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.

Easy like Sunday morning Frittata

In a household with two working parents and kids who seem busier than the adults, easy Sunday mornings are such a treat.   Usually, my husband and I wake up and catch up over chai. This is super special because my husband makes the chai. Some Sunday mornings, we all congregate in our kitchen.  Our kitchen table was made for a family of 3. So in our family of 4, three  people sit and one stands. Not the best way to have a four person conversation. For the last two weeks, Rachel went away to a 2 week pre-college program. It was the first time for her to be away by herself  for an extended period of time. We had a lot to talk about. Today, we all spent the morning chatting and catching up as a family. We all sat on the sofa over chai. What a great way to start the day!

After our leisurely catch up, it was time for breakfast. We needed something quick , filling and nutritious. A frittata is just that! Frittata  is basically a crustless quiche. What you put in a frittata depends on what it is that you have/want. I make a frittata based on ingredients I have on hand. So the ingredients listed are based on what I have from the CSA or what’s in my fridge. It’s really a nutrition packed meal. It’s so easy and filling too. Always make in a cast iron pan. If it’s seasoned correctly, it’s better than non stick and you don’t take the risk of ingesting those harmful non-stick chemicals. It’s a great way to get kids to eat veggies. you can add different types of vegetables, peppers, spinach, mushrooms. Today’s frittata includes kohlrabi, kale and corn. Kohlrabi is a vegetable that was selectively bred by farmers years ago from wild mustard. Crazy to think that one plant could be selectively bred to produce cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and kohlrabi. The idea of kohlrabi was scary to us. Never ate it , let alone never saw it before our CSA adventures.  According to  Food facts, Kohlrabi is rich in vitamins A, C and K, as well as B-vitamins. It also contains copper, manganese, iron, potassium, dietary fiber and calcium, and is rich in antioxidant compounds like phytochemicals and carotenes as well.Simply put, kohlrabi  tastes like a potato that has a hint of sweetness. Erica loves tortilla española, which is  a Spanish frittata made with potatoes. Substituting potatoes with kohlrabi is a sneaky and creative way to get kids to eat cool foods like kohlrabi. It does taste a bit different from potatoes but not much.

Food always brings families together. Usually we are eating and running.  Sunday morning breakfasts always get us to sit together and connect over that meal. Farm fresh frittata, chai, family, fellowship and love- a perfect Sunday morning.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 kohlrabi( peeled and chopped) ( optional or use potatoes instead)
  • 1 cup lacinato kale chopped finely
  • 1 small onion ( or two shallot stems the flowers)
  • 1 garlic scape/2 cloves garlic
  • 3 strips of uncured nitrate-free  bacon(optional)
  • 1/2 cup sweet organic corn
  • 4-5 basic leaves finally chopped/julienned(ribbons)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5-6 eggs beaten
  • paprika- a few dashes for color(optional)

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 365ºF.
  2. In a cast iron pan(there’s no other way to make an amazing frittata) on medium heat on stove. When pan gets hot, place chopped bacon into pan. When fat is rendered,  and bacon is crisp, remove pieces from pan.
  3. You may remove all the bacon fat and cook with EVOO or leave bacon fat to cook the vegetables.{ There are many schools of thought, animal fat should be eliminated. Animal fat consumption should be limited. I am of the second school of thought- limit the consumption. Know how the animals are treated and buy locally.} If you don’t want bacon or its fat, just use EVOO and eliminate bacon altogether.
  4. In the oil/bacon fat, add onions and garlic( shallot flowers and garlic scape). Add two pinches of salt to mixture to accelerate browning.
  5. Next add, chopped kohlrabi and saute( 2-3 minutes).
  6. When browning of kohlrabi has started, add chopped kale. Saute and cook down vegetables.( 3-5 minutes)
  7. Add sweet organic corn, I had in the freezer. I used the corn after defrosting.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Add paprika( optional).
  10. Add eggs into mixture in cast iron pan. Sprinkle basil , mix in. Sprinkle cooked bacon on top. Turn off heat in 5 minutes.
  11. Place pan into oven for 15 minutes until center of frittata is set( doesn’t jiggle).
  12. ENJOY! ( I like a little hot sauce drizzled over it)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.