Posts Tagged ‘peach’

Week 14: August 25 – 31

August 30, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Labor Day!

Advertisements

Week 12: August 10 – 17, Vacation

August 18, 2008

We spent last week on a lovely vacation in Lake Placid, in the Adirondacks.  I did my homework ahead of time, and found farmers market listings for New York State.

We brought a large cooler with us that contained, among other things, the corn salad and what was left of the Costa Rican slaw that I made in Week 11, along with chicory, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, red cabbage, green bell pepper, potatoes, and two tiny yellow squash, all left over from the previous week (or even earlier). We ate some of the salads for lunch on the Lake Champlain ferry.

Our first night in Lake Placid, my mother-in-law made the chicory, mushroom, and roasted pepper pasta dish from Greens, Glorious Greens and it was colorful and delicious. (Yes, we brought the cook book with us. If you’re looking for it, look under escarole, not chicory.) While she cooked that, I made a colorful if odd salad of lettuce, radishes, yellow squash, green pepper, the largest cucumber, and some knife-shredded red cabbage leaves. It was a lot of food, even for four adults.

We went to the Keene Farmers Market on Sunday.   The highlight was a local dog-and-owner square dance troupe.    The dog and its owner were a couple, and the dogs had to be very, very good at accepting “stay” commands from each of the owners in the square, while lots of other interesting activity was going on, both human and canine. 

We were at the market with my in-laws, who were with us for the entire weekend.  Between all of us, we bought a dozen ears of corn, two zuchini and two yellow squash large enough to make burger-size slices to grill without falling through the slats, one incredible tomato, one bunch of beautiful rainbow chard, two pints of raspberries, a quart of mixed plums and Saturn peaches, and a dozen free-range eggs.

Everything about a free-range egg is sturdier than in a conventional store-bought egg – the shell is harder, the yolk is brighter and stands taller in the pan, even the whites are better, although I can’t describe how.  It was $3 for the dozen and worth every penny!

We hadn’t intended to buy peaches, because we get those around home (Boston area) often enough. Plums were more interesting, and we couldn’t decide between the two varieties being sold. When we asked for a mixed quart, the farmer looked around for an empty quart container to fill for us. Not finding one, he picked up one that already had peaches in it. Instead of completely emptying it out before putting in plums, he left some peaches explaining that they’re very sought-after, costing half again as much closer to New York City. (He lives much closer to New York City than to Lake Placid, but comes up to the Adirondacks to fish, and pays for gas by selling at the farmers market.) They’re strange looking fruit, because the flesh makes a doughnut around the pit, with dimples on the top and bottom where the pit is shorter than the fruit. They were, in fact, tasty, but we liked the plums better.

We grilled the squash and zucchini, and ate leftovers all week. Leftover corn we cut off the cob and diluted the overly spicy corn salad that I’d made the week before. Leftover wine and mushrooms inspired a yummy chard side dish: we cooked the mushrooms in some olive oil until they started to release juices, then added minced garlic, then red wine. It all cooked together for a bit while the rest of supper heated. When everything else was nearly ready, coarsely chopped chard went in, and was pushed around until it all wilted. The mushrooms were purple from simmering in wine so long, but the colors of the chard stems still showed through.

We visited the Cornell Maple Research Station where we learned about the many ways they’ve found to increase yield and reduce energy needed. We bought a half gallon of dark (grade B) maple syrup while we were there.

We had picked 8 blackberries before going away. When we got home again, we harvested a relatively-whopping 19 blackberries. More had ripened and then gone past during the week, so we left those for the birds.

Week 10: July 27 – August 2 (Part II)

August 4, 2008

We went to the farmers market this weekend and bought an eggplant, a bunch of cilantro, and ten peaches.

We got an eleventh peach free. When I was putting peaches on the farmer’s scale, one of them was soft enough that I must have made a face. I didn’t want to be rude and put it back, but the farmer noticed, and he picked it up and took it off the scale so I didn’t have to. After we’d paid for our ten peaches, he handed us the soft one and told us to put it on top in our bag and eat it quickly. As soon as we got home, I tried to cut it in half for us to share, but it really was far too soft even for that.  Clearly, it was a peach for cooking with rather than eating raw.  It went into Jamaican Jerk black beans.  I started with dried beans, and simmered them until they were edibly soft.  Then I added a lot of Jamaican Jerk spice mix, a generous amount of salt, some sugar, and the peach (cut up small), and kept simmering until most of the water was gone.  If I’d been serving the beans over rice, I would have left the water (or even added more) to make a sauce for the rice.  Why cook the beans before adding seasonings?  It’s more kitchen chemistry, having to do with osmosis.  The beans absorb more water if there’s nothing in the water. 

The cilantro is to make Costa Rican style slaw.  I was lucky enough to go to Costa Rica on a service-and-homestay trip when I was a student, and I remember salads that were mostly cabbage, sometimes topped with sliced beets, seasoned with salt and lemon.  I remember cilantro being used a lot, but I don’t recall in what foods.  It turns out that cilantro goes very well in a slaw of shredded cabbage seasoned with lemon juice, salt, and olive oil.  I would have made some this weekend, but used up my lemon juice making lemonade.  Apparently, I cook a lot of CSA foods with lemon juice.  I was surprised my bottle was so close to empty. 

The eggplant was intended for grilling, along with zucchini and yellow summer squash.  We invited friends over and were all set to have a cookout.  I made more potato salad, mixed up lemonade, even the peachy Jamaican beans seemed like cookout food.  Only the vegetables were going on the grill.  But then they didn’t.  Because it rained and poured.  So we cut the eggplant, zucchini, and squash into cubes about half an inch on a side and then sauteed it in a big, deep skilled with olive oil, garlic, salt, and dried basil and oregano.  The eggplant went in first, because it needed to soften most.   It was delicious.

I finally got around to dealing with the two pounds of green beans from week 9 (almost two weeks ago).   Some had dry brown spots, like leaves of an under-watered plant, and they were getting soft.  Freezing was out, and so was eating them raw.  Instead, I blanched them and then tossed them with balsamic vinaigrette for a cold side dish. 

Aside from more cabbage than I know what to do with, I feel like we’re under control on getting through our veggies.  We’re using or storing things while they’re still good.  I just hope we’re storing enough.