Someone Else's Farm

August 26, 2010

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.

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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 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.

August 08, 2010

Using Up Greens

Filed under: what we did — Tags: , , , , — M @ 10:39 AM

I think Casey took pictures of the last couple of meals we’ve eaten, but I’ll find those pictures later.

Friday night, for the first time in about a week, it wasn’t so hot and sticky that cooking would have been unpleasant. We took advantage of the situation by, well, cooking! Dinner was a pork tenderloin à la Fine Cooking magazine, cooked on the grill, and some garlic naan from the freezer. We also used up the green beans that the neighbor picked up and didn’t use herself, but instead brought over after we got back from vacation. Casey did an Indian-spiced recipe that came from the BBC. The naan definitely needed to be used up, but the green beans were terrific. The pork tenderloin definitely holds possibilities, but to me, the sweetness and fruitiness needed more spicy kick to balance it. Pork tenderloins come in packages of two, so we have a second one to refine our technique.

Last night, I looked in the fridge and noticed that all three of the cooking greens from this week’s box were wilting pretty badly. I don’t know if I’m not storing them properly, but we’ve consistently had this problem since the start of our share. Of the three kinds of greens, the chard was the most wilted, and thus the most in need of being used. (But I’ll stop complaining about greens, as that’s a subject for another post.) I started by putting on a big pot of water to boil, for the half-pound of rigatoni in the cabinet. As far as the vegetables, I trimmed the ends of the chard, sliced the stems into pieces about half an inch long, and boiled them in salted water till they were nearly tender. They came out of the water, and the leaves went in for a couple of minutes, just until they were done, and then I pulled them out, squeezed them mostly dry, and roughly chopped them. We had three supermarket tomatoes on hand, which I peeled with a carrot peeler, cut around the equator and seeded, and roughly chopped. They went into a saucepan with a smashed and peeled clove of garlic, until they’d softened and the juices were concentrated. I added a bit of chicken broth from the open box in the fridge, and kept on simmering. When the pasta was nearly done, I tossed in the stems. And when the pasta was done, I drained it and put it in the pot, along with the leaves, and tossed it all together over the heat for just another minute. When I dished out the servings, I topped each bowl with a sprinkle of grated feta.

We ate it all. Whether this was because we were both starving or because it was truly delicious, I’m not sure.

The Serious Eats blog has noticed that chard is in season. (Great news for us, since we’ve been inundated with chard since June, when chard was apparently not yet in season.) At the bottom of this post, they give links to six different recipes to use up chard. (They don’t quite phrase it that way.) In the body of the post, they also say, “Avoid limp, blemished leaves and wilted stems.” When we pick up each week’s share late Thursday afternoon, the chard has neither of these. By Friday night, it’s Limp Wilted City. I’m starting to wish I had a nitrogen-fill apparatus for plastic bags at home, so I could wash the greens and seal them up. The greens we’ve bought from the store that come in sealed plastic bags seem to last much longer than the ones we get from the CSA.

August 06, 2010

Week 07 haul

Filed under: pickup — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — M @ 17:38 PM

Greens, greens, greens

We picked up our share yesterday. Here’s what we got, compared to the list:

  • Blueberries: 1 pint
  • Green Basil: 1 smallish bunch; if I wanted to make a decent amount of pesto, I’d need at least 3 or 4 more bunches this size
  • Rainbow Chard: a bunch
  • Chicory Greens: a bunch, with lots of pinholes in the leaves
  • Sweet Corn: 4 ears
  • Cucumbers: 1 normal-looking but shortish cuke
  • Red Kale: a bunch
  • Green Leaf Lettuce: 1 head
  • Bunching Onions: a bunch (duh!) of 5 smallish
  • Zucchini Squash: 2 squashes

It’s finally not too hot to cook, for once. We’re lighting the grill for dinner.

July 15, 2010

Mexican Party!

Filed under: what we did — Tags: , , , , , — M @ 10:44 AM

Casey has four students (R., K., K., and K.) and a high school teacher (E.) doing research with him this summer. We wanted to host all of them for dinner, and Tuesday night was the day that worked for everyone except R. We wanted to plan the menu to use some of our CSA produce, as well as work within everyone’s dietary guidelines (shellfish allergy; no meat or fowl). So we opted to do a bunch of things that would fit into a roughly Mexican meal, and everyone could pick and choose to make a meal suitable to their own taste. Casey checked ahead of time, and everyone was OK with spicy food.

Table with food

More food on the table

I started by turning 8 poblanos into rajas my favorite way: using the blowtorch to remove the skins, putting the seared chiles into a sealed bowl to steam, scraping the skins off with a grapefruit spoon, cutting the chiles open to remove the seeds and stems, and finally cutting the chiles into strips. The rajas went into the two vegetarian taco fillings, and were also on the table as an addition for anything else someone wanted to use them for.

We made another batch of Rick Bayless’s potato and chard taco filling. I used water rather than chicken broth, to keep this filling vegetarian, and this time I put some feta crumbles on the side rather than sprinkling them on top of the whole bowl. We also used up our yellow squash and zucchini by making the Santa Fe-style calabacitas from Mark Miller’s Tacos (recipe available from Google Books), another vegetarian filling. We ran the rice cooker, and reheated a can of vegetarian refried beans. I shredded a brick of sharp cheddar and chiffonaded some of our CSA lettuce, and we had  guacamole, sour cream, our special chipotle crema (in the squeeze bottle), two different jars of salsa, and three hot sauces. We had flour tortillas on hand, since that’s what is generally available and what’s generally served as soft taco shells in this neck of the woods.

For those who wanted to eat fowl or meat, Casey concocted a marinade for chicken breasts out of dried chiles that were soaked and pureed, vinegar, Mexican oregano, and some other spices that I didn’t catch; the chicken breasts were grilled outdoors and then cut into strips. And we made some plain old ground beef taco-seasoning standard filling, just in case anyone was freaked out by the thought of something different.

The hit beverage of the day was a sort of limonada: half a squeezed-out lime half, an ounce of fresh lime juice, two ounces of purchased limeade (Newman’s Own brand uses sugar rather than HFCS), and the rest of the glass filled with sparkling water. Dessert was also a hit: ice cream (vanilla, cookies and cream, or Southern Lemon Pie frozen yogurt), with dulce de leche for those who wanted to gild the lily.

I’d forgotten how much boys eat. We didn’t have as much left over as I thought we might, but there’s enough that we won’t need to cook for the rest of this week, which is good because it’s going to stay hot. It was a great evening, and a delicious dinner. Afterwards, we cleaned up the kitchen, watched the coverage of the Tour de France we’d recorded live that morning, and then pretty much fell into bed.

July 10, 2010

Week 04

Filed under: pickup — Tags: , , , , , , — M @ 10:02 AM

Squashes, greens

Cukes, asparagus, tomato

Thursday night, as usual, we picked up our box. Here’s the comparison of the listing, and what we actually got.

  • Asparagus, 1 lb: yes, and I was surprised to still get asparagus as I would have thought the season was over by now.
  • Broccoli, 1 Bunch Rainbow chard: Yes. Looks better than last week’s broccoli, so it’s probably just as well that we got chard instead of broccoli this week.
  • Green cabbage, 1 Head: A beautiful-looking small one, with nice color.
  • Cucumber, 1: Make that two smaller cukes, of a smooth-skinned variety.
  • Escarole, 1 head Red leaf lettuce: Two small heads. This might be the last lettuce we get for a while, as the hot weather couldn’t have been good for salad greens.
  • Yellow squash, 1.5 lbs: Yes, three squashes.
  • Zucchini, 1.5 lbs: Three. Nothing can stop the zucchini, once it’s started. I’m glad that what we got is a manageable size and not a near relative of a baseball bat.
  • Cherry tomato, 1 pint (or red slicing tomato): One medium-size slicing tomato, more of a purple color than the traditional tomato red.

We didn’t see anything to add at the farmer’s market. I suspect the unusual heat and humidity of the last week has scrambled some farmers’ plans. Yesterday, we got torrential rains, which cleared the air. Today, it’s cool enough that we can actually think about <gasp> cooking indoors, for the first time in quite a while. Maybe we’ll finally use up last week’s kale.

June 28, 2010

Spanakopita

Filed under: what we did — Tags: , , — M @ 13:33 PM

Spanakopita triangles

I present to you Saturday night’s dinner.

These are phyllo triangles, filled with a mixture of feta, chard (all of this week’s bunch), spinach (leftover from a bag we’d purchased before the CSA started and somehow mostly still good), and onion. The method was inspired by a recipe I found on the Food Network Web site, by Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken.And technically, I guess it would be more properly called spanakotyropita, as I used cheese inside as well as spinach. There should probably be another word in there as well, but I don’t have the foggiest idea what the Greek word for “chard” is.

To prep the chard, I cut the big stems out,  diced them, and set them aside, and I separately cut the leaves into very wide (like 2 inches wide) ribbons. To prep the spinach, I picked through the bag to remove all the slimy wilty bits from the good stuff. At the stove, I started by cooking the stems in a bit of olive oil until they were blistery and just a touch browned. After a while I added the chard leaves, and then at the very end the spinach I’d salvaged from the bag. When everything was nicely wilted, I moved it all into a bowl, let it cool down a tad, and squeezed the liquid out with my asbestos hands. I then chopped the whole shebang a bit more. No added salt needed; the feta would add plenty.

While the greens cooked and cooled, I diced an onion. The onion went into the pan (no need to wash it!) with a little more olive oil to soften and start to brown. Once that happened, I added the chopped greens, and kept it on the heat a touch longer, to get rid of as much liquid as I possibly could. And when the filling was cooked, I preheated the oven. No sense in heating the kitchen any sooner than need be! Finally, I put the cooked filling in a bowl, stirred it a little bit until it quit steaming, and mixed in about a third of a pound of crumbled French feta (yes, the same feta I’d gotten to go in the tacos.) I got a disher ready to go in the filling, and poured some olive oil into a dish with a pastry brush.

Finally, time to deal with phyllo. I realize the word phyllo strikes fear into many hearts. (Truth be told, I’d prefer to use homemade strudel dough, but not at 6 PM when the dining room table isn’t cleared off so I have no surface on which to stretch dough.) For me, though, phyllo is much easier than it used to be. Secret number 1 is to make sure the box spends ample time in the fridge, so it’s completely thawed when you’re ready to use it. Secret number 2 is to pick a humid day. And Secret number 3 is don’t let the dough sense your fear. Accordingly, I’d brought my box of dough home from the store on Friday, and put it into the refrigerator straightaway. When I opened it on a rainy Saturday evening, it was ready to go. And I didn’t even bother with waxed paper/damp paper towel coverings: too much work!

I worked with the phyllo straight off the stack. I brushed the rightmost third of the top sheet of dough (I’m left-handed) with the olive oil, and folded the right third over. Then I brushed the top of the folded portion with more oil, and folded the left portion over, to give me a triple-thick, one-third-wide strip of phyllo. I brushed the top of the strip with more oil, used the disher to plop on a scoop of filling, and folded the dough like a flag to make a triangle with the filling inside. The triangle got moved onto a sheet pan with a Silpat, leaving the stack of phyllo dough intact with a brand-new top sheet ready to go. My filling quantity made nine triangles. I’d thought I might have enough that I could freeze some of the triangles to bake later, but the chard cooked down enough that I decided to go ahead and bake them all. Thus, I brushed each triangle with more oil, and slid the pan into the preheated oven to bake for about half an hour, until the triangles were nicely browned on top and the insides were hot. Only one leaked, and just a little!

I had lots of phyllo left over. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it, but I need to figure it out soon. As for the leftover triangles, they’re today’s lunch.

June 26, 2010

Post-Nap Dinner

Filed under: what we did — Tags: , , — M @ 09:18 AM

Yesterday, both of us were tired after a long day. So independently, we each lay down (Casey in front of the TV, me with a book) and napped for a couple of hours. I don’t know about Casey, but a couple of hours later, I woke up with a cat quietly staring at me. It was more than an hour past his usual dinnertime, so he was, in fact, being very patient. Not long after that, Casey came upstairs and we bounced around ideas for dinner, specifically ideas to use the piece of wild salmon filet I’d brought home, what was left from last week’s vegetables, and other leftover odds and ends. It was getting late and I was hungry, but Casey made something more involved than I would have expected or cooked under the circumstances.

Fish; stuffed chard leaf

The sauce for the fish came from a recipe Casey found on the BBC’s Web site. I think he said it was from Olive magazine. It was a bunch of things, including ginger, a whole chile, and tomatoes, whizzed together and then cooked down. It was gutsy, hot and sweet but not totally overwhelming the salmon, definitely a keeper, and I was delighted that we have a bit left over to use on something else. He says it was also easy, which is always good.

The bundle is what happened to the last of last week’s chard (and the leftover rice from the stir-fry lunch). It was kind of a mash-up from two of Jack Bishop’s recipes: one for a chard leaf stuffed with bulghur and the other for chard stems. The biggest of the remaining leaves were blanched and shocked. The other leaves were separated from their stems, and leaves and stems were cooked separately, combined with leftover rice and I don’t know what else, and bundled and rolled inside the big leaves. The cheese is part of a wheel of Gouda we purchased in the Netherlands and aged a little longer, and is now as good a grating cheese as Parmesan. The stuffed chard leaf is another idea worth hanging onto, especially as we have another big bundle of chard to use this week…and more coming next week (along with its buddies Green Kale and Red Kale, it sounds like).

We agreed that the two pieces were both good. But the two together didn’t work quite so well. Next time we’ll serve them in separate meals.

June 24, 2010

Week 02

Filed under: pickup — Tags: , , , , , , , , — M @ 17:26 PM

Rhubarb, kale, tatsoi, scapes, squash

Scapes, chard, other greens

Here’s the list from the newsletter, compared to what we actually got in the box:

  • Asparagus: nope. Stands at the farmer’s market still had it, but considering that the day lilies along the sides of many of the roads around here are blooming, spring’s over, summer’s here, and the asparagus season must be nearing its end.
  • Bok choy: one good-sized head.
  • Broccoli: no. Considering that the two heads we got last week were on the pitiful side, I’m not sure this is a bad thing.
  • Rainbow chard: a bunch.
  • Garlic scapes: a bunch.
  • Lacinato kale: I think this is the other bundle of greens we got, the bundle that isn’t chard.
  • Green kale: not this week.
  • Green royal oak leaf lettuce: We got two bunches of teeny-tiny heads of greens with elongated spiny leaves, but to me they look like dandelion greens or possibly arugula, not lettuce. Until I’m told otherwise, I’m going to assume dandelion greens, and tag them as such.
  • Green romaine lettuce: See green royal oak leaf lettuce, above.
  • Tatsoi: Must be the other head of greens, the head that isn’t bok choy.

Not on the list from this week but included in our box: rhubarb (a small bundle) and two medium-sized yellow squashes. No strawberries, although a few vendors at the market still had them as well.

To supplement, from vendors at the market, we got a quart of sour cherries, a quart of sweet cherries (a yellow variety, popularly referred to as either Queen Anne or Rainier depending on where you are), and a quart of blueberries. I was surprised to see the blueberries, first of the year, but then again, if the day lilies are blooming it’s summer, and summer is blueberry season.

We also got dinner at the market: the folks at St. Stephen’s Church (the local Polish Catholic church) were selling kielbasa sandwiches, kapusta (sauerkraut), and galumpki (cabbage leaves with a meat-based stuffing, cooked in a tomato sauce). Kielbasa sandwich, in this context, refers to a link of kielbasa and a slice of rye bread (individually sealed in a plastic ziplock bag) placed on top. If you want kapusta, they’ll give you a scoop in another section of the styrofoam tray. Ditto on the galumpki (which are about the size of my fist, much bigger than I make stuffed cabbage). Casey got his sandwich with kapusta; I prefer mine without but I got a galumpki. (If you speak Polish, could you please let me know whether that’s singular or plural?) We were hungry tonight, and it all vanished in short order.

Casey will figure out something to do with the rhubarb. It’s not one of my favorites.

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