September 30, 2011

Chicken and Vegetable Stew with Rosemary Dumplings

Last night I made something a little different.  I got the idea from the 125th Anniversary edition of The Good Housekeeping Cookbook.  They had a recipe in there for Chicken with Rosemary Dumplings.  I used that recipe for a starting point to make a version of my own.

The result was a thick, hearty stew full of vegetables and bits of chicken, served along with wonderfully flavorful dumplings.  The entire dish had a rich chicken flavor.  With Juli and me working together, this dish didn't take too long to make, and even if it had taken a lot more time, it would have been worth the effort.

Try it.  I'm pretty sure you'll be pleased.

Chicken and Vegetable Stew with Rosemary Dumplings

yield = 5-6 servings

3           tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
5           pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-
                size pieces
8           ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1           teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1           teaspoon salt
4           large carrots, peeled and sliced thin
2           large stalks celery, finely chopped
1           large onion, finely chopped
1           cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2           teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2     teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1           large egg
1 1/2     cups milk
2 1/2     cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4     cups water
2           cups frozen peas

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot.  Add half of the chicken pieces.1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until golden-brown.  Remove chicken to a bowl.  Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to drippings in the Dutch oven.   Add mushrooms, carrots, celery and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, about 10 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the dumplings.   In a small bowl, combine 1 cup flour, baking powder, rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, beat together egg and 1/2 cup milk.  Stir egg mixture into flour mixture until just blended.

Return chicken to Dutch oven.  Add chicken broth, water, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.   Drop tablespoons of the dumpling mixture on top of chicken and vegetables to make dumplings.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes.

Remove dumplings, chicken and vegetables to a serving bowl; keep warm.  In a cup, blend remaining 2 tablespoons flour with remaining 1 cup milk until smooth. Stir into the broth remaining in the Dutch oven.  Heat to boiling and let boil 1 minute or until slightly thickened.  Stir in peas and heat through (3 minutes). 

Add individual servings of chicken, vegetables and dumplings to bowls.  Ladle sauce over each serving and serve.


September 29, 2011

Gardening for Lazy People: The Cardboard Method

I recently read about a totally chemical-free way to get rid of weeds and grass in your garden.  It's so simple I can't believe it I haven't heard about it sooner! Now that it's time to rip out all the tired, dying plants lingering in our veggie patch, I thought we might try this technique.

Here's what you do:  First of all, clear all the big stuff out, like the sad droopy caged cherry tomato plants you can't even bear to look at any more, or the dried out string bean plants.  If your garden is like ours, there will be plenty of weeds and grass left.  Pull or clip any tall stuff, and go get yourself some old cardboard boxes- the bigger the better.

Break down each box into one big flat piece of cardboard, and put them on top of the garden, covering the entire surface.  Get out the garden hose, and soak the cardboard.  Anchor down with big rocks at the edges.  Water lightly once a week or so.  When frost threatens, water one last time.  Leave anchor rocks in place during winter.  (Don't forget to unhook your hose from the outdoor spigot and put it away for the winter- you don't want your pipes to burst!  Ask me how I know.  Sigh).

If you're even busier (or lazier) than us, wait until about April to do the cardboard coverage.  You should have a nice weed-free garden by planting time.

September 28, 2011

Planning a Marathon Cooking Session

I've been fascinated by Once a Month Cooking (OAMC) lately- probably because I would love to have our meals all ready to heat and eat, and have minimal meal clean-up. For a whole month! But this hasn't happened lately at our house.  Quite the opposite.  Sigh.

If you have a school-age child, or have activities that revolve around the school year, you'll know that your life changes significantly when September rolls around.  I am still struggling to adapt to the changing responsibilities that back-to-school time brings! 

For some reason, this year has been harder than usual to change our routine.  I think the problem may have started when we took a little weekend getaway over Labor Day Weekend.  That was enough to get us out of the cooking habit, and we've now eaten all our freezer lunches and have had to start going out for lunch. Ick!  Doing that costs more, takes up part of our limited lunch times, and the takeout food is usually lacking in vegetables, fruits, and -well- nutrition.

This Saturday Jeffrey and I have planned to do a lot of cooking.  We'll be making Cooks Illustrated's Chicken Pot Pie, which is actually more like a chicken casserole; 

either lasagne or spaghetti sauce

 and Crockpot Curry Beef

What do you have to do to have a successful cooking marathon?  Well, the first thing is to start with a clean kitchen, with all the countertops cleared of anything that's not essential.  For us, this usually means putting away the dishes that have been air-drying, and wiping down all the countertop surfaces.  We'll also get out any appliances we might need, such as the slow cooker, and make sure they're clean and ready to go.

You should also start with an empty kitchen garbage can, because you may end up with a lot of trash, and you'll want to concentrate all your energy on the actual cooking.  You will be cleaning up pots and pans and other dishes as you go, but emptying the trash can be a dirty job and is best avoided while you've got so many other things to keep track of.

Next, you'll need to pull together all your recipes, and make absolutely sure you have everything you need to make them.  When making up a grocery list, put like items together for ease of shopping.  So, all the meats would be listed together, all the canned vegetables, all the fresh produce, etc.  Make sure the shopping is done at least by the night before.  If you want to start kitchen prep the night before, that will help speed up your marathon cooking session, too.  For instance, we thought about making both a vegetable beef soup and the crockpot beef curry, and discussed getting a chuck roast and cutting it up for both recipes the night before.  The roast might be less per pound than the usual stew beef we use, so it's worth checking that type of thing out during the grocery phase.

Get plenty of sleep the night before- you're going to be on your feet for several hours, most likely, and if you're over-tired, the marathon will seem even longer!  Get up as early as you usually do during the week- you'll have more of a sense of accomplishment when you see just how much you've completed by mid-morning.

Make sure to dress comfortably and wear supportive shoes that won't hurt your feet.  I wear very comfortable sneakers, and I know better than to wear anything that might stain from tomato sauce or several bags worth of carrot peelings.

Hopefully all will go well, and we will have lots of pictures to share with you to show the fruits of our Saturday cooking spree.  Not to mention, a fully-stocked freezer!

September 27, 2011

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili

All in all, I rather like fall.  You can still grill outside pretty comfortably a good bit of the time, and it is cool enough that cooking will make your house more comfortable, not less so.   It's a great time of the year to start doing more baking and making hot soups, stews and chili.  Today's recipe is one example.

This chili doesn't include any meat.  Instead, it's based on one of the best fall vegetables, butternut squash.  This is just the thing to warm up a cool autumn day or evening.  It's rich, flavorful and hearty enough that you won't miss the meat.  Plus, it's easy to make.  It does take a fair amount of time to cook, but most of that time is spent with the pot simmering on the stove, which means you can spend most of the time doing something else - baking, perhaps, or even something outside the kitchen! - other than occasionally stirring. 

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili

yield = 8-10 servings

2             tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2             large onions, chopped
3             hot chili peppers (cayenne or serrano), minced
2             tablespoons minced garlic
2             tablespoon2 hot chili powder
1             tablespoon ancho chili powder
1             tablespoon ground coriander
1             tablespoon dried Mexican oregano, crushed
1/2          teaspoon ground cumin
8             cups low-sodium chicken broth
2             cups water
2             cans (14.5 ounce) fire-roasted tomatoes
1             pound dried black beans, rinsed
1             tablespoon (packed) light brown sugar
1             butternut squash (2-3 lbs), peeled, seeded and
1/2          cup quick-cooking bulgar
1 1/4       teaspoon table salt
1             teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper (to taste)
               sour cream and grated cheddar cheese,
                    as toppings

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Add onions and chilis and cook until soft and beginning to brown.  Add garlic, chili powders, coriander, oregano, cumin, cook 30 seconds, then stir in. 

Add chicken broth, water, tomatoes, black beans and brown sugar.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer with lid slightly ajar, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender (about two hours). 

Stir in butternut squash, bulgar, salt and pepper and simmer uncovered until the squash and bulgar are tender (about 1/2 hour).   Serve in bowls topped with sour cream and cheese.

September 26, 2011

Turkish-Style Lamb and Shrimp Patties with Tomato-Yogurt Sauce

I saw a recipe awhile back in Bon Appetit that featured small kebabs made with ground lamb and chopped shrimp, which the author described as something of a Middle Eastern take on "surf and turf."   The idea sounded different but nonetheless pretty good to me, but rather than make little appetizer-sized skewers, I went with something a bit larger.

In terms of technique, there isn't really much to these.  Add some chopped shrimp to the lamb, toss in some grated onions, herbs and seasonings, shape the mixture into whatever shape you like (I went with long shapes, which would fit nicely on a pita bread, but circular patties would work just fine, too).   Then toss them on the grill and cook them until they're cooked through.  The result:  a rich, juicy, delicious taste treat like nothing you've ever had. 

As I said, these would go great on a pita, but I didn't have any pita around, so I served them up with a tasty yogurt sauce.   They were just fine that way, too.  On or off the pita, this surf/turf combo is a winner.

Turkish-Style Lamb and Shrimp Patties with Tomato-Yogurt Sauce

yield - 6-8 servings

2 1/2         teaspoons minced garlic
2               teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4         pound ground lamb
1               pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined and
                   coarsely chopped
1/2            cup + 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/3            cup grated red onion
2               teaspoons ground cumin
1/2            teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2            teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1               cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1               small tomato, diced
1               tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1               teaspoon chopped fresh mint
                 additional kosher salt and black pepper
1               tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Sprinkle the kosher salt over the minced garlic, smearing together to make a paste.  Mix garlic paste with lamb, shrimp, cilantro, onion, cumin, red pepper flakes and black pepper.  Shape the lamb mixture as desired.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Mix together yogurt, tomato, lemon juice, mint and additional kosher salt and black pepper in a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. 

Remove the lamb patties from the fridge.  Prepare grill with a medium-hot fire and direct- and indirect-heat areas.   Brush the lamb patties on both sides with olive oil, then grill over direct heat for 6 minutes.  Turn the patties, grill on the other side an additional 6 minutes, then move them to the cooler part of the grill and cook until cooked through (another 5-6 minutes).  Serve the lamb-shrimp patties with the yogurt sauce.

September 25, 2011

Cuisinart Coffee Grinder

Jeffrey uses a electric coffee/spice grinder for a lot of his recipes, and lately with his focus on pie, has used it to grind instant tapioca very finely to thicken his apple and peach pies.  Our spice grinder did not take kindly to the extra workload, and the blades completely froze up.  I had to buy a new one today, and the prices are all over the place - from $20 to a staggering $150.  I wish I would have known about this last weekend, because I saw a perfectly good one at a rummage sale for $1.

I had hoped to find a Braun coffee grinder in the stores, because I had liked the one I'd had many years ago.  Before I got the Keurig habit, I would occasionally grind my own coffee beans.  I think that little machine went to college with my son.  Anyway, there weren't any Brauns in the store at all.  I checked online, and found out that the company stopped making them around 2008.

Knowing how hard it would be working, I opted for the least expensive grinder.  Let's hope for the best!  I picked up a Cuisinart Coffee Grinder.   If it lasts for a year, I'll be amazed.  The expensive models honestly didn't look much better.

I'll keep you updated;  it will be interesting to see how long this one runs before Jeffrey kills it!

September 24, 2011

Restaurant and Grocery Review: Namaste India Groceries and Kitchen

This is something of an unusual post for us, in that we don't have any original pictures.   This is what happens when you forget to bring your camera.  

Anyhow, about Namaste.

Namaste India Groceries and Kitchen is, as the name would suggest, both an Indian grocery store and an Indian restaurant.  While it isn't our favorite local choice in either category - we prefer India Star as Indian restaurants go, and Maria Grocery as Indian groceries go - it is nonetheless pretty good on both counts.  As the restaurant side of the business goes, they serve pretty typical Indian fare, most of it pretty good.  They have a lunch buffet, but we've never eaten there for lunch and thus can't comment on the quality of the buffet.  As a grocery, they are quite good, with a nice range of produce - including some things  I've rarely seen at Maria Grocery - and they also happen to be a good source for some unusual ingredients.   Goat, for instance, is not easy to find in Des Moines, but they are well-stocked at Namaste.  They also have a pretty good selection of frozen Indian dishes.  Maria has an overall better selection of stuff we use most often, though, and some of the produce - the mangos, for example - are far superior to what we've seen at Namaste.

On this occasion, we ate at the restaurant.  We had vegetable samosas, matar paneer (peas and cheese in a curry gravy) and lamb vindaloo, plus a double order of naan.  All were quite good, with the matar paneer being the stand-out of the bunch. 

While the food was quite good, the service on this occasion left something to be desired.  I dont' recall it being quite this bad at past visits, but Juli says she recalls the service being pretty poor on other visits as well.  Either way, I was less than pleased with tonight's service.  While the waiter was in a hurry to get our order, he didn't bother filling our drinks until after the appetizers arrived, and he never refilled them, or even asked if we'd like a refill.  It also took a ridiculously long time to get our check once we finished our meal.  I'm pretty sure we sat at least 15 minutes past our finishing before he even came by.  This poor service is part of why I don't think Namaste will be replacing India Star as our favorite local Indian restaurant any time soon.

In sum, Namaste India Groceries and Kitchen is a pretty good Indian grocery, and the Kitchen part of the business serves up pretty darn good food, but the service leaves a lot to be desired.  If you're in a hurry to get in and out, I would definitely not recommend Namaste, but if you don't mind waiting and aren't too bothered by iffy service, the food is maybe worth the wait.

Namaste is located at 7500 University Ave., Suite A, Clive, IA 50325.  Hours are:  G

September 23, 2011

Pasta with Mushroom Marinara Sauce

I'm posting a lot later than usual due to us being really busy lately, but tonight's post is about a new dish I tossed together tonight.  It's a completely original recipe, one that came together in my mind this morning as I thought about what I was going to make tonight.

In designing this recipe, I was going for a greater depth of flavor than one usually gets from a simple red sauce.   Toward that purpose, I used flavorful porcini mushrooms in addition to the common button mushroom, I cooked down a bit of red wine, and I added three somewhat unusual ingredients, namely anchovy fillets, a bit of Worcestershire sauce and a bit of Parmesan rind.  Parmesan rind is more typically used in soups, but it blended nicely into this sauce, providing a nice bit of richness. 

I'm really pleased with the results.  With all the mushrooms and the rich, thickened sauce, this was nicely filling without meat.  I used campanelle, so the pasta shapes would hold the bits of mushroom nicely, but pretty much any pasta, including spaghetti, would be fine for this dish.  Served up with a salad, this made for a really nice, and pretty fast, dinner.

Pasta with Mushroom Marinara Sauce

yield = 6 servings

3            tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1            medium onion, minced
12          ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1            ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked and chopped
2            teaspoons minced garlic
1/2         teaspoon dried basil
1/2         teaspoon dried oregano
1/2         teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/4         teaspoon table salt + 1 teaspoon with pasta
1/4         teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2         cup Merlot (or other red wine)
1            can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1            can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
1            ounce anchovy fillets
1            ounce Parmesan cheese rind, chopped.
1            tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1            pound campanelle or other pasta
              freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat olive oil to shimmering in a large skillet.  Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened.  Add the button and porcini mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have given off their moisture and said moisture has cooked off.  Add garlic, basil, oregano, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the garlic is fragrant (about 45 seconds).   Add Merlot and cook until the wine has cooked down about halfway.   Add whole and crushed tomatoes, anchovy fillets, Parmesan rind and Worcestershire sauce.  Break up the tomatoes with the side of a wooden spoon and stir to mix.  Simmer until nicely thickened, about 1/2 hour.

Meanwhile, add the remaining salt to a large pot with 4 quarts of water.  Bring to a boil, add pasta and cook per package directions (10-11 minutes for al dente, in the case of campanelle).  Drain pasta, top portions of pasta with sauce, sprinkle with grated cheese and serve.

September 22, 2011

Fort Dodge Lutheran Rummage Sale

Here is one last post from our quickie Fort Dodge trip.  I will confess to being a Goodwill/garage sale junkie, so when Mom said one of the Lutheran churches in town was having a rummage sale, we both agreed that we needed to go right away.

I found some great stuff!  The jello mold below only set me back 25 cents and came with the original recipe booklet, including coupons that expired in 2000! There is a cranberry salad that looks really good, in addition to the pineapple/cherry one you can see on the cover.

My favorite find of the day was the square white baking dish I picked up for a dollar.  It turned out to be an old Fire King design called Meadow Green, or maybe Green Meadow.  I'm not entirely clear on that point.  If I wanted to sell it on Ebay, I could probably get $10-$20 for it.  I won't sell it, though, because we need a square apple crisp/brownie baking dish. The flower/snowflake design is so cheerful, it makes me smile.

Detail of the Meadow Green baking dish.

Then, I found an old cookbook called Betty Crocker's Party Book, a first edition published in 1960.  Just last week I'd found a similar book at Half Price Books called Betty Crocker's Cooking Calendar, which came out in 1962.  I had wanted it, but it was in the vintage section and cost $40, so THAT sale wasn't going to happen.   The Party Book set me back $1.  I love the old illustrations and the hideous food photos.

Which one of these things is edible?  Hmmm.

I also picked up an old Fleischmann's Yeast Baking booklet.  It was published in 1962 and is worth about $10.50 if you're an old cookbook fan.  I paid 50 cents, and got an additional bonus of newspaper clippings, including one for Circus Peanut Jello Salad. That was my favorite candy as a kid!  How could I resist? (For those who have never tried a circus peanut, I can tell you that they are 1.  very orange.  2.  very marshmallowey-flavored, and 3.  always stale.  In a good way!

File:Circus Peanuts.jpg

I also picked up a really battered Better Homes and Gardens Dessert Cook Book from 1960.  I'm thinking maybe the same lady donated all the cookbooks?  Anyway, I picked it up because it had clearly been used heavily, and there were newspaper clippings, a hand-typed recipe for oatmeal cookies, and paperclips and bookmarks stuck in to several pages for the previous owner's favorites.  It's like getting a historical recommendation!

I did find one thing for Jeffrey- a very sweet little set of ceramic sauce holders, each with a little blue and white ceramic spoon.  This will be perfect for the Indian food he serves that has a mint sauce, a tamarind sauce, and a chutney.  Or maybe if I have company and want to serve 3 kinds of home-made jam at breakfast time.  At $1 for the set, it was a great find.

What's the best thing you've ever found in a secondhand shop?  If you'd like to share, leave me a comment!  (My favorite thing was probably a McCoy flower pot I found at the local Goodwill for $2).

And, just in case you're curious, here's the Circus Peanut Recipe.  I love the way 'jello' is spelled!

Circus Peanut Salad

1 6-ounce package orange Jell-O
2 cups hot water
1 package circus peanuts (about 40), cut into pieces
2 cups pineapple juice and water mixed
1 13-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
1 8-ounce Cool Whip or 1 package of Dream Whip

Dissolve Jell-O in hot water. Add peanuts.  Stir to dissolve. Add juice and water, and let set until medium firm.  Add pineapple and Cool Whip or Dream Whip.  Nuts can be added if desired.  Chill until firm.

September 21, 2011

Restaurant Review: Taste of Thai

We're big fans of Thai food.  I have cooked a fair number of Thai dishes, and we're always happy to find a good Thai restaurant.   That being the case, we were pleased by our recent visit to Taste of Thai.  It was our first time there, but it won't be the last.

Taste of Thai is located in the East Village, in the same building that previously housed a restaurant called A Taste of Thailand.  That restaurant was a Des Moines mainstay for more than two decades, but it closed a few years ago.  My hope is that Taste of Thai will have at least as long a tenure as did its predecessor.

The restaurant isn't much to look at from the outside, but the interior decor is quite nice.   "Classy without pretense, with plenty of Thai accents" is a pretty apt summary.

Taste of Thai doesn't serve a great number of dishes, but the ones they do serve represent a pretty good sample of Thai cuisine.   The curries feature the thin gravy that is typical of Thai curries, rather than a thick one as one finds in Indian curries.  Vegetable and seafood dishes are well-represented.  Everything is served attractively. 

We had two appetizers, crab rangoon and chicken satay.  The first was served with a sweet sauce, the second with a peanut sauce and a relish.  Both appetizers were quite good, but I can't say they were a good deal given the price. 

Juli ordered pineapple fried rice with chicken for her entree, while I ordered a red curry with beef and squash.  The entrees were even better than the appetizers, and unlike the appetizers, they were more than worth the price.  The servings were quite generous.  I thought the red curry was particularly good, as the various flavors - hot peppers, lemongrass, galangal - were distinct enough to be noticed while still providing a balanced flavor to the dish.

For dessert, we shared an order of mango sticky rice.  As with the entrees, the dessert was delicious and the portion more than generous.  This was perhaps the best version of this standard Thai delicacy we've ever had.

Really, the only thing we didn't like about our visit to Taste of Thai was the beverage we ordered.  We both ordered ice tea, and what we got wasn't what we expected.   We were served a fragrant tea that probably would have been quite good hot, but as an ice tea it was just wrong. 

Taste of Thai was doing good business when we were there, both restaurant dining and take-out. We hope they continue to do good business, and we plan to do our part to make sure Taste of Thai is a success.

Taste of Thai is located at 215 E. Walnut St.Des Moines, IA 50309.  Their hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner Mondays through Saturdays.

September 20, 2011

Fort Dodge Community Apple Orchard

Jeffrey and I like to visit the Fort Dodge Community Apple Orchard when we're visiting my parents.  Last year we were there too late to get any Paula Red apples, which are my favorite for apple pies.  This year we got the last of the crop;  they must be a very early apple.

We sampled the Honey Crisp and Honey Sweet apples.  The Honey Crisp is indeed a very crunchy apple, with a taste that's a bit sweeter than a Granny Smith.  The Honey Sweet was also crisp, and just like its name forecasts, is a very pleasant, sweet apple- perfect for eating straight out of hand.

We bought a big bag of Paula Reds, the "seconds".  These are apples that aren't totally cosmetically appealing, but work perfectly well in pies, crisps, and other baked apple desserts.  They are significantly cheaper than the "firsts".

My son wanted some tart eating apples, so we got him a small bag of Cortlands, which are good for both baking and eating raw.

These were VERY tempting.

The gift shop was brimming over with Halloween cheer!

I was disappointed that there weren't any tin goats for sale this year.  I missed out on my chance to get one on our visit last October.  I thought for sure that they'd carry them again, since one of the big attractions of the orchard is a goat playground, ruled by the billy goat Uncle Buck.  Uncle Buck is a hoot;  everybody loves watching him and his cohorts.  There were a few tin turtles, but it's just not the same.

Travelling the Pumpkin Trail

There was even a Frankenstein-green tin rabbit.

Actually sort of scary.

I liked these glossy ceramic mushrooms. 
I could pose these for my non-existent tin goat to eat.

We had a great time at the orchard, and picked up some of Jeffrey's favorite teas from Fortune Tea along with the apples.  On the off-chance that anyone from Community Apple Orchards reads this, here is my solitary request:  Bring back the tin Uncle Bucks!

P.S. Thanks for the apples, they're GREAT!

September 19, 2011

Fort Dodge Farmers Market

Jeffrey and I took a very short trip up to Fort Dodge to see my parents and to check out two of our favorite places:  the Fort Dodge farmers market and the Fort Dodge Community Apple Orchard.  I took so many pictures that I'll be breaking our adventures up into two posts! 
We drove up last Friday night and got up early for the farmers market.  It had turned cold, and all the farmers were bundled up in sweatshirts, good-naturedly complaining about the weather.

There was even one truck filled with sweet corn.  I thought for sure it would be too late for the corn to be much good, and passed on picking any up.  Dad got some though, and we ate it for lunch- wonderful bi-color corn with that just-picked sweet flavor- so good!  If the market hadn't been closed by that time, I would have run out to get some of my own! 

Is it fall yet?

I spotted this colorful pickup bed filled with pumpkins, including the warty kind I find appealing.  If I'd had a little more cash, probably one of these would have come home with us.

There were still lots of tomatoes.....

And lots of squash, both summer and winter varieties:

Even more!

Also lots of vegetables we've been seeing all summer:

We ended up buying two small basil plants for $2 each, which I thought was quite a bargain. Seed, the charming and magical shop in the East Village area of downtown Des Moines, has  pretty much the same thing for $6 each.  Now I just need to get them safely planted in pots we can keep indoors this winter.

Pictured from left to right starting at the bottom:

Row 1:  basil plants, Giant Marcone peppers, ripened Jalapeno peppers, lemon, cherry, and grape tomatoes, striped delicata squash.

Row 2:  popcorn, Kouri squash, beefsteak tomatoes, creamy white pattypan squash

Row 3:  apples from the orchard (more about them in an uncoming post)