Friday, November 16, 2007


clockwise from lower left:
6 adorably fat carrots
1 head lettuce
½ bunch arugula
1 red kuri squash
½ bunch red Russian kale
½ bunch tatsoi
1 bunch cilantro
15 red and yellow cherry tomatoes

(P got parsley in exchange for my cilantro, mixed salad greens for the lettuce, and a delicate squash for the kuri. Everything else we split evenly down the middle.)

I finally remembered to photograph my haul this week. And isn’t it pretty, all the oranges and greens? Oh, so many greens! I feel slightly oppressed by them, considering they all need to be used before we fly to Minnesota on Tuesday night. But I’ve got a plan. This weekend I’m going to try this recipe for arugula pesto and cleverly freeze it and use it later. I might also try processing the cilantro with a little bit of oil and freezing that, to drop into soups or something later. With the last box, the cilantro was the one thing that I didn’t end up using, and it had to be thrown away. I hate wasting food, but I admit I can be a little careless with my herbs. I usually buy a couple kinds per week and end up throwing at least part of each bunch away at the end of the week. With fresh, locally grown herbs available at the farmers’ market here all year round for just a dollar, it’s hard to remind myself to try preserving what I don’t use. But I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and feeling inspired. The book is really good, by the way—like Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, it will forever change the way you eat and shop, but it’s a little less of a downer. Also, it’s totally persuading me to try making my own mozzarella sometime!

The carrots and tomatoes can just go directly into my mouth. I’m thinking I’ll throw the lettuce and tatsoi into a salad to accompany cheesy baked potatoes on Sunday night, cook up the kale with some garlicky white beans (a Jack Bishop recipe I’ve been meaning to try) on Monday night with baked squash on the side, and maybe use whatever remains of the lettuce to make BLTs on Tuesday night before we leave for the airport.

I’m really excited about the red kuri squash, another one I’d never heard of before (of course, what I know about winter squash besides butternut and acorn could fit on the head of a pin, considering I was an adamant squash-hater for at least 20 years of my life). The Internet tells me that this type of squash originally hails from Japan and is less sweet than other winter squashes, with “a dry and velvety flesh and a mild, salty flavor,” or “very smooth and creamy flesh with a savory chestnut-like flavor,” depending on who you talk to. I’ll let you know!

Monday, November 12, 2007


I don’t have a photo, but I made this side dish for the second or third time last night (to accompany this red lentil soup* and some really nice dark, dense whole-wheat seeded bread from Whole Foods) and was reminded how awesome it is, and thus how much I need to tell you about it. I’m pretty sure the recipe is from Ye Old Standby, Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop. I love green beans and would never have thought to pair them with ginger. I think it’s the addition of lemon that makes them so addictive to me, though. Better still, it's so quick and easy you can whip it up while your chicken or fish or whatever main dish finishes cooking.

*The soup was really good, a nice change of pace for me (I've never had red lentils before), easy to make, wholesome, and just right on the spiciness scale. But I don't think I love it quite enough to add it to my repertoire, so I'll just let Sassy Radish tell you about it instead.

1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 1½-inch-long piece fresh ginger
1½ tablespoons butter
Finely grated zest from ¼ lemon
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Cook beans in 4 quarts boiling salted water, uncovered, until just tender, 5–8 minutes (depending on thickness). Drain in a colander and wash under cold running water to stop cooking. Drain beans again and pat dry.

2. Peel ginger and halve crosswise, then thinly slice lengthwise and cut into very thin matchsticks.

3. Heat butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook ginger, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes.

4. Add beans and cook, stirring, until just heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add zest and salt, tossing to combine.

Serves 4

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I had three-fourths of a butternut squash in the refrigerator, left over from last week’s pizza. I had a jar of delicious CSA honey. And I had this recipe. It hadn’t looked especially exciting to me when I first saw it, but I dutifully photocopied it from the library’s copy of Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2002, figuring it might come in handy if the CSA stuck me with a bunch of weird winter squash. It’s practically a no-brainer to put butter, cinnamon, and salt and pepper on squash, but what a difference the honey made. The result was tender squash coated in a sticky, chewy, spiced glaze, so sweet it could have been dessert. As A exclaimed, “It’s like candy—with vitamins in it!” This was not only delicious, it was also beyond simple to make: just mix ingredients and bake. The baking time is just long enough for you to prepare something to go with the squash (I made zucchini fritters; with some pears on the side, it was an odd jumble of fallish food that somehow managed to work together). If you slice your squash thinner than the 2 inches recipe calls for, as I impatiently did, it’ll bake even quicker.

The original recipe calls for acorn squash, but I think any winter squash would work just fine. I peeled my partial butternut squash, cut it in half and seeded it, and sliced it into ½-inch-thick slices—which, predictably, became very soft and brown very fast in the oven. In the future, I think I’d split the difference and go with 1-inch-thick slices. I’ll also add a little cardamom to the honey-butter mixture next time, because I freakin’ love cardamom. Regardless, this is definitely going to be one of my go-to squash recipes from now on.

2 acorn squash, or equivalent amount of any other winter squash
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half through the stem end and remove the seeds (you can peel the squash if desired; of the squashes I regularly use, I know that butternuts and delicata should be peeled, while acorns and sweet dumplings don't need to be). Cut each half into 1-to-2-inch-thick slices and place the slices in a large roasting pan (I used a baking sheet coated with tin foil, because burning sugar always makes a mess).

2. Mix together the melted butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the squash and toss well (or, since the honey mixture is pretty thick, painting it on with a pastry brush might work well, too). Roast the squash, tossing occasionally, until tender and golden brown (about 30 minutes).

Serves: 2–4
Time: 50 minutes

Monday, November 05, 2007


(Sorry about the blurry photo. It was dark, Amazing Race was on, and I just wanted to eat. Even as I snapped the shutter, I was already leaning away to grab a spoon and dig in.)

It’s funny how much more spontaneous and improvisational I am with the CSA food than with the food I actually choose myself. Because it’s bonus food, surprise food, I’m much more willing to play fast and loose with it. I wouldn’t normally have bookmarked this recipe in Bon Appetit, but with some kale burning a hole in my pocket it suddenly sounded like a good bet. (Admittedly, I figured that just in case it turned out I didn’t like the taste of the kale or totsoi, spicy smoked sausage makes everything taste better. Also, the caraway seeds intrigued me; I love them in rye bread. Mmm, suddenly I want a patty melt.) And I wouldn’t normally have made this many adjustments to a recipe I was trying for the very first time, but since I was only making the recipe out of expediency—just this one time, to use up the kale, not to add to my permanent repertoire—I was feeling reckless. In doubling the original recipe from two servings to four, I increased some quantities (sausage, chicken broth, potatoes, caraway) but not others (wine, kale). I threw in an onion and some garlic too, because it seemed like that would make it taste better. And of course, I was using a mix of Russian red kale and totsoi. Anything could happen! I made a couple of loaves of no-knead bread (photo added!) and some apple crisp to round out the meal, just in case.

Well, the joke’s on me, because I loved this soup. It was quick, it was easy, it tasted good. It was hearty, great for the first day off of Daylight Savings when it suddenly gets dark at 5 PM, great with the crusty bread to mop up the savory broth. Every choice I made was the right one. I’d even make it again, even if I didn’t have kale to use up. I think you could use just about any green—spinach, chard—but heck, I’d go ahead and willingly buy kale to make this again. The totsoi was good, too. I’m not sure I could tell the difference between them once they were cooked, but I nibbled on a few raw totsoi leaves and thought they’d make a nice salad.

It’s still true, though. Spicy smoked sausage makes everything taste better. I used a Cajun-style chicken andouille from Trader Joe’s. Also, I diced the potatoes instead of slicing them. I don’t know why. Who cares? I’m a cook gone wild!

8 ounces smoked fully cooked sausage (such as kielbasa or andouille), sliced into rounds
1 onion, minced
1–2 large garlic cloves, minced
5½ cups good-quality low-salt chicken broth, preferably homemade
1½ pounds small red-skinned potatoes, cut into small dice
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups thinly sliced trimmed kale leaves (or other greens)
½ teaspoon caraway seeds, lightly crushed
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute sausage slices with onion and garlic in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat until onion is softened and sausage is beginning to brown. Add chicken broth, potatoes, and white wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Add kale and caraway seeds to soup and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes and kale are very tender, about 10 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves: 4–5
Time: 40 minutes

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Good news! The farm didn’t burn, though there was some crop damage (and significant damage to Southern California agriculture in general, particularly the poor avocado groves). I’m so grateful for that, and for the workers who donned masks and goggles in the soot-filled fields to harvest this week’s box, which arrived as scheduled yesterday. My share is:

2 sweet dumpling squash
1 head garlic
1 bag baby lettuce salad mix
1 bunch cilantro
4 adorably fat, squat carrots with tops
8 small tomatoes (mixed grape, cherry, and plum)
½ bunch red Russian kale
½ bunch tatsoi
8 ounces fresh raw honey!

We split mostly everything down the middle this week, except P got Romaine lettuce, arugula, and a pumpkin in exchange for my squash, garlic, salad mix, and cilantro. A lot of this stuff is starting to get familiar now, but as usual there are some standouts that promise to challenge my kitchen skills and my palate: the kale and the tatsoi. No idea what I’m going to do with those yet. Soup, maybe? I’m most excited about the squash, which I fell in love with last week, and of course the honey!

Update from Week 2: I ended up roasting the beets along with some sweet potatoes and the CSA red and purple potatoes, to accompany Roast Lemon Chicken With Honey Glaze. After I peeled them and roasted them they were just five tiny red mouthfuls. As I bit into the first one, I was reminded that I always think beets taste like dirt. Even though they’re sweet, they’re just overwhelmingly earthy. I ate them and didn’t mind them, but they didn’t compare favorably to the roasted potatoes—and especially the sweet potatoes, which I’m really starting to like. Dear CSA Santa: Could you manage to slip a few of those into a future delivery?