Veggie Day

OK, so normally Tuesday is Veggie Day, but I wasn’t feeling very well on Tuesday, so I pushed it off until today.

First, let’s check in on how things went veggie-wise last week. No new or exciting kitchen creations. Oh well. We were out of town for a long weekend, so there weren’t many dinners at home last week.

Pretty much everything went into the freezer (celery & broccoli), pantry (onions), fridge storage (beets), or put on display (pumpkins).

Or got eaten (tomatoes). Nothing fancy. The green tomatoes were made into a jar of salsa. The orange cherry tomatoes were washed. Both were taken on our trip to Redding and enjoyed there with Eric’s mother and step-dad.

Veggie Day
This week’s haul:

  • potatoes
  • carrots
  • tomatoes
  • zucchini
  • green onions
  • kale
  • shelling beans

It’s definitely starting to feel like autumn here, but we’re still enjoying the end-of-summer produce, as you can see from this photo.

In addition to the huge bag of veggies, I also bought more tomatoes! Tomato season is drawing to a close, and I don’t feel like I have enough jars of tomato sauce on the shelves for winter. These’ll get roasted and canned tomorrow. I’ll even take photos and share them here once it’s all done.

End of summer tomatoes
And, because I have some cash in my account again, I also splurged and bought some more of these little cuties. These little orange cherry tomatoes are my all-time favorites. So sweet and delicious. Like eating candy.

Orange cherry tomatoes
This week’s veggie plan:

Frittata: We’ve got some great wild caught salmon in the freezer, and I love cooking it up in a frittata with baby potatoes, a diced carrot, and whatever else is on hand. I think this one will have some sautéed kale, zucchini, and topped with little orange cherry tomatoes and finely chopped green onions. Stay tuned for the recipe!

Tomato Sauce: Years ago, a friend shared this fabulous SmittenKitchen recipe for roasted tomato soup, and ever since, I’ve made a point to cook up and can as much of this soup recipe as possible, to enjoy over the winter. I don’t always use to make the soup, though. It also makes a wonderful pasta sauce. I just love having several jars of it on hand to use for quick winter dinners. So far, I have six jars. This weekend I’ll be making six more.

Sautéed Kale: We like including greens with our breakfast of black beans and eggs. It’s a great way to get some extra vitamins in, and they’re delicious. I just rinse and chop the kale and add it to a pan with some bacon fat, chopped onions and garlic, and sauté until softened. Yum!

Bean Salad: I’ve seen some intriguing recipes for bean salads, and plan to try one of them out with these shelling beans. They’re black coco beans, so I think they’ll make a pretty dish with the orange or yellow tomatoes and green onions.

Salsa: Any tomatoes that don’t get eaten with breakfast or snacked on during the day, or made into sauce, will be made into Eric’s fantastic salsa fresca. Probably one of the last batches of the year. Which means it will be enjoyed with much pomp and circumstance.

Pot Roast OR Roast Chicken: While the daytime temps are still in the mid-70s, the evenings are cool and that makes me start thinking about using my oven again. I have both a pork butt and a whole chicken in the freezer. Which one I decide to roast up will probably be determined by how I feel on the day I go pull one or the other from the freezer to thaw. I’m leaning toward the pot roast so I can use up these cute little potatoes and a couple of carrots. But, you never know.

Zucchini: Honestly, we’re about done with summer squash. I’ve been freezing it to include in pasta dishes and soup all winter. If there’s anything left from these, they’ll get added to that stash.


Tuesday – Veggie Day


This is the beautiful sight that greeted me when I stopped into my CSA to pick up this week’s supply! It’s finally pumpkin season! While other people are feeling enthusiastic about Pumpkin Spice Season, I’m not a die-hard PSS person. But, I do love a good pumpkin pie, or maybe some curry pumpkin soup. And then there were those amazing pumpkin scones I made years ago when I baked. And I’ve been meaning to try my hand at duplicating the delicious chicken and pumpkin curry the local Thai restaurant makes.

So many good pumpkin recipes! So, I guess it’s good that we got two of these little cuties (Baby Bears) in our box this week! I also want to mention how much I love how the two seasons (summer and autumn) overlap quite nicely here in California. Pumpkins AND tomatoes at the same time? Yes, please!

Veggies 09_30

The contents of this week’s ‘box’:

  • 2 Baby Bear sugar pumpkins
  • 2 very large yellow onions
  • 1 pound of heirloom tomatoes (green)
  • 1 pint of mini golden tomatoes
  • 1/4 pound of broccoli spears (the second harvest)
  • 2 pounds of beet (yep, just one very big beet)
  • 1 summer celery
  • 1 teeny Fuyu persimmon with a tiny bruise (a bit of lagniappe)

The goal of these post, in addition showing off the fantastic produce my farmer-friends offer, is to spur me to think about what will get used and how, and maybe even encourage me to make a weekly meal-plan.

So, after a little thinking, my tentative plan is:

  • keep the pumpkins until I have a minute to roast them up
  • put these onions with the rest of the 10lbs I bought last week until I have a chance to dream up my own version of an onion pie, which I’ve been dreaming about for a week or so now
  • talk Eric into using these beautiful green tomatoes in his next salsa batch for a fun variety of color
  • eat these cute little orange cherry tomatoes for lunch tomorrow… if not later tonight
  • steam and add to our breakfast of eggs and beans
  • save the beet with the other beets in the crisper drawer, but sauté the greens up to eat with our eggs and beans breakfast
  • honestly, this isn’t snacking celery, so it’s going to get chopped and frozen for using in soups and casseroles this winter
  • slice and enjoy!

OK, so this ‘box’ isn’t going to be the spark for a fantastic series of cooking posts anytime soon (although it reminds me of others I should add to the list). But, the components will surely show up in future cooking posts. I promise.

And who knows, maybe I’ll feel inspired to make a small bowl of tomato salad tomorrow to enjoy those little orange babies.

Nourishing contemplation

Lent is here again. As a non-church-going pseudo-Episcopalian, I’m sure there are many of my friends who are surprised that I observe Lent in any fashion. I can’t quite explain why I find it comforting to continue this yearly practice, but it fulfills a spiritual and physical need for quiet and contemplation. I have even found myself thinking of adding the observation of the Advent period of fasting and meditation.


I’m not one for “giving up” things for Lent. Instead, I prefer to “take up” something new. Sometimes, this difference is simply a matter of how I look at my life, and how I frame the change. For instance, the years where I did not drink during Lent, it wasn’t a matter of “giving up booze” as it was “taking up sobriety.”  The year I became a vegetable-tarian, eating LESS meat was just a natural function of eating MORE vegetables and grains. In both cases, it was an opportunity to make a positive change in my life while contemplating the social and emotional challenges associated with the change, as well a chance to pause and sit with uncertainty and uncomfortable feelings a bit.

This year I decided to spent Lent focusing on the larger concept of nourishment — body, mind, and soul — on an individual and community level. For me, this will be expressed by taking the time to care for and learn from my body and my spirit, exercising my muscles and my mind. I had settled on this approach weeks ago, and started preparing for what it would entail. It was a complete coincidence and a very pleasant surprise that the Episcopal Relief & Development 2012 Lenten Meditations(pdf) is also focused on the social issues around food security and community. I followed their daily meditations last year, and found them to be perfect bite-sized meditative prompts that resonated with my own way of manifesting public displays of private beliefs.

Today’s changes include:
Eating a healthy, homemade breakfast of oats – I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been eating breakfast out far too much lately.
Adding more veggies to my lunch – Normally, I would have just eaten the left-over Chinese food as is, but today I added some additional vegetables and grains to make it more filling and increase the nutrition of my lunch. And, by doing so, made a larger batch of food that will be dinner and additional lunches later this week.
Continuing my gym activities – I just started back at the gym this semester and haven’t been as regular as I’d like because of sickness and scheduling problems. But it needs to be a higher priority.
Making time for quiet contemplation – I will always have plenty of work and homework to do, as well as countless other things to distract myself. It’s important to make the time for it regardless. The payoff in reduced stress alone will make it worth it.
Getting enough rest – This has been a continual problem, and relates to the busy-ness of modern life. There will always be something else that I want to do. I will not have time to do everything. And sleep is as important as all the other activities.

God creates humankind in the last act of this creation story and charges them with stewardship of all the other animals.
I have always loved the idea of stewardship rather than domination or control. Stewards have power over their charges, but more importantly they have responsibilities to their charges. This concept above all others has informed many of my decisions in life. It is this sense of responsibility that led me to find a local source of vegetables, and that continues to drive me to seek out and support local farmers and food producers, as well as truly sustainable* sources for most everything else we buy and consume. I know it often costs more than conventional foods. I am consciously aware of the blessings I have been given in that I can afford to pay the premium cost for good food grown by my friends. I feel it is a kind of privilege that I can pay a little extra to keep a local farmer working her fields, and that her continued presence may encourage others to take up the mantle of “farmer” and create a wider market, thus bringing the costs down over time.

The divine intent in creation is about food security.
It’s fascinating to think that the most important part of the opening scene in the Bible is about food and food security! But it makes sense. Without food, Adam and Eve and all the creatures could not have survived long enough to “go forth and multiply.” And without food security, communities around the globe cannot thrive and reach their highest potential.

When a child goes to school hungry, he does not learn. As a society, we have acknowledged this basic fact, and provide meals for children who might otherwise go hungry. It’s in our own best interests to do so, since we want all children to grow up to be functioning members of our society. The same thinking applies to food stamps and other safety net programs to make sure we don’t have people starving to death in our communities.

But there’s a difference between being hungry and being nourished. We are inundated with advertisements for all sorts of processed food products that are very low in actual nutrition, except for what has been added back in after the fact to meet some arbitrary minimum standards set by some panel somewhere that seems to have a vested interest in keeping the food industry happy. I’d like to see more public attention on the quality of food available to all of us, and especially those with fewer resources for accessing the food they need.

I’ve seen some steps taken by local governments and community groups. Several vendors at our local farmer’s market accept WIC and other food vouchers, which is a great program! And every year there seem to be more community gardens popping up around town. And my personal favorite organization, Food for Thought, has long had a vegetable garden to supplement their food pantry.

Loving our neighbors means ensuring they have enough to eat.
This seems intuitive to me. When guests come to my house, it is my duty as a good hostess to feed them. It’s a duty I take on gladly, as many of you know. Community meals are integral to so many societies. Think about why we have traditional meals. We gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter, and Purim and Passover, and so many more events. Each with its own special menu.

When a friend loses a loved one, we bring them food for the wake. When a family brings home a new baby, we bring them food to help them during the first weeks of parenthood.

It’s the reason even weekly holy days are often marked by gathering around a table with those we love to enjoy a special meal. My most wonderful memories of Sundays growing up aren’t about what happened IN church, but about what happened afterward, at Aunt Carolyn’s house or a the Picadilly.

If we make food a symbol of love between us and those we care about, then it should follow that we extend that symbol to those we are taught to love without knowing. “Love thy neighbor” is more than simply reminding us to be neighborly to those immediately adjacent to us. It is reminder to include all those who are within our sphere of influence. If I am going to claim to be a resident of Sonoma County, I am taking on the role of being a full member of this community. As such, I get to call one of the most beautiful places on the planet home. But I also become responsible for what happens in my community, just as I am responsible for what happens in my home. Which means I am responsible for making sure my neighbors have access to healthy, nourishing food.

Eating more simply — more vegetables, grains, fruits, less animal-based food -— is not only better for our own health, but increases our ability to feed more people more adequately.
“Live simply, so that other may simply live.” This is my guiding principle. I’m far from perfect, but I am continually working on improving my version of “living simply.” When it comes to food, I hope that I am making the right choices so that I can share the bounty of Sonoma County with my neighbors.

*I’m convinced that the term “sustainable” has been thoroughly abused and misapplied by those who wish to capitalize on the idea of sustainability without truly taking measures to ensure they actually meet the standards sustainability requires.

If it’s Tuesday, it’s veggie day!

It’s been a hectic time, what with school starting, work ramping up for the upcoming Heirloom Expo, and our annual vacation to Seattle for PAX.  We left last Tuesday, spent some fun free days around Seattle and visiting with friends. PAX ran from Thursday evening through Sunday evening, and then we flew out on Monday. We got home yesterday evening and spent some time unpacking all our new games. Since we missed our CSA pick-up from last week (we donated our share to a former CSA customer who is experiencing financial hardship and couldn’t afford a subscription this year), and had cleaned out the fridge before we left, we had no ready food in our fridge, so we got some delicious soup from the noodle house around the corner.

After sleeping in until nearly noon (guess we were tired!), we ran errands, and picked up our veggies.

Our share: lettuce, tomatoes* (we got three pounds!), wax beans, tomatillos, cilantro, peppers, and a melon.

Extras: cherry tomatoes and eggs.

*We were offered a choice of three pounds total of tomatoes, yellow summer squash, and zucchini. I haven’t filled my tomato craving yet this summer, so I opted for all tomatoes.

This Week’s Plan:
Tomatoes: Eric’s making me salsa, but I also hope to have some for breakfast this week. I’m in love with eggs and bacon with slices  of tomatoes on the side. So much umami!
Tomatillos: These will get roasted and turned into some delicious salsa verde!
Lettuce: It’s already washed and chopped and ready for salads!
Seranos: We got enough for salsa, tomatillo salsa, and guacamole. And, while at Trader Joe’s earlier, we bought two bags of chips! We’re ready!
Sweet peppers: These will make a great topping for pasta or pizza. One might even get cut up into a salad.
Wax beans: I’m sure these will get sautéed with some bacon for at least one dinner this week.
Cilantro: What doesn’t get used in salsa will probably get blanched and frozen for use this winter.
Melon: Sadly, as much as I want to eat this, my melon allergy is only getting worse. But, that just means Mr. Bob gets it! Lucky cat!
Cherry tomatoes: I suspect these will become my afternoon snack. If there are any left later this week, I’ll halve them and make a tomato salad with basil and fresh mozzarella.
Eggs: My breakfast for this week! Yum!

Thankful Thursday – fast food!

I haven’t been cooking as much lately, and part of that is because Eric doesn’t always eat dinner, and it’s hard for me to motivate myself to cook a big dinner for just me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have food on the brain. I’m still pretty much always thinking about food. I’d rather just snack. And thankfully summer is the time for the original “fast food” – fruit!

I’ve been picking up our weekly CSA stuff from Tierra Vegetables on Tuesdays. And then on Wednesday morning, I head over to the Santa Rosa Farmers Market to see what they’ve got. Lately I’ve been buying up fruit like it’s going out of style. Which it is. While we have a longer summer season than other places, it’s still a limited time.

I just can’t get enough peaches.

I make it a point to eat seasonal, locally-grown produce as much as possible, which gives Peach Season a new kind urgency. On average, I eat at least two peaches a day. This bowl of 6 peaches is already half-empty.

I’ve been buying up flats to freeze.

And even though Tierra has strawberries that produce all summer, I still can’t get enough. I’ve been buying a flat every other week or so. Right now, they just get cut up and put in the freezer. But I plan to make a huge batch of strawberry jam and syrup, with the hope of keeping my shelves stocked for winter.

A bowl of sugar!

One of my earliest memories is of me and my mom sitting under my Granny’s fig tree, eating figs. Apparently, my love of figs was renown among my aunts and great aunts. Aunt Gladys would so sweetly give me a plate full of canned figs whenever we’d visit her.

Figs have an even shorter season than stone fruits, and whenever I see them for sale, I buy them. This time, I bought TWO baskets. And already I’m wishing I’d bought more!

A summer counter!

I took this picture yesterday. Already the cilantro is half gone, the two blood oranges are gone, half the red tomatoes have been used up, and half those peaches and figs are in my tummy!

If it’s Tuesday, it’s veggie day!

Too many veggies over from last week. I haven’t been cooking up very much lately. Gotta get on that!

Greens – I sautéed some for a frittata I made with duck eggs earlier this week, but there’s lots left. If it doesn’t get used up this week, it’ll likely get blanched and frozen.
Beans – I still have both the green and yellow beans waiting to get cooked up. I haven’t cooked up the recipe ideas I came up with for a couple of SmartGardener posts. I need to do that this week.
Turnip – This is just hanging out in the fridge. It’s good for a while.
Cabbage – Yep, still haven’t cooked it up. It’s good for a while.

This Week’s Haul:
Zucchini – Grilled up with olive oil and garlic!
Corn – Grilled and eaten, tonight! This wasn’t in the box. I bought this separately. It’s too good to not have.
Broccoli – I’ll save this for another duck egg frittata this week, with leftovers going into some pasta dish.
Yellow Cauliflower – I bought this especially for the duck egg frittata this week. It looked too good to pass up.
Carrots – One or two will end up in the frittata. The others will go into the same pasta dish as the broccoli.
Greens – Kale and Mustard greens — I’ll probably just blanche and freeze these.
Tomatoes – Sliced and eaten, just like all the others. Looking forward to the day when I have too many to just eat.
Eggplant – I normally take the price of the eggplant in trade, since I never know what to do with them. I decided to live a little a dangerously this week, and figure out something interesting to do with it.
Peppers – One sweet Gypsy, one hot Inferno, and lots of little Padrons. Gonna have to stretch myself a bit on these.
Garlic – This one will get added to the basket and used eventually.

So, already I’m falling down on my goal to have a plan for everything each week. Heck, I’m falling down on actually cooking the things I made a plan for. Gonna have to get my act together this week and do some cooking!

If it’s Tuesday, it’s veggie day!

This week’s take: turnip with greens, three ears of corn (delicious, delicious corn!), tomatoes, red onions, summer squash, beans (we got to pick between green, yellow, and broad), half a cabbage, and bok choy.

So much yummy!

Of last week’s veggies, the beets, though, got made into a delicious beet and chèvre salad. And the summer squash was grilled up with garlic and olive oil.

Unfortunately, I still haven’t used any of the greens or the green beans. D’oh! And we still, somehow, have some tomatoes left over. And some lettuce, but not that much.

The plan is to use up those veggies and the new bag is:

Corn – Already grilled and eaten!
Beans – I have some ideas for using up the beans for some Smart Gardener blog posts, so stay tuned!
Bok choy – I’ve been craving stir fry, so I suspect this will prompt some kind of noodle or rice dish.
Cabbage – Sadly, I still have part of a previous cabbage in the fridge. Part will go in the stir fry, but the rest might have to go into a soup.
Summer Squash – Likely grilled up with some salmon in tomorrow or Thursday night’s dinner.
Tomatoes – How I have some left over from last week is beyond comprehension. And something that will be remedied pretty much every morning this week, while I eat sliced tomatoes with my eggs and bacon.
Turnip – OK, this one has me stumped. I’m going to leave it in the drawer for a while and see what else we get in future that I can pair with with. Or, I’ll drop it in the soup with the cabbage.
Turnip Greens – I have some beet greens left from last week, so I’ll include these in the stir fry.

I’m also going to make a frittata with the last of the duck eggs I bought at the farmer’s market last week (blog post coming about that too). It’ll have some of the tomatoes and maybe part of a squash. Basically, it’s my go-do leftovers dish.