The Sauerkraut Experiment

Way back when, in my last CSA post of the year on October 15th, I mentioned I was going to try making sauerkraut with all the cabbages I had. Today, after renewing our share in Sundance Fields, I decided I should probably post about how that went.

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I chopped up a lot of cabbage. LOTS of cabbage, but the right amount by weight, according to Martha. All that cabbage filled my 3 biggest mixing bowls. Then I added a little salt and some caraway to each bowl and got squishing. I was very concerned that it wasn’t all going to fit in the 3 jars I had, but after a lot of massaging, I dumped one mixing bowl into the other. Then a bit later, all the cabbage fit in one mixing bowl. Then, it only half-filled that mixing bowl! There is so much water in cabbage! It all packed very nicely into my thrifted mushroom jars. Apparently I have a thing for mushroom kitchen accessories, my favourite vintage pyrex pattern to find is this one. You can see them in a bunch of my other food posts on the blog too.
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I followed Martha’s schedule for letting sit and opening the jars every now and then to release the gas. One jar made a satisfying ‘psssst’ sound every time I opened it, which was reassuring. Then, I kinda forgot about them. I remembered about a week or two after you were supposed to put them in the fridge, then I put off checking on them because I was scared of what I would find. When I did get around to it, one jar had gone disgustingly, stink-up-the-whole-kitchen fuzzy. The other two though, were fine! I tried a little forkful, and then spent the rest of the day saying to myself  ‘Do I feel sick? How is my belly?’ but everything was ok.

Then I realized that while I had fun making sauerkraut, I didn’t know what to eat it with. I’m not a big sandwich person, so I found a recipe for sauerkraut fritters. They weren’t bad, with some goat cheese on top, but not amazing. I think I’m just not a huge sauerkraut fan (except when friends K&E put it in their stuffing at Christmas. YUM!).

Have you ever made something more to see if you could, than because you’d eat it/wear it/use it when you’re done?

CSA Wrap-Up

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Time to wrap up the CSA party that was going all summer. The photo above was our final delivery from Sundance Fields. We’ll be thinking of them for a long time though, due to the sheer amount of potatoes we were given this week! Lots of different types and colours. We haven’t cut into the purple ones yet, but I’m excited to do so.

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We also got some dried herbs, and an onion braid!

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They said to let the onion braid dry out until it looked like onion skin, then we could hang it up and cut the onions off as we needed them. I thought it was dry enough yesterday and tried to pick it up by the braid…. onions and flaky onion skin everywhere!

We’ve made some great meals since receiving this bounty a few weeks ago. We actually made a shepherd’s pie where everything in it was from the farm, minus the ground beef. We had peas, carrots, onions, savory, and thyme in with the meat, then a layer of steamed spinach, then a layer of (boring, white) potatoes. Ok, the goat cheese we put on top of that wasn’t from the farm either, but that was literally ALL that wasn’t organic, pesticide free, or from within 100 miles. Thinking about it, the beef probably was, this being Alberta and all. We made one big one for eating for a few days, plus two smaller 2-serving shepherds pies for the freezer. I’m serious about stocking our freezer this year! No more Safeway lasagnes when we’re too tired to cook!

Tonight’s dinner (and yesterday’s, and tomorrow’s) was a nice hearty chili with farm-kinda-fresh (it’s been a week or two) zucchini, carrots, celery, and tomatoes. I didn’t use any canned tomatoes in this one, just fresh! Oh, and our one tiny green pepper is in there somewhere too. The tomatoes were actually given to us green, and we just let them ripen in our storage room in a brown paper bag. Things in the chili not from the farm: ground pork, garlic, other spices. To go with our chili, I made this coleslaw with a cabbage and some cilantro we had hanging around in the fridge. It is actually a great match for chili, it’s nice and cooling.

We still have about 5 cabbages left, but I was recently successful in thrifting some wide-mouth wire-bale glass jars, so I’m going to try making sauerkraut this week! The fridge is also still full of carrots, turnips, some beets, and some leeks. Oh, and the ever-present zucchini. The leeks may make it into the sauerkraut, but the rest is still up for cooking with. We need to get on it, because even turnips don’t last forever!

Any tips for using up turnips? Do you think I can can them? How about carrots?

CSA Adventures

I’ve slid behind on my CSA posts, and now we’ve had our last drop-off! The last few weeks have been so busy we’ve barely managed to get photos. The photo below is from September 14th:

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The veggies are threatening to take over our very large island!

On one of my days off last week, I went through the fridge and pulled out all the veggies. Since joining our CSA, the fridge has become a scary sight. I like having order in there, with veggies in the veggie drawer, fruit in the fruit drawer, leftovers together… with these giant loads of veggies arriving each week, it was every veg for itself and we stuffed stuff where it fit. Because all the produce is so fresh, it also lasts a long time (unlike Safeway veg which has already been sitting in a truck or warehouse for a week or two before you get it) so we had accumulated a lot:

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Some, sadly, got thrown away because it had been pushed to the back, never to be seen again. Everything else got put back neatly, just in time to make room for September 21st’s veggies. Oh, we no longer have a fruit drawer… we have a cabbage drawer:

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I want to try sauerkraut, but P isn’t a big fan of it. I may do it anyway, if I can just find some wire-bail glass jars. That’s what Martha says to use in October’s MS Living, and I don’t know if regular 2-part canning lids would work too.

One of my favourite things we got this summer that I’d never heard of before was this:

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It looks like regular corn, but they called it ‘cold corn’ and you just eat it without boiling or anything. Shuck the husks off and dive in! It was delicious and sweet and yummy straight from the fridge.

I’m going to do a round-up post soon of all the recipes I used this summer while trying to use up these veggies, and with the photos of our impressive last shipment. It won’t be an exhaustive recipe list (yet) because we’ll have some stragglers in the fridge for a few more weeks.

CSA Tales August 24th

The first thing I did with last week’s veggies was to fill up the void in our freezer where we usually keep a couple frozen lasagnes for ’emergency’ dinners. ‘Emergency’ may consist of: forgot to plan for dinner, didn’t realize it was 5:30pm all of a sudden, don’t feel like cooking dinner, among other situations.

I used the Stuffed Shells recipe from Martha StewartI’d made it before, and stuck to the recipe, but this time I just used what I had on hand. What I had on hand was a lot of Swiss chard, ground chicken, goat cheese and ricotta cheese. And a couple of the little onions. The  sauce was a jar of Classico sauce augmented with a big can of diced tomatoes, and a couple frozen muffin-cup-pucks of homemade tomato sauce base from a Mario Batali recipe. I wasn’t really measuring per se, but I’d guess I doubled the recipe.

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So I don’t tie up all my casserole dishes when I do this, I buy foil pans at the grocery store. I’ve already cooked and eaten one of the small ones (got to make sure it tastes good!) but the rest are frozen into nice hard blocks now.

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Blurry photo of some coleslaw that the Mr made. Cabbage and cilantro from our veggie CSA, sausages from the duck farm CSA we’re part of. The duck one isn’t a weekly delivery, we basically got a share of their farm for a wedding present, and can go to their booth at the farmer’s market and pick up what we want. They keep track of what we take, and take it off our balance. Duck sausages are so delicious!

I was so busy sampling food trucks last week that the rest of the veggies are still in the fridge, and some have gone to good homes tummies with some friends of ours.

Here is today’s haul:

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Herbs (including basil!), 2 larger zucchinis, lettuces, baby carrots, bag o’ potatoes, giant turnip, little onions, beets, tons of peas, a leek, very tiny celery. I think this is the most variety yet. And only one type of salad greens!

Here’s a link to all my 2011 CSA posts!

CSA Tales August 17th

I really enjoyed the beet green pasta dish I made last week, so this week I sauteed the two green onions, added some spinach to the saucepan to wilt, then mixed that in to cooked pasta with a mozzarella cheese sauce. All that went into a casserole dish, had some Panko sprinkled on top, and baked until the sauce bubbled.

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Do you want to know the secret of the sauce? Mum used to make macaroni & cheese for me this way when I was little and wanted food NOW. So, you take some heavy cream (whipping cream), and pour it into a pot. When it is warm, toss in as much grated cheese as you want. Stir until cheese melts. The end. No faffing about with butter and flour and milk here!

Then I decided I really needed to do something with the lettuce other than salad. I browsed Tastespotting until I found this chilled summer soup. It’s summer, it’s hot, I have a lot of lettuce, perfect! I had to buy leeks for this, and some frozen peas. I love the colours in the little green chopped leek rounds. I used two types of lettuce in this, the onion tops, and most of the herbs. I didn’t have all the ones called for, so I just used what I had: mint, cilantro, and dill.

Chilled summer soup

I served a little bowl of it with a hunk of homemade bread and some tasty Irish cheddar cheese. The soup is delicious chilled, and great for hot summer evenings. But it just wasn’t appealing on the freakishly cold evening we had one night this week – I wanted something warm, so that leftovers plan got abandoned. I froze 3 portions of this for work lunches in early September when it is still warm. No way I’m eating chilled soup in the winter!

Every now and then our fridge will decide to freeze everything in it. It usually happens when it is over-full. I didn’t feel like the fridge got super-full this week, but I didn’t get to the cabbage before it froze. The freezing made it go all dark, and then very limp when it got back to regular fridge temperature.

Here are the veggies I picked up today:

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Lettuces, giant bag of Swiss chard behind them, another cabbage, a turnip, herbs, radishes, 2 zukes, and potatoes!

Here’s a link to all my 2011 CSA posts!

CSA Tales August 10th

Last week, I got going on the veggies as soon as I picked them up. For dinner that night (and the next night), I had beet greens and pasta:

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I steamed the beet greens in a covered frying pan with a little bit of white wine, then mixed the wilted greens into hot whole-wheat pasta. A little bit of basil, some Parmesan (shaved with our potato peeler!) and that was dinner. For dessert after, I made Zucchini Muffins with Nutella Swirl.

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My wee zucchini made exactly one cup of grated zucchini. I subbed out the butter for one individual applesauce + 2tbsp of oil.

I didn’t have Nutella, so I added some cocoa powder to some organic almond/hazelnut butter I had in the cupboard, as well as a little bit of agave syrup to sweeten it a bit. It made a tasty mix, but even after microwaving, it wasn’t as ‘swirlable’ as Nutella is, so my muffins were more ‘Zucchini Muffins with Nutella-esque blob’.

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Now, why did I make the first zuke of the season into muffins, and not something fresh and yummy? Well, I don’t really like them. Zucchinis, that is, I love muffins. Growing up, we lived in a rural area and my parents grew a lot of our own food. This was awesome, only zukes are one of those crops that never. stop. producing.

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And, when you’re just a little bit bigger than the average zuke, and the garden produces so many of them for so long, you get a little tired of them.

On the weekend, I made up a batch of dough from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day, and decided to make the spinach calzones from this recipe. To get the 350g of greens, I used up all the spinach and the rest of the beet greens.

Calzones with CSA spinach & beet greens!

They’re pretty enormous, half of one made a very nice dinner. I froze two, to add to our ’emergency dinner’ stash. We usually have a 2-serving storebought frozen lasagne in the freezer for when you just don’t want to think about dinner. This winter I want to have that fallback, but have it be stuff we’ve made and frozen, not Safeway.

The tomatoes I ate as a side dish, just cut in half and sprinkled with some balsamic vinegar. Sidenote: in Portland, we went to this A-mazing olive oil/balsamic vinegar store but didn’t buy anything. Really regretting that now, it would have been worth the vingar-soaked clothes risk. Guess we’ll just have to go back to Portland some time! The main dish I had that night was this creamed avocado pasta dish, using CSA cilantro.

And then Wednesday came again, and I picked up these veggies even though I still have so. much. lettuce.

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Lots of lettuces, beet greens, some little onions and onion tops, a cabbage (the giant thing on the right that looks like it wants to eat my kitchen!), PEAS, more herbs including what I think is some fresh dill.

Is there anything else to do with lettuce apart from salad?

Here’s a link to all my 2011 CSA posts!

CSA Tales – July 27th & August 3

I’m a bit behind with the veggie logs, thanks to our mini-honeymoon in Portland. More about that later, for now, veggies!

The CSA delivery from July 20th turned into radish stir-fry, and a lot of salads, none of which had their portraits taken.

Here are all the veggies I picked up on July 27th:

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More of what I’d received before, but also including something I’d never heard of before called ‘lamb’s quarters’. They just look like little leaves, nothing crazy. Sadly, not many of these veggies got used, because I picked them up at 5pm on Wednesday, and left for Portland at 11am on Thursday. I did turn the Swiss chard into these yummy cakes for Wednesday dinner though:

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They were very tasty, although I think smaller-cut almonds would make them look more appetizing. I just have the chunky ones at home though! The sauce used up all the basil and spinach in the deliver (and the spinach from the week before, if I’m truthful). I got the recipe for both from Marcus Samulesson’s blog. I gave the lettuces to the friend who drove me to the airport, and hoped the radishes would last the 6 days until we got home. That…. did not happen. Although it did remind me that on my first pick-up day, I think the farmer said that if you keep your radishes in a tub of water in the fridge, they’ll last.

The day after we got back, August 3rd, I picked up this haul:

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For the record, that Romaine in the middle is HUGE-NORMOUS. Bigger than my head. There is also spinach, a lettuce called buttercrunch, 3 small radishes, a wee zucchini, tomatoes (!), beet greens, and a baggie of herbs.

I’m excited to actually have time to make stuff out of these veggies. And it’s the universe telling me I should eat more salad, but… how much salad can one person really eat? The Mr is away, so it is just me and these veggies right now.

Here’s a link to all my 2011 CSA posts!

CSA Tales – July 20

I spent part of the week and the weekend in Banff, so I didn’t get to post this on the day I picked our veggies up.

Here is what I did with last week’s (July 13th’s) veggies:

I picked the Swiss chard (I think that’s what it was… lettuce with red veins?) out of the mixed greens bag, and made this Swiss chard & goat cheese soup from Dianasaur Dishes. Goat cheese is one of my favourite cheeses! Plus, it doesn’t give me bellyaches (not that the bellyaches stop me from eating cow’s milk cheese…). This recipe also meant that I got to use the immersion blender we got for our wedding for the first time! Buzzzz!

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The next night, I made the asaparagus, lemon, and mint risotto from Cook Sister, minus the asparagus. Instead of the asparagus, I did the radishes as these sauteed radishes with mint from Food 52. The risotto used up all the stock that didn’t get used in the soup! I actually didn’t have to buy any ingredients for these recipes, it was all stuff I had in the fridge. Granted, I had bought the stock on the way home from work the night before so I could make soup, but still, not bad!

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What mint I didn’t use in that dinner, I dipped in chocolate. The original thin mints!

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Twilight chocolate bar? Yeah, I’m a little ashamed I bought it. The one below is regular, non-vampire-related milk chocolate.

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The rest of the mixed greens and the little head of lettuce got used in various salads throughout the week.

If I had more radishes (I used them all in the risotto) I would have used this recipe for cinnamon sugar radish chips.

And, here are this week’s veggies!

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Radishes, lettuces, spinach, Swiss chard, mint, basil

CSA Tales – July 13th

I joined a CSA for the summer! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and you basically buy a share in a local farm which means you get a share of what they produce. I’ve wanted to do this for a couple years, but I never remember until the summer, after they’ve all started delivering already. This year, with our seemingly unending winter, the crops are later than normal, so I managed to join one! I bought a half share with Sundance Fields, and got my first delivery on Wednesday.

I’m planning on taking a picture of each delivery when it arrives, and recording what I make with the things included. The next week, when the new delivery arrives, I’ll post of a photo of it, and a list of what I made with last week’s veggies. I’m excited to be a part of this because it will really get me out of my ‘go to Safeway, buy the same things over and over’ rut.

Here is the first delivery (small, because the winter has delayed everything):

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Clockwise, from bottom left: green onions, baggie of mixed salad greens, radishes, small lettuce, mint, and two very sad looking pieces of rhubarb. If they’re still getting rhubarb, that’s a sign of how late everything is here. My mum on the coast had rhubarb as big as my arm in early May!

Come back in a week, and see what I did with it all!

 

*Note: the title ‘CSA Tales’ popped into my head first thing, and only later did I remember a cartoon I saw once called Veggie Tales. I in no way endorse Veggie Tales!

My one experience with it: I was about 16 and on a long bus trip with a bunch of other kids from my school, and the teacher on the bus with us was one of the less exciting teachers. We were watching a movie on the bus’ TV, and either he deemed it inappropriate, or we got too rowdy, or something happened to make him stop the movie and put on one he brought. It was VT, an Easter episode, and I don’t remember details any more, but I remember my friend Jen and I just not being able to believe we were watching talking veggies preaching at us. It was so absurd to us (Jen is very anti-religion, and I just don’t bother with it) that we had giggle fits the whole way home. When I tried to describe it to my (also not religious) parents it was one of those situations where I couldn’t get 3 words out without breaking down laughing again: “And and and then the tomato says ahahahahahahha he’s reeeeeal shiny ahahaha in like, this Mexican accent hahahahooohooohoo”. I think my parents might have seriously wondered if I had been doing anything illegal on the bus. They teased me about talking tomatoes for years afterwards.