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Summer Vacation

Lake Mauch Chunk

Lake Mauch Chunk (Camping adventure #2)

You know how, when you were a kid, there was that huge sense of anticipation as the days of the school calendar dwindled down and you looked forward to summer vacation? Maybe your summer was going to be jam packed and busy with camps, friends, odd jobs, and late nights, but it still was something to completely look forward to. Well, since the middle of May, that’s how life has been here—Completely insanely busy, but all with wonderful things! I’ve gone on two camping trips, met with the Mayor of my town, worked on a farm each week, wrapped up the Girl Scout year for the Brownies with the First Aid and Hiking badges, helped run an Amazing Race for the Seniors, plus worked my regular job and made time for my husband and cooked up some tasty food. In the next 10 days, I’ll spend 2 nights in Washington D.C. for the world’s largest Singalong, 2 nights in Philadelphia for a cooperative business conference, attend a court hearing for the jerk who stole my camera, run a local 5k, celebrate Fathers’ Day, and hopefully attend the SouthSide Film Festival.

What am I getting at, here? Well, during summer vacation, there’s no homework—Even if that homework would be on a topic you love. It wouldn’t be vacation, otherwise!

So, From Here Now will be taking a summer vacation until the beginning of July. When I get back, I’ll be refreshed, invigorated, and full of cool things to do in the LV and foods to enjoy from our local sources.

In the mean time, go outside, find a fruit tree in your neighborhood for a free snack (make sure you bring someone who knows what trees are safe!), make garlic scape pesto, pick strawberries, sit on your porch and watch a thunderstorm roll in, read a book, and choose one of your daily tasks to put aside for a short amount of time—make your own summer vacation!

See you in July!

 


It’s a CRRRAAAZZZY Week!

You know how there are some weeks where you barely have a moment to breathe, let alone process what you just did before moving on to the next commitment? That is how this week is for me! I have so many tasty recipes to post and lots of fun pictures (last weekend was spent at the North Side Cleanup & Earth Day celebration, then making Fembot t-shirts for a mud run next weekend), BUT, I think these posts are going to have to wait a few days.

Between some freelance design work (fun stuff, plus, it pays the bills!), training for my first 5k (the Dirty Girl Mud Run on Saturday), planning a science round-robin for my Brownie troop, working on the marketing plan for the food co-op, some big projects at work, and some other random events coming up, something’s gotta give! So, I am taking a brief hiatus this week.

cluttered desk

This is a pretty accurate depiction of how my office looks right now. (from Void Magazine Online)

I hope this isn’t a huge faux pax in the world of blogging—But if it is, oh well, I’ve got sh*t to do, haha! I’ll be back with a ton of juicy posts on Monday.

In the mean time, go outside! And when you are done being outside, submit a recipe to the Bethlehem Food Co-Op Cookbook! We’re putting together a rad collection of seasonal recipes as a fundraiser. You can find a ton more information here. We need 150 recipes, so get busy—I expect to see submissions rolling in while I am bustling about this week.

See you all next week!


Slow Cooked Soy-Ginger Chicken

Chicken isn’t something we have too often, mainly because it’s one of the more expensive things to buy from the farm (costs more than vegetables, anyway!). but it’s a meat we enjoy on occasion. Chicken legs are one of the more economical cuts to purchase, and they are so incredibly easy to prepare, especially when you toss them in a slow cooker. This recipe has a rich flavor with salty soy sauce, fresh ginger, nutty sesame oil, spicy chili powder, and sweet honey. Served with some kale sautéed in a touch of sesame oil and chili powder, this dish is a crowd pleaser!

Slow Cooked Soy-Ginger Chicken

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Yes, that is grocery store purchased chicken in this picture! I think it's the only meat we've purchased from a market in over a year. We had a gift card to Trader Joe's and decided to give their product a try. I've got to say, it was odd to have meat in a Styrofoam tray with a bar code sticker ...

  • 1 onion
  • 6-8 chicken legs
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2″ chunk ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1.5 T. sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Peel and cut onion into 1/4″ slices. Place onion slices in bottom of slow cooker.
  2. Place chicken legs on top of onion slices.

    Chicken and Onion

    Layer chicken legs on top of onion slices.

  3. Peel garlic cloves & crush them. Add to slow cooker.
  4. Peel ginger and cut into 1/8″ slivers. Add to slow cooker.
  5. Sprinkle chili powder and black pepper over chicken. Add bay leaf.

    Ginger, Garlic, Bay Leaf

    Flavorful ginger, garlic & bay leaf

  6. Whisk together soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil. Pour over chicken.

    Soy Sauce Mixture

    Soy Sauce Mixture

  7. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  8. Remove bay leaf and serve over rice with sauteed greens.
Soy Ginger Chicken

Soy Ginger Chicken with Sauteed Kale


Lehigh Valley Transplant Takes on What It Means to be From Here Now

I just wanted to write a quick post to share something great that I just saw on Lehigh Valley Transplant, another local blog. A blog reader wrote an email to LVT, saying he or she is considering accepting a job in the Lehigh Valley and asking for advice. Megan, the blog’s author, wrote a thoughtful and honest response to the reader, answering questions about how it is to meet young professionals in this area, etc..

Even though I am not new to the area, it is just recently that I started meeting and socializing with a bunch of people I didn’t go to school with. Prior to that, my circle of friends included almost exclusively people I knew from either high school or college. Those people are still in my life (fortunately—I wouldn’t trade my friends for the world!), but I’ve met so many new wonderful people through my work, Girl Scouts, and the Bethlehem Food Co-Op (thanks for the co-op shoutout, LVT!). It consistently amazes me how many fascinating and motivational people live just blocks from me.

Another part of Megan’s response that resonated with me, particularly today, was her statement, “One benefit of living here is that there are lots of things to do right here in the Lehigh Valley, and if you can’t find what you want, Philadelphia and NYC are about an hour away.” This is truly one of the most valuable (and under appreciated!) aspects of living in this area. As I prepare to go to NYC tomorrow to spend time with my husband in Central Park, have lunch at some delicious foodie haven, and see the Whitney Biennial, I realize how truly awesome it is to live so close to two major cities. What the Lehigh Valley lacks in diversity (which isn’t quite as much of a deficit anymore), the easy access to both cities makes up for in no time. While yes, it would be fantastic to have rail service to the major cities from this area, it is still incredibly easy, and relatively inexpensive, to hop on a bus and be immersed in culture within a couple of hours.

So, take a moment to read Megan’s post, and share your thoughts on what it’s like to be From Here Now!


Best of Blogs Contest!

I recently discovered I had been nominated by a couple of different people for a Best of Blogs contest in the Lehigh Valley! I was surprised to hear about the contest (I didn’t even know it was going on) and surprised and humbled that a relative newcomer like me might be considered! I also just saw that the Bethlehem Food Co-Op blog is nominated, which I contribute to.

There are lots of other great blogs nominated, including some of the ones I follow, like Laini’s Little Pocket Guides, Lehigh Valley Mirror, Lehigh Valley with Love, Save the Kales!, Kleiner’s Blog, Closeted Extrovert, Johnny Sized, and Laughing at My Nightmare.

You can vote here once per day in each category from now through 3/25. Even if you don’t vote, take a look at the list—You’ll likely find something right up your alley to read!


Another awesome foodie giveaway over at Savory Simple … It would be so cool to make some homemade cheese!


Chocolate-Cherry Sourdough French Toast

In the spirit of this day we have established to celebrate love and warm fuzzy feelings, I figured I would jump on the wagon and post an appropriately indulgent breakfast recipe.  Kevin and I don’t buy gifts or spend lavishly to show our affection for each other, but we do share some good food (and, I did make him a super sappy video slideshow late last night!). The chocolate cherry sourdough bread adds a little extra level of aphrodisiac to this standard breakfast fare that makes it perfect for a romantic morning (with a mimosa, perhaps? or some Bailey’s in your coffee?).

This bread is from Apple Ridge Farm. For months, I’ve arrived at their farmer’s market stand just after they sold out of the chocolate-cherry sourdough they occasionally bake. I kept hearing about how great these loaves were and seeing chatter about it on Facebook, but my less-than-punctual self was always just a few minutes late to market. So, I was thrilled when they decided to bake one last batch of this unusual flavor for the season. I picked up a loaf and started munching on it before I even left the parking lot (I think bread-loaf munching is a trait I inherited from my father). It was delicious! Not too sweet, chewy, tangy and crusty. All I could think of was how great it would be as French toast. So, even though I am not a huge breakfast maker, I mixed up an eggy custard and transformed some of this loaf into a yummy morning treat.

French toast is one of the easiest breakfast sweets to make. I normally add 1/2 tsp of vanilla, but I didn’t want to mask the dark chocolate and dried cherries in the bread, so I left it out of this recipe. It’s a pretty standard recipe, so use whatever bread you’d like, but if you can get your hands on chocolate-cherry, run, do not walk, to the nearest loaf and buy it to make this meal!

Chocolate-Cherry Sourdough French Toast

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Ingredients

Directions:

  1. Mix eggs and milk in medium bowl.
  2. Microwave honey for about 10-20 seconds, or until runny, and whisk into egg mixture.
  3. Add cinnamon and whisk well.

    custard

    Cinnamon Custard (if you have extra left over, it tastes good scrambled up in a pan!)

  4. Melt butter on griddle or skillet.
  5. Dip bread in egg mixture, making sure to coat both sides.
  6. Cook bread on butter in skillet for 2-3 minutes per side.
  7. Serve with additional butter or syrup, if desired.
Chocolate Cherry Sourdough French Toast

Chocolate Cherry Sourdough French Toast


Superbowl Snack-down

Ah, Superbowl Sunday. A day for gnoshing on snacks and watching a game which I have no interest in so that the designer/marketer in me might catch a glimpse of a great advertisement. This was the first year my Superbowl commercial-watching buddy, Sarah, was not in town, nor did we have a party for the game. We don’t have cable anymore, so we hooked up the laptop to the TV and prepared a local, healthy (albeit cheese-laden) spread to munch on while we watched for great commercials. Boy, were we dismayed to see that the online streaming version of the Superbowl doesn’t include the great commercials! Instead, the same three ads rotated through, and none of them were anything great. Afterwards, we found a page of all the ad videos, and were even more dismayed to see that none of the ads were even that spectacular there! Ah well, at least we had great munchies. The mushrooms are especially to-die-for. Make them and see for yourself!

Feta & Basil Stuffed Mushrooms

Feta & Basil Stuffed Mushrooms

Feta & Basil Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Crumble feta into small bowl.
  3. Mince garlic and chop basil, then add to feta in bowl and combine with fork.
  4. Add olive oil and bread crumbs and mix well.
  5. Clean and de-stem mushrooms.
  6. Place a small spoonful of filling mixture in each mushroom cap.
  7. Place stuffed mushrooms on greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Rutabaga Fries with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce
(Dipping Sauce Recipe Follows)

Baked Rutabaga Fries with Bleu Cheese Dipping Sauce

Baked Rutabaga Fries with Bleu Cheese Dipping Sauce

Rutabaga Fry Ingredients:

  • 2 rutabagas (Pure Sprouts)
  • drizzle olive oil
  • palmful herb salt, or any seasoning blend of your choice (we used our own Marsh Salt)
  • 2 T. flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Peel rutabagas and cut into french-fry size sticks, then place in bowl.
  3. Drizzle rutabaga sticks with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and flour.
  4. Toss to coat evenly.
  5. Spread evenly on parchment-covered baking sheet.
  6. Bake 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Bleu Cheese Dip Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Sprinkle flour over melted butter and stir until paste-like.
  3. Pour in milk.
  4. Crumble bleu cheese into pan and whisk until smooth.
  5. Reduce heat to low and continue stirring until thickened.
  6. Serve with fries or wings.

Sesame Carrot Lettuce Wraps

Sesame Carrot Lettuce Wraps

Sesame Carrot Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Julienne carrots.
  2. Toss carrots with soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds and let sit at least 15 minutes.
  3. Trim off the thick stem end of the lettuce leaf.
  4. Spoon carrots down center of leaf.
  5. Wrap lettuce around carrots like a taco.
  6. Serve.

Quesadillas with Homemade Salsa

Quesadillas with Homemade Salsa

Quesadillas with Homemade Salsa

See my post on homemade tortillas and quesadillas! Tonight, we made them with pepper jack from (Keepsake Farm) and a bit of leftover ground beef.

Homemade Salsa Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Place garlic in food processor and pulse till finely chopped.
  2. Add onion and jalepeño and pulse until chopped.
  3. Add tomato and pulse until chopped.
  4. Serve with hot quesadillas.

Kevin’s Cheese Ravioli

I think I’ve mentioned my husband’s propensity towards making pasta before. To encourage this talent (I benefit from his pasta wizardry, too!), I bought him several pasta-making accessories for Christmas this year, including a ravioli press. This simple gizmo, purchased at an anonymous-looking kitchen gadget outlet in Rehoboth, DE, simplifies the ravioli process tenfold. He is now able to whip up a dozen raviolis at once, and they are all the same size and hold the equal amounts of filling!

Of course, you can dress these up any way you’d like, but for his first test run with this gadget, Kevin stuck with a simple cheese ravioli topped with homemade alfredo (this recipe will come in another post) and broccoli.

The base recipe for these ravioli is Kevin’s go-to pasta recipe, cut differently and used in other recipes on this blog like: Asian Basil & Noodle Stir Fry and Aw Shucks! Pasta. You can cut it into squares, then pinch into bows for farfalle, strips for fettucini, leave in sheets for lasagna, etc.

Kevin’s Cheese Ravioli

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Ingredients (not pictured: fresh basil, parmesan cheese)

Pasta Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs (Valley View Farms)
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 tsp. olive oil

Filling Ingredients:

Directions:

For the Pasta:

  1. Beat two eggs for pasta.
  2. Place flour, salt, and the two eggs in food processor.
  3. Pulse until mixture looks like cornmeal texture.
  4. With processor running, add water and olive oil.
  5. When dough forms a ball in processor, turn out onto a floured surface.
  6. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Divide dough into quarters and roll into rectangles about 7 inches wide by 12 inches long (or use a pasta machine, if you have one)
  8. Let sheets of pasta rest 20 minutes.

For the Ravioli:

  1. Mix ricotta cheese, fresh basil, parmesan, salt & pepper in medium bowl.
  2. Beat egg, then mix into ricotta mixture.
  3. If using a ravioli press:
    1. Place first sheet of pasta on press and push mold into pasta to form depressions.
    2. Fill depressions with ricotta mixture.

      Filling Ravioli

      Filling Ravioli

    3. Place second sheet of dough over press.
    4. Roll over dough with rolling pin, until perforations can be seen at ravioli edges.
    5. Remove individual ravioli from press.
  4. If forming ravioli by hand:
    1. Cut dough into whatever size squares you’d like.
    2. Place small spoonful of ricotta filling on center of a square.
    3. Brush edges of square with water or beaten egg and pinch another square of pasta on top.
    4. Repeat until pasta squares and filling are all  used.
  5. Bring large pot of salted water to boil.
  6. Add ravioli, working in batches if necessary, and cook until they float to the surface.
  7. Strain ravioli.
  8. Serve hot, topped with your favorite sauce or butter and parmesan cheese.
Ravioli with Alfredo & Broccoli

Ravioli with Alfredo & Broccoli


Saffron Risotto & Smoked Turkey Hash

One of Kevin’s signature dishes is saffron risotto (or “yellow rice,” as he calls it). His grammy in Delaware taught his family this recipe, and it is by far one of his favorite dishes. For many years, Kevin was the only one who prepared this dish for us since he was so particular about it, but I’ve finally gotten the confidence to make it myself (although I still call him in to make sure it is ready to add the Parmesan cheese). He insists in should be made in a dutch oven and stirred with a wooden spoon. This year, as part of a Christmas gift, his grammy gave him a box of rice and some of the signature saffron packets she uses to create the golden-hued, creamy dish. So, after I cooked up my vats of turkey stock, we put some to use making a big pot of risotto. We paired the risotto with a hash of sorts, blending mushrooms, spinach and smoked turkey into a spicy winter meal.

Kevin’s Saffron Risotto (or Yellow Rice)

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Ingredients (I forgot to include parmesan & pepper in the picture!)

  • 1 c. rice
  • 2 cans worth (about 28 oz.) chicken or turkey broth (we used homemade turkey stock)
  • half a 1/220 oz. packet saffron or a few threads saffron, crushed
  • 3 T. butter (Flint Hill Farm)
  • palmful grated parmesan cheese (Klein Farm)
  • ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Melt butter over med-high heat in large dutch oven.
  2. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly browned and nutty smelling.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add one quarter of the chicken broth to the rice, saffron and some black pepper. Stir well.
  4. Simmer over low heat until liquid is almost completely absorbed into rice.
  5. Add another quarter of the broth and some more black pepper. Stir well.
  6. Repeat simmering until liquid is almost absorbed, adding a little more broth and pepper, and stirring, until all broth is used. Stirring upon each addition is important—It’s what makes the risotto creamy!

    Kevin Smelling Risotto

    Kevin using his nose to see if the risotto needs more black pepper.

  7. When the last of the broth is nearly absorbed, add the parmesan cheese and stir.
  8. Serve hot.

Smoked Turkey Hash

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Ingredients

Directions:

  1. Smash garlic and sauté in a little olive oil until fragrant.
  2. Slice mushrooms and add to garlic & olive oil.
  3. Add cumin, paprika, and hot sauce. Sauté until mushrooms are lightly browned.
  4. Chop turkey and add to mushroom mixture. Sauté until turkey is heated through.
  5. Add spinach and cook until just wilted.
  6. Enjoy!
Saffron Risotto & Smoked Turkey Hash

Saffron Risotto & Smoked Turkey Hash


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