Posts Tagged ‘mizuna’

First CSA Drop-Off

June 2, 2010

Our first CSA drop-off of the year was yesterday (a week earlier than normal), and it’s a bumper year for greens.  Our farmer tells prospective members to expect 5-7 items a week in a small share and 8-11 items a week in a large share.   We get a large share, and this week we got 16 items!  We’re feeling a bit inundated.

We got a small share for many years before upgrading to a large share 3 years ago.  What made us change was the combination of learning how to freeze vegetables for winter use, and really wanting our local eating to be year-round.  That was when I started this blog, to track how it went and share what we’d learned.  I explained more in my first post.

Over the 7 years we’ve belonged to a CSA, we’ve learned how to prepare various obscure vegetables.  We’ve found some new favorites, and found that favorites change depending on the year (growing conditions?) and the preparations we use.  We’ve learned how to freeze vegetables (detailed in an earlier post), what freezes well (or what cooks well after being frozen), and how to predict how much of our bounty we should freeze (because we won’t get around to eating it fresh).

Which takes me to this week.  There’s no way we can eat 16 bunches of greens in one week, at least not in any way that leaves us happy to repeat the process next week.  And why should we?  We very much enjoy our home-frozen greens when we eat them in January.

This week we got 2 bunches each of red leaf lettuce, bibb lettuce, and pea tendrils – none of which freeze.  I’ve heard good things about romaine lettuce in stir-fries, but not bibb or red leaf.  We’ll eat a lot of salad this week, but we’ll also revert to one of the best tricks for surplus: giving away at least 1 of our 5 heads of lettuce.  Pea tendril leaves can be enjoyed raw in salads, or get cooked into stir-fries or any dish that uses peas, because the flavors are so similar.  To do so, just pull the leaves off their vines.  The flavor is so nice and de-leafing so time-consuming that we usually eat them as finger food, grabbing a stem and munching leaves, flowers, and the edible parts of the stem, until all that’s left are un-chewable parts for compost.

We also got 2 bunches each of bok choy, mizuna, chicory, kale, and spinach.  If we didn’t have so much lettuce, we’d enjoy some of the spinach raw in salads.  Mizuna and chicory can go into raw salads, adding interest with their strong flavors – mizuna is spicy and chicory is bitter – but only in small amounts. 

Bok choy is generally a stir-fry green around here, but sometimes goes raw into cold peanut noodles.  My peanut noodle sauce involves throwing stuff into a blender until I’m happy with the texture and flavor:  peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger paste, and chili oil.  That gets tossed with the noodles while they’re still hot, and sometimes sesame seeds also.  Sometimes I add the vegetables at the same time, so they get coated with sauce, but sometimes I add them later, so they don’t get wilty the hot noodles.  Scallions, carrots, bok choy, napa cabbage, and romaine lettuce are all good peanut noodle vegetables.

Bok choy does not freeze, and mizuna (also a stir-fry green around here) does not freeze well, so I predict a few stir-fries in our future this week.  They probably won’t go into stir-fries together, as they have affinities for different sauces. The bok choy will probably be joined by some of the turnips we still have in our refrigerator from last fall.  Both mizuna and bok choy/turnips will be stir-fried with tofu cooked firm, something I should have learned to do much sooner than I did.  The trick is to not use oil until after the tofu is browned!  Cut the tofu into large bite-sized pieces, and arrange them on the bottom of a large non-stick skillet.  Give them fairly high heat, and flip them over when the first side is browned.  After the second side is browned, add whatever oil, sauces, and seasonings you like, and of course vegetables.

Because we got so much this week, and so many things that just don’t freeze, we then have to freeze whatever we can.  This morning, I froze both bunches of kale and both bunches of chicory.  Having now been through two winters of home-frozen vegetables, I have a much better sense of what’s worth freezing.  Kale cooks almost as well from frozen as it does fresh.  Chicory loses some of its texture – particularly its nice, crunch stems – but retains enough flavor and texture to be worth freezing.  Now or next winter, you can cook it up with oil, garlic, lemon juice, and garbanzo or cannelini beans, to serve over couscous.

I have ambitious plans to turn the spinach into spanikopita filling, sort of a fritata, and freeze that (after baking).  I’ve been good about following my doctor’s recommendation to not eat feta during pregnancy, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy spanikopita all the more after the birth.

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.

Weeks 24-25: November 2 – 15

November 13, 2008

At the end of the CSA season, our farmer likes to invite shareholders out to the farm to do a bit of picking our own produce.  We went the first weekend in November.  It was a beautiful day to be outside.  We pulled turnips, saving the good greens, and leaving the brown or bug-eaten ones to compost in the field.  We cut tatsoi, mustard greens, and kale to freeze, and a bit of mizuna to cook fresh.  We dug potatoes, which was fun, because my husband had never seen the above-ground part of a potato, and it had been a few years since I’d last dug potatoes, so neither of us was quite sure what we were looking for.  Between my memory and our farmer’s directions (telling us where in his fields to look for what) we were successful enough.  There were also lots of squashes already picked for us, and we chose mostly butternut to take home, because I know more ways to cook it.  We also took a few Little Dumpling, because there’s something fun about one squash = one serving.  Unlike last year, when most of our haul was carrots and parsnips, we pulled neither this year.  The carrots were all gone, and the parsnips were in a different field.

We didn’t think turnip greens would freeze well, especially because we like the crunch of the stems, so we planned to eat them fresh while freezing the other greens from our CSA.  We made a turnip, greens, and tofu stir-fry shortly after our visit to the farm.  It was too hard to get the cooking times right, so the turnips ended up too soft (mush, even) before the greens were wilted enough. 

With the rest of the greens, after they’d had another week to wilt in the fridge, I pureed them into soup.  Wilted greens pureed into soup are wonderful.  I chopped, boiled, and then pureed together a few potatoes, a turnip, the remaining turnip greens, in a broth of water (1 to 2 cups per potato), salt, pepper, garlic powder, hot pepper, and smoked paprika.  Choosing the right spices for a vegetable makes such a difference. 

We’ve been eating some squash, too.  Buttercup squash is a lot like acorn squash.  It works, but is boring, baked and served with butter and maple syrup in the cavity.  Been there, ate that, lots more squash left.  At least all those are local foods.  My mother gave us a pineapple (very much not a local food) but we forgot to eat it while it was really fresh.  So we cut up the pineapple and filled buttercup squash cavities with pineapple chunks, plus a bit of water, and sprinkled the whole thing generously with a Jamaican spice mix, then baked the squash.  Jamaican pineapple squash is a delicious combination, well worth repeating. 

Pineapple isn’t the only fruit I’ve been playing with.  I made oatmeal this weekend (steel-cut, not rolled) studded with cranberries and chunks of apple (both local, of course), sweetened with maple syrup (local again), and spiced with cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Delicious!

We finally started eating from our freezer.  With dough from a local pizza place, we made our own pizza.  (We should have planned ahead and made our own dough in our bread machine.  We have yet to do that, but sooner or later we will.)  Everything we put on the pizza was local:  tomato sauce from the summer before last, fresh mozzarella from the farmers market, and vegetables from our freezer.  One one pizza we used large-diced green bell peppers, and on the other cubed eggplant.  Both vegetables had very good flavor and texture after being frozen and then baked.  Hooray!

We’ve supplemented our CSA veggies with apples, napa cabbage, and lettuce from the farmers market.  for later.  Apple report:  the Baldwins are still incredible, the Mutsus are still crisp and juicy, and the Northern Spy apples that have been sitting in a bag on my kitchen floor for weeks are still pleasant to eat (whereas McIntosh would have gone mushy or mealy ages ago). 

Also at the farmers market we got heads of green cabbage, as a storage vegetable.  I was inspired by the red cabbage from this summer that we ate 3 months after receiving it.  (We got it in week 10 and ate it in week 22.) 

Our kitchen is still overflowing with apples, squash, and pumpkin.  I want to make applesauce, curried squash-and-pumpkin soup, cubed squash, mashed squash, pumpkin puree…  But our freezer is full.  So we bought a chest freezer.  We’ve been talking about doing this since last winter, when we decided to go up to the large share.  Instead of eating a small share’s worth of veggies and freezing the rest, we’ve been eating more veggies, leaving us fewer to freeze.  Finally, in the fall, we got inundated with more than we could eat.  That’s a good thing, because we’re planning to keep eating our vegetables this winter. 

We realized that we only need another freezer about as big as the one on our refrigerator.  At first, we thought we’d find a freezer on Craigslist, but those were mostly much bigger.  They’re also older, and much less energy efficient.  We looked at a few stores to get a sense or how big the freezers are, and how the space inside is arranged and accessed.  For each, we wanted to know about price and energy rating.  Nobody had an EnergyStar freezer for sale.  Finally, we got onto the EnergyStar website, and found that for small freezers the standard is much stricter than for large ones.  Instead of being at least 10% more efficient than the industry average, they have to be at least 20% more efficient.  Only one freezer currently has that rating.  And it’s sold only at one store.  And that store is Walmart.  I’ve never set foot in Walmart.  I abhor their labor policies, and the way they intentionally drive their competitors out of business.  At the same time, they’re a real leader when it comes to the environment, both for how they run their stores and what products they demand from their suppliers.  The long and the short of it is that I still haven’t set food in a Walmart store, and don’t ever plan to, but, thanks to mail-order, I’ve now done business with them, to save about 50 kilowatt-hours per year.

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 19: September 30 – October 6

October 1, 2008

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Eat Local Challenge.  What it boils down to is that there’s barely anything I can change that I haven’t changed already.  I can give up orange juice.  I can replace sugar with maple syrup or honey.  I might be able to buy local eggs.  I’m simply not going to be able to buy enough shell beans to replace all the canned and dried beans we use.  And I’m not going to pollute extra, driving around to specialty shops for specific foods.  So I guess I’m back where I started, which is that I may as well add my name to it because it doesn’t take any extra effort.  (For snack this evening, I had bread made from Vermont-processed flour and Massachusetts-processed butter.  I thought about having herbal tea from Groton, MA with honey from Peabody, MA, but I decided it was too warm.)

I’ve been proselytizing, but the quiet way.  I brought a bunch of scallions and a small bag of dried apple rings over to the neighbor whose dehydrator we’re borrowing as a thank-you.  The only problem with the dehydrator is its capacity.  It’s only good for about two pounds of apples at a time, and we’ve been buying apples in 10-lb bags.   In contrast, my stock pot lets me turn all 10 pounds of apples into sauce at once.

Another bit of proselytizing was with relatives.  We shared a meal with family on Monday and I volunteered to cook, so that I could serve them fresh, local, nearly-organic peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes in Tunisian vegetables, with whole wheat couscous that I bought in bulk in a paper bag that later got filled with vegetable trimmings and put in our composter.  To prepare a generous quantity for six people I used 8 green bell peppers (including the two heirloom St. Nick peppers we had sitting around), 4 small eggplants, and 3 tomatoes.  It’s been especially good pepper weather, but we’ve gotten good about freezing them, so I had to buy 2 more bell peppers at the weekend farmers market to have enough.  I also bought 2 sweet potatoes because we never get those from our CSA. 

This week our CSA share was one bunch of  arugula, one bunch of mizuna, one bunch of carrots, one bunch of parsley, one head of cauliflower, five baby eggplants, six aneheim peppers, ten cubanelle peppers, two sugar pumpkins, twenty apples (about six pounds, unspecified variety) and one pound of green tomatoes.

Since it wasn’t October yet, I made a soup in which mizuna was the only local ingredient.  It had Japanese udon noodles, shitake mushrooms (dried), hijiki (a sea vegetable, also dried), and tofu, and was seasoned with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil.  We ate with chopsticks and deep Chinese soup spoons.  It was delicious. 

My husband made and froze another batch of salsa verde, about three cups this time.  It used last week’s two pints of tomatillos along with some of the cilantro from the farmers market and a few of the sixteen anaheim peppers we had accumulated between last week and this. He chopped and froze the rest of the hot peppers.  He also chopped the rest of the cilantro and froze it in an ice cube tray, with some water, so we’ll have herb cubes to use as needed.   We might do the same with the parsley

Last week, one of the anaheim peppers went into a variant of dal makhni, and Indian lentil stew.  I used red lentils, which break down completely and make a smooth, thick broth for the vegetables.  In last week’s stew I used one anaheim pepper, diced small, two green bell peppers, a couple of carrots, and all of the head of cauliflower.  We ate it over brown rice, which was a good combination.  Lentils and rice aren’t local, but at least they’re dried before they’re shipped, and they’re both things I buy in bulk in paper bags.  I have no idea where the lentils are from, but I know my rice is from California.  Just knowing counts for something, doesn’t it?

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 11: August 3 – 9

August 6, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 7: July 6-12 (Part II)

July 11, 2008

The most exciting food this week was the most local:  blueberries from our backyard. 

Eight Delicious Blueberries
Eight Delicious Blueberries

 

Last year, we put in blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry plants.  They were mail-order, and arrived as barely more than twigs. We got 3 of each type of plant, but one of the raspberries died.  Only one of the blueberries matured enough to flower and fruit this year.  We noticed yesterday ( July 10, 2008 ) that the berries were ripe.  We picked and ate our first-ever blueberry harvest:  8 delicious berries. 

The photo shows my husband holding our harvest.

Tonight, for the first time this summer, we grilled.  We have a charcoal grill, and we used a vegetable grilling tray to make it easier not to lose food between the bars of the grill.  The vegetables we grilled were summer squash, beet roots, and beet stems.  The beet greens I cooked in the microwave, so as not to heat up the kitchen.  Everything was delicious. 

To prep it for grilling, I sliced the summer squash, and tossed (briefly marinated) it in olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and jarred dried spices:  basil, oregano, and garlic powder.  If I were using fresh herbs, I’d sprinkle them on after grilling. 

I trimmed the beets, but for the past few years I’ve been too lazy to peel them.  I’ve also stopped peeling my carrots and potatoes, and I only buy them organic.  I prepped the beet roots for grilling by slicing them, somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick, and then lightly oiling and salting the slices.  I also lightly oiled and salted the stems, which I left long (not cut up) to reduce their chances of falling through to the charcoal.  The beet slices need more cooking time than the stems.  The beet greens I microwaved.  Like the roots and stems, I seasoned them with oil and salt, and then also splashed in some red wine vinegar. (I used vinegar because it was out already for use on the summer squash; normally I’d use lemon juice). 

Earlier in the week, I used the microwave-to-not-heat-the-kitchen trick on the mizuna.  Before microwaving, I tossed on some rice vinegar, soy sauce (tamari), sesame oil, and ginger paste (which didn’t mix in as well as when I sautee the mixture). 

It was finally cool enough, by the time we’d finished eating, to blanch and freeze the kale.  (See instructions in week 4.)

Just for recordkeeping, a quick rundown of what’s still in the fridge:  The napa cabage and parsley (both week 6) are demanding attention rather urgently.  The carrots (6 bunches from weeks 6 and 7) and beet roots (3 bunches from weeks 5 and 6) are waiting quite patiently until their services are desired.  The kohlrabi (2 from week 6) I’m not sure of, how long it will stay good.  The spring onions (week 7)would probably make a lovely stock, but onions and I don’t get along, so I need to give them away.  I still don’t know what to do with the fava beans (2 pounds from weeks 6 and 7).

Week 7: July 6-12 (Part I)

July 9, 2008

This week from our CSA:  one bunch each of beets, red Russian kale, spring onions, mizuna, and broccoli; 3 bunches of carrots (2 yellow, 1 orange), 2 kohlrabi, 2 pounds of yellow summer squash, and 1 pound of fava beans

The kale and broccoli are the only things that will freeze well, but we already ate the broccoli (and yes, it was delicious, sauteed up in olive oil with garlic). 

The carrots and beet roots will keep perfectly well for a long time in the refrigerator. 

I’ve never had kohlrabi before, but at least Joy of Cooking has an informative entry.  It looks like it will keep for a short while (longer than a week), as will the summer squash.  I wonder if there’s a good way to cook them together?  Squash is lovely grilled. 

The mizuna and beet greens will only last a few days, so I’m worried about using them up in time.  Normally, we eat at home 6 nights a week, but summer messes with our schedules and we need to make an active effort to eat perishables before they turn.

I still have no idea what to do with the favas.    (See week 6.)