Beka To Basics

Real Food Cooking

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

The Gleaning

It feels rather ominous to use that word.  I can’t describe it any better than that, ominous.  Also ominous?

The Reaping

Maybe that’s what it’s making me think of.  But why would farming terms make me feel like something bad is going to happen?  Why are they used in horror movies?  Really, reaping and gleaning HAVE to come after sowing.  And ALL of it has to come before eating.

Enough of light philosophical thinking. 🙂

My CSA ended and I’ve had a week to think about it.  I really enjoyed it, but not at first.  You have to change the way you think about eating and deciding what to eat.  I have always thought about what I want, made a list, gone to the store and cooked what I bought.  It backwards.  You can’t tell what veggies to be ripe when you want them to be.  You can’t will it to be spring, with it’s strawberries and salad greens.  You have to work with what’s ready.

I was really resistant to that at first.  In fact, I hated it.  I thought every week – now I have to figure out how to fit all of this freaking food into my already made plan.  Wrong.  Try again.

Embrace it.  Realize that what you have actually makes it’s own plan.  There are SOME things you have to think about.  Like a bitter melon, or a quince, but there’s a reason so many eggplant recipes also have tomatoes.  They are ready at the same time.  Think about how we used to eat, before we had easy access to anything we wanted at any time we wanted.  We had to eat what we could find, when it was ready to eat.

Once I got over planning meals and then getting food and switched my thinking to getting the food and then making something with it, I really started to enjoy it.  It started to come really naturally.  Once a week, I would get an email telling me what was coming the next day and I already had a plan for the upcoming week.  Almost without having to think about it.  I’m telling you, it was liberating.  If food can be liberating, I suppose.  Maybe I’m blowing my experience out of proportion, but I figured I would share.

Now, back to THE GLEANING

After the CSA ended, my farmer (yes, I refer to him as my farmer 🙂 ), invited the share holders out to his farm. To glean.  So, to glean I went.  I got some extra veggies and two dozen eggs and enough garlic to last through the winter. That is if I don’t just roast it up and eat it like popcorn in one sitting.  Have you ever seen garlic on it’s stalk, drying out?  Yeah, I brought a bunch home. 😀











Featured in the Food Festival: Fat Tuesday.


Pies, Cobblers and Crisps Pt 2

Peeled Apples

I don’t always make dessert, but when I do, I choose Apple Crisp.

It’s delicious. And it’s perfect for the fall.

Besides Cobbler, this might be my favorite.  Or maybe it is and Cobbler is a close second.  I can’t ever decide, but Cobbler is another post, so maybe I’ll have figured it out by then.

The same basic recipe can be used for other crisps, if you happen to not be a big apple fan.  I don’t know how anyone doesn’t love apples, but I know they’re out there.  You can use any type of apple or pears, and probably any fruit that is considered a pome.  My favorite is the Granny Smith Apple Crisp.  I wouldn’t go for the stone fruits – they’re better in cobbler anyways – but strawberries are especially delicious in a crisp in the springtime.  I know it sounds a little strange, but I’ve made quite a few believers after serving them strawberry crisp!  I’ll convince you too!

  • 6 Apples – peel, core and slice them
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt – if you use salted butter, leave this out

Sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg over the apples and stir to get a little bit on all the pieces.  Drizzle them with maple syrup.  mix the butter, salt (if using), sugar and flour together.  You should have a crumbly mixture, but if it looks more like cookie dough, don’t worry!  It will still taste delicious.  Crumble the dough on top of the apples and bake for 30 to 45 minutes at 350.  The apples and syrup will get bubbly and the topping will be golden brown and crispy.

If you don’t often have brown sugar, you can make your own!  Mix 1 cup of regular sugar with 1 tbsp of molasses until it looks like store bought brown sugar.  If you just don’t like brown sugar, use all regular sugar.  Sometimes, when I remember, I add 1 tsp of vanilla to the topping, but it’s still good without it.

Regular Sugar
Add Molasses

Mix to make brown sugar

As for the strawberry crisp.  Leave out the cinnamon and nutmeg and just drizzle with maple syrup.  Either version is amazing with ice cream.  Now if I could just find an ice cream maker…

Ice Cream!

Pies, Cobblers and Crisps Pt 1

It’s hard not to think about dessert as we get closer to Thanksgiving.  Yes, I said it, we are getting close to Thanksgiving.

I’m not actually a big pie fan, but I do have a really good pie crust recipe.  I was inspired to write about it when a friend of mine told me about going apple picking this weekend.  This crust recipe is partly my grandma’s and partly my own.  She uses Crisco and I really don’t like Crisco.  I like butter.  So, butter it is.

Pie Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup butter (or lard, or a mix of both) softened slightly
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp ice cold water – you can leave the egg out completely and just use 5 tbsps of ice cold water

You can do this by hand or with a food processor.  I think the food processor is easier.  You can keep everything cold more easily since your hands aren’t in the mix, but by hand works too – just touch the dough as little as possible.  Put the flour and butter and pulse until it looks grainy.  Add the egg and water and pulse until the dough sticks to itself and forms a ball.  Keep in mind that sometimes you might need a little more flour, sometimes a little less.  1 1/2 is a good place to start and a lot of the time it will be just right with that.  When the dough forms a ball, you’re done, time to stop.  I usually put the dough in the fridge for a little while to make sure its good and cold before I cook with it.  Roll half of it out for the bottom of the pie, put it in the pie pan and put your filling in, then roll the rest out for the top.

Or if you’re like me and don’t feel like rolling everything out twice, just roll out the whole thing and fold the extra over.  I could call it lazy, but we’ll go with rustic.. yes, it sounds much nicer that way.  Rustic.

As for the filling – you can take your pick!  Pumpkin, Apple, Strawberry, Cherry, Raisin Pecan…

Cook the pie at 350 until its done.  Sorry, I don’t have a time since I don’t know what you’re putting in it. 🙂

You’ll be able to tell though because the filling will be bubbly and the crust will be golden brown.

Carnita Soup

I’m not even sure Carnita is a word. I know Carnitas is, but Carnita?  If it’s not, I guess we can just call it Sopa de Carnitas? Maybe?

You’re going to like this one, its so easy. And perfect for a cold day. Like today.

This one seriously takes so little work and is ready when you get home because its made in… you guessed it, the slow cooker. 🙂 Have I mentioned how much I love my slow cooker?

Carnita Soup

  • 2 or 3 lb Pork Loin
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 pepper (red, yellow, green, it doesn’t matter)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 jar of salsa
  • 3 or so cups of black beans
  • stock or water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp taco seasoning

Chop up the pepper, onion and garlic.  Put everything in the slow cooker and add enough liquid to cover it and cook it on low for about 8 hours.  The pork will shred when its cooked through and ready to eat.

Cooking with a Pumpkin

And I mean a real pumpkin. Not from a can, but from the ground grown on a vine and picked then put into my oven, pumpkin.

Yep.  It was my first time.

I’ve cooked with squash before and pumpkins are basically big squashes, yes?

What I’ve learned is that cooking pumpkins and carving pumpkins are different.  I kind of knew that already, but hadn’t really tested the theory.  I’ll tell you what, it’s been tested now and I would never want to cook a carving pumpkin.  They don’t have enough ‘meat’ to them, it’s all string and seeds.  Cooking pumpkins have a lot more of the squashy part to them than the carving ones.  Which is good, because that’s the yummy part.

It’s actually quite easy.  You cut the top off the pumpkin and then cut it in half and put it in a baking dish, cut side down and roast it for about 40 minutes until you can put a fork through it easily.  Take it out, let it cool and scoop all the squashy parts out and either mash with a potato masher or a food processor.  I had a small pumpkin, but I ended up with 2 pints of punkin goo and a bunch of seeds to roast. 🙂

So, what to do with all that Pumpkin?  Well, I decided to try this Coconut-Pumpkin Soup. I made very few changes, like I sauteed the veggies in butter because let’s face it, everything is better in butter.  I also thought I had gotten coconut milk at the store, but I had actually picked up coconut cream.  Since it’s slightly sweet, I left out the brown sugar and just added about a tbsp of molasses to make up for the missing flavor.

This soup is so good. I cannot even tell you in words how much I enjoyed it, so I fully expect everyone to make it as soon as possible so you can experience it yourself.  I’m including a picture, but I have to admit, it doesn’t do it justice at all!  Believe me, it looks and tastes so good!

Featured in What’s in the Box?

I plan to use the rest of the pumpkin puree for pumpkin pancakes this weekend. 🙂

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