Clean Out the Vegetable Drawer Bolognese Sauce

Clean Out the Vegetable Drawer Bolognese Sauce

Whip up this bolognese sauce during late summer when the tomatoes are threatening to take over the kitchen. It's so tasty!Once again, this recipe comes to you courtesy of multi-generational living, via my daughter. During July and August she prepared this bolognese sauce whenever the tomatoes threatened to take the kitchen hostage. The wide variety of vegetables make the sauce a banquet of flavors mingling together. And it’s a good way to clean out the vegetables languishing in the fridge. Just remember that the secret of good sauce is to let it simmer for several hours. So you’ll be wise to start it right after lunch. But be warned–smelling the sauce all afternoon will work up a big appetite. So make plenty!

Clean Out the Vegetable Drawer Bolognese Sauce

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced very fine
2 carrots, diced very fine
2 stalks celery, diced very fine
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
4 or 5 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons or more olive oil
2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
1/4 cup red or white wine
balsamic vinegar (optional)

In deep, heavy pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté onions, carrots and celery until onions are translucent. While sautéing the vegetables, add the salt. Add the cauliflower, chopped into small pieces, roughly the size of cooked ground beef.

When the vegetables begin to brown, add the ground beef. Cook until the beef is browned. Add in the garlic, pressed or chopped finely. Add the tomatoes. Stir and let the mixture come to a simmer. Simmer the sauce until the tomatoes and the juice reduce and thicken, 2–3 hours.

Once reduced, add wine. Simmer for a bit and taste. Add more salt if needed. Keep in mind that favors will be stronger in the end. Let the sauce simmer and reduce for about an hour more. The end product shouldn’t be chunky but not watery, rather than saucy like marinara. The tomato and red wine should stick to the meat and vegetables much like stir fry sauce does. Taste again. The flavor should be rich and savory. If it’s a little weak ,add 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, stir and let cook for 10 more minutes. Serve over spaghetti noodles.

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower

roasted cauliflower

Before diving into today’s recipe, you should know that I am not a cooked cauliflower lover. I like it raw, but not steamed, mixed with broccoli, or in soup. So I was a little skeptical during a weekend visit with family when the chef said the veggie for supper was going to be roasted cauliflower. I took a small helping, took a small bite, and experienced a small epiphany.

It. Was. Delicious.

Amazingly delicious. So delicious that I bought a head of cauliflower and gave it a try myself. I only used half the head for the two of us, in case my version wasn’t as tasty as what we’d been served early. But once again, it tasted wonderful. And I have enough left to make it again very soon. Hooray! Enough with the swooning and onto the recipe. Here it is. The easiest, tastiest vegetable side dish ever…

Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, washed and broken into florets
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450°. Oil a 9 X 13 casserole dish. Put cauliflower in a large bowl. Mix oil, garlic, salt and pepper together and pour over cauliflower. Mix well. Pour cauliflower into baking pan. Slide in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Ode to Kohlrabi

Ode to Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi 1

Today’s post isn’t so much a recipe as an ode to kohlrabi, the latest, most fashionable darling of the healthy eating movement. But it’s been a garden staple on Mom’s side of the family since the 1930s. Since our CSA share for the week included this most delightful of brassica vegetables today’s post is dedicated to the proper eating of it.

Our family has always served kohlrabi raw, though it can be cooked, too. In my opinion, cooking it is a waste of not only the cook’s time and energy, but also the vegetable’s crispy, sweet flavor. That said, here’s a picture tutorial about how to prepare raw kohlrabi for snacking or as the prima donna on a relish tray.

First, cut off the root and leaves. (FYI, most kohlrabi are the size of a medium to large apple.)kohlrabi 2

Second, peel off the outer skin, which is tough and a little thicker than an apple peel, to reveal the lighter, tender flesh below. Sprinkle it with a little salt and eat as is, like an apple or raw potato,

kohlrabi 3

or sliced into 1/4–1/2 inch rounds,

kohlrabi 4

or cut into sticks.

kohlrabi 5

However you serve it up, if you plan to eat kohlrabi around me and my cousins, be prepared to fight for your fair share. We consider unclaimed slices or sticks fair game!

Fresh Summer Salsa

Fresh Summer Salsa


Our CSA is providing a bountiful supply of tomatoes, onions, and peppers. So many, in fact, that finding ways to use them has been a weekly challenge. Thankfully, shortly before Mom gave up housekeeping, she gave me this recipe for fresh summer salsa which uses oodles of the veggies taking over the kitchen.

It is a winner, as was proved at our recent Labor Day Family Reunion. The crowd chowed down a double batch of salsa and two bags of chips in less than an hour, and people begged for the recipe.

To keep you from begging, it’s posted here, along with a few tips. First, you can change the amounts of vegetables to suit your taste. (For example, I find 1 jalapeno per double batch is plenty.) Second, I chop the tomatoes first and put them in a strainer to drain out excess liquid while chopping everything else. Otherwise the salsa can be pretty runny. With those tips in mind, have at it!

Fresh Summer Salsa

2 cups peeled, chopped tomatoes        2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup onion, chopped fine                    ¼ cup green pepper, chopped
1  jalapeno pepper, chopped                 1 banana pepper, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped                        2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Put 2/3 cup of the vegetable mixture in the blender until it reaches the consistency you like. Put the blended vegetables back into the bowl and stir well. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Prairie Mamma vs. Technology Woman

Prairie Mamma vs. Technology Woman

In the past few days, my personality’s been split wide open. Half of me is this woman who lives on the edge of town, swept into a prairie woman persona due to circumstances beyond my control.

Since Friday this half of me has photographed a late summer fawn down by the bridge and scared up oodles of goldfinches, larks and cardinals during morning walks. Neighbors keep thrusting tomatoes, cabbages, zucchini, and fresh eggs at me, so our kitchen is a frenzy of cooking and freezing fresh veggies. And don’t get me started on the five dozen ears of corn we’ll get from our CSA today, along with who knows what else. Not only that, but Saturday our farmer son took us touring through every livestock barn at the State Fair. Pretty much country, don’t you think?

But the other half of me is taking a a crash course in technology under the tutelage of my web designer guy, who happens to be the same age as the former fourth grade students to whom I once taught long division. Now I wouldn’t want to meet all this technology alone in a dark alley, much less use to promote my book. But the web guy insists I have to learn Skype, Gravatar, Twitter, and how to update my own website. He refuses to let up. My only option is to bear down and deliver the goods, an adventure I thought I gave up after my daughter was born 21 years ago. Pretty much techno-savvy, don’t you think?

So here I am, being pulled apart by my inner warring factions: prairie mamma versus technology woman. By the end of the week, if one of the two doesn’t let up, things could get ugly. But if I can lasso both personalities into one cohesive whole again, my website will be up and the freezer will be stocked for the winter.

But for now, I better get a move on. Prairie mamma’s getting nervous with technology woman on a role writing this blog entry. Time to calm my inner granola crunchy without stifling my emerging techno-wizard. Life is so complicated sometimes.