Cooking for the Crew.

Thanks for all your comments on the new site design – I hope you guys like it!  I am still fixing some formatting errors, and a lot of old broken links.  Hopefully it will all be sparkling and finished soon!  Moving right along…

Welcome to the Poplar Ridge pool house!  In addition to the big beautiful kitchen that I work in at the main house, I have this smaller pool house kitchen where I can prepare lunches.

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This is the same kitchen where we cooked the Farm to Table dinner on Wednesday night, so it was still a little messy from the party. 

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But it’s a really fun place to cook because it is nice and private, and has big sunny windows that look out onto the patio and pool area.

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And considering it is a pool house, and not even the main kitchen, it still has really nice appliances and equipment.  Cooking on these Viking stoves makes me hate my electric stove at home even more!

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So one of the things I am doing this summer is cooking a weekly lunch for the farm staff.  The purpose is for me to use ingredients and seasonal harvest from the farm, and then cook with the products and educate the staff about seasonal, healthy eating.  While these guys know a lot about farming, they know very little about the actual food itself – or what to do with it. 

I wanted to keep it healthy and light, but not go totally vegetarian right away.  I’ll ease them into it.  :)  I had some leftover chicken from Tuesday night’s dinner, so I decided to poach it and make chicken salad for lunch.  I started by adding whole sprigs of rosemary and thyme to a pot of (barely) simmering water…

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And then added the chicken legs, wings, and drumsticks – let them poach for about 30 minutes until they were falling off the bone.

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In the meantime, I started de-seeding and slicing up these gigantic cucumbers that came from the garden.

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I decided to make a basic cucumber salad, so I left the pool house for a bit to go fetch some fresh herbs from the garden – came back with three different types of basil and a handful of dill.  This was my first time using the Kyocera knives – LOVED them.  I totally want some now.

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Delicious cucumber salad – cucumbers with basil and dill, and a champagne vinegar dressing.  Yum!

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At some point during the cooking process, one of the farm guys stopped in to ask if I needed potatoes.  I told him I didn’t, but if he had them I would use them.  Thirty minutes later, a large basket of red potatoes showed up and I took the hint that the boys wanted potatoes with lunch. 

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Once the chicken was done poaching, I used the same herb infused poaching liquid to boil the potatoes until they were fork tender. 

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I combined the chicken (pulled off of the bones and skin removed) with the potatoes (quartered), some veganaise, shredded carrot, hard boiled egg, paprika, freshly chopped rosemary, and a little salt.

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The chicken salad turned out REALLY good (I tried a potato!). 

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For the last item, I decided to just make a big Mediterranean garden salad.  I diced up a few bell peppers…

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And crumbled up a hunk of this fresh, local goat cheese from a farm that is just down the street in Waxhaw.  This was sooooo creamy and delicious.

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A mixture of different lettuces with bell pepper, goat cheese crumbles, minced olives, fresh fennel tops, and a balsamic vinaigrette.

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I ate a LOT of this! :)

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I didn’t get a picture of the final spread, because it was pounced on too quickly.  But I assure you that it was all devoured and I think it turned out really good.  I was feeling a little nervous about cooking for a group of 20-something farm boys, but they all went back for 3rd and 4th servings, so I’m taking that as a good sign.  :)

I’m already looking through recipes and trying to decide what to make for lunch and dinner next week – I guess it depends on what is ready to be pulled out of the ground! 

First week at the farm down, ten more to go.  In just one week, I have already learned a ton, gotten to know the super friendly staff, and had so much fun.  I feel very lucky to be spending my summer doing something so unique and rewarding.