Thursday, June 28, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Strawberry season is winding down here in Boston, but if it's still going strong where you live, you should try this simple Strawberry Rhubarb Compote out. It's a tangy, sweet condiment that goes great on it's own or along side grilled pork or roasted chicken.

I got some beautiful rhubarb from my CSA at Newton Community Farm and paired it up with strawberries from my CSA at Stillman's for the compote.
Chop the rhubarb into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces - total was about 3 cups worth. I mixed it with a pint of chopped strawberries in a saucepan with the juice and zest of 1 lemon, 2 TBS raw honey, 1 generous tsp cinnamon, a pinch of salt and about 1/4 cup of water.

Bring it up to a boil, than reduce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. If it's looking too thin here, you can dissolve 1/2 tsp of arrowroot powder in 2 TBS water, and add it to the mix to thicken it up. However, be careful to not make it too thick, for some thickening occurs as it cools.

When it's done, the rhubarb will have almost cooked down totally, and there will be a few berries left.
This compote is a great way to use that rhubarb that you don't know what to do with and preserve those summer strawberries. I had some leftover so I stuck it in the freezer. It will be good to pull towards the end of summer as fall is rounding the corner, when I'll be yearning for those summer berries again.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Garden update, Harvest Tallies, Road to RKC

Our garden boxes are doing fantastic! Here's some progress pics to check out.

Carrots coming up and looking good:
Rainbow Chard:
The marigolds we started from seed that are scattered throughout the boxes are now in bloom:
The basil plants have expanded:
A beet, ready to be pulled:
And the gorgeous beet greens:
Our heirloom beans are climbing up the trellis:
The tomato plants have all either flowered or have tomatoes growing:
We also put in some berry bushes, blueberries and raspberries, and the blues are on their way:
To date, this is what has been harvested and enjoyed:
Broccoli: 27.3 oz
Radishes: 2.2 oz
Beets/Greens: 21.2 oz
Basil: 0.3 oz
Total: 51 oz of produce = 3.19 lbs Not too bad for late June!!
The broccoli plants have all been harvested and we added in cauliflower and cabbage plants. The broccoli was delicious; here it's sauteed with young garlic, from Allandale Farm:
Patiently waiting for those tomatoes to ripen up!!

Ok, now a quick update on my training for RKC. I feel like I've reached a plateau. For a while, I was going like gang busters and I made some great progress (read about that progress in this post: Training). The past couple of weeks though, have just felt weird for me. I'm in between programs and feel a little lost. I'm hoping that next week, after meeting with my coach (Mike Perry, Skill of Strength), that I can get back on the train so to speak.
I guess for me, this is just part of the journey. It's ups and it's downs. Some days I feel like I'll go to RKC and conquer it. Other days I question myself, should I even be going to RKC, and why am I doing this? So the journey continues....I'm looking forward to getting a new training program next week and hopefully it will bring me some plateau busting gains.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Opah Pesto Packets

So, while at Whole Foods the other day, I spied a fish I had never tried called Opah. It's a fish from Hawaii, that is also called moonfish. It's got a pink flesh that is firm and sweet. I bought 2 big fillets and decided to use a cooking technique with them called "en papillote" which means "in parchment" in French. Basically it means to cook something wrapped in parchment paper.

By doing this, you benefit in a few ways: 1) you make an individual serving, so it's good for portion control 2) cooking in parchment most usually leads to a real tender and moist final product, 3) clean up is a breeze.
Here I've taken the Opah fillets and coated with the Garlic Scape and Herb Pesto I made (recipe here: Pesto). I placed the fillet on a bed of spinach, red onion slices and arugula and topped it with some lemon slices (spinach and arugula from Stillman's Farm).

After you load up your parchment, you need to close it up tight to ensure that any steam that forms inside during cooking can't escape. There are a couple of ways to do this. I use a technique where I bring the edges together and make small folds, over one another while pressing down on the edges.

To cook these packets, I actually used our grill. It was a hot day and I didn't want to turn on the oven. I turned on half the grill, left the packets on a baking sheet and placed it upon the unlit side of the grill. I maintained the heat around 400 degrees. I cooked the fish for about 15 - 18 minutes. A good rule of thumb is about 10 minutes per inch of fish cooking time. The Opah fillets were pretty thick, so I let them go closer to 20 minutes.

The result was a firm and deliciously tender fish, over the wilted greens and onions, flavored with all of the herbs in the pesto. Delish!!

I would recommend trying out Opah if you have the chance as well as trying out the "en papillote" method. You can use it with any protein/veggie/flavor combo  - the possibilities are really endless.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Garlic Scape Herb Pesto, Paleo friendly

It's garlic scape season! Garlic scapes are the flower stem of the garlic plant. They form on the plant after the leaves form and get cut off so that the garlic bulb will start to form.
They have a mild garlic/onion flavor and can be used in a variety of ways from taking the place of garlic in sautes, soups or stews etc, or even used raw, as in pesto. Use the entire stalk, after washing, of course.

I used the garlic scapes to make a paleo friendly herb pesto. I took 4 scapes, and gave them a rough chop.
I processed the scapes in a food processor with a handful of dill, handful of cilantro, handful of spinach and a handful of basil, along with 1/4 - 1/2 cup macadamia nuts and some sea salt. The macadamia nuts give the pesto it's creamy consistency, basically taking the place of cheese.
After a rough process to the herbs, spinach, scapes and nuts, I drizzled in extra virgin olive oil to form the pesto. Check out the beautiful, creamy green color:
Play around with the pesto by changing up the herbs you use. The scapes are mild, so a batch of pesto can really take 4-6 scapes without overpowering the flavor.
If you would like to add in a cheese, add just 1/4 cup nuts, such as pine nuts or macadamia nuts. Then after drizzling in the oil, stir in your cheese of choice, i.e., Parmigiano Reggiano, Romano etc

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Our first harvest, CSA pickup and RKC training update

We had our first harvest, while it was small, it was yummy.
We harvested some broccoli and 2 radishes :)

My friend Fred, from Grown Away, weighs his harvest so he can know his yield for the season. I think that's a great idea, and so I weighed what we picked:
Broccoli: 7.6 oz
Radish: 0.9 oz
Total: 8.5 oz
I'll plan to keep a running tally of our 2012 growing season as well!

The radishes are a variety called watermelon radishes - check out how pretty they are:
They have a similar flavor to standard red radishes; they had a strong bite to them.

The broccoli was sauteed with some garlic and was promptly consumed!

On the horizon, more broccoli, beets and yes, some of the tomatoes are coming in!

This week also marked my first week's pick up for the CSA from Newton Community Farm. I had an excellent haul, with rhubarb, spinach, arugula, cilantro, oregano, rainbow chard, Asian greens, garlic scapes and radishes.

Yesterday for dinner, I made a grilled (pastured) pork tenderloin from Stillman's Farm, which was rubbed with fresh rosemary, thyme and garlic, and served it with the Asian greens from NCF, sauteed w.garlic, to make a great, local dinner.

To top the week off, I got notice yesterday that my Stillman's CSA starts next week - the earliest I can remember it starting :) Off to a great CSA/garden season!!

RKC update
My training is going well. I've been gunning away and making good progress. My RKC weekend is now just shy of 4 months away, Sept 28-30, 2012.
Here's where I'm at:

I'm consistently swinging the 32kg and lighter.

For one arm swings, my 24kg are improving, and I'm consistently swinging 20kg/16kg.

For snatches, the 16kg continues to be challenging, but is definitely improving. The 12kg feels great for the snatch, and I hope to test with it. I'm keeping a careful and close watch on my weight: women under 123.5 lbs can snatch the 12kg for the snatch test, which is 100 snatches in 5 minutes. As I train however, I'll train as if I'm going to test with the 16kg, as a safety precaution.

I can now press the 16kg, both sides. My PR is 3R/3L.
The heaviest clean I've done is 20kg.

Working on Get-ups with the 16kg; my 12kg TGUs feel good.

The heaviest I've gone for a Goblet squat is 24kg; (this is the only exercise I'm not too worried about, as I can squat from here until next baby got back)....

I've started to try to incorporate bar calesthenics -I'm going for that pull-up. I'm able to do a chin-up and actually got 2, consecutive, unassisted recently. I've been working on my flew-arm hangs w.chin-up grip. I've not been able to do a flex-arm hang with a pull-up grip (over hand), but I've been doing a lot of dead hangs and holding a leg raise w.over hand grip. Grease the groove!!!

So that's it. I'm doing well and trying to keep a positive outlook. Sometimes I get discouraged (where snatching is concerned). The 16kg feels so heavy to me to snatch, and I often wonder if I'll get it down in the next 4 months. I need to OWN it. I'm hoping consistency in my training will prove successful :)

Until next time, eat clean and train hard!!