26 July 2009

Produce Overload: Week 9 CSA Pickup and Green Market Shopping

We can hardly get the refrigerator door shut this week. J and I have been very busy in the kitchen after a green market shopping spree earlier this week and yesterday's CSA pickup. I can't believe we've been picking our our shares for nine weeks now. Looking back, I realize that (not counting cherries and citrus products) I've purchased less than a shopping bag full of produce from the supermarket since late May - almost everything has come from the farm share or a local green market.

What were we up to this week? J and I headed into Manhattan on Wednesday to shop at the Union Square green market, grab some goodies from Chinatown, and meet some friends from work for good company and libations. We stocked the car with a cooler, a cooler bag, and several canvas shopping bags and headed out to take advantage of all of the amazing produce in season this time of year.

I was determined to find a real, honest-to-goodness, locally grown tomato. Yeah, I've gotten some small ones from my own plants, but some local farm had to have an early tomato or two for sale this week, right? Most of the tomatoes we found were hot house tomatoes. J and I were being obnoxious (well, it was mostly me being obnoxious) and stuck to our guns, holding out for the real deal. They were hard to find, but I came home with three funky lumpy but deliciously ripe tomatoes. Mmm...tomatoes...it's difficult to believe I'll be sick of them by this time next month. Until then, I am going to savor every bite.

The first of the three lumpy beauties found its way into a delicious tomato, mozzarella, and pesto sandwich on a fabulous baguette. Tomato sandwiches will become my daily lunch within the next couple of weeks, when I'm pulling the tomato right off the vine and slicing it, still warm from the sun, before wedging it into one of my homemade rolls. Oh my, I'm getting excited just thinking about it.

At the green market we also scooped up some fresh onions (both sweet yellow and red), leeks, dandelion greens (regular and red), escarole, cilantro, baby bok choi, some amazing scallions (two feet long), two more giant bunches of basil (can't resist its scent), a couple of kinds of bread, and some zucchini blossoms.

Aren't they pretty? They're incredibly delicate and were already getting soft by the time we got home. I battered them (I stuffed a few with some fresh mozzarella first) and lightly fried them for a crispy breakfast. I'm going to have to harvest some of my garden's blossoms to practice and perfect my recipe. They are tasty.

We ran down to Chinatown to get some noodles and a couple of cooking tools (including a new tortilla press - don't ask) and some produce one cannot get at the green market or farm stands on the North Fork. We needed some Chinese broccoli and other greens. We found even smaller baby bok choi - perfect for cooking (and eating) whole.

Fast forward to our Saturday CSA pickup and our goodies for this week:

Within seconds of snapping this photo, my wheels were spinning and I had plans for a lot of this produce.

The romaine would make lovely little lettuce cups for a spicy veggie meat stir fry during the week. The kohlrabi would add a tasty crunch to said stir fry.

The corn would be (part of - okay most of) dinner that very night (the ears were quite small - look!)
To give you a sense of perspective, the little ears in the front row were about 4 inches long. Note that there are only eight ears pictured here because we found some caterpillar friends in two of the ears (ah, the joys of organic produce!).

The kale would probably find its way into some quesadillas after being cooked down with garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes.

The basil was a beautiful purple basil, which I processed into a tasty basil-parsley pesto (right after I processed the two big bunches of basil from the green market into a couple of pints of pesto). This was the pesto on our tomato-mozzarella sandwiches. The rest of the pesto found its way into our freezer.

The cucumbers will find their way into a salad with the remaining tomatoes and some of the fresh red onion. Maybe I'll toss in some of the cilantro. Most of the cilantro and fresh onions were blitzed up into a big batch of salsa this morning. I can't wait to make salsa with fresh tomatoes.

Zucchini...zucchini...zucchini...so much zucchini and my plants have just started producing fruit. The big zucchini we picked up this week will probably find itself either pickled with lots of sweet onion and jalapeno pepper or on top of a pizza with some caramelized onion and roasted garlic and fresh parsley. Said pizza might even have a couple gorgeous free-range eggs perched on top amidst freshly shaven shards of Parmesan cheese. Okay, I'm feeling it. Pizza sounds good!

The cherries and blueberries from the fruit share will find their way into my food dehydrator. I'm preparing for those winter Sunday mornings when J wakes up craving something sweet and I'm craving some extra heat from the oven. Scones and muffins will warm his belly and the oven will warm my toes.

I forgot to mention that J scooped up twelve pounds of cherries this week. (J has a cherry problem.) A couple of pounds found their way into a big bottle of Cherry Bounce and I need to thank Merideth for this fun recipe. In a gallon container (I used an old growler that once held some stout) combine a couple of quarts of cherries with three cups of sugar (yeah, that's a lot) and a fifth of whiskey (not the expensive stuff - not necessary with all of that sugar). Every day for ten days, give the container a bounce to incorporate some of the sugar. Store the bottle away for four months and try not to obsess about it. I can't wait for this sweet cherry and whiskey liquor to be ready to mix cocktails. J loves Whiskey Sours, so how can we go wrong with a Bouncy Sour? I'm dreaming of a Bouncy boozy cherry cola. How about a blend of Bounce with some chocolate soda for a Black Forest Bounce? Oh yeah, this is going to be some good stuff in a few months.

The yellow plums were tiny and deliciously sweet-tart. I cooked them down with some simple syrup until they were soft then stirred in a generous glug of Triple Sec before chilling it down to make sorbet. This will hit the ice cream maker tomorrow morning. I know it's going to be fabulous because J and I attacked the bowl of the food processor after I poured out the sorbet mix. It's sweet and tart and orangy (from the Triple Sec) and wonderfully sunshiny.

We took the pups for an extended ride after our CSA pickup (check out Holdy in his Doggles).

Our destination? Harbe's Family Farm for another bag of their sweet corn. We ate six ears last week and they were amazingly sweet. Since we had ten ears of organic corn from our CSA already, the bag of a dozen ears from Harbe's was destined to be cut off the cob and frozen for all sorts of dreamy winter recipes - corn chowder, a lovely maque choux to serve along side my favorite Malaysian-style potato curry, corn and black bean quesadillas with black bean soup. I don't want to rush away my summer, but these winter dishes sound good. At least I have something to look forward to during the dark, cold months of winter. Maybe we'll get another big storm and a snow day (or two) to give me some quality cooking time! Before any of that can happen, though, the corn had to be de-cobbed.

Twelve ears of de-cobbing later, I had three lovely zip top bags of sweet corn nestled in my freezer, dreaming of blizzards and snow days and chowder.

Speaking of chowder, my corn cobs did not go to waste. I boiled them up with some water and salt and pepper and made a couple of quarts of homemade corn stock for a big pot of corn chowder. The stock is nestled into my freezer, next to the corn. I'm planning on using my own home grown potatoes in that recipe. But that's another blog entry for a much much later date. I've got a refrigerator full of summer goodness to cook through before the door pops off!


  1. How did you learn to do all this? (Like boiling down the cobs to make corn stock...) If you taught a vegan cooking class I would sign up for it!

    Lisa M.

    PS Love the photo of Holden!

  2. Hey, Lisa. You're so sweet! I pick up little techniques from reading way too many cookbooks and watching too many hours of cooking shows (starting with Julia Child when I was a kid). Since I have a fantasy of both writing my own cookbook and hosting my own cooking show, I would be happy to use you as a guinea pig and teach you a cooking lesson any time. Just let me know what you'd like to know!