Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CSA Box- Fancy Melon

I never believed that time would appear to travel faster and faster as I aged, but now I'm pretty sure that I can't be more convinced of this fact. Subscribing to a weekly farm box makes this even more apparent. On Wednesday, you pick up a box of fresh, crisp, sweet, juicy, and plump produce. Then, a blur of six days speeds by. Work, exercise, cook, eat, eat, sleep, work, work, socialize, run around, run errands, run up and down the stairs of my third floor walkup, cook, eat, sleep, work, eat, clean, zone out in front of hulu, run around, sleep, cook, eat, sleep, eat, work, eat, work, sleep, exercise, socialize, run around. . . you get the picture. Somehow, and someway I eat and enjoy all the farm box contents and end up back at Wednesday, ready for another box of treats. How? I have no idea. It's almost September, but I'm running on July time. It's only now deep into tomato season. . . sheesh. Life is good, but way too fast.

The Charentais melon is super intriguing. Looks like a watermelon, until you cut it open and it mirrors a cantaloupe. How does it taste? My CSA farm claims it's a farmer's market favorite so I have high expectations. Happy summer, everyone.

This week's Box Contents:

1 Charentais Melon
1 Cantaloupe
1 lb Cucumbers (Armenian)
1 lb Sweet Pepper Mix
2 lbs Mixed Tomatoes
4 ears Sweet Corn
1 lb Summer Squash

Menu Ideas:

- Cheesy summer squash oven fries (recipe on the way)

- Savory corn cakes

- Cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and a dash of olive oil. Simple and delicious.

- Melon cocktail. Shaken, not stirred. (recipe on the way)

- Fresh pasta sauce with summer squash, sweet peppers, and tomatoes. (If the fresh tomatoes are gone or too good to cook, I'll use roasted can tomatoes).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

CSA Box- Tomatoes, tomatoes, everywhere!

When you live in a college town you can't miss the arrival of fall. Well, fall in the sense that the semester has started, the undergrads have returned, there are no more parking spaces in my neighborhood, and all the freshman are wandering around campus lost and confused. I also still have this strange craving to visit an office supply store and stock up on three ring binders, pencil lead, and notebooks even though I haven't back-to-school shopped for, oh, at least nine years.

Fortunately, the contents of this week's farm box still scream summer and I'm more than happy about it. Filled with sweet treats, I think I'm going to try to make some peach ice cream or melon sorbet if I don't eat all the fruit first. . .

Another quick note- I've experimented with roasting sweet peppers on my gas stove and am quite satisfied with the results. It does make me very, very sad I don't have a vent above my stove, but the resulting peppers are so delicious it is worth the smokey, flaming, slightly terrifying experience of setting vegetables on fire in your kitchen.

This week's box contents:

1 lb O’Henry Peaches
1 lb Armenian Cucumbers
1 Melon
1½ lbs Tomatoes
1 bunch Carrots
¾ lb Sweet Peppers
1 lb Green Beans

Menu Ideas:

- Green bean, cherry tomato, and cucumber salad with feta.

- Chilled cucumber soup

- Fresh tomato pasta sauce with roasted sweet peppers over whole wheat angel hair pasta

- Peach ice cream

- Melon sorbet or yogurt parfaits

Monday, August 22, 2011

Green Bean, Cherry Tomato, and Cucumber Salad

The evening I brought home my CSA farm box I made this salad and all the vegetables, minus the shallot, were fresh out of the box, and may have been picked as recently as that morning. It was so quick and satisfying with just a tad of vinaigrette, 

but if you add a bit of feta. . . 

it's just that much better. I made the salad a meal by including a soft boiled egg and a fat slice of whole grain toast. The salad also keeps well as I had leftovers for two days and the salad still tasted great.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

CSA Box- Eggplant Premiers

Corn is the new lettuce. After receiving 3-4 ears per week for the past several weeks, I think I've eaten more corn recently than I have in my whole life combined. But don't get me wrong, the corn is delicious, but I didn't grow up in the midwest so 3-4 ears of corn is a lot for me to handle! It is hard to complain about picked-at-its-peak produce, though. So delicious.

This week's box contents:

1 basket cherry tomatoes
1 watermelon (red + seeded this week)
1 lb sweet peppers
1/2 lb green beans
1 lb eggplant
1 lb armenian cucumber
4 ears sweet corn.

Menu Ideas:

- Green bean, cherry tomato, and cucumber salad with feta.

- Eggplant parmesan

- Savory corn cakes

- Watermelon mojitos

- Roasted sweet pepper pesto

Savory Corn Cakes with Fresh Greens

Light, wholesome, and fresh. Savory corn cakes are great with arugula, or your own favorite salad greens, and grilled salmon. Easy to make and reheat, the cakes are best eaten the day you make them, but they do reheat well. You could also eat the cakes with eggs at breakfast too. Although the cakes are probably best when you prepare them with fresh corn, I've also used frozen corn in a pinch. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Vertical Caprese Salads

A perfect bite. A sweet, tangy, tiny tomato atop a basil leaf and a bit of creamy mozzarella. You could drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar reduction over the finished bites, but I think it's delicious as is. To make the bites stay upright I bought the small mozzarella balls and sliced them in half so the cut flat side can act as a balanced base. Good tomatoes are key here, so this is the time of year to give these a try!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Watermelon Mojito

There's always a large element of surprise in every week's CSA farm box. Last week, I received a red, seedless watermelon, which was fabulous. This week my watermelon was seeded, light yellow, and it didn't taste quite as fabulous. It was good, but not stand alone good. So what do you do? You pulverize it with some lime, sugar, mint, and rum and call it summer. Delicious, wonderful summer. 

If you can find seedless watermelon this recipe will be simpler as you won't have to pick seeds out of your watermelon before you use it. Watermelon seeds should never make it into your mojito, no matter the color of your watermelon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

CSA Box- Introducing the Armenian Cucumber

This week's vegetable box contained the first vegetable that left me completely perplexed.

That's a cucumber? Really? Well, it's a Armenian cucumber, which is a distant relative of the cucumber. Nevertheless it's fresh, crisp, and juicy so I declare it a Win! The rest of the vegetables were more easily identified, and sweet peppers are new this week. Happy Cooking Everyone-

This week's box contents:

1 lb Armenian Cucumbers
1 basket Cherry Tomatoes
¾ lb Sweet Peppers
1 Watermelon
¾ lb Green Beans
3 ears Sweet Corn
1 lb Summer Squash

Menu ideas:

- Chilled cucumber soup

- Cucumber, radish, and mango salad. Recipe here

- Watermelon, feta, and mint salad. Recipe to follow

- Caprese salad

- Grilled corn salad with sweet peppers, green beans, cherry tomatoes, and bacon. Recipe to follow

- Sweet corn pancakes from Smitten Kitchen. These have turned into a summer Saturday morning ritual.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

CSA Box- Watermelon, summer's refresher

I missed last week's farm box, which was sad, but going on vacation has its downsides.... wait. Can vacation have downsides? I'm not sure if I can confidently make that statement.... 

Otherwise, this week's bounty is quite exciting. I've already tucked into a few items as you can see below. Happy Summer Everyone!

This week's Box Contents:

1 lb Cucumbers
4 ears Sweet Corn
1 bunch Curly Kale
1½ lbs Tomatoes
1½ lbs Summer Squash
1 lb Onions
1 bunch Carrots
1 Red Watermelon

- Savory corn cakes, cucumber & tomato salad and broiled salmon

- Lunch crunch salad with carrots, tomatoes, and cucumber

- Grilled corn & roasted summer squash salad

- Kale and Black Bean Tacos, recipe here
- Roasted Corn Tacos, recipe here

- Watermelon in wedges, straight up. It's the first of the season so I'm keeping it simple.

Grilled Corn Tacos

I eat tacos year round, but they are a weekly meal during the summer. Perfect avocados, sweet tomatoes, and warm weather, hot everywhere else, makes tacos a popular, minimal kitchen heat and time recipe. These particular tacos recipe are great with this slaw and can be vegan or vegetarian, just substitute black beans for the chicken thigh meat. For other vegan and vegetarian taco recipes take a look at my black bean and kale tacos.

I grilled my corn on my gas stove burner since I don't have a grill. Just place the shucked corn ear on your stove burner over medium/medium low heat and rotate frequently so the entire ear is evenly roasted. A few kernels may pop, not into popped corn, and hiss a bit but if you use tongs or wear an oven mit to move the corn you should escape the process unscathed. You can roast both ears of corn in this recipe, but I find that the 1:1 ratio of roasted to un-roasted corn balances the corn's sweet and roasted flavors.