Monday, September 26, 2011

What to do with the long green eggplants?

Since the person at Sage Mountain Farm told me these were Thai eggplants, I thought I'd try to make a Thai eggplant dish from them. I loosely based it off of this recipe but found it too salty (and I used half of the soy sauce than the recipe called for). I also added cashews for crunch, though peanuts probably would have been better (didn't have any).

It was edible and "okay" but I'll keep looking for a better recipe.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tomato "Chirashi" (Scattered Sushi)

A few days ago, I had about a pound of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes from the CSA that were about to expire pretty soon. I just so happened to be reading Shape and they had an article on tomato recipes. Even though Shape isn't exactly high on my list for recipe sources, this one appealed to me. Tomato sushi??? What an odd mix of flavors.

I made the recipe as written, except that I didn't have any scallions. It tasted like sushi rice with fresh tomatoes with a nice vinegar dressing. It was delicious and a good way to use up those tomatoes!

Tomato "Chirashi" (Scattered Sushi)
Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

2 1/3 cup water
1 cup short-grain brown rice
1 T sugar
1 T rice vinegar
1/3 tsp coarse salt
1 lb tomatoes in different shapes, sizes, and colors
2 scallions (white and green parts), trimmed and thinly sliced
2 T reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 T mirin
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

In a large saucepan, bring water to boil. Stir in rice; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes or until rice is tender. Turn off heat and let pot rest, covered for 10 minutes. [I just cooked the rice in my handy rice cooker - MUCH EASIER]

Meanwhile, whisk together sugar, vinegar, and salt for about 2 minutes or until sugar has dissolved completely.

Transfer warm rice to a large bowl. Drizzle a little vinegar mixture over rice and cut across rice using a wooden rice paddle or spoon. Continue drizzling and cutting, then gently scoop paddle under rice and turn over a few times to evenly distribute mixture. Divide rice among four shallow bowls.

Cut large tomatoes into wedges and halve cherry, pear and/or grape tomatoes. Divide evenly among bowls of rice and top each with scallion.

Whisk together soy, mirin, ginger and sesame oil. Drizzle an even portion over each bowl of chirashi and garnish with sesame seeds.

Inland Empire CSA: Weeks 2 and 3

Since I'm already in week 3 of the Inland Empire CSA, I'll do a recap and post what was in each box.

Week 2's box:
  • heirloom tomatoes (3 lb 5.5 oz)
  • 3 large grapefruits
  • oranges (1 lb 2.25 oz)
  • fingerling potatoes (12.75 oz)
  • 2 small heads of garlic
  • 3 small passionfruits (3.5 oz)
  • 3 small onions, brown (6 oz)
  • 1 Thai? eggplant (5.5 oz)
  • bag of arugula (10.5 oz)
  • melon (not sure what type) (2 lb 1.5 oz)
  • bunch of radishes, which I swapped out for a bunch of collards

I did pretty well with Week 1's box and was able to eat everything in it. The only thing I didn't particularly enjoy were the radishes. I don't normally buy them and were at a loss at what to do with them. I tried putting them in a salad but found they had too much bite for me. I sauteed them a bit and they tasted "okay" but not wonderful. I ended up giving the rest away to a coworker who loves radishes. However, I was able to eat the radish greens. I sauteed those up with some cauliflower and made a curry out of it.

I had some lazy lunches and dinners (i.e. went out to eat) during week 2 so I wasn't able to use everything up. By the end of week 2, I still had 1.5 grapefruits, 1 passionfruit, 1 onion, the eggplant, and 1/2 of the arugula.

week 3 box

Today I picked up the box for week 3. There were 3 large grapefruits in it again. I like grapefruit and the ones I had were very sweet, but there is only so much of it I can eat! I swapped those out for several bunches of green leaf lettuce and one small bunch of Swiss chard.

Week 3's box:
  • fingerling potatoes (1 lb)
  • 4 brown onions (1 lb 6 oz)
  • bunch of collards (8.25 oz)
  • bunch of radishes (1 lb)
  • heirloom tomatoes (2 lb 1.5 oz)
  • green leaf lettuce (1 lb)
  • swiss chard (11.5 oz)
  • yellow crookneck squash (1 lb 2.75 oz)
  • 3 cucumbers (1 lb 1.5 oz)
  • 4 Thai eggplants (8.75 oz)
  • melon, not sure what kind? (2 lb, .75 oz)
  • melon, not sure what kind (2 lb 6.25 oz)

Looks like I have to figure out something to do with the Thai eggplants. And what to do with the radishes?!

Inland Empire CSA: Week 1

The day I signed up with Inland Empire CSA, one of the workers was able to make a box up for me and I took one home. The four week trial for a small, weekly box costs $140 ($10 is a one-time processing/joining fee) which works out to $35/box. One feature I like about this CSA is that they allow you to swap out things you may not want if you pick your box up at the farmer's market.

Week 1's box contained:
  • basket of figs
  • salad greens (9 oz)
  • collards, 2 bunches (12.5 oz)
  • 1 large grapefruit
  • bunch of carrots (11.25 oz)
  • 1 cucumber
  • bunch of green onions (6 oz)
  • zucchinis (1 lb 5 oz)
  • summer squash (9.5 oz)
  • 2 melons (not sure what type these were), (2 lb 2.75 oz)
  • brown onions (8 oz)
  • 1 bunch radishes (8.25 oz)
  • heirloom tomatoes (1 lb 9.75 oz)
I know it's "type-A"-ish that I actually weighed everything but it's the engineer in me! How else am I going to be able to compare?

CSA Smackdown!

I've been wanting to try a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for a long time. I love the idea of supporting local farmers, getting organic fruits and vegetables for less, and being challenged to make new dishes out of things I normally wouldn't eat. My two main issues have always been price and consumption. I shop at farmer's markets and some of the cheaper grocery stores and think I do pretty well and am able to buy a lot of produce for my money. I am also nervous about that I wouldn't be able to finish an entire box of fruits and veggies by myself.

A few weeks ago, Kameran and I were at the Hillcrest farmer's market and after talking with Sage Mountain Farm, I finally decided to bite the bullet and sign up for a four-week trial period with Inland Empire CSA.

I was able to take home a box that day, and when I got home, I did a little more research on the various CSAs in the San Diego area. I might have done "okay" but based on reviews, I may want to try other CSAs as well and compare them. This will be my little experiment to document what I get in each week's box, what I make with the items, and which one is the most "worth it" for me. Who knows, maybe I'll fail miserably and none will work out. Or I may find something a whole new way of buying produce and eating... stay tuned!
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