fresh food

As I’ve switched locations (ie: coasts) for the time being, I’ll no longer be subscribing to a CSA. Here I can’t necessarily get all the wonderful fresh goodness I was used to in southern California (or the sunshine that goes with it).

Perhaps it was kismet, then, that my newly acquired job in a sense involves an organic farm. I was sent home last Thursday with fresh picked(or dug) heirloom tomatoes, basil, sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, and fingerling potatoes. Also freshly jarred homemade tomato sauce made of ingredients straight from the farm. Doesn’t get any better.

My parent’s 26th anniversary was a few weeks ago and they never went out to celebrate it (it’s a bit difficult to do with all the kids running around the house). On Friday, a family friend came and took the four kids out for pizza and tennis and insisted my parents relax and enjoy each other’s company. I took the opportunity to utilize my fresh produce and make them dinner (which I did enjoy with them. It’s hard to get rid of all of us at the same time …)

I wanted to use the fresh basil as soon as possible, so I incorporated that and the tomatoes into a pasta dish (naturally). I like making pasta dishes because of the variety of ways you can prepare them. While there are the typical flavors in most dishes across the board, you can still personalize them to exactly what you want- and I love almost any vegetarian food/spice/flavor that goes with pasta.

I googled around to find a recipe that would be a variation on the inventive dish I made that one lazy day. Anything with fresh tomatoes and basil would do. And I was in the mood for mozzarella cheese, so I added that in to my searches as well. I came up with a few promising ones that were basically just the pasta with each of the ingredients chopped separately and tossed in. But then I found the winner. In preparation, it is essentially each of the ingredients chopped separately and tossed in. But in actuality, the way this dish is prepared makes the flavors pop and stand out better than they do on their own.

Heirloom Tomato-Basil Pasta:
This recipe calls for feta cheese and olives, I omitted each of them and included my own portion of fresh mozzarella cheese.

I used these beautiful heirloom tomatoes.

And this fresh basil.

I cut up the tomatoes inside the bowl I mixed everything in, in an effort to contain all the juice they lost. I added 1/4 cup of olive oil to the bowl and left the tomatoes to sit while I prepared everything else- I cooked the pasta (I only had whole wheat egg noodles to work with, so that’s what I used), cut up the basil and mozzarella, took the garlic to the garlic press, added it to the tomato mixture, and all was ready to serve, just like that! I had more tomatoes and mozzarella to use up, so I made a small caprese salad (sans vinegar, I just don’t like it). I served the tomato mixture separate from the pasta- apparently there should be enough sauce for the entire pound of pasta, but it didn’t appear so to me. And I wouldn’t know with the leftovers either, as my mom liked it so much she ate the rest of the tomatoes out of the bowl.

Caprese salad with an heirloom tomato.

My take on the heirloom tomato-basil pasta.

It was so good the dog even wanted some!

While on the subject of fresh food, there is still some swiss chard in the garden outside, so I cut it  up and sauteed it with some fresh onion and garlic. I toasted two slices of bread, added sharp cheddar cheese and roasted pepper bruschetta, topped it with the sauteed swiss chard, and voila- a take on a childhood favorite- pizza bread!

Pizza bread with fresh ingredients!

And off the subject- on non-fresh foods- I recently made Pioneer Woman’s recipe for blackberry cobbler. No dry ingredient changes, full-fat, and with frozen blueberries that were picked from our bushes this past summer. Delicious, delicious, delicious. I loved the texture/consistency. The flavor was amazing. This is not a recipe to mess with. Make it and indulge yourself!

Blueberry Cobbler!

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a lazy day

I am not the type of person to lay back and take a rest. I like to make my days as productive as they can be. I always have something to work on and finish, and there seems to never be enough time in a day. I give myself 9 hours of sleep a night (yes, I realize this is high compared to most people. It’s what I know I need, so I get that but no more. If I could function off of 6 hours, that is what I would allow myself). I always set an alarm for the morning. I hate sleeping in. I wake up an hour and a half before I need to leave for work every morning just so I can make the most of my mornings instead of rushing off to work. I do not take naps. I do not sit in front of the TV. I like to be productive, and I like to be efficient. I hate doing nothing.

Point in case- I was on the phone with a friend the other day. In this phone conversation we were just catching up, talking about normal day-to-day goings ons. Before hanging up, she said to me “You should take a nap before getting to your to-do list for the day.” Hah- she knew me so well that she just figured I had a list of things to accomplish for the day. And she was right. So perhaps I am like this to a fault.

That to say, I woke up this morning, after 10 1/2 hours of sleeping and waking up at the late hour of 9am (unheard of), sat on my computer for a few minutes, and promptly moved from my bed to the chair in front of the TV. What?! I then watched an hour and a half of The Office season 8 (it will never be as good as when Steve Carell was on it), and then made myself french toast for a late brunch. Double what?! My normal routine is to wake up and get dressed. Then make an egg sandwich almost immediately. Breakfast is Important! And sugar should not exist with breakfast! And pajama days do not happen for me! Well, my friends, I didn’t bother changing or putting in my contacts until 2pm. I ventured outside at that point to walk to the store and back. I changed back into my pajamas upon my return. I sat back in front of the television. I ate chocolate ice cream. I ate chocolate candy. I watched way too much of The Office. I talked to five different people on the phone. I accomplished next to nothing today.

Around 6pm I realized I couldn’t do this for the rest of the day (which, for me, lasts only until 10pm or so. I love early bedtimes.) What could I do to feel like I accomplished something of worth today? I could cook something for dinner that looked and tasted amazing!

I recently cancelled my CSA subscription due to all the transitions in my life at the moment. But the other day I made some falafels from scratch (Yum! First attempt, and they were so good!) and had fresh parsley left over. I also bought some cherry tomatoes at Whole Foods recently because they were on sale. I had on hand some feta packed in brine. I had sunflower oil and lemon juice. I had half a box of pasta. I had a variety of dried seasonings. So I got to work.

At 6:45 I sat back down in front of the television (seriously, what?!), but this time with a large plate of goodness.

Wheat pasta shells, cherry tomatoes (halved for texture purposes), feta, fresh parsley, sunflower oil, a hint of lemon juice, dried oregano, black pepper, crushed red pepper, and a dash of garlic powder. All organic. I just cooked the pasta and added everything in once the hot pasta was on the plate.

 

I suppose my day was productive after all. At least I’ll keep telling myself that.

What do your lazy days look like? What do your productive days look like? What else would taste good with this dish?