Thursday, October 11, 2012

CSA in the Kitchen

The end of the growing season is approaching as the temperature continues to drop, which means that soon we will no longer be receiving our summer share or browsing the stalls at the farmers markets.  While most of me is saddened by this, there is also a part of me that is relieved - after the pounds upon bushels of fresh produce that has paraded through our kitchen, much of which we have put up for the winter, I will be glad to have the pace slow and my worry over using veggies before they spoil lessen.  With all that said then, let us soak up these last weeks of bounty!


I've already mentioned that, to me, fall means more oven-roasting and more soup-making.  With the coming of winter squash, that season is now in full swing.

Thankfully, these little acorn squash are very easy to cook.  For this meal I cut one in half and scooped out the seeds then I put a nice pat of butter in the center of each and drizzled a little maple syrup over the top.  Put this in a roasting dish in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, 45 for bigger squash.  Honestly, I find acorn squash to be a bit bland so I like to add the butter and syrup but you can choose an entirely different flavor profile if you wish - maybe garlic with salt and pepper?

The side salad is adapted from Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything.  I've never tried to make anything with radicchio before so I had to turn somewhere for help!  This salad features chopped radicchio and apples with a dressing of about 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon of prepared horseradish (it's good!  make sure you get some ...), some cider vinegar, salt and pepper.  Some of the leaves in our head of radicchio were a little bitter for my taste, but it's hard to find a recipe that uses so many obscure CSA veggies all in one!


Spinach is one of those greens that can make in appearance in almost any meal, although we usually keep it simple and just wilt it and eat it with butter.  It's great as a side for dinner, but there's no reason that spinach, and many other CSA veggies can't contribute to breakfast as well.  The only day we usually have time to cook a "real" breakfast is on Sunday, but on our particularly organized days, we like to cook breakfast the night before so that we start the next few mornings off right!  This dish is an excellent candidate for such times.

Eggs baked in a nest of buttery spinach - perfect.

Wash and trim off long ends of spinach, then wilt it for about a minute in a pot of salted boiling water.  Drain and press out as much water as possible then chop.  At the same time, heat the oven to 350 and just before you are ready to assemble, put the baking dish in the oven with 1.5 tablespoons of butter.  When this has melted, remove from the oven and layer the spinach in.  Make as many little nests in the spinach as you have room for/however many eggs you want to cook.  Crack an egg into each nest.  Sprinkle with grated cheese, salt and pepper.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Enjoy your breakfast.  This would be great on a piece of toast!


Our days have gotten much busier in the last few weeks since Grady has started a part-time MBA program (yes, I am so very proud of him!) and so we have found ourselves resorting to the classics just to get something on the table every night.  Once again, we bring you burgers ...

To make our fries, we chop the potatoes and then cook them in water in the microwave for about 5 minutes.  Of course you can also boil them on the stove top, just take care not to overcook because falling apart potatoes don't fry very well.  We fry the cooked pieces in about an inch of oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  I should say 'Grady' does this - I never do this part because I hate large amounts of hot oil.  If you're brave, though, you can make these very tasty fries. 

Our slaw on the side is shredded kohlrabi (no, we didn't get it this week; yes, it's been in our fridge for probably 3 weeks now) and carrots with chopped apple and one finely chopped celery stalk.  The dressing is 1/2 cup of mayo, 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar and a touch of sugar, salt and pepper.

And I will brag for just a moment because I also made the ketchup that went with our dinner.  This was my first time making ketchup and while it was time consuming - you need to cook the tomatoes down, then pass through a food mill to remove skin and seeds, then cook into paste with sugar, cider vinegar and spices - the end result gives me great pride and tasty enjoyment!


We got ginger this week!  Awesome!!!!  Aside from making a cup or two of ginger tea, I'm going to try and make my own ginger-garlic paste by pureeing ginger and garlic in equal amounts with maybe some vinegar?  The store-bought jar I have hasn't spoiled yet and it has been open for a long time, so maybe the bacteria-fighting properties of these two is enough to preserve them.  I use this paste often in cooking Indian and other Asian dishes.  Because I have been blessed with a dehydrator, I'm also considering drying  a few slices and making my own ginger power.  I'm sure it would add so much more flavor when made fresh.  Here's to better pumpkin bread this winter!

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