Posts Tagged ‘pumpkin’

Weeks 38-39: February 10 – 24

February 27, 2009

It’s been more of the same.  Nothing exciting to write about,  so I haven’t.  I can only think of two times we’ve used local vegetables (as opposed to winter CSA vegetables, mostly from Florida).  One was a dish of cooked beet cubes, still warm, dressed in plain yogurt and prepared horseradish.  It would have been a lot better if the horseradish weren’t from last Passover and therefore very weak.

The other vegetable use of note was a pumpkin that was very much on its way out.  After peeling it, getting the remaining mold spots off still felt like getting the eyes off potatoes – lots of little spots to get out with the tip of a paring knife.  The bottom inch or two had to be discarded entirely.  I discarded the seeds in that section, too, which was probably overkill.  The rest of the seeds were still just fine to season, bake, and eat.  Yummy!  The  rest of the peeled pumpkin I treated sort of like potatoes for salad:  I cut them into cubes about potato salad sized, and boiled them until they were potato salad tender (not to be confused with tender enough to mash).  Some of them went with chickpeas and Florida kale into an Indian-spiced dish over rice.  The rest of them got Jamaican jerk seasoning, butter, and brown sugar, and became a tasty side dish.   I think I’ve found a way that I would again bother to prepare pumpkin.  :)

How a Locavore hosts a party

January 20, 2009

How does a locavore host a party?  I had the fun of answering that question last weekend.  In the winter, I can’t simply go to the farmers market and buy more food.  What we have is what we have.  Party vegetables – the kind you can eat as finger food with dip – are in short supply in the winter.  We have plenty of carrots, but I was feeling a bit selfish about my one celeriac and one (albeit Florida) pepper.  Given the constraints, I got as close as I could.

I spent a lot of time wandering around my grocery store looking at labels.  Apple cider was easy, and we served it both hot (mulled with spices) and cold.  As usual, it was from Carlson Orchards in Harvard, MA (about 30 miles away).  One of the ways I could identify other local foods was by the KVH kashrut symbol they bear.  In many parts of the country, there are local organizations that certify local factories as kosher. If you’re in another part of the country, you might find a local kosher symbol in this list.

We served pita triangles with hommus to dip, both made by Joseph’s Middle East Bakery, based in Lawrence, MA (25 miles away).  We served a selection of cheddar cheeses from Cabot, VT (190 miles) with organic crackers from Whole Foods.  We shredded some of the cheddar and baked it between corn tortillas from Cinco de Mayo bakery in Chelsea, MA (5 miles) to make large batches of quesadillas, which we cut into quarters and served fresh from the oven with organic salsa from Whole Foods.  Our guests really liked those!  We also put out a few varieties of River Queen nuts processed in Everett, MA (5 miles).

I also bought, but never put out, chocolate candies from NECCO (New England Confectionary Company) now in Revere, MA (10 miles), and Madeleine cookies from Superior Cake Product in Southbridge, MA (60 miles).  That was because we were too busy eating Hood ice cream from Lynnfield, MA (15 miles) with cake baked and brought by a friend.  Another friend brought a delicious strawberry cordial, homemade with strawberries she picked last summer.

Because the party spanned supper time, we offered guests a choice of two soups, both pureed and incidentally both vegan:  a bright squash-pumpkin-apple soup seasoned with curry and other spices and a creamy white cannelini-potato-turnip soup loaded with thyme.  Recipes are below.  Using our bread machine, we made a choice of breads, too:  a whole wheat (well, half whole wheat, half white bread flour) and a garlic and herb white bread.  As always, the whole wheat flour was Whole Foods organic, and the white bread flour was King Arthur, from Norwich, VT (130 miles away).  To make the garlic bread, I added lots of chopped garlic, some garlic powder, and dried herbs like rosemary, oregano, and parsley to the bread machine after the water and before the flour.  I also doubled the amount of oil to 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) up from the usual 2 tablespoons.

The squash soup used the good parts of three butternut squash and one pumpkin that were all showing rotten spots.  Because squash is so dense, it’s very easy to cut away the bad part and be left with good.  I think the three squashes had good parts equivalent to two whole squashes.  The pumpkin was nearly all good.  I seeded, peeled, and chunked them, and tossed them into a stock pot.  Six apples, cored and chunked, also went into the pot.  An onion would have been good in there, but I never trust myself to cook them well enough for me to be able to eat them.  I put in enough water to nearly fill the pot, but in retrospect I should have just covered the vegetables to end up with a thicker soup.  I spiced the soup with curry, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, coriander, and ginger, and of course salt.  Maybe something else I’m forgetting, too.  I pureed the whole thing before serving.

I was particularly pleased with how the cannelini-potato-turnip soup came out.  I started with dried cannelini.  After soaking 1 1/2 cups of them overnight, they had swelled to about 4 cups.  Those went into a saucepan with half a bulb of garlic (4 cloves, each cut up) more than enough water to cover.  After the beans had simmered for more than half an hour before I added 5 small turnips (5 ounces) and 8 small potatoes (16 ounces), all chunked.  In the process, I discovered that worms and rot had destroyed another 5 turnips, which had to go straight out to compost.  Between soup and compost, the last of the turnips we harvested ourselves this fall (at our summer CSA farm) are gone.  But back to the soup, because wormy, rotten vegetables are gross.  The soup was an excuse to use up the rest of the thyme we had gotten from our winter CSA.  It worked.  The only other seasoning I added was salt (one rounded tablespoon) and pepper (about 10 grinds).  When I pureed the soup, it seemed too thin.  Then it sat in the refrigerator overnight.  Even after it was reheated, it wasn’t too thin.  It was thick, creamy, delicious, filling, vegan, and used up both turnips and thyme.  I’ve found a winner!

Belatedly, I know, here are photos we took on the farm on the day in November when we picked those turnips, and brought home those squash as well.

Farm fields, after harvest

Greenhouses

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 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 22: October 21 – 27

October 28, 2008

This was our final CSA week of the 2008 season. It was also the last week for many farmers markets. Luckily, one of the markets near us stays open until Thanksgiving, so we can wean ourselves more gradually off of fresh produce. The produce itself helps with that. Everything, it seems, is giving way to squash and root vegetables.

Our share this final week was all squashes (including pumpkins), 16 of them in total:  four pumpkins, four butternut squash, four buttercup squash, two delicata squash and two sweet dumpling squash. 

This brought our pumpkin total to 10 (or eleven, if you count the one that rotted).  I really had to start using up pumpkin, and a lot of it, so I decided to play around and make up a pumpkin custard.  I halved one of the pumpkins and baked it upside-down in about half an inch of water for at least an hour.  While the pumpkin baked, I oiled and seasoned the seeds (salt, cumin, and cayenne) and baked them, too.  The pumpkin spent the night in the refrigerator.  After baking, the flesh was soft enough that the pumpkin halves lost all structural integrity and collapsed to almost flat.  The next day, it was cool enough to hold easily while I scooped out the flesh and mashed it.  It made 3 cups.  I mixed in 3/4 cup of maple syrup, about half a cup of milk (which might have been too much liquid), 4 beaten eggs, and spiced (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom).  The whole thing went into a 1.5 quart casserole, and in 350-degree oven for close to 2 hours.  Because the casserole was so deep, it took a long time for the middle to heat sufficiently.  It was delicious.  It would have been even better with whipped cream.  And all of the ingredients except spices (pumpkin, eggs, milk, and maple syrup) are local!

We used up the last few greens in our refrigerator creatively, in a dish of pasta with parsley pesto and spinach.  The parsley was from week 19, and had kept remarkably well.  The spinach was from the farmers market.  We chopped it, steamed it, and stirred it into the pasta-with-pesto, along with some balsamic vinegar.  Parsley doesn’t blend as easily as basil, so if I were to make the pesto again, I’d blend the parsley with the oil until it broke down, and then add in the cheese, garlic, and pine nuts.  I wouldn’t buy parsley for the purpose of making pesto, but it is a tasty way to use up a whole bunch at once. 

My husband went to the mid-week farmers market in search of greens, and came home with one bunch of napa cabbage, one bunch of collard greens, one bunch of chard, one head of lettuce, and ten Baldwin apples

Baldwin apple monument
Baldwin apple monument

We first tried Baldwin apples a few years ago, after seeing the Baldwin apple monument in Woburn, MA (less than 15 miles away).  It has become one of our favorites.  It has a relatively dense texture, typical of heirlooms.  Its flavor is strong:  tart, sweet, and very apple-y.  Most of the Baldwin trees in New Englad were killed by ice storms in the 1920s (I have no idea where I learned that, so it might not be true).  Not only are we fans of Baldwin apples, we’re also fans of West County Cider’s  hard Baldwin cider.  West County Cider is made in Colrain, MA (about 100 miles away), in the Berkshires. 

We bought fresh cider at the very last weekend farmers market.  We also bought a 10 lb bag of Northern Spy apples, another heirloom.  They’re less tart than Baldwins, so they come across as more sweet and juicy.  Like Baldwins, they’re dense.  That makes them store well.  Our plan was to store them for weeks until we were ready to make applesauce.  Then we realized that we like them for fresh eating much better than the McIntosh that are filling our refrigerator, so we’ve been eating them instead. 

The Cortland apples aren’t in the fridge, because there isn’t space for all the apples, and cooking apples don’t need to retain texture like eating apples do.  Unfortunately, a couple of them have developed rotten spots.  I cut one out and diced the rest of the apple to fill the cavities of the two delicata squash, which I then baked.  (I seasoned the seeds and baked them, too, just like pumpkins seeds.)  I should have also filled the cavities with cider or broth to moisten and soften the squash as they baked.  The apples did not break down and do that job as I’d anticipated and hoped.  The baked stuffed squash still looked lovely.  The skin of delicata squash is thin and edible, so being able to separate the flesh from the skin (which is easy when it’s soft) wasn’t such an issue.  

The second purple cabbage was still in our crisper drawer, where it had patiently waited since week 10!  At first I had no idea what to do with it.  Then in week 13 we got potatoes and I figured out that purple colcannon was a good thing. So I saved the other cabbage for potatoes that I thought were coming imminently.  We finally got them in week 21.  The outer leaves of cabbage had some mold.  I peeled them off (4 or 5 leaves total) and the cabbage underneath was still in very good shape.  So I made the colcannon again, but using the whole head of cabbage and about two pounds of potatoes.  I also used plain yogurt instead of milk.  The yogurt picked up the purple from the cabbage even more than the milk did, so instead of the mixture being purple and white, it’s pale purple and dark purple.  Hooray for natural fun colors!   Hooray, too, for another recipe that uses all local ingredients (except the spices)!

 

Week 21: October 14 – 20

October 23, 2008

It was a busy week, food and otherwise.  Our CSA is winding down for the year, and our haul for the week was decidedly autumnal.  We got one bunch of leeks, four sugar pumpkins, six pounds of potatoes,  and 36 McIntosh apples (about 12 pounds).  Given that the leeks were the only green item, I was very glad that we had bought greens at the weekend farmers market.

The four pumpkins would have brought our tally to 7, but the one from week 20 rotted and had to get composted.  What does one do with so much pumpkin?  These average 3 cups of mashed flesh, which is 3 times as much, in any one pumpkin, as a typical pumpkin-anything recipe calls for.  Even a pumpkin pie uses only 2 cups, and blends it with all sorts of bad-for-you stuff like condensed (or is it evaporated?) milk and eggs and sugar.

We increased our daily apple intake from one to two.  We’re drying apples (6 in a typical dehydrator batch).  We made an apple crisp with 6 Cortland apples.   Apples are pushing other foods aside in our refrigerator.  We’ve made the occasional snack or dessert of apple slices fried in local butter.  Yum!  We really need to make applesauce with them–10 pounds of apples fit in our stock pot–but we haven’t yet figured out where we’d put a chest freezer, so we haven’t bought one yet.  Our freezer is pleasantly full of vegetables from the summer, but, well, it’s full

We started to take things out of the freezer.  We used a 2-cup block of frozen tomatoes (stewed in their own juice) to make curried chickpeas and collard greens, more or less following the Joy of Cooking recipe.  We had bought the collard greens at the weekend farmers market.

My husband went, as usual, to the mid-week farmers market, to get what our CSA didn’t provide.   He brought home 10 pears because they are fruit that is not apples.   He brought home a bunch of bok choy, a bunch of spinach, and a bunch of broccoli, because they were green. 

The bok choy and half of the broccoli went into a stir-fry with some of the mushrooms from last week, and the Jamaica Plain tofu.  (For any non-locals reading this, Jamaica Plain is a neighborhood of Boston.)  Chicken-of-the-woods mushrooms tend to be tough, so my husband cut them up and then simmered them while the rice boiled.  By the time he added them to the stir-fry they were quite tender and delicious.  We had expected to be able to save the mushroom broth for other cooking, but there was some sort of insect on the mushroom that we didn’t find before cooking, and insect broth just isn’t appealing to us.

We shared the joy of eating local at a couple of potlucks.  One of them we were guests at, and brought potato salad with dill and scallions.  It was a good way to use up scallions.  The potatoes and dill were from the weekend farmers market, bought in anticipation of the potluck.  The scallions were from our CSA in week 18.  A lot of ends and outer layers had to be discarded, but there was plenty left for the salad. 

The other potluck was one we hosted.  We invited guests to participate in the Eat Local Challenge by including at least one local ingredient in whatever they brought.  Some of them had fun with it:  one couple brought a squash soup made with butternut squash, apples, and onions from the Davis Square farmers market.  Another couple brought a salad of lettuce, spinach, and cherry tomatoes from the Copley Square farmers market, with basil from their own garden. 

As hosts, we wanted to make sure there was enough food.  We made an enchilada casserole and an apple crisp (using 6 Cortland apples, as mentioned above), and provided local apple cider and local wine.  The wine we found was a chardonnay from Westport Rivers winery in Westport, MA, about 60 miles away.  The enchilada casserole had a base layer of gorditas (thick tortillas) from the Cinco de Mayo tortilla factory in Chelsea, MA.  That was covered with a thick layer of mashed black beans mixed with spices and shredded Vermont cheddar cheese.  (The black beans were from dried, and we reserved some of the simmering liquid to mash them.)  That was covered with another layer of gordita tortillas.  Then a generous sprinkling of more cheddar cheese, and the whole thing was covered with a batch of tomatillo salsa.  The salsa was made with CSA tomatillos and cilantro, and scotch bonnet peppers we’d frozen from the farmers market last summer.  It’s very tasty and very easy to serve to a crowd, or to dish out servings at home over a few days.  We’ll definitely make it again!

I’ll leave you with this:  Hot milk sweetened and flavored with maple syrup is a real local treat.  Who needs hot chocolate, anyway?  (Well, me, but not this month.)

Week 20: October 7 – 13 (Part II)

October 9, 2008

Our CSA share this week was heavy on the apples:  16 McIntosh and 16 Cortland, making a total of 10 pounds, give or take.   Last week’s were McIntosh, also, and were very nice for eating raw.  The Cortland apples are much softer and will make a nice sauce.  What’s left of last weeks McIntoshes had to come out of the fridge to make space for new vegetables, and they’ll probably go into the dehydrator.  Some of them will go into a curried butternut squash and pumpkin soup, which will mostly go into the freezer.  The only problem is that we’re quickly running out of freezer space.

The vegetables we got this week were two bunches of parsnips, two bunches of turnips with their greens, two bulbs of fennel, two pints of tomatillos, two butternut squash, and one sugar pumpkin.

The turnip greens were too big to fit easily into our fridge, mostly becasue the stalks had gotten so long, so we cooked them up with the shell beans from the farmers market.  As usual, we chopped up the stems and used them, too.  They have a nice texture with some crunch, as long as they’re not overcooked.  The turnip greens were bitter like broccoli rabi, so they needed really strong spicing.  I didn’t want to overpower the flavor of the beans, so I didn’t spice the dish enough.  In retrospect, the beans didn’t have enough flavor to worry about overpowering.  I should probably have done a Southern cider vinegar, honey, hot sauce, and spices combination for the seasoning.

Aside from the greens and tomatillos, everything we got this week will store well.  It’s nice not to be under pressure to use things up.  I’m also wondering if we could make an effective root cellar.  I think it would have to be a sand-filled box in a cool corner of our basement, but that’s probably still too moist.  We now have carrots, beets, turnips, and parsnips in one of our crisper drawers.  We used up the potatoes we had, but I’m sure we’ll get more.  Last year we had celeriac, but this year the crop failed. 

In case you were wondering, the potato salad got its usual rave reviews at the potluck.  We ended up using all 4 pounds of potatoes because there was a lot of dill, and because when I tried to scale the dressing up for 3 pounds of potatoes, it was far too much.  I think different varieties of potatoes absorb dressing differently.

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?