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.