Thursday, February 28, 2008

CSA goodies

I finally did it: I joined a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture organization. My first choice, Live Earth Farm, is already full for the season (I'm on the waiting list), so I'm going with Capay Organic for the time being. Live Earth Farm has more options in terms of what you can order (extra fruit, fresh eggs, and so on), but Capay Organic lets you know a few ahead of time what's probably going to be in your box (which is nice for meal planning), and also delivers (convenient, but I think in the long run I'd prefer a CSA that uses a local drop site to which I can bike). And so far it's working out pretty well.

I get my box on Wednesdays, and seriously, it's like Christmas morning. Even though I know what's coming, I LOVE opening up the box and looking at all of the fruits, veggies, and so on. My first box was last week, and I got my second one yesterday. I've been meaning to post about all this, so this week I'll do a double post, and then in future weeks I'll do one post per box.

In last week's box:

- Lacinato Kale (1 bunch)
- Fennel (1 bulb, with fronds)
- Baby red potatoes (2.5 lbs)
- Purple (!) cauliflower (1 head)
- Baby bok choy (5 heads)
- Baby salad greens (1 ginormous bag--I had so much that I gave half to my parents and still had trouble finishing them all)
- Pistachios (1/2 pound, roasted and salted)
- d'Anjou pears (about 7-8)
- Braeburn apples (about 6-7)
- Navel oranges (about 6-7)

As for what I did with it all... I used the kale in the Tuscan white bean and kale stew that I've been meaning to post. So good. I'll try to post that recipe tonight.

The fennel was sliced up and roasted along with some shallots, and then tossed with some green beans (recipe here). The roasting brought out a ton of sweetness in both the shallots and the fennel. Highly recommended!

The potatoes and cauliflower went into aloo gobi, which is my favorite way to use cauliflower. I don't use a specific recipe... I had one a few years ago, but I seem to have lost it, so when I want to make the dish I just use The Google to find a few recipes to refresh my memory.

I gave some of the bok choy to my parents (along with a few of the apples, pears, and oranges, and of course the aforementioned half of the lettuce), since I didn't think I could finish it all myself, and I didn't want it to go to waste. It was the most beautiful bok choy I've ever seen. I braised mine: the first time with with garlic, chicken stock, soy sauce, and a bit of corn starch to thicken the sauce; the second time with just chicken stock, fresh ginger, and a bit of sesame oil drizzled over the top. I think I preferred the second version, but I've been on a ginger kick, so maybe that's why.

As is probably obvious, the salad greens went into salads. The pistachios were eaten for snacks, as were the apples, oranges, and some of the pears. The rest of the pears were split between pear-ginger mini-cakes (post forthcoming) and poaching for dessert (water, sugar, a star anise pod, and a couple of whole cloves--amazing!). Dee-lish. The pears were incredible when poached, and the apples were the best eating apples I've had in a long time.

Okay! That was last week. Now this week:

- Fennel (1 bulb, again with fronds)
- Broccoli (1 med. and 1 sm. head)
- Cilantro (1 bunch)
- Artichokes (3)
- Treviso (1 head)
- Yukon gold potatoes (1.5 pounds)
- Baby salad greens (a smaller bag this time, but still quite a lot--some went to the parents again)
- Red mustard greens (1 bunch)
- Pistachios (1/2 pound)
- Navel oranges (4)
- d'Anjou pears (4)

I have plans for most of it: the fennel will either go in a fennel-potato gratin or fennel-shallot-green beans redux. I will probably roast the broccoli, or maybe saute it with some garlic and red pepper flakes.

Artichokes: steamed, and eaten plain and/or chopped up and turned into artichoke-olive tapenade (the latter is more likely). The fruit will get eaten out of hand, as will the pistachios.

The treviso will almost certainly go into a red wine and radicchio risotto, which will be delicious but would feel more appropriate if it were still grey, cold, and rainy out (it's now sunny with temperatures in the high 60s).

The mustard greens... I'm kind of staring at them like a deer in headlights. They are HUGE. I thought they were going to be the size of dandelion greens, but they're as big as (perhaps bigger than) chard. The weekly CSA newsletter came with a recipe for braised mustard greens, but I'm not such a huge fan of wilted/sauteed/braised greens (it's a texture thing). I did a quick search on Epicurious, and found this recipe for Spinach, Mustard Green, and Potato Soup. It's an option, but I'd love to hear other ideas. I could use the potatoes for that soup, or maybe the fennel gratin above.

As for the cilantro: I'm not sure yet. It's a lot for how little I usually use it. It's too early for fresh tomatoes, so pico de gallo is out, but perhaps I could do a chutney. Suggestions, anyone?

Anyway, I'll try to keep posting about what I end up doing with it all. Meanwhile, I love that this is encouraging me to cook with things I've never bought before (like those mustard greens) or don't buy often (like cauliflower and fennel).


Brave Sir Robin said...

Oh .....

That sound you hear is my heart melting away with envy. . . . .

Ok - Pictures of the next box!!!!!!

As for mustard greens, I love, love, love them simmered with salt pork (or a ham bone), onion and black pepper. Don't over cook them. (link is actually collard, but they are interchangeable) Of course if you don't like the texture . . . . It could be shredded and stir-fried, it might be a little tough, but nice and peppery.

Anne said...

I thought about posting pictures, but my kitchen is such a cluttered nightmare, I'm reluctant to take any pictures in there! Maybe if I can figure out some better lighting in the living room... or maybe I'll just take the goodies outside and photograph them there.

I WILL try to sort something out, one way or another, for next week's box (if not this week's).

Thanks for the recipe link! I might just have to bite the bullet and get over the texture thing. I can probably manage it if the flavor really makes up for it.

Brave Sir Robin said...

ok, I'm to tired and lazy to code this, but go here:

and read the entire post. She shows you her entire setup for food photography, (and trust me - her pictures are dynamite.)

I'm thinking I can rig up cheaper lights, by just getting the bulbs and using reflectors and diffusers. If I ever have a few days off in a row again, I'm going to give it a try.

Brave Sir Robin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brave Sir Robin said...

ok, here:

it better work!

Anne said...

Yes indeed, I've read that post--I think you gave me that link on one of my photography posts. It sounds like a good plan, but right now I'm short on both time and money (grad school and all) so I'm trying to make do with what I have.

I've got the link bookmarked, though, so that I can look into it more later.

Supersaps said...

We're also Capay Organic subscribers! I'm going to look forward to your posts, as I'm so stuck as to do with all these mustard greens I've been getting.................(I'm not a fan of the flavor.)

Anne said...

Really?? I had no idea you got your CSA box from them. Cool! I'm never quite sure what to do with all these leafy green things... In the winter I usually stick with broccoli and things like that. But that's part of why I'm doing the CSA box: branching out! trying new things!