You probably recognize me as the grouchy lady who is always yelling at her kid on Monday night at The Woods. I’m Alyssa Palombino, and this is my third year with the Southside CSA.
I’m a really terrible grocery shopper. I went to Fairway a few weeks ago, only to return with $40 worth of Belgian candy, some grapefruit soda, and four kinds of cheese. It is fortunate, then, that I can walk up the street every Monday and have my food for the week pre-selected. I pick up veggies, orchard fruit, and berries every week, and one chicken every other week. With a small amount of pantry goods that we always keep on hand, some bread, and all of the cheese I bring home, that feeds three out of four members of our family VERY WELL (the fourth is five months old). This week’s share required some supplemental shopping, but in the summer I can go for weeks without setting foot in a grocery store (it helps that we don’t eat much meat). Since the food is coming straight from the farm, it lasts longer than conventional grocery store produce, and anything not used one week is still fresh the next. Except for a few dozen jars of jam, I don’t do any canning, and everything gets eaten.
While I love to cook, I don’t have a lot of time to do it. Since the baby screams every time I set him down, I also usually have only one free hand. That means that most of our dishes are either prepared in lightning speed while the baby naps, with the baby in his Ergo, or by my five year-old (I man the knives and the oven, of course). Everything that can be roasted usually is, and served with simple seasonings. If I find myself with some extra time (ha!) or I’m stumped by an ingredient, Epicurious is my go-to recipe resource.
Our must-have pantry items include: olive oil, garlic, shallots, lemons, salt, pepper, Old Bay, red pepper flakes, dry pasta, brown rice, capers, olives, grating cheese, dried or canned beans, canned tomatoes, and a million billion types of vinegar.
This week’s share offered: potatoes, salad greens, lemongrass, onions, zucchini, tomatillos, cilantro, a pumpkin, jalapenos, apples, and pears.
Zucchini is my favorite CSA item. This week, I used it to make a quick pasta dish. Olive oil, garlic, caramelized onions, red pepper flakes, and zucchini tossed with pasta and sprinkled with chopped basil and grated parmesan.
Most of the meals I prepare are Italian-ish, so things like cilantro and jalapenos are usually turned into salsa. I pour it on roasted potatoes, and my husband eats it on sandwiches late at night. Thanks to the tomatillos, we have two batches of salsa this week. The tomato salsa is a friend’s top-secret recipe. The tomatillo salsa is simply tomatillos, ½ an onion, chopped cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and salt blended in the food processor. I forgot to wear gloves when working with the jalapenos, and my hands are still burning.
My lunch is usually dinner’s leftovers from the night before, eaten straight from the refrigerator. I love roasted potatoes, but they are never good the next day – unless I add tomato sauce. While roasting the potatoes in the oven, I make a tomato sauce on the stove with onion, garlic, canned tomatoes, salt, and pepper. By the time the potatoes are brown, the sauce is reduced to nearly a paste. I add the potatoes to the pan and stick the whole thing back in the oven until it bubbles. I grate parmesan over the top to serve. While I like mine with steamed kale, the boys prefer grilled sausage.
The glorious pumpkin served double duty this week. My son was home sick for a few days, so he used it as a canvas between Batman cartoons. When he wasn’t looking, I chopped it up for pumpkin soup. Carrots, onion, and celery went into heated olive oil, along with a bay leaf, a cinnamon stick, and star anise. After five minutes over medium-high heat I add the pumpkin and grated nutmeg. Another five minutes and I cover it all with some of the chicken broth I made from the CSA chicken I roasted last week. After 20-30 minutes of simmering, I season to taste, turn off the heat, remove the cinnamon stick, star anise, and bay leaf, and puree. Before serving, add a bit of coconut milk to the top of each bowl. I make this often in the fall with squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, or carrots. Sometimes I omit the spices and coconut milk for a more savory soup.
We have salad for dinner at least twice a week. My salad dressing is one part lemon juice to two parts olive oil, a splash of sherry vinegar, chopped shallot, salt, and pepper. When fresh vegetables aren’t around, I put dried fruit, nuts, and cheese in my salad with a maple syrup vinaigrette. It is one part of my precious Circle C maple syrup, one part red wine vinegar, two parts olive oil, a tiny bit of Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper.
I’ve been so happy to see the pears in our orchard share lately, because it means it’s time to make a spiced pear tart! I’ve made this recipe with both pears and apples with great results. We’re not that into pumpkin pie, so this is our traditional holiday dessert.
I planned to make some apple cinnamon muffins with this week’s apples, but someone ate them all before I had the chance.
That just leaves the lemongrass… which is pretty typical. I hope I don’t get kicked out of the CSA for admitting that I let my cat play with it.