Tag Archives: seasonal

Spring CSA – Week 3

7 Mar

I unfortunately learned the hard lesson of why you should store your vegetables properly. I had a crazy week at work and ended up leaving my box of food on the table for a while. By the time I remembered them on day 4, the collards had completely turned brown and dry, and a carrot and one turnip has mold growing on them. I threw them out and salvaged what was left. Lesson learned: vegetables should not be stored in a cardboard box. With fewer vegetables, there were only so many meals I could make out of it, but I still managed to eat at home more than last week, so that’s good.

What’s in our CSA box this week?

1.2 lbs of carrots
2 apples
1 bunch of spring onions (S)
1.5 lbs of turnips
1 bunch of kale (O)
1 bunch of collard greens (O)

(O=Certified Organic. S=Sustainably Grown)

What we made:

Day 1

I made another batch of kale and white bean soup for dinner. This time I used great northern beans, and I added some carrots.

Day 2

Green smoothie with kale, apple, and pineapple.

[Frozen Indian meal from Trader Joe’s for lunch.]

Leftover kale and bean soup.

Day 3

Green smoothie with kale, apple, and pineapple.

Leftover kale and bean soup and a slice of pizza.

[Dinner at Beasley’s. Chicken + waffles = AMAZING.]

Day 4

[Half a banana, granola bar, and tea for breakfast. I was late for work!]

Leftover kale and bean soup.

Apple and peanut butter for dinner. I wasn’t feeling well, so that was about all I could manage.

Day 5

[Out for a work brunch.]

[Peanut butter sandwich for lunch.]

Roasted turnips and carrots in the oven, to go with some super delicious pork chops (chops stuffed with ham and gruyere, topped with an amazing mushroom sauce).

Day 6

Green smoothie with spinach, apple, pineapple, and almond milk.

[I made lunch (tomato soup and ham & cheese sandwich), but not using any CSA food.]

[The BF worked late, so I ordered Chinese food and watched TV all night. C’mon, cut me some slack — it’s a Monday.]

Day 7

Carrot smoothie: carrot, apple, pineapple, plain Greek yogurt, almond milk, and apple juice.

Falafel on garlic flatbread with carrot, tomato, avocado, spinach, and garlic Greek yogurt sauce.

[Snacks at the movies for dinner. SO healthy.]

Day 8

Green smoothie: spinach, turnip, apple, pineapple, apple juice, and almond milk. Yeah, I added a few pieces of turnip. It didn’t change the taste, but it made the texture a little odd.

I stir-fried some carrotturnip, and green onion and had it alongside the leftover sesame chicken from dinner a couple nights ago.

Not bad, right?

I still have some green onions and a little bit of carrot left. I’ll add it to the root vegetables we’re getting in next week’s batch.

Spring CSA – Week 1

20 Feb

The BF and I just started a spring CSA. I’m super excited to get a delivery of fresh veggies each week. Our CSA runs for 9 weeks, so my plan is to post once a week about what we got and what I made. (Just fyi, day 1 and day 8 overlap each week — Day 8 is breakfast and lunch, and then Day 1 would be what I make for dinner that same night after receiving the new delivery that afternoon.)

So first, some FAQs.

What’s a CSA?

Community-Supported Agriculture looks different in every town, but for the most part, they work like this: You pay a subscription fee up front to a local farm. Then for a certain number of weeks, the farm gives you a box of produce, containing whatever was harvested that week. Each week the box looks a little different, though it’s fairly easy to guess what types of foods you’re going to receive if you know a little about seasonal produce in your area. (Hint: spring means greens. Lots of  ’em.) Most CSAs use organic and sustainable farming techniques. Read more at LocalHarvest.org about the benefits of CSAs for both farmer and consumer.

Where is your CSA subscription? 

Our subscription is with the Community Nutrition Partnership, a nonprofit in North Carolina that aims to provide fresh, healthy produce to families of all income levels. Unlike a traditional CSA with a local farm, going through a nonprofit means that our subscription also pays for TWO needy families to have their own subscription. Also, if people forget to pick up their CSA one week, instead of going back to the farm to rot, that box will be delivered to a local family in need. Also, they deliver. Awesome perk.

How can I find a CSA for me?

Check out the interactive map at LocalHarvest.org to find a CSA in your area.

What’s in my CSA box this week?

1 bunch of Collard Greens (O)
1 head of Cabbage (O)
1 lbs of Carrots (S)
2 Apples (O)
1 lb of Sunburst Tomatoes (O)
1 bunch of Kale (O)

For this week only, I also received extras as a thank you for getting a few coworkers to sign up:
more greens (kale and other mixed greens)
2 extra tomatoes
1 bunch of beets

(O=Certified Organic. S=Sustainably Grown)

What we made:

Day 1

Pasta! We sauteed some of the collards and 2 tomatoes in rosemary and olive oil. We added spaghetti noodles and jarred tomato sauce to complete the pasta, and served it with hunks of baguette and a couple eggplant cutlets from Trader Joe’s on the side.

Day 2 

Breakfast smoothie! I added two kale leaves to my fruit smoothie. And since it was Valentine’s Day, I added 3 or 4 beet leaves to make it pink. With bananas, vanilla yogurt, and orange juice, it was delicious (just tastes like fruit) and healthy.

I sauteed some more collards, this time in garlic grapeseed oil. I took them to work and mixed them into some leftover Indian chickpea soup with that I got from Sandwhich. Served over white rice that I pre-cooked, my leftover soup became a delicious curry dish.

For Valentine’s Day, the BF and I decided to play it chill and spend some time together at home. I made a cabbage and carrot slaw (shredded cabbage, matchstick carrots, juice of 1 clementine, a bit of garlic grapeseed oil, salt, and pepper) that we enjoyed as a healthy side dish to the Papa John’s pizza we ordered. Then we settled in for a marathon of The Wire — we’re halfway through season 1!

Day 3

Apple and peanut butter for breakfast.

Some more cabbage and carrot slaw with leftover pizza.

Delicious kale and bean soup with a hunk of baguette.

Day 4

Green Smoothie... delicious!

A green smoothie! Kale, orange-peach-mango juice, banana, frozen pineapple, and blueberry yogurt. Yum!

[Lunch out at Moe’s]

[Mac & cheese and popcorn for dinner. Terrible, I know.]

Day 5

A green smoothie before hitting the road to Asheville, NC!

[Lunch at Salsa’s in Asheville]

[Dinner at Tupelo Honey in Asheville]

Day 6

[Tea for breakfast]

[Lunch at 12 Bones in Asheville]

Bowl of leftover kale and bean soup for a late dinner.

Day 7Kale &  bean soup

Green smoothie! Not even getting tired of these.

[Lunch: leftover Moe’s]

Bowl of leftover kale and bean soup for dinner. Plus I made a salad with greens, beets, walnuts, and fried goat cheese. The goat cheese was the best part (duh).

Day 8

Apple with peanut butter for breakfast.

I didn’t have time to put anything together, so I just had leftover beets for lunch, added to a random hodgepodge of snacks to make a meal.

Leftovers:

I had 3 collard green leaves leftover that I’ll just throw out — they’re pretty limp.

I have half a head of cabbage that I’ll save a little bit longer and try to find something for them. And I have 2 carrots and a tomato that will keep a while longer too. Maybe a stir fry? I hear we’re getting bok choy next! Another pasta? We’ll see…

Blueberry Cupcakes

19 Aug

I made these scrumptious blueberry cupcakes ages ago and forgot to post them, so hopefully I’ll remember everything. I have the recipe written down, so maybe that will jog my memory. These came about as the perfect solution to knocking out two birds with one stone: I wanted one more recipe for in-season blueberries (they were in season at the time, anyway) and I needed a treat for my dad for Father’s Day (I said it was ages ago).

Usually blueberries are found in more pastry-like desserts — pies, crumbles, cobblers, etc. I was intrigued by blueberries in cupcakes and thought it would be great to try out.

I started with 2 pints of blueberries. I’ll go ahead and say it now — I personally thought the blueberry-to-sugar ratio was excellent, but I would guess that a lot of blueberry fans would want way more blueberry flavor than this, maybe even double the amount. Your call. Anyway, for the batter…

I preheated the oven to 350 F and lined my cupcake tin. I thought a monochromatic look would be nice, so I used blue paper liners. In a food processor, I pureed a pint plus a little more of the blueberries, and set it aside.

I sing that to the tune of Raspberry Beret.

I sifted 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and a pinch of salt into a small bowl and set it aside.

Dry Ingredients

In another small bowl, I whisked together 2 T milk, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and the prepared blueberry puree.

Batter IngredientsNow that I had my dry and wet mixes ready, I pulled out a large mixing bowl. I mixed 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) softened butter on low, and added 1/2 cup sugar. I beat it for a few minutes, until it was light and fluffy. Then I added one eggand mixed on low until just combined.Batter UpI added half the flour mixture, mixed briefly, added the milk mixture, mixed briefly, and then scraped down the bowl and added the rest of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Then I poured the batter into the prepared cupcake tins.

Cupcake Batter

I baked them for about 20-22 minutes, until they passed the toothpick test. I let them cool a bit in the pan, and then transferred them out to cool completely.

I went ahead and got to work on the frosting because pureeing and straining the rest of the blueberries took some time. This time, I pureed the rest of the blueberries in the food processor, and then I pushed them through a fine mesh strainer. This took quite some time, but it took even longer to clean the damn thing afterward. I just used the back of a spoon to push the blueberry puree through. The result was a purple goo that was much smoother than the chunky mess that came out of the food processor. This worked out great because the cupcakes had a great speckled look to them, where you could see tiny blueberry chunks baked in, but the frosting had the ideal smooth frosting texture in a pretty light blue color.

Ignore the red polka dots and you can see a little blueberry goop down there.

In a large bowl, I beat 1/4 cup softened butter, 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla with my hand mixer on medium-low.

Adding Blueberry Puree

I added the blueberry puree a little at a time until I achieved the desired flavor and consistency — for me, that was all of it. Once the frosting was smooth and blue, it was ready! I spread it on top of the cupcakes and topped each one with a single fresh blueberry. Perfect!

Blueberry Cupcakes

Blueberry Cupcake, in all its monochromatic glory.

Fresh Strawberry-Lemon Bars

11 Jun

I was joking in my last post about how I don’t really like strawberries, but I actually do. I was just joshin’, y’all. They’re just not my fave. But if I thought I didn’t like strawberries, this dessert would totally change my mind. It took a bit of time but was way worth it. I found the original recipe in an issue of Better Homes & Gardens, and it actually called for raspberries. But I thought, Hey, strawberries are in season, and they will probably work just as well. And damn was I right! These are good!

I started off by preheating the oven to 350 F and preparing my baking pan. I lined a 13×9 inch pan with aluminum foil, making sure I had enough to hang over the edges to make handles for later.

I threw 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted organic butter into a large bowl, and then beat them with my hand mixer on medium about 30 seconds. Naturally, maybe because I forgot to cut them into chunks first, the butter got all stuck in the mixer and I had to push it all back into the bowl.

Then I added 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. I mixed that on low speed for another 30 seconds.

I added 2 cups all-purpose flour and beat on low speed until incorporated. Then I increased the speed to medium and continued mixing until it formed a dough. For a long time, it stayed really crumbly and seemed like it wasn’t going to form into a dough. I turned off the mixer and scraped the mixer and sides of the bowl. When I started mixing again, it came right together into the dough. I don’t know if it needed a break or if I just needed to keep going or what, but it worked. Since you want a bar crust and not just a crumble bottom, it’s better to over-mix then under-mix, so don’t stop too early.

Now there's a dough

Once I had a dough, I dropped it in chunks into the foil-lined baking pan. This made it easier to smooth it out into an even dough. I popped it in the oven for 20 minutes, which was the perfect amount of time to clean up and then chop 1 pint strawberries into quarters.

Dough chunksDough layer
Once the dough finished its 20 minutes, I let it cool for 5 minutes and then brushed the exposed foil with butter. Then I spread a small jar (10 oz? I don’t remember) strawberry jam evenly over the crust.

Jam layer

For the next layer, I spread the quartered strawberries evenly.

Strawberry layer

Now for the custard filling. In another large bowl, I mixed 4 oz. (1/2 package) cream cheese and 4 oz. goat cheese with a hand mixer on high for about 30 seconds. Then I added in  1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, the zest of one lemon, the juice of one lemon, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Of course when I tried to get just the egg yolk, I accidentally poured the whole egg down the drain. But take two worked just fine. And then I beat the whole mixture on medium until smooth, about one minute.

Custard

A tip or two about lemon… To zest a lemon, use a flat grater to grate the lemon peel directly into the bowl. Grate the yellow, but stop when you see white — you don’t want to use that part. To juice a lemon, roll it around on the counter under your palm, putting a bit of weight into it. This will loosen up the juices a bit. Then cut it in half and squeeze each half directly into the bowl. If you have trouble keeping seeds out of your bowl, wrap a paper towel around the lemon and squeeze the juice through it. The paper towel will hold back the seeds and any pulp.

Custard Layer

I poured the lemon custard batter evenly over the strawberries and then baked it for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, I pulled them out and let them cool for about 10 minutes. I asked the BF to help me remove them from the pan — we each took an end of the foil and lifted it out, pulling it tight so it wouldn’t slide in on itself. Since I wanted to serve them for dessert and dinner was already halfway through, I stuffed them in the fridge to cool a little faster.

Strawberry Lemon Bars

When I was ready to serve, I cut them into bars and served a little piece to everyone, and omigod they were soooo good. Lots of strawberry, very lemony, really rich, and oh so sweet. But even though the goat cheese and cream cheese made it rich, the lemon also made for a pretty light, summery flavor. Deelish.

Strawberry Lemon Bar

Notes:

  • Wow, these are good. I am actually kind of surprised how much I like them considering they don’t have any chocolate.
  • I was a little skeptical that these would hold up as bars. I’m guessing I didn’t chill them long enough because they were a little runny at first. But when I chilled them again and sliced the other half the next day, they held up really well. And I figured that even if they didn’t, this would make just as delicious and satisfying a dessert if it were called a cobbler, crumble, or custard. Try them the first day with a spoonful warm out of the oven and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Then refrigerate the rest, and after they’ve chilled, try them the next day as a firm, chilled bar. Both are pretty delicious!
  • This recipe could be made the exact same way but with a variety of fruits. I’d love to try raspberries, blueberries, peaches, anything really. Maybe I’ll try this again with other seasonal produce.