Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CSA 2011: Week 16

Every week, I feel like I'm trying to catch up.  With the hurricane coming, we really stepped it up and tried to use as many perishables as possible from the refrigerator.  (I'll keep the list to vegetables here.)  We started out with pita pizzas, using heirloom tomato, yellow squash, red bell pepper, and eggplant.  Those last 3 were roasted in the oven to make sure they would be cooked when they topped the pizzas.  We had leftovers of the roasted vegetable mix, so we used that in a "hurricane pasta."  I also threw in some cherry tomatoes and sliced garlic, plus basil, oregano, and chives from my herb garden, which was inside for shelter during the storm.  I made White Beans & Cabbage (and onion and potato) at least twice, and I still have so much shredded cabbage.  I don't even know what to do with it.  That recipe has to be the one of the cheapest meals one can make.  Anyway, when we still had power on Sunday morning, I threw together a Swiss chard & onion frittata, with some sliced potato thrown in there for a little more variety.  (I froze the chopped chard stems - they remind me of celery.)  Later that night, wanting to use up a block of Gruyere, we decided to make the Summer Squash Gratin, consisting of zucchini and potatoes tossed with the cheese and a pesto of sorts made from parsley, oregano, and of course garlic.  For a work-at-home lunch (the power's out at our office because of the storm) I steamed some green beans (or something like them) from Nonna's garden, tossed them with a clove of garlic, a splash of olive oil, and a generous pour of balsamic, a simple preparation that my Nonna always makes.  (Later my mom told me it didn't taste the same because Nonna uses red wine vinegar, which I will try next time.)  Since I'm working from home again today, I threw together some ratatouille - the delicious smell of eggplant, zucchini, yellow bell pepper, tomatoes, onions, garlic, rosemary and thyme roasting together in the oven was a welcome preview of the delicious lunch I knew I'd have.

This week, Haley brought a friend to the farm to help us out since mom was taking Deanna to the airport to move to Italy(!!!) for the year.  We sent her friend home with a vase full of sunflowers and a delicious watermelon.  

Our PYO this week was crazy!  We skipped basil, raspberries/blackberries, ground cherries, and okra.  We made up for it with tons of sunflowers.  I managed to find a jalapeno bush in the ridiculous and unorganized mess of a hot pepper field and picked 10 peppers off of it.

 Beets are for mom.

 We split the garlic.

 I managed to find 6 red peppers - I think they're called fryer peppers.  They're longer than bell peppers, and pointy.

 We split the shallots.

We split the zucchini.  We each got 1 regular dark green one and 1 bright yellow golden one.

 Tasty heirlooms... I waited and waited so I could get some firmer and less squishy ones.

 I think these were serranos.  I like those!

 I took 2 dark purple ones and two bright purple ones.  One dark purple one went to Grandma.

 Like I said... 4 watermelons.  2 we think are orange, which one of the ones we got last week was.  The other 2 we are pretty sure are yellow.  It's pretty neat.  We gave one (yellow I think) to Haley's friend and I took one (orange) home.

Tomatoes are always good to have around and they are fortunately a bit firmer than the heirlooms so it's OK when you're still trying to use up last week's.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Swiss Chard and Onion Frittata

I made this Swiss Chard and Onion Frittata based on the Frittata recipe in Super Natural Every Day.  Chopping all the Swiss chard was time consuming, but the frittata is tasty!  We used 2 eggs and 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon egg whites.  In addition to the Swiss chard and two smallish onions, I tossed in two tiny potatoes, sliced paper thin.  They were good, but not necessary.  We topped the frittata with crumbled feta.  I'm grateful that I found a way to use this week's Swiss chard - I've been throwing it away and I feel really guilty about it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Pasta

In preparation for the hurricane (which seems to be winding down, and so far I still have power, yay!) we tried to eat as much as possible from the refrigerator.  Early in the day, we made some pita "pizzas" to use some of the mozzarella and other cheeses.  We roasted bell pepper, eggplant and yellow squash to put on top.  We had leftover veggies and tomato sauce, and used barely any of the mozzarella, so for dinner we decided to make a throw-together pasta dish.

We cooked 1/2 package of whole wheat fettuccine, then put the tomato sauce (5-6 oz) in a pot.  I added the already-roasted veggies, about 1.5-2 cups.  We sliced a clove of garlic into the pot, and I added fresh basil, oregano and chives, super easy since all my herb plants were inside!  Finally we added 4 diced cherry tomatoes and a big pinch of salt and we let it simmer just enough to heat up.  We topped the pasta with the sauce and then diced fresh mozzarella, finishing it off with a grating of Parmesan or Romano... not sure which.  It was surprisingly tasty.  Making dishes like this really inspires my confidence.  I know I can make something good if I just focus and put forth some effort.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

CSA 2011: Week 15

I'm going to try to be quick this week.  I'm so tired!

This week I made cherry tomato bruschetta with cherry tomatoes, basil, and garlic, which I ate piled atop the crostini from Witherspoon Bread Company.  When I bought these, I picked up a bottle of their focaccia spice.  YUM.  I also made a cucumber salad with dill.  I made dill butter to go with the rye soda bread, using up some chives in the process.  The main event this week was a vegetable chili.  Ready for it?  I used up some old carrots, garlic, onion, red-enough bell peppers, serranos from the freezer, zucchini and yellow squash that were reaching the end of their lifespan, corn I bought from the market just for this, and some of the glut of tomatoes.  I probably made a few other things, but if so, they're totally escaping me at the moment.

This week, Haley came to the farm with us.  Photo credits go out to her - she is awesome!

 I tried to pick up a few different shapes and sizes of eggplant, but most of the ones available were purple anyway.  I'll post a picture soon of the eggplant collection in my vegetable drawer - we got 4 eggplants from the PYO this week.

It's a good thing Haley was there, because I almost walked away with only one watermelon.  So glad we got two this week!  Totally random but we got to try a different variety and we still got the yellow kind again which was so tasty last week!

 I've got to find a way to use this up this week...

 I got 3 regular zucchini and one big weirdo one - the super long ones that I've gotten once or twice before.  I meant to leave one regular one with my mom but somehow it never escaped my cooler...

 So funny, I must not have read the sign - I thought it was 4.  I found 3 that were turning to yellow, and the 4th I took was a bright green.

 This garlic has been really good, glad we're still getting it!

 I thought this said 2 pieces.  Again, can't express how glad I am that Haley was there.  I got one monster onion and two normal size ones.

 I think I might roast these to make baby sun dried tomatoes.

 Tomatoes still going strong!

The heirlooms have just begun.  I want to make a focaccia topped with them.

I don't have a picture of the PYO board (hi mom, can you please send it to me?) but I'll do my best to recall: I picked some lemongrass, 4 quarts of string beans, 2 quarts of sauce tomatoes, 4 international eggplants, 4 tiny hot peppers (the variety is called "twilight"), 1/2 pint ground cherries.  We skipped the 2 quarts okra and the 1/2 pint blackberries/raspberries.  Mom got 12 of the 24 sunflowers we were entitled to because she read the board wrong and didn't feel like going to get more.  She also picked a nice bunch of regular flowers.  We were entitled to 80 stems, which is too many to count, so we just fill up the bucket - I doubt it could hold more than 80.  I think that's it - I'll try to update with the PYO board picture.

Haley took some more nice pictures while we were at the farm.  Some came out blurry but here are a few good ones...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rye Soda Bread with Dill Butter

This is a fantastic pair of recipes from Super Natural Every Day.  I've been meaning to make the Rye Soda Bread - it's one of the ones I had my eye on early on when I got the book.  The Dill Butter was never on my short list.  But when we got two bunches of dill from the CSA, I figured, why not both?  I used up some of the chives from my little container garden as well.

I don't know what I was thinking not wanting to make the Dill Butter to go with the bread.  It's ridiculously good!  I'm not one to butter my bread, which is why I wasn't interested in it at first - but it's really worth it.  I have been snacking on it for the past few days, and I even ate it for breakfast yesterday (and probably will tomorrow).  Despite the somewhat assertive flavors it actually makes a very nice breakfast.  (In Heidi's book it's in the Lunch section, but I like to warm it up and we don't have a toaster oven at work, so breakfast it is!)  Farmer cheese is added to the butter, almost as much as there is butter, so it's not entirely butter that I'm eating for breakfast!

I'm officially out of rye flour, though, so now it's time to try a variation with some other types of flour.  I'm trying to use up as much of my flour as possible, but it's rough with all this produce coming at me left and right!

Which reminds me... I'll try to get my CSA post up tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

CSA 2011: Week 14

This week, I froze corn off the cob, okra, green beans, and zucchini.  I roasted cherry tomatoes in the oven and packed them in oil which should hold them in the fridge for a few weeks.

The eggplants are piling up and I had to use them up, so I made a double batch of my favorite eggplant couscous salad which I've written about before and made a few times this year already.  (In case you click on the recipe link... I leave out the raisins and the chickpeas.)  That salad used a few red onions from the market plus cilantro which could have been from either.  In addition to that, I made a version of fattoush without the pita, a tasty and refreshing salad.  I supplemented the CSA tomatoes and bell peppers with a cucumber from the market, and again, I can't be sure where exactly my parsley and cilantro came from.  Last weekend I had shredded a CSA cabbage to use on tacos, and I used up more of it on the White Beans & Cabbage recipe from Super Natural Every Day, along with a potato from the CSA and an onion from the market.  I made the Spiced Eggplant Stew from Tender, which helped me to make a big dent in the CSA tomatoes, use up a few more eggplants, plus some onion, garlic, cilantro and mint, and even a hot red chile that I froze last year.  Then I made more pickles.  I had my mom and my sister pick up a few cucumbers, and I used some diced red onions and garlic to flavor the pickles.  And finally... I used up some yellow zucchini (that I'm honestly surprised lasted as long as they did) in a lasagna - I only had half a box of lasagna noodles, so I used them for the top and bottom layers, using zucchini for the middle.  It worked out fantastic!  Oh, and I used some local ricotta in that one too.  Overall I feel it was a pretty good week.

This week was an unusual one for the CSA.  I was working, so I missed the CSA trip for the first time EVER.  Luckily for me, it was raining, and my mom decided to do the PYO the next day.  Coincidentally, they decided to give me that day off, since I had worked on my day off on Tuesday, so I got to go to do the PYO!  I was so happy.

Here's what we got from the farm...

The 6 green (ick) peppers were put in the donation bin.

Mom took two bunches of dill.  I'll give her some basil from my porch tomorrow.

My mom sent me this note along with the photo: "A nice older man told me he prefers  the  striped purple/ white ones so I got you one of those and 3 purple.  He slices them very thin, sautes them and eats it with yogurt mixed with garlic."

Tomatoes, not too exciting this week, but we're still working on last week's anyway...

And finally, there was a watermelon.  A big fat striped watermelon.  We haven't cut into it yet, but I remember reading on the sign that the striped ones are yellow inside.

As I mentioned previously, we did our PYO on Wednesday this week.  We skipped the okra this week, but tackled the rest quickly with our team of FOUR farm workers: me, mom, Haley and her friend.  We split up - mom did sunflowers and flowers and mint, I got eggplant, ground cherries and herbs, Haley and her friend got string beans and raspberries.  (Unfortunately I mis-remembered the board, despite having the photo, and we were actually entitled to twice as many string beans as we picked.)  We met up at the end for sauce tomatoes and were on our way fairly quickly.  I can't even imagine how long we would have been there without all that help.  It was nice to be outside... I know I go every week, plus I'm outside at the beach on the weekends, but it makes me feel better when I'm stuck in an office for 9 hours a day to know that I'll get some fresh air eventually.

And finally... here are a few flower pictures.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Spiced Eggplant Stew

If you came into my living room right now, the first thing you would notice is the stack of books on my living room table.  From the bottom up: Heirloom Beans, Cooking from the Farmers' Market, Edible, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Super Natural Cooking, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and on top of the pile is Tender, open to this Spiced Eggplant Stew.  I've been turning to this book fairly often lately after neglecting it when it was the featured cookbook last month.

This recipe contains the flavors of cardamom, coriander, black pepper, garlic, ginger, turmeric, mint, and cilantro - quite a few flavors, and they all combine with the heat from the chile and the creaminess of the coconut milk to make a really delicious meal.  The tomatoes and eggplant go well together, and the eggplant is smooth and soft.  I served this over brown basmati rice.  The leftovers were delicious as well, and I put some in the freezer to enjoy when the weather cools down.  I'm not certain it will defrost well, but here's hoping.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fattoush (A Variation)

I found this recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  It appealed to me immediately when I saw sumac in the list of ingredients - a spice I love but can't find much use for.  The other main ingredients - cucumber, tomato, pepper, and herbs - are widely available right now.  Just reading the recipe made me realize that sumac is the spice in the side salads at Sahara - I have been trying to figure this out for years.  When I tasted the salad, it was confirmed.  I followed the recipe except for excluding the mint, and I used two small yellowish-orange peppers instead of the green ones called for.  I also skipped the toasted pita.  I don't have any pita, and I don't like soggy pita either.  I ate this with a fork.

This is a bright, simple, flavorful summer salad.  I think it would be perfect for a picnic.  I expect to be making this again soon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

CSA 2011: Week 13

Here are some flower pictures from this week's flowers.  They are so pretty.  This week we forgot the bucket so we only picked a few. We got 8 sunflowers which bulk it up and mom picked a bunch of other ones to fill it in.  I think they look really nice.  She should be a florist or a decorator.  Tell her that next time you see her.

This week, I bought some pickling cucumbers to make those awesome refrigerator pickles again.  I'll probably do this a few more times as long as cucumbers are available - I'm writing the date on top, so I'll eat the oldest ones first.  I hope they last at least into the winter.  Hopefully they'll last a little longer since they're sealed (but that won't stop me from eating them all...)

I also made the kale salad again, plus we used cabbage and tomatoes (and Cherry Grove ground beef) for tacos.  We have so many tomatoes - we even ate just plain tomatoes, with olive oil and flaky salt, for lunch one day.  I snacked on some nectarines.  And then there was the baked zucchini dish, which also used parsley and dill.

I had plans for so many more things, but I didn't get to them.  Unfortunately, this week I'm working 4 days instead of 3, so it's going to be rough getting to cook everything... but I'll find a way!  Luckily a lot of the produce, especially because it's so fresh, holds up really well.  My plan is to preserve some of the things I got today (freeze, for example) while I'm finishing up last week's.  I already froze three zucchini (grated and in rounds) and two quarts of okra.  Tonight I'll freeze two quarts of green beans and hopefully a few other things.  There are just not enough hours in the day.

So... what did we get this week?

Pick your own: eggplant, one small greenish/whitish one.  Herbs - thyme, oregano, parsley, lemongrass, mint, purple basil, fino verde basil.  8 sunflowers and a bunch of filler flowers to go with them, which you can see at the top of this post.  Mom picked a pint of raspberries, which I let her keep because she did all the work.  We split the four quarts of string beans evenly, and I took the 2 quarts of okra.

Garlic and onions - pantry staples that will last a little longer than most stuff we get.  I snagged both of these.  Mom tried to take the onions but when I saw how many she had already from the store I snatched them back.

I botched this one by taking one parsley and one cilantro even though we had just picked parsley.  Fortunately I still have a ton of cilantro from the last few weeks... but I kept both.  (Mom kept the PYO parsley.)

I'm a little concerned about the longevity of this cabbage - it looks a bit yellow already - but I took it and I'm sure I'll do something with it...

Swiss chard came home with me.  Hopefully I find something to do with it.  This is one of the ones that concerns me the most.

Mom took the peppers to give to her reading group.  We really hate the green ones.  Why don't they give us any red ones?!

I took this basil again even though I probably won't get to use it.  We took all the good leaves off and put them in a bag so I'll try to make pesto with them.  They're not a great variety - they smell like licorice.

I took two big bumpy fat eggplants and two skinny lighter purple Asian eggplants.  No one in my family likes them, so they are all mine.

The summer squash selection was not good this week.  There were lots of pattypan squash.  We have had them before and they weren't a big hit with us.  Fortunately my strategy of hovering for an extended period of time allowed me to swoop in on a new bin and dig some yellow crookneck and regular dark green zucchini out from underneath the pattypan avalanche.

Mom kept the potatoes.  I still have some from the past few weeks.

The cherry tomatoes came home with me.

We split the slicing tomatoes evenly.  I used more than she did last week.  It's interesting that we have half as many people and eat twice as much produce.

It's time to get freezing!  I can't wait for sauce tomatoes!  We'll be canning those :)