Emergency Rations

As you may (or may not) have guessed from the complete lack of posts recently, things have been hectic.  The consequences of this stretch of mayhem are as follows: our regular writer’s fingers are officially tapped, so this post will be brought to you by the “ever supportive husband”; some posts in the next series may look like they happened weeks ago, and they did; cooking has been hard, and the time spent in the kitchen has been total utility; and we have accumulated a giant pile of food that needs to get used, stat.

Image

Since we both got a glorious work free night, which happened to coincide with our share pickup, we decided to take care of this food pile all at once by making a couple of soups and sauces and freezing everything.  The one night cooking marathon included:

  • Cucumber-melon soup
  • Summer squash soup
  • Tomato sauce
  • Zucchini and cherry tomato frittata with mashed potatoes (dinner)

We’ll post updates on the rest of the things soon, but here is the recipe for the squash soup:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Pounds Pattypan Squash (commonly known as Flying Saucer Squash)
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Ginger (powdered)
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 4 Cups Vegetable Broth
  • Salt and Pepper

Start by toasting the cumin a little, then add the olive oil, garlic and onion.  Sauté until the onions are translucent and then add the curry and ginger.  Add the squash and cook until softened.  Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and puree (an immersion blender really comes in handy here).  Adjust seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.

This was really pretty simple to do, and since we had an ingredient surplus we were able to freeze enough for a few meals.  The next time the blog goes silent, you can bet we’ve hunkered down and are breaking into our new emergency stockpile.

Windowsill Growings-Ons

We’ve made some mentions lately of goodies from our garden being thrown in our meals, like scallions in our peanut noodles and chives in our eggs, et cetera, but it’s been a while since we’ve given a progress report on our window garden’s goings-ons.

Our cherry tomato plants we were so dubious about are actual tomatoes… or tomatoes of the not-red-yet variety.  They’re cramped and could definitely be happier – drought not helping – but they’re fruiting, so I, for one, have big plans for their future.

Cherry Tomato Plant

Cherry Tomato Plant

We have added zucchini to our plot, knowing that it tends to grow copiously. And copious it has been! The zucchini greenery has spread like mad, and we now have little zuchi flowers a-bloomin’!

Zucchini Flowers

I’ve heard rumors you can cook with the flowers, but haven’t heard of any appealing recipes. Would be delighted by contributions.

And a certain someone demanded we have a lemon tree. I have no clue on earth how a lemon tree will survive in our apartment come winter, but I assume we’ll find out. And it must be going well enough as little buzzy bees have been visiting our windowsill!

Lemon Tree BeesAnd as our last addition, we grew some berries! They’ve quickly gotten squiggly with the heatwave we’ve been suffering, but when we get to them in time they’ve been a stupendous treat.

Strawberry Plant

In less good news, our spinach totally kicked the bucket. It was a comic failure. As were our mustard greens. And our mint has on days and off days. But I’m taking the optimistic view that for our first window garden ever, things are going in our favor.

Farm Friends

Sometimes new friends come in your CSA!

Don’t be startled, they come with the territory.  And if you let them, they’ll tickle your thumb.

Above is Albert. As we have a window garden there’s a convenient place for Albert to live when he accidentally arrives in our tote bag. Albert’s made several friends since: Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein, Buttersworth, and Swarthy. They all live happily in the soil and throw bug parties and watch passers-by.

I suggest you burrow through your goodies from your share and make sure you don’t have any new pals nibbling on your vegetables. We had the alarming experience of almost cooking Buttersworth on Tuesday, and have since been more thorough in our searches.

Anyone have a suggestion on where to put farm friends when you don’t have a window garden? (Flushing not an option.)

Patriotic Muffins

Patriotic Muffins

We’ve gotten blueberries three weeks in a row from our share, which can only mean a clear blinking roadside sign that says “MAKE MUFFINS”. Which we did.  And are glad about it.

Blueberry muffins are the happiest way to celebrate the summer, and an even happier way to celebrate our independence. And brilliantly, our farm had a muffin recipe up on their website. We skipped their lemon-sugar topping, but used their ingredients as inspiration and were granted a spirited flag to top ’em off.

Our Share’s Muffins:
•    2 cups fresh blueberries (from the farm!)Patriotic Muffin Insides
•    1 1/8 cups sugar plus 1 teaspoon
•    2 1/2 cups of flour
•    2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
•    1 teaspoon table salt
•    2 large eggs
•    4 tablespoons of unsalted butter , melted and cooled
•    1/4 cup vegetable oil
•    1 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup of yogurt)
•    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Num num num…

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Serve with sparklers and a side of fireworks.

Fireworks on the Lake

Grill Master Evan

My better half is a grilling maniac.  And he always does a beautiful job.  Evan will throw anything on a flame, and I’ll eat anything that comes off it. (Except for the slab of meat that he’s cooking above, a photo taken when he was still a carnivore.)
But truly, you can put anything on a grill that comes out of your CSA, and I encourage you to try everything!  Little salt, some olive oil, maybe a marinade.
This summer, try grilling:
Grilled Broccoli
  • eggplant
  • tomatoes
  • watermelon
  • zucchini
  • broccoli
  • asparagus
  • anything
  • or anything that’s not leafy rather
  • and TOFU.

I’ve found that many people who violently dislike tofu, of which there are many, actually enjoy it when it’s been thrown on a grill because it’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Marinate slabs of tofu for a few hours in a ziplock bag with whatever flavors you like — soy-sesame concoctions are usually a favorite — and then put it on the grill and let it get a little on the blacker side. Meanwhile, cook down the leftover marinade. When the tofu starts to blacken a bit pull it off and eat it with the leftover sauce. It might (just maybe) surprise you.

Grilled Tofu

And ask Ev to come over and fix you a meal.  There’s a good chance he’ll do it, and there’s an even better chance you’ll like it.

Ev at the Grill

For a few more coal-tinted ideas, check out Olaf and His Meals from last year’s harvest.

Peanut Noodles

Peanut Noodles

I know a losing battle when I see one, but I’m currently in a fight with bok choy. Despite my aversion to its texture, I love bok choy’s flavor. My former favorite way to have it was in a coconut sauce with cod and sticky rice. But since our household has added fish to our current unapproved list, we’ve been really strapped on ideas for bok choy. (Stir fries. Incessant stir fries.)

So when bok choy came in our farm share this week – for the second week in a row – I sighed a big sigh. It seems only to work with Asian flavors, so I paced our five-foot-long kitchen trying to come up with a non-stir fry Asian meal until I was dizzy, and then remembered an old favorite – peanut noodles!

Bok Choy

Peanut noodles are remarkably easy to make:

  • bunch of scallions (and if you like things garlicy, a clove or two of garlic) sauteed in sesame oil
  • peanut butter – about 1/3 cup
  • soy sauce – 1/4 cup
  • hot water – 1/4 cup
  • ginger
  • cider vinegar – 1 tbsp
  • touch of honey (100% optional)
  • red pepper flakes

We took scallions out of our window garden, and cooked them up with bok choy from our share, and then dumped the rest of the flavors in while cooking some noodles on the side. Uber-delicious, and even better as leftovers.

Sauteed Bok Choy

It has been correctly pointed out to me that I in fact do not know a losing battle when I see one… nor, perhaps, believe in losing battles. Nevertheless, despite this victory, bok choy seems to be winning the war.

Plant a Radish/Get a Radish

RadishesApparently radishes are nature’s easy lay, because every week we manage to get some. I love the bite of radishes and find them delightfully sweeter when they’ve just been plucked (is this innuendo getting old, or what?) than when you just pick them up at the supermarket. But as delicious and aesthetically pleasing as radishes are, especially amongst all the greenery, eating radishes in salad week after week begins to be taxing.

Radishes with ButterSo someone recently suggested sautéing radishes to me, which had never occurred to me, but turned out to be a welcomed relief and really likable!  We were naughty and sautéed them in butter instead of olive oil, but we figured for our first attempt, we’d be dirty about it.

… That was the last one, I promise.

The Elitist’s Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese

I have been called many things:  charming, delightful, dazzling. Also: trouble, insufferable, a pain in the ass, and most recently, a food snob.

And at the very least, the last is true. And with food snobbery comes pickiness, a propensity toward judgement, perpetual quiet (or in my case loud) criticism, and a certain “look at my cuisineyness.” I apologize to those who I bombard.

Here is one of my favorite look at my cuisineyness meals. I call it the Elitist’s Mac and Cheese, and I lord it over anyone who proudly prepares Kraft Mac and Cheese. But really it’s easy and delicious and I’m kidding about the pretentiousness (mostly).

Sauté up whatever vegetables are lying around, or came in your CSA share. The above is shallots, garlic, and swiss chard. Cook some pasta, preferably whole wheat. Grate more cheddar cheese then you think you could fathomably enjoy. Combine everything, sprinkle breadcrumbs on top, and put it in the broiler. When it’s crispy and gooey, eat it. And be sure to dress for dinner, use big words, gesture emphatically and enjoy pompous wine while you do so.

The Fall Variety

When seated at the dinner table at seven-years-old, I remarked to my highly literal father (who does not take kindly to hyperbole), “I could eat an artichoke every day.” And so, for the next 365 days an artichoke appeared diligently on my plate, as if this would please and delight me.  Try explaining exaggeration to a parent at eight; I promise you it is ineffective.

This is when I learned that variety indeed is the spice of life. And cinnamon, it turns out, is the spice of butternut squash soup. And from these two lessons comes the great joy of eating seasonally. Months change, and so do our eating habits. Clearly, we’ve been appledated. But additionally, now we’re getting squashed, and pumpked, and yammed.  And most of these autumn ingredients landed in this week’s soup.

We managed to accumulate onion, garlic, butternut squash, a yam, and [more] apples in our CSA this week: clearly soup in the making.  So all of the above got roasted up, then blended, then cooked with vegetable stock, orange juice, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

And the fall variety was served. (Artichokes be damned.)

Appletopia

This is what my better half said to me this evening when sorting through our share: “We’ve gotten enough apples this season to make Steve Jobs blush.”

And then: “…Too soon?”

Challah French Toast

But truly, even our fair missed friend would agree that we have suffered the inundation of apple season.  With our influx of apples, we’ve made applesauce, apple butter, appley meals, and apple deserts.  We have been, for all intents and purposes, applified.

Apple Radish Salad

For some decadent examples, last weekend we indulged in heavenly apple challah french toast.  (I also admit we went leafing… please don’t hate us.)

Healthy Apple Crisp

CSA share apples and radish salad with an apple cider vinaigrette.  It had a very fall-like bite and a sweet crispy finish.

And the healthiest apple crisp you can imagine made with (obscene quantities of) apple, oatmeal, pecans, cinnamon, honey, salt, and butter.

Next up apple-butternut squash soup. Appley yourself.