Thursday, August 27, 2009

Holy Summer Squash, Batman!

We joined a CSA recently--got lucky. They didn't have a space until about 3 weeks ago, but now we are getting weekly deliveries right to our door, and we didn't have to pony up ahead. We pay each week, and can cancel, postpone, etc. at our will. It's the perfect solution for non-committal types like us. This CSA, the Fallywalker Farm, is known for the unusual varieties they grow, like black zucchini, blue potatoes, rat-tailed radishes, snake beans, flying saucer squash (patty pan), pink carrots, lemon cucumbers, Transylvanian Brain Tomatoes, etc. Everything has been fresh, delicious, and wonderful, and we've even received fresh flowers in each delivery. Awesome. As a result, Rowan's new favorite food is tomatoes, and we're eating more veggies than ever. Plus, I'm cooking a lot--when it's there and would spoil, you gotta use it up!

So, we're stuffing a lot of squash, making a lot of ratatouille, and eating loads of cucumber salad. But a woman cannot live by stuffed zucchini alone.

So I've been trying to come up with new ideas, and the other day I came up with one that was a hit. Full of zucchini or patty pan squash, but even a purist (I'm hoping) would appreciate it. Rowan, Dr. B and I sure did. Oh, and Lucy was way ticked off that she couldn't have any (dogs can't have onions or garlic.)

Shrimp Creole with Summer Squash

(amounts are approximate)

*1 medium onion, chopped
*3 cloves garlic, minced (to taste)
*1 small green pepper, seeded and chopped (ours was black, but whatever.)
*2 cups chopped tomatoes (or 1 can diced)
*1-2 cups of sliced (bite sized pieces) zucchini or patty pan squash. Peel if the skin is bitter, leave on if it's not (FWF squash skin has not been bitter at all)
*1 small can tomato paste
*2 cups water
*1 TB flour (I use Wondra. It mixes great, and the can is handy dandy. But regular is fine.)
*2 TB butter (or more, depends)
*14-16 oz. shrimp (fresh, shelled and deveined or frozen--doesn't matter. I used a bag of frozen.)
*Creole Seasoning, to taste. (I use this one--it is non-negotiable in my house. I even brought it to France and got more sent when I ran out.)
*Hot cooked rice to serve (we used brown, but it doesn't matter. You could even serve it over barley, I have and it's great.)

Heat butter and add onions and peppers. Cook until fragrant, add garlic. Cook another minute or so, then push the veggies to the side and add the flour in the hole in the middle. If it doesn't completely mix in with the liquid, (partially dry and powdery) add a bit more butter. Cook a minute or two until it smells toasty. It will begin to coat the veggies, that's fine--it will blend in and thicken the sauce later. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, tomato paste, water, and season well with Tony's Creole seasoning. Simmer until veggies are cooked, about 20 minutes or so. Add shrimp, and let cook just until shrimp are thawed or turn pink, a couple of minutes. If they get overcooked, they'll curl tight and be tough, so less is best.

Serve over fluffy rice and say "Y'all" and "Chère" a lot while you eat it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Monkey Birthday

monkey bread, originally uploaded by LDHNY.

It was my birthday yesterday. The night before, I planned to make Monkey Bread for breakfast, my favorite. But, Dr. B had other plans. "If you can get yourself up and dressed, I will take you all for breakfast before work." It's a his-family tradition. Though I'm not one for clothing before coffee, I love these special treats, so we went for it. French toast with fresh strawberries and no dirty dishes? Yeah, I'll take it.

But I still made the bread. We had it for dessert. I'd rather this than cake any day.

If you google "Monkey Bread", you'll find a million recipes, all pretty much the same. This isn't any different either, but I thought I'd share for those of you who haven't had it before (Hi Lisa!) I don't think it's necessarily a Midwestern thing--but I remember having it for the first time at my Aunt Carol's in Racine, WI, and the fact that my mom wouldn't make it. (I think she was afraid I'd eat the entire thing every time. Which I probably would have.) Basically, it's a cake made of caramel rolls. AWESOME caramel rolls, and it's super easy. Lots of people make it for Christmas morning. I make it whenever I've got a hankering for it. It's too good to save for special. It's called monkey bread because you sit around the plate and pick off bits to eat, and lick your fingers a lot. There are no bananas involved.

Monkey Bread
serves 18, 9, 3 or 1. Heh.

*18 frozen Rhodes bread rolls

(you can use a loaf of their bread dough, but waiting for it to thaw and cutting it in pieces is kind of a pain. This is way easier. Resist the urge to add more--there won't be enough caramel and the rolls will start creeping out of the pan like The Blob.)

*1 box NOT INSTANT butterscotch pudding mix
(the instant just turns the whole thing into a crusty, not caramelly mess. Don't do it.)

*3/4 cup brown sugar
*1 t. cinnamon
(if you're not allergic. I can't, but no one misses it. Dr. B doesn't really like cinnamon that much anyway, so it works out.)

*1/2 cup or so of chopped nuts, if desired
*1 stick butter, melted.

The night before, or at least 8 hours before (I have pushed this by warming my oven on low and letting it rise in there with the oven off), grease a Bundt or tube cake pan. Add the nuts, if using, and the frozen rolls. Mix the pudding mix, sugar and cinnamon together, and dump fairly evenly over the rolls. Drizzle the melted butter over the whole mess. Cover with a bit of greased foil or waxed paper or something like that. Set aside in a warm place to thaw and rise. (Overnight is ideal--do this just before you go to bed.)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Bake rolls about 25 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven, and turn out onto a large plate with high sides to contain any caramel overload. Try not to burn your fingers and mouth grabbing hot rolls (waiting a few minutes would be preferable, but good luck with that. I never manage to.)

Variations: some people use canned biscuits if they don't have the overnight time to wait, others dip each roll in butter and then dredge in the powder, some people like to mix the butter with the powders and then dredge. I'm lazy, and it still works just fine. The whole mess melts down and makes caramel in the bottom of the pan, and when you turn it over, coats the bits it missed.

Thanks to Lori D. Stone (LDSNY) for allowing use of this photo under Creative Commons licensure. I ate too much of mine before I thought about getting my camera out.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Dear John

I don't often do this, but this is one post I have to share. If you've ever seen a John Hughes movie and liked it (in other words, if you're over 30 and have a pulse), go. Click now.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Yes, this is part of an ad. But it's a true story, and I doubt you'll make it through it dry eyed. I sure didn't.

I have one for Rowan, and have never questioned the price I paid because I know this to be the safest option for my little girl. I, too, did the research, and I am glad I stuck to my gut on this one. She is worth it.

Please watch.

Monday, August 03, 2009

I'm working on it.

Pigtails in the sun, originally uploaded by MrsBinParis.

Photos are coming from our OBX trip, and perhaps a nugget or two of happenings as well. Things are finally slowing down, thank goodness. Our heads never went below, though we are a bit worse for wear. But we'll make it. And in the meantime, I'm a wild blackberry picking/ jam making machine.

After the last few weeks, I'm scratched up, but I'm healing.

(And who could resist a little girl in pigtails?)

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