Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's alive!

I'm as surprised as you are, but I'm back. It's for the same reason as last year's return; It's CSA season again, I'm cooking interesting stuff and I don't know anyone who'll sit still to hear me talk about it. I swear, if I ever develop a proper social life, this thing's gone.

I ought to talk a bit about why I was gone so long before I talk about why I'm back. There's the too-hot-to-cook summer doldrums, of course, but I also moved to a new place with a kind of weird kitchen I had a hard time getting used to.

OK, now that I look at the photo, it's actually quite nice. It's just the propane stove and oven that have been problematic. The oven runs about 70 degrees hot and doesn't cool down readily when you turn down the heat. It'll sometimes just keep getting hotter, but I've learned to keep an oven thermometer in there and readjust every 10 minutes.

The burners have been harder to work around. They each have a very limited range. One goes from go from high to very high heat, one goes from very high to very very high and the last goes from too low to hold a simmer to off. I tried adjusting them but only managed to blow a fuse while looking for adjustment screws that aren't where they're supposed to be. Luckily I discovered that if you turn the knobs backwards, in the bit where the flame is just about turning off, if you're careful, you can get low and medium flames, so I can make it work.

Back to the CSA. This year I decided to switch from Bee Heaven to Teena's Pride. There are a couple reasons, but mostly it's because they have a one-person box so I won't have to deal with the weekly vegetable onslaught I got from Margie. I just about managed to use it all, but it was a struggle and I really don't feel like struggling any more. Also, Teena's drop-off point is within easy bicycling distance to my new place which is nice.

This is actually the second week of deliveries. Last weeks box was mostly greens and herbs. I made some chicken in a tarragon cream sauce, Thai lemongrass pork, a chard and sweet potato gratin, steamed some green beans and ate some salad. And I used the arugula in tacos.

Here's this week's box:

Hard to tell what's what with everything individually bagged like that. I'll try to do better next time, but I really don't want to take everything out. They'll be very hard to get back in.

On the right are bunches of mint, basil and parsley. Then a small pak choy and a bag of okra, a stick of sugar cane, a bag of mixed salad greens, several jalapeños, red and plain old sorrel and a variety pack of eggplants.

So, let's see, the basil is spicy, so, along with the mint, we've got Vietnamese condiments. Is sugarcane shrimp Vietnamese or Thai? Works either way since I've got some leftover nuoc cham from the lemongrass pork. I could do something Vietnamese with the eggplants; I think I'll want to use them together despite their differences. I wonder if I'll be able to tell them apart in the final dish. That'll likely use some of the hot peppers in that too.

The okra, I'd like to pickle; that's the best of all possible uses for okra to my mind. I've had some not-so-good pickled beets sitting in my pickle jars for quite some time. Past due to toss them out.

I have to admit I'm not familiar with sorrel. It looks like dandelion, but it's mild and lemony. The red sorrel is maybe a little tough to eat raw, but the plain sorrel is pretty tender. Might be good in a quiche. Maybe I'll just add it to the salad mix which seems a bit skimpy, although that may just be contrast to the lifetime supply of lettuce I'd get each week from Bee Heaven.

Really truly skimpy is the pak choy. There's really not enough there to work with unless I use it as part of a stir fry. The leftover green pepper from last week might go into that too. Both should play well with a black bean sauce.

Anything left? Just last week's avocado that just ripened. I don't see anything here that calls out to be used with avocado, though. Eh, I'll figure something out.


drlindak said...

Hello! It will be interesting to see the differences in CSA offerings and what you do in your new kitchen with your new variety of goodies. Will keep reading, never fear, and thanks!

billjac said...

I appreciate your loyal readership. Personally, I would have culled me from my RSS reader months ago.

From what I read about Teena's Pride, the biggest difference we'll see between the CSA's is lots of heirloom tomatoes. I hope I find something interesting to do with them beyond just slicing them and serving them up, assuming I ever get tired of that.