poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie


CSA Update 9/30/12 + Highlights from Eat Real 2012

Here’s what we got last week in our Eatwell Farm CSA box:

heirloom cherry tomatoes
shady lady tomatoes
heirloom tomatoes
Middle Eastern cucumbers
poblano peppers
bell peppers
sweet potatoes
collard greens

In my last post, Tammy mentioned she had never seen a Middle Eastern cucumber before, so I made a point of taking a photo before I ate them. I think they are the same as Persian cucumbers, but I might be wrong. Any cucumber experts out there?

Some of the veggies from our box last week: tomatoes, sweet potatoes, Middle Eastern cucumber, and onions.

We decided to roast the sweet potatoes (~1 hour at 400F). Since the oven was already on, we baked chicken thighs with garlic and onions. To complete the meal, we cooked the collards in the cast iron with some of the chicken juice.

Since we had plenty of tomatoes and cucumbers, I made an impromptu salad featuring those two veggies in homemade balsamic vinaigrette. It was easy and delicious.

quick and easy cucumber tomato salad

This was the last box of our CSA subscription. I know that last time I mentioned that we would be renewing our subscription, and we still are planning on it, but we decided to hold off for now. That’s the bad news. The good news is that TC and I are moving in together in mid-October! So, between packing, moving, and unpacking, neither of us wanted to stress about cooking CSA produce. Honestly, I think the break will be good. This series of posts has gotten a little stagnant, in my opinion. Hopefully, when it returns, it will be full of new and exciting things!

p.s. Can’t get enough of CSA goodies? Check out this week’s link party over at In Her Chucks to check out CSA boxes from all over the country!


Rather than writing a separate post on Eat Real, which I’ve blogged about in previous years (2009, 2010, 2011), I thought I’d show you some of the pictures from last weekend’s eat fest.

I had made plans to go to Eat Real on Sunday with LF, but TC and I couldn’t resist the siren call of the hand-made spicy beef corndog from Tante’s. So, we braved the crazy crowds on Saturday to get our hands on them. Unlike last year, we knew better than to try to share this deep-fried perfection. It was totally worth it.

I know, this corndog looks sorta weird, but trust me: it was awesome.

On Sunday, LF and I were sensible enough to make it down to the festival around 11:30, when it was much less crowded. Here’s a sampling of what we ate:

Deep fried daikon cake and beef pho rolls. Both very good, though pricey at $5 each.

A little bowl of shoyu ramen. Broth was too salty, noodles were so-so. LF’s miso ramen was bland.

“Is that a corndog in your purse, or are you just happy to see me?” We were stuffed, so LF got the corndog to go.

We also had Eritrean/Irish food which was very good in both taste and value. For drinks, we enjoyed watermelon basil agua fresca that was delicious and refreshing, as well as a beer each. There was a not-very-serious attempt to wait in the chowder mobile line; we waited for about 10 minutes and jumped ship after realizing the line was not moving. Just as the festival was getting crowded, we grabbed one last corndog for LF, retrieved our bikes from the bike valet, and headed home. Another fantastic experience at Eat Real!


A healthy start to 2012

I don’t make official New Year’s resolutions, but I suppose setting goals is useful no matter what the date on the calendar says. One thing that TC and I are focused on for 2012 is moving towards a healthier, whole foods diet (i.e., not processed), and making vegetarian meals whenever possible. As part of this endeavor, we’ll be getting a bi-weekly CSA box from Eatwell Farms. There were several motivating factors. First, even though it’s not necessarily the most cost-effective way of getting produce, we think it’s important to support local organic farms. Buying a CSA box is more than just getting a box of produce; it’s showing your financial and moral support for sustainable practices. Second, we had the opportunity to hear Nigel Walker, the owner of Eatwell, speak at a round table discussion and we agreed with what he had to say about his farming philosophy. In fact, Nigel made such an impression on TC that a man crush was born that night. (The delectable eggplants, tomatoes, and peaches served after the talk also made quite an impression.) Finally, the CSA box confines you to cook what’s seasonal, and will thereby force me to diversify my cooking repertoire. It’ll be a challenge for sure! Anyway, we’re looking forward to it, and I’ll keep y’all updated on our CSA experiment as it develops.

For this first day of 2012, TC and I were looking for something healthy to help us recover from holiday overindulgence.  We decided to make the Red Lentil Thai Chili from Post Punk Kitchen (thanks to JN for the blog suggestion). We made this same recipe less than 2 weeks ago for a mini dinner party with our friend CN, and it was so good we wanted to have it again.

Red lentil Thai chili - not too pretty, but super delicious and healthy!

What’s awesome about this recipe is that you totally forget (and don’t care) that it’s vegan. It’s very hearty — we both love the sweet potatoes, while the coconut milk and red curry add a unique flavor and richness. The second time around, I added one chopped Serrano pepper and generous amounts of lime juice which were both great additions. It’s also pretty easy — after the chopping prep, the whole thing only takes about 30 minutes to cook. Finally, it makes a massive amount of food, which is always nice because I love leftovers.

Do you have any resolutions or goals, eating or otherwise?


Sweet potatoes two ways

Gather round, and let me tell you the tale of the Sweet Potato Debacle of Christmas Eve 2010. I was meeting TC’s extended family for the first time, and our duty was to bring a sweet potato dish.  Um, no pressure or anything. I had a winning recipe in hand for mashed sweet potatoes, but I made one crucial error: I bought the wrong kind of sweet potatoes. I ended up with the white ones, which, as most people know, are NOT the kind you should serve at the holidays (actually, I don’t recommend them at all, but that’s just me). Anyway, being that we cooked them at the last minute, we had very little choice but to make the most of the situation. Which, in this case, involved putting another whole stick of butter into the potatoes. “Butter makes everything better,” I always say (that is, before the lactose gets the better of me).

Fast forward to this past Thanksgiving. We were again given the responsibility to bring a sweet potato dish. It was a second chance to redeem myself, and there was a lot riding on the outcome. Both TC and I knew the seriousness of the situation, so we did our homework and chose not one, but two recipes for the occasion. Also, 30 guests were expected, so we need to to make a lot of sweet potatoes. I scoured the Food Network recipes, narrowed it down to 5 or 6 dishes, and TC made the final decision.

The verdict? I liked both of these, although they were very different. One was a roast, and the other was a casserole, but both were relatively simple and healthy recipes that I heartily endorse.

sweet potato pecan casserole (food styling by TC)

First up: Elie Krieger’s Sweet Potato Pecan Casserole. The recipe is pretty much perfect, so I won’t copy it here. The part I enjoyed most about this dish was that it was fluffy, kind of like a souffle. The sweetness was just right too; I hate it when my sweet potatoes taste like dessert (exception: sweet potato pie). As much as I liked it, it seems more like a holiday dish to me, so it’s unlikely that I’d make it at other times of the year. That, and I’d probably eat half of it at one sitting.

roasted sweet potatoes

The second dish was Tyler Florence’s roasted sweet potatoes with honey and cinnamon. I actually tested this recipe a couple of nights before with two sweet potatoes and found the combination of honey and olive oil to be a bit… disturbing. So, I substituted 1/2 of the olive oil with butter and omitted the olive oil drizzle at the end. I also had to cook it for a lot longer than the original recipe… so, be forewarned. I received several compliments from people along the lines of, “I normally don’t like sweet potatoes, but these are good.” WIN. To be honest, I think this recipe is only a tad better than my normal roast (salt, pepper, olive oil), but it’s a nice, simple way to dress up roasted sweet potatoes for a special occasion.  Anyway, here’s the recipe, with my minor tweaks:

Roasted sweet potatoes with honey and cinnamon (adapted from Tyler Florence)

* 6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
* 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
* 3 Tbsp butter, melted
* 3/8 cup honey
* 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly with a spatula. Lay the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a roasting tray. Drizzle any residual liquid over the potatoes. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender.

Of course, I have to thank TC for helping to make Sweet Potato Redemption of Thanksgiving 2011 possible. Team sweet potato FTW!