Week 9 – the tropical storm edition

Well, that was an exciting pickup week.

In anticipation of the incoming storm, our pick up time moved from 2:30 to 11, and the fruit share was canceled for the week. Ginger is going to send us a double share next week.

I love the hauls in the middle of summer. This is all stuff I love, and I’ve delegated almost everything.

Last night, we had Taco Tuesday. One of the bell peppers made it into the tacos. The others got blanched and frozen. The beans got blanched and frozen. Tonight, we’re having Garam Masala Chicken Stew, which includes the red skin potataoes and a couple of the onions. Tomorrow, we will do BLTs. I’ll make some traditional bacon, but I’m also going to make eggplant bacon. We’re also going to have beet-zucchini pakoras. Friday has been our takeout night during the pandemic, so we’ll do that on Friday. Saturday, we are going to have zucchini-rice casserole. If you’re keeping a tally on the summer squash, the remaining one went into zucchini bread that I made last night. I’ll do some sort of pasta on Sunday, and I’ll likely work the basil into that if I don’t use it sooner. We got cabbage, too, and I’m thinking I will do slow-cooker golombki on Monday. That leaves the swiss chard unaccounted for; I’m unsure if I’ll freeze it or cook with it this week.

High Summer, Part 1

I took this ridiculous picture today.

What you’re seeing here is the sum total of both my Coeur et Sol share and my Bloomfield-Montclair share, along with some backyard harvest, though minus whatever we ate from Chelsa’s share last night.

It’s high summer. Tomatoes. Summer squash. Eggplant. Ground cherries (which I’m shamelessly popping as I type this up). Basil, canteloupe, beets, peaches…

Getting this treasure trove really helped my outlook on life today, and it’s been therapeutic to process this evening. Late afternoon, I had an unfortunate patch of bad news, so my cooking reporting is not quite as varied as I’d hoped it’d be by this point, but there is always tomorrow.

I had hoped to make ratatouille tonight, but with the interruption, we had sandwiches, instead. I did make a killer salad for a side: Coeur et Sol salad mix, purple radish, yellow cucumber, and Montclair-Bloomfield ground cherries and green bell pepper. Yum.

I’ve been itching to try out Thug Kitchen’s Peach-Mint Sun Tea. It lives up to every bit of the hype. Peaches came from my share. Mint was the orange mint I have growing in my yard. I did find I needed to strain the tea after blending, which they don’t mention in the recipe.

I broke out the CSA cookbook for the first time this season, and I used some of the parsley that’s thriving in my yard to try making Chimichurri. It’s currently steeping. I could have used the next-size-down jar (I made a half-recipe), but I didn’t realize that until too late. Live and learn.

Eggplant. There is eggplant everywhere. Tonight, I made an eggplant parm that will likely go in the freezer tomorrow. I breaded and baked the slices of eggplant in the same manner that I did for the eggplant sandwiches from last week. I sauteed portobello mushrooms and basil (from my share) and mixed that into the (jarred) sauce to make things more interesting. I used the leftover eggs from the breading process to thicken the ricotta; my mom used to do that for calzone filling.

I found myself with an abundance of thyme from my yard, as I often do. Thyme is really easy to grow, and I’m grateful for it, because it’s one of my favorite herbs. It’s really easy to dry, and I documented the steps tonight for you to follow. This drying method works well for any non-oily herb. I’ve had great success with thyme, dill, rosemary, savory, oregano, and marjoram with this method. Herbs like basil are better dried in an oven or a dehydrator because they have so much moisture that they risk molding before they’ve successfully dried.

First, you’ll need your herbs, kitchen string or yarn, scissors, and a brown paper bag. I save the lunch-style bags I get from things like bagels for this purpose. Tonight, the bags came from my fruit share, actually.

Tie a bundle of the herbs together, leaving a long¬† tail of string. Place them inside the bag, with the string coming out of the top. Pinch the top of the bag and tie it shut, like a drawstring, but leave a nice long tail. Label your bag with the herb and the date, and cut ventilation holes in the bag. use both string tails to tie the bag up in a cool, well-ventilated, dry space. I use a closet in my kitchen that otherwise holds a recycling bin, broom, mop, etc. It has a bar across, as though one would hang coats in there,¬† so it’s really convenient for hanging. You can see the graveyard of old strings in the photograph – this has been my drying place for years, and I’m a little lazy about cutting down the bags.

On average, your herbs should be dry in a couple of weeks. This will vary due to temperature and humidity. I usually err on the side of leaving them hanging longer – there’s little damage that can be done. Store the dried herbs in glass jars or repurposed empty spice jars and revel in the feeling of not paying an arm and a leg for the store-bought stuff.

Clearly we’re not through the pile of veggies yet. See you in installment #2.

The Cusp of Fall

Cool, fall-like weather has been the norm here for the past couple of weeks. Overall, the summer has been mostly cool and rainy, but we had shifted into weather that caused me to break out the hoodies. Now, as usual, summer has bobbed its head back up for one final September hurrah. The temperatures snuck back up into the 80s, though there’s blissfully little humidity.

It’s fitting, then, that this week’s share is mostly the greatest hits of late summer – corn, peppers, beans, eggplant. The rain and cool temperatures this year have made it a bummer year for tomatoes and melons, but otherwise, the abundance continues. Salad greens came back on the early side, too, thanks to the cool weather.

This is the pile of delicious that is awaiting me as I type:

CSA share for 9/12/17

Red leaf lettuce, arugula, bell peppers, 2 kinds of green beans, corn, summer squash, potatoes, parsnips, leeks, eggplant, shallots, hot peppers, parsley, apples, peaches.

Tonight, my priority is corn. We’re going to do BBQ baked tofu, corn, and salad, I think. I’ll get creative again tomorrow.