Monday, May 31, 2010

Southwestern-Style Summer Salad

It has been HOT in mid-Michigan lately, so I've been craving cold refreshing green salads. Lucky for me, my CSA share last week included a variety of great-looking greens. I stared at them until they reminded me of something - in this case, my favorite salad from Chipotle (I know, I'm a classy restaurant-goer). This ended up tasting different, but that was okay; it was still refreshing and interesting. I highly recommend throwing sorrel in with your other salad greens. I'd never had it before, and it adds a tangy excitement to a milder salad mix. Read on for the recipe.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

CSA Week 1

Hi everyone - sorry for the long delay. It's conference season at work, and I was having some trouble formatting pictures in Blogger. I've been doing a lot of cooking and eating in the meantime, so prepare for a lot of blogging.

On Wednesday I picked up my first CSA share from the Allen Street Farmers Market. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it's a system where eaters "subscribe" to a farm's crops for a season, receiving a share of whatever produce is ready each week. My CSA is through Giving Tree Farm, which is a great nonprofit vocational and rehabilitation program for people with traumatic brain injuries. Many for-profit farmers offer CSAs as well; you can search for one in your area here. It's a great way to support local farmers and get fresh, organic produce every week. Some of them even deliver! Anyway, here's what was in my bag for week 1:
  • Two beautiful heads of romaine lettuce
  • One bag of sorrel
  • Handful of rhubarb
  • Bunch of spearmint
  • Bunch of thyme
  • Big bunch of cilantro
  • Bunch of sage
  • Bunch of some unidentifiable herb with no scent
I was a little disappointed that there was no asparagus, but the other farmers at the market were selling it so I still got my fix.

The tricky (and cool) thing about CSAs is you don't know what you're going to get, and sometimes you don't know what you have even once you've gotten it (case in point: mystery herb). It's going to be a challenge this summer to incorporate these new or unexpected ingredients into my cooking every week. I'm also trying to get better at preserving food - I just picked up a $3 dehydrator at a garage sale, and I'm planning to get a chest freezer soon. If all goes well, some of this awesome organic produce will get saved until winter.

This week I've been able to use or make plans for most of the produce, although I got rid of the mystery herb and I think the thyme and sage have already wilted in my refrigerator. I'll blog about the successes in coming days, but for now here is the CSA week 1 plan.
  • Southwest-style salad with romaine, sorrel, and cilantro for the greens (post coming soon)
  • Raspberry-spearmint rum cocktails - I infused some rum with the spearmint and mixed it with cran-raspberry juice last night. Surprisingly fantastic.
  • Rhubarb with sugar - I've never been a big rhubarb fan, but I enjoyed the more tender stalks raw dipped in white sugar. Some were woody and I confess I skipped them.
  • Southwestern Black Bean Burgers with the leftover cilantro... if I get around to it!
Have a great Memorial Day weekend - eat well. :)