Wednesday, December 16, 2009

T'is the Season...

...for cabbage!

I have certainly been learning a lot about menu adjusting since having joined our local CSA. We are inundated with greens and lettuces and cabbage has occupied space in my refrigerator for 3 weeks now (not the same head - I've gotten it twice in my weekly share).

I have learned that I prefer the white to the purple or "red" cabbage when it is cooked, as the white (or green) is sweeter and more flavorful to me. My favorite way to enjoy it is simply steamed with Earth Balance or vegan Smart Balance margarine on top. Like carrots, cabbage is sweet and to me, tastes better without salt. That said, I steamed up some red last night and had to add salt; it seemed more lacking in flavor than the white.

More cabbage has gone into soups too and my family, who do not care for it, eat it best this way. A newer way for me to try cabbage has been to saute it with garlic. I thought this meathod was okay, but then it takes away from the sweetness that I enjoy so much. Finally, one way that I really enjoyed it was to saute it with balsamic or apple cider vinegar, garlic, onions, and pieces of marinated, smoked tempeh. Delicious!

A new vegetable for our family to enjoy has been the kohlrabi that we have recieved in our share a couple of times now. Everyone seems to enjoy this in dishes - especially when it is roasted - and Eve even likes it raw! Whenever we get it in our shares it will be sure to find its way into my roasted vegetable medley as well as pot pies and soups.

A few of our tangelos have fallen from the tree. We are CLOSE to being able to begin the harvest, but they are still sour yet. Things will pick up after Christmas and I can see that I will be canning loads of juice in January. Have I told you that I was going to try canning the juice this year rather than freezing it as in years past? It will save on energy and space in my freezer. We'll see how this experiment goes. I plan on doing the same for the lemons that I'll get from Mom's & that will probably start sooner than the tangelos. I don't know about the limes, though. They are abundant right now, but I don't find myself using them as much. Perhaps just a few pints in the freezer will suffice for the year.

In the garden, the lettuces are happy. There will be no lack of greens in our diet for some time to come I believe. The swiss chard seems to be picking up the pace now that the weather has cooled somewhat (cool being relative - it is still in the upper 70's/low 80's and more humidity than usual).

I found that I don't particularly care for one of the kinds of radishes I planted this year, as they were almost inedible in their spiciness. However, I may still plant them from time to time, as I found that I do enjoy their greens and cooking the radishes gives them a very different flavor. They could be a worthy addition to the aforementioned roasted vegetables and pot pies. The nice thing about them is that they can be grown quickly and also grown around (on the outer edge) the square foot spaces of the slower growing vegetables.

Carrots and a few other new additions will find their way to the garden come January. I'm saving a few available squares for them. With the CSA giving me so many greens, I don't feel pressed to fill up all my garden squares with something at this point.

And speaking of CSA's you might think of joining one yourself in the new year when your growing season rolls around. Not only is it a great way to keep money in your community and support sustainable agriculture practices, but it's also educational for yourself by introducing you to new foods and the different ways they can be used. My CSA offered gift certificates this year for one week's share for Christmas gifts. One lucky person in my circle will be receiving this gift. It's one I feel great about giving and one I know the recipient will enjoy! I love gifts that combine both a gift and an experience. I think that a CSA certificate is one that can do that on many levels: the experience of the CSA itself, the gift of the food, the potential introduction to new foods, and the experience of preparing and enjoying the food.

Hope you're enjoying the holiday season!
Cabbage print available at

Friday, December 4, 2009

Time for Camping!

There's a steady, cold rain out there tonight... and we're going camping tomorrow. I, for one, haven't been camping, save for backyard overnights, in 19 years. So, the idea that this time - this first time for my girls - has to start in the rain, is not one that I am thrilled about. So many of our family vacations/events (including our wedding) have involved rain. The forecast, though, is for the showers to end sometime tomorrow afternoon. We check in to our site at 3 p.m., so I am praying that the rain will stop by then. Sunday is supposed to be glorious after a night with lows in the 40's (I know you northern people think that's balmy, but sleeping in it is something different), so it's all sure to be interesting! At this point, I won't begrudge the rain, though - there's always the garden to think about! :)

Speaking of rain and the garden, about two weeks ago, one of our neighbors showed up in our backyard with a rain barrel he'd purchased for us! While I was surprised, I think he was even more surprised at how tickled I was with his thoughtful gift. We've still go to find time to actually get it all put together, but I'll be thrilled when we can begin conserving some water to use on the garden when we do get rain in our dry season.

The garden is producing nice patches of greens and radishes so far. The zucchini and cucumbers are done for this season. The tomatoes are small and green and not too many yet, save for the potted cherry tomato plant that has a lot of little green babies on it. I think our orange and oak trees have just grown too wide and shade our garden more than I would like; the tomatoes are not getting enough sun I think. Beets are getting bigger and the lettuce is doing well. The arugula is perfect! So, I know that I can grow those things for sure. I'll be trying a few more things after the holidays. It will be time to start sprouting those warmer weather crops.

In the meantime, we've nicely filled out our menus with lots of other local food from the CSA (LOVING IT!!) and the farmers' markets. I love looking down at the table and seeing all the things that are grown right in my own garden or town or the next one over. I even noticed that the nearby grocer carries tofu that is made less than 50 miles away from here. That makes this vegan so very happy!

Wishing you all a warm and dry weekend (us too) and I'll talk with you all again after we return from our camping adventure!
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