To CSA or not to CSA

 

 

This last week, work and life have been quite complicated. So many work obligations, children’s extra curricular activities. Life has been busy, to say the least. My husband, who was hesitant  about joining a CSA at first, a few years ago became a staunch supporter in the last couple of years.

Last week, my fridge was overflowing with produce. I couldn’t keep up. Then, he uttered the dreadful words, “Hey, let’s cancel our CSA for next year.” That tore me up. It made me feel like I wasn’t holding my end of the bargain, using up all the vegetables and making the most of all the bounty we received every week. I had to think fast. SO, this past week, I became even more creative with new recipes for the numerous vegetables I had on hand. There are many options- you could split a share where you share every week or pick up alternative weeks with your partner.  I am determined to be quite resourceful with my entire share.  Every tomato that I can’t use I freeze, I make many greens into my APP.  I give away some to friends and family and then some gets composted.

This week, I made eggplant 3 ways. Eggplant and mushroom thoren( South Indian dish with grated coconut and mustard seeds and garlic).  Panko breaded eggplant, and eggplant& lamb ratatouille. I will share recipes soon.

I made a Thai red curry with chicken last night. It’s pretty easy and a great way to use many greens and things in your pantry.  The best part of cooking is trying new things, putting flavors together that work for you and your family. Play in the kitchen.  I use ingredients that I have on hand, if it calls for spinach,  and I have kale, that’s what I’ll do.

SO I SAY, CSA all the way!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. of coconut oil
  • 2 lbs. of boneless chicken thighs cut into small chunks(typical size found in Chinese take out)
  • 10 shishito peppers(optional)
  • 5 pieces of kale( ribs  removed) chopped
  • one small red onion chopped or one large leek chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic finely chopped/minced
  • 1 tbsp. galangal or ginger
  • 2 -3 green peppers( you can use any color you have) sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp. red curry paste
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. of fish sauce
  • salt to taste( 1 tbsp.)
  • soy sauce(optional)
  • a dash of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp cilantro chopped

Instructions:

1. Take a large sauté pan and heat coconut oil in pan.

2. Sauté chopped leek/onion, garlic. When slightly translucent, add galangal.

3. Add salt to soften further, and then add chicken. When chicken is almost cooked( about 10-12 minutes)

4. Add red curry paste. Stir.

5. Add kale, green peppers and shishito peppers. Typically, 1 in 10 shishito peppers can be hot, otherwise they are as mild as green peppers.

6. Sauté further for 2 minutes. Add coconut milk.

7. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes.

8. Add fish sauce and sesame oil and stir.

9. Garnish with cilantro. Serve over jasmine rice or quinoa.

 

 

 

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Where does the thyme go?

 

I feel I have been in a writer’s block because I thought all I could write about were my culinary attempts with my CSA. I think I have more stories to tell …. This last summer was the most magical but also a whirlwind.  My daughter did some research over the summer taking us to New Hampshire for a few days. Enjoyed the nature hikes and King Arthur Flour Bakery. Everything baked at the bakery, I kid you not, was buttery scrumptiousness.

After a few days in NH, we made our way across the USA to Houston, Texas. After all of that, our trip of a lifetime was going to commence. We were returning the MOTHERLAND, India, after 8 long years.

NY –> INDIA–> DUBAI–> NY(Aug 2017)

3 weeks of food, family and adventure. Really a trip to remember – people and places to feel nostalgia over and food to savor, over and over again.  This trip to India is in typical Monsoon season. We heard from everyone, how difficult it was going to be on us. We heard that we were moving in the direction of the monsoon rains as we would be going North, 10 days after our arrival.

Some divine energy (God) looked over us. We had some rain, but most of the torrential downpours were overnight. Every food we ate was mouthwatering and painstakingly prepared with love. Every person we met treated us as we were their own. The Taj Mahal is more magnificent than we ever expected.  I have so much to share about the food and our experiences but here’s a taste… The kheer and gulab jamun were desserts we had at Bukhara Hotel in New Delhi was one of the best dessert combos we ever had, maybe one of the best foods, we ever ate.

Garden green chicken pasta

It’s a warm summer day, and my nephew has come over to hang out. He is definitely a picky eater. Doesn’t eat alot and is distracted by childhood play.  He loved sushi when he was young. He would always talk about pumpkin sushi. I never tried it but he would rave about it, even at the young age of 3. But despite all this talking about food, he never really ate much or enjoyed eating. Now, he is definitely growing a more refined sophisticated palate but talks about food in a way that makes me think he would try something new and different.

So our task for today is to make a healthy, quick, tasty dish that can satisfy my nephew’s palate and also ours. At home, we prepare meals based on what we have available. We definitely buy items based on what we want to cook. But if I want to make a pasta dish that includes maybe spinach and parmesan but  I only have kale, I’ll substitute. Say I have no parmesan cheese at home but I have Asiago, then that’ll do.  Waste not want not. Ingredients do make the dish and any herbs and spices you add can transform a dish to your liking.

So, using what we had from our weekly Hilltop Hanover Farm share and items in our fridge and pantry… Green garden pesto emerged. We were running low on time and within 20 minutes, lunch was on the table. And by the looks of the bowls, we all LOVED it. Easy, simple,resourceful, yummy!

Ingredients:

  1. Box of whole wheat penne pasta(or any shape you like).
  2. One large garlic scape and one long shallot flower including green stem(sub with two cloves garlic and one shallot).
  3. 4-5 sun dried tomatoes
  4. 5-6 lacinato kale leaves (use any green leaf- spinach is great here)
  5. 1 lb of boneless chicken thighs chopped into 1 inch pieces.
  6. 1/4- 1/2 cup of heavy cream/half half or whole milk
  7. paprika
  8. 1 cup of Asiago cheese( you can sub for parmesan cheese)
  9. fresh oregano( optional)
  10. salt and pepper to taste
  11. olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Boil pasta according to box directions.
  2. Chop sun dried tomatoes into thin strips.
  3. Finely chop garlic scapes and shallot flowers.
  4. Peel the kale leaves off the rib
  5. Roll the leaves together and finely chop the leaves to get a ribbon like appearance.
  6. On a separate cutting board ( you may use the same one if you are done with all the vegetable prepping). cut chicken into 1 inch pieces.
  7. Pour 2-3 tbsp of oil in to pan. Place pan on medium heat on stove. Add shallot flowers and garlic scape to pan and stir to saute.  Add a few pinches of salt.
  8. Add sun dried tomatoes and stir to saute.Add 2 dashes of paprika. This is more for color and a smoky flavor(perfectly optional)
  9. After this is softened, add the chicken to pan.
  10. Saute chicken until is white on the outside and it is more seared . Note: If the pan is not hot enough, the chicken will boil/steam rather than sear.  this should take 5-7 minutes to cook completely.
  11. Add chopped kale, stir for 30 seconds.
  12. Add fresh oregano( optional). You may chop the leaves or just pull some off from stem and throw into dish.
  13. Add 3/4 cup of Asiago cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Add milk( If you add cream, you get a thicker sauce). I had milk and so used that.
  15. Add pasta. Stir completely.  Close with lid, place on low-medium heat for another 10 minutes. When done. stir one last time.
  16. Serve pasta dish in bowl and sprinkle some Asiago cheese on top.  Enjoy!

APP- All Purpose Pesto (Bitter green pesto)

Living in a home where everyone in the household needs or wants to eat something different on a daily basis can be a daunting task. Making sure all meals are healthy(-ish) is just as difficult. Using all the greens that come in your weekly share is tricky… now, really, how many greens can you eat in a day and how many ways can you prepare them?

So, this week’s CSA share included red mustard greens, mizuna, garlic scape and shallot flowers etc. Mizuna is an Asian mustard green that can be used in stir fry or eaten raw in salad.  Mizuna is almost always found in the swap box. People don’t like it or just don’t know to use it.

 

I have learned  to appreciate the art of pesto making  through my weekly share of the many bitter greens.  Pesto can come in many forms, but it’s usually basil  pulsed in a food processor with garlic, nuts, EVOO and Parmesan cheese. I make pesto with whatever greens I have at home and use it in pastas, rice, ground turkey and now….chicken curry. I usually don’t add nuts or cheese because that can’t cause it go rancid quicker. If I want cheese or nuts in pesto, I can always add later. You can make YOUR own rules around food, it’s what works for you and your family. Cooking should not be a task that becomes burdensome. If you have it at home, you can make into something delicious. All you need is a stocked spice box. The right spices can transform any dish.

Bitter Green Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of mizuna
  • 5-6 pieces of red mustard greens
  • garlic scapes (2-3 stalks)
  • salt to taste
  • EVOO
  • chili pepper( jalapeño or other preferred) optional

Instructions:

  1. Chop off the ends of the mizuna bunch, maybe 1-2 inches from root end.
  2. Wash mizuna, red mustard greens( 5-6 pieces) , and garlic scape(2-3) . Vegetables from local organic CSA shares are the healthiest and tastiest but can also be dirtiest. Welcome to the CSA life.. lots of dirt!
  3.  In a food processor, place mizuna, drizzle EVOO as you process the mizuna, then slowly add the mustard greens, garlic scapes, 1 tsp of salt( to taste, you can always add more later), pepper. If you want extra heat( I always do), add a chili pepper, you could add half a jalapeño. Go as mild or as bold as you like…
  4. Pulse in the processor ensuring it has a pesto consistency, drizzling in olive oil as needed( approx. 3/4 cup).

This will yield you maybe a 1.5 cups of pesto. You could add mint or cilantro to this making it even more aromatic and flavorful. I use it if i have it.

 

miz

Summer Stuffed Peppers

I fell into cooking because of my love of food. I look to recipes for inspiration and then I play with what I have. When you join a CSA from a local farm, you sink or swim. I sank the first year. Drowned in a sea of vegetables, most of which I had never eaten and could not wrap my brain around neither cooking nor eating.

After a few years of treading the CSA waters, I have learned to be creative. Now, we are floating and even incorporating some new swimming techniques in the CSA waters. The CSA has allowed for me and my daughters to  be connected on this. We go pick up the share together. We appreciate the value of this…TOGETHER.

Today’s the first day of summer vacation,  Erica woke up wanting to eat pancakes. I thought, no way, let’s eat eggs. She came up with eggs but wanted to add sausage. I told her to throw some rainbow swiss chard in there. Sounds crazy but it’s like putting spinach in your eggs. Chop it finely, you barely taste it. Sausage &eggs from a local farm, swiss chard from local farm CSA. Local eating= good eating.

For lunch, it’ll be leftover sausage-swiss chard saute with quinoa which will go into peppers. Bake. Eat. Enjoy!

Instructions:

  1. 2 tbsp ghee(clarified butter) in a saute pan( If you want it to be vegan use coconut or olive oil. I used ghee because I had some and it was almost finished, so trying to finish it up 🙂
  2. Saute half a cup of onions( I used leeks because I had but usually I use red onions). Chop three small cloves garlic( you can use garlic scapes which I get from my CSA) and add to onions once softened in oil. Add tsp of salt to wilt onions and garlic quicker.
  3. Saute swiss chard( I used maybe 2 bunches- 6 whole pieces). Add cooked sausage(cooked from the morning). Add 1/2 to 1 cup quinoa to ensure the quinoa adds to the substance of the stuffing, so the pepper stays stuffed. ( Eyeballing)
  4. Add pepper to taste and maybe another tsp of salt( but really to taste).  I had arrabiata(spicy Italian seasoning) so I put in a 1/2 tbsp. to this as well. ( See I use what I have).
  5. Cut tops off peppers and make cups/boats . Boats are peppers cut lengthwise(see pic below)/
  6. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place peppers on sheet tray with foil coated with olive oil.
  7. Fill pepper boats with stuffing.
  8. Place in oven 15-20 minutes.

oohmomme

 

Finding ways to connect…

Navigating this new world that connects people through technology while leaving us disconnected as a working mom, high school science teacher has been no less than challenging.  As a high school teacher, I thought I know what to do to stay connected and transparent with my children. I do this for a living. However, I find myself losing at this as I am drowning in the sea of social media and the race to nowhere.

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My 13 year old and I LOVE FOOD. We love to eat, buy, cook all types of food. I don’t know if I nurtured this in her, or we both, just had this passion for it.  She has a killer palate. She can smell and taste things in food, that sometimes, I can’t even figure out.  My 16 year old is also into food and culture. She savors the history behind cuisine and culture.

So, how do I stay connected and grounded with my kids, using technology as a tool and food as a muse? So here we are… OOH-MOM-ME.  The name says it all! You will experience foods that are cooked using local farm ingredients and from cultures all over the world jam packed with flavor. Umami (ooh-mom-me) itself is one of the unique tastes that we experience. The recipes will be pretty simple and easy, because that will allow us to enjoy the foods prepared while not overwhelming us.

Living in NY has allowed me to join a CSA(Community Supported Agriculture) and access to many local farms and purveyors helping us as a family to understand the seasonality of produce and the value of organically farmed ingredients.

We want to share our experiences as a family with food, farms, fitness, fellowship and fun with you. Just as our food is, our posts will also be organic. It’ll be what the day brings us. It may be a post by us individually or collaboratively. It may include the history(political, cultural, etc.) behind a certain food that we prepare. It may just be photos of foods we happened upon that given that day that gave us joy.  Join us on this joyful culinary journey. Stay connected. Stay kind.