Posts Tagged ‘blackberries’

Week 13: August 18 – 24 (Part II)

August 27, 2008

I have a confession to make.  I bought grocery store produce yesterday.  It wasn’t anything I could have gotten elsewhere, though.  It was limes to make green salsa out of the tomatillos, cilantro, and hot pepper that I bought at the farmers market last week. The previous time I bought grocery store produce was in May, when I bought a bunch of bananas, which are also not available locally.

On the topic of fruit, we got four more blackberries from our bushes. They might be done for the season, having given us a total harvest of 35 berries. I think I’ve heard that it takes berries about three years to really establish, and this is year two for our plants, so next year should be much better for all three of our berries: blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

I was so efficient last week at freezing what would freeze that by the end of the week I was having trouble devising meals.  My usual way of meal planning is to look in my veggie drawers (or my whole fridge, when the veggies have overflowed) to identify what will go bad soonest.  Then I build a meal around that vegetable, also using other vegetables if they work together.  By the end of the week I had red cabbage, white (or yellow?) potatoes, red potatoes, yellow carrots, orange carrots (of two varieties), beets, radishes, parsley, and the salsa ingredients.  Out of that lot, the most perishable were the red cabbages and the older potatoes, the white ones. 

What do you make with cabbage and potatoes? Colcannon, of course.  And if the cabbages happen to be red?  Why, then you get purple colcannon. Here’s my recipe, adapted from Joy of Cooking (I changed the cabbage, cooking time, and seasoning).

  1. Cut about one pound of potatoes into large-bite-sized pieces.  Put them in a saucepan.
  2. Cut one tiny head or half a normal red cabbage head (which are typically smaller than green cabbage heads) into quarters, core, then cut slices about 3/4 inch wide.  Put them in the saucepan on top of the potatoes.
  3. Put water in the saucepan so it just covers the cabbage.  (The potatoes need to boil but the cabbage can steam). 
  4. Put a lid on the saucepan and bring the water to a boil.
  5. Boil for about 15 minutes, or until putting a fork into the potatoes causes them to break. 
  6. While the potatoes and cabbage boil, put 1/4 cup milk and 1 tbsp butter into a microwave-safe something-or-other.  I simply added the butter to the Pyrex measuring cup I used for the milk.  Add salt and pepper generously, a dash or two of garlic powder, and (the secret to yumminess) about a tablespoon of caraway seeds.  (Tip for the locals:  Penzey’s Spices on Mass Ave in Arlington has the best prices around on caraway seeds in useful quantities.)  Microwave the milk mixture for half a minute, then stir to finish melting the butter, dissolving the salt, and mixing in the seasonings.
  7. Separate the potatoes and cabbage from the cooking liquid.  I saved mine, added salt and pepper, and put the amethyst-colored vegetable broth into my freezer. 
  8. Pour the warm milk mixture over the potatoes and cabbage.  Stir to mix.  Mash gently, until the mixture is lumpy but cohesive. 
  9. Serve.
  10. Enjoy!

I really should have photographed the purple colcannon.  It was impressive.  Instead, I photographed the carrots (yellow and orange) and radishes for tabbouleh, while they were sitting in salt, while the bulghur sat plumping in boiling water.  The finished tabbouleh included parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, in addition to the bulghur and the vegetables you see here.

pretty carrots and radishes

pretty carrots and radishes

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Week 12: August 10 – 17, Vacation

August 18, 2008

We spent last week on a lovely vacation in Lake Placid, in the Adirondacks.  I did my homework ahead of time, and found farmers market listings for New York State.

We brought a large cooler with us that contained, among other things, the corn salad and what was left of the Costa Rican slaw that I made in Week 11, along with chicory, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, red cabbage, green bell pepper, potatoes, and two tiny yellow squash, all left over from the previous week (or even earlier). We ate some of the salads for lunch on the Lake Champlain ferry.

Our first night in Lake Placid, my mother-in-law made the chicory, mushroom, and roasted pepper pasta dish from Greens, Glorious Greens and it was colorful and delicious. (Yes, we brought the cook book with us. If you’re looking for it, look under escarole, not chicory.) While she cooked that, I made a colorful if odd salad of lettuce, radishes, yellow squash, green pepper, the largest cucumber, and some knife-shredded red cabbage leaves. It was a lot of food, even for four adults.

We went to the Keene Farmers Market on Sunday.   The highlight was a local dog-and-owner square dance troupe.    The dog and its owner were a couple, and the dogs had to be very, very good at accepting “stay” commands from each of the owners in the square, while lots of other interesting activity was going on, both human and canine. 

We were at the market with my in-laws, who were with us for the entire weekend.  Between all of us, we bought a dozen ears of corn, two zuchini and two yellow squash large enough to make burger-size slices to grill without falling through the slats, one incredible tomato, one bunch of beautiful rainbow chard, two pints of raspberries, a quart of mixed plums and Saturn peaches, and a dozen free-range eggs.

Everything about a free-range egg is sturdier than in a conventional store-bought egg – the shell is harder, the yolk is brighter and stands taller in the pan, even the whites are better, although I can’t describe how.  It was $3 for the dozen and worth every penny!

We hadn’t intended to buy peaches, because we get those around home (Boston area) often enough. Plums were more interesting, and we couldn’t decide between the two varieties being sold. When we asked for a mixed quart, the farmer looked around for an empty quart container to fill for us. Not finding one, he picked up one that already had peaches in it. Instead of completely emptying it out before putting in plums, he left some peaches explaining that they’re very sought-after, costing half again as much closer to New York City. (He lives much closer to New York City than to Lake Placid, but comes up to the Adirondacks to fish, and pays for gas by selling at the farmers market.) They’re strange looking fruit, because the flesh makes a doughnut around the pit, with dimples on the top and bottom where the pit is shorter than the fruit. They were, in fact, tasty, but we liked the plums better.

We grilled the squash and zucchini, and ate leftovers all week. Leftover corn we cut off the cob and diluted the overly spicy corn salad that I’d made the week before. Leftover wine and mushrooms inspired a yummy chard side dish: we cooked the mushrooms in some olive oil until they started to release juices, then added minced garlic, then red wine. It all cooked together for a bit while the rest of supper heated. When everything else was nearly ready, coarsely chopped chard went in, and was pushed around until it all wilted. The mushrooms were purple from simmering in wine so long, but the colors of the chard stems still showed through.

We visited the Cornell Maple Research Station where we learned about the many ways they’ve found to increase yield and reduce energy needed. We bought a half gallon of dark (grade B) maple syrup while we were there.

We had picked 8 blackberries before going away. When we got home again, we harvested a relatively-whopping 19 blackberries. More had ripened and then gone past during the week, so we left those for the birds.

Week 11: August 3 – 9

August 6, 2008

Yesterday my husband picked the beginning of our blackberry crop:  four delicious berries.  There are a lot more on the bushes, still not ripe.  I’m amazed at how productive our three blackberry bushes are, given that we only put them in last year (so this is their second summer).  We never got any more blueberries beyond the eight in week 7, and we never got raspberries at all.  There had been just a couple berries on the bushes (only two raspberry bushes survived of the three that we planted), but then we had what seemed like a week of heavy rains, and by the end of the week there were no raspberries to be seen.

I went to the grocery store yesterday to buy lemon juice, so I could make the Costa Rican slaw of cabbage and cilantro that I described in my previous post.  Today I made the slaw.  I used a whole head of green cabbage, cored and knife-shredded.  I mixed in about 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt, which wilts the cabbage some as it macerates (letting me fit more cabbage into a bowl that wasn’t really big enough), along with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 4 tablespoons of lemon juice.  When the cabbage had softened enough, I mixed in the entire bunch of cilantro, chopped up, even the stems.  It will be our salad tonight, rounding out a meal of black beans and rice. 

This week from our CSA we got one head of lettuce, one head of chicory, one bunch of red Russian kale, one bunch of orange carrots, one bunch of mizuna, one bunch of radishes with lovely greens, one pound of pickling cucumbers (six), two pounds of green beans, four pounds of potatoes, and eight ears of corn

That list includes an awful lot of greens, which are the hardest to store for any length of time:  lettuce, chicory, kale, mizuna, and radish greens.  Kale is the only one of them that will freeze decently.  Radish greens are the first greens on that list to get yellow.  I’ll chop them coarsely and mix them into our black beans tonight, just before serving, so they have time to wilt but not to over-cook.  Mizuna is first on that list to go slimy, so tomorrow night’s dinner should be built around them.  It will probably a mizuna and tofu stir-fry, seasoned with ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and maybe wasabi.  Lettuce and maybe chicory will make nice green salads over the weekend, when temperatures are higher again. 

This is the first time we’e gotten chicory.  It’s a strongly-flavored salad green, but I don’t know what else can be done with it (if anything) and I’m a little scared of it.  I’ll see what Greens, Glorious Greens and Joy of Cooking have to say about it. 

It was cold and rainy today, so it was good weather to blanch vegetables for freezing.  I froze the kale and all of the green beans.  (See freezing instructions in week 4.)  I had to do the green beans in two batches and the kale in three, just because it’s so fluffy.  With the green beans, I tried for the first time freezing them on a tray and then putting them into a tub to keep them from freezing into a solid block.  It seems to have worked.  The tray I used was a cookie-sheet-with-sides (technically a jelly roll pan), covered with a sheet of wax paper.  The beans weren’t completely frozen when I moved them into quart-size yogurt tubs, and I went back and shook the tub a couple of times later to keep the beans separate.  I won’t really know how it worked until winter, when I cook the frozen green beans.  One pound of cut green beans fit in each tub. 

To make space for the added veggies, I did some organizing in my freezer.  I generally try to keep the oldest items in front, or on top of a pile, so we remember to use them first.  While I was organizing, I took an inventory to see how well we’re doing at getting ready for winter.  I was disappointed.  I know, though, that we’re only about halfway through the harvest season and a lot of what’s still to come are foods that will store well.  We still have a quart tub of tomato sauce and a quart tub of vegetable stock from last fall.  From this year we have frozen a pound of beets, a pound and a half of carrots, a bunch of broccoli (roughly a pound, filled one quart tub), four pounds of green beans (including one pound of Kentucky Wonder beans), four bunches of kale, one bunch of mizuna, and three small zucchini (probably a bit more than half a pound).  We also have two pints of sugared strawberries for making ice cream, and two cups of raspberry conserve.