Author Archives: Casey Myers

Weekend zen.

My semester began on Monday and I have to confess…I ate like a college kid this week. The stress and the new schedule combined with other people’s incompetence several departmental emergencies made for some very long days and too many take away dinners. Getting all of my hats to fit just right is always a challenge during the first few weeks of the semester. Luckily, HFM and Birdsong saved me today. I had this for lunch with a piece of toasted multigrain bread from Rafael and a glass of home-brewed green iced tea:

Heirloom tomatoes and basil and fresh mozzarella. I wanted to cry. In other farmers’ market news, Northcoast Zeitgeist has redesigned the logo for our beloved HFM (no more sad tomato and green beans!). We think it’s really beautiful and it should start appearing on market merchandise soon!

Egg Salad on Toast

Nothing too special about egg salad on toast, but it is the kind of food that can be counted upon if it’s made well. My ingredients were local (and personal), so it tasted good and also felt good to make, which is what I actually, very much needed. And for those reasons, it might have been the best thing I’ve eaten all summer. I’m not sure anyone needs a recipe for egg salad, but this is what to do just in case:

Just barely hard boil four free-range eggs from Black Dog Acres, then peel and chop.

Mix with one rib of celery (diced), one small jalapeno pepper (seeded and diced) and one quarter of a small red onion (shaved). All from farmer Bernie.

Stir in one or two generous tablespoons of  mayonnaise (just make your own like this or this with more of the trustworthy eggs). Add dashes of kosher salt, black pepper, and good amazing paprika (but only if you are lucky enough to have a friend who will wait patiently while you smell every paprika twice before you find the perfect one).

Pile half of the salad on a thick slice of crunchy toast (save the other half for your better half). Add chopped herbs from my garden, a sliced tomato from my mother’s. Add a little more Spanish paprika (in honor of the Spaniard who baked the bread).

If toast for dinner is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Cranberry-blueberry toast from Breadsmith in Fairlawn, organic berries from Krieger’s, and Kim’s mixed berry jam. Okay, this wasn’t actually the only thing I ate for dinner. We also had a mushroom and kale omelette. But this little toast was so good that it rendered the eggs to also-ran status. In other words, this toast was the Barack Obama of toasts.

I would write more about this, but I need to scrub the jam off of my face and slip into a food coma.

Dill Refrigerator Pickles

Jeez. Of course I have to post some kind of half-assed jar recipe on the same night Kim goes into a beautiful magenta canning frenzy. But tonight I realized that I had a pound of baby cucumbers sitting in my crisper from Saturday’s market that needed to be used RIGHT NOW, so what can I say? Did I mention I don’t plan very well? Anyway, instead of choking down “cucumbers three ways” for dinner, I made these quick refrigerator pickles (or “quickles” as they have so annoyingly lovingly been dubbed in our house) so as not to waste these lovely little guys. This also gave me the opportunity to use dill and onions from my own garden…bonus! The recipe is very flexible in terms of spices and herbs, but water:vinegar:salt need to stay in the appropriate proportions. I’ve also used this recipe with fresh green beans!

Ingredients

  • 1 -1 1/2 lbs pickling cucumbers,  cut in half lengthwise or in rounds depending on the size of your jar(s)
  • 2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced ( I used baby onions)
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt (or other salt, just make sure it is not iodized)
  • 1 good handful of fresh dill
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes or a dried red hot pepper (I used a few slices of  fresh poblano)
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns

Directions:

  1. Place all the seasonings in the bottom of your jar(s). Add the cucumber halves, stacking as you go. The basic thing to try and arrange them so they don’t float around too much.
  2. Measure out the vinegar, water and salt in a separate container and stir/shake until the salt dissolves.
  3. Pour the liquid into the jar containing the cucumbers. Make sure the liquid covers all of the cucumbers. Mix up another batch if necessary to fill all of your jars.
  4. Seal the lid tightly and shake for about a minute. Now find a good home for the jar in your fridge
  5. Wait about a week before eating, giving the jar a good shake each day. These will only keep for a few weeks, so eat them up!

Herbed Tomato and Pea Salad

 I had all kinds of designs for the basket of hothouse tomatoes from yesterday’s market (roasting and tossing with pasta, stuffing with rosemary breadcrumbs, etc.) before I knew how delicious and fragrant they were. As soon as I realized that they tasted like actual tomatoes, I knew a raw dish would be the ticket. But what to do? My other lovely market purchases included asparagus, garlic-dill chévre, grass-fed gouda, two kinds of pasta, onions, shelling peas, kale, and cukes. I kicked around several ideas, but here’s what actually happened: An herbed tomato and pea salad with chèvre.

And it was so good! I tossed three tomatoes (diced) with four handfuls of peas (blanched, then shocked) and a handful of chopped herbs (mint, parsley, and dill). After plating, I drizzled a bit of good olive oil, crumbled a little chèvre, and added few grinds of pepper and a little sea salt. Perfection.

Okay, okay. Palmfuls and sprinkles and bits aren’t really a recipe. But I tend to just buy what’s gorgeous and go from there, so there is hardly ever a recipe in mind before I shop or even while I’m cooking. Don’t kick me off of the blog just yet though. I seem to make salads like this quite often and after some thought I realized that I use the same basic formula for each one.

Salad = 2-3 veg or fruit +1 acid +1 fat + 1-3 herbs +1-2 garnishes

I find that this simple formula keeps me from overly complicating things. Stick to the formula, add a bit of salt and pepper if needed, and it’s delicious! Here are a few that I have made in the past couple of months that all stick to the basic formula:

Roasted acorn squash and carrots with a lemon dill-tarragon vinaigrette, toasted hazelnuts and feta

Fresh pineapple and cucumbers with lime  cilantro-mint  vinaigrette and diced  hot chili pepper

Grilled corn, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes with basil-parsley vinaigrette and toasted pine nuts

Strawberries and shaved fennel with basil balsamic vinegarette, crumbled blue cheese and toasted walnuts

Obviously , I use the word “vinaigrette” WAY loosely. It just  consists of  a handful of chopped herbs, the fat (usually a drizzle of olive oil) and the acid (usually fresh lemon or lime juice). If I am using a particularly ripe, acidic fruit (e.g., tomato) I usually count the juice it will give as my acid and ditch the juice or vinegar.

I have found through some trial and error that there are ways to make that formula work better. For example, always get the best ingredients that you can afford because each one is important when there are so few competing flavors. Also, use the garnishes to only to provide contrasting textures or flavors (I usually employ the garnishes for crunch or creaminess or heat). As you can see above, my favorite garnishes are toasted nuts and semi-soft cheeses, but could you imagine crumbled bacon? The vegetarian kryptonite that is crispy, salty bacon? I totally could. I mean, I would if I weren’t mostly vegetarian. Right. That’s the story I’m sticking with.