30 May 2009

Week 2 Pickup

We started the morning off “surveying our lands” (J’s words – I think he had too much beer last night). Our asparagus are starting to do their thing. We’ve got one really tall, skinny spear, one shorter skinny spear with a tiny fat spear growing next to it, and a pair of twin fatties just starting to break above the soil line.

The peas and green beans are starting to grow up their cages and flower. All but two of the tomato plants have turned themselves upright and started to fill out. About half of them are starting to flower. Coolness!

Instead of flying through the barn doors at Garden of Eve ten minutes before closing, we headed out early to pick up our weekly shares. The drive was beautiful since the grayness of this past week has been burned off by the vibrant sun today. I’m looking at the beautiful newly-constructed houses, freshly-turned fields with rows of seedlings growing through black anti-weed barrier, and greenhouses tucked in behind the older houses and barns. I’m fantasizing about owning one of the older houses with a charming little barn and a small greenhouse and a tiny coop big enough for a pair or two of silky chickens. J is plotting out the fastest path from our house to the farm, wondering where this road or that path will take us (and how quickly), and announcing every time we pass an RV dealership. The boys are both snurfling out the back windows, breathing in the air sweetened by the scent of the grass being mowed by the guy with the awesome tractor we just passed.

Garden of Eve had a crowd in the barn when we arrived. We were greeted by a bleating black sheep when we got out of the car and my favorite goat (with the funky sideways-rectangle pupils in his amber eyes) was munching on some hay. We headed back to the cooler, wondering what this week’s goodies would be, since the farm blog hadn’t been updated with news of the shares.

The veggie share included two bunches of asparagus, one bunch of shallot scallions, 1 big spring garlic, half a bag of pea shoots, a bag of spinach, and a half dozen eggs. The fruit share was six pounds of apples (half red delicious, half pink lady). The egg share was our usual half dozen, bulked up to a full dozen thanks to the veggie share. We got a sunflower plant and a cosmo plant for our flower share this week.

My brain is spinning away with ideas for using up this delicious haul. On the one hand, I want to remake everything I made last week – the sandwich, the eggs and asparagus, the pasta, the sangria… On the other hand, I want to see what else I can do. J made it clear to me a few minutes ago that I will be making the pasta with the poached eggs again. I’ll be changing it up, though. No mozzarella this time, but I think some of the asparagus and spinach will be making a cameo in the dish and I’ll use some lemon zest and cannellini beans and substitute rigatoni for the fettuccine. Breakfast tomorrow will definitely be soft-boiled eggs and asparagus. If we can get our hands on a beautiful loaf of bread (I haven’t whipped up a batch of bread dough since before Passover – got to get back to that soon), I imagine dunking some toast soldiers into those vibrant yellow yolks too. Oh my, that sounds way too good.

*** (Brief pause in the action as my netbook’s battery dies and we continue to run errands) ***

We ran errands for a while this afternoon, including a run to pick up my car at the train station (J had beer yesterday, I had pear vodka - there was no driving for me last night) and checking out a farmers’ market not far from there. It’s got LI and Jersey produce. We picked up some Jersey escarole and I’m dreaming of some garlicky white beans and escarole with the crusty ciabatta we scooped up while out and about. I’ll cook the beans and greens with some tomatoes and some basil (fresh picked from the garden). Of course, I’ll season that generously with my favorite red pepper flakes and garnish it with a drizzle of my favorite Pugliese olive oil. Mmmmm…. I hope we’ve got a nice bottle of red wine in the house.

Although I had planned to get into the garden to finish up some last-minute planting and the two (now three) week fertilizing, I just didn’t have the energy after schlepping around all day. I’m getting ready to head into the kitchen, though, to make my weekly giant pot of tomato sauce and start cleaning the spinach and escarole (so sandy). Once the sauce is simmering and the greens are nice and clean, I’ll work on dinner. Hopefully, we’ll still have some sunlight by then and J and I can set up our comfy lawn chairs and our cute little glass bistro table and dine alfresco. Of course, we’ll tether up the pups and maybe Addison (kitty) too. What a lovely way to end the day. Now, where is that red wine?

26 May 2009

Using Up The Last of This Week's Share

The pea shoots went bad...quickly. How do you know pea shoots are bad? They stink! It's just awful. I didn't even have 24 hours before they began to reek. Oh well.

After our sumptuous breakfast yesterday of soft-boiled eggs (again, organic and free range) with boiled asparagus spears for dipping, we were left with only a few eggs and some apples from our original haul. I was really surprised at how quickly we ate up our shares. I really thought we'd have food in the fridge when we headed out for our second pickup. Well, there probably will be a few apples left.

Inspired by an egg poaching technique I saw on one food blog or another (wish I could remember which), I phoned home the second I got off the train and instructed J to boil up a pot of water and grate up the remainder of the Parmesan cheese in the fridge. My goal? Fettuccine aglio e olio (made with a prosecco we've been saving for a special occasion - well, yesterday WAS our wedding anniversary, right?) topped with poached eggs and slices of fresh mozzarella left over from the giant sandwich we enjoyed over the weekend.

Have I ever mentioned my obsession with red pepper flakes? I put them in everything (and I use them in abundance). My Pugliese olive oil, fresh garlic slices, and glass of prosecco reduced to a rich golden syrup with an overly-generous sprinkling of red pepper flakes bobbing around amidst the bubbles. Pardon me if I wax poetic about my pasta, but I am talking about olive oil, garlic, prosecco, and red pepper flakes here. What more could a girl want in the world?

After I got the pasta and the sauce all tossed together with a little more olive oil (one can never have too much good olive oil) and a snowy mound of Parmesan cheese (yes, the good stuff - not the green can stuff), I plated it up with some slices of fresh mozzarella (melting lovingly over the ribbons of pasta) and a couple of poached eggs perched atop. Word to the wise, break open those yolks right away and stir, stir, stir the glistening yellow puddle into each and every strand of pasta. Oh yeah...

I'm still working on my bowl of pasta and J has downed his super-sized bowl and a half. I know he's thinking about the quart of ice cream he's got in the freezer. He's welcome to it. I'm going to sit here and slurp up this pasta, strand by strand, thinking about the ways to use the half-dozen eggs I get to pick up on Saturday. Oh my.

And the apples we've still got around? I read a recipe for salted apples somewhere that I'm dying to try. Sliced rounds of apple sprinkled with flaky sea salt? Sounds awesome to me!

If you're reading this and jonesing for a plate of creamy-spicy-garlicy-rich pasta right now, I'll consider this a job well done on my behalf. Now, get out of here and let me finish mine!

24 May 2009

First Share Pickup

We've been putting it off for years. Either we were too busy or we didn't enroll in time - we never got around to buying a CSA share until this year. We've been talking about it for quite some time; but it took a fit of passion to actually get us enrolled this year.

The fit of passion was sparked by reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, MIracle earlier this year. I walked into the school library and there it was - it's lovely green cover calling out to me. I had just listened to a podcast of an episode of The Splendid Table that had an interview with Kingsolver, so the compulsion to pick up the book was strong. I read it in less than a week and became obsessessed with eating locally.

J wants to kill me for reading this book. I admit, my tendency to become obsessive can be truly annoying, so I don't completely blame him. Maybe it's my refusal to eat bananas. Maybe it's the fact that I don't talk about much besides eating local. Maybe its the FORTUNE I've spent on garden supplies so far this year. Maybe it's all of the above. He'll eat well this summer, so I don't feel too bad about it.

I decided to buy a Mega share from Garden of Eve, an organic farm in Riverhead about 20 minutes away from our house. We've shopped for produce there in the past, so I was excited when a Google search revealed that GoE offered CSA shares. The Mega share includes a vegetable share, a fruit share (not organic, but from a neighboring low-spray farm), an egg share (organically fed free-range hens), and a flower share (J doesn't see the need for this, but I'm a sucker for flowers).

Our first pick up was yesterday (05.23.09). We were running errands all day, so we made it just before the farm closed up for the evening. We ran inside, grabbed a bag (we'll bring our own bag next time), walked into the cooler, and picked up our stuff. Here's what we got:

Veggie share:
1/2 lb spinach
1 bu onions or leeks
1 stalk green garlic
1 bu or bag kale
1 lb local non-organic asparagus
1/2 lb pea shoots
1/2 dozen eggs

Fruit share:
6 lbs apples

Flower share:
potted sunflowers and a plant of our choice (I chose an heirloom Green Zebra tomato plant)

Last night I chopped up three of the apples and added them to a giant batch of sangria I made for a friend's party today. The apples are tart, sweet, and crisp. I'm thinking of cooking some down into apple sauce and maybe baking a few apple dumplings (have I mentioned that J has a sweet tooth and wants sweet things for breakfast all of the time?).

This morning I cleaned about a third of the spinach (lots of rinsing and removing of stems) and sauteed it with some Vidalia onion and garlic. I cracked some of the amazingly fresh eggs into the pan and let the eggs cook nestled into the spinach sautee. The yolks were so rich and particularly tasty as a "dressing" for the spinach.

For dinner tonight I cleaned the rest of the spinach and the kale and sauteed them with the young onions and garlic and some more Vidalia onion. I stuffed it into a delicious hollowed-out Italian boule from a Brooklyn bakery and guilded the lily with some buffalo milk mozzarella. I popped everything into the oven to meld together and managed to burn myself on the cookie sheet while taking my mondo sandwich out of the blazing hot oven. The giant blister and its accompanying pain are worth it because this sandwich is GOOD! Yum! Yum! Yum!

I should have taken pictures of everything, but I got so carried away in all of the excitement that I just plain forgot. I'll be better about that from now on.

I've got the pea shoots and asparagus in the fridge still, and lots of eggs left (since we got an extra half dozen this week). I'm thinking about soft-boiled eggs with asparagus spears for breakfast tomorrow. I'll have to contemplate a use for the pea shoots. Hmm...

Okay, my burn is finally calming down so I'm going to sneak into the kitchen for a sliver of my rockin' sauteed greens pannini. Don't tell J!