Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tantre farm share, week 10

This week the farm share throws down the gauntlet: can I eat (and/or freeze) a full share on my own while Brian is out of town?

My belly and I accept the challenge!
Vaguely left to right: 4 heads of lettuce (red leaf, green frilly, 2 red oakleaf), 1 qt green beans, 2 qts potatoes, arugula, parsley, 3 broccoli crowns, beets, basil, kohlrabi, 4 yellow zucchini, one huge onion, 2 cucumbers, carrots and collard greens

  • Some potatoes, summer squash and basil will go into this potato, squash goat cheese gratin.
  • I'm feeling kind of noodly this week so I think I'll make a bastardized pad thai with broccoli, green beans, cucumbers, onion, carrots, egg, tofu and peanuts.
  • Beets will get roasted like last week (and this week I can eat them all myself--oink oink!)
  • All the lettuce and arugula means that I'll be eating LOTS of salad. I'm going to keep the spinner full of washed greens so that whenever I get hungry there's salad ready (I'm feeling a little peckish right now at 9:30 am and a morning salad maybe with some toasted walnuts sounds kind of nice). If I'm feeling stumped about how to vary the salads, I'll turn to Mark Bittman's 101 Simple Salads for the Season. It is an excellent way to jog a tired brain. I'm thinking some greens will get topped with some sort of grain and citrus (time to try quinoa again?). Some will get the nicoise treatment again with more green beans, parsley and potatoes and some hard boiled egg. I still have a few peaches left and the chicken/basil/peaches combo is good so I'm going to turn it into a salad this week with salad greens, grilled boneless skinless chicken breast, a peach basil salsa and some blanched broccoli.
  • The girl critter has requested mashed potatoes so even though I'm not terribly fond of them, I'll make some for her. I can use all the help I can get consuming the share this week...
  • I'm looking forward to a weekend breakfast of of spicy collards and cheese grits with strong black coffee.
  • I'm going to see if shredded kohlrabi takes the nuoc cham sauce as well as the green beans did last week.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fermentation time!

Brian may have his yeast beer buddies, but I've got my own microscopic friends. I've already been converted to making my own yogurt (which is so stupidly simple that I'm a little disgusted with myself for buying the stuff for so many years) and this week I deepened my relationship with lactic acid bacterias by making sauerkraut.
I snagged some of the brewing supplies that Brian wasn't using: an ale pail, lid and S air lock. Got out my 4 heads of Tantre cabbage (about 7 lbs total), my mandoline, knife and kosher salt.

Then I gave my right forearm a terrific workout shredding all that cabbage into the sterilized pail:Hmmm...not enough cabbage me thinks....

So I dashed off to Krogers (it was Sunday evening) and picked up 4 more huge organic cabbages (.59/lb which seemed pretty cheap to me). By the time I finished shredding those big old mama's my hand was getting numb. Maybe next time I'll use the food processor, even though I don't have one of the newer shwoopy kind with the wide mouth feed tube.

I stirred in the recommended amount of salt (about 3 T per 5lbs) and then ignored it for a while until the cabbage started sweating out its juice. Good god does that stuff ever sweat!
I put a clean plate on top of the cabbage and stuck on another container filled with water to weigh it down and keep the cabbage below the top of the brine. Then I stuck on the pail lid and plunked the thing down in the basement where it will stay relatively cool.

I hear you can get kraut in 5 days if you put in a probiotic, like one of those pills from the health food store, but since the only ones I had in the house were blueberry flavored chewables (from when one of the critters was having tummy troubles) I figured that I'd go the slow and traditional route this time.

So, now we wait for at least a couple of weeks. But instead of tapping my foot impatiently, I'm going to think of it as party planning time! We'll have no need to deal with the crowds at the German Park this summer: we have Brian on board for beer, Brian Pinkelman can make the sausage, I'll supply the sauerkraut, the library will provide the CDs of polka tunes and Sarah will make an appearance dressed as the St. Pauli girl. Right Sarah?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Green Bean Bliss

I love fresh green beans. I love the way they squeak between my teeth; I love the flavor; I love the color; I love how they can be used as big green fangs to make a 6-year-old crack up.

And now I love them even more because I melded them with my favorite summer flavors, those found in the Vietnamese lime sauce Nuoc Cham. Today I blanched the rest of my Tantre green beans, chopped up a half a cake of firm tofu and tossed it all with the dressing. It was fast, easy, tasty and perfect for a hot, humid day.

Green Bean and Tofu Salad with Nuoc Cham

1.5 quarts green beans
.5 cake of firm tofu, cut into small cubes
juice of 1 lime
2 t brown sugar
1 small clove of garlic, pressed
1 T soy sauce
1.5 T fish sauce (I like the 3 crabs brand)
.5 of a long serrano chili, chopped fine (or more if you want it hotter)
1/4 C unsalted peanuts, chopped coarsely
at least 2 T each of chopped basil (Thai basil if you have it), spearmint and cilantro

Chuck the beans in a big pot of boiling water and blanch until just tender. Dump in a colander and run cool water over them. Cut into 2 inch lengths.

In your serving bowl combine the lime juice, sugar, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce and chili. Give a stir to dissolve the sugar. It may not look like enough dressing but it is. Then toss in the green beans, tofu, chopped peanuts and chopped herbs. Don't serve immediately--you want the flavors to get absorbed a little into the tofu and beans. Instead, let it sit for about half an hour, tossing every 10 minutes to make sure that the flavors are distributed.