Sunday, March 25, 2012

Week 51 - Circus

We've got a busy week ahead, with a few days in town followed by more than two weeks of vacation. Before this crazy week gets started, however, the family is off to see Cirque du Soleil to celebrate my birthday.  Given the ingredients in the box this week, the circus seemed like a theme that could be carried through to this week's meal planning. I looked for recipes that - for the most part - put together two or more ingredients that might not necessarily seem like they'd be a match. We'll see if some of these recipes taste less crazy than they sound.

In the box this week
(top) lettuce, sorrel, spinach, kale
(bottom) broccoli, bunching onions, radishes, lemons, apples, tomatoes, strawberries

Meals/recipes for the week
Here's to me (and my family) being able to get this all cooked, photographed and posted before we head out later this week!  Cheers!
This week's title is inspired by the song of the same name by Eric Clapton.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Week 50 in Review

The Score
Eaters - 10     Compost - 0.5     Carry Over - 0.5

It was a good week in the kitchen.  I was able to make everything that I had planned, and only ended up losing a small bit of lettuce this week to the compost.  We have a bit of celery left over, but have plans to use that up in a tomato sauce this weekend.  The week also brought a lot of variety - from Irish, to Italian, to spins on Mexican and Indian.  Wish every week could go this smoothly! 

The Best
  • We all really enjoyed the arugula pesto and sausage lasagna.  It was the most complicated of the recipes made this week, so I tackled it on the weekend when I had a bit more time.  The arugula made for a nice twist on traditional pesto, and the fresh tomatoes really livened up the sauce.  A fantastic lasagna!
 Tomato sauce in progress

Arugula pesto gets combined with ricotta

Final product

The Good
  • It doesn't look fancy, but once a year, gotta love St. Patrick's Day dinner.  With green cabbage and orange carrots from the box, and a variety of potatoes from the farmer's market, it certainly was a colorful plate.
  • I started with a sauteed spinach and mushroom recipe, and then added it and some cotija cheese to whole wheat tortilla to make a lovely quesadilla.
  • The curried cauliflower soup was quite simple, but very delicious.  It allowed me to use up the entire head of cauliflower, as well as some left over potatoes that had been purchased for our St. Patrick's day meal. 
 All the veggies in the pot

 The soup is served
  • The kids didn't love the broccoli and red pepper gratin, but I thought it went perfectly with a turkey meatloaf dinner.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Week 50 - When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

It's cold and rainy in southern California, just in time for St. Patrick's Day.  My husband and I both have partial Irish backgrounds, and we always enjoy making a traditional St. Patrick's Day dinner.  Fortunately for us, we have a lovely head of cabbage from last week's box, and a nice bunch of carrots from this week.  Add in a few colorful potatoes from a booth nearby the place where we pick up our box at the farmer's market, and I think our meal is well on its way.  After last week's focus on salads, I'm thinking that it might be nice to make primarily hot meals this week.  Warm meals are good when it's cold outside, and we've got quite a few oven friendly vegetables this week.
In the box this week
(top) lettuce, arugula, spinach
(bottom) celery, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, oranges, strawberries, apples

Meals/recipes for the week
Several recipes this week are from Martha Rose Shulman's Recipes for Health series in the New York Times.   She has so many lovely and often simple recipes for so many vegetable varieties; it's definitely a great resource for CSA members everywhere!
This week's title is inspired by the song of the same name by Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr.  

Week 49 in Review

The Score
Eaters - 9.5    Compost - 0.5     Carry Over - 1 (on purpose)

Turns out our week of salads went quite well.  We enjoyed a great variety of flavors and tastes, and the boys even enjoyed some ingredients that they normally might shy away from.  Making only salads isn't an option given the ingredients in the box every week, but it did open my eyes to new options for many of the ingredients that frequently are featured in the box. 

The Best
  • The warm broccoli and chick pea salad made for a light, healthy lunch.  Next time I'll make a full recipe's worth so there will be some left over for the rest of the family.

 The Good
  • The so-called celery and cucumber salad featured a number of other veggies that made for a sweet and crunchy salad. I left out the relish as it seemed to be an odd addition, but added some leftover purple bunching onions from the previous week, instead.

The So-So
  • We weren't the biggest fan of this kale salad, but it may be due to the fact that I didn't use the type of kale recommended by the recipe.  Though I think this purple kale does better when cooked, I do hope to try other types of kale that we receive in future salad recipes.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Week 49 - Salad Days

Throughout this year, I've been really focused on using up the box's ingredients, but have primarily done so in cooked meals.  Most weeks, some combination of leftover greens - typically some lettuce and spinach - hit the compost because I don't get enough salads made on top of everything else that I've planned.  After hearing an interesting radio story on the 'beauty of a simple salad,' I realized that there were so many more possibilities with our weekly box.  With that concept in mind, all of this week's recipes are salads.  It's probably also fair to note that my family is three weeks away from a two week long, likely-to-be-food-filled vacation, so it certainly wouldn't hurt to be eating a little lighter for the next few weeks. 
(top) lettuce, arugula, kale, spinach
(bottom) celery, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, apples, oranges, strawberries

Meals/recipes for the week
I'm not planning to use the cabbage just yet, in case it's our only supply for St. Patrick's Day.  When we get our list of what's expected in next week's box and learn whether we're getting cabbage again, I may end up looking for cabbage salad recipes.  Given my husband's Irish heritage and his mandatory traditional St. Paddy's day meal, however, the cabbage has protected status for the time being.
This week's title is inspired by the song of the same name by Minor Threat.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Week 48 in Review

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

This was a fairly normal week in the kitchen... we made a few great meals and some salads, and easily got through most of the box.  It was also the week that I cleared out the last bits of our fall home garden crops, so I had a few home grown ingredients to use up, as well.  This was the first year that I planted onions; they ended up being spicy and delicious!  I wish I had more space in full sun to grow produce, but I'm happy I can get something out of the small corner that I've got.

The Best
  • It was a lot of fun taking the tatsoi from the box, the last bits of veggies from our home garden, and then adapting the following tatsoi recipe to make a buckwheat noodle stir fry.  The kick from the fresh onions really made the dish!
 Raw materials

Buckwheat noodle veggie stir fry

The Good
  • The roasted parsnip and butternut squash soups both had a sweet yet savory flavor, and were well accompanied by the freshly made tarragon oil.  Somehow the consistencies got slightly off, however, making it quite difficult to nail the presentation of two half bowls of soup.
  • The carnitas turned out perfectly, with the orange flavor really shining through.  While we made a roasted tomato salsa to top it, the tomatoes were a bit too 'green' in flavor and it didn't quite augment the meal as well as I had hoped.  We also topped the carnitas with roasted purple onions, cilantro, avocado, and homemade pickled radishes.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Week 48 - Nearing the End

Hard to believe that there is just a little over a month ago until the end of this year-long experiment.  Vacation plans may push the actual 'end' out a few weeks - we head out of town for two weeks at the end of week 51 - but it's still hard to believe.  Sometimes I watch a slide show of all the meals that have been made, and I'm pretty excited by all the amazing foods we have incorporated into our meals over the last 11 months.  Lest I get too excited too soon, there are still five boxes to explore, prepare, photograph and write up!

In the box this week
(top) lettuce, spinach, swiss chard
(bottom) onions, parsnips, tatsoi, oranges, apples, tomatoes, strawberries

Meals/recipes for the week:
Those recipes, along with a couple of salads should get us through the box this week.  I'm taking a cooking/knife skills class this week from Martha Rose Shulman of the NYT's Recipes for Health column, so perhaps I will come back with some great ideas for next week!
This week's title is inspired by the song of the same name by David Carbonara from the Mad Men After Hours soundtrack.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Week 47 in Review

The Score
Eaters - 9.5     Compost - 1     Carry Over - 1.5

It was a good, but not great, week in terms of using up the box.  Work got in the way of some of our plans but, in many ways, that was expected.  We have a lot more to carry over than usual - a butternut squash, some onions, some lettuce - but at least it's all in great shape.  All the spinach hit the compost, but all in all we enjoyed some great meals.  The oranges and strawberries were really amazing considering that it was still February when they were picked!

The Best
  • We loved this stir fry recipe, featuring tatsoi and some gorgeous purple onions from the box.  Tatsoi seems to taste somewhere between spinach and bok choy, and added perfect balance to this spicy chicken dish.  We served it with some store-bought veggie dumplings.

The Good
  • This orecchiette with caramelized onions and peas was delicious, and featured some meyer lemon zest and basil from our garden.  A great veggie meal!
  • We also really enjoyed this black bean soup, which featured carrots and onions from the box (and cilantro from the previous week).  I had intended to add kale to the recipe, but forgot - so we juiced the kale later in the week with the rest of the carrots and an apple!
  •  Oven roasted butternut, carrots and parsnips.  Hard to go wrong!