CSA, hooray! Chapter 4

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This week’s share has a few holdovers from earlier boxes, but lots of new veggies, too:

  • leaf lettuce mix
  • turnips
  • radishes
  • snow peas
  • Asian greens
  • basil
  • cucumber
  • fresh goat cheese

I have to admit that last week’s turnips are still in the refrigerator, along with the kohlrabi I bought last Saturday at the farmer’s market. A bastardized coleslaw is surely in our future.

The only disappointment: No garlic scapes! I may hunt some down tomorrow so I can make a bean dip recipe I came across. Stay tuned.

Garlic scapes look odd, taste delicious

IMG_5660I first noticed garlic scapes at the farmer’s market last summer. They’re hard to miss — bright green and curly and, well, seriously odd looking. But none showed up in our CSA box, and my plate was full (literally) dealing with all of the new vegetables that did.

But when I opened last week’s share, there they were. And I had to figure out what to do with them.

Googling yielded this recipe for Garlic Scapes Carbonara, on the Sarah’s Cucina Bella blog. Although I was nervous that using raw eggs to make the sauce would result in pasta with scrambled eggs instead of creamy carbonara, I decided to give it a go.

Wow, am I glad I did.

It’s a quick dish. Chopping the garlic scapes took the most time, because they’re so curly. I should’ve tackled them first, before I started the bacon instead of while it was frying.

Next time I make this recipe, I’ll also:

  • Add fresh peas, as Sarah suggests. I planned to buy some at the midweek farmer’s market, but didn’t make it.
  • Use pancetta or real bacon instead of turkey bacon. I only had turkey bacon on hand and, while the end result was fine, I know real bacon would’ve added more flavor. Plus, the turkey bacon left the pan dry, so I had to sauté the garlic scapes in olive oil instead of bacon grease.
  • Use a bigger pot. The pot I typically boil pasta in was a little cramped when stirring in the egg.

Still, delicious!

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‘It’s Pimm’s o’clock!’

Four summers ago, I spent a warm and sunny afternoon on the south bank of the River Thames, at London’s famous Anchor pub, enjoying a Pimm’s cup — the quintessential English summer drink. I’m not sure if it was the mysterious gin-based liqueur mixed with lemonade, strawberries, cucumbers and mint, the breezy Katie Fforde novel I couldn’t put down, or just being on a solo adventure in such an amazing city, but that afternoon is one I look back on often and smile.

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Days like that simply can’t be recreated. But now that Pimm’s is available in the United States, my favorite drink can. And when I saw garden cucumbers and Michigan strawberries at the farmer’s market last Saturday, I knew it was “Pimm’s o’clock.”

Unfortunately, Mike doesn’t partake in Pimm’s. He claims the concoction, which ends up being brown with stuff floating in it, looks like “a garbage disposal backed up.” When we first started dating, he refilled my glass and tossed in his beer cap to further demonstrate his point. Yum.

So, I made a pitcher (a “jug of Pimm’s” in London-speak) the other night for my friend Kim and me. While the view from our back porch doesn’t exactly compare with the one from the patio of The Anchor, it was still a lovely night. And a lovely drink.

So, this is rhubarb

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Seems basic, I know.

But until last summer, my rhubarb experience was limited to only store-bought jam. I’d never cooked with it. So when our farm promised rhubarb in a weekly CSA box, I was excited.

“Rhubarb” in hand, I looked it up in the Food Lover’s Companion, my go-to guide for vegetables unknown to me. Don’t eat the leaves — they’re poisonous, it said. It’s all leaves, I thought, but … OK. After I trimmed the leaves, I was left with the tiniest red stalks, hardly enough for the recipe of rhubarb crisp I’d found. Still, they went into the pot with a lot of sugar. (Thank God.)

The finished product, with its oatmeal, cinnamon and brown sugar topping, was so pretty that I took it to my newish in-laws’ house. I’ll admit it, I was damn proud.

Until a couple of weeks later, when I was wandering through the farmer’s market and saw some “rhubarb” at a stand. Only the sign above it read “Swiss chard.”

Hmm.

Just so you don’t make the same mistake I did, this is Swiss chard. (Which, as it turns out, will work in a “rhubarb” crisp in a pinch — if the recipe calls for enough sugar.)

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CSA, hooray! Chapter 3

It’s the third week of our CSA share, and we’re still in the green.

Today’s box contained:IMG_5633

  • Sweet Valentine romaine lettuce
  • Bibb lettuce
  • Swiss chard
  • turnips
  • bok choy
  • garlic scapes
  • early onions
  • leaf lettuce mix
  • broccoli of some sort

I’m most excited about the garlic scapes, which I’ve never had and have no idea what they even taste like — although I assume they’re garlicky. I plan to search some recipes tonight.

Mike wasn’t so excited to see another bunch of bok choy. I’m not sure why, as I ate last week’s bunch all by myself. I love the crunchiness and how easy it is sauté them in a little garlic and olive oil.

The only conundrum is the turnips. Really, turnips? I thought they were extinct.

Don’t let the cup fool you

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… these herbs aren’t happy.

This is the oregano and tarragon that arrived last Friday. I placed the bundle in the refrigerator in the smiley cup, with a little bit of water, but then didn’t get around to using either of the herbs over the weekend. As you can see, the bunch looks wilted and sad today. Very sad.

Any tips for keeping herbs fresh? Or should I just hang and dry them next time and call it good?

CSA, hooray! Chapter 2

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Our second share yielded yet more greens — typical of what’s growing in June in the Midwest. The following joined the veggies still languishing in the refrigerator from last week:

  • red iceberg lettuce
  • radishes
  • early onions
  • mustard greens
  • Sweet Valentine romaine lettuce
  • rhubarb
  • bok choy
  • oregano and tarragon
  • leaf lettuce mix

I’ve never cooked mustard greens, and the farmer says they’re “spicy hot.” I’m not into hot. At all. My husband, who’s the opposite, jokes that ketchup is too spicy for me. Needless to say, these mustard greens have his name written all over them.

We also received our first bouquet of flowers this week. A share add-on, we’re scheduled for 10 bouquets throughout the summer. I must confess that I have no idea what kind of flower these are, but I love the bright and pale pinks. Maybe peonies?

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These are two of my favorite things

We took a break tonight from working through the mounds and mounds of lettuce in last week’s CSA for the two top jewels (for me): purple asparagus and goat cheese.

I was worried about the asparagus, which had been standing in a shallow cup of water in the refrigerator since last Friday.IMG_5562 I threw one stalk away, but the others seemed firm enough still to grill. I brushed them lightly with olive oil, seasoned them with sea salt, and tossed them on the grill when the chicken breasts had reached 155 degrees. The timing was perfect — the asparagus was finished just as the chicken hit 165.

But the pièce de résistance was definitely the goat cheese I sprinkled on top. Truly farm fresh, and really soft and creamy, it was the perfect complement to the asparagus. I was tempted to eat more than my share.

Cookbook love: ‘Clean Eating 2’

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If you want to know more about the concept of “clean eating,” the editors of Clean Eating magazine are the folks to see.

I subscribe to their magazine on my iPad, and own all three of their “The Best of Clean Eating” cookbooks. But “The Best of Clean Eating 2” takes first prize, hands down. I cook from it more than any other cookbook in my collection, clean or otherwise, and have made quite a few recipes more than once.

Our favorites: Curried Chicken with Peas, New Potato and Turkey Skillet Supper, and Thai Chili (with bulgar in lieu of meat, and sweet potatoes!).

You can also find clean recipes — for free — on the Clean Eating website.

CSA, hooray!

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Today marked the beginning of our second summer of community supported agriculture. Our first CSA box, from new-to-us Scotch Hill Farm in Brodhead, Wisc., featured:

  • red iceberg lettuce
  • leeks
  • a lettuce mix
  • arugula
  • spinach
  • carrots
  • Bibb lettuce
  • oregano
  • bok choy
  • asparagus
  • a ball of fresh goat cheese (YUM!)

Yep, that’s a lotta greens. I’m not sure how many salads two people can eat in a week, but we shall soon find out.

The only head scratcher is the bok choy — I’ve never cooked with it. Any suggestions?