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.

Dinner successes

Two nights in a row, Little Chef has informed me that I’ve cooked “the best dinnerĀ ever.” High praise from a preschooler!

Last night was nothing groundbreaking in terms of creativity, but I do have to agree that it was delicious. I sauteed chicken apple sausage with a bunch of leftover vegetables – a summer squash, a few tomatoes, garlic, spinach – and served it mixed up with bow tie pasta. The end result had a sweet-and-smoky thing going on, unsurprising because of both the apples in the sausage and the small sprinkle of maple sugar I added in during cooking. Adding sugar to this concoction seems so counter-intuitive, but I was thinking in terms of cutting the acidity of the tomatoes, the way you would when making marinara sauce.

Tonight, we had homemade vegan Sloppy Joes, with corn on the cob (from Farmer John) and cherry tomatoes (from Chelsa).

For the sandwiches, I sauteed onions in some grapeseed oil, cumin, and chili powder. I then added garlic and bell pepper. When they started to soften, I added a package of chorizo seitan. Meanwhile, I made the sauce.

Growing up, I definitely remember Mom making Sloppy Joes with pre-packaged sauce. It’s ridiculously easy to make your own sauce, though, and it honestly tastes better. I used 3/4 cup ketchup, to which I added a healthy glug of Worcestershire (you can adjust based on how smoky you like your food), dried mustard (I would have used dijon if I had it, but we’re out of mustard currently), a heavy-handed dash of pepper (again, optional) and some water to thin it out – about half a cup.

I added the sauce to the seitan and veggie mix, and I let it cook down until the sauce thickened. Somewhere along the way, I decided that I was concerned that it wouldn’t be enough food – because that’s what I do – so I added a can of kidney beans. It would have been exactly enough without the beans, but they tasted good! And now we have leftovers!

Summer Squash Soup

I started off the summer with a brutal cold. Bummer? Yes. Does this happen more summers than I care to admit? Yes.

The Summer Squash Soup from Thug Kitchen made me feel a lot better in the throes of it. It’s super simple, and it’s a great way to use up extra summer squash that are lying around. It freezes well, and my preschooler actually requests it. Winning all around!