Saturday, January 30, 2010

Box Six: The Imposters

Reflecting back on the Winter CSA update post, I cannot say it was a surprise to learn this week that Box 6 will not be happening, despite the farmer's wish to make it so.

Only temporarily daunted, I decided to purchase at my local Yoke's store (which, of all our grocery stores, makes the most effort to offer local produce) a selection of winter produce and make my own imposter "box." This will supply the next two weeks with cooking challenges and nutritious, seasonal and, if not entirely local, at least delicious, dishes.

Have to say, grocery store veggies seem a little "plastic" after the fresh, local stuff, but we forge on, grateful for what we have.

A visit to Yokes yielded organic carrots, beets, organic arugula and spinach, rutabagas, organic chard and broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and organic yams. My usual mode in the produce department (or farmer's market!) is to buy what looks the freshest, then figure out what to do with it. Much like the challenge provided by a CSA box!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Barley Soup with Carmelized Onions

I don't think I've ever truly carmelized onions before, but today I was determined to actually do it. After the initial 40-minute cooking period, it took another 45 minutes for the onions to truly become golden brown. Which isn't a big deal, because you can chop up your other vegetables and then write a novella while the slow carmelization takes place. I have to say, though, it really is worth it.

Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is a cookbook that I significantly underuse. Every time I look through it I realize what a vast resource of very creative and finely-tuned dishes it is.

This recipe called for two quarts of homemade stock, for which she also gives the recipe. But, as always, I wanted to see if I could cut a corner or two ... so I added garlic, bay leaf, and thyme to the soup, and used a combination of water and chicken stock. Pouf! Great soup. It is very reminiscent of French onion soup, probably because of the slow-cooked onions.

I do try to keep some dried mushrooms on hand just for instances like this.
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

1/4 cup olive oil
3 CSA yellow onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice

A splash of white wine

One 1/2-ounce package dried porcini mushrooms

2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons minced dried rosemary

1 quart chicken broth
3 cups water
1 cup CSA pearl barley, rinsed
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
1 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon salt

Salt and pepper
Grated pecorino or other cheese

Heat oil in heavy soup pot over low heat. Add onions, cover and cook for 40 minutes. Remove cover, raise heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, 'til onions are golden brown and carmel-y. This may take another 40 to 45 minutes, so be patient.

Put the porcinis in a small bowl and pour one cup boiling water over. After about 20 minutes, remove the porcini, strain the broth into a one-cup measure, and add water so the broth equals one cup again. Chop the porcini. Set aside.

When the onions are carmelized, deglaze the pot by stirring in a splash of white wine, scraping up the brown bits.

Stir in the tomato paste and rosemary, and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the barley, vegetables, porcini, thyme, garlic, bay leaves, salt, chicken broth, 3 cups water, and porcini broth. Simmer, partially covered, for about 25 minutes or until the barley and vegetables are done.

Remove bay leaves. Serve soup with pecorino, parmesan, or cheese of your choice on top.

4 to 6 servings

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bean, Barley and Salmon Bake

Once I blurted out about a dish, "And it's vegetarian except for the meat!" Of course I have never been allowed to forget that.

This casserole turns out to be quite satisfying and tasty. Remember when cooking your beans and barley, that they won't cook much further in this casserole, so make sure they're done to a texture you like.

When sorting beans, I've found that a white plate works really well. Tip a single layer of beans onto the plate and pick out any rocks or broken beans, then tip into a rice washer. I use my rice washer all the time; it rarely makes it into a cupboard. It's great for rinsing lentils, berries, beans, cherries, cherry tomatoes ... and generally for holding chopped vegetables waiting to go into soups or stews.

Soaking beans overnight in cold water, then rinsing and draining, and cooking them in fresh water, will preserve the skins and the beans' shapes the best, and renders them maximally digestible. Fast heating will split the skins and they'll separate from the bean, unless you've presoaked.
Adapted from this recipe

2 cups cooked CSA beans (7-bean mix)
2 cups cooked CSA pearl barley
2 6-ounce cans wild salmon, drained
1-1/2 cups shredded goat cheddar (smoked goat gouda adds a nice flavor, too) or cheddar cheese
1 cup diced CSA red onion

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried dill
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt

Chopped parsley, green onions, or other greenery

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, combine beans, barley, salmon, onion, and 1 cup of the cheese.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk thoroughly the egg, milk, lemon juice, dill, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and salt.

Stir egg mixture into the bean mixture, and pour into an oiled or buttered 3-quart casserole. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top and bake 40 to 50 minutes or until cooked through. Scatter some parsley across the top before serving.

Serve with fresh CSA Cameo apples and yesterday's muffins!

To cook presoaked beans: I cooked 4 cups of the CSA beans, used 2 cups in this recipe and froze the rest for soups. Place presoaked, rinsed and drained beans in a pot and fill with water to 2 inches above the beans. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer about 45 minutes to an hour, or until beans are soft. The texture of the beans when you stop cooking will be the texture of the beans in the finished casserole.

To cook pearl barley: For this casserole, place 2/3 cup rinsed and drained barley in a pot with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook about 30 minutes or until barley is tender. Texture of the barley when you stop cooking will be the texture of the barley in the finished casserole. You should end up with about 2 cups of cooked barley.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Smoky Barley-Corn Thyme Muffins

I've been looking at the seven-bean mix and the pearl barley for some days now. What should it be? Bean and Barley Soup? Barley and Bean Salad with Red Onion? Barley Risotto with Indian spices and dried fruit? Should I grind the barley into flour and make bread or muffins? I chewed a few grains of the barley, and they were nutty and mellow.

Today I needed to bake. You know? Sometimes all the modern-day angst about carbs just needs to take a back seat. So, instead of making a vegetable-laden, light and modified recipe designed for health, I made these smoky, savory, satisfying muffins.

You could go in a lot of different directions with these: different flours, herbs, nuts, seeds, cheeses ... in fact, I modified the original recipe pretty heavily to do just that.

The original recipe called for 1-1/2 cups buttermilk; I never have that around, so used a combination of yogurt and milk instead.
Adapted from Whole Grains Every Day by Lorna Sass

2/3 cup barley flour (grind 1/2 cup CSA barley in a blade coffee grinder for a couple of minutes)
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 cup regular flour
2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon sucanat or brown sugar (or use honey in the wet ingredients)
1/2 cup grated smoked goat gouda cheese

2 large, local eggs
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup olive oil

Butter a 12-muffin tin. You can use paper cups, but I have found that taking the time to butter the tin gives you nice, crusty muffin sides, and they come out easier.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In large bowl, combine dry ingredients, then stir in cheese. In a smaller bowl, beat together wet ingredients well. Quickly stir the wet ingredients into the dry, just until mixed, then spoon into muffin tin.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and let set for a couple of minutes, then twirl the muffins up and lay them sideways in the tin to cool.

Apple Love

It started years ago, when I would come home from school and settle down in the Big Brown Chair with my new library book and a fresh, sliced Red Delicious apple. In later years I realized that Red Delicious was no longer cutting it ... I grew to prefer Braeburns, and then Fujis ... and now, thanks to the CSA Cameo apples, I have a new favorite. The Cameos are excellent for eating fresh and they are supposed to be good for cooking, too ... but I won't have any left for that. They have a sweet, fresh tang and are wonderfully juicy.

My husband grew up in an apple-orcharding family in the Okanogan Valley, and it's been interesting to learn more about how apple varieties are developed, and how apples are grown.

Only this year did I notice in some orchards the scattered trees loaded with tiny apples left unpicked, and only visible when the leaves had all fallen from the trees. Turns out they are crabapple trees, planted here and there throughout the orchard, for pollination for some apple varieties. How did I miss seeing those crabapple trees, all these years!

The CSA is forcing me to try foods that I might have overlooked or never bothered to try, otherwise. Perhaps these new awarenesses are opening my eyes in other ways.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Salad of Fresh Greens with Gorgonzola-Goat Cheese Dressing

Washing and sorting the CSA salad mixes is always a pleasure. You can actually smell the tang of freshness, and there are many tiny leaves, barely unfurled, that add texture, flavor and fun.

This is it, folks. This is why we sign up for CSAs and the local food they bring us. Bottom line, this salad mix bears no resemblance whatsoever to the funny-tasting, limp stuff from the supermarket.

Now, the dressing. In summer I would be inclined to use a vinaigrette, but this is a more robust winter mix, and includes vigorous spinach and tatsoi, so a heartier dressing seemed more apt. Or maybe I was just craving something creamy.

I had a quarter cup of Oregonzola cheese, so crumbled it and put it in a bowl with about a quarter cup of milk, thinking I would just add a quarter cup of mayonnaise with suitable apologies here (I do look upon boughten mayonnaise as a health and culinary compromise although I do sometimes use it grudgingly), when I discovered that I had no mayonnaise. The dressing was too thin without it, so ... rummaging, I found some soft goat cheese and stirred it in.

People, this is why we can't be afraid to experiment ... it was like these two cheeses had been waiting all their lives for each other. I ground a little black pepper in just to complete the fusion.

Voila. The perfect, creamy complement to my crisp, wondrous greens.


Combine in small bowl:

1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or other blue-type cheese
1/4 cup soft goat cheese
1/4 cup organic milk
A grind or two of black pepper

Stir and mash with a fork to blend, leaving some bits so it has a chunky texture that pleases you. Add a little more milk if needed to thin. Pour generously over two salad plates of fresh CSA greens.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Winter Vegetable Pie

We could not believe how delicious this dish is. It is soul-warming and deeply satisfying. The combination of vegetables and flavors, with the flaky, slightly sweet crust, is ethereal. Once you get the vegetables all ready, it goes together pretty quickly.

The British are famous for their drab cuisine, but I always find intriguing and delicious recipes in the British magazines I pick up now and then at Barnes & Noble. The recipes are always straightforward and robust, often showcase seasonal produce, sometimes carry a hint of ancient ancestry (Norse?), an aura of mystery (Celtic?), and a dash of the Eastern exotic, like this recipe's cilantro and saffron.

The one annoyance of these British recipes is their use of milliliters, grams and such. I have gone to great lengths to translate these awkward measurements so that you can produce a tasty result with no hair-pulling!
Adapted from British Country Homes

1 small cauliflower, separated into florets
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into half-inch dice (original called for parsnips)
1 medium sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into half-inch dice (or butternut squash)
3 cups vegetable broth (I used Pacific organic)
1 teaspoon saffron strands

4 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces brown mushrooms, sliced

3 (yes, three!) red CSA onions, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly toasted in a dry skillet and crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons flour
5 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Salt and freshly-ground pepper

Pastry crust (recipe below)

In large frying pan or pot, place cauliflower, rutabaga and sweet potato, and add stock. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft to pierce but not mushy. Remove to a 4-quart casserole dish, reserving stock. Pour stock into a small bowl and stir the saffron into it. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pot and saute the mushrooms 'til lightly browned, sprinkling with salt and freshly-ground pepper. Remove to casserole dish with vegetables.

Heat 2 more tablespoons olive oil in pot and saute the red onions with the cumin and crushed red pepper until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Shake a little salt over the onions, and grind some pepper over them. Sprinkle the flour onto the onions and stir, then pour in the saffron liquid, stirring and cooking for a minute or two until thickened. Stir in the cilantro.

Add to vegetables in casserole and mix gently. Carefully place the rolled-out crust over the vegetables, either tucking edges under, or crimping them along the edge of the dish. Cut some vent slashes in the crust, and if you wish, brush with beaten egg for a golden, shiny effect. If you have leftover dough, you can cut some shapes to decorate the top of the pie.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until crust is golden and baked through.

Adapted from several I found online. The pie's original crust recipe used standard butter pastry.

3/4 cup regular flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sucanat or sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt, heaping a bit
6 tablespoons cold butter OR coconut oil (if using coconut oil, measured it out at room temperature)
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
3-5 tablespoons ice water

In small bowl, mix all dry ingredients well. Cut in the butter or coconut oil with a pastry blender 'til shortening is in pieces no larger than peas, then add the water a tablespoon at a time, with the vinegar, mixing with a fork until dough holds together like traditional pastry dough. Gather into a ball, smooth, and roll out on floured board to the shape of your casserole.

Fifth Box!

Having found a recipe that calls for THREE red onions, I was getting a little eager for this box!

Lots of red onions, Cameo apples, some rosemary, and a bag each of barley and multi-bean mix. Plus a bag of the most gorgeous local salad greens imaginable, considering that it's January.

And a rutabaga update: The CSA rutabagas in Box 2 looked so dang firm and sturdy that I shoved 'em to the back of the fridge while I used up some of the tenderer box items, but when I finally got the rutabagas out, all but two had gone soft. As this is a totally unfamiliar veggie to me, I Googled to discover that no, rutabagas should not be soft.

The holidays came and went, and, of course, my inattention resulted in the remaining two rutabagas going soft, too. Unwilling not to experience rutabagas as part of my Winter CSA adventure, I purchased two imposter rutabagas at Yokes. My mom made a rutabaga/potato casserole along these lines with the two CSA rutabagas I gave her way back when they were fresh, but she was unimpressed. So I put one of my imposter rutabagas into the first recipe for Box 5, instead of parsnips.

Winter CSA Experiment Update

As experiments go, the Winter CSA has thus far been a delicious one for us, but the farmer has evaluated the experiment from his perspective, and decided not to charge the CSA customers for the second half, although box delivery will continue to completion.

The farmer planned to offered a greater quantity of produce for this program, but unexpected setbacks with weather and growing facilities have curtailed a number of the crops. Events have, however, been educational with regard to future Winter CSA's, which we dearly hope will be forthcoming!

We feel quite fortunate to be receiving local produce in the bleak days of winter, and look forward to receiving our upcoming boxes. We also appreciate the farmer's attention to the quality of the CSA offering.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Yellow Split Pea Soup

More paradigm smashing! Split pea soup (green) has been a staple of my life since childhood. So for years I've been using a yellow split pea recipe and substituting green split peas. This time, because of the CSA yellow split peas, I used them instead, and honestly, if you close your eyes you can't tell the difference from green.

The original recipe called for a smattering of green peas (frozen ones, thawed and cooked! Bleah!) to be strewn across the top of the soup. Completely superfluous! This soup is complete and wonderful with no garnish whatsoever.

I believe I have perfected this soup, but of course you will probably want to play around with it. Use caution. It is really, really good.
Adapted from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow CSA onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used chicken)
2 cups water (wait to see if you really need this)
1-3/4 cups dried yellow CSA split peas, picked over and rinsed
1 teaspoon minced fresh summer savory, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt (wait to see if you need this; your broth might be salty enough)
A pinch or two of crushed red pepper

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot, and saute about 10 minutes. Stir in all the remaining ingredients except the water and salt.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring now and then, until the peas are soft and are thickening the soup. Add some water if the peas absorb all the stock before softening. Taste, and add salt if necessary. Remove bay leaf and serve the soup with something grainy, like corn tortillas, cornbread, or whole wheat flatbread, and put some raw veggies on the side, or a green salad.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Extra hints:
I always triple this recipe, using my 9-quart Dutch oven. This soup freezes wonderfully, and what a treat to pull it out of the freezer after a busy day and heat it up for dinner.

Sometimes I hang a Lapsang Souchong teabag over the side of the pot for about 10 minutes during the simmering phase. This gives the soup a mysterious, smoky flavor that will have people searching around in their soup for the ham that isn't there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fresh, Local POPCORN!

I'll admit that when I saw the cobs of popcorn in the last box, I thought, "Uh, oh, I won't know what to do with that." But at the Slow Food potluck, a fellow CSA-er had actually brought some of it, popped in coconut oil and with a little sugar ... it made a great dessert!

Honestly, thanks to Landon, I had the initiative to try popping some of the corn in my air popper. I absolutely could not believe how fluffy, flavorful and fresh it was.

A strange metamorphosis is taking place ... as enthused about fresh local produce as I am, I tend to retain a bit of skepticism that local produce I'm not familiar with using (like popcorn) can hold its own and even surpass "store bought." I'm becoming thoroughly convinced that it can!

It helps to take some non-sharp thing like the handles of a can opener to grasp, twist and loosen the kernels off the cob. They tend to fly around a little, so put the bowl down into the sink or go outside! I always warm up my air popper for a couple of minutes (run it with nothing in it) so that it's hot when I put the kernels in.

One cob of corn yielded almost exactly 1/2 cup popcorn, the amount my popper uses.

I like to use ghee or olive oil on popcorn, and season it with curry powder and/or nutritional yeast from the health food store for interesting flavors. But you really can't beat butter and salt. However, this popcorn has flavor enough to hold its own even with no toppings.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Roasted Garlic Hummus

It's tempting to think that something this simple and ordinary (hummus, for heaven's sake!) would taste simple and ordinary, too. But it does not. I'd been making hummus for years with raw garlic, but it wasn't until tasting my friend Stephanie's hummus made with roasted garlic that I realized the profound difference in flavor roasting the garlic makes.

Our local Slow Food convivium held a potluck here last night with the theme "Comfort Food," and I was assigned an appetizer. So, roasted garlic hummus, made with my CSA chickpeas, it was.

Pita chips are the expected accompaniment to hummus, but all manner of crackers and vegetables alongside are equally wonderful.

You may want to double or even triple this recipe. Hummus tends to evaporate quickly!
Adapted from Eating Well magazine

1 head garlic
2 cups cooked CSA chickpeas
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini (sesame paste)
2 tablespoons water
Salt to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
Chopped parsley for garnish

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Slice the top 1/4-inch or so off the top of the garlic head; don't separate the cloves. Wrap in a small square of foil and roast about 30 minutes or until the garlic is very soft. This process makes your kitchen smell wonderful.

Let the garlic cool enough to handle, then turn the head on its side and place a spatula vertically on the head, just above the roots. Hold the garlic in place and press the spatula down firmly, drawing it toward the top of the garlic as you press out the roasted garlic from inside the cloves.

In food processor, combine roasted garlic, chickpeas, lemon juice, soy sauce, olive oil, tahini, water and salt. Puree until the hummus reaches the texture you like. It's good smooth, but is also interesting and tasty if it's a little grainy. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and drizzled with a little olive oil.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Onion, Apple and Goat Cheese Tart

Absolutely stupendous. Really re-worked the topping and filling recipes to incorporate the thyme flavor, which I thought was needed, and to take out butter, parmesan cheese, and cream.

It was almost too much to hope for that, taking out all those goodies, this dish would satisfy. But it was excellent in every way. Crispy, whole-grain crusty topping, lush and savory filling, and a creamy touch from the goat cheese, which is supposed to be better for us than cow's milk cheeses.

I'm glad to have so many CSA onions in the last two boxes. Heretofore, onions had been to me a kind of filler ingredient, and I'm enjoying trying to bring them more to center stage. I've discovered that if you want the onion flavor to be pronounced, it helps to use no garlic with them.

The crust was supposed be pre-baked as a rolled-out pie shell in the pie dish, but I have never been able to get oil crusts to hold together, so I flipped the crust into a topping! I added the little bit of sucanat so the crust would echo the sweetness of the apples in the filling.

This recipe would easily adapt with pears and leeks, I think.

Update:  Yep, the pear and leek combo was amazing indeed.  Consider trying it first!

Adapted from The Secret of Everything by Barbara O'Neal
and from Uprisings by the Cooperative Whole Grain Education Association


2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup spelt, barley, rice or regular flour (or just use all whole wheat)
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sucanat or brown sugar
2 tablespoons ice water

In small bowl, mix all ingredients except the water until blended. Add water and mix in well. Gather dough into a ball, flatten slightly, wrap and refrigerate to firm it up.


3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 big 'ol local CSA onion, sliced thinly
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
6 to 8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
6 local, free-range eggs, very well beaten

Oil a 10-inch glass pie dish with about 1 teaspoon olive oil. Keep in mind that your dish should be no more than 2/3 full to allow for expansion of the eggs. I used a 10-inch Pyrex pie dish.

Put the remaining olive oil into a large skillet over low heat. Add the onion and apple, and saute slowly until tender and softened, stirring every now and then.

In the pan, push around the onion mixture to divide it roughly into thirds. Place 1/3 of onion mixture in bottom of pie dish, sprinkle with half the goat cheese, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon thyme. Add another 1/3 of onion mixture, remaining goat cheese, remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and top with remaining onion mixture. Pour eggs over.

Break up topping into crumbles, and spread evenly over top of tart. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until top is nicely browned and a knife inserted into middle of tart comes out clean, signaling that the eggs are done. But also keep an eye on the bottom of the tart ... if it is getting brown, the tart is probably done and might be fooling you with the knife test. This is why a glass dish is nice.

Remove from oven and let set 10 minutes. Loosen all around the circumference and serve in wedges.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Brussels Sprout Slaw with Peppery Maple Pecans

I set out to make a chiffonade saute of the CSA Brussels sprouts, but once I saw them all feathery and fluffed from slicing in the food processor, a slaw came to mind. This recipe is from

The tougher outer leaves you may want to discard, but don't toss away the leaves that fall off when you trim the sprout ends. Just put the leaves in the food processor along with the whole sprouts. Use the 2-mm slicing disk.

In future, I would try making this slaw with raw sprouts; I had already sliced mine raw, so boiled them VERY briefly, then drained them. You don't want them to be soggy.

I really think that if this salad were made ahead, the dressing would temper the raw sprouts when they're sliced this thinly.

Recipe here

My only adjustment: Substitute 1 tablespoon maple syrup for sugar in the dressing recipe. The dressing makes a lot ... if you have fewer sprouts, definitely cut the dressing recipe in half.

If you're going to serve the slaw much later, put in the pecans just before serving so they stay crunchy.

In a hurry? Use purchased pecans or walnuts that are already candied. I used Sahale brand, which I had on hand.

Potato Yam Leek Soup

Years ago I learned that no, I cannot substitute onions for leeks. They're completely different. Leeks have a deep, primal kind of fragrance, a "leek reek," if you will. One whiff of it immediately conjurs up visions of medieval soup pots hanging over smoky fires. Chicken soup. Plus, leeks are just fun ... all those cool little rings!

I was intrigued by this recipe because of the dill ... you normally see thyme with leeks and potatoes. And because of the yam ... also unusual. But all the flavors combined well. The original recipe called for soy milk, which I really don't like. As well, I wanted to see how the soup did with no milk at all. It was fantastic.
Adapted from ExtraVeganZa by Laura Mathias

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 CSA leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced thinly
3 CSA potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 yam, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried dill
2 teaspoons coarse salt
4 cups water
freshly ground black pepper

In soup pot, saute leeks in olive oil on medium heat. Add potatoes, yam, garlic, dill, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.

Add 4 cups water and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes and yams are soft.

With an immersion blender, blend at a few spots in the soup 'til you get a creamy effect. Don't liquefy the whole pan of soup. Top individual bowls with a sprinkling of dill.

Serves 4

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Giant Fuji Apple Cookies

If you find yourself with some giant, local Fuji apples, this recipe is the best thing to do with them, bar none. With overuse of sugar and white flour being exposed as the culprit of many maladies, getting back to the basic "snack" is important, and made easier when you have fresh, local produce to use. For something so delicious, it's amazing that the health benefits of eating apples are extensive.

Back in the day, the "Apple Man" showed up every fall at our rural Pasco home. His old pickup bed was full of boxes of fresh apples. We'd get apples from friends and relatives, and local orchards, too, but I remember that Mom always bought some from the Apple Man.

Hence, when I was a little kid and my brother and I would ask for a "snack," more often than not Mom fixed us each a bowl of these. Thanks, Mom ... for a great start in appreciating fresh, local food!

Wash, core and slice a big 'ol fresh Fuji apple. Other varieties work just fine, too. If it's local, even better. Place slices appetizingly in a bowl. Find that great book you're reading, settle into a comfy chair, and enjoy your incredible snack, remembering to pause now and then to appreciate its juicy, fresh, crunchy deliciousness.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fourth Box!

The adventure continues ... with leeks, gorgeous Fuji apples, Ranger russets, onions, another stalk of Brussels sprouts (wheee!), yellow split peas, a dried herb I think is oregano, and ... some cobs of (I think) popcorn, which is a surprise, as it was not mentioned in the e-mail. I wonder if you can just stick the whole thing in the microwave?

Now I must exercise extreme self control and leave my vegetables in the fridge while I proceed to a family gathering at Eatza Pizza on Road 68. This place has been chosen by the young mothers involved because it is a good place to take kids. It is basically a carb-fest. But I doubt there is a Brussels sprout bar for the adults!

Why can't children clamor to go to an Eatza Kale restaurant, I wonder? If I built one, would they come?

Toasting the New Year Local-Style

We're firmly in the category of lightweights when it comes to any sort of alcohol, but once again I was caught up in the lure of local. I heard the proprietor of Moonlight Cellar in Kennewick being interviewed on NPR about his single-handed production of 12,000 bottles of sparkling wine each year ... each bottle of which he quarter-turns by hand many times throughout the process.

So when I was gathering supplies for New Year's Eve, I looked for and found a bottle of his Cafe Metropole "Blanc de Blanc" sparkling wine, made right here in the Tri-Cities! All two tablespoons or so that I had of it was quite yummy. What a great way to start a new year ... supporting local producers.