Posts Tagged ‘green beans’

Traveling and Coming Home

September 10, 2009

I think I’ve been away more than usual this summer.  I like traveling, and I was away doing things that I enjoyed or at least valued.  The food from a week at a camp and a week at a conference center, however, left me feeling lousy.  Dairy and eggs left this vegetarian craving beans.  Processed starches left me wanting whole grains.  And I acutely missed the abundance of fresh, local, delicious vegetables and fruits that I would have had at home.

At the end of the summer, I had the opposite travel experience.  We visited friends in Seattle and enjoyed plums and blackberries that grow on their property.  Then we went to a farmers market that was about 5 times the size of the larger of my local markets.  The variety of produce, cheeses, baked goods, and meat was overwhelming, in a good way.  The prices of fruits were much lower than what I’m used to paying.  I’ll admit a bit of climate envy.

At home, food this week has been about combinations.  A ratatouille included tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, green pepper, and fresh garlic along with garbanzos, dried oregano, salt, and of course lots of  olive oil.  It would have included fresh basil, too,  if we’d had energy to pick some from out back.

A stir-fry included green beans, broccoli, turnips, turnip greens, radishes, radish greens, and some cilantro.  As has become usual, we firmed up the tofu by heating it without oil in a single layer on a nonstick skillet, flipping it when the first side browned.  To work with the cilantro’s sweetness, the sauce used a generous amount of jarred hoisin sauce along with rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

We brought back a salad we particularly enjoyed last fall:  arugula with cheddar and apples, with a balsamic vinaigrette.  We’ve started to get apples from our CSA, and the rainy summer means this should be a particularly good apple season.  Flashback: last year I posted a catalogue of apples.  So far, we’ve gotten Ginger Gold.

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Week 52: May 20-26

May 26, 2009

The first nearby farmers market opens tomorrow!  Our experimental year of eating only local produce is at an end.  The experiment was a success!  We’ve made a lifestyle change.  It’s a change that was building for a while, and we took it to a higher level over the past year.  Next year, I hope that my planning ahead pays off well enough that we don’t feel the need to join a winter CSA, or buy the occasional grocery store tomato sauce or potatoes.  (Flashback to my first post shows what I thought we were getting ourselves into.)

In this last week of the year, we’ve eaten more generously of the vegetables we’d been hoarding.  Green beans, frozen spread out on a cookie sheet to stay separate, then transferred to a pint yogurt container, really did stay separate and were easy to cook with.  They joined frozen stewed diced tomatoes and grocery store raisins and chickpeas in a Tunisian stew based on a Moosewood Cooks at Home recipe.  It gets coriander, some cinnamon, turmeric, and cayenne; salt of course; and at the very end a generous splash of lemon juice.  The recipe as written involves a few vegetables, none of which are green beans.  It also, as written, involves measuring out the spices.

My husband more closely followed another recipe from Moosewood Cooks at Home, this one for Vegetable Stifado.  He tossed in potato, eggplant, green pepper, kale, carrots, and more stewed diced tomato, a list which overlaps the vegetables called for in the recipe.  There were a lot of colors, shapes, and textures, making it an attractive meal.  It’s spiced with dill, rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and was excellent with leftover red wine added in, too.

As the first harvests of spring become available to us, we’ll be eating the sorts of season-blending meals that have come to feel so unnatural.  Butternut squash stored on a kitchen shelf since November can join corn frozen mid-summer and fresh new spring radish greens in a single year-spanning meal.  Fittingly, the Jewish holiday Shavuos is later this week.  It celebrates the first produce of the year.  That’s truly something worth celebrating.

Weeks 50-51: May 6 – 19

May 19, 2009

The first local farmers market (Copley Square, Boston) opened today for the season.  I wasn’t there.  I’ll wait another two weeks until farmers markets open that are close enough to walk to, followed about a week later by our first CSA drop-off.

I remember last year at this time that I eagerly anticipated a bounty at the farmers market.  I know better.  Harvest season starts slowly.  So, while I feel entitled to stop hoarding and eat whatever vegetables are still in our freezer, I know that we’ll need some of them for a few weeks longer.

Frozen mustard greens and frozen diced-and-stewed tomatoes joined chickpeas, lots of curry powder, a bit each of cumin, coriander, cayenne, ginger, and of course salt, in a curried mustard greens recipe based on one in Joy of Cooking.  The tomatoes can be thawed, microwaved, or simply cooked with the spices and chickpeas before the greens are added.  The mustard greens are finnicky, in that they need to thaw before cooking.  I left mine (in thin layers in ziplock bags) thaw at room temperature for a couple of hours, then cooked with them as if they were fresh.  It worked, and they didn’t overcook.  I don’t think I could tell the difference between cooking with frozen verus fresh, although it’s been many months since I’ve had the opportunity to taste it with truly fresh mustard greens.

Some frozen green beans went with a pasta and sauce meal.  Some were a bit mushy, most were sort of generic frozen green beans, but a few still had crunch!

Frozen broccoli and frozen pepper strips joined tofu in a stir-fry.  The peppers held up well, the broccoli not so well.  That might mean that the broccoli was already a bit old when we got around to freezing it.

Apple sauce came out of the freezer to go into lunch bags.  Tomatillo sauce came out of the freezer to go on top of tortillas with black beans and cheese.

In a demi-miracle of proper handling, we still had two happy, healthy butternut squash.  One of them joined cannelini beans and sage to make a topping for pasta.  Sage, a perennial, is up in our yard, but we didn’t notice until after cooking with stuff out of a spice jar.  It was a missed opportunity, but we’ll have others.

The end, I mean the beginning, is in sight!

Weeks 48-49: April 22 – May 5

May 9, 2009

Spring is my favorite season.  I watch the plants in my neighborhood and on my walk to work to see how every day there are new shoots, new buds, new flowers, new leaves.  In my own yard, I watch the progression from crocuses, to daffodils and tulips, to phlox, and then on to everything else.  I watch the way that people, normally content in their bubbles of temperature-controlled homes, cars, and offices, open the windows or even come outside and notice it’s spring, temperatures are warming, things are growing.  In New England, spring is so short.  Maybe that’s why I treasure it all the more.

It’s now less than a month from the start of farmers markets in my area.  We still have plenty of frozen vegetables (and two butternut squashes) to get us through.  Especially if we’re as uninspired to cook as we have been.  All through the CSA season, fresh vegetables coming in ever week inspire us to prepare them into meals.  Because the vegetables are  so fresh and so good, the meals can be quite simple and still delicious.

That all breaks down in the winter.  I no longer know how to say “what I want for dinner tonight is…” and go out and assemble ingredients.  I can, of course, reach into my freezer, pull out a baggie of vegetables at random, and prepare it however I normally prepare that vegetable.  Somehow, though, I just haven’t been.  Which isn’t to say we haven’t been cooking.  It’s just that the vegetables are the frills, not the center, of our meals.

Some carrots from the veggie drawers and anaheim peppers (moderately spicy, frozen in week 19) from our freezer went into a huge batch of chili made from a mix of dried black, kidney, and pinto beans.  The canned tomatoes that went in were from one agri-business or another, slightly better for being organic.

A small head of green cabbage, stored in our refrigerator from our winter CSA, became a stir-fry with some carrots and tofu.  (Cabbages  seem to store only about 2 1/2 months, not the 5 or 6 months it would have had to last from summer CSA or farmers market)

A bag of greens whose label had fallen off went into the skillet with cannelini, garlic, oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and sage, in what has become my husband’s signature dish for serving next to or over pasta.  In a fun little challenge, we tried to identify the greens.  We’ll never know if we’re right, but our conclusion was collard greens.  When we froze them, we expected to use them in my usual way, the recipe given in week 30.

Sweet potatoes from our winter CSA with grocery store parsley left over from Passover became a batch of sweet potato salad in honey-mustard dressing, using the recipe in Moosewood Cooks at Home (photo in weeks 40-41).

My only really creative cooking recently was a quinoa dish.  We hadn’t eaten quinoa in quite a while.  It’s a seed that only sort of counts as a grain, very light, high in protein.  I made a sort of pilaf.  I toasted the quinoa with garlic and olive oil in the bottom of my saucepan briefly before adding water, dried basil and oregano, and chopped dried tomatoes (from Turkey, but bought at Rivermede Farm in week 31).  After about 2/3 of the cooking time, I stirred in cut green beans from our freezer and some salt.  I should have added pepper, too.  It came out the wonderful trifecta of colorful, tasty, and healthy.

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 35: January 20 – 26

January 27, 2009

In our CSA share this week we all got the usual carrots (MA), red potatoes (VT), white potatoes (NC), sweet potatoes (NC), apples (MA), and oranges (FL).  Less usual, we all got parsnips (origin unspecified) and green beans (FL).  It was the other couple’s turn for chard (FL) while we got collard greens (origin unspecified).  We got the green leaf lettuce (FL) while they took the dandelion greens (origin unspecified), because their bunnies love them and we humans aren’t so impressed.  We got the avocado (FL) and celeriac (MA) while they got the cherry tomatoes (FL) and jar of pickles (MA).

From Massachusetts:  only the apples, carrots, and celeriac.  Maybe the parsnips.  It’s a good thing I didn’t sign up to do the Dark Days Challenge.  Next year we’ll have done better storing our own.  I noticed my copy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle lying around, and I opened it up to the January chapter.  In it, she takes stock of how much food her family put by.  Granted, we don’t have kids, but we’ve still been operating on entirely the wrong order of magnitude.  I’m estimating that we need to store 150 to 200 units of vegetables to get us from November through May.  (This is comparable, in seven months, to what we consume in the five months from June through October.)  One unit could be one bunch of kale, or one large eggplant, or a pound of green beans.  Usually one unit gets one freezer bag but sometimes we put two units of the same thing into a bag together.  This year we seem to have frozen only about 25 units of vegetables, not counting tomato and tomatillo sauces, too.  Our storage vegetables (squashes, root vegetables, cabbage) were another 55 units of vegetables going into winter, bringing the total to about 80 units, or halfway there at best.  So… maybe not the wrong order of magnitude, just not nearly enough.

A CSA that draws so much from Florida is not our answer.  It’s fun while it lasts, though.  I can’t remember when we’ve eaten this much raw food mid-winter.  In addition to the oranges, one of the apples was good enough to eat raw.  I think it was a Fuji.  The avocado was, of course, also raw.  We cut it in half, one half for each of us, then put a little lemon juice and salt into the cavity, and eat it with a spoon.  The lettuce has been good raw, too.  Some of it was in sandwiches, some of it was on a plate with dressing.  The celeriac will be good raw, too, especially if I get to it while it’s still fresh.  I might do matchsticks in a dressing of some sort, or I might do bigger sticks (think carrot sticks) served with a dip made from plain yogurt and spices.

The collards we cooked with black beans as usual, with olive oil, garlic, salt, and dried basil, cumin, and cayenne.  I know people do other things with collards, but I like this preparation too much to forgo it when we have just one bunch of greens.

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 32: December 29, 2009- January 4, 2009

January 7, 2009

Happy new year! I didn’t make any resolutions. Not one. I used to for a while when I was younger. I would resolve, for example, to floss my teeth daily. Of course it didn’t happen. Now I know that if I’m ready to make a change I will, and if not I won’t. I also know that changes have their own schedule, and I need to choose a time that feels natural, not a time that feels like January 1.

When I decided to buy all my vegetables farm-direct, the natural time to begin was the beginning of farmers market season. I had been thinking about it for months – I’d had to send in my CSA deposit during the winter, and decided then to go up to a large share. We’ll do a large share again this year. It won’t, by itself, last us through the winter. That gives me an excuse to shop at the farmers markets more!

My goal next year is to have our chest freezer full before it’s time to sign up for a winter CSA, so we can have Massachusetts-farm-direct instead of Florida-farm-direct vegetables through the winter. Our winter CSA is tasty, and a nice variety, but after 27 weeks of eating only local produce, the Florida items we’re getting just feel wrong.

We were away when our share came this week, so I don’t know all of what was in there, only what was set aside for us. We got carrots and potatoes as usual. I think we got apples, but it’s hard to tell because there were so many in our refrigerator anyway. (We put all of the remaining 20 pounds or so of apples in there so they wouldn’t rot while we were in Lake Placid.)  We got a small red cabbage, one green bell pepper, one zucchini, about a pound of green beans, five oranges, and two avocados.  Yes, avocados from our CSA.  They were from Florida, as were the oranges, pepper, zucchini, and green beans.  The potatoes were probably from Vermont.  The cabbage was from Canada.  Only the carrots and apples were from Massachusetts.  It doesn’t quite seem like CSA food to me.  At least the farms are small-scale (unlike factory farms that supply my supermarket with what little organic produce it offers).  Produce from Florida travels about 1,400 miles to reach me, unlike produce from southern California which travels about 3,000 miles, more than twice as far.

We cooked up the green beans with tofu and udon noodles, with a sauce from the Sundays at Moosewood recipe for “Hot Pepper Green Beans.”  It was very, very good, like restaurant food but better.  As usual, I browned tofu triangles dry (no oil)  in a nonstick skilled before adding the other ingredients.  The sauce involves garlic, scallions (we left those out), chilis (we used chili oil), black bean paste (we used jarred black bean “sauce”), rice vinegar, tamari soy sauce, cornstarch, brown sugar, and rice wine (we used more rice vinegar instead).  I shouldn’t say we.  My husband mixed up the sauce while I tended tofu triangles.  We make a good team in the kitchen.  I hope we get something in our new week’s share that works in the same sauce because I want more.  There were, of course, no leftovers.  The tofu was Nasoya, from Ayer, MA (about 30 miles away).  I wonder if their factory is there, or only their American headquarters.

The pepper and zucchini suggested an Italian dish.  My husband sauteed them, along with cannelini beans, in garlic, olive oil, spices, and probably some lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.  We at the vegetables and beans over ziti rigate.  There was leftover pasta, but no leftover vegetables.

The next night, we had to dig into the freezer.  We made couscous with a frozen puck (1 1/2 to 2 cups) of stewed tomatoes and a generous pouring of frozen diced pepper mixed into the cooking water, along with a can of black beans and a lot of taco seasoning.  Of course, we waited until the iceberg of tomatoes had melted before adding the couscous.  We served it over corn tortillas and under shredded cheddar cheese and plain yogurt pretending to be sour cream.  The tortillas are Cinco de Mayo, from Chelsea, MA (5 miles).  The cheese is Cabot, from Cabot, VT (190 miles) .  The yogurt is Stonyfield Farm, from Londonderry, NH (40 miles).  The second night, we cut up one of those Florida CSA avocados as a side dish.  Delicous!  But oh-so-weird.  Not eating avocado with faux-Mexican food.  Having a CSA that brings us avocados.

As you can see from meals in just one week, our cooking traverses the globe, from China (with Japanese noodles) to Italy to Mexico (with Middle Eastern couscous).  We fall into some ruts, though.  And then there’s the problem of ingredients that don’t fit into any of our ruts.  Liken too much pumpkin.  We still have 12 butternut squash and 5 pumpkins hanging out in our kitchen.  Some of them are doing their part to get rid of themselves.  I think one pumpkin and two butternuts are rotting as I write.

Sundays at Moosewood was our one international cookbook.  It’s wide-ranging.  We got a lot of use out of the Finland section when trying to use up root vegetables last year.  The recipes tend to be involved, though.  The idea is Sunday dinner, a weekly special-occasion meal to those who participate in the Sunday dinner tradition.

I was thrilled, then, to be given a copy of Global Vegetarian Cooking which emphasizes simplicity and which has selections from more different countries.  I immediately looked through it for pumpkin recipes, and was pleased to find four.  They come from Guyana, the Fiji Islands, India, and Ecuador.  The recipe from Fiji uses ginger and coconut milk.  The recipe from Guyana uses onion, garlic, and chili pepper.    The Indian recipe uses mustard seeds, chili pepper, turmeric, curry, and coconut.  The Ecuadoran recipe is quite different from the others, as the pumpkin is simply one vegetable among many; pumpkin, corn, peas, and potatoes are seasoned with onion, garlic, tomato, and nutmeg.

Global Vegetarian Cooking is clearly British.  It tries to be American, too, offering Imperial measurements alongside Metric.  Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to translate.  Here’s my list of UK to USA food translations.

The ones I knew:

  • aubergine = eggplant
  • courgette = zucchini
  • vegetable marrow = summer squash
  • swede = small rutabaga
  • maize = corn
  • pulses = legumes (beans)
  • sultanas = golden raisins

The ones I had to look up:

  • haricot beans = Navy beans
  • garden rocket = arugula
  • treacle = syrup that is similar to molasses but lighter in color and flavor; I’ve never seen it in the US

What else should have been in this list?

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 15: September 1 – 7

September 9, 2008

In week 15, our CSA share consisted of two bunches of kale, one bunch of arugula and one bunch of broccoli rabe, six green bell peppers, two pints of tomatillos, one pound of green beans, four pounds of tomatoes, and one bag of mixed baby lettuce.

The broccoli rabe we had with pasta.  We didn’t have parmesan but we did have a hard, sharp provalone so we grated that to use instead.  We didn’t have veggie Italian sausage, so we put in cubes of tempeh.  We had tomatoes, so one of those went in, too.  As always, lots of garlic and olive oil was involved, and maybe some lemon juice, and hot pepper.  It was okay, not as good as the parmesan-and-sausage recipes I described in week 5

With so many bell peppers, I looked through my cookbooks for inspiration.  I found it in the form of “Tunisian Vegetable Stew” in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.  Of course, I modified it greatly to fit our tastes and ingredients.  This came out so well that we made it twice:

  1. In a large skillet, soften 2 or 3 green bell peppers (in bite-size pieces) in olive oil (generous quantity, we didn’t measure) and either garlic (one heaping teaspoon) or onion (could probably use more, the flavor would work better, I just can’t eat onion). 
  2. Add seasonings:  1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoons coriander, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, and some salt. 
  3. Add 1/4 cup currants (raisins can also work), 2 cups (one can) of chickpeas, 1 chopped tomato, and 1/2 pound of green beans (cut to bite-sized).
  4. Cook until the tomatoes break down and the green beans brighten and soften to taste. 
  5. Serve over couscous.

When Saturday was cold and rainy, it was a good day to make soup.  I used one of the fresh bunches of kale to make the lentil-kale soup whose recipe I gave in week 5, and added in four large red potatoes (week 12).  I cubed the potatoes and added them about ten minutes before the kale. Here’s a photo of it:

We got a lot of freezing done this week.  After we had eaten kale soup, there were still 2 quarts of it left, so I froze them to be easy meals later.  The tomatoes kept being underripe until they were overripe, so of the 12 or 13 in the four pounds, 3 were cooked with (broccoli rabe with pasta, Tunisian vegetables) and 2 were eaten raw.  The rest I diced, simmered about 10 minutes, and froze in 2-cup tubs, so they’re perfect subsitutes for 16 oz cans of diced tomatoes.  My husband blanched and froze the bunch of kale that did not go into soup (yet – it probably will in January).  He also sliced, blanched, and froze about 4 cups of carrots, which he estimated to be half the volume of carrots in our crisper drawer.  They’ll be very good in split pea soup this winter, and I’m sure we’ll find other uses for them, too.  Our freezer is starting to fill up, which feels very good!