Saturday, July 31, 2010

Green Pasta

On the cover of the cookbook is some green pasta. To me it looked delicious; fresh and veggie-like. My son wasn't impressed, but he promised to take at least one bite of every dish so I let him know he'd be tasting some Spaghetti with Arugula-Mint Pesto. He thinks pasta should never be green but a deal's a deal.

The "sauce" was made by blending up the the arugula and mint and by adding other ingredients such as olive oil, cheese, lemon zest, garlic and pepper.

Honestly, again my picture doesn't live up to the pictures in and on the cookbook.

The best news: my son ended up loving it. He ate two big platefuls and asked to save the leftovers for lunch the next day. This is rare -- he doesn't like reheated food.

The good news: I loved it, too. Really tasty, very fresh and veggie flavorful. To me it tasted like I expected it to taste.

Husband was out of town so he missed out, but I have no doubt that he would have dug right in.

I think I'll start rating the recipes. Anything three stars or above should be considered good.

One star - ick.
Two stars - ick, but might be okay with a change or two.
Three stars - good, but probably won't make again because it was either too complicated or time-consuming.
Four stars - Delicious and will make again soon.
Five stars - Delicious and will make again within the next week.

This recipe: 4 to 5 stars.

Want your own copy of the cookbook? Here's how to win:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cucumber Sandwiches

Stepping away from the cookbook contest today --

We planted cucumbers this year and it looks like we're going to end up with some. Yay! For some reason we've had difficulty with these veggies in years past. We love them, so we're excited to see that we might have done something right this year.

At a recent wedding shower I enjoyed some open-faced cucumber sandwiches. They were delicious. I didn't get the recipe but I found one on the Internet that is pretty close and just as good.

Here it is:

2 cucumbers
1 tub whipped cream cheese
Dill weed
1-2 packets of dry Italian dressing mix
1 pkg cocktail bread -- I've also used thinly sliced sourdough bread. Cocktail bread is just small dense bread.

- Wash cucumbers and scrape "stripes" down the length. Slice very thinly -- 1/4 inch or smaller.
- In small bowl, stir together cream cheese and dressing mix.
- Thinly spread (important that you keep it thin) mixture over a piece of the bread. You don't have to cut off the crust, but I do -- after I spread the mixture.
- Lay one slice (or more to cover the "face" of the bread)of cucumber on cream cheese mixture.
- Shake a small bit of dill weed over the cucumber.

Enjoy this open-faced sandwich appetizer. They're easy, pretty and tasty.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


On page 205 of the cookbook, there's a beautiful picture of scallops with sauteed oranges -- really gorgeous. Despite not being a huge scallop fan, the picture was pretty enough to make me what to try the recipe.

Issue 1 - the recipe called for one navel orange and one blood orange. I couldn't find any blood oranges, either at the farmers' market or at my grocery store, so I used two navel.

Issue 2 - When sauteing them, I wasn't as gentle with the orange slices as I probably should have been. My picture isn't nearly as attractive as the one in the cookbook. I know that happens frequently, but there was a huge difference. There's nothing about this picture that would make someone want to try this:

Trust me, the picture in the book is much better. And, I'm sure I could have done a better job with the oranges.

As for the taste -- it wasn't bad. Scallops are (to me) very rich and I can only eat so much. My husband doesn't have an issue with rich foods and he loved everything about the recipe. It calls for adding cumin which I thought would be horrible, but it wasn't.

I'm not sure I'll attempt this one again, but that's not because it isn't good, it's just not my favorite.

A pasta dish is next on the list. It sounds amazing.

Monday, July 26, 2010


I love green beans -- I even eat them raw, but I like cooked better. On page 28 of the cookbook is a recipe for tempura string beans that caught my eye. The batter is very simple and I've been wanting to try my hand at frying food. I'm currently collecting ideas and recipes for fried chicken to include in my first Gram's Cooking School mystery (IF FRIED CHICKEN COULD FLY) that will publish some time next year, but I have never fried anything. Considering the title of the book, that could be a problem.

It turned out to be pretty simple except that I need to learn how to better keep the oil at a consistent temperature.

The tempura beans were tasty, and I found that the thicker the batter, the better. I did wish, however, that I'd prepped and tried some other vegetables. Hey, the oil was ready; why not?

Another part of the recipe was a dipping sauce called Aioli. Never heard of it, but it's a mayo/mustard/garlic dip that is really yummy. The tempura beans and this dip would make perfect appetizers.

Aioli is part of a number of recipes in the book. I'll probably try in a few of those in the next week or so.

Want your own copy of the cookbook? Here's how to win:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Brussel Sprouts???

Day one of "Recipes From the Farmers' Market Cookbook."

When I was little, my mom only made one attempt to get me to eat brussel sprouts. I have no idea what she did to them but not only did they taste terrible, they smelled worse than anything . . . ever. Funny how you remember those traumatizing moments.

I can't think if anything I like less than brussel sprouts, so that's where I began in the cookbook -- the biggest challenge of all: make me like that small bitter vegetable and I'll forever be impressed.

Recipe: Brussel Sprout Leaves with Bacon, page 48. I figured that even if the vegetable portion was awful, at least there'd be bacon.

Along with the bacon and sprouts, the recipes includes a garlic vinaigrette dressing that immediately smelled delicious -- I was off to a good start. The recipe didn't call for using the entire sprout, but only the leaves; without the core. I followed the directions, but I'm not sure I "peeled" the leaves off correctly. That part was pretty labor-intensive, but not terrible.

Here's the thing -- it was so worth it! I couldn't believe it, but I LOVED this dish. I don't know if it was the combination of all the ingredients, or if using just the leaves changed the bitter taste, but it was so good that I plan on serving it at the next holiday dinner I cook. Yeah, really!

And just when I thought I couldn't be more impressed. . . I commented about my dislike for brussel sprouts on my Facebook page and a few people chimed in. Ginny told me I should steam them and then saute them in butter. Nancy and Laine seemed to agree, so I had to give it a try. And, believe it or not, they were really good! I steamed them until they were pretty tender and this seemed to take longer than I thought it would, but still not too long. Used lots of butter and voila - delicious.

I really can't believe I found two ways to enjoy something I disliked to the point of . . . well, it was bad. Thanks Ginny, Nancy, and Laine for the idea and encouragement.

Want your own copy of the cookbook? Here's how to win:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Market Spotlight!

One of the surprise perks of writing mysteries about farmers' markets is meeting market vendors (in person or via email) and learning about their products.

One vendor I've been fortunate to get to know is Rachel Stewart, who makes beautiful jewelry as well as hand-knitted products and sells them at the Sagamore Farmers' Market in Layfayette, Indiana. Here are pictures of her and some of her work:

Pretty stuff, huh?

Here's the Sagamore market Facebook page:!/pages/West-Lafayette-IN/Sagamore-West-Farmers-Market/121968051151869?ref=ts&__a=10&ajaxpipe=1

Some market particulars:
Located in Cumberland Park in West Layfayette, IN. In a parking lot, near the high school athletic fields.
Open: Wednesday afternoons, from 3 to 6:30.
There are 30-40 vendors, depending on the weather

Some vendors:
1 lemonade stand
3 bakeries
1 pork burgers
1 restaurant
4 jewelry (Rachel, 2 handmade glass beads, 1 strung/woven beads)
2 knitting (Rachel and one other)
1 tie-dye
1 handmade purses and flip-flops
1 knitted bears and bread dough flowers
1 honey
4 herbs/plants for gardens
1 popcorn
1 bison
6+ fresh veggies/fruit
1 winery
plus a few roving churches/causes/sign ups (these usually do a 3-week deal, not the whole summer)

The best part -- Rachel is offering a discount to anyone who says they saw this post: $2 off sets, $1 off earrings.

Some writers travel the country to visit bookstores. Hopefully, I'll be able to do the same some day, but I'll be adding farmers' markets to my stops. If you do meet Rachel, please tell her hello for me.


update: links weren't working, copy and paste to see the good stuff.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Want to win a Farmers' Market cookbook? This one to be exact:

How to enter: Just follow my blog (click on the 'follow this blog' icon and make sure you show up in the list of followers). You'll get one entry per week that you participate. I'll tally every Sunday. The ten lovely and patient people who've been following it already will start off with five entries.

Why it might be entertaining: Starting July 25, I'll be cooking from my copy of the above mentioned cookbook. I'll comment on the recipes -- how they taste and how easy or difficult they are. The recipes look delicious. Plus, I adore shopping at my farmers' market and I need more ideas of things to do with all the yummy and fresh food. I probably won't post every day, but plan on at least four posts per week.

The Salt Lake City market is open until October 16, so I'll do a random drawing some time later that week; date to be determined.

I'll probably throw in a copy of FARM FRESH MURDER, too, but really this is about the cookbook. I'm excited to begin.