Saturday, September 22, 2012

Panko Wax Beans

I don't like wax beans.  I don't like their color, and they don't have much flavor--they seem like a wasted opportunity.  But we got a box of wax beans in our last CSA box, and I can't see letting them rot away without at least trying to eat them.  So I coated them with cornstarch, egg, and panko flakes, and fried them up, like I sometimes do with cauliflower or green beans.  Not bad; I definitely ate them all without complaint. 

PS--I believe this is the 100th post at the Adams Middle School CSA blog.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Radishes on the Grill

 We got some big, beautiful radishes in the CSA box this week.  Big, like they almost looked like red potatoes.  But they were definitely radishes.  I don't love the taste of a raw radish, except in small amounts, shredded into a sandwich maybe.  So, I tried an online recipe for cooking my radishes on the grill (we were grilling other vegetables anyway).

It was certainly easy to prepare.  This is the packet before grilling:
raw sliced radishes, bits of butter, snipped dill, salt, and pepper, in foil

And this is the packet after grilling:

cooked sliced radishes, right off the grill

 Cooked radishes are very mild in flavor, and benefit from extra spices and herbs; and next time, I'll probably add some garlic.  But it's a nice side dish, and a colorful change of pace.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

World Water Day 2012

By coincidence, our CSA delivery day this week falls on the UN's World Water Day 2012,
As citizens of an arid basin surrounded by mountains on one side and the Pacific ocean on another, most of our region's food and fresh water is imported over high mountain passes.  Ironically, less energy may be required to truck vegetables from the Central Valley over the El Tejon pass aka "The Grapevine" (4160') than to grow vegetables locally inside our basin with water imported via aquaducts reaching ~750'?

Why?  Because water is heavy and crops need water nearly continuously throughout their growing cycle.

Worry not about what your CSA box does to your annual carbon budget.  Farmer Tanaka employs ultra-efficient drip irrigation, often in conjunction with plastic row covers that minimize evaporative losses from the soil, AND he uses reclaimed water from the Irvine Ranch Water District.
On my farm here in Irvine we use a drip irrigation system on our crops that puts the water right in the root zone  so as to use our precious water as efficiently as possible with no runoff. We also use reclaimed water supplied by the IRWD (Irvine Ranch Water District) who produces the cleanest and safest reclaimed water in the country.
Using reclaimed water gives the added benefit of not adding salts to his soil. Gardeners in this region may be familiar with the heavy load of salts in our "hard" water. If we irrigate regularly with hard water and the water evaporates or is taken up by the plants, you may notice a white powdery substance left behind. That's the salt building up in the soil.  (Even if you are not a gardener, you can see the white calcium salt deposits in your kitchen and bathroom.)

If the winter rains do not come to flush the salts away, gardeners and farmers need to deep water (often repeatedly) the land to flush the salts away artificially.  This is very water intensive.

The reclaimed water is so pure, it doesn't have the salts found in freshly-imported river water.  Thus, Farmer Tanaka can drip irrigate just the amount needed by his plants, without worrying about poisoning his fields with salt.

What does that mean for your CSA food?  It may have a lower carbon and water footprint than even food you grow in your own backyard*.

* Residents of north Redondo Beach get about half our water supply from local aquifers, which are replenished with reclaimed water from West Basin Water District's Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility in El Segundo, California.  Read a report about a visit to the facility.  You can also learn more in walking my watershed.

Unfortunately, pumping the water into the ground and then pumping it back up uses energy and loads the water up with salts.  I'd much rather use the cleaner reclaimed water directly from the plant, but the general public is still resistant due to the "eww" factor. I hope you will be a vector for getting the truth out.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Winter CSA soup

Farmer Tanaka sounds almost apologetic in his weekly newsletter/blog.
I know some of you may be getting a little tired of the cool season crops, but soon the season will be changing. The weather has cooled off to enjoy those soups and casseroles that you can make with the great winter veggies!
Actually, I never tire of a bowl of soup and some crusty bread.  I found this boule at Trader Joe's.  After crisping it in the oven at 350F, I cut a circle at the top, hollowed out the inside and ladled in the soup.
This was a real "clean out the fridge" type of soup. I made chicken stock with the carcass of last week's roast chicken. Then I added two sausages, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, radishes, broccoli stems (with the tough outer skin removed), potatoes, a can of diced tomatoes and herbs from the garden.  I also threw in some precooked, frozen and then thawed kidney beans. 

My energy analysis differs from the green lantern's analysis.  I buy beans dry from the bulk bins at Whole Foods or Sprouts and then cook them in a Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker* on the "brown rice" setting.  Rice cookers use less energy than stove-top cooking--and this one is especially frugal with energy.  Moreover, the timer setting let's me presoak the beans overnight and cook them late in the afternoon the next day so they are ready for me when I get home from work.  I always cook more than I need and store the leftovers in one-pint portions. 

Take advantage of kitchen thermodynamics; cool the beans on the counter (to warm the kitchen in the winter, or cool them outside during the summer), then move them into the freezer.  Thaw them ahead of time in the refrigerator.  Your fridge is the ice box and the beans are like any other block of ice.  In effect, you are recapturing the energy that went into freezing the beans.  Cooking dry beans in bulk and freezing for later can be much more energy (and cost) efficient than using canned, pre-cooked beans.

* You can buy the Fuzzy Logic Rice Cooker at an excellent price at the Marukai cooperative store in Gardena.  You need not be a member to shop there and the sales tax supports our local community.  If you must buy it online (at a higher price), may I suggest that you first go through the Redondo Beach Library site before clicking on the amazon link?  This way, our community may not get the sales tax, but at least the library will get a share.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Use what you have compostables bin

Redondo Beach residents received new green (compostables) bins last week!

Note that we are allowed, for the first time, to put kitchen waste in with the yard waste.

It means another bin in the kitchen, but we are able to divert half our kitchen garbage to the green bin now.  The city does not allow plastic bags in the green bin. So I lined it with a brown paper bag.

The city passes out free bins, but only during my work hours.

Free Residential Food Scrap ContainerTo help you set-up a collection system for the new Curbside Compost Collection Program, the City of Redondo Beach Public Works Department is distributing kitchen counter-top collection containers at no charge. Simply come by the Corporate Yard at 531 N. Gertruda Ave., Redondo Beach between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday - Friday to pick up your container.
Should those hours be inconvenient for you, too, try a local restaurant. My kitchen compostables bin came from Rice Things, a favorite neighborhood restaurant for Japanese comfort food. They buy soy sauce in these containers. If you are a regular there, ask them to save you a bin.

(A neighbor says she buys cat litter from Costco in similar lidded bins.)

When our old trash can broke, I bought a new one and repurposed the cracked shell of the old one to collect our commingled recyclables. I downloaded a recycling symbol graphic from wikipedia, printed it out and taped it to the old bin.

The greenest thing is to use what you have.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Asian Guavas

What is this week's mystery item? The Asian guava--from an organic grower in Fallbrook. Here are Farmer Tanaka's comments from the Tanaka Farms CSA blog:
You will probably have some little green things in your boxes this week. They are Asian guavas. They can be eaten when they are hard or soft. The seeds, try not to bite down on them, just swallow them whole. A little salt and or lime and they are good to go. We got them from an organic grower from the Fallbrook area. I will post a bio about him when I get a little more time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sea creature?

Is this a cuttlefish?

No, it's a citrus fruit called Buddha's hand!

Just one finger makes a lovely vinaigrette as shown here.

It was not in your CSA box.  But, I share my hyperlocal garden bounty with other area gardeners.  Right now, my Meyer lemon tree is groaning under the weight of many lemons.  I traded a few for this Buddha's hand.

I can't use the entire thing, so I am offering up chunks of this to other CSA participants.  Email me if you would like some.  I also have Meyer lemons, rosemary, oregano and bay leaves to share.

Better yet, drop by the Adams Middle School Wellness Fair this Saturday, January 21, 2012 from 10:00AM to 1:00PM  at (where else?) Adams Middle School.

I will be there.  Stop by to say hello and pick up some hyperlocal Buddha's hand, Meyer lemons, rosemary, oregano and bay leaves!

Thursday, January 12, 2012