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Blueberries

I recently got my hands on 20 pounds of frozen organic blueberries from one of my co-workers. I had to remove them from the box they came in so I could fit the bag into my freezer. So far I haven’t done much with them besides add them to my granola, to my ice cream and to a bottle of vodka. This weekend though, big plans are ahead – blueberry ice cream!

After that, blueberry cobbler and then gallons of smoothies. The funny thing is when I got them I was so excited to have some delicious berries around the house, but now that California strawberries are in season I’m a bit less excited. I almost added strawberries and rhubarb to my box for next week so I could make my favorite all-time pie. But one look in my freezer put that idea to rest; I never thought a bag of blueberries would take such dedication.

I mean they are frozen, so it’s not like I’m cheating. They’ll be as good a month from now as they are today, but I at least have to make a dent in them before I go carousing around with other berries.

In an effort to keep my tropical theme rolling I’ve added mangos back in again this week, as well as keeping in the tangelos and grapefruit, which are both super tasty and nearing the end of their peak season. Especially grapefruit which is winding down. Neither one of these really goes with blueberries too well, but I’ll give it a try anyway. This is what my box is looking like:

Cucumbers
Bunched Carrots
Eggplant
White Onions
Zucchini
Red Radishes
Red Leaf Lettuce
Kale Raab
Minneola Tangelos
Ataulfo Mangos
Ruby Grapefruit
Braising Mix (Cut Greens)

I also ditched my apples for some more braising mix. I love Full Circle braising mix! It really is one of my favorite things. I made some the other day with pan-seared halibut, pan roasted potatoes and mango salsa (recipe from last week’s post). It was the perfect bedding for the fish, great flavor and quickly finished.

Another great thing that’s in the box this week is kale raab. Cook the same way as kale or chard and add to stir fry, braising greens or just a simple side. Kale raab is easily dressed in lemon juice, shoyu or a bit of vinegar and olive oil after lightly wilting. Try mixing it into white bean soup or vegetable soup at the end, letting the heat of the soup wilt it softly.

Eggplant is finally back in the box and slated for a coconut green curry mix I got at Viet Wah. The zucchini and carrots will also get sliced thin and go in there over a bed of jasmine rice. The rest looks like the makings of a salad to accompany on or two of the meals. Hopefully the weather will turn around soon and we won’t have to barbecue in the rain for much longer.

Next week I’ll talk a little more about one pan cooking methods, including the pan-sear and easy stove top tandoori chicken. Until then have a great weekend and eat well.

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Mango Lassi

I have to admit that mangos, though one of my favorite treats, are on my permanent exemptions list. Initially I made this decision while in an ‘eating local’ phase, and thought it best to substitute other more-local fare for these Mexico-grown goodies. But the more I thought about it, the more my decision seemed to be about preserving a memory rather than eating in a locality.

I personally believe that organically grown foods are far superior to conventionally grown and GMO foods. I want to support all organic farms, big and small, and especially those in developing neighbor countries that have far less environmental regulation than we do. The abundance and over dependence on pesticides, herbicides and other -cides pollute water resources, harm peoples health and make farming dangerous.

There are great organic farms in Mexico and other countries that are leading the way in organic agriculture and showing other farmers that growing food can be safer, healthier and more cost-effective when done organically, and they deserve my support. The only way the culture will change is if there’s market demand and it is arguably as important for developing countries to learn the benefits of organics as it is for farmers here to realize the same.

So eating from our southern neighbor wasn’t really the issue for me, what I realized was that I have a specific association with mangos, and I rarely eat them for fear of diluting that association.

The first time I ever tried one I was about 12 years-old and vacationing with my parents in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. My dad bought me a mango, which the street vendor then stuck on a stick and in deft swipes removed the peel, sprinkled it with chili powder and topped it with a squeeze of lime juice.

Ataulfo mangoSliced mango

I soon had mango juice running down my face, over my hands and had tossed the stick aside to finish by gnawing on the hairy seed, salvaging the last vestiges of the fruity flesh. I’ll never forget that first mango, the exotic scent, the smooth, slippery flesh and the floral, bright, sweet taste. All other mangos have paled in comparison.

Initially, when I joined Full Circle and had not yet mastered the subtle art of substituting, recipe planning and adding Green Grocery items, I got a mango. It came as a default item in my order and I really had no idea what to do with it. Sure, I’d cooked with mangos in the past, used them in sauces, dressing, and salsas, but the culinary mango craze had ended years before and I hadn’t had one since.

So I went back to the basics—peeled, sliced, a dash of chili powder and a squeeze of lime. It was delicious indeed, but paled in comparison to my memory. So I added them to my exemptions list. Just recently, my co-worker, our Farm Foodie and Product Manager, told me that mangos were in season and if there was ever a time to try them again, it was now.

Ingredients for Mango Lassi

So I doubled my order of Ataulfo mangos. I ate one, straight up, no nothing and it was awesome.  It wasn’t the mango of my memory, but it was enough to give me a flash of salty shores, hot sun and the pure joy of adventurous eating. I’m glad I did it.

Here are a couple of other things to do with your mangos. Although my favorite is still briefly grilling them, dashing them with smoked paprika and a squeeze of lime. Perfect with flank steak or pork chops.

Mango Lassi

2 ripe mangos, peeled and cubed
1 cup honey yogurt
1/2 cup non-fat milk
1/2 orange, juiced

If you don’t have honey yogurt, just add one tablespoon of honey to the mixture. Place into blender and blend until smooth. Some recipe call for sugar, but I find the mixture of ripe mangos and just a little honey enough to sweeten it perfectly. If you feel you’d like yours a little sweeter, add a bit more honey. If it’s too sweet for you a touch of salt and a bit more orange juice should do the trick.

Mango salsa

Mango Salsa

2 ripe mangos, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup shallots, green onion or red onion, minced
2 jalapenos, minced
3 T cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
Salt
Chili powder or smoked paprika

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Salt to taste. Let sit for one-half hour for flavors to blend. Dust with chili powder or paprika before serving.  You can also add avocado, strawberries or red bell pepper for a variety of flavors.

No, seriously I am ready. Bring it. None of this ‘Oh, here’s a little break in the clouds for you’ or ‘How about a couple hours of sunshine?’ I want spring, now. I’m dieing here and even though I’ll be escaping to California for the weekend – cousin’s wedding – I may return excited yet even more disappointed than ever.

Because more rain at this point is not what we need. We need barbecue weather. We need picnic weather. We need sun. And our crops do to. Although spring has finally sprung in California, bringing with it a true spring like bloom of new veggies, our wet soil has hindered spring planting.

Take solace though – even if it’s not spring outside, thanks to our southern partner farms who are enjoying just a bit more sunshine than us, it is beginning to look like spring in the box. I’m not even changing anything this week, no substitutions and just taking what I get.

Here’s what my box is looking like –

Tomatoes
Klamath Pearl Potatoes
Snow Peas
Red Onions
Baby Spinach
Arugula (Greens)
Romaine Lettuce
Green Kale
Cara Cara Oranges
Kiwi
Mangos
Braeburn Apples

I’m willing to give tomatoes a try, the one I got in my last box is still sitting on my south-facing windowsill, and the Klamath Pearls I can’t wait for. This particular potato is only grown in the rich loamy soil of the Oregon-California border. Soil filled with the minerals from the eruption of Mt. Mazama and the prehistoric Lake Modoc.

These little pots are not to be missed. They are especially good roasted, just boil them first for about 12-13 minutes, toss roughly in coarse sea salt and roast on high, about 450 degrees. It’ll be the best roaster you’ve had, guaranteed.

The snow peas are wonderful just steamed and tossed with a little honey and mint. Or mixed, Sechuan-style, with sesame oil, sesame seeds and some ginger-chili paste. Yum.

Arugula is my favorite spring topping for pizza, or pizza bread, or just made into a salad with shallots, balsamic vinegar, pears and goat cheese. The Fromage Blanc from Mt. Townsend Creamery is awesome in this dish.

The romaine is an excuse to try out the original Caesar recipe in the member recipes section. Drizzled over a quarter of broiled or grilled romaine is a delicacy.

Leche de Mango for dessert, or maybe kiwi sorbet, I’ll let you decide. I’m going to do some research this weekend and explore the depths of my Grandmother’s culinary legacy while I’m down south. Hopefully I’ll come back with a jewel for us all. Until then, have a great weekend. Eat healthy and be well.

Steamed asparagus with vinaigrette

Nothing says spring like the crunchy grass-like stems of asparagus. This herbaceous, perennial plant was once grouped with alliums like garlic and onions but now resides in its own family. And rightly so — the soft, gentle and crisp asparagus is not nearly as potent or boisterous as its onion cousins. Mild enough to be eaten raw and when thicker, delicious broiled over a hot grill, the asparagus is the herald of spring’s arrival.

There are multiple ways to prepare asparagus. Asparagus soup with grilled cheese sandwiches is a delicious sunny afternoon lunch (we’ll have to wait another three months for that), while grilled asparagus makes a delicate and delicious side to any main dish. Even a bed of quickly sauteed asparagus with a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce can make a decadent breakfast or brunch treat.

Peeled asparagus

Now don’t feel too bad about coating your delicate spears with a rich emulsion of butter and egg yolks, each spear is only about 4 calories! It also contains potassium, thiamin, vitamin B6 and is a great source of fiber, not to mention being one of the richest sources of rutin, a compound that has been shown to be necessary in strengthening capillary walls leading to cardiovascular health. How’s that for a grassy stem?

Two simple, quick and delicious ways to prepare asparagus are to follow. Although completely different cooking styles the one thing to remember is not to overcook either way. Your cooked spears should bend, but still snap when folded over. This will keep the nutrients in the spear and allow your body to access as much potent vitamins and minerals as possible.

Asparagus peels

Also, when preparing your asparagus, remove the last 1/2 inch of the stem, then if they are thick spears, use a vegetable peeler to peel the bottom two inches. This will remove any woody skin and leave the tender insides. If you’re making asparagus soup, or vegetable stock, save the ends to add to the preparing water or stock for more flavor.

Asparagus with Vinaigrette

2 T sea salt
1 bunch asparagus, about 1 pound
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T balsamic or red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add salt and asparagus and cook until just tender, about 3-5 minutes. Drain immediately. In a small bowl whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Arrange the asparagus on a platter and drizzle with mixture to serve.

Roasted Asparagus with Garlic

1 bunches asparagus
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t coarse sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange stalks on a baking sheet in one layer. Sprinkle with oil and garlic, season with salt and pepper, tossing them to coat evenly. Roast until slightly brown and crisp, but not over-cooked, about 8-10 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

There are multiple variations of these recipes, but this is a great place to start. Try serving spears with a garlic aioli, Hollandaise or Béarnaise sauce, or just sprinkled with high quality olive oil and sea salt after grilling. You’ll have people asking in disbelief ‘What did you put on these?’ and reaching for more.

Snap peas with Finnadenni sauce

As Spring sun graces my porch I can’t help but to look forward to days of grilling, quick cool salads and the lighter fare that I’ve craved all winter. One of the great secrets to year-round grilling and something that comes in even more handy as the weather warms is a few great sauces to accompany both your meat and veggie dishes.

There are about three sauces that are always around my house. One is pesto, and this doesn’t necessarily mean basil-based pesto either. I’ve mentioned it before, but you can make pesto out of just about anything. Arugula pesto is one of our favorites and is wonderful spread on bread, tossed in with steamed veggies or pasta, or as a quick marinade for grillables, but pesto can also be made from kale, chard, and in the Argentinian version, parsley.

Which is number two –  chimichurri, the Argentinian pistou, is much like pesto but is a little more sauce like. Primarily used as a dipping sauce perfect for kebabs, or drizzled over rice it is primarily made of parsley and cilantro and the rest is vinegar, herbs and spices. If you haven’t tried it yet you should whip it up for your next barbecue. It is guaranteed to be a hit.

The last sauce is called finadenni, or fina’denne depending on where you look. This is another dipping sauce that goes well with fish. My college roommate was from Guam and told me this was an essential part of a fisherman’s toolbox. When they caught a good sized fish they would immediately remove it’s cheeks and crack open the finadenni, eating it there on the spot. His version was mainly beer, soy sauce and lime juice, with a few hot Tinian peppers minced in. Delicious on fish, excellent on rice and with a teaspoon of honey and some sesame oil, a great dressing for blanched snap peas.

I’ll also include two other recipes – these ones I got from RecipeSecrets.com – and they are my favorite sauces from Benihana. Yes, the tapenyaki bar of almost world renown. My fiance loves these sauces, and every time we go there she raves about them endlessly. So I did a little recipe sleuthing of my own and came up with the following. Their secret revealed!

These sauces are super awesome and go great with meats and vegetables alike. So, as you prep up for warm weather and fire up your grill in celebration of whatever brief glimpse of sun we’re offered, add some of these sauces to your culinary toolkit and you’ll be ready for anything.

Mustard Sauce:
Makes about 2/3 cup
Preparation time: about 5 minutes
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons Oriental mustard (can be found in the international or Asian food sections of most supermarkets)
2 teaspoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For Mustard Sauce: In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, water, mustard, cream and garlic powder. Stir or whisk until well combined. Chill before serving.

Ginger Sauce:
Makes about 1/2 cup
Preparation time: about 5 minutes
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 ounce gingerroot (a nickel-size slice), peeled and chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon white vinegar

For Ginger Sauce: In a blender combine the onion, soy sauce, garlic, gingerroot, lemon juice, sugar and white vinegar. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds or until the gingerroot and garlic have been pureed. Chill before serving.

Finadenni Sauce:
Makes about 1 cup
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
splash of pilsner or other light beer
1/3 cup finely chopped scallions
1/2 tomato finely minced
2 red chili peppers, roasted and minced
or 1 habanero pepper, roasted and minced

Combine in a small bowl. Let sit for half hour before serving. For vegetables add 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon sesame oil.

Chimichurri Sauce:
1 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 t dried red pepper
1/2 t ground cumin
Salt

Puree all ingredients in food processor. Add more oil as necessary. Let sit for half hour before serving.

Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza

One of my favorite pizzas of all time has to be mushrooms and spinach on pesto. Born primarily from nostalgia for a San Francisco road trip and midnight arrival that resulted in finding a late-night corner pizzeria serving some of the most delicious pizza ever, I’ve heralded this combination as my winning pizza flavor for years.

Now that my culinary adventures have given me a wider palette to paint with I can’t help but muddle with this memorable favorite. First the crust – though I love a good pizza and can often eat three or four pieces without any remorse, there is sometimes a slight – shall we say – tinge of guilt post satiation that leaves a slightly bitter moment. This, I’ve decided, can easily be offset with a few choice substitutions. Whole wheat for flour dough and delicious organic ingredients for the conventional fair.

No longer the greasy pepperoni, it’s thin slices of prosciutto. No canned olive, but lovely kalamatas or pitted niçoise. Organic mushrooms, spinach and a peppery pesto made from arugula for my base. Not to forget the most important part – the cheese. I’ve decided that at some point I’m going to try making my own, but until then some local mozz will have to do.

There, that should relieve enough guilt for me to enjoy my pie in peace. Post pie peace.

Arugula Pesto Pizza with Spinach and Mushrooms from Full Circle

The dough recipe I chose for its ease and simplicity. I’ve heard different things about making quality dough. I’ve heard it should be allowed to rise for at least three days, heard that it can be made in as little as thirty minutes and be fine and that given the right combination of white and whole wheat flour it can be both crunchy and chewy, thin and perfect.

I didn’t know what to believe. I tend to be a big believer in time making all food better, the whole ‘good things come…’ motto. But I also like to eat now, when I’m hungry for what I want to make. So I’m going to try the quick and tasty for now and then I’ll report back on the more patient option later. Here’s the recipe I started with –

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 package quick-rising yeast, (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup hot water, (120-130°F)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For sauces I decided that a delicious arugula pesto, made from a simple combination of processed arugula and pine nuts, salt and parmegiano for one pie, and another made from similar ingredients but with sun-dried tomatoes as the base, along with a tinge of anchovy paste, and garlic.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pizza with Prosciutto, Kalamatas and Feta

For the veggie option with the arugula pesto,  topping it with spinach, mushrooms and mozzarella seemed the best way to go. And for the sun-dried tomato pesto some thinly sliced shallots, kalamata olives, prosciutto, and feta.

The dough was easy enough to make. Just tossed all the dry ingredients together, added the oil and water and kneaded until a ball was formed. I didn’t want to over knead so I stopped mixing once it rolled into a nice sized ball. I then split this in half and let one rise for a half hour and the other rise for an hour.

The extra rising time did little to change the consistency or flavor of the crust and it actually was nice and thin, crisped up well and was still chewy. It didn’t rise too much in the given time and could probably use another hour or two to make a lighter, less dense crust. But the flavor was good and the wheat didn’t overpower the other flavors of the toppings, but was noticeable.

If you’re looking for a quick, thin, crisp crust I’d say this is your way to go. I have a marble pizza stone that I place in the oven and then crank it up to 500 degrees. I just toss a little cornmeal on a cutting board, place the rolled out dough on there, dress and slide it onto the stone. It’s easy, quick and makes a pretty good crust. If you prefer a crust with more body, I’d let the dough rise a bit longer, at least another hour or two, but cook it the same way. In the interest of science I made a second batch and am letting it rise for 24 hours and 48 hours respectively.

I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Just a quick word about making pestos, which can be made out of practically anything – kale, parsley, arugula, spinach. Process the greens until they are almost completely paste, but still a little chunky. Then add the minced garlic, if using, and which ever nuts you’ve decided to use – pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios, all make great pestos and work better with some combinations of greens. Once the nuts and garlic are chopped roughly, or fine depending on how smooth or chunky you like your pesto (I prefer mine chunky) then remove to a bowl and mix in cheese – pecorino, parmigiano, aged cheddar or gouda, all make great additions and add wonderful flavors to your pesto.

Be creative. Try a kale, walnut, shallot and gouda pesto on your nest pizza, you’ll love it. Eat well, feel good.

Picture sent in by member Brit Saleeby Porter of the Braised Kale with Pancetta and Apples from Farm Notes

 

To tell you the truth I’ve been so busy this week I haven’t had a moment to really look at this coming week’s box. This last week was greens and more greens, with salads, and sauteed kale, braised chards and gently wilted baby spinach. Sometimes these greens snuck their way into my breakfast and other times they were bold and bright piled high next to some delicious farro.

Either way they have become truly my favorite staple and quick go to fixing for any meal. This coming week’s fare is a little lighter with hints of spring. Those crafty farmers have somehow managed to fight the cold onslaughts that have pelted the West Coast and produce a semblance of spring. Radishes and baby spinach side by side with Rainbow chard and Russett potatoes.

I like these transition seasons. The nostalgia of waning flavors and anticipation of new arrivals is what eating close to the earth is all about. Just as I realize I’m close to eating the last sunchoke of the season, some little purple-headed french breakfast radish pops his head up to say hi. I’m going to ride that edge next week. Make the most of these waning winter flavors and make some shoulder season magic.

By the way – Congratulations to our Full Circle Box Challenge winners! Way to go on creating awesome and delicious recipes out of your Farm-to-Table boxes. We’ll be featuring one of the top recipes here in the weeks to come, I hope you’ll be as excited to try it out as we were to find it! First prize went to Angie Yusuf, for her delicious Supreme Potato Curry with Fruit Chutney, she’ll be receiving a bottle of Sicilian Organic Olive oil in her box next week. Also, a shout out to our two runners-up, Jennifer Peters and Pooravi Thaker, they’ll be getting a couple of choice gifts as well.

Keep your eyes open for our next Box Challenge and in the meantime eat well, be well.

About the sauerkraut – turns out its much easier than I thought and though it takes some time its all in the subtlety. I’m going to run a few test batches using different combinations of vegetables and spices and I’ll get back to you. Meanwhile, here is a nutrient rich and delicious recipe for the mushrooms in your box.

Mushrooms have many health benefits, for more on that check out our Good Food Health blog, and can be eaten raw or cooked. This recipe combines the fleshy chew of mushrooms with the pop and crunch of spiraled quinoa. Quinoa is an ancient grain dating back more than five thousand years to the vast and vibrant Inca civilization of South America. It is a great source of protein and provides all the essential amino acids to make it a complete protein. It also contains no gluten and is easy on the digestive system.

Quinoa has a nutty flavor and can be enjoyed as a hot grain or cooled for a tabouli-type salad. One of my favorite recipes combines quinoa, basmati, millet and barley for an intense pilaf. This particular recipe is perfect for a side dish, a main course or stuffing for peppers or roasted tomatoes. The Marsala wine pairs well with the mushrooms and is tempered by the soy sauce, which also provides virtually the only sodium in the dish, besides the pinch of salt for the grain.

For the base to the mushrooms, onions, garlic, shallots or leeks will all work. Use what is available. I just used a little less than half a yellow onion and it was delicious. You may have to add a splash of olive oil after you add the mushrooms, but don’t over oil, they should be lightly coated, but not greasy.

The other addition is the greens and they can also be a wide variety of ingredients. I used arugula and merely folded it into the quinoa right before I added the liquids, this allowed it to lightly wilt, but not over cook. If you’d prefer chard or kale, you’ll have to adjust the cooking times to match the texture you’re looking for. I’d add the chard when the mushrooms are about half way done and the kale could be finely chiffoned and added about the same time.

Whatever your ingredients, this recipe creates a healthy, delicious and satisfying meal that will please everyone.

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
pinch of sea salt
2 T olive oil
3 T onion, leeks or shallots, minced
1 t fresh thyme
1/2 lb. Cremini mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup Marsala wine
2 T Soy sauce
3 cups chopped greens, chard, kale or arugula
1/2 t whole fennel seed, crushed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Add quinoa and salt to two cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover. Cook until all water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside. Warm a heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil, when hot add onions and saute until translucent and just lightly beginning to brown. Add mushrooms and toss to coat, add a splash more of oil if necessary, sprinkle on herb. Saute for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Toss in quinoa and mix in greens (if using spinach or arugula, if kale or chard mix in and cook till tender before adding grain). Add fennel seeds,  marsala and soy sauce. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.  Makes 3-4 servings.

I didn’t realize that my last post was missing something until I looked at the box list for this coming week – blood oranges. Now we’re talking. Oranges with a hint of raspberry, blueberry action. Plus just the obvious macabre of them – it just sounds gruesome. So I’m planning on making something delicious out of them, even if it is just a Blood orange sorbet or some simple salad. Too good to pass up.

I also realize I don’t have any pictures for you of our turkey. It is unjust, as it was an appreciated bird, lovely and delicious and deserved to be seen – if not worshiped and devoured with massive quantities of roasted garlic mashers and oyster stuffing – as it was. My only excuse was that I was hungry, my lovely guests were hungry and the camera, not being at hand, was forfeit to the glory of the moment. But it was glorious, believe me.

I couldn’t get the whole grill smoking thing going, or could have but it would have involved cutting the bird in half due to its gargantuan size. This, I just could not bring myself to do, no matter my insatiable craving for smoked meats. It turns out my barbecue is too small and they don’t make an attachable expander ring with optional rotisserie for my model, or at least they didn’t at my local hardware store.

Regardless, it was triumphant and had many happy returns throughout the week in various delectable guises. Like the turkey between two slices of whole grain with cranberry mustard and Swiss cheese or the turkey tetrazzini with brown butter breadcrumbs (my personal favorite). In fact, it was so thoroughly enjoyed I’ve decided that twice a year is not enough and plan on a summer turkey party as well. We’ll see how that goes over.

As far as next week’s bounty goes, here’s what I’m looking at:

Tomatoes
Red Potatoes
Baby Spinach
Yellow Onions
Green Cabbage
Arugula
Red Leaf Lettuce
Collard Greens
Blood Oranges
Avocados
D’anjou Pears
Gala Apples

I’m leaving in my apples and pears because even without my juicer I’ve managed to work my way through about two weeks worth of fruit by myself, as my better half has been out of town most of this week. How did I do it you ask? I ate one piece of fruit for breakfast and took at least two pieces with me to work. It was actually amazing. I’ve never eaten so much fruit. But it is also delicious, and I had a lot of citrus – which is at its prime right now. So even though it seems like a lot it wasn’t and I thoroughly enjoyed how it made me feel.

I might sub out the tomatoes, as I’m a bit of a stickler for the delish ones in the summer, but everything else is well appreciated. The Baked Potato Soup recipe coming with the box is awesome and will well accommodate my russets. The spinach and arugula will either adorn our homemade pie (by that I mean pizza) or compose some lovely peppery salads, most likely with avocados and blood oranges!

For the green cabbage I’m thinking of trying my hand at some homemade sauerkraut. Julie from Firefly Kitchens has been using Full Circle’s red cabbage to make kraut and it sounds delicious, so I think this might be my next experiment in fermented foods. Though I am feeling another kimchi binge coming up.

The collards will go per usual, wilted, lemon juiced, a touch of garlic and shallot, olive oil, my favorite side. And for the pears and apples? Salads as well, or mixed in with the collards. All manner of eating awaits them and I’m hungry for their vitamin rich goodness. Hopefully it doesn’t snow and we continue to get these sunny, if cold, breaks in the rain and clouds.

For next week – Sauerkraut. Eat well, be happy.

The mountains up near Winthrop, Washington

Here’s a shot of where we were last week. That’s what took us out of town and left our bird in the freezer. But now, finally it’s turkey time. I’ve got it all, including a wonderful order of green beans, shallots, stuffing mix, carrots, celery and oysters. Not to mention a turkey from Abundant Acres Farm in Toledo, Washington. Not only is my family coming over, but it’s one of my best friend’s birthdays. Not that celebration really needs an occasion, but it helps.

Next week’s box is full of fresh farm goodness –

Avocados
Russet Potatoes
Spinach
Cilantro
Broccolini
Arugula
Romaine Lettuce
Rainbow Chard
Navel Oranges
Honey Tangerines
D’anjou Pears
Braeburn Apples

I’m thinking of things that will go with turkey leftovers, so a Mexican hominy soup sounds tasty, especially with the cilantro and avocados. Organically grown cilantro has a stronger flavor, which for a coriander lover, such as myself is great. Though others that may not be so disposed may want to lessen the amount some.

Another thing I’d like to do is an arugula and citrus salad, maybe with one of the tangerines and the other avocado. Arugula has such a great peppery flavor that pairs well with the slight sweetness and tartness of citrus, especially when tempered by a bit of honey.

Russet potatoes mean I might just need to take another swing at gnocci. The last ones I made were good, especially with the spinach, but were still dense. This time I’m going to put them through a food mill and use rainbow chard that has been steamed quickly but well drained and see if I can get another, lighter version.

Broccolini is great just sauteed as a side or tossed on the grill and seared. This may just have to share a plate with straight up turkey leftovers, mashed potatoes and gravy. I’m hungry already.

I’ve got quite a build up of fruit lately, so might trade out my apples and pears for more greens. I seriously cannot eat enough kales, chards, and now that arugula is back it’s time for some pie – and by that I mean pizza!

I was going to take a picture of my turkey in brine this morning, but I was running late. So instead I’ll share my brine recipe. It’s extremely simple, as brining should be, and can basically evolve to match any wild flavors you feel inclined to throw at it.

1 gallon water
1 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 T molasses
3 bay leaves
2 T peppercorns, whole
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t coriander, whole
1/2 t allspice, whole
2 apples, cut in chunks
2 T truffle salt (optional)

Put half the water in a large pot, add salt, sugar and molasses. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. When boiling add all spices and remove from heat. Let sit and cool for 30 minutes. While you prep your turkey. Add remainder of water, I used half water and half ice to help it cool the brine quickly. The brine should be tepid by this point, add truffle salt. Place turkey in a large pot, breast side down, fill with brine and place in refrigerator. Brine for 8-16 hours depending on size. This will make enough brine for a 14-16 pound bird. For larger or smaller amounts keep the ratio of salt to water, but everything else can be approximated.

Wish me luck. I should have some great pictures for you next week!