Friday, July 26, 2013

Week Seven: Ribbony Goodness

This weekend was a fantastic break from the heat. It was a (relatively) chilly low-80s Sunday, with no humidity, and then the rain came back. I could almost hear my poor hostas guzzling the water from yesterday’s rainstorms… I just wish the grass in the garden didn’t ALSO like the rain so much!

It was really wet at the farm, so we didn't go out into the picking fields. The tomatoes were ready, so Matt happily grabbed a couple, along with some greens, squash, and cucumbers (which we split, since we were allowed 4 per share). I got more carrots, bell peppers (purple and white!), and a couple more zucchini (yellow and green this time).
Veggie goodness

How pretty are these?
I've become a little obsessed with those pickled veggies, so I will definitely make some more with those peppers! They supposedly last up to a month in the fridge as long as they’re in the liquid, but I’m not sure how to test that theory since they are too good to leave uneaten. I also made a ribbon salad with two of the zucchini and my carrots – made a great lunch with some plain chicken. Lastly, I’m happy to say that my basil plant seems to be faring pretty well in a vase next to the sink, despite my past history with houseplants. Maybe there’s hope for me!

Ribbon Salad (adapted from several sources)
1 small green zucchini
1 small yellow zucchini (I’m reasonably certain that it was NOT a yellow/summer squash)
1 bunch carrots
Apple cider vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Wash/scrub the veggies – I peeled the carrots since the dirt was pretty ground into their skins. Peel the zucchini into thin ribbons over a colander or strainer, turning it in your hand to keep the strips evenly sized (only peel until you can see the seeds). Toss with a little bit of salt and let them sit for a while to sweat. I made a quick dressing with olive oil and cider vinegar (didn't think to measure) and some freshly ground pepper in the bottom of a large bowl and then ribboned the carrots into that. (Next time for stability I’ll probably lay everything on the counter to peel. Holding the veg resulted in some weird pressure patterns!) Dump the zucchini into a kitchen towel and squeeze out the water, then break up the mass and mix into the carrots and dressing (or use a salad spinner). Add salt and pepper to taste.
Sweating it out in the sink.
Carrots before ribboning...

Ribbons and carrot cores

I also made some stock, since I didn't really feel like actual cooking. It really couldn't be easier: I trimmed 5 boneless/skinless chicken breasts and hacked up an onion and a couple (store-bought) carrots, put everything in my big stockpot and added water to cover and seasoning to taste, and boiled away until the chicken was done (10-15 min for 2-inch chunks, 15-20 for whole breasts). Take the chicken out and serve/freeze/shred/dice/etc. I kept the broth and veg at a high simmer for another hour or so to reduce, then strained everything into another big pot to cool. I freeze it in sandwich-size zip-top bags and use it for risotto, pasta, and my vegetarian carbonara. 
Veggie chunks.

This smells awesome.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Week Six: Roots and Ears

I can’t believe we’re on week six already! I guess that’s what happens when you go on vacation. Dan and I just spent ten days in the UK for our honeymoon, and we’re already thinking about our trip back. I can’t say I missed the heat back here, having spent so long in the apparent “heat wave” of 75 to 80-degree heat with a breeze J

Things at the farm really picked up while we were gone. Matt and Aly got a huge harvest of “actual” vegetables like onions, leeks, and squash the past couple weeks (maybe Aly will post her recipe for the dinner they had at our house while we were gone?). This week we got cucumbers, carrots, corn, new potatoes (so cute), lettuce, fresh garlic, onions, yellow squash, and zucchini. The pick-your-own options were great, too: each share was allowed to take four basil plants (yes, whole plants!), Thai or purple basil, a single jalapeƱo, 5 serrano chiles (I skipped those), dill, cilantro, a bunch of flowers, Mason jars, and green beans. 
Jalapeno and the cilantro.

Just one of my basil plants!
This week I had found a recipe for fridge-pickled vegetables, so when I got back on Tuesday I immediately set about slicing and chopping some crunchy stuff from the farm and the grocery store to soak. I ended up with dill-pickled veggies… yum!

Fridge Pickled Vegetables (based on SK’s pickled veggie slaw)
1 cup white vinegar
4 heaping teaspoons sugar
4 heaping teaspoons salt (I used Morton’s Sea Salt)
Fresh dill to taste (I used about 3 3-inch fronds of fresh), chopped
1 cup cold water

Crunchy vegetables of your choice

Put everything but the water and veggies in a small pot over medium-high heat. Still until sugar and salt are dissolved, then remove from heat. Add the cold water and let cool.

Meanwhile, julienne (using a mandoline with a julienne blade or a really sharp knife), about 4 or so cups of your favorite crunchy vegetables. I used our CSA carrots (scrubbed), a CSA cucumber, and two grocery store red bell peppers. Put the sliced veg in a large bowl with a leakproof lid and mix everything up with your hands. Pour water/vinegar mixture over everything, put the lid on, and shake a little bit to distribute the liquid. Put the bowl in the fridge for at least an hour – I left mine overnight and think it was a great idea. Eat straight up, on a burger, with a salad...

Mmmm. Pickly!
 Next time, I’ll be more careful about keeping my veggies all the same size and shape – my pepper slices are a lot bigger than my cukes, and my carrots are just chunked instead of sliced (I wasn’t thinking too much about this, apparently). The taste wasn’t really affected, though! Also, I forgot, after such a long time eating cucumbers from the grocery store, that farm- and garden-fresh cucumbers have pricklies on them! Make sure you rub these off when you wash the cucumbers.

Last night we had a grilling fest with some friends, so I sliced up the enormous zucchini for kebabs, and made a potato and corn salad to go with.

Potato, Corn, and Basil Salad (based on David Lieberman's)
1 lb new or baby potatoes (I had about 1/5 pounds), scrubbed clean and quartered
5 ears corn
1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large bunch basil leaves, rinsed and dried
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste

Put potatoes in salted water and bring to boil. Cook  until fork-tender, 15 minutes or so. Remove and dunk into ice water to stop the cooking process (don't toss the water if you can avoid it). Shuck the corn, and if needed, break each ear in two. Put the corn into the same water you used for the potatoes and cook 6-7 minutes until tender. Stop the cooking process by dunking the corn into an ice bath. Cut the kernels off the corn and add to large bowl with the potatoes.

Add the onion and basil and mix everything together, then toss with the lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve right away.