Monday, July 7, 2008

A CSA Journal Entry

Saturday was the second pick-up from my CSA farm share and my first (and only) volunteer shift. (I split a half share with a friend which we collect every other week—although next year, I'm thinking it wouldn't be so bad to split a full share.)

This week's vegetable selection included two kinds of beets, summer squash, zucchini, kohlrabi, swiss chard (basically a top-heavy beet turns out!), mescaline mix, and arugula. Fruit included a quart of cherries, and a pint of plump little blueberries.

I also get an egg share (dozen every other week) and a flower share. I chose a bouquet of snapdragons and Sweet Williams. During the shift, I also picked up some knowledge on some other flowers I hadn't known the names of before. There were alyssum and the aforementioned Sweet Williams, as well as names I'd forgotten: cosmos, Queen Anne's lace, thistle, zinnia and black-eyed susans. Also cornflower, mums and wild grasses.

The challenge with a regular order of produce, of course, is to use it all before it spoils—which I didn't do as good a job last pick-up and ended with a quart of rotten strawberries and a sad, wilted rhubarb. So naturally I was determined to do some serious prep work at the beginning of this week.

Saturday afternoon, I trimmed, rinsed and packed all the greens. The berries looked like they would last as they were, so I just rinsed them to eat raw through the week. And I shopped and prepped around the ingredients I had. Over the past couple of days I picked up some sweet potatoes, pecans, sour cream, mint, a whole organic chicken, a hormone-free, vegetarian feed steak (the only option at the Greenpoint Met); and also cooked up a half bag of Rancho Gordo heirloom beans (which yielded maybe 3 or 4 cups).

Saturday was dinner at Wendy's. I made bean pâté with about a 1.5 cups of the beans. I fried up half an onion, chopped finely, half a pepper (which I inadvertently ended up macing myself with :( ), minced garlic, some salt, paprika, and black pepper. Then threw everything in a food processor. I used some of the reserve bean liquid to thin the paste, but it ended up being too watery, so threw in some chopped almonds Wendy had left over from making crumble topping. Came out pretty awesome and was even better on day two, with avocado.

Sunday, I separated the chicken parts, a leg, wing and breast meat for my dog Arlo. And made teriyaki chicken with the remaining limbs. I browned the chicken on medium high heat. Reduced temp to medium for glaze: equal parts tamari, mirin (I used half honey, half water), a spoonful of brown sugar, a couple drops of whiskey and waited for it get briskly bubbly. I returned the chicken to the pan and at the end also threw in some kale I had lying around. (And removed the livers and froze the leftover chicken carcass.) Served it with brown rice, beans, sweet potato. (Arlo had pretty much the same meal, less the teriyaki and oil). With luckily enough left over for lunch today.

Today, I started the brown rice as soon as I got home so it could cook while I walked Arlo. Then upon return, I scrubbed some sweet potatoes (lately the basis of Arlo's meals) and the beets (already trimmed the greens Saturday, remember?). I also started some garlic and onions cooking in a stockpot to make chicken stock from the chicken carcass. With the roots in the oven, and the chicken now browning, I sautéed some more onions in a separate pan for the chicken livers. Once the stock meat started browning, I added water, a few whole allspice, peppercorns, bay leaf, and maybe a quarter cup salt. After half an hour or so, I added all the leafy CSA cooking greens (Swiss chard and beet greens) which would add flavor to the stock as they cooked. And squash right at the end.

By this time, the livers were done, so I tossed them along with the garlic and onions in the food processor with a little sour cream. Didn't yield a ton from just a couple of livers, but enough for a quick snack tomorrow.

I also flash-broiled some of the beef for Arlo's dinner, and cut off a piece to marinate for tomorrow in some tamari, red wine vinegar (lacking rice wine), molasses, onions, garlic, miso and whiskey. Not sure how it'll taste, but I'll keep you posted!

Once the stock finished, I picked off the last bits of chicken—enough for a supermodel-sized taco, and will eventually strain and fill up a couple ice trays with it once it cools.

Total cooking time: 2.5 hours. Not bad for preparing two meals (four if you count Arlo's) and prepping for several more. Dinner was rice, greens, bean pâté, arugula. Arlo had half the beef, rice, whole beans, sweet potato, avocado and actually a few of the greens too.
(Total writing time, however, 45 minutes—not nearly as efficient.)

Tomorrow's lunch is greens, beets (to which I'll add sour cream and mint), sweet potatoes with butter and pecans, and rice.

Arlo has breakfast and dinner for tomorrow, and my steak will be ready to go tomorrow night—with a side of mescaline green, cherry tomato and arugula in a lemon-miso dressing (lemon, miso, honey, tamari).

Shew, ready for bed now.


wendy said...

As I get used to my CSA share I'm starting to prioritize my produce. Leafy greens get eaten first. Beets and kohlrabi can wait until later in the week because I know they'll last. Squash gets eaten mid-week. I'm casseroling pretty much everything - one dish meals save time! I've also gotten into the habit of making either a berry crumble or cobbler first thing, after we had several weeks worth of overripe strawberries that had to be used right away, and then refrigerating the leftovers and having a ready-to-eat dessert for most of the week. The CSA has definitely changed the way I shop, and of course the way I eat!

Leanne said...

I've been trying to go the farmers market every week and have also had issues with stuff going bad. The research I've done says greens and berries last longer if you wait to wash them until right before use. But it is more convenient that way...

The other day, I got some of those reusable green bags that prolong the life of produce. It hasn't been long enough for me to notice a difference, but it did seem like my bananas turned brown less quickly...

Leanne said...

Well, on second thought, it looks like rinsing the greens, then spinning them well before green-bagging them might be the way to go.

kate said...

Yes! I really need to pick up a salad spinner! Shaking it out in the tub just isn't as sexy.

Julia said...

wow that is an impressive 2.5 hours of cooking! i love the idea of a CSA but also worry some of it would go bad, so instead i pick and choose what i need for the week at the farmers market. also, i'm curious - do you always cook for your dog? is it any cheaper than buying dog food? i only give my dog regular food sometimes, when i have leftovers i'm sick of.

kate said...

hah, thanks! i cook for my dog when i have the time and the notion. in some ways it makes it easier to cook since i can use up everything before it goes bad or i get tired of it.

i think it's nominally more expensive. the dog food i buy comes to about $2~$3 a meal (twice a day). with whole foods, his meals can range to $3~$5 a day. but again, i'm often using food that would end up as forgotten leftovers...

Kaoru said...

Pictures!! I want pictures!!

To make the washed salad leaves extra dry, you can throw in small ripped pieces of paper towel in the spinner on your second spin(or in a plastic bag with the greens and shake it). The paper towel will suck up the extra moisture and leave you with extra dry leaves that will taste better and last a few days longer.

I have 4 pounds of turnips sitting in my fridge. Got any good recipes?

kate said...

i know, i know, pictures..! but i usually cook in the evenings, and the lighting is AWFUL. :(

turnips: my vote is for kaktogi! (korean radish kimchee)