Thursday, July 26, 2012

Organic Harvest Box for July 26, 2012

It feels like a very long time since I have posted.  I have been without my veggie box for 2 weeks now, but luckily instead of having to negotiate the grocery store this past weekend, we went to the Ottawa Farmers Market to purchase our weekly supply.  It's such a great time of year for produce, the fruit that is coming into season, and all the fresh vegetable harvest.  And you probably don't need to hear again how much the harvest will be affected throughout the summer by this drought.  My girls have been eating peaches, plums, and apricots endlessly right now so I know that the plums from this week's box will be well enjoyed.

I received an interesting Savvy Mom article this week about party ideas around an Olympic theme and so I'm a little hooked on it this week.  It started with Torch Cupcakes (cupcakes baked in to mini ice cream cones with icing flames), and that led into the Fruity Olympic Rings (pictured above) which led into me wondering if there is enough of the food in this week's box to make the Olympic rings - blue (hmm - not quite), black (the plums), red (cherry tomatoes), yellow (beans), and green (zucchini or broccoli).  I don't think you'll see a creative Olympic ring photo from me tomorrow when I get my box, but I have chosen to fill this week's post with British recipes or recipes from British food sites to make use of this week's selection and to pay homage to and celebrate the opening of the Summer Olympics in London on Friday, July 27, 2012.

I started with beets - my great aunt, whose background was British, had beets, pickled or otherwise, at many Sunday dinners alongside whichever roast was cooking.  We generally enjoy our beets roasted with just a bit of butter and salt and pepper served alongside any dish (try this recipe for Roasted Beets).  However, I may get ambitious this week and actually try to preserve my beets by pickling them.  My kids are all about pickles right now so some homemade pickled beets should be a hit.  I found a Pickled Beets recipe on the TLC website or this English Style Pickled Beets recipe which can do as little as one jar of beets.  Don't forget to cut the greens off the beets (if they are there), and use them as you would the chard, or add them to any of the chard recipes that you decide to make.

Chard is another vegetable that appears to also feature somewhat regularily in Bristish cooking - or I seemed to find a variety of chard recipes on British food sites.  This Chard and Chickpea Ribolitta soup, from the British publication The Guardian, is enticing because I love soup and I think that with the fresh vegetables in it, is light enough for our hot summer weather.  Use the onion and garlic from this week's box as well.  Or search through this collection of chard recipes from British organic veggie box distributor Abel and Cole.  I especially like the looks of the Tomato and Chard Pie as a lunch meal this weekend at the cottage, of course I will be cheating and buying either a puff pastry package or premade pie crust for ease of use!

I lived with my dad's cousin in university, it was her mother who was the great aunt with the British background.  My dad's cousin grew zucchini (and still does) every year, and every year, there were so many zucchinis.  She would shred zucchini after zucchini and freeze it all.  And mostly, she would make zucchini loaf, muffins, zucchini chocolate chip muffins or some variation therein.  I think it's a great way to use up overabundant zucchini and went searching and found this recipe from a UK food network for Zucchini Cake.  I doubt that zucchini cake is at all specific to the UK but is more likely a creation by necessity to make use of the vast amounts of zucchini throughout the winter!  I do joke a bit, because I no longer live in the same time zone or end of the country as my cousin, so I am not offered any extra bounty from the zucchini crop and I don't get so overwhelmed by zucchini in the summer.  We get less zucchini throughout the summer than I was used to growing up so I think that I really enjoy it more.  This time of year, consider slicing the zucchini into rounds, brushing with some olive and seasoning and grilling on the barbecue, or add some large chunks of onion and broccoli to a grill proof skillet or tray and roast all of them together.

Lastly, to stick with the British theme, I was thinking about making some small batch marmalade with the oranges (and shame - I have a lemon still in my fruit crisper - where is my post about using the lemon first?).  I am a big fan of preserving - more so B.C. (before children) when the kitchen could be hijacked for 12 hours straight, and I have a beautiful book,  The Complete Book Of Small Batch Preserving, that has recipes that are perfect for making just a few jars of something really good.  I was just going to type up a good marmalade recipe out of there, but low and behold, I've lent it to someone - this has spawned a plea email to friends to find out where my cookbook is.  In the meantime, I opened up my Bernardin Guide (basic resource for all things preserving) and found their recipes for the Easiest Ever Marmalade  and Orange Marmalade.  There is also this apparently no fail Orange Marmalade recipe from the Iowa Housewife website, and somehow I ended up at my new favorite foodie site - Food 52 (have I mentioned it before???) where they have a Valencia Orange Marmalade that is made over 3 days which is typical of marmalade.  I would half their recipe. Looking at all this marmalade recipes made me think that marmalade or jam of any sort really, would go well on some scones - truly Bristish.  Maybe sometime throughout the next couple of weeks while you are doing some Olympic sport viewing, sit yourself down for a nice cup of tea, a traditional English scone, with some clotted cream or butter, and some homemade marmalade.  Cheers.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Organic Harvest Box July 5, 2012

It's Thursday evening, I've travelled the Ontario countryside today for work, Brockville and then along the St. Lawrence to Gananoque, and up to Westport and then back to the city.  Hence, no veggie box yet.  I'm looking at the list of ingredients and can't wait to see everything tomorrow.  All I can think is green, green, fresh, green veggies, the kale, the choi, lettuce, basil, more scapes, pears and the green onions.  Most of our vegetables are getting eaten raw this time of year.  And I'm not sure why I even considered any recipes for my peaches or nectarines last week - the kids gobbled them up by Sunday.  I don't doubt that the same will happen this week.

Everything on the list this week (maybe cauliflower excluded) can be used in salad.  And given our heat and the forecast for the coming days - anything that doesn't require cooking is a blessing.  Add some grilled chicken, a can of tuna, or some chickpeas to your salad to make it a meal.  My favorite dressings for salads are homemade.  I have both a salad dressing making bottle (one of those home party companies that list their ingredients down the side for each different dressing) or my tried and true Tupperware Gravy Shaker.  To either I add some olive oil to start (try a nut oil for different flavor), then some vinegar (balsamic, cider, red wine) or fresh squeezed lemon juice, or grapefruit juice, then some seasonings, fresh chopped herbs, maple syrup, garlic, mustard, poppy seeds, or finely chopped onion, a pinch of salt to bring all the flavors together and then shake it up and place in the fridge until you are ready to use it.  You can put it in a jam jar with a sealer top and it should keep for a few days at least.  
My kale chips - they were a bit overdone
I started searching some recipes for red kale specifically and came across so many things that sound delicious.  Again, if I wrote this earlier in the week, I would know to order extras!  I really love how kale turns out in a salad when you massage the dressing into it - like in this very simple Red Kale, Raisin and Toasted Almond Salad and it's topped with Manchego cheese, one of my favorites.  I also love the idea of using the kale chopped up in an omelette, frittata, or Red Kale and Red Onion Savory Breakfast Squares (you could try substituting the green onions from the box).  The most interesting recipe I found for red kale this week is by far this Bacon Wrapped Red Kale recipe from the Preserving the Soul food blog.

Bacon Wrapped Russian Red Kale
1 Head of Kale - Halved or Quartered (depending on size)

1-2 pieces of bacon (depending on your love for bacon)
Handful of fresh thyme
Oil Oil
Balsamic Vinegar 

Halve one Kale. In a mortar, mash up the oil and thyme, drizzle it on the leafs then wrap it in bacon. Drizzle the balsamic and put it in the oven at 375 for, approximately 25-30 minutes or so.

I don't feel very innovative with pak choi - all I do is stir fry it.  If it was winter I would undoubtedly put it into a Chinese noodle soup but not right now.  There are so many different recipes for pak choi or bok choy that it's hard to choose just a few to post.  You might be better off to just pick your favorite stir fry recipe and add your pak choi to that.  This week you could also use small cauliflower florets, garlic scapes cut into 1-2" pieces, and the green onions to fill out the stir fry.  Add some chicken, pork, fish or tofu for some protein and then whip up an Easy Stir Fry Sauce.  I've come across two different sites that have great tips and some easy straight forward stir fry sauces.  First this Super Easy Stir Fry Guide from walks through the steps of making stir fry and this post on gives a great list of 15 easy sauces to put on a stir fry.  However, if you want one recipe from start to finish try this Honey Chicken with Pak Choi.

If your cherry tomatoes don't just get eaten as snacks they would go well in this Chickpea and Cherry Tomato Salad.  Or if you have the air conditioner running and don't mind doing a bit of cooking at the stove, Jamie Oliver's recipe for Simple Summer Spaghetti is a great option for the cherry tomatoes and basil, you could substitute the garlic scapes for the garlic, and add some green onion as well.

We are off on holidays starting this weekend and heading to the cottage.  That means that I might actually get to cook all these things that I research each week.  And it also means that I don't have an internet connection and won't be able to post this coming week.  Enjoy.