Thursday, October 4, 2012

CSA in the Kitchen

Cool-weather crops are back in force now and Rob and Christina (and crew!) provide us with both common leaves, like spinach, and more uncommon, like Napa cabbage and bok choy.  The newsletter spelled out a few ways to cook with Napa cabbage and I'd like to elaborate on one of them - Kimchi.

Kimchi is, in many ways, another variation of Sauerkraut ... or the other way around, if you wish.  Both are types of cabbage that are preserved in brine and sour and ferment over time.  Recipes for kimchi are widely variant because you can add many different spices and vegetables to the mix.

Pictured above are all of the ingredients that will be going into our fermentation crock aka a wide mouth mason jar.  Napa cabbage mixed with a paste of garlic, ginger, onion, and hot pepper is the core of kimchi, but you should feel free to add grated carrots, bok choy, and maybe a few of those turnips we got this week.  The process is fairly simple and I will, once again, be following instructions from Wild Fermentation, which I must encourage you to buy or borrow from library or friend.  So while I cannot share his exact recipe, I will refer you to this blog that not only gives you step-by-step photo instructions, but also lists many, many dishes that you could make with your finished product!


While some of our bok choy is headed into kimchi, the rest of it once again graced our bowl of stir-fry.  This time we added a little twist and ended up with a dish almost similar to Fettuccine Alfredo, but with Asian spices replacing the Mediterranean.  Begin by cooking your noodles of choice - this time we used wide rice noodles.  While they cook, heat 1 tablespoon of neutral oil in a large pan.  We used coconut oil because 1) it contains lauric acid, which is good for you 2) it has a high smoke point and 3) we're finishing the dish with coconut milk.

Once the oil is hot, add in a dried hot chili or two or a small amount of dried pepper flakes.  The amount of heat is up to you.  Add in 1.5 tablespoons of ginger-garlic paste or an equal amount of minced ginger and garlic.  This will sputter like crazy but you only have to do it for about 30 seconds.  Then you'll add in 1 diced red bell pepper.  Cook about 3 minutes and then add chopped bok choy.

Hopefully at this point your noodles are cooked and drained (toss with some oil after draining so they don't stick together) and they are ready to be added to the pan.  I had to use 2 spoons to mix everything together but you could also try it Grady's way and just sort of toss the pan - but don't say I didn't warn you if you end up with stir fry all over your stove.  Reduce the heat to medium and add 1/2 to 1 can of coconut milk.  We added about half, but I wouldn't have minded a little more creamy-ness.  Allow this to simmer for a few moments, then serve and enjoy.


We're on a roll, making at least one soup per week for almost the past month now and this week is no exception.  This week we went with a New England style clam chowder and wistfully recalled our visit to the Atlantic just two months ago ...

As with many tasty soups, this one starts with minced onions sauteed until soft in butter.  We decided to throw in some carrots as well because we have them and because more veggies means more goodness, right?  Once the onions are soft, add about 2 tablespoons of flour and cook for another minute.  Then, slowly whisk in some bottled clam juice.  If you're not into seafood this step smells rather fishy and makes you question your reason for ever beginning this soup - I promise though, it gets better!  We used 2 small bottles of clam juice, which was maybe 1.5 cups.  We then added another 1.5 cups of chicken stock and threw in quite a few diced potatoes along with 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme and 1 can of cooked baby clams (you can use a can or two more but we're trying to stay low-budget).  Cover and let this mixture simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are cooked.  Serve in a big mug with lots of buttery croutons on top.


The rest of our potatoes - the purple ones to be specific, will be roasted along with an herb-butter coated chicken tonight.  I'll make a little side salad with the arugula and lettuce to go along with it.  I'm thinking the spinach is going to be blended with some of the fruit we froze earlier in the summer for an excellent pre- or post-workout snack.  Yum!

~ Courtney and Grady

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