April 24, 2008

a CSA confession

It's Thursday, the day I pick up our new box of fruits & veg from Eatwell.

I still have lettuce, spinach, leeks AND some snow peas leftover from last week. oops!

(everything has held up really well)

April 23, 2008

Guru Says......Plant a Garden

Why Bother?
-Michael Pollan, NY Times Sunday Magazine (Green Issue)

April 20, 2008

Spring Goodies

I feel like I haven't updated you re: our box contents recently.  I think my new favorite food season might be spring.   For years and years, it was fall.  Fall meant applesauce and roast vegetables and roast beasts and cozy family dinners.  All that is still true, but the produce in the fall just can't rival that of the spring and summer.  Each week is so exciting as there is always a new little surprise in there.  It started with green garlic, then snow peas, and now fava beans.  This past week we received:

Leeks, carrots, green garlic, sugar snap peas, fava beans, kiwi, apples, spinach, red lettuce, asparagus, a grapefruit and...lemon balm!

Per the farm's suggestion, I made a tea with the lemon balm (and some mint I had) and MAN is it delicious late in the evening.  Very soothing.

The first week with fava beans, they were small enough to only have to shell once.  I tossed them with some pasta and green garlic and pecorino.  This week, I made a spread with them (per a fellow farm member's suggestion) by throwing them in the food processor with some (green) garlic, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil.  That combination, spread on multigrain bread with a glass of white wine is what I'm having right now and I'm in heaven.

April 15, 2008


We bit the bullet and signed up for a fruit CSA.  I say 'bit the bullet'...because it seems FAR from economical.  $20 for a 5 lb box!  So, why did we do it?
  1. Our kids are like little gorillas at the rate they plow through fruit.  
  2. It's mid-April, which means the fruit selection is only going to get better and better.
  3. The fruit comes from Frog Hollow Farm - unbeatable quality.  
  4. My husband finally finished reading The Omnivore's Dilemna (2 years late) and is really on board with the eat local movement!  
  5. I'm sick of trying to decide between the organic grapes flown in from Chile or the pesticide-laden stuff from nearby.
I picked up our first box tonight, and inside was:
1 grapefruit
2 navel oranges
2 tangerines
3 clementines
2 avocados (oooh...tricky!)
1 tomato (in April!  and ripe!)
2 apples
2 kiwi

The variety was definitely there, but the quantity is just, well, quaint.  I'm pretty sure we'll keep it going through the summer, though.   I know that cherries will be coming in about 6 weeks...and then there are those peaches.....  

April 14, 2008

Artichokes Galore

It's artichoke season around here! I'm lucky enough to have a grocer in my neighborhood who sells local artichokes (from about 30 miles south in Half Moon Bay) for $1 a piece. Who could pass them up at that price? I bought a half dozen this weekend, steamed them up and even made some of my own mayonnaise for dipping.

Two mayonnaise tips I learned from Ruth:
  1. Use champagne vinegar
  2. Use a blender

I whisked and whisked but nothing was firming up. I realized that I needed to add more olive oil (I didn't exactly measure the lemon juice or vinegar...) and wasn't sure how much, so into the blender it went. The biggest downside to this method is that you lose a little bit when trying to pour/scrape it out.

There are plenty of places to find out how to prepare an artichoke online, so I'll spare repeating it here. It really is pretty easy if all you want to do is steam them. I used the mayonnaise recipe that Orangette wrote about in the most recent Bon Appetit.

Funny artichoke story:
I spent a summer in France when I was 16 with my best friend. Four weeks were spent on the sea in St. Malo, living (and eating with) with a family. This was the part I most looked forward to about that summer!

One evening for dinner we sat down, had a glass of wine ... some kind of small appetizer that is not memorable...and then our entree: an artichoke on a plate. One, steamed artichoke with a vinaigrette (I think) on the side. I had never seen a whole artichoke up close (I'm from upstate NY - artichokes only came in jars) and had no clue how to eat it. We politely followed their lead, finished the artichoke and then waited for DINNER, because the artichoke had to be another appetizer? Then the salad and yogurt came out and we knew that was it for the night. We were so peeved, we went out for Chinese food (oh, the blasphemy!).

Now you know why the French aren't fat :) I'm happy to report that I have come full circle and on Saturday night, I had a bowl of sorrel soup and an artichoke for dinner and I was completely satisfied.

PS: Artichokes are KID FRIENDLY! My 4 yr old had a blast peeling and dipping and scraping/sucking the leaves

April 12, 2008

Sorrel: Help me

Our (French) nanny has a lovely garden where she grows loads of herbs, and more recently, SORREL.   

She asked me if I wanted some, and of course I said yes!  It has probably been grown from seeds illegally imported from France, so it has to be good ;)  I came home yesterday to a huge bag that she had given my husband.  I seriously have about 3 lbs of sorrel!  HELP!  She told me to make a sauce with it (bechamel + wilted sorrel = good on fish).  But, I don't need/want that much sauce. (Which makes me realize, we Americans aren't so into sauce, like the French)  I tried making a sauce with it once before, unsuccessfully.  Sorrel behaves very weirdly once it hits the heat. Not only did it start to melt, it turned brown.  
The only other things I can come up with are soup and to throw in salad.  Maybe that's the extent of it?  Making a soup makes me a tad bit nervous...see the part in the wikipedia entry about it being a laxative.....!

Suggestions would be appreciated - thank you!  

April 7, 2008

Jamie Oliver Swoon

You were forewarned - I'm about to wax poetic about Jamie Oliver, aka the Naked Chef (which is such a dumb moniker, in my opinion).  Before you run away...have you seen his latest series on the Food Network? If you haven't, but he annoys you so you think you don't care, keep reading.

Let me first admit that I have always been a fan. I've been with him through all of his various incarnations, I have all of his cookbooks, I have let him hold my first-born (really! I have a photo to prove it). My admiration for him and his values was immediately validated the day he started trying to improve school lunches in the UK - and that was before his kids were even born. I know he's a superstar and everything, but I also think he's real and he means well.

That brings me to his latest series called Jamie at Home. It could also be called, Jamie Goes Hippy, Jamie Loses the Punk, Jamie has an Amazing Garden and Gardener. I don't care what it's called, I love it. I could watch these episodes over and over again. For starters, the setting is perfect. He could be outside, surrounded by his garden and next to his woodburning oven. Or he's inside what looks like a garden shed, or he's in his old-timey kitchen. Each one is quirky and kind of small in a British way. I feel immediately transported in an armchair traveler kind of way and just imagine myself getting cooking lessons in a locale just like that.

The whole theme of Jamie at Home is that he uses produce straight from his garden. Seasonal, fresh, what-do-I-do-with-this-again kind of thinking. The latest episode was squash. I was kind of bummed since we are now out of squash season, because man did he make that squash soup look GOOD. Did you know you don't need to peel a butternut squash? Either did I. He also made an amazing batch of squash muffins/cupcakes that are very kid friendly. I'm stashing this recipe for the fall when I will need to bring a snack to my daughter's preschool once a month .

I hope you give it a try! Saturdays @ 9:30 AM. Upcoming episodes are Pastry, Asparagus, Peppers & Chilies, Mushrooms, Eggs, Leeks.