Sunday, August 9, 2009

Adventures in CSA: Week 8, Part 1

Week 8 CSA pickup

Last Sunday, I put in a couple of hours volunteering at the CSA pickup site. Things might not look so busy in the photo above, but there was a definite rush at the beginning of my shift, and I had plenty to do. Later, during a lull in the distribution, I sorted out my own share of:

1.5 lb. green tomatoes
1/2 lb. green beans
1 lb. cucumbers
1 lb. squash
2 medium garlic
1 Napa cabbage
1 lb assorted greens (I chose: 1/2 lb collard greens, 1/4 lb. ruby chard, and 1/4 lb. kale)

Once again, there was a little extra fruit to be had! It seems that the (pouring) rain kept away a few of the fruit shareholders (as well as many of the veggies-only participants, incidentally), so I was invited to take home a few peaches and plums.

So, what's been cooking?

Green Bean Salad with soy-glazed almonds

1. Cold Green Bean Salad with Soy-Glazed Almonds. We were invited over to Ingrid, Ari, and Desmond's house for an impromptu potluck supper with friends. I was interested in making a cold green bean salad after reading two or three recipes online, so I chose one of them. I made just a few adjustments.

I prepared the salad a few hours ahead of time, then socked it away into the fridge to marinate. At Ingrid's house, I threw in the sticky, soy-glazed nuts.

I was thrilled with this mixture. I could have eaten twice as much salad as I did, and the nuts were the perfect topping. I would make the nuts on their own, too, to top other salads and dishes.

For my version, you'd need:

1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces (1 lb would have been even better)
1 c. whole almonds
1 tsp. peanut oil (the recipe calls for any kind of oil except olive oil)
1/4 c. soy sauce
1-1/2 T. sugar
2-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and minced
2-3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 T. corn or canola oil
2 T. white wine vinegar + 2 tablespoons rice wine (or use rice wine vinegar, which was what I was trying to create a substitute for)
2 tsp. soy sauce
one small bunch scallions, finely sliced
(I omitted 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, but would happily use it if I had some around)

First, boil the beans for about 2 minutes (longer if tough or very big). Drain them and shock them in cold water. Drain again.

Toast almonds in dry pan on stove for 5 minutes. Don't let them burn. Remove almonds and put peanut oil, 1/4 c. soy sauce, and sugar in the same pan. Let everything boil and bubble while you stir and the mixture reduces. When it is syrupy, put the almonds back in and stir until they are coated with the sticky mixture. Put the almonds to cool on a cutting board.

Make the dressing for the salad with the rest of the ingredients. Whisk it all together in a bowl and pour it over the green beans. Add cilantro, if you choose. Stir everything together. Chill salad for several hours (if possible).

Separately, chop your glazed almonds roughly, but keep them separate until you're ready to serve, then throw them on top. If you add the almonds too early, the glaze will soak off as the salad marinates.

Green Tomato Pie

2. Green Tomato Mincemeat Pie. I gathered a number of green tomato recipes this week, but ultimately decided a pie was calling my name. Then, in my home library, I found the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts, which contains a recipe for green tomato pie made with chopped apples, nuts, and lots of spices.

Unfortunately, I erred when making the recipe and sliced my apples, so the texture never really approached a true mincemeat chop. I also did not have pecans in the house. I think they would have tasted more appropriate to the experience than my last-minute mixture of walnuts and almonds.

My favorite part of the recipe was actually the pie crust, which was simple but tender. I will certainly be using it again, along with the method of bringing the edges of the crust up over the pie filling to create a rough-hewn, artisinal-looking almost-pocket of dough around the pie (rather than a classic top and bottom crust).

However, it was never a bad pie. We ate it with vanilla ice cream as part of our first Giant Movie Night event. The flavors melded together more and improved greatly overnight, so we had more the next evening with friends...and the next day as breakfast...and after lunch at work...

Peach-cherry smoothie.
(photo and smoothie by Dan)

3. Cherry-Peach Smoothies. The peaches were surprisingly bland this week, and I'm not sure why, but blended with cherries and ice cream and milk they were excellent smoothie ingredients.


4. Raw Cucumbers and Squash with Hummus. I've been cooking most of the vegetables we've received, but there's nothing like a raw, farm-fresh cucumber or summer squash. One lazy evening, we simply sliced up the beauties and ate them with salt, pepper, and hummus. Simple! Mighty fine.

5. Plums (not pictured). The plums were amazing raw, too -- small, sweet-tart, and juicy. It took only a couple of days to eat both the superior red plums and the still-delicious, though slightly less awesome yellow variety. I'm sure they would have been yummy in a fruit salad or plum pie, but they were simply eaten and enjoyed as given by nature.


Oops! Due to a couple of special events, weather, and general laziness, I fell behind this week. I cooked little, and ate just a bit more. In fact, I still haven't used the cabbage, garlic (but that will keep), or any of the greens! I plan to sort through the vegetable bin today, add what's salvageable to week nine's assortment (and some beautiful tomatoes from Tom at work), and report back to you soon.

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