Saturday, August 28, 2010

CSA Weeks 9-11: An orgy of produce.

Okay, y’all, I feel like I’m drowning in a backlog of to-be-written posts, so I’m gonna take a mulligan and do three weeks of CSA goodness all at once. Do you mind? I hope not. If you do, tough.

Let’s start with Week 9:

Look at all that pretty stuff! I think those might have been our first CSA potatoes, and they were tasty! Once we figured out that the knobby stuff with the frilly green tops was celeriac, we made a nice potato chowder. We also added the scallions and some of the corn hiding back there underneath everything, but you’ll just have to take my word on that because I didn’t take any pictures. Plus, it was potato chowder. Not the most photogenic dish.

We had a salsa-fest that week too, courtesy of 30-Minute Vegan: the tomatoes went into one kind of salsa, and the tomatillos went into another kind that was more like a dressing. Holy shit, tomatillos are bitter. I’d only ever used them in the Manzana Chili Verde from Veganomicon, which, incidentally, you should absolutely make. Anyway, that was not bitter, but then again the main ingredient was not tomatillos. Tomatillos by themselves are hella bitter and you have been warned. The jury’s still out on whether that sauce was good; we’ve still got some in the fridge and are planning to make fajitas (or something like them) this week, so we’ll see.

Here’s the tomato salsa and the lettuce, hanging out on a spelt tortilla (blergh, clearly I’m not hippie enough for spelt) with some burger crumbles:

Ah, the cucumbers. Poor, ill-fated cukes. Long story short, Red tried to make quick pickles, and we had the wrong kind of vinegar, so the resulting product was nigh inedible. Live and learn: pickling is not for the weak.

Here’s the other picture I managed to take that week:

What you see there is a cabbage-beet slaw with pineapple-mint dressing, hacked from a Veganomicon recipe that called for parsnips or some other out-of-season vegetable. Red loved it, because he loves all things beet and cabbage, so slaw is pretty much his happy place. I’m less of a slaw person, but it was good. The corn was super—nothing like sweet, local summer corn. And the BBQ tofu was a rousing success. I think it was the best I’ve ever made. Instead of smothering the tofu with the BBQ sauce and baking it, I sautéed it to get it crispy before simmering it with the sauce. EPIC WIN.

Week 10:

Whee, more potatoes! And some weird green leafage that turned out to be sweet potato leaves! Who even knew you could eat such a thing? As it turns out, they roll up and slice like a dream, and don’t really taste like much, so we chopped them up and made Green Mashed Potatoes.

Um, there was some sad-ass lettuce that practically begged for the compost bin. I’m sorry, I try not to pitch stuff straight off like that, but it was a mercy composting.

We’ve been playing around with 30-Minute Vegan’s recipe for spaghetti sauce, so that’s where the tomatoes went. It made about a jar and a half (totally unscientific, as we used random jars that used to hold other things, possibly spaghetti sauce). Red chopped up all that delicious-smelling basil, and we used half for the sauce and froze the rest.

Those baby tomatoes (cherry? grape? is there a difference?) were probably the most delicious tomatoes I’ve ever had. Usually I find raw tomatoes too acidic, but these were perfectly sweet. Along with the scallions, some corn, and a few non-CSA goodies, they helped make my favorite black-bean pasta salad. I always double the avocado in that recipe, because avocadoes = love.

The squash hung out in the fridge until the next week’s pickup, so keep reading!

Week 11:

More tomatoes! More squash! More sweet potato leaves! Ah, that’s late summer for you. Since we had two weeks of squash hanging out in the fridge drawer, Red diced them all and we roasted them with olive oil and Italian seasoning. That’s become my default for summer squash, and it works quite well. It’s good with rice or good all by itself.

Those beautiful Roma tomatoes made more spaghetti sauce, only this batch was better. It must have been the tomatoes, because I didn’t do anything differently (except not bother measuring the agave nectar or the undrinkable, cheap-ass wine I added for that extra somethin’-somethin’). Anyway, we combined the sauce with the half-jar of sauce from the previous week, and made eggplant lasagna with that big mofo you see in the picture there. I took another picture that showed the eggplant’s size better, but it totally obscured the green beans and thyme! It was work slicing and salting that thing, I tell you, but it was easier with two of us. We typically go with Veganomicon’s lasagna recipe, and the tofu ricotta is so good. That’s where the rest of the basil went. Mmmm, fresh basil. We need a bigger lasagna pan, though.

Red diced up the cantaloupe (he is the best person to chop things, I swear) and we ate it. No secret recipe there.

That left us with motley crew of green beans, scallions, Japanese eggplant, and sweet potato leaves. After about 10 seconds of pondering, we came to one conclusion: stir fry! We used a bit of store-bought hoisin sauce and Korean BBQ sauce, tamari, and Dijon mustard. Stay with me here, because we discovered that mustard is the shizz in stir fry sauces. You probably already knew that, but we didn’t, so we basked in our discovery. With a handful of cashews, it made a delicious stir fry.

Also, I have just stared at the phrase “stir fry” for several minutes, and it doesn’t look like it should be actual words. Try it.

Maybe I can actually do this week’s CSA review on time! Stay tuned, and happy nomming.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A very Burnout birthday.

So, I know this is a month-plus late, but it is never too late to wish me a happy birthday, in case you’re so inclined.

Since we were leaving for Chicago a few days later, Red and I decided to keep my birthday observances simple. We headed to Great Sage for lunch, and if you are in the tri-state area and have not yet experienced Great Sage, clear your calendar and do it. When it was vegan-friendly, it was great; since going completely vegan in January, it has become amazing. It’s part of a little eco-friendly cluster of stores called Conscious Corner, which I think is cute. Roots is a natural-organic market, Bark! has pet food and toys, and Nest has all the pretty things you wish you could fit in your house. Theoretically, you could probably find everything you need at Conscious Corner. It would be expensive, but you could do it.

Now, on to the amazing.

Because we are pretzel fiends, we started with a soft pretzel. There was only one, but we shared it. It came with three yummy dipping sauces: hummus, honey mustard, and chili cheese. We ate it too fast for me to get a picture, but it was a pretzel, y’all. You can handle it.

While we were nomming our pretzel, we were entertained by the couple next to us. They reminded me of my parents. The lady half of the couple chilled out and pondered the menu, while her dude wrinkled his brow and fretted over the rabbit food on offer. He spent a few minutes trying to work out what “Daiya” was (I hope he wasn’t too disappointed), and by that time I felt bad for him and whispered to Red that maybe we should give him a hand, since his missus either didn’t care or was just as confused but not showing it. But we didn’t want to embarrass him, so we judged it kinder to let him fumble through on his own. Hope you survived, omni-man.

I spent quite a lot of time deciding what to have for lunch. Since I was feeling adventurous, I ordered the Southwest Ranch “Bacon” Wrap, which sweet fancy Moses did not disappoint. I don’t know what it was—the tempeh bacon, maybe—but everything in this wrap was in perfect harmony. It took an act of great will to avoid snarfing the second half, but we wanted to order dessert, so I restrained myself.

I think Red had the Grilled Reuben, as he is prone to having a Reuben whenever the opportunity presents itself. I didn’t photograph it, but trust me, it was a thing of beauty.

As you surely know, the most important part of any birthday meal is dessert. Usually I don’t have a lot of room for dessert, but I was determined to indulge. The dessert selection was big enough to have some variety, but small enough to not be overwhelming. After some haggling over who would order what (because we couldn’t order the same thing, as that would be boring), Red ordered the Strawberry Shortcake and I tackled the Chocolate Lava Cake with vanilla ice cream. It was coconut-milk ice cream, too, so you know it was badass. Just take a look:

I am lucky, because Red does not share my addiction to things chocolate. Unluckily for him, I love strawberries almost as much as he does, so he had to guard his shortcake carefully. Sweet man that he is, though, he let me have a taste. It was fantastic, but not as fantastic as the cake. It was like a dense little pot of heaven. Happy-mouth, happy-tummy heaven. But too much of a good thing is sometimes just too much, because try as I might, I only got about three-quarters of the way through before I had to concede defeat. You bested me, Chocolate Lava Cake, with the aid of your BFF Southwest Wrap. Next time, I’ll skip lunch and eat all of you.

It was a happy birthday, indeed.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bienvenidos... everyone visiting from The Deportee’s Wife! Giselle was so kind to mention my blog in her most recent vlog (say “blog vlog” 10 times fast, and I’ll give you a cookie). We have known each other since the summer of 2004, when I had a quiet anxiety attack during our grad school orientation and she thought I was a total freak. Our relationship improved once we actually spoke to each other, and in November of 2005, I was honored to visit her and her husband in Mexico. I dream of the day that they can both visit me and Red at our home, and I can return their hospitality.

Hang out for a while, take a look around, and let me know what you think. Leave a comment if you like, or feel free to email me at shannon[dot]river[at]gmail[dot]com.

Also, Emma Watson stole my haircut:

love and puppy snuggles,

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The bitch is back...

…as Elton John would say! Truly, beloveds, I have neglected you too long, but I hope you understand that I needed this past month to settle into my new gig. True to my nature, I’ve been feeling pretty anxious and burned out about the whole thing, but I’m happy to report that my appearance in the office was greeted with much joy, and I no longer feel like I’m going to vomit razor blades every morning.

Also, they know I’m vegan, so I’m out of that closet without much drama.

So! I’m excited to get back on a regular blogging schedule. I’ve kept up with you all as best I can, but I’ve missed being part of the conversation. To keep me on track, I present to you a list of posts you can look forward to:

1. My birthday
2. Chicago!
3. The awesomeness that ensued when worlds collided and Red and I met Cody, husband of everyone’s favorite Voracious Vegan
4. My first apple pie!
5. A CSA roundup or two

I gotta be honest with you about #5, though. We’re still getting our weekly hoards of veggies, and they are still awesome, but I hit pause on recording and photographing our meals during this past month. We stopped with Week #3, and now we’re coming up on Week #10 or something, and the thought of having to do that many catch-up posts just made me want to cry. Believe me when I tell you we’ve gotten lots of lettuce and summer squash. I’ll try to post regularly about the CSA goodness from here on out.

I now present to you the most fearsome fruit ever to escape the rainforest: MONSTERA DELICIOSA!

We found this thing at MOM’s, and $7 later, it was ours. Seriously, how could we not buy it? Its name is Delicious Monster, and if that isn’t reason enough for you, maybe you’re not my friend. I can’t yet vouch for its deliciousness, because we have to leave it in its jar until it sheds all its little scaly things. It peels itself! It’s the perfect lazy fruit! Depending on how long it takes, maybe I’ll post updates on the monstera’s progress. We’re told it tastes like a banana-pineapple hybrid, so I look forward to enjoying it.

It’s good to be back, darlings.