Posts Tagged ‘bean’

Week 19: September 30 – October 6 (Part III)

October 5, 2008

We went to the farmers market yesterday in search of something to make for a pot-luck later this week.  It has to be something with available ingredients that will travel and wait well.  I wanted to make more of the arugula-apple-cheddar salad that was so incredibly delicious, but although there were plenty of apples there was no arugula to be had. We could have done Tunisian vegetables again, but I’m getting a little bored with that.  We could have done a corn and pepper salad, which was my mother’s suggestion, but I’m a little bored with that, too.  My husband asked for me to make my “famous” potato salad (recipe in week 10), and I told him we couldn’t because there wasn’t any dill.  Potatoes, yes, but not dill. 

Then we found dill!  I thought it was too late in the season for it, but there it was.  It was grown at Drumlin Farm, run by the Massachusetts Audubon Society in Lincoln, MA, less than 15 miles away.  We bought the dill, and also their yellow potatoes and tongue-of-fire shell beans.  Two pounds of beans in their pods yielded 3/4 pound of beans our of their pods. 

In case you’re wondering, out CSA is based in Lunenburg, MA, about 40 miles away.  The drop-off is on my husband’s way home from work, by bicycle.)

We bought six ears of corn to freeze Nicewicz Farm in Bolton, MA, a little more than 30 miles away.  We also bought from them two pears to eat right away.  It was nice to have fruit that wasn’t an apple, for a change.  The pears were nice and crisp.  I never know how to pick a pear.  Some varieties are crisp, some are juciy, or maybe it’s the same variety at different times in the season?  I know my apples very well by now, but not my pears.  My grandmother used to have a pear tree in her yard in New Haven of all places.  Maybe she’ll know. 

Edible Boston magazine was being given away for free at the market, so we took a copy.  I like the articles about local food producers.  It’s also the rare publication where I really look at the advertisements, especially this month, because they tell me what local foods are for sale and where. 

Because it’s Eat Local Challenge month and because they were there, we also bought some herbal tea from the Herb Lyceum in Groton, MA, a bit more than 30 miles away, and some chocolate from Taza in Somerville, MA, less than 5 miles away.  There was a vendor who sells mostly meat but also some eggs, but he said he usually sells out within the first half hour – even at $7 a dozen!  We heard a few other people go over and ask him the same thing after we did.  It’s really hard to find local eggs

We continued our local food search later in the day.  It takes only one car trip to go to the grocery store, so if I’m going to a lot of little vendors I do my best to not drive, so as not to pollute more because I’m buying local.  (We always walk to the farmers market, except when we bicycle.) 

Our first local food detour was to Reliable Market in Somerville, where we found Chang Shing tofu in silken, soft, fried, and puff varieties, but none of our usual firm.  We bought some soft and fried to try. 

We bicycled over to Christina’s spice shop in Cambridge, where the store is local, even though I’m sure the spices come from all over the world.  Spices are like that.  Of course, we popped next door to Christina’s ice cream.  One of their current seasonal flavors is Calmyrna Fig, and it’s incredible – rich, creamy, and tasting very much of fresh figs. 

Then we biked the little bit more to Harvest Co-Op, also in Cambridge.  I was thrilled to find a big bulk section with all the grains I would normally get at Whole Foods:  organic brown rice, organic whole wheat couscous, organic bulgur, organic grits, organic popcorn, and on and on.  The prices were competitive, and it’s nice to support a local non-profit instead of a national for-profit chain.  I also like that for many of the foods they list the grower on the label.  Our new brown rice comes from Arizona, as opposed to our previous rice which was from California.  That doesn’t make it any more local, I know, but it’s nice to know. 

Today we went to the Kickass Dairy Bar in Somerville and bought eggs from Jaffrey, NH, about 75 miles away, and firm tofu made by 21st Century Foods in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, less than 10 miles away. The eggs were $3.19 a dozen, compare to the $7  a dozen at the farmers market.  We’ll have to see if they’re truly good eggs, with a thick shell and a bright yellow yolk that stands up in the pan instead of flattening out.  I’m convinced that stronger eggs have higher nutritional value. 

I’ve also identified a couple more local or local-ish brands: Uncle Sam cereals are from a company with local headquarters, less than 20 miles away, and Bar Harbor chowders are made in Whiting, Maine, about 340 miles away. Not local in the strict sense, but compare that to Campbell’s.

For truly local food, here’s my new favorite resource:  Local Food Guide to Metro Boston

Week 13: August 18 – 24

August 20, 2008

Our CSA share this week consisted of a bunch of mustard greens, a bunch of parsley, four Asian eggplants, two regular eggplants, four peppers, a pint of yellow cherry tomatoes, two pounds regular red tomatoes (six tomatoes), twelve ears of corn (but gave away three), one pound of shell beans (might be cranberry limas) and four Zestar apples.

Zestar apples are tart and weirdly crunchy without being crisp.  I like them very fresh, but I think they would quickly develop an unpleasant texture if stored.  It’s a treat to get fruit from our CSA at all, though.  When we have it, it’s because our vegetables-only farmer has traded produce with a fruit farmer neighbor.

The tomatoes were in mediocre condition.  I had to toss one entirely.  Another I had to cut off a quarter of it, but then the rest of it was very good.  Rotten tomato smells awful, but it’s easy to know quickly if tomato needs to be tossed right into compost (or garbage disposal, or trash, depending on where you are).  To keep the yuck from spreading, I dealt with the tomatoes right away.  After cutting out the bad parts, I cut up the good parts into chunks and put them into a saucepan.  I stewed them for 10 or 15 minutes (I wasn’t keeping track), then froze the chunks-in-juice.  What was effectively 4 to 4 1/2 tomatoes yielded about 3 cups. 

Today was cool enough, and the volume of veggies in our refrigerator was overwhelming enough, that I did a whole lot of freezing today. 

  • Peppers are the one vegetable that gets frozen without blanching!  All four went into the freezer, some diced, some in strips. 
  • Mustard greens got the usual blanch-shock-freeze treatment. 
  • Eggplant gets steamed rather than boiled to blanch, and then their shocking water gets lemon juice added, according to Putting Food By.  I cubed the two conventional eggplants, and made stir-fry slices of the four Asian eggplants. 
  • We boiled all nine ears of corn (4 minutes to prep for freezing).  Four of them we ate.  I cut the kernels off of the remaining five and froze them. 

For our lunches today, I used up some leftover vegetables.  I cut the kernels off the three (boiled) ears of corn left over from last week (when we were away), diced up the one remaining pepper from last week (which was looking decidedly sad), tossed in a can of black-eyed peas, seasoned with honey, cider vinegar, and Tabasco sauce, and microwaved it for a couple minutes. 

There were still leftover vegetables to be used up at supper.  I steamed the remaining Kentucky Wonder green beans.  I sauteed up the shell beans in olive oil with garlic, basil, cumin, cayenne, and salt, adding the radish greens at the very end.  We also ate some of the corn from this week, while it was still deliciously sweet, crisp, and tasting just like summer. 

I went to the farmers market today intending to buy fruit for the week, since four apples last us two days if we ration ourselves.  I found plums – not the red plums with red flesh we’d liked so much in Lake Placid, but purple plums with green flesh, labeled as “prune plums.”  I bought a pound of them, which was thirteen.  I also bought a pound and a quarter of tomatillos, a hot pepper, and a bunch of cilantro to make salsa.  Most of the yellow cherry tomatoes will go into the salsa, too, because they’re not very flavorful (probably because of the rain – dryness pushed tomatoes to make sugars), and they’ll keep it a nice green-yellow salsa.

Week 8: July 13-20 (Part I)

July 15, 2008

Yesterday I found myself near a farmers market.  Even though I knew I’d have a fresh batch of CSA veggies today, I couldn’t resist.  I really did keep myself in check shopping, though.  I bought a giant (3 pounds, by my estimate) zucchini for a dollar, and four July Red apples.  Because I’ll no longer buy grocery store apples, early apples are exciting.  July Red, clearly, is an early variety.  The one I ate so far was very tart, and not as crunchy-crisp as I prefer.  No regrets, though, on the apples.  I was worried that I’d regret the zucchini, that we’d end up with more of it from our CSA.  So, in a sort of defenisve measure, we used it up right away.  We would have grilled it, but it was too much bother and too much charcoal.  We sliced the zucchini up, maybe half an inch thick, and cooked the slices in a single layer (multiple batches) on a skillet until both sides were a bit browned and the insides were soft.  We ate the slices on sub rolls with oil, vinegar, grated parmesan, and fresh basil.  Delicious! 

My fears were validated when we came home from our CSA pick-up tonight with six more zucchini.  At least these are a normal size.  We were only allocated four zucchini, but we got another two in trade for a bunch of spring onions.  We also got one bunch of beets, two bunches of carrots, a head of green cabbage, four cucumbers, two pounds of green beans, and two pounds of potatoes

Both bunches of carrots are orange, but I think a different variety from what we’d gotten so far this year.  The new carrots are short and fat, like gnomes.

I think I’ll make a casserole with the zucchini, with layers of polenta, zucchini, cheddar cheese, and either salsa or crushed tomatoes seasoned with cumin and cayenne.

While picking up our veggies, we asked our farmer what to do with the fava beans.  I don’t recall his answer, because another person there picking up a share said he’d cooked his up in oil, garlic, and lemon juice, which sounded good to us.  A few leaves of the beet greens were starting to go already, so we made sure to use them in our meal, too.  I shelled all our fava beans (weeks 6 and 7) into a skillet, then added garlic and olive oil, and put it over high heat.  When the beans had softened a bit, I added the beet stems and salt.  When the beans were getting wrinkly and starting to pop out of their skins, I added the beet greens and lemon juice.  When the greens were wilted, I tossed the mixture with rotini.  The beet stems turned the rotini pink.  My husband picked through the remaining basil (week 5), and sliced the half of it that was still good into ribbons that went on top of the pasta-favas-greens mixture.  It was tasty and satisfying.  Now I know what to do with fava beans. 

The Napa cabbage (week 6) finally went into peanut noodles.  It was nice to have a cold supper on a couple of hot days.  Now that we have cucumbers, there’s something good (besides carrots) to put with the parsley in tabbouleh. 

With so much food this week, we ought to be preserving some of it, but the only thing that I think would blanch well are the green beans, and they’re so good fresh.

Week 6: June 29 – July 5

July 8, 2008

The veggies are starting to pile up.   Production at our CSA is in full swing, and the quantities of vegetables we’re getting are copious.  We went away for the holiday weekend, so we weren’t home to cook and eat as much as usual.  Our plan was to freeze what we couldn’t use, but then the weather took a turn for the hot and muggy, so I didn’t blanch-and-freeze veggies after all.

We got two bunches of beets (with greens, of course), one bunch of Red Russian kale, one of collards, one of parsley, one head of Napa cabbage, three bunches of carrots (two orange, one yellow), one pound of fava beans, and two pints of strawberries

One bunch of last week’s basil turned into enough pesto for a couple of dinners, with beet greens on the side, followed by ice cream topped with strawberries.  The strawberries I picked over (and there were quite a few bad ones, and quite a few more that needed bad spots removed), then sliced and macerated in 3 heaping tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (if I’m remebering correctly).  The beet greens I washed (salad spinner method), cut coarsely, steamed, then tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.   The beets themselves keep well and are still in my crisper drawer.

The salad spinner method of washing greens is this:  fill the colander of the spinner about 2/3 full of greens.  For very sandy greens, rinse the leaves before placing them in the colander.  For moderately sandy or dirty, rinse them once in the colander alone.  With the colander in the bowl of the salad spinner, fill the bowl with water.   Use your hands to agitate the greens.  Lift the colander out of the bowl.  Notice how dirty the water is.  Pour out the water and rinse the bowl.  Place the colander back in the bowl.  Repeat the process, starting by  filling the bowl with water again.  When the water left in the bowl looks clean enough, you’re done.  If you’re steaming the greens, leave them wet, otherwise spin to dry. 

The collards and kale were too large to fit in our crisper drawer, so they sat on a shelf in the refrigerator and quicly became very limp.  I had planned to freeze them, but then it was too hot to blanch them.  I cooked them with black beans and served them over rice.  My favorite way to season collards, which works with most greens (like turnip greens or kale) is with olive oil, fresh garlic, and dried basil, cumin, and cayenne, and salt.  It’s a surprising and very tasty combination I got from the Green Cafe in Bethlehem, PA.  It works for just the greens, as a side dish, and it also works for black beans and greens together.  The beans need more cooking time, so do them first, and when they’re basically done add the greens, giving them only just long enough to soften. 

The Napa cabbage was dense enough to go in a crisper drawer, and held up fairly well, so it’s still there.  I expect that it will go, with tofu, into a stir-fry of some sort.  The parsley is also still in a crisper drawer, and either needs to get packed in water and frozen (no blanching for herbs) or made into tabbouleh.  The carrots (both orange and yellow) are also hanging out in a crisper drawer.  They’ll last perfectly well until I figure out what I want to do with them.  Some of them will get washed, cut into sticks, and packed in lunch bags.  I’m thinking about buying a vegetable scrubber to be just for carrots – they’re covered in CSA dirt, and will be eaten raw, so there can’t be any “foreign contaminants” on the scrubber, like those acquired from grocery store potatoes. 

I’m stumped by the fava beans.  I think I’ve been stumped by them every year.  I use a lot of kinds of beans in my cooking (I can think of 8 varieties off the top of my head) but not favas.  Not only do I not know what to do with favas, I don’t know how to make fresh beans edible.  Boiling?  If you know what to do with fresh fava beans, please leave a comment!