csa madness

CSA Strawberries

I signed up for The Rivertown CSA this year which means that on Saturdays, I go to town and pick up whatever the local farm has harvested that week. But every time I return home with our weekly allotment, I panic. HOW AM I GOING TO USE THIS PERFECT PRODUCE BEFORE IT ALL GOES BAD? I need to immediately start portioning, assigning, cooking and freezing.

For example, I knew we would never eat 3 baskets of blueberries because the boys would rather eat slime than try them (they said that.) I couldn't bear those beautifully tart firm berries turning to mush. So I froze one basket on a tray and then put them into a plastic bag for smoothies or just some late night snacking. I did the same with the sweet strawberries that actually tasted like strawberries (hulling them before I froze them.)

With the basil that I feared wilting into blackness, I quickly pureed with purple scallions (also from the CSA), pine nuts that have been in my freezer since I learned to cook, parmesan that the kids no longer like with pasta, lemon and olive oil. I froze this chunky pesto too. 

For the Swiss chard, I separated the leaves from the stems and chopped both. I heated olive oil in a pan then sauteed garlic for 1 minute, added stems and cooked for 5 minutes then added leaves, salt and dashes of both cider vinegar and fish sauce. When they were wilted, I stirred in a tablespoon of greek yogurt and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Throughout the week, I used it three times: I served it as a side dish, mixed it into cauliflower rice and added it to scrambled eggs. 

Finally the cucumbers--I turned to my mom's recipe. Cut into small pieces (you could also mandolin), place in large tupperware and add white wine vinegar and salt to taste. Let these mellow out in the fridge for a day or two and the simple pickle becomes a great snack and easy salad ingredient. 

So within an hour of picking up farm fresh vegetables, I had turned them into not-so fresh produce, which maybe is totally insane. It is, right?


exodus in easton

The boys and I spent the last week of the summer in exodus at my parent's house in Easton Maryland. And it was there, with little to do except play Pokemon, that I discovered Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook (on my mom's bookshelf). I spent the next few days cooking almost exclusively from it and realized that many of the recipes I had stored on my Paprika app or noted in Food52 were actually adapted from this book: Food52's "genius" humous is actually the traditional Israeli recipe for humous that uses dried chickpeas and ice water. (I made about 10 cups of it by accident but we all wound up eating all of it--it's that good.) See recipes and pictures of humous-making in the previous post!

I also made these turkey meatballs—minus the zucchini (err courgette) since I knew Nate wouldn't eat them if they were green and of course he didn't eat them anyway. And twice I tried the Fattoush salad which was so much better when I substituted kirby pickles for fresh cucumbers. Loved the creamy nan which soaks up the yogurt dressing.

when life gives you cucumbers

I was reading Judith Viorst's Alexander, Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move to the boys last night. (Michael was at a  disco party in Mamaroneck).  It is the sequel to Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, and Alexander is still extremely stubborn and his older brothers tell him to "stop being so immature" and then call him "puke face"—which of course greatly appealed to the boys' literary sensibility even though they didn't know what puke meant. "A cucumber face!" Nate said erupting into contagious giggles which sent Mack falling off his bed in hysterics. He heard "cuke face" and I let it go. I was afraid if I corrected them that they would literally never stop laughing and I would never finish the book and they would never go to bed.

Someday I'll tell them the truth.

But coincidentally, at Nate's camp which he will start in a few weeks, the different age groups are called newcomers, cucumbers, pickles, grapes and raisins. This year he will be a cucumber.

And also I bought too many cucumbers at the store this weekend so I made easy cucumber salad: slice and put in a big bowl. Then add equal parts white vinegar and water to cover. Add about 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/2 tsp of sugar per 4 cucumbers. Throw in a bunch of dill (don't bother chopping). Let sit in fridge for a few hours then drain.

cheese sauce

My favorite veggie dish growing up was cauliflower with cheese sauce. I tried to make my own version tonight, steamed cauliflower with nouveau-trashy cheese sauce.

nouveau-trashy cheese sauce

  • 1 can “healthy request” Campbell’s cheddar cheese soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 2 slices American cheese torn into pieces
  • ½ teaspoon yellow mustard
  • salt/pepper

    simmer and whisk until smooth and hot (about 10 min.)