Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Week Fifteen: The Cold Begins!

The weather continues to be all confused: nights in the high 30s/low 40s and days that just seem to do whatever… yesterday (Tuesday) was 64 and today is in the low 70s. Friday may hit the near-80s. I guess it’s time to take the A/C out of the window and relocate it to the attic! I've got some grand plans for this week, including roasting a chicken for dinner tonight (with local veg, of course!), making stock and at least one kind of soup, and freezing some stuff for later. A small offshoot of the freezing task is to assess and organize what’s already in the freezer… how fun! Must be the onset of fall putting me into hibernation mode – I just wish I had more sunlight to work with ;)  
Good time to break out this candle!
This week at the farm was pretty chilly, but the harvest is still going strong. I picked up some leeks, scallions, potatoes, kale, and celery – the lightest bag I've had since June! We've definitely turned the corner back into “leafy things”. Aly got tomatoes, lettuce, eggplant, peppers, and broccoli. I almost got some kohlrabi (it looks like a purple alien turnip thing – and we had no idea what to do with it), but then the scallions came out so I scrapped that. We took a short trip through the fields to grab some dill and snack on some raspberries. They were delicious, as usual.
Celery and scallions.

Kale! To be chipped, souped, frozen...

I still had my melon from last week, and I finally got a chance to cut it up. I’d looked up how to de-seed a watermelon, but I think the technique is better used on the ginormous ones you get at the grocery store – I don’t think there would have been much left of my little round one if I’d gone along with this plan completely! I don’t have any pictures, unfortunately (it’s really messy!), but here’s a link to the guidelines I used.

Basically, you cut the ends off the melon, and then cut a wedge into the long side (not all the way to the middle). You can then break off that chunk – the seeds will come out with it. Keep doing that all around the melon until you get back to the beginning, and then you’re left with the delicious “heart”. You can cut the seeds out of each long slice, and then use the flesh as you normally would. It seemed exceedingly wasteful to do that with mine, so I did my best to scrape out the seeds and chunk up the rest for freezing.
Filthy dirty leeks - who let them out of the barn?!

Bacon, Leek, and Egg Risotto (via Smitten Kitchen)
I usually halve this recipe because I feel it makes plenty for a side plus leftovers, but I've made it for a meal and been happy.

6 cups low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable broth, plus some extra to thin out the rice
1 cup (4 ounces) finely chopped bacon (about 4 slices) or pancetta (I would never halve this!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large or 3 smaller leeks, quartered lengthwise, cleaned*, and chopped small
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more to fry eggs
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups arborio, carnaroli, or another short-grained Italian rice
1/3 cup dry white wine or vermouth
1 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish if desired
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 large eggs, you’ll want one per serving (I don't usually use them)

Put the stock in a small pot and heat gently - it should be warm but not yet simmering. Heat another pan, about 3 quarts, over medium heat, and cook the bacon until just crisp and the fat is rendered. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and put aside. Add a splash of oil to the pan if needed, then cook the leeks on medium/low for about 10-12 minutes. Scoop out and add to the bacon.

Add the butter to the same pan and cook the onion until translucent and tender, 5 minutes or so. Add the rice and saute about 4 minutes to lightly toast. Add the wine/vermouth and cook until almost gone. Add about a cup of the warm stock to the pan and simmer while it absorbs. Stir frequently. Add the rest of the stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring, until the rice is done. This usually takes me 20 minutes or so for al dente. Keep tasting to check for your personal version of "done". When you're happy, add the bacon and leeks back into the pan, then stir in the cheese. Add salt and pepper if desired, then serve.

If serving with fried eggs: Melt about a teaspoon of butter in a small nonstick pan on medium/low heat. Crack an egg into the pan and cook gently until the whites are set - you can put a lid on the pan to speed this up if you'd like. Cook to your preferred "done" - this recipe calls for sunny-side up, but if that's not cooked enough for you, keep on cookin'. Transfer to the first bowl of risotto and add more cheese and seasonings if desired.

* To clean leeks: Shake over a sink to get the easy stuff off, then peel back a couple of the dirtiest leaves if needed. Quarter lengthwise as directed, then slice thinly. Have a big bowl or pot of cold water handy. Dump the sliced leeks into the pot or bowl and gently swish them around to loosen up the dirt. Let everything sit for a couple minutes for the dirt to settle, then carefully skim off the floating leeks. Dry in a towel or salad spinner.

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