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Box… ?? – Week of November 10th

Sorry for not posting in…. about 60 days, according to the date of the last post. I had just gotten a new follower or two as well, I wonder if you are still around. I know my mom is, so that’s something.

I already like fall, but this box makes me even happier! It’s funny how certain vegetables seem so much more friendly.

CSA Box, Week of Nov 10

Let’s start at the bottom left with those lovely turnips. Won’t they be great in stew? There’s some lamb in the fridge that would love to see them. Just above are some cute little patty pan squash that might be stir-fried with the bell peppers above them. Maybe the spinach there will be in a salad with the lettuce mix in that bag, while the kale between them could be sautéed, even my picky eater liked that with enough garlic! The butternut squash in the box will make some amazing soup, and that broccoli below it could be headed into that stiry-fry with the green onions. Finally the cilantro hiding on the right might be the hardest sell here at my house – I love it, so maybe I’ll make a salad dressing? I had one that was great somewhere, I will just have to think of where….

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Box contents

 

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Box 5 report card

This is terribly late, I know, but I am going with ‘better late than never.’ Plus, luckily I had noted in the Box 6 post that I had used most of the ingredients from 5.Box 5 report

 

The problem might be remembering what exactly I did with each one.

Canteloupe: Sliced and eaten

Okra: Used in Levantine Okra Stew. A friend suggested the recipe, and here is what mine looked like:

Food from the Box | Lebanese Chicken and Okra Stew

Might not be pretty, but was very tasty! And did not have the slimy/gooey texture that okra can sometimes give stews.

Sweet potato greens: Part went into a smoothie and part… I distinctly remember cutting up, but neither me nor my Designated Dishwasher can remember what they went into. It worked, though!

Sweet peppers: Eaten with hummus and tuna or blended up with water to reconstitute dry soup. It made it really good, and added a lot of flavor that the soup kind of lacked on its own. Would also be great with condensed tomato soup!

Butternut Squash: Put into a Lamb Tagine (thick stew), delicious.

Spearmint: Preserved three ways! Unfortunately, the ‘mint extract’ way was quite a spectacular failure. It tastes like minty grass, and looks like lake water. I have no idea what went wrong. I’ve already used the dried mint in tea a few times, and that is a huge success.

Eggplant: Sliced, tossed in oil & balsamic, and roasted. I had directions from my friend, who didn’t mention peeling them first. You should really peel them, the skin was inedible after being roasted.

Yukon potatoes: Latkes!

Onions: Latkes! Also chopped and put into the cavity of a whole chicken, which was cooked in the crockpot.

Jalapeños: Used in the whole crockpot chicken. Another went into the tagine, I believe.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2014 in Box report card

 

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Box 7 – Week of August 25

Classes started again this week (awww, so sad!) and I am going to blame that on why I didn’t post this yet. I will also use it as an excuse for not posting pictures I took last week… but I’ll post those at some point.

I was a little bit…. unsure what to think when I saw the sweet potato leaves and the basil once again, but luckily I had invited over a couple of friends to bake on our last day before classes, and one of them suggested that I make basil bread! If the sweet potato greens are still good I’ll probably sauté those tonight. And if they’ve gone bad…. then that’s just another greens fail on my part.

On the other hand, I was happy to get some purple onions, that is a nice, but subtle, change, as well as the carrots and butternut squash. In fact, having a lower green ratio somehow made the whole box seem more approachable.

Food from the Box | CSA Box 7

Box 7 – Now with more colors!

In the next two weeks we will be eating:
Basil, Butternut squash, Sweet potato greens
Okra, Cucumber, Carrots
Eggplant, hot peppers (it didn’t say what kind! They look too skinny to be jalapeños, anyone know?)
Red onion, Zucchini, Beets

If anyone recognizes those peppers, let me know! We’ll see how well I do using up this box.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2014 in Box contents

 

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Box 4 Report Card: C

Awwww, it’s so sad that I failed some of my poor vegetables AGAIN! It was the sweet potato leaves that met the trash this time. Although I got more this week that I plan to throw into smoothies and devour after sautéeing them in bacon grease. Mmmmmm!

Box 4 reportI also ended up tossing a banana pepper from who knows when and two little squash guys. Maybe this box itself is better than I am thinking right now and my attitude is just affected by forgetting about the veggies that got soft and fuzzy.

Here is how I ended up using this box:

Basil – part of it was dried and stuck into the cabinet, another part was in tomato sauce

Cherry tomatoes – all eaten quickly!

Eggplant – more zaalouk! It’s my Designated Dishwasher’s favorite.

Watermelon – drank. Went down wonderfully. 

Okra – Oven roasted

Pepper mix – Some eaten multiple ways: With hummus, with tuna, with salad. Some still waiting for its chance in my belly.

Arugula – This stuff is SOOO much stronger than what you get in the store! It’s great, but needs to be tamed by other greens. I tried to have an arugula salad the first day and it was a bad plan. I was getting sick that day and the arugula did not help it. Bad thoughts just thinking about it. But tasty stuff, and amazingly still looks edible, yay!

Sweet potato greens – Some eaten with rice and chicken, some… met the trash can after they got brown. Sad and gross. Their friends from this week have already entered a smoothie, though. Progress!

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Box report card

 

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Mint, three ways

Some ingredients ‘three ways’ or ‘eight ways’ always sounds pretentious to me. Like restaurants that serve you tiny bits of things and call it food or the contestants on food network that try to do too many things and fail. I went to one of those restaurants once, it had rabbit seven ways and was supposed to be a major thing there. Nobody at my table was impressed, despite the fact that a lot of people love it. I guess me not going will just make more room for them.

But when some amazing smelling spearmint was in the CSA box, I was excited to use it. And also unsure of how. I know mint doesn’t last super long, and wasn’t sure what to use it on. I did have a bit on some lamb tagine, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be making salad any time soon. I could definitely use it all in tea, but I’m quitting caffeine for a while. So I looked up how to preserve mint and couldn’t decide between three options. So here they are:

First, mint extract! (or mint vodka or rum…) Mine will likely go into coffee or hot chocolate as a flavoring. And into brownies, yay! Once I tried to just stick mint leaves into brownies, it was kind of hilarious because they were full of green bits and barely tasted like mint. Not recommended. You can make your own extract by sticking mint into a jar and adding vodka or rum. Just be sure to cover the leaves with the alcohol or they can rot, ew. Shake every few days and strain out the mint when you like the flavor for your intended use.

Yay, flavored vodka! I mean... homemade extract!

Yay, flavored vodka! I mean… homemade extract!

Of course, an easy thing to do is to simply let the leaves dry and then store them, so these will do that.

My camera had trouble focusing on these, hope it doesn't give you a headache

My camera had trouble focusing on these, hope it doesn’t give you a headache

And finally, I liked the idea of freezing them. First, lay them out on a cookie sheet and then pop into the freezer. Move to a container once frozen.

Just the leaves, ready for the freezer!

Just the leaves, ready for the freezer.

 Do any of these look good to you? What’s your favorite use for mint?

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2014 in Using ingredients

 

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Couscous tfaya – Moroccan onion and raisin couscous

Moroccan onion and raisin couscous

Moroccan onion and raisin couscous with roasted carrots and cabbage

I’m pretty sure that when Americans think of Moroccan couscous, they think of vegetables. Please, correct me if I’m wrong! This is actually my favorite kind, though: Onion and raisin couscous with chicken. It may sound odd, but it’s got a hint of sweetness and a lot of flavor that makes me swoon. When I saw that our box this week had 3 onions, and I had just bought some from the grocery store, I knew this would be the perfect use for them. The fact that it also had carrots and cabbage, two typical couscous vegetables, made it that much better. Please ignore my shadow on the plate, I was hungry!

In Morocco, the chicken would be slowly poached in spiced water with chickpeas, with the couscous in a special steamer basket that is made to go on top, like this:

Traditional couscous pot. Meat and vegetables go in the bottom with broth, and the grain on top to get some lovely flavors from the steam.

I don’t have a couscous pot, so I use the lazy American way of doing couscous: For 2 servings, bring one cup of water (or broth) to a boil. Turn off heat, add couscous and cover 2-5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Couscous is a very important food in Morocco. Traditionally, every Friday the family gets together and eats couscous. It’s most often with vegetables – zucchini, pumpkin, cabbage, carrots… kind of whatever is in season. No tomatoes, though you might find them in a salad with cucumbers as a side dish. Even today it’s expected that you eat couscous on Fridays. If you can’t get home to eat with your family, most restaurants serve it for Friday lunch. Lots of shops are closed Friday afternoon, as it’s the holy day, so you can take your time and enjoy the delicious piping hot meal.

 

All of the recipes I found in English ask you to use traditional methods, which I find pretty odd since it’s not like we have all of those utensils here… The ones written by those who make it regularly say ‘a good amount of this’ or ‘a bit of that’ which doesn’t really help someone who doesn’t know how it should taste! This is how I made it work in a typical American kitchen.

Moroccan Onion and Raisin Couscous with Chicken
Serves 6

For the Chicken (or lamb or beef):

  • 3 pound chicken
  • chicken broth (water is completely authentic, too)
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt (skip if your broth has salt)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 can chickpeas (I forgot to buy these, so they are not pictured)

For the onions:

  • 5 medium onions (yes, that many! It cooks down a ton)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp curry
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 2/3 cup raisins

Cook the chicken and chickpeas with all of the spices and broth in a crock pot on high for 3-4 hours, or low 6-8. You want it to simply fall apart with medium pressure (Moroccans eat it with one hand!)

When it’s finally close to meal time, thinly slice all of the onions. Place raisins in a bowl and cover with boiling water so that they inflate a bit. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and spices and start the onions cooking. When the smell gets nice and strong, take a few ladles of the meat cooking liquid (about a cup and a half), and add it to the onions with the raisins AND the onion that cooked with the meat. Keep cooking. When the liquid all boils off, keep stirring the onions. You want them to not have any crunch left to them, and have sweated out all of their water. They should get to be a nice yellow-brown (yellow from the turmeric – watch out for your clothes.)

Onions with cooking broth

Onions with cooking broth

Cooked onion and raisins

They reduce so much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you haven’t already, now is the time to make the couscous, as stated above – a cup of boiling water/broth with a cup of uncooked couscous.

I served mine with couscous on the bottom, then the chicken, covered with the onion and raisin mixture on top. If it is too dry (this is likely) add some extra cooking broth over the top.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2014 in Recipe, Using ingredients

 

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Box 1 report card – C-

Box 1 Report

Well, Box 2 came on Tuesday, but there were several things still hanging around from Box 1, unfortunately. So, here are the original box contents and where they stand now:

Cabbage – Used a bunch in Cabbage carrot peanut salad and just finished it today! Roasted with some olive oil, salt and pepper (with some squash from Box 2)

Summer squash medley – All eaten, mostly sautéed with some basic seasonings.

Cucumber – Used some in Bibimbap, still have some left to eat…

Green beans – Gone! Boiled and eaten with an amazing cottage pie that I need to post.Image

Rainbow chard – Gone! Used in no-noodle lasagna

Leeks – Gone! Used in lasagna and fritatta!

Banana peppers – Some eaten, mostly sadly forgotten in drawer… not quite bad. Yet. I did better with Week 2’s!

Carrots – Mostly eaten, partly in Bibimbap, as well as peanut cabbage salad

Flat-leaf parsley – Used a bit in turkey meatballs, but mostly still hanging around in the fridge… oops.

Potatoes – Gone! Eaten in latkes.

Summary:
5 out of 9 completely eaten
4 out of 9 partially eaten.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Box report card

 

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