Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Noticeable Differences

There are several different items to try out this week, along with some of the same:

- wonderful-smelling strawberries

- spring onions

- mizuna

- baby pac choi

- tatsoi (a dark, leafy green)

- salad mix

- broccoli!

- white Japanese turnips

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

CSA Week 1

We spent the whole holiday weekend at home, but Davy and I still couldn't finish all of our produce from last week. I do feel the benefits of having copious amounts of greens around, but I need to get back into the swing of having a weekly produce package.

I won't go through every detail of the day-to-day meals because I think everyone would tire quickly of hearing about salads with arugula and mesclun mix. Instead, imagine that almost all of the meals this past week involved simple salads with oil, vinegar, black pepper, sunflower seeds or pine nuts, and maybe some Parmigiano-Reggiano. There was one exception, which was on the first day when we had very ripe fresh strawberries, and they were a perfect complement to the crisp greens.

One of the reasons that we had such a hard time finishing the salad mix was because it's not as versatile (in my opinion) as a green such as arugula. I used the spicy arugula on top of English muffin pizzas for dinner one night, drawing inspiration from 8 1/2's hero with arugula and fresh mozzarella.

Recently there have been one or two nights a week where I've made diLinknner just for myself because band practice or a softball game overlaps with tennis after work. Often these dinners include pasta and whatever else is around that can be incorporated quickly. Last week I threw together more of the arugula, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and some of the pasta cooking water for a satisfying, one-bowl meal.

I was particularly excited about the baby napa cabbages because I never think to buy it, and I know it's an easy ingredient to eat raw or cooked. The Fertile Crescent blog offered a tempting recipe for Asian Slaw that included the cabbage and spring onions. Davy and I decided to halve the recipe since there were only two of us and we were adding components at the end. We stir-fried some ground pork we had in the freezer (half a pound) with about 7 oz. of rice noodles that were soaked in hot water for 30-45 minutes. When they were done, we added them on top of all of the slaw and ate it room temperature with a little soy sauce and Sriracha. The combination of meat, noodles, and slaw turned out to be a light and refreshing but still filling dinner that we ate two more times throughout the week.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get to the mustard greens until Monday, and they were slightly wilted. After sauteing the leaves them with garlic and a little peanut oil, we tossed the greens with some oyster sauce according to a Mark Bittman recipe. They were fantastic with the slaw creation, but the next day they were extremely spicy. I'm not sure if there was some type of chemical reaction overnight, but I felt like I was getting a wasabi or horseradish rush through my sinuses when I was eating them.

In other news, I tried a recipe I've been holding onto for a few years for a dairy-free chocolate pie. It's Alton Brown's "Moo-Less Chocolate Pie" recipe, and I tracked down the silken tofu it requires at Whole Foods (after an unsuccessful trip to Trader Joe's). I used Kahlua and some farm honey that I had around, and the flavors definitely stand out with the chocolate. The pie is surprisingly rich and creamy for having so much tofu and so few ingredients overall. I am already thinking about playing around with the liqueur and honey to influence the end result - it's a great, semi-healthy dessert to have in my rotation. Especially when I need to balance out bowls and bowls of salad.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Early CSA Start!

The CSA is starting this week instead of next week! We are going to get:

- salad mix

- arugula

- strawberries

- mustard greens

- baby nappa cabbage

- maybe sunflower shoots, radishes and scallions

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ice Cream Cake and Asparagus

It's been over a month since I've updated my blog, and there have been a lot of memorable cooking and eating and food-related moments in that time. The Edible Garden co-op ended on a high note with strawberries and asparagus, proving that Richmond really does have a week or two of spring weather before the heat and humidity set in. There were two wonderful dinners at Zeus Gallery within a week of each other, and a very special ice cream cake from Bev's. Davy and I grilled the first hamburgers of the season in mid-April, and attended two successful tailgates with notable menus. The Fertile Crescent CSA starts at the end of May (a little late because of cooler temperatures), and I can't wait to report on our weekly yield and the meals that we create. Stay tuned!