Monday, March 28, 2011

Week 3 - Good Morning Sun!

If this is your first time visiting, read this to learn more about what we're up to!

It's been nice to wake up with the sun shining, even if it's still pretty cold at the end of March in Southern California.  Sun makes me think of spring, and summer, and makes me so excited to get my very small garden up and running.  Alas, it needs to warm up a bit before I can start getting seedlings/seeds in the ground.  There is nothing more 'local' about food than something you pull from your backyard!  Given the continued cold, what we're getting in our box remains very similar to what we've gotten in past weeks.  We'll have to try to be creative in the kitchen to ensure that we use things up and don't get 'bored' of the same ingredients.

In the box this week
(top row) Lettuce, Fennel, Rapini (Broccoli Rabe), Red Russian Kale, Tatsoi
(bottom row) Leeks, Cilantro, Carrots, Apples, Blood Oranges, Strawberries
Meal plan for the week
Sunday: Chicken braised in Fennel and Leeks (some French experiment that my husband will throw together that will be delicious)
Tuesday: Pork chops with Apple chutney and roasted Beets
Thursday: Flank steak stir fry with Tatsoi and Carrots

I used to wonder if we'd 'get through' all of these fruits and veggies in our CSA box each week, but the reality is that I'm still having to augment our box with a fair amount of fruit and at least a handful of other veggies to get us through.  By creating a meal plan in advance of shopping, though, I'm buying only what we'll consume for our meals, and that is helping to save some money each week.  More importantly, we're throwing away next to nothing and eating a much more interesting variety of meals.  

After each meal, I've been asking the boys how they'd rate it on a scale of 1 (really bad!) to 10 (amazing!).  A surprising number of meals have gotten a 7.5, so I'd say we're definitely on the right track.

This week's title is inspired by the Ben Folds song Still Fighting It.

Week 2 in Review

The Score
Eaters - 9    Compost - 1    Carry Over - 1
We still have lots to learn about the CSA box.  We pick up our box on Saturday, but we actually get a list of what will be included the previous Tuesday.  If it's on the list, it will definitely be in the box, but it seems the quantity of items can vary considerably.  Last week, we had just enough tatsoi to make a small bed of sauteed goodness under each piece of halibut.  This week, the bunch was at least twice as big, and we could have made soup for 10.  Sadly, half of the bunch of tatsoi hit the compost bin at week's end, as did half the gigantic bunch of cilantro that we had received (though we used it at least three times in our cooking).  If we hadn't been expecting more of the same in the next week's box (see Week 3), perhaps we would have found a way to use it up?  The beets will be carried over - see below. 

The Good
  • We all loved the rapini with penne & sausage.  It was so good, in fact, that it's getting added to next week's menu again (though I hope to not do week-after-week repeats too often). 

The So-So
  • The Hanoi noodle soup went over well with the adults, but not so much with the kids.  Without a handful of sliced jalapenos to give it some zip (which their young palates cannot yet handle), it fell a bit flat.  They also weren't too excited about the floating pieces of "green stuff" (tatsoi) - though they had gobbled it down the previous week when it had been sauteed.  
  • The chicken citrus salad was my own impromptu creation.  The veggies from the box were all delicious. but the combination of blood orange juice with olive oil made for an overly sweet dressing.  

The Ugly
  • Acutally, there is nothing ugly about pork tenderloin, couscous and roasted beets.  Except forgetting to get the beets in the oven on time.  So, a quick saute of zucchini, carrots and bell peppers was served in place of what I had planned.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Week 2 - Hold Back the Rain

I've lived in Southern California for about twenty years, and this is one of the wettest weeks that I can remember - especially given that it's late March.  It makes one want to stay inside, bundle up in a blanket or two, and eat warm and cozy meals.  Though I'm still jonesing for some spring fare, the contents of this week's box will make some meals that go quite well with the forecast.

In the box this week
(top row) Lettuce, Rapini (Broccoli Rabe), Tatsoi, Red Russian Kale
(bottom row) Cilantro, Bunching Onions, Carrots, Beets, Blood Oranges, Apples, Strawberries

Meal plan for the week
Sunday: Rapini with penne & italian sausage (a recipe from our CSA!)
Tuesday: Chicken citrus salad (using Lettuce, Carrots, Blood Oranges and last week's Radishes)
Wednesday: Hanoi noodle soup (using Tatsoi, Bunching Onions, and Cilantro)
Thursday: Pesto pork tenderloin with couscous and roasted Beets

As I've taken the photos after unpacking the box, I've been taken by how pretty the food is.  In addition to many shades of green, there has been nearly every color of the rainbow represented.  While I've not been the most adventurous eater in my life (even with eight years as a vegetarian in there), this feast for the eyes makes somewhat frightening foods seem amazingly appetizing.  
I keep calling this process of documenting our foods an 'experiment' when I'm talking to the boys.  Though I'm not sure what my hypothesis is going in, I know without a doubt that I'm learning a lot already. 

This week's title is inspired by the Duran Duran song of the same name.

Week 1 in Review

The Score
Eaters - 11    Compost - 0.5    Carry Over - 0.5
Not too bad for a box with twelve items, though I'm hoping that we'll do better as we get the swing of this.  One of the heads of lettuce wilted beyond the point of restoration before we got to it (so into the compost it went), and we didn't get through all of the radishes, but those should keep for at least another week so I'm confident we'll get them eaten up eventually.

The Good
  • The grilled halibut with tatsoi was amazing.  We'd all eat that again (and make more so we don't have to fight over the little bit extra we had)!
  • Eating homemade saag aloo made the chicken that we prepared with store bought tikka masala sauce pale in comparison:

The So-So
  • The carrot cake muffins were very tasty, though super sweet (to the point that no frosting was needed, nor made) and so moist they fell apart went taking them out of the pan.  Next time I bake these, I might cut the sugar a bit, and I will definitely use paper liners.
  • The carrot, blood orange and radish salad was interesting and beautiful, but not a combination of flavors that will bring us running back:

The Ugly 
  • The flavors of the sauteed kale and sorrel just did not go together, resulting in a flatbread that was overly bitter.  Next time, I'll do better to find separate recipes for these two greens!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Week 1 - Here Comes the Sun (almost...)

It finally is starting to feel like spring, though the produce in this week's box doesn't quite reflect that.  The fact is, the weather in California has been unusually cold this year (as it has been across the country), and so our CSA has communicated that crops have been damaged, or delayed as compared to what we might usually see this time of year. 

In the box this week
(top row) Lettuce, Spinach, Sorrel, Kale, Tatsoi
(bottom row) Spinach, Radishes, Beets, Carrots, Strawberries, Apples, Blood Oranges

Meal plan for the week
Sunday: BBQ duck, flatbread topped with sauteed Sorrel & Kate, roasted Beets; also making Carrot cake muffins
Monday: Carrot, Blood Orange & Radish salad
Tuesday: Pasta primavera (using Carrots in sauce)
Wednesday: Chicken tikka masala, saag aloo (using Spinach)
Thursday: Turkey taco salads (with Lettuce, Radishes)
Friday: Grilled halibut with Tatsoi

So, here's hoping we can eat up everything from our box!  We'll consume the fruits without any problem, hence their absence from the meal plan.  I'll try to take some photos along the way, and will report back on what we most enjoyed!

This week's title is inspired by the Beatles song of the same name.