Week 32: December 29, 2009- January 4, 2009

Happy new year! I didn’t make any resolutions. Not one. I used to for a while when I was younger. I would resolve, for example, to floss my teeth daily. Of course it didn’t happen. Now I know that if I’m ready to make a change I will, and if not I won’t. I also know that changes have their own schedule, and I need to choose a time that feels natural, not a time that feels like January 1.

When I decided to buy all my vegetables farm-direct, the natural time to begin was the beginning of farmers market season. I had been thinking about it for months – I’d had to send in my CSA deposit during the winter, and decided then to go up to a large share. We’ll do a large share again this year. It won’t, by itself, last us through the winter. That gives me an excuse to shop at the farmers markets more!

My goal next year is to have our chest freezer full before it’s time to sign up for a winter CSA, so we can have Massachusetts-farm-direct instead of Florida-farm-direct vegetables through the winter. Our winter CSA is tasty, and a nice variety, but after 27 weeks of eating only local produce, the Florida items we’re getting just feel wrong.

We were away when our share came this week, so I don’t know all of what was in there, only what was set aside for us. We got carrots and potatoes as usual. I think we got apples, but it’s hard to tell because there were so many in our refrigerator anyway. (We put all of the remaining 20 pounds or so of apples in there so they wouldn’t rot while we were in Lake Placid.)  We got a small red cabbage, one green bell pepper, one zucchini, about a pound of green beans, five oranges, and two avocados.  Yes, avocados from our CSA.  They were from Florida, as were the oranges, pepper, zucchini, and green beans.  The potatoes were probably from Vermont.  The cabbage was from Canada.  Only the carrots and apples were from Massachusetts.  It doesn’t quite seem like CSA food to me.  At least the farms are small-scale (unlike factory farms that supply my supermarket with what little organic produce it offers).  Produce from Florida travels about 1,400 miles to reach me, unlike produce from southern California which travels about 3,000 miles, more than twice as far.

We cooked up the green beans with tofu and udon noodles, with a sauce from the Sundays at Moosewood recipe for “Hot Pepper Green Beans.”  It was very, very good, like restaurant food but better.  As usual, I browned tofu triangles dry (no oil)  in a nonstick skilled before adding the other ingredients.  The sauce involves garlic, scallions (we left those out), chilis (we used chili oil), black bean paste (we used jarred black bean “sauce”), rice vinegar, tamari soy sauce, cornstarch, brown sugar, and rice wine (we used more rice vinegar instead).  I shouldn’t say we.  My husband mixed up the sauce while I tended tofu triangles.  We make a good team in the kitchen.  I hope we get something in our new week’s share that works in the same sauce because I want more.  There were, of course, no leftovers.  The tofu was Nasoya, from Ayer, MA (about 30 miles away).  I wonder if their factory is there, or only their American headquarters.

The pepper and zucchini suggested an Italian dish.  My husband sauteed them, along with cannelini beans, in garlic, olive oil, spices, and probably some lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.  We at the vegetables and beans over ziti rigate.  There was leftover pasta, but no leftover vegetables.

The next night, we had to dig into the freezer.  We made couscous with a frozen puck (1 1/2 to 2 cups) of stewed tomatoes and a generous pouring of frozen diced pepper mixed into the cooking water, along with a can of black beans and a lot of taco seasoning.  Of course, we waited until the iceberg of tomatoes had melted before adding the couscous.  We served it over corn tortillas and under shredded cheddar cheese and plain yogurt pretending to be sour cream.  The tortillas are Cinco de Mayo, from Chelsea, MA (5 miles).  The cheese is Cabot, from Cabot, VT (190 miles) .  The yogurt is Stonyfield Farm, from Londonderry, NH (40 miles).  The second night, we cut up one of those Florida CSA avocados as a side dish.  Delicous!  But oh-so-weird.  Not eating avocado with faux-Mexican food.  Having a CSA that brings us avocados.

As you can see from meals in just one week, our cooking traverses the globe, from China (with Japanese noodles) to Italy to Mexico (with Middle Eastern couscous).  We fall into some ruts, though.  And then there’s the problem of ingredients that don’t fit into any of our ruts.  Liken too much pumpkin.  We still have 12 butternut squash and 5 pumpkins hanging out in our kitchen.  Some of them are doing their part to get rid of themselves.  I think one pumpkin and two butternuts are rotting as I write.

Sundays at Moosewood was our one international cookbook.  It’s wide-ranging.  We got a lot of use out of the Finland section when trying to use up root vegetables last year.  The recipes tend to be involved, though.  The idea is Sunday dinner, a weekly special-occasion meal to those who participate in the Sunday dinner tradition.

I was thrilled, then, to be given a copy of Global Vegetarian Cooking which emphasizes simplicity and which has selections from more different countries.  I immediately looked through it for pumpkin recipes, and was pleased to find four.  They come from Guyana, the Fiji Islands, India, and Ecuador.  The recipe from Fiji uses ginger and coconut milk.  The recipe from Guyana uses onion, garlic, and chili pepper.    The Indian recipe uses mustard seeds, chili pepper, turmeric, curry, and coconut.  The Ecuadoran recipe is quite different from the others, as the pumpkin is simply one vegetable among many; pumpkin, corn, peas, and potatoes are seasoned with onion, garlic, tomato, and nutmeg.

Global Vegetarian Cooking is clearly British.  It tries to be American, too, offering Imperial measurements alongside Metric.  Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to translate.  Here’s my list of UK to USA food translations.

The ones I knew:

  • aubergine = eggplant
  • courgette = zucchini
  • vegetable marrow = summer squash
  • swede = small rutabaga
  • maize = corn
  • pulses = legumes (beans)
  • sultanas = golden raisins

The ones I had to look up:

  • haricot beans = Navy beans
  • garden rocket = arugula
  • treacle = syrup that is similar to molasses but lighter in color and flavor; I’ve never seen it in the US

What else should have been in this list?

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One Response to “Week 32: December 29, 2009- January 4, 2009”

  1. vegyear Says:

    Fixed typos.

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