Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Eat It

8/2 revision: I have let everyone down, especially Weird Al. How could I have forgotten "Addicted To Spuds" - especially given that the photo accompanying this post was of potatoes?!?!? I am off my A-game, people. There's no other explanation. Unfortunately I couldn't find the official "Addicted To Spuds" video, but here's a link to a live version on MTV from 1987. Luckily the search for that vid enticed me to rewatch Trapped In The Drive-Through which is blatantly amazing.

I recently found (Weird) Al Yankovic on Twitter, and he mentioned that this month marks the 20th anniversary of the landmark cinema classic UHF, which is one of my favorite movies of all time. With an all-star cast including Yankovic himself, Victoria Jackson, Fran Drescher, Emo Phillips, Billy Barty (as Noodles McIntosh), Kevin McCarthy and a pre-Seinfeld Michael Kramer, UHF is clearly one of the best movies ever. Unfortunately it doesn't have much to do with produce, and even Al's hit single Eat It barely mentions vegetables, though bananas figure prominently in one verse.

Today, we're teaching poodles how to fly:
1 pint Tristar strawberries
4 nectarines
3 peaches
6 apricots
1/4 lb. salad greens
1 bunch collards
1 bunch lacinato kale
1 bunch leeks
1 bunch celery
2 bunches carrots
1 1/2 lbs. mixed new potatoes
1 lb. wax beans
1/2 lb. peppers - Anaheim and jalapeno
2 lbs. zucchini
1 1/4 lb. Lima beans
3 plum tomatoes
1 box Sungold tomatoes
Total spent: $54

No big plans, although I clearly forgot to buy less food than usual because we're leaving Monday for Bloomington. I'll just have to use it all up before then. Tonight I'm planning to have salad, then a main course of succotash with the limas and corn, garlic-sautéed lacinato kale, and roasted new potatoes (patriotic red, white, and blue mix pictured in their farm-fresh dirty state), with some sliced Sungold tomatoes to garnish. At some point I'll use the peppers in a pot of black beans, the leeks in a frittata with the remaining potatoes, and the rest will get eaten as lunch snacks (celery, carrots, wax beans), and in as yet unplanned miscellaneous meals.

In jam news: my second batch of sour cherry jam turned out, though it was a lengthy process - had to add about six times the called-for amount of pectin. Apricot, peach, and nectarine jams are all on the schedule for my return, and possibly plum jam or plum butter. I also might try something with currants or gooseberries, just for the novelty.

Pickle update: Lots of white scum growing on the surface led me to reconfigure my pickling setup. Now it's more covered, but there's still white stuff growing. I'm a bit panicked because when I leave for Bloomington nobody will be skimming the stuff off my pickle I guess I'll just hope it stops, or allow that I might have to give up on at least the top layer of this batch. Who knew that making old-fashioned crock pickles was so difficult?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

If at first you don't succeed...

Just put four more pounds of kirby cucumbers in brine in my pickle crock. The tragic first batch came out so salty they made my teeth vibrate, so I had to toss them (the upside being that my whole kitchen now smells deliciously briny and pickly).

Running around like crazy today amidst general blues and homesickness for California. Nothing much interesting to report w/r/t market purchases, though I did get some sour cherries so I can make some jam, as a certain mother I know implied I ought to do. I wonder if I should put in the almond extract that about 75% of the recipes I've found include? I've got until Friday to decide.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

This makes me want to play video games again

The Munchables, a new game for Wii - tagline is "When Vegetables Go Bad." The storyline involves two characters (called Chomper and Munchy) who must take back the Legendary Orbs, stolen by space pirates, in order to save their planet Star Ving ("a fantastic world of many islands connected by rainbows"). NB: nowhere does the website explain why the space pirates are vegetables.

The game has a ska-ish soundtrack, with bosses including Brocco-Lee, Great Grapy, Heli-Cantaloupie (what?), and Don Onion (who is "a pirate wandering around space and leader of the Space Pirates," whose personality is "greedy and unfair" and whose hobby is "invasion"; he was last seen at "Fort Entrée"). Other characters, which you eat along the way both to stop them and to grow bigger and more powerful include Eggplanter, Space Shroom, and Rice Baller.

3D video games freak me out but I like moving the cute characters around their adorable website.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's sunny and 75 - feels so good to be alive

If I ever end up in debtor's prison, it will be my orchard bills that send me there.
Everybody must get stonefruit:
1 3/4 lb. peaches
3/4 lb. pluots
3/4 lb. apricots
1 1/2 lb. cherries
1 pt. Tristar strawberries
1/2 pt. chanterelle mushrooms
1 bunch curly kale
1 bunch Swiss chard
2 1/4 lb. zucchini
1 1/2 lb. green beans
2 bunches carrots
2 bunches celery
1 1/2 lb. red potatoes
2 big yellow tomatoes
1 bunch scallions
1 bunch Italian parsley
1 bunch mint
2 lbs. onions
1 pt. shallots
Total spent: $62

So much fruit! Luckily I've already polished off about half of the insanely delicious Tristar strawberries, and I'm about to start in on the pluots from Locust Grove Farm, which I sampled last Saturday when I was lucky enough to be stationed next to their stand at the market. (I'm looking forward to eating the pluots in the privacy of my home this time, without any creepy guys staring.)

I'm especially excited about the chanterelles - reasonably priced for such a fancy mushroom. The pints were even more of a bargain ($7 with a half-pint at $5), but I wasn't sure I'd be able to use them all. I haven't decided the best way to showcase their flavor - possibly just sautéed in butter and served over pasta.

Tonight I'll be using the tomatoes in some chana masala, which will make a certain chickpea-lover in my life very happy. I'll bring out blended mint lemonade to start dinner, an idea stolen from Westville - but mine will be agave-sweetened.

In other news, my favorite Amish cheese vendor now has eggs, which is perfect timing, since Madura Farms just stopped selling them. Nothing else to report - time to give myself a stomachache from eating too much fruit!

NB re: photos. My camera seems to be slowly dying - I can't get the screen to work half the time, so I have to use the viewfinder, and I don't yet have Photoshop on my computer so my post-production options are limited. I'm hoping to remedy all these issues soon though.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Hot futures

Oops...wrote this Wednesday and forgot to post it. I was waiting for a photo that never materialized.

The season's first plums today pointed forward to the arrival of all the stonefruit - peaches, nectarines, apricots, more plums - and the pie/crumble/cobbler-baking and jam marathons on the horizon. Luckily my love for peaches makes the prospect less daunting than thrilling. Also spotted today for the first time: corn on the cob. Can limas be far behind? Succotash, here I come!

2 lbs. cherries
1 pint raspberries
1 quart Tri-star strawberries
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes
1 bunch lacinato kale
3 heads celery
2 bunches carrots
2 lbs. yellow onions
1 lb. sugar snap peas
1 lb. shell peas
1 1/2 lb. mixed green & wax beans
1 head Romaine lettuce
2 heads garlic
3/4 lb. crimini mushrooms
Total spent: $65

Celery, carrots, and onions are simmering on the stove right now for vegetable stock. Local celery tends to be quite tough and leafy compared to the juicy and luscious California-grown stuff in Whole Foods, but it's also more flavorful - great for stock, not so much for the photo assistant's lunch snacks. But he can handle it.

No special plans for any of this, beyond giving myself a stomachache eating berries.

Pickle progress: The Kirbies went into the crock Sunday with their seasonings and brine, and they're already looking quite pickled. Waiting 2+ weeks is going to be really tough - the brine smells incredible!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What a crock!

The cute pickling crock I bought at The Brooklyn Kitchen a month ago is going to get its first workout, courtesy of the Kirby cucumbers I bought today!

A gorgeous, if humid, trip to USG today. Isolated thunderstorms have been predicted through the afternoon, but luckily the skies were clear this morning (last night, not so much). Couldn't buy nearly the amount of berries I wanted and stay within my budget, but I did manage to stuff my refrigerator to the gills.

Too much for the produce drawer:
1 bunch scallions
1 bunch basil
1 bunch Italian parsley
2 bunches carrots
3/4 lb. sugar snap peas
1 lb. shell peas
2 lbs. yellow onions
2 1/4 lb. zucchini
1 bunch French crisp lettuce
2 1/4 lb. Kirby cucumbers
1 3/4 lbs. mixed green beans & wax beans
1 bunch lacinato kale
1 bunch collards
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 pint Sungold tomatoes
1 lb. cherries
1 pint raspberries
Total spent: $56.50

Other progress has been made on the preserving front. Witness: seven jars of jeweltoned strawberry jam recently added to my pantry. The jam tastes wonderful but it's doing that weird solid/liquid separating thing that always seems to happen when I use pectin. I've got to figure that one out.

I also made a jar of the sugar snap pea pickles from Joy Of Pickling, which turned out really strong, even for me, after the recommended two weeks' curing in the fridge. The tarragon gives them a great flavor, though, and I think they'll carry us through the season tossed in salads (and possibly even added to cheese sandwiches).

Other than the pickles, no big plans. I'll probably make a salad of roasted zucchini, Sungold tomatoes, and chopped basil tonight for dinner. We'll inhale the berries in a couple of days - I've already got a head start on the heavenly raspberries from Terhune Orchards. And I'm about to make my favorite Wednesday lunch of sautéed greens (lacinato kale, in this case), fried eggs, and freshly sliced greenmarket bread. Yum!