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.

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.

What to do with all of that extra…?

Little Chef and  I juiced today for the first time this season! Littlest Chef has been sick the past couple of days, and Little Chef was sick at the beginning of the week, so I haven’t done much of anything fancy with our vegetables. We’ve had some rockin’ salads, and we had the kohlrabi hash. Last night, my in-laws came over, and I made a salad with half of the remaining spinach, the arugula, and the radishes. I’m crossing my fingers that my cilantro makes it to tomorrow and Tuesday, so that I can do an an Asian-inspired meal and tacos, respectively.  I found myself with apples from Chelsa’s share, and a whole bunch of beets that I had also gotten from Chelsa.

Little Chef is not a fan of beets, so he made himself (!!! He’s growing up, oh man.) apple-cucumber juice. I made myself beet-apple-spinach juice. Having a tasty drink like this feels decadent, but it’s also a nice way to sneak in some extra vitamins with my lunch. It’s a bonus that it helps me finish off some veggies in the fridge.

What are your favorite juicing combinations? I’m looking forward to experimenting this year.

CSA 2019 – WEEK 1

I have so much to say, but I am typing one-handed, with my infant son cradled in the other arm, so this may end up as a “To be continued…” post.

Today was the first Bloomfield-Montclair pickup! I wore my veggie dress to celebrate.

We had perfect weather for pickup, and it felt so good to see some familiar faces.

Usually, the first week is unnervingly small. I feel like this year was more impressive than usual. As per our weekly email:

LETTUCE (Red Leaf)
SPINACH
RADISHES
KOHLRABI
GARLIC SCAPES
PEAS
CHOICE OF DILL OR CILANTRO
CHOICE OF ESCAROLE OR ENDIVE (frissee)
There was also an “extra” of Chervil. I took that, anticipating making eggs tomorrow. (It compliments scrambled eggs SO well.)
No fruit share or meat yet (both start next week), but we did get eggs.
Early season pickups are heavy on the greens. I made a beautiful salad to accompany dinner tonight.
Salad greens from a CSA can be intimidating. There they are, typically in massive quantities… and covered in dirt. We’re so accustomed to supermarket power-washed vegetables that it can seem daunting. A few years ago, I settled on a technique for cleaning the grit with little stress.
Use two bowls. Fill both with cold water. agitate the leaves in one, then allow them to rest for a while before moving them to the other bowl. Repeat the process until the water is clear of grit, emptying the bowl each time. I like to dump the water into my rain barrel, personally, to give it a second use. Finish the process with a traditional salad spinner to dry.
Tonight was a fairly easy prep night. I’m looking forward to talking about kohlrabi this week – it was the vegetable that ultimately led to this blog – but for now, I am calling it a night. Welcome to the 2019 CSA season!

Winter CSA

“I…. did a thing….” I sheepishly said to my husband a couple of weeks ago.

He looked at me. “Yes?”

“… I joined another CSA.”

“That is completely unsurprising.”

Via facebook (oh, algorithms, you’re on to me), I saw some ads for a local CSA that was just starting. They were offering a share for microgreens that would run for 8 weeks in the winter. There would be to-your-door delivery. I couldn’t help myself. “YES, SIGN ME UP FOR THE WAITING LIST,” I thought in all-caps as I threw myself at the computer screen.

Long story short, come New Year’s, I got the green light to sign up, and join I did.

The CSA is from Coeur et Sol Farm in East Orange, NJ. As I mentioned, my first delivery was yesterday, and so far I am really pleased and excited to see what the rest of the season brings.

First, let’s talk about the amazing customer service and presentation involved here. The owner and farmer, Chelsa, hand-delivered my share to my door. The sprouts are in beautiful individual flats, so they stay planted right up to the moment that you’re ready to eat them.

The flats came in a paper bag with tags outlining the nutritional value involved in this week’s share (pea shoots and amaranth, in this case), and an envelope containing a recipe and a note from the farmer inside.

Now let’s talk about the greens themselves. I had some of the amaranth right away, on the salad I was eating when the share was delivered. Today, after discovering that the peas grew enough overnight to pop their lid, I looked for an idea to consume them as soon as possible. The recipe card had a suggestion for pasta with garlic, chickpeas, olive oil, etc. I’ve got a bit of a cold and am dragging, so instead, I made some pasta salad, in a riff off of that idea. I used the quick-cook 3 minute macaroni, olive oil, garlic vinegar, pea shoots, and salt and pepper. It was very tasty. If I were feeling better, I would have made it more intricate, but it was definitely satisfying.

I also made a can of tuna and scooped some of it onto saltines. I then topped each tuna cracker with pea shoots and amaranth. The result was really beautiful and quite tasty.

Thus begins my foray into the world of microgreens, and my expansion of my CSA experience beyond my beloved regular-season share.