The Ever Versatile Aubergine08.12.13
Mom prepared a plate of pickled eggplant or berenjena a la vinagreta with her signature enthusiasm. She simmered the aubergine with a laurel leaf, a pinch of allspice, onion, garlic, and a bouillon cube. After it cooled, she dressed it in a vinaigrette spiked with Worcestershire sauce and oregano, storing it in the refrigerator in a round clear pyrex. My sister loved piling on the silky tangy stuff over crispy saltines, which she snacked on with pure abandon at any time of the day. I, on the other hand, had quite a different relationship to the pickled spread and was far from being a fan.
It’s been surprising to see how all of a sudden this summer, it’s the one vegetable I can’t live without. I’ve sliced and roasted it, layering it with tomatoes and sharp cheese like the Italians do with their melanzane. I’ve diced and tossed it over a high flame with snap peas and ginger to create a hearty and flavorful stir-fry.
We’re down to the last two weeks of our CSA delivery, which means only a few days left to create some scrumptious farm-to-table dishes. This year has proved to be a wonderful one, at least for the produce of Stoneledge Farm, which was spared from disaster of both the hurricane and winter storm that swept across the area the last couple of weeks.
Personally I’ve been trying to keep calm amidst the chaos. Every Tuesday evening I leave work and take the train downtown, pick up my load of fresh veggies, and walk home. When I get home, I sort the produce, decide what to prepare that night, and plan menus for the week. One of the tools I use on a regular basis now is Foodily, a handy food app that helped me find uses for less common ingredients like celeriac and turnip greens, as well as supplied excellent ways to prepare simple soups and stews. Most nights I find a cool recipe on Foodily, prepare it, and end up instagramming the heck out of it:) more »
“YOU GOTTA HAVE A BABY!”07.25.11
Do you remember that Seinfeld episode in which Elaine is surrounded by girlfriends who are telling her that she’s gotta have a baby and move to Long Island? My friend Jess sent it to me this past week, and it got me thinking. It seems like motherhood is knocking on my door in the most unexpected of places.
Every Tuesday morning, Gus and I have the same conversation.”Who’s going to pick them up?”,”Can you pick them up?”, “Are you going to pick them up?”. We’re not talking about babies (yet!), we’re talking about our veggies from the CSA, which we have to pick up every Tuesday night. The thing about the CSA that nobody tells you is that these vegetables become a responsibility. First of all, we have to pick them up before 7 p.m. from the Hudson Guild, which means we have to rush out of work (no later than 6:20 p.m.) if we want to see our vegetables that week. I know what you’re thinking: Why stress over these veggies? Well, we paid a nice and hefty fee back when the year began ($530) to get them, so why not do everything we can to enjoy them?
Don’t get me wrong, the veggies have been great. Last week, I prepared a summer squash and corn soup that had the clearest and most beautiful garden flavors I had tasted all summer. The recipe was included in the weekly newsletter we receive from Stoneledge Farm, which lists the produce of the week, and tips for what to do with it. Last week, I got squash, red onion, dill, eggplant, okra, and green beans. For the soup, I sauteed the squash with onions, poured in some chicken broth, blended it, stirred in some corn, and topped it with feta and lemon. It was unbelievable!
I also have to volunteer at the Chelsea CSA during the course of the summer, which takes place during the work day. They scheduled a trip to the farm, which sounded amazing, but it was on a Friday. So, as you can see, it’s a big commitment, and often work gets in the way. But man, I love those vegetables. When we went out of town this weekend, I thought of them often. “I hope they’re OK. I hope that that they’re OK over the weekend”. And you know what? They were. I got home last night and prepared a big, beautiful summer salad. The romaine was perfectly crispy, the red shallots were firm and plump. I was one proud Mama.
Diary of a CSA06.22.11
This year I finally remembered to join a local CSA. For those of you who are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, it’s a Community-Supported Agriculture program that connects you with a local farm so you get fresh, seasonal produce every week straight from the farm. Think of it as a farmer’s market club membership, except that instead of having to go to the farmer’s market, the market comes to you! A few months ago, after some extensive research, I came across the Chelsea CSA, which is supplied by Stoneledge Farm, run by the Kavakos family and located in upstate New York. Every Tuesday night from June through August, I will rush out of the office with paper bags in tow to pick up my vegetable share at Hudson Guild on 26th street. more »