Posts Tagged ‘chard’

Two Recipes

August 29, 2010

Cooking from a CSA is deceptively difficult.  After all, you get a beautiful bounty every week of the sort of high-quality ingredients you can’t go wrong with.  But they rarely come in familiar combinations.  We now have a stable of stand-bys (and you can find most of them in old blog posts).  Sometimes we make things up.  But when we’re stumped or making something new, we often look on-line or in cookbooks, find something close to what we want, and improvise from there.  Here are two such recipes from this summer:

July Scafata

We needed to use fava beans.  We get them one or two weeks each summer from our CSA.  We didn’t want to let them go moldy in our refrigerator again, but we couldn’t remember what we’d done with them before, nor whether we’d liked it.  Looking on line, we found that scafata was the best match for our ingredients.  It was definitely tasty enough to repeat.  Aside from shelling the fava beans, which would have to happen no matter what cooked with them, it’s easy enough to repeat, too.  I couldn’t tell you whose website the original came from, it shows up in multiple places, but if they give a source, it’s La Cucina Delle Regioni D’Italia: Umbria, by Antonella Santolini.  Here’s our version, which modified both ingredients and cooking times:

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook 10 minutes:

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 T minced garlic (would have been 1/2 C onion if I could eat onion, because that was in the original recipe and we got onions from our CSA, we just didn’t take them home)
  • 2 lbs fava beans, shelled and peeled (you could easily substitute a 10 oz box of frozen lima beans)

Add and cook about 5 minutes more:

  • 5 medium carrots, sliced

Add and cook about 10 minutes more:

  • 2 small or 1 large bulb fennel, chopped
  • Salt to taste

Add and cook about 5 minutes more:

  • 1 large can (28 0z) diced tomatoes (canned because we made this in July when we had fava beans and had run out of frozen tomatoes from last year, rather than waiting until August when we get more tomatoes)
  • Water as needed to make stew (I don’t remember whether we needed any)

Add and cook until wilted:

  • 1 bunch beet greens (because that was what we had, although we often have chard, which is what the original recipe called for)

Serve with some sort of starch.  Enjoy!

Refrigerator Sour Pickles

Because we needed something to do with lots of cucumbers, when we weren’t getting any other salad ingredients.  This is very loosely based on the recipe for 48-hour Sour Pickles in Putting Food By (see my References and Resources page for the full listing).

Mix together for brine:

  • 1 C white vinegar
  • 3 C water
  • 1/4 C salt
  • 1/4 C sugar

Pour enough brine to cover (but it won’t because the cucumbers will float) over:

  • 3 large cucumbers, sliced
  • garlic: 1 heaping tablespoon of jarred, or a few cloves pressed or chopped

Cover and refrigerate.  Best about 2 days later.

Advertisements

Eating Season Begins

May 25, 2010

Local farmers markets are opening this week! I’m going to as many as I can.  Massachusetts listings are at www.massfarmersmarkets.org.

On Sunday, I went to opening day of the Harvard Square (Cambridge) market.  It’s a small market, and I know that opening week tends to be sparse, so I wasn’t terribly surprised to see 4 vendors and barely a vegetable.  Variety has become a hallmark of local markets, so the four vendors were each selling something different:  flowers, meat, bakery items, and vegetables.  The vegetable farm mostly had flats of herbs to take home and plant.  They had a half dozen varieties of scallions or green onions. I can barely eat those, so I didn’t buy any. What they did have, as I expected and hoped, was rhubarb, so I bought a pound and a half. It will become sauce, probably for ice cream. I think the sauce will freeze well. It’s easy to make: slice the rhubarb, put it into a small saucepan, macerate it in sugar until it releases enough juices to not burn, then turn on the heat and stew it until the texture is good. How much sugar is a matter of personal taste.

I had hoped to bring home greens to cook, but there weren’t any.  So Sunday evening used the last frozen greens from our freezer.  The mizuna made a nice stir-fry with tofu, seasoned with Japanese flavors of ginger, wasabi, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.  The mizuna was chewier than fresh would be, and reminded me of the texture of seaweed, but since I think of seaweed as belonging in Japanese cooking, it was just fine.

Apparently, I used the mizuna just in time because I did find greens at opening day of the Central Square (Cambridge) market on Monday.  My CSA farmer was there!  He’s having a strong enough early harvest that he’s going to start drop-offs next week, which is earlier than usual.  He had fresh mizuna, but I didn’t buy any.  Instead I bought romaine and red leaf lettuces, red chard, bok choy, and kale.  The chard is so young that its stems look like beet stems rather than the celery size (and crunchiness) that I’m used to from later in the summer.

The lettuces have already become salad for a few meals, with chick peas and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  The chard will become saute with the leftover chickpeas, with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and maybe a bit of oregano.  It will go over couscous, or rice, or maybe pasta.  The bok choy will go into stir-fry with tofu and some of the turnips still surviving since last fall in our refrigerator.  Kale could turn into almost anything that uses greens.  Mostly, I bought it because it keeps better than any other greens and I don’t know when I’ll go into labor and be away from my vegetables for a couple of days.

Eating seasonally: winter

January 31, 2010

Eating seasonally has been less local this year, because of pregnancy.  Which foods are appealing has changed, and that at least somewhat correlates with my different nutritional needs.  The biggest change from past years is that I fully succumbed to the citrus fruit cravings that I get every winter.  The only local fruit available over the winter is homemade applesauce.  While I’ve been eating some of that almost every day, it’s no substitute for raw, whole fruit. 

Citrus is in season now, not locally, but in season.  Relative to California, Florida isn’t so far away.  I’ve been buying Florida grapefruits and minneolas, although I also bought long-distance clementines while they were fully in season in December.  As long as I’m buying fruit at the supermarket, I figure I may as well get things that I can only get at the supermarket, so we’ve been enjoying a variety of tropical fruits:  mangoes (while they’re 50 cents each), papaya, and bananas. 

We’ve been eating greens from our freezer, and roots from our fridge.  Tonight it was pasta with broccoli rabe, veggie sausage, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, and Italian spices.  Yesterday, chard went into soup that started with a can of tomato bisque, but also included canned tomatoes (the blight this summer meant we couldn’t freeze enough local tomatoes).  Earlier this week, turnip greens from the freezer joined turnips from the fridge in a tofu stir-fry.  Turnips and parsnips made a lovely pureed soup a couple of weeks ago, with caraway seeds, salt, and pepper, and served with a pat of butter in each bowl. 

The most exciting of our local foods this winter has been sprouts that my husband grows in a jar on our kitchen windowsill.  When nothing else green, fresh, and crunchy is local, we can have nutritious, delicious sprouts that have traveled no distance at all.  Commercially grown sprouts are more likely than other vegetables to harbor bacteria, and are therefore off-limits to pregnant women.  Homegrown sprouts, though, seem perfectly safe.   Now I just need to figure out where to get sprout seeds locally.

Farmers markets are open

June 7, 2009

Since I last posted, both of most-nearby farmers markets have opened.  There’s a market I can get to easily by bicycle almost every day of the week, but only two are easy to walk to.  Our CSA will start drop-offs this week.  This is the beginning of the season when I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t eat locally.

This spring was an unusually good growing season.  Unlike last year when the farmers market had only radishes and rhubarb (and a bit of arugula) on opening day, this year there were all kinds of greens available, and turnips in addition to radishes. My husband brought home spinach (to enjoy as a raw salad), chard (which was my favorite green for a few years – I don’t think I have a favorite currently), collards, and rhubarb.  He could easily have bought enough things for us to eat a different vegetable every day all week, but we still have a lot of freezer stores to eat down.

We ate the spinach with beet wedges thawed from the freezer, under balsamic vinaigrette.  Blue cheese would have been nice but we didn’t have any.  The collards we enjoyed, as usual, cooked with black beans in olive oil, garlic, basil, cumin, cayenne, and salt, served over brown rice.  The chard joined white beans in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sage, salt and pepper, served over pasta.  The rhubarb is probably going to become ice cream sauce and go into our freezer until we make ice cream to put it over.  Sauces freeze very well.

Our CSA farmer is concerned about losing some crops that matured too quickly for his drop-off schedule.  As I said, it was a weirdly good spring for growing greens and their roots.  I hope he was able to sell them at farmers markets instead.  When we saw him on Saturday, we asked the same question we ask all summer, “Is there anything here that we won’t get in our share this week?”  His answer was broccoli rabe so we bought some of that and then stopped at an Italian grocery on our way home to buy parmesan to use with it over pasta.

In anticipation of a glut of vegetables, I did a lot of cooking this weekend to get us eating down last year’s stores.  I roasted two full cookie sheets of root vegetables.  One of them was all carrots, an interesting mix of colors (yellow, orange, and purple) and sizes.  While they were still warm, I tossed them with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley (the good part of what was left over from Passover – a lot of leftover parsley went into the compost).  We also had parsley in our freezer, and that went into a salad of bulghur and cooked lentils in a tabbouleh dressing.  The other cookie sheet was a rainbow mix of beets (one red, one yellow, and one red-and-white striped Chioggia), turnips, celeriac, parsnips, and more carrots.  Roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper, they’ll be an easy side dish for some meal this week.

We didn’t make as many batches of applesauce last fall as I’d expected, and then we got more apples (local storage apples) through our winter CSA, so there are still lots of apples in our fridge.  Three of them went into an apples and spices sodabread that used a mix of applesauce and water as its binding liquid.  I don’t know yet how it came out.  A few others had to go directly into compost.  If the bread works, I still have enough apples to make many more loaves.

Weeks 36-37: January 27 – February 9

February 9, 2009

Our winter CSA shares have been more of the same:  a few root vegetables from around here, and lots of stuff from down South, which increasingly means Florida rather than North Carolina.  We’ve done a bit of noteworthy cooking, though, so I think this post will be worth it.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve gotten apples and celeriac from Massachusetts; carrots, beets and parsnips from Quebec;  red and white potatoes from Vermont; sweet potatoes and a rutabaga from North Carolina; and lettuce, chard, parsley, bell pepper, eggplant, green beans,  and cherry tomatoes from Florida.

Some of the sweet potatoes, a pepper, and some of the parsley turned into a sweet potato salad, with a honey-mustard dressing, from Moosewood Cooks at Home.  Not only is it delicious, it’s pretty, with the bright orange sweet potato chunks accented by bright green pepper and parsley.  It’s also vegan, although I like to turn it into an entree salad by adding hard-boiled egg.  Their recipe calls for peeling the potatoes but we don’t, because it’s too much work and wastes a very nutritious part of the vegetable.  We brought it to a potluck and nobody seemed to mind at all that there were skins in it.

Some of the carrots and the rest of the parsley went into a lentil salad.  My husband cooked French green lentils until they were edibly soft but not falling apart – a delicate and important balance.  He grated carrots and chopped parsley, and mixed those in.  The salad was dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, very much like tabbouleh.  I have no idea where the carrots are from that ended up in.  I suspect they’re from our summer CSA because our farmer grows three varieties, including a chunky one good for grating.  The carrots we’ve been getting from our winter CSA are very slender, a shape which would make them good for steaming and elegantly serving them whole, but which is really not at all good for grating.  The lentil salad is good to pack for lunches, although it needs some sort of starch on the side.

Luckily, my husband also baked a cornbread rich with chopped apples and grated cheddar cheese, including some with hot peppers in it.  We keep not managing to make applesauce, but we’ve been cooking more with apples.  I sliced and fried up (in butter) a half dozen apples for serving over waffles.  I have to admit that we poured maple syrup over the waffles, apples and all.

I’ve gotten so accustomed to our produce coming from very nearby.  As a result, it feels now like our CSA food is coming from so far away.  I think I was reacting to that when I talked my husband into cooking a wholly-local breakfast last weekend.  The star of the meal was homefries made from potatoes we dug ourselves in November and diced peppers that I froze in September, both from our summer CSA.  Although he used non-local spices (what locavores sometimes refer to as Marco Polo spices), he used Vermont butter rather than oil from who-knows-where.  He also fried up New Hampshire eggs.  We’re very pan-New England around here.  Meanwhile, I mashed up a previously-baked butternut squash (summer CSA again) with New York maple syrup and more Vermont butter.  To cap it off, I remembered to take a photo.

eggtatersquash

We got a giant sweet potato a couple of weeks ago and I’m finally remembering to share photos of it.  The tiny white potato is one of the ones we dug ourselves.  We were so excited to find anything left underground, after so many other people had been harvesting before us in that same field.

bigtaterlittletater

giantsweetater

Week 34: January 13 – 19

January 22, 2009

The longer our winter CSA goes on, the more I’m impressed with the variety and anti-impressed by how much of the food comes from North Carolina and Florida, both of which are outside my foodshed.  I guess it depends on what the alternative is.

This year, we simply didn’t have enough vegetables put by to get us through much of the winter, even if we had eaten (or processed and frozen) all the turnips and squash before any got rotten.  That means the alternative to a winter CSA might have been grocery store produce, either fresh or frozen.  On a recent trip to Whole Foods, which has been making a point of labeling local items in their produce section, the only local vegetables t0 be seen were hydroponic greenhouse tomatoes.  I didn’t buy any.

Next year we’ll be better about buying things at the farmers market to supplement our CSA share.  In retrospect, we neglected to realize that with more vegetables around (going from a small share to a large) we would eat more vegetables.  Plus we were trying to eat for 12 months on 5 months’ deliveries of vegetables, so even getting twice as many vegetables as we were eating wouldn’t have been enough.   (For a peek back at what we were thinking, check out my very first blog post:  Goal: No Supermarket Veggies.)

This week’s haul was the usual red potatoes, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, oranges, and apples, all of which we divided evenly between the two couples.  We also both got green beans and lettuce (red leaf for us, green leaf for them).  We got a green pepper, they got onions.  We got cherry tomatoes, they got avocados.  We got chard, they got some other leafy green but I can’t remember which.

Breaking it down by location, here’s what we got:

  • Massachusetts:  apples, carrots, and onions
  • Vermont: red potatoes
  • North Carolina:  white potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Florida:  lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, pepper, chard, green beans, and oranges

It’s gotten more and more skewed southward with each passing week.  By the end of March, when the CSA ends, I wonder if everything will be from Florida!  That will leave us two months to get through from just our freezer before the farmers markets start up again at the end of May and beginning of June.  Thinking about that now feels a little odd.

The cherry tomatoes joined rounds of zucchini (July, frozen in week 8) and cubes of Italian eggplant (probably August, frozen in week 13, but the label had fallen off) in a sautee to go over pasta.  It was summer in a skillet.

summer_skillet

Freezing zucchini and eggplant had been an experiment. I am pleased to report that the texture of the frozen vegetables was just about perfect, so next summer I’ll confidently freeze more zucchini and eggplant.

On the same theme, we used the second tub of sugar-macerated sliced strawberries (June, frozen in week 5) to make what just might be world’s most delicious ice cream as my special birthday treat (yeah, that was why the party, too).  Unfortutately, we hadn’t left the ice cream maker’s freezer cannister in the freezer long enough so the freezing process didn’t go quite right and the texture wasn’t what it should have been.  But the flavor, oh the flavor!

We used the green beans in Moosewood’s version of Hunan sauce again, with tofu as usual.  That ends up being just two servings.  With my parents coming to dinner, we needed more food than that.   What else could go in?  A second block of tofu, certainly, but what about more vegetables?  We didn’t have any more green beans.  Carrots didn’t seem quite right, nor squash, nor potatoes.  Cabbage, though, would work just fine.  One of the heads we’d gotten at a late farmers market in November had some moldy outer leaves and was a good candidate for getting used up.  After those leaves were removed, I quartered and sliced the cabbage, and it went into the stir-fry with the green beans and tofu.  It worked, mostly.  I cooked the green beans a little too long before adding the cabbage, and something about the liquid from the cabbage or the fullness of the wok, or maybe just my failure to give the sauce a final stir, kept the sauce from thickening the way it was supposed to.  The balance of flavors was good, my parents seemed pleased, and there were leftovers!

Week 22: October 21 – 27

October 28, 2008

This was our final CSA week of the 2008 season. It was also the last week for many farmers markets. Luckily, one of the markets near us stays open until Thanksgiving, so we can wean ourselves more gradually off of fresh produce. The produce itself helps with that. Everything, it seems, is giving way to squash and root vegetables.

Our share this final week was all squashes (including pumpkins), 16 of them in total:  four pumpkins, four butternut squash, four buttercup squash, two delicata squash and two sweet dumpling squash. 

This brought our pumpkin total to 10 (or eleven, if you count the one that rotted).  I really had to start using up pumpkin, and a lot of it, so I decided to play around and make up a pumpkin custard.  I halved one of the pumpkins and baked it upside-down in about half an inch of water for at least an hour.  While the pumpkin baked, I oiled and seasoned the seeds (salt, cumin, and cayenne) and baked them, too.  The pumpkin spent the night in the refrigerator.  After baking, the flesh was soft enough that the pumpkin halves lost all structural integrity and collapsed to almost flat.  The next day, it was cool enough to hold easily while I scooped out the flesh and mashed it.  It made 3 cups.  I mixed in 3/4 cup of maple syrup, about half a cup of milk (which might have been too much liquid), 4 beaten eggs, and spiced (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom).  The whole thing went into a 1.5 quart casserole, and in 350-degree oven for close to 2 hours.  Because the casserole was so deep, it took a long time for the middle to heat sufficiently.  It was delicious.  It would have been even better with whipped cream.  And all of the ingredients except spices (pumpkin, eggs, milk, and maple syrup) are local!

We used up the last few greens in our refrigerator creatively, in a dish of pasta with parsley pesto and spinach.  The parsley was from week 19, and had kept remarkably well.  The spinach was from the farmers market.  We chopped it, steamed it, and stirred it into the pasta-with-pesto, along with some balsamic vinegar.  Parsley doesn’t blend as easily as basil, so if I were to make the pesto again, I’d blend the parsley with the oil until it broke down, and then add in the cheese, garlic, and pine nuts.  I wouldn’t buy parsley for the purpose of making pesto, but it is a tasty way to use up a whole bunch at once. 

My husband went to the mid-week farmers market in search of greens, and came home with one bunch of napa cabbage, one bunch of collard greens, one bunch of chard, one head of lettuce, and ten Baldwin apples

Baldwin apple monument
Baldwin apple monument

We first tried Baldwin apples a few years ago, after seeing the Baldwin apple monument in Woburn, MA (less than 15 miles away).  It has become one of our favorites.  It has a relatively dense texture, typical of heirlooms.  Its flavor is strong:  tart, sweet, and very apple-y.  Most of the Baldwin trees in New Englad were killed by ice storms in the 1920s (I have no idea where I learned that, so it might not be true).  Not only are we fans of Baldwin apples, we’re also fans of West County Cider’s  hard Baldwin cider.  West County Cider is made in Colrain, MA (about 100 miles away), in the Berkshires. 

We bought fresh cider at the very last weekend farmers market.  We also bought a 10 lb bag of Northern Spy apples, another heirloom.  They’re less tart than Baldwins, so they come across as more sweet and juicy.  Like Baldwins, they’re dense.  That makes them store well.  Our plan was to store them for weeks until we were ready to make applesauce.  Then we realized that we like them for fresh eating much better than the McIntosh that are filling our refrigerator, so we’ve been eating them instead. 

The Cortland apples aren’t in the fridge, because there isn’t space for all the apples, and cooking apples don’t need to retain texture like eating apples do.  Unfortunately, a couple of them have developed rotten spots.  I cut one out and diced the rest of the apple to fill the cavities of the two delicata squash, which I then baked.  (I seasoned the seeds and baked them, too, just like pumpkins seeds.)  I should have also filled the cavities with cider or broth to moisten and soften the squash as they baked.  The apples did not break down and do that job as I’d anticipated and hoped.  The baked stuffed squash still looked lovely.  The skin of delicata squash is thin and edible, so being able to separate the flesh from the skin (which is easy when it’s soft) wasn’t such an issue.  

The second purple cabbage was still in our crisper drawer, where it had patiently waited since week 10!  At first I had no idea what to do with it.  Then in week 13 we got potatoes and I figured out that purple colcannon was a good thing. So I saved the other cabbage for potatoes that I thought were coming imminently.  We finally got them in week 21.  The outer leaves of cabbage had some mold.  I peeled them off (4 or 5 leaves total) and the cabbage underneath was still in very good shape.  So I made the colcannon again, but using the whole head of cabbage and about two pounds of potatoes.  I also used plain yogurt instead of milk.  The yogurt picked up the purple from the cabbage even more than the milk did, so instead of the mixture being purple and white, it’s pale purple and dark purple.  Hooray for natural fun colors!   Hooray, too, for another recipe that uses all local ingredients (except the spices)!

 

Week 20: October 7 – 13 (Part III)

October 12, 2008

Of the six peppers in our crisper drawer, only two were still in good shape yesterday.  One was so bad it had to go straight into compost.  The other three had parts I needed to cut out (or at least wanted to cut out – they might not hurt me, but I’m not going to find out).  Some of them had parts where the outer layer of skin had detatched from the flesh and looked white, just like dead skin does on a blister.  As I said, I cut those parts off.  What was left was sort of funny-shaped, so I diced what was left of the three peppers, probably equivalent to two whole, healthy peppers.  I tossed the diced peppers into a skilled with garlic and olive oil, and softened them over medium heat.  When the peppers released their juices, I added lots of coriander and turmeric and a bit of cayenne and cinnamon, along with some salt.  (You might recognize my Tunisian spice combination.)  Then I added some leftover couscous, maybe a cup or so, and mixed it up until it turned a turmeric-stained yellow.  When it was warmed through, it was a colorful and very flavorful pilaf for lunch, with a neither local nor organic veggie burger for each of us.  We need to eat veggie burgers to make space in the freezer.

With the peppers out, there was more space in the crisper drawer for new farmers market purchases.  I came home with another four pounds of potatoes and a bunch of dill for making another potato salad for another potluck.  I bought a bunch of chard and a bunch of mustard greens because we barely had greens from our CSA last week, so I was craving them.  I bought a bunch of mizuna to go with the remaining two peppers and two or three baby eggplants, and some of the local tofu, into  a stir-fry for supper tonight.  Because they were there, I bought two huge sweet potatoes, a jar of herbs de provance, and a pint of wild foraged mushrooms.  I couldn’t resist trying Roxbury Russet apples, one of the oldest heirlooms in this area.  When we eat them, I’ll let you know how they are.

We dried another 6 McIntosh apples yesterday.  They go down to something like 1/5 of their original size.  Those 6 apples, when dried, would fit comfortably in a sandwich size bag.  We keep adding to a gallon bag, and it’s finally looking filled. 

We haven’t been doing very well with the Eat Local Challenge.  A lot of socializing recently has involved eating out.  That’s sort of eating locally because it’s supporting local eateries.  (We avoid chain restaurants, and we’ve been doing that for quite a while.)  The eateries that use local ingredients, though, are haute cuisine, and we aren’t looking for (and can rarely afford) that sort of food.  At brunch this morning, I realized that the cream for my coffee might well be the only local food I was consuming, out of the entire meal.

Week 17: September 15 – 22

September 18, 2008

I’m kind of looking forward to winter, when I won’t have to wash or chop any vegetables for months. Our freezer is getting very full of yummy things. During the spring and summer, I keep it running efficiently by filling empty space with containers of ice, because keeping ice frozen takes less energy than keeping air that cold. It’s another kitchen chemistry thing, having to do with phase changes and specific temperatures. As we fill the freezer with vegetables, the tubs of ice come out to make space. Almost all of them have come out of the freezer by now.

Our CSA share this week was one bag of mixed baby lettuce, one bunch of arugula, one bunch of mustard greens, one bunch of chard, one bunch of large orange carrots, one bunch of scallions, six green bell peppers, four tiny eggplants, one pound of green beans, four pounds of tomatoes, and one pint of cherry tomatoes.   For fruit this week we got Mutsu and Shamrock apples from the mid-week farmers market. 

We’ve been eating last week’s arugula on sandwiches, and carefully worked our way through this week’s lettuce as quickly as we could.  Baby lettuce is always a race against sliminess.  While arugula is good raw, it can also be just another sharp Italian green good over pasta (wilted with garlic, parmesan, olive oil, and red pepper, of course).  Chard I like so much that we ate it right away, steamed and dressed lightly with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. 

My husband cooked up delicious homefries with four huge red-skinned potatoes and two bell peppers.  He microwaved the potato chunks for 5 minutes before putting them in the frying pan with garlic, smoked paprika, oregano, basil, and salt (and oil, of course). 

We’ve been getting more cherry tomatoes than I really care to eat fresh.  (The first pint is irresistable, but we’ve reached overload, especially because my husband doesn’t eat them at all.)  It had been frustrating me that cherry tomatoes were, like lettuce, not able to be “put by.”  Then, at the farmers market last weekend, a friend told us that she had dealt with a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes by dehydraing them.  Another friend, a neighbor, had offered us the use of her dehydrator, so when we got cherry tomatoes again this week, I took her up on the offer.  Halved and dehydrated overnight, cherry tomatoes become incredble little bite-sized “sundried” tomatoes.  They’re now under olive oil tucked away in a cabinet.

As long as we were running the dehydrator, I cored and sliced (but didn’t peel) the remaining two Gravenstein apples, and dehydrated them, too.  Apparently, in their heydey, a lot of Gravensteins turned into dried apples because they are good for that.  The dried rings have a sweet, strong apple flavor.

Other vegetables we preserved, as usual, by freezing.  I froze the pound of green beans, the bunch of mustard greens, and three of the bell peppers.  The green beans and mustard greens get blanched and shocked first, the bell peppers don’t.  Greens start off at such a volume that I have to blanch one bunch in two batches, while the entire pound of green beans fits easily in one batch.  When the tomatoes are ripe enough, I’ll stew and freeze them, too.

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.