poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie


Back on the CSA Wagon!

When we moved in October, we put the CSA on hold for what we thought would be a short hiatus… which turned into a 5 month break from locally grown veggie boxes. I’ve got a litany of excuses, but mostly we were just lazy. Actually, one decent excuse we had was that we spent a bit of time looking around at other CSAs. As much as we loved Eatwell’s practices and farm events, we weren’t always 100% happy with what we got in terms of variety and quality. So, after much searching, we decided on Full Belly Farm. One thing that convinced me to go with them is a quick survey of their farm using Google satellite maps. (Don’t you just love technology??) Much like Eatwell, you can actually SEE the diversity of the Full Belly Farm just by the variety of colors and different width rows of vegetation. Also, we’ve heard lots of good things about Full Belly’s produce. Finally, the price is right! We are paying only $16 a box with Full Belly, compared to Eatwell’s $27. We get a bit less food as well, but that’s not always a bad thing, especially in the winter when we used to get bags and bags of greens. Don’t get me wrong — I love greens, just not 2-3 servings per meal.

We’ve gotten 3 boxes from Full Belly so far, and we’ve been quite happy with the produce. Our boxes have included navel oranges, butternut squash, leeks, beets, kale, lettuce, the cutest little cabbages I’ve ever seen, broccoli, fennel, celery root, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, arugula, and even popcorn! Full Belly also sells walnuts at a very reasonable price, so we’ll probably be adding those to our next box.

Without further ado, here are the pictures from the last 4 weeks of CSA goodness!

Our first CSA box from Full Belly Farms!

Our first CSA box from Full Belly Farms!

potato and leek soup

Rustic potato and leek soup from The New Best Recipes cookbook. We added bacon = YUM.

Butternut squash veggie soup.

Butternut squash veggie soup. It was a bit bland at first, but I doctored it up with some spices and it got better. TC, the lactose tolerant, added cream, which he thought was really good.

Cabbage and chickpea soup from the Post Punk Kitchen. Really nice.

Cabbage and chickpea soup from the Post Punk Kitchen. Really nice.

Roasted squash (also from the PPK) with a side of cous cous.

Roasted squash (also from the PPK) with a side of cous cous.

Spicy cole slaw from the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook. Awesome stuff!

Spicy cole slaw from the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook. Awesome and really quick and easy!

We added the spicy slaw to cod filets and buns from Trader Joe's. We loved these sandwiches so much we made then twice in 2 weeks!

We added the spicy slaw to cod filets and half -baked buns from Trader Joe’s. We loved these sandwiches so much we made then twice in 2 weeks!



CSA Update: 3/26/12

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a CSA update, and there are two main reasons for this:
1. The 4th CSA box we got wasn’t all that exciting and we didn’t make anything extraordinary with it.
2. We skipped a delivery because I went out of town.

So, that’s the bad news. The good news is that we renewed our subscription last week and got a box of farm fresh goodies on Wednesday. Here’s what we got:

Rosemary & Thyme
Navel oranges
Italian flat-leaf parsley
Mixed lettuce
Mixed mustard greens
French breakfast radishes
Stir-fry mix (kale, collards, chard, and arugula)
Green garlic

As you can see, we’re up to our ears in greens, which is the thing we’re the worst at using. TC and I are resolved at getting better at eating them though, and I’m proud to say we’ve already consumed the mustard greens (sautéed with garlic and topped with oyster sauce), spinach (salad with apples, walnuts, and dried cranberries), and the mixed lettuce (another salad with dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and citrus vinaigrette).

I traded in the French breakfast radishes for an extra lemon, which I soon realized was a mistake. We could’ve put the radishes in a salad or a stir fry. What we really should’ve gotten rid of was the parsley, which is cheap and one of TC’s least favorite herbs. Oh well, you live, you learn.

The leeks we had been getting up to this point were teeny tiny, about the diameter of a dollar coin. So I was excited to see that the most recent leeks were “normal” size, or at least big enough to make Rustic Potato and Leek Soup from The New Best Recipes. I had made this soup once before for Stitch n Bitch, but substituted ingredients to make it vegan. I was initially skeptical because of its simplicity and relatively short prep time. All it asks for is leeks, potatoes, butter, 1 bay leaf, and chicken stock. Put those things together and 45 minutes later, voila! A hearty, savory soup perfect for the cool months. I added bacon in this version because, well, bacon makes everything better (just about). This is easily one of the tastiest and simplest soup recipes. Highly recommended!

Rustic potato and leek soup, with a side of Semifreddi's rustic sour batard. Rustic x 2!

The other major thing we made this week was Roasted Garlic with Salmon over Rotini from the Everyday Pasta cookbook. I was looking for something that would use some herbs and a lemon, while also trying to get ready for my half marathon on Sunday with some carbs and lean protein. This seemed to fit the bill in so many ways: salmon in wine and roasted garlic sauce with lemon (zest and juice), rosemary, and capers. Expectations were raised even higher by the price of the meal. Wild caught salmon isn’t cheap, you know. Anyway, we labored away in the kitchen, only to produce a mediocre fish and pasta dish. Whomp whomp. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t exactly good. To top it all off, it wasn’t even pretty, so that’s why there’s no picture here. We had the above mentioned spinach salad in the same meal, so it wasn’t a complete fail.

We’re at a loss at what to do with the green garlic. Anyone out there have some good ideas or tips?


POU Project: A Visual Companion to The New Best Recipes

Remember when I was unsure about my Period of Official Unemployment (POU) project? Well, I’m happy to announce that I’ve come to a decision: I will provide a visual companion to The New Best Recipes cookbook (TNBR, henceforth). The thing is, as great as TNBR is, it doesn’t feature any photos. And since the recipes are already close to perfect, I’m not going to tweak and repost them here. So, I thought, “Why not show the photos of the stuff I’ve made as I go along? Maybe something along the lines of the plum crisp post.”

So, without further ado, here are my cooking adventures from the past few weeks:

1. Pasta with Sautéed Mushrooms and Thyme (p. 264)
This recipe called for campenelli or farfalle pasta, but I only had rotini on hand.  I also omitted the 1/2 cup of cream (due to my lactard status). Despite these alterations, it turned out great. The one cup of Parmesan added at the end added surprising, delicious creaminess, and I feel that the heavy cream would’ve sent this pasta over the edge. At least for my taste, anyway. Super highly recommended!

2. Pasta and Quick Tomato Sauce (p. 245)
What can I say? I was on a pasta kick. And a mushroom one too, apparently; I thought I’d add some substance to this recipe to make it more of a meal. (Ingredients: tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil, sugar, salt, pasta.) While it was easy and quick, I’d only give this recipe a 7/10 because it doesn’t reheat well…which, given how much leftovers I eat, is a major minus. But when freshly prepared, it’s very good. My recommendation: this would be great as a no-fuss carb portion for a dinner party.

3. Hummus and Homemade Pita Chips (pp. 13, 16)
I had never made hummus before, and after this recipe, I will never buy hummus again. It’s so easy! Great for parties too: I made this twice in one week. I feel that this recipe is a little heavy on the tahini; I might cut back a little next time. Also, I’d like to experiment with adding some roasted red peppers, spice, or pine nuts. Anyone out there have a good recipe? I’m still on the fence about the homemade pita chips. They are pretty good, but also a bit of a hassle. You only save a couple of dollars, max, but I suppose they are healthier for you than store-bought chips. Also, you get to tell everyone, “These are homemade pita chips, I made them myself.” And that, my friend, is worth a lot more than a couple of bucks in my book.

4. Black Bean Soup and Cornbread with Jalapenos (p.63, p. 693)
This represents my favorite and least favorite out of everything I’ve made from TNBR. The black bean soup, while time-consuming, was Awesome. (Yes, that’s Awesome with a capital “A.”) Despite ZB’s (aka “The Prince of Beans”) strong recommendation of using ham hock to cook black beans, I had always omitted it, mostly out of laziness or frugality. Well, for this recipe, I finally went to the butcher and asked for a ham hock (about $4.50 for a decent sized piece). It was SO worth it. The ham hock added a smokey richness to this soup that was magnificent. I was also delightfully surprised at the raw, diced red onion garnish. It wasn’t pungent at all, but added a fresh crunch that nicely complimented the soup.

On the other hand, the cornbread was a disaster. I don’t know what happened. It could’ve been that the cornmeal I bought was poor quality, or maybe I over-mixed it. Also, the recipe said to omit the sugar if adding peppers, which I thought was odd. As it turned out, it probably would’ve been better with some sugar in it. I love cornbread too, so this was particularly disappointing.

5. Quick Tomato Sauce for Pizza (p. 669)
Sorry, no picture. This sauce was very quick, easy, and tasty. Highly recommended.

Bonus: a completely unnecessary photo of a nearly empty brownie pan, just because.
This was a pan of brownies that were eagerly consumed following a chili cook-off. I followed a recipe called “Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies” from The Gourmet Cookbook. It’s very simple: chocolate baking squares, butter, egg, flour, salt, vanilla. The resulting brownies are thick, a little dry (in a good way), and rich.