Sunday, July 19, 2009

Adventures in CSA: Week 5, Part II


Greetings from NYC. The city has never been more beautiful to me than it is this summer (seen here from the East river, as I am returning from a beach in the Rockaways on a water taxi).

My personal skyline is green and leafy these days. I'm still eating veggies and greens non-stop over here in CSA-participation land. Let's review the goods from week 5:
  • 1 lb Swiss Chard
  • 1 Napa Cabbage
  • I head of Lettuce
  • 4 onions
  • 4 cucumbers
  • 4 squash (2 yellow, 2 green)
Some confusing things happened (chronicled here) in terms of vegetable reconciliation between the starts of weeks 3 and 5, but I'm back on track. Let's go! This week continued (note that this count includes the past two weeks' dishes) with:

Sesame-braised cabbage

8. Sesame-braised Cabbage and Spring Onions. This is the first (of sixteen) recipes I've tried from Mollie Katzen's The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without that has been only so-so. It really didn't have enough flavor for me. Toasted sesame seeds and sesame oil helped somewhat, but it was still bland. Granted, the original recipe called for leeks, rather than spring onions, but still. Another problem is how many servings (and, therefore, leftovers) using an entire head of cabbage creates. I hate wasting food, but I think I can only give space to these leftovers for a few more days.

Fried Cucumbers

9. Fried cucumbers with Lemon Pulp. I found this recipe in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I'd never cooked with cucumbers before, but Bittman said I should as long as I used a light hand (i.e. don't overcook or overseason them). It's true that lemon, salt, and pepper was all that was needed to season this dish.

  1. Peel (if waxed; I skipped this step), cut in half lengthwise, and seed (I didn't feel this was necessary either because the seeds in mine were very small) 1 lb cucumbers.
  2. Cut cucumber into 3/4" chunks. If very juicy, put in colander, salt, and let drain for 20 minutes (mine was dry; I skipped this step, too).
  3. Zest one lemon, cut it around its equator, and section it like a an orange. I did this wrong, but it still tasted great. Just save as much lemon flesh (but not rind) as you can in chunks).
  4. Heat a large pan with 3 T or so of butter. Pat the cucumber chunks dry (if you salted them) and toss them a few at a time in 2 cups or so of flour (I used whole wheat flour). Add them to the pan. Do this until all the chunks are in the pan. Add more butter if things look too dry and burny. Cook chunks in butter over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the lemon zest and segments. Cook one more minute. Done!

I found the flavors light, bright, and reminiscent of asparagus.

Chard Pancakes

10. Cinnamon Spiced Swiss Chard Pancakes. I like chard in less-startling preparations, but I wanted to do something "different" this week. This recipe (from seemed to fit the bill.

In fact, I was a bit nervous about using cinnamon with chard. It just didn't seem quite right to me. Once more into the breach, dear friends! The only changes I made to the recipe were
  1. to substitute panko (which I had on hand) for matzo meal (which I didn't) and
  2. to halve the recipe (except for the egg, of which I used the full 4).
I dressed my scary pancakes with lemon juice and feta, and ate them alongside some greek olives. Sour cream was also on hand. I might have had a dollop.

Here's the thing: these were good. They were quite good, like a green potato pancake without the potato. But I remained just a little unsure of the cinnamon and allspice. I think that if I make these again I'll try paprika, cayenne, cumin, or another spice I associate with hearty flavors. I'm no Berber, and there's something in me that wants cinnamon to be paired with sweet, not savory.


Fake Rice Crispy treats

11. Crispy Rice Cupcakes. Sometimes recipes lie. This recipe (found in a cookbook called Petit Appetit) claimed it was a healthy alternative to Rice Krispy Treats. That wasn't the lie. The lie was in suggesting that these "cupcakes" (held together by CSA honey) of brown rice cereal, sesame seeds, oats, and dried fruit would stick together enough to be eaten by a child (or an adult, for that matter) without falling apart completely. I made these for Hero's first birthday, but they did not exactly travel from freezer to park without a hitch. Unless eaten directly out of the freezer, these crumble into their individual components immediately upon being removed from the cupcake papers. And even straight from the icebox, they were tacky with honey. Too hard to eat!

Still, the cereal, oats, and fruit are nice together, however flaky. I do believe I'll eat the leftovers in yogurt or with fruit, like granola.


That's it (except for the chicken I bought with the honey on our special "market day," which I plan to roast in the next few days) for this week! I'm off to pick up more vegetal bounty. Wish for me a good harvest. I wouldn't mind a week off from chard, actually.

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