Saturday, January 29, 2011

River Dog Farm Box, Week 4

On week 4 of the farm box experiment, already, and I just re-upped for next month. We've really been enjoying the veggies and I'm amazed each week by the wonderful variety get, even in the dead of winter.

Leftover from last week:

a few carrots
1 delicata squash (from a couple weeks ago)
4-5 mandarins and one navel orange
2-3 parsnips

This week's box contained:

1 bunch carrots

1 lb Broccoli.
It must be hitting good broccoli season here, because the broccoli was just lovely this week. I think it's probably going to go into a broccoli-potato soup, but it looks so lovely, we might just steam it and eat it with a squeeze of lemon and some salt.

1 bunch Rapini
The rapini was also really lovely this week. Very fresh and green, and we got a huge bunch of it. The cold weather a couple weeks ago really sweetened it up, so it was hardly bitter at all.

3 lbs Satsuma Mandarins
2 lbs Navel Oranges

Honestly, I'm getting tired of the mandarins. Last week's were kind of manky -- too big and starting to get really tough membranes and lose their super-sweetness. That meant that I didn't even finish eating last week's and was a little dismayed to see a whole new batch to eat through this week. I might just squeeze them for juice tomorrow morning and have fresh juice with my breakfast.

1 bunch chard
The chard this week was stunning. Just look at it:

Chard is actually not my favorite green. I'd usually much prefer kale. But this particular variety turned out to be just as delicious as it was beautiful. Hurray!

1½ lbs Yellow Creamer Potatoes

1 Butternut Squash

Although I've been really pleased, overall, with the variety we're getting in the box, we still haven't gotten any beets -- none for the entire month -- which is kind of disappointing. I will say, though, that those are really the only thing that I expected to get in my boxes that I haven't yet gotten. And so far, we've only gotten one thing that I didn't really like -- the bok choi a couple weeks ago. I'm just not a huge bok choi fan.

With the CSA I was a member of in Chicago, my pick-up site had a "trade box." Basically, if you got something you weren't especially fond of in your box, you could put it in the trade box and take something that someone else had put there. I wish that my pick-up site for River Dog had this. Mostly, I wouldn't use this option, but I would gladly have traded away that bok choi a couple weeks ago for another bunch of kale.

An overall note on quality. Mostly, I've been very pleased with the quality of what I've gotten in my boxes. It's been very fresh and delicious. There have been a few minor exceptions: As I mentioned above, last week's mandarins were less-than-stellar, and one navel orange was totally rotten the day after I got it -- yuck! Some of my first batch of broccoli had also gone rotten.

Anyway, here's what we've done with this week's veggies so far:

Tuesday dinner: The night before this week's box came, I used up most of what was left of the veggies from last week. I roasted carrots, turnips, and parsnips together with a chopped up lemon, olive oil, and a bunch of spices, then served it over quinoa.

Wednesday dinner: stuffed chicken breasts over polenta, based on this recipe, which has become one of our favorites. We sauteed leek from last week's box along with mushrooms, garlic, and some of that lovely chard, then folded it inside thinly pounded chicken breasts along with some fontina cheese. Yum! We served it over polenta and it was just delicious. This was also Thursday lunch for me, as leftovers.

Thursday dinner: I was on my own for Thursday dinner, since J. was at work late, so I made a simple meal -- leftover polenta, served with some of the rapini, which I blanched in boiling water for just a couple minutes and poached eggs. Super-fast and healthy, yet satisfying.

Friday dinner: Last night we made risotto with delicata squash, mushrooms, leek, and the rest of the rapini. I cut the squash into small cubes, then pre-browned it in butter on the stovetop, and blanched the rapini, before adding both at the very end of the cooking process. (If you add them too early, they just disintegrate before the rice is done. Used my home-made veggie stock, and basically followed Mark Bittman's directions for risotto from How to Cook Everything, which has been my go-to cookbook for years.

As for everything else, I suspect the squash will become soup, and the potatoes and broccoli may, too. Or, the potatoes and carrots might end as roasted veggies alongside our usual Sunday night roast (chicken or pork loin most weeks).

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