Beth Fish Reads (though I realize I am more than a little late this weekend!).
I do enjoy making up my own recipes (my Taste of Mardi Gras recipes were published in the February 2012 issue of Family Fun magazine *), but my main source for recipes is usually Cooking Light magazine. I have been reading the magazine since 1991 and subscribed for many years, so I have over a decade's worth of issues lined up on a shelf in my kitchen! And the crazy thing is that I refer to them every single day. I just love their focus on great flavor while also cooking healthy food. So, I'm really not much of a cookbook person, despite my love of books.
The other thing you should know about me food-wise is that for the past 2 years, we have been participating in our local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. That means that each Monday, from June through the end of October, I drive to a local farm a couple of miles away and pick up our share of freshly harvested, organic veggies for the week. I love this program! The produce is so amazingly fresh and delicious. However, it can be a challenge sometimes to figure out what to do with unusual veggies (like the kohlrabi in last week's pick-up!). You can find a local CSA in your own area at the Local Harvest website.
Oh, I guess there is another thing you should know. I have a chronic illness, a serious immune system disorder known by the silly misnomer Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). That means two things with respect to food and cooking. Although I love to cook, I can't spend a lot of time on my feet, so most of our meals need to be fairly quick and easy. And my son (who also has CFS) and I are both trying a gluten-free, dairy-free diet on the advice of a specialist, so that makes cooking even more challenging. I know I need to avoid dairy forever (or until a cure for CFS is found!) because I am actually intolerant to dairy since getting sick, but the gluten avoidance is more of a trial for now.
So, with that background, here is what I cooked for my family this weekend:
Friday night, after shopping in the morning, I needed something super quick and easy, so I made Sausage, Kale, and Bean Soup, a recipe from Cooking Light that I found in their online database, looking for a way to use our CSA kale that my family would actually eat! I added chopped onion and carrot to the recipe, and I paired it with a loaf of whole wheat sourdough bread from Whole Foods (my one gluten splurge this week!). It was a perfect dinner for a cool fall evening. My husband and son did complain a bit about the kale, but overall, everyone enjoyed the soup.
Saturday, looking to use up some of the large volume of butternut squash we have from our CSA, I made one of my all-time favorite soups, Golden Winter Soup, another excellent recipe from Cooking Light. I subbed coconut milk (the kind in the carton in the milk section of the grocery store, not in the cans in the Indian section) for the half-and-half called for in the recipe, and it was absolutely delicious - so rich and creamy - mmmm! Since there's not a lot of protein in that soup, I made grilled ham and cheese sandwiches for my husband and son (using reduced-fat cheddar and whole wheat bread). For me, I tried making a faux grilled ham and cheese sandwich with gluten-free bread and soy cheese. Yeah, it was about as bad as it sounds! Good thing I included ham, mustard, and tomatoes on mine. As much as I miss cheese, the fake cheese just isn't worth it.
On Sundays, our college-age son comes home to visit so I can refill his weekly medicine containers and give him his weekly B12 shot. Well, mostly, he comes home for gluten-free/dairy-free pancakes (banana-chocolate chip today) on Sunday mornings! So, I usually try to make something for Sunday night dinner that I think he will like (which usually means beef in some form). Still having a surplus of butternut squash in the fridge, I tried Beef Tangine with Butternut Squash, another recipe from Cooking Light (seeing a pattern here?). My husband and I thought it was absolutely delicious! My younger son wasn't thrilled with the squash in it, but I served it over noodles (oops - another gluten cheat!) which won him over. My younger son tasted the spicy seasoning suspiciously and said, "There's a spice in here I don't like - is it ginger?" sigh...yes, it was ginger...and also cinnamon, which he doesn't like. Can't put one past him! Cooking for kids (even grown-up ones who are taller than me!) is a challenge sometimes.
Well, this was fun - I hope you enjoyed hearing about my cooking adventures this weekend. Now it's time for our gluten-free brownies (Trader Joe's brand is sooo good!) with ice cream for the dairy eaters and Soy Delicious! coconut milk "ice cream" (which really is amazingly delicious) for me. Hope you had a good weekend!
* Three of my New Orleans recipes published in Family Fun (which also happen to be three of my family's favorite meals!) are available online: