Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CSA Love: Week 1 Recipe Recap

I cooked an unbelievable amount of food this week. I can't stand letting food spoil or go to waste, so my fridge full of CSA veggies was like a time bomb to motivate my kitchen creativity. Here's what I came up with this week:

Green chile
I based the dish loosely on this recipe, but altered the quantities based on what I had on hand. I also threw in some cubed potato, since I had one that needed eating. It came out pretty well!

I'itois onion pancakes
I've talked about these before, made from a Chinese scallion pancake recipe on La Fuji Mama's blog. I made a couple dozen for the freezer (and helped myself to several during the week). They are so amazingly good.

They also make for a decadent little lunch when cut up in bite sized wedges and paired with fried egg and a soy/tahini/chili sauce.

I like these, though I left out the goat cheese since I didn't have any on hand. As a result the flavor was perhaps on the subtle side, and I would consider increasing the onion the next time.

Swiss chard sauteed with sunflower seeds and chili-garlic sauce
Based on a Jacques Pepin recipe suggested by my Uncle. I thought this had a really nice flavor, but to be honest, I've got a bit of a textural issue with cooked greens. I knew this going into it, but I was hoping to overcome it. Not so much.

Braising mix gratin
The Whole Foods website promised that this recipe (meant for swiss chard) would make anyone love greens. While the flavor, again, was fine, the prominent texture here was still that of cooked leafy greens, and I suspect that I'm not the only one out there that has this particular food texture issue. But fear not! I haven't given up on greens yet, and thanks to a comment from Farmgirl Fare Susan, I have an idea of how to enjoy the flavor of greens, without having their texture be the overwhelming focus of the dish.

While waiting for the gratin to cook, I roasted the last of the radishes with a bit of olive oil and salt in my toaster oven. So yummy.

Banana nut muffins
Ok, these have nothing to do with my CSA veggies, but I did have a couple over-ripe bananas that I didn't want to waste, so I made these based on this recipe, but subbed walnuts for coconut. I cut the sugar slightly, but would reduce it even more the next time. Great texture though, and it's always nice to have a bunch of muffins in the freezer for when guests are in town.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

CSA Love: week one

About 5 years ago, while living in Chicago, I heard about this amazing thing called CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). While I'm sure many of you savvy blog readers have probably heard of this, I was surprised when no one at my work knew what I was talking about. When you join a CSA, you buy a share in a local farm for a set period of time. Each week, you get a selection of the ripe produce from that farm--in whatever quantity or variety there happens to be that week.

I had been wanting to join one for years, but I kept picking up and moving right in the middle of every subscription period. Luckily for me, now that I live in a hot part of the country, farms can grow veggies year-round. I just joined a CSA for a local farm, and today was my first pick-up. I've been excitedly talking about it for two days, and it didn't disappoint! My spoils:

A huge, sweet watermelon
roasted chilis (yum!)
swiss chard
i'itois onions (similar to scallions)
braising mix (does anyone know what I am supposed to do with this bag of leafy greens?)
butternut squash

I'm so excited--I think it will be a real cooking adventure for me, and I'll try to share any interesting recipes that I come across. I've never cooked with swiss chard (send recipe ideas!), and have only a little experience with butternut squash, so I think this could open up all kinds of new possibilities.

I'd really encourage you to check out Local Harvest, a non-profit website that allows you to search for farms, CSAs, and farmer's markets in your area. For a lot of CSAs you need to sign up pretty early to get a spot, so it wouldn't hurt to start your search soon!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Old vintage, new vintage

I picked up a folding knitting basket a couple weeks ago at a thrift store for $3. The original fabric had a certain vintage charm to it, but it was torn and a bit overpowering with its orange and lime green theme. I took it apart, made a game plan for recovering it, and chose to use some of the lovely vintage fabrics I've picked up recently. For the outside, the "Harwood Steiger" linen I bought at a Tucson vintage mall. I just googled his name and learned that he hand screen printed fabric in his Tubac, Arizona studio in the 1970s. For some other examples of his work, click here, here, and here. For the lining, I used some cream colored linen I found at an estate sale.

I'm really happy with how it turned out. It was a little tricky, and did involve some hand stitching. I'm sure it would be easier if the frame were disassembled first!


I'm expecting my first house guests later this week, so it's about time I finish putting things away. My porch container garden is going pretty well. I'm really enjoying having so many fresh herbs at my disposal while I'm cooking. I also have some peppers growing, and some tomatoes which may or may not eventually decide to fruit.

I finally hung some artwork:

A hand drawn image purchased in Chennai, India.

My 'Bamenda bag' from Cameroon.

An embroidered tree silhouette I picked up at the Goodwill this weekend for $3. It's signed 'Paula.' I'm thinking about finding some other predominantly black images to couple with it.

And my favorites! Above and below, two vintage French posters that were used in schools to illustrate geography. They are double sided, and remind me a lot of Tin Tin illustrations. The one above is "La Plaine" and reminds me of flying over France. I've always wanted to make a quilt based on the geometric shapes of agricultural land. The one below is "Le marais salant" You can see various workers drying sea salt. My Aunt found these (and others) for 5 Euros a piece in France several years ago. What a find!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Gray and green

I spent a few days in Montreal and Quebec City last week to attend a professional conference (and give my first talk!) I hadn't been to Montreal since I was 17, so it was great to have a chance to explore a bit. It had definitely already turned to fall--the leaves were changing, and the weather was very gray and rainy the whole time. I loved it though--it reminded me of home! Certainly a far cry from the 100+ degree temperatures I had left behind in the Southwest.
Among the highlights of my trip were visiting the Algerian bakeries in the Petit Maghreb neighborhood (almonds and orange blossom water in so many delicious combinations). I didn't take any pictures, but I'm making plans to try to create something similar at home. My previous attempts at Moroccan sweets were ok, but seeing as these are among my favorite flavors, it's really about time that I perfect the recipes.

I also went to the most fun concert I had been to in a while (and I go to a lot of concerts!) The group is Bajofondo. They are a group of 8 people from Argentina and Uruguay. They mix tango with rock, Euro dance club, and some hip hop. The audience was really into it, and we all danced the whole time. If they ever come to your town, definitely check them out.

In continuation of the theme of my week, when I arrived home I injected some Autumn and French influence into my kitchen my making Apple and Almond Clafoutis, based on the recipe recently posted by La Tartine Gourmand. I love clafoutis as an alternative to pies or tarts. They are very simple to make, and have such delicious flavors.