Coffee is something that I drink every day. Usually, I’ll have about 2-3 cups of coffee at work each morning. (Don’t worry, we have a half-caff policy at work.) Along with my love of coffee, is my love of half and half, which unfortunately for me, comes from a cow.
About a week ago, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my morning brew in the same way that I’m used to. So the search for a substitute for half and half began. I’ve tried soy milk in the past and have found that it leaves an unpleasant, fuzzy feeling in my mouth. Luckily, Whole Foods provides several milk/cream alternatives beyond soy. I settled on “So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer” in the French Vanilla flavor. At first, I thought it had a funky floral after-taste, but I must have gotten used to it, because I kind of enjoy it now. Aside from adding it to my coffee, I’ve even started adding a splash into my morning oatmeal for an added kick. (Wild, right?)
Over all, I give it a 6.5. I’m going to keep my eyes out for new creamers, but will most likely go back to this baby.
In addition to the So Delicious creamer, I also tried a vegan yogurt for dessert. Amande brand makes yogurt from cultured almondmilk. Whole Foods had the coconut flavor on sale, so I grabbed one to try. Not surprisingly, the consistency of this yogurt was as weird as “cultured almondmilk” would imply. It reminded me of what happens when you eat the old school Dannon Fruit-On-The-Bottom yogurt and forget to mix it until you’ve eaten too much of the yogurt. Hopefully that description resonates with you, (if it doesn’t, think of a cross between too watery, too thick, and too chunky at the same time). The actual flavor itself wasn’t bad, and I kind of started to like the weird consistency by the end. Overall, I give it a 5.
For lunches this week, I made a “Super Foods” salad with wheat berries. I hope you like it! (Please excuse the awful picture!)
Wheat Berry Super Foods Salad
For the Salad:
- 1 cup of wheat berries, rinsed and soaked in water over night
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 cup frozen kale (you can also use fresh, steamed kale)
- 1/2 cup -2/3 cup of mixed dried fruit such as cranberries, blueberries, or cherries
- 1/2 cup – 2/3 cup of walnuts (I used soynuts, and regretted it.)
For the vinaigrette:
- juice from 1 blood orange (or regular orange)
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (I used an agave/maple syrup blend from Trader Joe’s)
- 3ish tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Place wheat berries in a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 40-50 minutes. They should still be crunchy and should “pop” when you bite into them. Drain any excess water.
2. Boil sweet potato cubes for about 7-8 minutes, until tender. Drain and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, add the frozen kale, wheat berries, sweet potatoes, and dried fruit. Stir until kale has defrosted.
4. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the vinaigrette. Mix together thoroughly.
5. Add the vinaigrette to the salad, mixing well. Add nuts last, then serve!
Yum. Things started to heat up during week 5 when we received some pretty awesome produce in the box. Most people don’t get overly excited by cabbage and beets, but we quickly devised several delicious and easy recipes to try.
Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
Roasting beets is very simple. Once you cut the chard off of the beets, make sure to thoroughly clean the beets by soaking them in water and scrubbing them to remove the excess dirt. On a side note, we wanted to clear the air that really don’t hate chard that much, we just don’t want to eat it anymore or find ways to turn other parts of vegetables into chard. I digress. Preheat your oven to 400, make a little pouch of foil, and place the beets inside with a little olive oil and salt. Wrap up the beets, and throw them in the oven for about an hour. Once the beets are cooked, let them cool for a few minutes, and peel off the skin. The skin comes off very easily, and you can use your hands. The beet juice will stain your fingers, so you can use gloves to avoid pink fingers, or just rub olive oil on your hands to remove the stain.
We refrigerated the beets over night, and decided to use them in a salad the next day, using the lettuce from the CSA and goat cheese. We made a quick vinaigrette out of Muscat Orange Vinegar from Trader Joe’s, a quick squeeze of Dijon mustard, a bit of honey, and some salt and pepper. The end result was a very light and fresh salad. Citrus and beets are very complementary, and if you prefer, you could use white wine vinegar and a squeeze of orange juice rather than the orange vinegar.
Broiled peaches are so easy to make, and are the perfect dessert in the summer. Preheat your broiler. Cut a peach in half, and remove the pit. In the space where the pit once was, place a dollop of your favorite jam or jelly. We’ve tried it with all kinds of jams, including strawberry, blueberry, cherry, and cranberry (featured in the photos). Acidic fruit jams seem to go the best with the peaches, so any of the above are delicious. Place the peach halves on a cookie sheet, and put them in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. Make sure to watch them so that the jam does not burn. While there in the oven, the jam starts to caramelize, the peach becomes extra juicy and soft, and the flavors meld together in a fantastic way. Yum.
Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw
Fish Taco night was a collaborative effort with all of our roommates, which resulted in an AWESOME meal. Here is the break down of what we made:
For the Fish:
- 4 Tilapia fillets
- The sauce from a can of chipotle peppers
- Juice from 1 lime
- Salt and pepper
squeeze the lime juice over the tilapia fillets, and season with salt and pepper. Rub the sauce from the can of chipotle peppers over the fillets. Heat a pan on the stove, and add a thin layer of unflavored cooking oil (such as canola) into the pan. Cook the fish for a few minutes on each side, adding more chipotle sauce as desired. Set aside.
Cabbage slaw, 2 ways
- 1/2 a head of cabbage, shredded
- Four ears of corn, boiled, and roasted on a pan and cut from the cob
- 1/2 cup of chopped red onion
- Sour cream
- Fresh cilantro
- Zest from 2 limes
- Juice from 1 1/2 limes
- Sour cream
- 1 chopped chipotle pepper, and sauce
In a large bowl, combine the shredded cabbage, corn, onion, and chopped cilantro. Divide this mixture in half, and place in separate mixing bowls. For the creamy slaw, add the zest of 1 lime, the juice of 1/2 a lime, 1/4 cup of sour cream, and 1 chipotle pepper. Depending on your spice preference, add the sauce from the chipotle pepper. Pour the sauce over the cabbage mixture and mix thoroughly. For the lime slaw, add the zest of 1 lime, the juice of 1 lime, a dash of olive oil, and salt. Pour over the cabbage mixture, and mix thoroughly.
- 2 avocados
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 1 chopped tomato
- Juice from 1/2 a lime
Mash the avocados, and add the cilantro, onion, tomato, and lime juice. Add salt as desired.
Once everything was prepared, everyone made their own fish tacos. We used whole grain tortillas, and topped the fish with the slaw, guac, pico di gallo, and cheese. Very yummy and very healthy. Unfortunately, we have no picture documentation, so you’ll have to trust us on this one. Things looked and tasted soooooogoooooooood.
From this week’s CSA Newsletter:
Week 5 CSA boxes include:
- This week’s potted herb: Lemon Balm
- Beets w/ their tops which can be treated like chard
- Tree fruit (either plums, peaches or apricots)*
*These first tree fruits are all early blooming varieties which are most at risk of frost damage. This year the first varieties were affected by seasonal frost our yield hasn’t been what we hoped. Later varieties coming in July and August are promising higher yields.
A word from the Farmer~
We are well under way with our summer season. Our tomatoes are knee high and starting to bloom; the squash is beginning to flower and will be here before we know it; and thankfully the corn is finally beginning to show some healthy signs of reaching the old farmer’s goal of knee high by the 4th of July. With the wet spring, we were concerned about whether the corn was ever going to grow!
Well this all seems like great news! The best news of all is that the PEACHES have arrived! They aren’t pretty by any means, but I’m anxious to find out how they taste!
I was shocked at how much heavier this week’s box was, compared to last week. I’m going to venture a guess that the head of cabbage they gave us weighs at least 3-4 lbs on its own. The good news is, there are TONS of cabbage recipes that Audrey and I have already found–and the uses seem to be endless from things you’d expect like cabbage soup all the way to things like fajitas with cabbage inside. And I happen to know it’s great for making fish taco cole slaw.
Beet chips. What can be better than turning yet another veggie into a chip form? (see Kale chips below)…
Beet chips are awesome. And fairly easy to make, as long as you’re careful (I wasn’t). Here’s what the beets looked like once we soaked them in water to get off all the dirt and grime. They’re pretty ugly and scary looking. We also cut off the tops, but then found out you can use them in the same way you use swiss chard. But really that just validated the cutting since I’d be fine if I never see swiss chard again.
A mandoline allows you to slice your veggies ultra thin, which is great if you’re trying to make chips, but bad if you’re not careful and end up making your finger into a chip like I did (eww gross I know I’m sorry). The good news is, the mandoline comes with a special attatchement that helps you hold the veggie without getting your hand too close to the blade. I’ll make sure to use it next time.
One more fun fact about beets–their juices are very dark and rich in color–translation–they will stain your clothes and hands. Make sure you aren’t wearing something you care about while slicing the beets.
On to the recipe.
- Fresh beets, washed and peeled, tops cut off
- Olive oil
1. Preheat over to 350. Slice beets into thin slices using a mandoline or sharp knife. The thinner the slices, the crispier your chips will be. [note: I love crispy chips, so we tried to make them as thin as possible]
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange beet slices so they aren’t touching.
3. Drizzle with olive oil, or use spray on olive oil (this stuff is great, they sell it at Trader Joe’s and other grocery stores too). Salt to taste.
4. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, flip the beets over, add more salt if you wish, and bake for another 10 minutes. [note: oven times will vary. I would suggest checking them and when they start to curl on the edges, keep a closer eye. They will burn quickly.]
Voila! You’re chips are ready.
After Christina’s photo shoot with the cherries (which was quite impressive, she has quite an eye!), reality sank in and we realized that we actually needed to consume them, not just admire their beauty and photogenic-ness. Since the cherries were a bit more tart than the store-bought kind we’re used to, baking them in some sort of dessert seemed like the best way to heighten their flavor, and enhance their sweetness.
After browsing the internet for recipes, I came across this one that included cherries, baked in a custard-y like cake. A few weeks ago, Christina made custard, and it was awesome, so I was excited for round two with the added cherries. The other reason I went for the recipe, was because it seemed healthier, because all of the measurements were in terms of tablespoons and grams, which in my mind didn’t seem like a whole lot. Apparently though, 100 grams of butter is equal to almost a whole stick, which I continued to rationalize wasn’t too terrible since there were only 7 tablespoons of sugar in the recipe. Apparently that equals almost a cup. Whatever.
So here is the recipe adapted from The Home Cooking Adventure. It’s really tasty, and relatively easy to make. It takes a kind of a long time to prepare/bake, so make sure you give yourself at least 2 hours! It’s definitely worth the time! The left overs make an excellent, protein packed breakfast too! (I’m serious about that, there are like 4 eggs and 2 cups of milk in this baby.)
- 4 eggs
- 100 g butter (This equals about 7 tablespoons of butter), at room temperature
- 5 tbsp flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 7 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup fresh cherries, seeded
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 8×8 inch baking pan and dust with flour, or line the baking pan with parchment paper.
- Separate egg yolks form egg whites. Mix egg yolks with sugar, butter and vanilla extract until smooth. Add flour and mix until well blended. Add milk and continue mixing until homogenous.
- Whip egg whites until foamy and form stiff peaks. Fold in egg whites into yolks mixture.
- Pour the mixture into prepared baking pan and bake for 90 minutes. After the first 15 minutes in the oven add cherries on top of the cake all over its surface.
Quiche is a great dish to make because of how many ways you can customize the ingredients. Plus, they’re really easy to make, and pretty cheap too!
In the box this week was a giant bunch of swiss chard. If you’re not familiar with swiss chard, you should check it out, it’s not only very tasty, but its beautiful to look at. The leaves are a deep emerald-green color, and the stems are a very bright magenta. Although it seems like a pretty hearty leaf, you have to be careful about storing it, because it tends to wilt very quickly once washed and refrigerated. This picture doesn’t really do it justice, and was also taken after it had been refrigerated, so it’s a bit wilted.
I checked out a few recipes on Tastespotting for inspiration, and decided to make a Quiche with swiss chard, leeks, and Gruyère. The recipes that I checked out were a little intense (involving creme fraiche and homemade crust), so here is the toned down recipe. Also, most Quiche recipes call for heavy cream or half and half, but I’ve always used 1% milk and just adjusted the cooking time.
- 1 pre-made pie crust, thawed
- 5 eggs
- 1 cup of 1% milk
- 2 cups of chopped swiss chard leaves (make sure to remove the stems!)
- 3 leeks, thinly sliced
- 6 oz of Gruyère cheese, grated
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the pre-made pie crust into a pie pan, and set aside.
- Saute the leeks and swiss chard until the leeks are soft, and the swiss chard has wilted.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs and milk until frothy. Add salt and pepper, and mix until well blended.
- Spread the grated Gruyère on the bottom of the pie crust. Before adding the leeks and swiss chard, squeeze out the excess liquid, and place the leeks and swiss chard on top of the Gruyère. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cheese.
- Bake for about 40ish minutes, checking periodically to make sure that the center of the Quiche is fully cooked and firm. It may take longer than 40 minutes, I kind of lost track of time.
- Let sit for about 15 minutes, and enjoy!
So…I thought they deserved a private photo shoot in my backyard…
But seriously, these are the most beautiful cherries I’ve seen in awhile. It’s a shame they don’t taste nearly as good as they look. Does anyone know if there’s a special tool you can buy that pits cherries for you? If we get more next week, I’d like to make a pie or tart out of them. I think that might make them better–to add inhumane amounts of sugar and flour and bake it all together until it tastes delicious.
While I had my camera out, I figured I should also show you how our basil plant (planted one week ago) is progressing. We have some little herb boxes right outside of our front door, and we planted this little basil immediately after we got it. I’m really impressed with the progress. I remember thinking it could never make large enough leaves to actually cook with–but sure enough–she’s on her way…see for yourself below.
Oh, and I forgot to mention this. When this week’s shipment arrived, I left it on the floor right by the front door. About two hours later (AHH!) we realized there were ants crawling all over it. I want to make it very clear that these ants had absolutely nothing to do with Great Country Farms, and everything to do with them being way to close to the sidewalk and the front door. Completely my fault. Still–I spent about 30 minutes washing the lettuce, asparagus and onions, piece by piece, and leaf by leaf. I’m still nervous that I’m going to eat an ant, but it seems to be ant-free. I had some of the asparagus tonight. Worst case scenario, I guess ants are considered to be extra protein.