Tag Archives: strawberries

Real food for busy people

Fresh dairy delivered to my door? Why did I not think of this before?

I have been on a bit of a hiatus lately from Cooking on the Fly, busy with other commitments and life in general. Two things have come out of this rush of busy-ness: home delivery and smoothies.

When I say “home delivery”, I don’t mean that a Peapod truck is pulling up outside my house with boxes of Cap’n Crunch and Hamburger Helper. I like to pick my own groceries and browse the aisles, even if it means braving the store on Sunday afternoon. I don’t mind getting a mystery box of fruit and veggies from a CSA at a local farm — that’s an adventure, like having Christmas every week — because what could be more fun than trying to figure out what to do with 10 pounds of kohlrabi, a bag of purslane, and a couple quarts of Kiwi Gold raspberries?

My journey into home delivery actually began when I started noticing South Mountain Creamery trucks around my neighborhood. I checked out their website and found that they were a local dairy farm that delivered a variety of products right to their customers’ doors.

There’s something romantic about the idea of opening up your front door and finding a glass bottle of milk standing on the doormat. At least, it’s romantic to those of us who didn’t grow up in a time when that was a fact of life, like women wearing hats and gloves in the summer and children walking to school in freshly-starched clothes.

Delivery items

Ah, I love opening my door and finding these on the mat! You can see we've already started sucking down the eggnog. We also added granola to our order this week upon the recommendation of a friend — and it is truly sublime.

The first delivery came on my birthday, which was also election day. It was definitely the highlight. A half-gallon of freshly-pressed apple cider, a quart of skim, a pound of sharp cheddar, and a dozen fresh eggs.

With the holidays approaching, I’ve added egg nog to the order, and it has to be the most heavenly egg nog ever. Just slightly sweet with a distinct nutmeg flavor, this nog is so thick and creamy that I feel like taking a bath in it. Move over Lewes Dairy nog — which has always graced our Christmas breakfast table in past years — but South Mountain Creamery has come to town.

Smoothie and blender

Before...

Which leads me to smoothies. A couple of months ago, my husband was reading the October issue of Runner’s World and they actually had an interesting nutrition article. Instead of the usual chit-chat about bagels with peanut butter and pasta with tomato sauce, they extolled the virtues of nutrient-rich smoothies, both savory and sweet.

This struck a chord with me. Our daughter regularly leaves for school as the sun comes up, walking about 10 minutes to catch the subway, so she’s always in need of breakfast on the run. Enter — the smoothie! Now I just whip one up in the morning and hand it to my daughter as she stumbles sleepily out the door.

spinach smoothie

... and after.

The Runner’s World article gave me some good ideas about smoothies, such as slicing bananas and freezing them to toss in the blender, and it also introduced me to using ingredients like spinach and almonds, while encouraging me to experiment. Since I am always looking for convenience, I now keep my freezer stocked with a wide variety of frozen goodies, like strawberries, blueberries, goji berries, chocolate flavored silken tofu, and chopped spinach. I have also become enamored of unsweetened almond milk, which has a creamy texture and slightly nutty flavor, as well as Silk soynog (sorry, South Mountain, but we can’t eat dairy all the time).

Smoothies have often become my lunch of choice lately; as the days have become increasingly busy, these frozen powerhouses have become my favorite lunch-on-the-go. Besides, I figure a low-cal smoothie at lunch means I don’t have to feel too guilty about that half-glass of egg nog for dessert.

Spinach Eggnog Smoothie

Depending on your mood — and how your clothes are fitting — you can make this with Silk soynog or the real thing. Either way, it’s tasty!

1/2 sliced frozen banana

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup frozen chopped spinach

1/4 cup eggnog or soynog

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. ground flaxseed

Dump all the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Yup, that was easy!

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The Cure for the Common Cold

A long cold winter has required a lot of bundling up, but even the thickest Gore-Tex can't always keep the bacteria at bay.

I have had a sick child at home the past couple of days, which is unusual. She’s pretty tough, so when she complains of a scratchy throat or a headache, I tend to pay attention. Of course, it turned out to be strep throat and an ear infection, so I bundled her off to bed with some DVDs and my grandfather’s cure-all — a spoonful of honey mixed with lemon juice — to accompany the antibiotics.

It will sound strange, but I used to love being sick when I was a kid. My mom was the best caregiver; she would rub my achy back with cool rubbing alcohol, fix my favorite sick food (a soft boiled egg with cubes of toasted bread mashed into it), and let me curl up in the middle of her bed. For a sore throat, my dad would make me very thin milkshakes with coffee ice cream; that cold creaminess calmed my throbbing tonsils and the sugar perked me up enough to keep me awake during reruns of “Gilligan’s Island”.

The only part I did not like about being sick was the Vitamin D Cure, which involved sitting outside in the sunshine for 15 minutes. This was okay during the time we lived in Florida, but I still vividly remember having a bad cold at my grandmother’s house in New Jersey one winter and being made to sit in an aluminum lawn chair in the middle of the back yard wrapped up in a blanket, my breath hanging in a fog around my head.

It was cloudy today, so my daughter was saved from the Vitamin D Cure. Instead, I opted for some extra vitamin C and a shot of antioxidants by whipping up a chilled strawberry soup. This is a lovely little soup that I usually make as a starter for Christmas dinner; it is pretty and festive and makes a nice palate cleanser before eating a heavy meal. Even better, it takes about five minutes to make.

Chicken soup may be the standard when battling the common cold, but I'd stack my strawberry soup against it any day.

I make my strawberry soup with frozen berries. I am a big fan of frozen produce, which tends to retain more vitamin content because of being frozen quickly after being picked. This is not to say that I don’t prefer fresh broccoli over frozen, but some fruits and vegetables are good when frozen, at least for certain purposes. A strawberry soup is kind of like a soupy version of a smoothie, but just a bit more sophisticated. I like to soak the frozen berries in a couple of tablespoons of red wine for a few minutes, although white wine and even champagne are terrific alternatives. If you don’t want to use wine, then substitute a little orange juice.

Most importantly, a bowl of strawberry soup feels like a treat, and, when you are sick and grumpy and not feeling quite like yourself, then that is the time when you deserve a treat. Get well soon.

Chilled Strawberry Soup

1 bag of frozen strawberries

1/4 cup red wine (a Pinot works really well)

1 cup apple cider (use extra if needed to get the right consistency)

2 TB honey

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp. dried tarragon

Soak the frozen strawberries in the wine for 5 minutes, then pour them into a food processor or blender with the honey and 1/2 cup of the apple cider. Whiz together on high speed until the strawberries begin to smooth and add more cider a bit at a time until you get a thin soupy texture. Add the tarragon and vinegar and mix again for a few seconds. Strain the soup through a sieve into a bowl, using the back of a spoon to help push the mixture through the sieve if it gets clogged. Serve in a bowl garnished with a spoonful of creme fraiche or plain yogurt if desired.

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