Cabbage “Noodles” – CSA Week 6

Growing up, I loved when my mom made cabbage “noodles”. She would fry a little bacon in a very hot skillet and cook thinly sliced ribbons of cabbage in the bacon fat. The only seasoning required was a bit of salt and pepper. Served as a side dish with crispy crumbled bacon on top, the noodles were a buttery, decadent comfort food.

The recipe that follows is my lightened up version of mom’s recipe. Fresh sliced onions from the CSA add dimension in the bacon’s stead.

cabbage noodles

Cabbage “Noodles”

makes 2-4 servings

  • 1 mini cabbage, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 Alisa Craig onion, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. heat the olive oil in a large skillet (cast iron works great)
  2. saute the onions over medium heat until soft
  3. turn the heat to high, add the cabbage and season with salt and pepper
  4. cook over high heat, flipping the cabbage, until browned
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Candy Cane Beet Sundaes – CSA Week 5 – FAIL!

Chioggia beets, also called candy cane beets, due to their delicate concentric white and red rings, are stunning. Whether thinly shaved into salads or coarsely diced and roasted, these beauties always steal the show.

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When I saw candy cane beets in the share room, I couldn’t wait to take these marvels of nature home from the farm and get creative with them. But then I lost all ambition to cook. Yet another heat wave had hit us New-Englanders and I was having trouble getting into the kitchen.

In the oppressive heat of the afternoon last week, I was contemplating the many ways in which I could showcase the beauty of my lovely CSA Chioggias. As hard as I tried to brainstorm recipes featuring root vegetables, my mind kept wandering back to cooler things. With visions of swimming pools, industrial fans and frozen margaritas dancing in my head, I just couldn’t focus on roasting, mashing, pureeing, dicing or slicing beets.

And then it hit me.

Ice cream! Because really, when in doubt…ice cream.

I would make sundaes, starring not only the lovely candy cane beet, but also her more practical, if less showy friend, the red beet. I’d kill two beets with one sundae. A risky endeavor that sounded like a solid plan in my head, which, in retrospect, was clearly affected by the midday heat.

I spent most of Sunday morning feverishly working in the kitchen to bring to life my vision. First, I peeled and juiced a few red beets and boiled down their liquid with starlight mints, producing a shocking red, “candy cane” sauce.

red candy cane sauce

I then hauled out the ice cream maker to whip up a coconut milk based, vegan, “candy cane” ice cream.

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To the ice cream I added crushed up starlight mints and a bit of my fresh “candy cane” sauce for a red, minty swirl.

crushed starlight mints

red swirl ice cream

I even candied and crisped paper-thin candy cane beet chips for a dainty garnish.

After all that work, I was excited for my sundaes to be a total hit.

But alas, they were a total flop. The once vibrant candy cane rings on my beet chips became washed out and faded, the ice cream was waaay too sweet and the red minty swirl was more like gelatinous, semi-coagulated beet juice with subtle notes of Listerine.

I decided to share this kitchen nightmare because it proves that while it can be very rewarding to leave your comfort zone and try new things, you won’t always hit a home run. And that’s OK! For every failed recipe you’re bound to create some winners. Especially when cooking with a CSA, half the fun is in being creative…in leaving behind the cookbooks and breaking some culinary rules. A little coagulated beet juice isn’t going to stop me. A bold new beet recipe is my next project, and it’s going to be a good one!

Grilled Summer Squash Sandwich – CSA Week 5

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Throwing together a rustic sandwich for lunch makes me feel so European. Simplicity equals elegance here and good bread is a must! This delicious fresh sammy will be on the plate in 10 minutes, start to finish.

Grilled Summer Squash Sandwich

  • 1 T coconut oil (you could use olive oil but I love the nutty flavor that coconut lends)
  • 1 summer squash, cut in half and then sliced lengthwise
  • a pinch of salt
  • crusty French or Italian bread
  • olive tapenade
  • handful of fresh basil leaves2013-07-15 00.51.17
  1. in a nonstick pan, heat the coconut oil until pan is very hot
  2. add the sliced summer squash and season with a little salt
  3. brown the squash on each side – it should be tender once browned
  4. spread the tapenade on one piece of the bread, stack the summer squash and whole basil leaves on top and cover with the other slice of bread

CSA Week Five

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  • 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.