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Cooking in the time of Covid - pantry raid



We had snow the other day here at Lazy Dog Farm. Not much, mind you, just enough to dust the grass and make me thankful I didn’t put any of my plants out in the garden yet. The weather has been up and down all week here - sunny and warm, cold and windy, with a freeze warning or two just to spice things up. We’re still plodding on with our garden preparations - drilling fence posts, digging trenches for the burrowing critter fencing, drawing up plans for our new raised beds and ordering the supplies we need to expand our operation.

We’ve had some crazy changes here in general with the state-mandated lockdown now being extended to mid-May. We’re not travelling like we once did, we’re not dining out and we’re appreciating what we have in this place like never before. We’ve also dealt with job losses and career changes, physical loss of connection with friends and family, and just the stress of uncertainty. It’s been a roller coaster ride since March, but it’s also been the sea change we’ve desperately needed in our lives. Priorities have shifted, ideas about the future and our lives have changed - it’s been wild, but in the best way possible. To a house full of introverts, this time out of time has been a season of joy as much as pain.

I’ve been trying to use up everything I have as best as possible, which has resulted in some awesome meals and some real culinary disasters. But I’ve also started really learning how to bake using gluten free flours where before I tended to rely more on mixes and chalk the “lead loafs” of bread up to gluten free baking and not to my inexperience and bad flour combos. But all that has changed this week and I’ve dedicated some of my free time to learning how to mix flours that work for lighter pastries and breads, as well as learn the techniques to make light, fluffy breads and cakes be born.

We’ve also started keeping critters - ok, we started learning how to ferment all manner of things as a fun and useful activity. We are now raising a sourdough mother, dealing with dill pickles in the fridge, and our beer, cider, cheese and root beer making kits are on their way. We decided that some of the things we really enjoy we could be making ourselves now that we have so much time on our hands. It’s been a rewarding science project and we’re also looking forward to all the tasty things we’re slowly bringing to life.

Fermentation really is about patience - a sorely needed attribute around here. We’re all very results-driven and want our satisfaction now not later. These little projects are teaching us all the value of slow food and delayed gratification.

I thought this week I’d share a few of the recipes I’ve made with some of the slow food items and leftovers in the fridge. Most of the veggies and greens in the recipes can use whatever you have in your pantry or fridge. They’re easy, quick and delicious - just the sort of thing to make when you’re tired of cooking, want to be doing anything else, or just want to use up what you have left in the fridge.

Leftover Veg Frittata:

We had some wilted asparagus, some tomatoes going pruney and a few peppers that needed used up. We also needed a tasty Sunday morning breakfast that wasn’t sugary. The result, a delicious, fluffy, crispy frittata that demanded seconds.

6 eggs, whisked to a light yellow color

2 cups veggies (I used asparagus, peppers, onions and tomatoes)*

1 Tablespoon spices (I used tarragon, thyme, fennel and lavender)*

1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)

Salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375F

2. In a cast iron pan (or oven and stovetop safe pan) on medium heat, cook garlic and veggies until softened.

3. Add spices to veggie mix and stir to combine.

4. Add eggs, stir a few times to combine all ingredients.

5. Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until eggs have set and top has a nice golden color.

6. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Serve with lightly dressed salad greens or avocado.


Notes: I added some leftover ham, diced. Bacon or any other meat could be used here as well.

Any spices will work here. For a “Mexican” flavor, add cumin, chili powder and oregano. For “Italian”, add basil, oregano and red pepper flakes.

You can also add cheese after removing from the oven - I sprinkle about a cup or so over the top and allow the heat to melt it. You can also add the cheese about 5 minutes from the end of baking.

Easy refrigerator dill pickles:

These are still a work in progress. They take about a week to ferment and be ready to eat. I didn’t have fresh dill this time, so I used dried. I will update next week once they are done as to whether the dried dill worked.


2 cups cucumbers sliced or cubed (the small pickling ones work best, but I used seedless English ones this time)

2 cups hot water

1 cup white vinegar

1 Tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Handful fresh dill (I used about 4 Tablespoons dry)

8 garlic cloves (I used about 3 Tablespoons minced)

5 black peppercorns


Directions:

1. Clean and scald a 1 quart mason jar or other lidded glass container (do NOT use metal)

2. In jar, combine hot water, vinegar, salt and sugar. Secure lid and shake until completely combined.

3. Add cucumbers, dill, garlic and peppercorns.

4. Secure lid and shake gently to coat cucumbers - make sure they are submerged in brine.

5. Place in refrigerator for one week.


Notes: These pickles will keep 4 to 6 weeks in refrigerator if you use a clean utensil each time to remove them. No fingers! I shake my jar about every other day just to make sure it combines.


Potato tacos:

Ok, so I know these sound weird, but hear me out - these little crispy potatoes will convince even the most diehard meat person to enjoy veggie taco Tuesday. We recreated the flavors from one of our favorite taquerias to create our own riff on our favorite to-go lunch.


2 large potatoes, cubed small

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin (more if you want a really bold flavor)

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 Tablespoon light cooking oil (or more to coat potatoes)

Salt to taste

To make the tacos:

Corn tortillas warmed in a pan and stored in a clean kitchen towel (to keep warm)

Cilantro

Chopped onion

Salsa verde or whatever you like on a taco (the verde is the best flavor combo IMHO)

Sharp cheddar (optional)


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. In a large bowl, combine ingredients and toss to coat

3. On a large baking sheet, spread mixture out into a single layer.

4. Bake for 20 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and crispy. Toss once halfway through to keep from sticking and crisp all sides.

5. Remove from oven and assemble using your taco ingredients.


Notes: We also will do these “Americano style” with lettuce, tomato, red salsa and cheese. You can’t go wrong with toppings, and a little sliced radish is nice if you have on hand.


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