor of it at all.  And, it was so simple - 2 cups of yellow split peas, 2 carrots, 2 celery, 1 onion all put in about 6 cups of water and cooked for aboout 90 minutes.  A little basil went in, and some salt and pepper, but that's it - and NO butter or oil, which for me is a miracle.  I then topped it with some crunched up flax seed soy tortilla chips, some Fage Greek yogurt and some chopped avocado.  I slurped down bowl after bowl, just staring into space and soooooo happy. 

Uncomplicated happiness is hard to come by and I always manage to find it in a bowl of homemade soup.

Grilled Oysters and The Good Life


I sail.  I scuba dive.  I drive across Mexico alone.  One could consider these pretty adventurous things, right? 

 But, when it comes to normal stuff, I'm at a loss.  Like, I don't own a hair dryer - when I get around to washing it, I just let it dry naturally.  I don't own an iron or take clothes to the cleaners - if it can't get wadded up and tossed in a backback, I'm not wearing it.  And, crazy as it may seem, I've never really used a grill on my own.  I mean I've never bought one, filled it with charcoal, doused it with lighter fluid, let it get fiery and actually grilled something.  It always seemed so intimidating.  Well, once again feeling adventurous, I went and bought a grill.  A simple black number that tucks away perfectly on my wee back patio. 

Meanwhile, the first thing I chose to sling on there were some oysters I picked up at the farmers market.  I've never even bought oysters, much less grilled them. Though I do love them and still contend that the best oysters I've ever, ever inhaled were roadside in a dusty backwoods village in Veracruz. 

I tried shucking them before grilling them, only to have myself a fistful of blood within seconds.  Tough as hell.  So, on the grill they went.  The first one that popped open was perfect.  They end up poaching themselves in the oyster juice and I'd melted some butter (on the grill) and when dunked into the little vessel of sweet cream butter, well...it's like the 2nd coming of sea life.  An ear of corn was tossed on for good measure.  Again, so proud of myself.  So mind-boggling how good food is when kept really clean.

The other 4 oysters stayed on the grill a spell longer (due to me forgetting about them - blame it on this book I was reading, Macedonia Passage, about a sailboat that has a stolen wad of money tucked into the bilge and is headed for Istanbul) and ending up almost BBQ'ing themselves.  I ended up with a huge, 10 lb. charred mess of goodness for about a hummingbird sized bit of meat.  So worth it though. 

A grill is just another step toward freedom, I guess.  I felt like such a bad-ass mastering it (sorta).  Charcoal ashes are still in the bottom, but that is for another day.










*R* is for Recipes (what a boring word)


R is for Recipes (or lack thereof)

So, turns out I'm addicted to my newest creation-orzo with whatever the hell is in the fridge.  When I tell you that this is the exact meal I am looking for when I go out (the flavors, the texture and the scent) but never get, I kid you not.

And, it's so simple to make.  All you do is boil up some orzo in vegetable stock.  While that is happening, saute up some fresh peas in butter.  After about 5 or 6 minutes, toss in some chopped cherry tomatoes and some fresh spinach.  Once all is done, mix together and top with a crumble of herbed goat cheese, sliced avocado, fresh thyme, fresh mint and a swizzle of olive oil.  Salt and pepper, of course.

I've made it the past three days and I still can't seem to get enough.  For sure you could toss in whatever veggies you have in the fridge and it would all be the same...I think the ultimate key is the swish of really good olive oil, the fresh mint and the hit of goat cheese.  It's awesome warm or cold and trust me, there will be no leftovers by the end of the day--you just keep going back to the fridge scooping out little mouthfuls. 

And, by the way, I am terrible with following recipes.  I just like to create.  With enough butter and salt, all is well.  But, food is the ultimate transport into another country.  Since I've been back in Chi, I've had Mexican, Persian, Georgian, Italian, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, El Salvadorian, and Cuban.   And, for real--instant connect with another lifetime, another place and another culture. 

Lest You Think I Never Cook My Own Food

Img_1168I forget how easy it is to cook sometimes.  I'm usually so on the run and take myself to the level of complete hunger/starvation rage that I eat out on-the-fly and shove down whatever sounds delish at that particular weak moment (right now I'm on an ice cream, tamale, lentil soup, mike-and-ike, iced cafe latte from Whole Foods fixation).  But, then there are times when I cannot stomach another restaurant meal and just want a nice plate of pasta or a simple bowl of soup.  I made this delightful little creation last week when I realized I had a can of juicy clams in the pantry.  It was sorta like a clam linguine but instead of linguine, I used some kind of gluten-free spaghetti (honest go God, you could never tell the difference between the real deal and gluten-free).  Making the sauce was super-easy.  Literally, it was a handful of chopped parsley tossed in some melted butter and swooshed around a bit.  Then, I threw in a few cloves of roughly chopped garlic, more butter, the clams (juice included) and a huge squeeze of lemon, plus salt and pepper.  I let that whole mess cook down  bit and at the very end, I tossed in some half-and-half and let it simmer for a few final minutes.  That little last-minute nugget of inspiration is what took this dish over the edge and caused me to eat all four supposed servings throughout my entire night.  Man, what a feast. After my first bowl, I just couldn't stop going back to the stove where I'd left the whole shebang hanging and just picking up fingerful after of fingerful of little nibbles. I can't really do that, though...eat all of it in a span of just a few hours.  That meal was supposed to feed four.  That can't be good, huh?  Ah, whatever~~I was happy as a clam when it was all said and done!

Homemade Pesto Done Right~

Dscf1558Yesterday, I went on a mad cooking spree.  It's been a long time since I've spent that much time in my kitchen whipping up a bunch of goodies--but I can now say I have a couple of new favorite recipes.  I made the most incredible green beans with pine nuts, olive oil and lemon zest (I guess I get weirded out by long green beans so I cut them in small, angled pieces and it made all the difference in the world).  But, best of all was the pesto that I made from my Slow Food cookbook (thanks, DebPep!).  It is litereally the best pesto I have ever tasted and took about 10 minutes to make--easy/peasy.  I roasted some potaotes, onions and carrots to the point of near carmelization and could not stop dunking the veggies in the pesto--what an awesome treat!  Here's the quick recipe for pesto--

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