Thursday, May 31, 2012

CSA Takeaway - Week 4

Our share for this week had a lot of variety, and three different vegetables ended up on the grill last night: carrots, Magda squash and broccoli. We're going out of town today (for a very important person's wedding), so I took limited amounts of the Swiss chard, cucumbers, salad mix, and spring onions. Have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

CSA Meals - Week 2

Have you ever made something you're not all that fond of, but eaten it anyway, and then been turned off to the idea of it for good? Unfortunately that happened to me during the second week of our share, and I never want to think about french onion for a very long time.  

I was really excited about the recipe from Joy the Baker, but I must have messed up the onions in the process, because they were too wet and not overly "french" tasting. The beautifully browned bread was soggy enough to require a spoon and fork, which was disappointing, and after we finished Davy realized that he'd eaten a whole onion. For some reason that was enough to make both of us slightly queasy.

The failed sandwiches were the only significant cooking effort I made during Week 2. We also consumed a pizza from whole foods, salads, roasted summer squash and zucchini.

I did manage to medium-boil some eggs, and they added a lot to a lunch salad that also included quinoa and feta cheese.

I suppose not every week can be exceptional, and the following one turned out to be a vast improvement, primarily because we didn't eat anything resembling a popular soup flavor.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

CSA Takeaway - Week 3

The salad pictured was made with kale from Week 2 (as well as corn, edamame, quinoa, Asian sesame dressing, sunflower seeds and lime juice), but this week's share was kale-heavy, so it seemed appropriate.  We received standard curly kale and ed Russian kale, along with pre-washed arugula, Japanese turnips, spring onions, strawberries, and Magda squash, also called Kousa, which is light green and shaped like squatter zucchini.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

CSA Meals - Week 1

If you had to choose between a refrigerator and air conditioning, which would you pick? What about only having a refrigerator or internet?

Davy and I asked each other these types of questions after our fridge broke a few weeks ago and we had to shop for a new one. In the mean time, our chilled food supply was divided between Keith and Carrie's meat locker and two coolers in our living room. 

Sure, it's fun to think about replacing a major appliance, but it was also inconvenient to cycle through bags of ice and wonder whether or not the chutney needed to be thrown away. Ultimately, we cleared out several jars, bottles, and bags that had accumulated over nearly three years, and are still in the process of re-stocking. It was a cleansing experience, and one that reminded me how little it takes to put together meals when you have basic quality ingredients to work with.

This "simple is better" mindset was the perfect way to tackle the first of our CSA produce. We ate multiple salads with both homemade and store-bought dressing (Annie's Asian Sesame), but my favorite was the one we had the first night. I sliced some of our bright red strawberries, toasted/nearly burned some pine nuts, and tossed everything with little balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Amy's mesclun salad mix is earthy and peppery, which worked well with the berries' fruity sweetness. 

Along with the salad, I improvised with two recipes from How Sweet It Is to make chicken parm-ish tenders. 

We didn't have anything to dip them in, but they hit the spot with salad and roasted zucchini and squash sprinkled with grated parmesan.

On Wednesday, we celebrated a friend's birthday at Joe's Inn, and feasted off of my baked spaghetti leftovers with salad for dinner the next night.

The new refrigerator worked wonders on all of our greens, and the chard still looked fresh on Saturday. I chopped and softened half of an onion in a little olive oil, then added the chard stems to the pan.  

When everything was mostly cooked through, I stopped taking pictures, but some minced garlic, chard leaf ribbons and black beans completed the filling for cheesy lunch quesadillas on Saturday.

My parents were visiting on Mother's Day, and we had wonderful rockfish from Yellow Umbrella, which my dad graciously grilled. I made quinoa and a kale salad with feta and avocado for our side dishes. Again, no pictures, but the kale was tender and just as delicious when I ate it leftover for lunch a couple days later.

The only item left by Monday night was the baby pac choi, and it also held up nicely in our produce drawer.

I found a quick recipe for braised baby bok choy from Martha Stewart that required very little preparation and cooking. The stems retained a slight crunch, and the leaves absorbed the savory flavors from the soy sauce and chicken stock. The only change I made was to add a drizzle of sesame chili oil to give the pac choi an extra kick.

Since it had to happen, I guess I'm glad that our refrigerator stopped working when it did. It may have been a hassle to transfer and get rid of food, but it's made my approach to cooking much less complicated.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

CSA Takeaway - Week 2

We received another round of juicy strawberries this week! In addition, we got:

- squash

- zucchini

- mesclun salad mix

- Tuscan kale

- beets with nice-looking greens, which we gave to Josh and Caitlin

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

CSA 2012

I'd been eagerly anticipating my return to Byrd House Market, and was so happy to see that it's grown since the fall. I was also looking forward to meeting Amy, of Amy's Garden, for the first time. She was warm and enthusiastic, and offered a Hyacinth Bean Vine sprout along with our first share.  This week, we took home:

- strawberries

- mesclun salad mix 

- red Russian kale

- Swiss chard

- baby pac choi

- yellow squash and zucchini

I also purchased fresh eggs from Tuckahoe Lamb and Cattle Co., and couldn't resist Amy's gorgeous peonies (photo courtesy of my good friend Carrie), especially when she told me it was the last week for them. 

The strawberries were bright red, and were quickly consumed last night and this morning. I have a feeling that the rest of this week's produce won't be around for very long either.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Spring Sweets

My CSA starts next week, a little early this year, and I couldn't be more ready to let the share dictate my cooking.

As I've been waiting patiently for the arrival of fresh vegetables, I've been indulging in desserts at home and elsewhere. The first of note came from Shyndigz, a bakery and cake cafe very close to my house. Thankfully the cafe is only open from Thursday-Saturday, or I'd be there nightly instead of just part of the week. 

It might be difficult to tell from the picture below, but my selection, the "adult s'more," was gigantic. I was only able to finish about a third of it before I admitted defeat and accepted a box.

The s'more reminded me of a dense square of chocolate mousse with oversized marshmallows and a buttery crust. The graham cracker base had just a touch of crumbliness and saltiness to offset the rich chocolate layer, and the marshmallows were soft and sweet. It's not cake, but it's the only thing I want to order from Shyndigz.

Marshmallow must have been on my brain when I decided to make Peanut Butter Fudge Treats for the first meeting of my book club. Joy's photos are much better than any I could have taken, and I suggest you check out the recipe ASAP. It requires no baking, which makes it ideal for the warm weather ahead, and appeals to a wide audience.

The picture below isn't related to dessert, but the tiny flowers I picked off of my thyme plant this morning were too pretty not to share. Hooray for spring!