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Posts Tagged ‘CSA’

A Goodbye Dinner

Well I’m off on another trip – Rwanda again.  And while I’m gone, my hubby starts business school.  BIG DAY, Monday!  I may actually not see him until May.  So to make sure he remembers me, I cooked him a special dinner for our last free evening for a while.

The inspiration came from our refrigerator and my basket of farmer’s market veggies.  We had lots of things that needed to get used up before Michael descends into bachelordom for a couple weeks: cold cheese grits, tomatoes, zucchini, corn and peaches.  With a few additions from the grocery store, and some hot Italian sausage from the freezer, this became: grilled sausage with fried cheese grit cakes topped with balsamic-roasted vegetables AND blueberry buttermilk scones with vanilla ice cream and peaches.  Sounds a little fancier than it actually was – but it WAS as delicious as it sounds!

We have LOVED our sausages from our CSA.  They have all been unbelievably tasty.  The hot italian sausage we had in the freezer comes in one large link.  I threw this on our outdoor George Foreman grill (the only outdoor kind we can have on our apartment balcony) til it’s browned and fully cooked and juicy.  I cut this into a couple large pieces for each plate.

The cheese grits were leftover from breakfast earlier this week.  I’ve learned a great way to reuse grits is to unmold them from the cold container, cut them into large squares or triangles and fry them.  You’ll see this often on menus that feature Southern food – I guess it’s a more sophisticated way to serve grits for dinner!  So the fried cheese grit cakes went on the plate next to the juicy sausages.

To use up my basket of veggies from our CSA, I decided to roast them all together to bring out the flavor and top the sausage and grit cakes.  I cut the kernels off 3 corn cobs, chopped a couple yellow and red tomatoes into large chunks, and chopped one large zucchini into large diced pieces.  This all went on a large baking sheet (I love the rimmed half-sheet pans from Williams Sonoma for messy jobs like this) and was tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and roasted at 400 for about 1/2 hour.  These veggies topped the sausage and grit cakes, and were still juicy enough to provide some good moisture and juices for the plate.  Oh and a few leaves of basil were julienned for garnish.  (This is just a fancy shortcut to say “stack the basil leaves on top of each other, roll it up from the short end, and either slice with a knife or cut with kitchen shears”).

sausage with grit cakes and veg

Along with a nice bottle of Cava, this was well-recieved by the grateful hubby, who will hopefully not forget about his wife in his first weeks of business school.  (I know he loves our CSA sausage, so it was sort of a slam dunk no matter what I served with it!)  But just to make sure I sealed the deal, I made a batch of blueberry buttermilk scones (better served for breakfast, but cooked today to use up buttermilk in my fridge and thus available for dessert) and served it topped with vanilla ice cream and sweet fresh peaches.  As he would say, done and done. 🙂

Blueberry buttermilk scones

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I took this picture a week or so ago, because the beautiful summer bounty in my basket was too good to not share.  It made me SO EXCITED to look at this because all the potential of what yummy things will come from this healthy collection.  Here is the pile that we started with:

Basket O Veggies

And here’s the list of food that it all went into:

– The corn was grilled with Old Bay Butter and what we didn’t eat was cut off the cob and went into a salsa with some of the fresh tomatos.  It was an awesome salsa in the end – I love smoky chipotle in mine, but I added way too much chipotle up front and had to keep throwing things in to cool it down so I can’t give you a recipe until I try it again with what I think are the correct proportions.

– The little sungold cherry tomatoes I usually eat for a snack, they are like candy to me, such wonderful sweet summery flavor!  (I love tomatoes, I can always eat them plain).  But these I used to make a topping for a lentil burger (post to follow on that recipe).  I sauteed a little onion in olive oil, then added the halved cherry tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and cooked them on a high heat, stirring frequently, with a little sugar added, until it became a nice jammy balsamic-tomato reduction type thing.  Really, really delicious w/ goat cheese atop the lentil burgers!

– The green tomatoes would have been awesome fried up in my new favorite recipe but we didn’t have time for the frying so they have just gradually become red tomatoes and will go into a salad soon.  Or just eaten plain with salt for my lunch.  I love them that much.

– The green pepper was cut up with onions and sauteed with shrimp in a Thai green curry sauce (my favorite jar from Trader Joe’s) as a stir fry with some fragrant basmati rice and topped with toasted coconut and peanuts.  Easy peasy and very yummy.

– The nectarines went over yogurt with honey for my breakfasts.

– The bananas went from green to brown too quickly for Michael’s taste (he likes the bananas for lunch) and so went into a banana bread which went into the freezer to take to our rental house for my sister’s wedding weekend coming up (yay!).

– The eggplant and red onion got a very simple treatment – chopped into large pieces, tossed in olive oil, doused with salt and pepper and roasted at 400 until they were sweet and tasty.  When they came out I added another quick pinch of salt and a drizzle of truffle olive oil.  They went with the next recipe as a veggie side.

– Some of the zucchini went into a Zucchini Tart.  This was a DELICIOUS new recipe that I got from the excellent blog 101 Cookbooks (http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/lasagna-tart-recipe.html).  It was particularly good because I used homemade ricotta cheese in it, which made it wonderfully decadent.  You may think homemade ricotta cheese sounds difficult; in fact, it’s unbelievably easy!  You bring milk, buttermilk and salt to a boil and let it sit a few minute, then skim the solid stuff off the top, let it drain and presto, ricotta cheese!  I found the recipe here: http://www.travelerslunchbox.com/journal/2009/5/31/ricotta-in-print.html, and have already made it twice.  It’s heavenly as dessert with raspberries or other fresh fruit on top.  And it definitely MADE the Zucchini Tart.

– The rest of the zucchini went into Zucchini Bread.  I’ve been meaning to tell y’all about this for a while.  Because zucchini is one of those things that overruns summer gardens and kitchens and everyone is always looking for great things to do with it.  And ALL of the ones I see are for savory dishes.  My mom made this bread for us growing up, so I assumed it was something people have heard of before, but I’m starting to suspect they have NOT because otherwise wouldn’t it be like one of the MAIN things that is suggested for leftover zucchini?  It should be, because it’s totally delicious, easy and freeze-able.  If it sounds strange, think carrot cake.  Similar flavors, and the zucchini gives the same moisture to it’s bread that carrots do to their cake.  This is really yummy for breakfast, and also made a nice little cupcake with cream cheese frosting when I had some of that left over from a big old cake.  Please do try this recipe, it’s wonderful!

Zucchini Bread

 

2 ½ cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp orange zest

¾ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground allspice

2 beaten eggs

1 ¼ cup sugar

½ cup oil

2 ½ cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, orange zest, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice; set aside.
  3. In another bowl, beat eggs, sugar and oil together.  Add egg mixture to the flour mixture with the zucchini and nuts and mix.
  4. Turn batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then remove to wire rack and cool completely.

 

Makes one loaf.  This recipe is easily doubled, and the loaves freeze well, wrapped in plastic and then foil.

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Southern Summer Supper

Oh how we are LOVING our weekly delivery from our CSA!!!  I liked it a lot in the spring, but the peak of summer is a splendid time to be getting a box of fresh-from-the-fields veggies and cooking tasty things in the kitchen!  I love that it’s light out still while I’m cooking, and we can go sit outside on the porch to savor our pretty meals.

This meal was so fun for me to cook!  I love ordering fried green tomatoes when they are offered on a menu, and have wanted to try cooking them for a while, but seeing as I don’t grow my own tomatoes, and the grocery store never sells them, I hadn’t had the opportunity.  Well this week the opportunity turned up at my door, with three big green tomatoes in our box!  As luck would have it, I’d just read a very yummy-sounding recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes in Southern Living AND had the perfect amount of nice thick Maple View Dairy buttermilk already in the fridge.  I decided that was enough to make a whole dinner, with some of our corn from the box on the grill.  This was four days ago and the thought of this meal STILL makes me happy…

The Fried Green Tomato recipe (http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1898467) was wonderful.  They were perfectly seasoned with salt, pepper and cajun seasoning and perfectly crunchy thanks to the buttermilk and cornmeal in the breading process.  Frying them up took some time, and I was grateful to have a candy thermometer that helped me get the oil to the right temp.  Here’s where having a deep fryer would be really handy…however I am not allowed to get one because my husband is afraid I’ll fry everything.  Which, I give him, is possible.  So anyway, I used my dutch oven and a thermometer and it worked out fine, it’s just a little bit of a process.  But, TOTALLY WORTH because I seriously think those may have been the best Fried Green Tomatoes I have ever had…

I made a different remoulade sauce from my Louisiana Real and Rustic cookbook which was quite good.  It made a TON, so half went right into the freezer, and I’ve got lots left that I need to boil some shrimp for.  You could easily half this – but it was very good, nice and tangy. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/remoulade-sauce-recipe2/index.html

Finally, I grilled the corn in my favorite way – stripped them, rubbed them down with Old Bay Butter (mix about 2ish teaspoons of Old Bay with a stick of softened butter) and grilled them on high heat.  (That sounds naughty, doesn’t it?!?)  It’s the best way to eat corn, I swear.

So take a look at this gorgeous plate of southernness and summerness – what a happy, hearty, mostly healthy meal!  And one of the best parts was that I had a really yummy lunch the next day with some of the leftover {toasted} tomatoes, a few basil leaves, and the remoulade spread on a toasted English muffin…

Fried Green Tomatoes

 

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

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Summer’s Bounty

Calimari steaks are on sale at Harris Teeter this week, so after picking up our CSA box, we headed over to pick some up for the grill tonight.  Sadly, no calimari had yet arrived at our store.  So I headed home with a hungry husband, with no idea of what to make for dinner.  The good news is we had a box of fresh veggies from the farmer’s market and a basket of fruit and veggies from the grocery store that had been intended for the calimari meal.  What is the phrase about necessity being the mother of invention, or something like that?  Yep.  That’s true.  We had a fantastic, fresh summer meal in 20 minutes!

I decided to go for a salad with a saute of fresh veggies on top, and a little fruit-topped crostini on the side.  I started with a drizzle of our ‘good’ olive oil from our trip to Provence last year.  First went in cut pieces of asparagus.  After a few minutes to soften up, I added a clove of chopped garlic, a handful of halved cherry tomatoes, a few chopped scallions, some chopped parsley and a teensy bit of thyme.  And salt and pepper.  Oh and a few scoops of white beans, rinsed from a can.

While those fresh veggies were getting to know each other, I sliced some pieces of baguette.  We had a wheel of Caroline Moon cheese from the Chapel Hill Creamery in the fridge from the farmer’s market on Saturday, which is a brie-ish sort of cheese.  I laid a thin slice on each baguette slice, and drizzled it with a little of olive oil and sprinkled on some sea salt.  Then I put all the pieces in the toaster oven at a low heat (275) to melt down a little.  In the meantime, I put a small handful of raspberries on the cutting board and scattered a little sugar over the berries and smooshed it all lightly with the back of a spoon til it made a little paste.  When the little cheese crostini were looking oozy and yummy in the toaster oven, I pulled them out and topped each with a little raspberry ‘smoosh’.

With a glass of prosecco on the side (thanks Hopey and Joe!) it was a really nice surprise meal, unplanned but really delicious and fresh.  I’m even more excited now about the great fruits and vegetables of the season yet to come our way!

Summer Salad

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It’s here!!!

We’ve been waiting for this day for months.  And we were longing for it before that …back in DC when we used to dream of joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) which would deliver farm-fresh produce once a week. 

And today, our dream came true!  Our CSA with Brinkley Farms actually started last week, but we weren’t able to pick up last Wednesday, so we got a DOUBLE box for our very first week!  Take a look at how beautiful and exciting our delivery was!

csa-spring-2009

Our farm allows you to pick from a list of options available that week, which includes pork sausages and eggs along with fruit and veggies.  I’m really excited about the egg option, because I recently read (in a book I’ll review for you soon…) that free-range eggs from non-industrial chickens have half the cholesterol of regular grocery store eggs – and it’s all the GOOD kind of cholesterol.  What a huge health difference!  So we’ll be getting our weekly dozen eggs from Brinkley Farms through the fall. 

We’ll have a nice salad with our fresh lettuce tomorrow, and use those wonderful spring onions in pretty much anything.  I’m thinking paella with the chorizo sausage…  The hot breakfast sausage will go in the freezer for a special breakfast down the road.  I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with the cabbage, but that’s part of the challenge I’m looking forward to – figuring out how to cook fresh, in-season vegetables!  WHAT FUN!!! I’ll keep you posted on more adventures in CSA-ing throughout the season.  Stay tuned!

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