Monday, August 13, 2012

Week 11: Zoinks! Zuchinni

The box this week was a vibrant volume of colors:
Summer Squashes, Swiss Chard, Onions, Carrots, Lettuces, and Golden Beets.

The Beets looked amazing.  We can't wait to get them into a salad with warm goat cheese and some tart dried cranberries and toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas).

I have so often heard the woes of gardeners that become cranky when the many beautiful squash blossoms in their gardens and pea patches turn into actual zucchini, crookneck, straight neck, or scallop squashes.  The plentiful bounty of these plants can drive even the most creative and prolific cooks mad with an over abundance of vegetables for which new recipes need to be found. After steaming, roasting, slicing, ratatouille-ing, stuffing, bread making, muffin baking and freeze drying, they wind up cursing these harmless little veggies.  Eventually, even the most productive gardener/chefs start bringing bag-fulls of zucchini into their various workplaces, hoping to festoon their bounty onto the less culinarily weary than themselves.

I, myself, have never grown the lovely squashes. We tried a pumpkin one year. After winding its vines throughout our entire garden plot, it produced a solitary gourd that was too small to carve and too young to cook. Although we've never experienced this squash angst first hand, our weekly produce box has given us a miniature version of this same situation. We have received summer squash in some variety since week 6.  We, like our gardening friends, are running out of ways to prepare it. All three of us really like zucchini and her cousins, we love to simply slice it and grill or roast it with a simple dredge in olive oil with salt and pepper. Even so, it is becoming a challenge to see squashes sitting there in the freshener, urging us to come up with something clever to cook.

 Here are a couple of ideas adapted from Barbara Kingsolver's book: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. These are a welcome addition to the plethora of recipes available for getting squash to the table in a new format.

Disappearing Zucchini Orzo
   1 lb pkg orzo pasta (multicolored is fun)
Bring 6 cups water or chicken stock to a boil and add pasta. Cook 8 to 10 minutes
   1 chopped onion
   garlic to taste
   3 large zucchini
   olive oil for sauté
Use a grater or mandolin to shred zucchini, sauté it briefly with chopped onion and garlic until lightly golden.
    sprig of thyme & oregano
    ¼ cup grated Parmesan (or any hard yellow cheese)
Add spices to zucchini mixture, stir thoroughly, and then remove mixture from heat.
Combine with the cheese and cooked orzo, salt to taste, serve at room temperature, or cool for a salad.



Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies (Makes about two dozen)

    1 egg, beaten
    ½ cup butter softened
    ½ cup brown sugar
    1/3 cup honey
    1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Combine in large bowl
    1 cup white flour
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    ½ tsp baking soda
    ¼ tsp salt
    ¼ tsp cinnamon
    ¼ tsp nutmeg
Combine in a separate, small bowl and then blend into liquid mixture
    1 cup finely shredded zucchini
    12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
Stir the zucchini and chocolate into other ingredients, mix well. Drop by spoonful onto greased baking sheet, and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake at 350°, 10 to 15 minutes.

Whichever way you choose to slice it, enjoy the bounty of the season, even if it is a whole lot of summer squash.  As always, eat well and buy local.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Week 9: The Dark Beet Rises

Picked up our produce this week, and then went straight to the iMax movie presentation of the Dark Knight Rises. It was great.  Loud, large, and very menacing, with Anne Hathaway providing some visual and comic relief.  We all thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  We got home late so the result is our own dark night pic.
Cool huh? 
The produce this week was:
Bok choy, Green leaf and Romaine lettuces, Fennel bulb, Beets, and summer squashes.  The new addition to the mix was green beans.

I took the growing number of beets in the cooler as an opportunity to show Maddi how to make pickled beets. We love pickled beets.  Crimson and spicy, sweet and tangy.  They are great right out of the jar or mixed into a salad.  Here's my simple recipe adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

Quick Pickled Beets
6 medium Beets cooked like this, (or steamed until just tender) peeled and sliced
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 TB kosher salt
1/2 tsp allspice berries
4 cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2-3 slices of fresh ginger (optional)
1 small onion peeled and sliced

Bring the vinegar, sugar, salt and spices to a boil.

Add the beets and the onion and cook for about a minute.


Put into jars.

Cool and then refrigerate.  Eat within two weeks (if they last that long).

The produce is starting to win the battle.  More veggies and less space in the fridge.  We need to figure out a way to use a whole lot of veggies in one huge batch of cool, refreshing, greens and zucchini gazpacho.  We are trying very hard to keep up.  I will keep you posted on our progress.

Take care.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Week 8: Very Veggie

The produce is starting to build up in the old refrigerator.  We feel like we eat a lot of vegetables, we want to eat a lot of vegetables, but I am guessing that we really don't eat enough vegetables.  Having a lot of fresh, organic produce is not something I am really complaining about.  There are certainly more than enough American families who struggle to get enough fresh veggies on their plates.  I do not take this for granted.  It is a real blessing to be in an area that provides so much wonderful food.

This week we got a few of the now familiar veggies, and a couple of new arrivals.  There was Green Leaf and Red Leaf Lettuce, Carrots, Yellow Summer Squash, Napa Cabbage and Zucchini.  There was also Fresh Fennel Bulb with gorgeous fronds, and Spring Onions...well I call them Spring onions.  I guess in July they are supposed to be called "fresh onions," but I think of Spring when I see onions with great green tops on them.
The lettuce has been building up and I thought I would share how we deal with it so it stays nice and fresh as long as possible. 
We rinse, spin, wrap, and roll. Like this:

Wrap the clean lettuce in a nice clean dish towel, or (eek) paper towels.  (Make sure you use a clean laundry soap like this one.)

 Viola!  You have a nice supply of fresh Lettuce at the ready.  I take one of the rolls to work for the week and we eat one at home.

The abundance of vegetation we are receiving is really a gift.  We are thankful and inspired, and we have no reason to do anything but enjoy the fresh flavors, the nutrition, and the opportunity to eat foods fresh from the farm.  

Eat well and remember to buy local.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Week 7: Zebra Zucchini

Wow! the week really got away from me this time. I can't even blame it on a family vacation. The produce came, and we worked hard to get it prepared and safely tucked away in the chill chest. We got some nice photos and even cranked out a couple of great recipes (see one below). I can't even blame it on my teenager.  She wrote her piece last week.  I just need to get busy and get it going.

The Produce this week included:
Red Lettuce   Carrots  Chioggia Beets  Bok Choi  and Yellow, Green & Zebra Striped
Summer Squash -- aka Zucchini

The new addition to the mix was a big head of Napa Cabbage.
Cabbage is a wonderful vegetable.  I realize it is a Love / Hate food for some people.  Both of Maddi's Grandpas are of Austro-Germanic-Franco decent.  They love them some cabbages.  My Dad would eat it boiled in soups, fried in a bad Eastern Idaho version of Beef Sukiyaki, and in sauerkraut any way you serve it.  I inherited this love of all things cruciferous as did my girl Maddi.  Not so her Mom.  Maddi and I have to have our cabbage nights when Mom has someplace else to be.  We both like pork with cabbage. I make a stir fry with sliced pork loin, shredded cabbage, green onions and Hoisin sauce. The sweet sauce really compliments the cabbage.

Mom does join us when we enjoy sauerkraut:  Really Robust Reubens, Brats with kraut, and she even loves my old pizza specialty from my Me n Ed's pizza days, the ground beef with sauerkraut. We all love Cole Slaw and its various cousins, but cooked cabbages are only really enjoyed by me and the girl.

So make this easy crock pot (or slow cooker of your choice) recipe for the cabbage lovers in your life.

2 Pounds Pork Shoulder Roast
(also called Boston Butt, and you could use Country Style Ribs which are from the same cut)
1 Onion Sliced
2 Bay Leaves
1 Cinnamon Stick
2 Star Anise
2 tsp Mustard Seed
2 tsp Black Peppercorns
2 TBS Rice Vinegar
4 TBS Hoisin Sauce

Place Pork into slow cooker and surround with other ingredients.  Cook on High for 3 to 4 hours.
1 head of Napa Cabbage cut into 2" slices
to top of Cooker, and continue to cook for 1 hour, or until pork is tender.
Serve chunks/slices/shreds of pork with cabbage and the delicious broth over mounds of brown rice.

Even if your culinary descendants were not from cabbage loving stock, you should try cooking some cabbage.  It will warm your heart and feed your soul.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Week 6: Rainbows of Chard

This week we got a lot of good vegetables in our produce bag.  Some of these were veggies we had seen before in the bag and some of them were new.

The repeat vegetables we got were:

  • Romaine and Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Bok Choy
  • Beets
  • Chinese Cabbage Lettuce

The new items included:

  • Fennel Bulb
  • Snow Peas
  • Rainbow Swiss Chard, and
  • Zucchini

 Maddi here! I'm going to tell you about the new veggies we got. Snow peas are a really great snack to just eat raw (they looked so good we had to eat some right out of the bag). Chard is full of vitamins and minerals, so it's a good vegetable to serve on the side of any meal. When I was little, I hated any sort of greens, but my dad made me eat them, and it's a good thing, because they are really healthy. Last night for dinner we wanted to use the fennel and zucchini, so we sliced them up and cooked them on the grill.
It's pretty simple, we brushed them with a mixture of olive oil and garlic, then we just let them cook until each side had some nice grill marks.
We served these with some grilled chicken and pork, and some mushrooms, but you can grill lots of different things!
Grilling is a good way to get more veggies into your diet and it gives food a nice flavor. I encourage everyone to try this if you haven't already! Enjoy!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Week 4: 14 Carrot Gold

We are posting late this week because we are on vacation in  Boise, Idaho.  The produce last week was bursting with great colors and interesting flavors.

The Produce this week included:

  • Chioggia Beets --the stripe-y ones
  • Kohlrabi
  • Carrots
  • Romaine Lettuce, 
  • and
  • Dark Burgundy Red Lettuce (don't know the variety) 

It was so great that Carrots entered the scene this week.  Sweet, tender carrots, so fresh and tasty that even thinking about cooking them is a crime.  We ate several straight out of the bag and saved a couple for the recipe of the week below.

The beets are even sweeter than last week's batch.  The chioggia variety has those beautiful stripes in concentric circles.  They can be sliced or grated fresh into a salad, juiced, or roasted and served on top of greens, or as a side dish.

The dark red lettuce makes a dramatic addition to a tossed salad.  Mixed with the other salad greens we have received it stands out in stark contrast.  I couldn't say whether the taste is so very different from the  other "greens," but it seems like it is sweeter and more intense.  Look for this at your farmers market or get some seeds and grow your own.

Recipe of the Week:
Kohlrabi/Carrot Slaw

3 bulbs Kohlrabi, julienned
3 Carrots, julienned
2 TB Mayonaise
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp Sirrachi sauce
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Mix wet ingredients to make a dressing
Toss vegetables with the dressing
Chill for 30 minutes
Serve with grilled Fish, Veggies, or Meat.

We are out of town this week so we will not receive a produce delivery.  We will be back next week with a post about our produce and the many fun things we can make with it.  See you then.  Remember to visit a Farmer's Market.  The fruits and veggies are coming in strong now.  Buy local and eat well.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Week 3: B & B continued

Week 3 continued: Recipe of the week

Un-Stuffed Cabbage
This is all the flavor of stuffed cabbage in a chop chop stir fried mix-up.

2 Spring Onions w/ green tops
1 LB Ground Beef (pork would be good too)
1 head Chinese Cabbage (Pak Choi or Bok Choi)
2 cups cooked Brown Rice
1 can Tomato Sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Chop onions and add to 1 TB oil in a hot wok or large saute pan or cast iron skillet on high heat

 Sauté until onions are translucent

Add the Ground beef and sauté until brown.  Season with Salt and Pepper.
 Slice Cabbage and add it to the wok, cooking until it is wilted and the mixture is cooked
Add the cooked rice, stir to mix well,
 and add the tomato sauce
Continue to cook until mixture is cooked through.  Check the seasoning and serve.

 You will think that your Bubbuleh had come to town for an Eastern European smörgåsbord. 

Enjoy, eat well and buy local!  See you next week.

Week 3: Beets & Broccoli

Week 3: Beets and Broccoli

This week the produce included:
  • Baby Broccoli
  • Beets with their greens
  • Chinese Cabbage (pak choi)
  • Spring Onions
  • Red and Green leaf lettuce

Nice to see some colors besides green in the bag this week.  Not that there is anything wrong with green.  Green is great!  But the bright red beets and white Spring onions and Pak Choi stalks were a welcome contrast.
I jumped right into our favorite way of preparing beets.  Simple, delicious and fun.

  • Rip the greens off and save them for a nice braise later.

  • Place the Beets onto a sheet of parchment paper. (aluminum foil works great too)
  • Season with salt, cracked pepper and a splash of olive oil.
  • Wrap the beets up into a nice package, folding the paper or foil to make an airtight pouch.

  • Bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes - 1 hour until the beets are tender.
Then just cool them enough to slip them out of their skins and slice them up or try to keep them around for salads, goat cheese accompaniments, or red flannel hash fixins.  Yum!

Don't like beets you say?  I am willing to bet that your first taste of beets was from a can of Del Monte or Libbys Libbys Libbys on the lable lable label.  My Mom was a great cook, but I never liked beets until I tasted a fresh from the garden ruby red root.  The difference is dramatic.  Maddi loves her some beets.  Give em a try!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Week 2: Great Greens a Popping

Picked up this week's produce with Maddi yesterday.  Another bag full of greens and Spring vegetation.
We got
  • Red leaf and Romaine lettuce
  • Collard Greens
  • Pea Vines
  • Turnips, and 
  • Kohlrabi
Although the items were very similar to last week, we welcome the greens and are committed to using them.
I have been eating a salad with some kind of protein for lunch each day. We have cooked the greens from the turnips and the pea vines, and are going to try out the kohlrabi.

I remember our Minister and dear friend Jim Jenkins always tried to get my Father interested in growing kohlrabi.  They had quite a competition between their gardens, each bragging about the size of their tomatoes or the height of their corn stalks.  Jim always had some suggestion of what dad should be growing, like parsnips or kohlrabi.  We had never heard of the stuff and dad flat out refused to listen to Jim.  This is my chance to try it out and see if ole Jim was right.

Something Maddi has really been enjoying, is the turnips sliced up and eaten raw, like radishes.She is like her Father (and her Grandfather)  and likes things other kids don't much care for.  Radishes, sardines, sauerkraut, she is an adventurous eater to be sure.
Last night I took some Pea Vines and cut them into 3-4 inch pieces and added them to a stir fry with onions and chicken (tofu would be great too).  A touch of toasted sesame oil, soy and cracked pepper and a quick toss until they were bright green and still al dente. We served that over brown rice and it was a tasty meal.

 Recipe of the Week:
1/2 white onion  (OR 1/2 bunch green onions) sliced
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (OR 1 block firm tofu) cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tsp canola oil
1 large bunch pea vines cut into 3-4 inch lengths
(I used the tender top parts and not the very ends that were a bit tougher)
soy sauce to taste
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp cracked black pepper

Add oil to a hot wok or saute pan on medium high heat
add onions and cook until soft
add chicken and sauté until opaque
add pea vines, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper
sauté until pea vines are bright green and slightly tender but still have some bite

Serve over brown rice

Enjoy and remember to buy local and eat healthy! This Saturday there is a Sale at the University Farmer's Market.  Go check it out.