Monday, May 30, 2011

CSA Week 3 and Memorial Day cooking projects

This week's CSA bounty was extra-large as we missed last Saturday's pick-up. We got an enormous head of broccoli, two kinds of beets, two heads of kohlrabi, two heads of napa cabbage, three turnips, and a hefty bag of baby potatoes.

The cute, colorful potatoes quickly were turned into a breakfast hash with eggs, avocado, tomato, and tons of mustard greens from the garden. But look how lovely they are just cut in half before being cooked!

Potato hash with toppings. Yum.

I couldn't resist picking up a big bunch of cucumbers from Rob at Whitted Bowers Farm at the Carrboro market on Saturday. First cukes of the season!

I also decided to take the leap and purchase a single eggplant starter for the garden. Last year, all the cucumber and summer squash plants had very short lives due to invasive vine borer bugs that killed the whole crop. The bugs are difficult to manage and crawl inside the vine near the root of the plant, making it impossible for the rest of the plant to get any nutrients. Jerks! I avoided planting any vining plants so far this summer, and since eggplant is also a vine-growing veggie, it's very likely that the beetles will come back and attach this plant as well. But I really love eggplant, and I figure with just one plant, it'll be a grand experiment, and if it fails, no major harm done. I'm keeping my expectations low.

This variety of eggplant is called Ichiban and it grows longer, thinner purple fruits than the traditional, gourd-shaped eggplants. Hopefully the lighter weight will keep more of the vine off the ground and perhaps make it slightly less vulnerable to vine-borer pests.

This morning I woke up and began a frenzy of cooking projects. First I chopped up one of the heads of cabbage, one kohlrabi, a bunch of carrots from market a few weeks ago, and some cilantro from the garden, and threw it together to make a slaw. I'll add this to salad greens this week with some spicy peanut dressing thrown on it.

The carrots still had their green tops, which I usually just toss in the compost. However, this week I found some inspiration from this video and threw the tops into the food processor along with some garlic, salt, a few hunks of parmesan, a handful of basil and parsley from the garden, and some chopped walnuts. Tada! Carrot top pesto! Surprisingly tasty, especially since it's a part of the vegetable that doesn't usually get used at all.

Next, I baked a loaf of my usual wheat almost no-knead bread with dough I started yesterday afternoon.

While the bread was baking, I roasted the beets from the CSA in the oven with some olive oil and salt. They'll get chopped up and added to salads this week as well.

In backyard news, a whole family of birds has recently moved into the red birdhouse. The babies chirp and chirp and the parents fly back and forth with sticks and grubs and goodies all day long. I wish I could see the babies! Anyone know what kind of bird this is? It's very, very tiny.

As it's been consistently hot over the last few days, the garden lettuce is starting to protest by growing very, very tall, a clear sign that it won't grow for much longer.

I spotted a rogue tomato plant today peeking out from under the mustard greens! Last summer the tomatoes were on the side of the garden where the greens are growing this year, so I imagine some seeds from a fallen tomato took root and started growing. I don't know how long it'll last, but it was quite a surprise to see it poking out of the ground today!

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