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Archive for December, 2008

CSA freezer inventory

Today I went through my freezer to make a list of what we had. Turns out we’ve got a lot. I want to get through it over the next few months. I think that will mean a lot of vegetable soup and fruit muffins. Not a horrible fate, I suppose.

Here’s what we have that came from the CSA over the past year…

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Pecans

Here’s a fabulous recipe for candied pecans. It’s really easy if you’re only making 2 cups worth. The reviews of the recipe suggested doubling the recipe and adding cinnamon and honey. That’s what I did, and it worked out great. My mom used to make something like these for teacher gifts when I was a kid. I remember it being a hassle for her, but that may have been the logistics of making them in large batches.

I also used a defrosted egg white.  A few months ago I found aging free-range eggs at Kroger for $1.25 a dozen, and I had two $1 off coupons. So I ended up with 2 dozen eggs for fifty cents! I thought I’d just bake my tail off, but then I found out you can freeze eggs if you separate them first. I separated all of them and froze them in ice cube trays. A yolk is one cube, and a white is two. I’ve used them ever since for baking or cooking emergencies, and they’ve worked fine as far as I can tell. Then again, I don’t do anything ambitious with them. I make muffins, cookies, and quick breads, which are pretty forgiving, I think. I do try to plan ahead of time to defrost the egg parts in the refrigerator, though, because I can’t seem to defrost them in the microwave without cooking them a little bit.

Walnuts

I used a half cup of the black walnuts to make biscotti. The taste is a little strong although it’s growing on me. If I use black walnuts for biscotti again, I think I’ll reduce the walnuts by half.  Here’s the recipe; I’m not sure where it came from. I use spelt flour instead of whole wheat and craisins instead or raisins. But that’s just because it’s what I had around the first time I tried this recipe.

Whole wheat walnut raisin biscotti

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a baking sheet and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or spelt!)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
(I’ve used a 1/4 cup, and it’s still good)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Stir in
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped or ground
1/4 cup raisins
(or craisins!)

In a small bowl, whisk together
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Add to flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Flour surface and hands and form dough into a loaf about 1 inch thick, 2.5 inches wide, and 7 inches long. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake until risen and firm – about 20-25 minutes. Cool completely on sheet. Reduce oven to 300.

Place loaf on a cutting board and cut 1/4 inch slices. Place slices on a sheet in a single layer. Bake, turning once, until dried and slightly golden – about 25-30 minutes. Cool completely and store in airtight container for up to a month.

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I’m going to make a black walnut-banana cake next. Here’s the recipe. I’ll probably make a half recipe for us. Update: This turned out well – really moist and yummy.

Black Walnut-Banana Cake (serves 10-12)

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream together
1-1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of butter

Beat in
2 eggs
1 cup thinly sliced bananas
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sour milk*, combined with 1 tsp baking soda

Stir together and beat in
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder

Add
1 cup black walnuts, ground of finely chopped

Pour into greased and floured 9×9 cake pan. Bake 45-50 minutes.

* To make sour milk, add 3/4 tsp of lemon juice to fresh milk and let it sit for 15 minutes.

This recipe comes from More-With-Less Cookbook – a Mennonite cookbook that’s one of my all-time favorites.

Duck eggs

I haven’t done anything ambitious with the duck eggs; we just scrambled some last night. They are almost all yolk! I read that there’s never been a reported case of salmonella from duck eggs. So we’re going to bake chocolate chip cookies or brownies with our last two and then happily lick the bowls, beaters and spoons clean.

Daikons

We are out of lettuce and carrots but still have a daikon radish left. I think I’ll make another fried rice dish with onions and daikons. We’ve also eaten thin slices topped with generous amounts of Italian dressing and survived.

Sweet potatoes

I cooked and froze the rest of my ugly sweet potatoes – 4 pounds total. I froze them plain so we could use them however we want later. For instance, my mom made a wonderful sweet potato pie for Christmas, and I think we’ll want to try one of those ourselves soon.

What’s left

I have one apple, four sweet potatoes, a butternut squash, 3 eggs, and a daikon radish left. Plus everything that’s in the freezer – but that’s for the next post….

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So this is my last bag of produce for at least a whole month. I’m trying to be brave about it. I bought some extra stuff from the online store to keep us going.

12-17extra1

  • lettuce
  • butternut squash
  • apples
  • walnuts
  • duck eggs
  • catnip sock

The butternut squash is a linebacker of a squash, so we’ll get a bunch of dishes out of that. I’m going to cook the neck and base separately again.

I can make an argument for the lettuce, squash, and apples as staples for the coming weeks, but the walnuts, duck eggs, and catnip sock are just splurges. Merry Christmas to me!

Duck eggs are said to taste richer than chicken eggs. I guess duck embryos need more fat to develop right. But I’m not sure what’s best to do with richer eggs – how to get the most bang for my duck. Richer scrambled eggs? Richer pound cake? I’ll have to dig around and see what people say.
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This was a great week, and I learned a lot.

Butternut squash!

We cooked our butternut squash in two stages: the neck and the bottom. First we cut off the neck, peeled it (butternut squash is pretty easy to peel), and sliced it into half-inch rounds. Then we drizzled them with butter and brown sugar and baked them for 30 minutes.  It makes a relatively fast winter side dish. The rounds reheat great as leftovers, too. We wrapped the bottom in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.

For the second stage, we cooked the bottom like acorn squash. We sliced it in half, scooped out the seeds, and put in some butter and maple syrup. Then we put the halves cut side up in a dish with half an inch of water and baked it for an hour. We really like butternut squash now.

bnsquash

Sweet potatoes!

We didn’t get to any sweet potatoes this week, but they are keeping just fine in their unwashed state. I’m cooking what’s left of my uglies today to make souffle to freeze. (That’s what’s keeping the butternut squash company in the picture above.) The ugly sweet potatoes still seemed fine, but I wanted to make sure I got to use them.
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What a cool bag this week! It’s nice to be in a climate where the second week in December gives you such a nice array of produce to work with.

Standard items

  • 12-103 apples
  • Napa cabbage
  • lettuce
  • kale
  • 6 sweet potatoes
  • many carrots with tops
  • daikon radishes (These are in the picture below, but I think they belong here.)

Premium items

  • 12-10p6 good-sized eggs (Looks like the chickens are growing up!)
  • parsley
  • cherry tomatoes in December!
  • garlic
  • daikon radishes


Online store items I bought because I couldn’t resist

12-10pecans

  • 12-10giftpecans
  • peppermint goat’s milk soap
  • beeswax lip balm

This week’s plan

The eggs will be scrambled, eaten as French toast, used to make pound cake or to make chocolate chip cookies. Mmmm…. eggs. What can’t they do.

Don’t the carrots look great? They look completely different from store carrots, and they taste different, too. Who would have thought that carrots could be complex? I went looking for uses for carrot tops. The consensus is you can use them like parsley, but go easy because they are bitter.

The carrots, radishes, lettuce, and cherry tomatoes will all go into salads.

I’m thinking the carrots and radishes will also star in a stir-fry along with the garlic and Napa cabbage.

And I think we’ll make some sort of fresh tomato, parsley and garlic pasta dish. Plus loads of fresh parmesan. It will be like a summer’s day in December.

The kale looks great, too. Recently, I’ve been looking around for different ways to use greens, and I’ve learned enough about kale to know that this is the good stuff. I’ll toss some with pasta and use some in the kale and raisin recipe my mom’s been telling me about.

Sweet potatoes and apples will get the usual treatment. One apple is already gone. I’m still trying to work my way through my bag of ugly sweet potatoes. I may break down and make a soufflé or pie instead of just baking them individually.

I’m afraid the pecans were completely an impulse purchase. I have a sugared pecans recipe I might try. It’s kind of a mess to make, so I might not get to it till next week.

The peppermint soap smells so good. I consider it my first Christmas decoration. I’m going to look for a little Christmas dish and put it in our downstairs bathroom. The lip balm is actually for my hair. I hate the feeling of pretty much all hair products. Beeswax is the only thing I like. I just use a little because my hair is short, and now I have some in a handy to-go container.

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Here’s what happened with this week’s produce...

The pumpkin got moldy on the outside. I think it’s because the stem broke off when I picked it up. We’re going to cut the pumpkin open and cook it tonight if the insides aren’t moldy. So this week I learned not to pick up winter squash by their stems.    Update: The pumpkin was fine on the inside. The texture is ropier than acorn squash, but it was still good. And we toasted the seeds, too. Here are some directions, but we just put them in the oven on a baking sheet while the pumpkin was cooking.

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12/3 Pumpkin!

Here’s what came this week!

12-3

  • Komatsuna
  • cilantro
  • a cute little pumpkin
  • 2 kinds of hydroponic lettuce
  • 3 daikon radishes
  • 6 peppers
  • loose leaf lettuce (This is about half of what we got Wednesday. We’ve been busy!)
  • green onions
  • half dozen eggs
  • 4 apples (2 were already gone by the time I took this picture. And they’re all gone now.)
  • potatoes

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Wait a minute… that’s not kohlrabi

It’s pac choi. I said I had kohlrabi in my bag and was looking for a recipe. My neighbor suggested making kohl-slaw by slivering the kohlrabi root and using it in place of cabbage. I found a beef with kohlrabi stirfry recipe. When my kohlrabi turned about to be pac choi, I used the same basic recipe. I separated the stems from the leaves, diced the stems and cooked them with the onions, and chopped the leaves and added them with the mushrooms.

The recipe worked out really well. I want to try more Asian cooking, and, from what I can tell, the secret is to use whatever sauce is in the recipe. This recipe called for oyster sauce. Oysters?! It didn’t sound so good to me. But I obeyed and found a bottle at Kroger, and it made all the difference.

I love winter squash!

The acorn squash were wonderful! I had two from CSA bags in the past month. I was going to make soup, but then I found this easy recipe. The only hard part is halving the raw squash. Yesterday, I made the second squash the same way but only used a 1/3 of the brown sugar. And I forgot to put water in the pan. It was still delicious. The maple syrup flavor goes really well with the squash. How cool that something could be so cute, last 5 weeks on my kitchen table, and taste so good! I still have a butternut squash left, and I’ll probably try that the same way sometime this week.

Sweet beets

The little beets were really good, too. We couldn’t believe how sweet they were all by themselves. I baked them wrapped in foil at the same time as the squash. Then I let them cool in the foil and put them in the fridge. The next day, I skinned and sliced them and put them on a salad. The skins come off really easily after they’re baked. Everyone loved them.

Confession time

I had to toss some chard. Not the swiss chard that I ruined earlier this week, but some I discovered in the back of my fridge. It had been there a while. I think we did eat some of it a few weeks ago in a spinach salad.  When I’m writing this blog, I tend to want to focus on my successes, but I guess it’s important to admit that these things happen. (Thankfully, they happen far less frequently than they did my first season.)

One of the reasons subscribing to a CSA makes me eat better is that I hate throwing things out. After all, someone nearby planted that produce, harvested it, and put it in a bag with my name on it. It’s just rude to let it go bad, don’t you think? So I am sorry, Mr. or Ms. Chard Farmer.

Other notes

We lost a sweet potato when we cooked it way too long in the microwave. The microwave started billowing smoke, and we had to run it outside. The microwave recovered, but the sweet potato was toast. We used to think the longer you cook a potato the better, but I guess there is a limit.

I’m out of apples and am looking forward to this week’s fix. Thank goodness it’s Wednesday.

I still haven’t made my arugula pesto, but I’ll do it tonight and maybe try it on pasta and report back.

And we haven’t gotten to the eggs yet. I think we’ll scramble some tonight. My husband offered to make a pound cake again. I first said no in the interest of our waistlines, but now I’m reconsidering. I guess sometimes you just have to do what you have to do…

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