Thursday, June 30, 2011

Week 13 Veggie List & Ideas

Baking Cabbage Casserole and Baked Chicken
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Baking Several Foods at Once
Here on the central California coast our climate is described as Mediterranean. We usually have rainy winters and dry summers, and fairly moderate temperatures. Usually. An un-seasonal rain swept through our area this week. In years past we sometimes have been hit by a stray tropical storm, but this storm was especially unusual because it came from the Gulf of Alaska, where our winter storms come from. This means that the usual Pacific High air mass, which keeps summer storms away, is not as strong. In addition, we had a very rainy winter, just like the year before. Climate change? It seems so. Tomorrow I have two places to go. To reduce my vehicle greenhouse gas emissions,  I’m taking public transport and carpooling.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fava Beans & Radishes with Mustard Dressing

Fava Beans and Radishes in a Bowl over Greens
Favas and Radishes with Mustard Dressing over Lettuce

Recipe Altered (a lot) from Bon Appetit, April 2006

My friend Mel gave us some Portuguese fava beans right from his garden the other night. These beans are descendents of the first favas imported from Portugal, and his family has raised them for many years, harvesting and drying seeds at the end of every season. Naturally I was excited to use them in my favorite recipe for mature favas, especially since we have some radishes from Live Earth Farm (our CSA) in the fridge.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Herbed New Potatoes

Rosemary Herbed New Potatoes

Recipe from the San Jose Mercury c. 1997

This recipe was in a stack of newspaper clippings saved by a former roommate. I’m guessing that it came from the Mercury, her favorite paper, well over 10 years ago now. It’s become one of my favorite ways to prepare small potatoes. This recipe calls for aluminum foil, which I don’t like using, but have not figured out how to get the potatoes to both steam and fry in the oil without it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Baked Cabbage

Baked Cabbage Plated

Recipe from The Illustrated Food & Cooking of Poland, Russia & Eastern Europe

As I said in my New (fruit & veggie) Year post, I plan to explore my Polish heritage in my cooking this year. This is the first recipe I've tried from The Illustrated Food & Cooking of Poland, Russia & Eastern Europe, and it's incredibly delicious. The cookbook is divided into three regions, and this recipe is from the Romanian, Bulgarian, and East Adriatic region. However, the taste reminds me of my grandmother's traditional Polish Galumkis (stuffed cabbage leaves)--except that this is a vegan recipe that doesn't require the fuss and long preparation time that Galumkis do.  Plus, this recipe is extremely economical. What's not to like? This would be a great potluck dish: attractively presented, tasty, and inexpensive. Corning makes a baking dish with insulated carrying case that will keep it warm for hours.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Week 12 Menu Plan

Basket of Bright Green Basil and Dark Green Parsley
Basil & Parsley,  Yin & Yang of Summer Herbs

Featuring more salad greens, basil, parsley, potatoes, summer squash, and more strawberries

The change of the season brings us beautiful basil and parsley, and a new recipe to combine them with broccoli. Lots of salads again this week, with lettuce, salad mix, radicchio, radishes from last week, multi-color carrots and maybe some leftover basil and parsley. The new potatoes will be delicious roasted with parsley from the farm share or rosemary from our garden.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Week 12 Veggie List & Ideas

Basket of Ripe Raspberries
First Raspberries of the Season!
Already we’re almost 3 months into the 2011 veggie season of our CSA farm share. The beginning of summer kicks off the season for raspberries, basil, potatoes, and summer squash, all of which we received for the first time today. We’ve already eaten all the raspberries and are eagerly awaiting the first local apricots and plums in the not-too-distant future.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries for Four

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries and Apricots
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries & Apricots

Recipe in Honor of Summer Solstice

Wishing all my blog readers some sweetness on this solstice day! Here in the northern hemisphere, this longest day of the year heralds bountiful summer fruits and vegetables: apricots, cherries, squashes, tomatoes, peppers, and basil will all be coming into season soon, at least in California. What other summer crops will you be harvesting?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunshine Beets

Yellow and Rose Sunshine Beets

Recipe by Teresa Harrigan from Community Gardens of Santa Cruz

For Father’s Day I was going to make a Polish beets recipe in honor of my late Dad’s heritage, but found a long-forgotten cookbook with a more cheery and nontraditional idea. The Vegetable Gardener’s Cookbook was published in 1979 by Community Gardens of Santa Cruz, to which I belonged at the time. Back in those days, many county parks set aside land to allow redwood forest dwellers and urbanites to rent a space that they could farm. I get sad when I see these spaces paved over today. According to the local paper, demand for such plots is even greater today.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Apricot-Honey Glazed Cornish Hens

Two Glazed Roasted Hens with Sauce
Roasted Glazed Hens and Sauce

Recipe by Robin, inspired by Hawaii Kai Cookbook

After I made Apricot Jam, I had an inspiration to make apricot-honey-glaze to bake on some Cornish hens I'd defrosted, so I looked for a recipe similar to my idea. After a thorough online search, found one in a surprising source, the Hawaii Kai Cookbook. This is a collection of  Hawaiian-inspired recipes prepared at New York City’s Hawaii Kai Restaurant, in the 1960s. While this retro cookbook is more of historical than practical culinary value these days, it does contain some recipe gems. [Read my Goodreads review]

Week 11 Menu Plan

Basket of Large Scallions and Semi-Dry Garlic
'Tis the Season for Giant Scallions & Drying Green Garlic

Featuring more cabbage, beets, fennel, watermelon radishes, and solstice strawberries

Even though my husband thinks they are more fun to photograph than to eat, I’m excited to try the watermelon radishes this week. And Live Earth Farm fennel is always a treat. After my success with the Cornish hens last week, I’m defrosting the other two that I bought on sale to roast over a bed of "farewell to spring" vegetables--including the hefty fennel bulbs.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Apricot Jam I

Blenheim Apricot Jam

Recipe by Robin

As noted in an earlier post, an apricot tree fell on my house recently and reminded me that I had some Blenheim apricots in the freezer from last summer. As promised, I made some apricot jam in addition to the apricot chicken. Frozen fresh apricots produce a fair amount of liquid—especially if many months go by before they are thawed (not recommended!) This liquid/solid combination seems well-suited to making jam. You could also try this with reconstituted dried apricots. Use 2/3 – 1 cup dried apricots and add water to equal 2 cups. Let it sit overnight in the fridge.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Week 11 Veggie List & Ideas

Perfect Green Leaf Lettuce Plant Amongst the Weeds
Remembering Dad
The summer solstice is just ahead and here on the central California coast the weather is finally warming up and drying out. Spring crops, like fava beans and green garlic, will soon give way to summer squash, green beans, and cucumbers. In Connecticut, where I grew up, the growing season is just beginning. My Dad used to plant his vegetable garden every Memorial Day weekend. Now that he is gone, the garden had another idea this spring and popped up a volunteer lettuce plant in mid-May. My sister, our husbands, and I made a meal of this, along with some fresh spring shad, before saying goodbye to Dad’s garden.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tuscan-style Garlic Spinach

Spinach with Garlic on Green Bamboo Plate
Spinach with Golden Garlic

Recipe from Weight Watchers Points Plus Cookbook

Though this recipe purports to be of Italian extraction, our favorite (now defunct) Chinese restaurant used to prepare a similar dish. The King Chwan restaurant used more oil and garlic, and many medium-size whole garlic cloves instead of a few large cloves cut in half. I’d be all for using whole garlic cloves next time instead of the large halved ones. However, I’d stick with Weight Watchers' lighter use of oil, which improves the digestibility and nutrition of the dish without compromising the flavor.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Old School Harvard Beets with Beet Greens

Glazed Red Beets with Greens
Colorful Harvard Beet & their Greens

Recipe from The Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Fanny Merritt Farmer,  and Robin

I like serving beets and their greens at the same meal. The sweetness of the beets and the slightly bitter earthiness of the greens compliment one another perfectly. In this Harvard beets recipe from the classic Boston Cooking School Cookbook, the glaze makes the beets taste even sweeter. Before glazing, the beets must be cooked thoroughly. Fanny Farmer, who wrote the cookbook in 1896, advises "Cook whole in boiling water. Young beets require 30 - 45 minutes, older ones 1 - 4 hours. Very old woody beets will never cook tender." Fortunately, modern beet varieties and cultivation methods have reduced cooking times as well as the woodiness factor.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Week 10 Menu Plan

Six Kinds of Greens in a Big Stack on the Table
We Be Eating our Greens!

Featuring radishes, lettuce, and greens, greens, greens

More greens than ever this week, healthful and delicious: spinach, cabbage, mei qing choi, chard, beet and radish greens. A new recipe for Tuscan Spinach with garlic on Friday, and a potluck dish on Saturday "to be invented" with chard, mei qing choi, scallions, green garlic, and Italian herbs. Our hostess (a faithful follower of this blog) has said in advance that she will love it, how gracious is that? I also plan to bring my tried-and-true chocolate-dipped strawberries, which will leave fellow diners with a sweet memory regardless of the outcome of the greens dish.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Week 10 Veggie List & Ideas

Three Double Purple Carrots with Greens
Double Purple Carrots from Last Week's Share
We’re already 10 weeks into our 2011 CSA share, and though it has been a cold and rainy spring here on the central California coast, the strawberries are prolific and delicious. We are still getting green garlic (often drying by this time of year) and springtime bunching onions. We still have radicchio left over from last week, so I’m tempted to leave this week’s radicchio ration in the “free to another member” box at the farm share pick-up site.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bruce's Veggie Stir-fry II

Large Bowl of Stir-fried Veggies with Purple Carrots and Broccoli
Bruce's Latest Veggie Stir-fry

Recipe by Bruce

“Shall I stir-fry?” says my husband’s note to me while I’m on the phone with my East Coast sister around our West Coast dinnertime. I nod enthusiastically and give the thumbs-up sign. Who could turn down such an offer from the humble king of stir-frying? In addition to the purple carrots, broccoli, mei qing choi and green garlic from our CSA farm share, he used some frozen packaged shitake mushrooms approaching their expiration date.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Asparagus Salad with Lemon-Ginger Dressing

Asparagus Salad with Lemon-Ginger Dressing

Recipe Adapted by Bruce from Health Net

New recipes can be found in strange places. This one was on the back of a health insurance company mailer. Originally called “Asparagus Salad with Lemon-Soy Sauce,” Bruce kicked up the amount of ginger so much that we had to rename it. He also added extra lemon (he juiced ½ lemon) and substituted veggie broth for the chicken broth, to make the recipe vegan. You could use the smaller amount of ginger if you prefer a less gingery dish.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Week 9 Menu Plan

Purple Carrots in a Basket
Strange but True: Purple Carrots

Featuring purple carrots, broccoli rabe, lettuce, radicchio & strawberries

Wild-caught US Gulf shrimp, a “good alternative” for sustainability according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, is on sale this week at Safeway.  We decided to have some in a ginger-spiced soup with purple carrots, broccoli, arugula, and spinach. Looks like another stir-fry is on the menu this week as well. Our unexpected bonus of broccoli rabe (rapini) is a welcome addition to “burger night” Wednesday.

Four heads of lettuce mean plenty of salads. Two moderately large heads of radicchio have me in a quandary. To make the usual Sicilian Sauteed Radicchio, find another recipe (we’ve tried many we didn’t like), or to use a little in salads and largely ignore it until next week? Any radicchio ideas out there?

Week 9 Veggie List & Ideas

Courtesy of Arthur, Trish, and their Bees
Week 9 of our CSA share, after a hiatus while Bruce and I worked at cleaning out my Dad’s former residence. While on a day trip to NYC, Bruce’s British cousin, also visiting New York, gifted us with some raw “homemade” honey from his apiary, which I am excited to try in lightly-cooked or uncooked dishes and beverages.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the spring onion “run” appears to be over, but I’m happy to see that it’s still green garlic season. This extremely versatile veggie is chopped up whole, greens and all, and is milder than dried garlic. In a couple of weeks, the garlic plants will begin drying into the traditional segmented vegetable, which we will get in early summer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Apricot Chicken

Apricots, Honey, Cider Vinegar, Cinnamon, Chicken Stock Arranged in Circle
A Host of Golden Ingredients for an Uplifting Dish

Recipe Adapted from Rachael Ray

Coming home after 10 days of work cleaning out my deceased father’s house, after an unexpectedly complicated flight and night in a strange city thanks to Delta airlines, with my luggage still in transit, an ailing pet at home, a tree fallen onto my house, and no food in the fridge…well, I’m a little melancholy and introspective.