Saturday, May 29, 2010

Super Chard Meal


"If vegetables got grades for traditional nutrients alone, Swiss chard would be one of the vegetable valedictorians. The vitamin and mineral profile of this leafy green vegetable contains enough "excellents" to ensure its place at the head of the vegetable Dean's List. Our rating system awards Swiss chard with excellent marks for its concentrations of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, vitamin E, and dietary fiber. Swiss chard also emerges as a very good or good source of copper, calcium, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, protein, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, folate, biotin, niacin and pantothenic acid. "
(quoted from

I knew that swiss chard was good for me, but I honestly had no idea HOW good it was until I read this on a website as I searched for the nutrients of swiss chard.

I was curious about it because we had a Super Chard meal tonight. First, it was a super chard meal in that it had a very large amount of swiss chard in it, but it also tasted DELICIOUS! Both Blake and I were raving as we ate it how good it was and how we would be willing to eat it again.

We had chard two different ways. First was from the recipe I quoted the first time I was looking for swiss chard. It's called stuffed chard with fresh marinara. We used some marinara we had made a while back and frozen, but it was still really good. There is a meat/breadcrumbs mixture that it put inside the swiss chard leaf, and then you steam it in chicken broth, and top with fresh marinara.

The reason for having a second chard item in the meal is that it used about 2/3 of our chard... but I didn't have another meal coming up before Wednesday that would really benefit from chard on the side (fajitas with a side of chard? it just doesn't work for me lol). So I asked Blake if I could just find a recipe and use it up tonight on the side. He was fine with it. I found a cookbook downstairs with a super simple recipe that is simply sauteing the chard in olive oil for the majority of its cooking time, and then get it down to wilted with lemon juice and chicken broth (which I also had leftovers of, conveniently enough).

To use some of our dill, and because it sounded so good when I found it in my Preserving Summer's Bounty book, we made a dill garlic butter, and then used that to make some really good garlic bread.

Overall the meal was a huge success, and it has helped me realize that Swiss Chard really had a bad rap for nothing, but it is really a very good leafy green.

A few side notes on meals this week- 1, I found out that I was right, it is another variety of kale, and that will go into a soup tomorrow. 2, we have both recently discovered the joy of a simple salad with lemon juice, olive oil, dill and feta, and we have eaten that more than once this week. I decided to add some tomato and cucumber from our garden just to make it more interesting, but Blake would prefer it just with those four ingredients. I do have to say that with the cucumber and tomato added it is good enough to bring for a potluck I am going to Tuesday. Yay for the joys of fresh produce!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Csa 4


Box 4

Repeats from last week:
Red Lettuce
Swiss Chard

Different from last week:
Unidentified green... I am leaning towards another variety of kale?
Another lettuce, but not red
There are a few other differences, but it is more of things that we didn't get this week like dill and cilantro, which we didn't need more of... we still have plenty from last week.

I was really proud of myself as I surveyed what we had leftover from last week as today's box came around, and I found that we had used everything but a few herbs, and a little of the lettuce from last week!

I think it has mostly been about the change in meal planning. Instead of planning something, and then getting the food to match it, I now plan around what food I have and then buy supplements to make meals instead of just a variety of vegetables and fruits.

I was excited to have two heads of lettuce again, so that I can make some salads for potlucks coming up this week.

I do have to confess that I made a trade this week... we got sprouts again, and I know I could have found more exciting recipes for them... I saw an orange in the trade basket, and while I could use the sprouts... we LOVE the oranges and are always sad when we run out... so I opened my box early with the sole goal of finding something less than loved to trade for the orange in the basket. I saw sprouts on top... and they were the chosen thing to go.

My plan of attack is not fully fleshed out yet, and I am glad I still have a few more days to decide it... but I decided that I am going to roast the turnips again, but this time with some olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper, since they basically tasted like potatoes last time they were cooked, I figure I should run with that.

This swiss chard and or kale? will go into a soup this week, just because its been a while since we had soup, and it sounds good. I haven't decided which direction to go with the soup yet, but it will likely have some white beans and potatoes cooked in it... probably some tomatoes... some fresh herbs like thyme and basil... maybe carrots? Not sure... the scary (or exciting) idea that I am playing with at the moment is to not find a recipe, but just play with a soup idea myself... but I am not sure that I trust myself to come up with a good one, but more importantly, I never know cooking times on my random ideas.

Then, whichever I don't use in the soup will disappear into some other recipe tbd.

All of the fruits never have trouble disappearing, and I am sure that this is no different. The salad that I will make for both potlucks (two different times) will use some the lettuce, an orange and some avocado, as well as other things that I already have in the cupboard, plus some other ingredients from the store.

That actually will pretty well cover all of the things that we got in the box this week. I just picked some zucchini from our garden, so I am planning on using that, and a just about ripe sweet pepper from my garden to make some vegetarian fajitas this week.

There is not a lot different from last week, but that's something likely to happen when you eat seasonally, I am still loving it though!

p.s soup recipe- kale, swiss chard

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This is so funny!

This video totally had Blake and I laughing out loud! Btw, the channel improv everywhere is really worth a look if you have never seen it before. They do improv acts randomly in the streets of New York and film them. My personal favorites of theirs are the musical ones like:

Anyways... enjoy!

Friday, May 21, 2010

A more personal post

For a long time, I had decided to keep this blog "light and fluffy" and not too much about the big personal things that are going on in my life for fear of criticism or things not going well, etc.

But I feel confident enough in our life path now, that I decided to share a big step that Blake and I are taking... next month we will be attending an adoption orientation to begin the long process towards adopting from foster care.

This is not a decision we have made lightly, but at the same time, this doesn't mean that there will be a child in our house next week either lol.

The plan, at this point, is just to start the process itself, which could take months before a child is ever involved. Once we complete all of the steps up to the matching process where a child IS involved, then we will re-evaluate, and possibly hold at that stage for a while before having a child come into our home. There will be extensive thought and prayer put into the possible child too, keeping in mind all of the complications that they will bring before we move forward.

I welcome positive feedback... but friends and family members who are reading this...please really think before you post something negative or discouraging... because the chances are that I already know what your concern is, and we are aware of the many vast issues, complications and problems that could come from this process.

But we also both feel really strongly that there are children out there that need homes, including ones with deep psychological issues or medical issues etc. but they need homes too. Probably more than those "perfect" healthy kids in the system. No, it won't be easy... but what would you say to that child? Would you tell them that they would be too hard to take care of, so they don't deserve a home?

Also, yes, we realize that we are still very young... and that is why we might not look for a matching child as soon as we get through the process... but if the right child comes along, we want to be ready to give him or her a home. Also, yes, we have been trying to have our own child first, and without going into it, its been a long time now, and so we feel that this is the direction that God is leading us towards.

It most likely won't be a baby, because those are the most easily placed, and so do not need adoptive parents as badly. It might be a pair of siblings, although we would prefer that they are both young. And to those who thought, she has no idea what she is getting into with two I don't... but I think four years of teaching aprox. 30 students for 7 hours a day is a really good start, and we'll learn, just like every other parent learns how to handle two kids when their 2nd child is put into their arms.

I don't mean to write such a defensive post when I share my excitement about giving a child or two a home... but its just that not everyone I have mentioned this to so far has been supportive... and for those of you who had no idea that we wanted kids at all, I don't want you to jump to the wrong conclusions. I don't make too many impulsive decisions... I tend to research and plan and think and plan and read and study and then come to a decision. So just please please realize that it is unlikely that any negative thought that you have towards our plan and our future is new to me or is something I didn't think about. And also... even if we had our own kids... adopting was always a part of our plan for our family... it just got moved up.

The exciting thing is... we are starting a journey to becoming parents!

Harvest beginnings


Summer must be on its way! We are starting to get a lot of things ripening or almost ready. We picked our first red tomatoes a few days ago, and had one with our sandwiches today. We picked some of our first green beans, and our first real sized carrot. Our first bell pepper (after the one that Roxie ate) is almost ready, and we have already picked a few hot peppers and could easily get more.

So far, we have been able to pick and eat 2 yellow pear tomatoes, 1 elfin tomato, and 2 celebrities. There are a few more tomato varieties that we are still waiting on, but I think that they all have green tomatoes now, its just a matter of ripening. There is no way I could keep track with all that we will pick in the upcoming months, but for now, its just a few.

The plants we haven't been able to harvest yet are eggplant, onion, garlic, potato (unless you count the one that Blake accidentally knocked off... I don't :-) ), tomatillo and sweet pepper. The rest we have picked at least one of some variety.

We also ate our first beets tonight in the recipe with orange and cloves, and even though I forgot the zest... ooops.... it was really good. Blake even said that he liked them that way (not just tolerated them) which was exciting. The only downside was how long it took. Otherwise, it was wonderful and I wish we had more.

By the way, the swiss chard with onions AND sprouts was just okay to me. I don't think I cooked it quite the same as last time, and I should have let the chard wilt more, and I think that the chard made it so I tasted the sprouts more, which I didn't really love. The end effect was not bad... just not as delicious as last time. The positive of that though is that I did decide that I can be brave and branch out into other recipes with both sprouts and swiss chard next time.

Ooh, and I used some of the dill (which in my last post I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it) in our tuna mix for the tuna salad today, and that was really good, Blake wasn't even hungry and he thought it was a really nice addition to the sandwich.

My big dilemma for the weekend is deciding on if I trust that I can find and use a few more tomatoes this week for meals, or should I still buy them for another week and wait for them to be a more reliable tomato source. Blake thinks that we should still buy them for now... sigh... I can't wait for there to be tomatoes all the time!!!Soon... soon.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

CSA box 3


Yay! Box 3 is here.

Repeats from last week:
Kumquats (which is good because Blake and I always fight over them :-) )
Strawberries (never last the week)
Red Lettuce (two heads this week though)

Different from last week:
Oranges are back!!! Yay!
Swiss Chard (we loved it so much last time we are really excited to have it again)
Dill (just in time, we used up 2 week's ago's bunch on Sunday)
Beets (last time we tried chips and it was a failure, but this week we will try steaming and braising them instead).

My plan of "attack" this week:
Because of the success of two week's ago recipe of onion with chard, we will be doing that again with tomorrow night's dinner. I found a bunch of recipes that recommends sauteing sprouts, and we tried that with Sunday's dinner and with a few of our sprouts (because Blake is failing at eating them alone, and I hate waste), so we are going to experiment and saute onions, chard and sprouts all together as a side to our spaghetti tomorrow.

Friday's Tuna sandwich (or tuna melt) is going to be accompanied with a recipe I found in a cookbook I have (William Sonoma's vegetable cookbook for those who are curious) for Beets glazed with honey, orange and clove. The flavorings sound great, and as long as the beets taste mostly like those flavors, I think it will be good.

The rosemary will disappear into a lemon herb chicken marinade, and I think I will pair that with tabbouleh to use some leftover parsley I have in the fridge and use up the mint too (poor Blake, more mint).

Because both Mango and Shrimp are on sale this week at our grocery store, we will have shrimp quesadillas with a mango salsa/salad (that will use up some lettuce, and some of the cilantro, and possibly some avocado, depending on when it ripens).

Another day I think that I will have mini corncakes with an avocado topping, and that will use avocado, chives, and cilantro.

Not sure what to do with the dill, but I know that will last a week, and since we have a couple things going on this weekend, we actually are cooking less than normal and those recipes will more than suffice for us this week.

I am really hoping that I can cut down the bill this week with my meal choices though, last week I thought I did good, and I guessed that our bill would be under 60 dollars for the week. Blake didn't think so, and he predicted that I would be over, so we made a bet (nothing wagered though). I lost... by about 20 dollars, it hurt lol. It doesn't really matter because our goal is under a hundred for the week (that includes most lunches and breakfasts as well as lunches), but still, I was bummed it wasn't as cheap as I was hoping.

This week, maybe I can get under that 60 dollar mark!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cooking through CSA 2


I love zucchini sauteed, and could probably use that basic of a recipe to eat zucchini often, but Blake isn't as big of a fan of it as I am. He came up with the idea of using our zucchini from our box by breading and baking them. He also was the one that chose to use the following ingredients: bread crumbs, Parmesan, pepper and Cajun seasoning as the breading for them.
The rest of the recipe was just found online by typing something like breaded baked zucchini chips for the time and for the coating to make the breading stick. They turned out good, I just wish that I had ranch on hand for this veggie side dish. Instead I used sour cream with franks, which was also good.

We had it with simple tuna melts, that we cooked on our panini maker (which was a gift, and I would have never asked for it, but it is sooooo easy and yummy to make toasted sandwiches in, I actually pull it out fairly often.) The cool part of our tuna sandwiches is that we put our homemade bread and butter pickles in it, and that MAKES the sandwich.

That was Friday's dinner.

Tonight we used up our chives on a steak and potato dinner, but we also had it with a side of baked radishes, using the recipe I listed a few posts back. It was really good! We decided that if we get radishes again, I am going to look for more baked recipes, because like I said before, we aren't fans of raw radishes that we have had in the past, and I am reluctant to try them even in a recipe if they are not cooked because of it.

I also used about half of our newest bunch of mint today. Blake was complaining about the mint in the side dishes that I had made last week, and said that although they were all fine (I loved every one lol) he wasn't really a fan. So I decided to try to use some of the mint this week in a dessert as a switch on how to use up the mint, and I made Chocolate Mint brownies. I LOVED them! Blake still wasn't a fan of the mint in them lol. Oh well... more for me!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


So today we learned to be flexible with dinners lol.

The plan that I made last week for tonight's dinner was chicken pitas with a yogurt dill sauce on them, and I would choose a vegetable side based off of what was in our box for the week.

I chose a kale recipe that I added at the last second to my last blog, where we sauteed red onion and oregano, and then added the kale and sauteed/steamed that for a few more minutes, and then put feta on top. It was good. I think I enjoyed the swiss chard more, and I didn't really like the bites that were just kale, but the bites that included the onion, and feta were really good.

So, I am getting everything ready for the pitas, I make the sauce, Blake is grilling the chicken, all is well, and I go to grab the pitas (very important in chicken pitas...) and they were moldy! They didn't even last a week! Sigh, I hate waste, and I didn't love having to change our plans.

Forced to quickly think on my feet, I think about what we have at hand, and decide that we can pretty easily change chicken pitas into chicken salad with a greek theme. We had a cucumber from our garden, some tomatoes we had bought, some of our own romaine as well as some red lettuce from the box, and feta cheese, and it made great little salads.

My favorite bites tonight though where when I took a piece of chicken, dipped it in my yogurt/dill sauce, and then ate a bite of the kale with onion and feta (hard to accomplish all those things on my fork... but when I did... it was great! :-P lol.

The kale recipe, like I said above, was good, and I would eat it again, but I wasn't so in love with it that I won't look around for other recipes (like the other ones on my previous blog). The swiss chard on the other hand was SO GOOD that way that although part of me wants to look for other recipes, most of me just wants to eat that particular recipe again... so if we get it again... we will. :-)

I definitely feel like I am growing in my culinary prowess though, first by expanding our diet to include more "exotic" food like kale and chard, and then by thinking on my feet and using what ingredients we have to create recipes with those things at the end of the week, and also to change at a moment's notice when things don't go as intended for dinner.

I used to watch the show "Chopped" all the time (before we gave up cable) and I love seeing what the contestants could do with what was in their box. Also, my mom's greatest talent cooking-wise (that I remember) was that she could take any leftovers and make something good out of them, usually in an entirely new creation. Like we would have El Pollo Loco leftovers, and some extra produce from the garden, and the herbs and spices that she always had on hand and would make this great soup from it.

When I first started cooking on my own, I never strayed from recipes. As I gained confidence, I would be less careful with the measurements, but I would still follow the recipe. Slowly but surely I am finding my culinary confidence, and making some recipes based off of what I know go together, and not just on what I find in recipes. These new items are forcing me to go looking for recipes more, but I know that in time, I learn what I like to eat with each, and start being willing to throw things together more.

One step towards this that I am noticing is that I rely less on cookbooks when I am planning my week's meals. I come up with a skeleton list based on what I know we have and what's on sale, and then I fill in the blanks with recipes. For example, this upcoming week, I planned on a steak (40% off organic beef at my local Sprouts this week!) and potato (with those fresh chives) night with a veggie from the box. Later I looked up recipes for radishes etc. and I think I am going to try baking them this week in that meal.

I planned a vegetable risotto because I know we have most of those ingredients on hand (and I do plan on posting that recipe because I keep talking about it :-)). Then I decided on a taco salad because we have ripe avocados sitting in the fridge (oh, btw, if you have ripe avocados, put them in your fridge, they will stay at their ripeness as they were when you put them in for a while, so you are not at the mercy of ripening avocados for your meal planning), and we both LOVE taco salad nights. Wild Salmon is on sale this week so I planned to have a night with that, a vegetable and a grain, both to be determined later.

By Saturday, I will nail down the lose ends on the week's meals, but it used to be that every meal was a pull out a recipe book kind of meal, and now I can do a lot before I go to the recipes.

Tomorrow night will be super simplistic, but yummy... Tuna sandwiches with baked, breaded zucchini chips on the side.

Here is the risotto recipe- I'll also note the changes that we make to it.
Emerald Green Risotto (don't remember where I got this from...)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 onion, diced
• 1 clove garlic, crushed
• 1 cup Arborio rice
• 1 stalk celery, diced (We omit this because Blake doesn't like it, and the rest of the celery would be wasted)
• 1/3 cup dry white wine (Lately we omit this too because we don't like buying a bottle of wine to use a third of a cup... and in our opinion, it doesn't need it)
• 4 cups boiling chicken stock
• 1 cup broccoli florets
• 3/4 cup sugar snap peas, halved
• 1 cup thinly sliced zucchini
• 1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
(We have made this with many variations on the vegetables because sometimes we don't have one of the 4, so we just omit it and make it with the rest of them, or we want to add something like asparagus (which turned out really good with it) so far every combination of green vegetables is still a great addition)
• 1/3 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional) (we use it if we have it on hand for another recipe, omit it if we would have to buy it for this recipe)
1. (Start boiling the chicken broth in a separate pan first... I hate the way this recipe reads because you go to step two, and you are supposed to add boiling chicken broth... but it never said to start boiling it... so I am adding it for you!) Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook and stir until the onion begins to turn golden brown at the edges, about 2 minutes. Pour in the rice, and stir until the rice is coated in oil and has started to toast, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the celery and white wine. Or skip to step 2 :P)
2. Cook and stir until the wine has mostly evaporated, then stir in one third of the boiling chicken stock; continue stirring until incorporated. Repeat this process twice more, stirring constantly. Stirring in the broth should take 15 to 20 minutes in all. Add the broccoli, peas, zucchini, and green beans during the last 7 minutes of cooking, and cook until tender.(This sentence befuddles my brain, so let me break it down for you like I had to do for myself...Add 1/3 of the chx broth, let it absorb for approximately 5 minutes. Then add the second third, and give it a minute or two, then add all the vegetables. When you no longer see the broth in the bottom of the pot, then add the rest, and cook till you again no longer see the broth, but the arborio rice is done. I usually taste it before taking it off the heat, usually the vegetables are done by now too, but I typically taste them as well and cook longer if I have to... which sometimes happens, because I do play with the vegetables) Stir in the feta cheese and parsley before serving.

If you end up trying the risotto, I would love it if you let me know how it went, and how you liked it... it has become one of those recipes that we now pull out often. :-) Perhaps I'll post a picture after we make it... but its hard to remember that when you are hungry and dinner's ready lol.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

CSA box 2


Here is our "loot" from our 2nd CSA box. We were slightly disappointed to see that there were no oranges this week, since they were so delicious last week. Alas, it comes with the territory. We did get a grapefruit instead though, and a bunch more of those really yummy kumquats. As you can see, we got more strawberries, which we can never have enough of, we like to eat them with yogurt, and our own plant isn't perfect at keeping up with our eating habits.

Some other repeats from last week are: sprouts (though Blake is slacking and still has some in the fridge), avocados (last week's haven't been eaten yet, but they just ripened, so they will be eaten soon, and then these will be ready), limes, red lettuce, chives, mint, and zucchini.

Instead of last week's beets, there are radishes. This will be an interesting challenge for us, since our limited experience with radishes (raw on salads) was not a good one, but I am hoping that all it takes is the right recipe to make radishes a vegetable we like as well. Here are some I am considering: Roasted Radishes with Soy sauce, Baked Radish Chips, or Tomato Mint Quinoa salad. I am leaning most towards the first one as our previous bad experience was raw, I think trying roasting might be a good idea.

Instead of last week's swiss chard and arugula, this week we have what *I think* is kale. We have had no previous experience with kale, and no harvest ticket to go by yet, but looking at pictures... its our best guess (if you have a better one... please share before I make a kale recipe with some other vegetable lol). The main kale recipe that I am leaning towards is this one: Orzo with Kale, and this one is runner up (at the moment) Winter Vegetable Hash. If we are right, and it is kale, it means that we have a very healthy meal in our future: "Kale is considered to be a highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant properties; kale is considered to be anti-inflammatory.[2]Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium. " (From wikipedia).

We also got some snap peas, and we are excited to eat them both raw, and in a yummy vegetable risotto that we have made often in the past (the recipe also calls for zucchini, parsley and feta, all of which we already have on hand).

In other news... we saw a huge swarm of bees in our front yard this morning. The pictures don't even come close to doing it justice, but all those tiny yellow dots are bees, and it was a very freaky experience having to walk by all of them to walk the dog and go to dinner etc.... and I'm not even one to mind bees in general, but when there is a lot of them... ehhh shudder.

Edit- Email from grower confirmed it was kale! Yay for our culinary detective skills :-D. Found one more recipe to compliment greek pita night tonight- Kale sauteed

Monday, May 10, 2010

Garden Update

Our garden is in full swing. As I have the chance, I plan on going through our garden pictures and doing more progress over time slide shows like the one above, but it is really time consuming to look through all the pictures, figure out the order of them, etc. But, it is easily apparent to see that everything is very much alive and growing.

So far, as I mentioned on previous posts we have enjoyed plenty of strawberries and blueberries, and a handful of both zucchini and cucumbers. Actually, our first big batch of cucumbers (4) went into some pickles this weekend, that we gave to Blake's mom for Mother's Day.

The peppers are recovering nicely and there are many that are growing but not ready to pick yet. The peppers on the lattice are really all starting to grow. All of our tomato plants except for our hanging plants have unripe tomatoes on them at the moment, and I am looking forward to their ripening. We had our first ripe tomato on Sunday, a yellow pear, but as a huge sign of love and devotion to his mom, Blake decided to give it to her instead of us eating it ourselves. (Not my favorite variety, so I supported his altruistic choice). Although, we did technically eat our first five tomatoes in the green tomato recipe on Friday. :-) I am actually getting a bit worried about the celebrity tomato bush because there are way more green tomatoes than I can count, and I am afraid that it is so dense we will miss some ripe ones when they arrive.

As shown in the pictures above, the green beans have flowers now, which means green beans are soon to follow. Last year we had the bush beans, and they surprised us with the green beans way before we were ready. The advantage of the pole beans is that they tend to climb first and then start making their flowers, and it is easier to pick them as well.

Our carrot leaves seem to be doing well, but the carrots underneath (which we have picked here and there primarily to give the others room to grow, but also to sample how big they are) are less than 4 inches long and skinnier than a pencil. But they are growing and healthy, so we are happy about that.

Its about time for me to walk the dog, but I cannot fully express how exciting it is every year to see the garden go from tiny plants and seeds to plants huge, overgrown and giving us tons of produce. This year we are taking it a step farther will trying to preserve more of what we grow with canning (we bought a pressure canner for the purpose), freezing, and drying. I will try to keep my blog updated with our ventures into those areas and our successes... or failures. :-)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Swiss Chard and Beets


So tonight we made the green tomato spaghetti, with Swiss chard and onions on the side.

We both, surprisingly, LOVED the Swiss chard/onions dish. It was soooo good, we both wish we had made more, and will probably make it again this week sometime with the extra that we had. I have my doubts on how it would taste without the onions and Worcestershire sauce, but in any case, in the recipe it was wonderful.

I really liked the green tomato sauce, but I added salt and pepper. Blake didn't enjoy it as much as I did, he tolerated it, but to be fair, he didn't add salt, and had a big lunch so wasn't very hungry. He said that he only ate all of the chard dish because it was so good he didn't want to stop, but he was full before getting through that too. I did feel a little bad picking our first five tomatoes when they were still green... but they tasted good, and that plant has so many big green tomatoes that it is unlikely we will be able to eat all of the tomatoes on it when they are red anyways.

Tonight after dinner we decided to try the beet chips as well. That was an utter failure. First, I didn't even let it cook halfway to what the recipe said because it was already getting smoky from the burned beet slices. When we took it out, probably more than half was completely black. There were a few that were not, but they weren't very crispy and they didn't even have good flavor. I am not ready to surrender that we don't like beets yet, I would like to try them a few more ways first, but this was not good.

So our experiments of trying new food are going well so far, and I am happy to add Swiss chard to my list of vegetables that I like, but I will keep beets in the undecided category for now.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

CSA recipe drop

I confess... this particular post is just a convenient way to keep track of recipes I might try with the produce we have this week. If you are interesting in seeing what I might want to make, then by all means, read on... if not... this is a boring post :-)

Spaghetti with Green Tomatoes

Tomato Salad

Bulgur Salad with Edamame and Cherry Tomatoes

Salad with Edamame and Cherry Tomatoes

Swiss Chard with Onions

Swiss Chard with onions

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Our first CSA


I was so excited to get our first box of produce today! Everything we have tasted so far has been delicious! We shared an orange after dinner, and it was so juicy, it was wonderful, and we both found that kumquats (which neither of us have eaten in forever) were really good too!

Now we agreed when we joined this program that we would put nothing back before trying it in a few recipes first, and only if we really don't like it in anything, we would give up and use the trade box.

Well, the first interesting thing is that the box doesn't come with a packing label of what is in it, and we found that we were unsure about a few of the items above (until we got an e-mail from the grower telling us what she put in the boxes, though she said she doesn't always have a chance to do that).

When we first looked inside we easily identified all but two items. The first we thought was rhubarb, and I looked up a recipe for rhubarb muffins, and I was pretty excited about it... but the e-mail then said that it was swiss chard, which I was bit more scared about, but for no good reason... I don't think I have ever tried it before! I have a rule with my students (well... a guideline, I can't force this rule) that you can't say you don't like it unless you have tried it.

So I started cruising the internet and I found two recipes that I will decide between for my first swiss chard experiment: Stuffed Chard with Mariana and Swiss Chard and Potato Enchiladas. I'm still nervous... but I figure that some vegetables might just get a bad rap, and I like a lot of different foods, so I see no reason why I won't like it.

The beets also intimidated me at first, but now I am excited to try beet chips.

The other item we were unsure about was an herb. It looked like sage... but then we tasted it, and we both immediately thought of spearmint (like the gum). So we were going with mint, and were quite pleased with our (not that impressive :-P) detective skills when we found in the letter that it was indeed mint. I haven't completely decided what to do with this yet, but I am leaning towards tea in some form.

Everything else is easy to use:
Fruits like strawberries, oranges and kumquats will not last long at our house... I am hoping they survive the week!

Lettuce, both the red and arugula, will disappear into salads and tacos... maybe spring rolls.

The dill and chives will disappear into recipes next week, like potatoes with sour cream and chives, and dill on corn on the cob and salmon.

Avocados (when ripe) and limes have never had any trouble disappearing in our house into guacamole or tacos etc.

Zucchini, also a favorite of the house, will be sauteed on the side of a dish for dinner, or be used in vegetarian fajitas this upcoming week.

Sprouts, not a favorite of mine, will be eaten by my husband in the salad that we make with the lettuce and arugula.

Although I am a bit nervous about the swiss chard, beets and spearmint, I am excited to expand my range of vegetables that I eat, and try new exciting recipes as well. I hope that we finish this box by next Wednesday, but not so soon that I felt like we didn't get enough. Yay for fresh produce (now if only my garden would hurry up...)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Vegetables from the garden!

Yesterday for dinner, we got to eat our first vegetable from the garden. We have been eating strawberries and blueberries regularly by this point (actually, my snack every day includes fresh, picked that morning blueberries and strawberries!), but we figured it would be a while before we got fresh vegetables, especially since that day that Roxie had some snacks... but we have been able to eat some of our fresh veggies the last two weeks.

We had picked three zucchini, and eaten those, one in vegetarian fajitas and two in minestrone, and all of them were very good. But yesterday we found a long enough cucumber. We incidentally were planning on having Greek salad anyways last night, so we got to add fresh cucumber to it! Yay! I love fresh veggies. Tomorrow we get our first CSA basket too! Can't wait!