kitchen scribble

May 14, 2015

spring CSA, week 10

Filed under: CSA — kat @ 2:33 pm

The haul: 5 Stayman apples, 8 Fuji apples, rainbow carrots, asparagus, radishes (though the overhead shot really shows more radish green than radish root), a pound of spinach, a head of (really sandy) romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts, eggs, and bread (Breadery honey whole wheat).

spring CSA, week 10

We ate the asparagus immediately; it was so fresh that some of the ends didn’t even snap. I love asparagus for its ease of preparation: snap the ends, rinse the spears, tumble them into a pan with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them until they start to look a little shriveled. Done! They get all tender and delicious. Even the Little Prince loves them.

The apples are really piling up; we are drowning a bit in apples here. Since the Little Princess is just starting solid foods (she seemed to like her puree of CSA spinach last night), I think I’ll be making applesauce this weekend. And apple cobbler for us older folks, too.

I also dropped by the Miller Library farmer’s market yesterday. It was great to see all the farm stands again! Not much in the way of fresh produce yet but if you want to stock up on little baby herb and tomato plants, now is the time. I picked up two little cherry tomato plugs from Love Dove Farm; really looking forward to fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes this summer, assuming I can get to them before all the back yard wildlife.

Breezy Willow’s spring CSA runs for just one more week, and then it’s a two-week break until the summer one starts up. I’m looking forward to doing a lot of farmer’s market shopping over the hiatus.

May 11, 2015

spring CSA, week 9

Filed under: CSA — kat @ 4:21 pm

Week 9 of the CSA: red potatoes, Vidalia onions, apples (Fuji, definitely looking a little past their prime as we near the end of cold season storage), spinach, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, mushrooms, asparagus, eggs, and bread (Breadery sourdough).

spring CSA, week 9

Progress report: So far we’ve already eaten the mushrooms (sauteed in butter, served alongside steak), asparagus (seasoned and broiled, served alongside stir-fried beef and eggplant), spinach (wilted, seasoned, and served as a side, with some pureed for the Little Princess), and cucumbers (refrigerator-pickled).

The romaine lettuce is going to get brushed with a vinagrette and thrown on the grill. I sliced up onions last night after the kids went to bed, and they (the onions, not the kids) are going to get sauteed up with some sliced peppers tonight (busy mom tip: prep as much as possible the night before). Potatoes will be quartered, folded into a foil packet with some oil and herbs, and left on the grill to roast in the carryover heat; ditto the beets from last week. So happy that grilling season is back again!

Our patio garden is also coming back to life with some thyme, basil and habanero peppers (from the Thursday farmer’s market at East Columbia library) as well as parsley, rosemary, poblano, and ghost peppers (from the Sunday market at Oakland Mills). Looking forward to adding some tomato plants too, and probably more peppers. Someday we’ll graduate to a proper plot of land in our backyard, but for now, the patio container garden is about all I can handle.

The guy at the TLV Tree Farm stand said that his strawberries were looking good, and would be available in a couple more weeks. I’m really looking forward to taking the Little Prince berry picking again this year.

May 4, 2015

spring CSA, weeks 7 and 8

Filed under: CSA — kat @ 3:54 pm

Week 7 of the CSA: spinach (top left) is covering the green beans; there’s also romaine lettuce, mushrooms, apples (Fuji, I think), cucumbers, Vidalia onions, red potatoes, eggs, and bread (Breadery Kid’s Delight).

spring CSA, week 7

And here’s the bounty from week 8: green beans, spinach, rainbow carrots, beets with luxuriant greens, more romaine lettuce, eggplant, apples, radishes, eggs, bread (Breadery ciabatta), and a bonus item of cheese (I picked cheddar).

spring CSA, week 8

I thought the radishes at the farm were particularly beautiful last week:

radishes on display

I love eating radish greens. The first time I tried them I was a bit taken aback by the sharp, peppery flavor, but now I absolutely love them, especially sauteed in butter.

It’s also the first week of May, which means that the Howard County Farmers Markets are starting back up. I’m so excited. I love my CSA share, but I also like shopping for myself too.

April 20, 2015

spring CSA, week 6

Filed under: CSA — kat @ 4:15 pm

This week in the CSA: spinach, oranges, red potatoes, apples, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, rainbow carrots, beets, eggs, and bread (Great Harvest challah, again).

spring CSA, week 6

The plan, already half-implemented: oranges and apples eaten as is; spinach and mushrooms sauteed and incorporated with eggs into frittata; brussels sprouts roasted with garlic; beet greens wilted and baked into something involving pasta and cheese; beets boiled and pureed into soup; potatoes diced into hash; carrots sliced into split pea soup, to be served with grilled cheese sandwiches featuring the challah.

We don’t eat fancy in our house, but we do eat well. The NYT has an article out titled Simple Rules for Healthy Eating, which basically calls for eating more foods prepared from scratch, being conscious of your caloric intake, and eating with other people whenever you can.

As a full-time working mom in a dual-income household, my free time is precious, and I do sink a lot of said precious “free” time into the rituals of food preparation: washing, storing, chopping, cooking, and the endless dishes that follow. And after all that, it’s often disheartening to watch the Little Prince refuse vegetables that I’ve painstakingly prepared for him (though I’ve recently had a lot of success burying greens in pasta and cheese).

That said, though, I find it personally rewarding to be able to take a mixed bag of vegetables every week, and using nothing more than a knife and some pots and pans, turn it into meals. It’s like magic. And it’s very satisfying.

April 9, 2015

spring CSA, week 5

Filed under: CSA — kat @ 2:50 pm

I love that Breezy Willow’s spring CSA co-op reaches all the way down to Florida; these ruby red grapefruits are amazing.

This week in the CSA: kale, romaine lettuce, green beans, Granny Smith apples, yellow onions, ruby red grapefruit, gold potatoes, mushrooms, eggs, and bread (Great Harvest challah, again).

spring CSA, week 5

I think tonight will be a good night for one of my favorite simple dinner salads: crisp romaine lettuce, with shredded cheese and a fried egg. I like cooking the egg just over easy, so that the yolk flows out and dresses the salad leaves.

The Little Prince is a big fan of over easy eggs as well, often demanding plenty of “egg sauce”. He loves shredded cheese, too. If only he would accept the salad part of the meal with equal enthusiasm.

April 7, 2015

spring CSA, week 4

Filed under: CSA — kat @ 1:45 pm

Every four weeks, along with the delicious vegetables, fruits, eggs, and bread, Breezy Willow throws in a locally-sourced “bonus” item. This week, it was Wild Pea hummous.

The full share: kale, beets, red potatoes, rainbow carrots, Brussels sprouts, apples (7 Fuji, 5 York), Minneolas, eggs, and bread (I picked Great Harvest challah).

spring CSA, week 4

And, of course, the hummous. I may have held up the line for a teensy bit while I dithered over which hummous to take home. (For the record, the choices were curry, “vampire slayer” garlic, Old Bay, or “Asian fire” chili. I eventually decided to go local and went with the Old Bay.)

hummous spread

I also had to get another shot of all those gorgeous rainbow carrots.

rainbow carrots

I think the rainbow carrots are always so pretty – not just the colors, but the unique shapes. I read an article recently (NPR: Think Nobody Wants to Buy Ugly Fruits and Veggies? Think Again) about how “ugly” produce is saved from waste bins, and when I looked at the pictures of the ugly produce, I was shocked. They looked perfectly good!

Then I remembered that whenever I go back to produce-shopping in the winter, after the CSA has ended and the farmer’s market has closed, I’m always a little put off by the shiny perfection of the vegetables. All the carrots are straight, all the apples are round and shiny, the greenery gleams with freshly-sprayed water droplets; if something is bruised, crooked, or dirty, it looks out of place. It’s like shopping out of a catalog: unreal, almost plastic.

Poor lumpy, dirty vegetables; in that context, I can understand why stores wouldn’t stock them. But they’re just as tasty, and I really do feel closer to the source of my food when I peel a crooked carrot, or flick a little green worm off the tip of my corn cob. It’s good to know where your food comes from, and all the different shapes in which it can present itself. And imperfections can actually be good indicators of quality. My dad used to say, whenever I found an apple with a hole pecked out of it: good choice; the birds know which apples are the tastiest.

April 1, 2015

spring CSA, week 3

Filed under: CSA, weeknight cooking — kat @ 11:53 am

week 3 of the spring CSA: gold potatoes, carrots, ruby red grapefruit (3), minneolas (6), spinach, green beans, bean sprouts, mushrooms (in the brown paper bag), eggs, and bread (Breadery cinnamon raisin walnut).

spring CSA, week 3

Already cooked (though not yet eaten): all of it! This past Saturday I decided that I was sick of all the uncooked produce in the refrigerator, and in a frenzy of industry, I stirfried the bean sprouts, wilted the spinach, and sauteed the mushrooms, wiping out the Dutch oven between batches (fewer dishes). The carrots and potatoes went into K’s slow-cooker chicken curry, and the eggs into a big breakfast scramble with some shredded cheese and leftover barbecue meat. The fridge is now full of easily microwaveable side dishes, instead of produce that demands cleaning and chopping before it can be consumed. In a household with two working parents and kids that need to be fed immediately after coming home in the evenings, this sort of prep is key to retaining sanity.

I am a little disappointed with the bread, though; it crumbled a bit too easily and fell into pieces in the toaster oven. Too dry, I think, even though we carefully kept it twist-tied in its paper bag. Guess I’ll avoid it the next time around.

The bean sprouts were not clearly not a hit with the CSA crowd:

bean sprouts on the trade table

The major pitfall of the bean sprouts is that they go bad really quickly; turn your back for a few days and they’ve gone all brown and slimy, and before you know it you’re throwing away food and feeling horrible about it. Just wash them and eat them raw as a snack or in salads, or stirfry them and eat them alongside, well, practically anything. Their taste is clean, bland, and inoffensive; mix them into your cooking and I guarantee you’ll barely notice their presence.

(…unless you’re a three-year-old. Little Prince has x-ray vision and, if he’s in a mood, he’ll object to even the smallest shred of vegetation in his meals. Except, oddly, broccoli.)

March 25, 2015

Chocolate chip cookies in a hurry (and CSA week 2)

Filed under: CSA, quick eats — kat @ 12:28 pm

This past Saturday, spring finally came stumbling in; when we woke up, there was still a layer of snow coating the ground, but by afternoon everything was balmy and sunny and we could finally see all of our (brown) grass again.

Although we had fresh CSA goodies, not many of them got cooked; we had Pi Day and St Patrick’s Day to contend with, and we have traditions to uphold. I made hand pies and an apple pie for Pi Day, and good old corned beef and cabbage (with potatoes and rainbow carrots) for St Pat’s.

The goodies from week 2 of the CSA (most of them still waiting in the fridge): oranges, sweet potatoes, tangerines, Granny Smith apples, onions, brussels sprouts, beets, kale, garlic, eggs, and bread (Breadery sourdough).

The baby is posing next to the vegetables. For scale.

We used up the kale in a massaged kale salad (with tangerines and apples), and the beet greens got cooked up in some fat that I skimmed off our delicious short ribs (from Carroll Farm to Table; I’ll talk about them some other time), but otherwise most of the pickup is still sitting in the fridge.

The other reason I’m behind on dealing with the CSA bounty is that it’s been a rough couple of weeks; we’ve all been fighting runny noses and sore throats for some time now, but last week the baby got a fever… and then the Little Prince got a fever… and then the baby got a fever again. On top of the nasal congestion and coughing, too. Poor kids. Hopefully we’re near the end of this round of illnesses.

When you’re a worn-down, tired parent, sometimes you just want a homemade chocolate chip cookie. This is how you get one within fifteen minutes, warm from the oven, with minimal effort:

1) go back in time and make a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough. I used smitten kitchen’s recipe. Heck, double the batch; you never know when a cookie emergency will strike.

2) scoop the cookie dough into balls and pack the balls on a cookie tray, lined with a silicone baking mat (or parchment paper, if you don’t have one). You can crowd the dough balls pretty tightly; just make sure they’re not touching. I use a cookie scoop for minimal fuss.

3) the next morning, put your frozen cookie dough balls into a freezer bag. They won’t stick together because they’re frozen.

4) time travel back to the present. When you’re feeling downtrodden and tired, take two or three (or more, I won’t judge) dough balls out of the bag and put them on your oven tray. Pop them in the preheated oven and wait 15 min, or until they’re baked. (Cooking time varies with oven but when the cookies are flat and a little brown around the edges, I call them done.)

5) make yourself a hot chocolate and sit down with a handful of freshly-baked, perfect little cookies, crispy on the outside but still gooey on the inside. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Life is good.

This technique will work for almost any cookie recipe, not just chocolate chip; it’s also how I managed to execute some pretty impressive cookie platters this past holiday season. Our neighbors were impressed by how I managed a variety of freshly-baked cookies, with two young kids at home. I merely smiled and mumbled something about good time management. Now all I need is more freezer space.

March 13, 2015

spring CSA, week 1

Filed under: CSA — kat @ 4:27 pm

We had great weather for the first day of the 2015 spring CSA; it was positively balmy, the sun was out, and the ground was only a bit muddy from all the melting snow. It was really nice to see all of the working shares at the farm again.

For the first week, we got three Ruby Red grapefruits (citrus from Breezy Willow’s partner farms in FL), rainbow carrots, white potatoes and apples (York and Stayman) from cold storage, spinach and green beans (greenhouse or high tunnel grown), and a generous pound of mushrooms. We also got eggs and bread (Breadery raspberry chocolate, can’t wait).

spring CSA, week 1

The rainbow carrots were especially beautiful to look at.

rainbow carrots at the farm

With St Pat’s coming up next week, the carrots and potatoes will probably get boiled up to go with our corned beef. We’ve already had the green beans with last night’s spaghetti and meatballs (quickly blanched in the pasta water, since it was already heated). The apples will be part of our lunches to go to school and work. That just leaves the mushrooms, which, honestly, go with anything when sliced and sauteed. Or I could turn them into a quiche with the eggs. Anyway, it’s great to get back into the swing of the CSA.

October 22, 2014

summer/fall CSA, week 20; fall salad and pizza

Filed under: CSA, weekend cooking — kat @ 11:19 am

Last week’s CSA was a beautiful fall assortment.

summer/fall CSA, week 20

We got two shares of apples, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, yellow onions, carrots, carnival squash, and apple cider, as well as the usual eggs and bread (Breadery sourdough).

We ate the apples pretty much as is; the kid gets half a sliced apple in his school lunch every day, and K and I both eat an apple apiece at work daily, so apples go fast. In the next few weeks I’m probably going to go nuts on the apples at the farmer’s market, too, so I can put some up as applesauce and pie fillings for the winter. Bread was sliced up and eaten that very day, and the cider disappeared quickly as well.

As for everything else…

what happens to CSA veggies

We had some items left over from last week (top right in the collage), so I mashed all the remaining ingredients into two items. I made a fall salad with roasted sweet potato, squash, Brussels sprouts, and kale; I also sautéed spinach, mushrooms, and onions for pizza. The weather right now is perfect to have the oven on, and these made great leftovers for lunches all week.

Fall Salad: everything roasts at different times, which is actually perfect because you can cut up the next thing while the previous thing is roasting. Set the oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease two pans with olive oil (I used a 9×13 rectangular pan and a 9″ pie pan).

Carnival Squash: slice this one up first. Don’t worry about peeling; peeling winter squash is not to be taken lightly and if you can avoid it, do so. Just put the slices in the greased pie pan and stick it in the oven. These need to stay in for an hour or so, depending on how thick you’ve cut your slices.

Brussels sprouts: rinse and cut in halves; toss in the 9×13 pan with some salt and pepper; stick in oven. These need to cook for 35-40 min.

Sweet potatoes: peel and cut in chunks; toss in the 9×13 pan with some more salt and pepper, stirring the Brussels sprouts around as you do so they don’t burn. Put the pan back in the oven. Sweet potatoes need to cook 25-30 min, or until soft.

Carrots: peel and cut in chunks; toss in the 9×13 pan with the potatoes and sprouts. These need to cook 20 min.

Throw in some peeled garlic cloves while you’re at it. Garlic is always nice.

While the root vegetables are cooking: strip kale from stems, tear into pieces, and rinse; blanch the kale in boiling water to soften it. Then drain it so it’s not soggy.

By this point, your roasting should be done! Toss the kale with the roasted root vegetables. The squash should be done at this point too; just cut the cooked flesh from the peel and toss it with everything else. Squirt some lemon juice over all (adds a nice bright note) and drizzle it with good olive oil. Voila, fall salad. Reheats beautifully, too.

As for the pizza, I used the lazy pizza dough recipe from the Smitten Kitchen blog; I put it together Saturday night and let it rise overnight and well into Sunday. It was a bit touch-and-go as the dough was very wet after its long rise, and tore easily; still, having made it, I smacked it down on the pans and pressed it out and hoped for the best.

I had previously sliced and sauteed mushrooms and onions in olive oil, and I had also wilted down some spinach on the stovetop. K had also pan-fried some sausages and cut them into thin disks, so those went on the pizzas as well. I spread jarred tomato sauce in a thin layer over the dough, then strewed the toppings around and covered it all in shredded mozzarella cheese. They went into the oven at a ripping 550 degrees for about 15 minutes.

They turned out amazing. The crust was lovely and the vegetables took on a wonderful roasted texture. Plus, served alongside the fall salad, it made enough for several meals. Definitely doing this again.

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