Someone Else's Farm

August 30, 2010

Week 10, with a rant

Filed under: pickup — Tags: , , , , , , , , — M @ 13:20 PM

What I picked up on Thursday (in the car, which did get home in time after all):

  • Green beans: a small bagful, about the same amount as the yellow beans from the last couple of weeks.
  • Cucumbers: one.
  • Purple eggplant: nope. Nor any other color of eggplant, either. Too bad, because I like eggplant.
  • Red kale: yes. Sigh. It’s already been washed, wilted, and frozen so we don’t have to think about it for a while. The same thing happened to last week’s kale.
  • Red leaf lettuce: a head.
  • Bunching onions: a lunchbagful. They weren’t very bunched.
  • Antohi and jalapeno peppers: nope. Neither. No peppers whatsoever.
  • Zucchini squash: a dinged-up baseball bat. Maybe it was used to bash up the tomatoes?
  • Heirloom tomatoes: three, none of which were in great shape. All the tomatoes we got looked rather bruised, as though they’d been bounced on the ground, or the container had been shaken. And one of them had a weird whitish top half that was much firmer than the rest of the tomato. By Friday morning, one was starting to turn black in the scar left behind where the stem had been. By Sunday, two of them had areas of rot and were attracting fruit flies, so I tossed them. The remaining one seems to be doing OK for now.
  • And, to make up for the stuff we didn’t get but were supposed to, maybe: some other greens that appear to be arugula-like.

The incident with the tomatoes reminds me of the last time I shopped at a market in Paris, several years ago. When you buy produce in a French market, the vendor will typically ask you when you plan to eat it. And then, the vendor will choose the items for you, based on your answer. If you plan to eat the tomatoes that very day, you’ll get tomatoes that will be extraordinarily juicy and ripe…and that are over the hill after 24 hours. If, however, you don’t think you’ll get to the tomatoes until the next day, you’ll get tomatoes that are a little bit more firm, but will be ready when you’re ready for them. Which gets to my point: it seems like some (nay, most!) of the produce we’ve been getting is all teetering on the edge of almost overripe when it gets to us on Thursday evening. Which is great if we’re going to eat it all that very night, but that never happens. In fact, most of the time, Thursday night we’ve already got other plans for dinner, and those plans don’t necessarily involve anything we pick up that day. The tomatoes we’ve been getting of late are definitely of the “must eat immediately” variety. Any chard wilts by Saturday morning at the latest, no matter how carefully we treat it. (The two consistent exceptions to the “must eat now” seem to be onions and green/yellow beans, which hold well in the refrigerator.)

The problem, of course, is twofold. First, we get lots of produce that needs to be dealt with immediately. And second, if we do in fact deal with all that produce immediately, we don’t have much produce left for later in the week, but we hate to buy more, knowing that within a few days we’ll be flooded again.

What I wish: more of each week’s haul was specifically things that will keep reasonably well, so each week’s share actually lasts through a whole week.

August 28, 2010

Watermelon

Filed under: Uncategorized — M @ 09:18 AM

We cracked open our watermelon last night.

It was sweet and juicy, with a little bit of crunch. But that’s pretty much it. And there lies my main gripe about watermelon, and the reason why I don’t much care for it. It’s sweet and juicy. But that’s it. End of story.

I like sweet, but I need to have my sweet balanced with acid. Apple pie needs a good squirt of lemon juice. Peach cobbler is also tremendously improved by some lemon. I like coconut cookies with a tart lime glaze. And don’t forget about mango slices with a squeeze of lime (and a dusting of chile)! Even my mother-in-law’s sweet pasta salad, which I love, has a dressing of sugar and vinegar boiled together. I’ve been accused of making some rather tart ice creams in the past, largely because I dislike overly sweet things, and my sweetometer is apparently calibrated a little differently from my husband’s. (A couple of summers ago, I made a very tart concord grape sorbet, which I served alongside a peanut butter ice cream that I thought was a bit too sweet and really needed the tartness of the sorbet to be palatable. I loved the combination. He wasn’t as fond, but he’s not a big fan of peanut butter in his ice cream anyway.)

Speaking of frozen things, when I’ve had a watermelon in the past, I’ve been known to chunk it, run it through a food mill to get rid of the seeds (or if there’s a little kid around, get their help in picking the seeds out by hand), add a good dose of lime juice, and spin it into sorbet in my ice cream maker. I’ll sometimes add a splash of rum to keep it from freezing too hard, though I suspect my husband might prefer a splash of tequila. In the freezer, it lasts longer and doesn’t take up a whole shelf.

In this case, we cut it in half and gave one half to the neighbors. I think they appreciate watermelon more than I do, and they were planning on a picnic anyway. We each ate a slice of our half last night, leaning over the sink to make it easy to deal with both the dripping juice and the seeds. It’s supposed to be getting warmer this weekend. Which, if I’m going to eat watermelon at all, is when it’s best.

August 26, 2010

Week 10: List and Suggestions

Filed under: pre-pickup — Tags: — M @ 10:30 AM

This afternoon, I will ride my bike downtown and pick up:

  • Green Beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Purple Eggplant
  • Red Kale
  • Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Bunching Onions
  • Antohi and Jalapeno Peppers
  • Zucchini Squash
  • Heirloom Tomatoes

I am grateful that watermelon is not on the list for this week. Even a small watermelon does not fit well on a bike. And I have no clue what an antohi pepper was. Unfortunately, this week’s newsletter didn’t say anything about them. And I am hoping it is not raining when it is time for me to go downtown.

The newsletter did say that the brassicas are transplanted, so I guess the never-ending march of the kales will continue. The newsletter also lists the kinds of tomatoes they’ve planted: Debarao, Yellow Brandywine, Muskovich, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, Brandywine, Prudens Purple, Rose, Valencia, Striped German, Zefa Fino, Juliet, New Girl and Sun Gold Cherry. It would be nice if they told us some distinguishing characteristics of each, or at least provided a link to a Web page with pictures or descriptions, so we’d know what we’re getting.

For recipe suggestions this week, we got a Spicy Bean Salsa and an Italian Ribollita. (What other kind of ribollita is there, by that name? Just askin’.) The salsa uses canned black-eyed peas and black beans, and gives the option to use canned corn (which is sacrilege to me, this time of year) or fresh cut-off-the-cob. The next item is given as chopped green bell or antohi pepper, so from that, I infer that antohi peppers are green and sweet. I can’t imagine why the recipe calls for a can of diced jalapenos, especially when we’re getting fresh ones this week, unless that pickled flavor is somehow important. This recipe can use either tomatoes or tomatillos, or a combination. I tend to prefer my tomatillos solo, and would probably use just tomatoes in this. This is a no-vampire recipe, as it asks for 6 cloves of garlic, chopped. I’m not quite sure what olive oil, garlic salt, and ground pepper are doing in a salsa like this. And the rest is just standard salsa stuff: cilantro, lime juice, cumin.

The ribollita is a strange suggestion for this week, because it doesn’t use much of what’s going to be in this week’s share and because it’s more of a winter dish, a way to stretch the soup to feed everyone the second night. The recipe calls for 10 (5-inch) zucchini; It’ll be interesting to see just how much zucchini we get this week. In this case, for this recipe, I think a mass measurement would have been more useful. The recipe will also use a bunch of kale and an onion (again, nothing more specific for measurement on either). The other vegetables in the recipe are not in this week’s list: carrot, celery, potatoes, leek, Swiss chard(!), Savoy cabbage, and finally, 3 Tbsp tomato puree, the most specific measurement in the batch. I’m also not a fan of the construction method the recipe prescribes, where bread is layered with cooked soup overnight and then reheated. I’d rather add pieces of bread just before reheating, because I think the texture is better. I think for this, I’ll stick with Marcella Hazan.

Week 09: What We Ate

Filed under: what we did — Tags: , , , , , , , , — M @ 09:56 AM

Or, more properly, “Week 09: What I Ate.” We had only one night together, before Casey took the car, his students, and their poster, and went to the conference I’d just come back from.

One thing we ate this last week:

Fried fish, ratatouille, mash

Fried tilapia, garlic mashed potatoes, and a vegetable stew with yellow beans (actually from last week, I think), zucchini, and red pepper. This actually happened before we picked up last week’s haul, so it was probably two Wednesdays ago.

Something else we ate last week:

That’s a bacon cheeseburger on a bun, topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion. The salad on the side is one of Casey’s family recipes, a sort of refrigerator pickle of cuke and onion in white vinegar with a bit of sugar. We ate burgers during our one night together. They were good.

Something else I ate this week: a Ming Tsai recipe for chicken thigh and yam curry, which I served over basmati rice. The recipe called for a banana, but I don’t like bananas and they give Casey heartburn, so we generally don’t have them around but even if we had, I wouldn’t have used one. I just left it out because I couldn’t think of anything else that would have both sweetened and thickened slightly. I also left out the bay leaves, because I forgot to include them (and I didn’t worry about it because the chicken stock was homemade and I know I included a couple when I made that). I didn’t have any Madras curry powder on hand, nor was I looking for something incendiary, so I used about half Penzey’s balti seasoning and half Penzey’s sweet curry powder. The curry used up one of our onions and a clove of our garlic. I had enough left over for a couple of lunches. If Casey had been around to share it with me, it would have fed both of us nicely. Next time, though, I need to remember to remove the skin from the chicken before braising. It always winds up rubbery and yucky, so I might as well not bother to cook it at all, and instead actually brown the surface of the meat itself.

Something else I ate this week: chard and sausage on pasta. One thing I’ve discovered about chard is that if we pick it up Thursday night, it’s wilted by Saturday, no matter what we do or don’t do to it. It still tastes fine on Monday, but needs to be used in an application where it’s thoroughly cooked and wilted even more.

Something else I ate this week: lamb at a friend’s house, with a quinoa salad enhanced by produce from her garden, and this week’s yellow beans. I wrapped them in a wet paper towel and steamed them like Alton Brown’s asparagus.

And last night: salad without lettuce, but with tomato, basil, cucumber, mozzarella, basil, red and yellow peppers, and chickpeas, with a drizzle of good olive oil and reduced-to-a-syrup balsamic vinegar.

To further gild the lily last night, I tried out a new recipe for zucchini cake. The recipe came from a cookbook I don’t own, but this recipe came to me through David Lebovitz’s blog. I’m always looking for new things to do with zucchini, and this looked promising. I particularly liked that the recipe gives mass measurements, which I find easier and more accurate than volume measurements. I do wish that the mass measurements extended to liquid ingredients, as well. I only felt like grating one zucchini, so I made half a recipe, which I baked in a loaf pan that I lined with parchment. Instead of toasting and chopping nuts and making the food processor dirty, I used some hazelnut meal from my freezer. I used some of the speculoos spice mix I’d imported from Belgium for all the spices. And I didn’t make the glaze, because I didn’t have any lemons, and getting one would have required a longer bike ride than I was up for. I think it probably would be nice with the glaze, but it works just fine without…for after dinner or for breakfast.

The watermelon is still in my fridge. Watermelon’s never been one of my favorites.

Week 09 Haul

Filed under: pickup — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — M @ 09:19 AM

Here’s what Casey picked up a week ago, when I was in Boston:

Watermelon, beans, greens, tomatoes....

  • Watermelon, Sugar Baby, 1 melon: I’m glad the “baby” in the name is accurate, and it fits in the fridge.
  • 0.5 lb Green Beans: What we got were yellow, not green. Half a pound doesn’t look so big.
  • 1 bunch Chard, Rainbow: you didn’t think they’d skimp on greens, didja?
  • 1 lb Cucumbers: This turned out to be one cucumber.
  • 1 Bunch Kale, Green: For the record, this particular batch of kale is not wilting quickly in the refrigerator.
  • 1 Head Lettuce, Red Leaf: Yup.
  • 1 Bunch Onions, Bunching: This week’s onions are larger than previous onions.
  • 0.5 lb Peppers, Green: One green pepper.
  • 0.5 lb Tomatillo: 8 good-size, still in their husks.
  • 1 lb Tomatoes, Mixed Varieties: a pint of orange cherry plus three baseball-sized slicing tomatoes, one with a good-sized crack in it.

I guess a pound of tomatoes weighs more than a pound of cucumbers or a pound of green peppers?

August 18, 2010

Week 09: list

Filed under: pre-pickup — Tags: , — M @ 10:29 AM

Tomorrow’s box is supposed to include:

  • Watermelon, Sugar Baby, 1 melon
  • 0.5 lb Green Beans
  • 1 bunch Chard, Rainbow
  • 1 lb Cucumbers
  • 1 Bunch Kale, Green
  • 1 Head Lettuce, Red Leaf
  • 1 Bunch Onions, Bunching
  • 0.5 lb Peppers, Green
  • 0.5 lb Tomatillo
  • 1 lb Tomatoes, Mixed Varieties

Casey gets to pick this one up by himself, as I’ll be at a conference in Boston. I’m excited to see tomatillos on the list, and hope we get them!

No suggestions this week yet. Maybe everything here is self-explanatory?

August 16, 2010

Yesterday

Filed under: what we did — Tags: , — M @ 10:30 AM

I did not make soup. But I did peel a cucumber in stripes, cut it into slices, dip it into hummus, and eat it all.

August 15, 2010

Almost a pity

Filed under: Uncategorized — M @ 13:44 PM

It’s pouring rain, it’s only about 70 °F, it’s almost feeling like a soup day. And we have no greens with which to make soup this week.

August 14, 2010

Salad

Filed under: what we did — Tags: , , , — M @ 15:14 PM

I made a salad for lunch today. I used the lettuce from this week (I think) and the carrots from a couple of weeks back, along with non-CSA tomatoes and red pepper, and some “fresh” mozzarella. And I turned a roll into croutons, to go on top.

The carrots were amazingly sweet, but then again none of them was any bigger around than my pinkie so I’d hope they were sweet. And I still have some left!

The lettuce was on the bitter side. Although the lists we’ve been getting have said that our shares have various colors of leaf lettuce, this reminded me more of escarole, both in texture and flavor. I suppose it’s possible that the bitterness came from the hot weather we’ve been having?

We were hungry, and I forgot to take a photograph. Oops.

August 13, 2010

Week 08

Filed under: pickup — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — M @ 21:28 PM

…or Greens Relief Week.

This week’s comparison:

  • Blueberries: a pint.
  • Green or yellow beans: yellow, a smallish bag.
  • Rainbow chard: a bunch.
  • Cucumbers: two ordinary.
  • Garlic: a few heads.
  • Dino kale: a bunch
  • Green leaf lettuce: a head
  • Bunching onions: a bunch, of course.
  • Zucchini: Three. They’re getting bigger over the weeks, but nowhere even close to baseball bats. Thank heavens. I might be able to make a zucchini cake this week.
  • Sungold cherry tomatoes: Nope. We bought tomatoes this week at the market, both yellow pears and full-size red ones.

We actually didn’t bring the chard or kale home with us. When we picked up the share this week, we chatted a little bit with the woman who works at the armory, and who brings our box out. She loves greens, and commented that these looked nice. They did look nice. They looked so nice that we asked her, “Want ’em?” So everyone went home happy!

Is the corn over for the season already? No peaches, which are in proliferation at the market?

While I was at a band rehearsal last night, Casey blanched, chopped, and froze last week’s kale and chicory greens. We’ll use them in soup when it’s actually soup weather. Casey also washed the lettuce, as it was particularly obvious that this week’s head grew in the ground. We’re having salad tomorrow, with the lettuce and tomatoes and the basil from last week, along with maybe some onion, and some red and yellow peppers and mozzarella. I’ll probably dress mine with boiled-down cheapo “balsamic” vinegar. And then we won’t have any more leafy green stuff in the refrigerator until next Thursday. We welcome the respite.

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