I posted on the Instagram feed a little while ago about “Hulk Muffins,” but I’m just now getting around to talking about them on here.
My child does not like leafy greens, currently. The only “salad” he will touch is dandelion greens, strangely enough. We get rather inundated with greens over the course of the season, and I’m always looking for new things to do with them. (I can always make pesto, of course, but how much pesto does one person need?) I found the answer in these “Hulk muffins,” which have turned out to be a huge hit with everyone in my family. They are sweet, hilariously green, have no refined sugar, and are a good way to sneak in the extra vitamins.
Today was the Grand Opening of Greengrocer Foodhub’s storefront in Bloomfield! I missed the ribbon cutting this morning, since the baby was sleeping, but both kids and I made it over there mid-afternoon. We got “a beet the size of your head,” zucchini, cucumber, raspberries, apples, broccoli, snap peas, cider, and sausage…. most of which were things picked out by my 5 year-old. I hung back to the side of the store when we were done, and I let him bring the basket up to check out, as well as my credit card. It was so sweet to see him get to take care of the whole process, and he was really proud of himself.
Check it out if you’re local! 27 Cartaret St. Bloomfield. They’re open 9-7 Saturday and 10-5 Sunday.
What did I do with my delightful haul? I finally made beet & zucchini pakoras! I shredded (most of) the giant beet, 2 zucchini, and a large carrot. To that, I added a batter made of flour (the original recipe called for chickpea, but I used all-purpose), cumin, garam masala, and salt. Then, I fried them in oil. They’re basically middle-eastern beet latkes. I got the recipe out of a “Farmers Market” cooking magazine that I bought this summer.
They’re supposed to be served with mint yogurt, but we used sour cream. They were delicious.
The other elements of the meal: broccoli & snap peas with hummus, and chicken salad for the grownups (made with a Wrong Direction Farm chicken that I roasted this morning) and tuna fish for Little Chef, who was opposed to the red onion in the chicken salad.
(This is going to be a personal post. If you’re just here for the food, feel free to skim on by.)
I came to this season with the best of intentions, though didn’t I say that last year, too? I looked forward to this summer; a baby that would graduate to purees by the end of August, a bigger, more comfortable kitchen, no caretaking responsibilities outside of my immediate household, and most importantly, no morning sickness. I was ready and raring to go.
I forgot how hard it is to have a baby, and I discovered how differently hard it is to have two. To be in this season of being unable to finish a thought, to be ready to switch gears on demand at all times. To be so needed so much of the time. To be so tired.
So, so tired.
When people ask how I’m doing, my answer is pretty much always somewhere in the “okay” spectrum, and ultimately that is true. I am okay and will be okay. But oh, brother, has this been hard. And there have been many times in the past few months that I’ve felt very not-ok.
So, the posts have quieted. The cooking goes in waves; some days, I feel creative and motivated. Perhaps it’s a day I have a sitter. Perhaps it’s a day the baby mostly slept through the night. Some weeks, most of the share gets blanched and frozen. Some days, I look at my plate and say, “Well, this is good, but no one needs to see a 12th picture of my green beans and corn.”
The corn has been so abundant this summer. For that, I’m grateful.
If you’re following my instagram (@omgcsa), you’ll know I’m still alive and cooking. Blogging takes some time and brain space that I haven’t always been able to muster this summer. School has begun, though, and while that means that I’m working during some afternoons, it also means that my eldest is away at Kindergarten all day, so I’ll do my best to post some of the better meals I’ve conjured up this summer.
Fall is upon us. I hope to really start decorating today; it’s my favorite season. Halloween is my favorite holiday. While I love the eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, and corn during high summer, I am happy to slide down into squash, potatoes, and greens.
I’m already thinking about next year. I planted some tomatoes and peppers this year, but they did not do well. It’s our first year in this house, and I misjudged the amount of sun that my back yard gets. The planters will be in a different location next year. Soon, I’ll start plotting out what will go where. I didn’t dry many herbs this year; I had a lovely closet that I used off of my kitchen in the old house. I still haven’t quite figured out where I’ll hang the herbs here. My window boxes never quite made it to sills. I’m not in the flow of the shape and size of my new refrigerator and freezer. (It’s a side-by-side, which is also different for me. Plus, we’re down 1 fridge, since we had a garage fridge in the old house.) I’m still figuring out the best use of pantry space and of cupboards. Our composter is ordered but has not yet arrived. I still have missing cookbooks that are likely in the boxes that I still have to unpack.
It’s hard to be patient with myself. It’s hard to wait for all of the dust to settle on the landslide that life has been in the past year.
If you’ve stuck with me through all of this, I’m grateful for your readership. If you’re new to the blog, I promise it’s not all confessional all the time. I’m here for the food just as much as you are.
I started off with just a concept in my head – lentil curry – and I ran with it. I cooked the lentils in stock until they were tender, and boiled this week’s cauliflower until it just started to soften up. I then transferred all of that to a chef’s pan with a bunch of spices – curry powder, onion powder, garlic powder, ginger, paprika, cinnamon – and let it simmer for a few minutes. I added the leftover corn from last night, cut from the cobs, and half a can of coconut milk. I tested for taste and added salt and some more garlic, onion, and paprika. This I served with basmati rice and a quick raita.
My understanding of raita is that you’re supposed to strain the yogurt first, to make it thick, but I’d forgotten to do that ahead of time. So, I just used plain yogurt (which I got through Wrong Direction Farm, who partners with my main CSA) and salted cucumber chunks, and it tasted perfectly fine. (Mediterranean Harvest is my original source for how to make raita, by the way.)
We had naan for a side, but that was pre-made. I also took the 4 adorable purple bell peppers that I got from Snapping Turtle Farm and stuffed them with hummus and chopped cucumbers. My 5 year-old especially appreciated that part of the meal.
I love meals like this, where everything is flavorful and filling, but doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve eaten a brick. Cheers to a well-spiced vegetarian meal.
None of us in our household is particularly into apricots. I ate them one week, I left them for the soup kitchen on another, and then I found myself staring down a container again…
So, I went to Google. I know that peaches make excellent barbecue sauce; had anyone tried it with apricots? Of course they had.
I didn’t have tomato sauce, but I did have crushed tomatoes. That seems to have made no difference. I did add liquid smoke, as she mentions. It came out sweet, smoky, and delicious.
How did I use this sauce? On Tuesday, I picked up some nice slabs of salmon and baked them in the barbecue sauce. I served the salmon with rice, corn that I got through my Greengrocer box over the weekend, and green beans from this week’s share. It was a hearty and delicious meal.
I love plums. I really do. Despite that, the fruit share can even outpace me this time of year. So, I went searching for some ideas to put the plums to use. Last year, I made the plum torte, which I’ll make again soon, but this time, I tried my hand at plum wine.
It’s really easy in concept; I’ve made limoncello this way. Fruit, sugar, and vodka, and let it steep. I’m excited for how this will taste, though. The Bon Appetit article says it should be sweet and sherry-like. I’m hoping to open it at Christmas when we have family here.
Week 7 (last week) was a bountiful share to begin with, and then I decided to order bulk blueberries. Lettuce, summer squash, kale, onions, rainbow carrots, bell peppers, tomatillos, green beans, purple cauliflower, tomatoes, fennel, eggplant, and dill. Plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots. Eggs (under all that fruit).
I’ll post pictures of some cooking adventures involving last week’s share in the next few days. I will share one ultimate summer breakfast picture, though…
Blueberry pancakes on a bed of peaches. Yum.
That brings us to yesterday, week 8:
We’ve hit the point in the season where the share looks smaller (for now) in the pictures, though it’s actually larger in amount of food. The key difference? The heat has knocked out the lettuce for now. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my salads, but I’m so ready to be focusing on other things.
One week until Littlest Chef gets to try food, and I’m glad we’ll have such fresh choices readily available. I was thinking that as I munched on my green beans last night.
I did it. I got a spiralizer. I always half-figured on getting a spiralizer attachment for my stand mixer, but they were really expensive in comparison to stand-alone models, so I compared some reviews and ended up with the Briefton’s spiralizer.
I used it for the first time last night, and it was really cool. Little Chef was fascinated, watching the ribbons come out of it. The first thing (and only thing so far) that I spiralized was some beets. I put them through raw, then I cooked them in boiling water for 4 or 5 minutes. I then used this beet “pasta” to make a cold pesto pasta salad. I used chickpeas and kale pesto.
All told, it was good but not terribly interesting. It needed more salt, probably a good shot of lemon juice, some red onion, and maybe some bell pepper. I’ll try it again with the tweaks.
We also had the first field tomatoes of the season, thanks to our Greengrocer CSA box! We had sandwiches, corn, and the beet salad for dinner.
I’ve wanted to experiment more with cooking recently, but we’ve had a terribly hot week. We ended up going out to dinner on Friday night and ordering in (sushi) for dinner on Saturday night. There’s a thunderstorm upon us now, so hopefully this week will be cooler, and I can be more adventurous.
Salsa Verde is the obvious choice when the tomatillos start coming in. I like to roughly follow the Thug Kitchen recipe, though I tweak it based on what I have and what taste I’m looking for. Much like pesto, Salsa Verde is a concept and method rather than a strict recipe.
Tomatillos. I used about a pound and a half.
Peel them, wash them, stick them under the broiler until they get nice and charred, explode-y, and soft. If you’re using jalepenos, they’d get tossed in, too. I didn’t grow any hot peppers this year and we have none from CSA yet. It also works perfectly well without.
Cool and chop. Meanwhile, chop up some onion (I used about half of a large one), some garlic (anything in the 2-4 cloves range), and some cilantro (adjust to taste – we are a cilantro-friendly household, so I think I ended up using almost half a cup… I grabbed a handful and chopped it up.)
Throw everything in the blender and process until slightly chunky. Again, texture is to your preference.
On Wednesday night, we had quesadillas and enjoyed some homemade salsa verde. Delicious.
I was going to cook tonight, but it’s unbearably hot, so I think we’re going to change our plans and go out. Stay cool and safe, everyone!
Whew! What a day we had yesterday. Swelteringly hot. I had a “set-up shift” for CSA, which meant that I had to show up early and help load the bins onto the tables, bag shares for people who couldn’t pick up in time, etc. I also desperately needed to go to the grocery store (my Mother in Law brought pizza over, and we rather effortlessly fit the two boxes into my fridge, which is a testement to how empty it was), and I was performing in a community band concert in the evening. As the last line suggests, my awesome Mother in Law came over to help and handled dinner (as well as the mountain of dishes in my sink, whew). We had a lovely evening. The concert was actually the first for the West Orange Community Band, which just formed this winter. I’m glad I’ve been juggling the rehearsals with the rest of my life – it was SO MUCH FUN. Our next concert is August 21st.
The share yesterday was bountiful, plus a friend offered me her beets – anyone who knows me knows I won’t turn down more beets. Pictured is the contents of my vegetable share, eggs, and fruit. I got my usual chicken and ground turkey in addition to this, and I ordered some stuff to have on hand for grilling.
Pictured: Eggs, peaches, apples, sugar plums, romaine lettuce, cherokee lettuce, swiss chard, kale, cilantro, 3 cucumbers, 3 summer squash, 2 eggplants, 1 bunch of red torpedo onions, 2 bunches of beets (share size was 1), a half pound of green beans, Kohlrabi, and tomatillos (which were an “extra,” but I like salsa verde.)
I haven’t done anything yet except wash & tear the romaine for a salad later. Some thoughts before I head over to work on the pile (Little Chef is at camp, Littler Chef is napping, and I am in an air conditioned house, thank God. I went out to get some sun before, and I lasted about 10 minutes.): Salsa verde, possibly the plum torte, even though it calls for purple plums. Maybe I’ll experiment and find some new plum recipes. I’d happily eat them all straight, but I’d like to branch out. For the kohlrabi, I think I’ll try mashed – I have an article from a magazine about new ideas for mashing (other than potatoes and cauliflower), and that looks interesting. The kale is likely going to be chopped and frozen. The chard might be frozen; I’m not sure yet. The beet greens look good, so I may freeze the chard and use them as my dark green. I do have a “chard stalk hummus” recipe that I may try instead of just relegating the stalks to a stock pot. The eggplants are the long, narrow type. I may do something funky like eggplant fries or eggplant bacon with them. The cilantro will really have to end up in whatever we do tonight, because it’s wilty with the heat.
No matter what I decide to do, there will be photos. I’ll post here when I can, and if you want more immediate gratification, find me on Instagram! @omgcsa