Fork Soup.

This is one of those family favorite recipes that not only has been renamed from its original (and rather staid), “Creamy Spinach Chicken Tortellini Soup”  but has also been completely reworked. Starting out as a quick weeknight meal that uses a number of convenience items like canned soup, at some point I had the realization it wasn’t that much harder to cook from scratch – just a little bit of chopping involved really. And because we lean more vegetarian, I started going with cream of mushroom instead of cream of chicken soup. The end result? Still really good while remaining an easy weeknight dinner. Continue reading

PA Dutch Pot Pie

Growing up in Pennsylvania (PA) Dutch country (south central Pennsylvania- York county to be specific) there was probably nothing more confusing to me than “Pot Pie”.  For in that region of the country, what is in the freezer section at the grocery store labeled ‘chicken pot pie’, is in fact, not a true ‘chicken pot pie’ but  ‘chicken pie’.  To PA Dutch, their chicken pot pie is basically chicken soup with big fat homemade egg noodles in it. Being a transplant to the area, it made for some confusion when I saw the school lunch menu or was at a friend’s house. As I soon learned though, it may be confusing to outsiders, but  trust me, their version is even more of a comfort food than that ‘chicken pie’.

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A recommendation.

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It’s January, which means it’s soup weather, as well as cold and flu weather. In order to ward off illnesses threatening to invade our happy home, I made a pot of miso soup the other evening. The larder was rather bare and because the roads were icy, I made due with what I had. The only greens I had were Brussels sprouts, which on first thought, aren’t exactly a good fit for a miso soup. But then I recalled a bowl of soup I had last winter and inspiration struck. Continue reading

Something new.

New Roots Farm has a semi-regular stand at the city market that sells produce grown at the community garden sponsored by the International Resource Committee here in Charlottesville. The garden sprung out of wanting to help refugees feel at home as many of them have a farming background, while also giving refugees access to fresh food, particularly some harder to find items from their home. By selling some of the excess produce, refugees learn new skills and earn some income.  (Here’s a nice article that ran on them this past July) When I see their stand at market, I like to check out what they have to offer because it’s a good opportunity to try something new while also supporting a wonderful project. On a recent visit, this caught my eye:

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Quick Cherry Tomatoes and Pasta.

A gardening friend gave me two Sweet 100 cherry tomato plants that have had us swimming in the teeniest, tinest tomatoes this summer.  I’ve been harvesting a few pints of them weekly and in order to keep up with them, I had to get creative.  I was slightly inspired by a recipe my friend Martha used in her cooking class last month, but because these tomatoes are so tiny that cutting them would be a complete pain (and waste of time), I decided to just throw them in the pan whole.

(They also have a slightly annoying habit of splitting upon being picked.)

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Getting Schooled.

I spent three very delightful evenings this past week assisting down at the Charlottesville Cooking School with my friend Martha, who taught an Every Day Cooking Skills Series.  It’s a three part class that is usually taught over the course of three weeks, but Martha decided to teach it over three consecutive evenings in one week as a trial summer run.  The concept is sort of like a boot camp for cooking – it covers a variety of basic cooking techniques so that participants walk out  with skills to throw together simple seasonal and delicious dinners regularly.  Sounds too good to be true,  I know, but Martha is an amazing instructor who can make this happen and I don’t just say that because she’s a friend.  Martha is a trained chef, who has been teaching cooking classes longer than she wants to admit (which is also longer than I’ve been cooking).

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Greens, it’s what’s for dinner.

The farmer’s market is overflowing with greens these days  – cabbage, chard, kale, arugula, lettuces galore – as well as with lovely root vegetables with their greenery still attached – beets, radishes, carrots, turnips. How to use it all without wasting it? I am often asked how I go about doing that this time of year.

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Homemade eggrolls.

Ever since I was a kid, egg rolls have been one of my favorite things about Chinese food.  We’d eat Chinese takout regularly and I was always quite content to try and make a meal out of just egg rolls ( I was never allowed to succeed though, which is why I still to this day make a meal out of hot & sour soup and eggrolls). When my mother discovered egg roll wrappers at the grocery store, complete with a recipe on back, home made egg rolls became a regular in the dinner rotation and I finally was able to realize the dream of nothing but egg rolls for dinner.  Continue reading

Recent Kitchen Experiments.

I kept seeing mentions of banana bread pop up everywhere last week, so when I got up Sunday morning, it seemed like the obvious thing to make for breakfast was banana bread.  My go-to recipe for banana bread is from my 1980-something Betty Crocker cookbook. I don’t alter it much, with the exception of subbing in some whole wheat flour for all-purpose and excluding nuts. I am just not a fan of nuts in my banana bread and thankfully, no one else is here either.  To be honest, the only time we like nuts in our baked goods are pecan pie and grandma’s fruitcake muffins. Continue reading