June 21, 2010

CSA - Week 3

About a year ago, I read Laura Ingalls Wilder's last book These Happy Golden Years. In it she tells of the hardships of running a farm - Mother Nature plays such a roll in their success, or in their case, failure. It would be very difficult to be dependent on something totally out of one's control (weather and nature) for a livelihood.

The farm sponsoring the CSA sends out weekly emails with updates on how crops are faring, what will be available soon, and recipes for the produce. I can't help but compare their lives to the Wilders', and my respect grows for their chosen line of work.

This week I received pickling cucumbers, beets with greens attached, eggs, black raspberries, popcorn, yellow squash, zucchini, and garlic scapes.

I immediately made a smoothie with some of the black raspberries with leftover fruit (pineapple, cherries, frozen strawberries), plain yogurt, splash of milk, spoonful of protein powder, a few spoonfuls of ground almonds, and a dollop of peanut butter. Peanut butter is my secret ingredient in smoothies - it adds richness, flavor, and some hearty protein.

Just in time, smittenkitchen.com (one of my all-time favorite food blogs) posted a recipe for bread and butter pickles. I never knew how easy it is to make pickles! They keep in the fridge, but of course those preparedness types could can them (you know who you are). Since I only had two cucumbers, I made half this recipe.

Bread and Butter Pickles
from smittenkitchen.com as adapted from The Dispatch Kitchen and a few other sources

Makes 4 cups of pickles, filling a 1-quart jar

1 pound cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick — “pickling” or kirby cucumbers work best here
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Kosher salt
1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds (if ground, use 1 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours. In a pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. You can store the pickles in an airtight container for up to three weeks in the fridge. They will begin tasting pickled in just a couple hours.

I was new to beets until last year's CSA. A friend gave me this salad recipe using roasted beets. It's an easy, sweet way to try out beets if you're like me and a little unfamiliar with how to use them. They're also good shredded raw on a salad.

Beet Bliss Salad
from eatingwell.com

6 c. baby spinach
1 cup roasted cooked beets (see below)
1/2 cups Maple-Mustard vinaigrette (see below)
2 Tbsp. chopped toasted pecans
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Combine spinach and beets (cold or slightly warm) and top with vinaigrette, pecans, and goat cheese. Gently toss and serve.

Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
1/2 cup walnut or canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. coarse-grained mustard
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Roasted Beets
3 medium beets
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Rinse the beets and trim off any leafy tops. Wrap in aluminum foil and place in the oven. Roast until tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel using a paring knife or by pushing the skin with your fingers.

Slice the beets, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Beet Greens (pictured above)
from Bergefurd's Farm

While this recipe calls for discarding the stems, if you want you can use them too if they aren't too woody. Just cut them into 1-inch segments and add them to the onions after the onions have been cooking for a minute.

1 pound beet greens
1 strip of thick cut bacon, chopped (or a tablespoon of bacon fat)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup of water
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/6 cup of cider vinegar

1. Wash the greens in a sink filled with cold water. Drain greens and wash a second time. Drain greens and cut away any heavy stems. Cut leaves into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet or 3-qt saucepan, cook bacon until lightly browned on medium heat (or heat 1 Tbsp of bacon fat). Add onions, cook over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and start to brown. Stir in garlic. Add water to the hot pan, stirring to loosen any particles from bottom of pan. Stir in sugar and red pepper. Bring mixture to a boil.

3. Add the beet greens, gently toss in the onion mixture so the greens are well coated. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5-15 minutes until the greens are tender. Stir in vinegar. Serves 4.

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