Archive for October, 2008

This week’s highlights

Here’s our first salad of the season. Two types of wonderful lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and thinly sliced radishes from my bag plus pepper, oil, and vinegar.

One trick I like is making the salad then adding canned tuna. (I like tuna in oil, so I hold the oil in the salad dressing.) Toss it all up and put it on plates and then put the plates in the fridge for 10 minutes or so. Chilling it all together makes it really nice.

Unfortunately, I forgot to allow time to chill it for this meal. But the sweet potatoes were delicious. Not a bit tough or stringy like they sometimes are from the grocery store.

I tried sliced radishes in salads and then roasted marinated radishes. Everyone liked the radishes in the salad better. You have to slice them really thin, though. Then they add just the right amount of crunch and peppery zing.

My stepson pronounced our baked white potatoes as the best baked potato he’s ever had. And loaded baked potatoes are on our regular meal rotation, so he’s had some experience in the area. These potatoes were really creamy and delicious. I’m glad we let them stand on their own instead of adding them to soup or something. (By “on their own” I mean underneath layers of butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon, and chives.)

Those pretty little apples were a kind of disappointing. They were very fresh and crisp but not as flavorful as I’d hoped. Still, they made a nice, crunchy afternoon snack.

I made syrup from the lemon verbena as threatened. It turned out pretty well. It’s a nice change of pace from honey in my tea.

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Check out the goods! I was really excited to see the lettuce.

  • 3 heads of lettuce, beautiful lettuce
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 3 white potatoes
  • 5 apples
  • a bunch of radishes
  • cherry tomatoes
  • mess of greens

This season I upgraded to a premium bag. So I’ll try to separate it out for reference. The above stuff is pretty much the standard bag according to our weekly CSA flyer, and below is the premium extras.

  • 3 tomatoes
  • 3 heads of garlic
  • half dozen eggs
  • 1 zucchini
  • herbs: parsley, chives, and lemon verbena

This week’s plan

Potatoes (both sweet and white) will be baked in the microwave and eaten up. We’ll put some of the parsley and chives on the white potatoes.

These apples are made for snacking. That is what they’ll do….

Radishes will get 1) sliced thinly and added to salads, and 2) chopped into little chunks tossed in Italian dressing and parmesan cheese and roasted in the oven or toaster oven. This makes a good, easy side dish.

Cherry tomatoes will join the radishes in salads. They also might get sliced and put on pita crisps along with the parsley and chives.

Big tomatoes. Hmmm. I might get a Vidalia at the store and make sliced tomato sandwiches. Or they could get cooked up with garlic for some Italianesque recipe to be named later.

Greens will get cooked, chopped, and frozen to await their chance to become “spinach”-artichoke dip. I just made some dip last week and it’s one of those things you can’t eat all the time. Or they may wind up with my mom. She and my dad like greens a lot.

Parsley and chives: baked potatoes, pita crisps, and salad add-ons

Lemon verbena: I guess there is a Santa Claus! This week I got enough lemon verbena to try the lemon verbena syrup recipe I mentioned last week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I don’t have any big plans for the eggs yet. A lot of times we just make scrambled cheese eggs. Maybe we’ll try omelets with tomatoes and herbs.

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Apple butter

Last week I split a 10 pound bag of apples with my neighbor and decided to make apple butter.

I used this recipe from Simply Recipes. Everything went pretty smoothly, but the end product was a little sweet for me. I’m going to cut the sugar by at least a quarter next time. I may try reducing the water a little, too, because it wasn’t as thick as I was hoping even after cooking a long time.

One thing I really like about this recipe is you don’t have to peel or core the apples! You just wash and quarter them cutting out any bad spots. Cook in the water and vinegar till mushy and run them through the food mill. It took around 10 minutes to mill 5 lbs of apples.

Here’s what you end up with…

The smooth, buttery texture comes from using the food mill. Supposedy if you use a food processor you just get applesauce.

I cooked the apple butter for three hours over low and then a little longer over medium low while I sat in the kitchen with a book so I could stir frequently. It finally got thick enough for a wooden spoon to stand in, but not as thick as I was hoping.

I’m not a canner (yet), so I’m eating some now, giving some away now, and freezing the rest for later.

And here’s the result!

My favorite apple butter snack is a toasted raisin english muffin with yogurt cheese (or cream cheese) and apple butter. Mmmm.

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I’m ending the week a relatively happy camper (at least in terms of food and my CSA bag). And tomorrow should bring the season’s first lettuce. It doesn’t quite make up for the Dow, but it’s something to look forward to.

Here’s the dish

The sweet potatoes were gone first. We just baked them in the microwave, and they were delicious!

French onion soup was good, and we made enough for leftovers this week. But I forgot to use the savory!

Lettuce leaf basil doesn’t last even as long as regular basil. I cooked it up with the tomatoes and some garlic Friday when I saw some of it already spoiling. Basil’s just one of those things you have to move fast on, I guess. Once the tomato stuff was cooked, I put it in the fridge for the weekend’s big tomato-zucchini pasta dish.

We were really pleased with tomato-zucchini-sausage pasta. I browned some Italian sausage and then scooped it out and cooked some sliced zucchini in the sausage fat. Then I added back the sausage, the tomato-basil concoction, a big can of crushed tomatoes and some Italian seasoning. This type of Italian cooking seems very forgiving. As long as everything gets cooked and ends up in a big, simmering pot and is served over pasta, it seems to be okay.

The apple butter adventure turned out pretty well, too. Next time I’m going to cut the sugar by at least a quarter. Using the food mill was not as tedious as I had feared.

The green beans are still in the produce drawer. Thankfully, they’re not as delicate as basil. I’m going to blanch and freeze them any minute now…. At some point this winter, I’ll be excited about green beans again.

Lemon verbena, savory, and the Mexican tarragon all dried very nicely. I like loose tea, so it’s easy for me to just add a lemon verbena leaf to my tea whenever I make a pot. It’s really nice in the afternoon. I tried adding  leaves to cold sparkling water, but they didn’t add much flavor. At some point I want to try making lemon verbena syrup which could then be added to tea or sparkling water or pretty much anything. Here’s a cool page with bunches of lemon verbena uses.

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I keep meaning to take a picture of my CSA bag before I unload it. But I’m always too excited and start pulling stuff out immediately.

  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini
  • 6 apples
  • rattlesnake green beans
  • 3 red onions
  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • herb bundle
  • 5 lbs of apples

The bag of apples on the left is my half of a #10 lb bag of apples I bought and split with my neighbor Lucy. (Check out Lucy’s blog!) I want to make apple butter. I think Lucy’s going to make pies.

Herb close-up. At the top of my bag was a beautiful bunch of lettuce leaf basil. When I first saw it in the bag, I wasn’t sure what it was because the leaves are curly, but the fragrance was unmistakable. I also got chives, winter savory, Mexican tarragon, and lemon verbena.

So here’s this week’s plan…

Tomatoes, zucchini, and basil = end of summer pasta dish

The green beans will probably get blanched and frozen for sometime later this year. I’m kind of green beaned out for now.

I’m craving French onion soup, so the onions may end up in that this weekend. Possibly some of the savory, too. I hope this weekend is a little nippy – I want it to be onion soup weather!

The sweet potatoes will just get baked and served whole. Maybe with the onion soup.

I like to steep lemon verbena leaves in tea. I’m not sure what will happen yet to the Mexican tarragon. Hmm.

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