I made the summer transition to Tampa over the weekend, and things are off to a rocky start, to be sure.
First, about 10 minutes before I was going to leave the house, a mondo storm hit (again) and the power went out. IN about 20 minutes, though, I realized my alarm system was run through the phone lines, so I set the alarm and left anyway. My neighbor confirmed the power was on again. I hope so. Otherwise, the freezer needed defrosting anyway.
Second, I could feel myself getting sick, and I am now deep in the throes of a horrible summer cold/bronchitis. Ick. I have to call the doctor in a bit to get some Levaquin. We are supposed to go out of town Thursday, and I hope I'll be well enough by then.
Third, I can't believe how much stuff I brought that I DIDN'T need, and how much stuff I forgot in Milly. For instance, I bought potato starch a few weeks ago so I could make up flour mix when I got here, and I left it AND my Xanthan gum in the other house. Now you GF bakers know, that stuff is expensive. I hate to spend $10 when I don't have to. And now's when I really want to cook things -- this is the GOOD kitchen, you know? All my stuff if here -- the stand mixer, the food processor, the convection oven? I also forgot my DCP (dedicated cornbread pan). And I forgot a box of pancake mix, too. We have a great GF waffle iron. So much for that... And GF pasta -- I have it out the you-know-what in Milly, but I had to buy a bag at the store for Memorial Day (which I ended up not using because our plans changed).
One thing I always love about being back in Tampa is that I have someone to cook for. Randy is a very appreciative husband, and he loves when I cook for him. Sunday. we went in search of provisions.
Our first stop was the final Sunday market for the Sweetwater Organic Farm, a local CSA. When I live here full time (some day...) I am going to subscribe and patronize this wonderful organic farm. As it were, I got some great organic eggplant, two beets, and some wonderful savoy cabbage. Now, mind you, Randy won't eat two of those things, but I WILL! I am planning to make a beet salad from the roasted beets (YUM) and stir fry the cabbage. Later, I'll roast the eggplant and add it to some spaghetti sauce I brought with me.
I really do support and embrace the idea of a CSA -- community sponsored agriculture -- in my food planning. First, the food is organic, and someone like me with so many food allergies, well, it's just in my best interest to eat as "clean" as I can. Second, and don't worry, honey, this doesn't apply to you, I promise, I am thinking about working beef, pork, and poultry out of my diet except occasionally. The reason is related to my visit to the GI doctor last week -- my stomach ailment I've written about before, gastroparesis, continues to get worse, and I'm finding it harder and harder to disgest meat. If I eat it, I have to eat really small portions. Fish is easier to digest for me, but I really don't like it that much. So we'll see.
I have been thinking, though, since my visit to Sweetwater Farm, what I'd make with this week's harvest? I've already told you what I'd do with the fresh beets and eggplant I procured. And the stir fry of cabbage, we've discussed here before.
But what exactly do you do with kholrabi, that beautiful bulb pictured above? Kale, lettuce, celery, all beautiful, all good, know how to cook those. But I think kohlrabi is one of those few veggies I've never tasted. If you have any thoughts, let me know.
Across the street from Sweetwater is my favorite butcher shop in Tampa, Cacciatore Bros. I love that place, a mixed Italian and Cuban market with a great meat counter. When I do buy beef in Tampa, I buy it here. It is locally produced, and it is fresh - not sealed in plastic and treated with CO2 and chemicals. But they also have a great deli, with fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh homemade Italian sausage, and great tins of fresh garlic. Yum.
One thing I acquired there were some black cherry tomatoes -- they are the centerpiece of one of my favorite salads:
Tomato Mozzarella Salad
Cut cherry/grape tomatoes on half, mix with tiny mozzarella balls, and shred in some fresh basil leaves. Season with 3 tablespoons of your favorite Italian dressing (I use one by Penzeys, the country French vinagrette, with fresh olive oil and vinegar).
And while I'm at it, if you've never tried fresh beet salad, you are missing out! I grew up with canned beets, and I hated them, but fresh roasted beets are sweet and crunchy, not mushy, with a beautiful musky taste. They're available in a lot of the country right now, fresh. Try some! Try this!
Fresh Beet Salad
Wash a pound or so of fresh beets minus the greens and place in a piece of aluminum foil. Salt and pepper, throw in a couple chunks of garlic, and drizzle with olive oil. Crumple foil over beets. Bake in an over for an hour at 400 degrees. When the beets have cooled (even overnight in the fridge) you can slip off the skins easily with a paring knife and paper towel.
Slice beets in a bowl. Add one small sliced Vidalia (or other lesser sweet) onion. Top with your favorite vinagrette *if you don't have Penzeys, I highly recommend the Newman's Own Light Balsamic Vinagrette - it's organic and GF). Before serving, sprinkle the salad with a but of crumbled feta or plain old goat cheese. In the vinagrette, the beets and onions will keep for weeks BUT THEY WON'T LAST THAT LONG! YUM.
This afternoon, after Randy has his medical procedure (pray for him) I'm heading to my favorite local fruit stand. It's time for some vitamin C and some fresh PINEAPPLE.
Tonight, I'm trying a bison burger recipe. I'll report back! If I had that potato starch and xanthan gum, I'd make Kate's Lavash to go with....bummer....
Much love, and try those beets!