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CSA Challenge


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Borrowing a page from the Cookbook Challenge – get it? Page? Cookbook? :blink: – how about a CSA Challenge?

For the first time, I bought a CSA share. I’m a bit overwhelmed by the variety of vegetables offered. Not only am I unfamiliar with tatsoi or miyuna; I have no idea what to do with okra or garlic flowers.

Although my CSA pickup isn’t until June I believe some start as early as May. What’s in this week’s CSA basket? And, how do you plan on preparing it? Appetizer? Side dish? Entrée?

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I just bought shares for the first time this year, inspired by another thread on DR.com. I bought a 2-person vegetable share from Bull Run Mountain Vegetable Farm, as well as a half-dozen egg share and a fruit share. I'm looking forward to trying new things, but also to the convenience of picking up a box every Monday evening, since it's not easy for me to get out to the farmers market the way I used to.

This should be fun!

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Really young, fresh okra pods (which is what we'll likely receive) are also good tossed in some oil and grilled.

I've also heard (is it true?) that cutting okra with a dull knife causes more slime, so time to have the knives sharpened, perhaps.

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I should have phrased that better: I have no idea what to do with okra to make it edible. Just the thought of it makes me gag; I shield my eyes as I rush past it in the store. :blink:

I have no idea what to do with okra

Okra is best sliced into about 1/4 - 1/2 inch slices, floured, and pan fried. It also goes very well in vegetable soup if you should choose to make some with your CSA share.

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I should have phrased that better: I have no idea what to do with okra to make it edible. Just the thought of it makes me gag; I shield my eyes as I rush past it in the store. :blink:

Okra is best sliced into about 1/4 - 1/2 inch slices, floured, and pan fried. It also goes very well in vegetable soup if you should choose to make some with your CSA share.

I take a page from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. When she moved to Florida to grow oranges, she wasn't familiar with okra. So, she treated it like asparagus and boiled the smallest ones she could find whole (with the caps still on) and dipped them in Hollandaise Sauce! Yippee!!!

I found her method overcooked the okra and so I steam them for five minutes or less. Then I lay them in spokes around the plate with a ramekin of the sauce in the middle. We eat this as an appetizer once a summer or so, whenever I find the freshest, smallest okra available. It's an indulgence, like dunking lobster in butter. Or, dunking artichoke leaves in butter. ;)

PS. I like fried okra, too. But can't deal with the mess.

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I should have phrased that better: I have no idea what to do with okra to make it edible. Just the thought of it makes me gag; I shield my eyes as I rush past it in the store. :blink:

Do what I do: just email your neighbors and say "the CSA gave me WAY too much okra this week -- first come, first served -- it'll be on the front porch."

That way I don't have to even look at it. I'm an okra-hater, too. It skeeves me out. My neighbors love to make gumbo, so they take it every time.

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I should have phrased that better: I have no idea what to do with okra to make it edible. Just the thought of it makes me gag; I shield my eyes as I rush past it in the store. :blink:

Gumbo! I've gotten my husband to eat it that way and he doesn't like okra.

Where was this thread last year when I had a CSA and tons of produce I needed ideas for? ;):P

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First delivery of my half-share arrived today from Karl's farm.

post-1464-1179280364_thumb.jpg

2 white hakurei turnips

1 radish

1 bag of mesclun mix

2 leaves of kale

1 stem of lemon balm

1 bunch of green onion tops

comes in a wooden basket and an info sheet with a recipe for sauteed radishes with lemon balm butter. sounds like I know what I'm having to start dinner tomorrow night. anybody else's CSA start yet?

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I should have phrased that better: I have no idea what to do with okra to make it edible. Just the thought of it makes me gag; I shield my eyes as I rush past it in the store. :blink:

Okra is best sliced into about 1/4 - 1/2 inch slices, floured, and pan fried. It also goes very well in vegetable soup if you should choose to make some with your CSA share.

I'm glad that you clarified this, legant. Otherwise, we, the people, would have been forced to revoke your card.

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How did the sauteed radishes with lemon balm butter turn out? Was it a compound butter? Sauteed radishes? I have only eaten them raw; do tell.

Anybody else get their CSA share? My delivery should start next week; anxious to see what my basket holds.

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Our first CSA pick-up (the Jug Bay CSA) was last Monday. We took home two small containers of strawberries; about eight spring onions; a big bag of spinach; shell peas; various herbs; a dozen eggs; and assorted flowers. (The eggs and flowers are extra-cost components of the subscription.)

The shell peas were represented to be snap peas when I picked them up, and being the buffoon I am, I attempted to use them in a stir-fry without shelling them. Once I bit into one, I realized the shells were not edible, and I had to pick through the hot stir-fry and shell them all. Ugh.

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How did the sauteed radishes with lemon balm butter turn out? Was it a compound butter? Sauteed radishes? I have only eaten them raw; do tell.

I burned them, and haven't had a chance to try again. Even burned, they weren't terrible, just strange. I, like you, have only had them raw before. They're crispy to begin with, and (maybe because i burned them) they actually lost a little crisp, perhaps? Am hoping tomorrow's delivery has more radishes (I got some more last week but I was so frantic that I was only able to incorporate them into salad, in which they performed admirably). Also, last week's delivery was slightly larger than the first one...am hoping this trend continues, but I can't expect much on a half-share.

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I'm picking up my first week's share from Bull Run Mountain Farm tomorrow evening. I just got the email on what it will include:

kohlrabi

Two types of pac choi

mei qing choi

joi choi

sorrel

Italian basil

garlic scape

salad mix (mizuna, purslaine, arugula, leaf lettuce)

I'm also going to opt for some chives and thyme, which are optional. They're offering optional oregano, but I don't use that very much in cooking and don't know what I'd do with it. Any suggestions?

Looks like I'll be doing some Asian-style stir-fried choi. Any recipes for pac choi, joi choi, or mei quin choi are welcome!

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Okay... I'll bite*: what is "choi"? Is it in the bok choy family?

Looks like I'll be doing some Asian-style stir-fried choi. Any recipes for pac choi, joi choi, or mei quin choi are welcome!

[*Most definetely: bad pun intended.]

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I Googled all three. Pac choi is apparently another spelling of bok choi. Mei qing choi is a smaller, sort of baby pac choi. And joi choi is a larger, darker green leaf version of pac choi.

My experience with this group of cabbages is somewhat limited, but I'm looking forward to learning about them.

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I'm picking up my first week's share from Bull Run Mountain Farm tomorrow evening. I just got the email on what it will include:

kohlrabi

Two types of pac choi

mei qing choi

joi choi

sorrel

Italian basil

garlic scape

salad mix (mizuna, purslaine, arugula, leaf lettuce)

I picked up my Bull Run CSA tonight. What the heck is this stuff: scape; sorrel; kohlrabi? And what the fuck am I suppose to do with it.

Omigawd! I only got one share -- and I'm splitting that by alternating weeks with someone -- but it's enough veggies to feed a family of 4 for a week.

I only took two of the four bok choi cousins; those are HUGE suckers... the size of a human thigh. [He really should label this stuff; I have no idea which choi I got.]

Seriously: I have no room in my fridge. One of the choi's is sitting, wrapped, on my kitchen counter.

[A word of warning: take several plastic bags with you. Although Bull Run provided a canvas tote, you might want to separate your choi from your scape from your sorrel from your salad mix. I have a mix-match of green leafy stuff at the bottom of my bag and no clue as to what it is.]

What the hell is garlic scape anyway?

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hell[/i] is garlic scape anyway?

It's the immature flower stalk of the garlic plant. In order to get the bulb to develop underground, it is necessary to discourage the plant from putting its energy into flowering and going to seed, so the flower stalk gets cut off. Every part of the garlic plant tastes/smells garlic-y. The scape will probably be a bit milder than garlic cloves. So you can chop up and saute a garlic scape with some of your choi to give it more flavor.

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It's the immature flower stalk of the garlic plant. In order to get the bulb to develop underground, it is necessary to discourage the plant from putting its energy into flowering and going to seed, so the flower stalk gets cut off. Every part of the garlic plant tastes/smells garlic-y. The scape will probably be a bit milder than garlic cloves. So you can chop up and saute a garlic scape with some of your choi to give it more flavor.

There is a brief piece on scapes in the Post food section today. I plan to use some of the scapes I got from our CSA to make a pesto, possibly the one described here. I might saute the rest and eat them on their own.

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What the heck is this stuff: scape; sorrel; kohlrabi? And what the fuck am I suppose to do with it.

I'm in the same position - my fridge is full of choi, I've stuffed everything that fell into the "green, leafy" category into a large tupperware container, and I have very little idea where to go from here (particularly because I don't think all of the green leafy veggies are supposed to be eaten raw in a salad, but there's no hope of separating them, much less identifying them). I've heard scape goes well in omelettes, though.

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I know I tend to lean toward hyperbole yet here are some pictures from my one CSA share. Now compare that to FermentEverything's first week.

Choi cousins

pict0106ep2.th.jpg

Garlic scape, basil, kohlrabi

pict0107st4.th.jpg

WTF?

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Is this the Sorrel?

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I slept with Deborah Madison last night; she was absolutely no help, what so ever. Damn... I'm just a city girl... who grew up on canned asparagus and frozen fruit and sugar-coated cereal with "fruit" in it and maybe a banana or two... what do I know about fresh veggies? I'll be stir-frying till the cows come home.

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There is a brief piece on scapes in the Post food section today. I plan to use some of the scapes I got from our CSA to make a pesto, possibly the one described here.
last year since we subscribed to bull run and got a few weeks worth of scapes, i ended up making pesto and freezing it (no cheese added until we actually ate it). it was really nice to have frozen pesto throughout the entire summer to just pull out and eat at our leisure.

we picked up our veggies last night also from bull run and i ended up making garlic fried rice and a stir fry of what i had in my fridge, including the bok choi, garlic scapes. i'll prolly do the same tonight with the kohlrabi, though i've never really cooked it before.

sorrel...be prepared for lots of it. it has a lemony flavor and i use it in potato soup - just chop it up and throw it in there.

purslane...was reading up on it yesterday and i think it's fine to eat raw in salads - it's the succulent that we got yesterday from leigh.

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last year since we subscribed to bull run and got a few weeks worth of scapes, i ended up making pesto and freezing it (no cheese added until we actually ate it). it was really nice to have frozen pesto throughout the entire summer to just pull out and eat at our leisure.

...

I've seen others advise not to add the cheese to it before freezing. Why's that?

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I've seen others advise not to add the cheese to it before freezing. Why's that?
you know, i'm not really sure either - i've always just heard not to do it, so i don't. perhaps it has something to do with the cheese freezing? the only thing i've read is that "the pesto will keep better without it." maybe someone out there can enlighten us?
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I got the same veggies from Bull Run, but only 2 kinds of pac choi (on Monday). Monday night I used the kohlrabi leaves and some of each of the chois in a stir fry with some minced garlic scape and sesame oil, mirin, chili sauce, etc. I minced up some of the chives and garlic scape in some ricotta from Blue Ridge Mtn. dairy for breakfast yesterday.

Last night I peeled and sliced the kohlrabi (thin) and sauteed it in butter till slightly caramelized, with minced garlic scape. We also had our salad greens last night. I love the purslane!

I like the idea of pesto with the garlic scape. I may play with that and the sorrel with pasta tonight, also with the oregano and chives and thyme and tarragon!

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you know, i'm not really sure either - i've always just heard not to do it, so i don't. perhaps it has something to do with the cheese freezing? the only thing i've read is that "the pesto will keep better without it." maybe someone out there can enlighten us?
Just a thought, but it may be related to common advice to buy a hunk of Parm or Romano instead of buying grated cheese. Freshness of powdery (not big box-grater flakes) grated cheese matters? I'll be brief since this is not CSA-related, though who knows if the DR fairies will magically wave their wands and transport the post to another thread, but, I'll add the recommendation to use aged pecorino with just a little Parmesan next time you make pesto. Whole Foods once carried Pecorino di Sardi (Sardinian version of Romano) which is what they use in the Genoa, the birthplace of pesto. And while you're at it, Litteri is one of several stores in the area that sells Ligurian olive oil, i.e. from the region of Genoa. It's mild and softer than peppery olive oils and a good thing to have around the house for salads and other uncooked pasta sauces.
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you know, i'm not really sure either - i've always just heard not to do it, so i don't. perhaps it has something to do with the cheese freezing? the only thing i've read is that "the pesto will keep better without it." maybe someone out there can enlighten us?

From experience only, I can tell you that pesto frozen with cheese can taste a little... funky... when thawed. The cheese itself doesn't keep well frozen, even if mixed with ground up basil, oil, etc. However, pesto sans cheese freezes very very well - for almost a year - and if you mix freshly grated Parmesan and pecorino into it, well, all your guests will be wondering how you got fresh basil in February. ;)

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Thanks to all who talked me down from that CSA ledge. It was a touch-and-go situation there for a moment. My new mantra: Relax… release… cook.

My CSA experience so far:

Scapes. Made a frittata with the scapes (rather than using onions/garlic). This was a four egg frittata and I sautéed ~ 2 Tbs of scapes and added leftover mixed vegetables, Parmesan and fettuccini. (I couldn’t determine if you’re to use the whole scape or only the lower parts.) The flavor was quite subtle. It may have had a garlic undertone, but it was lost on me. Next time: add a lot more scape. Also, want to try scape and mashed potatoes.

Sorrel: I had planned to add the sorrel to the frittata. Luckily, I had the foresight to taste it before adding. In all honesty, I tasted some leafy green thing; I have no idea if this was sorrel or part of the salad mix. I did a Google image search and concluded that it must look like spinach, being from the same family and all. The “sorrel” was quite bitter. Not a bad bitter, just bitter enough that it might have ruined the frittata. I ended up freezing it; I plan to add it to a split pea soup if it survives a week in the freezer.

Kohlrabi: I’m really interested in trying this thing. Thought about adding it to spaghetti squash mixed with some type of cheese – Gruyere, Fontina, or Swiss. You can't go wrong with a lot of cheese or butter.

The rest of the stuff (Bok Choi baby*, purlane, salad mix, and basil) I gave away; I’m leaving town for a week and won’t have time to “experiment.” [The fact that I ate out two of the past four nights to avoid having to “deal” with this stuff has nothing – whatsoever – to do with it.] If I had time, I would make pesto. And, because the purlane looked so “weird,” I wish I had tasted it before giving it away.

Reflections:

1. Everything does not have to be stir-fried. Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone was absolutely no help. Instead, I turned to Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. Whereas Madison basically stir-fried everything, Jaffrey offered more choices, all with an international flavor. For example, she has a recipe for (Baby) Bok Choy with Chinese Mushrooms. Sounds pretty good although I would probably substitute shitakes; I have a friend who grows shitakes and usually get a good supply from her. Further: it didn't "sound" like a dry stir-fry; rather it seemed like it would have a wet, curry consistency. Also, Jaffrey has at least six kohlrabi recipes; only one is a stir-fry.

2. I thought I was the only babe in the (CSA) woods. I offered the Bok Choi to several of my neighbors, all older, worldly folks; the younger ones don’t cook. Either they had seen it in the store and never bothered with it or they didn’t know what it was. (One neighbor said: I’m sure my son knows what to do with it.)

3. I’m curious about both the purlane and kohlrabi. Hopefully my next pick-up will include more of both. Although I have promised the kohlrabi to a friend, I haven’t decided if I will keep it, to see if it survives a week in the vegetable bin, or give it away.

4. I’m no longer intimidated by okra. A retired FSO offered a recipe for a Syrian dish. She claimed it was the only okra she has enjoyed. Can’t wait ‘till okra season to try this recipe.

*Henceforth, affectionately referred to as Bok Choi baby ‘cause it – and its cousins – is the size of a baby.

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Update from my side:

I've had some trouble staying on top of the stuff I keep getting, but I'm still managing to eat most of what I get, with relatively little thrown away. Salads are still dominating what I make: about half of my share is usually turnips, green onions, and salad greens. Add some tomato and some o&v, maybe some herbs, and that usually covers me on salad for a few days.

The other thing I tried was stir-frying the kale I've been getting. It would be healthy, except I used the bacon grease from cooking up some of the remnants of the homemade bacon. ;)

The kolhrabi I've gotten, I've just trimmed and eaten raw.

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The other thing I tried was stir-frying the kale I've been getting. It would be healthy, except I used the bacon grease from cooking up some of the remnants of the homemade bacon. ;)
Last year, when I was getting excessive amounts of kale and collards, I was roughly chopping and blanching portions of it to freeze for later use. I don't know how much freezer space you have, but that worked pretty well.
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Here's my update.

1. Garlic scapes -- One bunch has been turned into pesto. I intend to use half the pesto on a pizza tonight, and the other half with pasta, perhaps tomorrow. I've only finger-tasted the pesto. Echoing legant, it's mild. More "grassy" than garlicky to me. But we'll see how it goes when consumed properly. (By the way, our CSA guy said trim off the bulbs and a couple inches below them. I also trimmed off the very bottom, because that area seemed kind of tough.

2. Lettuce and snap peas -- Became a salad. Problem is, I just don't like salad that much. (Unless it's topped with bacon and a poached egg, or similar extravangances.) The peas were very sweet. I think I preferred just popping them in my mouth to eating them in a salad with a vinegary dressing.

3. Eggs -- We are getting a dozen eggs a week in our CSA. This is orders of magnitude more eggs than we usually consume. I have been using them make this extravagantly good sausage, egg, and sun-dried tomato casserole. It is really, really good, and suitable for any of the three meals in a day. It's adaptable too. I added shell peas from the CSA, and replaced the shallots with CSA spring onions, and it remained delicious. (Also, I'm making omelettes. Lots of omelettes.)

4. Broccoli -- Yuck. Still in the fridge. Any ideas (besides giving it to a neighbor, which is the current plan) for someone who doesn't like broccoli at all?

5. Strawberries -- No recipes; just eaten with my lunches this week.

6. Radishes -- Given to a friend who actually likes them.

And a CSA-related reflection: I wish pick-up for our CSA was later in the week. Ours is on Monday. It's very difficult for us to do serious cooking during the week, thanks to busy jobs and a 10-month-old roommate. So most of it sits around until the weekend. I would be jazzed about a Thursday pickup. Things would be fresher when I use them and I would enter the weekend with residual excitement about the goods.

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I managed to put the Kohlrabi bulb to use this weekend - julienned it (even on the mandoline, this was hard work - the bulb is nearly rock-hard) along with an apple, mixed in some dried cranberries, and topped with a lemon/mustard vinagrette. I was pretty pleased with the result. I'm going to attempt to do something with the greens tonight (from what I've heard, they can be treated like chard, so I think I'm just going to cook them down in a pan with chili flakes and garlic). Still lots to use before this week's pickup on Tuesday, though!

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Here's my update.

1. Garlic scapes -- One bunch has been turned into pesto. I intend to use half the pesto on a pizza tonight, and the other half with pasta, perhaps tomorrow. I've only finger-tasted the pesto. Echoing legant, it's mild. More "grassy" than garlicky to me. But we'll see how it goes when consumed properly. (By the way, our CSA guy said trim off the bulbs and a couple inches below them. I also trimmed off the very bottom, because that area seemed kind of tough.

2. Lettuce and snap peas -- Became a salad. Problem is, I just don't like salad that much. (Unless it's topped with bacon and a poached egg, or similar extravangances.) The peas were very sweet. I think I preferred just popping them in my mouth to eating them in a salad with a vinegary dressing.

3. Eggs -- We are getting a dozen eggs a week in our CSA. This is orders of magnitude more eggs than we usually consume. I have been using them make this extravagantly good sausage, egg, and sun-dried tomato casserole. It is really, really good, and suitable for any of the three meals in a day. It's adaptable too. I added shell peas from the CSA, and replaced the shallots with CSA spring onions, and it remained delicious. (Also, I'm making omelettes. Lots of omelettes.)

4. Broccoli -- Yuck. Still in the fridge. Any ideas (besides giving it to a neighbor, which is the current plan) for someone who doesn't like broccoli at all?

5. Strawberries -- No recipes; just eaten with my lunches this week.

6. Radishes -- Given to a friend who actually likes them.

And a CSA-related reflection: I wish pick-up for our CSA was later in the week. Ours is on Monday. It's very difficult for us to do serious cooking during the week, thanks to busy jobs and a 10-month-old roommate. So most of it sits around until the weekend. I would be jazzed about a Thursday pickup. Things would be fresher when I use them and I would enter the weekend with residual excitement about the goods.

A couple of ideas that might help you use your veg for quick meals during the week, and help you deal with the things you don't like all that much.

1) Learn to love your blender. You can make a quick, creamy pureed soup to serve either warm or cold. Peel the tough outer skin from your broccoli, cut it up and cook it with some onion (or garlic scapes) in chicken stock (canned broth is ok) until just tender--pour it into your blender, add a few lettuce leaves and puree until smooth. Add a few tablespoons of heavy cream or whole milk yogurt and some salt and white pepper to taste. (Don't reheat the soup if you use yogurt--it'll curdle. It's still edible, but not so pretty to look at.) This is also is the way to make a fabulous chilled pea soup with the sugar snaps cooked in place of the broccoli (with or without the lettuce). Great with a little bit of fresh mint. You won't believe how quickly this kind of soup comes together, and you can use zucchini or other summer squash, various greens and herbs to vary the flavors. Some good bread and a little cheese and you've got a satisfying light summer supper.

2) Use your eggs to make frittata. Saute´ chopped up veg or greens in some olive oil in a frying pan that can go into the oven. Pretty much any veg will work, but always be sure to include onion and/or garlic. Salt and pepper, and cook until the veg are softened and the onions are translucent. If you like meat, you can julienne or dice some ham, prosciutto, cooked bacon, sausage, chorizo or whatever. Scramble four or five eggs with a couple of tablespoons of water and a little salt. Lower the heat and pour the egg into the pan and distribute the veg mixture evenly. Distribute your favorite kind(s) of shredded cheese over the egg-veg mixture, or dot with fresh goat cheese or ricotta. I have done this with cheddar, gruyere, jack, P'tit Basque, reggiano--it's all good.

Put the pan into a fairly hot oven (400 f.) until the frittata is puffed up and the cheese is lightly browned--like maybe ten minutes? But really keep an eye on it. Serve in wedges directly from the pan. We like to sprinkle on a little hot sauce, or serve with salsa. This is also a way to use the veg you don't like all by themselves, like broccoli--with so many flavors going on simultaneously, they don't have the power to offend.

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More fun with veh-juh-tubbles!

This week, we got broccoli, cabbage, leaf lettuce, head lettuce, arugula, spring onions, squash, zucchini, a cucumber, snap peas, and assorted herbs. We will be out of town this weekend, which put me in a state of panic. So I gave my neighbor the broccoli, some arugula, some remaining scapes from last week, and the head of lettuce.

Beginning what promises to be a frantic effort to use our remaining vegetables before the weekend, last night I made Braised Cabbage with Onions (using the CSA spring onions) and roasted squash/zucchini. Both worked out pretty well, but the cabbage is really good. The recipe came from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. Tonight, I'll probably use the remainder of the arugula for a frittata, per Zora's appetite-whetting suggestion. (But I just couldn't bring myself to do anything with the broccoli. Sorry Zora.)

Our CSA update this week says this is proving to be a poor season compared with the last three. For this CSA novice, though, I would fear any greater quantities. We're told to expect the beginning of beans next week; tomatoes are two to three weeks off.

(Incidentally, for others who may be suffering from CSA vehjuhtubble overabundance, the current issue of Cook's Illustrated has a primer on freezing summer vegetables. Unfortunately, everything has to be blanched before freezing. Why can't the advice be, "Take vegetable, put in freezer"?)

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I haven't had a chance to report on my veggies for this week, what with my tree shedding a giant limb onto my neighbor's patio, and all. ;)

We got more garlic scapes, and pac choi (only 1 this week), mustard greens, sorrel, mesclun, radishes, broccoli, and some herbs--oh and my half-dozen eggs.

So far we've had some tasty salads, one with fresh mozzarella from Blue Ridge Mountain Dairy, and CSA basil and heirloom cherry tomatoes (from WF). I steamed the broccoli Monday night. Last night I sauteed a pattypan squash (sliced) that I harvested from a plant in a container on my front steps with garlic scape and pine nuts.

With the drama of the tree behind us (actually the 10-year-old kids in the neighborhood made most of the drama), we may enjoy some mixed greens tonight, maybe with a little bit of Cibolla Farm bacon.

We're livin' large and green!

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Bull Run CSA for Tuesday, June 19th:

vegetables: pac choi (again!); cabbage; radishes; mustards;

spinach (if not, parsley or another green); salad mesculm; garlic scape; basil

Keep those garlic scape and pac choi recipes coming!

herbs: oregano; thyme; sage

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Relax... Release... Cook...

Week 3 (I alternate weeks with Monique DC):

Tonight’s CSA dinner: garlic scape and mustard greens sautéed in olive oil, SP, and red pepper flakes, served over angel hair pasta with a little bit of Parmesan.

finished3dinnerfu6.th.jpg

Last week I used only a bit of the scape for the frittita. This week, I discovered that garlic scapes have a woodsy end, much like asparagus. I noticed this when I cut the scape into 1-inch pieces: the bottom half was a lot more difficult to cut than the end closer to the bud. I undercooked the mustards – should have put the greens in before the scape – ‘cause the scape “burned” before the greens were cooked. Simple meal, but quite tasty.

With these vegetable-focused meals I need to find some way to incorporate protein. HELP!

BTW: This was the most pathetic bunch of radishes I’ve ever seen:

radish2od7.th.jpg

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On Monday, I made a recipe I found online from realsimple: Glazed Tofu with Bok Choi. I was pretty pleased with the results - you cook the bok choi with garlic (I used garlic scape as well) and veggie stock, and then separately sear the tofu with soy, fish sauce, brown sugar, more garlic (and scape!), and sesame oil, then combine. The recipe calls for 2 head of bok choi, but clearly was not contemplating the enormous heads that we've been getting in our CSA. One was more than enough.

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This week's delivery from the Jug Bay CSA included:

- Beans (Uh, they are the size and shape of what I call "green beans." Some are green, and some are pale yellow.)

- Cabbage

- Broccoli

- Beets

- Squash

- Zucchini

- Cucumbers

- Assorted herbs

I am quickly realizing that I will be doing a LOT of roasting and stir-frying this summer. I simply don't have the time or energy to use these ingredients in more complex recipes. So last night, I chopped up the squash, beets, and zucchini into little cubes, gave the same treatment to non-CSA potatoes and a red onion, added garlic, olive oil, and herbs, and roasted two baking sheets full of the resulting mix.

It worked out pretty well. We ate some sliced cucumber topped with sea salt too. That was pretty good.

Frankly, though, the jury is still out on this whole CSA experience for us. If we do it next year, we'll probably seek out a share. Because as it stands, it sometimes feels like more of a chore than a pleasure to address the sheer volume of the weekly harvest (in what is supposedly a poor year for our CSA's farm). Usually, there are no more than three nights a week when I have the time and inclination to cook "seriously." (And there are usually zero nights a week when my wife has such time and inclination.) As a result, we have had to toss a few things, which causes me great angst.

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Thank you, thank you, thank you. This week I got a baby bok choi (compared to bok choi baby) and still haven’t figured out what to do with it other than stir-fries.

On Monday, I made a recipe I found online from realsimple: Glazed Tofu with Bok Choi.

The volume is quite overwhelming. The only thing that’s saving me – and my sanity – is being able to split my share by alternating weeks. I couldn’t deal with receiving this much veggies week in, week out.

Frankly, though, the jury is still out on this whole CSA experience for us. If we do it next year, we'll probably seek out a share. Because as it stands, it sometimes feels like more of a chore than a pleasure to address the sheer volume of the weekly harvest (in what is supposedly a poor year for our CSA's farm).

This has been more of a challenge than I expected. Not only do I have to come up with new recipes, I really need to limit how many times a week I eat out. Let me tell you: my grocery and restaurant expenditures will be considerably less this summer; I’m only buying protein... and a lot of that protein is soy products or legumes.

Usually, there are no more than three nights a week when I have the time and inclination to cook "seriously." (And there are usually zero nights a week when my wife has such time and inclination.) As a result, we have had to toss a few things, which causes me great angst.

You can always “gift” them to neighbors.

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I think I’m getting the hang of this! Tonight’s CSA dinner: Alicha… a vegetarian variation of an Ethiopian stew recipe I acquired during my VeggieTeen years.

A Google search will produce quite a few meat-oriented Alicha recipes. I used: onions, carrots, (CSA) cabbage, green peppers, cannellini beans, and potatoes seasoned with Thai curry, S/P, garlic paste. I didn’t have injera… whole-wheat tortillas were a good substitute.

I added the beans for some protein. Realized I didn’t have Indian curry until the last minute; substituted Thai green curry, mixed with 1/4 cup of coconut milk; no complaints here.

BTW: Today’s grocery bill (one onion, a green pepper and 4 red potatoes)… for at least 6 meals: $2.18. The other stuff I had on hand.

Except for the herbs, I’ve used my one-week allotment of CSA produce.

[The influence of Indian and Asian spices in African cuisine is quite interesting.]

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Okay... let me preface this post: although I’ve had pesto, I've never made pesto. There's a big difference. (Given the sodium content of store-bought pesto, I'm glad I did!) So... I made the pesto... sans cheese... froze it in ice cube trays... why didn't anyone tell me to use plastic wrap... and now I'm ready to use it. Do I add the cheese into the defrosted pesto and then toss over pasta... or do I mix the pasta and pesto and then add cheese, almost as a “pass the Parmesan” addition?

From experience only, I can tell you that pesto frozen with cheese can taste a little... funky... when thawed. The cheese itself doesn't keep well frozen, even if mixed with ground up basil, oil, etc. However, pesto sans cheese freezes very very well - for almost a year - and if you mix freshly grated Parmesan and pecorino into it, well, all your guests will be wondering how you got fresh basil in February. ;)

Second question: I divided the sage into two groups: one to freeze and the other to dry. To dry it, I placed it on a screen/rack and waited for it to dry... au natural... for somewhere about four days. Okay… it’s now dried. It doesn’t smell like the fresh sage. Should it? Should I have dried it in the oven… at a low temperature… say 100 degrees… for a couple of hours?

Third question: What’s the best way to dry herbs? Are there herbs that don’t “dry” well? I have -- I think -- thyme. Can I dry it the same way? Or should I store it in the freezer, in a plastic bag? What about the basil? I can make more pesto, but there's only so much pesto a gal can eat.

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... I can make more pesto, but there's only so much pesto a gal can eat.

I can't help you with any of your actual questions, but I can emphathize with this point. There is also only so much cabbage a guy (and his gal) can eat. I was quite happy to learn that the head of cabbage we received this week will be the last for the summer. It's not that I haven't liked the cabbage. Indeed, it's just the opposite: I have gained a new appreciation for a vegetable I would never otherwise have cooked. (And that was pretty much the goal of our CSA membership.) At the same time, though, a head of cabbage is still a head of cabbage, not a winning lottery ticket or brick of chocolate.

We got potatoes for the first time this week, and a lone tomato. Last night, I made a variation of the egg/sausage/sun-dried tomato casserole I linked to upthread, incorporating CSA zucchini, squash, and eggs. (That recipe continues to be a crowdpleaser in our house. It's really extremely delicious and totally adaptable.) As a side dish, I fried up the potatoes with garlic in the sausage grease. We ate well last night, but our arteries became noticeably more brittle.

CSA goods still to be addressed: Some cucumbers (which, I have found, I like to slice and use as hummus-delivery vehicles); the aforementioned head of cabbage (stir-fry, here I come!); a zucchini; a squash; some beans (everyone, join the stir-fry party!); and a few more eggs.

The flowers kicked ass this week. We got one gigantic sunflower, some irises that bloomed shortly after being placed in water, colorful snapdragons, and black-eyed susans.

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