Posts Tagged ‘orange’

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 33: January 5 – 12

January 13, 2009

Kale used to be on the (short) list of vegetables I don’t like.  Brussels sprouts are still there.  This is not to be confused with onions, which are on the short list of vegetables that don’t like me.  We kept getting kale in our CSA, and didn’t want to always be giving it away (especially because we only had one friend who wanted it).  Plus, it’s really, really, really good for you.  So we kept trying different things, hoping to find some way that kale was palatable.

After a few tries, I came up with a kale-lentil-lemon soup seasoned with Garam Masala that I like a whole lot, and my husband likes, too. (The recipe is in week 5.)   For a couple of years, any time we got kale, I made the soup.  Sometimes we ate it fresh, sometimes it went into the freezer.  Soup takes up a lot of space in the freezer, so then I learned to blanch and freeze the kale to be made into soup later.

Then a funny thing happened.  We got used to the taste of kale, and started eating it prepared in other ways.  I learned that I like kale with Indian sorts of seasonings, like curry, turmeric, and cumin.  The spiced potatoes and kale I made in week 31 is a good example of that. We’ve reached the point that we’ll use kale in any leafy green recipe, if kale is what we happen to have. Especially if it’s winter and any leafy greens are a treat. (That’s the locavore in me talking.) Our use of kale in the Green Cafe-inspired usually-collards recipe in week 30 was a good example of that. Of course, that recipe still has strong, spicy flavors like cumin and cayenne.  So maybe it’s still all about the seasonings.

This week we got kale again.  (Notice a theme?)  I paired it with lentils and Indian seasoinings.  Some of the soup idea, some of the seasonings idea.  The lentils had to simmer for about 45 minutes before they were ready to be added to chopped kale in a skillet with oil, garlic, salt, and the whole spice rack:  a lot of curry powder and turmeric, about half as much cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and ginger, and a bit of cayenne.  The whole mess went over rice.  It was easy and tasty, so I’d definitely make it again.

Kale was just one of the things we got from our CSA this week.  Due to some sort of a distribution problem, they ran out of large shares before we got to the pick up, so they gave us two small shares instead.  That made sharing with the other couple very easy!  We got what has become a typical share: apples, carrots,  a bag of arugula, and  one onion from Massachusetts; potatoes, sweet potatoes, and the aforementioned kale from North Carolina;  and oranges and a green bell pepper from Florida.

On the night we got the share, when it was freshest, we made an arugula salad with diced apple and cheddar cheese (Cabot, of course).  The apple wasn’t as crunch as I would have liked, but it was crunch enough and the flavors complemented each other beautifully under a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Another apple or two were diced into oatmeal (cut oats, not rolled) and allowed to stew down partway to applesauce.  There was also cinnamon involved, and some cloves and ginger.  We poured maple syrup onto our bowls to sweeten it.

Two of the dozen butternut squash around our kitchen were showing signs of rot, so I figured I’d better make a meal around their salvageable parts.  Turns out it’s easy to cut out the rotten part of a squash and still have good parts that really are good.  Between the two part-rotten squashes, what I got was equivalent to a bit more than one squash.  I cubed it, boiled it until a fork went in easily, then drained the cubes and mixed in butter, lots of sage (dried, because that’s what we have), salt, and pepper.  It made enough to top one pound of penne pasta, and worked out to be four servings.

We dipped into the freezer this week, too.  One supper was a stir-fry of pan-browned tofu, Asian eggplant from the freezer, and organic soba noodles (because we’re lucky enough to have a local Asian grocer who carries such things).  I mixed a sauce from jarred ginger, minced garlic, bottled Hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, and soy sauce.  What makes this meal stand out for me was that the eggplant came out with a good texture.  I’d been very worried that blanching and freezing it would soften it too much.  Apparently I got the blanching time right, because it was still nicely chewy.

The fresh pepper and a half dozen carrots went into a tabbouleh, along with parsley frozen this summer.  The texture on the parsley isn’t very good, of course, but it’s still quite edible.  I also put chickpeas into my tabbouleh to make it a very complete meal.  The discovery that I can put any raw vegetables (finely chopped) into tabbouleh was very liberating.  There are too many other things to do with tomatoes.  My favorite tabbouleh is with cucumbers.  As long as there’s bulghur dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and spices (usually parsley, mint, and garlic), it’s tabbouleh and a good lunch.

In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle author Barbara Kingsolver asks “What do you eat in January?” and answers “everything!”  This week we ate fresh, stored, and frozen vegetables.  I don’t know what to make for dinner tonight because there are too many options.  All through harvest season we eat whatever will spoil soonest.  Now we don’t have anything threatenting to spoil imminently.  What a luxury!

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 31: December 22 – 28

December 29, 2008

Because of the holiday, we got our share this week on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.  Because we were travelling and sharing meals with extended family, we divided the share a little differently.  Usually we try to divide everything right down the middle, so everyone gets a little of everything.  This week, we wanted more of whatever we got. 

There were the usual assortment of potatoes (white and red), carrots, garlic, onions, apples, and oranges, and we divided those evenly (except for the onions which they always get because I can’t eat them).  There was one celeriac, and it was the other couple’s turn for that.  We took collards because we still had the ones from last week, and put together we could make enough beans and greens for a crowd.  The other couple took lettuce and mustard greens.  That left us with kale.  We took the three zucchini because they would survive travel, and the other couple took the two bell peppers because they would be good with their lettuce in salad.  We took the two large tomatoes to cook with, and they got the box of grape tomatoes, again with salad in mind.  There might have been more.  I don’t remember. 

For anyone keeping score (like me) the items from Massachusetts were apples, onions, carrots, maybe red potatoes, lettuce, and celeriac.  Other things came from North Carolina, Vermont, and Florida.

One of the potatoes was starting to turn green, and another seemed to have a rotten spot.  That inspired dinner.  I cut the equivalent of about 6 large potatoes to bite sized pieces, and boiled them until a fork went in easily, as for potato salad.  Then the potatoes (well drained, of course) went into a large skillet with olive oil and two cloves of garlic, pressed (although diced would have worked).  I spiced them with approximately 1 tablespoon of curry powder; 1/2 tablespoon of turmeric; 1 teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, and ginger; a few dashes of cayenne; and about 1 tablespoon of salt.  I knew the spices were mixed in thoroughly when all of the potatoes had a yellowish tinge.  Turmeric does that.  While the potatoes boiled, I had diced the two tomatoes and chopped the kale.  They went into the skillet, too, along with a can of chickpeas, and I stirred everything together as best I could.  I cooked the whole mess until the kale wilted and the tomatoes softened.  That was the meal:  spicy potatoes, kale, tomatoes, and chickpeas.  It was easy and delicious–definitely worth repeating!

Some of the food came with us when we travelled for Christmas.  I made a huge pot of split pea soup with two pounds of split peas, six  carrots, and three turnips that masqueraded as potatoes once they were cooked in the soup.  It was seasoned with three cloves of garlic, the leaves off many sprigs of thyme, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.  We used the rest of the bulb of garlic in a humongous batch of collards and black beans, using the Green Cafe recipe I gave last week.  Relatives seem to like my cooking.  I know they like the fact that I’m doing so much cooking.  They seem to like the food itself, too.

On our way into Lake Placid, we stopped at the Rivermede Farm Market in Keene Valley, NY.    We were lucky enough to catch farmer Rob Hastings behind the counter.  He just won a nationwide award for his work on sustainable farming!  He explained to us that his store has been evolving as interest in eating local has grown, a movement that he was on the vanguard of.  He can now stock only items grown or produced locally, and he knows all of the growers and producers of his merchandise.  We snagged a 5-pound bag of blue potatoes that he grew himself, a jar of rhubarb jam from Mooers, NY (about 75 miles away), and about 5 pounds of Fortune apples grown in Peru, NY (about 40 miles away). 

Fortune apples are a new variety, crossed from Northern Spy and Empire.  As with most new apples in this area, they were developed at the Cornell University apple research station at Geneva, NY, a little under 250 miles away from Lake Placid. 

I have to make a confession.  I bought grocery store vegetables today for what I think is the first time since May.  My husband is politely pointing out that since my mother-in-law paid that I didn’t buy them, she did.  (I love my mother-in-law dearly, just for the record, and I’m not saying that for her benefit, because I don’t think she reads my blog.  I’m saying it because mothers-in-law get a bad rap they don’t deserve.)  I picked out organic romaine lettuce from who-knows-where and a bag of organic white potatoes from Maine.  I thought that maple mashed squash would be good with dinner.  There were piles of squash at the supermarket.  No organic option.  My husband and I started looking for local.  The butternut squash had stickers from about three different growers, all of them in Mexico.   There were carnival squash, but only one had a sticker, and it wasn’t local.  Some of the acorn squash were from Washington, but some of them were from Coxsackie, NY, about 165 miles away.  Of course, we bought those. 

The centerpiece of dinner tonight was tourtiere, a Quebecois meat pie.  We faked a vegetarian version using a family recipe.  It involves something approximating ground meat (perhaps actual ground meat, if you’re of that persuasion), mashed potatoes and bread cubes, and for seasoning a mix of savory (poultry seasoning) and sweet (cinnamon, cloves, allspice).  That part wasn’t local.  But all of the sides were:  roasted blue potatoes; acorn squash baked, scooped, and mashed with butter and local maple syrup; and homemade applesauce from those Fortune apples.  We got to tell everyone at the table where each of those side dishes had come from.  I like to get people thinking a little more about where their food comes from, and appreciating things that come from nearby.

Week 30: December 15 – 21

December 22, 2008

We’ve gotten a lot of snow over the past few days.  Shoveling has been a pain – sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively.  The snow has interfered with school and with holiday celebrations.   I like weather, though.  Especially in the city, it’s a reminder that we are subject to the vagaries of nature.  Before I became a locavore, weather was how I understood the seasons.  Now I have a much deeper understanding and appreciation of how many changes come with every season.

My nearly-all-local meal of the week (in the spirit of the Dark Days challenge) was very much a seasonal meal.  We made latkes tonight for the first night of Hanukkah from potatoes that we dug ourselves, and ate them with homemade applesauce.  If the weather hadn’t been so bad, we would have had local eggs to make the latkes with.  Instead we used my mother’s generic grocery store eggs.  They might be local, I suppose.  We drank local apple cider (the non-alcoholic kind) with our meal, and my brother gave me a pack of Harpoon hard apple cider because he found out that they use local apples, and he knew I would like that!

It was a good week for cooking with kale.  At the beginning of the week, we cooked wide-leaf Dinosaur kale (Massachusetts grown, from our winter CSA in week 29) in a style we learned from Green Cafe in Bethlehem, PA.  They use it for collards and that’s our favorite green to do it with, but it works well for pretty much every kind of strong-flavored leafy green, including the ones nobody writes recipes for, like radish greens.    At Green Cafe, they cook the beans separately, but we like to make a one pot meal.  As we have adapted it, here’s the recipe:

  1. In a large skillet, heat lots of minced or pressed garlic in a generous amount of olive oil.
  2. Add black beans (either dried beans that have been soaked/simmered until soft or canned beans).
  3. While the beans heat through, add dried dried basil, cumin, and a bit of cayenne.  If the beans were dried, add a generous amount of salt, too.
  4. Add chopped greens to the skillet. 
  5. Sprinkle the greens with more basil, cumin, cayenne, and salt.  Drizzle them with more olive oil.
  6. Mix the beans and greens together.  Keep cooking until the greens wilt to the texture you like.
  7. Serve over rice.

Later in the week, we used older curly leaf kale (also Massachusetts grown, from our winter CSA in week 28) to make soup.  Wilted vegetables make good soup.  Particularly wilted vegetables make good pureed soups.

To make lentil-kale soup, I simmer about a cup of lentils (preferably organic French green, from bulk bins at a natural foods store) in about two quarts of water.  When they start to break down, I add a couple of cloves of fresh garlic (pressed or minced) one or two teaspoons of garam masala (an Indian sweet-and-savory spice mix), salt to taste, and about half a cup of lemon juice.  Shortly before serving, I add one bunch of kale, chopped.  The exact quantities vary every time I make the soup.   We ate it with baked circles of sweet potatoes, sort of oven fries in a different shape.  I mixed honey (local) and brown mustard (not) to make a dipping sauce.

Soup is especially easy to adjust seasonings in while cooking.  One of the joys of being vegetarian is that you can taste as you go.  No salmonella to worry about, especially with foods coming from local farms.

It was also a week for cooking pumpkin. One of them we cooked to freeze.  My husband baked it, because that doesn’t require peeling, so it’s relatively minimal labor.  After he scooped out the flesh, I whirred it in a miniprep.  It didn’t actually puree, because it’s a bit too stringy, but it’s all tiny bits and will be good for baking.  We seasoned and baked the seeds, as we always do.  Those were for eating right away.  We’ve baked enough squash seeds this season that we finally know how much salt and how much spice to put on (usually garlic, maybe cumin and a bit of cayenne). 

The other pumpkin had to be eaten right away.  The reason we cooked it was that it had spots of rot.  It looked like a cartoon of Swiss cheese when my husband was done peeling it and cutting out the bad spots.  That one got boiled.  It got very soft, not at all stringy, but quite waterlogged.  I drained it as well as I could, and mashed it with a potato masher.  I learned the hard way that pumpkins should only get sweet seasonings, not savory.  Butternut squash is good with maple syrup (with or without butter and salt); with butter and sage (better with chunks, not mashed); or with cumin, cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt.  Pumpkin is decidedly not.  We usually finish what we make.  We were not able to finish the Tex-Mex spiced pumpkin. 

On a completely different note, our CSA share this week included:  apples, cranberries, onions, acorn squash, carrots, celeriac, thyme, and lettuce from Massachusetts; red potatoes that might be from Massachusetts or might be from Vermont; garlic, kale, and pecans from North Carolina; collard greens that are probably from North Carolina but they didn’t actually tell us; and peppers and oranges from Florida.

Sharing a share means sometimes we get lucky and what we like better they like less, and vice versa.  We split the oranges, cranberries, pecans, carrots, garlic, sweet potatoes, and red potatoes half-and-half.  We each got one pepper.  We split the one head of lettuce half-and-half with a knife.  Both couples ate lettuce-and-pepper salads that night, and it was delicious.  We have so many apples that the other couple took all the ones in good enough shape to eat straight, and I took the few that were good only for making applesauce.  We have so much squash from our summer CSA that we took the tiny acorn squash and the other couple took the large one.  One of them doesn’t like celeriac but both of us do, and there was only the one root, so we scored that.  We still haven’t cooked with any of the thyme we got before, so when we got more thyme, the other couple got it.  They got all the onions, too, because I can’t eat them.  I was excited by collard greens and un-excited by yet more kale, and the other couple felt exactly the opposite, so it was easy to decide who got which greens.  The collard greens were a much bigger bunch than the kale, so that helped to balance out quantities, too.

I feel like we need a winter CSA for January through April rather than December through March.  We still have so many storage vegetables from our summer CSA and from careful shopping at the end of the farmers market season.  When the squash has all been eaten or gone rotten, and the potatoes have all been eaten or turned green and sprung shoots, and the cabbage has been eaten or grown mold, then it will be time for fresh vegetables from elsewhere.  We have a long way to go.

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 28: December 1 – 7

December 6, 2008

This was the first week of our winter CSA.  We’ve done a summer CSA for years with the same farm, so we know pretty much what to expect for that.  The winter CSA is new to us.  What we got was kind of what I was expecting.  Amazingly, there was no squash this week! 

We’re splitting a large share with another couple who did a different summer CSA.  Some of their end-of-season surplus is different from ours, and that helped to determine who got what this week.  For example, they still have lots of sweet potatoes left, but our summer CSA doesn’t grow them at all.  So, we got all of the sweet potatoes in this week’s winter share.  Conversely, we still have lots of carrots, so the other couple got all of the carrots in this week’s share.  I can’t eat onions, so the other couple got all the onions, which I guess is why we got the one large turnip, because both couples still have turnips from our summer CSAs.  We also got the only cabbage.     Other things were split more obviously:  there were two kinds of kale so we got one and they got one.  They got the arugula and we got the mustard greens.  We split the apples and oranges, and also the thyme

Yes, we got oranges because they have some relationship with organic growers in Florida.  Some of them had stickers on them, which felt very odd coming from a CSA.  It’s less farm-direct than I’m accustomed to.  Also odd, the thyme was in a plastic box. 

Some of the produce is from their own farm (the greens), and, aside from the oranges, everything else was from farms in our region.  I wonder if they’d tell us where?  Maybe they’re getting odds and ends from lots of farms that are done for the season, and amassing enough to give some to all CSA members. 

What does one do with thyme?  It’s an herb I almost never cook with.  I’ve certainly never used it fresh.  Even splitting it with another couple, there’s an awful lot of it. 

Of the new CSA items, all we’ve eaten so far was some of the fruit and the mustard greens.  As usual, the mustard greens became curried mustard greens and chickpeas from Joy of Cooking.  We used a two-cup-lump of stewed tomatoes from our freezer.  We also added carrots because we have lots.  They worked well, adding a nice bit of color and a sweet flavor.  The key was to not over-cook them.

I noticed that some moisture was accumulating in the crisper drawer that has all the root vegetables we saved from summer.  That meant it was time to sort through and cull the ones that were soft, damp, or a bit moldy.  They got cleaned up (well trimmed), cut up, and oven roasted.  Before roasting I cut them into bite-sized pieces of varying shapes – wedges of beets and turnips, rounds of carrots and parsnips, and halves of radishes.  I tossed them with oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a blend of herbs de provence from the Herb Lyceum in Groton, MA.  The result was a colorful and tasty accompaniment to Thanksgiving leftovers.