CSA: Week 4

CSA half share for week 4

CSA half share for week 4

First, for anyone with obsessive-compulsive disorder: there was no CSA post for week 3. We were on the beach in Mexico (more about that later; teaser: we ate insects), so a friend picked up our share last week. So, on to week 4!

Continuing the spring theme of greens, we have braising greens, mustard greens, and spinach. Hmmm, we also have a salad spinner full of mixed lettuce that must have been part of the share but somehow managed not to get in the picture. We also have a lot of lettuce in a container on our deck, so once again I see a lot of salad in our future.

Braising greens with eggs and rice

Braising greens with eggs and rice

Anyway, for dinner last night I sauteed the braising greens in olive oil with slivered garlic, then added some soy sauce and rice vinegar at the end. Those were accompanied by some white rice and scrambled eggs with green onions. I had planned to have the greens with pasta, but apparently we ate the last of it before our trip to Mexico and I haven’t restocked. I was craving a little starch and Juliana wanted some protein, so there you have it.

Juliana got some yogurt and strawberries in her lunch bag today. Tomorrow night we’re having a friend over for dinner, so maybe I’ll whip up another batch of strawberry ice cream for dessert. That should use up all of the strawberries. The mustard greens might end up in a pot of beans. Slowly but surely we eat our way through our weekly share of locally grown produce.

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Rhubarb Cordial

Rhubarb cordial ingredients

Rhubarb cordial ingredients

I was catching up on some foodblog reading and followed a link to an old (2011) post on Food52 with a recipe for rhubarb cordial. Since this week’s CSA share contained some more rhubarb and I didn’t want to make another strawberry-rhubarb tart, I decided to give it a shot (insert rimshot here).

“Cordial” is Middle French for “stimulating the heart” and I think this could be both stimulating and refreshing on a warm summer’s evening. The recipe is simple enough: combine 2 lbs of rhubarb with 1 cup of sugar and 1 liter of vodka; let sit for a month, stirring occasionally.

Rhubarb cordial in progress

Rhubarb cordial in progress

Naturally I screwed it up and used twice as much sugar and vodka as needed for half a pound of rhubarb. So I guess it will be even more stimulating! Check back in a month when we give it a taste and concoct an interesting cocktail or two.

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Sunday Scramble

Sunday scramble

Sunday scramble

What a beautiful Sunday morning! As usual, we stayed in bed with coffee and the NY Times until Miles could wait no longer for his walk. We walked up to the IU campus, then over to College Mall Road before heading back home—5 1/2 miles all together. Then Juliana watered the plants around the house while I whipped up this scramble for breakfast.

Hot-smoked salmon

Hot-smoked salmon

I sauteed some red onion and spinach, then tossed in some leftover hot-smoked salmon that I smoked on Friday along with the pork shoulder. The dill that we planted out front will soon be big enough to clip; that would have been a nice addition, but this was quite tasty even without it. CSA tally: I used the rest of the eggs we got last week and half of this week’s spinach.

Community garden tomatoes

Community garden tomatoes

After breakfast we headed over to the community garden to tend our plot. Writing that last sentence made me realize that I haven’t posted anything about our garden plot yet. I’ll have to work on that for later this week. In the meantime, here’s a picture of some of our tomato plants:

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CSA: Week 2

CSA half share for week 2

CSA half share for week 2

We picked up our weekly half share from Heartland Farms on Saturday morning after an early walk on the Clear Creek Trail with our dog Miles. So let’s see what we have here…. More spinach, asparagus, and rhubarb. The first two are no problem, but I’m going to have to search the Googlesphere for some interesting rhubarb dishes. We can’t be having strawberry-rhubarb tart every week (can we?).

I unwittingly bought salad greens yesterday, so it looks like a salad-heavy week ahead. Juliana might be taking salad to work for lunch.  😀 I also bought a bunch of radishes, so lots of radishes on those salads. Hmmm, I remember someone in my Google+ food circle pickling radishes. Yesterday I smoked a pork shoulder for a friend’s party today, and I kept some back thinking we’d have pulled pork tacos this week. Pickled radishes would be a nice accompaniment.

I haven’t used mustard greens much, so I’ll have to poke around for a dish. And then there’s the mint, which makes me think of mint-chocolate ice cream. We’re running low on homemade strawberry ice cream, and I do like having ice cream around during the warmer months. Then again, mojitos are also a nice way to beat the heat.

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CSA: Week 1 Review

Strawberry rhubarb tart

Strawberry rhubarb tart

I’m blogging as fast as I can, but this was an active week in terms of food and drink! So rather than write individual posts for the various dishes we created from the ingredients in this week’s share, I’m doing a mega-post:

I already told you about the frittata that included eggs, spinach, asparagus, and chives from the share.

Watercress pesto

Watercress pesto

A day or two later we made a watercress pesto that included toasted pecans and walnuts, lemon zest, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan. That made for a delicious dinner mixed with penne and served with a salad.

Last night we had friends over for a dinner of fried oysters (which used two more eggs), potato latkes (topped with a mixture of the rest of the chives and some capers in sour cream), and a salad. We finished the evening with a strawberry-rhubarb tart (which used all of the rhubarb) from a Taste of Home recipe. Just to be decadent, we put a scoop of homemade strawberry ice cream on top.

Strawberry rhubarb tart with ice cream

Strawberry rhubarb tart with ice cream

So we did well for the first week. We have a few eggs left and we didn’t pop any of the popcorn, but we ate everything else. Bring on Week 2!

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Orange Drop Cookies

Neterer Bros Bakery box

Neterer Bros Bakery box

There were (and still are) a lot of good bakers on my mom’s side of the family. Her father and uncle owned Neterer Brothers Bakery in Huntington, Indiana for over 30 years. My early elementary school was just half a block from the bakery, so sometimes after school I would walk over there for a free cookie or brownie before heading home. It pays to know people in high places!

I always looked forward to family gatherings because the home bakers in the Neterer family made some mighty fine pies, including shoofly pie in the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition, and sugar cream pie (aka Hoosier pie), which became the state pie of Indiana in 2009. I remember a lot of berry pies in the summer and pumpkin and pecan pies at Thanksgiving.

Orange Drop Cookie Recipe

The Neterer family Orange Drop Cookie recipe

But what prompted this post was a request from my mom for a copy of the family’s Orange Drop Cookie recipe. I l-o-v-e-d these when I was young, and at some point in my adult life I realized that all I needed to do was get a copy of the recipe and I could have them any time I wanted. That was probably when I learned that with great power comes great responsibility. “Or maybe you didn’t learn that,” says my chubby belly. Well, somehow and somewhere (probably on The Face Book) the topic of these cookies came up, and my mom discovered that she couldn’t find her recipe. I think my cousin Brad Neterer’s wife, Cindy, was looking for the recipe because apparently Brad loves these as much as I do. So it’s my turn to return the favor, and to make sure this recipe is not lost forever I’m giving it to everybody on the Interwebs.

I haven’t made these in years, but a couple of things strike me. First, there’s no granulated sugar, it’s all brown sugar. Second, there’s 3/4 cup of buttermilk. What I really like about these cookies is that the icing is also orange flavored. I may have to make these soon for a Proustian trip down memory lane….

Orange Drop Cookies
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Orange cookies with orange icing
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 6 dozen

Ingredients
BATTER
  • 1½ cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon orange peel, grated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
ORANGE ICING
  • 1 tablespoon orange peel, grated
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifter

Instructions
TO MAKE THE BATTER
  1. Cream the brown sugar and butter.
  2. Add the eggs, orange peel, and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
  3. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beating after each addition.
  5. Drop batter by the tablespoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes.
TO MAKE THE ORANGE ICING
  1. Combine the orange peel, orange juice, and butter.
  2. Stir in the powdered sugar until smooth.
  3. While still warm frost with Orange Icing

 

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Homebrew: Liz Lemongrass

Liz Lemongrass Ale

Liz Lemongrass Ale

If you’re a homebrewer, there are a lot of benefits to being a member of your local homebrew club. You get to hang out with other people who are passionate about crafting beer, drinking beer, and talking about beer. You get ideas from other brewers for recipes, you learn new techniques, and you sample beers that are often unlike anything you’ll find in a restaurant or store. As a novice brewer (2 1/2 years now), I really appreciate getting feedback on my beers from more experienced brewers and people who have trained their palates to taste nuanced flavors and recognize flaws in beer.

Many homebrew clubs also provide more formal instruction, tutored tastings, and other types of events. Recently my local homebrew club, the Bloomington Hop Jockeys, organized an Iron Brewer competition for club members. If you’ve ever watched Iron Chef, you have a good idea of how things worked. Each participant was required to use two of three ingredients: Dry English Ale yeast (WLP 007), coconut, and Thai basil. We had two months to plan, brew, and condition our entries.

For my entry, I decided to use a fairly simple grain bill for a light wort that would highlight the coconut and Thai basil flavors. My base malt was American two-row, a pale malt that provides a lot of diastatic power. I added some Vienna malt, which is kiln dried to be a little darker than pale malt and which imparts a golden to light orange color. I also used a little Cara-Pils to increase the head retention and body of my beer. I used Saaz hops for bittering because it’s clean and floral and adds a Noble hop aroma.

After a week in primary fermentation, the gravity had fallen from 1.049 to 1.011. The Dry English Ale yeast is known for being highly attentive, so I gave it another week to finish its work and clean up after itself. At that point the gravity was 1.006, making the alcohol by volume (ABV) around 5.6%. I transferred it to secondary and added a sanitized dry hop bag with 1 pound of toasted coconut and some chopped lemongrass that we had grown in a pot on our back deck. A week later I transferred it to a 5-gallon keg, at which time I added 2 cups of fresh Thai basil “tea”. After a week in the keg, I had my first taste and was very pleased with the result. The flavors of the Iron Brewer ingredients and the lemongrass really came through. The beer continued to improve over the next couple of weeks, and I noticed that it was especially refreshing in warmer weather.

Last night at our monthly homebrew club meeting was the moment of truth: the competition judging. There were 10 entries and more variety than you might expect given the constraints. There wasn’t a single bad entry in the bunch, but some didn’t feature the competition ingredients as much as others. One had a strong curry flavor that was interesting, but I don’t think I could have had more than a few sips of it. Every club member had the opportunity to taste each entry and cast a single vote for the winner. The entries were numbered so that, theoretically at least, no one knew which beer belonged to whom. The winning beer received 5 votes, but two runners-up each received 4 votes, so clearly it was a close competition. I thought that my beer—dubbed Liz Lemongrass—would fare well, but I was pleasantly surprised when it was chosen as the winner! Below is a commemorative label and the recipe.

Label for Liz Lemongrass Ale

Label for Liz Lemongrass Ale

BeerXML summary for Liz Lemongrass Ale

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5 gal 60 min 20.7 IBUs 3.8 SRM 1.043 SG 1.009 SG 4.4 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Specialty Beer 23 A 1.03 - 1.11 1.006 - 1.024 5 - 70 5 - 50 1.8 - 3 2.5 - 12 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pale Malt (2 Row) US 5.5 lbs 66.67
Vienna Malt 2.5 lbs 30.3
Cara-Pils/Dextrine 0.25 lbs 3.03

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Saaz 1.25 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 4

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Lemongrass 4.00 Items 7 days Secondary Spice
Coconut, Unsweetened Flaked 1.00 lb 7 days Secondary Spice
Basil, Thai 1.50 Cup 0 min Bottling Spice

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Dry English Ale (WLP007) White Labs 75% 65°F - 70°F

Notes

First place in Hop Jockeys' Iron Brewer competition

BeerXML file for Liz Lemongrass Ale

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Hakuna Frittata!

A slice of frittata

A slice of frittata

For our first CSA dish of the season, we opted for a vegetable frittata using some of the eggs, asparagus, spinach, and chives from our share. We also added some freshly picked onions from our kitchen garden and shiitake mushrooms. We love frittata for a savory brunch but it also makes a nice dinner along with a simple salad.

Frittata ingredients

Frittata ingredients

The word frittata comes from the Italian fritta meaning “to fry.” According to Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking, the frittata and the Egyptian eggah are similar to the French quiche except they don’t contain any milk or cream. The Wikipedia entry for frittata notes four ways in which it differs from an omelette:

  1. The eggs are beaten more, and the ingredients are added to the raw eggs rather than on top of the partially-cooked eggs which are then folded over;
  2. The mixture is cooked more slowly, anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes over a lower heat;
  3. To finish cooking, the frittata is either flipped or placed under a broiler;
  4. The frittata is cut into wedges and served either hot or cold.
Blanching asparagus

Blanching asparagus

We like to begin by frying some russet potato slices in olive oil, which we will fan out across the bottom and sides of the pan to create a crust. Set them aside on a paper towel until you’re ready to assemble the frittata. At the same time, blanch the whole asparagus in boiling water for 5-6 minutes and then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain, cut on a bias into 1-inch pieces, and set aside.

After you’ve fried the potato slices, saute the finely chopped onions and chopped shiitake mushrooms in olive oil. When the onions are soft but not browned, add the spinach and cook until wilted. Set aside.

Assemble the frittata

Assemble the frittata

Vigorously beat the eggs so that the frittata will be light and fluffy. Wipe the pan clean, coat with olive oil, and line with the fried potato slices, overlapping them so that the eggs won’t leak through. Add the beaten eggs followed by the onions, mushrooms, spinach, and asparagus, spreading them around inside the potato crust. Cook over medium to medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes until the eggs start to set. Preheat the broiler.

Frittata ready to serve

Frittata ready to serve

When the eggs are mostly set but still a little runny on top, the frittata is ready to go under the broiler. At this point we like to top it with some shredded or diced cheese. Today we went with some gouda that we had in the fridge. Sometimes we use mozzarella and broil until it starts to bubble and brown. We also sprinkled the finely chopped chives on top, but you could wait until you pull it from the broiler to do this if you’d like.

Once the eggs are set and the cheese has begun to brown, pull the frittata from the broiler.  It should slide right out of the pan and onto the cutting board, but if it sticks just run a spatula around the edges and underneath. We used a 10-inch, broiler-safe pan and cut the frittata into four wedges.

 

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CSA: First Share of the Season

When we lived in Morgan Hill, California, we participated in community-supported agriculture (CSA) with Mariquita Farm in Watsonville. We always eagerly awaited the start of the season and our weekly share of vegetables and fruits. Of course, the growing season there is much longer than in southern Indiana, so by May we were getting not only greens and potatoes but artichokes and strawberries. Now that we’ve settled in Bloomington, we’ve decided to get back into the CSA routine with Teresa Birtles’ Heartland Farms in Spencer, Indiana. Several friends of ours are members of her CSA and we’ve enjoyed some of the bounty from their shares. We opted to start with a half share, which is supposed to be good for two people; however, I wouldn’t be surprised if we go for a whole share next year because we love our veggies.

Among the challenges of CSA, which you will find either rewarding or frustrating depending on your inclinations, are trying new produce that you otherwise might never buy and coming up with interesting ways to use everything in your weekly share. The Iron Chef in me likes getting a bag of surprise ingredients and devising dishes. Teresa sends an email newsletter every week before the shares are delivered to let people know what’s coming so that they can plan meals and decide what else they might want to buy that week. We picked up our share on Saturday morning at the Bloomington Farmers Market. Teresa told us that the shares are always smaller at the beginning of the season, so this week she added a dozen eggs as well.

CSA share this week

CSA share this week

So the challenge we’re setting for ourselves is to post a picture of our weekly half share and use as much of it as possible throughout the week, documenting some of the dishes that we think readers might find interesting. We probably won’t use all 12 eggs this week, and the two small bags of popcorn aren’t going to spoil any time soon. We’re thinking about a frittata to use some of the eggs, asparagus, spinach, and chives. A small rhubarb tart sounds pretty tasty. The watercress will probably end up as part of a salad or maybe as pesto. There, that wasn’t so difficult. Let the Hungry Games begin!

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Hop Rhizomes Update

I finally got around to planting my hop rhizomes last week. I was probably too cautious, waiting until it seemed like the worst of the frost was over, but they’re in the ground now. My main reference was an article in the March/April 2009 issue of Zymurgy titled Give Your Homebrew Terroir: Grow Your Own Hops by Ali Hamm. Cascade hop rhizomes in the groundFollowing Ms. Hamm’s instructions, I dug a couple of holes 1 foot deep and about 5 feet apart. Because we have voles in the neighborhood, I lined each hole with 1/2-inch wire mesh to keep them away from the rhizomes. I used potting soil sprinkled with mycorrhizal inoculum to improve the hops’ ability to draw in water and phosophorus. I planted two rhizomes in each hole, Cascade in one and Nugget in the other, both with their young shoots angled upward. I covered the mounds with a layer of mulch to help keep the weeds down. Now I just need to tend them and wait until late summer. I don’t expect them to produce much this first year, but like so many aspects of homebrewing, a little patience brings great rewards!

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