Our CSA farm hosts several fun events throughout the summer and fall. We made it to the tomato pick last summer, but in general we’ve neglected to attend these awesome events. This summer, we’ve been 2 for 3 (we skipped the pesto fest), and we’re looking forward to one more in October.
Aaron was out of town in mid-August for the corn boil, but our friend Lena and I went out. The corn boil is not a u-pick event; instead, it’s a large potluck where folks bring a dish, pick fresh corn, and eat a delicious meal together. We were encouraged to try the corn raw first, and it was delicious. I guess that’s what you get when you can pick your own organic corn directly from the stalk. I’ve eaten a few cobs that have come in our weekly share raw, also.
In September, the farm hosts several weekends of tomato u-pick; these are primarily roma tomatoes, though there are a variety of heirlooms also available. Last year, my mom was visiting when we went to this event, so we took her along. Then we had her help us learn how to can our bounty.
This year, we were looking forward to the opportunity to can tomatoes to use throughout the winter. I don’t eat tomato sauce, but we use diced tomatoes in a variety of dishes. We picked approximately 15 pounds this year, with the intention of canning them along with the tomatoes we’d received that week in our share. We’d already canned a few pints from an earlier share, too.
The canning process goes pretty quickly once you have a good system. We canned 9 pints of tomatoes the first day (the max we can put in our pressure canner). For day two (this was Labor Day weekend, so we had lots of time to work), we decided to branch out a little, and we made ketchup! You can see the cans from the first day to the left.
The ketchup gets cooked with a “spice bag”–we improvised with a flour sack. Those three bowls of tomatoes turned into 4 pints of ketchup! So far, we’ve only eaten the little bit that didn’t fill another jar. While this was definitely a tasty project, and we can now say that we’ve made our own ketchup, it was a pretty time consuming process. The ketchup gets boiled to reduce by half; when your yield is 4 pints, it takes a while to reduce!
Our canning efforts resulted in 20 pints of canned tomatoes (including the 3 jars from earlier in August) and 4 pints of ketchup. While we were at the farm, we also picked some basil that was left from the pesto fest in July. Now, when I say “some basil,” I mean 5 whole basil plants. We turned these into 6 batches of pesto, which are now in our freezer.
Clearly, we’re not super at this regular blogging thing. The semester started up again after Labor Day, and although we’re no longer taking classes, its still a change of pace.
I’m going to try to get back into the habit of posting more regular updates; in the meantime, I’ll leave you with pictures of our last three(!) CSA shares. As you will see, we’re definitely in corn and tomato season!
Several weeks ago, we got popcorn in our CSA share. We never managed to use our popcorn in past years, but we were excited to give it a try this year. I grew up popping our own popcorn, but I’ve never done it myself. We used this recipe as a guideline; the popcorn was delicious.
We’ve been continuing our quest to consume leafy greens; this week’s first adventure was making the White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies from Smitten Kitchen. I’m usually pretty skeptical of baking greens–I have a strong dislike of the stringy texture that sometimes results. But, we tend to trust Smitten Kitchen (and pie crust solves most problems), so we went ahead with the pot pies.
We went to a vegan potluck at FUS yesterday. We wanted to take something different this time, but we didn’t want to adventure too far. We went with the Herb-Scalloped Potatoes from Veganomicon. We included the nutritional yeast topping; we’re sometimes skeptical about nutritional yeast, but I was reluctant to leave out ingredients during the first go-around. The yeast was actually a nice addition–it wasn’t trying to emulate cheese too much, but added a good flavor and texture.
This post is getting pretty long, but we’ve made two other fun dishes recently. First, we made these Flourless Chocolate Chip Zucchini Oat Brownies from Ambitious Kitchen. Now, I’ll admit that trying to make healthy desserts is often a lost cause; if you want a gooey brownie, you really just need to accept the calories and lack of nutrition that comes with it. But, it sounded like a good idea at the time. These are…okay. Aaron thinks it was the “flourless” part that really did us in. We’ll definitely still eat the pan (maybe with some powdered sugar on top!), but probably not a recipe we’ll make again.
And finally, the promised successful eggplant recipe. We thought about making eggplant enchiladas again, but decided to try something new. We went with Eggplant and Artichoke alla Napolentana from Vegan with a Vengeance. The recipe suggested that the artichoke can be replaced with zucchini; I really like artichoke, but we had tons of zucchini in the fridge, so we went with zucchini. These were basically fried eggplant with a delightful sauce and a pesto sauce (with basil picked from our patio!); they were delicious. Definitely a keeper of a recipe. Plus, I discovered that I actually do like pesto; I’m not sure what I was afraid of in the past, but this was much more successful than I had anticipated. We even enjoyed this dinner on our patio! We haven’t been eating out there as much this summer, but it’s a nice change when we do. We were actually rearranging our apartment last night, and our dining room table was otherwise occupied.
Clearly, writing about new recipes on a regular basis is still a work in progress. However, I did manage to snap photos of most of the dishes we’ve made the past two weeks, so I’ll go ahead and make one giant post instead.
We went to visit my family for my birthday (and my grandma’s, which is the day before); we wanted to bring a dish that could serve as most of a meal for us, but that someone (anyone!) else might try. We settled on this Asian Quinoa Salad from Two Peas and Their Pod (we skipped the edamame, because we already had the rest of the ingredients on hand). The salad turned out pretty well, though the cucumber didn’t hold up very well for leftovers. I might prefer to stick with the Thai Quinoa Salad from Ambitious Kitchen in the future.
We’ve definitely entered summer squash season; we got zucchini in our last share, and we got lots of zucchini and summer squash in this week’s share (which I’ll blog about next)! My mom gave Aaron a mandoline for his birthday this year, and suggested this great zucchini recipe from Smitten Kitchen to try it out.
We made dill-marinated tempeh to go with our zucchini and provide some protein in our meal. We’d definitely make this zucchini dish again.
Anyone who’s gone out to eat with me can probably attest to my fear of portobello mushrooms; they’re a frequent substitute for meat, and I detest them. Those who dine with us enough know that I have similar feelings about eggplant. I had an amazing eggplant parmesan at the wedding of two friends last summer; other than that, I have been pretty unimpressed with eggplant.
But, it’s a common summer vegetable, and we’ll get several throughout the summer. So, we need to deal with them. We made the Eggplant-Almond Enchiladas from The New Moosewood Cookbook last summer, but they weren’t that great. We made them again this year, but used flour tortillas instead of corn. Usually, I love corn tortillas. But, in a baked dish that already includes almonds, it was just too much crunch. They were quite tasty with this minor substitution.
Overall, we did a decent job of getting through this last share. I didn’t take any photos, but we made this extremely simple Thai Marinated Cucumbers dish to munch on, and we made the wild rice gratin again to get through our swiss chard. We still have carrots, cucumber, and popcorn to eat.
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:
- swiss chard
- green beans
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.