Posts Tagged ‘zucchini’

Soup and Salad

February 2, 2011

The winter farmer’s market has made it possible to have salad!  One of the farms, and now I’m forgetting its name, is growing salad mix in unheated greenhouses.  The leaves are tiny and delicate, and packed with flavor and nutrients.  It’s a real treat, and it has become a weekly treat, too.  Here it is in a salad with beets stored from our summer CSA and local eggs from a nearby store.  The bread slice is also from the winter farmer’s market.

plate of salad

At $4 for a 5 ounce clamshell, the salad mix is an affordable luxury.  If we hadn’t been eating the seasons for so long, it would be easy to take such a thing for granted.   I do wish there were an alternative to the plastic clamshell, though.  If there’s one guiding principle to my food choices lately, it’s been minimizing packaging.

Today was another snow day, so I made minestrone soup.  I simmered a pound of dried garbanzos, then scooped most of them into a storage container to make other meals.  The remaining beans and all of their cooking water was the beginning of my soup.  I added a large grocery store can of diced tomatoes in juice, and spices (basil, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper).  The fun was throwing in a mix of vegetables from our freezer:  bell peppers, zucchini, corn, and beet greens, along with carrots from the winter farmer’s market.  It was a beautiful rainbow of soup.  I wish I had taken a photo!

Traveling and Coming Home

September 10, 2009

I think I’ve been away more than usual this summer.  I like traveling, and I was away doing things that I enjoyed or at least valued.  The food from a week at a camp and a week at a conference center, however, left me feeling lousy.  Dairy and eggs left this vegetarian craving beans.  Processed starches left me wanting whole grains.  And I acutely missed the abundance of fresh, local, delicious vegetables and fruits that I would have had at home.

At the end of the summer, I had the opposite travel experience.  We visited friends in Seattle and enjoyed plums and blackberries that grow on their property.  Then we went to a farmers market that was about 5 times the size of the larger of my local markets.  The variety of produce, cheeses, baked goods, and meat was overwhelming, in a good way.  The prices of fruits were much lower than what I’m used to paying.  I’ll admit a bit of climate envy.

At home, food this week has been about combinations.  A ratatouille included tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, green pepper, and fresh garlic along with garbanzos, dried oregano, salt, and of course lots of  olive oil.  It would have included fresh basil, too,  if we’d had energy to pick some from out back.

A stir-fry included green beans, broccoli, turnips, turnip greens, radishes, radish greens, and some cilantro.  As has become usual, we firmed up the tofu by heating it without oil in a single layer on a nonstick skillet, flipping it when the first side browned.  To work with the cilantro’s sweetness, the sauce used a generous amount of jarred hoisin sauce along with rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

We brought back a salad we particularly enjoyed last fall:  arugula with cheddar and apples, with a balsamic vinaigrette.  We’ve started to get apples from our CSA, and the rainy summer means this should be a particularly good apple season.  Flashback: last year I posted a catalogue of apples.  So far, we’ve gotten Ginger Gold.

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 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 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.

Week 9: July 20-26

July 25, 2008

We just ate an incredible, gourmet-looking dinner. We had a zucchini-polenta torte (or was it a casserole?) and a salad. The salad was arugula, cucumber, Gorgonzola (blue cheese), and black raspberries, with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  The torte was in 3 layers:  seasoned polenta, sliced zucchini, and cheddar cheese.  For the polenta layer, I simmered together 1 cup of fine cornmeal (sold as polenta), 1 quart of water, about a tablespoon each of cumin and minced garlic, about a teaspoon of salt, and maybe half a teaspoon of chili powder (I wasn’t measuring anything).  I arranged it in a 9×13 pan, and baked it at 350 for maybe 45 minutes.  The arranged circles of two large zucchini made it look very pretty.   The spiced polenta layer made it very tasty.  We accompanied the meal with another local agricultural product:  perry (hard pear cider) from a farm in northeastern Massachusetts. 

This week’s CSA drop-off left us with one bunch each of arugula and tatsoi,  two zucchini, two yellow summer squash, four smallish cucumbers, one head of cabbage, one pound of Kentucky Wonder beans, two pounds of green beans, and two pounds of potatoes.  We were also supposed to get one bunch of spring onions, but I gave those away to someone else at the pick-up. 

Tatsoi is new this year, and looks like dark green arugula, but Greens, Glorious Greens says it’s flat cabbage and good for stir-fries, which is probably what we’ll do with it.  The zucchini and summer squash would be good grilled and in sandwiches (or just plain), but we’ll probably just sautee them and tossed with pasta. 

A couple of salads have made use of last week’s lettuce, this week’s arugula, a couple of cucumbers, and (as mentioned above) all the black raspberries we hadn’t simply eaten already.  Beets would have gone very well, but to get the right texture they have to be boiled and cooled before slicing into salads, so we didn’t put beets in. 

The weather finally broke.  We had a couple of cool days this week.  Finally, I did some blanching and freezing:  the pound of Kentucky Wonder beans and a pound and a half of slender little carrots, yellow and orange mixed.  The beans blanch and shock for about 3 minutes, and the carrots get 5 minutes.  I had intended to do the two pounds of green beans, too, but ran out of time.

What’s still in our fridge?  Some beets and carrots, all four pounds of potatoes that we’ve gotten so far, the bunch of dill I bought to make potato salad with, one kohlrabi, two zucchini, two summer squash, three cucumbers, one head of cabbage, one bunch of tatsoi, and two pounds of green beans.  I wonder what else we can freeze.

Week 8: July 13-20 (Part II)

July 20, 2008

This was a 3-farmers-market week.  In addition to buying apples and zucchini early in the week, I bought dill (intended for potato salad) at the mid-week market and tomatoes and lettuce at the end-of-week market.  The lettuce is just for salads, because it’s so hot and we have so many good things to put on top of lettuce in salad.  The tomatoes were for a family reunion picnic, and were sliced and put on sandwiches. 

The family picnic took care of some of our vegetable glut.  We made cole slaw, using the shredder attachment for our stand mixer.  We used the slicing blade for the cabbage and the shredding blade for the carrots, mostly orange and some yellow for color.  Because of the heat, I didn’t use the normal mayonnaise-laden dressing.  Instead, I made an Asian dressing of rice vinegar, canola oil (sesame oil gives too heavy a flavor), tamari soy sauce, grated ginger (I buy it jarred), and lots of sesame seeds (cheapest at an Indian grocery).

Also for the picnic, we made a big batch of tabbouleh (using 3 cups of bulghur wheat), and put in the entire bunch of parsley, three cucumbers, three orange carrots, and three yellow carrots.  The carrots are on the small side, the kind you buy at the farmers market not the kind you buy at the grocery store. 

We finally did some freezing.  It’s been very hot, so standing over boiling water to blanch vegetables is thoroughly unappealing.  We boiled about two pounds of beetroots.  The larger ones are good for grilling.  The smaller ones are good for freezing.  It works out very nicely.  We boiled the beets for half an hour, but probably should have given them only 25 minutes.  After boiling, many of the skins came off easily, but if they didn’t come off I didn’t worry about it.  Skinning beets involves pushing at the skin, trying to slide it sideways over the inside part.  We sliced a few of the beets for putting on salads (cold).  The rest we cut into wedges and froze. 

We also froze some zucchini and green beansPutting Food By says that only small zucchini freeze well.  Of our six zucchini, I judged that three were small enough to freeze.  We cut them into thick slices, blanched them for three minutes, shocked them for three minutes, and put them in our freezer.  The green beans were also three minutes to blanch and three minutes to shock.  I cut them to lengths somewhere between one and two inches.  Unfortunately, sitting on the top shelf of our refrigerator for nearly a week caused many of the beans to freeze and become weirdly translucent and have to go straight to compost. 

In other food news, we tried kohlrabi finally.  I knife-peeled one of them, and cut it into sticks maybe half an inch on a side.  It’s delightfully crunchy.  It reminds me of the inside of broccoli stems, which isn’t surprising, because kohlrabi is also a stem. 

Finally, the inventory:  The non-roots still to be used are one bunch of dill, one bunch of lettuce, three large zucchini, one cucumber, and one kohlrabi.  The roots still to be used are lots of carrots, some beets (mostly chioggia), and two pounds of potatoes.  The fruits still to be used are most of two pints of black raspberries.

I forgot to mention the raspberries.  We went berry picking today with friends, and brought back two pints of purple raspberries and two pints of black raspberries.  Well, that’s how many there were before we started the car ride home.  There were fewer when we arrived.  The purple raspberries I tried to turn into conserve.  I hope the boiled berry-sugar soup will firm up.  After a night in the refrigerator it will move into the freezer, in one-cup containers, to be moved to the refrigerator as needed during the year.

Week 8: July 13-20 (Part I)

July 15, 2008

Yesterday I found myself near a farmers market.  Even though I knew I’d have a fresh batch of CSA veggies today, I couldn’t resist.  I really did keep myself in check shopping, though.  I bought a giant (3 pounds, by my estimate) zucchini for a dollar, and four July Red apples.  Because I’ll no longer buy grocery store apples, early apples are exciting.  July Red, clearly, is an early variety.  The one I ate so far was very tart, and not as crunchy-crisp as I prefer.  No regrets, though, on the apples.  I was worried that I’d regret the zucchini, that we’d end up with more of it from our CSA.  So, in a sort of defenisve measure, we used it up right away.  We would have grilled it, but it was too much bother and too much charcoal.  We sliced the zucchini up, maybe half an inch thick, and cooked the slices in a single layer (multiple batches) on a skillet until both sides were a bit browned and the insides were soft.  We ate the slices on sub rolls with oil, vinegar, grated parmesan, and fresh basil.  Delicious! 

My fears were validated when we came home from our CSA pick-up tonight with six more zucchini.  At least these are a normal size.  We were only allocated four zucchini, but we got another two in trade for a bunch of spring onions.  We also got one bunch of beets, two bunches of carrots, a head of green cabbage, four cucumbers, two pounds of green beans, and two pounds of potatoes

Both bunches of carrots are orange, but I think a different variety from what we’d gotten so far this year.  The new carrots are short and fat, like gnomes.

I think I’ll make a casserole with the zucchini, with layers of polenta, zucchini, cheddar cheese, and either salsa or crushed tomatoes seasoned with cumin and cayenne.

While picking up our veggies, we asked our farmer what to do with the fava beans.  I don’t recall his answer, because another person there picking up a share said he’d cooked his up in oil, garlic, and lemon juice, which sounded good to us.  A few leaves of the beet greens were starting to go already, so we made sure to use them in our meal, too.  I shelled all our fava beans (weeks 6 and 7) into a skillet, then added garlic and olive oil, and put it over high heat.  When the beans had softened a bit, I added the beet stems and salt.  When the beans were getting wrinkly and starting to pop out of their skins, I added the beet greens and lemon juice.  When the greens were wilted, I tossed the mixture with rotini.  The beet stems turned the rotini pink.  My husband picked through the remaining basil (week 5), and sliced the half of it that was still good into ribbons that went on top of the pasta-favas-greens mixture.  It was tasty and satisfying.  Now I know what to do with fava beans. 

The Napa cabbage (week 6) finally went into peanut noodles.  It was nice to have a cold supper on a couple of hot days.  Now that we have cucumbers, there’s something good (besides carrots) to put with the parsley in tabbouleh. 

With so much food this week, we ought to be preserving some of it, but the only thing that I think would blanch well are the green beans, and they’re so good fresh.