Thursday, June 7, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for June 7, 2012

When I picked up my box today, Tasha gave me the heads up that the spinach needs to be eaten first if you can.  It's also important to cut the tops off the radishes, which I did right after this photo.  And, I cut the tops off my carrots right before I took this picture (it makes them easier to fit in the frame) and then proceeded to leave them on the counter and didn't find them until I was mostly through putting everything away, hence no carrots in the photo..

Thank you very much if you took the time to complete the Survey Monkey.  Those of you who read the blog are in the minority, some people even emailed Tasha to say that they didn't know that the blog existed.  But the feedback about the blog itself seemed very positive.  I'm going to keep writing it for now, until Tasha tells me otherwise, and maybe can arrange for it to be emailed out as that seemed to be the preference.  I'm a bit of recipe junkie so I still love researching everything and sharing all my thoughts.

I wanted to update you with my uncle's eggplant recipe (that I couldn't quite remember last week) because it is so good.  I did have to call him again just to get it right.  Here goes: slice the eggplant into 1/4" slices, brush it with olive oil, grill it but not too long as it will get mushy.  After it's grilled, let it cool, and then slice it into thin strips.  Mix up some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic, a bit of white wine and pepper.  Marinate the eggplant at least overnight, and it will keep for a few days.  Serve it on crackers or sliced baguette.  It would be good also as a salad topper or on a grilled sandwich.  

This week's list just screams salads.  With all the lovely fruit, the avocado, (which is a fruit as well technically) the butter lettuce and the spinach, I picture fancy salads.  I couldn't resist "googling" the combination of spinach, grapefruit, and avocado and came across a couple of great recipes, the two I would recommend are Spinach and Quinoa Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado (I'm a little addicted to quinoa since I bought the 1kg bag of it from Costco) and Grapefruit, Avocado and Spinach Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette - use the juice from an orange instead of the grapefruit to make the dressing.  And you could interchange spinach or the lettuce from this week's box in either recipe.  This recipe from for Avocado Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette also caught my eye to make use of the cucumbers, avocado, orange and lettuce.  Darn, wish I would've ordered extra avocados and extra grapefruit.  Hindsight is 20/20 right, or maybe I really need to be trying to write the blog on Monday nights when we get the first list so I can adjust my order on Tuesday!

I can't really remember when I started using more cremini mushrooms, they sort of feel like something new to me as I don't remember them being around when I was growing up but I also feel like I've been using them as long as I have been cooking for myself.  We tend to buy them over white mushrooms as they are a bit "meatier" and hold up better in cooking, however if I am using them raw, I do make sure to slice them pretty thin.  So as I was thinking about how I use creminis, I decided that I don't really know anything about them, or the nutritional importance of mushrooms in general.  For us, they are just necessary for a variety of things: pizza, stroganoff, mushroom barley soup - see below, and sauteed with onions for my husband any chance he gets, and I've never really thought about them too much.  So I did a bit of reading and was happy to find a lot of good information that supports what I already thought or do when it comes to mushrooms:
  • Button mushrooms, creminis and portobellos are all the same type of mushroom but just differ based on their age.  Button mushrooms being the youngest and softest in texture, creminis are a little older with a darker flesh and a meatier consistency, and portobellos are the most aged with the darkest color and a full thick cap.
  • Creminis have a bit of a fuller taste and do stand up better in cooking because of their meatier texture,
  • "Mushrooms need a shower, not a bath" as stated in this story from The Kitchn.  I love this quote because it confirms what I've been doing for years.  I got tired of wiping mushrooms with a damp paper towel, went through too many paper towels which was a waste in my mind, and I started just running the mushrooms under a little water and wiping them with my hand.  
  • Mushrooms can help the immune system, help protect against cardiovascular disease, have a significant source of conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) which can help with certain forms of breast cancer, and can potentially contain vitamin B12 depending on the type of mushroom (taken from,
  • Mushrooms are best stored as soon as possible in the refrigerator or else they tend to lose their phytonutrients if left out in temperatures that are too warm.
My husband and I have a joke between us that if we get divorced, I get the cottage and he gets the Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe - it is a big favorite (taken from the Joy of Cooking):

3 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced and tough stems removed
1/2 c. chopped shallots
3 tbsp. dry sherry or Madeira (or just red wine)
1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
4 1/2 c. Beef Stock or Beef Broth
3/4 c. pearl barley
1/2 - 1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Heat the oil and butter in a soup pot over high heat.  Add the mushrooms and shallots, cook, stirring often until the mushrooms are wilted, about 5 min.  Add the sherry and thyme, and reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring and scraping off the bottom of the pot for about 5 more minutes.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the barley is tender, about 1 hour.  Serve garnished with chopped parsley or whole thyme leaves.

I am looking forward to more radishes in this week's box.  Like the carrots in the box, remember to trim off the greenery and store them in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge.  If your radishes get soft or mushy, you can try refreshing them in a bowl of ice water.  Radishes are a really great source of Vitamin C and can help combat urinary and kidney problems.  And although they taste spicy, they can actually help to freshen your breath.  My daughter and I tend to gobble up the radishes raw or sliced on salads and they don't last that long in our house.  Last time we got radishes I suggested a dish for sauteed radishes that was really good, but I found lost the spicy flavor of the radish, which is my favorite part.  A different way to cook the radishes that may retain a bit more of the flavor might be Roasted Radishes with Olive Vinaigrette.  And of course, since I am a bit stuck on salads this week, Watermelon, Cucumber and Radish Salad or Farmer's Salad which reminds me a lot of my grandmother's old creamy cucumber salad.

If you read this on Friday, sorry, no photo yet, as I don't have my box.  And the fact that you are reading and hopefully enjoying the blog does inspire me to continue to write it.  Enjoy.

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