Friday, September 21, 2007
I feel a little silly about waxing poetic about a bunch of carrots, but the carrots I picked up yesterday at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market were absolutely gorgeous! They were fat and bright orange and weirdly shaped and the greens were fresh and just lovely. I’ll spare you the actual poetry, but they really were fabulous. I had to have them!
And since putting food up for the Winter is the special focus of the September Eat Local Challenge, I could not resist making these little beauties (grown by Lancaster Farm Fresh) into pickles.
If you’re anything like me, anything other cucumber pickles is sort of scary. For me, I should say ‘was scary’. I’m not grossed out by other kinds of pickles anymore. But I used to hear the word ‘pickled’ and think of my grandmother’s disgusting homemade bread and better pickles (sickeningly sweet) or the wretched pickled eggs my mother makes (just plain sickening). And let’s not forget those nasty store-bought pickled beets! Argh! Just this Summer, though, I found out how good pickled vegetables can really be…and now I find I crave them.
The best thing about all this is that making pickled vegetables is a total snap, and some of the stuff I need can be found in my garden. Dill and garlic, for instance.
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into small lengths
1/4 cup minced dill
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons pickling salt
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
Blanch the carrots for 2 minutes in boiling water, then immerse them in cold water until they have cooled.
Pack the carrots and dill into a canning jar or two. In a saucepan, bring the remaining ingredients to a boil. Pour the liquid over the carrots. Cap the jar, and let it cool to room temperature.
Refrigerate the jar for 2 days or longer before eating the carrots. Refrigerated, they will keep for at least 2 months.
Alternatively, you can give these a water bath to seal.
This jar was made last night, and I tried a pickled carrot this morning - wonderful!!
Stir Fry, CSA Style
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I’ve been in a funk recently, and didn’t have much motivation to cook. As a result, I had lots of vegetables in the fridge, as the CSA shares keep coming in, funk or no. This evening, I decided to make a stir fry and use as many vegetables as I could. I don’t really have a recipe—it’s mostly improvised.
This stir fry has the following local vegetables: green beans, pimiento peppers, bok choy, napa cabbage, turnips, and garlic. It also has red pepper flakes, soy sauce, and shirataki, which are noodles made from a type of yam called konnyaku.
Served over rice, this turned out to be a good dinner. Perhaps it’ll be the spark to get me cooking again.
Posted by Yoko on 09/20 at 09:14 PM
The dastardly Daikon
No, I didn’t spend the day slaving away in my kitchen to make handmade pasta. This is the ‘something new’ with Daikon radish I alluded to in my CSA report. Yes, those noodles are really ribbons of radish!
Was the experiment a success? It depends on who you ask. I thought it was really good - an unusual taste combination, but light-tasting and yummy. My husband was not as delighted. That’s really not very shocking, though. He’s a lovely person, but not very adventurous when it comes to eating and trying new things. If it looks like pasta, it should taste like pasta. The Daikon most certainly does not. The homemade pasta sauce is very comforting and familiar, and the radish is crisp and slightly bitter.
I am not an evil genius who dreamt this up on my own - we have Iron Chef Morimoto to thank. While searching for something interesting to do with my latest batch of locally-grown Daikon, I came across his recipe for Daikon Fettucine with Tomato-Basil Sauce. I monkeyed around slightly with the recipe, and here is what I made:
1 pound diakon
About two cups of crushed tomatoes with juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper
- Trim the daikon of its outer skin and then use a vegetable peeler or mandoline to cut fine strips of daikon into ribbon-like slices. Soak the daikon in water for about 15 minutes and then drain and dry on a towel.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high. Saute onion and garlic for about five minutes. Stir in tomatoes and juice, and a bit of salt. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until sauce gets thickened. Stir in basil, salt, and pepper.
- Add daikon to skillet and gently combine with sauce. Cook for about one minute until heated through.
What’s even better than learning something new to do with Daikon radish? Being able to use all locally grown ingredients in the recipe, with the exception of the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
CSA Weekly Report: Lancaster Farm Fresh
It’s only a few days from officially being Autumn - does this week’s share from Lancaster Farm Fresh reflect that? Sort of. At least the tomatoes and corn have stopped coming in fast and furious, which is a sure sign that Summer is over!
This weeks share includes:
- 1 bunch German parlait radishes grown by Meadow Valley Organics
1 bunch daikon radishes grown by Elm Tree Organics
1 head radicchio grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm
1 head leaf lettuce grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm
2 lb. bag beets grown by Farmdale Organics
3 eggplants grown by Riverview Organics
1/2 lb. young kale grown by Elm Tree Organics
1 butternut squash grown by Hillside Organics
I’m a little bummed out the eggplants are those teeny baby ones - I had visions in my head of making a meal out of them. What do you do with a couple of very small eggplant? I don’t know - this is why I stopped growing them in the garden.
I plan to roast and freeze the squash and beets, and blanch and freeze the kale. I’ll be using the radicchio in a pasta bake, and I’m trying something new with the Daikon tonight for dinner (a full report on that later). There’s not much you can do with regular radishes except nibble on them as snacks, is there? I don’t know, I was thinking I might try pickling them or making radish relish. The lettuce? I hate to say it, but it will probably just end up as fodder for the compost pile - we still haven’t eaten last week’s lettuce and I already preserved insane amounts of lettuce in the Spring as cream of lettuce soup (minus the cream, frozen). With just three or four weeks left in the CSA season, I seriously hope the shares don’t devolve into masses of lettuce - what a let down that would be!
Posted by Nicole on 09/20 at 02:48 PM
The sunshine of my life
I asked around about that sunshine winter squash I got in the CSA share a couple weeks ago, and the overwhelming recommendation was to roast it. Even in the recipes I was given, roasting the squash first was part of the directions. I decided to simply roast it this first go around, figuring it would give me the opportunity to get to know the flavor.
I cut it in half, then put in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour, in a shallow pan of water. Looking back, that seems like an obscenely high temperature. That’s because I didn’t read the directions completely. I had about five things going on in the kitchen, preserving some fruits and veggies (more on that later), and I just wasn’t paying close enough attention to the recipe. Turns out, the 400 degrees instruction was for a roasted soup. I ended up with a side of roasted sunshine squash mash (I only added a bit of water, no Earth Balance, butter, etc.) - which was actually really tasty.
AC came in the house after a long day at school and several hours skateboarding, famished, and immediately pointed to the bowl on the counter, asking what it was. I told him to taste it and, in spite of me it seems (after what I said), he grabbed a fork, took a bite and announced that it was, “really good.”
“This is better than really good, it’s excellent!”
“It tastes like sweet potatoes!”
Ah, the power of the sweet potato… I had to hold him back from devouring the entire bowl, and so I busied him with making a veggie burger for himself while I scooped some onto his plate as a side. While he was eating, I decided to savor-up the squash a bit for myself. I added salt, pepper and sauteed leeks.
To balance out the sweetness of this side dish, I made a quick spicy marinade. Using an immersion blender, I mixed tamari, garlic (turned into a paste using a microplane), Jason’s homemade hot sauce, liquid smoke and pureed tomatoes, and poured it onto slices of wild rice tempeh.
A couple hours later when I was ready to eat, I warmed up the sunshine squash in the microwave. In a frying pan, I steamed chopped leeks for few minutes, then added the tempeh (including marinade from the container) and cooked it at a high heat for bit. A little side salad of cherry tomatoes and lettuce splashed with Bragg aminos rounded out the plate.
Everything is local, minus the tamari, salt, pepper, liquid smoke, aminos and tempeh. The tempeh easily could have been local (Cricklewood Soyfoods makes fantastic tempeh in Mertztown), but with that whole fruit and veggie preservation thing I mentioned before, I’m on a mission to get the freezer cleaned out. I found some errant tempeh packages from my co-op in the depths.
As a winter squash, the sunshine has tons of vitamin A, is good for B6, potassium and fiber, and is alkaline - it’s totally a keeper in this house. Actually, it’s a keeper because it tastes like sweet potato I’m particularly excited about that point because it positively reinforced the ten-year-old monster when tasting new veggies. As much as I heart my kale, that’s more than it’s ever done for me!
Next up: Kabocha! Same advice you think? Just roast it?
Posted by Mikaela on 09/20 at 09:20 AM
Shellbark Hollow Sharp Goat
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I absolutely love Shellbark Hollow sharp goat cheese. Goat cheese had a pretty good tang to it to begin with, and this aged, sharp goat is super sassy! It’s big flavor. It has a dry, sort of crumbly texture.
The sharp goat was a great addition to the roasted beet and goat cheese stacks I made last Friday. Goat cheese is a natural paired with beets anyway, but this cheese stood up so well to the beets and the lemony zest of sorrel. I’m thinking this would make an excellent cheese to stuff into some nice locally grown chicken breasts, as well.
The Shellbark Hollow sharp goat is available at DiBruno Bros. and the Fair Food Farmstand.
CSA Weekly Report: Blooming Glen Farm
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
(Click photo to read notes at flick’r regarding names and quantities of this week’s share.)
Aren’t sweet potatoes the best? I’m always on the lookout for high alkaline veggies that my son likes. Who am I kidding. I’m always on the lookout for any veggies that he’ll even tolerate.
He’s the king of broccoli, he loves steamed carrots and can knock back quite a bit of raw red peppers and cucumbers with some hummus. All of this is great, but when it comes to switching things up and trying something new or different, he uncharacteristically hesitates.
This is the same child who will, and often does, skateboard off flights of stairs.
Sweet potato was one of the surprises that came with our CSA subscription last year. It’s certainly not an uncommon vegetable, but, like leeks, it was one that I never really considered while shopping at the market. Hm, and I wonder why my son won’t give kale a chance? I suppose we’re all creatures of habit to a certain degree.
Lucky for both of us, Blooming Glen introduced our kitchen to the sweet potato. This root vegetable is high in fiber, vitamin B6 (especially nice for a vegetarian or vegan) and potassium, and is a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. And better than all that? It’s dang tasty and can be prepared quickly.
Certainly there is much more exotic produce a CSA will bring into your home, but it seems that simple and everyday once again reign supreme in the local diet
Posted by Mikaela on 09/18 at 10:01 PM
How far will you go?
Monday, September 17, 2007
I sometimes fantasize about being able to raise livestock and grow more of what I eat on our little property in the burbs. Growing fruit and veggies is one thing - it’s not hard. Raising chickens or goats are quite another. I’m poo-phobic to start with, and while I’ve seen pigs slaughtered and deer shot I’m not sure that I could bring myself to gut animals regularly. It takes an intestinal fortitude I’m just not sure I have.
After reading this hilarious article article in New York Magazine, I’m pretty sure that I’m content to leave it to the experts. The article chronicles one man’s attempt to provide for himself out of his back yard…in Brooklyn. I especially loved his meal descriptions: maimed rabbit euthanasia stew and home-garroted roast rooster. Tales abound of “bunny boot-knocking” (or lack thereof) and trying to outsmart a hen.
I highly recommend giving the article a read. It very much forces those of us who eat locally as much as possible to confront our limitations and our true intentions. (Via Food Musings)
Few, if any, serious locavores would see my experience as having much to do with what they advocate: eating regionally and seasonally in order to save the planet. But I now better understand what will be needed to back up the slogans. Eating local is expensive and time-consuming, which is why this consumerist movement will not easily trickle down into mass society. It requires a willful abstinence from convenience and plenty, a core promise of the modern world. Our bountiful era is predicated on the division of labor: We don’t sew our own clothes, we don’t build our own houses - and we certainly don’t farm - because we’re too busy doing whatever it is we do for everyone else.
But locavores also preach the importance of valuing all the time and energy and care that go into producing good food, and there I’m with them. So, too, in the end, is Lisa. As I joined her and the kids for supper one night, after finishing my own, Lisa remarked that after seeing how hard I’d worked to put a simple plate of chicken on the table, she’d never shop the same way again. It wasn’t just a matter of buying regionally, or seasonally, or organically - the important thing was to consume responsibly. “I’ll never be as wasteful,” she said. “We throw away more food than we eat.”
Posted by Nicole on 09/17 at 02:46 PM
Challenge update - week 2
Week 2 of the September Eat Local Challenge has come and gone - what have we got to show for it?
Jeanne made a lovely pasta salad with Severino pasta made at a family run company in NJ, homemade pesto, local apples, and home-dried tomatoes. She also spent some time freezing carrots and summer squash.
Anj roasted a bevy of pimento peppers, which she froze. And she plans roast some bell peppers and put them up in oil (and I hope she’ll share her technique with us - I’ve always wondered how to can things in oil!). Anj and her partner, Sue, also had a great locally grown dinner of mozzarella, tomato, and basil salad with a mushroom egg omelet.
Sarah celebrated Rosh Hashanah with a Honey cake of local ingredients. It’s dairy-free, too, and sounds amazing!
I made kimchi last week using Daikon and Swiss chard from the CSA share and garlic from my garden - a little experiment in fermentation! And there were two locally grown meals to be had - a lunch of roasted beets and goat cheese, and a dinner of grilled lamb and mashed celery root, potato, and garlic.
Did we miss anyone else’s details for last week? Add yours in the comments!
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Traditionally, kimchi is a pickled vegetable buried in a clay vessel underground to ferment over the winter. It’s classically Korean, and Americans primarily see kimchi take the form of cabbage - good, hot, pickled cabbage. I’ve been making cabbage kimchi for years, although it is not the standard fermented variety. Up until recently, I was a little afraid of home fermenting experiments. With the success of the sauerkraut trial, though, I’m over it.
And so my real kimchi experiment begins!
A bunch of small Daikon radishes came in this past week’s CSA share. What better way to use the Daikon than to make them into kimchi?
First things first: I had to find Korean ground chile paste. A trip to the H-mart in Upper Darby provided a massive wealth of choices. I cannot tell you what brand I purchased because the brand name is in Korean. However, I snuck a taste at home and it was the perfect choice. This kimchi is going to be fabulous! I picked up a ginger root, as well, and the project was off to a great start!
So here’s the recipe:
- 1 head garlic (cloves separated and peeled)
2 pcs. of ginger root (1-inch)
2 Tbsp. Korean ground chile
2 Tbsp. Salt
2 large Daikons (peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes) - or in my case, one bunch of small Daikons
1 bunch of Swiss chard (chopped into 1-inch pieces)
Whirl the ginger, ground chile, salt and garlic (from my garden) in a food processor until it’s minced. Place the chile mixture and Daikon radish (from the CSA share) in a large ziploc and mix together. Really mush the chile mixture into the Daikon - make sure it’s absolutely covered with chile mixture. Grab a couple of freshly sterilized canning jars (wide mouth pint jars work best for this) and load the Daikon in until the jars are about a quarter full. Layer in some swiss chard (from the CSA share) and sprinkle a bit of sugar on top of the chard. Layer in more Daikon until the jars are half full. Layer in more swiss chard and sugar. Layer in more Daikon until the jars are 3/4 full, and top with more swiss chard and sugar. Wipe the threads of the jar to remove any bits of stuff that fell over the jar, and screw the lids on really tight.
Burying your jars underground for the Winter is not necessary for fermentation, I’m happy to say! In fact, you need only find a dark, cool space and place your jars in there for a few days. The kimchi should ferment within three to four days. My recipe says not to disturb the jars while they’re fermenting, and you’ll know they’re fermenting because water will rise from the vegetables. I made my kimchi last night and I can already see the fermentation process in action.
When the kimchi is done fermenting, refrigerate the jars. It should last for about a month in the fridge. I have three pints and a half pint of kimchi currently fermenting. I love kimchi, but enough to eat four jars of it in a month? Probably not. My plan is to keep two jars, give one jar away to a friend, and put one jar through a water bath. I really want to see if the texture of the Daikon is negatively affected by the water bath. Certainly canning pickles for long-term storage is a common practice, so why not kimchi?
On the lamb
We’re not big red meat eaters at my house. When I do get the yen for red meat, though, it’s usually lamb. For the last year I’ve been buying lamb from the Fair Food Farmstand. They carry a few different vendors’ lamb, but I most often have the Bixby’s Farms lamb. It’s absolutely delicious! This week I bought two packages of loin chops.
The marinade I used for the chops is simple - 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary, 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, 1 tsp. minced fresh garlic, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and a couple grinds of pepper. It’s a great marinade mostly because the rosemary, thyme, and garlic are right out of my garden. Marinade the chops for 1-4 hours, and you’re ready to go. I like lamb pretty rare, so the chops get grilled on high for about 4 minutes per side.
As a side, I made mashed celery root, potato, and garlic - yum! And all local, too!
Beet and goat cheese stacks
Friday, September 14, 2007
We are a one beet-eater household. I adore them; my husband thinks they’re vile. Because the opportunity to make lunch or dinner only for myself rarely materializes, I don’t make beets very often. Today, though, I took a sick day off from work and started to feel better toward lunchtime, so I figured I’d make something soothing and comforting. There just happens to be a bag of beets from Paradise Organics and a big old chunk of Shellbark Hollow Farms sharp goat cheese in the house right now, so it seemed a clear choice: roasted beet and goat cheese stacks with sorrel from the garden.
Eating this made me feel loads better - it’s pretty to look at, didn’t take a lot of effort to prepare, and has a lot of flavor without being hard on the stomach. It’s the perfect sick day food!
I started by roasting the beets in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes. After peeling the skin off the beets, I sliced them up and let them cool. A quick walk to the garden procured a bit of the sorrel, which was then cut into chiffonade using kitchen shears. The cheese was warmed to room temp, making it very easy to handle. Putting the layers together was a snap. The only ingredient that wasn’t locally grown was the balsamic vinegar I drizzled over top before eating.
Taste testing the pawpaw
Before scooping up my CSA share, I shopped a bit at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal. I really wanted to buy a round of LeRaysville Cheese Factory‘s Sommelier cheese and a carton or two of brown figs, but was out of luck with the fruit.
While I was there I picked up a few packages of lamb chops from Bixby’s Farms and a few celery roots (which are destined to become tomorrow’s dinner).
The nice lady who works the stand on Thursday gave me a taste of the new pawpaws they got in from Green Meadow Farm. I only recently learned that pawpaws are native to Pennsylvania, although I’ve never tasted one until today. They sort of have the texture of avocado with a sort of tropical flavor. I’m not entirely sure that I like them. Still, I did get to wondering what something like pawpaw butter (you know, like apple butter) might taste like.
Challenge meal week one
Thursday, September 13, 2007
For the first week of the September Challenge I wanted to make something simple. I’ve had some short ribs from Meadow Run Farms in the freezer so I figured what’s easier than braising some beef for a couple of hours. I found a couple of recipes and narrowed it down to the simplest. I set the meat out to defrost, decided I’d roast some potatoes to go with it and steam some green beans. I went out and bought a couple of bottles of local Cabernet. Then around 3.30 I got home and realized I’d lost the stupid recipe. I searched my browser history hoping it would turn up but it didn’t so I browsed my cookbooks and epicurious until I found a similar recipe and a good hour after I wanted to I got to work.
The biggest problem was that I didn’t RTFR. (thank you Smitten Kitchen for the perfect acronym.) I spent hours slaving over a hot stove in my un-air conditioned kitchen on a hot, humid Philadelphia summer day. The initial recipe called for all of the cooking on the stove top in a dutch oven, but the other recipes all called for the short ribs to braise in the oven. Never having made short ribs before I wasn’t willing to mess around. My dutch oven’s so large that cooking the potatoes in the oven was out so I decided to use my leeks and make mashed potatoes with leeks and thyme instead. Since I had a leek or two left over I found a recipe for swiss chard with leeks and made that instead of the green beans.
All of the cooking was extremely hands on and hot and by the time it was ready to eat I’d lost interest completely. The worst part was that the ribs weren’t even all that good. The chard and potatoes were fantastic, but the ribs just weren’t as flavorful as I would have hoped. And seriously, braised short ribs with mashed potatoes would have been fine on a crisp, almost fall day like today, but it was not an appropriate meal for last Saturday’s stickiness.
At least my husband liked it.
Short ribs- Meadow Run Farms
Chicken stock- made from chicken from Meadow Run farms
Cabernet- Chadd’s Ford
Rosemary- my garden
basil (instead of sage)- my garden
Carrots- Lancaster, Pa via Farm to City farmer’s market
Onion- Red Earth Farm
Garlic Red Earth Farm
not local- salt, pepper, tomato paste, oil, bay leaf
Potatoes- Red Earth Farm
Leeks- Red Earth Farm
Thyme- my garden
Milk- Merrymead Farm
not local-salt, pepper, butter
Chard-Red Earth Farm
Leeks-Red Earth Farm
not local, butter, oil, salt, pepper
CSA Weekly Report: Lancaster Farm Fresh
Just a few more weeks left in the Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA program! This week we’re treated to sweet potatoes and daikon radishes, two things we’ve not seen in the shares this year. Alas, this week also heralds the return of lettuce. While it’s lovely lettuce, indeed, my heart broke just a little to see it.
This is what’s in this week’s share:
- 1 bunch of daikon radishes from Elm Tree Organics
1 5lb bag of red norland potatoes from Green Valley Organics
1 head of red leaf lettuce from Scarecrow Hill Organics
8 red slicing tomatoes from Countryside Organics or Scarecrow Hill Organics
1 bag of sweet stuffing peppers from Meadow Valley Organics
1 bunch of rainbow swiss chard from Meadow Valley Organics
1 3lb bag of beauregard sweet potatoes from Busy Bee Acres
The stuffing peppers are really tiny little things. They might be good baked and stuffed with tuna. My husband has already laid claim to the sweet potatoes - he demands sweet potato fries!
It’s the radishes that I’ve got plans for, though. It will become kimchi, something I’ve been craving recently. Coincidentally, I found an interesting-looking recipe that calls for the addition of mustard greens. I do believe I can substitute swiss chard for that. Fun!
Posted by Nicole on 09/13 at 06:17 PM