Sep 012012

corn and bean salad

I don’t consider myself a dooms day kind of person, but all the same, I like the feeling of being prepared no matter what may come our way. It must come from my homesteading roots. I *blushingly* confess I use a 24” tool box to store my first aid supplies. I have a generator in the garage. And after years of feeding four children, I probably have enough food put up to feed a small army.

Okay, so most of the meat doesn’t count as it is specifically for the farmers markets. But I have a wonderful selection of dried beans and I buy my rice, flour, and sugar in twenty five pound bags. My biggest infatuation though is freezing and preserving my way through the summer months. Given all this, it is pretty safe to say our pantry and larder are comfortably full.

Did I mention beans? ;-) I keep a selection of dried kidney beans, black beans, white beans, cranberry beans, and garbanzo beans always on hand. I also normally have dried split peas, various lentils, and pearl barley too. I love creating main dishes, usually soups, stews, and chilies, with these easy to store pantry staples. But in the summer, I am always looking for ways to incorporate these ingredients into delicious salads and sides.

I am not sure how much longer we will have sweet corn but I intend to get my fill while the season lasts. Here is an easy salad Jordan and I created with some leftover corn on the cob. For quick summer recipes like this, I try to keep canned black beans on hand. With a little planning, cooked (dried) beans would work very well too.

The rule for most dried beans is:

1 pound dried beans = 2 cups dried beans = 5 cups cooked beans

Corn Off the Cob and Black Bean Salad

  • 4 ears sweet corn, cut off the cob
  • 1 – 15 oz can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Cook corn in boiling water for 12 minutes. Once the corn is cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife and cut corn off the cob. Use the back of your knife and run the knife up and down the cob to remove the last bits of corn clinging to the cob.
  2. Meanwhile rinse black beans and let drain until almost dry. Remove seeds from tomato and dice into ½ pieces. Dice onion. Rough chop washed cilantro.
  3. Mix corn, black beans, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.


 Posted by at 8:18 am
Aug 202012

tomato tart

Ever since the first tomatoes hit the farmers market this year, I have been craving a tomato tart.  All warm and savory, it is like being able to taste summer in every bit. I confess, I have never made one before – but I could close my eyes and taste the flavors I was after.

Because I planned on using a fairly shallow tart pan and was certain the dough would hold up, I decided to use the Pâte Brisée recipe. Be sure to read Choosing the Perfect Dough for the Job.

For the Pastry (single crust):

  • 1/2 cup butter, unsalted
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup very cold water

For the Tart:

  • 3 large Roma Tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Tarragon
  • 4 oz of Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Making the Pastry:

Cut the butter into very thin slices and place in freezer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix flour, salt, and sugar in large bowl. Place bowl in freezer for 15 minutes.

Add butter to flour and toss. Using fingers work the butter into the flour with a rubbing action. You still want to be able to see small flakes of butter in the flour. If the butter begins to warm, return bowl to freezer.

Add water, starting with 1/3 cup. Work dough, pressing together. If dough does not begin to hold its shape, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Use only enough to form a ball. It will be crumbly but still hold its shape. Press into disk.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

When ready to use, remove from refrigerator, unwrap, cut in half and roll out on floured surface. Keep the other half wrapped in frig until ready to use.

Assembling the Tart:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll the dough out to 1/8 inch in a 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to tart pan with removable bottom. Press dough into corners and trim so it is flush with sides. (I roll my rolling pin across the top of tart pan to cut pastry.) Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Remove from frig. Brush bottom of pastry shell with Dijon mustard.

Arrange tomatoes on pastry so they overlap slightly. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Add tarragon evenly over tomatoes. Top with Mozzarella cheese.

Bake tart for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Note: With my first attempt I used Better Boy tomatoes out of the garden. Although delicious, it created too much liquid in the tart. I made the recipe again using Roma tomatoes which resulted in a much more desirable tart. One that was easier to slice and serve.

tomato tart

 Posted by at 7:50 am
Jul 232012

Just a few weeks ago I told you Caprese Salad was my all time favorite summer side for just about any meat on the grill. Well give a women a surplus and one might be surprised with what she comes up with.

Corey has been after me to make Watermelon Rind Pickles. So off to the local farmers market I went and after a short discussion with the farmer’s wife, I chose a beautiful, oblong, seeded melon. Seeded? I *know*, with all those wonderful seedless varieties now. Turns out the seeded watermelon has a wonderfully thick white layer of rind, which is what I was after.

So now I was left with finding something to do with the rest of the melon. Or at least what was left after the kids and I got our fill. Then one night we had Summer Corn Chowder and hamburgers on the grill. Looking for something cool to balance the meal, I came up with this super easy Watermelon Salad.



Watermelon Salad

  • Watermelon, 1 inch cubes
  • Feta Cheese, crumbled
  • Basil, chiffonade
  • Balsamic vinegar

Cut watermelon into one inch cubes and add to medium size bowl.

Sprinkle with a good amount of feta cheese and basil, enough to get some in every bite.

Then drizzle with a small amount of balsamic vinegar. Toss and serve.

Note: The first time I made this salad, I simply sprinkled the salad with a little salt (pictured above). And although it was good, it was missing something. The second time through I chose an aged balsamic vinegar instead, which really jazzed it up. Definitely go with the balsamic vinegar!

 Posted by at 12:07 pm
Jul 202012

With so much of Corey’s family within a five mile radius I have had the privilege of hearing quite a few stories about Corey’s great-grandmother, affectionately known as Mama Childs. She was a true farmer’s wife, canning in the summer, being known for the best applesauce cake in five counties, and raising backyard chickens. What I wouldn’t do for a chicken coop like the one she had.

It was gorgeous even from a distance. It was painted a beautiful dark green color to blend in with her gardens and circular with one door. I never saw it up close, but I would guess that it was at least twelve feet across. Every morning she would let her proud brood out and every evening back in they would go. Corey remembers more than once helping her chase a new chicken out of her garden and back to the coop for the night. I never met Mama Childs, but I know I would have loved her company. Anyone who is famous for talking to her chickens is all right by me.

fresh eggs

farm eggs

Fun Chicken Facts

Chickens are omnivores. They’ll eat seeds and insects but also larger prey, like small mice and lizards.

There is no distinct difference in the taste between brown eggs and white eggs. What makes a difference is diet. Pasture raised chickens have darker, richer yokes due to the diversity in what they eat.

A top producing commercial hen can lay over 300 eggs per year. Most of the heritage breeds of chickens here on our farm lay somewhere between 220-280 eggs each year.

The record for egg laying was set in the 1920’s when a hen laid 364 eggs in 365 days.

One of the downsides to fresh eggs is that they are notorious for being hard to peal. Solution? Try steaming them.

deviled eggsDeviled Egg Recipe

  • 6 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon of vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar

Begin by placing your eggs in a vegetable steamer set over water. Be sure to give them plenty of elbow room. Steam for 10 minutes covered. Remove from heat and run cold water over eggs to cool quickly.

Once eggs are cooled completely, peel. Using a sharp knife cut eggs in half lengthwise. Put cooked egg yolks into a medium bowl, while putting egg whites carefully on a tray or plate.

Using a fork, mash egg yolks until they resemble a fine crumble. Add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Mix well.

Spoon the egg yolk mixture into egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

 Posted by at 12:56 pm
Jul 162012

caprese salad

As one might expect, I am truly a meat and potatoes kind of girl. There are exceptions of course, for example Insalata Caprese or Caprese Salad. I will plan an entire meal around this dish! And it’s super easy to make.

Layer sliced tomatoes, sliced mozzarella cheese, and basil. (Normally I layer them overlapping slightly on a plate. I placed them directly on top of each other here for a more interesting photo.)

Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.

For a little extra spice we often add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes or drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top.

My favorite summer meal?

Grilled farm fresh hamburgers topped with Gorgonzola cheese, corn on the cob, and Caprese salad. ♥ For me it doesn’t get any better than this!

What’s your favorite summer meal?

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 Posted by at 10:40 pm