Weekend Hodgepodge

Whoo … I am still sleepy from this weekend! It was a great couple of days, full of awesome people, adventures, and productivity.

Porch Sitting

On Friday after work, I enjoyed basking in the warm sunshine with a couple of co-op friends on a rooftop deck. Porch sitting is one of my favorite warm weather activities, made infinitely better with cool people and fresh fruit!

Tapas on Main

Later that evening, some other friends and I walked downtown to share a pitcher of sangria at Tapas on Main. My best friend Emily and her partner, Jenn, hammed it up for the camera.

After a fantastic evening with friends, I came home to relax and get to bed early so I could wake up early for a busy Saturday. Unfortunately, my plans for a restful night were not so successful, as my husband was night fishing in his canoe on Lake Nockamixon, which always leaves my over-anxious mind turning until he comes home. He finally came home around 1am, only to turn around and leave again to try to find his missing hat and fishing license. He didn’t find the hat, and we didn’t get to bed until about 4:30am.

Pancake Breakfast

Saturday morning, I was still up bright and early to go to Applebees, where my high school Girl Scout troop served a pancake breakfast as a fundraiser. They worked hard, but the effort was worth it in the end!

Bake Oven Knob

Following the fundraiser, and after fueling up on caffeine, my co-leader and I took a few of the girls up to the Appalachian Trail for a hike to Bake Oven Knob. The girls had a good time pretending to "rescue" each other from the side of the rocks.

Bake Oven Knob

Despite the copious amounts of graffiti, the views from Bake Oven Knob are always excellent. Even better are the views from the Bear Rocks, where we hoped to hike to, but postponed due to the threat of thunderstorms.

El Paisano Taqueria

As I returned to Bethlehem, the clouds were growing thicker, so my husband and I raced the rain drops to walk to this new Mexican restaurant in our neighborhood.

Chicken Tacos

The food was great- Fresh and authentic. I wound down the day, listening to the rain and enjoying these chicken tacos, topped with cilantro, onions, and lime juice.

Jumbars Oatmeal

Sunday morning was dreary, with a threat of strong (much needed) rain. We picked up some breakfast from Jumbars. Oatmeal with fresh fruit was the perfect choice for the cool and cloudy morning.

Planning

Since the rain cancelled our plans to go skeet shooting, I curled up with a blanket and planned the rest of the Girl Scout year for the Brownie troop. I also buckled down and got some freelance design work done and tried not to let the melancholy weather get under my skin too much.

Italian Meatloaf

Sunday night wrapped up with homemade Italian meatloaf and pesto-roasted veggies. We hit the hay for an early night to try and catch up on sleep. I'm still catching up now!

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Radish Green & Potato Soup

It’s radish season! Raw radishes in salads, grilled with butter & salt, or sautéed with mint and onions—radishes take on completely different personalities depending on how you prepare them. The greens offer a whole different culinary perspective that is often overlooked. We had to adopt out our bunny for the sake of Kevin’s lungs (allergy-induced asthma), which has left us trying to find new ways to use up plant parts we used to feed to the bunny. Radish greens are one thing I am glad I learned how to cook with! They are so delicious, and have tons of nutrients. You can sautée them like you would other greens, or, you can make them into this crazy simple soup. It is simultaneously earthy, fresh and zesty.

Radish Green & Potato Soup

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Ingredients. (Not pictured: Hot Sauce,

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 large bunch radish greens
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 2-3 c. water (or broth) (enough to cover potatoes in pan)
  • 2 T. parsley
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • chives, parsley, mint, sprouts, etc. for topping

Directions:

  1. Chop shallot, parsley, & garlic
  2. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add shallot & garlic. Sauté, stirring frequently, until shallots are translucent.

    Sautéeing

    Sautéeing shallots, garlic & parsley.

  3. Chop radish greens and add to pot. Sautée until wilted.

    Radish Greens

    Wilting radish greens

  4. Wash & dice potatoes. (You can peel them if using russets, but I used yellow potatoes with pretty thin skin & left it on. No need to peel red ones, either.)
  5. Add potatoes to pot and add water or broth to just cover top of potatoes.

    Simmering potatoes

    Potatoes in the pot

  6. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Remove from heat; purée with an immersion blender or in batches in the blender.
  9. Ladle into bowls. Top each bowl with a few dashes of hot sauce.
  10. Finely chop remaining herbs and place on top of soup.
Radish Green & Potato Soup

It may look like something from a swamp, but it is seriously good eating.


Weekend Hodgepodge

I didn’t get to write this Sunday night for Monday posting because I told my husband I wouldn’t go online all day Sunday in honor of his birthday (which is actually today). You see, Kevin is not a huge internet fan, especially when it comes to social media. He’s totally supportive of my blog, but it made him smile to know he’d have me all to himself on Sunday, when we celebrated his birthday.

Pulling the pictures for this post, I realized that it looks like all I did this weekend was eat. I swear I did more than that!

Mei Fun

Friday evening we picked up some Chinese takeout from Eastern Palace to eat while we watched Fresh on Netflix. I got this mei fun, which I am still working my way through! It was huge!

Bethlehem Food Co-Op Table

Saturday morning, I picked up a fellow co-operator and drove to the Lehigh Valley Zoo for the Farm Fest, where the Bethlehem Food Co-Op had its community event debut! We spent the morning talking to enthusiastic community members, handing out brochures, selling some merchandise, and having people fill out member profiles and feasibility studies.

Tex's Smokin' BBQ

On the way back from the zoo, we stopped at the drool inducing Tex's Smokin' BBQ on Rt 309. The only advertising this authentic Texas BBQ truck needs is the smell as you approach it. Our co-op t-shirts did their job nicely, too, inspiring several comments and questions!

BBQ Pork Sandwich

Tober was very interested in my pork sandwich.

Garden

After working my shift at the zoo, I had picked up some items from farmers who were there, including some plants for our garden. A bunny chewed the flowers off the pretty colorful plant right after it went in the ground, but new blooms are sure to come soon! We planted parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano and kale. The rest of our veggies will come from our CSA.

Grilled Dinner

After helping plant the garden, Kevin went fishing with a friend. I worked on some freelance projects, then, when they returned, we grilled some burgers, kale, and potatoes for dinner. Grilled kale is EXCELLENT.

Ham, Egg & Potato Crepes

Sunday was Kevin's birthday (observed), so he got to pick whatever he'd like to do for the day. I made these ham, egg, & potato crepes to start the day off.

Primo Hoagies

We lounged around for the morning, then got Primo Hoagies for lunch. Mine had eggplant, roasted red peppers and broccoli rabe.

Titanic Poster

Surprisingly, Kevin changed his mind from the original plan of fishing all day, and we went to see Titanic in IMAX 3D instead. Man, that movie is way sadder on a huge screen.

Pho

After the movie, we picked up some pho for dinner. This stuff is like an all powerful elixir.

Birthday Celebration

Finally, we capped off the night with a little birthday celebration including cake batter martinis in sprinkle rimmed glasses, Jumbars chocolate peanut butter cupcakes, and presents. Happy birthday, Kevin!


Crunchy Granola French Toast

As many of you probably know already from previous posts, my husband and I don’t eat breakfast very often. I can barely think about eating for at least a couple of hours after I get up, and I’ve always been like that. Yes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I just can’t get into it early in the morning. However, on weekends, when there’s a bit more time to ease into the day, I do enjoy sitting down for a morning meal.

On a recent trip to New York City, Kevin and I visited Eli Zabar’s and picked up a loaf of their fantastic challah bread. After reserving a few slices to snack on plain, I got a hankering for french toast. We had a bag of granola in the cupboard from The Granola Factory, so I decided to whip up some crunchy french toast for us as a treat last weekend. The granola makes a delicious crust on the bread, and, instead of maple syrup, we topped ours with honey vanilla yogurt.

Crunchy Granola French Toast

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 8 1″ thick slices challah bread, or other dense bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • splash vanilla extract
  • cinnamon, to taste
  • 1.5 c. granola
  • 2 T. butter
  • yogurt for topping

Directions:

  1. Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon.
  2. Crush granola into small pieces and spread evenly on plate.

    Assembly Line

    Set up a french toast assembly line

  3. Submerge bread into egg mixture, then press both sides of each slice into granola.
  4. Melt butter on griddle or in large skillet.
  5. Place coated bread slices in skillet and cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

    French Toast in Skillet

    French Toast in Skillet

  6. Serve topped with yogurt.
Granola French Toast

This would be great topped with fresh fruit, too!


This One’s for the Dogs

I am a Girl Scout leader, helping lead four troops of girls from Kindergarten-12th grade. This is my 20th year as a Girl Scout, and I can’t even begin to express how important the people I’ve encountered through the program have been in my life. I can only hope that the girls I lead will get something as valuable out of GS as I have myself.

The Brownie troop I lead has been working on a Journey project all year. I won’t get into how I feel about these new sorts of programs in scouts, but lets just say I am not a huge fan. Despite my personal opinions about the program, I wanted to give the girls the opportunity to earn the award that goes along with it. The final step of the project involves taking action within the community. The girls decided to reach out to Last Chance Ranch, a local animal and equine rescue.

The girls made dog and horse treats to bring to the shelter, plus, they donated $100 of their cookie money to the organization. After the original batch of 300 dog treats went moldy before we got to deliver them, I called Bone Appetit Bakery for advice. The dog treat baker was extremely helpful and gave me tips to perfect the recipe I had found online, allowing the treats to stay fresh for months. So, for all of you puppy parents out there, here’s a recipe for some natural peanut butter treats your dog is sure to enjoy!

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits
Makes 3-4 dozen treats (1-2″ diameter)

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (all-natural or organic)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Whisk together oil, peanut butter, and water.
  3. Gradually add flour, stirring until a stiff dough is formed.
  4. Knead dough into smooth ball.
  5. Roll dough to 1/4″ thick and use cookie cutters to cut out treats, placing them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to 200 degrees and bake for an additional 40 minutes.
  8. Turn off oven, crack open door, and allow treats to sit in oven for 2 hours, or overnight.
  9. Store treats in airtight container.
Dog Treats

Peanut Butter Dog Treats


Ramp Stuffed Potatoes

Recently, a friend of mine brought me a pungent bag of ramps, or wild leeks. I hadn’t even heard of these foraged treats until about a month ago, but since then, I feel like I’ve heard about them everywhere I have been! Ramps come up in April with broader, flatter leaves than an onion, but the same sort of bulbous root underground. They are quite potent to smell- If you pick one, you’ll know from the odor that it’s really a ramp! They have a lovely flavor of garlic and onions, and the greens are tasty, too, unlike a traditional leek. Last week, I posted a recipe for trout topped with a crispy wild leeks. The onion and garlic flavor really complemented the fish. We also fried up some of the ramps to use as topping on some grilled hamburgers. But, I wanted to make something to truly highlight their taste and texture. I had picked up a huge bag of Lehigh potatoes (similar to Yukon Gold) from Padula Potatoes last weekend, so I decided they would be the perfect canvas. These super simple stuffed potatoes were the result, and they were so delicious!

Ramp Stuffed Potatoes

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Just five ingredients for this recipe!

  • 8-10 ramps/wild leeks
  • 2 large Yukon Gold type potatoes
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. milk
  • salt, to taste (I used our homemade herb salt)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash and prick potatoes. Brush 1 T. olive oil over the skins, then wrap in foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Remove potatoes from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes.
  4. Cut each potato in half, lengthwise, and scoop out flesh into medium bowl, leaving a 1/4″ shell.
  5. Clean ramps and chop bulbs and greens, adding them to the bowl.
  6. Add remaining 2 T. olive oil, milk and salt.
  7. Using a fork or potato masher, mash mixture until potatoes are smooth.
  8. Spoon filling into potato shells on baking sheet.
  9. Return to oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through and lightly browned on top.
Ramp Stuffed Potatoes

Garlicky, creamy and filling!


Ode to a Napkin

This post is dedicated to my sister-in-law, Sarah, who made me realize the utter importance of napkin origami this weekend. I don’t know how my meals were ever complete before the table was adorned with the products of her napkin folding prowess. Sarah recently acquired these skills as part of training for her new job—the first she has had within her field, which I thought was nursing, but is actually napkin origami. So life-changing was this napkin experience, that I have forgone writing a Weekend Hodgepodge about Easter festivities to allow for the appropriate homage to napkin origami.

Sarah and Napkin

You can see the look of strong determination in her eyes as she sets out to fold the napkin.

After realizing, with horror, that our napkins lay on the table in rectangular form, Sarah prepared to save the Easter meal from ruin by transforming the flat beige squares into polyester pyramids of power. She proceeded to encourage each of us around the table to sacrifice use of our napkins for the aesthetic of the tablescape and slipped off into a day dreaming fantasy about demonstrating table decorating on the Martha Stewart show.

Adorned Easter Table

Clearly, we wouldn't have gotten nearly the same enjoyment out of our Easter meal without the presence of neatly folded objects on our plates.

Sarah and I filmed a bit of a napkin-folding tutorial, but the content is just too powerful to convey through digital media. You’ll have to see Sarah personally for a napkin origami lesson if you want to enhance your life in this manner.

I certainly hope you can appreciate the value of this fine art. It’s absolutely a vital piece of our culinary culture. I am eternally grateful to Sarah for sharing this skill with me.

😛

The Polyester Pyramid of Power

The Polyester Pyramid of Power


Brook Trout with Crispy Wild Leek Topping

Last weekend was the first weekend of trout fishing season in this area, so Kevin made plans to spend the better part of both days along the local waterways. Every year, Kevin spends hours fishing on his lunch break, in the evenings and on weekends. Until this year, he participated purely for sport, releasing everything he caught. This year is different, though. Since we’ve got about a year of local eating under our belts, he suggested we take our practices to the next level and start eating some of his catch. Coincidentally, we have had our first experiences with wild food foraging in the past couple of weeks, too, picking some spring onions and receiving some ramps (or wild leeks) from a friend.

So, on Sunday, when Kevin caught two brook trout, it was time to take the plunge into eating what he had provided for us himself. I’ve got to admit, as a former vegetarian/vegan, it took a lot for me to wrap my brain around the fact that the fillets I was preparing had recently been part of a fish swimming in the creek (I wasn’t witness to him cleaning the fish). But, I am an omnivore. I forced myself to come to terms with the notion, and realized that, as local, sustainable and natural eating goes, this is about as authentic as we could get.

I prepared the trout fillets simply, baking them with a topping of chopped ramps, parsley, and torn bread. The flavor was light, delicate and delicious. Paired with some spring onion pesto pasta and radishes sautéed with fresh mint (bonus recipe below!), it was a great way to taste the flavors of Pennsylvania spring.

Brook Trout with Crispy Wild Leek Topping

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 4 trout fillets
  • 6 ramps/wild leeks (if you don’t have ramps, you can substitute green onions and an extra clove of garlic)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • few sprigs parsley
  • 1 slice day-old bread
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 T. olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cover baking pan with foil and lightly grease.
  2. Place trout fillets skin side down on foil.

    Trout Fillets

    Trout Fillets

  3. Clean ramps and finely chop the white part and the leaves, then place in small bowl.
  4. Mince garlic and parsley and add to bowl.
  5. Tear bread into small pieces and add to bowl.

    Herb & Bread Topping

    Herb & Bread Topping

  6. Drizzle herb and bread mixture with olive oil and toss to mix well.
  7. Spread mixture evenly over trout fillets.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until trout is opaque and flakes with a fork. Be careful not to overcook.
  9. Serve with spring vegetables. (And watch out for super thin bones when eating!)
Rainbow Trout

A true Lehigh Valley early spring dinner.

Bonus Recipe: Sauteed Radishes with Spring Onions & Mint

Ingredients

Just a few simple ingredients for this flavorful side!

  • 1 large bunch radish roots (save the tops for another use!)
  • 5 spring onions
  • 1 sprig mint
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Wash and quarter radishes. Clean and chop spring onions, keeping white and green parts separate.
  2. Heat olive oil in skillet, and add radishes and white part of onions.
  3. Sautée over medium heat until radishes are lightly carmelized and crisp-tender when pricked with a fork.
  4. Add chopped onion greens, then remove from heat.
  5. Top radishes with torn mint leaves, salt and pepper.

Root Veggie Tagine

Cold weather root vegetable season is quickly coming to an end—Radishes, pea shoots, ramps and spring onions are appearing, and we are welcoming them! This will likely be the last turnip-centric recipe I post for this year (we’re as happy about that as you are!). This Morrocan-inspired dish is ridiculously easy to prepare in a slow cooker, and the seasonal vegetables are enhanced with the addition of several rich spices. Whenever one of my friends is setting off on a global vacation (a luxury I have yet to be able to afford), I always hand them a few dollars and ask if they’d mind bringing me some spices if they happen to visit a market. I’ve been fortunate to build up a lovely spice collection this way, with friends bringing me samplings of authentic spices from places as far as Turkey and India. I used several of these spices in this meal to create layers of flavor. The addition of dried apricots or golden raisins would add another desired complexity in flavor. I forgot to take pictures while I was cooking this, but I think it’s pretty easy to put together.

Root Veggie Tagine

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs root vegetables (I used a combination of carrots, turnips, sweet potato, red potato, and rutabaga)
  • 4 dried apricots or a handful golden raisins, optional
  • 2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 T. dried parsley
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • 1.5 c. vegetable broth

Directions:

  1. Peel vegetables and cut into 1-1.5″ cubes. (I left the peel on the red potatoes & carrots.) Chop dried apricots, if using.
  2. Place root vegetables and dried fruit into slow cooker.
  3. Sprinkle with spices and hot sauce.
  4. Pour vegetable broth over vegetables.
  5. Cook in slow cooker for 8 hours on low heat.
  6. Serve over rice or couscous.
Root Veggie Tagine

Exotic flavors blend into layers of flavor in this easy dish.


Weekend Hodgepodge

This weekend, I actually spent a fair amount of time out of the Lehigh Valley, both in NYC and in the Pocono Mountains. I took a vacation day on Friday, so my weekend actually began Thursday night.

The DInner Party

Thursday evening, I joined about 20 other people from the Moravian College community for an homage to Judy Chicago's "The Dinner Party." We each created a place setting in honor of a women of our choice (I chose Juliette Low, the founder of Girl Scouts). We all shared dinner and presented our place setting and brief biographies of the women.

Blog Award Celebration

Just after I arrived home from the Judy Chicago event, I found out this blog won "best neighborhood blog" in the My Choice, My Voice contest. To celebrate, we picked up a pint of Ben & Jerry's and enjoyed a nice, stiff drink.

Central Park

Friday morning, we were up bright and early to catch a bus with the art department to New York City. We spent the first part of the day visiting with my sister and geocaching in Central Park.

JG Melon

For lunch, we stopped by the cozy J.G. Melon to try one of their famous burgers. They lived up to the reputation- Juicy and flavorful.

Violinist Archway

After lunch, we walked back to Central Park to find a couple more geocaches. This musician was taking advantage of the archway acoustics to practice.

Wrought Iron

In our meandering around the upper east side, we came across some really ornate architectural details, like this fence.

Whitney Biennial

After lunch, we headed to the Whitney Museum to see the Biennial exhibit. This wasn't my favorite Biennial ever, but there were several works I really enjoyed.

Performance Art

This artist was doing a sort of performance art/social experiment, having moved her entire studio into the Whitney. She works in her studio for 8 hours per day, living in front of the museum visitors.

Birds

This arrangement reminded me of a Tim Burton sort of composition. I liked the use of space and the wiry feel of the birds.

Eli's

After the Whitney Biennial, we trekked back up to 80th St. to visit Eli's, a great food store with all sorts of specialty items and fantastic breads.

Granola French Toast

Saturday morning, I attempted breakfast again, with this crunchy granola coated french toast, topped with honey yogurt.

Eli's Purchases

We quickly gathered a few purchases before catching the bus back to Bethlehem. We picked up some erryngi mushrooms, fresh squeezed juice, challah bread, and a chocolate croissant (to snack on during the trip home!).

Basil Fried Rice

After the bus dropped us off, we picked up some food from Thai Thai II and relaxed after all of the running around we had done.

Padula Potatoes

Saturday was the first day in quite a while that I didn't have something major planned. I visited one of my Girl Scout's mothers to help her set up a blog, then drove out to Padula Potatoes to pick up my last bag for the season. I took some to my friend's home and ended up chatting over tea for much of the afternoon.

Ramp Stuffed Potatoes

Saturday evening, I made these ramp (or wild leek) stuffed potatoes for dinner.

Hail

Saturday night, a strong storm came through our neighborhood and left hail covering our porch.

Jumbars New England Omelette

Sunday morning began with a New England Omelet from Jumbars.

Camp Hidden Falls

Sunday afternoon, I visited Camp Hidden Falls, a Girl Scout camp in the Pocono Mountains, to see how it might work for our service unit camping trip.

Moss Flowers

Just before the rain began, I noticed these beautiful moss flowers at the camp.

Rainbow Trout

We ended our weekend with a meal centered around some rainbow trout Kevin caught for us (it was the first weekend of fishing season). I had never prepared trout before, but this dish, topped with ramps and bread crumbs, was delicious!


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