Tag Archives: cooking

Summer and the Height of the CSA Season

Tomato and cucumber salad

Salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper, onion and Bragg’s cider vinegar, salt and pepper.

We’ve had a few rainy days.  The first since July 1 and I love every second of it.  Although irrigation keeps the crops lush, the grass around the fields, the trees and wildflowers have all had their heads bowed for weeks.  There have been many insects, birds and amphibians finding an oasis at our irrigation headers when we are watering.  It had become the miniature Serengeti watering hole; a good place to view all of the local creatures.

I have been waiting for a rainy day to get caught up with paperwork, canning, cleaning and updating our blog.  I need more rainy days.  I need many of them.  I am starting with the blog.  When I am out in the fields, weeding, harvesting and spending time with the plants, I often think of things that I would love to tell everyone about them.  (I really can’t say I ever think that much about cleaning or paperwork, at least not when they are out of sight.)  Then I come inside to make dinner and ‘POOF’, the thoughts are gone.

Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes

I do, however, manage to get excited about the armload of vegetables that I bring in for dinner each night.  Our meals are almost always later in the evening (much later than they should be) and the goal  is often to make something in a short time frame with a quick thought to what is needed the most that day; carbs, protein or something light?  Then I look at my husband and consider how much longer he can go without food; are we in an emergency situation?  (He is a hard worker, but sadly, not a chef.) If so, the solution usually involves eggs and/or tortillas or pulling some bacon out of the freezer for BLT’s and O’s (onions). If we have a little time to spare, a frittata, omelet or Quiche or a quick stir-fry, likely seasoned with ginger, soy sauce, chili and sesame oil.

I love to cook, but let’s be clear that I don’t make any claims to being a great cook.  I can’t say that I really ever measure ingredients, so if I think that a meal is worthy of writing down, doing so after the meal has been made is tricky.  I think adjusting recipes to suit one’s taste is the best way to cook unless you are unfamiliar with the spices that are called for.  I find that this principle rarely works when baking though.  A pinch of this and a handful of that usually ends poorly. Someone told me once that cooking is an art and baking is a science and that flipped the light switch on for me.  Now I have an excuse to avoid baking (too scientific) unless it involves free artistic license after the science project has been completed!

Quesadilla with purslane leaves

Quesadilla with purslane leaves

Before I pat myself on the back again for cooking though, I have to emphasize that it is hard to fail if you are working with the best and the freshest organic produce.  I think that the only way to ruin a meal that starts with fresh, organic vegetables is to overcook or burn it badly, spill the salt into it or mistake the cayenne pepper for paprika.  (Too many jalapenos might ruin it for some, too.) Once you learn what fresh, clean food tastes like and you become accustomed to eating it on a regular basis, your body will send out the “danger” signal when you eat processed foods.  The trick there is not ignoring that warning when you hear it and you will be adding years on to your life.

We are halfway through our CSA season.  School will be starting soon, days will be shorter and for many, time to cook will be challenging.  I am hoping that our members have been getting in the habit of putting great meals together from their CSA boxes each week and will continue to do that as the days shrink into the next seasons.

Here are a few of the quick meals and other things that we have made this summer:

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An Egg of a Different Color

Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs

Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs

Loving eggs as we do here, I was excited to find this recipe for Chinese Marbled Tea Eggs at the Appetite for China Web site!  I was itching to try making them and I was not disappointed in the least! 

First, you hard-boil the eggs and then cool them.  (Slightly under-boiled is recommended, although mine were pretty much at the hard-boiled and done stage).  And then the fun begins!

*Note: full instructions and even a video can be found here: http://appetiteforchina.com/

Crackle the egg shells evenly with the back of a knife. The shells aren’t broken, just cracked.

2013-02-24 2013-02-25 002 003Put them back into the pot and cover with cold water.  Add ½ cup soy sauce, 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, 1 stick of cinnamon, 5 whole star anise (I didn’t have this so I used anise seed) and 2 black tea bags.

Then you simmer this for 1 -2 HOURS!

The eggs are beautiful and your house will smell amazing.  It smells like someone was baking wonderful cookies.

2013-02-24 2013-02-25 002 010So how were the eggs?  I started these early in the morning and needed to go outside to do chores after about 1 hr. and 10 minutes.  Cooking them longer is said to make them stronger but I don’t think that is a bad thing, the spice is not overpowering at all!  The eggs, as you can see, are fascinating and beautiful!  The flavor is very subtle, slightly sweet and they are surprisingly not over-cooked!

I ate one for breakfast and put the rest in a nice, chubby jar that they fit perfectly into.  I figured they would raise an eyebrow or 2 when my husband opened the refrigerator door and I was right about that; without warning and partly because 2013-02-24 2013-02-25 002 013they are in a clear jar, they look somewhat like a specimen of some sort, but feeling somewhat artistic and proud of making these tie-dye eggs, they are still lovely to gaze upon.  I look forward to lunch tomorrow; mustard greens and marbled eggs.

And my house still smells amazing!

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