Tuesday, September 27, 2011

CSA 2011: Week 20

What a busy cooking week... I've used up so much produce but of course it's still hard to keep up.  I used the leaves from the celeriac to make homemade celery salt.  We topped our tacos with lettuce and heirloom tomatoes, big ones and a few cherry tomatoes as well.  Shrimp in Tomatillo and Herb Sauce made a repeat appearance from last year, using tomatillos, tarragon, and mint, plus basil from my little herb garden.  I bought corn from the market to make one of our favorites, Pasta with Fresh Corn Pesto, one last time this season, and once again was glad to have my basil plant.  Over the weekend I spent a day with my family, and we snacked on guacamole, taking the opportunity to use up a small tomato and a jalapeno pepper, while we made a spicy vegetarian chili to use up eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and serrano peppers.  It was exciting to crack open a jar of our very own canned tomatoes - they may have lost some liquid but they were so flavorful.  I made an on-the-fly black bean soup, using a yellow pepper, garlic, tomato, and serrano pepper, plus an onion I picked up at the market.  We enjoyed a double batch of Mushroom Bourguignon, using mushrooms, an onion, and a carrot from the market and flavored with garlic and thyme from the farm.  Today I fire-roasted some of our older plum tomatoes under the broiler and canned them - I was pretty disappointed to have done all that work (and boiled the water in the canner for hours! boy was it hot in that kitchen!) for one lousy pint, but I bet it'll be tasty when I crack it open!

This week was a typical late-summer week with glimpses of fall starting to show up.  The pumpkins and winter squash have not fared well this year and we didn't see any this week.

This week we picked green beans, edamame, sauce tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, hot peppers, lemongrass, thyme, oregano, sage, and parsley.  We skipped the eggplants since they were so difficult to find last week.  I told a nice old Asian man how to use tomatillos.  I also found where the poblano pepper plant is hiding, so I've scoped out those and the serranos and jalapenos for some more useful picks.  This is prime time for hot peppers.  They're something I'd like to try to grow myself for next year - I can never pick enough jalapenos to pickle them, which I would really like to try.

Celeriac and beets were in a choice group today.  I still have the two celeriac from last week, so mom picked beets.  I sent her a recipe a few weeks ago for how to cook the beet greens, but these looked pretty dismal, so I guess she's lucked out this time - less work for her!

It's nice to have lettuce back.  After probably well over a hundred heads, we've figured out which we like.  This week all were red, but I spotted the less curly, lighter colored red leaves that are less bitter and we chose those.

I still have no place in my belly for green peppers, so I snagged a few that look like they might turn red or some other color... wish me luck!

I got 4 fairly average type eggplants.  I have not been able to keep up this summer.  I've got some older ones that need to be roasted for the Moroccan couscous salad.

Guilty as charged - I didn't use last week's arugula.  But I just saw a picture in a magazine of a beautiful piece of fish with some kind of yogurty sauce on top of a bed of bright green arugula and I want it! So hopefully this week I'll get a chance to make it happen.

 Garlic is always welcome in my household!  It doesn't last longer than 3 or 4 weeks - I've been taking the 2 heads almost every week, and I've only got 4 or 5 of them.

Never disappointed to see cilantro.  This bunch is going into the chile verde base I made and froze a few weeks ago - I'll defrost it in the fridge to blend the cilantro in and then put it back into the bag.

Happy to see some regular tomatoes!  So sick of heirlooms...

Hoping these will encourage me to eat some salad this week.  I've never been a big salad eater, but with all the lettuce we're bound to be getting over the next few weeks, I need to make a fancy dressing and focus on eating some salad.  I got this great blood orange olive oil at the tiny fall farmers market in downtown Ocean City a few weeks ago and I'd love to see how it works in a dressing for the lettuce and arugula.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

I love chili.  Now that it's getting cooler, it's pretty much all I want to eat.  I'm looking for recipes to use up the last of the summer produce - this Spicy Vegetarian Chili did the trick.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, though I used a bit less lemon zest/juice, omitted the fennel seeds (yuck) and used two serrano peppers, seeds and all.  That was a bit of a mistake - I should have knocked out a few of the seeds, as it was good but over-spicy.  My mom ended up sending it all home with me.  (I was hoping to share, but I can't say I'm too disappointed...)  For this recipe we cracked open our first jar of home-canned whole tomatoes.  They are super tasty and have a strong and delicious tomato flavor.  I can't wait to use them in more dishes over the winter.  Hopefully I'll get the chance to put up a few more before tomatoes are totally gone.

I can make variations of chili all winter, but I look forward to next summer's produce and revisiting the hearty and healthy chili recipes I've found this year.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Oat Soda Bread

Heidi's Oat Soda Bread is a spinoff of her Rye Soda Bread from Super Natural Every Day.  I loved the rye version and I was actually a bit skeptical about the oat version since I liked the rye so much.  Fortunately, this is some of the best bread I have ever had and probably the best bread I have ever made myself.  I love the whole soda bread technique because it's so much quicker and easier than making a yeasted bread.  This bread makes a great sandwich bread as long as you like it by itself.  I tried it with some tomato, arugula, and whole grain mustard (also homemade, recipe from Super Natural Every Day).  I topped this bread with oat bran, since I have a whole bunch of it hanging around.  I'm really looking forward to experimenting a little more.  This bread has a lot of all-purpose flour in it, which I'm sure really helps the texture, but I would like to find a way to make it more whole-grain.  I'm looking forward to trying a spelt version too, now that I've got the basic technique down.  For someone who never makes bread because of the time commitment, this is a great option.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spelt Drop Biscuits

I got this recipe for Spelt Drop Biscuits from the Bob's Red Mill website on a weekend morning when I wanted to make the Yogurt Biscuits from Super Natural Every Day, but didn't have the equipment I needed.  They were super simple, easy to make, quick to bake, and very tasty.  We cut them open and spread them with butter and apricot preserves.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

CSA 2011: Week 19

It's been a busy week (who's surprised?) but I managed to use quite a bit of produce in my Oven Roasted Ratatouille.  I used up eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, tomato, onion, and garlic.  I've made a few other things, but I'm having a pretty rough time remembering things lately!  This coming week I'll have to be sure to write more down as I go along.

Today was a pretty productive day at the farm.  It's an interesting time right now - summer is wrapping up and fall is just beginning to creep up on us.  Late-summer staples like eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes are still pretty abundant, but we also got quite a bit of winter squash.  It's a nice transition but I'm sure summer will be far behind us before we even realize it.

The PYO was good evidence of late summer starting to slip away... the green beans were impossible to pick.  We picked not even a full quart.  But- there are four more rows that still have flowers.  More are certainly coming!  I've frozen so many of them this year that I'm not even sure what to do with them anymore.  The eggplants- same situation.  It took us several minutes to find any that were ready to be picked, and the one we chose isn't even a type I really like.  We didn't even bother to look for a second one.  The edamame is, sadly, on its way out.  Tomatillos are going strong.  Sauce tomatoes- for every pink one, there's got to be at least 25 green ones.  I'm looking forward to the "unlimited" sauce tomato time!  We also got a variety of hot peppers, a few cherry tomatoes, and herbs- lemongrass, thyme, oregano, mint, parsley.  I've been freezing the lemongrass each week, peeling off the outer stalks and cutting it to fit one small container.  I've got more than enough to use all winter.  I'm looking forward to trying a few soups with it.

Our choice group this week consisted of celeriac and scallions.  Celeriac is very much like celery, with a big bulb attached to the bottom.  You can slice it up and do a bunch of different things with it.  Since we got two bunches of scallions last week and still haven't used them, we opted for the celeriac.

I grabbed three serrano peppers from the bin before I discovered a big pepper buried underneath.  It looks quite like a poblano.  I snagged three of those as well.

We got 4 yellow or turning-yellow bell peppers.  Mom kept them since I have some from last week.

I got two bright purple eggplants.  I'm hoping to have a chance to stuff them...

In addition to the above, we got a pumpkin and four winter squash - I chose a butternut, 2 acorn, and a carnival squash.  We also got a few heirloom tomatoes - I think it was 2 or 3 pounds.  If I can get a hold of pictures, I'll update with them later.

I can't believe the season is almost over!  This is the best time though - fall produce is so abundant.  I'm looking forward to squeezing a few more things into my tiny overworked freezer.  For now my focus is trying to get out all of the really old things to make some room!  I'm looking forward to eating well this winter.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Collard and Sausage Skillet (and what to do with the leftovers)

On a recent CSA trip we got two bunches of collard greens.  I have taken them a few times from the farm, but I have never gotten around to actually using them.  It turns out they are enough like kale that they can be used in a similar manner.  Collards are notorious for their ability to stand up to strong flavors such as bacon, so I decided to make a dish with collards and sausage.

I made up this dish entirely on my own, though I used a somewhat similar technique to Heidi's White Beans and Cabbage, which inspired this dish by being a one-skillet meal that uses a cruciferous vegetable.  This is one of the times that I was able to make up a dish on the fly and it came out pretty good.  It's been happening more and more lately.

The real purpose for me to share this recipe with you is to share what I did with the leftovers.  Who likes eating the same thing over and over?  I cook for two, so much of my leftovers go in the freezer whenever possible.  Otherwise, we are stuck eating the same thing multiple times until it's all gone.

I made this skillet dish with collard greens and crumbled sausage, but I wasn't totally crazy about it.  When I was eating it, I kept thinking how great it would be as the contents of a soup.  So I decided to use the leftovers to make a soup, and it was good, which is why I am posting about it.  It was really nice to be able to use up the leftovers in a totally new dish, especially since I liked it better than the original.

Collard and Sausage Skillet

2 sweet Italian pork sausages (I got my local organic ones from Cherry Grove Farm)
3/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 cup navy beans (canned are fine)
2 bunches collard greens, de-stemmed and sliced into pencil-thin ribbons
Salt and pepper

1. Take the sausage out of the casing and crumble it up.  Heat a skillet over medium heat, add the sausage and break it apart as much as possible.  After a minute or two, toss in the shallots and cook for a few minutes.
2. Rinse and drain your navy beans.  Toss those into the pan too.  Put the lid on for a few minutes if your shallots aren't translucent.
3. Add the collard ribbons, stir it up, and put the lid back on for a few minutes, removing it occasionally to stir.  Try to get the sausage mixture on top of the collard greens so that they come into closer contact with the heat.
4. When the collard ribbons are bright green and slightly wilted, turn off the heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Collard and Sausage Soup

2 big cloves of garlic, sliced
Approximately 3 cups of leftover Collard and Sausage Skillet
1 (28-oz) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
28 oz water (just fill up the can)
Small pasta shapes (I used half a box or 180g, which was too much)
1 cup water or as much/as little as you desire
Salt and pepper

1. Saute the garlic in a bit of olive oil and let it soften up.  Add the skillet leftovers and stir.
2. Add the crushed tomatoes and water and bring to a boil.
3. When the soup starts to boil, add the small pasta shapes and cook however long the package says.
4. When the pasta is cooked, turn the heat to super low or off.  Add more water to thin the soup to your desired consistency.  If you use a reasonable amount of pasta, you may not even need any water.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can make this soup without making the skillet dish first.  Just make the skillet dish as directed, adding the garlic in with the shallots (this would be good to do, I think, even if you're not making the soup) and then continue on as if you had just added the leftovers to the pot.  You may need to add more water to account for the slightly bigger amount of collards (mine were leftovers, remember?)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Peppers Stuffed w/ Israeli Couscous and Basil Pesto

I made the Stuffed Peppers with Israeli couscous and pesto featured in the Recipes for Health column a few weeks ago.  These have been on my list for a while and I haven't gotten to them.  Now that they're done I'm not sure what I was waiting for.  Since I already had pesto and tomato sauce (home)made, it was just a matter of cooking up some couscous and cutting the peppers.  The prep time was minimal (I prepped the peppers and watched the clock while the couscous was cooking) and the cook time, about 45 minutes, was actually a good opportunity for me to go and do something else.  We still ate dinner at a reasonable hour.  As an added bonus, the recipe makes six servings, so there's a lunch in store for each of us tomorrow, plus one more for lunch or dinner or in-between.  For a more substantial meal I'd recommend a nice sweet Italian sausage.

My original plan was to try this recipe with Heidi's "Magic Sauce" which I have been meaning to try in some capacity.  But the pesto was made, and given the flavors of the Roasted Tomato Marinara I used, I'm glad I stuck with the pesto.  I'd like to try it with the Magic Sauce, but I'll have to think of an alternative sauce.  A plain tomato sauce might work, or one flavored with some of the same herbs as are included in the Magic Sauce.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CSA 2011: Week 18

Today we picked these beautiful flowers at the farm, along with our usual bounty. 

Before I get into this week's pickings, let's talk about what I did with last week's.

  • Yellow watermelon mojitos
  • Stuffed peppers for which I was able to use up the remainder of last year's pesto
  • Cherry tomato bruschetta
  • A collard green, shallot, and sausage skillet, which was repurposed into a soup

I haven't been using as much as I could be, but it was a busy first week of school, and we also spent a ton of time last weekend just cleaning our house (which was totally worth it).  We ate some vegetarian chili from the freezer this week... we needed a break to get adjusted to the schedule.  But now I'm really ready for action!  When we got home from the farm, I helped my mom blanch 6 quarts of green beans to freeze.  (I knew if I left them for her she'd never do it.)  Later, at home, I roasted last week's tomatillos (yes, I know I'm behind) for a green and white chili I'll make later this week.  I love how long produce from the farm will last since it's so fresh.  I also love how just the simplest form of cooking something can extend its life.

This week we picked green beans (6 quarts, which we froze), edamame, cherry tomatoes, sauce tomatoes, hot peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, a handful of flowers, thyme, oregano, mint, parsley, and lemon grass.  Each week we get 16 peppers, and I forget the number when I'm out there and always think it's 14.  That's OK though, I don't use all of them.  I try to freeze what I can before I forget, but you know how life gets.

It looks like my mom forgot to snap the photos of the produce outside the farm stand.  We got 2 pounds of regular tomatoes and 3 pounds of heirloom tomatoes.  Good thing I have a decent memory!

This one is hard to see, but we got 1/2 pound of Swiss chard.

And 1/2 pound of arugula.  This is exciting as it means lettuce should be coming soon too.  I kind of miss salad, although I know I'll be kicking myself later when we're getting 8 heads of lettuce every week...

This week I got 3 traditional eggplant, and I managed to snag the only one of the pretty purple and white stripe kind.

From this choice group, we picked two bunches of scallions.

The garlic is always welcome.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the rainbow of peppers available this week.  I chose some of the yellow ones.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Coconut Oatmeal

I made up this Coconut Oatmeal to use up 1/2 can of coconut milk left over from the curry I made the other day.  (Serves 2-4.)

1 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup vanilla soymilk (sweetened)
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups minus 3 Tbsp oatmeal*
3 Tbsp wheat germ
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1. Heat the coconut milk and soymilk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the edges start to rise up and hiss.
2. Add the pinch of salt, then stir in the oatmeal and wheat germ.
3. Toast the shredded coconut, keeping an eye on it.
4. When the oatmeal is cooked to the consistency you like, turn off the heat.  Mix in most of the toasted shredded coconut, reserving a bunch to sprinkle on top.
5. Put the oatmeal into bowls and top with the rest of the toasted shredded coconut.  Enjoy!

*Rather than removing 3 Tbsp of oats, I just put 3 Tbsp of wheat germ into the measuring cup before I fill it with oats.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weeknight Curry

To use up a glut of string beans from the farm, as well as some eggplants and peppers, I decided to try the Weeknight Curry recipe from Super Natural Every Day.  It's a Thai red curry, which is the best kind.  I used far more curry paste than was called for and a bit more coconut milk as well.  I added red curry powder at the end to kick up the heat.  We sauteed some shrimp separately, seasoning those with the red curry powder as well.  I made some brown basmati rice to go with this.

Heidi's recipes in Super Natural Every Day have really amped up my cooking confidence.  Next time, I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to make a good approximation of this dish without looking at the recipe.