CSA-ccountability, Month #4 – July/August

So, by “tomorrow” I obviously meant “Saturday.” Turns out I wanted to include this past Wednesday’s share in this update, then I got kind o sick, and sort of distracted by re-reading The Hunger Games… But whatever. No more waiting on tenterhook-banana-hangers, here’s the fruit and veg we’ve been eating during the 4th month of our CSA!

Week #15 (July 23rd): Keep in mind this was the second-to-last full week of my internship. A lot of stuff got… put off.

  • 2 cucumbers – Kept saving ’em up… (though one probably went into a salad at some point…)
  • potatoes (some sort of normal white variety) – I think I actually still have these potatoes; those you see in the dish below are from a previous week. It’s nice to have some things in the share that will keep. On my vague mental list of housekeeping adventures is learning how actual cold storage works, so I could keep potatoes all winter instead of just a few weeks.
  • blueberries – glorious blueberry season! I thought about freezing them, but we just have them with breakfast every day that they are around. They go in our cereal, our pancakes, our GYF (granola, yogurt, and fruit… it’s a thing). They are like a ready-made fruit condiment.
  • candy onions – yay for a normal thing that I don’t have to plan out the use of! We use onions a lot in our everyday cooking, so these go fast enough.
  • baby chard – I think this was the bag that went about half bad and I had to pick through it and parboil the remainder. That was a little gross, but it was worth what I rescued.
  • basil – poor basil was not on my radar, and mostly turned black before I realized what had happened. The little bit I could rescue, when I realized what was happening… Gosh, I put it in something, but I have no recollection of what. We ate at least a little of it.
  • butterhead lettuce – uh… guessing salad? The salads all ran together so much that I no longer noticed if I was eating one. It was probably less lame than that.
  • 1 zucchini – The store of zucchini, which was really getting out of hand, became an enormous batch of cold zucchini soup to go with the below. So summery and yummy.
  • 2 kohlrabi – This was fun. Here’s what I did:

We were invited for a long-overdue night out at a friend’s house. (Long-overdue because we hadn’t had fun for a while and we missed our friends… they didn’t like, owe us a gathering or something…) It’s always easier for us to go to their place, because they have slightly older children than ours, and the Nomes will go to sleep in their pack-n-play. So we can actually go and like, have a night out, stay up late playing cards and drinking wine from the farmers’ market. However, this also means that these friends usually end up cooking! So this time, when we invited ourselves over, I insisted on bringing food: Cold zucchini soup, and the above mess of roasted veg. White potatos, kohlrabi, and those tiny baby beets from weeks ago. I am still looking for a dish to make me like beets (my attempt at beet kvass was less than potable); roasted they were… edible. The kohlrabi were slightly weird tasting, but as promised, it was a not-unpalatable sort of cross between a broccoli stem and a turnip.

Week #16 (July 30th): Oh, final week of CPE! With freedom so close I could smell it! Overwhelmed by bittersweet farewells!

  • 4 ears of sweet corn – steamed ’em up that night to have with dinner (which I utterly forget). Was determined to experience my corn as fresh as possible!
  • 2 cucumbers – When a church picnic came up a couple weeks ago, I spent my stash of cucumbers on a very simple cold cucumber salad. (Out of our big red Better Housekeeping cookbook.) A couple of the red onions went in there too, along with not much more than vinegar, salt, a few herbs, and a titch of sugar. It was nice and easy, but I think I like the yogurt variety even better.
  • 4 red onions – these were so funky and long! Two went into the cucumber salad, the rest into fajitas or something.
  • blueberries – breakfast condiment of champions!
  • 2 zucchini – I believe these were the two that went into zucchini bread, Nourishing Traditions style (organic non-irradiated wheat, batter soaked overnight). I undercooked them just slightly so the bread stayed moist. It was delicious, and I ate it for a week with no signs of psoriasis!
  • Celery – this funky baby celery was so pretty, and such a deep green. But I was at a loss at what to do with it. Read below the next week to see the weirdness that became of it.
  • 3 green tomatoes – These were so beautiful, but I didn’t have it in me to make fried green tomatoes this week. So I left them in their paper bag to ripen to a golden yellow with red streaks, then they were cut up to go in tacos this week. They were so full of flavor.
  • These flat beans are called “Roma beans.” I kept forgetting about them, so I brought them to Maryland on the wedding trip, by which time they were starting to mold. My mom used them some night we were out, so I never got to try them, but I’m very glad they got used.
  • kale: I made my third attempt at kale chips, and this one was fairly successful! I always have trouble with the amount of oil involved in kale chips. Recipes I read seem to call for an unreasonably small amount of oil to make them crispy, and when I’ve tried to use more, they just get limp and disgusting. This time I had the idea to wash and dry the whole leaves, then brush them with oil before tearing them into leaf-sized pieces. This seemed to work really well! I was a little too liberal with the seasoned salt, so they were quite spicy, but tasty. (Unfortunately, storing them in the fridge in a tupperware was not such a great idea. Goodbye crispiness. But we managed to still eat them all.)

The sun-kissed yellow-orange of a ripened heirloom tomato.

Week #17 (August 6th): Oh, that precious first week post-CPE! I was getting a little bit of my groove back, but we were also getting ready to spend a week traveling, leaving at early two days after our share arrived. So I had to get clever.

  • 1 bunch of small beets – these hung around, tops going bad, for a couple weeks, before being joined with a later beet bounty. Read on.
  • romaine lettuce – came to MD with us and became a shockingly normal garden salad, for use at a family picnic. Yummy!
  • bag of russet potatoes – are in the growing potato pile, collecting in an old clementine box.
  • leeks – oh, beautiful leeks! I have a deep emotional resonance with leeks, because the first time I had them was magical. We were doing a unit on medieval times (thank you, homeschooling), and together we made a super-traditional stew dinner that we ate by candlelight. The leeks tasted fantastic in the broth, and they won my heart forever. Never mind that almost the only think i’ve made with them since is vichisoisse. Anyway, I couldn’t bear the thought of finding them limp and lifeless after a week in my fridge, so they became a part of my Daring Celery Plan below.
  • 1 lb of tomatillos – they cried out to become delicious salsa! So I complied.
  • 6 jalapeno peppers – I kept these in an abject attempt to stoke my husband’s affection. Read below next week.
  • 5 peaches – I was afraid a week on the counter would be too long, so I put them in the fridge despite them being kind of underripe. They were kind of flavorless but still edible.
  • 2 peppers – the email listed them as “bell peppers,” but their shape was so odd that I didn’t believe them. I thought they might be poblanos, so I added them to the tomatillo salsa, thinking they might replace the one called-for jalapeno. The resulting salsa is beyond mild, so I must have been wrong, but it is nice to have a salsa I can share with the toddler.

So this weird thing happens with celery. You only need one or two stalks for some recipe, but you can only buy it in these enormous chunks, so you’re left with a big thing of celery going bad in the fridge. I’m not one of those people who eats celery for fun, at least not without an untenable amount of resentment. So my celery usually ends up going bad. This happened to me about mid-july, then a week later, my mom makes something involving celery without checking the fridge, so now there are two nearly full packages of celery turning slowly brown. Add our small package of brilliant green CSA celery, and things are getting ridiculous. So I get an idea. Make an enormous gluten-free cream of celery soup!

I did just this. When the leeks arrived, I added them instead of all the other vegetables called for, so at least the leeks would be used. When the soup was all blended and creamed, I measured 16-oz quantities into small freezer bags, and stacked them carefully in the freezer. The idea being that whenever a recipe calls for cream-of-something soup (which from the store almost always has wheat as a thickener), I can pull out a bag of this, and one bag will equal one can. Perfect! Except for the part where all the bags froze together into a giant freezer-space-eating soup-cube, and getting a bag free might involve a chisel. Oh well.

Three adorable cans of extremely mild tomatillo salsa. We’ve already gone through one and a half of them.

During what should have been Week #18, we were out of town, so we exercised our once-a-season option to have Penn’s Corner “hold” our share for a week, then give us a double share the following week. Since I was picking up that following week, and our share-buddies had held theirs too, that meant I had to wrassle four shares worth of vegetables out of a busy store at lunch time, while corralling a sleepy toddler. But we got home safe with our bounty.

Week #19 (August 20th):

  • 2 bags of russet potatoes – I’m still storing them as long as I can, since they do not call on me urgently.
  • 8 ears of sweet corn – I had grand plans to make this into a big batch of corn salsa, mimicking that sweet corn salsa from Trader Joe’s that I love so much. I got as far as steaming the corn, then I got sick. I have the spices mixed, so I’m hoping I can pull it together enough this weekend to finish the job.
  • 2 bags of carrots – I hate carrots. They are the one food I resist at most costs. I know that’s weird, but that’s me. But these carrots are so cute, and bright, and pretty, with their graceful tops still attached, that I really want to make them into something I like. But I’m short on ideas. Help??
  • 2 big, beautiful red onions – nestled on top of the potato pile. I’m sure they won’t have trouble being used!
  • 2 lbs of slicing tomatoes – These are gorgeous and I want to use them, but I am intimidated by the quantity. We don’t eat sandwiches really, so what would I put slices of tomatoes on? Maybe I’ll just eat them as a snack!
  • 10 peaches – are sitting on the counter, ripening. I’m sure we will scarf them up with lunches and in GYF.
  • a “hot pepper medley” – 7 yellow peppers, 7 jalapenos, and 2 questionable-but-cute red peppers. The yellow peppers I would like to jar somehow. I know I just said we don’t eat that many sandwiches, but my imagination seems them in that form you can get them at Subway. I’m really not sure what to do about the red peppers either; from my research they are either an “alma paprika” (which can be either quite hot or only a little hot, and you can’t tell between the varieties) or a pimento (like the thing that gets stuffed in green peppers; super-mild). I’m afraid I’ll have no recourse but to but one up and sample it. To find out what happened to the jalapenos, read on…
  • 1 bag of baby ruby chard, and 1 bag of mature ruby chard – I think this will go into a massive basic “mixed greens” recipe (from the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook), along with the beet greens, which I managed to rescue this time.
  • 2 bunches of beets – I decided to do something weird with these beets: pickle them. Because why not? I haven’t liked anything else I’ve tried with beets.

I combined a couple of recipes, since I liked Nourishing Traditions’ idea of roasting them before pickling them (rather than boiling them), but I wanted to pickle them whole and in vinegar, rather than shredded with whey (I didn’t have any whey, or time/energy to make/acquire some). I got the pickle from here, scaled way down of course, and it smelled gorgeous with those cloves.

According to NT, I roasted the beets at 300 degrees for three hours, then peeled them. It didn’t tell me to, but I couldn’t imagine roasting without a little oil, so I painted the pan with a little EVOO. And this crazy thing happened. After three hours of slow roasting, the beets looked and smelled amazing. At least at the point where they’d met oil, they were caramelized and delectable. If I hadn’t already sanitized my jars, I might have just eaten them. But as it was, I sucked it up and made one adorable pint of pickled beets. We’ll pull them out some winter’s night when we’re feeling germanic.

I confess, I really have no idea where the idea to make jalapeno poppers came from. I don’t like spicy things like that, and I knew it would involve making some weird concessions to make them gluten free. But I found myself googling, reading this recipe through a few times, and building the many steps into my plans.

Like an idiot, I don’t have protective gloves around the house, so I cavalierly sliced and gutted thirteen enormous organic jalapenos by hand. The chemical burns were pretty annoying, but somehow after years of debilitating migraines, a little burning in my hands that doesn’t cloud my thoughts was really not that bothersome. A slightly bigger problem was the bag of filling. See how it’s resting on the cutting board coverd with seeds and spicy pepper-innards? Yeah…

I started with the smallest peppers, ending with the biggest, but it was the biggest I fried up that first night. My first of three was downright mild, but the rest of mine (and all of Jared’s) were blindingly, excruciatingly spicy. My theory? By the time I was filling the biggest peppers, the filling bag had been completely coated in pepper oil, which I was then depositing inside the carefully cleaned peppers, probably with a few seeds to boot. This was confirmed when I later picked up the bag with a bare hand, and got all new pepper burns.

All that to say? The first batch was really rough. But the second batch of smaller peppers (prepped and in the freezer, ready to be fried) is going to be perfection itself.

(Raspberry sauce was the amalgamation of a couple of recipes: 2 T raspberry preserves + 1 t water + splash of lime juice, mixed together and nuked for 30 seconds. The contrast is surprising and yummy.)

In the end, jalapeno poppers were really fun to make. The fact that I could store them ready-made in the freezer was appealing, because I can keep frying them fresh as we want them. The trick, as always, is to actually be careful when dealing with caustic chemicals, even organic ones.

3 thoughts on “CSA-ccountability, Month #4 – July/August

  1. Niki says:

    I’ve made this recipe with carrots- I found it pretty tasty, but it’s carrot intensive: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/07/carottes-rapee/

    I”ve also made jalepeno popper dip and it was super yummy- cream cheese and cheddar on the bottom with chopped jalepenos (and/or chiles) then whatever crumbly topping you want on top.

    I’m not a huge fan of beets either, but I’ve roasted and pureed them with some raspberries and put them into muffins with a little cocoa (kinda natural red velvet) it’s pretty yummy

    Finally, while I love leeks in soup, or even just sautéed/creamed, I think my favorite might be leek fritters with lemon garlic yogurt http://awaytogarden.com/giveaway-the-smitten-kitchen-cookbook-and-deb-perelmans-leek-fritter-recipe/

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    • admin says:

      Thanks for going to the trouble to share those links, Niki! I am definitely interested in the carrot salad. I don’t mind them as much raw.

      Like

  2. […] garden (toward the back mixed with the cleaner-looking juliettes), and some beautiful slicers from week #19 that were threatening to go bad […]

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