Someone Else's Farm

September 01, 2010

Summertime Eating

Filed under: what we did — Tags: , , , , , , , — M @ 12:27 PM

I wish we’d gotten the eggplant. That, to me, is the food of summer, along with tomatoes.

But instead, we got zucchini. I grated it and turned it into another batch of zucchini cake, this time with the lemon glaze. The glaze turned out to not add much, I thought, so next time I probably won’t bother. It’s certainly well worth making, even if the house is devoid of lemons. Casey thought it was just fine without the glaze, so I’ll be adding this to my zucchini repertoire.

And we got cucumber and tomatoes, which I turned into Asian gazpacho. The recipe is from Ming Tsai’s first book, Blue Ginger, and because Amazon lets you search inside, if you look for “Asian gazpacho” you’ll get to the recipe. I had basil and cilantro and jicama, and stole the mint from the next-door neighbor’s prolific herb garden. (That’s not totally accurate. I stole the mint, and then I phoned and asked permission.) The onion, tomatoes and cucumber came from the CSA. I am currently out of sambal oelek so I used sriracha instead, and for the chile I used a poblano. (I could have used one of those jalapenos that we didn’t get also.) Casey thought it was a little too spicy for his taste. I didn’t care for the mint, which I’ll leave out next time. I think it’s worth keeping in mind, but tweaking.

We also used up last week’s tomatillos. Casey turned them, the other poblanos, some garlic, some raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas), and other things into a pipian-style sauce. We ate it on a grilled pork tenderloin, cut into bite-size pieces which we wrapped in warm flour tortillas. We had a little bit of pork, and some sauce, left over; they’ll go onto a pizza tonight.Pork, green sauce, tortillas

And last night: homemade black bean burgers and salad (CSA lettuce, CSA tomatoes, store red pepper).

The calendar may say September, but it’s definitely still summertime here!

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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 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.

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 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 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 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 16, 2010

Week 05

Filed under: pickup — Tags: , , , , , , — M @ 18:45 PM

Kale, squashes, cabbage

lettuce, cuke, blueberries

Here’s this week’s take, compared to the list.

  • Blueberries: a pint basket
  • Red cabbage: do I hear green cabbage instead?
  • Cucumbers: one, of the normal large variety
  • Fresh garlic: where there were scapes, there are garlic heads. We got three, complete with dirt.
  • Green kale: a bunch. It looks like the dinosaur kale to Casey, but I think it’s just plain old ordinary green kale.
  • Green leaf lettuce: a head
  • Red leaf lettuce: a head
  • Snow peas: not this week
  • Yellow squash: of course, three
  • Zucchini: you have to ask? Just one this time.

I was disappointed not to get the snow peas, and surprised to get as much lettuce as we’ve been getting if it’s all bolted in the hot weather. And I’m grateful the zucchini is not a baseball bat. Too bad we didn’t get any tomatoes this week.

July 15, 2010

Hot. Again. Salad. Again.

Filed under: what we did — Tags: , , , , , — M @ 11:08 AM

Another hot and sticky day. We first thought about using some of the leftover calabacitas taco filling in a frittata, but that would have involved turning on the oven since neither of us is very good at flipping a frittata to cook the second side on the stove. Anything quiche-like would have the same issue. We thought about an outdoor fried rice, but that would have felt like too much work on a day when neither of us was inspired to do much. So instead we had another salad topped with some of the leftover cooked chicken. I added the feta crumbles that didn’t get eaten yesterday to the top of mine, and dressed it with some balsamic syrup. Casey remembered that the blue cheese dressing bottle doesn’t have a squeezy top, so he didn’t have to rescue his salad after the fact.

The salad used up all the rest of our CSA lettuce, as well as one of the two cucumbers. Because this wasn’t a store-bought waxed cucumber, I didn’t feel compelled to remove every last shred of peel. Instead, I just peeled stripes, and then sliced it into wheels, so that each round had a pretty pattern of green and white around the outside, and so that the rounds were easy to eat. I also used up the rest of the red pepper I’d started for Monday’s salad, some of the carrot sticks from Monday cut smaller, and our CSA tomato. (Note to self: while carrot sticks are very convenient to eat with one’s hands, they don’t work well with a fork. Next time you make a salad, start with a brand-new carrot and slice it thinly, either on the mandoline or with the carrot peeler.) We didn’t have an open onion, so I didn’t include any this time.

It didn’t look like much, especially compared to Monday’s salad, so I decided to add some asparagus. (My original thought for the asparagus was quiche, or something along those lines. Er, no. Not this week: see above.) I took about half of this week’s bunch, and steamed it. But I didn’t remember to do this soon enough for the asparagus to cool before we were ready to eat salad. So instead of putting it on our salads, we stood in the kitchen and ate it au naturel, stalk by stalk, as a first course.

We accompanied the salad with some of a loaf of Wegmans Tuscan garlic bread. It wasn’t anything special.

I’ve come to the conclusion that while I like salad, especially on hot days, the lettuce is my least favorite part of a traditional mixed salad. Even when it’s really good lettuce, it just doesn’t float my boat, especially when there are other yummy things in the salad bowl. The lettuce just sits there, not doing much, wilting under the dressing. Thus, last night I ate a little of the lettuce in my salad, but gave most of it to Casey, who appreciates it more than I do. Yet, there are other days when nothing sounds better but a pale, crunchy, cold, moist wedge of iceberg lettuce, to be held in my hands and eaten by plucking one leaf at a time from the outside of the wedge. Today is shaping up to be an iceberg-wedge day, but we have no iceberg. Alas.

One more quick note on asparagus. Last month, I thought I was being creative when I made the asparagus sort-of-carbonara with shells. Not long ago, I was looking through Faith Willinger’s Red, White, and Greens, an Italian vegetable cookbook, and what do I find? A recipe for asparagus carbonara! It was very close to what I did, with the major difference being that I used shells and the recipe calls for fettuccine. It goes to show that (a) there’s nothing new under the sun; (b) I think along the lines of at least one cookbook author; and (c) my choice of pasta shape is apparently not in line with Italian tradition.

Salad, With Chicken

Filed under: what we did — Tags: , , , , — M @ 10:18 AM

It’s been hot this week. Monday, I couldn’t bear the thought of cooking indoors. I took a couple of chicken breasts, gave them a coat of olive oil and Penzey’s Northwoods seasoning, and grilled them. They got cut into bite-sized pieces, which went on top of a salad composed of the CSA lettuce, the last of the CSA pickling cukes from last week, more of those radishes from the very first box (we have only two left to use), sliced on the 1 mm blade of our plastic mandoline, a carrot (also sliced on the mandoline), part of a green pepper and part of a red pepper, the last store-bought tomato, and a few slivers of a sweet onion. It hit the spot for dinner on a day when neither of us felt much like cooking or eating. It looked like a salad with chicken on top, at least till I forgot that our bottle of blue cheese dressing didn’t have a squeezy-top with a flow-restricting hole. Then it looked like a salad with chicken and a white puddle of dressing on top. Luckily, I was able to scoop most of the excess dressing out before my salad drowned, and it wound up not being the disaster it could have been.

I forgot to make croutons out of the last pieces of multigrain bread. But that would have involved turning the toaster oven on.

The one extra thing I did in the kitchen on Monday was to peel all the rest of the carrots in that bag, cut them into sticks, and put them in the fridge to eat. I’ve become less enamored of the ubiquitous baby-cut carrots over the last several months. For one thing, I have a hard time finding a bag in the cooler case of any supermarket that doesn’t contain a pool of water. Hold a bag by the corner, let the water drain into the opposite corner, and it’s not uncommon to wind up with a triangle of water an inch tall or worse. And furthermore, I’ve noticed that they just don’t taste very good, if they taste like anything at all. (I suspect the former might have something to do with the latter.) Crunch: sometimes. Sweet, carroty taste: rare. So instead, I’ll take the time to peel and cut up the full-sized version (Wegmans only sells organic big carrots, which I’m fine with), usually a pound or two at a time, and reap the benefits of taste. For all I know, they’re better nutritionally also; I care more about the taste.

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