Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What's in the box? And how do I use it?

We picked up some new subscribers this month and the most common concerns are, "What's in the box and how will I use it?"

We prefer to be surprised. But people who are better organized than our household may look ahead at Farmer (Glenn) Tanaka's blog. He posts a weekly entry about doings on the farm and updates the list of what MIGHT be in your box this week. If you follow the blog regularly, you notice that weather and insects sometimes change his plans at the last minute.
This is what might be in your CSA box for the week of November 1, 2010:
SMall box might have: Carrots, Baby Maui Onions, Potatoes****, Broccoli or Squash or Cherry Tomatoes, Lettuce or Salad Mix, Fuji Apples***, Fuyu Persimmons*.
Large Box might additionally have: Sweet White Corn, Chinese Cabbage (Napa), Grapefruit**.

This is what might be in your CSA box for the week of October 25, 2010:
Small box might have: Green Beans, Carrots, Sweet White Corn, Romaine Lettuce, Broccoli or Spinach, Our Strawberry Jam (prepared with our strawberries by Kerry at Julian Jams in Julian, California) and Sweet, Juicy Fuji Apples***.
Large box might additionally have: Napa Chinese Cabbage, Red Beets or Roma Tomatoes or Green Zucchini and Valencia Oranges*.
This is what my family received in our large box last week:
  • jar of strawberry jam
  • Fuji apples
  • Valencia oranges
  • corn on the cob
  • 4 beets with beet tops
  • bok choy
  • quart of green beans
  • bunch of medium carrots with tops
  • bunch of spinach
  • head of Romaine lettuce
  • head of Napa cabbage
You've got your veggies. Now what do you do?

Read my prior post, The locavore's dilemma. Don't let From Farm to Fridge to Garbage Can describe your kitchen. is another great resource. Just type your ingredient into the green search box and the search engine will reply with recipes that use it.

That sounds very good in theory. After all, who wants to waste food? But how did our family do in the 6 days since we got our large box?
  • The jam went into the pantry (we have 2 open jars in the fridge that need to be used first).
  • We ate the corn, apples, and half the oranges.
  • BTW, you can juice the oranges and freeze them for later use. I have a stack of ziploc pint containers of orange juice, squeezed from a gift of backyard fruit from my father in law.
  • The beets were scrubbed and put in a pan with water to boil. I burned them and had to throw the out. If I had paid more attention, we would have eaten them in salads all week.
  • The beet tops, the outer leaves of the Napa cabbage and 3 carrots went into a vat of kale(less) and white bean soup. We ladled the soup into pint and quart size containers, and put some in the freezer and some in the fridge. They make great lunches at work with a small sandwich.
  • BTW, we use kale, mustard greens, beet and turnip tops and Swiss chard interchangeably in our house. They are all from the brassica family. If a recipe calls for one thing, and we have another member of the brassica family in the box, we use that instead.
  • The inner Napa cabbage leaves will be cooked this upcoming weekend into wontons and potstickers (some eaten fresh, some put up in the freezer for quick weekday dinners).
  • BTW, as you wrap the wontons or potstickers, put them on a metal backing sheet. Put them in the freezer when you fill up a sheet. By the time you have the next batch on a full sheet, the first batch will be firm enough to store in a ziploc bag without turning into a single block of ice.
  • We haven't cooked the bok choy yet, but I will be making a stir-fry of bok choy and oyster mushrooms with them.
  • My husband will stir-fry the green beans with almond slivers. He might reserve some beans to blanche and use for salad Nicoise.
  • My husband will stir-fry the spinach with garlic.
  • We've used about half the Romaine for salads and sandwiches so far.
It looks like we have 3 more stir-fry suppers in the next week and we will easily have used our veggies all up before our next biweekly big box.

BTW, we use our rice cooker with a timer a lot. If you set the rice cooker so that the rice finishes when you get home, and you pre-wash and chop your veggies on the weekend, dinner will be ready 10-15 minutes after you walk in the door.

When I drop my daughter off for choir practice on Saturday morning, I need to swing by 99 Ranch (the mother of all Asian supermarkets) to buy wonton and potsticker skins; pork shoulder and/or shrimp, ginger, and green onions for the filling; fried tofu cubes to throw into the stir-fry and baked tofu for snacking. We stock dried Shitake mushrooms and canned Oyster mushrooms as pantry staples.

Anyone want a recipe for a salad based on the tofu strips that look like noodles?

Click on the links for recipes. If I mentioned a recipe w/o a link, and you want me to post the recipe, leave a comment.

Also leave a comment if you are interested in a CSA field trip to local ethnic markets. 99 Ranch, Marukai and Market World (Taiwanese, Japanese and Korean) supermarkets, can be bewildering to the uninitiated. But they are great local food stores for vegetarians and flexatarians. Marukai promises that all of their meat is antibiotic-free, and their prices are much lower than Whole Foods.

Lastly, if you would like to learn how to wrap wontons and potstickers this weekend, leave a comment.