Oscar

Meet Oscar.

Oscar the Toad

We found Oscar while helping my mum out in her garden on Memorial Day Weekend.

I asked him if he would be willing to participate in the Memorial Day Frog Jumping Contest, but Oscar politely informed me that he is not a frog.  He is a toad.

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.

Foot-by-Foot Gardens

Our effort is to increase farming and gardening in the city by planting our own window garden and supporting rooftop gardens, urban farms and farmers markets. But sometimes we can’t help but escape to where the farming and gardening already is. Especially in the summer, the two of us find ourselves sneaking away to help family members with their gardening projects, and spending oodles of time hidden in the country jumping in lakes.

The Lake

It’s likely that we’ll be posting a handful of things that look decidedly un-New York this summer.  But we will continue to bring farms to city folk. For our first un-NY offering is a “foot by foot” garden project that we lent a hand to and think can offer ideas to apartment dwellers on how to grow a reasonable amount of food in a small amount of space – like a window.

My mum started a garden this year where she diligently divided her planter up with rope to section off 12″ by 12″ spaces and plant within each square.

Foot-by-Foot GardenShe’s growing lettuce, swiss chard, beets, peas, broccoli, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, strawberries, various herbs, and other glorious goodies!

Beets

Despite our teenie-weenie apartments, we all have one foot to designate to greenery.  So grow stuff!
(Keep it up, Mom.)

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.)

Sesame Mucho

Here’s a challenge those of us in my household enjoy: how many foods can we combine from our CSA share into one meal, and still have it taste good?

This week we managed to accumulate:

  • fresh onion
  • fresh garlic
  • purple basil
  • amaranth greens
  • Velour string beans
  • gold beets
  • eggplant
  • plum tomatoes
  • cherry tomatoes
  • hot green peppers
  • blueberries
  • and yellow peaches
And ten out of twelve ain’t half bad.

A good way to throw it all into one meal is with a (sesame) stir-fry. Start with your aromatics… say, fresh onion, garlic, purple basil, and hot green peppers. Then let them sauté until soft.
Add chopped eggplant.
When that has softened, add plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and amaranth greens.
Then add (mmm) sesame seeds, with a sauce made of sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, ginger, and a squeeze of orange.  Put it over rice and grab chopsticks.
For dessert we had peaches and blueberries.
Cheating you say? Oh. Oops.

The Eight-Legged Vegetable

Sometimes an obscure vegetable can pop up in your CSA share.  Take, for example, the purple kohlrabi.

Purple Kholrabi

What does one do with a purple kohlrabi?

My parents once made a deal that if my pop would do the food shopping, my mum would cook anything he brought home for a month. Taking this as a challenge (not a compromise), the old man got more and more creative with what she came home to. On the day she opened the fridge and found an entire octopus, she surrendered, and they’ve been sharing the shopping responsibilities since. Finding a purple kohlrabi felt a lot like finding an octopus.

The best way we’ve found to negotiate the less common is to blindly jump in and Sauteed Vegetablesfirst taste it raw, then cooked, then hope to high hell you match it with the proper ingredients. We paired our purple kohlrabi with bok choy and peppers in some olive oil, while making a curry sauce separately. For the curry we Tofu Currysauteed onion, garlic, and scallions. We added some fresh ginger, curry powder, and turmeric. Then covered it in coconut milk and a bit of soy sauce, and simmered. Then we chucked in some tofu, the sauteed vegetables, poured it all over rice, and dinner was concocted.

The kohlrabi reminded us vaguely of turnip, although it had been described to us as tasting like broccoli stalk. Raw it was subtle and crunchy. We found that the longer it cooked, the sweeter and more flavorful it became.  The occasional (accidental) crispier kohlrabi slices, ended up being the best part of our curry.

Kholrabi and Tofu Stirfry

Given the chance, even an octopus can surprise you.