Wednesday, January 19, 2011

River Dog Farm Box, Week 3

Week 3, already, of my farm box experiment. Today was lovely because I worked from home, so I actually got to walk down to my pick-up site at lunchtime to get my box. It was was one of those gorgeous Bay Area winter days that feels like May in any place else I've ever lived: 65 degrees, softly sunny, the smell of damp earth in the air. The not-quite-a-mile walk to my pick-up site was just wonderful.

Leftover from last week:

Mostly, we just had odds and ends leftover, with the exception of the delicata. But those will keep forever, so I'm not worried about it. Here's what was left:

1 watermelon radish
A few leaves of Kale
A few broccoli leaves (we ate all the heads, though)
2 delicata squash
A couple red radishes
1 mandarin orange
1 carrot
2-3 parsnips

This week's box contained:

1 very large celery root (also known as celariac)
I've never actually cooked with celery root before, so I'm not entirely sure what to do with it. I've read the flavor is something like celery crossed with parsley, and that it mellows as it cooks. I'm thinking maybe a potato-celery root soup or maybe a gratin with potatoes and leeks?

It's a bit homely looking, no?

1 large bunch collard greens
Again, not something I've ever cooked with before. However, Josh and I both adore dark greens and eat at least one bunch, if not two, of kale every week. Usually, we saute it in a hot pan with a bit of water and salt and then spritz it with lemon juice right before serving. I'm guessing I can cook this in a similar manner and I'm sure we'll enjoy it.

1 bunch Tokyo turnips
These are the small, smooth white turnips that look like overgrown radishes, not the big purplish knobbly ones. I don't dislike turnips, but I don't ever really buy them. I suspect these are destined to be cut up and eaten as snacks, with blue cheese dip. If I make a gratin with the celery root and potatoes, maybe I'll add these. Also, my farm box said you can eat the greens, as well, just like any other dark green.

1 bunch carrots
The carrots from my boxes have been so lovely. Fat and sweet and perfectly formed. I think winter carrots are SO much better than summer ones! These will get snacked on and a few probably roasted, as well.

1 green cabbage
Frankly, I was a little dismayed to see this in my box, as Josh and I currently have a monster-sized batch of sauerkraut fermenting and a huge head of cabbage left over from J's accidental over-buy for the sauerkraut AND half a head of purple cabbage in my fridge. Luckily, cabbage keeps pretty well, so if this sits in the fridge for a few weeks before I use it up, I'm sure it'll be fine. Anyone have any good cabbage recipes?

4 leeks
These are such a staple, I'm sure I won't have a hard time using them up. I use them in eggs, soups, sauces, etc. Also, I save the tough darker green bits to use to make broth. I just keep a baggie in the freezer for odds and ends like this (mushroom stems, leek greens, chicken bones, etc) and when I have a bunch saved up, I make my own stock. So much better than anything you can buy in the store, and practically free, since I make it mostly with scraps.

2 lbs navel oranges AND 3 lbs satsuma mandarins
Glad there are some navels mixed in with the oranges this week. It's nearing the end of peak Satsuma season, I think -- they're starting to look a bit knobbly and faded.

Here's everything from the box, all laid out

I have to say, I'm not as excited about this week's box as I have been about the past two. The food all looks great, it's just that none of my favorites were included this week. I was hoping for a nice bunch of beets and more kale and winter squash. Anyway, here's what I'm thinking (farm box ingredients in italics):

Wednesday Lunch: This lunch was all about using up last week's odds and ends before going to pick up this week's box. Luckily, I worked from home, so I was able to make a more elaborate lunch than usual -- my own version of the Peanut Sesame Noodles from Smitten Kitchen. I discovered this recipe a couple of years ago, and it has become one of my staples. It's easy to whip up fast for a weeknight, it's healthy, and it allows for infinite variation -- I almost always have the ingredients for it in the house. Today's version had: shredded red cabbage, thinly sliced radishes, thinly sliced and blanched broccoli leaves, blanched ribbons of kale and bok Choi, and shredded carrots. All but the cabbage were left from last week's farm box. I also often toss in some tofu (browned in a dry pan) and some frozen peas or Trader Joes frozen "Soycatash."

Wednesday Dinner: Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup from 101 Cookbooks (a great resource for healthy, veggie-heavy recipes). I used a combination of greens -- the greens from this week's turnips, a couple leaves of this week's collards, and the few leaves that were left from last week's kale. I never would have thought to eat the turnip greens, but the newsletter from Riverdog said you could use 'em like any other green. They were actually milder than I expected -- I guess since turnips have a sharper taste, I was expecting the greens to have the same.

Other plans for the box include some sort of gratin with the celeriac and some potatoes, collard greens as a side dish, and snacking on the turnips. This week will be a bit more of a challenge, so I'll let you know where I end up.

EDT to add:

Here's what we've done with the rest of last week's farm box:

Thursday Dinner:
Baked tilapia, served with sauteed collard greens splashed with lemon (it did taste pretty much exactly like kale, only a bit less tender), and mashed potatoes and celery root. This was my first time using celery root. I found that it tastes a bit like very mild celery crossed with artichoke heart (it leaves that same sort of sweet and tangy aftertaste in the back of your throat). It was delicious boiled and mashed with potatoes, butter, sour cream, and a bit of salt and pepper.

We actually went out for dinner on Friday night, a rare occurrence since I've been trying to save my pennies for a big trip to Alaska this coming summer.

Saturday dinner
: One of my favorite quick meals, rice bowls. Locally grown brown rice from Massa Family Organics (the best rice I've ever tasted!), topped with seared ahi tuna marinated in a little soy sauce, fresh ginger and garlic, then sprinkled with sesame seeds, lightly sauteed farm box carrots and turnips, plus some sauteed kale we bought to supplement the farm box. Bold
Sunday lunch:
Pasta salad with orzo, farm box carrots and turnips and leeks, kalamata olives and feta. This will also be lunch for a day or two this week.

Sunday dinner:
We made our common Sunday night roast pork, this time with a gratin on the side, made with celery root, potatoes, leeks, and delicata squash (from the Week 2 farm box). The gratin was totally amazing -- I could have eaten the whole pan on my own!

What's left:
As of right now, Monday mid-day, we have the following left from the boxes:

-- a couple parsnips (from 2 weeks ago)

-- 4 or 5 carrots

-- the entire cabbage

-- 1 delicata squash from a couple weeks ago

-- a few oranges, which will easily be eaten before this Wednesday's box arrives.

-- 2 turnips

-- 2 leeks

The carrots, parsnips, and turnips will get eaten tonight -- we're making sausages, roasted veggies, and eating the first of our home-fermented sauerkraut. God only knows what I'm going to do with that freakin' cabbage!

Other than that, I ended up throwing away what was left of the bok choi from a couple weeks ago, but other than a couple rotten oranges, that's the only thing I've tossed from the farm boxes. This is a HUGE change for me -- I'm notoriously bad about over-buying produce and throwing away half of what I buy. Since I started the farm boxes, the only produce I've bought is a bag of farmer's market salad a week and a couple extra bunches of kale. I've also cut my food spending by 30% (!!!) from my typical expenditures. This isn't just due to the farm box -- I've also been much more aware of my spending in general, but I think the farm box has helped. Anyway, I'd say that so far the farm box has been a resounding success. I've already sent in my check to sign up again for next month.

No comments: