Monday, May 31, 2010

Never too much of a good thing

I never have a hard time figuring out how to use rosemary because it's my favorite herb, but I chopped a bunch of the rosemary from this week's CSA share and tossed it into my weekly no-knead bread batch, along with some lemon zest. I also juiced the lemon and added that to the water requirement for the bread dough. Fresh rosemary is probably my favorite scent of all time. I'm a savory foods girl, and rosemary lends itself to so many savory dishes.

Lemons. There's another thing that is very rarely local to Pennsylvania that I buy by the half-dozen on a regular basis. I slice them and throw the rounds on top of fish or chicken that's going into the broiler (or on the grill). I add zest or juice to a variety of recipes for a little bit of tang. Lemons are one of those things I won't give up for the eating local movement. Someday I will have a heated greenhouse in which I will have my own lemon tree. Mark my words.

The locally grown strawberries and rhubarb from Wegman's are indeed in the oven right now, as part of a crisp, the recipe for which can be found here. I didn't have any sugar in the raw, so I used brown sugar for that part of the recipe.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Week #1

So here's how it'll work. I'll list this week's CSA share and color code the items according to my familiarity with them. Green indicates I can figure out what to do with it without any problem. Yellow means that I think I can find a recipe somewhere. Red = "help!" Throughout the week, I'll try to post my progress as I work my way through the share.

This week's CSA take:

Pea Shoots
Hakurei Turnips
Vitamin Greens

I went to Wegman's for some non-produce items and ended up picking up some locally grown strawberries, rhubarb, and carrots, along with some fennel (my new favorite vegetable) and some potatoes. There is definitely a strawberry rhubarb crumble in our future, and I think the carrots and fennel will end up in a slaw-like salad with the kohlrabi, later in the week.

In just a few minutes, the kale will go into this recipe and will accompany some steaks that have been marinating in teryaki. One of my favorite things about summer is that we use the grill almost nightly. This year, we have our newly purchased charcoal smoker grill for when we have more time and don't want a quick meal from our propane grill. We also purchased this camping burner, mainly to use later in the summer for canning, but I'd like to experiment with cooking entire meals outside and this will aid in that endeavor.

Let's get started, shall we?

I know I know. A blog about what I got in my weekly CSA and how I'm going to cook it is definitely not new. I'm about two years behind the "eating local is cool" curve. Some introductory remarks:

1. I try my best to buy local for a number of reasons, but not because I think it makes me a better person. Quite simply, it's sometimes cheaper than going to the grocery store and the produce lasts considerably longer than the stuff that's been shipped from afar. This realization has coincided with the development of a serious love of cooking, so that I enjoy the challenge of finding something new and trying to make it into something delicious.

2. I'm not the perfect or ideal vision of a "locavore" so I try not to identify as one. I occasionally supplement my CSA items or farmers market purchases with stuff that's not in season. I buy meat from Costco. I use plastic containers to store leftovers. And I've actually been known to use plastic utensils to eat my lunch at the office when I forget to bring real ones from home. Basically, if you are reading this and consider yourself a true locavore, I'm the devil.

3. I live in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. The area is a dichotomy of newbies who tend to flaunt their healthy bike-riding-local-food-eating-gastropub-loving lifestyles and the longtime locals who are personally offended by the newbie criticisms of the fly-ridden produce section at the one local grocery store. (It's worth noting that the defensiveness is punctuated by the fact that most of the grocery carts being lugged around that store have not one fresh fruit or vegetable in them.) Nonetheless, there are quite a few of us who happily exist in the middle ground of these two camps - old heads who hit the farmers market once in a while, and newbies who can be seen chowing on a cheesesteak from Slack's every once in a while.

4. Our CSA is Henry Got Crops, which is a joint venture between the largest food co-op in the city and the city's agricultural high school. I like the idea that we are supporting an urban high school that is teaching city kids about farming and veterinary sciences. Plus, we've tried to join a CSA that is closer to our house every year since we moved here and it always fills up too fast. And quite frankly, recent neighborhood events have made me pretty happy about our choice to go with Henry Got Crops.

5. The purpose of this blog is really to just serve as a clearinghouse for ideas on how to cook the seasonal items that come to us each week. It might morph into something more, but please comment, encourage, criticize, snark, or otherwise contribute. I like hearing other people's opinions almost as much as I like touting my own.