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.