Thursday, August 28, 2008

CSA Meals - Week 13

Believe it or not, I'm finally done with cucumber and tomato salad after this week. Somehow I just hit my limit, and while it was an appropriate side dish for the homemade ceviche we had for dinner on Wednesday night, I am not going to make it again until next summer.

The cucumber and tomato salad still tasted good Thursday when I had it as an afternoon snack, but finishing it was a huge relief. That night we grilled strip steaks from Belmont Butchery, which were fantastic as usual, and decent corn on the cob. I was planning on putting the fresh shitakes I bought at the market in a lasagna, but I realized that mushrooms that impressive looking should be given more of a chance. Tossed in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, the shitakes were mellow and earthy off the grill. They were delicious with grilled, sliced peppers and onions.

Unlike my Thursday snack, I couldn't wait for Friday afternoon to eat the leftover grilled vegetables. They were just as crispy and flavorful the second day.

The small eggplants, zucchini and squash were roasted with olive oil and sliced to constitute one of the layers in my Friday night lasagna. Ricotta, pesto, and a thick turkey sausage tomato sauce were some of the other components, and we have eaten it two or three times since Friday, with more meals remaining.

Surprisingly, the only eggs we've used in the past week were for brunch on Saturday, and there are four left. Breakfast for dinner may be a welcome change of pace from lasagna.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Free Garlic

Since we got mushrooms once in our share, I've been dreaming about how delicious they were. Today when I went to the market I gave in and decided to buy some. I was also planning on buying some garlic, but Adam (our friendly farmer) said he could just give them to me and dumped a bunch of small heads in the bag! We also got:

- eggs

- basil

- sweet peppers

- cherry tomatoes

- slicing tomatoes

- cucumber (guess what I'm making this week)

- potatoes

- zucchini

- yellow squash

- the last of this year's eggplant

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CSA Meals - Week 12

I'm not the type of cook who has every available ingredient in my kitchen at the front of my mind. If I put something away and out of sight, I'll often forget about it for extended periods of time.

Early in the week I pulled some forgotten chimichurri sauce out of the freezer to roll with flank steak. A few spoonfuls of Trader Joe's olive bruschetta mix came out of cabinet hibernation to spice up le
ftover pasta, and a small cube of feta flavored some green beans and tomatoes (pictured). It could be that I'm subconsciously trying to make the same food taste a little different, or maybe I'm getting smarter. Either way, some exciting meals happened this week.

On Tuesday we had leftover grilled flank steak, corn from the Byrd Market, and the steamed green beans I mentioned above with feta, cherry tomatoes, lemon juice, and herbed olive oil. They were also delicious as an afternoon snack on Wednesday.

Lunch that day was pasta with tomato sauce and sauteed spinach, and for dinner Davy and I grilled chicken and thin slices of eggplant. I tossed the eggplant with pesto and olive oil, which made it very appealing compared to other preparations I've tried. Sauteed zucchini and squash, as well as corn on the cob, completed the meal.

On Thursday I was in transit to Pennsylvania, but when I got there I made a quick dish out of a small eggplant, sweet peppers, and tomatoes. They were cooked with garlic, olive oil, white wine, pesto, and fresh basil, and eaten over pasta. I would eat eggplant that way again too.

The watermelon was white on the inside and had less flavor than the past few we've gotten. It was still juicy and crunchy, and tasted great on Friday morning.

After a long weekend of wedding food and quick snacks, I heated up the leftover zucchini and squash with pasta for dinner on Monday. The olive mixture was a wonderful addition to the dish without overwhelming the other flavors. I'm looking forward to eating the other half of the pasta for lunch, and trying some different dishes next week!

Help the earth!

I read somewhere that you can use the water from boiling pasta or potatoes to water your plants. It conserves resources and the plants seem to love it. The hard part is remembering to save it, but I'm getting better at that. I've also used leftover water from making corn on the cob, and that works just as well.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I was just starting to miss leafy greens...

When we got spinach in our CSA share! We also got:

- small pototoes

- eggplants

- yellow squash

- zucchini

- cherry tomatoes

- slicing tomatoes

- green beans

- sweet peppers

- two watermelons

Thursday, August 14, 2008

CSA Meals - Week 11

Even though Davy and I came back to Richmond on Wednesday and didn't start in on our share until Thursday, we still managed to eat everything before our next round of produce.

The watermelon turned out to be juicy and sweet, and it was a great mid-morning snack on the first day back to work. Cucumber and tomato salad found its way into the lineup once again as a snack on Thursday afternoon. For dinner that night, we made a salad with potatoes from a few weeks ago, green beans, and leftover chicken from a delicious meal at Edo's Squid. I got a bag of arugula from Ellwood Thompson's (grown locally) to go with the other ingredients, and it was wonderfully spicy and fresh.

The salad was refreshing the next day for lunch with additional arugula and more of the lemon, parsley and mustard dressing we mixed with it the night before.

My parents came for a quick visit over the weekend, so I used two of our precious farm eggs to make banana and banana chocolate chip bread. Davy and I used two more for breakfast - on a bagel sandwich for him and scrambled with leftover arugula for me.

We were eating in preparation for the crab feast in Mechanicsville, which was just as amazing as last year's event. By the evening, after indulging in Bev's and beers from Commercial Taphouse, everyone collapsed on the couch to watch the Olympics. Luckily my trusty cucumber and tomato salad was around for us to dip pita chips in as a snack.

Sunday's brunch was similar to Saturday's, but my egg was fried and eaten on top of toast with sauteed arugula. For dinner, Davy and I grilled zucchini, squash and sweet peppers, then tossed them in pesto thinned with olive oil. I also attempted to make eggplant fries, which were decent but should have been crispier. Bread and cheese rounded out our meal.

For lunch on Monday we had pasta with fresh tomatoes and pesto, plus the leftover grilled vegetables. This weekend I will be out of town again, so stay tuned to hear how I try to eat and preserve everything in just two days.

I may have missed the watermelon festival...

...but we did get a watermelon the size of a basketball in our produce package this week! We also got some more of the standards, which are still very welcome:

- eggs

- assorted sweet peppers

- yellow and red cherry tomatoes

- large red slicing tomatoes

- zucchini

- cucumbers

- yellow squash

- eggplant

Friday, August 08, 2008

CSA Meals - Week 10

It's hard to believe the first half of the share is done! It's also hard to believe that there are ten more weeks of eggs and vegetables coming my way. There's a lot to look forward to, including the green beans I blanched and froze for cooler weather, and the four tomatoes I skinned and seeded to save for sauce.

On Tuesday a leftover Mary Angela's pizza had cucumber and tomato salad to keep it company. Wednesday was another quick meal for kickball night: zucchini and squash sauteed with garlic, then combined with pasta and a little crumbled feta that melted nicely into the warm pasta and vegetables.

I ate more cucumber and tomato salad on Thursday (I'm still not sick of it), and for dinner we grilled burgers and peppers and onions. My burger was garnished with some of the peppers and onions, salsa, and a poached egg.

Friday, the day before we went out of town, I had the remaining pasta with zucchini for lunch, and the last of the cucumber and tomato salad. Somehow we managed to finish almost everything in three days (besides the beets, which I handed over to Shannon). Now I just have to find a good use for my tomatoes.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Mixing It Up

This week's share was more about quantity than variety, and I'm ok with not getting an eggplant.

- sweet peppers

- slicing and cherry tomatoes (of different colors and sizes)

- green beans, which I really am going to freeze this week

- zucchini

- yellow squash

- three different kinds of cucumbers

- beets!

Friday, August 01, 2008

CSA Meals - Week 9

I have already frozen my green beans from this week's share, but a week ago I was still finishing Week 8's beans. They were delicious for dinner on Tuesday - steamed and tossed with a little balsamic vinegar and herb olive oil. As a main dish, I ate a bowl of homemade lentil soup with a poached egg on top (the picture is below).

Wednesday was a kickball night and we ate bar food at Home Team Grill. I did manage to fit in a cucumber and tomato salad in the afternoon, just to keep my routine going.

The first of three entertaining nights was Thursday, and I made a quick spaghetti carbonara with zucchini. I like Rachael Ray's carbonara recipe, but I wanted to fit some vegetables into the meal. Jamie Oliver has a recipe for carbonara with zucchini, so I used his idea and incorporated summer squash into the process.

Eggplant can be hard to get rid of in my apartment as it's not my or Davy's favorite vegetable, so I decided to make baba ghanoush for an appetizer on Friday night (another night hosting guests). The eggplant we had was tiny, and the recipe called for a large one, but I added a can of chickpeas to make up for it. Served with cucumbers and pita chips, the end result was more like hummus than baba ghanoush, but it had a harmonious blend of flavors. Our main course was tomato and green bean risotto, and the freshness of the ingredients made a huge difference in taste.

The leftover risotto went well with a poached egg on top for lunch on Sunday. We had enough of the eggplant hummus to serve to our friends on Sunday night with cucumber and sweet pepper slices. Shannon brought some wonderful corn from the Goochland farmers market, and I made lime and peanut cole slaw that turned out to be spicier than everyone expected. It was still an interesting variation on cole slaw, a fitting side dish for grilled ribs, and yummy snack for the next few days.

Having a whole week in Richmond and being able to spend so much time with friends really made me appreciate our weekly produce in a new way. It was fun thinking of dishes so that other people could see the value of the share, although by Monday Davy and I were ready for pizza from Mary Angela's. Can you blame us?

Lunch at The Black Sheep

Obtaining a liquor license is one way for a new restaurant to draw attention, but The Black Sheep would have probably grown popular without alcohol.

My second experience at the funky little restaurant was just as satisfying as the first. Breakfast (served until two p.m.) was tempting, but I opted for one of the "battleship" subs. The cold filling of the "USS Cumberland" appealed to me on a hot summer afternoon: "grilled eggplant, roasted red pepper, white bean spread, black olives, and an herb cucumber tomato salad; loaded into french baguette."

Nothing about that description is an exaggeration. I received a serrated knife to cut the sandwich, which was literally an entire baguette with the ends cut off and vegetables overflowing from the center. Salty capers and olives complemented the sweet peppers and tomatoes, and crunchy cucumbers, while the bread was sturdy and chewy but not hard.

My friend Lyndsey's "Miss E" sandwich, composed of avocado, tomato, bacon, cheddar cheese, red onion, and horseradish,
was unexpectedly interesting and flavorful.

We shared a creme de menthe brownie after our meal, and it was an ideal ending. A minty green layer provided a sufficient amount of flavor against the chocolate, and the refrigerated display case made the frosting on the top slightly challenging to get our spoons through. While I wouldn't want my brownie to be cold under ice cream, its seemed to be an appropriate temperature for a summer lunch.

Make Your Own Popcorn!

It's cheaper and healthier. I am a huge fan of Orville Redenbacher's Natural Buttery Salt & Cracked Pepper microwave popcorn, but the other night I made a perfect batch of popcorn on the stove. I put a tablespoon of vegetable oil and about a quarter of a cup of frozen kernels in a small pot over medium high heat. It took one to two minutes for the popping to start, and I kept shaking until it slowed down. The end result was fresher than any microwave popcorn, though I couldn't resist adding my own salt and pepper.