Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Meanwhile in Africa ...

Over here, we're eating hot dogs and counting the weeks between the last box of our winter CSA and the end of the Somerville Winter Farmers' Market and the beginnings of their summer equivalents, but on the other side of the world, my friends Nathaniel and Ariel are bringing in their soybean harvest.

For more episodes of local food, Malawi edition, may I recommend their reflections on the challenges of cooking in a foreign country, their ersatz yogurt maker, and particularly their quixotic quest for molasses?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Inspired by Bon Appetit's astounding global hot dog guide (eighty different sets of toppings, with international themes, all with photos and linked to a map), we cooked up the hot dogs Jack's visiting brother left us and served them for potluck today.

Pictured above is an arugula-and-basil walnut pesto (our basic recipe) and caramelized onion hot dog.

Another international topping using CSA items: Real Pickles kimchi (from our Red Fire Farm winter CSA) + cucumber slices + cilantro + rooster sauce.

Tasty toppings, though not particularly CSA related: brie + pear slices (surprisingly good), sauteed mushrooms and beans, smoked Gouda and barbecue sauce.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy Purim!

I regret to once again inform you that we're eating our produce in the form of cookies. (Not that much, but, guys, my mom reads this.)

Purim meant we needed to bake hamantashen twice this week. On the excellent suggestion of Erica's colleague, we used up the last -- okay, not exactly the last -- of our homemade marmalade (which keeps recurring in our baked goods), as well as lemon curd, Nutella, raspberry jam, and apple butter as fillings.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Write-Down-the-Recipe Orange Kale Pesto

Today we made our usual pesto (inspired by these recipes), with an improvised wintery twist -- kale for the basil or parsley, and orange peel instead of lemon.

We weren't even done eating before I was instructed to write down the recipe.

Orange Kale Pesto

1 large bunch kale
1/8 cup almonds
2 cloves garlic
Peel of 1 clementine
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  1. Remove stems from kale. Blanch the kale: Add the leaves to a pot of boiling water, allow to cook for 6 to 8 minutes, and then drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze out as much water as possible.
  2. Combine almonds, garlic, clementine peel, and a pinch of salt in your food processor bowl. Process until finely ground.
  3. Add drained kale to food processor bowl. Process until smooth.
  4. With the food processor running, gradually drizzle in the olive oil. Add Parmesan and more salt, to taste, and process until combined.
Serve on bread or over pasta.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Breakfast Quiches; Freezer Cooking

I just wrote a guest post for the Phoenix Hill Farm blog about the muffin-size breakfast "quiches" we made with their eggs. Check out the pigs while you're there!

* * *

Trying these is part of a larger project of thinking about how to eat better for the two meals a day we don't cook at home. When you're running out the door for work, and the vegetables in your fridge are winter CSA turnips and squashes ... well, I eat a lot of cereal and peanut butter sandwiches.

We occasionally make a stack of burritos or wraps (easy with leftover curry or stir-fry) for the freezer, but healthy and fresh seem not to be too compatible with make-ahead and freezable (not to mention grab-and-go and eat-at-your-deskable).

When you start searching the Internet for freezable meals, you will encounter Once a Month Cooking and the fiendishly organized Midwestern moms who are spending one weekend a month making four weeks worth of dinners. (I am absolutely floored by Once a Month Mom, who offers monthly meal plans, detailed instructions, recipes, and printable freezer labels. Even if you don't drink the Kool-Aid, her "Create Your Own Menu" guidelines and index of vegetarian recipes are worth a look.)

In general, though, I wasn't that excited about the freezer recipes I found. Most are not vegetarian-friendly, nor even particularly vegetable-focused. And when they are ... this once a month vegetarian menu plan describes itself as "sort of midwestern/southwestern-casserole based" and admits, "these recipes are very low salt and bland." (Here's another vegetarian plan.)

How do you eat your vegetables away from home? What else can we make ahead and freeze?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Comparison Shopping: Organic Staples

Sadly enough, our house cannot live on vegetables alone. If we could, all our food would come to us in CSA boxes, and we wouldn't ever have to go to a grocery store. (Just wait till you see what we have lined up for the summer.)

Inspired by our desire to do the rest of our shopping smarter, as well as this recent counterintuitive comparison of Hi-Lo and Whole Foods prices by the Globe (and follow-up), I spent some time this weekend reading price labels at our most-visited grocery stores: Trader Joe's, Shaw's, and Market Basket.
I compared prices on eight items we frequently purchase: a half gallon of milk, a package of tofu, a dozen eggs, a box of cereal, a pound of cheddar, a pound of bananas, a can of tomatoes, and a can of chickpeas. (Exactly what and when to buy organic is a continual topic of discussion here, but I stuck with all organics -- except for the cheese -- for this experiment.)

Ladies and gentlemen, if I could offer you only one tip for the future, "avoid the organic aisle at Shaw's" would be it. Every one of the eight items was more expensive there than at TJ's, with some of the packaged items (cereal, chickpeas) more than $1 more. (The cost for the whole basket of items was $25.57 at Shaw's, versus $20.20 at TJ's ... 27 percent more.)

Market Basket does not consistently offer our preferred crunchy-hippie low-sugar multigrain cereal or organic canned goods, but for the five items it had, they were even cheaper than at Trader Joe's ($12.66 for the five items, versus $14.03 at TJ's and $16.56 at Shaw's).

(A couple notes on sourcing: We are actually getting our eggs for $3 per dozen from the aforementioned Phoenix Hill Farm, and our refrigerator is currently stocked with Harvest Co-op locally made tofu, at $1.49 a pound.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Grapefruit-Rosemary Thin-Mint-Stuffed Cookies

This post has nothing to do with vegetables.

See, it seems like everyone on the Internet has been making these Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies recently. I wanted to get in on it, but would it be too low-brow for us? We blog about healthy local eating here!

So rather than chocolate chip cookie dough for the exterior, I used a basic butter cookie dough, tarted up with a generous addition of homemade grapefruit marmalade and a little home-grown rosemary.

The inside? Thin Mints. (Yes, I was a Girl Scout for way longer than it was cool.)

A little coarse salt on top, and we had a coop-approved version of the Internet's absurdly overindulgent dessert of the moment.

What's inside? The Internet.