Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Flapjack Do It Again

This week we chose Season 3, Episode 7 "Flapjack Do It Again" as our Good Eats episode.

In this episode, Alton makes an instant pancake mix. We made the mix one morning when we had friends over for brunch and have used it several times this week. We even froze our leftover pancakes, which worked marvelously!

The plain pancakes are very good, but I liked adding blueberries or walnuts during cooking. The ease of making these pancakes in the morning have set me on a pancake streak.
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Winter is on it's way, or CSA haul #5

Our fifth haul from the farm:

Above (from top left, anticlockwise): 3.5 lbs of green tomatoes, 2 lbs of sweet potatoes, a few ripe tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers (Habanero and Purple Hungarian), mizuna greens, and green leaf lettuce.

Below: Two adorable winter squash (approximately 2.5 lbs)

We actually could have taken 3 lbs of squash and 4 lbs of tomatoes, but we were rushed this week due to a heavy work load. We actually had to cancel our work share on the farm for this week because of it.

Thankfully though, Marie let us pick up our share at the Green Spot, so we didn't even have to drive all the way out to the farm. Unfortunately, we'll also be missing this week because we'll be out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Sweet Potato Pie Remix

On Sunday, Guy and I attended a Friendsgiving potluck party. Our contribution was a sweet potato pie (because it had been such a hit before).

We enjoyed the Good Eats sweet potato pie, but wanted to make a few changes. We wanted to change the boring pre-made pie crust for something that would add more to the pie. We also wanted to add some bourbon to the filling because pie is better with alcohol.

Behold, our second pie!

It's got a gingersnap pecan crust and the Good Eats sweet potato pie filling. Sadly, I forgot all about the bourbon when I was making the pie. But I won't forget next time.

This pie was a huge success! Everyone at the party loved it and it was absolutely demolished. I'm glad I got my slice early.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saving it for Later: Pickled Cucuzza

One of the things we want to get out of the CSA is practice preserving foods for less plentiful times. Seeing as we've had so much extra Cucuzza squash around the house, as well as plenty of mason jars and vinegar, Guy decided to try his hand at a little quick pickling.

The recipe:
  • Boil 2 c apple cider vinegar, 1 c sugar, dash of garlic and onion powders.
  • Slice Cucuzza and onion. Pack into Mason jars with minced garlic.
  • Pour the boiling liquid into the jars to cover.
  • Apply lids. Let sit until cool. Refrigerate.
  • Enjoy in a few days!

The results:

Not bad at all. In fact, we kind of like them. They turned out much crisper than regular cucumber pickles. They do taste almost entirely of apple cider vinegar (which is not a problem for us) and they also have an odd look to them (but we think that can be fixed by removing the seeds before pickling). This is definitely a project we will try again soon!

Another week: CSA load #4

This week we worked at the farm on Friday and Marie let us take our haul home then so we didn't have to drive back out again on Saturday.

A full share received two heads of lettuce (your choice of red, green, or one of each), a bunch of Pak Choy, a Cucuzza squash, and one pound of "other veg."

There was a variety of things we could choose from for our other veg. We chose four Habanero peppers, two Rosa Bianca eggplants, and about half a pound of mixed tomatoes.

We could have chosen green beans, Mizuna greens, fingerling eggplants, or a variety of other peppers.

This was definitely not a big haul, but we still had a bit of peppers and a whole Cucuzza left from last week.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Potato, My Sweet

In an effort to use up our veg in interesting and delicious ways, as well as add to our paltry stock of kitchen items, Guy and I decided to eat our way through the Good Eats series. We'll learn about our food, try the recipes hands on, and have help buying those kitchen appliances and utensils that we so badly need.

Our CSA haul last week included four pounds of sweet potatoes, so we decided to start with "Potato, My Sweet" (Season 7, Episode 11). In this episode, Alton makes chipotle mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato waffles, and (oh my!) sweet potato pie. He also talks about choosing a waffle iron. We already have a good enough waffle iron (plastic and square and without any of the functions Q suggests, but it works for us). What we did need was a steamer basket (we thought ours was lost to the moving gods) and a potato masher. We got ours at Target for about 13$ total.

We jumped right in to the sweet potato waffle recipe and, of course, we served it up with delicious pan-fried chicken. Guy made the waffles and I made the chicken.

All told it took us approximately 30 minutes and every bite of it was fantastic. A few days later I saw this post on Serious Eats and now we want to try those waffles with some leftover turkey and a cranberry chutney. OMnom.

The next day we made the chipotle mashed sweet potatoes.
I used about half a can of chipotle instead of just one pepper because we love it hot (we are Texans after all). Next time I'll use the whole can. My only concern is that the adobo sauce might overpower the sweet potato flavor, but I'm going to give a try and see what happens. We served it up with blackeyed peas stewed with greens and a good chunk of steak. So good.

Sweet potato pie was our last recipe to try. Even though it wasn't in the recipe, our pie was served with Cool Whip. We enjoyed it and so did our friends who ate the leftovers. However, I
want to try this filling with bourbon added (like this recipe) and in the gingersnap pecan crust that this recipe uses.

Overall results: "Potato, my Sweet" was a win. My favorite recipe was the chipotle mashed sweet potatoes. Guy can't decide between them. The mashed potatoes are the most practical recipe, one we can whip up really quick and will probably use often. But the pie was delicious! And so were the waffles! He wouldn't want to make the waffles in the morning though; it's more of an afternoon chicken-and-waffles thing.

CSA haul #3

This is our newest haul of veg from Eden's Organic Farm CSA.

From top left going anticlockwise, we have two more Cucuzza squash, 4# of sweet potato, eggplant, purple bells, lemon basil (in the bowl), some kind of sweet green pepper, spicy purple peppers, Habaneros, fresh basil, Mizuna mix (2 kinds), spicy mustard greens (2 kinds).

This week our box actually started looking like it was meant for four people. Of course, we're still hoping that we get the overabundance that CSA's are sometimes known for. We're stocking up on canning supplies and learning about other preservation techniques.

In fact, we already started preserving. We're drying some basil and the rest of it got made into pesto with some walnuts and olive oil (and is now in the freezer). It was my first try at pesto and, boy, do I have a lot to learn...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

We joined a CSA!

Joining Eden's Organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) was a big step for us. We love the local food movement, seasonal eating, and the ideas behind CSA, but we were unsure we could afford it.

After going out to Marie's farm and getting to know her and her land better, we knew we had to get involved. And we have been since August.

We paid our 200$ (a full share for 4 people is 400$ or 200$ with workshare; we chose the latter) and started coming out each Friday or Saturday morning to work.

We moved compost piles, weeded, chased and squashed grasshoppers and caterpillars, planted
seedlings, and harvested whatever was ready. At the end of September, we got a surprise for all our hard work: our first little taste of what was to come.

There wasn't enough for shares yet, but here was our first taste of the farm.

A Cucuzza squash, a few fingerling eggplants, little spicy purple peppers, and a purple bell.

Neither of us had ever heard of Cucuzzas. It was our first CSA adventure and we loved it. We ate it raw in salads (like cucumber), cooked it into pasta sauce (like zucchini), and roasted it (like eggplant). This first taste of the farm became the better portion of two meals that week. Not really what we'd been hoping for with the CSA, but for a sneak peek, we were pleased nonetheless.

A few weeks later, almost 3 months since we paid and 6 weeks after we started working there, we received our first official CSA share.

It wasn't much bigger than our sneak peek. But the food was delicious and we told ourselves to be patient. This was the first week that the harvest was big enough to split between the 30 families that participate.

We received another Cucuzza squash, which got baked with tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. We had tomatoes and purple bell peppers for salads and pico de gallo. We roasted the Habanero peppers and added them to the pico. The Mizuna greens were braised and eaten with a slice of ham. We also got a bag of dried rosemary. Yum!

The next Saturday our share was even bigger. Our patience was paying off!

Our haul included green beans, Habaneros, Mizuna greens, sweet potato blossoms, fresh rosemary, fresh oregano, two Cucuzza squash, and four bags of sweet potato vine and leaves.

The green beans were a real treat. There were enough for two people for two meals.

We dried our herbs for future use. We ate all of the beans, greens, and peppers, but only one of the squash and only about half of the sweet potato vines/leaves. We ate our extra squash the following week and blanched and froze the extra sweet potato leaves. We did end up trashing some of the vines.

It was a good haul with a lot of food, but we found that the bulk of it (the sweet potato vines/leaves) were interesting but not our normal fare. We enjoyed experimenting with different ways of cooking them, but after eating them in some capacity every day for a week, neither of us wanted to see them in our next load of veg.