Jun 30, 2010

Knowing Where it Comes From

June 30, 2010

If you're not completely captivated by the thought of these people producing your food, then you're flat out crazy.

Anna whispering sweet nothings to her sheep:

Anna doing something that I'm too lazy to do:

Anna carrying something heavy:

Michele planting garlic, and Denis hoeing a row (I have no idea if that's what he's actually doing, but I heard it in a Dixie Chicks song and it seems like it fits):

Not sure about you, but we're the type of family that usually shares a prayer before we eat--you know, if we're not so super hungry that the food just kind of jumps into our open mouths before we have the chance to bring it up with God.

But most of the time, one of us offers a prayer. And most of the time, the prayer says at least these two same things:

1. We're thankful for this food, and

2. Please bless it to make our bodies strong and healthy.

As far as the whole 'thankful' thing goes, I can assure you that it's one thing to be grateful that you swiped your debit card at Hannaford and *surprise* you actually did have enough money in your account to buy that two pack SnoBalls. But gratitude for having friends and neighbors who are willing and able to use their land to grow natural, organic food that's completely safe for you and your family to eat? Gratitude that someone is stooped over in a local field, pulling up your carrots and wiping the soil on their jeans? I can absolutely assure you that that measure of gratitude is on a completely different plane.

And how about the 'bless it to make our bodies healthy and stong' part? When I sit down with my family to eat something that was produced in a factory, or doused in pesticides, I'll tell you, that prayer really means a lot. After all, it could take a real miracle to see an increase in health from that kind of food. But this CSA produce is totally and completely different. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it's increasing my kids' health, and fighting off the cancer that everyone seems to get these days. Furthermore, I wholeheartedly believe that it's reversing the effects of the Sinckers bar I ate for breakfast dessert and taking years from my complexion with every single bite.

Now if Long Meadow farm could start growing a cookie here and there, my life would be complete.

Jun 29, 2010

Soup 'n Salad

June 29, 2010

You'll have to excuse my little extended weekend hiatus. I had a half marathon to run (survived) and a husband to longingly admire. Not to mention our five year old house guest who almost ripped his face off on our treadmill--Biggest Loser style. Just a tad of preoccupation over here.

Plus, we've had a lot of recipe repeats in the form of stir-fry, green smoothies, wilted greens, and salads. Also, I'm still going long and strong with the blanching. My freezer's never looks so good--and the fridge is being such a jealous bitch about it.

I've got a couple new ideas for you guys today. Believe it or not, my husband's coming home from work at a kind of reasonable time tonight, which means we get to eat dinner and yell at the kids together. Yay!

In an effort to avoid a mad rush and a shitastically messy kitchen when all I want to do is watch So You Think You Can Dance, I whipped this up and stuck it in the fridge:

There's thick layer of CSA shredded napa cabbage on the bottom of the dish, Asian noodles doused with teriyaki sauce in the middle, beef stir-fried with sesame seeds, and some mandarin oranges and CSA peas to top it off. If I have any green onions left to go around, I'll toss 'em on the top before we eat.

Now I know a few of you are wondering about the Asian noodles. They look just like spaghetti (because that's probably all they are), and you can find them in the Asian section of your grocery store. I know what you're saying..."I don't know if my grocery store even has an Asian section."

Listen, I live in Central Maine. The waiters at our Chinese restaurants are as white as my tall kitchen trash bags. If there's an Asian section at my grocery store, there's got to be one at yours.

Here's something else I've been whipping up over here:

As you can clearly see on the label, it's a soup starter. It's nothing more than purred garlic scapes and green onions--but this winter, when I add potatoes, a cup or two of heavy cream, and a few inches to my thighs, it'll be something super, super special.

Jun 24, 2010

Week 3: An Inside Look

June 24, 2010

Well, I thought you guys might like to see what it's actually like to go and pick up my CSA basket. I'll post some pictures of the actual fields next week. I tried to snap a few today, but it started pouring like nuts out there. I was super grateful to be the greedy consumer and not the hardworking farmer.

So, I pretty much drive through the middle of no where--for real, zero bars on the cell phone for like fifteen minutes--I take a right onto Indiana Avenue, and a left into the farm. I drive down a charming little dirty road, and try like hell not the run over a duck when I park in front of this building, the CSA house:

Over to the right, there's this cutie little barn where some sheep live. I tried to lure Barbara the Icelandic out of the barn with my good looks, but she wasn't having it:

So you walk up into the CSA house, and this is what you see:

There's no one there to take your money or to make sure that you don't perhaps just possibly sort of help yourself to an extra bok choy from the crate there on the ground. Seriously, who would do that? Who would steal from such a happy, earthy, love your mother kind of place? I sure wouldn't.

Dear Denis and Michele,
I took a bok choy from that box--it was just a little one. I wasn't sure if it was an extra, but I really didn't care. I love bok choy so much and I guess I have a stealing problem that I didn't know about until today. If you let me get away with this, I plan to up my game and swipe a big bok choy from Hannaford tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes.

And these are the mysterious garlic scapes: 

James thinks they're antlers. I think he's gifted.

Yup. Still gifted.

I thought garlic scapes would be like a green onion with a garlicy flavor. I was wrong. They're solid, not hollow. They're curly, not straight. The have a white bulby thing in the middle, not the bottom. A much different animal to tame.

Here's a picture of the haul once we wrangle 'er up and got 'er home:

2 bunches of green onions
2 humungazoid bags of peas
2 heads of lettuce
2 bags of broccoli
2 bunches of red turnips
2 bunches of white turnips
2 heads of napa cabbage
2 bok choy
2 bunches of garlic scapes
2 bunches of swiss chard
...and perhaps some maybe stolen bok choy and romaine (really, so sorry)

Here's a close up of the garlic scapes:

And here's a picture of dinner--Ravioli with Garlic Scape and Swiss Chard Pesto:

I mixed and matched a few different recipes to come up with this pesto, but basically it's made of garlic scapes, swiss chard, olive oil, parmesan cheese, toasted almonds, salt, and pepper. And basically, it's obscenely good.

Here's a batch of the pesto from another angle:

Jun 23, 2010

Pan Pizza with Spinach and Parmesean Crust

June 23, 2010

Tonight I made pan pizza with a spinach and parmesan crust. Basically I added a cup of chopped wilted spinach and two or three tablespoons of parmesan cheese to my regular pizza dough recipe. That's right, I have a standby pizza crust recipe--I really am that domestic.

Here's the pizza coming out of the oven:

I'm unreasonably proud of this pizza, so I took a picture of it on the cutting board, too:

Then I took pictures of every single family member posing with it. And a group shot, too. Don't sweat it, I'll spare you.

The pizza was unbefreakinglievably good. James and I each ate three pieces, and Jared had five. Considering the quantities of food that we consume on a regular basis, it's a pure wonder we haven't had to hire a crew of assistants to push us around in wheelbarrows.

At least it's a goal to work toward.

Be sure to check back tomorrow, when I reveal our third basket, which is rumored to contain copious quantities of garlic scapes. Now I know what garlic is, but for the life of me I've never heard of scapes. Doesn't it sound like some kind of a nasty STD?

..."Dude, you hooked up with her?!?! Everyone knows she's got the scapes. You're never allowed to ride my bike again."

Taking the Health Out of Vegetables, One Recipe at a Time

June 23, 2010

Not gonna lie, I don't like kale. It's got a really strong flavor, a pretty stiff texture, and I've heard that it's the healthiest of any green vegetables on the planet--bad news all around.

Usually, in an effort to make it go away, I blend kale into green smoothies, but this week, I found a very successful alternative for kale masking--sausage.

I love sausage. All kinds. Kielbasa, bratwurst, salami, breakfast links--I could go on and on. Actually, I could probably write a love song all about it. But I won't. Instead, I'll show you this picture:

Bow tie pasta with olive oil, basil, kale, and Italian sausage.

There's no recipe--just put those four ingredients together in a frying pan, and learn how it tastes to live life to the fullest.

Fifty years from now, when we're all keeling over from acute angina, at least we can die knowing that we helped kale achieve its highest potential.

Jun 21, 2010

Finding my Groove

June 21, 2010

You'll have to excuse the recent lack of pictures, but there's been a lot of repetition lately, and really, how many smoothie and salad photos does one person need to see? And that's basically how it's been--smoothies, salads, wilted greens, hot fudge, blanched greens for the freezer, and so on and so forth.

I made another one of those bok choy and ramen noodle salads to bring to my in-laws' house this weekend, except this time I threw in an extra head of napa cabbage and some mandarin oranges. What can I say? Not quite as exceptional as my husband's ass, but almost.

If I sound bored, I'm so completely not. These vegetables are really stinkin' good. And just so you know, Edy's Peanut Butter Cup Overload is also a flavorful choice for the summer.

Tonight for dinner we had chicken on the grill, quinoa with kale, and a turnip, green onion, and pea stir fry:

I 99% sure that I got those place mats for my wedding shower eight years ago from my friend's mother. I registered for them and whatnot, but I honestly don't think I used them until I started this blog. I also registered for a broom, maybe I'll give that thing a try, too.

Jun 19, 2010

Beets Gone Wrong

June 19, 2010

It's Saturday, and to be perfectly honest, I've eaten more oreos and peanut butter m&ms than CSA produce. A lot more. Like enough peanut butter m&ms for a Mormon family reunion. 

But I started the day with the best of intentions:

That's an omelet with CSA spinach, green onions, and cheddar cheese. The smoothie has those local strawberries I wrote about, a handful of spinach, and a handful of turnip greens--as usual, couldn't taste the vegetables. So stop being such an unadulterated wiener about this green smoothie thing, okay?

I had such beautiful visions of lunch. Last week, my CSA beets when oh so right. But this week? What a crying shame:

I know.

 I found the recipe on epicurious.com (there are variations all over the internet), and I was thrilled to pieces.

Beets? Love.
Poppy seeds? Love
Noodles? Love
Butter? Love it more than my family, thankyouverymuch.

So I put em all together, and guess what I got? A big, fat nothing.

Basically, it's shredded beats and toasted poppy seeds sauteed in half a stick of butter and poured over egg noodles. Guys, any time I use half a stick of butter, I'm expecting the doors of heaven to fling open and the saints and angels to personally feed me champagne grapes.

Not this time.

Even Jared couldn't feel the love. He was like, "Looks creepy." Then he cautiously picked up one noodle, lowered in into his mouth, chewed, swallowed, and wrinkled up his nose. Three minutes later he went to his parents' house where he ate two hamburgers and one hot dog.

Smart man.

Oh, and let me just say that my idea of a quick lunch has totally and completey changed. Two weeks ago it was a slice of pizza from the gas station. Now its more like this:

Short grain brown rice (leftover), with wilted turnip greens and feta, and a nice fat salad.

Better watch your back, Nigella Lawson--your trashy cousin's in town and she's here to play.

Picked Our Own Strawberries

June 19, 2010

You've probably noticed that CSAs are more about vegetables than they are about fruit. And seriously, how's a girl supposed to make a half decent pie from a bunch of leafy greens and radishes?  Because of reasons like cost, taste, health, and my spotlesssly clean image, I've pretty much bought this 'eat local' thing hook, line, and sinker. So, in our quest for fruit, we decided to keep it close to home and headed out for a morning of strawberry picking at the strawberry farm.

The first strawberry that James picked was absolutely ginormous. See?

He was like, "Mom! This thing is huge! Take my picture while I pretend it's video game controller."

I was like, "James, SHHHHHH. That strawberry is local--you should pretend it's a horse comb, or a classic novel or something, not a video game controller!"

That kid is so ridiculously embarrassing. I wish he'd work a little harder at preserving his mother's reputation.

Here's a picture of the strawberry field:

I posted this picture for two reasons. First, I can't get enough the that guy in the overalls (love him!), and second, that woman on the bottom right is my 88 year old neighbor.

There she is again, motoring along on her hands and knees (she likes to call 'em her prayer handles):

While I was snapping that picture, this guy came up behind me and said, "Why don't you stop taking pictures of your grandmother and help her instead."

I gave him a straight look, and with my most matter-of-fact tone I said, "That's not my grandmother, she's my step sister."

He had no reply. Besides, she doesn't want any help. If she needs help this year, it means she'll need even more help next year, and she's only 88--totally not ready for that.

Here's what we left with:

Grand total? $35.68. They were $1.60 a pound. That night when I went to grocery store I checked the price of strawberries, and get this--$2.99 a pound. They were from Mexico--lovely place for a cruise, not so much for growing my berries.

So, what do you do with a zillionteen strawberries? Well, you let your kid eat so many that he has diarhea at the supermarket, you put a big bowl in the fridge, and you freeze the rest:

That way he'll be able to poop his pants in the middle of the winter, too.

Jun 17, 2010

Week 2: Discount Vegetablefest

June 17, 2010

There's no doubt about it, week one was a raging success. We finished every last leaf in our basket, and to be quite honest, I feel like I could sprout wings and fly--not to mention the fact that my colon's singing showtunes. And that's not a poetic way of talking about farts.

This week, I left the basket where it belonged and came home with this:

Do you have any idea how many vegetables are in those bags? Check it out from this angle:

That's fifteen feet of organic leafy greens, you guys. Obviously I'm planning to outlive every last one of you--so write me into your will, okay?

Here's the breakdown...

2 heads of napa cabbage
4 heads of lettuce
2 heads of bok choy
2 bunches of kale
2 bags of spinach
2 bunches of beets
2 bunches of radishes
2 bunches of red turnips
2 bunches of white turnips
2 bunches of green onions
1 bag of snap peas

I added up the approximate cash value, and if I felt like buying this vegetablefest from my local grocery store, it would cost anywhere between $60 and $524. I feel like I'm getting one hell of a deal.

When I got home from the farm, I wasted no time. I immediately boiled some water, blanched a bag of spinach and one bunch of kale. I packed it away in our basement freezer and I'm planning to save it until the winter--you know, for the moments when James misbehaves.

JAMES: Mom, no time out! Anything but a timeout!
ME: Okay, here. Eat this kale instead.

Can't. Freaking. Wait.

Speaking of kale, I turned a few leaves into these crunchy little kale chips. They're super easy, and even though they pale in comparison to the almighty Cheeto, they're really quite snackable:

Unfortunately, they don't leave any kind of orange dust on your fingers. If you still want to make a batch, it's easy... Preheat the oven to 300. Cut a few kale leaves into chip sized pieces. Spray both sides with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Put 'em in the over for 10ish minutes, or until they're nice and crunchy.

For dinner I whipped up a stir-fry. It had a few handfuls of snap peas, one bunch of white turnips, one bunch of red turnips, an undefiled head of bok choy, and some green onions. I threw in some sesame seeds, a few soy nuts, some teriyaki sauce, and a whole lot of love:

Then I rubbed Jared's fork under my armpit. Trust me, he was asking for it.

Jun 16, 2010

The Best Bread Ever

June 16, 2010

First order of business--I need a food stylist. And a photographer. And my very own ice cream truck.

Moving on...

Today was a great day in my little CSA world. There were salads, there was a green smoothie, and friends, there was this:

It's called an Oh So Easy Romaine Wrap, and I learned about it from my friendly local raw foodist. (read about her here and here)

I'm not sure where they got the name from, but it's so easy to make. You take a couple leaves of Romaine, you stack 'em up, schmear the pile with two or forty tablespoons of nut butter, and then drizzle some agave nectar or honey on top.

Then you roll it up, think to yourself, "Huh, this might be pornographic for vegans," and you enjoy.

Now I know it seems like a strange combination, but if you keep your eye on the prize and think about Thai food, it's really pretty good. I followed up my lettuce wrap with two Klondike bars--strong, but not overpowering.

And now, without further hesitation, I present to you my pride and joy:

I know you think I'm a liar, but I really did make it all by myself. It's spinach feta bread, and I love it so much that if I lived in Nevada, I'd marry it. If I manage to gain three-hundred pounds as a member of a CSA, this spinach feta bread will be held 97% responsible.

Dinner wasn't so shabby either. A big ass salad and quinoa mixed with turkey kielbasa and CSA broccoli.

The second basket comes tomorrow...stay tuned for some mystery vegetables!

Jun 15, 2010

Would You Like Salad With That?

June 15, 2010

What can I say? Today was more of the same. I had a green smoothie for breakfast--this time I added beet greens and since it tasted more like rainbows than ass, I consider it a raging success. Lunch was almost identical to yesterday:

Greens, bleu cheese, pasta, blah, blah, blah. I did spice it up with a grilled chicken thigh--because I'm awesome. Salad for dinner. You all know what salad looks like.

James thinks his CSA carrots are better than a roller coaster:

I'll put the beet recipe up tomorrow. It's late. I'm tired. It's always necessary to drink with three straws. At least in this house.

Jun 14, 2010

Public Service Announcement

June 14, 2010

Generally speaking, on any given night I can be found lying on the couch, watching the home shopping network (judge away, it won't change me), and snacking on something fabulous like BBQ potato chips, or mini Three Musketeers bars, or BBQ chips crushed up and sprinkled on top of Three Musketeers bars.

Last night, when my husband slipped out of the house to watch the Celtics game with his brother, I had every intention of eating my regular snack. But let me tell you, the strangest thing happened. Behold:

That's right. I channeled my inner Dwight Schrute and I snacked on beets. Orange marinated beets with bleu cheese to be exact. I'm shocked to tell you that Dwight's really onto something, because oh my word, that crap was some good. But as tasty as they were, I feel like I can't encourage anyone else to eat beets until I leave you with the following Public Service Announcement:

Beets will turn your pee maroon. You will think that you are dying. Unless you have a pre-existing condition, you are probably not.

Now go eat your beets.

In keeping with the theme of beets and bleu cheese, today's lunch was left over pasta topped with sauteed beet greens and bleu cheese. Fantastical:

Beet greens aren't nearly as disgusting as I thought they'd be. When I cooked them I was expecting the flavor of grass clippings mixed with spinach mixed with those tear jerker candies from seventh grade. I was wrong, they tasted more like vegan angel wings.

And for dinner, I once again defiled the bok choy with cheap conenience food--but daaaammmmmnnnn, it was good. The recipe can be found by clicking here:

Let he who does not secretly enjoy uncooked Top Ramen cast the first noodle.

Jun 13, 2010

Spinach, Spinach, Spinach, and Some Guy in a Suit

June 13, 2010

Despite the purple color, this is actually a green smoothie, and if you're alive and breathing, you know that they're all the rage these days:

It's got orange juice, blueberries, a banana, CSA spinach, a tablespoon of chia seeds, and I swear on all things holy that you can't taste the spinach. I scoff at Jamba Juice and their peppy employees. I don't need their boosts, oh no I don't. 

This is my husband making a super flattering face first thing in the morning:

He's eating an omelet made with CSA spinach, some onion and cheddar cheese. He doesn't deserve me.

And this is a real life Mormon missionary. He's blinded by the light:

He polished off a huge plate of CSA salad, and in this picture he's eating spaghetti and meatballs. The sauce is spiked with, you guessed it, CSA spinach. Then I tossed him outside on his ass.

Jun 12, 2010

Two Worlds Collide

June 12, 2010

It's day three of our CSA, and this might be premature, but I'll say it anyway--I'm sold. For the first time in my life, I know what a carrot's supposed to taste like, and to be quite honest, it's better than a Skittle. If you know me, you understand the magnitude of that statement. The broccoli is soft and sweet, and did you have any idea that mescalin salad mix is spicy? Yeah, me neither. And when I say spicy, what I actually mean is makeyournoserunandyourcleanasawhistlehusbandsayaswearword spicy. I could get used to this.

And without further ado, here's what we ate today...

For lunch I had salad topped with soy nuts, feta cheese, and this really awesome salad dressing that had twenty-two grams of fat per serving. Hello!

After lunch, I decided to blanch some spinach. I've never blanched anything before, but I've got to say, it was super easy. Basically you boil some water, you throw the spinach into the boiling water for two seconds, you pull it out, you let it cool, you stick it in a couple of ziploc bags, and you freeze it for the winter. Here's the really unbelievable part--See this pillowcase sized bag of spinach?

Well it turned into this:

Those are sandwich sized bags, not the kind of bags that the school puts your kid's poopy windpants into. Your kid, not mine.

And then we moved on to dinner. This my friends, is where my two worlds collided--leftover Chinese takeout and organic bok choy. See?

The bok choy was super easy to make. I am no longer afraid. 

I used a the recipe provided by the CSA. In other words, I stir-fried it in a tablespoon of olive oil, added a pinch of sugar, and pinch of salt, and tossed in a tablespoon or so of toasted sesame seeds. It was really stinking good.

But James? Well, he's not a Chinese food kind of guy. He had two PB&Js with a side of CSA carrots.

He even ate the tops.

Moral of the story? You should be afraid of dragons and you should be really afraid of crack cocaine, but don't waste your time fearing bok choy. It's on our side.