Archive for June, 2013

24th June
written by Arthur

CSAThis year, I joined a CSA for the first time.  CSA stands for community supported agriculture.  A CSA is an organization that connects its usually urban members with a local farm.  Members typically pay a fee and are required to put in some level of volunteer work.

I choose the Greenwood Heights CSA which offers members a weekly or bi-weekly vegetable share, egg share, and/or fruit share.  Since it was my first go and I was unsure how quickly I could cook through the bounty, I opted for bi-weekly shares of veggies and eggs.  I would have loved to have had a fruit share, but all slots were filled by the time I registered.  Bread and salmon shares have also now been added, but I decided to stick with the veggies and eggs.


This last Saturday was my volunteer day (all members need to do one) and my second share pick-up.  Any fears I had about crazy militant hippies have been set aside.  My fellow volunteers were fine normal people excited about bringing home some fresh vegetables.  We  made small talk as we refilled the vegetable bins depleted by the other members throughout the morning.

The produce this was week was beautiful–in aromas and colors. The full green smell of fresh veggies is incomparable to the stale smell at too many grocery stores.  Bright colors. The chard, in particular, was vivid. Chard is a vegetable I’ve never bothered to look at much less cook. I should have. Richly colored red, yellow, and orange steams vine their way in to rich green leaves.  The flavor is a little mild, but nothing that salt, onion, garlic, and maybe a little bacon can’t fix.

A perk of volunteering is being able to take a split of any leftovers.  My fridge is stocked with veggies for the week.  Already, chard has been grilled, salads made, garlic scapes mixed into burgers, and kimchi set-up to ferment.  I can’t wait to see the treats coming out of the ground in two weeks.

19th June
written by Arthur

‘Tis the season.  Summer.  Where the table life of bananas drops to days.  I can’t think of a better way use those aging bananas than banana bread.  The recipe below comes from America’s Test Kitchen and yields a tasty moist loaf.



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously coat an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray.
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk the mashed bananas, melted butter, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla together in a separate bowl.  Gently fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined.  Don’t over mix; the batter will look thick and chunky.
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, about 55 minutes.
  4. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes before unmolding onto a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.

There is an option where you can add nuts (1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped), if you’re into that kind of thing.  As a person of moral character, I am not.


12th June
written by Arthur

This tuna pasta salad is one of my summer staples.  It’s great with some grilling.  Prefect to have in the fridge for a quick no cook meal on a hot day.  Prefect for a midnight snack, if you’re my roomate Nick and your girlfriend recently started sleeping over. I wish I could say that I learned how to make this dish during my days in Minnesota (it has the word salad in the name and mayo as a significant ingredient), but this came to me from an East Coaster.

The below is a rough sketch for the salad.  Use whatever portions of ingredients suit your taste.


  • Small red onion, minced
  • 3-4 stocks of celery, chopped
  • 3 5 oz. cans of tuna, drained
  • 1 pound bow tie pasta, cooked
  • 1 1/2 cups of mayonnaise


Mix it all together in a bowl.  Chill in the fridge.  And enjoy.  (I like mine with a little Louisiana style hot sauce.)

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9th June
written by Loren

My favorite food group, bar none, is meat. I know that’s a distinctly American and distinctly unhealthy predilection, and it’s something I’m focusing on trying to change as I lose weight (down 25 pounds!).  But there is something so satisfying about the look, smell and feel of meat which is so hard to duplicate. Even as I try to add more vegetarian recipes to my repertoire, I  do my find myself noticing the lack of meat in those dishes.  One way I’ve found to try to replace that is by using mushrooms. Mushrooms have a somewhat similar, earthy flavor, and portobellos specifically also have a very meaty, toothsome texture.

This recipe, from America’s Test Kitchen,  makes a fantastic pasta sauce using very little meat, and in a very short amount of time for a ragu. The time you spend caramelizing the tomato paste helps develop very deep and complex flavors without having to spend hours simmering away.

1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup of chicken broth or stock

Muir Glen Organic consistently wins the taste tests at America's Test Kitchen, so I stick with that brand.

Muir Glen Organic consistently wins the canned tomato taste tests at America’s Test Kitchen, so I stick with that brand.

4 oz pancetta, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 portobello caps, gills and stem removed, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 2lb can of whole peeled tomatoes
Splash of red wine (optional)

First, add your dried porcinis to a bowl, and add the chicken broth. Cover with plastic wrap, poke a few holes to vent, then microwave on high for 1 minute and allow it to steep in the broth for 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon, then run the broth through a sieve and coffee filter, set over a bowl to reserve the liquid. Chop the porcinis, and set aside.

Use a spoon to scrape the gills out of 2 large portobello caps, then cut into 1/2 inch dice and set aside.

Pre heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add the diced pancetta. Allow the fat to render and the meat to brown for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add  the mushrooms , olive oil, garlic, tomato paste and rosemary and stir to combine. This should be cooked over medium heat for 7 minute or so until the tomato paste begins to caramelize and brown.

Now add the can of tomatoes which you have crushed by  hand, along with either the juice of left in the can, or a splash of red wine, as well as the chicken broth which you rehydrated the mushrooms with. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce heat to medium low, then allow to thicken for 20 minutes or so. Salt and pepper to taste. You may also need to skim off some fat from the top of the sauce depending on how much rendered out of the pancetta.

Reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta water to thin the sauce to the consistency you desire before serving.

You can garnish your plate with some basil chiffonades and grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigianino if you like. But with or without, you will love this and make it again.

Mushroom Ragu

4th June
written by Arthur

Tomato SoupEvery once and a while, I take a mouthful of something I’ve cooked and think “damn, I can’t believe I made this.”  The food tastes better than I would expect from myself.  Hell, it tastes better than I expect from a restaurant. This happened to me a few weeks back when I took my first bite of my first homemade tomato soup.

When it comes to tomato soup, I’m used to the canned variety—usually Campbell’s or, if I’m feeling fancy, Progresso.  It’s been my lunch time meal at Heal and Hearty more times than I can count.  But the creamy tomato soup from the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, fresh off the stove, blows these away.  The flavor is slightly sweet, savory, and full of umami.  A little fresh baked bread was the near perfect pairing (though some grilled cheese might be necessary).

The recipe advises the soup should take 50 minutes.  It was my first go at the recipe, I was baking bread, and distracted by the apartment’s new canine addition, so it took me a bit longer.  America’s Test Kitchen recommends that you can take the soup most of the way to completion (through step two), refrigerate or freeze, and complete with the cream when ready to serve.


  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes drained, 3 cups juice reserved
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablesp0on tomato paste
  • 2 tablesspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavey cream


  1. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the drained tomatoes, onion, brown sugar, and tomato paste.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and the tomatoes begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly stir in the broth and the reserve tomato juice, scraping up any brown bits.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.  Puree the soup in a bleeder or food processor until smooth.  (You can also use an immersion blender, which doesn’t make for as smooth of a puree, which I actually prefer here.)
  3. Return the pureed soup to the pot (if you didn’t use an immersion blender) and stir in the cream.  Bring to a brief simmer, then remove from heat.  Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste before serving.
3rd June
written by Arthur

Back YardIt’s been a long busy spring, but I’m done with my exam (CFA, level I) and it’s summer!   

Sunday morning, Nick, Becca in and I cleaned our much neglected shed.  Sunday evening, Nick, Stu, and I built a picnic table and assembled the new grill.  The yard is ready for friends and food.

Since, early March, while I’ve been neglecting the blog, I engaged in a weight challenge at work.  While I ended-up taking third (measured as percent of weight lost) and missed the $750 pool, losing 20 pounds over the three months is prize enough.  The weight loss was almost all driven by changes in diet.  Maybe it deserves a post, but it was through the boring obvious means: cut out (down) the booze, cooking almost all my meals, lower the in-take of carbs, lower the in-take of meat, lots of veggies, eat close to the ground, etc.  Though I can say I’ve learned to eat healthy without feeling deprived, I can’t wait for some cheeseburgers fresh of the grill.

I’m looking forward to an epic summer.