July 2013 archive

This Week’s CSA Share

The heat in Madison is becoming somewhat oppressive. We work in a (overly) air-conditioned building, so we don’t experience the heat during work, but this was the first week that we’ve really noticed it during our commute, even in the morning! I was attending a workshop (held here in Madison) at the beginning of the week, so we were heading to work much earlier than we normally do. Even at 7:30am, the temperatures were in the high 70s or 80s. Yikes!

Mostly, I really noticed the heat today when we picked up our CSA share. We usually take the bus home, so when we pick up our CSA share, we get off a few stops early, retrieve our share, and then walk the rest of the way. Today, I was literally dripping with sweat by the time we got home. But, we have a new share to enjoy!

This week, we received:

  • lettuce
  • cucumber
  • swiss chard
  • carrots
  • onion
  • green beans
  • tomato
  • broccoli
  • popcorn
  • eggplant
  • zucchini

We’re heading into zucchini season, which is quite delightful. Zucchini grows for much of the summer, so we’ll keep seeing this week after week. We don’t usually have trouble getting through our zucchini. Our new batch of swiss chard, on the other hand, may be a challenge. The same can be said for the eggplant. Thankfully, we got only a single eggplant this week; frankly, I’m not sure what we’ll even do with this one. My issues with eggplant are entirely texture based. The only time I’ve had eggplant that I enjoyed was an eggplant parmesan at a wedding last summer.

We’ll need to start going through cookbooks again to make a plan for getting through our vegetables over the next few weeks.

Green Beans and Escarole Calzones

I forgot to show off our first green bean harvest a few weeks ago. We’re growing green beans and beets on the patio this year, and the green beans are ready for eating!

Patio Green BeansWe’re continuing to make our way through our first CSA share. I’ve been taking strawberries in my lunch every day, and we actually supplemented with berries from last week’s market. I never used to enjoy raw strawberries, but these have been delicious. The strawberry season is pretty much over in Madison, so this will likely be the end of local strawberries for us for the year.

We decided to make escarole calzones from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone to try to use our escarole. When we opened up the escarole, we discovered just how large ours was!

Raw Escarole

Aaron cooked the escarole with garlic and red pepper flakes, which smelled wonderful.

Cooked EscaroleThe escarole went into pizza dough, as you’d expect for calzones. They turned out pretty well–gorgeous on the outside, flavorful on the inside. I’m somewhat reluctant to eat cooked leafy greens (it’s primarily a texture issue); I’m not sure whether I’d want to make these again. I might try to get over this fear at some point; leafy greens are so good for you! Until then, we’ll continue to try recipes and see what works well for my texture issues.

Escarole Calzones For those keeping track at home, we’ve finished the broccoli, swiss chard, and salad mix, and we’re almost done with the strawberries. We still have some of each of the other items left. The garlic garlic scapes, pearl onions, and potatoes will certainly last for a while, and we’ll work hard to finish everything else before our next delivery on Thursday.

Salads

We inventoried the refrigerator tonight to see how well we’re keeping up with our CSA and Farmer’s Market produce. We’re making progress, but there’s stil a lot left! Next week, I’ll try to remember to take a picture of the fridge once it’s been filled.

We had broccoli parmesan fritters from Smitten Kitchen for dinner. I forgot to get a picture of them, but I assure you they’re delicious. We usually eat ours with parmesan garlic sauce from Buffalo Wild Wings, which  you can buy in bottles. It’s a bit of an odd combination, but the sauce adds a fun spice to the fritters.

We’re having the Roasted Fennel and Hazelnut Salad with Shallot Dressing from Veganomicon on Thursday, so we roasted a bulb of fennel this evening. It’s also a pleasant surprise (for me, at least) to cut into fennel and smell licorice. (Full disclosure: I have no idea how to cut fennel. Aaron did that–I just enjoyed the smell.)

Roasted Fennel Although we’ve had several salads, we still have mixed greens left; we tried to finish up the bag by making salads for lunch tomorrow. There’s probably one salad’s worth left. Oops. I’ve been enjoying the various fruits and vegetables we have available for dressing up a salad; tomorrow’s lunch has beets and strawberries, along with feta and goat cheese. This picture is a little bright with the flash, but it’s a prettier picture than the non-flash version, so we’re going to go with it.

Strawberry Salad

Delicious Strawberries and Swiss Chard

Our fridge is bursting with produce from our CSA delivery last week, and we’ve been enjoying trying new recipes to make use of the variety.

The first night, we made these spicy swiss chard chips. I apparently neglected to get an after photo, but here’s one from before. We’ve made kale chips in the past; while these weren’t quite the same, they were quite delicious.

Spicy swiss chard chips

The past few years, we’ve made strawberry rhubarb pie, purchasing either strawberries or rhubarb from the farmer’s market to supplement the other from our CSA. We missed the rhubarb delivery this year while we were in Door County, but there’s still rhubarb available from the market. However, these strawberries are so delicious that we’re just eating them raw instead.

Strawberries

Tonight, we tried one of the recipes I listed last week: wild rice gratin with kale, caramelized onions, and baby swiss, from Smitten Kitchen. My friend Allison introduced me to the Smitten Kitchen a few summers ago, and we’ve never been disappointed. We substituted swiss chard for the kale in this recipe. I’m sometimes skeptical of recipes with cooked greens, but there was nothing to be skeptical of in this recipe. This gratin was absolutely delicious, and I look forward to leftovers this week. The bread in the background is a ciabatta roll from Madison Sourdough.

Wild rice gratin

First CSA Share of the Summer

This is our third summer with a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share; we’ve always purchased a share from Vermont Valley Community Farm, and they have a nice page describing what exactly a CSA is. We’ve been very happy with Vermont Valley, and have been looking forward to the start of the CSA season for many months.

We were in Door County with Aaron’s parents for our first CSA delivery, so this week’s share is the first we’re getting this year. This week, we received:

  • lettuce head
  • fennel
  • broccoli
  • russet potatoes
  • swiss chard
  • pearl onions
  • garlic scapes
  • strawberries
  • escarole
  • salad mix

We had some of the salad mix and strawberries for dinner this evening, and both were delicious. This year, we’re going to try to keep track of what recipes we make with our CSA produce. The beginning of the season is always a bit challenging, as we receive large quantities of leafy greens. Many of these (e.g., lettuce, salad mix) cannot easily be preserved, so we need to look for ways to incorporate them into our meals quickly. So far, we’re planning on making the following recipes with this box:

  • Escarole Calzones from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (escarole)
  • Roasted Fennel and Hazelnut Salad with Shallot Dressing from Veganomicon (fennel)
  • Fennel and Potato Gratin from Farmer John’s Cookbook (fennel, potatoes)
  • Rutabaga, Cheese, and Spinach Stuffed Triangles from From Asparagus to Zucchini (swiss chard in place of spinach)
  • Sesame Kale Salad from From Asparagus to Zucchini (swiss chard in place of kale)
  • Wild Rice Gratin with Kale, Carmelized Onions, and Baby Swiss from Smitten Ktchen (swiss chard in place of kale, pearl onions)