CSA Week 2 Recipes Part 1

Kale Piccata Over Whole Wheat Pasta
makes 2 servings

2 servings of cooked whole wheat spaghetti
2 T olive oil
4 C Russian red kale
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 C vegetable broth
lemon juice to taste (I used a whole lemon – very tart!)
2 T capers
2 T chopped fresh oregano
2 T chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

  1. in a large skillet, warm one T of olive oil over medium heat and add the Russian red kale
  2. cover the skillet and allow the kale to wilt
  3. add the garlic and cook another minute, stirring to keep the garlic from burning
  4. add the broth and lemon juice and cook until most of the liquid cooks off
  5. add the capers, herbs and crushed red pepper flakes, if using
  6. drizzle the remaining T of olive oil and season with salt and pepper before serving
Strawberry Mint Cooler
makes one drink

You could leave out the rum for a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage…but hey, it was a Friday night…

2-3 strawberries
handful of fresh mint leaves
shot of white rum
coconut water
  1. muddle the fresh mint and strawberries in the bottom of a glass
  2. fill the glass with ice
  3. pour the rum over the ice
  4. fill the glass to to the top with cold coconut water
Napa Cabbage Soup
I used up the Napa cabbage, the baby red bok choy, the scallions and some parsley, chives, and freshly shelled peas in a soup. It turned out OK but not great. I’m going to skip the recipe since it wasn’t my best work. I have used Napa cabbage in soups before and had success. It’s really delicious when sliced thin to resemble noodles – just make sure to pair it with a flavorful broth.

CSA Week Two

It’s still pretty early in our growing season, so we’re getting mostly greens right now. I love my kale, but the really fun part of June is the strawberries! They are so much sweeter and juicier than the store-bought kind.

CSA Week Two
Napa cabbage
shelling peas (yay!)
baby bok choy
red baby bok choy
Russian red kale
salad turnips

CSA Week 1 Recipes Part 2

Just finished up using my farm share from week one with the exception of one bulb of fennel and some braising greens. Luckily they’ll still be fresh next week; one of the best things about a local CSA is how long the produce lasts. Grocery store produce usually has a long trip from wherever it was grown before it even makes it to your shopping cart. Shopping at a local farm means your veggies just came out of the ground and will last longer in the fridge!
All ingredients in bold are from the CSA.

Red Romaine and Arugula Salad with Baby Turnips

3 C arugula, rinsed with cold water
1 head red romaine lettuce, washed and cut up
1/2 large cucumber, peeled and sliced
3-5 baby turnips, peeled and cut into wedges

These young turnips are mild enough to use raw.

Lemon-Oregano Dressing
Use a food processor to blend the following:
1 clove garlic
4 T olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon
agave or honey to taste
handful of fresh oregano leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 T feta cheese (optional)

Fettuccine with Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Broccoli Rabe
1 lb whole wheat fettuccine
olive oil
2 lbs cleaned shrimp
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 bunch of broccoli rabe
1/2 C chopped fresh parsley
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

  1. In a large pot of salted water, cook the fettuccine until just firm. Remove the pasta and set it aside. Let the pasta water remain boiling on the stove.
  2. In a large skillet, saute the shrimp in a little bit of olive oil until just cooked. Season with salt and pepper and set aside on a plate. Do not overcook – it only takes a minute or two on each side – use tongs to flip.
  3. While the shrimp is cooking, blanch the broccoli rabe in the pasta water until tender-crisp.
  4. Add the garlic and about half the lemon juice to the skillet that the shrimp just came out of. Allow the garlic to cook for a minute or two, reducing the heat if necessary.
  5. Using a skimmer or slotted spoon, fish the broccoli rabe out of the boiling water and add it to the skillet.
  6. Dump the pasta and the shrimp into the skillet along with a spoonful of pasta water, the rest of the lemon juice, and the fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Dump everything into a large pasta bowl and mix well before serving.

Herb Roasted Chicken
This one’s so easy, there’s no recipe required. Just stuff some fresh herbs (I used sage, parsley and oregano) into the cavity of a small chicken and rub the skin with salt, pepper and olive oil before roasting.

CSA Week 1 Recipes Part 1

Cooking with a farm share is super fun because it requires creativity and spontaneity. You never know what awaits you in the share room, so you can’t exactly plan out recipes in advance. Once I pick out my share and get it home, I like to take stock and figure out how to make it work with whatever I already have on hand. This usually results in the kind of cooking where you don’t follow a recipe. You just make it up as you go. Sometimes the result is yummy and other times it’s not so great, but it’s ALWAYS fun! Here’s what I’ve done so far with this week’s share. Items from the CSA are in bold letters.

Kiwi and Mint Infused Water
makes one medium pitcher

3 sprigs fresh mint
1 kiwi, peeled and chopped

  1. strip the leaves off 2 mint sprigs and place on the bottom of a medium sized pitcher
  2. add kiwi
  3. muddle everything together
  4. fill the rest of the pitcher with water
  5. allow to sit for a couple of hours in the refrigerator for a more intense flavor
  6. pour into a glass over ice through a fine mesh strainer
  7. garnish with the remaining mint sprig

Quinoa with Mushrooms, Greens and Chives
makes about 6 servings

1 C dry quinoa
olive oil
1 large package of cremini mushrooms, chopped
3-4 C fresh tat soi
2 C fresh baby spinach
salt and pepper
1 bunch fresh chives, diced
lemon juice (or balsamic vinegar)

  1. cook quinoa according to package directions and set aside
  2. saute cremini mushrooms in a bit of olive oil
  3. add tat soi and baby spinach to the pan (or whatever greens you have on hand)
  4. cover pan and allow greens to wilt
  5. season the greens and mushrooms with salt and pepper
  6. add sauteed greens and mushrooms to the cooked quinoa along with the chives
  7. drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice
  8. salt and pepper to taste

serve warm or at room temp

Spinach Salad with Sugar Snap Peas, Pears and Radish

makes two small, or one large salad
2-3 C fresh baby spinach

1 sliced pear (skin on)
2 grated Easter Egg Radishes (skin on)
a handful of sugar snap peas, sliced on the diagonal
a sprinkling of shelled sunflower seeds
3 chopped scallions

1 T olive oil
1 T honey dijon mustard
a dash of rice wine vinegar
salt and pepper

  1. make a bed of spinach and top it with the pear, grated radishes, sugar snap peas, sunflower seeds and scallions
  2. season with salt and pepper
  3. mix all the dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake until combined before dressing salad


Paper Thin Radishes over Sweet Potato Puree with Sage Coconut Sauce
If you love homemade butternut squash ravioli with sage brown butter sauce, this recipe is for you! All the flavor with none of the guilt. Fresh and light, it is packed with nutrients that you can feel good about.

This recipe makes enough for 2 entree-sized portions or 4-6 small plates for an elegant first course.

1 medium-large sweet potato
4 Easter Egg Radishes in different colors
olive oil
4-5 sprigs of fresh sage
1 T coconut oil
salt and pepper
3 T Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream (if this is not available, you can skim the cream off the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk)

  1. poke holes in the skin of the sweet potato and bake in a 400 degree oven until soft (about 1 hour)
  2. using the thinnest setting on a mandolin, shave the radishes into paper thin rounds
  3. in a very hot pan, fry a few whole sage leaves in coconut oil until crisp and then set on a paper towel
  4. add the rest of the sage, roughly chopped, to the skillet and season with salt and pepper
  5. cook the sage until it gets a little brown and crisp (you may need to reduce heat to avoid burning)
  6. add Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream and reduce heat, cooking until flavors meld
  7. spoon the cooked sweet potato out of the skin and throw into a blender with a splash of coconut milk
  8. puree sweet potato until smooth seasoning with just a pinch of sea salt
  9. put a dollop of sweet potato puree down on the plate
  10. arrange the radish slices on top of the puree
  11. pour the sauce over the top
  12. garnish with fried sage
serve while the potato puree and sauce are still very hot

Russian Red Kale with Marinara and Kalamata Olives

This is a DELICIOUS way to eat your greens. It reminds me of pasta puttanesca, without the heavy pasta.

Since this was a baby Russian Red Kale, I used the whole leaf.  If you are using a mature kale, you’ll need to take out the tough stalks and cut up the leaves into smaller pieces before cooking. All varieties work well in this dish if you make sure to simmer until tender.

This recipe makes one plate

1 T olive oil
4 C Russian Red kale
1 C marinara sauce
1/4 C pitted Kalamata olives
2 T fresh parsley, chopped

  1. in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat
  2. add kale and allow to wilt
  3. pour in marinara
  4. add olives
  5. allow to simmer for about 20 minutes while kale soaks up the flavor of the sauce
  6. serve topped with parsley

For Brad, who is more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy, I used some sugar snap peas in a basic chicken stir fry with veggies.

These beautiful fresh strawberries were eaten exactly as-is. Yum!

$3.48 DIY Cat Bed for Home and Travel – Washable!

As the most important members of our household, Jasmine and Moe get a lot of special treatment. Once a week, Brad prepares poached chicken for their dining pleasure, which Jasmine flat out refuses to eat if he forgets the bay leaves. They sleep in our bed every night; they enjoy a constant barrage of kisses and compliments. These rescued street kitties have really gotten used to a pampered way of life.

The prince and princess would never tolerate being left out of a family activity, so we always bring them along with us on our weekend ski trips up north. This involves a two-hour drive, which they’ve learned to use as a mobile nap time.

Since our little sweeties were logging so many miles, I decided to improve their travel experience by turning their carriers into super-duper, comfy-cozy dens of plushness. I wanted them each to have their own bed that they could take with them anywhere so they would always feel comfortable. Our kitties like to snuggle into blankets so I designed the bed to have a partially attached top blanket. If your cat doesn’t like being covered, you can skip the top blanket and make a straight pillow case.

This bed fits nicely into a carrier for travel, and also functions as a bed that they use full-time in the house! It’s really easy to make and it’s washable, but the best part is that you can make this bed for $3.48! Scroll down for a tutorial.

Do you think they like it?

$3.48 DIY Cat Bed for Home and Travel
Materials needed (makes one bed):

Ikea KRAKRIS 51″x63″ fleece throw $1.99
Ikea GOSA SLAN stomach sleeper pillow $1.49
sewing machine and thread
measuring tape
seam ripper

1.  Use a seam ripper to remove the tag from the blanket

2. Use scissors to cut the tags off the pillow

3. Fold the blanket in half, the long way, and lay out on a flat surface

4. Measure 25 inches from the top of the blanket. Starting at the bottom of the blanket, cut along the fold all the way up to the 25 inch mark, leaving the rest uncut

5. Fold up the top panel of what you just cut, so it is out of the way, leaving the bottom panel exposed. The top panel is going to stay long because it ends up being the “blanket”
6. Measure 10 inches from the top of the cut you just made, on the bottom panel. Cut off the excess, leaving only the 10 inches intact

7. Measure 20 inches across, and cut off the excess all the way down the length of the material, so the whole thing is 20 inches wide. Do not cut down the side with the fold. Cut down the side where the two edges meet.

8. Reverse fold the blanket so it’s inside out with both the cut panels hanging down

9.  Sew across the top where the two thicknesses meet, making a seam all the way across the top
10.  From just below the cut, fold the longer panel back up and IN BETWEEN the other 2 thicknesses of fabric, toward the seam you just sewed. The flap is longer so there will be excess – it won’t match up to the seam you just sewed. Move the excess aside so it doesn’t get caught up in the seam you are about to make.

11.  Starting at the fold, sew a seam along edge of the 3 thicknesses of fabric, perpendicular to the first seam you made, until the two seams meet

12.  DO NOT sew the other side where the blanket is folded

13. Turn the whole thing right-side-in.

14. Insert the pillow and fold the excess 10 inches of  fabric over the end of the pillow, tucking it inside the pillow case

15. Place your kitty on top of the pillow and tuck him in!

Why did the turtle cross the road?

It’s turtle nesting season in Massachusetts. I spotted this snapping turtle hatchling in the road this morning and helped him get to the other side.

Turtles move slowly and are hard to see, so they are especially vulnerable to fast-moving traffic. Any time I see a turtle in the road, I stop to help it cross safely. You can help turtles too! Just follow these simple rules:
1. Only stop to help a turtle cross the road if you can do so without putting yourself or anyone else in danger. Pull your car over in a safe place and be mindful of traffic.
2. ALWAYS move the turtle in the direction it was heading. DO NOT bring the turtle back to side it was coming from. The turtle is heading to the other side for a reason, so don’t try to change its mind!
3. Do not bring a turtle to a “better location”. It knows where it’s heading and it has a reason. All you need to do is get it across the road faster.
4. Never pick up a turtle by its tail as this could dislocate its spine.
5. You can hold most turtles (except for snapping turtles), by the sides of the shell. Just pick the turtle up, bring it across the street to safety, and put it down in the direction it was heading.
6. Snapping turtles move fairly quickly and can cause some serious damage (severed fingers, for example). Keep your hands away from the front of the turtle. Because their necks are so long, a snapper can actually reach your hands if you hold the turtle by the sides of its shell. The best way to move a snapper is to grasp the shell in the back. Watch this demonstration. You can identify a snapper by its long tail with dragon-like points and jagged-edged shell.
7. Turtles have been known to carry Salmonella, so grab some hand sanitizer after you’ve put the turtle down and make sure to wash with soap and water as soon as you get to a sink.

Adventure at Sea

Lately, I’ve been yearning for adventure. While my day job provides plenty of challenges, spending the day in an office just doesn’t give you the same kind of satisfaction that I imagine one would get from, oh I don’t know….building her own log cabin and living off the land in complete isolation from the outside world, befriending only woodland animals….Yes, I have thought about this scenario. Blame TV. Practically every program on my DVR takes place in Alaska and involves some self-reliant type who tans elk hide with his own urine.

Well, adventure I wanted, and adventure I received. Brad and I decided to take the kayaks downriver. The tides were going to be perfect for paddling with the current out to the beach and after hanging out for a couple of hours, taking advantage of the change in tide to get back to the spot where we launched. An experienced fisherman who always has his eye on the marine forecast, Brad checked the weather before we left. Thunderstorms were supposed to stay west of us and the wind was supposed to be a little gusty but it wasn’t anything we were worried about.

So we hopped in the river and headed to the backside of our favorite beach. The paddle to the beach was amazing. I wish I had brought my camera so I could share with you the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while. A raccoon, on the marsh at the edge of the river, hunting for crabs! The little guy/gal thought we were a pretty strange sight as we kayaked by, but then went about his/her business. We had a nice little breeze at our back, which kept us cool all the way to the beach.

But the wind picked up just as we landed on the beach. We ate a quick lunch but decided that we’d cut our visit short and head back as soon as the tide changed. We wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to get back upriver knowing how hard it would be to paddle against this sustained wind. And if the wind had changed, maybe the thunderstorms were headed for us too.

Making it to the other side of the channel from the beach, without bumping into any boats, was our first challenge. I dug into that water harder than I ever thought I could (thank you Melissa Bender), and started making headway. Waves were crashing up over the bow of my kayak and soaking me. But we got past the anchored boats, and it was time to take a right turn and head upriver. As I turned my kayak, I started taking on waves broadside and nearly capsized! This was getting kind of scary.

Luckily, Brad, the seasoned fisherman was methodically steering us toward the next leg of the river where the water seemed much calmer. Presumably, this was going to be much easier once we got to there.

Oh, was I wrong. Although the current was going with us, the wind was against us. Very, very against us. We paddled and paddled and seemed to go nowhere. But no worries, this was the shallow part of the river and it was low tide. We would just get out of the boats and walk them. Um…yeah. Have you ever tried walking through a muddy-bottomed river, hunching over to drag a boat as the water swooshes through your legs and the wind does its very best to knock you over backward? Not that fun.

But I saw an escape. To the right of us, across a big stretch of mudflat and marsh, was a barn. A little beyond the barn was a house. There was a pickup truck parked next to the house.

We would pull the kayaks out and give my parents a call. They live in town and could pick us up on whatever street this house was on. Easy Peasy.

Brad was of the opinion that we should stay in the river and tough it out, fighting the wind to get back to the truck. I was of the opinion that I had a few new episodes of “Alaska: The Last Frontier” on the DVR, and as it turned out, it was much more fun to watch than to emulate.

So, we decided to go to land. So, I decided to go to land and Brad followed me, grumbling the whole way.

Brad dragged the kayaks across the mudflat and through the marsh (not as easy as it sounds), stashing them beneath a couple of bushes, while I called my parents and asked for a bailout. I estimated our location and asked them to drive to the road I thought we were on. The road was surely just beyond this hill, where I would be able to read the number on the mailbox and tell them exactly where to pick us up.

I was feeling so smart and Bear Grylls-esque that I hardly noticed Brad prattling on about being marooned on an island and how we should have just kept paddling. OK, know-it-all, how did that pickup truck get here if we are on an island? Clearly there’s a road here. We just need to get to it. A little more walking and a little less talking, OK?

But when we crested the hill, there wasn’t a road in sight. We had just traipsed though a field of high grass that was laden with poison ivy and deer ticks, me proudly leading the way, and there was no road. Even so, I wanted to keep walking until we found the road. There was a pickup truck here, right? There had to be a road. But Brad couldn’t drop the dumb idea that we were on some kind of mythical island that has houses and cars but no road to the mainland. I was getting tired of his whining, so I let him take over. Better to let him prove himself wrong.

He decided that we would walk another 500 yards through the yuck and knock at the door of the house to find out where we were. I stayed at the edge of the driveway while he went up to the house. If these people were serial killers, it was probably best that only one of us was sacrificed.

A woman came out, followed by a man, and they started to talk with Brad. The wind was whipping so ferociously, that I couldn’t hear what they were saying. However, I’m a pretty proficient lip-reader, and it looked like the word “island” was getting thrown around quite a bit.

Feeling pretty comfortable now that this man and woman were not going to brutally murder us, I walked over to join the conversation. Just in time to hear that the truck had been BROUGHT IN ON A BARGE.

We were on an island.

An island inhabited only by Lois and Tom, and only on the weekends. Umm…sorry Brad. My bad.

Thank the Lord for Lois and Tom. They drove us back down through the yuck where we retrieved our kayaks. Then they brought us and our boats around the other side of the little island where the mainland was just a quick paddle across the river. We called my mom and dad (who had since looked at a map and also figured out that we were stuck on an island – yes, I was the last one to accept this concept. And did I mention that by now, we were about 3 hours into this ordeal?), and told them where they could find us.

We were saved. Well…I was saved. I’m pretty sure Brad had it under control the whole time.