CSA 8.10

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Our CSA yesterday: a couple of pounds of small, red potatoes, celery, kale, basil, lettuce, tomatoes. And a green pepper and two cucumbers. Not, as is suggested in the photo below, sweet potatoes, alas.  Those we already owned but John had taken them out of the fridge to dry (because our fridge has been leaking water inside for awhile, and John somehow miraculously fixed it yesterday afternoon). I made some pickles according to this recipe this afternoon with the cucumbers. We’ll see how they turn out.

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CSA 7.20

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More sugar snap peas, yellow wax beans and green beans, snow peas, turnips, squash, cucumbers, one carrot, one tomato, swiss chard, green onions, and oh my word basil. I had some cabbage, a little broccoli, and some yellow beans left from last week, so I tossed them all with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them for about 15 minutes on 450.  (The cabbage I sliced into 1/2 inch pieces). It felt satisfying, finishing off three vegetables in one meal, and I never cease to be amazed by how wonderful roasted vegetables are, even in the summer.

CSA 6.8 and a Cookbook

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Our CSA this week: one bag of spinach, a bunch of cilantro, two bunches of radishes, some green garlic, kale, (a ton of) collards, and micro greens. It’s quite a heap of greens, and it’s going to take awhile to wrestle it all into the fridge.  I found a copy of Deborah Madison’s book Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets at the used book store this week.  I had store credit, so I decided to get it for some fresh ideas for our weekly vegetables. Some of her recipes for greens include: Hearty Pungent Greens with Anchovies and Garlic, Chard and Cilantro with Noodle Nests (little fried noodle and cheese dumplings), and a simple Shredded Salad of Many Greens with a lemony dressing.  She also has a recipe for radish butter for radish sandwiches.  So I’ll try to cook through some of those this week and report back. Oh, the peonies bloomed overnight and John went out this morning and picked one for me.

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Chai Tea for Cold Days

[This is a re-post from last winter.  Apologies to all, but it’s so cold here I thought I would share my recipe again because, as I wrote last winter, “at least in upstate New York, this is the time of year when you just start getting tired of being bone cold all the time, and you know that there’s still a long time of coldness ahead, and you realize that you need to cling to the little graces of winter, mugs of soup and hot tea and the warmth of your best friend next to you at night.” Here’s to searching out little bits of joy in the depths of winter. L’chaim!]

Chai Tea

4 c. (about 1 liter) water

2-4 inches of fresh ginger, unpeeled* (exact amount not necessary)

7-10 whole cloves*

10 black peppercorns*

2 sticks of cinnamon*

10 green cardamom pods* (Optional. I’ve never actually made this with cardamom because it’s so expensive, but it is traditionally one of the dominant spices in masala chai)

1/4 t. loose black tea

milk of some kind (real or almond or whatever. preferably not skim)

sweetener of some kind (optional– 5 or 6 drops of liquid stevia work nicely with this)

* You can use powdered spices if you want, though the fresher they are, the better. (Also, if you are going to buy any of these spices, please, please check a natural grocery store’s bulk section first. You can save a ton of money buying any of these in bulk rather than the tiny, overpriced containers in the grocery store. When you buy in bulk, the price per pound is dramatically less, and you can buy smaller quantities of spices that you aren’t going to use much of.)

Bring water to a low boil and add ginger, cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon. Boil for about 15 minutes (longer for a stronger chai) and then add a pinch of black tea. Continue boiling for a minute or two more. Strain the liquid and discard the spices. While the mixture is still warm, you can add a sweetener if you want. Add just a little at a time.

Serve hot with a splash of milk or refrigerate and serve cold with milk. (Milk helps the tea to be more easily digested.)

Health Benefits of Beet Kvass

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I started a batch of beet kvass (a nourishing tonic of Ukranian origin) a few days ago and it was ready today. It turned out to be not as terrible as some kvass I bought at the health food store a few months ago, so that’s good, right?. It tastes a little salty but rich and beet-y and bracing.  We don’t have the space in our kitchen for a big kombucha production, so this is a good (and simpler) alternative for those who want a refreshing probiotic beverage to help them feel superior to other wealthy, overeducated, urban-homesteading Americans who are obsessed with esoteric, fermented, “traditional” food and drink. (Ok, I don’t really know where that uplifting sentiment came from, but it’s aimed at myself & I guess stems from a deep self-consciousness about even posting about beet kvass in the first place. Existential angst still going strong at the ripe old age of 31. Sorry, y’all).

So anyway.  To make this, all you do is roughly chop a couple of beets (skin on), and put them in a glass jar with a little salt and some whey (or extra salt) and let it sit out at room temperature for a few days before storing in the fridge.  One recipe I saw said you could let it ferment for up to 2 weeks. You can also let it sit in the fridge for several days after the fermentation, which gives it a stronger flavor.

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Health Benefits of Beet Kvass

*cleanses the liver
*alkalizes the blood
*assists digestive system
*used in cancer therapy in Europe
*boosts energy
*great source of probiotics
*plenty of B vitamins and minerals

See here for recipe.  (Here’s a recipe that doesn’t require whey.) Read here for health benefits of beets.  Next time I make it I’m going to add some pieces of fresh ginger and see if it makes it nice and gingery.  I hope so.

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Beauty of Beans

DSC_0613 DSC_0617So, grocery budget.  We’re down to $191 for the rest of February. Which isn’t terrible, and it’s a short month.  But there are going to be many days of beans ahead of us.  Including today. John’s office was closed because of snow, which doesn’t happen often up here. So I cooked up a pot of rice for lunch and heated up the rest of the pinto beans I had in the fridge. And we had an avocado because I keep buying them for Will because how could a baby not love avocado, but somehow it is his least favorite food of all time. He will eat broccoli, collard greens, and liver like there’s no tomorrow, but creamy, mild, delicious avocado? Hates it.

Anyway, there was something so good and comforting and simple about a big bowl of rice with a scoop of beans and some avocado on top.  Here’s how to cook dry beans, and here is a post about the best corn tortillas to eat them with, if anyone is interested. Hoping that some of you might have the great fortune to be eating beans and rice today, too.

 

Roasted Mushroom Soup & Baby

Photo from shewearsmanyhats.com

I made this mushroom soup a couple of days ago.  It was delicious.  (And dairy free.)  It uses a puree of white beans, roasted onions and garlic as a base for creaminess. I added maybe 1/4 c. of white wine towards the end, and a dash or two of cayenne pepper.  It would be nice with a splash of sherry instead of white wine, if you have sherry on hand.

I also pureed some of the mushrooms with the other ingredients, so the soup was a little darker, which I liked.  Roasted mushrooms turn out to be my new favorite food.  Anyway, this soup was super flavorful and warming, and John (who dislikes soup in general) loved it.  We ate it with buttered toast, and I think this will become one of my fall/winter staples.

(To me, this soup tasted like gravy– you could roughly blend in all the mushrooms, use a little less liquid (vegetable stock instead of chicken), and end up with a perfect vegan gravy if you are so inclined!)

Also, it was 40 degrees yesterday morning, so I bundled Will up before we left.  I’m still dying from the cuteness.  Man.  (Thanks to some friends for the darling hat, and to my mom for the super cute outfit!!)

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