Thursday, April 19, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for April 19, 2012

I am sitting watching the hockey playoffs as I am writing this blog.  The weather for this weekend is again not sounding very promising with rainy cool days and the potential for flurries on Monday.  I still haven't transferred over all my cold weather clothes to summer clothes.  I'm feeling a bit wintry and so my veggies this week are most likely going to be roasted or put in soups.

Some tips about this week's box - Tasha had to substitute out the spinach with Bok Choy, which we haven't had in our box in a while and will be great sauteed or in a stir fry.  Some of the grapefruits may need a bit of time to fully ripen as will the Bartlett Pears.  The carrots will keep best if the greenery is chopped off and then store them in the fridge tied up in a plastic bag.  If the cucumbers are as good as last week, they were great just sliced up and eaten fresh.

An interesting tip about this week's parsnips - they are Spring Parsnips which means that they have been in the ground all winter as opposed to being stored indoors.  Being in the ground all winter apparently makes them much sweeter and quite a treat as the last parsnips of the harvest.  Store them in a plastic bag (the one they came in will work) in the vegetable crisper and they should keep for a couple of weeks.  It's a toss up whether to use the parsnips in a simple Roasted Vegetable dish to get the full effect of their spring sweetness, or to make something completely different, such as this Seared Scallops with Spring Parsnip Butter recipe.  Cajun Parsnip Fries make a nice side dish to any casual meal.  I am a big fan of savoury muffins so might even try these Savoury Parsnip Parmesan Mini Muffins and serve them alongside a Parsnip Soup.

Romaine lettuce has a surprising amount of nutrients, is extremely low in calories, and has a high water content.  A serving of Romaine contains well over 100% of the daily Vitamin K and Vitamin A, and a third of the daily requirement of Vitamin C and Folate.  It is so easy to slice up a tomato or cucumber, shred some carrot or put the zucchini through the mandolin to dress up a lettuce salad.  Chopping some apple or pear, sectioning an orange, or slicing some strawberry on top often will entice my children to have a bit of salad.  A nice fresh citrus dressing made with a lemon or orange, some fresh parmesan, and some nuts and you have a decadent salad at any meal.  But how often do you get any more creative with lettuce?  An interesting alternative to salad is to do a plain Grilled Romaine dish or dress it up with a Bacon and Blue Cheese Vinaigrette.

Bok Choy is extremely versatile and can be substituted for many greens that you would steam, saute or boil.  A simple Bok Choy Stir Fry could be made, add some sauteed chicken and rice for a great meal.  Put a couple of carrots and the zucchini through a mandolin to add to the stir fry and it will add color and variety.  This vegetarian Spicy Bok Choy Soup is exactly the type of dish that I love, easy ingredients with a comforting result.  Or try this Spicy Shrimp and Bok Choy Soup with a few more extras in it.  You can use your leftover veggies from last week's box to create a homemade vegetable stock for either soup.  I have used the tip in the veggie stock recipe that suggests using your vegetable trimmings for your stock.  I keep a large Ziploc in the freezer and add clean vegetable trimmings such as celery greens, carrot peelings, potato peelings, zucchini ends, and fresh herbs that are at the end of their shelf life.  It's an inexpensive way to get some great flavor into a stock.

I wasn't able to get any good fresh tuna this past week to try the tuna burgers from last week's post, but I am hoping to get some this week so that we can barbeque those up.   I plan to use the cucumbers and tomatoes on the burgers.  The potatoes will get sliced up with some onion, butter, seasonings, garlic cloves and wrapped in tin foil.  We cook them on the grill for about 20 minutes, and then set them on the top rack as we cook the burgers.  It doesn't quite feel like BBQ season just yet, but it's coming.

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