Posts Tagged ‘dill’

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.

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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 10: July 27 – August 2

August 1, 2008

This week was almost entirely things that will not freeze well. We got two bunches of arugula, one bunch of tatsoi, three yellow summer squash, two cucumbers, two bunches of beets (well, one of beets and one of onions that we traded for more beets), two small red cabbage, and four pounds of potatoes.

We stir-fried the two bunches of tatsoi (one from this week, one from last week) with tofu, in a sauce of hoisin, tamari (soy sauce), garlic, and ginger.  It was delicious.  Tatsoi has a cabbage-y flavor similar to bok choy, but the leaves are sturdier and don’t wilt down as quite as much.  The stems are very tender and edible and are very attractive, light on dark, cris-crossing in all directions.

The beets this week had unusually long, thin stalks with unusually sparse leaves.  The beet stems-and-greens, therefore, were mostly stems.  I chopped the leaves coarsely and cut the stems to one-inch pieces, maybe shorter.  I cooked them in my usual way, sauteed with garlic in olive oil, then tossed with lemon juice and salt.  They made a meal paired with cheesy polenta – my husband mixed in shredded mozzarella, grated parmesan, garlic powder, and pepper. 

I finally made the potato salad I’d been meaning to make since I bought dill for it in week 8.  I did by best to re-create the yummy salad a friend makes based on her grandmother’s recipe.  I don’t know how similar my potato salad was to my friend’s grandmother’s, but I’m very pleased with how it came out.  Here’s what I did:  Cut two pounds of potatoes into large bite-sized pieces.  In a saucepan, cover the pieces with water.  Bring to a boil.  After the water reaches a boil, continue boiling for seven more minutes.  (Test with a fork to be sure the texture is right.  Potatoes cut a different size will need a different length of cooking.)  Drain the potatoes and rinse with cold water.  Dress with a mixture of 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola), 1/2 cup white vinegar, 2 teaspoons salt, and a half dozen or more grinds of black pepper,  Mix in one bunch of dill, chopped.

I want to make a color-switched cole slaw with red cabbage and yellow carrots.  I hope the red color doesn’t run, because then the carrots wouldn’t still be yellow.  When (if) I make it, I’ll have to post a photo.

While we have arugula (or when we had lettuce), various veggies go into green salad. Tonight’s supper, for example, included a salad of arugula, cucumber, and beet roots.  The beets were boiled for 20 minutes (which was a bit too long for the small size of our beets this week), then cooled and sliced.  They’re sweet, colorful, and (if not over-cooked) crunchy, which makes them a wonderful addition to a salad.  Be careful, though, because they stain hands and could probably stain countertops if you don’t wipe them down promptly and thoroughly.

We at the salad with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. I use a Good Seasons cruet, and add balsamic vinegar past the -v- line all the way up to the -w- line, then olive oil up to the -o- line.  I put in salt, garlic powder, basil, oregano, and black pepper.  I have no idea what quantities.  Just sort of to taste.  Sometimes when I make a fresh batch, I’ll dress my salad and then get up from the table to doctor up the dressing.  Usually my problem is not enough salt.  Kitchen chemistry hint:  it’s easier to dissolve the salt in the vinegar before adding the oil.  It’s about polarity.  That will have to be its own post sometime soon. 

When we don’t have leafy greens for a salad, some of those same good-for-eating-raw vegetables become crudites (vegetable sticks) with dip.  We did that recently with carrots, cucumbers, and kohlrabi.  My homemade vegetable dip is very easy:  start with plain yogurt, add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dill, all “to taste.”  Because the base is plain yogurt (as opposed to sour cream and mayonnaise, which is the more typical dip base) it’s very healthy, aside from the salt.  I use lowfat plain yogurt.  I buy Stonyfield Farms, which is based in southern New Hampshire only about an hour north of Boston, so it’s a local food.  And tasty local food, at least on this blog, is the whole point.

Week 8: July 13-20 (Part II)

July 20, 2008

This was a 3-farmers-market week.  In addition to buying apples and zucchini early in the week, I bought dill (intended for potato salad) at the mid-week market and tomatoes and lettuce at the end-of-week market.  The lettuce is just for salads, because it’s so hot and we have so many good things to put on top of lettuce in salad.  The tomatoes were for a family reunion picnic, and were sliced and put on sandwiches. 

The family picnic took care of some of our vegetable glut.  We made cole slaw, using the shredder attachment for our stand mixer.  We used the slicing blade for the cabbage and the shredding blade for the carrots, mostly orange and some yellow for color.  Because of the heat, I didn’t use the normal mayonnaise-laden dressing.  Instead, I made an Asian dressing of rice vinegar, canola oil (sesame oil gives too heavy a flavor), tamari soy sauce, grated ginger (I buy it jarred), and lots of sesame seeds (cheapest at an Indian grocery).

Also for the picnic, we made a big batch of tabbouleh (using 3 cups of bulghur wheat), and put in the entire bunch of parsley, three cucumbers, three orange carrots, and three yellow carrots.  The carrots are on the small side, the kind you buy at the farmers market not the kind you buy at the grocery store. 

We finally did some freezing.  It’s been very hot, so standing over boiling water to blanch vegetables is thoroughly unappealing.  We boiled about two pounds of beetroots.  The larger ones are good for grilling.  The smaller ones are good for freezing.  It works out very nicely.  We boiled the beets for half an hour, but probably should have given them only 25 minutes.  After boiling, many of the skins came off easily, but if they didn’t come off I didn’t worry about it.  Skinning beets involves pushing at the skin, trying to slide it sideways over the inside part.  We sliced a few of the beets for putting on salads (cold).  The rest we cut into wedges and froze. 

We also froze some zucchini and green beansPutting Food By says that only small zucchini freeze well.  Of our six zucchini, I judged that three were small enough to freeze.  We cut them into thick slices, blanched them for three minutes, shocked them for three minutes, and put them in our freezer.  The green beans were also three minutes to blanch and three minutes to shock.  I cut them to lengths somewhere between one and two inches.  Unfortunately, sitting on the top shelf of our refrigerator for nearly a week caused many of the beans to freeze and become weirdly translucent and have to go straight to compost. 

In other food news, we tried kohlrabi finally.  I knife-peeled one of them, and cut it into sticks maybe half an inch on a side.  It’s delightfully crunchy.  It reminds me of the inside of broccoli stems, which isn’t surprising, because kohlrabi is also a stem. 

Finally, the inventory:  The non-roots still to be used are one bunch of dill, one bunch of lettuce, three large zucchini, one cucumber, and one kohlrabi.  The roots still to be used are lots of carrots, some beets (mostly chioggia), and two pounds of potatoes.  The fruits still to be used are most of two pints of black raspberries.

I forgot to mention the raspberries.  We went berry picking today with friends, and brought back two pints of purple raspberries and two pints of black raspberries.  Well, that’s how many there were before we started the car ride home.  There were fewer when we arrived.  The purple raspberries I tried to turn into conserve.  I hope the boiled berry-sugar soup will firm up.  After a night in the refrigerator it will move into the freezer, in one-cup containers, to be moved to the refrigerator as needed during the year.