Spring season is finally here! Although it doesn’t feel much like it today. Here’s what I got in my first spring season delivery of 2011.
These are washed, tore up, and ready to go for salads. The combo was great alongside some leftover manicotti for Wednesday night supper.
Celery is such a treat to have around to cook with. Basically, anything you might add onions to, you can add celery to, and make it even better. The leaves are good for cooking or adding to salad. If your celery gets floppy, chop it into sticks and store it in water in the fridge overnight. It’ll crisp up again. I’m going to chop up some leaves and a stalk as part of a shrimp stir-fry for lunch tomorrow.
This is a neat variety of spinach – it’s got a sweet, pecan-like flavor. And the colors! How can that not be crazy good for you? I’ll make at least half of this into spinach salad served with a hot dressing. I’ve got some bacon from a pre-season delivery that I need to defrost. Then I’ll cook a few slices of bacon, crumble them, and combine the bacon and drippings with red wine vinegar, minced spinach stems, and minced onion (or maybe shallot), heat it all up, and toss the spinach in it.
If, for some reason, I don’t get to this spinach before it loses its charm, I’ll sauté it instead with walnuts and raisins. But I really want some bacon-spinach salad.
Actually, it’s a bunch of crowns.
Steamed broccoli is a fast and delicious side dish. Wash the broccoli, trim the stems, steam for 3 minutes, and serve with a little lemon juice and pepper.
Brussels sprouts are fast and easy, too. Trim the loose leaves and tough stems. Then cut them and half and sauté in some olive oil or butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. When they’re tender (you can poke them with a fork), add a dash of red wine vinegar (or rice vinegar or balsamic), cover, turn off the heat, and let them steam for a minute or two. Don’t overcook!
I trimmed my sprouts Wednesday so they’d be ready to go. Which left me with a bunch of loose little cabbage leaves.
This stash includes some sprout leaves from the last pre-season delivery, some broccoli leaves, and some celery leaves. The plan is to make a stir-fry with them tomorrow. At first, I was going to chop up the sprout leaves, but now I think they’re kind of cute left whole. We’ll see how it goes.
Apples are easy snacks. Chop ‘em up and enjoy.
The Carolina Gold rice is really good. It’s got a buttery flavor and a firm texture. The Anson Mills website gives special instructions on how to cook this sainted rice, but, honestly, I’ve just been using it in place of normal rice and been very happy with the results. I’m thinking rice pilaf with the celery and some vegetable stock I have in the freezer.
The Sea Island peas are good, too. My problem is I always cook too much for us. One time I made Hoppin’ John with the peas and Carolina Gold Rice, but it was so much Hoppin’ John that I didn’t want to see any more Hoppin’ John for a very long time. So this time I’m going to cook just a few peas with some of the bacon I’m defrosting for spinach salad.
The sweet potatoes are beautiful; the Komatsuna greens, less so. But it doesn’t really matter because I’m just going to cook them down anyway. Komatsuna greens are less bitter than most, so they’re a good starter green. Here’s my favorite greens recipe. We tend to use walnuts instead of pine nuts. Be advised that, although Komatsuna looks like kale, it cooks down like spinach. You might not have as much as you think you do.
Recently, Chris and I stopped baking our sweet potatoes whole and started peeling and cubing them instead. Then we toss the cubes in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them at 350 for 30-40 minutes. I don’t think we’re going back. They’re delicious, and we use more of the potatoes this way.
Here’s a picture of tonight’s supper: sweet potatoes, Komatsuna with raisins and walnuts, and some marinated coleslaw made with cabbage from the last pre-season delivery.
My CSA order includes a half-dozen eggs. Aren’t they pretty?
Local eggs are amazing. Get some and scramble them, and you won’t believe the difference.
Online store order
I sprung for a pretty big online store order this week to get the season started.
The first two items are part of my work life. I love afternoon tea, and a candle makes a good work buddy.
The frozen shrimp is terrific for last minute protein. It defrosts easy and in minutes. The shrimp is from the Georgia coast and very flavorful. I often use them in lo mein or fried rice, but they’re also good sautéed scampi-style. They do take a while to shell and clean, and I don’t cook more than a handful at a time. I wouldn’t want to prepare a pound or two all at once without music, beer, and another pair of hands.
I love Pioneer Porridge. I begged Patricia to bring it back, and here it is. Now I have to convince everyone else to like it so it will stick around. Think of porridge like grits. It’s a grain you can soak or cook slowly in water, stock, or milk. It can be breakfast or a savory side dish, depending on what you add to it. It’s stone-ground, whole-grain wheat, corn, and rice and has incredible texture and flavor. You can make vast quantities and reheat it each morning. Or even freeze portions for longer storage. It’s my absolute favorite breakfast with (a rather large amount of) honey. It makes me feel satisfied and happy for hours. I no longer feel sorry for children in Victorian novels who only have porridge to eat.
Local honey is a staple in our house now. I use it in tea, porridge, oatmeal, on bread, on peanut butter sandwiches – you name it, honey makes it better.
The duck eggs were turned into a “weekday” custard this afternoon. Weekday is code for easy and not fancy. (Every day is a weekday in my kitchen.) Here’s the basic recipe. Duck eggs make wonderful, rich custard because the yolks are enormous. They’re chilling in the fridge now. I’ll probably sneak one tonight, but they won’t be at their best till morning. Whoops, guess I lied about my favorite breakfast being porridge. It’s actually duck egg custard.
Enjoy your food!