Monday, November 10, 2008


Wow, I haven't even looked in here lately. I've been tired a lot...

The CSA is winding down. We have a fine collection of cabbages in the crisper drawer, which should last us a while. We also have several winter squash. Meanwhile, we've eaten chard and spinach - the cool weather crops are turning up again! I made a great chard crustless quiche for lunch, today, and it will be the basis of several lunches this week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The CSA pick up felt a little light this week. That may simply be because this was the first week without lettuce - it's been in the 90s, and I'm sure it's bolted. But the heads are nice and big, so it feels like a lot, though it's not really a firm vegetable.

We have several kinds of summer squash, and collards, a couple of cucumbers, and one lonely ear of corn. (Last week was the first corn - luckily we had two ears, then, so we could each have one!) The first green beans and eggplant. Onions and garlic.

We are getting a nice variety. I've been keeping a list, so we see how it plays out, and we've had 32 different kinds of produce in 8 weeks! OK, that is counting green and mature onions and garlic separately - but they are different.

We're not, as I mentioned, getting the fruit share, but it's coming in nicely, now - they had some lovely little plums, and peaches.

I do supplement a bit from Greenmarket. I can get enough fruit for us there, and I'll pick up some lettuce, as I do carry mostly salads for work lunches. One vendor there has lovely lettuce all summer - don't know how they do it, but it's clearly their speciality. I'll pass Union Square on my way home from work tomorrow, and get a few things.

I need to find some good things to do with eggplant. I'm not fond of it, but Himself is, so I've tried to remember to cook it before - and here it is, in the selection, so... I was able to get the long narrow ones, which I prefer. (He's not fond of all the greens, but they're also in the package, and I should be eating them for several reasons, and he doesn't actively dislike them... It all evens out, between us.)

Kitchen day

This was a busy day in the kitchen.

I've been away for the weekend (I'll post about cooking for that later.) So I'm largely starting from scratch.

This is a bread baking day, and I've learned to fill up the oven! I mean, if I'm going to put it on at all in this heat, I want full use of it. So I just put in 2 loaves of bread, one large and one small bread and cheese pudding, and a large baking dish of tofu.

I have found that 2 ordinary tubs of tofu, sliced in quarters lengthwise, neatly fill my glass baking dish. Himself prefers the texture of baked tofu, and I think it works better in the salads I often carry for lunch, so this gives me roughly a week's worth. (2 slices each for one dinner, and 1 slice, with another protein source, in 4 lunch salads.)

Earlier, I had made a citrus pickled onion.

I omitted the sugar, because I don't want it, and the pepper, because I didn't have one. It's in the refrigerator now, marinating - I'll see how I like it! I also made a huge bowl of tabbouli with the parsley from the CSA - we'll both be eating this for lunch all week, I think.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


I splurged (for us.) I got shellfish at Greenmarket - straight from the fisherman.

So - dinner tonight was steamed clams and mussels, over homemade noodles, with lita squash and a kohlrabi bulb sauteed with garlic scapes. We're enjoying the clam broth now!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Spring into Summer

I just picked up the CSA share, and the selections are beginning to shift.

We have snap peas for the first time. No radishes for the first time. Lots of lettuce, as usual. Good thing I carry salads for lunch.

The first root vegetables are turning up - onions and beets. And kohlrabi - I've wanted to try that, so now I have some.

And summer squash. I assume we're going to be eating a lot of summer squash... luckily we both enjoy it, both cooked and raw in salad. More herbs. (This time the basil is green - no more lavender colored sauce!)

Himself is not home for dinner tonight, and might not be tomorrow, which presents me with an ethical question. Surely the snow peas should be eaten at once, while they are perfectly fresh. But then - he wouldn't have them! Must consider this...

Lavender silk

I am at a time in my life when I have found it to be a good idea to have some soy products on a regular basis. I also want to somewhat decrease the amount of meat I've been eating lately, while maintaining an amount of protein that makes me feel well, and the two goals work together well. I am, therefore, working on doing this in a more interesting way than tofu in my lunch salad every day.

I have seen recipes that suggest blending silken tofu to make a cream sauce. Now, I've used it in soups, to make them creamy, with very good effect. So, the other night, having some lovely fresh basil and some homemade noodles, I decided to try this.

First note - purple basil makes sauce that is, well... purple. Lavender, really, blended in the tofu. It's not the most appetizing looking food I've ever produced in my kitchen, particularly tossed with the light brown noodles.

Second - the texture was amazingly good. I have issues with dairy, and I've been missing a lot of those creamy textures - this was great.

Third - it was also a bit bland. Part of that, I think, was the basil - I'd had it nearly a week, and it was losing flavor. It was also the tofu, though, which absorbs flavor. I do remember reading that you need to season it much more than you expect - have to remember that, next time.

On the whole, though, we both liked it - voted "an experiment to repeat." The mouth feel (very important to me) was great, the taste was OK, just needed a bit more punch. (Seasoning added liberally at the table helped a good bit.)

Now, silken tofu has less protein in it than firm, so it was not enough alone. I have to serve it over something. I ended up tossing the sauce over cooked noodles, chunks of cooked turkey, and zucchini.

I made the sauce with 1 14 oz. package of fresh silken tofu, several cloves of cooked garlic (left from a garlic chicken dish I'd made) and a bunch of purple basil. I chopped the basil roughly, put it and the garlic into the container for an immersion blender, and blended them smooth. Then I added chunks of the fresh tofu.

I sauteed onions and zucchini, added the already cooked turkey. When it was hot, I tossed in the cooked, drained fresh noodles. Then I added the sauce, tossed just until it was heated through, and served immediately, with freshly grated romano cheese.

One of these days I'm going to try adding pictures. Believe me, though - this was no loss. Odd looking stuff. Did taste pretty good, though, and I'll definitely do it again.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The CSA is gradually picking up. There was enough this week that Himself declared that, if I'm not with him next week, he may take the cart.

  • Multiple heads of lettuce.
  • Chard and spinach and bok choy, rather than a choice.
  • More radishes and a nice big bunch of dill.
  • And, as the fruit share still hasn't started, a throw in of strawberries. (I think I mentioned that we didn't get the fruit share, as we don't really eat much fruit. We'll just supplement from Greenmarket.)

We have, as usual, eaten greens and salads throughout the week. But last night I experimented. I have a recipe from The Tassejara Recipe Book for spinach with strawberries, and tried it. Very interesting - favorably so. We decided that, while I won't make it often, it's something we'll want that two or three times a year - in June, with fresh spinach and the fresh, local, slightly tart strawberries. I personally don't think it would work as well with with the big, sweet, bland supermarket berries.

Then, I used the dill and a mix of sour cream and yogurt to make a dill sauce for catfish (non-local and farmed) and mashed potatoes. Quite nice. And the spinach and berries made a nice splash of color on the plate, next to the white fish/potato/sauce combination.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Second CSA week.

2 kinds of lettuce - larger heads, so much the same amount as last week.

Green garlic - more mature, and this has a scape. I've been reading about scapes, and can't wait to try cooking this.

Spinach and kale. Our half share gives us a choice, and we keep choosing the Not Cilantro, as I dislike it. One of these days I'll get some for Rich, and, I don't know, freeze some or something.

Some more radishes.

We've been having a heat wave, and our dinner was essentially a repeat of last night's. I'd gotten some chicken at Greenmarket the other day, cooked it overnight in the slow cooker to avoid heating the kitchen. We've been eating it in salads ever since. Chicken and (not local) feta cheese over a salad combination of lettuce, snap peas, and radish, with salad dressing I made (of non-local olive oil, vinegar, and Dijon mustard.) Potato salad on the side, and iced tea, both of which I'd also made yesterday. It was rather nice, after a long, hot, unairconditioned work day, to just assemble, rather than cook, our dinner.

The Greenmarket in our immediate neighborhood has now opened for the season. They have a nice variety of vendors, and are well timed if we run out of CSA produce. Right now, as well as the above, I have some bok choy I got last week, along with asparagus and snap peas (our CSA doesn't seem to really do the spring vegetables so much.) Strawberries, also.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Local Food!

We just came back from our very first ever CSA pickup.

Now, around here, local farmers are mostly North of here, in New York State, a couple of zones colder than we are. And it was a very cool May. We had a Meet the Farmer gathering two weeks ago, at which she warned us that they were planting late, as there'd been an unusually late frost, so things would be a bit slim, to begin with.

So - for our half share, we got a nice bunch of spinach, a good amount of lettuce (three varieties,) one green garlic stalk, some radishes, and two apples. The apples were a freebie - we did not join in a fruit share, but these were tossed into the vegetable share.

I know there will be more later... this is still early, around here. I have seen a few things, though, suggesting that we would have done better with a full share.

Most CSAs seem to define a share as enough for a family, frequently defined (for the estimate) as 2 adults and 2 children. This one was very vague about how many people one might feed, so I decided to err on the side of too little. A lot of the people seem to be single, though, and there seem to be many full shares of couples. We'll see what we get!

Meanwhile, we'll eat spinach tonight. I'll cook some of the garlic with our lentils, along with onion and a smoked turkey leg I'd gotten at Greenmarket. And I've already washed the lettuce, and it's hanging in a basket over the sink, drying. That, with the radishes and perhaps some of the spinach, will be the basis of my lunches this week, with enough for some dinner salads, too.

It's a start.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Local Summer

I've been reading a lot of Local Food blogs and discussions, and have been thinking about this issue.

First of all - I have always been a supporter of local, fresh, seasonal food. I won't eat asparagus in November - that's just silly. That's time for broccoli and brussels sprouts. On the other hand, I eat frozen peas all year. Their season is so short, it is often hard to get good fresh ones even in season, and the frozen ones are good and work into so many dishes so well. (Rich calls them "The default vegetable.")

I have shopped at Greenmarket since it opened, even sometimes when I lived in New Jersey. I was also involved in the early stages of a farmer's market there. The food is wonderful. Five months of the year, though, there are almost no vegetables. Our farmers come mostly from New York State, and the first greens really just started coming in at the end of April. Also, they are not less expensive than the grocery stores, but frequently more so (for much better quality and freshness, of course.) I frequently see people in other parts of the country happily talk about saving money by buying from the farmers, but that just doesn't happen here, and our budget is a major consideration.

We are fortunate to have many things besides vegetables. Meat, dairy, even fresh fish (about a third of my locavore circle is water) are all available. I can even get some grains! We'll be eating local polenta tonight.

We also just joined a CSA. I'll see how that goes - it is less forthcoming than some with information and "customer service" stuff, but it's also the one within reasonable walking distance, and it has half shares (and even, I gather, a winter program.)

I have other considerations, though. The budget, as I mentioned, is an issue. For various reasons, I prefer that a substantial amount of our protein come from vegetable, rather than animal, sources, though we are by no means vegetarian. I have not seen any local sources of beans, though - I don' t think they are really the most sensible use of farm land in this area, and they do ship well and inexpensively. When I buy my lentils at the natural food market, I don't know where they come from, and it is not my main concern. And I can't eat much cow's milk - the soymilk I use is definitely not local! (Though when I can make my own soymilk, I think importing the beans from a family farm in the Midwest, but making it here, is quite reasonable.)

All this musing is to decide if I want to join One Local Summer. That is not all local, all the time, of course - the concept is that you prepare one meal a week from exclusively local food. (Oil and spices, I think, are the usual exceptions.) To me, it feels a little artificial - but, at the same time, an interesting challenge. If I do, I may make my locavore circle 150 miles. Too much of a 100 mile circle from here is either city/suburb or water. (I consider anyone at Greenmarket to be local - I'm not going to go plotting them on maps, and rejecting someone who travels to make this work!)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I went to Greenmarket in Union Square, today. For the first time this season, the produce is coming in! There was asparagus, and ramps, and a variety of young greens. Spinach, of course, but also tiny kale and collards, and others.

If you don't know what ramps are - as I didn't a few years ago - they're often called wild leeks. That's not strictly it, but they are related to leeks, onions and garlic. and have a lovely light oniony taste.

Today for dinner I sauteed asparagus and ramps, and added some leftover steak from a restaurant dinner the other night. That and my bread made a lovely dinner for the two of us.

I've also been starting to buy some of our meat there. Today I got two stewing hens, which are simmering away in a slow cooker along with the carcase of a chicken we ate last week. I may use some of the broth to make asparagus soup, and we'll have cooked chicken for salads and such, for lunches. It's getting warm enough that I'll be able to eat outside in parks, when I'm at a client without a lunchroom, and I'd prefer to carry lunch. Salads fit the bill, and are starting to sound very good.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

New Toy!

Friends of ours who recently combined households gave me a stand mixer (as they don't need two!) My first reaction to the offer had been no - we don't have the counter space. But I bake bread - in fact, 100% whole grain bread, which requires a lot of kneading to get it nice and light. With a wrist with an old injury, that half hour of kneading has become difficult, and I haven't baked in months. So a stand mixer with a dough hook seemed a good use of space. (I think we're giving them a slow cooker - much the same reasoning...)

I made it a home on my counter, and I baked the other night! I'd been a bit concerned about the humidity - I sometimes have a lot of trouble with sticky dough when it's damp out. Well, the great thing about the mixer, I've learned, is that it will work a sticky dough with no trouble. I had my own lovely basic whole wheat toast for breakfast, for the first time in months. And that really did make it easier. (I use the recipe from The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, which I strongly recommend for anyone interested in whole grain bread baking.)

So now, I want to experiment. I was given the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking for Christmas. It has lots of recipes that don't work for me, or that I will have to adapt, but lots that look interesting. I particularly want to start playing with sourdough and levain. I had a sourdough starter back in college, and made some pretty good bread then - and I know so much more about bread baking now!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Come in, have a cup of tea!

I've been thinking a lot, lately, about food and cooking (not to mention kitchens.)

I believe that food must nourish both body and soul. It should provide health and pleasure. This may seem obvious, but it can be easy to lose sight of one when pursuing the other.

Right now, I cook to put dinner on the table for the two of us, I discuss food and read cookbooks as a hobby, and I spend much of my workday talking about food and kitchen equipment. At the same time, I recently moved into an apartment with the smallest kitchen I have ever had, other than the dorm I started cooking in, so I'm having to concentrate on organization and prioritizing. (I'm still unpacking...)

I decided to start this as a place for my musings, a way to think out loud. If you are interested, please read along!