Saturday, March 1, 2014

Vinegar Rinse for Fruits & Vegetables

There are so many positive reasons to buy fresh produce, but how do you preserve it so it lasts throughout the week?  I know I can't go through my entire farmers market haul in just 2-3 days.  I buy a  lot of fresh greens and they should be used right away because they start to wilt very quickly.  

My mother and brother in law have been going to the farmers market longer than I have, so they started rinsing their produce with vinegar and water.  I finally decided to try it and I was impressed by the results!  

I didn't have a large bucket so I improvised with a large stock pot.  You need something large enough to fit quite a bit of liquid, and room to fit the produce.  

What You Need:
1 cup white vinegar
Approximately 1 gallon of water 
1 large bucket or stock pot

Fill your pot or bucket with the vinegar and water
Add your produce (don't overfill and spill the liquid)
Let soak for 15 minutes
Remove and rinse with cold water
Dry completely 
Store where appropriate

After completing my own rinse, my cilantro did not start to wilt for at least a week and my cucumbers stayed fresh.  My berries, which normally start to go bad in a day or two after purchase, stayed fresh much longer.  

Does anyone else rinse their fresh produce?  If you have any tips or tricks, feel free to share!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cauliflower Rice

As the weather gets warmer here in Texas, the lighter my meals become.  If you are like me, I have a hard time saying no to carbohydrates unless I can find something just as satisfying to replace them with.  I normally have a large bag of basmati rice from Costco in my pantry, waiting to be cooked and served with a multitude of meals.  To lighten up a bit, I have turned to cauliflower rice.  And trust me, it is just as satisfying.  

Cauliflower is a big hit at the farmers market these days and there are plenty of ways to cook it.  Not only does it come in the white variety, but there is also orange and purple cauliflower.  Romanesco cauliflower is green and pointy, like in the photo below.  All varieties are similar in flavor and can be roasted, mashed, or turned into "rice."  This is sure to be a big hit with vegetarians and vegans and it is Paleo friendly.  


1 head of cauliflower, or a combination of different varieties (enough for 4-6 servings)
2 TBS oil of choice
1 medium onion-chopped
2 cloves of garlic-chopped
Salt & pepper to taste


Break the cauliflower into smaller pieces
Pulse them in the food processor until it looks like rice 
Heat a pan on medium-high heat, add the oil, garlic, and onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes
Add the cauliflower and cook for 3 minutes more
Serve as a side dish in place of rice

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Braised Greens with Peppers and Onions

Greens are everywhere at the farmers market in the winter months.  One of my favorite greens is swiss or rainbow chard.  You can eat the stems as well as the greens, and they are mild in flavor compared to collard or mustard greens.  They also last a few days if you can't cook them right away.  Cooked greens make a great side dish, but they are great to eat on their own as well.  I try and buy at least one type of green every week.  

My favorite way to cook them is to braise them in broth with some vinegar.  If you don't have swiss chard, you can use any type of green with this recipe.  For a mild flavor, spinach would be a great substitute.  If you want to get wild, try some collards (but add some bacon!)  This recipe is adapted from  a Whole Foods Market recipe.  Unfortunately, I can't find a link to post on here but if you want the original recipe (which uses white wine), please email me.  


1 bell pepper (color of choice), sliced
1 med onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 bunch of swiss chard, roughly chopped (you do not have to remove the stems)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 TBS vinegar (my favorites are red wine or white balsamic, any will do)
1 TBS butter
2 TBS oil
Dash of salt & pepper


Heat the oil in a sauté pan on med-high heat.  Add the peppers, onions, and garlic and sauté approximately 3 minutes.  Add the chard and cook until it is just starting to wilt.  Add the broth, vinegar, salt & pepper and cook for 10 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.  Add the butter and serve.  

What are your favorite greens and how do you cook them?  Feel free to comment or share your recipes!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Farmers Market Haul 2/8/14

Three day weekends are lovely, and this past one was no exception.  I got to spend some quality time with my husband and daughter, visit with some friends, do some cooking AND baking, and of course head to the Cedar Park Farmers Market.  

This weeks purchases included:

1.  Sourdough loaf from Sweetish Hill Bakery
2.  Chicken breasts, pork cutlets, and eggs from Smith & Smith Farms
3.  Romanesco & purple cauliflower from Bernhardt's Fruit & Veggie Farm 
4.  Golden beets, purple cabbage, and rainbow chard from Johnson's Backyard Garden
5.  Korean style short ribs from Winter's Family Beef

Not a huge haul this week, but I should get by just fine.  I have some staples from the bulk section like quinoa, millet, and brown rice as well as some beans, almond butter, and some organic frozen fruit for smoothies.  It is amazing how creative you can be when you start to use what groceries you already have instead of just buying more and more.  

Stay tuned this week for some recipes including braised swiss chard and cauliflower "rice" as well as some Korean style short ribs.  Yum!  What did you get at the farmers market this week?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Cleaning Cast Iron Pans

I was recently given a set of four cast iron skillets, all different sizes.  I could not be more excited, but as soon as I saw them I saw....rust.  Now if you are like me, I immediately thought I needed to throw them out and buy new ones.  Cooking with rust does not sound at all appealing.  Lo and behold, I was told that you can clean those babies right up, remove the rust, and re-season.  I had no idea how to do this so I used trusty old Google to help me.  And it was EASY!


What worked best for me was some abrasive salt such as Morton's Kosher Salt, a sponge (a potato cut in half will work just as well), and some elbow grease.  Working in my kitchen sink, I poured about a 1/4 cup of salt into the bottom of the skillet.  Using a damp sponge, I scrubbed the skillet with the salt.  Do not be afraid of really getting in there and working the salt.  It breaks up the rust and "cleans" the skillet.  I concentrated on the rusty areas, but also cleaned the sides in and out as well as the bottom, underneath and the handle.  After scrubbing for about 5-10 minutes, I rinsed with water and dried immediately.  This is important.  If the skillet gets wet, it needs to be dried completely, right away.  If you still see some rust, just repeat the scrubbing process until the rust is gone and dry completely.


For the next step, you will want to preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  I took a large baking sheet and covered it with foil.  The baking sheet will be placed on the bottom rack of your oven to collect excess oil.  I used approximately 1/4 cup of oil (I use olive oil, but vegetable or canola will work as well) and coated every inch of inside the skillet.  Once the oven is preheated, place the skillet upside down on the top rack of the oven.  There will be some excess oil in the pan, but the baking sheet will catch that.  Do not wipe the excess oil out of the pan.  Bake the skillet for 45 minutes.  BE CAREFUL when removing as the skillet will be VERY hot.  Be sure to use an oven mitt or towel. 

Now that the skillet is seasonsed, you will want to know how to keep them rust free.  When cooking, I still use a bit of oil in the bottom.  The more you cook with your pan, the more seasonsed, or non-stick, it becomes.  It is best to clean the skillet immediately after cooking.  Most things can simply be wiped out of the skillet with a dry towel or paper towel.  If food has become stuck and you need a better cleaning, add a small amout of water to the hot pan.  (REMEMBER, a cast iron skillet retains heat, so it will still be hot for a bit after cooking.)  Using a wooden spatula, or soft bristled brush, remove the stuck on bits and DRY IMMEDIATELY.  I do not let my cast iron sit in water and I do not use soapy water.  Once the skillet is dry, I add about a tablespoon of oil and coat the inside.  When you are ready to cook again, I wipe the skillet out with a dry paper towel to soak up the old oil and use a tablespoon of fresh oil.  Oil is your friend when it comes to cast iron skillets, water is not.   

Cast iron skillets look beautiful hung up on the wall but any old place will do.  I usually keep mine on the stove.  If you want to store in a cabinet, you can keep a towel inside the skillet to keep the oil from getting on your other pieces.

I hope this was a helpful post.  I love my cast iron skillets and I will never go back to using other "non-stick" pans.  If you want to read about some of the benefits of using cast iron, this is a great article. 

Before-Dirty and rusty eek!

After-Glistening with oil and non-stick!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Easy Pickled Watermelon Radish

I recently purchased a bag of roasting vegetables from Johnson's Backyard at the farmers market.  It included some carrots, black radishes, parsnips, and what I thought was a turnip.  As soon as I cut into it, I saw the beautiful, bright pink flesh.  It was a watermelon radish!  I immediately knew I wanted to pickle them.  

Fair warning:  radishes are rich in sulfur, so don't be alarmed when you go to eat your delicious pickled radishes and you notice a pungent odor.  However off-putting the smell may be, they will taste delicious, I promise.  Pickled radishes are a great addition to sandwiches, salads, or to simply snack on. 

I went with a simple vinegar brine for these watermelon radishes.  They will be ready in about an hour but I think it is best to leave them in the refrigerator overnight.  


1 medium-large watermelon radish cut into half moons (any type of radish will work)
1 cup of vinegar (white, apple cider, white balsamic, etc.) 
1/4 cup of sugar
1 T salt
1 mason jar, canning jar, or old pickle jar with lid


Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt until the sugar and salt have dissolved  
Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes
Add the sliced radish into your jar and fill with the vinegar mixture until just covered  
Seal tightly with the lid
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but overnight would be best


Monday, February 3, 2014

Thai Style Chicken Wings

Happy Monday everyone!  If you are a Broncos fan, I am so sorry for your loss at the Superbowl.  My husband and father-in-law are die hard Broncos fans and I can't say that it was a memorable event last night.  There was a ton of good food, however, so that always makes me happy. 

I can't think of a better snack for the Superbowl than chicken wings.  My husband and I wanted to do something different than your usual buffalo style chicken wing so we started scouring the internet for some unique recipes.  My husband manages to find awesome recipes for me to try so I have to credit him for finding this one.  I have an awesome new blog to read as well! 

This recipe is full of spicy sweet flavor with a touch of peanut butter, giving it that Thai influence.  It was also easy to make and could be made ahead of time.  I prepared the marinade first and let the chicken wings soak it up for at least 7 hours.  If you don't have that much time, 1-2 hours would work as well and you could let it sit as long as 24 hours for even more flavorful wings.  I made the chili peanut sauce when I made the marinade and kept it in the refrigerator until I was ready to use it. 

Thai Style Chicken Wings

Yield:  12 wings but recipe can easily be doubled


4 T peanut oil (you can substitute olive oil but peanut gives it great flavor)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 T soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t fresh ginger, minced (ginger from the spice section will work also)
12 chicken wings (I used whole wings, not cut at the joint from Smith & Smith Farms)
1/4 cup chili and garlic sauce (I used Huy Fong brand)
3 T peanut butter
1 T Sriracha (or more if you're spicy like that!)

Directions:  In a large bowl with a lid, combine 3 T of the peanut oil, rice vinegar, 1 T of the soy sauce, garlic and ginger.  Add the wings, toss to coat and marinade for as long as you wish.  The longer the better. 

In the meantime, prepare your sauce.  Combine the chili and garlic sauce, peanut butter, sriracha, and the remaining soy sauce and peanut oil.  The mixture will be pretty thick, but I promise it will be delicious!  Store this in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

When the chicken is done marinating, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or coat with non-stick cooking spray.  Arrange the chicken on the prepared baking sheet and cook for 30 min.  Once the chicken is done cooking, generously apply the chili garlic sauce with a basting brush to completely coat the chicken wing.  Turn on your broiler, and finish cooking for approx 3 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and starting to brown. 

I suggest garnishing with cilantro and sesame seeds.  This is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Who else had or attended a Superbowl party and made some yummy treats?  Feel free to comment and share! 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Farmers Market Haul 2/1/14

Every Saturday, I venture to the Cedar Park Farmers Market.  If I can't make it on Saturday, I go to the Mueller Farmers Market in Austin.  Here I purchase all my produce, meat, eggs, and bread for the week.  This has been very cost effective for me since I am buying everything in season, which keeps costs down.  I will be sharing weekly farmers market haul posts to show what kinds of things are in season, unique items I may find, and special treats I have decided to try.

This week's purchases include:

1.  Spicy salad mix from Bernhardt’s Fruit & Veggie Farm
2.  Ground beef from Winter's Family Beef
3.  Pork Cutlets from Country Side Farm
4.  Eggs from Smith & Smith Farms
5.  Cilantro, spinach, and broccoli from Two Happy Children Farms
6.  Tomatoes and a European cucumber from Flint Rock Farms
7.  Rye Bread (not pictured) from Sweetish Hill

I still had some chicken breasts in the freezer as well as some swiss chard, avocados, and a spaghetti squash in the fridge.  Since Sunday was the Superbowl, this food will last until the following Saturday, and I feed a family of four.  

I follow up my farmers market visit with a trip to the bulk section of my local grocery store.  I will write another post specifically about the bulk section but I purchase items such as grains, granola, dried fruit, peanut butter, and spices.  I am really trying to stay out of the grocery store as much as possible, but the bulk section is a great exception since I can find both local AND organic items.  

Is anyone else shopping at the farmers market?  Feel free to share your finds with me!  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Red Coconut Curry

I am always in search of easy, one pot dinners.  Lots of flavor, but less cleanup.  One pot wonders, as I like to call them, can feed a crowd but not leave your wallet empty.  It's that happy balance if you ask me.  Soups, stews, and....curry.  There is nothing more satisfying than the warmth and spice of red curry, especially in the winter.  It is bursting with flavor, but not overwhelming with heat.  

I love making red coconut curry.  It's easy, inexpensive, and you can certainly wow some guests if you make it for a dinner party.  I made this for dinner just the other night and it took me less than an hour to make from start to finish.  The dish can also be made vegetarian by not adding the shrimp, which I included in this recipe.  

I had some random vegetables in the fridge from my trip to the Cedar Park Farmers Market including mushrooms, bok choy, and pea shoots.   Pea shoots are the greens attached to peas, which grow above the soil.  They can be eaten raw in a salad or cooked like any other green.  I try to incorporate as many greens as I can in my recipes, and this dish is no exception.  I also added some red bell peppers and onions, which I always have on hand.  Any kind of meat can be used but I think shrimp is extra tasty with the red curry and coconut milk.  

1 bell pepper (any color) sliced or chopped into bite size pieces
1 onion sliced or chopped into bite size pieces
6 mushrooms stems removed and sliced
1 bunch of bok choy sliced, both white and green parts
1 bunch of pea shoots (or another favorite green)-optional
1 lb raw shrimp
2 tsp grated or fresh ginger
2 TBS coconut oil (or other cooking oil)
1/2 cup of vegetable broth
2 heaping TBS of red curry paste (I like Thai Kitchen brand found in the international aisle of your supermarket)
1/2 can of full fat coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen Organic)
Basmati rice-cooked according to directions

Prep your vegetables and set aside.  Shell and devein your shrimp and set aside
On medium high heat, add the oil to a hot, large skillet or wok
Add the peppers, onions and mushrooms and cook for 3-5 min
Add the bok choy and cook for an additional 2-3 min
Add the vegetable broth, red curry paste, coconut milk, and ginger and cook until bubbling and hot
Finally, add the shrimp and pea shoots (if using) and cook until shrimp turns pink, about 3-5 min 
Serve with a side of rice such as basmati.  The rice will soak up the curry broth.

Here We Go!

Thank you so much for stopping by It's So Gouda!  I hope this first blog post finds all of you well.  I know there are so many wonderful food blogs out there these days, but this is my little corner that I get to share with all of you.

I have been cooking since I was a kid and this blog will serve as a collector of all my favorite recipes, food finds, tastes of Austin, farmers market hauls, and maybe a tip or trick I have learned along the way.

I love food, cooking and eating it.  Good quality food has thankfully found its way to my home.  For the last few weeks, I have been buying and cooking what is in season from the farmers market and making my way, slowly, out of the grocery store.  And I couldn't be more happy.  I'm ready to share how passionate I am about cooking and to show how fun and rewarding it can truly be.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.  I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me any time with questions or comments!