Windham Gardens CSA Week Six

In the bag this week: Pattypan squash, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Dragon’s Tongue Beans, Wax Beans, Green Beans, Garlic, Parsley, Basil, Swiss Chard, Pickling Cukes

I seem to be having one of those weeks, where my day job lacks proper adjectives to describe it. All I want to do after work is sit on the couch with a cocktail. I mean, more than usual. So this week, I had no plans to preserve, cook or otherwise for most of the week. Nothing. planned. Nothing. That means most of the squash, beans and greens need to be put up before more comes in next week. On weeks like this, I scour the internet for quick inspiration.

Have you checked out Punk Domestics yet? They are the first place I go for inspiration. Here are my plans for the share this week:

Sean of PD recommended this recipe: Zucchine Sott’Olio. Obviously not USDA recommended for waterbath canning, but just fine in the fridge.

Karen Solomon’s Beer Brine Pickles. Karen is the author of Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It AND Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It. She clearly knows her stuff. Plus, we always have a couple of bottles of great beer in the house. A nice change from your typical fridge pickles.

Jessie Knadler’s Zucchini Relish. Not usually a huge fan of relish, but Jessie’s claim it can turn relish skeptics with one bite? That’s quite an endorsement, worthy of putting up a few jars.

Finally, I am always down for a good batch of my own CSA Salsa. Tomatoes are just starting to come into our market, too.

For next week: anyone have a recipe to preserve beautiful Dragon’s Tongue beans and keep their color?


Windham Gardens CSA Weeks Four and Five

In the Bags: Pickling Cukes, Basil, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Garlic, Kale, Sweet Corn

This is pickle season. I mean, it can be pickle season anytime, in that you can pickle veggies of any season, but what I mean pickling cukes are in season now. My pickling cukes this year were a combination of fail: direct seeded outside extremely late, half eaten by something before they really took off, and of course slugs took the remainder. Luckily, Erin grows some awesome picklers. There will be bread and butters, dill relish, sweet relish, garlic dills… all given as holiday gifts in a few months.

I am clearly not a card-carrying pickle hater. That said, I pretty much don’t eat any of the cucumbers I put up. Processed pickles are good – far beyond any storebought ones – but I think the best pickle is a crispy, cold one. I am firmly in the camp that believes cucumbers are best when they are fresh and not when they are cooked. Hence, I am a fridge pickle devotee.

My fridge pickle recipe is simple: 1) Fill jar with spices, about 1 teaspoon each of your choice of fenugreek, coriander, mustard, dill, garlic, red chile flake, etc. 2) Fill jar with cucumbers, sliced in coins or spears 3) Fill 1/3 with vinegar. Since these are fridge pickles, you can stray from the 5% white vinegar mandate. 4) Fill 2/3 with water. 5) Cover, refrigerate for at least a week before tasting.

Basil: Pesto & Infused Vinegar

A very double duty kind of use. The basil leaves go into the food processor with toasted nuts (usually cashews), the last of the garlic scapes, salt, pepper, and enough olive oil to blend everything together. I freeze it in ice cube trays or small portions. When I defrost it, then I add more oil and parmesan before serving.

But you don’t get just basil leaves in your CSA. You also get stems, and sometimes flowers. These go into a quart jar of vinegar for later use in salads, vinaigrettes and marinades. What’s your favorite early summer CSA use?

Windham Gardens CSA Week Three

Just before Hurricane Irene hit, I took to hurricanning like a lot of folks. I put up jam, I made strategic fruit choices, and I canned a METRIC TON of squash pickles. I was on a mission to empty our – ahem – entire produce drawer of the zukes and yellow squash. I don’t even remember how many I made, just that the mandolined squash slices filled my 10 quart food safe bucket. I mean, we sort of knew that we would lose power, we just didn’t know we would be out for over a week. I didn’t have a particular recipe, I just made it up with what I had on hand. But now, in June, as I open the second to last(!) quart of my mixed squash pickles, I think this is a recipe that I will keep around for the less desperate times too.

In the bag this week: yellow squash, zucchini, greens, corn, garlic & herbs

Mixed Squash Pickles
Thinly sliced “summer” squash – zucchini, yellow squash, patty pan, etc.
4 cups 5% white vinegar
4 cups water
4 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Bay leaves
Smashed garlic cloves
1 tablespoon each fenugreek, yellow mustard, brown mustard, black peppercorns, coriander, red chile flake

Prep your canner & set the jars to boil. Try to cut the squash in the thinnest slices possible. Using a mandoline really helps to slice the squash uniformly. As you cut your squash, fill empty jars of the same size (i.e. if you plan on putting up quarts, estimate with quarts). Don’t pack the jars too tightly – leave a little room for brine. This way, you know how many jars you will fill.

At this time, prep your brine. Add the water, vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to a simmer.

Mix the spices together, and put 1 heaping tablespoon in each. Add 1-2 garlic cloves and 1-2 bay leaves per jar. Add squash to the jars, leaving about 1 inch headspace. Top with brine, and bubble to remove any leftover air. Leave 1/4″ headspace. Top with hot, wet lids and process for 15 minutes. Keeps for one year in a dark, cool place – but as always, refrigerate after opening.

Windham Gardens CSA Week Two

In the bag this week: Green Garlic, English Peas, Snap Peas, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Kale

Like most people, when its hot, even I can’t stand the thought of cooking. Our house, while it is shaded under some enormous pine trees, still heats up. We don’t have central air, so cooling down the house inevitably means hauling the ancient found-on-craigslist air conditioner, installing it in the bedroom, and blowing the cool air through the rest of the house with a fan. Once that process is done, it takes a while, but the house eventually cools down to a normal temperature. And as you can imagine, the whole process ensures you will spend the first half an hour post-installation in the bedroom standing nearly naked in front of the AC vent. You know those days – when even heatwave carnitas or crockpot roasted chicken are too much to bear.

So most of the time I retreat to our in-ground basement – where it is always 15-20º cooler – with an icy beverage and dinner hummus. Mostly because two people cant stand in front of the AC at the same time, and rather than stand there and sweat, its easier to sit on the couch and watch the news where I am semi-comfortable.

I have one confession, though. Hummus is great, but after a while I totally get sick of tahini. It goes the way of most of my eating – its great, its delicious, I binge on it and eat way too much, and then I can’t stand the thought of it for a while. So when I am craving nothing but a cold dinner involving beans and bread, I need to mix it up a little. This recipe not only accomplishes that, but uses up multiple CSA ingredients. Win-win.

Cannelini Bean & Pea “Hummus”
1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed well
1 quart Windham Gardens English Peas
3 cloves green garlic
Olive oil – anywhere from 1/2-1 cup
As much Kale as you need to use up/as much as you can stuff in your food processor
Fresh Thyme, Black Pepper and Salt to taste

Shell your English peas. You can probably avoid heating up the stove at all, and throw them in raw. I find that they are too starchy for me when raw, and that a quick 1 minute blanch in boiling water makes a world of difference. Check the forecast and blanch ahead on the coolest day you’ll get, and you can have your hummus chilled when you can’t stand to cook. Add garlic to the food processor first, and pulse until minced. Then add peas, beans, thyme and kale. Blend on medium speed, while adding in olive oil until it comes together. It may take a while, and more olive oil than you think to blend it all. It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth – blend it to the consistency you like. Smear on fresh bread, eat with crackers – who cares. Just be thankful its good for you, uses CSA ingredients, is somewhat filling and nutritious, and that you don’t have to sweat over the stove or grill tonight.

Oh, and can someone come pull me out of my basement when the heat wave is over?

Windham Gardens CSA Week One

This growing season, I am going to be writing a weekly update on my CSA share. A half share – one full grocery bag – of produce will be featured from Windham Gardens in Granby, CT every week for the next 20 weeks. I plan on both preserving and eating the harvest fresh. Windham’s CSA is different from most, as the CSA member gets to fill their own bag.

In the Bag this week: Zucchini, Snap Peas, Yellow Squash, Broccoli, Green Garlic, Garlic Scapes

When my dad was growing up, his mom made stew. The little bit of leftovers from each meal went into a pot at the end of the week. Stew. Steak? Goes in the stew. Veggies? In the stew.  Pasta, rice, potatoes? Guess. Now that I barter for a dozen fresh eggs every week, frittatas have become my stew. Anything from pasta to potatoes to… you name it, it tends to go into frittata. So this week, lest my new CSA produce spoil, I turned it into a week’s worth of lunches.

CSA Frittata, Spring Style
9-12 eggs, scrambled
2 small zuchinni & yellow squash, chopped
3 garlic scapes, chopped
1 clove green garlic, minced
2 slices applewood smoked bacon
1 cup grated sharp, salty cheese (cheddar, parmesan, asiago, a combination thereof)
smoked paprika, salt & pepper to taste

Cook the bacon until crisp, chop into small pieces. Cook chopped veg in bacon fat or olive oil, as preferred. Cook until just fork tender, remove from pan. Pour in the eggs, add the filling and cheese over the top. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350° until the eggs set OR cook over the stovetop over medium-low heat, covered with a lid until set.

Frittata tips:
1. Pour the eggs in a very well greased pan, then sprinkle the fillings in. Otherwise, if you pour the eggs over, all of the fillings will be on the bottom of the frittata. Before it sets, feel free to swirl and adjust accordingly.
2. Cook the fillings beforehand to your liking.
3. Finish in the oven just until set – keep an eye on it.

If frittata doesn’t suit your fancy this week, try: pea hummus, squash pickles, fridge scapes, grilled veggies