Green Garlic- my fleeting Spring love!

I’m sure if you did a quick internet search you would come up with several articles, blog posts, etc about why people love green garlic and all the health benefits it contains. But today I’m going to tell you why I love green garlic and how I came to do so.

You can see how I easily mistook this guy for a large scallion the first time I saw one. The green parts are edible, just make sure you wash it as you would a leek; separating the layers to get all the dirt.

Green Garlic is basically young garlic which has been plucked from the ground before it has split into cloves. Green garlic contains all the health benefits of regular garlic with the added benefit that you can eat it raw without burning off your taste buds! It is sadly available only for a fleeting moment in spring when it breaks the earth with its fragrant green tops and gives us the privelege of tasting its beauty. I know I sound melodramatic, but let me tell you if you’ve never had green garlic before- you too will spout your love from the roof tops when you do. Those of you who have, I know you understand. 😉

How we met:
I still remember the day clearly. It was last spring- I had invited a friend over for drinks and a bite on a Friday evening. She went with me to the Farmer’s Market to pick up my CSA box at the farm’s stall. I don’t remember what else came in my box, most likely carrots, lettuce, an herb or two. What I do remember was seeing a leek-like, scallion looking thing in my box. I thought it was a very large green onion and wondered that I had only received one. I knew it wasn’t a leek because the stalk was too tender. Suffice to say that I from the contents of my box and pantry/fridge I decided I would make a fried rice to enjoy with a beer in front of the television with my friend.

I prepared my fried rice the way I normally do- carrots, peas, mushrooms, protein of some kind, steamed white rice, sesame oil, soy sauce, and a very large handful of sliced scallions stirred in right before serving. I served my friend and myself and sat down to enjoy our repast. I knew the second I took my first bite that I had added something different to that dish. I looked up at my friend and she said “This is delicious! It is honestly the best fried rice-ever!” I felt the same way and I knew it had to be my “scallion” that didn’t taste anything like a scallion. It was kind of garlicky and buttery all at the same time. It had the bright flavor that scallions would have added to the dish, but with a very faint bite of garlic. When we were done eating I went to look for the contents list that usually comes with my box, and there it was- green garlic! I was hooked. I looked for it at the market and was only able to get it one more time. I dreamed about it from last spring to the present and was overjoyed to finally see it on the list of upcoming veggie box occupants. I’ve been sending my husband to the farm stand with explicit instructions to purchase more green garlic if it’s available. There wasn’t any at the farm stand today. I’m down to my last two stalks. It makes me sad to think about it. So, in an effort to conserve my green garlic a little longer I made a pesto with it today. I still had plenty of dill and incorporated a good amount of it into this pesto. The flavors were amazing. It was everything I wanted it to be. I’m going to slather it on everything this week. Seriously, everything. I might even turn my last green garlic into another batch I can freeze for later (if it makes it to later). I must admit that when I transferred it to a bowl after it was done, I took a heel of bread and cleaned the inside of my food processor with it. It was that good. I’ll let you be the judge. But please, please, seek out this beauty at your local farmers market before it disappears until next spring and then you too will be left with nothing but a fleeting memory, wondering if it  was all just a dream.

I set aside some of the pesto before adding the cheese to brush onto some chicken thighs before grilling. I meant to add arugula to the pasta to wilt in with the pesto, but completely forgot in my anticipation to eat the pesto! I also made a simple roasted sugar plum tomato bruschetta to which I stirred in a spoonful of the pesto when it was done. I’ll include directions for that at the bottom. The sugarplum tomatoes I used are organic and were purchased from Trader Joe’s. They were a product of Mexico. I try not to purchase tomatoes out of season, but I couldn’t pass up these cuties on my last trip. I miss tomato season.

Green Garlic and Dill Pesto

1 whole green garlic, sliced in half lengthwise and rinsed between layers to get all the dirt out.

1/4 cup of chopped fresh dill

1/4 cup of lightly toasted pine nuts

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

A handful of shaved/shredded parmesan cheese

olive oil- enough to make make a thick sauce (I didn’t measure, I just poured in while the blades on the food processor were running, but if I had to guesstimate, I’d say 1/4-1/3cup?)

Toast the pinenuts over medium heat in a dry skillet. Place into food processor. Chop the washed green garlic  and also place into food processor along with dill, salt and pepper. Pulse until ingredients begin to come together, then with the food processor running, stream in olive oil a bit at a time, until mixture loosens and moves about easily. Add parmesan and pulse again to combine. Taste the pesto for seasoning. Adjust salt and pepper if necessary. If pesto is too thick, add a bit more oil and pulse again. Pour. Over. Anything. Eat and be happy.

Pesto in a bowl. The lighting in my kitchen makes this look yellowish but it was a very nice green color. Not to mention delicious!

Roasted Sugarplum Tomato Bruschetta

I spread it over toasted slices of pugliese bread and sprinkled with shaved parmesan cheese.

1 16 oz container of sugar plum tomatoes

2 Tablespoons minced green garlic, or substitute 2-3 cloves regular garlic, finely minced

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Halve all tomatoes and place into earthenware or other roasting dish along with garlic. Spray/drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes depending on your oven. Keep an eye on them, you may need to stir once or twice to prevent scorching around the edges. I stirred in a heaping spoonful of my green garlic pesto to the tomatoes once they were done. Do a taste check and adjust salt if necessary. Serve over toasted bread slices or pour over the pasta along with the pesto.

I love the beautiful red color!

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I have cookies!!

Hooray! It’s Cookie Friday!!

Yum!

I have to admit that I had a cookie recipe I was tinkering with last week, but it didn’t really turn out the way I wanted it to. It had a lot of potential but fell flat, literally, and needs some work. I will post it once I’ve acheived a much better version of itself. It involves pistachios. 😉
I’m really more of a chocolate chip girl. I have a really good chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I wanted to start out with something a little more unconventional. I also love a good lemon cookie. I always feel like the flavor is unexpected. I have a giant jar of poppy seeds I bought on a whim at the grocery store and have been wanting to incorporate them into a lemon cookie recipe I have and love. However, today after pulling down The Cookie Bible (that’s the name of the cookbook) I found a recipe for Hungarian Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies ❤ ! I thought to myself- wow, somebody already went through the trouble of putting those two things together for me! Ha! So I decided to use the recipe straight from the book. The beautiful part about this recipe is that it’s a drop cookie! My original lemon cookie recipe is the kind you roll into a little log and slice after chilling. I like that, and there is definitely always a place for a beautiful cutout cookie as well, but the simplicity of a drop cookie just can’t be beat in my opinion. I used to own a nifty little cookie scoop, but I broke it trying to scoop out ice cream into demitasse cups while it was still too hard. I had to settle for the two spoon method. I managed.
This cookie had a nice little zip to it from the lemon glaze added to the top. I changed it up a bit by using a combination of whole wheat flour and all purpose flour. You could make the recipe completely with one or the other. I liked the darker color produced by the whole wheat flour and felt that it gave the cookie a more toothsome texture in combination with the poppy seeds. I would have preferred the cookie itself have more lemon tang so I might increase the amount of lemon zest added to the batter next time or add zest as well as the juice to the glaze. Try them out. Let me know what you think. I hope we have many more Cookie Fridays to come.

Hungarian Lemon Poppy Seeds
Recipe adapted from The Cookie Bible

2/3 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, softened
1 egg
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (more if you like a lot of tang or want to incorporate into the glaze)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice (you may need a few drops more)
1/2 teaspoon agave syrup or honey (This made the end result shinier and gave it a more glaze-like texture)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
For the cookies:
Beat granulated sugar and butter together in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Add egg and lemon peel and combine.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture and then incorporate the poppy seeds.

Ready to bake!

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet (I like to line my cookie sheets with parchment paper to ensure no sticking). Bake 11-13 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Let stand on cookie sheets 1 minute before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

I forgot to take the picture before I started icing them.

For the glaze:
Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, and agave/honey. Stir/whisk to combine.

You can add the glaze to the top of the cookies before transferring to the cookie sheet. Let the cookies cool until the glaze hardens, about 20 minutes, before storing. I plopped about half a teaspoon of glaze on each hot cookie and then spread it around. After glazing they looked a bit like Mother’s iced oatmeal cookies. If you have the patience to stripe the glaze over the top of each cookie you might end up with a prettier result. I ate a couple still warm while the glaze was runny.They were yummy.

I have a few more recipes from this week that I will try to post over the weekend. Have a great weekend- eat some cookies!!

New CSA Box and Superfood Soup

This picture does not do these beautiful veggies justice!

As I mentioned yesterday, we picked up this week’s csa box and I’ve been a bit under the weather. I was feeling icky yesterday so my husband took over the veggie storage prepping and I forgot to take pictures! Doh! I did however manage to snap one with my phone of the veggies still in their reusable shopping bags. You can’t see them individually before prepping but I will try to take pictures of them individually as I use them in recipes this coming week. On the very top of the front bag are three stalks of green garlic- they were not included in this week’s box, my husband purchased them separately since we kind of hoard this stuff when it is available at the market.

This was the smallest fennel bulb from yesterday's box. It went into today's soup shown below.

Contents of this week’s box:
Napa Cabbage
Broccoli
Beets (Hopefully I can get my family to eat them this time!)
Carrots
Lacinato Kale
Butter Lettuce
Arugula
Fennel
Dill
Cilantro
*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************
Superfood Soup

Don't let the color scare you! It's delicious!

I’ve been craving a lot of green foods lately and it has nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day, but it doesn’t hurt to have a holiday as an excuse to eat more green foods. 😉 I feel like my body is talking to me when I start craving things like spinach and kale in large quantities. In this case I’ve been fighting off a cold with plenty of greens, hot tea, zinc tablets, and effervescent vitamin C supplement. Since I woke up still feeling crummy today, I decided some hot green soup that I could sip throughout the day would be the right prescription. This soup is filled with fennel, spinach, kale, dill, and even arugula, and it fit the bill quite nicely. After I blended it, I decided it looked a lot like the green superfood powder I use to make our morning smoothies, not to mention its packed chock full of super greens! Don’t let the color scare you; I can assure you it is quite delicious! Even my six year old had a small bowl (ok, it took a little bribing- strawberries and nutella were involved, but she ate it ALL)! I made the soup with a lamb consomme my husband brought home last night from one of our favorite restaurants which serves only lamb entrees. This particular consomme is simmered with red chilies, onions and garlic and contains nothing more than the lamb broth and garbanzo beans since it is meant to be eaten as a first course, but it is filling and very delicious. You could make this with a chicken or veggie broth/stock. The real stars of this show are the greens. I originally pictured a thick, puree-type green soup, but once I decided to use the consomme with garbanzos I realized the soup would need a little more body and chose not to pulverize the veggies into puree, but blend them only into a uniform green color with plenty of texture. If you choose to omit the garbanzos you can use less liquid and puree it to your liking. I hope you try this soup!

Ingredients:
1 small bulb of fennel, chopped
1/4 of an onion, chopped
1 whole stalk of green garlic, chopped (If this isn’t available near you, use 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced and maybe some chopped green onion)
1 large bunch of kale, chopped
1/4 head of cabbage, chopped (I used the last of the cabbage cone from our last box)
2 cups tightly packed baby spinach (Organic from Safeway)
1 tightly packed cup of arugula
1/2 cup of chopped fresh dill (if your not a fan of dill, use 1/4 cup parsley, but if you are- use dill! It gives the soup a lovely flavor.)
1/2 cup garbanzo beans
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
salt(if needed) and pepper to taste
About 4 cups of broth or stock (chicken or vegetable, or even lamb!) 😉

Lovely green garlic. It looks like a leek, but it smells like garlic!

Place a saucepot (2qt or larger) on stove top over med-low heat. Add about 2 Tbsp olive oil and chopped onion, fennel, and green garlic(or garlic cloves), chopped cabbage, and chili flakes, if using . Add a pinch of salt and sweat until fennel and onion starts to appear translucent. Add broth and cover, bring to a boil and then lower heat and let simmer about 5 minutes. Add the garbanzos at this point if you don’t mind breaking them down a bit in the blender, otherwise add at the end.

Beautiful Lacinato Kale went into the soup.

Pack some of the greens (spinach, arugula, kale) into your blender and carefully(!) ladle some of the hot broth over the top. Blend in batches until your soup is at your desired consistency. Remember to vent the lid of the blender when blending hot liquids and use a kitchen towel draped over the top to avoid potentially splashing yourself with hot liquids. Add the chopped dill last. If you own an immersion blender, you can add all the greens to the hot broth and then use your immersion blender to do the rest. Its up to you if you want to blend the garbanzos with the greens or leave them whole. I blended a few with my greens and I felt it gave the soup an almost creamy consistency. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream or if you need some sinus help like I did today(I know, lovely), serve with extra hot sauce or red pepper flakes! I kind of have dill breath now, haha. Enjoy!

Green Eggs (and Ham) Scramble

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I got a new csa box today. I will post the contents tomorrow. Also, I just wanted to report that my beet recipe was a complete failure. The recipe itself didn’t taste too bad, but the beet flavor was too strong to be palatable to my two beet haters. I will still post it later with a hopefully, more successful recipe as I have more beets to play around with from today’s box.
This morning I made green eggs and ham! I thought it would be a perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and get a nice hefty dose of veggies in my family this morning. I woke up feeling a bit under the weather and wanted an extra punch of vitamins to help me out. It was delicious and all plates were cleaned. My husband even asked if there was more! 🙂 I usually like my morning omelettes with plenty of sauteed veggies inside, but my daughter is more likely to pick them out. I could have done without the chopped ham inside, but that’s just me. It might have been nicer to have ham steaks on the side, but all I had was preservative free deli ham so that’s what I used. You can’t have green eggs and ham without the ham! This is a fun, celebratory way to get your kiddos to eat their greens! On a side note, I kind of wished I had made a batch of dill potatoes to go on the side, that would have been perfect!

Green Eggs and Ham scramble with a buttered English muffin on the side.

Green Eggs and Ham Scramble (Feeds 3-4)
6 eggs
about 2 cups of loosely packed baby spinach
Half a stalk (sliced lengthwise) of green garlic if you can find it. Substitute 1 clove of finely minced regular garlic
one big handful of chopped fresh dill
1 large bunch of broccoli (can substitute zucchini or kale or any other green veggie, or even cauliflower. The broccoli florets give the scramble a nice texture)
3 wedges of Laughing Cow original Swiss (optional) Can also use goat or other soft cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp butter (I used a bit of green garlic butter I had leftover)
oil for cooking eggs
about half cup of chopped ham, optionally you can serve ham steaks on the side or omit altogether for a vegetarian scramble

Place a small pot with about 2 cups of water to boil. lightly salt the water.
Chop up broccoli florets, if using stalks, chop into fairly small pieces and add to boiling water first. Cook broccoli in boiling water until tender-crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into an ice water bath to cool.
While broccoli cooks, mince green garlic or regular garlic and sautee in pan with small amount of oil, remove from heat once tender.
Heat frying pan over med-low heat with about 1 Tbsp of oil and butter.

Sauteeing the green garlic. I'm sure some chopped green onion or leek would make a great addition to this scramble.

In a blender, or food processor (I used my magic bullet) add eggs, salt and pepper, cheese (if using), green garlic or garlic, and spinach. You may have to add spinach in two batches. Pulse until Spinach has completely incorporated into the eggs. Add broccoli and pulse again until fairly distributed through egg mixture. You should still be able to see small chunks of broccoli throughout the mixture.

Everything in my magic bullet. 🙂

Add chopped ham, if using, to heated pan. Pour in the egg mixture and stir gently until egg starts to come together. This will take about 7-8 minutes. You don’t want the heat too high or the eggs will brown. Stir in chopped dill, add more cheese if you like! Serve and enjoy!

Potato and Kale Rolled Tacos

“Hey Adah, what happened to the other vegetables in your box last week? What did you do with the beets??” You might ask. Well, I’m doing something kind of different with the beets. I’m still working on that post and the one on the green garlic. For tonight, I have a quick and easy recipe: potato and kale rolled tacos.

Part of getting my family to eat a variety of vegetables involves presenting them in a familiar way until their taste becomes familiar enough to them that I can expand on their flavors. Kale has pretty much become a staple for us recently since we have been receiving a pretty steady supply of it in our csa box. The very first time we recieved kale in our box, I made the mistake of following an online recipe for sauteed kale. It was simple and the flavors were good, if a bit “green”, but the texture weirded us out (it got kind of stringy and mushy). I may have overcooked it too. Lately, I’ve come to expect the body and flavor added to my weeknight dishes by the heft of kale. It does a pretty good job of blending in with bolder flavors as well as textures. I try to shred it up in a salad and use it as quickly as possible with our usual lettuce, but sometimes we get a little bored with salad, so I continue to shred it and toss it into other foods. Usually at the very end of a dish’s cooking time so that it only just wilts. It makes me happy that I can “sneak in” such a powerhouse veggie, like kale, and still get my family to eat their dinner.

This recipe is one I made a couple of weeks back. My family loves rolled tacos, and though we’re used to the kind stuffed with shredded meat , this recipe fits the bill for a quick and easy meatless dinner. I try not to fry too many foods, however, on this particular night nothing but rolled tacos would do. You can play around with the ingredients with whatever you have on hand. Try swapping out the mushrooms for finely diced zucchini, or add in finely diced red bell pepper, or even diced chicken/meat if you have some that needs stretching. Top them however you prefer your rolled tacos. I hope you enjoy them!

Potato and Kale Rolled Tacos (serves 3-4) with beans and/or rice as an accompaniment.

My daughter's serving topped with shredded cheese and served with a side of salsa.

2 large russet potatoes
1 cup finely shredded kale
5-6 mushrooms finely chopped
1/4 onion finely diced
1 garlic clove, smashed and finely chopped
2 -3 Tablespoons grated Cotija cheese
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
12 corn tortillas
canola oil for frying
olive oil for sauteeing the onion and mushrooms
shredded cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and salsa for topping (optional)

Peel potatoes and dice into chunks. Place them in a small pot and cover with water. Place on stove under med-high heat until potatoes are tender. Drain and transfer potatoes to a shallow dish and break up with a fork or potato masher.
While the potatoes cook, add a small amount of olive oil to a pan and set on low-med heat. Add onion, mushroom, red pepper flakes, if using, and garlic. Sautee until onions are translucent and mushrooms have cooked down a bit. Add the salt and pepper. Set aside to cool a bit. Add onion/mushroom mixture to mashed potatoes. Mix well. Add shredded kale and Cotija cheese and combine.

Rolled taco filling will look like this when combined.

Once the filling is ready, place a frying pan or deep skillet on your stove set to med-high with about a half an inch to an inch of oil. The oil is ready for frying when you stick the handle of a wooden spoon or chopstick in and it rapidly releases little bubbles. Heat your tortillas either in the microwave wrapped in paper towels/plastic wrap or you can wrap them in foil and set them in a low oven setting at the start of the recipe to keep warm while you work. It is important that the tortillas stay warm or they will break when you roll them up.

Take a warm tortilla and place about two fingers’ width of filling close to the edge. You can crimp the potato filling down a bit so it sticks together. Roll up the tortilla and secure with a toothpick set parallel to the tortilla.

Filling should be a little closer to the edge you will start rolling from for easier going.

Carefully, with a pair of tongs, set your rolled up tortilla in the frying oil. I like to use a spatter guard. Once golden on bottom, carefully,flip with the tongs and continue frying until golden brown all over. Set on a cookie rack placed over a baking sheet to drain. You can keep them in the oven this way to keep warm while you finish frying the remaining rolled tacos.

Frying the rolled tacos. Carefully!

Serve with rice and/or beans and top however you like. Guacamole or diced avocados add an extra richness to the dish.

Weeknight dinners

Aside

   I heard this morning on Good Morning America that eating three or more servings of vegetables, especially those with high concentrations of lycopene, will give you a healthy glow. Just one more reason to eat your veggies!

  I’m going to post the meals I’ve made this week from my veggie box. In the future, I may post them as I make them, say two or three times a week, but for this week I’m just going to do a summary post.

Monday Night’s Dinner:

Salmon burger, brown rice pilaf with edamame, salad.

I usually cook on weekends when we get our veggie box since I find myself inspired by the contents of my box, but we had a family outing and I didn’t get around to my source of inspiration until Monday night. We had a very simple dinner, inspiration kind of failed me, as Monday was rough going and we were all still kind of tired after our eventful weekend.So dinner consisted of Wild Alaskan salmon burgers- we buy them frozen, from Costco- they are a life saver on super busy weekdays, a salad made from romaine lettuce, shredded kale, microbeets, and sliced carrots, and a brown rice pilaf to which I added frozen edamame at the end. There were a lot of microbeets in the salad, but they got buried in the lettuce once I added the dressing so you can’t tell in the picture. I was actually kind of worried because neither my daughter or husband are big fans of beets. The tiny little leaves packed a huge punch of beet flavor, but they blended in nicely with the other greens and dressing- I heard no complaints and plates were clean at the end of dinner time. 🙂 The dressing I used is one I adapted from a blog post on Your Homebased Mom for Spinach Salad: http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/spinach-salad/ It is a vinagrette which uses red onion slices and poppy seeds. I changed it a bit by using white balsamic vinegar and cutting back the sugar to 2Tablespoons. It is very delicious.

Tuesday Night’s dinner:

Crockpot teriyaki chicken, vegetable stir fry, and leftover brown rice pilaf.

I remembered to start dinner in the crockpot around mid morning on Tuesday. I simply placed 6 chicken legs in the crockpot with 1/3 cup of orange juice, 1/3 cup of white wine, 1/3 cup soy sauce, about 1 TB grated ginger, a drizzle of sesame oil and a shake of white pepper and cracked black pepper. I made a stir fry using my humongous cabbage cone, carrots, broccolini, some red bell pepper I had in the fridge (organic,from Trader Joe’s), and tons of shredded broccoli leaves. They gave the stir fry a very nice color. I seasoned simply with a little salt, pepper, soy sauce, and sesame oil to tie the flavors together. It was nice to have leftover rice pilaf to round out the meal.

carrot coins and broccolini stalks in the pan

Broccoli leaves on top. They wilted down nicely into the stir fry.

Wednesday Night:

Pan grilled Wahoo filets, red potatoes with mushrooms, zucchini,shredded broccoli leaves, and LOTS of fresh dill. Dill sauce on the side for the fish.

This dinner was delicious. I think Wahoo (also known as Ono) is one of my favorite kinds of fish. It cooks up perfectly every time without too much fuss and takes very well to a variety of seasonings. I seasoned it simply with salt and pepper, and then brushed it lightly with a green garlic butter I made and sprinkled it with dill.

Close up of the dill potatoes

The red potatoes (organic, also from Trader Joe’s) were quartered, parboiled then sauteed in some of the green garlic butter with mushrooms and a zucchini I had in the fridge and needed to use up. Once done I added more shredded broccoli leaves (there were enough leaves to fill up a whole gallon size ziploc bag), shredded kale just to wilt down, and lots of fresh chopped dill. I also made a sauce for the fish by combining about 3 TB Kewpie mayonnaise, equal amount sour cream, the juice from half a lemon, a huge handful of chopped fresh dill, and salt and pepper. I guess you could say the star of this meal was dill! It was fabulous! I’m going to do a later post on the fabulousness of green garlic. So far it has just been an ingredient in these meals but it deserves a post all on its own as the star!

I used up most of my lettuce, kale, and the rest of the microbeets in salads and sandwiches for this week’s lunches. I didn’t take any pictures but I may do that in the future. I want to keep the posts from being repetitive.

Introducing my veggie box.

       “Eat your vegetables and you can have a cookie.” It’s a line I have used many times in the past, on both my daughter and my husband. They eat most vegetables just fine without prodding- broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, salad greens- no problem. However, add a box of veggies fresh from the farm that includes things like kale, fennel, beets, swiss chard and other vegetables we always admired for their vibrant colors, but intimidated us in the produce aisle, and I get a lot of questions and weird stares. I always thought of myself as an adventurous eater, but for some reason cooking greens and vegetables I didn’t grow up eating scared me a little. The want for more healthful living, the constant worry that my family wasn’t eating enough greens, and the concern of staying away from pesticides and harmful fertilizers led me on the quest to search for the rumored CSA. Growing up in my household, beets were the almost neon red things that came out of a can. They topped the infrequent salad that accompanied dinner. Kale- what’s that? How do you eat it? One of our very first boxes, received in winter, held red frill. It looked very intimidating with its spiky leaves, but we bravely gave it a go. Trying to figure out its slightly bitter edge and which taste buds to file it under. Thankfully, shortly after that, Spring came and with it an abundance of more familiar, yet extraordinarly better produce than we were used to. Beautiful, multi colored carrots, delicate lettuce, and herbs that put huge smiles on our faces. It’s hard to really want to transform such beautiful produce into anything more than a sliced, slightly sauteed and seasoned version of itself, but sometimes I find myself needing to get a little more creative to get my family to eat it and that is my mission here. A cookie may sometimes still be necessary as incentive for trying a new veggie or one they’re not used to, but we’re working on it. And that’s really all I can ask for.

          “Mom/Honey, what is this?” My husband and daughter will ask as they hold up their forks draped in dark greens or poke at the veggies on their plate like they’re about to get up and walk. Since we began picking up our CSA shares, about a year ago, I got asked this question at dinner time a lot.  But in the year since, my family has surprised me. My daughter, once a self-professed cucumber hater, fell in love with beautiful, tiny, crispy, white cucumbers from our CSA box. She would eagerly root around in the bags on a return trip from the farmer’s market to see if there were any cucumbers inside. She now regularly requests cucumbers for her school lunches. My husband and even some of our dinner guests raved over the onion sprouts that came in our box. My daughter likes to peruse the veggies as I ready them for storage when we get home from our site pick up every other week. I show her the little bugs that sometimes come clinging to the produce and used to wig me out at first. A little soak in veggie wash and a spin takes care of them and I realized I’d much rather find a few stragglers in my produce than to consume the pesticides that would otherwise kill them. If it kills them, what will it eventually do to me? She recently asked me if I can make bread or muffins with our vegetables. That made me happy that she sees vegetables as something that can be transformed. I’m thinking of indulging her with zucchini muffins or something like them depending on what is in season. We have learned a few things along the way in our quest for more veggie consumption, I have had a few disastrous attempts at cooking unfamiliar things and some very succesful ones, like discovering that kale and chilaquiles, a spicy mexican dish made with crispy tortillas, work very well together. I’ve also discovered that eating more vegetables doesn’t have to be boring or mean salad everyday. I want to share those successes and maybe the fails too and I want to have a little fun in the process, maybe in the form of cookie fridays? Possibly every third friday just to keep the cookies in the “sometimes” food category (thanks for that lesson Cookie Monster). I hope you stick around and try new things with me!

Here is the list of what our CSA box held this week and any produce I use in any recipes or meals posted that didn’t come from the CSA share I will label as such.

Cabbage Cone
Broccolini
White Beets!
Carrots (red and orange)
Green Garlic (the mother of all garlic- I dream about this stuff!! More on that later.)
Lettuce- Romaine
Dill
Kale (not sure of the variety)
Micro Beets (like the taste of a full sized beet in a tiny little leaf-neat!)

From left to righy- kale, micro beets, dill, romaine lettuce.

A closer look at the micro beets

Cabbage Cone- this guy was huge!

The white beets and multi carrots hanging out in my sink before washing

Broccolini- It has A LOT of leaves which I have been trying to incorporate into our food.

Next post- what I’ve done this week with these guys.