As in other areas of life, this Green Project continues to provide unexpected learnings. Just as I have learned that I’m best off following a recipe when trying to make something I’ve never made before, I also need to follow directions when going some place I’ve never been! This past week, I loaded up the kids into the family van for a trek to Revolution Gardens, the farm that provides our CSA basket. I got verbal directions from Ginger, the farm’s co-owner, and set off confidently thinking I knew where I was going. After all, I have friends with farmland out that way. I knew the lay of the land. Sort of.
But one wrong turn and I was wandering the back roads of Nehalem for a hour, driving in ever wider circles trying to back track and right my wrongs in an area where cell phone reception is almost non-existent. Needless to say, we did not make it to the farm that day. (We did enjoy driving past the sun dappled fields as we crossed back and forth over various creeks and rivers.) Ah well, lesson learned – get written directions with street names, highway numbers and an actual address! Just like in cooking – just because you’ve eaten a dish many times and know what’s in it, doesn’t mean you can recreate it without some kind of road map or recipe!
With my last few CSA baskets, I did stay true to the resolutions I laid out in my last blog – to simplify, take it easy and use recipes. Kind of. I’ve taken much less produce from the basket, leaving plenty of goodies for Bob and Lenore and alleviating the pressure I felt to use up the prodigious of amounts of produce before it went bad. One night I made fried rice using Bob’s recipe from our online cookbook. From the CSA basket came onions, carrots, broccoli and sugar snap peas. From my fridge came left over pork chops. I had been planning to use a nice big batch of leftover rice, since fried rice is best made with rice that’s been pre-cooked and cooled. But . . . it had been eaten. So what did I do? Is it shameful to admit that I quickly cooked up a pot of basmati rice then threw it in the freezer??? Well, no harm done, as unorthodox as that might be. Dinner was great, though Joe and Jacob didn’t think so and would only force it down with some teriyaki sauce drizzled over it.
Another night, I decided to play on the British them of bangers and mash. I mean, who doesn’t like sausage and potatoes? I did not use a recipe this time. Back to my old ways so soon! I just grilled up some bratwurst, boiled new potatoes (skin on) and onions (both from the farm), chopped them up in big chunks, tossed them together with some butter and salt, and voila! Something everybody ate without complaint. Finally.
Big beautiful heads of cauliflower are now showing up in the basket. No one in my family likes cauliflower. Period. I know this, but I took one anyway and prepared it the way I liked it as a kid – steamed then smothered in melted cheddar cheese. That was a no go. Thumbs down from everyone. So disappointing.
I wanted to give chard and kale another try even though it’s been showing up since the beginning of the season and only Mom and Dad have liked it. I was counting on what I learned from one of my parenting books several years ago – that kids’ taste buds die off and are replaced by new ones at an alarmingly fast rate. So much so that they might like something one week and hate it the next, and vice verse. (It’s nice to know kids aren’t being entirely capricious in their culinary likes and dislikes.) So it’s important not to give up the first, or second, or even third time, when introducing something new to them that they don’t initially like. I lightly sauteed the greens in olive oil and seasoned them with salt, pepper and a splash of honey vinegar. Still, only Rick and I liked them. The next time I used kale was sparingly with some steamed carrots. They were better received that time around. Just barely.
Potato hash with carrots and onions, as I learned to make from Bob’s recipe, continues to be popular in my household. So luckily, that’s one surefire way I can use produce from the basket. And I decided to break out my old Moosewood Cookbook from my vegetarian days to help me with my summer veggie quest. I made a beautiful carrot and cauliflower antipasto salad a la Moosewood one night. I got a great compliment from Rick who, for the first time ever, said he enjoyed eating cauliflower! But guess what? The kids hated it. Big surprise, right?!