Weeks 10 & 11: The Caprese Salad of Solitude

Week 10 of our summer CSA was exactly three weeks away from our August wedding, so needless to say the CSA was not the only thing on my plate (sorry).

Andrew, as well as my close friends and family, sometimes refer to me as having “organizational abilities.” I know they’re being serious, but whatever they are referring to as my “organizational abilities” is what I think of as “Kyra’s panicked reaction to things that stress her out that don’t seem to stress other people out at all.” The phrase “organizational abilities” implies a clear-eyed, rational mind, definitely no crying about wedding reception tablecloths, and I’m pretty sure a person with “organizational abilities” doesn’t have to pour themselves a shot of bourbon every time they open their wedding planning spreadsheet.

I am a person who is happy when I have a plan and that plan is successful. While other people might focus on, say, how delicious the CSA vegetables taste, what really makes me happy is when I have a sheet of paper enumerating exactly what dish I will cook with which CSA vegetable, what day we’re going to eat it, what other ingredients I need, and how much they will cost. I also lack the patience to make this happen. It’s an unfortunate combination of traits. This is where Andrew comes in.

Andrew has no organizational abilities almost at all. One would think that I would find this annoying, but it’s actually quite useful. He’s mostly appreciative of my attempts to organize our lives—seeing as he’s the beneficiary of things like knowing what we’re going to eat, getting plane tickets more than three days before the holiday in question, and having a good credit score. But deep down inside, he doesn’t really care about whether we’re organized or not. He cares about things like Art, and Beauty, and Nature, and the late 19th-century Elocution movement (don’t ask). So when I start to get spun up over the fact that I went over our gas budget by $3.25, he tends to take the long view.

Unfortunately, the first week of August Andrew left to play a summer music festival in Santa Cruz, leaving me at home in Chicago with my planning spreadsheet and my bourbon. Apparently planning a wedding with someone is supposed to be a good way of predicting what it’s like to be married to them. In this case, we discovered that when Andrew’s not around to act as a breaking mechanism on my stress, I tend to go off the rails.

Managing the time difference was part of the problem—Andrew was in Santa Cruz which was a two hour time difference from me and a three hour time difference from where we were getting married. (We had decided to get married in Vermont, which—like so many of our decisions around the wedding over the last year—seemed like a good idea at the time.) My sense of soon-to-be-spousal compassion was tested daily when I picked up the phone determined to wake him up at 6:00 AM to discuss with him, say, if he thought we should buy 2 1/2 inch or 3 inch thick birch poles for the chuppah, before talking myself off the ledge and waiting until lunch time.

Over the two weeks he was gone, I also had some CSA boxes to content with, containing squash, green peppers, banana peppers, tomatoes, apples, chard, corn, shallots, pickling cucumbers, potatoes, fennel, broccoli, more bell peppers, more potatoes, more tomatoes, more apples. more onions, more carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, more green beans, and jalapeños.


I should have been happy that it was tomato season. I feel that between the end of July and the middle of September, one is morally obligated to eat as much tomato and mozzarella as humanly possible. But I was mostly feeling sorry for myself. Andrew and I had gotten engaged the previous summer during tomato season and it was awesome. The night we got engaged, we made this caprese salad:

There was sort of a ring theme to our meal.

Hoping to cheer myself up, I made my own caprese salad, which, instead of providing comfort, became a sort of pathetically nostalgic emblem of my loneliness.


In all honesty, the tomatoes were just really bad this year. Chicago was strangely cold in August—highs in the sixties, maybe low seventies. I mean, it was beautiful and very pleasant. But maybe not if you’re a tomato.

Andrew also has a moderating influence on what we choose to eat, since I have almost no judgment of what constitutes an actual meal. I’ll find a recipe and announce, “This calls for buttermilk, carrots, and ham! We have all of these things! Let’s make it!” And he just stares at me noncommittally until I have a chance to think things through.

This brings me to the beet & egg spring rolls I made the first day Andrew was gone.


Spring Rolls with Beets, Brown Rice, Eggs, and Herbs

This weird recipe calls for Napa cabbage and also for beets (in case you’ve forgotten in the 2 months since I last posted…but we have a really large Napa cabbage in the refrigerator at this point). It also made use of some of our mint and basil that was going wild in the back yard. As an added bonus,  I didn’t have to cook the beets.

First you prep a bunch of things.  You need to cook about a cup and a half of rice. Once it’s done, toss it in a bowl with 1 TB rice vinegar. Next, peel 3 or 4 raw beets and grate them (recipe was for 1 LB – I almost had this with one beet). Grating it took like an hour, and your cutting board will look like a crime scene, but that’s just how it is with beets.

Then prep some assorted herbs and cabbage: I used 1/3 cup of mint, 1/2 cup of basil, and 2 cups of shredded Napa cabbage. The beets and herbs go together in a bowl with 2 TB rice vinegar, and the shredded cabbage goes in its own bowl with another 2 TB vinegar.

Now it’s time to make a few egg pancakes. Take 3 eggs and crack them individually into 3 little bowls and beat them. Slip one beaten egg into an 8 inch non-stick skillet that has a little oil in the bottom. After a minute or two, flip the egg over and you should have a little omelet. Repeat with the other two eggs. Once the eggs are done, cut them into little slices.


Finally, everything gets rolled together. You need 8 1/2 inch diameter spring roll wrappers. Dip each one in warm water for about 30 seconds to maybe it pliable, and then place some whole basil and mint leaves on top. Next, add some of the beet mixture, then the cabbage mixture, then the rice, and a few strips of egg.


Obviously I was suspicious of how these would taste—raw beets and eggs and such. But they were actually pretty good, and the egg made them substantive enough to eat a few as a meal.

CSA ingredients used: Napa cabbage, beets

Other ingredients used: mint, basil, brown rice, egg, Spring roll wrappers, rice wine vinegar,




Sirka Paneer

Recognizing that I was heading into a period of time where I might be a little to excited/crazed to feed myself, I decided it would be smart to make a giant pot of something. I bought this book by Raghaven Iyer called 660 Curries after my last experience cooking saag paneer, feeling that I needed to upgrade my Indian cooking resourcing a little. As a CSA cookbook it looked like it would be invaluable—vegetables in any combination in delicious curry format. I picked a recipe for Sirka Paneer, which is a sweet-tart cheese with potatoes and cauliflower in a vinegar sauce.

To make this recipe, first you need to make paneer. (Or buy it. You could do that. I just didn’t, because I had milk and I didn’t feeling like going out again)

Then, pour 1/4 cup water into a blender jar and 1/4 cup of cider vinegar, 1/4 cup tomato paste, 1 TB coriander seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 2 dried chiles, 2 fresh chiles, 2 cloves of garlic, and a bit of sliced up ginger. Blend it around together to make a paste.


Next, heat 2 TB vegetable oil in a skillet and add 1/2 cup chopped red onion (I used white onion). Stir-fry it until it’s started to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the curry paste to the pan and lower the heat, then cook 2 to 4 minutes until the oil start to separate from the curry.

Next, you add 1 cup of water to the blender and blitz it around to clean out the blender. Once the paste is done, throw in this water as well.

Next, add 2 cups of chopped cauliflower, 2 medium potatoes cut into 1 inch cubes (I put in about 6 little ones), and 1 tsp salt to the pan. Bring everything to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. I decided to add some carrots too since I had them.


Once the vegetables are tender, add the coconut milk and the paneer and simmer for another 10 minutes. Then sprinkle some cilantro on top and it’s done.

This recipe was great – the carrots were not a good call and I ended up mostly picking around them. But all of the other vegetables were soft and mushy and the curry flavor blended into them really nicely.

CSA ingredients used: cauliflower, onion, carrots, potatoes

Other ingredients used: milk, vinegar, apple cider vinegar, salt, garlic, ginger, coconut milk, cilantro, tomato paste, chiles, cumin, and coriander.

Corn, Tomatoes, Avocado, and Bacon in Various Combinations

As the days went on and the wedding got nearer, it became clear that my concerns about being too busy to cook for myself were somewhat moot because I discovered I had no appetite at all. Apparently this is pretty normal in the two weeks before one’s wedding. Luckily, if you’re going to be picking at your food for a few weeks, an early August farm box provides a pretty accessible assortment of choices. Here are a few of the salad-like things I made in a vain hope that I would at some point be hungry:

This avocado/corn/cucumber/feta/basil salad was great, particularly the lime-pickled onions for combating nausea
Actually, the bacon corn dish was great, too, since I can always eat bacon no matter how stressed I am.
Baked feta was a less sensible choice—a giant hunk of feta seems like a good idea, but I could only eat a few bites.

CSA ingredients used: tomatoes, corn, onions, cucumber

Other ingredients used: feta, bacon, basil, avocado

Next: In which I solemnly take on the responsibilities of a wife-to-be by using a vacuum sealer to freeze things.

Week 9: Pretty in Pink Brine

The last week of July finally brought the first Napa cabbage,  a healthy amount of corn, and an assortment of other vegetables including beets, green peppers, potatoes, green beans, eggplant, summer squash, cauliflower, and tomatoes. Andrew and I were a bit of a mess. He was still playing eight shows a week downtown and was about to take off for two weeks to  play at a summer festival in California. After the festival, we would have just a week before our wedding, which was in Vermont (we thought this would be a good idea last October when we started planning it). In his last few days in town, we tried to get done everything that he needed to actually be present for, like finding him shoes and a belt for the wedding, agreeing on a design for our Ketubah, making sure he had a valid driver’s license so he could, you know, get on an airplane, and also discussing our personal beliefs about marriage. Cooking vegetables started to seem like a secondary priority—which, it seems, is why pickles were invented.

Pickled Turnips

While digging through various vegetable bins searching for vegetables to destroy, I unearthed some turnips lurking in the bottom of the refrigerator, leftover from week 4. Turnips are challenging because they’re not very good to eat. Last year Andrew turned them into a beautiful soup from Alice Waters which tasted okay but was actually kind of bitter if we were honest. This year, I investigated pickling them instead.

As it turns out, pickled turnips are standard in Middle Eastern Food, and I’ve been eating them for years every time I get a combo plate from the Lebanese restaurant right up the street. It never crossed my mind that I was eating pickled turnips, because they’re bright pink. Evidently this is because you add a small amount of chopped beets  to the pickle,  for the sole purpose of making them pink.

This recipe is from David Lebowitz. You make a brine that’s 1/2 cups water, 3 TB salt, and 1/2 cup white vinegar – something halfway between a lacto-fermented pickle and a vinegar pickle. Then they sit out at room temperature for a week.


They were delicious, among my favorite pickles yet.

CSA ingredients used: turnips, part of a beet.

Other ingredients used: water, white vinegar, salt, garlic

Pita with Eggplant

One of Andrew’s proudest triumphs last year was sahib, a eggplant stuffed in pita dish from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. When we made it last year, Andrew loving crafted everything from scratch, including the pita bread, and then finished everything on the grill. This all happened when I was out of town, and I got back in time to only have a taste. This year I was actually around for it, but we had maybe 20 minutes to cook, so we bought pita, tabouli, and tahini sauce from the local middle eastern market, and quickly fried the eggplant.




CSA ingredients: tomatoes, eggplant

Other ingredients used: egg, pita, tabouli

Corn Chowder Salad

Next up, I had found a recipe for Corn Chowder Salad  over at Smitten Kitchen. It sounded weird, but it checked all of the boxed. It used up lots of corn, it used up a bunch of potatoes, and it contained some protein to boot. I made it as sort of a late-night fried bacon snack, which I think is important to always have around. You fry up 4 slices of diced bacon and then remove the bacon but leave the fat. Then you fry 1 lb diced potatoes, and 6 ears of corn in the bacon fat. The recipe calls for red peppers; I only had green peppers and decided to add one of them. Green peppers are one of the few vegetables we’ve never really come up with something to do with. I was hesitant to include them, but decided that frying them in bacon fat was probably as good as it was going to get.



Once everything is cooked, you mix the fried vegetables, the bacon, and 1/2 cup cider vinegar.



Sadly, no picture of the final product, just random vegetable components. It was pretty good – the cider vinegar was a nice touch and as expected, green peppers fried in bacon fat are not too bad.

CSA ingredients used: potatoes, corn, a green pepper

Other ingredients used: bacon, apple cider vinegar

Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes

In years past, we’ve made most of our Napa cabbages into kimchi (when I wasn’t making imprudent decisions about cabbage rolls). However, we still have a half gallon mason jar of kimchi in the refrigerator from last year, and I think it’s actually still good too.

Lots of recipes for cabbage will call for, like, a cup of it. This is not even remotely cool. Under what circumstances does a person have a cup of Napa cabbage sitting around? Anyway. While bitterly rejecting recipes for Napa cabbage, I came across this recipe for Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes from Smitten Kitchen that called for an entire 8 cups. I was sold.

First you make a sauce: you mix together 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 2-3 tsp Gochujang (Korean pepper sauce), and 1 TB brown sugar.

Then you toast 3 TB sesame seeds and set them aside. Saute 2 TB minced ginger and 1 TB minced garlic in oil for 30 seconds, and then add 10 ounces of sliced shiitake mushrooms and cook for about 6 minutes. Then reduce the heat to medium and add 8 cups of sliced Napa cabbage and 3 sliced scallions.

8 cups of Napa cabbage turns out to be about a quarter of it

While this is happening, you cook 10 ounce soba noodles in a pot of boiling salted water. You’re also supposed to cook a cup of frozen edamame in the water with the noodles. I had frozen edamame, but didn’t read ahead enough to realize I was supposed to cook them with the pasta, so I left them out entirely.

Once the noodles are done, drain them and combine with the cabbage and mushroom mixture, the sesame seeds, and the sauce.

This is not a very good picture. It was pretty dark out by the time we finally ate.

CSA ingredients used: napa cabbage

Other ingredients used: soba noodles, Shiitake mushrooms, scallions, soy sauce, brown pepper, Gochujang, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic.

Spicy Dilly Beans

At this point, the green bean situation was getting out of control and it was pretty clear that we were not going to sit down and eat 3 pounds of green beans. Last year I had done a vinegar pickle with them which I wasn’t super fond of (though my 18 month old nephew apparently ate an entire jar for dinner over Christmas last year), but this year I decided to try again with a different pickle recipe.

This recipe for spicy dilly beans is from Serious Eats. You trim the beans, which is pretty time consuming when you have 3 lbs of them. Then you fill 5 pint jars with a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of dill seeds, and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes each. The brine is 2 1/2 cups of water, 2 1/2 cups of white vinegar, and 4 TB salt.


These are going to be really spicy

I filled them all up, and then they went in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

CSA ingredients used: all of the green beans

Other ingredients used: garlic, red chile flakes, dill seeds, water, vinegar, salt

Next: Week 10, in which I’m all alone to obsess about tablecloths


Week 8: Elotes FTW

As predicted, the Week 8 box was….large. We had green cabbage, summer apples, corn, a truly massive quantity of broccoli, cauliflower, more carrots, more green beans, fennel, and more red currants. And a head of lettuce.

I had been waiting for the green cabbage for months. We’d been craving homemade sauerkraut since I had tried to make it last November and it got all moldy and we had to throw it out, and we had a brand new fermentation crock as a wedding present, along with fancy pickle weights that would theoretically prevent that from happening again.

Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut


Moldiness aside, Sauerkraut is a actually easy to make. You cut up the cabbage and put it into a large bowl (or a fermentation crock, if you happen to have one!). You add about 3 TB of salt and knead it every 15 minutes for the next few hours, until you’ve produced enough liquid to cover the cabbage. In years past, the cabbage has sat in the refrigerator for a week or two before I get around to using it, making it pretty dry. This time I made it immediately, but I still didn’t get enough liquid out of it to cover the cabbage completely, so I made a brine of 1 cup water to 1 tsp salt and covered it with that.


The trick is to get the cabbage to stay underneath the level of the water, and it wants to flat to the top. This recipe from Serious Eats recommended using some of the outer layers of the cabbage that you wouldn’t want to eat and putting those on top, and then putting the weights on top. It works like a dream!

The only downside is that this isn’t ready for 3 – 6 weeks.

CSA ingredients used: Green cabbage

Other ingredients used: water, salt

Pork Lettuce “Wraps”

The lettuce seemed like the next priority. We had some left over country-style pork chops   from the week before, and Andrew suggested that we make little lettuce rolls using some of the corn, sliced pork, leftover rice, and a dipping sauce.

The dipping sauce is 1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup lime juice, 1/3 cup fish sauce, and 2 minced garlic cloves (It made way, way, more than I needed.)


I broke off the biggest leaves of lettuce and assembled them with sliced pork, corn, and rice.



It immediately became clear that these were going to be impossible to eat, much less dip, because the lettuce leaves were not particularly inclined towards being rolled up. I gave up and threw everything together to make a salad instead, albeit one that had rice in it and a dipping sauce as dressing. It was a bit weird, but it got the job done.


CSA ingredients used: lettuce, corn

Other ingredients used: pork chops, rice, water, garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar

Grilled Elotes & Summer Squash Tacos

While musing about what to do with the first corn of the season that was properly celebratory, I came across this recipe for Elotes, or Grilled Mexican Street Corn. The picture at the top of the recipe was, shall we say, persuasive. It seemed a little indulgent to light the grill just to cook some corn, so we decided to grill the summer squash (from Week 6) and make tacos with a recipe I found at the blog Cookie and Kate.

While Andrew was lighting the chimney, I made the cheese mixture for the corn. It’s 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup feta cheese, 1/2 tsp ancho chile powder, 1 clove of minced garlic, and 1/4 cup of minced cilantro. Once the corn comes off the grill, you coat the corn with the topping, squeeze lime and chile powder over the top, and go to town.

These were unreal. They were among the best thing I’ve ever tasted, which I suppose based on the contents of the cheese mixture shouldn’t be shocking. After fretting while making them about how they would taste as leftovers, we devoured all five ears between the two of us in about two minutes.


CSA ingredients used: corn

Other ingredients used: mayonnaise, sour cream, feta cheese, cilantro, garlic, chile powder.

The squash turned out okay too, but had nothing on the corn.  We put the grilled squash on flour tortillas and ate it with black beans, tomatoes, and an avocado chimichurri (2 tsp lime juice, 1 cup parsley, 2 cloves of garlic, 3 TB olive oil, 1 TB water, red pepper flakes, and a little bit of cilantro.) We didn’t have quite enough parsley, and I decided to compensate by adding a bunch more garlic. This was less than brilliant; avocado chimichurri sounds like a great idea but it was so garlicky as to be almost inedible.

CSA ingredient used: summer squash

Other ingredients use: tortillas, tomatoes, black beans, avocado, lime, parsley, garlic, olive oil, water, red pepper flakes, cilantro

Buddha Bowl

Having used up most of the fun ingredients, it was time to turn my attention to the cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli. I decided to get some tofu and make Buddha Bowls for Andrew and I to take with us to our various weekend engagements.

I baked the tofu, which was sort of fun. You have to press it for a bit to get the moisture out before you chop it up and throw it on a baking sheet to bake for 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven.


After that, I steamed carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli and added them to the bowl along with rice. The sauce was a peanut sauce from Brand New Vegan: 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup water, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 TB rice vinegar, 1 TB hoisin sauce, 1 tsp sriracha, 1/2 tsp chile garlic paste, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, and 1/3 cup peanut butter. It all went together in a saucepan and cooked for a few minutes until it was thickened.

I did not succeed in taking a picture of the buddha bowl itself, which is a shame, but this recipe is highly recommended.

CSA ingredients used: carrots, cauliflower, broccoli

Other ingredients used: rice, tofu, soy sauce, garlic, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, sriracha, chile garlic paste, ginger, peanut butter.

Red Currant and Apple Chutney

By the end of the week, we’d used up almost everything except the fruit. We briefly entertained the idea of making a pork chops with an apple currant chutney, but upon remembering it take an hour and a half to make chutney, we decided to cook our pork chops and just eat them, and make chutney to have on something later in the week.

You slice up an onion and cook it for a bit in olive oil, and then let it caramelize (for 45 minutes or so). In a separate saucepan, you add three or four apples that have been cored and chopped and some red currants, and and 1/4 cup water. You simmer them over low heat for 30 minutes, and then add the onions, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and some salt.

It tasted pretty good! I even had it a few times on its own as a snack.

CSA ingredients used: red currants, apples, and onions

Other ingredients used: olive oil, water, brown sugar

Next: Let the pickling begin

Week 11: Rainbow Box

The Week 11 box was one of the most brilliantly colorful boxes of the summer, and also one of our favorites. We had purple eggplants, red onions and bright red fresno pepper, multicolored tomatoes and orange carrots. We also got an assortment of green peppers, tomatillos, corn, and a bright yellow melon. With only a few perishable items, we were able to relax about getting through everything in one week and focus on what we really wanted to do, which was eat as many tomatoes as possible.

Bacon, Mozzarella, and Tomato Sandwiches

We were craving BLTs, but we didn’t have lettuce. Andrew and I briefly conferred and determined that fresh mozzarella was a perfectly acceptable substitute for lettuce in a BLT. We spread olive oil on bread,  and then layered with mozzarella, bacon, halves cherry tomatoes, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.


CSA ingredients used: cherry tomatoes.

Other ingredients used: bacon, mozzarella cheese, bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar.

Eggplant Stir-Fry

The next night, we made an eggplant stir-fry using the eggplant, the green bell pepper, and fresno peppers. This recipe came from Epicurious.

  1. Mix 3 TB fish sauce, 1 TB light soy sauce, 3/4 cup warm water, and 2 TB brown sugar and set aside (this is the sauce).
  2. Heat up the wok on the grill and throw in 2 TB of oil. Then add the eggplant slices and stir-fry until they begin to brown. Remove them from the wok.
  3. Next, add another TB oil to the wok and fry up the onions. Once they’re soft, remove them from the wok.
  4. Finally, add 3 TB of garlic and a few TB of chopped chiles (we used the fresno peppers we had). After 30 seconds, add a sliced green pepper and the onions back in. Then add the eggplant back in
  5. Pour in the sauce and add a handful of basil. To thicken the sauce, add 2 tsp of corn starch that’s been mixed with 4 TB cold water.

CSA ingredients used: eggplant, green bell pepper, fresno pepper

Other ingredients used: garlic, vegetable oil, red onions, basil, fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar.

Sauteed Corn with Cilantro, Chorizo, and Lime

I discovered this recipe last summer while searching for CSA-friendly meals to bring on our yearly cross-country road trip. It was really spectacularly delicious and insanely easy, so with a few ears of corn left to use up I decided to make it again. You take 4 ounces of the Spanish chorizo and saute it on olive oil in a pan until most of the fat has rendered, around 5 minutes. Then, add 4 cups of fresh corn and cook it in the chorizo fat until the corn has darkened. Finally, add 1/4 cup of cilantro and 1 TB lime juice.

The cilantro turned out to be not all that important
CSA ingredients used: corn

Other ingredients used: Spanish chorizo, lime, olive oil.

Pork Chops with Salsa Verde and Apples

I’ve developed a habit of typing various combinations of CSA vegetables into google when procrastinating on something else. It’s usually not very successful for actually yielding good recipes—there are vegetables that just shouldn’t be eaten in combination, and no amount of will make them taste good.  In this case, I typed “apple” and “tomatillo” into Google and discovered a recipe for pork chops that actually looked fairly delicious. The recipe came from Serious Eats. The source was reputable enough for Andrew to sign off on it.

  1. Make a rub for the pork chops of 1 1/2 TB coriander, 1 1/2 TB cumin, 2 tsp, 1/2 tsp black pepper. Add a few TB of oil and mush it all together, then rub it on the pork chops.
  2. Simmer 1/2 LB of fresh tomatillos in boiling water for 8 minutes. Let them cool.
  3. Peel and core 2 apples, and cut them into 1/4 inch cubes.
  4. Once the tomatillos are cooled, blitz them in a food processor along with 1/2 cup of cilantro, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 TB fresh lime juice, 1 TB honey. The original recipe called for a teaspoon of chipotle chiles in adobo; we substituted a minced fresno pepper.
  5. Once everything is smooth, mix in the apple cubes to the tomatillo mixture.
  6. Sear the pork chops in olive oil for 3 minutes per side until they’re around 150 degrees. Let them cool for a few minutes, and then slather them in the apple tomatillo sauce.

CSA ingredients used: half of the tomatillos, apples, 1 fresno pepper.

Other ingredients used: cilantro, garlic, cumin, coriander, honey, lime juice.

Stir-Fried Cauliflower

Every week, there’s always one random vegetable leftover on Monday that needs to get used up, and it’s usually the one we’re the least excited about eating. In this case, I was completely convinced we had a leftover broccoli and decided to make the Thai Broccoli with Peanut Sauce stir fry (the recipe is here).

Unfortunately, we didn’t actually have a broccoli at all. We did, however, have a generous stock of cauliflowers that was not getting any smaller. Given that we were already pretty hungry, we decided to go ahead and make the stir-fry with cauliflower instead of broccoli (At least they are the same shape?).

We also didn’t have a red pepper so we used a green pepper instead. For a week that involved one of the most colorful boxes of the summer, we ended up with a very bland looking stir-fry.


The verdict was that it was actually pretty good. In the end, the cauliflower was fine, but the green pepper tasted a littler weird – go figure.

CSA ingredients used: cauliflower, green pepper

Other ingredients used: tofu, coconut milk, fish sauce, cilantro, brown sugar, rice.

Next: Pizzas and other circular things


Week 10: Saccatoosh

Every once in a while, a recipe presents itself that so perfectly accommodates the week’s assortment of vegetables that it feels as though some vegetable deity may in fact be looking out for us. The week 10 box included a pound each of fresh cranberry beans and fresh lima beans—still in their pods—and before we could even lament our fate, Andrew discovered this Smitten Kitchen recipe for summer succotash that not only called for our exact assortment of beans, but also included three other ingredients from the week’s box: corn, tomatoes, and an onion. Also, bacon!

It also gave me the chance to try and remember the word for succotash. Apparently telling people that you’ve made “saccatoosh” and it’s really tasty doesn’t give them a clear picture of what you’re talking about.

The box also included artichokes, potatoes, swiss chard, a melon, another cauliflower (oof) and a half pound of okra. Oh, and a single beet, which vanished into the refrigerator only to be discovered again 3 weeks later. But first, the succotash:

Summer Succotash with Bacon

  1. Shell 1 LB cranberry bean. Cook the cranberry beans in water for 25 minutes.

2. Now, shell 1 LB of lima beans. Cook the lima beans in water for 5 minutes.


3.  Fry up a bunch of bacon, remove it with a slotted spoon, then cook a diced onion in the bacon fat.

5. Put four ears worth of fresh corn, a bunch of diced up tomatoes, and 1 TB of sherry vinegar in a giant bowl. The original recipe called for these vegetables to be cooked, but we decided to keep everything raw.

6. Add the cranberry beans, the lima beans, and the bacon, and some chopped up basil.

It’s a good thing this succotash tastes good, because we ended up with about 5 LBs of it

CSA ingredients used: corn, tomatoes, red onion, lima beans, cranberry beans

Other ingredients used: bacon, basil, sherry vinegar

German Potato Salad

Since we had leftover bacon, I also decided to make a German-style potato salad, which could be eaten cold and would give Andrew another dish he could take with him to the theater during the second week of his show. I blended together two recipes, one from the NY Times and one from Serious Eats, and managed to come away with a pretty delicious, though very vinegary, potato salad.

  1. Take 1 LB of potatoes and cut them up into 1 inch cubes. Put them in a pot and cover them with an inch of water. Bring them to a boil, and then cook them for 10 minutes until they’re tender.
  2. Fry some bacon. Once they bacon’s done, mince up an onion and cook it in the bacon fat for 5 minutes. Crumble up the bacon.
  3. Whisk together 1/3 cup of white vinegar, 2 TB sugar, 1 TB mustard, 2 tsp salt, and some pepper into a dressing.
  4. Toss everything together.

CSA vegetables used: potatoes, onion

Other ingredients used: bacon, mustard, white vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar

Pickled Okra

Okra has always been a fairly controversial vegetable in my family, and for that reason I’m not sure I’ve ever actually eaten it. Last year, we got okra in the box exactly once, and it sat in the refrigerator slowly rotting into a slimy mess over the course of several weeks. Since we already knew we were not motivated to cook with it, pickling seemed like the best option.

I selected a recipe from Alton Brown, who seemed like a fairly reliable guide to the world of pickling suspect vegetables. To pickle the okra, you clean it and then load it all up into mason jars figure out how many jars you need. Then you dump out the okra and sterilize the jars. Add 1 chile, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1 clove of garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon of peppercorns in each jar. Then make a brine using 1 cup of rice wine vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 1/8 cup of salt.

Odin also didn’t eat a lot of okra growing up.

Update: we opened the okra while on vacation and it was delicious! The okra wasn’t slimy in the least—it was crisp and crunchy and piquant with vinegar. It even got the seal of approval from my brother-in-law, who grew up in North Carolina and has very complex feelings about okra.

CSA ingredients used: okra

Other ingredients used: chiles, mustard seeds, garlic, peppercorns, rice wine vinegar, water, salt.

Grilled Baby Artichokes with “Caper” Mint Sauce

One night while Andrew was playing his show, I had dinner with my friend Amanda. We decided to grill clams and mussels (Andrew had a bad experience with mussels a few years back involving a bouillabaisse followed by lots of barfing, so now I only eat them if he isn’t home).

In addition to grilling shellfish, we also decided to cook something with the artichokes since they were starting to look a little sad. My intention was to recreate the April Bloomfield artichoke recipe from a few weeks back, but since we were grilling and didn’t want to use the stove if we didn’t need to, we decided to do this recipe from Epicurious. (Spoiler alert: Had I read the recipe carefully, I would have discovered that we still needed to use the stove for this one).

  1. First, you make a sauce. The sauce is 1/2 cup of olive oil, 6 anchovy filets, 2 1/2 teaspoons of capers, 1/4 cup of mint, and 1 TB white wine vinegar. At this stage, we discovered that we didn’t actually have capers, so we substituted Kalamata olives instead.
  2. Next, you trim the artichokes (as detailed in this post), and cook them in boiling salted water for 8 minutes. We somehow managed to miss the boiling step completely.
  3. Now you toss them with olive oil and put them on the grill for 5 to 8 minutes.
  4. Once they’re cooked (or in this case, not cooked), you pull them off the grill and slather the sauce all over them.

As you can imagine, they didn’t come out spectacularly well since they were essentially raw inside, but they weren’t that bad either.

CSA ingredients used: baby artichokes

Other ingredients used: olive oil, olives, anchovies, white wine vinegar, mint


Turning our cabbage into sauerkraut was Andrew’s idea. I was skeptical that this would yield anything other than a jar of homemade sauerkraut sitting in our fridge for a year, but I decided to go for it. To make sauerkraut, you dice up 1 cabbage into tiny pieces. Put 1 tsp of salt with the cabbage and begin to work it with your hands. The salt will cause the cabbage to released liquid, although it releases more liquid if isn’t two weeks old already. Nevertheless, the cabbage should reduce enough to fit in one quart jar.

At this point, you’re supposed to add the liquid that you acquired, put the sauerkraut somewhere to fermented for a week, and call it a day. My cabbage failed to released any liquid at all, so I made a brine for it using 2 cups of water to 1 tsp salt and poured it over the top.


If you think this sounds too simple to actually work, I agree with you. However, over the course of the week it did indeed turn into sauerkraut, and I absolutely loved it. It was a nice, tart ferment while somehow still tasting fresh. We brought it with us on vacation and ate it with hot dogs for a few family dinners.

CSA ingredients used: cabbage

Other ingredients used: water, salt

Garlicky Swiss Chard

Usually by Sunday or Monday,  I’m desperate enough to use up any vegetables we haven’t cooked yet that I will make random side dishes for us to pick at over the next few days that aren’t connected to any sort of meal. This is an favorite swiss chard recipe from Melissa Clark.

Roll up the chard and cut it into 1/4 inch strips. Heat some oil in a saucepan, add 2 cloves of minced garlic and saute for a minute, then add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir in the chard and cook uncovered for a few minutes, then cover and cook a few more minutes until the chard is bright green.

As with spinach, the chard impressed me with its ability to cook down into almost nothing. But it was tasty with leftovers.

CSA ingredients used: Swiss chard

Other ingredients used: garlic, red pepper flakes, oil

Next: A desperate move with a cauliflower

Week 7: Burgers & Scones

The Week 7 box came with more carrots, more cauliflower, more cabbage, more onions, green beans, lettuce, more beets, and the first of the summer corn. We also got a pint of black currants. It should go without saying that at this point we were really, really behind.

I want to take a moment to indulge my neuroses surrounding CSA success. In my mind, there are multiple markers of success, including using up all of the vegetables that you have before the next box comes, using up all of the vegetables before they rot, and spending as little money as possible on groceries to supplement the CSA. Other people might be interested in cooking healthy food that tastes great, but frankly those people are probably not very organized.

At this point in the summer, using up all of the vegetables before the next box comes is basically impossible unless you have are in the habit of eating 8 onions a week. Similarly, rotting is less of an issue since fewer vegetables are immediately perishable. However, what becomes a huge issue is how to fit everything in your refrigerator. Given that, my priority changed from using up the things that were going to go bad quickly to using up the vegetables that took up the most space.

Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Tacos

First came the corn. This recipe was one of the few that came completely from our imagination. We mixed together raw corn, cherry tomatoes, avocado chunks, queso fresco, and cilantro with a lime vinaigrette and put them on flour tortillas.

CSA vegetables used: corn

Other ingredients used: avocados, cherry tomatoes, queso fresco, flour tortillas, cilantro.

Burgers and Corn

While I was at a gig, Andrew cooked up a few burgers and had the rest of the corn barely cooked and unadorned, or as he put it, “America on a plate.” The burger patties were left over from a few months ago. Andrew had ground the meat at home, portioned out the burgers and froze the leftovers. He likes them “smashed” style. 


He ate the burgers with a few shavings of vidalia onions and our newly brined pickles. The corn was cooked in its husks in the microwave for a few minutes, a perfectly easy way of cooking corn when your only cooking a few at a time.

CSA vegetables used: corn, vidalia onions, and pickles

Other ingredients used: buns, burgers, American cheese

Grilled Chicken and Summer Squash

Neither Andrew nor I are a huge fan of summer squash, but in the last few weeks we’ve discovered that we love it when it’s grilled. Andrew grilled a chicken and all of the summer squash one evening and made a nice little summer squash salad by cutting them into little chunks and slathering them with olive oil, lemon juice, capers, basil, and salt and pepper.

CSA vegetables used: summer squash, red onion

Other ingredients used: a chicken

Real Salad Nicoise

Well, almost. We bought kalamata olives at the last second instead of nicoise. This one is from Serious Eats.

  1. Make a vinaigrette. Take 1 shallot, 1 garlic clove, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 4 anchovie fillets (rinsed), 3 TB white wine vinegar, and 1 TB water and whisk them together in a bowl. Add 3/4 cup of olive oil (I have never been convinced that adding the olive oil separately actually does anything).
  2. Potatoes: Cook some potatoes in 2 inches of water. Add 1/2 cup of onion, a few sprigs of thyme, and 4 cloves of garlic. Simmer for 40 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  3. Green Beans: Cook some green beans in boiling water for about 3 minutes, and then dump them in an ice bath.
  4. Eggs: Cook some eggs in an inch of boiling water for 9 minutes, and then throw them in an ice bath.
  5. At this point, you’ve actually managed to use every pot and bowl you own, despite this being an extremely simple recipe.
  6. Assemble the salad: potatoes, cherry tomatoes sliced in half, green beans, tuna fish, olives, and capers. We didn’t use lettuce greens because we didn’t have any, but we did throw in some radishes.

Despite the fact that anchovies have traditionally been a divisive topic in our household, we became obsessed with this salty, tangy dressing and proceeding to make it on salads for the next several weeks.

CSA vegetables used: some potatoes, some green beans, some radishes

Other ingredients used: olives, cherry tomatoes, eggs, tuna fish

Dill Pickles

We also made another round of the fermented dill pickles, this time using fresh dill instead of flowering dill. The recipe can be found here; my post on it can be found here.


CSA vegetables used: pickling cucumbers

Other ingredients used: dill, garlic, salt, water, dill seed, coriander


Black Currant Scones

After searching high and low for interesting uses for the black currants, we ultimately decided to do the most obvious thing and make scones. This recipe came from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book. It calls for about 12 different kinds of flour, but tracking them down is worth it – we’ve loved everything we’ve cooked from this book, and this recipe is no exception.

  1. Whisk together 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup oat flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt. Cut 1/2 stick of butter into little chunks until it looks sort of like breadcrumbs and add it to the bowl.
  2.  Add the black currants (the recipe called for 1/3 cup, we probably used a full cup at least) and 1/2 cup of oat flour. Stir it together with a fork, but don’t beat it too much.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together an egg, 1/2 cup of buttermilk, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Add it to the dry ingredients.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it a bit. Then divide it in half and form it into two rounds. Take each round and divide it into 6 little wedges.
  5. Brush the tops of each scone with milk and then sprinkle with course sugar. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 min.

The scones weren’t too sweet and the fresh currants and an almost bitter tartness that was surprisingly delicious. It was a pretty cool day when we made them, so we got all English and had them in the afternoon with clotted cream and tea.

CSA vegetables used: black currants

Other ingredients used: whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, oat flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, butter, oats, egg, buttermilk, vanilla extract, milk, more sugar.

Next: I go on vacation and Andrew guest posts.