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Posts Tagged ‘CSA’

"Sommer," by Leopold Karl Walter Graf von Kalckreuth

Let’s call it what it is, shall we?  Foodlust.

Nah, I’m not about to get all porny on you (though I sometimes, maybe sorta, okay fine pretty often like to do that with you.  It’s just who I am these days.)

What I would like to do is show you how I shop and eat, in the spirit of the food voyeurism about which I’m so public and, let’s face it, totally unashamed.  I’d also like to show you how you, YES YOU, can use all the produce in your CSA or farmshare box without going crazy or throwing anything out.

Really.  We don’t like to throw food out.  You probably don’t, either.  If I can’t find a use for something, I like to pickle or ferment it to extend its life and nutritional value.  And when something does go bad (like when our refrigerator stopped working and spoiled so much food I cried and told The Boy I couldn’t go on), we try to compost it.  It’s part of being a sparkly earth hippie person.

For a sparkly earth hippie person, I sure do run through a lot of do-me-red lipstick.

In any case, I’m going to show you what comes in our deliveries and how we use it.  This is something I typically know about a week ahead of time, as our wonderful CSA tells us what’s coming in advance.  Then I sit down and plan a menu around it.  The whole process, from clicking open my CSA’s site to closing my recipe windows and shutting down the text document that holds my menu, takes me half an hour.  It helps that I keep all the recipes that I want to try in the immediate future in a queue and ready to go.

This level of organization is pretty much the key, sugar babies.  Get there and you will be a produce samurai/money-saving, organic food eating, weight-losing, new recipe-trying, local and seasonal-eating, only once-weekly shopping, pogo-sticking (wait.  Not sure how that got in there.  I can’t pogo stick…can you?  ‘Cause that could totally make this list, it’s just not a requirement or anything) ass-kicking force to be reckoned with.

So onto the show:

Some stuff we’re getting: Blueberries, Honeydew Melon and Navel Oranges, plus LOCAL Eggs, bunched Green Garlic and Asparagus, and from outside the region, Broccoli, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes and Red Beets.

Some stuff we’re harvesting: Red and Green Leaf Lettuce from the garden, and some slammin’ Bok Choy.  And when I say slammin’, I mean slammin’.  Step off, bok choy haters!

Some stuff I’m making:

Fruit: eaten for breakfast each morning, plopped into The Boy’s lunches (yes, he packs lunches…and they’re almost always leftovers from the night before)
Eggs: some hard-boiled for breakfasts and snacks

Lake Superior Whitefish with Roasted Green Garlic
Buttered, Sauteed Asparagus and Peas
Orange Segments and Blueberries
Whites, Light Greens, Dark Greens, Vivid Oranges, Deep Blues

Spicy Sesame Bok Choy and Celery Stir Fry with Poached Eggs (ferment remaining celery with the carrots sitting in the fridge)
Brown Jasmine Rice
Strawberries I’ll have on hand
Beige-y Browns, Light Greens, Whites, Orangey-Yellows, Bright Reds…

Homemade Italian Sausage Lasagna (locally made, nitrate-free sausage from happy pigs)
Red and Green Leaf Lettuce Salad with Blueberries and Orange Segments
Reds, Greens, Beige-y Browns, Vivid Oranges, and Purply-Blues…

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Salad with Cooked Beets (save cooking water for making beet wine)
Homemade Crusty Bread
Oranges, Light and Dark Greens, Bright Reds, Beige-y Browns…

Use Cherry Tomatoes in a Caprese Pasta Salad I’m bringing to my book club’s potluck, then GET REALLY DRUNK WITH A LOT OF BOOK NERDS

Leftover night

Date night

This dessert for us and to share with people at The Boy’s workplace

You’ll notice that I build leftover nights, eating out, and socialization into the calendar. This keeps us from wasting anything or having to run to the store last minute.  You’ll also notice that after each night, I’ve listed the color families present. This makes sure everything looks interesting and, let’s face it, is the easiest way to know we’re getting balanced nutrition.  ‘Cause imbalanced nutrition is, like, not sexy.  Plus, what girl doesn’t wanna play with rainbows?

And, uh, yes, I do plan a homemade dessert every single week (and sometimes more than one), whydoyouaskareyoujudgingme?

Do we deviate from the menu?  OF COURSE.  Occasionally what we get in the box is a little different, or I harvest something unexpected.  Sometimes I just have no desire to eat what I’d planned on making.  In that case, fine–I’ll reconfigure some things.  But if I don’t feel like thinking it through, the plan is there for me rely on and makes it easy to know what to defrost, bake, pre-prep, etc.

So what are you making for dinner this week?  What do you think of the meals I’ve planned, and what would you do with these ingredients if it were you?

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We’re collecting mushrooms.  Check out that impressive oyster mushroom.

And this gorgeous, huge shiitake.  Looks sorta like a rock, doesn’t it?  But cuter.  So more like a pet rock.  Which would mean…yes.  I’ve now officially eaten a pet.  Honestly, though, you saw that coming.

Trying to make pizza pot pies a la Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders, a fab little cash-only pizza place right here in Chi-town.

Don’t worry, we baked them!  (If you’re considering trying this yourselves, I highly recommend greasing the rims of the bowls.  Then it’ll be all the more dramatic when you flip it upside down onto a plate and tuck in with a fork and steak knife.  (Dramatic as opposed to pathetic, i.e. scratching and chipping and scraping off little shards of crust, not that that happened.)

Receiving fabuloso CSA shipments, as always.  And desperately hoping that tomorrow’s delivery will still go through, despite the avalanche that buried Chicago this week.  What you see in the picture, clockwise from bottom left, is a humongo  purple turnip (got cubed up and roasted under a chicken), cremini mushrooms (got thrown into the pizza pot pies), carrots (chopped into chicken soup made from the leftover chicken carcass and meat), apples (eaten as is), yellow onions (soup, etc.), potatoes (chicken soup), chard (Italian sausage, chard, and white bean soup–we’re eating a lotta soup, kay JUST GET OFF MY BACK), bananas (Gen’s breakfasts), mandarin oranges (eaten fresh and juiced, with some leftover to make a citrus poppyseed loaf), frozen peas (tuna salad and, drumroll, soup).

Eating more wonderful The Boy breakfasts.  That’s a buttered English muffin, a sliced up blood orange, and a fried egg over some potato and onion hash.  Life.  Is.  Good.

And a bunch of other things not documented in photo form (thankfully, as our current abode lacks the luscious natural light our last place had).  Like frenzied seed swapping via online exchanges, shoveling (not as frenzied…that sounds dangerous), ordering next week’s CSA/groceries whilst in a frenzy, listening to The Boy’s Homebrewed Altibier bubbling away (in a frenzied manner), pondering our collapsed closet (ruh roh), and trying to get The Boy to stay home like all the other snowbound peeps in this city.  Frenziedly.  As you know if you follow me on Twitter, that attempt was met with limited success.

Tonight we’ll be eating hot corned beef sandwiches with the mustard-y green tomato chow chow I put up at summer’s end.  Except mine will be more like a chow chow sandwich with hot corned beef.  Mmm…chow chow.

What’s goin’ on ’round your homestead?  What are you eating that you put up last summer?  What do you wish you’d canned/frozen more of, and what are you forcing down your throat with the aid of a canning funnel while swearing to never make again?

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Around the holidays.

When The Boy and I are super busy.  Drinking.

And super-stressed. About finding enough to drink.

And probably not up to feeding ourselves very well. No time–we’re drinkin’.

We’re reminded of how the soil continues to take care of us because we took care of the soil. (Before drinking!)

Everything in these pics was in this morning’s CSA boxes. (…drinking?)

A pleasant reminder to take care of ourselves this holiday season and remember what we’ve worked so hard for.  (Love and peace and family and friends.  No, just kidding, it’s drinking!)

Looking for a meaningful New Year’s resolution?  (Besides drinking?)  Why not subscribe to a CSA already?

(In Chicagoland and looking for a great, no-fuss CSA provider?  Try Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks.  Subscribe to boxes, or even place a la carte orders for extras like meat, dairy, bread, and those less local choices, like bananas.)

Happy Holidays, friends!

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Pardon my dark edges, I got a little excited.

You know that funny “middle” time when spring is starting to turn into summer, but it’s not quite sure, and it’s still raining an awful lot and you’ve just put your tomatoes out, but then again, you’ve got loads of berries and you’re not wearing a jacket anymore and you think it might be summer because OH MY HOLY GOD IT’S ONLY THE BEGINNING OF MAY AND IT’S NINETY FREAKING DEGREES OUT WHY ON EARTH DO I ALREADY HAVE A SUNBURN IS SOMEONE TRYING TO KILL ME?!

Well, do you?  Good.

You know what tastes like that time of year?  This pie.

Friends, as I said on Twitter, it is a sign of the universe’s generosity that strawberries and rhubarb are in season at the same time.  This flavor combination ranks right up there with the greats: tomatoes and basil, peanut butter and chocolate, pickles and ice cream, pain and suffering…what better way to celebrate nature’s bounty?  And since my CSA box was taking the term “bountiful” seriously, I ended up with a whole lotta strawberries and rhubarb on my hands.  Hey, I wasn’t about to complain.  It was a good deal better than when the farmshare people were trying to kill me or drive me slowly insane by including stinging nettles in my box AND NOT TELLING ME WHAT THEY WERE OR HOW TO HANDLE OR SHOULD I SAY NOT HANDLE THEM.

I’m using my outdoor voice a lot today.  I’ve also managed to develop multiple conspiracy theories in a very short span of time.  I’m not paranoid, guys.  I just think there may be multiple plots against my health and sanity.  That’s all.

When I was in high school, I had an English teacher who told us, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t all out to get you.”  Wise woman, she was.  But I digress.

I’m always digressing.

The Boy says he enjoys it.  But I digress.

Try this pie–you won’t be sorry.  It’s best served warm, alongside a generous helping of your own self-importance and a sinking feeling that you’re being watched.  I’d have it after you pull stinging nettle spines out of your hands, but before you rub aloe goo on your burned shoulders.

This season is going to kill me.

Stellar Pie Crust, and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

First, make the Stellar Pie Crust/Pate Brisee (recipe makes 2 crusts, which is perfect for this recipe):

Go Get:
2 1/2 cups flour (I like a mix of 1 cup whole wheat and 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour, but that’s up to you–my pics reflect the wheat crust)
2 sticks (1 cup) very cold butter cut into bitty pieces
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 6 Tablespoons ice water (I fill a measuring cup up to the halfway point with cold water and then stick it in the freezer for a few minutes)

Go Do:
Okay, so here’s the part where I work in yet another opportunity to use my fancy-pants food processor, but you can just use a plain old bowl and a pastry cutter.  Dump the flour and salt into the food processor bowl and pulse it a few times to combine.  Then toss in all the butter pieces and pulse it again until the mixture resembles various pea-sized clumps.  DON’T OVERDO IT!  The key to wonderful, tender, flaky pie crust is UNEVENLY distributing butter to make little fat pockets, and keeping those fat pockets chilly so they don’t melt down and, well, stop being fat pockets.  At this point, start the machine running and quickly feed in ice water until the dough is just starting to hold itself together.  Don’t add so much water that it’s sticky or damp.  Grab a small handful of dough and squeeze it together–if it holds, it’s ready.  Then divide the dough in half, wrap each lump in waxed paper, and stick it in the fridge.  Give it a good hour or two before you use it.

And now, for the pie:

Go Get:
1 recipe of the Stellar Pie Crust
3 heaping cups sliced strawberries
4 cups thinly sliced rhubarb
1 1/4 cups sugar (I use raw sugar), plus a bit for sprinkling on top, if you like that sort of thing (I like that sort of thing, and used between 1 and 2 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon cream

Go Do:
Take your pie dough out of the fridge and let it come up to temperature just until it’s loose enough to roll out.  Keep it as chilly as possible.  While you do this, toss the fruit, rhubarb, flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl and let it sit and marry on the counter.  At this point, preheat the oven to 425F degrees.  Flour the surface and roll out one disk so it’s large enough to lay into your pie dish.  Lay it in the pan, use a paring knife to cut the excess dough from around the dish’s edges, and turn back to your filling.  At this point, toss the fruit mixture around a bit more.  The berries will have released some juices, allowing you to distribute the sugar and flour more evenly.  Dump the filling ingredients into the pie dish, and stick the whole thing in the fridge for a moment.

Now roll out the other layer of pie crust.  Make it a bit bigger than the bottom one, as when you weave the lattice strips in and out, you’ll use up some dough length.  Using a sharp paring knife or pizza cutter, cut skinny strips of dough.  Pull the pie out of the fridge and gently lay strips going in one direction across the pie (the closer the lattice, the more impressive the final look).  Then begin to lay strips in the other direction (I like to lay the second set of strips at a diagonal to the first ones because I think it makes pleasant diamond-shaped holes, but you do whatever turns you on).  As you lay this second set of dough strips, gently weave the top strips in an over-under pattern.  When you’ve basketweaved all the strips, roll the strip ends over the bottom crust and tuck them under.  Use a fork or your fingers to crimp the edges and make it all look finished.  Stick the whole thing in the fridge for a few minutes.   (Note–I am not trying to make you crazy with all this fancy fridge-work.  I’m merely trying to ensure a tender, flaky crust for you.  Yeah, that’s right.  Bet you feel pretty bad about complaining now.)

In a small bowl, beat and egg white and some milk with a fork until it’s well-combined.  Pull the pie out after it’s chilled for a few minutes and brush (honestly?  I gave up on the pastry brush and used my fingers) the mixture over the lattice top and the crust edges.  This will turn your pie crust a beautiful, shiny, golden color.  You’re welcome!  Now, if you like, sprinkle additional sugar over the top of the pie for sparkle and just the right hint of sweet crunch.  Stick your pie onto a cookie sheet for easy removal, and pop the whole thing into the oven.  Bake it at this temp for about 20 minutes, and then lower the oven to 400 and bake for another hour or so.  Check it occasionally to make sure the crust isn’t browning too fast–if it is, just cut a large piece of foil and gently lay it on top of the pie.  The filling will continue to cook but the crust will stop browning so quickly.  Don’t judge your pie’s doneness by the crust color–you may end up with raw fruit.  You’ll know the filling is done when you poke a knife into the fruit mix and it slides right through the fruit and rhubarb with zero resistance.  After you take it out, let it cool for at least an hour, hour and a half before you eat it–not only will you avoid burning your mouth on molten hot berry lava, but you’ll also notice that the filling will gel and hold together better.

You can serve this warm, a la mode (yum!), but we just drizzled it with a few tablespoons of fresh cream.  Oh, yes, yes, yes.

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