Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Free Lunch

There is no such thing as a free lunch.

I know this, and yet I have to learn it over, and over, and over again.

I have been missing in action from this blog for five months. I haven’t posted a thing. And, beyond that, I haven’t cooked a thing. I have been violating every single one of my food rules. And I have gained more than 30 pounds.

Why?

Because I’m pregnant! My third child is due to arrive in late January.

So I have a good excuse.

I spent the first two of the last five months surviving on little more than sips of water and saltine crackers, as morning sickness took me down for the count.

Just as the best of the summer veggies started arriving from my CSA, I stopped being able to eat them (or smell them, or look at them, or touch them, or even hear about them, for that matter). I couldn’t even read my own blog, let alone write for it. I vaguely recall potatoes, basil, tomatoes, and a whole lot of jalapeƱo peppers making their way through my kitchen, but they repulsed me at the time, and I kept my distance.

Then, in August, as I started to get my appetite back, I found that I craved things like chocolate and soda. I indulged those cravings -- perhaps more than I should have -- and struggled to do anything more strenuous cooking-wise than getting take out, as my energy levels were as low as could be.

My husband did his best during these times to make the most of the veggies we received from our CSA. He made several lovely batches of mashed potatoes with purple basil, added fresh green beans to many of his curries, and tried to work through copious quantities of peppers by making big batches of chili. I know he made and ate a lot of pickles, and that he grilled up some zucchini and some squash when we had company. But I know it wasn’t enough. I know that many of our beautiful veggies wilted, and then rotted, while I was busy chowing down on fried chicken and French fries.

But there is no such thing as a free lunch – not even when you’re pregnant. You can’t eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and expect there to be no consequences.

At my last doctor’s appointment, I learned that I might have gestational diabetes. I haven’t yet had the test to confirm it, but I already received the message loud and clear: It’s time to get a handle on my diet again.

And so, despite the challenges of having two very young children, a stressful job, a long commute, and an exhausted pregnant body, I intend to get back to cooking and eating the way I know I should. I know that my food rules are good for me (and my baby) whether I have gestational diabetes or not.

So, here I am, picking myself up and dusting myself off after five months off the wagon. I’ll be looking to you, blog-o-sphere, to keep me on the wagon from here on out, eating my CSA veggies and following my food rules, especially after the baby comes and the hard work of losing the baby weight begins (for the third time).

Because, yes, I’ll be breastfeeding, and chasing after three kids under four, and getting back to work, and not having enough time in the day to think, let alone cook or eat, but there is no such thing as a free lunch, even then.

Unless someone wants to cook me one? :-)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dill Potato Salad

As soon as I saw the potatoes and dill in this week's CSA delivery, I knew exactly what I would make: Dill potato salad.



Potatoes (however many you have, cut into salad-sized pieces)
Fresh dill (however much you have, chopped)
1/2 an onion, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
salt and pepper (to taste)

Start a pot of water boiling.

Thoroughly scrub the potatoes.  [I must admit, I was a little surprised at what a thorough scrubbing CSA potatoes require.  I am definitely used to grocery-store potatoes, which I now understand have been run through some kind of industrial sandblasting / bleaching process to appear as dirt-free as they do.]

Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and drop into boiling water.  Boil for 10 minutes.  Drain.  Allow the potatoes to cool until they are about room temperature, or at least cool enough that you would pick them up with your hands.

Put the potatoes, dill, and onion in a bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, then stir.  Add salt and pepper, if desired.  [I found I wanted a smidge of salt and a ton of pepper.]


This simple potato salad really lets the potatoes and the dill shine; no need to weigh down such fresh ingredients with a heavy, creamy dressing.  This light version is delicious!

CSA Week #12

My CSA doesn't deliver any veggies the week of Memorial Day, so we had to do without.

If I can admit it, I was actually a little grateful for a break from the constant responsibility of preparing and eating all the veggies I receive.  With a cleaned-out 'fridge and a renewed spirit, I was newly excited this week to see what would come in my CSA bag.

Turns out it was more greens and more radishes, but also -- in a very exiting development -- potatoes and turnips!  We also received lovely dill, oregano, and purple basil (never seen such a thing -- it looks beautiful and smells heavenly).




Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pickles

"Magical."

That's how a friend described the home-made pickles we served at our Memorial Day Weekend BBQ today.

Admittedly, the cucumbers we used to make the pickles were neither from my garden nor from my CSA.  It's a little too early in the season for cucumbers.

But when shopping for pre-made cucumbers at the store, my husband and I were dismayed to find that all the pickles -- even the pickles in the refrigerator section -- had weird ingredients (flavors, colors, gums, and preservatives).

What?!  Pickles are...pickled.  You don't have to do anything to them to make them shelf stable or  to make them keep for a long time.  Why do food manufacturers put so much weird, non-food crap in PICKLES, of all things??!!

So, we had to make our own, local cucumbers or not.

1 quart mason jar with lid, or any lidded glass container
3-4 pickling cucumbers
3 cloves garlic
8 sprigs fresh dill
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 Tbsp sugar
1 and 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
2/3 cup white vinegar
1 cup water

Quarter the cucumbers into four slices each, lengthwise, or cut into 1/4-inch chips.

Cut the garlic cloves in quarters.

In an extra mason jar or covered container, combine coriander seeds, sugar, kosher salt and vinegar. Tightly close the lid and shake vigorously until the sugar and salt dissolve.

Add 1 cup water to the mixture.

In the clean mason jar, tightly pack the sliced cucumbers, sliced garlic, and sprigs of fresh dill.

Pour the brine mixture over the cucumbers.

Tap the jar on the counter to release any air bubbles and top off the jar with extra water if any cucumbers are exposed.  [My container was large and many cucmbers were exposed.  I chose to double the brine recipe and double the water, rather than just adding water.]

Place the lid on the jar and screw on the ring until it is tight.

Leave the jar in the fridge for 24 hours before tasting.

This recipe was taken, verbatim, from Easy Garlic Dill Pickles.  The photography in the original post is lovely; I don't have anything even remotely as nice and green to share.

I do, however, have a suggestion for the step in which you put the ingredients for the brine in a jar and "shake vigorously."

Give the jar to a pre-schooler, who will close her eyes and shake it like her life depends on it.


And then give it to a toddler, who will drop it and then roll it around on the floor.


I assure you that if you use this method, all of the salt and sugar will dissolve perfectly.  :-)

I took the picture below as I put the cucumbers in the fridge, fully intending to take some lovely photos of the resultant pickles.

Almost exactly 24 hour later, I removed the pickles from the fridge; almost exactly 24 minutes after that, they were all gone.

So much for lovely photography.

But I'm not sorry.  And if you make these, you won't be either!

After all, they're magical.



CSA Week #11

More amazing greens, more beets (bleh), and incredibly cool-looking garlic scapes.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Convenience Food Done Right

In general, I try to avoid eating "convenience" foods.  But I think it's possible to use convenience foods on occasion and still maintain a healthy diet.

The trick, I'm convinced, is to be very choosy about what convenience foods you will and will not eat.  In my case, I will eat something that comes out of a box or a bag, but it can't have any ingredients that I wouldn't cook with myself: It can't have natural or artificial favors, natural or artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, or chemical preservatives.  It also can't have outrageous amounts of sugar or salt.

That still leaves a wide range of minimally-processed convenience foods that I will, on occasion, eat.  These frozen gnocchi in tomato sauce from Trader Joe's are an example of such a food.


But I don't think it's healthy to stop there.  Even for "clean" convenience foods, there are rarely enough vegetables or fruits in them to make a healthy meal.  So you have to add your own.

The gnocchi pictured above cook in skillet on the stovetop in seven minutes.  That's exactly enough time to chop and rinse a bunch of swiss chard and spin it dry in the salad spinner, with a minute to spare so they can be added to the skillet with the gnocchi to wilt.


Ditto some fresh herbs: oregano, rosemary, and parsley.


In no more time than it took to make the gnocchi itself, this meal includes dark leafy greens and fresh herbs for a boost of both health and flavor.


That's convenience food done right!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Creamy Pesto Sauce (Oil Free and Vegan!)

Perhaps my best discovery in this CSA adventure so far has been pesto.  It never occurred to me in my pre-CSA days to make pesto out of anything but basil.  Actually, it never even occurred to me to make my own pesto at all (versus getting it from a jar or, worse, a “packet”).

But, since starting the CSA, I learned, quickly -- and to my repeated joy -- that any dark, leafy green mixed with water, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and nuts will make a stellar pesto.  See, for example, my recipes here, here, and here.

But, in keeping with my overall healthy eating plan, I usually try to avoid using too much oil.  The amount of oil going into my pesto recipes was, admittedly, outrageous (a cup or more!).  So, I decided to see how pesto would taste with no oil at all. 

As it turns out: Still delicious.


Here was my recipe, which made use of all the dark, leafy greens I received in my most recent CSA delivery.


Water
½ pound of whole-wheat pasta
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1 bunch beet greens, stems removed
1 bunch radish greens, stems removed
1 bunch carrot greens, stems removed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bulb of a spring onion, chopped

First, soak the cashews in water, as if making a cashew cream sauce.  Set aside.  [Soaking at least an hour is recommended to get the creamiest texture; if you don’t have a Vitamix or a bullet-style blender, it could take far longer than an hour (perhaps even overnight) to get the cashews soft enough to “cream.”] 

Start a pot of water boiling for the pasta.

Blend the beet greens, radish greens, and carrot greens together with enough water to allow them to blend.  The beet and radish greens may get closer to a puree, but the carrot greens will lend some chunkiness.  Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the blended greens.  Remove the blended greens from the blender, placing them in a strainer over a bowl for a few minutes to strain out the excess water (I wouldn’t press the greens; the raw greens could get “bruised”).  Set aside.


[The water that comes out is essentially green juice.  You could drink it, if you’re so inclined.  I tasted it and was not so inclined, despite liking green juice generally.  I think it was the salty beet greens that turned me off.]

Blend the cashews with water until they reach a creamy consistency.  Set aside.

Place some water in a skillet and cook the garlic and the onion.  When the onion is starting to turn translucent, add the cashew cream.  Allow to heat through.  Add the blended greens.  Stir to combine thoroughly and allow to heat through.

Serve the pesto over the whole-wheat pasta.  I topped mine with cracked black pepper and a pinch of salt (like cashew cream sauce generally, I find it does need a pinch of salt).

The bottom line: Pesto doesn’t have to use oil.  This creamy version gets all its fat from a whole food (cashews) and is just as delicious as every other pesto I’ve made!

Fancy Marketing and Hidden Veggies

Getting my kids to eat outrageously healthy things, and to establish outrageously healthy eating habits for the rest of their lives, is a key goal of my CSA veggie endeavor.

My kids have always been good about eating vegetables, in part because they often have little other choice.  But I’ve also worked hard to bring to the vegetables in my house the kind of marketing usually reserved for fast-food meals and sugary snacks.  See, for example, “Fraggle Toast” and “Shrek Shake.”  I also hide veggies when necessary.  See, for example, Cauliflower, Parsnip, and Potato Mash.

This kind of creativity has paid off.  But sometimes it’s unnecessary. 

My three-year-old LOVES to receive our CSA deliveries.  When we arrive home from school, she spots the red cooler outside our garage before we’ve even turned into the driveway.  She loves to open the cooler carefully, unzip the bag daintily, and then delight in what she finds.

“[Gasps in shock] Mama, look!  Look at all the beautiful vegetables the farmer brought for us!”

Her pure joy at receiving the CSA vegetables means that there’s no need for further marketing.  It’s like Santa Clause comes every single week.  She can hardly contain herself as we carry the vegetables upstairs to the kitchen.

This week, straight from our delivery bag, she picked her own leaf of romaine lettuce, her own leaf of Swiss chard, her own carrot, and her own radish.  She washed the vegetables herself, and then stood by while I chopped them for her (carrot greens and radish greens included!), so that she could put them in a bowl and mix them up herself.  We added olive oil and vinegar.




She ate almost the whole bowl, along with whole-wheat pasta with tomato sauce, and a cup of milk. 



Who needs fancy marketing or hidden veggies?!

CSA Week #10

I am super excited about the chard and radishes!  Not so much about the romaine, beets, and carrots, though.  I'm totally over them.


Raw Beet Salad -- Just Say "No"

I must stop attempting to eat raw beets.

I have been reluctant to heat up my oven in order to roast all the beets I have been receiving.  I have also been lazy.  This means that I keep trying raw beet recipes.

But I just have to stop.  Because they're all gross.

This raw beet salad recipe is from the New York Times.  I had high hopes.

But I hated it.  So, from now on, all my beats are getting roasted and then pickled.




Rainbow Chard Pasta

This recipe is week-night easy.

Boil water and prepare 1/2 pound of whole-wheat pasta.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, put a dollop of olive oil, a clove of garlic (chopped), half an onion (chopped), and a bunch of rainbow chard (chopped, including stems).  Add about 1/2 cup of water to the skillet, if necessary to prevent burning.  Wilt the chard over medium heat.

Drain the pasta and then toss with the chard.

Top with grated Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

Dinner in fifteen minutes flat!




Tuesday, May 8, 2012

CSA Week #9

So many gorgeous greens this week, I couldn't even get them all in the frame!

Beets (with lovely greens), radishes (with lovely greens), rainbow chard (lovely greens in and of themselves), romaine lettuce (ditto), herbs, and mushrooms.  [I ended up giving the mushrooms to my in-laws because they can better appreciate them.]


Macerated Wood Straberries

I loved reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan.  But I have to admit that I skimmed with some degree of boredom over his chapters about foraging. 

I don’t eat mushrooms (I don’t like them), so I couldn’t empathize with the foragers’ joy upon discovering morels.  “You stumbled upon some fungus!  Better you than me!”

But, more than anything, I just didn’t think that foraging applied to me. 

First, I’m entirely too practical.  I couldn’t imagine spending all day looking for something I might never find.  Second, I live in a suburbia.  No one forages in suburbia.  Aside from some honeysuckles along the edges of my elementary school yard (whose nectar I used to enjoy during recess) I have never, ever foraged for anything.  I didn’t think there was anything to find.  “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” convinced me that it was possible to forage in fertile, hippy places like California.  But I didn’t assume it was possible in Maryland, where I live.

I WAS WRONG.

I was out playing with my kids in our backyard last weekend.  Playing in the grass with a one-year-old and a three-year-old is perhaps the most relaxing and wonderful activity in all of humanity.  It’s a license for a grown adult to lay down, roll around, smell the earth, enjoy the breeze, and listen to the rustling of trees overhead.  [When we’re stuck at work in our cubicles on a beautiful day, isn’t that all we’re dreaming of?]

It was during such a frolic that I noticed something unusual just a few feet away from where we were playing, in a spot where the grass gives way to trees.  Is that a…strawberry?


Once I saw one, I saw dozens – a whole patch of wild strawberries – so many, in fact, that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t ever noticed them before.  My three-year-old went nuts.  “Dada,” she called, “WE FOUND STRAWBERRIES!”


As an inexperienced forager, I knew I needed to confirm the edibility of the berries before I just dove in.  Especially with the girls.  So, I went inside and consulted the wisdom of the Internet.

I learned (from various sites, as I looked for confirmation from multiple sources) that what I had found were “wood strawberries.”  I learned that I should not expect them to taste as sweet as a cultivated strawberry, or to be as big.  I learned that they’re entirely edible and, in fact, that there are no poisonous berries that resemble strawberries at all.  So, the Internet told me, if you have wood strawberries, go ahead and eat them before the birds do.  But don’t expect them to be particularly tasty.

I grabbed baskets for the girls and off we went to forage.  I have never been so excited.  Hyper-local wild strawberries!  Michael Pollan, I get it now!

The girls had a blast filling their baskets with the easy-to-pick berries.  My little one is only fourteen months old, but she immediately knew what to do.  [I would say that we must be born with a hunter/gatherer instinct, but she also knows how to swipe the screen of an iPhone; I suspect that is more nurture than nature.]



Most of the strawberries never made it into the baskets – we ate them right off the plants.  In truth, they were not as sweet as cultivated strawberries.  But they were still good.  Of the ones that made it into the baskets, most never made it into the house.




But a few did. 


And because they didn’t have much sweetness of their own, I decided to macerate them to add a touch of sugar and bring out the natural sweetness and juices of the berries.

Handful of wild/wood strawberries
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon of fresh lemon zest (grate the outside of a lemon)
½ cup of non-fat Greek yogurt

Put the strawberries, honey, and balsamic vinegar in a bowl and stir them, mashing the strawberries slightly.  Allow them to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours. 

Serve the macerated strawberries over yogurt with a sprinkle of lemon zest. 


You will enjoy them, for sure, because, as I discovered, there is an odd sense when eating foraged food that it was put there, by nature, just for you.  I’m pretty sure, if I had paid a little more attention, that’s what Michael Pollan was trying to tell me all along.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mixed Greens Salad

So much of what I have been eating in the past few weeks has been salad.  It's hard to blog about salad.

But I think I do a disservice to the world of CSA eating not to blog about it.  Eating salad is critical to making the best use of CSA veggies.  It's also critical to your health.  If you have any doubts about the necessity of eating outrageously huge quantities of dark leafy greens -- and eating them every day -- I refer you to "Eat to Live" by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

Tonight's salad started out pretty standard: romaine lettuce, carrots, and radishes.  But then I got weird and added carrot greens and radish greens, as well.  They're very good for you and they're actually delicious!  I serve my "mixed greens" salad with chipotle-infused olive oil and a splash of white vinegar.

My picky husband ate his whole salad, weird greens and all, without complaint.  Greens are great!





CSA Week #8

This week's veggies: carrots, spring onions, radishes (yay! my husband loves these!), red cabbage, bok choy, romaine, and herbs.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Whole-Wheat Honey Muffins

These were supposed to be carrot muffins.


I've been having a bit of a problem with my CSA carrots lately.  After a few days in the 'fridge (they don't fit in the crisper drawer), they wind up a bit...flaccid.


They're hard to peel once they get like this, and although they still have great "carroty" flavor, they have the wrong texture for use in salads or, really, anything else.

Except a puree.

So puree them I did.  And then I used them to make muffins.  I assumed the muffins would turn out somewhat like carrot cake or carrot muffins.  But the carrot flavor ended up being very subdued behind the copious amounts of honey that went into this recipe (1/2 cup of honey spread over 8 cupcakes, plus more for drizzling on top).

The more I thought about it, the more I decided that was a-okay.  Nothing makes a recipe more kid- and husband- friendly than when it's stuffed with vegetables, and they can't tell at all.  This recipe may have a lot of honey, but it also has a lot of carrots, egg whites, whole wheat, and fat-free Greek yogurt.  Which makes these muffins pretty healthy in my book, especially compared to the sugary cupcakes that usually pass for muffins out in the world.

I based my recipe on Cupcake Project's yogurt and honey cupcakes.  I substituted carrot puree for the butter and the Greek yogurt, whole-wheat flour for the all-purpose, and used three egg whites in place of two, whole eggs.

This recipe makes 8 cupcakes -- as in NOT a full dozen.

1/2 C honey (plus extra for topping)
2/3 C carrot puree
3 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
 8 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt for topping

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix honey and carrot puree together.  Mix in egg whites, one at a time.  Stir in vanilla.

In another medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Slowly mix the flour mixture into the honey mixture until smooth.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.

Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.  Allow cupcakes to cool.  Just before serving, top with Greek yogurt and drizzle with honey.



Monday, April 23, 2012

Purple and Green Tacos

My husband is the king of the crock pot.

Today, his recipe was stew beef in salsa (the salsa was from a jar, but made with real ingredients), cooked all day.

I came home from work and put the spicy, delicious meat on a whole-wheat flour tortilla with sliced red cabbage, arugula (I'm assuming my mystery leaves are arugula until someone tells me otherwise), parsley (because it's like cilantro?), feta cheese, and some fresh lime juice.



Mexican, no.  Weird, yes.

And absolutely delicious.




CSA Week #7

Mystery greens.  Arugula?  Spinach?  [See bottom center of the photo.  What are they?]

They are sweet and chewy and they make my life complete, whatever they are.

Also arriving today: beets with the most outrageously fresh, huge greens attached; carrots (ditto the greens), a head of romaine lettuce, sage, rosemary, and parsley.




Ah! End of the Week!

It's been a busy couple of weeks with work and the kids.  I haven't been making enough lunches to bring to work and have instead been spending lots of money and lots of empty calories on junk from my office cafeteria.

I found myself this morning with a 'fridge full of CSA veggies and the realization that more veggies would be arriving today.

It was time to get it together.

I made this "salad" right into a huge tupperware container so that I could bring it to work.  It's a whole head of romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces, sliced red cabbage (yup, I've still got red cabbage from two weeks ago in my fridge, as crisp and delicious as ever), and pickled beets.  I brought a little container of balsamic vinegar with me to the office, but, truthfully, it didn't need it.  The beets were juicy enough to compensate for a lack of dressing.

This isn't so much a recipe; it's more of a reminder to myself.

Why do I ever NOT bring my lunch?!


An unexpected bonus of this meal: A co-worker noticed my GIANT bowl of salad and we got to talking about food.  It turns out he also gets CSA veggies and is really concerned about environmental sustainability, genetically modified foods, etc.

Yes!  It's catching on!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kale Pasta Salad

I served my kale salad at a party last weekend and created quite a stir!  My friends have been making the salad and sharing it with their friends.

I couldn't be happier!

Everyone should eat more kale.  It's delicious and good for you!

I eat kale with freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil (I have a chipotle-infused oil that I love), freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and cracked black pepper almost daily.  Tonight, I tossed the kale salad with some leftover, cold, whole-wheat pasta for an easy variation on the theme that feels like more of a complete meal.

The possibilities for kale salads are endless!


Pickled Beets

My whole life, I thought pickled beets came from exactly one place: the salad bar at a diner.

It turns out that they can also come from my refrigerator. And they're really easy to make.

5 roasted beets
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

If you haven't already, roast your beets.  [To roast beets, I put them in a glass baking dish with 1 inch of water in it, then cover the dish with aluminum foil, and put it in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees.  After an hour, I remove the dish from the oven and set it aside to cool.  When the beets are cool enough to handle, I can slip their skins right off, no peeling or washing necessary.]

Slice the roasted beets into circles or chunks (I like circles).  Put the sliced beets into a glass bowl or jar.  In a separate bowl, mix together the apple cider vinegar, water, and sugar.  Pour the mixture over the beets.  Make sure all the beets are covered by the liquid, cover the bowl or jar, and put it in the 'fridge for at least 24 hours.



That's it!  The salad-bar beets of my childhood memories!

I saw many, many, much more complicated pickling recipes elsewhere on the interwebs.  I'm not sure why.  This simple recipe does the trick.  I wouldn't change a thing.

Admittedly, this recipe uses refined sugar, which is an ingredient I usually try to avoid.  However, it's a relatively small amount per serving, and it made me love beets again after I had a bad experience.  So I'm okay with it.

I think I'm going to be doing a lot more pickling in the future!  I have my eye on a bunch of carrots...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Asian Bok Choy and Red Cabbage Salad

Thinly slice 4 leaves and stems of raw bok choy and about 1/4 of a red cabbage.  Place in a large bowl.

In a separate, small bowl, mix together:

1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon honey

Top bok choy and cabbage with sesame seeds (to taste) and toss with dressing.  Enjoy!

CSA Week #6

This week's vegetables: beets (groan...I'm still recovering from the beet smoothie); bok choy (yay...I love bok choy now that I learned to eat it raw); gorgeous, funky-colored carrots; and two different kids of salad greens (CSA virgin doesn't actually know what varieties they are, but they look delicious).

Garlic Scape Pesto

I'm learning that making a fresh pesto is as easy as blending up whatever greens and garlic you may have on hand with some lemon, nuts, olive oil, and water.  No special measurements needed.

For this pesto, I used some lovely garlic scapes from my CSA in place of mature garlic.  [Garlic scapes, I learned, are the "thinnings" from the garden.  To grow garlic (or anything else, really) you plant a bunch of seeds, and then pick some of the shoots to thin them out as they grow.]


For the greens, I used kale and beet greens.  My bullet-style blender is small, so I blended the greens and garlic with the lemon, oil, and water, and put the results in a bowl.  Then I blended the walnuts with some oil and water and mixed the result into the same bowl.  It made for an artsy and unusual pesto presentation that tasted just the same as regular pesto when spooned over whole-wheat pasta.

Beet Smoothie

Beet smoothies.

They look beautiful and they sound good.  They seem to be the darlings of vegan and raw food bloggers.  What could be wrong with a raw beet (I love beets!) whirred up with some orange juice and frozen strawberries?

Everything.

Do not be fooled by this beautiful looking drink.

It was gross.  I think I need to let beets be beets.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Asparagus Mushroom Soup

This soup was so easy, I think it counts as fast food.  In fact, the instructions for presentation are more complicated than the recipe itself.

1 bunch of asparagus (an amount that you can hold easily in two hands)
1 portobello mushroom
4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (preferably homemade)
6 heaping teaspoons of fat-free Greek yogurt
lemon zest, to taste
cracked black pepper, to taste


Chop up the asparagus, reserving a few of the prettiest tips for garnish.  Chop up the mushroom.  Toss both in a pot with the chicken broth.


Bring to a boil, and allow to cook (at a boil) for about ten minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before putting it in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  [If you have a blender that also heats, you can make this recipe in said blender without stopping to cool.]

Ladle into bowls and put 1 heaping teaspoon of fat-free Greek yogurt into each bowl.  Top with lemon zest, black pepper, and asparagus tips.  Enjoy this tart and tangy, earthy and green treat!

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