Posts Tagged ‘sweet potato’

Weeks 48-49: April 22 – May 5

May 9, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

Weeks 40-41: February 25 – March 10

March 10, 2009

Our winter CSA has continued to bring us the lushness of Florida.  And it’s the same thing week after week after week.  I hadn’t realized how much I enjoy the way foods come into season, are abundant for a while, and then go out of season again.  I really, really do.  I’m looking forward to summer.  We will not be joining this same CSA next winter.  Our goal is to buy what we need over the summer when we can get it from local producers, supplementing our summer CSA with  local farmers markets.

It was very exciting to get some bok choy for variety this week!  The green vegetable I was most interested in, though was dino kale, I think because it goes happily into foods that feel seasonal.  I just can’t eat much salad in the winter, so lettuce and grape tomatoes week after week doesn’t work for me at all.  At least tomatoes cook into lots of things.  I’ve heard of cooked lettuce but it’s not my type of adventurous eating.

roots_dishes

We did manage a pair of very local meals last week.  The first, as seen in the photo above, was rather involved.  One of the dishes was colcannon.  Instead of my typical white potatoes and purple cabbage, it used green cabbage and got a bit of color from some red-skinned potatoes as well as the caraway seeds.  (Recipe in week 13.)  The color in the meal came from carrots and parsnips in a mustard-maple syrup glaze from a Vegetarian Times recipe.  (We “fleshed” out the meal, pun intended, with vegetarian bratwurst.)  All of those vegetables could be local.  Because our winter CSA produce has gotten intermingled with our local storage vegetables, I honestly don’t know how much of it was local.  But it could have been, and next winter it will be.

The steaming water from the carrots and parsnips along with the boiling water from the potatoes and cabbage became the broth for a wintry soup.  In went dried beans, seasonings, and a lot of  root vegetables cut to bite-sized:  carrots, celeriac, and rutabaga.  The vegetables could have been local.  I think the celeriac and some of the carrots were local, and the rutabagas and other carrots were not.  Dried beans are a winter storage food, but mine came from the supermarket.  I’d like to find a local source.  On the other hand, if I had a local source then I’d feel compelled to get all of my beans that way and we go through an awful lot of beans.

We finally made applesauce from a 10-pound bag of Northern Spy apples that had been sitting around since fall.  A half dozen of them were completely rotten and had to go straight to compost.  Another half dozen had siginificant bad spots that had to be cut out.  We still ended up with a whole lot of applesauce.

Since our winter CSA seems to know no seasons, I don’t know when the photo below is from.  I found it when I downloaded the colcannon and carrots-parsnips photos.  We’ve made this sweet potato salad a few times this winter.  It’s vegan (well, it would be totally vegan if you replaced the honey in the honey-mustard dressing with some other sweetner) and the recipe is in Moosewood Cooks at Home.  To make a version this colorful, first find a kitchen with orange counters.  Then mix cooked orange sweet potatoes, raw green bell peppers and parsley, and raw red bell peppers, and toss with dressing.

sweetpotatosalad

Weeks 36-37: January 27 – February 9

February 9, 2009

Our winter CSA shares have been more of the same:  a few root vegetables from around here, and lots of stuff from down South, which increasingly means Florida rather than North Carolina.  We’ve done a bit of noteworthy cooking, though, so I think this post will be worth it.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve gotten apples and celeriac from Massachusetts; carrots, beets and parsnips from Quebec;  red and white potatoes from Vermont; sweet potatoes and a rutabaga from North Carolina; and lettuce, chard, parsley, bell pepper, eggplant, green beans,  and cherry tomatoes from Florida.

Some of the sweet potatoes, a pepper, and some of the parsley turned into a sweet potato salad, with a honey-mustard dressing, from Moosewood Cooks at Home.  Not only is it delicious, it’s pretty, with the bright orange sweet potato chunks accented by bright green pepper and parsley.  It’s also vegan, although I like to turn it into an entree salad by adding hard-boiled egg.  Their recipe calls for peeling the potatoes but we don’t, because it’s too much work and wastes a very nutritious part of the vegetable.  We brought it to a potluck and nobody seemed to mind at all that there were skins in it.

Some of the carrots and the rest of the parsley went into a lentil salad.  My husband cooked French green lentils until they were edibly soft but not falling apart – a delicate and important balance.  He grated carrots and chopped parsley, and mixed those in.  The salad was dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, very much like tabbouleh.  I have no idea where the carrots are from that ended up in.  I suspect they’re from our summer CSA because our farmer grows three varieties, including a chunky one good for grating.  The carrots we’ve been getting from our winter CSA are very slender, a shape which would make them good for steaming and elegantly serving them whole, but which is really not at all good for grating.  The lentil salad is good to pack for lunches, although it needs some sort of starch on the side.

Luckily, my husband also baked a cornbread rich with chopped apples and grated cheddar cheese, including some with hot peppers in it.  We keep not managing to make applesauce, but we’ve been cooking more with apples.  I sliced and fried up (in butter) a half dozen apples for serving over waffles.  I have to admit that we poured maple syrup over the waffles, apples and all.

I’ve gotten so accustomed to our produce coming from very nearby.  As a result, it feels now like our CSA food is coming from so far away.  I think I was reacting to that when I talked my husband into cooking a wholly-local breakfast last weekend.  The star of the meal was homefries made from potatoes we dug ourselves in November and diced peppers that I froze in September, both from our summer CSA.  Although he used non-local spices (what locavores sometimes refer to as Marco Polo spices), he used Vermont butter rather than oil from who-knows-where.  He also fried up New Hampshire eggs.  We’re very pan-New England around here.  Meanwhile, I mashed up a previously-baked butternut squash (summer CSA again) with New York maple syrup and more Vermont butter.  To cap it off, I remembered to take a photo.

eggtatersquash

We got a giant sweet potato a couple of weeks ago and I’m finally remembering to share photos of it.  The tiny white potato is one of the ones we dug ourselves.  We were so excited to find anything left underground, after so many other people had been harvesting before us in that same field.

bigtaterlittletater

giantsweetater

Week 35: January 20 – 26

January 27, 2009

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

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

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

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

Week 34: January 13 – 19

January 22, 2009

The longer our winter CSA goes on, the more I’m impressed with the variety and anti-impressed by how much of the food comes from North Carolina and Florida, both of which are outside my foodshed.  I guess it depends on what the alternative is.

This year, we simply didn’t have enough vegetables put by to get us through much of the winter, even if we had eaten (or processed and frozen) all the turnips and squash before any got rotten.  That means the alternative to a winter CSA might have been grocery store produce, either fresh or frozen.  On a recent trip to Whole Foods, which has been making a point of labeling local items in their produce section, the only local vegetables t0 be seen were hydroponic greenhouse tomatoes.  I didn’t buy any.

Next year we’ll be better about buying things at the farmers market to supplement our CSA share.  In retrospect, we neglected to realize that with more vegetables around (going from a small share to a large) we would eat more vegetables.  Plus we were trying to eat for 12 months on 5 months’ deliveries of vegetables, so even getting twice as many vegetables as we were eating wouldn’t have been enough.   (For a peek back at what we were thinking, check out my very first blog post:  Goal: No Supermarket Veggies.)

This week’s haul was the usual red potatoes, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, oranges, and apples, all of which we divided evenly between the two couples.  We also both got green beans and lettuce (red leaf for us, green leaf for them).  We got a green pepper, they got onions.  We got cherry tomatoes, they got avocados.  We got chard, they got some other leafy green but I can’t remember which.

Breaking it down by location, here’s what we got:

  • Massachusetts:  apples, carrots, and onions
  • Vermont: red potatoes
  • North Carolina:  white potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Florida:  lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, pepper, chard, green beans, and oranges

It’s gotten more and more skewed southward with each passing week.  By the end of March, when the CSA ends, I wonder if everything will be from Florida!  That will leave us two months to get through from just our freezer before the farmers markets start up again at the end of May and beginning of June.  Thinking about that now feels a little odd.

The cherry tomatoes joined rounds of zucchini (July, frozen in week 8) and cubes of Italian eggplant (probably August, frozen in week 13, but the label had fallen off) in a sautee to go over pasta.  It was summer in a skillet.

summer_skillet

Freezing zucchini and eggplant had been an experiment. I am pleased to report that the texture of the frozen vegetables was just about perfect, so next summer I’ll confidently freeze more zucchini and eggplant.

On the same theme, we used the second tub of sugar-macerated sliced strawberries (June, frozen in week 5) to make what just might be world’s most delicious ice cream as my special birthday treat (yeah, that was why the party, too).  Unfortutately, we hadn’t left the ice cream maker’s freezer cannister in the freezer long enough so the freezing process didn’t go quite right and the texture wasn’t what it should have been.  But the flavor, oh the flavor!

We used the green beans in Moosewood’s version of Hunan sauce again, with tofu as usual.  That ends up being just two servings.  With my parents coming to dinner, we needed more food than that.   What else could go in?  A second block of tofu, certainly, but what about more vegetables?  We didn’t have any more green beans.  Carrots didn’t seem quite right, nor squash, nor potatoes.  Cabbage, though, would work just fine.  One of the heads we’d gotten at a late farmers market in November had some moldy outer leaves and was a good candidate for getting used up.  After those leaves were removed, I quartered and sliced the cabbage, and it went into the stir-fry with the green beans and tofu.  It worked, mostly.  I cooked the green beans a little too long before adding the cabbage, and something about the liquid from the cabbage or the fullness of the wok, or maybe just my failure to give the sauce a final stir, kept the sauce from thickening the way it was supposed to.  The balance of flavors was good, my parents seemed pleased, and there were leftovers!

Week 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 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.

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.