By Laura Virginia Anderson
It’s gotten to the point of the summer where I’m getting a little tired of my go-to recipes for the vegetables from my CSA share. Don’t get me wrong; I still love slow-cooked Greek-style green beans (one of my friends describes them as “everything a green bean was meant to be,” and I’m inclined to agree), beets baked in foil and then sautéed in garlicky olive oil with their greens, and ripe tomatoes and peaches sliced and eaten raw with a splash of sherry vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. It’s just that these dishes no longer thrill—they’ve become almost banal, a weekly occurrence.
So I’m trying to inject a little creativity into the process of cooking and eating my vegetables and fruit. This week, I received a pint of lovely little cherry tomatoes in addition to four soft, heavy slicers. The thought of eating them all in salads didn’t appeal, nor did that of broiling them with herbs or making tomato sauce. But then I noticed the bag of whole wheat flour sitting in my pantry, and one of those thoughts arose, one of those ideas that is either brilliant or idiotic, one of those recipe-notions that takes on a life of its own and demands to be made: tomato muffins.
There’s a lot more to say about this, and I’ll be saying as much of it as I can in the next few months (and years, I suppose), but my review of Julian Cribb’s The Coming Famine is an opening salvo. The book is convincing, scary, and filled with details about things that most readers of this blog – and most people who consider themselves “substainabilists,” to use an impossible word – already know, at least in broad strokes.
I’m not saying “buy this book,” though it reads pretty well, especially for something so dense. I’m saying it addresses issues to which attention must be paid. The sad thing is that if you’re reading this you probably are already paying attention.
A food processor makes this poundcake incredibly fast and easy; a citrus soak makes it unbeliebably moist and delicious.
By Clotilde Hryshko
Thanks and recognition goes to some of the friends of my daughter Marya – Ellie, Gabe, Kim, Marya and Nick – for their efforts on the wood stacking and garlic harvest. These jobs are perfect for the young teens – a chance for some money, camaraderie, and that critical opportunity to do a job and see its completion. I’m sure they won’t remember them as the best days of their vacation but the other parents and I will continue to be smug about its importance.
My summer vacation is really more of a flip-flop. Jim took the girls away for 10 days. They traveled to Alaska where he has a brother and a sister. They camped and went salmon fishing, meeting up with more family. Marya caught 2 fish this year and the youngest, Yelena, caught one (fly-fishing).
By Cathy Erway
It was so silly I had to do it. When I read that I would be getting a pint of donut peaches in the newsletter of my fruit CSA this week, the idea took hold of me: must make “donut peach donuts.” I just saw Inception like the rest of our society has, it seems, so I know more than ever now that when an idea is planted, it can grow and grow to take over your rational thought.
I dreamed and deliberated about how to make donut peach donuts. My first idea had been simple: make a peach jelly with the fresh fruit, and squeeze it in the middle of some sort of homemade donutty thing. Yeast-risen dough or cake-like dough? Both involved tons of steps, especially the yeast, which is actually my preferred donut type. Do I coat it with powdered sugar after it’s been deep-fried and done? Yuck… I know it’s classic, but I could never stand that fine dust of super-sweet. Maybe I don’t really want to make donuts after all? I hesitated.
A great pasta dish to make during tomato season (now). Adapted from How to Cook Everything.
Pasta with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Bread Crumbs
Makes: About 4 servings
Time: 40 minutes
The trick here is incorporating crisp-cooked bread crumbs at the last minute. You must use fresh bread crumbs, most pieces about the size of a pea.
1 /4cup extra virgin olive oil (1/2cup if you’re omitting the pancetta)
1 /4cup chopped pancetta or bacon (optional)
1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
Freshly ground black pepper
2 small to medium eggplant (about 12 ounces), cut into 1/2- to 1-inch chunks
6 small or 3 medium tomatoes (about 12 ounces), cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch chunks
1 to 2 teaspoons thinly sliced garlic, to taste
1 pound spaghetti, linguine, or other long pasta
Chopped fresh basil or parsley leaves for garnish
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put half the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the meat if you’re using it, stirring occasionally, until just about crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring almost constantly, until nicely browned, 3 to 5 minutes; sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper as they cook. Remove with a slotted spoon and add the remaining oil.
2. Add the eggplant, stirring occasionally and sprinkling with salt and pepper, until browned and tender, about 15 minutes. When it’s done, begin cooking the pasta in the boiling water until tender but not mushy. Add the tomatoes and garlic to the eggplant; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
3. When the pasta is done, drain it and toss with the eggplant mixture, the bread crumbs, and the meat if you used it. Taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish with basil, and serve.
By Kerri Conan
Not to be confused with my shortcut brined-in-the-skillet version that ran on this page a couple weeks back. These are two quick refrigerated pickles backed by bona fides. The first comes from the book mentioned in that piece, my precious Quick Pickles. And then after the jump are Mark’s favorite kosher pickles, lifted verbatim from both the old and the new editions of How to Cook Everything. Another—totally different—winner.
As long as you don’t mess with the proportions in the brine, the flavors and ingredients are totally customizable.
Another thing I seem to have forgotten: how to make bread. Specifically, how to make Jim Lahey’s bread, about which I somewhat famously wrote four years ago.
Then, at a benefit for the Truro Center for the Arts a few weeks ago, I met a woman named Judith Motzkin, who makes (among other things) ceramic pots specifically designed for baking Lahey-style bread. This roughly coincided with the arrival of an actual oven at the place I stay in on the Cape (until recently we had a weird kind of oven/microwave hybrid, which was inadequate to every task, from heating coffee to baking bread), and a pledge on my part to resume breadmaking. (The Outer Cape, notorious for bad bread, now boasts a “boulangerie” in Wellfleet which, from my pre-summer experience, seems pretty good, but right now it’s more than your life is worth to try to get anywhere near it. You might as well try to get into Mac’s Shack at 7pm on a Saturday.)
By Laura Virginia Anderson
[In which Ms. Anderson attempts to down the full allotment of her CSA share and then some. – mb]
Let’s say you’re a single person living in Brooklyn, and let’s say that a few months ago, you signed up for a full weekly CSA share containing vegetables, fruit, and eggs. Let’s also say—just for the hell of it—that you sometimes work as an assistant stylist on the set of your boss’s cooking videos, and that you often take home leftover vegetables from the set so that they don’t get thrown away.
My hypothetical question is this: Is it possible for you, single Brooklynite, to consume your CSA share, plus vegetables rescued from the set, over the course of the week without either throwing anything away or having a nervous breakdown?