Wednesday Evening Lentils

Wednesday’s dinner was a great success.

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.

Apricot BBQ Sauce

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.

Plum Wine

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.

Cheers!

CSA Weeks 7 & 8

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.

Cooking posts coming soon, I promise.

Spiralizer!

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

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!

Tuesday’s share – Week 6

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.

I digress.

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

Weekend meals

I find I’m really pleased with the balance of the CSA memberships I have. On Tuesdays, I get the traditional, farmer-dictated pickup from Bloomfield-Montclair, and on Fridays or Saturdays, I get my subscription box from Greengrocer Foodhub, the order for which has to be in by Wednesday night. Because of this timing, I can use my subscription box to fill in things that weren’t in my traditional share, and I can count on a weekend of good cooking.

This week, we had a great series of summertime dinners. One night, we grilled chicken burgers and had steamed zucchini (not original, I know, but I love it), as well as “Cauliflowers Patties” which turned out to basically be cauliflower latkes. The only thing I would change in the linked recipe is that I might drain the cauliflower shreds a bit – they gave off quite a bit of water, which made the patties a little less apt to stay together.

We also had a movie night this weekend. Anyone who knows us knows that means a “picnic in the living room.” I made crudites out of a bunch of veggies I had on hand, with hummus for dipping, and we had cheese and crackers. Plus, I made summer rolls. It took me a little while to get the hang of making them look decent – but they sure tasted good.

Sunday night was a delightful mashup. I made “Beet Tartare,” which I’ve mentioned in previous posts. It’s basically a shredded beet salad that you can eat on toasts or crackers. I got corn in my subscription box, so that made an appearance. I also set out to make Thug Kitchen’s lentil and red bean meatballs, but I had a kitchen issue…. namely, I wasn’t paying attention and put way too many lentils into the bowl. It wasn’t coming out the right consistency (well, duh), so I decided to wing it. I added more breadcrumbs and some spices, and I made them into mini “meatloaves” in a muffin tin. They got served with the marinara I’d made for the meatballs. Delicious. Last (but not least), I made a grilled sweet potato and scallion salad. YUM.

It’s Tuesday again, so I’ll be posting about my share later.

Summer Explosion Begins

I began writing a post on Tuesday night, but I ended up focusing all evening on getting ready for our family trip, which, incidentally, was the focus of what I’d begun to write.

So, we always go to visit family around the 4th of July, and it seems that it’s always that week that the CSA share decides to skyrocket. Here was Tuesday’s:

We were leaving for our family trip on Wednesday morning. In previous years, I would have thrown the entire share in a cooler and dealt with it once we got down here. This is pretty impractical, when I’m honest with myself, so I buckled down on Tuesday night and got through using/sorting/prepping/planning the entire share. I still managed to pack and be in bed before midnight! It was a miracle.

For dinner, we had a delicious combo. I made stuffed summer squash. We got these cute little globe-shaped green squash. I cut off the stem end, drizzled the whole thing with olive oil, and roasted them, cut-side down, in the oven for about 45 minutes. I prepped a stuffing of ground turkey, white onion, garlic scapes, diced tomatoes (canned, unfortunately, at this point in the season), parsley, some spices, and, at the end, the scooped-out innards of the roasted squash. I then stuffed the squash, topped them with some grated parmesan, and tossed them back in the oven. I had far more stuffing than I needed, so I filled a pint-sized container and put it in the freezer.

I also made chard. Ohhhhh boy, did I make chard. I love swiss chard in all its forms, but I have to admit that my favorite is creamed swiss chard, and my favorite recipe for this decadent side is the one from the American Lighthouse Cookbook. I didn’t have a shallot, so I used a small red onion from last week’s share. I also used almond milk instead of cow milk; I find most of the non-dairy milks substitute well. It was creamy, delicious, and satisfying.

We had a small amount of english peas, so we had those, as well. And by “we,” I mean that my 5 year old ate most of them. I also made some carrot sticks, because I anticipated his resistance to dinner. The adults enjoyed it, though!

I washed the salad greens, snow peas, and cherries and packed them for the road. I also turned the rest of the carrots into carrot sticks. The greens went into my stock bag; on weeks where I have more time, they would get more interesting use, but time was of the essence. The napa cabbage went into the fridge; it keeps well and will be waiting for us when we return. The fennel, kale, and bok choy are all waiting, as well. The only one I’m not super confident about, in regard to durability, is the bok choy, so fingers crossed! The blueberries went right into the freezer.

We have one more day away, and Sunday will be a travel day. After that, I’m looking forward to settling into a routine for the next stretch of the summer. The “good vegetables” (in my opinion) are imminent, and I’m looking forward to eating well. I got a preview this weekend, as Aunt Nancy made some ratatouille to go with dinner last night. She joined a CSA in Texas, and they’ve been in what I consider “high summer” vegetables for a couple of weeks now. I’m itching for tomatoes and eggplant and bell peppers. Soon, soon.

Summer 2019 Begins

Longtime readers will recognize a pattern: “real life” gets full, and my blog goes silent. Then, I come back with a summary post, which tends to begin with “So…”

So.

Little Chef graduated Pre-K on the 18th! They had a pizza party, ice pops and sprinkler play, and a “bridging up” ceremony. It was a beautiful day, and thanks to my amazing baby-sitter, I got to spend the whole day there for my older son without the baby in tow.

For those of you keeping score at home, that was a Tuesday, which is also CSA day. We also had OT and Littlest Chef’s 4 month pediatrician appointment, all in the same day. Blog posts were certainly not happening. I consider myself lucky that I got the haul into the refrigerator. However, I did get a picture of the share for the week:

Lettuce, Spinach, Salad Turnips, Scallions, Summer Squash, Peas, Bok Choy, Swiss Chard, Cilantro… Apricots, Blueberries, Cherries… A dozen eggs, a broiler chicken, and a pound of ground turkey.
The first week of summer vacation proceeded to be… rainy. Very rainy. So, Little Chef, with children everywhere, was climbing up the walls. To top it off, I was still seeing students – the public schools didn’t end for another week. So, still, no blogging.
We tried several times to get to pick strawberries, and we were foiled by the weather until the 24th. (How was that only 5 days ago?) We headed up to my old stomping grounds, Sussex County. Little Chef was much more enthusiastic about picking than in previous years.
Tuesday the 25th, we got our CSA share again.
The flowers were a gift from a student. The vegetables and fruit were:
Lettuce, Beets, Snow Peas, Broccoli, Garlic Scapes, Summer Squash, Kale, Escarole, Dill, Dandelion Greens… a dozen eggs… and Blueberries and Strawberries. (Apricots came in our share, but I left them for the food pantry. We’re not really big on apricots, and we got them the week before.)
I haven’t done anything particularly out-of-the-box the past couple of weeks. I did make a tasty pasta with summer squash and pesto. Thursday night, I made a fritatta with the escarole, garlic scapes, summer squash, and cherry tomatoes that I got at the strawberry farm. We had Asian-style noodles on Wednesday, which Spouse ended up cooking, since I was stuck in traffic after going to Crayola with my kids and their grandmother. That dinner used the broccoli, snow peas, more of the garlic scapes… I also made a spinach quiche for coffee hour at church last Sunday.
For these down times, if you’re interested in seeing snippets of what I’m doing, I highly recommend following me on facebook (Omg, CSA!), Twitter (@omgcsa), or Instagram (@omgcsa). I’ve been posting real-time pictures of many of these adventures.