Monday, August 29, 2011

Week 24 - They Say It's Your Birthday

It's my boys' birthday week, and therefore I'm planning all the meals based on both the ingredients in the box and their favorite things to eat.  The cooking won't be difficult but, given the simplicity of the ingredients in the box this week, that approach makes sense anyway.  There is one 'grown up' recipe that sneaked into the plan: something that I came across for green beans that also called for radicchio, which I have been seeing at the farmer's market recently.  Fortunately, we have one 'grown up' event that we can bring it to this week but - other than that - it's all kids' meals, all the time!

In the box this week
 (top) lettuce, kale, carrots
(bottom) radicchio, green beans, cucumbers, reed avocados, tomatoes, watermelon, grape tomatoes, oranges

Meal plan for the week
Sunday: fried chicken, roasted Green Bean and potato salad with Radicchio, Watermelon
Tuesday: Steak fajitas with guacamole with Reed Avocados, pico de gallo with Grape tomatoes, and charred Tomato salsa
Wednesday: pasta with Tomato sauce (substituting fresh for canned) with Lettuce, Carrot and Cucumber salad
Thursday: turkey tacos with left over guacamole, pico de gallo, and salsa

After a week of having 'meals' that were all about me, it will be really fun to make a bunch of meals that are for the boys.  My birthday is great too, but something about theirs (reminder: they are twins) is magical!
This week's title is inspired by the song Birthday by The Beatles. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Week 23 in Review

The Score
Eater - 9     Compost - 1     Carry Over - 0

This was a very interesting, not so normal week in terms of food consumption.  I started my week of with a vegetarian dinner of mushroom ravioli (something that had been hiding in the freezer for months) with sauteed Green Beans and mushrooms.  It was delicious, and made me wish that we got fresh mushrooms in the box!

The rest of the week was primarily juices.  Though I spent eight years in my twenties as a vegetarian, I had never consumed only fruits and vegetables for days on end, and certainly not in a juice form.  I went into the week aiming for five days, but acknowledging that I had no idea what my body was really in for, so I planned take it day by day, meal by meal.  The juicing plan that I followed was inspired by a documentary that I watched earlier this year, called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, which profiled one man's weight loss journey.  Though I maintain much healthier eating habits (and a much healthier weight) than the film's protagonist, I figured if he could do four months of juicing, perhaps I could benefit from five days.

I must say, I was expecting the worst, but following the plan really wasn't that bad.  Some juices tasted better than others, and only a few were really awful: one with sweet potatoes and beets almost made me barf, but that was definitely the exception to the rule.  Each day was comprised of four fruit and/or vegetable juices, each 24+ ounces, along with lots of water and herbal tea at night. 

Days one through three were easy.  The juices filled me up, I never felt hungry or weak, and I didn't have any of the "blow outs" that I was anticipating.  Day four got off to a great start, but I kind of did myself in with my evening juice.  It called for a poblano, and for some reason the market didn't have any, so I bought a New Mexican Hatch pepper instead.  Oops.  That juice was ON FIRE.  It left me with a headache and a burning mouth, but what my mouth couldn't take my body handled without any problem. 

Day five is when things started getting harder for me.  The lunch juice was the awful one mentioned above, and I had a really hard time getting it down.  By mid-afternoon I was starting to feel pretty light headed, and I knew that it was time to eat.  So, I had a light, early dinner with noodles and veggies, and then had my final juice later that evening. 

All in all, it was a really positive experience.  I drank a lot of things that I'd never imagined (ginger, kohlrabi and kale come to mind), and felt really great through most of the process.  My skin was really looking great at the end, too, if I do say so myself.  I certainly can't imagine doing something like this frequently (just the prep and clean up time alone would have been very difficult to pull off with my family around), but I do now feel that I can get clever about adding juices in here and there.  A fun week, but now, back to regular programming!

A rather pretty juice, and fairly tasty too:
1 apple
2 beets
3 large carrots
1 2" piece of ginger
3 cups spinach

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Week 23 - Juicy

This past weekend, my husband and boys left to visit family on the East coast.  Between my garden building efforts and the new puppy, I ended up staying home for the week.  Given that I don't have to feed anyone but myself for the week - any humans, I should say - I decided it was finally time to do something that I've wanted to try for a while: a few days of juicing.  With the box, I had a good start on ingredients and I found a bunch of juice recipes online.  So, while there isn't much of a meal plan to share this week, I will plan to report back on the juice combinations that I liked the best at the end of the week.

In the box this week
(top) lettuce, kohlrabi, sorrel
(bottom) green beans, cucumbers, avocados, tomatoes, yellow grape tomatoes, strawberries, cantaloupe

Meal plan for the week
Saturday & Sunday: Vegetarian meals - including mushroom ravioli with Green Beans - to prepare my body for the fiber fest to come
Monday through Friday: Juices (~5 different juices per day)

All the ingredients for my meals this week
(including the produce from our CSA box)... WOW!
This week's title is inspired by the song of the same name by Better Than Ezra.

Week 22 in Review

I'm very late in getting last week's review up, but I think I have a good excuse... I was doing this:

For the last eight months, I've been working with a friend to plan for a learning garden at our children's school.  It's a typical urban public school, with too much asphalt and not enough green.  After a tremendous amount of generosity from community businesses, this weekend was the build, and getting ready was all consuming.  The garden is now about 80% done, and I'm ready to take a breather and get back to the rest of my life!

The Score
Eaters - 11    Compost - 0.5     Carry Over -0.5
Fueling up for the big build meant a lot of good eating.  We had friends over for dinner twice this past week, and that helped us get through almost everything.  One of the amazing avocados is still ripening up, but that will certainly get eaten up when it's ready, and a little cabbage did hit the compost bin.  All in all a great week, with some fun projects to boot.

The Best
  • The meal itself was nothing fancy, but the process of making the sauce was fun and the end result was quite tasty!
 Twelve pounds of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes ready for roasting

Juicy goodness with yummy basil leaves

We got seven pints out of the batch

Heirloom tomato sauce with spaghetti and meatballs

The Good
  • We made grilled fish tacos one night, but the true highlight was the pico de gallo.  I'm not sure if I've ever had sweeter tomatoes, and with the fresh cilantro, the entire bowl was gone in seconds.

  • Remember that batch of sauerkraut from a few weeks back?   It was finally ready to eat, so we enjoyed it over bratwurst with a fresh garden salad and super sweet cantaloupe.  

  • I can't say that I love the texture of okra, but given the fact that this was my first time preparing it, I could be partially at fault.  That said, this was a delicious veggie curry dish that could make for a great base for any variety of ingredients from the box (this batch included okra, kale, tomatoes and onions).  

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Week 22 - No Sunlight

I know, I know.  Get out the tiny violins.  But our gloomy summer continues, and even though it is mid-August, I have yet to pick a ripened tomato from my own garden vines.  Make that nary a ripened tomato, full grown cucumber, juicy melon or spicy pepper.  The lack of sunlight has really made for a bummer summer and a lackluster garden.  Gratefully, our CSA is in a southern California location that isn't experiencing the grey that we are.  Though the weather has impacted the timing and availability of several of their crops as well, I'm excited that they are able to harvest a variety of fruits and vegetables that aren't growing for me!

In the box this week
(top) lettuce, cabbage, cilantro, kale
(bottom) okra, turnips, onion, cantaloupe, avocados, heirloom tomatoes, strawberries, grape tomatoes 

Meal plan for the week
Sunday: turkey meatloaf and mashed Turnips with crispy shallots
Monday: stewed Okra curry with Tomatoes and Kale
Tuesday: fish tacos with pico de gallo (using Cilantro, Onion and Grape Tomatoes), Cabbage and Avocado
Wednesday: canning and take out?
Thursday: roasted Heirloom Tomato sauce over pasta

Given a surplus of Heirloom tomatoes available through our CSA, we're purchasing an extra ten pounds and I'm planning on my first attempt at canning tomato sauce.  Typically, I'd tend to use a Roma or other paste tomato for sauce, but this recipe seems appealing enough to give it a try with heirlooms.  It will be interesting to see how many pints I can get out of 10+ pounds of tomatoes.  Probably fewer than I'd like, but it will still be fun to have some jars of homemade sauce on the shelf for future pizzas and pastas!
 How much sauce will this make?
This week's title is inspired by the song of the same name by Death Cab for Cutie.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Week 21 in Review

The Score
Eaters - 9    Compost - 1     Carry Over - 1

Our 'over the rainbow' ingredients made for several great meals this week.  So good, in fact, that this may be the first week where there were really no recipe duds at all in the meal plan.  That said, I continue to struggle using up all of the lettuce, with some hitting the compost again this week.  We also have a couple of lemon cucumbers and grapefruit left over that will follow us into next week.  On second thought, perhaps I just came up with a great idea for tomorrow morning's juice!

The Best
  • The Thai beef skewers with peanut sauce and Thai (Lemon) Cucumber salad was, in my mind, one of the best meals that I've ever made.  I changed things up a bit and made a peanut sauce recipe from the Sept/Oct Cooks Illustrated magazine (the recipe for is only available if you are a magazine subscriber, or sign up for a free 14 day trial), but the combo of the marinated steak, peanut sauce and cucumber salad was really fantastic!  I didn't quite get the lime fro yo done on time for dessert, but it was enjoyed later in the week, and was wonderful too.

The Good
  • The mashed potato and Kale recipe that was accompanied by chicken, chorizo and red pepper sauce was a big hit with the entire family.  The cheesy potatoes and kale will likely become a staple recipe for us; it was that good!
  • It's hard to go wrong with (heirloom!) Tomatoes, fresh Basil, garlic and olive oil!  We used this tri-colore checca to make bruschetta, and tossed the leftovers with pasta.
  • The moist Carrot muffins were enjoyed for both breakfasts and snacks, and were pretty with flecks of purple and orange (from the carrots) and yellow (from the pineapple). 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Week 21 - Over the Rainbow

Unpacking the box this week, all of the colors were so beautiful.  From the purples of the carrots and beans, to the blueish kale; from the greens of the lettuce and basil, to the yellows of the grapefruits and lemon cucumbers; from the oranges of the tomato and cantaloupe, to the red strawberries and tomatoes.  There is a part of eating that is very visual, and with produce this beautiful, I know that we'll be gobbling up everything in the box this week.  You could say that we're 'over the moon' about our CSA box, but perhaps this week you should consider us 'over the rainbow.'

In the box this week
(top) lettuce, basil, kale
(bottom) lemon cucumbers, carrots, purple beans, tomatoes, grapefruit, cantaloupe, grape tomatoes, strawberries

Meal plan for the week
Tuesday: breakfast for dinner with Carrot muffins, sliced Cantaloupe
Wednesday: Thai steak skewers with Lemon Cucumber salad and lime frozen yogurt for dessert (using homemade yogurt)
Thursday: pasta with tricolor checca (using Tomatoes and Basil)

My mouth is already watering as I am looking at these recipes.  Summer is wonderful for so many reasons, but summer eating may just be the best part!
This week's title is inspired by the song of the same name by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, as sung by Judy Garland.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Week 20 in Review

The Score
The Eaters - 10.5     Compost - 0!     Carry Over -0.5
If you are just tuning in, at the end of each week I provide a summary of how we did getting through the ingredients in the box.  This week, we started with 11 ingredients.

Being at home with our (so far) very good puppy created a lot of time for cooking and enjoying our summery box.  There were a few items not incorporated directly into our meals that ended up making a lovely juice, and heading into the weekend, we just have a single tomato left.  Best week of using up the box yet!  So, thanks to Olive (like the name?) for allowing me to keep up with the plan this week. 


 The Best

The Good
  • Second runner up was definitely the Tomato basil quiche.  Though I'm pretty sure that this is the first quiche that I've ever made, it actually turned out pretty much as anticipated.  The tomatoes were delicious and almost made the quiche taste like it was filled with a savory sauce.  
    • Hard to go wrong with pizza when you have such lovely raw materials.  We made one with gorgonzola, prosciutto and Arugula, and other with fresh Tomatoes on a pesto base.  
    • Nothing too fancy about this salad, but the Lemon Cucumbers were beautiful and tasty (and accompanied by Lettuce and Carrots from the box). 
    The Rest
    • Not much to look at, but I made a appetizing juice with Carrots and a 1/4 of the Yellow Watermelon from this week's box, as well as a leftover Grapefruit and (regular) Cucumber from last week's box. 
    • Not ready for prime time yet, but I have had the sauerkraut fermenting for five days now.  It's quite an interesting process; particularly squishing the cabbage and finding how much liquid actually comes out.  Looking forward to tasting it when it's ready!