CSA Week Five

2013-07-08 03.45.03

  • CSA Week Five
  • snap dragon flowers
  • basil
  • cilantro
  • (and all the usual herbs)
  • fennel
  • mini cabbage
  • salad turnips
  • chioggia beets
  • carrots
  • scallions
  • garlic scapes
  • russian red kale
  • vitamin green
  • lettuce
  • snap beans
  • summer squash

Dill-Pickled Scapes, Fennel and Radishes – CSA Week 4

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I love the strong aroma and bright flavor of fresh dill, so I was super excited to have a few items in the farm share this week that I knew would make delicious dill pickles.  No need to drag out your canning equipment for this recipe; these refrigerator pickles are quick and easy.

Dill-Pickled Scapes, Fennel and Radishes

makes 2 large jars

  • 3 C water
  • 2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 6 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 6-8 whole sprigs of fresh  dill
  • 4-6 medium radishes, sliced
  • 6 garlic scapes, cut into sections
  • 2 fennel bulbs, sliced (I tried using the stalks but they were much too fibrous to eat)
  1. in a saucepan, bring the water, apple cider vinegar and salt to a boil
  2. stuff 2 glass jars with the peppercorns, dill, radishes, scapes and fennel*
  3. pour the boiling liquid over the vegetables, filling the jars all the way to the top
  4. cover and allow to cool
  5. store in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving

* use a wooden skewer to help pack the dill around the veggies

A Little Birdie Told Me

When I got to work on Friday morning, a normally jovial co-worker was standing in the parking lot looking really glum. He’d found a baby bird laying on the hot pavement, unable to move. He figured it had fallen from it’s nest but wasn’t sure how to help it and he was feeling bummed at the thought that it would probably die.

I love all living creatures. That’s a fact. But there is one member of the wild kingdom that I fear above all others.

Birds.

I know it’s a strange phobia. Birds are cute, they sing pretty songs, they fly. What’s to be afraid of? The theory in my family is that I developed a healthy respect for all things feathered as a toddler, when I used to run around our paddock with the ducks and geese we kept. Their love of shiny objects meant I had to be quick on my feet to dodge their incessant eye-pecking.

Still, our feathered friends deserve the same consideration as everybody else. I was going to do what I could to help. But I had no idea where to start.

Luckily, I had the contact information of local bird rescue guru, Jodi Swensen. I e-mailed her a photo of the baby bird and she quickly identified him as an English or House Sparrow. He didn’t quite have all his feathers and really wasn’t ready to leave the nest yet.

Jodi was unable to take him in because she needed to save what little space she had for species that weren’t doing as well as him. She said that he was just days away from fledging and that there were a couple of things that I could do to help him.

I was not aware of this until Jodi educated me, but it is illegal to intervene with certain species of protected birds. She assured me though, that sparrows are not on the protected list and that I could legally help him by closely following her instructions.

The first thing Jodi asked me to do was to try to return the baby bird to its nest. It is a myth that the parents will reject a baby that’s been touched by human hands. Unfortunately, the nest was in the gutter at the very top of our building and there was no way for me to reach it.

Jodi next asked me to decide whether I wanted to hand-raise the bird, feeding him every half hour from sun-up to sun-down, or to make a new nest for the bird and place it in a spot where the mother and father would be able to care for him.

I wanted to intervene as little as possible, so I thought it best to get the bird back to the wild as soon as I could.

While I worked on his outdoor accommodations, Jodi told me to keep the baby bird inside in a box lined with something soft. She said that even though outdoor temperatures were in the 90’s, he would probably still need a source of direct heat since he didn’t have all his feathers yet. She told me to fill a water bottle with hot water and wrap it in something soft.

I was skeptical, but she said the bird would move away from it if he became too hot. 
He cuddled right up to it!
Next, I had to get him fed and hydrated. Jodi suggested something called handfeeding formula from Petco, but I wasn’t able to leave the office to pick any up. I did happen to have fresh raspberries and green grapes with me for lunch. She said either one would be a great thing to feed him. Blueberries work too. The fruit has enough liquid to hydrate him. On the website Jodi recommended, starlingtalk.com, caution is given that you should NEVER place fluid directly in the mouth of a wild bird as this could cause them to aspirate, develop pneumonia, or drown.
I peeled the grapes and broke up the fruit into tiny pieces. Now it was time to get over my fear of beaks and feed the little guy.
It wasn’t so bad. Time to gather some materials for nest building. 
Jodi told me to make sure the nest had drainage holes so he wouldn’t drown if it rained. A blueberry crate I found in the recycle bin was perfect for that. Wood chips borrowed from the organ-building company next door would serve as insulation. Fluffy cotton taken from a feminine hygiene product would act as a soft cushion. And a little dry grass from the periphery of the parking lot would keep it all together.
Baby bird loved his new digs. After feeding him for most of the day, I was starting to get attached, but I knew it was best for the bird if I returned him to the care of his parents. So, with a heavy heart, I brought the nest across the street. I used the flexible branches of a tree to weave the nest securely under the cover of some leaves. I said goodbye and hoped mom and dad would take good care of this little guy over the weekend.
I took this photo on Monday morning. Mom must have thought I was a total nest-building amateur, because it’s evident that she swooped in and spruced things up as soon as I was out of the way. She took good care of her baby all weekend and I’m happy to report that he is alive and well! He has most of his feathers and is hopping around and perching! 

I can’t thank Jodi enough for her advice. This is actually the second time she’s successfully helped me with a wild bird dilemma. Please take a look at her website and consider donating something from the list of items she needs. She’s a great resource for Cape Ann residents who come across wild birds in need of help. If you aren’t local, please find a qualified wildlife rehabilitator in your area. It’s really important that you have the right information before trying to help any wild animal.

Strawberry Pomegranate Margaritas – CSA Week 4

It’s been hot, hot, hot out lately! Without AC in the house, the whole family has resorted to our own tactics to stay cool.

Moe’s preferred method?

Hop in the nearest ceramic vessel and visualize yourself in an Olympic sized swimming pool.
Jasmine’s plan of action?
Lay on the floor looking as irritated as possible and wait for someone to deliver an ice pack.

And what is the more sophisticated plan in which Brad and I partake?

Drink margaritas.
Works every time.
Strawberry Pomegranate Margaritas
 
makes 1 pitcher
 
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled (makes about 2 C of puree)
2 C Tequila
1/2 C pomegranate liquor
juice of 1 lime
4-5 C ice
In a high speed blender, puree the strawberries first. You should have about 2 C of puree. Add the tequila, the pomegranate liquor and the lime juice. Fill the blender to the top with ice. Blend until smooth.

Secret Vegan Lime Bars – CSA Week 4

I’m really proud of this recipe. I’ve served these delicious lime bars to vegans, non-vegans, and people who don’t even know what “vegan” means. Everybody loves them. I’ve secretly smiled to myself as people who would never dream of eating tofu scarf down second and third bars. Healthy they are, but sinful they taste.

My first few batches were a bit anemic looking, so I started brainstorming ways to brighten up their color. Synthetic food coloring wouldn’t do…the chemicals in those dyes have been linked to too many scary health problems. It would have to be something natural.

When I saw the bright green dinosaur kale in our farm share this week I knew I had to try it. And that’s the secret ingredient in my vegan lime bars. Kale juice. It adds no detectable flavor to the scrumptious confections but it both brightens up the color and amps up the health factor. I imagine spinach juice would work well too.

Of course, moderation is key (couldn’t cut out the sugar or the calories), but sans butter, egg yolks and white flour, you can feel a little better about indulging in these vibrant tasting bars. The antioxidant boosting shot of kale juice is an added bonus!

These bars are dense and rich, so you can cut them pretty small – 2 inch squares should do it.

Secret Vegan Lime Bars
makes 16 small bars

crust
1/2 C coconut oil (in solid or liquid state)
1/4 C raw sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 spelt flour

lime filling
1/2 C nigari tofu (from Trader Joe’s in the antiseptic package) or silken tofu
3/4 C raw sugar
2 T lime zest
1/4 C fresh lime juice
1 tsp fresh kale juice
1/2 tsp agar powder (not flakes)

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. spray an 8×8 glass baking dish with PAM. Line with parchment paper and then spray the parchment with PAM. Set aside.
  3. in a large bowl, stir together the crust ingredients. Mixture will be dry and crumbly but should hold together when squeezed.
  4. using your fingers, press the crust into the lined baking dish. Bake crust for 20 minutes.
  5. to extract the kale juice, you can use a juicer or you can pulverize the kale leaves in a food processor and then squeeze out the juice through a fine mesh sieve. (see photo above) Make sure to save the pulp – you can add it to pesto or use it in baking for extra nutrients and fiber.
  6. remove the excess liquid from the tofu by pressing it with your fingers into a paper towel lined sieve.
  7. in a food processor, blend all the filling ingredients together until smooth.
  8. pour the filling into the baked crust. Put it back in the oven for about 25 minutes. Bars are done when bubbly and just beginning to brown around the edges.
  9. allow the bars to cool FULLY before trying to cut them. They will not set until they have fully cooled. You can place them in the refrigerator or freezer to speed up the process.
  10. Once bars are completely cool, the filling should be firm and gel-like. Grasping the parchment paper, lift the whole slab out of the pan and set on a cutting board. Remove the parchment (it may be stuck at the corners). Using a large knife, cut into squares.

CSA Week Four

New this week: carrots, broccoli and garlic scapes! It’s been soooo hot, I’ve had a hard time bringing myself to cook, but I’ve got some ideas for new recipes that will be posted soon.

CSA Week Four
broccoli
garlic scapes
carrots
dinosaur kale
lettuce
kohlrabi
fennel
baby bok choy
arugula
vitamin green
strawberries
sage
chives
dill
parsley
oregano
mint
cilantro

Lettuce "Tacos" with Kohlrabi Slaw and Chipotle Avocado Creme (vegan) – CSA Week 3

This meatless “taco” does not include soy-based faux meat. The lentil filling it’s centered around is tasty, meaty and real. You could wrap it up in a corn or flour tortilla, but why not use up your CSA lettuce and cut carbs at the same time? As always, the CSA ingredients I used are in bold type.
If your CSA kohlrabi has you scratching your head, try this recipe! The kohlrabi slaw adds a definite crunch and tang to these meatless “tacos”, and also makes a really nice salad all by itself.
makes about 6 “tacos”
filling

olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped
taco seasoning, to taste (I like Trader Joe’s because it has no weird additives)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 package Trader Joe’s cooked lentils (or 2 1/2 C cooked firm lentils)
1/4 C nutritional yeast powder or flakes
1/2 C vegetable stock
juice of 1/2 lime
  1. saute the onion in a bit of olive oil
  2. season with taco seasoning to taste (don’t be too heavy handed with the TJ’s brand – it’s spicy!)
  3. add salt and pepper to taste
  4. add the cooked lentils and break up all the clumps with a wooden spoon
  5. stir in the nutritional yeast
  6. add the stock and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan
  7. squeeze the lime juice over the lentil mixture and allow it all to cook on low heat until there is no excess liquid left
kohlrabi slaw – this makes a tasty salad on its own, by the way
combine the following:
2 bulbs kohlrabi, peeled and sliced into matchsticks (I used a mandolin)
2 small-medium radishes, shredded finely (I used a cheese grater)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp course salt
chipotle avocado creme
puree the following in a food processor until smooth:
the flesh of 1 medium avocado
garlic scape
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground chipotle chili
vegetable broth to thin out, if necessary
Assemble the filling and slaw in lettuce leaves and top with the avocado creme and you have yourself a nice healthy vegan “taco”!

Salmon and Fennel in Parchment – CSA Week 3

For a quick and healthy weeknight dinner, wild caught salmon is an excellent choice. Using this recipe from Simply Recipes for inspiration, I added some fresh dill and substituted olive oil for the butter. It was done in 30 minutes and tasted delish served over rice!

On a large piece of parchment paper, I placed the sliced fennel down first, followed by the salmon (skin side down). I seasoned the fish liberally with kosher salt and black pepper and then drizzled the whole thing with olive oil. I topped it off with lemon slices and then put a big bunch of fennel fronds on top.
I wrapped up the whole package in parchment and sealed the edges to keep in the steam before throwing it in the oven on a cookie sheet.
Before serving, I removed the fennel fronds – they were only there to infuse flavor into the fish – and sprinkled liberally with fresh chopped dill.
This might be my favorite way to cook fennel yet! It was sweet and tender and lemony all at once. The perfect accompaniment to salmon. Yum!

CSA Week Three

I’m excited to have fresh dill this week! I love its bright flavor sprinkled over all kinds of things. We also got beets, which I must confess, are not my favorite. I’ve had to come up with some creative ways to use them since they show up in the share pretty consistently throughout the season. I will definitely be posting some of my ideas.
CSA Week Three
Boston lettuce
salad turnips
broccoli rabe
beets
arugula
tat soi
fennel
scallions
strawberries
shelling peas
snow peas
radishes
Napa cabbage
kale
chives
dill
parsley
cilantro

CSA Recipes Week 2 Part 2

Fennel and Grapefruit Salad
We in the Northeast are on day three of a heat wave. When it’s super-hot outside, I crave fresh, light meals. This was the perfect cooling lunch for a sweltering day!

makes one portion

1 pink grapefruit, sections removed
1 small bulb fennel, sliced very thin
Himalayan pink salt
black pepper

  1. arrange the grapefruit sections and fennel on a plate
  2. season very lightly with just a pinch of Himalayan pink salt and black pepper



Vegetable Potstickers (vegan)
This was my first time using store-bought wonton wraps. I’m a big fan! These were easy to put together and came out crispy, crunchy and delicious! You can serve these on their own with a little dipping sauce (I used Trader Joe’s sweet chili sauce), and/or place them on top of Napa cabbage slaw (recipe below).

recipe makes about 20 potstickers

potstickers
canola oil
4 salad turnips, peeled & diced
4 heads baby bok choy, chopped
3-4 C tat soi, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
low sodium soy sauce, to taste
1/4 C cooked white rice
1 pkg Nasoya wonton wraps

Napa cabbage slaw
4 C thinly sliced Napa cabbage
1-2 radishes, shredded on a cheese grater
2-3 scallions, diced
2-3 tsp Trader Joe’s Soyaki (or mix a little brown sugar with soy sauce)
sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds

  1. in a little canola oil, over medium-high heat, saute the diced turnips and baby bok choy for about 5 minutes
  2. add the tat soi and garlic and saute a few more minutes, lowering the heat if necessary
  3. add a dash of soy sauce and cover the pan
  4. once the tat soi has wilted, remove the lid and add the rice, cooking uncovered until all excess liquid has evaporated
  5. fill the wonton wraps according to package directions
  6. pan fry the pot stickers in about 1/2 inch of canola oil until blistered and golden brown on all sides (use tongs to flip halfway through)
  7. remove and drain on a paper towel

“Sour Cream” and Chive Kale Chips (vegan)

Adapted from Chef Douglas MicNish’s Sour Cream and Onion Kale Chips. These came out very crispy but the chive flavor was kind of subtle. Next time I might try blending the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, sea salt, garlic powder, chives and olive oil in a food processor to ensure that the chive flavor will really stick to the kale.

1 lb. kale (one big bunch)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 T nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 C chopped chives
scant drizzle of olive oil

  1. preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. wash the kale and dry it very thoroughly (this is important for crispy chips)
  3. strip the kale leaves from the stalks and tear them up into bite-sized pieces
  4. in a large bowl, mix the kale with all other ingredients and massage the kale leaves – the mixture should feel sticky but not wet
  5. spread the kale out over baking sheets (use light colored pans so the chips don’t burn), making sure there’s no overlapping
  6. bake for 5-10 minutes, checking frequently until the chips are very dry and crisp *watch carefully – the chips will turn from the perfect crisp to scorched in seconds!