sunshine is fine.

It’s shaping up to be an idyllic week here in Northeast Minneapolis… and waking up to find this delicious lemonade recipe in my inbox (courtesy of a fabulous little hotel in New Prague MN called Schumacher’s — which, by the way, we highly recommend; excellent food, amazing accomodations, and a great bartending staff)… well, it’s just sort of the inspiration I needed to get this summer started.

Thanks, Schumachers Hotel and Grill 212!

Summertime Lemonade Recipe from Chef John

Chef John's Summertime  Lemonade RecipeThis is a refreshing summer treat. There’s lemonade, and then there’s Lemonade! Guess which one this is?

Lemon Base
2 cups sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Grated peel of 2 lemons
Lemon Cubes
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemonade
1/4 cup lemon base
3 ice cubes
1 lemon cube
8 oz. cold water

  1. For Lemon Base, combine sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel in large saucepan; heat to a boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Store in refrigerator in covered glass container until served.
  2. For Lemon Cubes, freeze lemon juice in ice-cube tray. When frozen, transfer to resealable plastic bag.
  3. For 1 tall glass of Lemonade, combine base, cubes and water. As cubes melt, they keep each drink full of flavor. For pink color, add a little cranberry juice to lemon juice before freezing.

10 servings.
Preparation time: 10 minutes.
Ready to serve: 1 hour, 10 minutes.

CHEF’S NOTES:
• The most important part of this Lemonade technique is to remove all white membrane from lemon peel with a potato peeler. The white membrane will make the Lemon Base bitter.

Meal Plan (and CSA box 2)

I am delayed in publishing this week’s menu… May is our month of madness with mother’s day, gardening picking up, and two daughters with birthdays 5 days apart. Yeesh!

Here’s what we’ve been up to:

5/13: pork stir fry with peanut sauce (kind of a riff off this)

5/14: The 7-year-old’s birthday party. To maintain sanity, we outsourced much of the food this year.

5/15: for our oldest daughter’s birthday, she requested (as is her usual) bacon and pancakes. I’d publish my secret recipe for pancakes, but then it wouldn’t be so secret anymore, would it?

5/16: Nettle manicotti (recipe forthcoming)

5/17: grilled chicken breasts with goat cheese and morels

Hold the strawberry

A friend of mine recently mentioned how much she loves rhubarb, and how annoying it is that rhubarb recipies are overwhelmingly paired with strawberry (which she isn’t as crazy about). That got me thinking. Having a giant soft spot in my heart for all fruits (I can’t think of one I don’t love), strawberry-rhubarb is an automatic win for me.

Enter Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. My darling sisters-in-law nabbed this cookbook for me last birthday and now that fruit is starting to pop back onto our local market scenes (and in our backyard and CSA box to boot), its been a source of inspiration.

My first experiment: Rhubarb and Tart Cherry Brown Betty. It’s a HUGE batch of dessert (I’d half the recipe next time), but oh-my-goodness yummy. And strawberry-free!

Rhubarb & Tart Cherry Brown Betty

(adapted slightly by me)

Also known as: YUM.

  • Butter for pan
  • 2.5 cups crushed shortbread cookies (I was lazy and used store-bought but you could make your own)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup pitted sour cherries (I used the pie cherries I canned last summer, drained/rinsed. super-easy.)
  • 1 tablespoon kirsch
  • Ice cream or whipped cream (for serving)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter your baking dish (this is the halved recipe, so I’d go with a 9X9 glass pan).

Mix cinnamon and sugar together in a large bowl.  Add rhubarb and cherries and mix to combine.  Drizzle in the kirsch and let the whole thing sit for 15-20 minutes to draw out some of the fruits juices and generally awesome-ize itself.

In the meantime, press the crushed cookies (maybe a little less than half of them) into the bottom of the pan to create a crust.

Dump the fruit on the top. Sprinkle the remaining cookie crumbs on top of all that.

Cover your pan with aluminum foil and toss that bad boy in the oven for 20-30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, remove the aluminum foil and allow the top to brown for about 10-15 more minutes (make sure the rhubarb is submerged in juices before you give it that last browning treatment).

Allow to cool. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

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Everybody, eat now!

It’s a little like Christmas this week, because tomorrow our CSA share starts up again (after the long winter hiatus from mid-January to early May).

Both adults in our house cook (and I bake). But there’s something, at least for us, about not having fresh food (from the CSA, or that we’ve grown, or that we’ve procured from a local market) our household finds de-motivating.  Sure, we freeze soups and preserve fruit and freeze veggies. We’ve eaten through our backlog of pickles and sauerkraut;  we have made short work of several cans of peaches and applesauce (and frankly, have more to go in some of these categories).  But there’s only so much frozen broccoli and snap peas you can eat before it all just tastes routine, at least to our household’s palate.

2010 marks our third year of participating in a CSA and committing our family to eating local, in-season produce. It’s a little stunning to me how our eating habits (and preferences) have evolved in the last 3 years. I’m just thrilled to get the sorrel in this week’s CSA box; I can’t wait to pick up a few morels at the Mill City Farmer’s Market this weekend. These are foods I definitely wasn’t experiencing as a 2 or 7 year old (like our daughters will); and frankly, until I married a fellow foodie, I had no real reason to search after such things myself.

Anyway, we’re once again exited to cook and plan and eat in-season at the Green Toews estate, and if you want to join in, we’ll be posting weekly meal plans (complimenting what’s in our CSA Box) for the foreseeable seasons to come.

Happy local, in-season eating!

Spinach and Ramps and Rhubarb - oh my!

What’s in The Box this week?

  • Ramps
  • Spinach (this spring spinach is the best stuff on earth)
  • Saute Mix
  • Rhubarb
  • Asparagus
  • French Breakfast Radish
  • Sorrel
  • Sweet Overwintered Parsnips
  • Sunchokes
  • Overwintered Red Russian Kale
  • Chives
  • Dogwood or Willow

And what are we cooking?

Thursday:
Chicken stir-fry with saute mix, chives, sunchokes, broccoli, etc. (recipe to follow)

Friday:
Ramp, asparagus, spinach and feta frittata with french breakfast puffs (recipe to follow)

Saturday:
Blueberry muffins; then to the Farmers Market!
Salads and sandwiches, rhubarb cobbler

Sunday:
Mother’s Day Picnic

Monday:
Meatloaf, roasted parsnips and kale

(Typically we spend Tuesday and Wednesday cleaning up leftovers, so it will be rare to see meals planned on those days.  Plus, we’re working extra-hard right now to clean out our freezer of soups and stews from this winter so we’re able to start preserving anew once the garden gets going).