Kohlrabi, Purslane, and other Odd Things

Hi Kitten!

What can I say, it’s summertime, I’ve been a horrible pen pal. I’ve also been less adventurous, in that since my CSA has been providing me with fresh veggies, I’m not “looking,” as they say.

And I’m sad to say that I’ve made many yummy things that I’ve failed to record or photograph. For one, I recently made peach cupcakes–yes, peach cupcakes! It was an epic ordeal that I committed to one Sunday recently, during sweaty ninety-degree heat, because I was getting a peach overload from my weekly pickups. They were amazing. So amazing, I’m ashamed to say, that I didn’t want to share them and I let some go bad before I could finish the batch.

But here’s a quick photo review of some of the delicious things I’ve done. The two most exciting new things I tried were purslane greens, which look king of thyme sprigs magnified 1,000 times, but instead of dry leaves they’re kind of small, flat but thick, and juicy. I sprinkled them in salad. They’re supposed to be lemony, but I don’t know if I tasted them much. And kohlrabi. It’s like a large bulb that seems like a raw potato inside, with texture and taste in between apple/radish/jicama, and I put it in rough “matchsticks” in my salad, too.

I haven’t made one gazpacho all summer though, can you believe it? I need some stale bread is the problem.

Hope you’re eating well and traveling better.

Carolyn

All kinds of leaves, tomato, two eggs, purslane greens, basil and cilantro, parmesan cheese.

Okay, you're not a vegetable, but how adorable are you? And look at all those plants.

Haute vegetables. Dilly and I made fancy dinner in Vermont.

My pretties, on the chopping block. I turned these guys (radish, kohlrabi, cucumber) all into a salad.

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Beet It!

Dear Carolyn,

This week is an exciting one for my refrigerator. From the CSA, we have fresh summer squash, beets and their long luscious greens, green onions, lettuce, tomato, and a few other staples they send us outside the vegetable planet like granola, cheese, and eggs. I supplemented with 6 ears of fresh and local sweet corn, a few peaches also from the market, and an avocado, bell peppers, carrots, apples, pears, and watermelon from a grocery store nearby. The abundance of vitamins is ridic.

I was thinking about what to do with my beet greens and because you asked about your radish greens in your last post, I knew tonight was the night. I’m also doing a little fruit and veggie fast today after a week of a whole lot of bread and cupcakes from the bakery. Not to mention all the drinking from the holiday weekend. So to avoid any oils, I used water, white vinegar, and mustard to soften spanish onion and garlic in a pan. I chopped up the greens and threw them in once the onion and garlic had gone soft and a little translucent. I stirred in some sea salt and black pepper, and that was it. I did a little reading on beet greens while I ate them and found that they are even more nutritious than their little purple bulbs. They are packed with a lot of the vitamins I’ve been taking in pill form lately: potassium, iron, B-6, folic acid as well as manganese and calcium. All of these are especially awesome for fatigue, blood circulation, and bone health. Leafy greens also tend to have a ton of protein. In summary, I’m a happy, healthy camper tonight.

As for your radish greens… I think those are a little spicy aren’t they? I would wash ’em up and use a leaf or two with other greens in salads or maybe give them a good boil and eat them with sweet corn to off-set the sting. Or just make them the way you love to make spinach. I think that’s a good general rule for greens. Lemme know what you did!

Hope you’ve slept off any July 4th debauchery.

Love ya,

Katie

p.s. Photos of the past few seasons’ cooking to come soon.

Catch-up (Mais Pas de Ketchup)

I am feeling overheated and lazy tonight, so I will get up to speed on my recent vegetaventures by uploading photos (my birthday present camera is making food shooting much more pleasing).

I will, however, ask you one some important questions, and answer one of your own:

  • I had awesome birthday meals. I’ll write again when I remember what they were.
  • What should I do with the greens attached to my radishes, beets, and so on?
  • Are you the writer alluded to in that article about the bakery? Right on, dude!
  • What’s up with the water-sauteeing of your leafy greens? Why water? What’s your technique?

Now for the photo essay!

S’ghetti, arugula, asparagus-I-picked-myself, store-bought pesto.

Sensuous, undulating red lettuce leaves.

Red and Butter, two lettuces that were meant to be together.

Salad prep.

Ate it before I could get its picture.

Brussels, Brussels, Brussels.

Cracker, with (cheese?), egg, brussels sprouts, (mushroom?)

boy oh berries… and leaves

We are overdue for a post! And believe you me, there is plenty of food news here in Philly, P-A. The highlights are bakery-based: a flat of fresh local strawberries for all of the staff at Four Worlds Bakery; an article about the bakery in a local mag GRID, and, most relevantly, a new salad one of my coworkers introduced me to just this morning for “lunch” around 10:30. (When you start throwin’ hot trays around at 4:30am, the need for fuel is real.) I would be amiss not to also mention at least briefly the recent vegetable experiments: a fava bean stew; multiple dishes of water-sauteed leafy greens (as I am looking to increase my iron, calcium, magnesium, and B vitamin intake) with fresh garlic, onion, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and soy sauce; and freshly grilled asparagus with little more than olive oil as dressing. But my heart lies, as always, with the ever-titilating and mutable salad. Two in particular that I have to tell you about.

I’ll start with my own. At the farmer’s market at Clark Park just a few blocks from home, I picked up some Mizuna lettuce, which is a spicier mustard leaf, and mixed it with grilled zucchini, baby leaf lettuce (red and green), fresh tomato, and sunflower seeds. For dressing, I mixed cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, molasses, tahini, and lemon juice. Probably won’t be everybody’s favorite, but the thick, mellow flavors of tahini and molasses balanced out the spiciness of the mizuna.

The salad this morning though–my socks were knocked right off. Jimmie, my coworker, had picked the greens from her garden. They were a mix of baby mesclun and nasturtium flowers and leaves. Nasturtium leaves are also pretty spicy which is why they were awesomely paired with sliced avocado and strawberries (the same delicious ones we were given earlier in the week). White balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and a little salt and black pepper was perfect dressing.

In a last piece of exciting food news, I’ve found a great CSA. It’s called Keystone Farm, works out super cheap for great quality produce, and I really like the family.

Any great birthday meals?

xxoo,

Katie

Collard greens. Fava beans. Redux.

Dude, I rocked it with this fava bean recipe recently. Again, the fava beans take forever to get ready, but then everything’s easy. Sautee some garlic, pour in a bunch of oregano and chicken stock, simmer the fava beans in it. Then I got to finally use my brand-new food processor to blend the whole thing together. Add a few whole favas, and voila, pasta sauce. With a healthy dose of black pepper and parmesan cheese, it’s amazing. I’ll upload a photo soon.

I also bought another bunch of collard greens . . . and some fancy bacon. For dinner, I cooked a few strips of bacon, then cooked the greens in the bacon grease. Pretty. Darn. Good.

How are you, what’s new, what are you eating? Write soon.

UPDATE: PHOTO!

Spirals swimming in a fava sea with favas floating.

Fava beans. Collard greens.

Hey there,

Your bakery baker sounds amazing! Thinking about both of our senses of admiration and dread with regard to being super-green livers, I wonder where his energy for those efforts comes from – guilt, optimism, a sense of responsibility, frugality? I know I’m mostly motivated by fear of an impending environmental apocalypse and guilt about my contribution to it. I feel that I have no excuse. But I sometimes make myself crazy: I’ve got this one cardboard egg carton I know I can re-fill with eggs from a big egg basket at my local fancy-pants grocery, and I holding myself to only buying those (no more recycling the plastic cage-free-egg containers!) . . . but I’ve gone without eggs for two weeks now as a consequence.

And as for the peer pressure, what kind of community is sustained by guilt or holier-than-thou attitudes? I don’t mean to say that anyone is imposing those feelings on us, but when the “survival” behaviors like food shopping get moralized, suddenly I feel like I’m buying elephant tusks. When I commit – when I decide that yes, it’s disgusting that my plastic carrot bags end up in landfills – I’ve created a new ethical line which I fear crossing. If you just decide that you agree with the principles, how can you justify not living by them all the time? Oy vey.

At any rate, what are you up to with those mustard greens? And the eggplant?

It’s been a week or so that I’ve been meaning to tell you about my fava bean experience! Continue reading

Community on the Brain

Oh Carolyn,

As a slowly transitioning West Philadelphia hippie, I find your post strangely on point. The movie looks great–just watched the trailer. In real life, mine anyway, I’m picking up hours at the local bakery which is very community oriented and is creating all kinds of environmentally, socially, culturally, and financially ethical practices of its own. I find the owner inspiring and his business model has been successful; his little bakery, started from his kitchen a few years ago, grew to the point where he moved to a back kitchen behind a local cafe, and he is now in the process of moving to his own store front. Orders are increasing weekly. His following is loyal and growing. And just a few things I’ve observed while learning to roll croissant and make bagel dough that appear to be pretty unusual about his business:

He produces about one bag of trash every two months. He does this by reusing plastic to wrap dough and the wax paper on which they’re baked; he reuses containers his ingredients come in to store various bakery items; all of his customers–unless otherwise requested–have permanent bags labeled with their names on them and made of recycled material which they send back to the bakery for their bread so that no individual wrapping is necessary. This is just to name a few of the corners he cuts to produce less waste. He is also developing a bread pudding recipe to transform misshapen breads and loose raisins, almond slices, and chocolate chips from waste to a delicious product. Of course, myself and the other bakers are keeping much of those things from going to waste anyway, but better that we share. My butter intake has increased dramatically since starting this job.

As for a CSA, I haven’t found one yet but I have been busy at the coop. I had my first cheese slicing shift last week. It was great. I listened to The Postal Service and sat in the cool basement after a long hot bike ride into and back from Center City. And of course, I tried the Lancaster Young Gouda once or twice while I cut it into big, purchasable chunks. It was delicious. I’ve also got a plan for this week to pot some plants on our fabulous third-story balcony. I’m thinking herbs and greens. It’s not tomato season yet, but maybe carrots? You know how I love crunchy things. Seriously, I go through a bag of carrots about every week or so.

While I’m loving learning more and more about this little enclave, I’m finding it tricky to be a part of a community so amazingly committed to reuse and local product. I too identify with No Impact Man’s wife: sometimes I have cravings to drive a fat pick up truck over to Cost Co, buy a bunch of bulk items in all kinds of earth-unfriendly packaging, roll home and veg out in front of the TV with some chemically enhanced snack food and all the lights in the apartment on.  Okay, I jest. We don’t even have a TV. But really, sometimes I feel like a secret devil among angels with my soft spot for H&M and McDonalds frozen yogurt. Sigh. More on this as it develops.

In other news and more relevant to our little theme here, I bought mustard greens and little green eggplant this week. I have plans for the mustard greens which I will soon indulge to you, but the eggplants are proving to be a little project. They are the perfect excuse, in fact, to make a stop over to my favorite local Indian food market. I swear every item I ever saw for sale while I was in India, they have in this little shop. PLUS they sell fresh paratha, samosas, and other popular Indian street snacks in the back. Yes ma’am, I’m going for a little nostalgia trip sometime soon.

For now, it’s almost 9 and I’m off to bed for my 3:30am wake up tomorrow. Gotta be in for the morning bake at 4:30. Seriously: I love my job.

Lots of crunchy granola love from West Philly,

Katie