Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stir Fry and Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies!

We had a few more culinary wins this weekend. Because I am helping Jacob make the big move to my house, I got to take a trip down to Athens and visit their wonderful farmers market. The low prices and wide variety of products made me literally jump for joy. I got a quart of strawberries for $4.50, a head of romaine about the size of my torso for $3, a Napa cabbage of the same size for $2, a zucchini for $.75, a cucumber for $1, and a pint of sugar snap peas for $3.50. I couldn’t believe the load of fresh goodies we got for such a small price! It really shows the difference in prices between more rural areas and the ritzier upscale towns.

With our bounty, we decided to make a stir fry. I cut up some normal cabbage we had on hand along with some asparagus, napa cabbage, sugar snap peas (removing the strings by snapping off an end and peeling off the string), wild onions from the backyard, roasted chicken (sliced up) of one whole chicken breast we had cooked previously, and noodles (we would have used our local ones but were out and didn’t get to our Clintonville Coop so we got egg noodles that are at least made by the local T. Marzetti’s company). While the noodles cooked, I sautéed the vegetables and chicken in an ice cube of chicken broth, adding salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and the magic ingredient: cumin. I rarely cook with that but I felt like it just needed a little extra something and that proved to be it! I don’t give specific amounts here because I’m finding more and more with stovetop cooking, I rarely measure. I just get a feel for what will work for us. I guess a safe estimate for everything regarding spices is between ¼ and 1 teaspoon depending on your personal tastes but you just really have to get a feel for it on your own. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE VEGETABLES!!! Far too often I have encountered people who claim they hate certain wonderful vegetables simply because they never had it properly cooked for them. The asparagus, peas, and even the regular cabbage should have a fair amount of crunch left to them. Essentially, you just want to heat them through but no more than that. It takes a little practice to get it perfect, but please, for the sake of your vegetables and your eaters, leave your vegetables having a little crunch to them! Once the pasta was cooked, I mixed it all together and dinner was served. This isn’t your typical Chinese stir fry because it doesn’t have a thick sauce, just a splash of tasty spices cooked into everything. It’s a lighter flavor, but that lets you appreciate the taste of the fresh vegetables and meat.

We got to make one of our favorite goodies using the zucchini: Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies. I was introduced to this recipe when I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and became quite fond of it, because the moisture from vegetables clip_image002like carrots and zucchini tends to make my typically over-baked goodies moist. These cookies actually remind me more of muffin tops than cookies because they taste more like a breakfast bread with that added zucchini but that’s just because of my own experiences growing up. I will say that this recipe is not as cheap as it used to be before we went local. We used local eggs that we got at the Clintonville Coop, local Amish butter (next time we will use our own homemade butter), some of our precious brown sugar held over from the old days (soon we’ll try using white sugar and molasses as a substitute), local honey from the Clintonville Coop, organic Fair Trade vanilla from Whole Foods (EXPENSIVE!), the last of our all purpose white flour (next time we will get some of the Amish white whole wheat flour), Amish whole wheat bread flour (both flours from the Clintonville Coop), regular baking soda that we had in the cupboard, normal salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, a mix of carob chips and grain sweetened chocolate chips by Sunspire (again, very expensive but we got some on sale at Whole Foods, they aren’t Fair Trade certified but the company seems dedicated to improving the lives of their growers), and finally our Athens zucchini. The cookies are amazing! We are donating a dozen to the Ronald McDonald House (our usual reason for baking – I used to be able to donate 2-3 dozen but with the high prices of the ingredients, we have to decrease that), another dozen are divided up to helpful neighbors, and the remaining cookies go to Jacob and myself (I’d like to think we deserve a few since we did pay for them and work hard to make them). I highly recommend making these when zucchini are overflowing from gardens!

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