May 31, 2008

Whassup, hyssop?

When we received our newsletter from the farm last week notifying us what they expected to put in the next week's box, I saw hyssop and went right away to a new screen and googled it.  

I guess it is most famous for being mentioned in the New Testament during the crucifixion - they say that a sponge soaked in vinegar was placed on a branch of hyssop and given to Christ before he died.  
A/ that's gross - couldn't they give him some water?  and 
B/ it must have been a different species of hyssop because what I received is only about 8-10" long.

I prefer to remember it as a crucial ingredient of Chartreuse and Absinthe :)  

Suggestions from the farm were to use it in a homemade blend of herbes de provence, or to use sparingly in a meat marinade or as stew.  I guess it has a kind of anise-y, minty, bitter flavor.  

Here you see it drying beneath some heads of garlic - it feels so witchy doing this - I love it.  

May 29, 2008

Mmmmm, greasy!!!

Last night I'd thawed chorizo sausage from Deck for dinner without really thinking it through. Bold move for a girl from the Midwest. The thing I did know about chorizo, is that it's really more of an ingredient than a dish on it's own.

There was nothing, nothing in the house to work that sausage. It was already a day past being thawed, it was late, we were hungry.

So I cracked open the Eatwell box, and voila: sweet potatoes. Out of storage. Special treat!

Only one thing to do: chorizo sweet potato hash. I've never really hashed sweet potatoes before, but I must say everyone should be preparing them this way much more often! Buttery, toothy, caramelized sweet potatoes?? It was the perfect match for spicy/smoky sausage.

Thanks Eatwell!

May 22, 2008

Organizing the loot

Organization is a large part of being a CSA member, and part of the reason why Ruth and I wanted to start this blog.  It might seem really daunting to have to 'deal with' fresh-with-dirt veg and de-stemming and chopping and drying, etc.  I remember when I was thinking about signing up - I would grill Ruth about how much washing and salad spinning was involved and whether there was dirt caked on to every little thing.  It's not bad.  Trust me.  We both have kids, we both work a lot - but we can still make this work.  

Here we go - box contents and what I did with them and what I plan to do with them for the week:

1. Beets.  They come with their tops on which are not only incredibly tasty and healthy - they turn to slime in like 36 hours.  I separated the tops from the root.  Roots went into a ziploc and the greens (snipped off with kitchen scissors - $2 at Ikea) went into a plastic bag and into the crisper.  We'll make them tomorrow and either eat them right away or I'll use them in a lentil salad (awesome combo - lentils & beet greens).  The next time I have the oven on, I'll roast the beets and we'll use them in salads.

2. Stir-fry mix.  A mix of chard, kale, collard greens.  I'll wash it right before eating.  That entails putting in the salad spinner.  Soaking.  Removing from water w/o spinning - the water helps the saute/steam process.  We will probably cook this with the beet greens.

3. Spinach.  To eat sauteed one night with loads of fresh garlic (see below).  Will wash right before eating.  The spinach takes about 3 water changes.  It's really not a big deal as I'm in the kitchen doing other stuff, I swish it, dump the water, repeat.

4. Swiss Chard.  See stir-fry mix.

5. Asparagus.  Nothing to do until I'm about to cook them.  My favorite way is roasting.  Snap off the bottoms, peel the stalks (these are thick) and throw into a hot oven after tossing with salt, pepper and olive oil. 

6. Radishes.  The bunch we got this week is BIG.  The leaves are no good - they get composted right away and the radishes go into a bowl in the fridge.  I basically eat these on my own, with bread, butter and salt as an appetizer almost every night.  I really look forward to this simple pleasure!

7. Garlic.  Nothing to do except eat them. :)

8. Cherries.  See garlic.

9. Strawberries.  See cherries.

10. Mint.  Place in jar with a little water.  Covered with a plastic bag.  Put in fridge.  Will use for tea, fava bean spread, in dessert, mojitos, ...

11.  Lettuce.  I keep it in the bag until I'm ready to use it - then I wash and spin it.  It takes about 2 rinses.

Tonight I spent about 30 minutes total disassembling the box and putting things away.  All while dinner was getting made.  Pretty painless!

May 13, 2008

Fava Bean City

Part of the deal with our CSA, and maybe with others, is that there is a 'trade' area where you can leave stuff you don't want and ideally trade it for something else.  This week's deposit was a whole bag of fava beans, which I promptly snatched up.  I'll leave something another day...

I got home and realized I had like 3 lbs of fava beans.  I didn't think it would be so many since the yield is so low after the shucking and peeling.  Ha - the joke was on me!  I had a HUGE bowl of fava beans!  

What I've done with them:

1. Shucked, blanched, peeled.  Required for anything else I'd want to do, anyway.
2. Made a 'ragout' using instructions from Alice Water's 'Vegetables' book (just cover with half water/half olive oil, salt/pepper, garlic, rosemary - cook for 5-8 minutes).  Eh - they were good. Not mind blowing.
3.  Whizzed remaining ragout-ed favas with some pecorino and voila - a spread for toast.
4. Mixed in with a lentil salad.
5.  Tossed with pasta.

I think I'm almost sick of fava beans.  The season is just about over, anyway.  

May 3, 2008

check this out

San Francisco Victory Garden

I just found out about this yesterday and got so excited!  I am going to send in an application for our family.  Cross your fingers that we get accepted!  

The city of San Francisco is going to choose 15 households that represent the 'diversity of San Francisco' to be part of this pilot program.  They issue you a kit AND will help you set up a food garden in whatever space you have available, no matter which microclimate you live in.  Our microclimate just happens to be the fog belt, which is one of the reasons I have never put much effort into growing food.  The other reason?  I *suck* at gardening.  Completely and totally suck.  I don't even know where to start.  

If we don't get chosen, I would like to get the kit anyway on a small scale.  This would be a great thing to do with the kids.  We are currently trying to grow sunflowers, which is going better than expected (I know,...sunflowers in the fog?  Well, it's not foggy, yet.)

At first I was taken aback by the city using the term 'Victory Garden'.  But, if you think about it, having a food garden thrive in your backyard/patio/deck is a huge victory for you and your family's health, the health of the environment...not to mention your budget!

Readers - do you have a food garden?  Where do you live and what do you grow?