Saturday, October 24, 2009
Adventures in CSA: Weeks 18 + 19, Part I
Okay, now I feel overwhelmed by produce! I've definitely slowed down my cooking in these last few weeks of the CSA. Maybe I'm just disappointed the season is almost over. I could even be subconsciously trying to make it last by preparing and eating the ingredients more slowly, especially since I found out that it will be a less exciting winter (vegetally speaking), since no one volunteered to run our proposed winter CSA.
We've been hit hard by the bulky items during this transition into colder weather -- lots of potatoes and beans...and more celery stalks than I, personally, am able to shake a stick at. Have a gander at the list of goods:
3 turnips- CHALLENGE VEGETABLE
1.5 lbs potatoes
1 squash - CHALLENGE VEGETABLE
bonus: 1 apple
bonus: handful of Italian prune plums
2 bok choi
2 lbs green tomatoes - CHALLENGE VEGETABLE
1.5 lbs green beans
Some of the above is still hanging out in my kitchen, but here's a rundown of what is gone (and how it left us):
1. Fruit! We ate the apple and prune plums (not pictured) raw. Some of the plums were under-ripe and probably better suited for baking, but the apple was crisp and fresh.
2. Potato and Turnip Gratin. Dan sent me a text one day that said, "I feel like something gratin," and then found this recipe for potato and turnip gratin with a thyme Béchamel in Mollie Katzen's The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without. We couldn't help but make and enjoy this comforting dish. The corn kernels kicking around from week 17 made it this far, so we threw them into the mix (the original recipe also calls for carrots). The cheese used on top was muenster. Sadly, we made it in a Pyrex dish that was not broiler-safe (be careful!), so I had to cut short that final, toasty step. The bread crumb topping stayed a bit too soft, but the meal was still delicious.
3. A "Sort Of" Khoresht Karafs. This Persian celery stew (recipe) was recommended by Prinny, another member of my CSA. I don't eat beef or lamb, so Dan and I made it with chicken. We also did not have time to get to the Persian grocery store Prinny recommended ("Nader, on 28th street between 5 Ave and Madison") for Persian dried lemons or limes, so we used lemon zest and juice instead. Also, our homemade advieh did not include rose petals. We served it the final product over brown rice.
This dish cooks for hours, rendering the celery rich and flavorful, but our pan kept going dry as all the juices evaporated, so it was not quite a stew. And ultimately we added too much water back in, making the whole thing taste even drier somehow. Yet it still smelled amazing, teasing me with what could have been.
I would make this again, paying more attention to how hot my flame is and having extra stock on hand, as the vegetables really did shine in this dish. I would not want to overcook the chicken again, either. I would consider cooking it alone and adding it to the dish later, to preserve moisture.
4. Curried Green Beans with Dried Cherries and Sunflower Seeds. I am proud to say that this is an invention of my own. At some point I read that curry powder goes well with green beans, but I extrapolated the rest of the recipe on the spot. I simply trimmed the beans into bite-sized pieces, boiled them until tender in salted water (they were a bit tough this week), drained them, and then shook the lot into a pan of melted butter and spicy curry powder to saute over medium heat. Stirring to coat the beans with butter and curry powder, I added a handful of sunflower seeds and cooked until everything was hot and smelled terrific. Then, I added a handful of dried cherries and cooked a minute or so. That's all!
5. Seasonal Vegetable Soup. Following Not Eating Out in New York's basic recipe for "crisper drawer" soup outlined here, I used the following ingredients:
(CSA) potatoes, red peppers, green beans (leftover, coated with curry powder), turnips, bok choy (except for the leaves, which were somehow both wilted and crispy), celery (with leaves), green tomatoes.
(Non-CSA) corn, carrots, onions, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, vegetable stock, tomato paste, canned pinto beans, garlic, parmesan (oops! I thought it was the rind, but it was just a hard edge that melted and got a bit messy; still, it all came out stuck to the spoon, so the soup was safe).
I think what really made this dish come together was making it the night before and allowing the flavors to meld in the refrigerator overnight. It was so hearty and pleasing the next day at lunch.
This post was a long time coming, but better late than never, right? I've got stuff left to eat, but I am happy to get these paragraphs up (finally!), to fill you in on edible goings-on. There will be more to say regarding the remaining ingredients from these two weeks, as well as posts to come on the final 3 or 4 weeks of this year's CSA adventure. I'm also planning a wrap-up post listing my 5 or 10 favorite dishes of the season. See you soon!