Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 4 at Denison Farm CSA

Signs of the Season: Zucchini and Herbs
I admit it. I did not make it all the way through. There is a head of bok choy with two packages of tofu waiting to be turned into something delicious. There's even fresh ginger to take it to the next level. But, sometimes the best laid plans, the best laid vegetables, can go to waste. This, my friends, is why we need triage. And more recipes for bok choy.

Step 1: Triage

The question is how long one can wait to include a specific vegetable into your meal planning. Does the protein need to be purchased now or later? Will the vegetable complement the beautiful eggs coming home with our shares? Is it a stand alone? Better yet, will it make a good coleslaw for the July 4th?

Short Life (1 week): Lettuce, Sugar Snap Peas, Basil (some sites only)
Medium Life (1-2 weeks): Cucumbers, Broccoli, Collard Greens, Summer Squash/Zucchini
Long Life: (2+ weeks) Sweet Onions, Caraflex Cabbage

A first, immediate note on shelf life: the longer Sugar Snap Peas are off the vine, the less sweet and more starchy they will be. Use these as soon as possible for prime deliciousness.

Next note: In truth, after many a year working through the Denision Farm CSA, the particular features of each cabbage variety slightly blend together. That being said, I know that Caraflex Cabbage is sweet and light, easy to work with. If you need a dish to bring to your 4th of July celebration, may I recommend this light coleslaw?

Sweet and Sour Coleslaw

From America's Test Kitchen

1 head cabbage (2 lbs) cored and shredded (about 12-14 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
2 carrots, peeled and grated

Toss the cabbage with the sugar and 1 tsp of the salt. Allow to sit in a colander for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Whisk the oil, lemon juice, poppy seeds, the remaining 1 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper together in a bowl large enough to hold the salad. Add the wilted cabbage and carrots and toss. Chill for at least 1 hr before serving. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Note: Coleslaw can be prepared, covered and refrigerated up to 3 days in advance. Before serving, freshen the salad with a dash of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 2: Divide and Conquer

I admit it. I find Collards a little intimidating. I'm rarely one for 'well done' greens and I haven't found a recipe yet that calls for 'bright green' collards. That being said, they are an excellent example of 'Divide and Conquer.'

When cooking, some recipes call for the Collards to be stripped from their stems. This holds in line with other 'heavy' greens such as kale or chard. This vegetarian recipe calls for the collards to go in whole and delicious:

Vegetarian "Southern-style" Collard Greens

From Sunny Anderson, Food Network

1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/2 large onion, chopped Note: Insert Sweet Onion here!
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 lb collard greens, chopped
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Salt and pepper

In large pot over medium heat, heat oil and butter. Saute onion until slightly softened, about 2 minutes, then add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook another minute. Add collard greens and cook another minute. Add the vegetable stock, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until greens re tender, about 40 minutes. Add tomatoes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Step 3: Everything in it's Place

Thus begins Summer Squash/Zucchini season. It will continue until these creatures become zucchini bats and become piled onto break room tables accompanied by the desperate words "Please take me home!!!"

At this stage, your summer squash and zucchini should still have tender seed and crisp flesh. They are delicious sauteed with rosemary and caramelized onion, tossed through pasta with a bit more olive oil. If you're feeling adventurous, try tossing through with tortellini. Serve hot or chill for a great salad on a hot day.

Speaking of hot days, grill your Sweet Onions on the 4th. There is no better use other than caramelizing them into deliciousness and turning them into a quiche, soup, omelette, sauce... Well, let's put it this way. If the Sweet Onions in our house last more that a week, I will be very surprised.

Step 4: Storage

If you unwrap your basil from its rubber band and place the bunch in a vase of water on your kitchen window, it will keep for months. This is truth - we received basil in August of last year - it lasted us until December. Just make sure to keep leaves out of the water - brown or otherwise - and to keep an eye on the water level.

Zucchini and Summer Squash can be grated, frozen and saved for a day when you feel inspired to make zucchini bread. Cucumbers, as always, can be pickled. Broccoli can be frozen.

Onions and Calafex Cabbage will keep long if kept long and dry. That being said, keep an eye. The onions are not dried (nor would we ever wish them to be) and the Calafex is more tender that your 'traditional' cabbage.

Whatever you end up with, whatever you try, have fun and share it with someone else. Enjoy the week, enjoy the weather, enjoy the food.

All the best,
Leah the Nosher

Monday, June 23, 2014

Week 3 at Denison Farm CSA

Roasted Beet with Mustard Dressing, served over Boston Lettuce
Alongside Beef Empanadas, followed by Lemon Sorbet and Cantelope
The season has begun. We're well in and my fridge is already reaching the end of each week with a head of lettuce, a head of broccoli, a bunch of kale, still waiting in anticipation to be turned into something delicious before they start turning into... well, something entirely different altogether for lack of use. Luckily, there's tofu and ginger to go with the broccoli, an oven ready for kale chips, and in-laws who will happily take on a head of romaine or three. In the meantime, it's time to get into gear and begin the Triage.

This week, our shares will include: Lettuce, Lacinato Kale, Cucumbers, White Turnips (Hakurei), Broccoli, Beets and Scallions.

Step 1: Triage

Here, we separate into how long each item will last and, therefore, what needs to be consumed first.

Short Life (one week or less): Lettuce, Scallions, Turnip Greens, Beet Greens
Medium Life (two weeks, give or take): Cucumbers, Broccoli, Lacinato Kale
Long Life (in a cool, dry place: indefinitely): White Turnips, Beets 

I needed to look up what Lacinato Kale was. Apparently, I've been eating it all of my life. Lacinato Kale is an Italian kale that is the traditional ingredient in minestrone or beans and greens. Who knew? So, as it is currently too hot for soup, proceed in the following manner for a twist on the traditional white beans and greens:

Garlicky Black-eyed Peas n' Greens
from Moosewood Restaurant's Low-fat Favorites

2 cups dried black-eyed peas Note: canned black-eyed peas can also be used, but it will reduce the garlicky punch
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 pound Lacinato Kale, rinsed and chopped (about 6 cups loosely packed) Note: the recipe also mentions collard greens or mustard greens as possible options instead of the kale. Consider adding theturnip greens for an added peppery kick, but be aware of different cooking times - the turnip greenswill cook much faster.
1 T olive oil
2-4 T minced garlic
1 tsp dried thme
salt and ground black pepper to taste

If using dried black-eyed peas: Rinse the black eyed peas. Place them in a soup pot with the peeled garlic cloves and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover, and cook for 45 minutes, until tender, adding water occasionally as needed. The black-eyed peas should be moist but not soupy, so it is ideal when most of the water has been absorbed at the end of cooking. When the black-eyed peas are tender, if most of the water has not been absorbed, lightly drain them.

Rinse the greens and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and saute the minced garlic and thyme for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the damp greens and continue to stir until they are wilted but still bright green. Stir the greens into the black-eyed pease and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Suggested serving: on rice, topped with chopped scallions, with lemon wedges or hot pepper vinegar on the side.

Step 2: Divide and Conquer

Often, different components of a specific vegetable will have different shelf lives. Additionally, some early prep on certain vegetable will allow them to keep longer or be more accessible when the time comes to serve them.

Separate the turnips from their greens, making sure to leave the very ends still attached (think of a dried onion). Do the same with the beets and their greens. This will allow the root vegetables to retain their moisture and keep for the long term. That being said, the sooner the turnips are eaten, the sweeter they will be. Be they shaved thinly into salads, sliced into sticks for a crudite, or roasted sweet, these are a versatile and delicious addition to your vegetable repertoire.

Step 3: Everything in it's Place

You're not going to put bok choi in your macaroni and cheese. There will always be a vegetable you have a love/hate relationship with (in my case, beets and swiss chard). That being said, there are ways to become aware of how to incorporate the new vegetable you receive each week fairly seamlessly into your family's repertoire.

Broccoli is an easy one. You've had it a hundred times before. As long as it stays raw or bright green (and never, ever turns even slightly gray), you will have delicious food to feed your family. That being said, if you then proceed to smother it in a bright orange cheese sauce, you and I are going to have a serious argument.

But, back to beets. They really can be made delicious and are a great source of all things good in nutrition. My four year old, the omnivore, will eat them raw. For the rest of us, cooking them well makes for many a good thing:

Roasted Beets with Mustard Lemon Dressing

1 lb beets
3 T mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 T olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Lemon Zest

Preheat your oven to 400. Scrubs beets well and wrap individually in aluminum foil. Place on a rimmed sheet pan or baking dish. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until fork tender. Remove from oven and from foil. Allow to cool.

Once beets have cooled, remove skin. Cut into bite sized wedges.

Mix remaining ingredients into a dressing. Toss beets through while still warm. Allow to cool or serve warm. The mixture serves as an excellent topping for a lettuce salad or cooked-but-still-bright-greenbeet greens.

Step 4: Storage

This final step goes back to how long our veggies will keep, how fast they will be eaten, and how well they can be stored if we have more than can be used in a week. What can be frozen? What can be dried? What can be pickled?

Cucumbers can always be pickled according to your favorite recipe, but in our house they are the only permissible vegetable for the non-omnivorous 7 year old. They will be gone quickly.

Broccoli can be blanched, spread out on a cookie sheet to be frozen individually. Once frozen, they can be gathered into one bag and stored deep in your freezer until needed.

Beets and Turnips will keep indefinitely in a dry crisper in your refrigerator. Scallions can be dried for use at a later date, but with their versatility as an ingredient in salads, eggs, garlicky black-eyed peas n' greens, you have few excuses not to use them up in short order.

However you use your vegetables, share them and enjoy them. Make mistakes. Experiment. Have fun and try something you've never tried before. We'll see you next week.

Sincerely, Leah the Nosher

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Week 21 at Denison Farm CSA

Greetings, fellow Community of Supported Agriculturists! This week in your CSA you will be receiving:

Daikon Radish
Bunch Turnips
Bag of Beets & Carrots
Winter Squash
Sweet Potatoes

Step 1: Triage

Short Life: Lettuce, Turnip Greens, Spinach
Medium Life: Daikon Radish, Turnips (depending on storage)
Long Life: Garlic, Onions, Beets & Carrots, Winter Squash, Sweet Potatoes

For best storage of Daikon, remove their tops and store in a sealed plastic bag. Stored this way, they should keep for up to 2 weeks. Their taste will be slightly milder than a red radish and they are delicious sliced thinly into salad. Alternatively, the daikons can be combined with your turnips, garlic and onions into this delicious soup:

Turnip Soup with Daikon
Adapted from

2 medium turnips and their greens
1 daikon
1 onion
2 T olive oil
5 garlic
1 tomato
3 chili peppers (optional)
juice of one lemon
red pepper or chili flakes (optional)

1. Soak turnip greens, ensuring they are well washed. Gather all ingredients.

2. Dice onion and garlic. Add olive oil to a medium large stock pot and set to medium high. Add onions and garlic to saute, stirring occasionally.

3. Chop turnips and daikon. Add to pot and stir.

4. Add to turnip greens, giving them a tear or two with your hands. Don't worry if they overfill the pot - they will shrink down thoroughly as they cook.

5. Chop and add the tomato, and chopped chilies if desired. Let the soup come to a boil and barely cook for 5-10 minutes. Make sure the vegetables maintain their texture - don't boil too long!

6. Garnish soup with lemon juice. Sprinkle chili/red pepper flakes on top if desired.

Step 2: Divide and Conquer

As previously stated, all greens should be separated from their roots for best storage. For the most part, they can all be sauteed with olive oil and some of that delicious garlic we're getting this week. When cooking the spinach and other greens, be aware of the thickness of the stems and remove if necessary. 

For winter squash and sweet potatoes (and beets for that matter), I find that the best flavor comes through when they are not divided from the skins, but rather roasted with minimal prep. For winter squash, halve and scoop out the seeds. Place face down on a greased pan. Allow to bake at 375 for 45 minutes until able to be pierced with a fork. The perfect tool for removing the flesh is, as pictured above, an ice cream scoop.

Step 3: Everything in it's Place

One of my all time favorite soups involves a mountain of garlic with a mountain of squash or other winter vegetables. The original recipe calls for pumpkin, but a combination of squash and sweet potato would be delicious:

Roasted Garlic and Sage Winter Squash Soup
A Noshing Confessions original

3 or 4 heads of garlic
2 T olive oil
2-3 T fresh sage, chopped
1 T brown sugar
1 large onion
2 ribs celery, diced
3-4 cups fresh pumpkin, sweet potato or squash, peeled and 1 inch cubed
Salt and Pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground corriander
2 T honey
6 cups broth or stock (chicken or vegetable)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the outer wrappings from the heads of garlic. Slice off the top of each head, so that the cloves are exposed. Place garlic on aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil over each. Tear several sage leafs over each and press the brown sugar into and onto the exposed cloves. Wrap the garlic mixture completely in the aluminum foil and allow to roast for 30-35 minutes.

2. Meanwhile prep celery, onions and chosen squash. Heat olive oil in a medium-large stock pot over medium heat. Saute onions, celery and pumpkin with a sprinkle of salt until onions begin to caramelize and squash begins to soften.

3. Add roasted garlic to pot alone with it's cooking oil. Add coriander, cumin, honey and remaining sage. Stir until fragrant. Add 1 cup of stock to deglaze the pan, scraping up any yummy bits. 

4. Add remaining stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.

5. Puree or smash thoroughly using a stick blender or a potato masher. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with hearty bread and sauteed greens or  a squeeze of lime juice, a dab of sour cream, with tortillas and black beans and rice on the side.

Step 4: Storage

Nearly all vegetables from this week will store for the long term if kept cool, dry and out of the light. It is how we know that it is fall and the winter is coming. 

Speaking of winter, we have enjoyed our winter boxes each time we have received them from Denison Farm - especially turning the purple potatoes into purple latkes come Chanukah. I highly recommend considering the boxes for your household.

Until next time,
Leah the Nosher

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sukkahs and Week 17 2013

In the warmth of my Sukkah, we sit and read through my daughter's homework. The light filters through it's blue walls, the sun sends shafts of light through the bamboo sukkah.

In the cool of my sukkah, we laugh over an afternoon snack. We tell tales of the day and listen to the girls swing in the yard, back and forth.

In the shelter of my sukkah, I welcome this New Year. We begin it by building a home, symbolic of all the homes that have been built before. I watch the harvest moon rise and my heart overflows with music.

In our sukkah, we put down roots for the new beginning, knowing how temporary and fragile they might be, caught up in a gust of wind, a shower of rain. But we begin again. We build again. Each year, we return and our sukkah waits for our voices, for the full table, for the full moon to rise over the shelter and three stars to appear. A new day. A new year. A return to beginning again.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Warm Cabbage Slaw and Week 16 2013

Two small heads of red cabbage landed in our share last week. Last night, accompanied by Bratwurst and crisp apples from the fruit share, they were turned into slaw. It was dead easy, tender crisp and sweet, and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Turkey Chili and Week 12 2013

I needed to empty out my fridge. There were peppers and corn and onions and there are more on the way. My protein that needed using was ground turkey. And what's a good Italian-Jewish household without tomatoes in the pantry, let alone two cans of Goya black beans? Hence, dinner has been born.