23 July 2014

More Beanz!

My bush green beans are quite ... prolific ... this year and I'm having a little trouble keeping up! Usually, by the middle of July, the plants have fallen prey to some hungry critter or been crispified by drought and bean production is over. This summer ... well, I'm pretty sure my cats have zeroed out my neighborhood's rabbit population and, thanks to cooler than normal temps and some decent rain, my bean and chard bed is a dense jungle! I'm not bothered that the chard is getting monstrous (it will good whenever I harvest it) but leave beans too long and they go all woody and "untasty."

Over the weekend, I made a bean and tuna salad using one of Plated's recipes but subbed with my own green beans instead of their haricot vert as those were brownish and unappetizing looking. Anyway, the salad was dead easy to throw together -- just blanched beans, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, parsley, dill, shallot, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, dijon, sea salt, and black pepper -- and I'll definitely make it again with more garden beans and cherry tomatoes (if, by happy coincidence the beans are still bearing when the tomatoes ripen).

The bean salad was meant to be served with oil-poached tuna, but I chose to poach my tuna in low-sodium fat-free chicken broth because the Plated recipe called for poaching the tuna in 1½ cup extra virgin olive oil and my parsiminous brain was like "Dude! That's $7 worth of oil! Duuuude! And you only keep two tablespoons! The rest gets thrown away?! WTF?" Anyway, the salad was fine served with broth-poached tuna as I ended up flaking the tuna and tossing everything together to make two meals for work.


I also made an easy minestrone with green beans, garden basil, canned tomatoes, and a farmers' market zucchini I had kind-of forgotten about in the back of the crisper. It came out pretty well for something that was just "Well, I'll saute some onion and garlic and carrots and celery and then add some chopped green beans and broth and herbs and zucchini and tomatoes and salt and pepper and just keep fiddling until it tastes right."


Last week, I finally got around to making Kikkoman's "Spicy Beef with Green Beans" and it was easy, but not as awesome as hopped. I'd omitted the chili oil, simply because I forgot to buy any, and the dish suffered a little from the lack of heat. Also, as The Husband pointed out, mushrooms would have been a nice addition.
21 July 2014

Menu Plan Monday: 21 July

We're well into summer now. Barbecue season. Picnic time. And yet I find myself craving baked potatoes. No idea why, but I've decided to just go with it and plan on baked potatoes.

Caesar steak lettuce wraps (Bibb lettuce, steak, onions, Caesar salad dressing, Parmesan) with boiled red potatoes (potatoes, olive oil, parsley, salt, pepper).

Three bean salad (fresh and canned beans, olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, olives, tomatoes, salt, pepper) topped with flaked poached tuna steaks (low-sodium fat-free chicken broth, tuna).

Homemade spudulike with Heinz baked beans (buttery baked potato topped with beans in tomato sauce) with chopped cucumbers and cherry tomatoes in light Italian.

Baked sweet potato stuffed with black beans, corn, tomatoes, cheese. Served with roasted green beans.

Grilled steaks (freezer steaks, olive oil, Penzeys Arizona Dreaming) topped with black bean salsa and served with rice (low-sodium fat-free chicken broth, cilantro, medium grain rice).

Baked potatoes stuffed with slow cooked barbecued pulled chicken (chicken breasts, barbecue sauce, liquid smoke, light shredded cheddar, minced red onion) with chopped cucumbers and cherry tomatoes in light Italian.
20 July 2014

So, We Went to the Connecticut Food Truck Festival

The first Connecticut Food Truck Festival was held at the North Haven Fairgrounds this weekend and it was ... an experience. We ate some tasty things and really enjoyed the idea of the festival. Fifty-ish food trucks all in one place with the money raised meant to feed the hungry! How could we not love that?

Delicious Chicago-style "hot white" (full pork dog imported from Rochester, NY)
without relish at Zawack Shack. Hands down, the best thing we ate.

We arrived just before noon on Saturday (the gates opened at 11) and the parking area was already quite full. There was one ticket station open at the entrance and the line to reach it looped all the way back to the rear of the fairgrounds. There were rumors tickets might soon be available at a side gate, but who wanted to risk forming a line to nowhere? Anyway, standing in a long line for good grub is part of any food festival experience (presuming you are an "average person" and not, say, my physically disabled mother for whom this festival would have been impossible) and should not be a big deal ... except when that line overlaps with the line of traffic driving through the fairground to get to the parking area! From a public safety point of view, it was a terrible idea. Maybe, if there had been more staff directing cars and people, it would have seemed safer?

Also, just getting into the fairgrounds was an adventure. We came off the highway, so needed to take a left turn into the fairgrounds. Against traffic. With no stop light or police officer directing traffic, it was a dicey situation as the two lanes of oncoming traffic had no reason to ever slow or stop. Obviously, some of the cars in the oncoming lanes were also trying to get into the fairgrounds and it was all just a clusterfuck.

Wild boar burger from Aurora's Gypsy Cafe topped with house-made pesto (kale, spinach,
sage, cranberry, walnut, garlic, herbs), Havarti, roasted peppers and onions, lettuce and tomato.
Very lean, but well-seasoned, and juicy from all the toppings.

And that was before noon. It was much worse when we left -- no-one directing exiting traffic, cars parked on the shoulders of roads, traffic backed up everywhere -- and people were still trying to get in! Madness. On the highway, we could see traffic backed up well past the exit ramp and I felt really bad for the people stuck in those vehicles. Also a bit smug, because we were leaving and our bellies were full of good grub.

ANYWAY. We got through the line, we paid for our tickets ($5 per person! A steal!), we ate food, and it was good. Some of the lines were just insane, so there were trucks we simply never got to, and that made me a little sad as I'd had my heart set on a baked potato. But it also thrilled me a little, because I've always thought America needs a spudulike and, if people are willing to stand in line for forty-minutes in July for a baked potato, well, that only proves my point.

Pulled pork on a soft roll with cheezy mac at Big Country's BBQ. The pork was very tender and juicy
without being saucy, but it needed heat. The mac was just meh.
We added hot sauce but couldn't taste it. Very sad.

What did we eat? Well, less than you'd think. The agreement was to only order things we'd both eat so we could share and thereby, theoretically, eat a greater variety of food. Unfortunately, the drink tent was back by the entrance and running back and forth for bottles of water was just annoying -- one person stands in line while another person gets water certainly works, but wasn't how I'd planned on spending the day.

So we were thirsty quite a lot of the time -- even with peach lemonade from Aurora's Gypsy Cafe and mango lemonade from Amor Food Truck -- and that thirst made us less hungry. After a few hours, it was just "Fuck this, I need an ice pop and chair" (we'd completely misunderstood what "we have rented seating for 400 at a time" meant) and we ended up at Lyman Orchards. Saw some waterfowl, stocked up on fruit and cold drinks, then went home to nap and dream about all the food we hadn't tried.

So, would we go back in 2015? Yes, because the food was tasty and the idea is a good one. But I'd arrive for 10:30, bring our collapsible chairs, and smuggle in a bunch of water bottles.

Tasty donuts from Orangeside are a perfectly reasonable excuse to visit New Haven soon.
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