Friday, July 25, 2008

Everything's gone green

The CSA season can overwhelm a person with green produce from time to time. Sometimes it's hard to make the time for preparation of so much perishable food. I often score some extras on pickup day when someone says "Do you want our spinach? We can never eat that much." Or "you can pick our braising greens. I never know what to do with them." The farm's weekly newsletter includes recipes highlighting a certain item, and there is an additional CSA cookbook for sale that is packed with ideas.
But I thought I'd share some of our typical uses of local greens. This is by no means the only ways I use them, just the most common. I also steam & freeze many greens for use in the fall & winter. If you have a unique way to use any of your local greens please share in comments!

lettuce & salad greens
– I'm actually not a big salad eater, but during the CSA season I keep at least one big bowl of salad greens washed and ready to eat every week. I also use them in sandwiches, wraps, & lettuce roll-ups.

I found a new salad
dressing I'm enjoying
this season. It's creamy,
tangy, and rich in
omega-3's...what could
be better!

spinach – Our favourite
use is blanched cold
spinach with a light soy
sauce dressing (oshitashi),
but spinach is also great in
salads, sushi, cooked with
pasta, cooked into pasta sauce, used in pesto, in tofu "ricotta", an easy addition to homemade veggie burgers & loaves, great in tofu "quiche", added to soup, smoothies, & pancakes.

kale – Sautéed with garlic, chopped or pureed and cooked in pasta sauce, added to a creamy nutritional yeast sauce, as part of a base for veggie burgers, a nutritional boost for pesto, chopped & added to soups.

chard – Sautéed with garlic & raisins, added to soups, baked in muffins.

collards – sautéed with garlic, great in homemade veggie burgers, added to soups.

arugula – cooked with diced potatoes & pasta, soups, added to salads.

mustard greens – added to soups (especially lentil soup), chopped & blanched in Mediterranean grain salads.

beet greens – steamed with creamy dressing, added to salads, added to soup, in sandwiches & wraps, in cold spring rolls.

bok choy – In Chinese dishes, added to salads, in cold spring rolls.

cabbage – I'm not a big cole slaw or sauerkraut fan, but there are many other uses for cabbage that I enjoy: sesame stir-fries, sautéed with other veggies, spicy kimchee, & sweet Russian cranberry coleslaw.

broccoli – steamed, roasted, casseroles, finely chopped in mashed potatoes, with rice & herbs, broccoli coleslaw, in soups, Chinese style, tempura, raw with dip.

green beans – asian dishes, steamed, bean salads, casseroles, raw with dip.

pea shoots & pea greens – in salads, in wraps, stir-fries, pureed as a pasta sauce, blanched cold with light dressing, as a garnish.

peas – raw shelled peas, mixed in salads, steamed, in soups, in casseroles, in stir-fries, in fried rice, raw with dip (for edible pods).

cucumber – In salads, as an asian salad, hummus & cucumber sandwiches, raw slices with dip, chutney, sushi, quick refrigerator pickles.

zucchini – muffins, breads, pancakes, sautéed, soups, tempura, in pesto, pasta sauce, lasagna filling, raw "chips" with dip.

garlic scapes – In soups, sauteed with other greens, in hummus, garnish on salads.

scallions – In stir-fries, dips, hummus, sushi, on salads, as a garnish.

Steamed beets and a
creamy homemade
dressing made this
salad into a meal.
Unfortunately I'm the
only one in the family
who cares for beets,
unless they are pickled!

An easy way to add
nutrition to ramen
noodles--add fresh
greens! I cooked sliced
snow peas with the
noodles, then topped
with plenty of
chopped scallion.

The afternoon included
our first outing with all
4 kids in the minivan
(Maia is facing backwards
so you can't see her). All
the boys got haircuts, then
we went out for sushi. It
couldn't have gone more
smoothly. Whew!


Nate had a great time picking berries at the farm for the first time. He consumed quite a lot of blueberries, raspberries & our entire allotment of cherry tomatoes. Maia visited the farm for the first time too.
Weekly farm share:
- 3lbs garlic
- 3 cucumbers
- 2 quarts green
- herbs (I picked
some dill & cilantro)
- 12 stems kale
- 12 stems rainbow
- 1 head broccoli
- 1 hot pepper
- beets
- 1 lb carrots
- zucchini, summer
squash, & pattypan squash
- 1 bunch scallions
- 1 head lettuce
- 1 quart blueberries
- 1 bouquet flowers (not shown)

Also not shown: extra cucumbers & zucchini from the "seconds" table.


Unfortunately AJ's
camp teacher was
sick, so I did not
need to pack him a
lunch. But here is
part of dinner: tempura
zucchini & carrots.

Husband's lunch for work: rice; sauteed kale & chard with garlic & raisins; cold tofu; asian cucumber salad; blueberries; mini bagel "salad" sandwiches; purple grapes.

On his way home from work he stopped at the farmer's market & got 1/2 a dozen ears of local corn, along with some tomatoes, potatoes, & fresh bread.

No food worth photographing. Baby Maia is almost 2 weeks old and weighs 5 ounces above her birth weight and has grown 3/4 of an inch.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tempeh & Burgers

Friday evening a friend
brought by some food
so I wouldn't have to
cook. The next day
baby Maia was born.
I don't know where
her recipe is from, yet,
but I'm going to dub it
"Mel's Magic Tempeh".
It was either that or
walking on our sharp rock patio in bare feet. LOL.
This kept us fed for 2 days including my post-birth midnight munchie insomnia.

A birth bead necklace sent from some mama friends.

My husband picked up our CSA share and took this photo...I'll try to decipher what's here:
- 1 head cabbage
- 1 head lettuce
- 1 bunch scallions
- 12 stems kale
- 12 stems swiss chard
- what's left of the peas
- 1 bunch salad turnips
- some basil
- 1 yellow squash
- 1 pattypan squash
- 3 cucumbers
- 1 pint blueberries
- 1 quart green beans
- 1/4 pint red raspberries

Nate, the new big brother.

Thank goodness for shortcuts and frozen leftovers!
AJ's lunch for camp: cucumber slices, cold spinach, cold tofu, onigiri triangle, raisins, pita chips. Not shown: lemonade, water, and a Luna bar for morning snack.

A toddler dinner:
whole grain flax
pasta w/ sauce; a
piece of summer
squash; blueberries;
raspberries; spinach;
mango pieces...and I
think he brought a
stray Ting to the table
and put it in the corner there, LOL.


Time to put those
farm veggies to good
This veggie burger
recipe evolved from
a veggie pate recipe
in the cookbook
Cooking For Life,
by Cheri Calborn &
Vicki Rae Chelf, which
I believe is now out of print.

It's a great way to use those dark leafy greens. Feel free to substitute collards, spinach, etc. for the kale, or use all kale instead of spinach. Use walnuts, almonds, etc. in place of the sunflower seeds. I'll sometimes add garlic scapes, swiss chard stems or leaves, mushrooms, or different herbs & spices to give the recipe an ethnic twist. Also, if you're gluten-free, substitute another flour or simply omit the flour.

The boys enjoy them as sandwiches, or plain dipped in ketchup. Back when Ryan was a toddler, he used to call them "cookies", before he knew any better.

Kale-Sunflower Burgers

1 pound potatoes (~3-4 small)
4 medium carrots
1/4 pound spinach (~1 bunch)
3 large kale leaves
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flour (optional)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 cup tamari (soy sauce)
1/2 tsp. sage (optional, or substitute rosemary &/or oregano)
1/2 tsp. marjoram
5 garlic cloves, pressed, or some garlic powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
spray olive oil for the baking sheet

Preheat over to 350F.
Chop greens and place in bottom of food processor with sunflower seeds. Process.
Follow with cut up potatoes and carrots, then the remaining ingredients.
You may have to stop it a few times and push some of the ingredients back down to the bottom a few times.
Shape into patties and place on an oiled baking sheet. Bake ~40 minutes, flipping half way through.

Makes ~12 patties.

With my husband back
to work for 1/2 the day,
I had to make dinner
easy on myself: ramen
noodles w/ frozen
broccoli; almonds;
cucumber salad;
orange slices.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Welcome baby Maia!

Just a quick

Maia Anne joined
our family on
Saturday, July 12th.
She was born at home
weighing 7lbs 7oz.
I can't believe we
have a girl! Someone to share my Hello Kitty bentos with!!

Friday, July 11, 2008


At 39 weeks the wait is on.

Nothing fits, I can
barely move, I 'm
so ready to be done.
And so we wait.
(Yeah, that's me,
the pregnant whale.)

CSA share:
- 12 stems kale
- 1 head green
leaf lettuce
- 1 head cabbage
- 1 pattypan squash
- 1 bunch beets with
- 1 summer squash
- 1 cucumber
- 1 quart blueberries
- 1 pint red & gold
- what's left of the
- 12 garlic scapes
- 1 lb. carrots
- 1 quart snow peas
- 1 quart snap peas

My husband didn't even get around to picking herbs or flowers! And right now our black raspberry bushes are at their peak; we are getting about a 1/2 pint each day.
I love a bowl of berries with some soy yogurt, mmmmm....

AJ's lunch for preschool camp: Thermos of leftover tri-color pasta with zucchini, caper, olive tomato sauce; watermelon; mini corn muffin; mini pumpkin-carrot-apple muffin; peanuts; lemonade; Luna Sunrise bar for morning snack.


The Farmer's Market yielded it's usual: tomatoes, potatoes, bread & popcorn.

Easy summer dinner
of cold 4-bean salad;
snap peas; roasted red

Hopefully I'll have some
baby photos to bore you
with soon!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Comfort Casserole

Ah comfort foods! Various
bruschetta made with
mostly local ingredients:
- tomato, basil, garlic, olive oil.
- swiss chard, garlic scapes,
raisins, cannellini beans,
olive oil.
- roasted garlic & herb "butter".

Roasting garlic couldn't
be easier. Just cut off
the tops off each head
enough to expose the
cloves inside. Then wrap
in foil and bake in a 400
degree oven for half an
hour. Pop out the soft
roasted cloves and voila!
This is still from our remaining garlic share from the farm last year! They're just starting to sprout so I thought it was time to use some serious quantities in preparation for the new harvest coming later this month.


Now here's something all-American...macaroni casserole. This is NOT health food! I think my pregnant nesting instincts took over and I just had to have it. Ryan declared it "the best dinner in a long time!" and "Even better than spaghetti!" My father used to make something similar with tuna and cheese, but here's my vegan version from what I can remember:

Comfort Casserole

1 box macaroni pasta, cooked al dente and drained
2 cups frozen peas & carrots, (or fresh carrots added to pasta water during last 5 minutes)
1 can fried onions (or 2 onions roasted until carmelized and crisp)
1 package Lightlife Chick'n Style Strips, diced (optional)
1 cup grated soy cheese (optional)
2 cups (or one batch) nutritional yeast "cheese" sauce (see recipe below)
1 cup creamy broccoli soup (I use Imagine Creamy Broccoli Soup)

Place cooked pasta in a large casserole dish.
Stir in peas, carrots, 1/2 can of onions, chick'n strips, cheese, 1/2 of the cheese sauce, and soup.
Spoon the remaining cheese sauce over the top.
Cover. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
Uncover. Add other 1/2 can of fried onions. Bake for another 5-10 minutes.

Nutritional Yeast Cheese Sauce

1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup flour
2 T. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 cups water
1 T. margarine
1/2-1 tsp. mustard

Place first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan.
Add water and cook over medium heat, stirring consistently until the sauce thickens (5-10 minutes).
Remove from heat and stir in margarine and mustard.

This recipe is easily doubled, and keeps covered in the fridge for days.
Great for mac & cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, casseroles, stuffed shells or enchilada toppings, pizza, etc.

Ryan's lunch for farm camp: tempeh, lettuce & tomato sandwiches; flat pretzels; watermelon; cold spinach; black raspberries.

Ryan loved using this
2-tiered Pokemon
bento. I'm sure it will
get a lot of use this fall
for kindergarten.

Ryan wearing a
flower crown he
helped make at
the farm.

CSA farm share:
- 2 1/2 quarts strawberries
- 1 head green leaf lettuce
- 1 bunch scallions
- 1/2 lb. mixed baby greens
- 12 stems rainbow swiss chard
- 12 stems kale
- 15 garlic scapes
- 2 large zucchini
- 1 quart peas (1/2 snow peas, 1/2 shelling peas)
- 1 lb. carrots

Oops! I totally forgot to photograph AJ's lunch!! He had his first day of preschool camp and obviously pregnancy brain took over. He watched me pack his lunch, and declared every single item to be his favourite: "Spicy tofu! My favourite! Mashed potatoes! My favourite!" Etc. His lunch box came back empty, with the exception of the juice box...he's never been a juice drinker.

AJ's lunch: spicy baked tofu; green beans; mashed potatoes; cantaloupe; mini pumpkin-carrot-apple muffin; a cookie; juice box; water bottle; and a Luna bar (for his morning snack).

Ryan's lunch for his last day of farm camp: strawberries & black raspberries; spicy baked tofu; green beans; onigiri triangle; carrots; mini pumpkin-carrot-apple muffin. Not shown: juice box; Luna bar for his morning snack; water bottle.

We have a patch of black raspberry bushes on our property and each year I've trimmed them back just a bit and we've been getting better and better yields every summer. Ryan has been picking/eating about 1/2 pint each day! But I can't manage to get out there and get a photo before everyone picks them!

At camp the kids made herbal "dream pillow" sachets and drew pictures of the dreams they wanted to have.

I love using kale in
soups. Beans go
particularly well,
along with an orange
vegetable and anything
else you have handy in
the fridge. My favourite
herb for soups is

From the farmer's market:
- kettle corn
- loaf of white bread
- quart of new red potatoes
- 3 tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- loaf of apple pie bread (not husband hid it!)

Just a fun picnic dinner (I'm getting lazy while so uncomfortably pregnant):
- popcorn, green bell pepper, apple, pretzels, tortilla chips, celery & carrot sticks, peanuts/almonds/raisins.
- fresh shelled peas, black raspberries, tiny pickles.
- grilled nutritional yeast "cheese" sandwiches.

Friday the 4th of July:

My husband took the
boys to grandma's pool,
along with a deli style
pasta salad, watermelon,
and popcorn. I usually
add broccoli to this pasta
salad, but some steamed
zucchini seemed like the
logical choice at the
moment. I stayed home and ate a few bowls of my own!