Eating no meat, many miles of open water away from a health food store. Recipes and anecdotes galore!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I Heart My CSA

Garlic scapes, mint, chives, oregano,tarragon, kohlrabi, broccoli raab, salad mix, stir fry mix, rhubarb chips,broccoli, asparagus, strawberries, arugula,spinach,sprouts, kale...are you hungry yet? Our CSA started on the first Tuesday of June, and Jeff and Susan of Sea Smoke Farm have kept us rolling in veggies every week since. We had the farm share last fall, too. I'd never done one before (although my parents always grew vegetables in our side yard.) It's so wonderful to go and visit your food before you eat it. And talk to the people who grow it! In the city, I'd always been tempted to get a farm share, but it still seemed so far away. Sea Smoke is only a six minute drive from our new apartment, and was about equidistant from our old house. So far, the farm share has inspired soba noodle salad with Asian greens, spicy sauteed broccoli raab with pasta, kale carbonara with pasta, herbed cream sauce, pasta with eggplant, arugula, tomato and ricotta cheese (a variation on pasta ca norma,) and countless salads and wraps. I think tonight we'll do roasted carrots, garlic scapes and kohlrabi. With pasta. Dang, we eat a lot of pasta.

Speaking of apartment/house, yep, we had to move for the summer. We apparently lucked out in that we only have to move ONCE. Some people out here change houses in the summer every few weeks, as renters come and go. We're staying in an in-law apartment over a ceramics gallery. It's very, very beautiful, and about a twentieth of the size of the house we came from. Bill's magical spatial skills enabled him to fit all of our pasta/rice/canned goods/snacks into one teeny tiny cupboard, and I only took my most extremely special knives and cooking gear, and Bill's calphalon. So it all fits. (We did have to store most of our music goodies though. At least they're pretty accessible, just wedged into my classroom for when we have the urge to rock out.) However, with the loss of approximately an acre of counter space, came an upgrade in counter quality - we have left behind formica and moved in with granite! Too bad it's extremely humid up here...I'd try my hand at some pastry crust otherwise.

Here are some recipes.

Soba Noodle Salad

(In Boston, I used to make this with choy sum and Chinese egg I make it with the Sea Smoke Farms stiry fry mix and soba.)

8 little bundles of soba noodles (approx. 1 pound)
Sesame oil
Crushed hot red pepper or red pepper flakes
Soy sauce
Toasted sesame seeds
Crushed or minced garlic cloves, to taste
Salt and pepper
Shichimi Togarashi (optional)
1/2 Tbs sugar (optional)

Start salted water boiling for noodles
Wash the greens and tear them into manageable pieces
Sautee the garlic in sesame oil in a wok or very large pan
Add greens to the pan and toss until quite wilted
Add hot pepper flakes and sesame seeds, toss to mix
Turn off the heat, set aside greens
When water comes to a rolling boil, add soba noodles and cook until al dente (approx. 3 minutes)
Drain noodles and rinse under cold water.
Place noodles in a very large serving bowl.
Add greens, additional sesame oil and soy sauce (about 1/3 cup) and mix to coat. Add salt, pepper and shichimi togarashi (7 spice mix) if using.
Taste. Adjust seasonings, especially hot pepper. This should be pretty spicy. If using egg noodles, you may want to add a bit of sugar as well. Serve cold. This is a good pot luck type meal, and extremely good for hot weather. I served it at an end of the school year staff party, and it got some strange looks...I guess soba noodles haven't made it out this far yet. But I love it. I think I adapted it from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian, but I've been making it for so long that I forget.

Something Like Pasta ca Norma

1 pound of pasta (a tube shape works well - I think I used whole wheat penne or maybe radiatore?)
1 cup of ricotta cheese (ricotta salata is what is really used in pasta ca norma, and of course it's totally, radically different from ricotta. But we use what we can here on the island!)
1 medium eggplant, cubed, sweated and sauteed in olive oil
1 tomato, diced
1 large bunch of arugula, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
Nutmeg (I grate it off a nut...I highly recommend doing the same!)
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes (I've been chopping up dried peppers from the farm share)
Fresh oregano, chiffonaded
Pecorino romano, grated, to taste

Make the pasta, drain it, put it in a big bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Leaving the pasta slightly warm allows the ricotta to soften and the arugula to wilt slightly, which I think is good. Adjust all seasonings to taste. Can be served slightly warm or cold. Very stellar as leftovers.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Long Overdue Fiddleheads

So, we finished the spring run of Pirates of Penzance last weekend. We had tons of company (six different people over the course of the week) and I have been totally exhausted. Now, having slept at least ten hours for the past two nights, I finally feel ready to update el bloggo, with a post that's been overdue for about a month.


Tiny baby ostrich ferns, curled up and hidden under dead leaves. I'd been looking for some when I went foraging with Kate, but it was about a week early then. I went out again on my own in the swamp at the street edge of our property, and found enough for two small helpings.

Ostrich ferns grow covered in brown scaly stuff. It's important to know the difference between them and the other fern babies around. The white fuzzy ones and the reddish ones are no good. Ostrich ferns are also the most delicately leaved - you can look for the dead ferns on the ground and you're almost guaranteed to find some fiddleheads, if you go looking in early May.

Once you have them (it took me about an hour to pick enough for two people as a snack,) clean 'em, rinse 'em, and sautee them in butter. Mmm. Very springy.