Growing Organic Potatoes

Growing Organic PotatoesI don’t have a green thumb, but thankfully when it comes to things like growing organic potatoes and tons of other produce, my mother, sister and brother-in-law do.

Two weekends ago it was time to start digging up the potatoes in the big garden on the homestead. My mom’s a seed-saver, which means she carefully keeps seeds from the produce she’s grown (mostly heirloom and all organic) to use for planting the next season’s crops.

Digging up organic potatoes by hand

In this case, all the potatoes in these rows are from just a few russet, white and red potatoes she kept and planted. There are various machines you can use to unearth the potatoes (which ideally grow just a couple inches under the soil), but my mom pulls hers out by hand – or by pitchfork.

Voles eating organic potatoesMy urban farmer sister, Josie, happened to be visiting from Brooklyn this weekend, so she was giving some of the odd-looking potatoes a once-over.

Some had a greenish hue, which means they grew exposed to light. You don’t want to eat those – they become toxic and can give you an upset tummy.

Other potatoes had been chewed on. Yes. CHEWED. The spuds with bite marks were completely underground (a little deeper than the un-gnawed ones), which means whatever was eating them also had to live underground. The culprits? Well, we don’t know for sure, but my sister believes them to be voles, which are little mouse-like rodents.

The good news is, when you have inedibles pulled from our garden, they don’t go to waste. Some scraps head to be composted, but many get delivered to the chickens – which they LOVE.

Chickens eating organic potatoesConvenient, right?

My mom planted only a handful of potatoes. When all’s said and done, and each row was unearthed, we ended up with a bounty that weighed in at over 100 pounds. ONE HUNDRED POUNDS! Just from a few organic potatoes.

I love sustainability.

Honey Lemon Zucchini Bread

Honey Lemon Zucchini Bread

I’ve been staring at two giant zucchini in my fridge for a couple weeks now.

One came from our garden here on the homestead, and the other came from my co-worker who had no use for it. Obviously when fraught with what to do with this giant zucchini she thought, “Liza will take it.”

Because, obviously. I’m like Mikey with the Life cereal when it comes to garden bounty.

Giant Zucchini

I spent 15 minutes shredding those two suckers, and ended up with a little over 6 cups of zucchini bits. Two cups got frozen, and the rest was used for zucchini bread.

We love zucchini bread over here. It’s one of my daughter’s favorites for lunch, two slices slathered with cream cheese and eaten like a sandwich. My son happens to like his plain OR warmed up with a little butter. (YUM!)

Honey Lemon Zucchini Bread

I could eat zucchini bread any way it’s served, any time (although I do have a soft spot for a warm buttered slice).

Today I tried a new variation on my regular ol’ zucchini bread recipe: the addition of honey and lemon. It has a sweet brightness that’s both unique and mouthwatering.

Of the 4 loaves, I gave one to my parents (Hey – my mom did grow one of those zucchini, so I feel like I owe them. Plus, food’s always more fun when you can share!), saved one in the fridge for this week, and froze two to use over the coming weeks.

Can’t wait for breakfast tomorrow! Mmm….

Honey Lemon Zucchini Bread
 
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 cups shredded zucchini
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • ¼ cup honey (preferably local)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Use non-stick spray to coat 4 large loaf pans.
  2. Use a whisk to combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and oil until they turn a creamy color, then add the sugar, honey, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla and continue whisking the ingredients for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Fix the paddle attachment to the mixer. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture about a cup at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding the next cupful. Once all the dry ingredients have been added, mix until it's just combined. The batter will be very thick!
  5. Add the zucchini to the batter, and using the mixer on low, gently incorporate the two. The moisture from the zucchini should loosen up the batter and make it easier to mix.
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared pans about half-way, and then bake them for about an hour (or until the top springs back when you press gently with your finger, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).
  7. Let the loaves cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, and the remove them. Continue letting them sit on a rack until they've cooled completely.
Notes
TIP: If you plan on freezing these, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap once they've cooled, and then put them into freezer zip top bags.

 

Women Get Social – Philadelphia ’14

As part of my ambassadorship, Stonyfield is sponsoring my attendance at Women Get Social Philadelphia 2014.

This time next week I’ll be in Philly for the Women Get Social – Philadelphia 2014 conference. Philly’s a stop along their multi-city series of visits spanning the country, and I’m really excited to not only hear the great speakers they have lined up, but also to connect with old and new blogging friends!

Let’s reminisce, shall we?

Philadelphia 2012

This shot was at Bloggy Boot Camp Philly 2012. I was excited to, once again, reunite with college bud Erica (just to my right), another frequent-ess of the SITS conferences and meet-ups.

Bloggy Boot Camp Philadelphia 2012In my post-conference recap that year, I blamed the wine cocktail hours on the fact that I missed out on the one thing every foodie visiting Philadelphia should experience: a legit cheesesteak. I’m not sure that’s entirely true, or fair. BUT, the fact remains – no cheesesteak.

We’ll have to fix that this year.

And, if there’s one thing to remember when attending a social media based conference, it’s to SMILE. All the time. Not creepy doe-eyed smiley, but a relaxed “open face” smiley.

Why, you ask? Because not only are photos being snapped constantly, they’re being pushed to social channels faster than you can say cheesesteak.

Case in point….

Boston 2011

Bloggy Boot Camp Boston 2011

Not only am I just *barely* smiling, I also look really, really tired. Maybe I was. But it certainly doesn’t reflect how much fun I was having. (A LOT!)

See what happens when you know you’re being photographed (here with my friend Erica again)?

Bloggy Boot Camp Boston 2011

Nothing like a bright light, smile, arm-to-hip pose to fix a photo. (LOL!) Erica was a trooper, flying to Boston and hanging out at about 7 or 8 months pregnant – we hadn’t seen each other in 13 years! She also gave a killer presentation on attention grabbing headlines and post titles. Check out more from Erica over at No Sleep ‘Til College – you’ll laugh and you’ll relate. Promise.

Fashion. Food. Swag. I shared my 10 Need to Know Takeaways from BBC Boston 2011 here.

Stonyfield Organic

A big thank you to Stonyfield for giving me the opportunity to experience another SITs conference with Women Get Social Philadelphia 2014 – I can’t wait to see everyone!

(And try a cheesesteak while smiling.)

Homemade Chicken Tetrazzini

Homemade Chicken Tetrazzini

Normally I wouldn’t be crazy-excited for a casserole recipe at the end of August. To me, most casseroles are the perfect comfort food for crisp fall evenings – not the dog days of summer.

Chicken Tetrazzini Mushrooms, Onions and Garlic

Although I’d make an exception for things like baked ziti, which I could eat weekly throughout the year without feeling like I’m betraying summer menus.

Homemade Chicken Tetrazzini

This August has been strange though. We haven’t seen the thermometer pass 90°F in weeks…maybe even a month. This is unheard of in Maryland in August, when it’s normal for the daytime heat and humidity to both rise above 90, and evenings are muggy and oppressive.

Homemade Chicken Tetrazzini

Instead, our windows have been open for the past month and nighttime has been near chilly. It’s terrific! Also, the chill in the air means casseroles like homemade chicken tetrazzini sound like a perfect Sunday night dinner.

Homemade Chicken Tetrazzini

This recipe mostly follows Giada De Laurentiis’ version of chicken tetrazzini, but has a few tweaks that make it my own. We LOVED it. I’m VERY excited for leftovers to bring to work.

Homemade Chicken Tetrazzini
 
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Inspired by Giada De Laurentiis' Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe
Author:
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ pound button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ cup tart white wine (something you would drink)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 8 ounces fettuccine
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 scallions, diced
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • ½ cup panko
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 2-quart casserole dish with a tablespoon of butter; set it aside.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper, then sear them in the nonstick skillet until they're cooked though - 4 minutes per side. Remove them from the pan and set them aside. After 5 minutes, dice the chicken into rough 1-inch cubes and toss them into a large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, add another tablespoon of olive oil and butter to the same pan. Add the mushrooms and saute them for 2 minutes. Add the onions, thyme and garlic, and continue to saute them until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and let it cook down until it's almost gone, about 2 minutes longer. Add the mushroom mixture to the chicken.
  4. Melt 2 more tablespoons of butter in the same pan. Add the flour and whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then let it cook for another minute longer. Turn the heat up to high, pour in the milk and broth, and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking often. Add 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, and keep whisking until the sauce is thick and bubbly - about 8 minutes.
  5. While the sauce is coming to a bubble, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook it for 9 minutes. Drain.
  6. Add the sauce, cooked fettuccine, parsley and scallions to the chicken. Use tongs to toss everything together, making sure the sauce fully coats all the chicken and fettuccine. Dump it into your prepared casserole.
  7. Mix the panko, Italian seasoning and Parmesan together, and then sprinkle it over the casserole. Dot with the remaining butter and then cook it until it's browned on top and the edges are bubbly - about 20 minutes. Let the chicken tetrazzini rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

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