Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cherries in the notheast? Who knew?!?

I got up at 5:45 this morning, made a cup of tea, ate a biscuit = jam conveyance, and headed over to pick up our friend Anne.

We drove up Rte. 16 to Farmington and headed out to Butternut Farms a massive pick-your-own operation.  We did some strawberries, they have 5 or 6 varieties but all I can discriminate between is, "small" and "big" as berries go.  

Then!  Then!  We got to pick cherries.  They had black gold and raineer picking.  Plus!  Plus! (I often hear my internal voice say this with a Mexican accent when I'm excited*)  Next week they're going to pick 6 trees of sour cherries.  Some people think they're the best pie cherries.  They're small and bright red, Anne declared that they look "poisonous red."   Me, I just think they're good eats and will down a pint in no time.  

Warning:  Butternut has great looking fruit but they do spray.  Besides the morality of eating fruit while you pick you will also want to think of the potential chemistry that still hanging around.  Wash your fruit!

I spent about 10 months living in Mexico and traveling about doing a number of things.  One of the levels of bus service was called Plus! and my traveling companions always thought it a great treat to ride on this level. It had better seats, slightly better air conditioning, and free cookies and soda!  One time I took a bus that had a stewardess, it was teh awesome.  Many, many times I took busses that fit the stereotype.  

Friday, June 25, 2010

lunch, dinner and more peanut sauce!

I ate the rest of the spring rolls at lunch today.  Good times!  Dinner, well, we wanted something pretty easy and that would include peanut sauce!

Again, not much was local tonight.  The radicchio was from the HPF share last week.  It was a little more bitter than I was expecting (at least the big leaves were so I wanted to take that flavor down a bit).

Basics:  (1) Grilled radicchio salad with apples (the remnants from last night) and basalmic pear dressing.

(2) Some grilled marinated chicken

(3) Asparagus, peppers, potatoes, and carrots grilled after being tossed with a little olive oil.

(4) Rice

Really...  That's about all it was.  

As long as I had the grill on I took a bunch of HPF beets, a couple cloves of garlic, and the last HPF shallot (winter share) wrapped it all in aluminum foil and left the little packet in the back of the grill.  We'll throw them on a salad tomorrow I think.  Lettuce, roasted beets, some nice cheese, maybe some toasted walnuts.  Maybe I'll have a late night snack?  That sounds pretty tasty right now...


So, I'm not the responsible party for any stock-making in the past few days, that was definitely Kate, which means this isn't really about making anything...  It's a cautionary tale, or, it's got some strategies that will save you some money and space in your composter.

Any time something comes with a stalk or there's something about to go bad or I slice the ends off things (leeks, celery, ...  <-not broccoli!  Don't make stock with broccoli!) I throw it in a bag in the freezer.  It's just a plastic grocery bag unless I get really motivated and use one of the large newspaper bags that come on Sundays.

Who knows what ends up in there?  Turns out I kind of forgot that I'd already filled one bag an moved it to the chest freezer without making stock.  So, Kate got all motivated the other day and declared she was making stock.  I happily rummaged about and pulled out all my bags of frozen bits.  She wanted 4 cups.

I might have had 10 cups or more of frozen bits.  The stock pot was definitely not ready for all that.  We'll have to have another go soon.  

Moral:  freeze your ends!  Make stock more frequently!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

spring rolls

One of our favorite summer foods is spring rolls.  They're pretty easy, but kind of time consuming to make.  Plus, you get to eat them with peanut sauce and it's hard to go wrong with that.  We made up one meal's worth today with a couple left over.  For how much work they are I'd prefer getting 2 meals out.  Not much was local today, just the lettuce, shallot (left over from the winter) and scallions.  Later in the summer you can imagine what else might be local.

Here's the goods:

Remnant of a pineapple


A couple carrots


Hot dog (I wasn't into this, but I put it in Kate's)

rice noodles (we used soba)

scallions (mine)

rice paper wrappers

mint leaves, basil would also be nice...

Peanut sauce:

Shallot-1 minced

Garlic (4 cloves, but they were big) minced

Chili powder (1.5T)

Olive oil

1 can coconut milk

3/4 peanut butter (unsalted natural for us)

2t soy sauce

1T ginger (grated or minced)

1c stock (we just made some yesterday!  Watch for that story soon.)

1.5T tamarind paste or1T honey and 3T lemon juice

The plan:

1) Start a pot of water to boil and chop everything into matchsticks except the lettuce and as noted.

2) Make noodles according to the directions

3) Start peanut sauce: in a small saucepan pour in the oil and the chili powder and let it warm until it's fragrant.  Then throw in the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and shallot and let everything get soft.

4) In a separate saucepan warm the stock then mix in the peanut butter.  Once that's in add the coconut milk, chili/shallot/garlic mixture, tamarind (or honey/lemon).  Leave it on the stove on low for the rest of the night.  Stir it a bit.  Maybe add a splash of lemon juice or lime juice.  You can store it in a container in the fridge for about 2 weeks.  It never seems to last that long at our house.

5) Pull the noodles out of the water, rinse them and dry them as well as you can.

6) Put some warm water into a pie pan.  Drop in one rice paper wrapper.  Let it get soft, pull it out and drop some a small pile of goods into it.  Roll it up like a burrito.  Eat the first one to make sure there's decent quality in all the goods and to practice rolling (do not announce that you are doing this, pretend you haven't started making them yet).

I piled in the following way:

For Kate:  Some carrot, nicely lined up.  Then apple, then hotdog, noodles, mint and lettuce.  Please note:  hot dog does not go well with peanut sauce.

For me:  carrot, mint, noodles, scallions, lettuce and then pineapple (it's pretty moist and would cause the wrappers to rip).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Choi, rice and tofu

I, Tim, was out of town all of last week and didn't really make it home until Sunday night after dinner.  Thus, I was confronted with a fridge that was rather full of greens and somewhat intimidating to try to knock out in the next couple days...  It also meant no pictures from me (although Kate might have some, we'll see).

It's worse than that though because this week is our anniversary and we're going out to dinner tonight to celebrate, really meaning that we only have 1 meal before we get more greens.  So, what to do?  Eat the choi. 

Here's the plan:

Slice 1 head of choi into 1" strips.  Give them a rinse.  

Bring a pot of water to a boil, chop a clove of garlic and 1T ginger.

Blanche the choi (I cooked em for a bit more than a minute), pull them out and rinse them with cold water immediately.  In a large skillet melt 3T butter, then toss in the garlic, ginger and 2T soy sauce.  Sauté it all for a bit and call it good.  I thought it could use some red pepper flakes.

While that was going on I sliced some tofu to about 1/4 inch and let it drain.  In a different skillet heat up some canola or peanut oil and then fry the little buggers on both sides.

In a small sauce pan (or, really a microwaveable bowl) pour in 2T olive oil, 2T sake or mirin, 1t miso paste (I used red).  Heat it enough and stir it about so that it turns into an emulsion (mixture of different kinds of liquids).  I thought this might have needed a bit of red chili paste.  See the trend?

Once the tofu is nicely browned on both sides drain it and drop it onto your plate.  Pour the miso sauce over it.  Add some rice (we have a rice maker that's almost always got rice in it).  Put the choi on the other side of the plate...  Eat.  Total time:  30 minutes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Part HPF part Wake Robin

We love the Portsmouth farmer's market.  Okay, truthfully, we love all farmer's markets.  I've been a regular visitor since about 1999 when I lived in Oxford, OH.  Their market was tiny and just started as a couple farmers sitting in the parking lot of a school.

When we moved to Iowa we went to the Grinnell market every week.  The dirt in the midwest is, maybe, the most fertile anywhere and it's pretty easy to grow seemingly anything in great abundance.  The summer of 2000 we were so amazed with the quantity, quality and prices that we were immediately hooked (plus that's just after I really started reading about food production).  Maybe the greatest farmer's market in the country is in Des Moines, there was more than we could imagine.

Subsequently, we moved to the east coast, the DC area.  We were regulars at the College Park, Baltimore, and DC markets.  But, that paled in comparison to our love for the Takoma Park market.  First, it's year round.  Second, there's an egg guy who was sold out within 5 minutes of opening because his prices were so low.  Third, there were these scones...  Finally, the farmers...  They were (a) required to be within 150 miles, and (b) sustainable.  There was a mix of meat, produce, dairy, and fruit.  The apples lasted through the winter until the berries started coming in.  Asian pears, peaches, ...  The produce came early and lasted late.  Since then all the others have suffered a bit in comparison.

But, as we've moved north we've started to appreciate the coming of the spring even more.  The market opening, the first greens appearing (fiddleheads), and the gradual change from asparagus to lettuce to chard and more.

This week peas appeared (last week we were up the coast and they were 2 weeks behind in terms of the growing season).  HPF gave us some sugar snap peas (by which I mean, we bought) and we picked up some snow peas from Wake and some parsley from the herb guy on the south side of the market.

How'd we eat them?  Kate made up a little vinegarette (oil, white basalmic, salt, pepper and a bit of parsley).  I'm not sure what she did with them, I was "resting my eyes" at the time.  But, I took the strings out of a handful of each and microwaved them for 30 seconds, tossed with a little of the vinegarette.  Mmm tasty.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Easiest meal ever, or Broccoli Rabe

Some (all) of the broccoli rabe (or rape) was hanging out in the fridge from last week and I found what's maybe the 2nd easiest way to eat it ever (aside from raw and blanched).  

So, while I'm a huge CSA supporter and love me some local farms (yes, I did go to two farmer's markets this week), there's still just a bunch of veggies that I've never really dealt with well.  One of the reasons that I'm excited to be doing this project is because it will really force me to be better about using all my veggies this year.  Also, I need to remember to blanch and freeze the greens, can or freeze all the summer foods when they're in season and threatening to overwhelm me.  Sometimes there's just too much X during the week.

Broccoli Rabe:

It's basically blanched (2 min or so) but then toss it around in some brown butter with basalmic.  How to make the butter?

Heat a skillet to hot, toss in 6T butter.  Wait til the sizzling subsides and then pour in some basalmic vinegar (there's going to be lots of splatter).  Pull the greens out of the water and toss them into the pan.

I paired it with broiled tofu with a miso glaze.  

Tofu:  slice it thin, brush it with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Put it under the broiler.  Flip it over and do the same on the other side after things brown up.

Miso glaze:  4T of miso (or so), 1T of sake or mirin and a little orange juice.  Warm all that in a pan and turn it into a solution.  Once it's all nice and warm add a splash of a nice vinegar (I used rice, about 1T).  I let it sit on the stove until the tofu was ready and then spooned it over.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Strawberries--firsts versus seconds

This isn't meant to be a post about what came in the share this week, more of a reflection on things we manage to do with some strawberries.

Today I picked up a quart of 'firsts' and a lot of seconds.  

The firsts are the nice looking ones they look and taste amazing, right at their peak.  We eat them.  Last week the pint didn't last for the 5 minute drive home.  This week we got a quart, they've made it home (mostly because we ate enormous amount at dinner before picking up the share) and we're munching on them whenever we walk past.  I can't imagine anything else that I'd want to do with these, but I've heard that other people use them on cereal, in yogurt, or on top of ice cream.  I don't think cake-type applications are the way to go because the flavor might get lost.  Really though, I've chatted with a bunch of people and we all say, "eat them like a pig-hog before someone else can touch them!"

The seconds aren't as attractive and you might not want to try eating them.  They might have a bad spot, they might be a bit overripe, or they might have gotten squished by some friends.  I cut off the top and any parts that were gray (gray food = not good eats) and tossed them in a pot.  My plan: heat them up a bit until they're pretty much juiced, then run them through some cheesecloth to take out the seeds.

They'll go back in the pot with some pectin until they come to a boil.  Then I'll add some sugar and bring them back to a boil.  Finally, I'll put them in some canning jars and boil them again...  Jam for the year.  I'll probably add some lemon juice for acid.

A recipe:

3qt strawberries

1 packet of pectin

8 c sugar

Chop tops and bad spots (really really bad spots, over-ripe = more sugar) off the berries and throw them in a pot.  Bring it to a boil until the berries are broken down into a thick liquid.

Strain to remove the seeds.  If any of the flesh get caught try to push it through your strainer.

Put it all back in the pot and add the pectin.  Bring it to a boil.  

Add the sugar (maybe some lemon juice) and bring back to a hard boil for a minute.  

While all of this is going on prep about 3.5 pints worth of canning jars by sterilizing them in boiling water along with their 2-part lids.

Pull the jars from the water and pour the jam into them.  Seal the lids until they're tight but not 'super tight' and drop them back into your boiling water.  Keep the jam at a rolling boil for 5 minutes (0-1000 ft).

Let them dry and then remove the screw-top while leaving the sealed top.  Check for seal by turning them upside down.  Any that didn't immediately seal:  eat or give to friends and tell them to eat immediately.