Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fox Creek CSA: Sharing for One Week

This season I finally got up the courage to split a full CSA farm share from Fox Creek with my friend Cookie. Every week at our designated pick-up location we collect up whatever is being harvested - super fresh organic vegetables, herbs, garlic: it's been interesting, delicious, and sometimes really dirty, but for me it's also been overwhelming because (1) I like to eat out and this meant eating in so I could actually get through a half-share of kale and arugula and lettuce and spinach in one week, and (2) because I'd rather eat meat and bread with a side of veggies, not the other way around (I am not right about this, just being honest).

Fox Creek Farm is located in Schoharie, NY. CSA members get to pick from a PYO garden of stuff like herbs, cherry tomatoes and flowers 
But as Zena, Goddess of Fire, with strength and determination, I have taken on the CSA challenge and will battle the battle of not wasting any of what is given. So I'm wrestling again with this week's farm share - where is the Were-Rabbit when I need him???? Oh, right - I kicked his ass last summer. Anyway, I digress.

 A friendly lineup to pick up this week's CSA
Batavian lettuce and plum tomatoes
This week there was a pound of Chantenay carrots, a head of lettuce, two eggplants, cilantro, garlic, summer squash, cucumbers, one jalapeno pepper, plum tomatoes, green beans and scallions. Isn't it lovely? MY JOB: EAT THEM.

This is a full share delivered the first week in August. This week I have to use up half. 
My first meal was one of my favorites - stewed summer squash with pasta. In addition to the share I needed another large, fresh tomato from the Shaker Shed, one large onion, and some fresh green zucchini (which I wanted to use up) and thyme from my own garden. This is nothing unusual but it really is superhero heaven when you've got all those super fresh, delicious vegetables - savory and very satisfying.
These are my ingredients - very simple. That thing that looks like a wine bottle is actually my favorite pepper grinder. The actual glass of wine I was drinking at the time is not shown. 
Zena's Summer Squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 large onion, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 large summer squash (yellow or green or a combination of both), sliced in half lengthwise then cut into half moons about 1/2" thick
2 large ripe tomatoes (or 1 large and 6 small plums) cut into 1" dice (large chunks)
2 T fresh thyme
1 teaspoon  Herbes de Provence (I like the blend from Penzeys)
Freshly ground black pepper (1/4 teaspoon approx.)

Saute the onion and garlic clove in the olive oil with the sea salt over medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the squash and the tomatoes, stir to combine, cover and simmer over low heat until everything is getting cooked down. Add your herbs and pepper and continue to cook until tender, about 30 minutes total.  NOTE: This stuff freezes well. The Goddess of Fire will appreciate it it so much more in December.  Serves 4-6.

Zena's Summer Squash
I love green beans and we've had some beauties these past few weeks. If you like the idea of veggies that are slightly sweet and rich, try charring them a bit and finishing the pan with a bit of hoisin sauce and ginger. Zena, Goddess of Fire, loves a bit of char.  These are good warm or at room temperature.

Zena's Green Beans with Hoisin and Ginger
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3/4 - 1 lb fresh green and/or yellow beans, trimmed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (some grated fresh ginger would have been nice but I didn't have any)
1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce

Heat the oils over medium-high heat in a large pan until almost smoking, add the beans and saute, stirring occasionally. You want them the keep contact with pan so they char. When they are just the right texture for you - not too tender please - toss in the ground ginger and hoisin sauce. Serves 2-4.

The ingredients are minimal so you probably have them in your kitchen
The finished dish takes all of about 15 minutes to make, including prep time
Like any regular superhero there is the occasional need for a massage, so getting home late I decided to skip dinner and make myself a drink instead. With my farm share??? Is gin a vegetable too? Anyway, this is what I did.

Cucumber Zenatini
1/4 cup finely chopped cucumber, seeded and peeled
2 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley
A pinch of freshly ground pepper
2 shots of vodka
1 shot of dry vermouth
A squeeze of fresh lemon
Finishing salt

Run your lemon wedge around the rim of your martini glass and salt it. I used Aloha Spice Company Guava Lime Smoked Hawaiian Sea Salt because I am a food snob with a kid brother, but you can use any nice finishing salt.

Combine the cucumber, 1 spring of parsley and pepper is a small food processor and pulse a few times (or muddle it). Add it to your shaker along with the vodka and vermouth and fresh lemon. Shake at least 30 times with 4 or 5 ice cubes. Strain into your glass and garnish with a cuke slice and that second parsley sprig. Sleep deep. Let the bad guys take over the city for a change. You'll have time to go after them tomorrow.

I marinated some chicken legs in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and oregano overnight then pre-cooked them at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes in their juices, lightly covered with foil, and let them cool a bit before transferring to medium heat on a gas grill. I cooked them for about 20 minutes longer, turning occasionally, until crisp.

On the other end of the barbie I stir fried a couple of pounds of mixed vegetables - yellow squash and eggplant from the CSA, green zucchini from my garden, a large onion, white mushrooms and most of a green pepper cut up into good size pieces and simply tossed with olive oil before cooking over high heat, about 30 minutes in a wok designed for the grill. They should be tender with a nice char before you take them off the grill - longer than it takes to cook the meat, as a rule. The mess gets tossed with a few tablespoons or more of your favorite simple vinaigrette before serving (don't kill it with too much dressing).

Sturdy vegetables simply laced with olive oil are charred Zena-style in a wok on a hot grill. 
Greek seasoned BBQ'd chicken and a big side of grilled vegetables. I'm learning. 

I've been making my own homemade sourdough pizza dough, but any store bought UNCOOKED ball of pizza dough will work (Organic Joe's, available at the Honest Weight Food Co-Op, is made by our friends at DeFazio's).

I took two cups approximately of those stewed veggies from Day 1 and cooked them down to remove some of the liquid. The addition of 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic, a teaspoon of dried oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes gave it some kick so it was pizza worthy.  I topped my dough with the prepared sauce, thin slices of Genoa salami, some grated Romano and finished it with fresh basil from the garden and storemade mozzarella from U Mundu E Ca. It was baked on my pizza stone for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees F. Rustic, sweet and spicy.

The stewed vegetables from Day 1 were spiced up and cooked down to make a sweeter, lighter pizza treat

I'm looking at a head of CSA cabbage from three weeks ago (still fresh, FYI) and that bunch of carrots, so I decided to make coleslaw. Allow it to marinate at least an hour in the refrigerator before serving. Makes a lot. Plan accordingly.

Classic Zena Buttermilk Coleslaw
In a large bowl whisk to combine 1 cup real mayonnaise, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon celery seed.

Add 1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper, 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, 6 cups finely sliced cabbage (the CSA was called "Tendersweet"), and 3-4 large shredded carrots (because I have carrots to eat - if you don't like it to edge towards the sweet side use fewer carrots). Toss the vegetables gently with the dressing, cover and refrigerate.

This will keep for a couple of days but past that I'm not so sure, so pack a lunch or plan for midnight snacking if you are out and about making trouble and keeping me busy.

A food processor makes light work of homemade slaw. Don't "shred" the cabbage - slice it using the thinnest slicing blade. 

I managed to use almost everything that came in this week's half-share of the Fox Farm CSA, although some stuff went into the freezer for winter, some I gave away, and there are still some leftovers to be eaten up.  But there was still that jalapeno and those two silly scallions that had me stumped on Day 7.

So I made corn muffins in my new jumbo muffin tins. These are savory with a touch of heat - just one is a meal in itself.

Corn Muffins with Ham, Cheese, Scallions and Jalapeno
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup of honey
2 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
2 cups yellow corn meal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup scallions, finely chopped (2 large scallions - green and white parts)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (approximately 1/3 cup)
1 cup chopped deli ham
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat over to 325 degrees F (for jumbo muffins; 350 for mortal size)

Spray your muffin tins with cooking spray or line with muffin cups. Whisk butter, honey and eggs together in one bowl, and whisk together the flour, corn meal, baking soda and salt in a second, smaller bowl. Mix the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, then stir in the buttermilk. Fold in the scallions, jalapeno, ham and cheese. Allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes to allow the corn meal to absorb some of the liquid. You can add a bit more buttermilk if the mixture seems dry but don't overdo it.

Fill your muffin tins and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (less time if you are baking mortal size muffins, but you knew that!).

I hope you enjoyed my week battling with the farm share, but you should know you don't have to be a superhero to do it. Be grateful for the season's bounty, be healthy, and be happy.

Love, Zena

P.S. I want to thank Cookie for making me eat my vegetables, even if I have to hide them in muffins sometimes.

Zena preps for another round of CSA and no, she didn't hurt the big bunny.  

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