Posts Tagged ‘corn’

Soup and Salad

February 2, 2011

The winter farmer’s market has made it possible to have salad!  One of the farms, and now I’m forgetting its name, is growing salad mix in unheated greenhouses.  The leaves are tiny and delicate, and packed with flavor and nutrients.  It’s a real treat, and it has become a weekly treat, too.  Here it is in a salad with beets stored from our summer CSA and local eggs from a nearby store.  The bread slice is also from the winter farmer’s market.

plate of salad

At $4 for a 5 ounce clamshell, the salad mix is an affordable luxury.  If we hadn’t been eating the seasons for so long, it would be easy to take such a thing for granted.   I do wish there were an alternative to the plastic clamshell, though.  If there’s one guiding principle to my food choices lately, it’s been minimizing packaging.

Today was another snow day, so I made minestrone soup.  I simmered a pound of dried garbanzos, then scooped most of them into a storage container to make other meals.  The remaining beans and all of their cooking water was the beginning of my soup.  I added a large grocery store can of diced tomatoes in juice, and spices (basil, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper).  The fun was throwing in a mix of vegetables from our freezer:  bell peppers, zucchini, corn, and beet greens, along with carrots from the winter farmer’s market.  It was a beautiful rainbow of soup.  I wish I had taken a photo!

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Inaugural Winter Market

January 9, 2011

We were very excited this week to go to the inaugural day of the local winter farmer’s market.  The only market within the reach of the subway (a mile by bus or walking from Davis Square), it’s in the Somerville Armory.  It runs from yesterday through the end of March, on Saturdays, from 10 to 2.

We went about 10:30, half an hour after it opened, and it was already crowded and getting more so.  There was lots of congestion as people mingled socially and browsed the wares.  We were among the many pushing strollers, which added to the navigational challenge.   Soon the preschoolers and their parents took over the mezzanine for running around.  It seemed a perfect arrangement.

The mix of vendors was good.  There was one orchard (Apex) selling apples and two farms (Winter Moon and Enterprise)  selling vegetables.  We bought a half peck of braeburn apples, on the recommendation of the sellers that they are among the last picked.  They’re excellent in both flavor and texture.  Next week, I plan to try their empire apples.

Winter Moon was selling only their own produce, all storage crops of roots, squashes, and dried popping corn.  I was very pleased with my $3 bag of a bit more than 3 cups of ruby red popping corn.  The kernels are red, but the popped corn is white like any other popcorn.  Enterprise Farm was selling the same mix of items that they include in their winter CSA:  some stuff from their greenhouses and storage, some stuff from other New England farms’ greenhouses and storage, and lots of fresh items from the Carolinas and Florida.  All of it was clearly labeled as to origin.  They had the longest shopping line of any stand I saw.

I expect and hope that demand this year will be high enough that the same and other farms will invest in storage, and more local vegetables and fruits will be available next winter.

As a vegetarian, I didn’t pay much attention to the meat stands, but I did notice that there were 3:  one with fish, one with red meat, and one that might have been poultry.  Reseska Apiaries was there selling honey and beeswax candles.  Apex Orchards also had some honey.  Cook’s Farm, who was mostly there as a bakery, had some maple syrup and applesauce, too.  I saw a total of 3 bakery stands.  I guess it’s nice to have them there, if I’m shopping for an entire meal, but it still feels weird to me that bakeries masquerade as farms.  In other sweets, Taza Chocolates, based nearby in Somerville, had a table.

It was the first modern farmer’s market in Massachusetts history to have wine vendors doing tastings and sales, because a new law finally allows them to.  There were 3 wineries at the market.

Other vendors are on the publicized list.  Maybe I just didn’t see everyone, or maybe more will be there in future weeks.

For more information:
Somerville Winter Market Vendors List
Massachusetts Winter Farmer’s Markets List

Week 29: December 8 – 14

December 16, 2008

We haven’t been cooking very much.

We made enchilada verde casserole again.  It didn’t work as well as last time. I think we didn’t use enough cheese, salsa, or salt.  The casserole is easy to make.  It’s layered, like lasagne:  first corn tortillas, then a layer of mashed beans with some cheese and spices, then another layer of tortillas, then homemade tomatillo salsa and shredded cheddar cheese.  The tortillas are Cinco de Mayo, from Chelsea, MA.  The cheese is Cabot, from Cabot, VT.  The salsa verde came out of our freezer.  It was made with tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, and hot peppers.  We started with dried beans, which use much less energy to transport than canned beans, and soaked and simmered them in lots of water, which is from the Quabbin Reservoir, MA.  We baked sweet potatoes to eat with the casserole. 

I made a big pot of split pea soup, with big chunks of turnips, potatoes, and carrots.  I should have used some of the fresh thyme, but I forgot about it until too late. 

I used some frozen kale in a quick supper because I was too lazy to prep the fresh.  The meal itself was uninspiring, but the ease of getting just a bit of kale was notable.  We had frozen it as flat as possible in a gallon zip-lock bag.  That made it easy to break off a corner, since I was only heating up food for myself. 

The biggest meal of the week was with the friends we’re sharing our winter CSA share with.  They invited us to stay for dinner after we brought over the week’s vegetables.  The entree they made was a delicious casserole of six layered root vegetables under a bechamel sauce.  Our share for the new week included one bunch of arugula, one cucumber, one pepper, and a box of grape tomatoes.  Rather than try to divvy that up, we made a salad that we all ate together.   The arugula was from a Massachusetts greenhouse.  The cucumber, pepper, and tomatoes were from Florida.  I’m having some trouble with this whole-coast CSA idea.

We also got kale, cabbage, and apples from Massachusetts; garlic, carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes from North Carolina; and oranges and corn from Florida.  (There was also a squash and some onions from Massachusetts, but we left all of those with our friends.)   Next week we anticipate some holiday extras:  cranberries and pecans. 

It’s time to make applesauce again, but I used the big pot for split-pea soup.  On days that we haven’t had oranges, we’ve had homemade McIntosh apple rings with lunch.  They are delicious!

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 16: September 8 – 14 (Part II)

September 13, 2008

Corn season is now over.  We went to the farmers market this morning.  We didn’t need anything, because we have plenty of vegetables from our CSA and plenty of apples from my husband’s mid-week farmers market trip.  We like the Saturday market, though, because it’s nearby so it’s an easy walk and we always see lots of people we know.  Today was no exception.  We spent most of our time socializing, but we also did some shopping.  We look for things that we aren’t getting from out CSA.  Today we came home with four ears of corn, four small Green Zebra heirloom tomatoes, four very small Asian eggplants, and somewhere between half a pound and a pound of black-eyed peas, still in their shells. 

The corn and tomatoes were for lunch today.  I’ve been waiting for weeks for heirloom tomatoes to come down below $3.50 per pound, and they just haven’t.  So I succumbed, and splurged on some Green Zebras, which I recall being one of my favorites.  I ate two at lunch, and was very disappointed.  The other two aren’t ripe yet, so I’m optimistic that I can catch them at just-exactly-ripe and they’ll be delicious.  We bought corn because we figured it was getting to be our last chance.  It looked good (no tip worms – how much pesticide does that mean?), and had a nice texture, but it had very little flavor.  I guess that means corn season is over. 

The eggplants were to join mizuna and tofu in a stir-fry for supper tonight.  The black-eyed peas will go with whatever greens we get next week in something southern-style, probably with honey, cider vinegar, and cayenne. 

I froze a lot of food today, but didn’t do any blanching.  That’s because two of the things I froze–bell peppers and parsley–get frozen raw, and the others–applesauce and diced tomatoes–are juicy enough to stew. 

I cut this week’s four green bell peppers into bite-size pieces and froze them in a single layer in gallon bag.  They’ll probably turn into the Tunisian vegetables that I gave a recipe for in week 15

I coarsely chopped the parsley and packed it, with a bit of water, into two sandwich bags.  Each of them will go into a batch of tabbouleh

I diced all four pounds of tomatoes (minus the one that went into ratatouille) and stewed them for the usual ten minutes.  I packed them into three 2-cup glass storage bowls.  When they’re frozen, we’ll transfer all three blocks of tomatoes into one gallon bag, with squares of wax paper between them, so we can still get out just 2 cups (equivalent to one can) when we need it.  The Green Guide magazine warns that plastic containers that are safe for cold food might leach chemicals when hot, so it’s better to put the hot tomatoes into glass.  Besides, we don’t get takeout to end up with plastic 2-cup tubs.  Yield:  6 cups of cooked diced tomatoes in juice. 

I turned the 10 pound bag of Macintosh apples into applesauce.  There were a few spots that I had to cut out (bruised to the point of rotting) but mostly they were fine.  I don’t worry about a bit of bruising in my applesauce because the apples are going to get brown and mushy anyway as they cook.  I cored and quartered the apples, but left the skins on because they contain so many nutrients, and besides I’m too lazy to peel them.  They filled my 3 gallon stock pot.  I added half a cup of water to keep the bottom from burning, which would have worked if only I remembered to stir the sauce more often.  I was distracted by cutting up peppers and tomatoes while the applesauce cooked.  I added about 3 tablespoons of cinnamon and about 1 tablespoon each of nutmeg and cloves.   I should have used even more cinnamon.  The flesh of the apples breaks down into sauce very nicely.  The skins don’t.  If I had wanted chunky sauce I would have diced the apples instead of merely quartering them, mostly to get the skins cut up.  Because I was happy with smooth sauce this time, I ran everything through my food mill.  It’s the food grinder attachment for a KitchenAid stand mixer.  It pureed the skins and trapped the tough bits from around the seeds.  (The seeds themselves I had gotten out.)  Yield:  4 quarts of applesauce. 

Stockpot full of quartered Macintosh apples. Stockpot half full of Macintosh applesauce.

Week 16: September 8 – 14

September 11, 2008

This week’s CSA share was one bag of baby lettuce, one bunch of arugula, one bunch of large carrots, one bunch of mizuna, one bunch of parsley, one pint of tomatillos,  two pints of cherry tomatoes, four pounds of tomatoes, four eggplants, and eight green peppers of various sorts:  four bell peppers, two Cubanelle, two Aneheim (hot peppers) and two St. Nick heirloom peppers.

Lettuce and arugula are for salads and sandwiches.  Cherry tomatoes are for eating raw, either atop lettuce or as a pop-it-in-your-mouth finger food.  The regular tomatoes will become yet more cooked diced tomatoes (to go in the freezer) when they get truly ripe.  They were a bit green when we got them, so they’re ripening in a bowl on our kitchen table. 

I’ve been so busy being back to school (as a teacher) that my husband has done most of the cooking this week.  He made and froze five cups a delicious salsa verde from this week’s and last week’s total of three pints of tomatillos, this week’s two Anaheim peppers, garlic, lemon juice, and seasonings.  I’m looking forward to bean enchiladas smothered in cheddar cheese and this delicious green sauce. 

We made a ratatouille with two if this week’s eggplants, the two bell peppers left from last week, the one ripest tomato, canellini beans, garlic, olive oil, and spices (basil, thyme, salt, and pepper). 

My husband got lucky at the mid-week farmers market.  In addition to buying a dozen Ginger Gold apples for eating fresh at $2.50/lb, he came home with a 10 lb bag of Macintosh apples for making applesauce at $7.50 for the entire bag (translates to $0.75/lb).  He also bought two ears of corn to eat with supper that night, which otherwise was one of the quarts of lentil-kale-potato soup that I’d frozen less than a week earlier (in week 15).  Convenience foods are convenience foods regardless of season.  The kale retained its texture, but unfortunately the potatoes lost theirs.

Does anyone know recipes that will show off what’s special about Cubanelle or St. Nick peppers?

Week 14: August 25 – 31

August 30, 2008

The summer seems to have flown by.  It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been 14 weeks since I’ve turned to a grocery store to get my produce.  Next week, I’ll be back to school.  Because I teach, I have extra time in the summer to prep and freeze food.  The academic calendar, that now seems to anachronistic and obsolete for being based on an agricultural schedule, has been ideal for my local food endeavor.  (For a bit more on the connection between school and agriculture, see this 2006 article about a school break for potato harvesting in northern Maine.   (There is also a link from my articles in the Boston Globe page.)

I’ve been making so much tabbouleh that I ran out of bulgur.  Whole Foods sells organic bulgur in their bulk section, so I can buy lots of it relatively cheaply in a paper bag.  It’s become sort of a game to see how few plastic bags I can acquire.  The one I went to didn’t have any organic bulgur in their bulk section, so I didn’t get any.  But they were having a special event with lots of their local suppliers giving out tastes.  One of the supplers was Highlawn Farm, and all-Jersey dairy in Lee, Massachusetts (in the Berkshires, between Springfield and Albany).  They’re better than organic in most ways, but certification is too expensive.  One of their products is heavy cream.  Good cream means good ice cream, so I bought a pint.  Remember the strawberries we sugared for ice cream and froze back in week 5? My husband used one of those pints to make strawberry ice cream in our electric ice cream maker. Between the extra-good cream and the extra-good strawberries, it was by far the best strawberry ice cream I have ever tasted.

This week our CSA share consisted of two pints of cherry tomatoes (we took one red, one yellow), three pounds of tomatoes,three small eggplants, three green bell peppers, one pound of broccoli, one scant bag of mixed baby lettuce leaves, ten ears of corn, one bunch of beets, one bunch of onions (which we gave away to friends) and one bunch of tatsoi.

Some of the vegetables were already getting soft in the wrong ways, so I made a batch of gazpacho.  Into the blender went most of a bell pepper (the yucky soft part, and half an inch around it, went into compost), cut into chunks.  It was followed by about 3 inches of Armenian cucumber, skin and seeds included, quartered and thickly sliced.  Friends gave us half an Armenian cucumber from their garden, and it’s so big that the half spanned the full width of a refrigerator crisper drawer, and the amount I put into gazpacho was about the same as one whole normal cucumber.  I added a generous spoonful of minced garlic (we buy it jarred, it’s our one vegetable laziness), a generous splash of white vinegar, a few drops of Tabasco, some dried basil and oregano, and some salt.  When I blended it, it was a lovely pale green with darker green flecks, and had a lovely spicy flavor.  It would have been fine simply as green gazpacho.  But I had tomatoes that needed to be used, so the two softest tomatoes went in, and the gazpacho turned sort of coral-colored, which is not very appetizing.  Luckily it tasted delicious.  Two tomatoes, one bell pepper, and one normal-cucumber-equivalent yielded four bowls of the cold soup.  For a fancier presentation, reserve some of the cucumber and bell pepper, dice them, and sprinkle some atop the pureed soup in each bowl.

We brought four ears of corn with us to dinner at a friend’s home, and she did somethind delicious with them.  First she had us husk them enough to see how the corn was and remove any damaged tips.  Then she pulled back the husks and put butter, salt, and herbs directly onto the corn, then pulled the husks back over.  She then roasted the ears in her oven for about 25 minutes.  It was so much tastier than our usual boil-and-butter!  We nibbled cherry tomatoes while waiting for dinner to be ready. 

The other six ears of corn went with me on a visit to my grandmother, along with two tomatoes and a salad made of all the lettuce, two very large radishes (sliced thinly into pretty circles), one bell pepper, and all the remaining cherry tomatoes.  All of it was very, very well received.

Two of the tomatoes (slighly less, one had a bad spot that got composted instead) and two of the eggplants went into chana masala, an Indian chickpea dish.  It doesn’t usually have eggplant, but it should.  Lazily, I use MDH boxed spice mix to season it. 

The broccoli and tatsoi are bound for a stir-fry with tofu, maybe with the third eggplant.   The beet greens will be a side dish by themselves.  The beets themselves will wait, the way root vegetables do.

I sent my husband to buy fruit at the midweek farmers market, and he came home with six peaches, six Ginger Gold apples, and four Gravenstein apples.  Ginger Gold is a relatively recent hybrid (1989), with respectable Winesap lineage on one side of the cross and a random sapling from Virginia on the other.  I’ll need to remember next year that Ginger Gold apples are lovely for eating out-of-hand, delightfully crisp and slightly tart.  Gravenstein apples, on the other hand, are an heirloom variety with a flavor that reminds me of apple pie, and a texture that suggests they should be cooked.  I plan to make maple syrup baked apples with the remaining Gravensteins, but I’m not sure what to stuff the core with (well, the space where the core is removed before baking) because I have neither raisins nor walnuts on hand.

Happy Labor Day!

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 12: August 10 – 17, CSA

August 19, 2008

While we were away, my parents picked up our CSA share. We received one bunch of arugula, one bunch of onions (that looked more like scallions to me), one bunch of radishes (with nice greens), three green bell peppers, three tomatoes, two Asian eggplants, twelve ears of corn, four pounds of red potatoes, and one pound Kentucky Wonder green beans

My parents helped to prevent waste by eating the arugula, most of the corn, some of the green beans, one of the tomatoes, and one of the peppers. 

I made a ratatouille with one and a half tomatoes (the other half had to get tossed), both Asian eggplants (they’re fairly small), one bell pepper, and a can of chickpeas.  Another tomato would have made it even better, but the ratio was just about right.  I diced the veggies and put them all in a saucepan along with minced garlic, salt, basil, oregano, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.  I served it over polenta for an easy, attractive, and tasty supper.  It made four eating-healthier-after-vacation servings, which I think translates to three more normal servings. 

I made tabbouleh with radishes and cucumbers that had been to Lake Placid and back.  I had to toss the two smallest pickling cucumbers – they were getting soft and slimy.  Because pickling cucumbers are less sweet and more bitter than regular cucumbers, I changed the process a bit.  While the bulghur and spices (garlic powder, parsley, and mint) were soaking, I salted the vegetables in a separate bowl.  I used more salt than usual, and stirred it into the quartered-and-sliced cucumbers and the thinly sliced radishes.  After letting osmosis happen for an hour or two, I mixed everything into one bowl and added olive oil and lemon juice.    

I need to find ways to save more vegetables for winter.

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.