cooking for family...

is a little different than cooking for the community at the Farm. It's different for two reasons:

1. When cooking in the Kitchen at the Farm I have more food, spices and condiments, as well as loads of counter space and kitchen appliances at my disposal. This is not the case when I am cooking in my sisters' kitchen. The food I bought at the store is all I have to work with, unless I want a return trip to the market. Space is limited. That said, it was nice cooking with my Mom's help and it was sweet to have my niece and nephew Monster S and Monster A around, asking questions and willing to try things alongside me.

2. If I make something in the Kitchen at the Farm and it doesn't turn out exactly as I hoped it would I always have other opportunities for redemption. I can make the same dish again in a slightly different way, learning from the first attempt's mistakes. This is not so when you are making something for a gathering with the extended family you only see once every few months, if that.

It was knowing these things that I undertook making two dishes for a potluck at one of my favorite aunties homes this past weekend while in Michigan. The first was a simple side dish which we make in the kitchen at the Farm fairly often: roasted mushrooms with thyme, balsamic vinegar and soy. I will share the recipes below, though I don't use measurements when cooking, I just eye ball things and adjust to taste, so good luck if you try these:

Roasted mushrooms with thyme, balsamic vinegar and soy:
  • Clean mushrooms as needed
  • Place mushrooms in oven safe pan, toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy, thyme, salt and pepper
  • Roast at 425F for about 15 minutes
  • Stir mushrooms, adding more oil if they look dry
  • Roast for another 10-15 mins until they are soft and flavorful
The second dish was something my boss FlavaFlav taught me how to make, though it varies every time it's made. (One thing I love about cooking is creating and flavoring as we go, counting more on our palettes and less on recipes). Dish two was to be the vegetarian option for my Mom and sister A1; knowing that A1 is kinda picky I was a little hesitant that she wouldn't like the dish, knowing that she's never had swiss chard. I wound up making swiss chard rolls, stuffed with long grain rice and covered in a lemon maple sauce.

Long Grain Rice stuffed Swiss Chard Rolls w/ lemon maple sauce:
  • Cook rice (1 Box store bought), about 2-3 cups of rice if you use bulk. (Because of time I just bought Uncle Ben's long grain, quick/cook rice. I would suggest a more organic rice cooked in a rice cooker if possible)
  • Small dice two red peppers, add this to rice when it is done
  • Add about a 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • Add about 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • Add about 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • Add a few teaspoons of olive oil
  • Add a teaspoon or two of garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Warm this mix on the stovetop, making sure that there is just enough liquid/low enough heat that it's not burning. Doing this for a few minutes softens the red peppers
  • Feel free to add ingredients that change the taste of the rice to something that suites your tastes
  • As the rice is cooling, take the Swiss chard and chop off the stems in 1/4 inch pieces, setting them aside
  • Once the rice is cool, scoop rice out and place lines of rices lengthwise down the stem of your Swiss chard. Once you have about 1/8-1/4 cup rice on the chard leaf, fold up the end where the stem had been and then fold in two sides, rolling the chard like a burrito
  • Place Swiss chard rolls into an oiled, oven safe pan
Lemon Maple Sauce:
  • In a pot, bring to boil 1/2 c lemon juice and 1 cup pure maple syrup in pot
  • Add salt and pepper
  • Add about 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
  • Add about a tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • Add teaspoon thyme
  • Toss in chopped up Swiss chard stems
  • Add more maple syrup if the mix seems to lemony
  • In a separate container make a cornstarch (or arrowroot) and water mixture, incorporate this into your boiling contents, while constantly whisking the contents in the pot. Once the cornstarch (arrowroot) mix is added you will see your sauce start to thicken
  • Pour this mixture over the Swiss chard rolls
  • Cover the rolls with foil, cook at 325F for about 20 minutes, or until hot
We paired these swiss chard rolls with the roasted mushrooms, garlic butter bread, honey glazed ham and greek salad. It was an amazing dinner and everyone really liked the mushrooms and Swiss chard rolls I made...even my sister.

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