Jan 16 2011

What’s for Dinner

The veggie boxes are back! The veggie boxes are back!

Yesterday we picked up a box full of leafy goodness: chard, kale, cabbage, carrots, onions, six sweet little Fuji apples, four oranges, two grapefruits, three pears, three zucchini, two bell peppers, four sweet potatoes, and a handful of small red potatoes. Then we went out for Chinese.

But! This morning I had a grapefruit for breakfast, and Robin had an apple and an orange, and also a banana, though it wasn’t from the farmer’s market. (Sam, who is not enamored of grapefruit, turned up his nose at our impromptu fruit salad and decided to go pick up some doughnuts.) And tonight we’ll eat rosemary-garlic pork loin roasted with the potatoes. I like to have the leftover pork on sandwiches, topped Philly-style with provolone and garlicky chard (traditionally it’s broccoli rabe that goes on top, but I think chard will be an easy substitution), so we’ll do that tomorrow. Robin and I will also have the kale in one of our usual bulgur salad lunches.

Tuesday I want to try using the onions, carrots, and cabbage in this recipe (I’ll make some dark bread to go with it). Wednesday we’ll have whole wheat spaghetti with pesto—at the farmer’s market I bought a little tub of cilantro/almond pesto that smells amazing. Thursday we’ll have pan-grilled sausages and peppers, and roasted sweet potatoes as a side, and Friday this tasty-looking recipe for whole wheat pizza topped with zucchini, garlic, and cheese.

Nov 20 2010

What’s for Dinner

I was proud of us this morning: after picking up our veggie box at the farmer’s market, we drove straight to the nearby Redwood Regional Park and had a gorgeous hike. It rained a bit this morning—and is raining torrentially as I write this, complete with Gothic lightning and dramatic peals of thunder—but for the two hours we were out, the skies stayed clear. And probably because of the bad weather, we had the trails mostly to ourselves: we wandered through a hushed forest cathedral as yellow leaves drifted down all about us. The forest floor is swathed with primeval ferns, and punctuated by these amazing twisty trees with moss-velvet trunks, and the smell of the redwoods and bay laurels in the new rain was—well, you know, it’s really hard to describe a smell! But it smelled very good.

Then we went home and unpacked our vegetables. We got beets, two pints of strawberries, carrots, kale, cabbage, onions, broccoli, three pears, six apples, four plums, four green peppers, four zukes, two artichokes, and seven small yellow potatoes. JP told me that his family will be on vacation for the next month, so we won’t get another veggie box until January 15. But this week is obviously all about Thanksgiving. Tonight we’re eating…fast-food takeout. It was 2:30 when we got home, we hadn’t had lunch, and the fridge was almost empty, so in a fit of low blood sugar we got a chicken and some sides from Boston Market. I really don’t like buying meat when I don’t know where it’s from or how it was raised: Boston Market chickens are almost certainly battery-farmed, under conditions that I think amount to animal torture, and I know it’s wrong to support that. But this afternoon we did, and we have lots of chicken left over, so I guess we’re having guilt for dinner.

But tomorrow night we’ll have some nice grass-fed steaks with roasted broccoli, and Sam says he’ll make French toast with strawberries for breakfast. Monday we’ll polish off the cabbage, potatoes, and carrots—boiled, and served with butter and salt and crispy bacon. Tuesday, quinoa-stuffed peppers and sauteed zucchini; Wednesday, squash soup and a salad with roasted beets and blue cheese. (Wednesday we’ll also see Nanita and Marqueño!)

THURSDAY…Turkey! Sausage and fennel stuffing! Maybe some gravy depending on how tired I am when it comes time to make gravy! Cranberry-orange sauce! Brussels sprouts! Persimmon-apple pie!


Nov 1 2010

What’s for Dinner

Okay, I love living in California. This week in our CSA box we got a pint of strawberries—fresh strawberries! In the last week of October! We also got spinach, lettuce, bok choy, green beans, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, six apples (they’re Fuji, I asked; and last week’s tomatoes were, ironically enough, Early Girl), four plums, six of what look like Red Bliss potatoes, and some more sunchokes.

Tonight we’re having skirt steak and green beans. In fact, just now Davy started crying while I was in the middle of smearing marinade on the steak. Because my hands were full of garlic-rosemary paste I went about finishing what I was doing instead of going immediately to pick up the baby. Then he abruptly stopped crying, and that did bring me running—only to find that Robin was in there with him, kissing his toes and asking “What’s wrong, baby?” What a good big brother! Robin has his weaknesses—we’re still stalled out on potty training—but his strengths are wonderful strengths to have. He’s a friendly, generous, secure and loving boy, and frankly if I were told that I could have all that in a son in exchange for delayed potty training, that’s a trade I’d be happy to make.

I almost added something there about Robin not being very verbal, but actually I’m not at all sure that’s true. Even though he’s talking a lot more now, it’s still not as much as some of the other kids his age—but at the same time he’s extremely interested in written language. He recognizes all the letters of the alphabet and initiates a lot of conversations about letters, the sounds they make, and the words that start with various letters: right now he’ll often come running up saying “C! Cat! Kitty! K!” and then follow that up by going “cuh cuh cuh.” I’m pretty sure he’s working on the problem that different words can refer to the same thing, and different letters can make the same sound, which I think actually puts him a bit ahead of the curve for reading/writing. It’s not something I’m actively working on with him—I mean, we do read books, and when he wants to stop and pay attention to the letters, we do that, but I’m not trying to push him into being an early reader or anything. I’m just making a note to myself not to be too quick to make sweeping assessments of Robin’s strengths and weaknesses, because they may be more granular than I expect, and in any case they’re obviously still developing.

We got Robin on the waiting list for a preschool, by the way, and we’re signed up to take a tour of another preschool (the one that we could walk to) in February. Both schools say they will likely have openings next fall. I would like to get him more opportunities to socialize with kids his own age a little sooner, so we might look into signing him up for a Saturday toddler dance class or something like that. We watched Hello, Dolly! the other night and Robin loved the dance sequences. It was hilarious to watch him doing his best to follow along, twirling and kicking all over the living room.

Anyway, meal planning. Tomorrow night I’m roasting another chicken, along with the potatoes and maybe the sunchokes (unless I decide to just compost them instead). Wednesday night I’ll make a homemade spinach-and-ricotta pizza with whole wheat crust, and Thursday we’ll have grilled sausages, onions, and peppers, with a salad on the side to use up the remaining veggies. Friday will be for leftovers.

Bonus picture: Davy and Nonna!

Davy and Nonna

Oct 24 2010

What’s for Dinner

Sunchoke report: Sam handles them fine but I do not. (I only ate a little and the aftereffects were mild, but it was enough to steer me clear of sunchokes in the future.) We didn’t give any to Robin.

Yesterday in our box we got kale, bok choy, lettuce, basil, four plums, two leeks, carrots, celery, broccoli, three heirloom tomatoes (wish I knew the varietal!), six of what look like Yukon Gold potatoes, and six of the little crisp apples that Robin loves. We’re lucky enough to have Nonna and Pappy with us for the weekend, so last night I whipped up a batch of pesto and left it for the boys and their grandparents while Sam and I went out to celebrate our anniversary at Farmer Brown in San Francisco. It’s a restaurant close to where we used to live; we talked about going there a lot, and never did. Basically they do Southern food tarted up in a fancy way. I guess I’d have to say that in general I prefer my Southern food non-tarted, but I was able to get fried okra and that’s a win even if it did come with a wedge of lemon and some remoulade, exactly as if it were calamari. Sam’s fried chicken was pretty underwhelming, but the collard greens on the side were perfect, so good I traded him my cheesy potatoes for his cup of greens. My hangar steak was wonderful. The place was really loud but the crowd was diverse and attractive and jolly: I guess everybody was all jazzed about some sportsball thing? Something about the Giants and the World Series. “That’s baseball, right?” I asked Sam, inadvertently provoking a whole conversation about baseball, during which I nodded and smiled while privately admiring Sam in his spiffy corduroy jacket and plaid checked shirt. I think he totally looked like he could be an incarnation of Doctor Who. Doctor Who, by the way, is the best Halloween costume ever, because you don’t have to imitate a specific Doctor! You just have to kind of capture a Doctor-ish air. And then when anyone asks you what you’re supposed to be dressed up as you look at them and you say “I’m the Doctor!” When Sam seemed to have stopped talking about baseball leagues I made him say “I’m the Doctor!” and it was so hot.

It was nice walking back to BART after dinner, because the whole city was in a good mood over the sportsball thing, but not in such a good mood that they were turning cars upside down or anything. They were just, like, honking and cheering.

Anyway, tonight I’m going to make pork chops smothered in apples and a salad with roasted beets, and some warm gingerbread for dessert. We got a big pumpkin and we’re going to carve it, so I’ll try and get pictures. Sam and his dad were also planning to build a fence around the backyard today, but it’s raining pretty hard so I don’t know if that’ll happen. Tomorrow I’ll roast a chicken along with the carrots (and maybe the broccoli), and then I’ll make broth from the carcass for a soup on Tuesday—Cook’s Illustrated has a recipe for “colcannon soup with kale” that I’m going to try out. Always good to have another kale recipe.

Wednesday I’ll make ratatouille with the tomatoes and some zucchini and eggplant I bought at the store. The bok choy I think we’ll eat as a lunch, and the plums for breakfast, so that will take care of the veggies. I’ll make pasta or something on Thursday, and Friday we can have leftovers.

Oct 16 2010

What’s for Dinner

This week in our veggie box, we got: kale, bok choy, celery, three gorgeous big heirloom tomatoes (our first real heirlooms of the summer, in October!), five strikingly pale white potatoes (wish I knew what variety they are), two leeks, a cauliflower, four plums, three big nectarines, six apples, and these funny things:


They look almost like ginger, but are clearly some kind of root vegetables: when I cut one open, it tasted like jicama. After a bit of research (“gnarly ginger jicama” was the Google search that worked) I pegged them as Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes: native to North America, and actually a species of sunflower. Intriguingly, the site I landed on explains:

Although not widely used (perhaps because of its awkward appearance or anti-social effects – see NUTRITION), they are an inexpensive and versatile food that can be used both raw and cooked and make a delicious soup.

“Anti-social effects”? Here’s another site that puts it more plainly:

It turns out that consuming large quantities of sunchokes can have very, very uncomfortable consequences. Let’s just say—oh, how to put this delicately?—that they caused my insides to react just like the Hindenburg. Which is to say, explosively. My guts were all tied up in knots for no less than 24 hours.

HMMM. Well, I guess I won’t be serving these at a dinner party anytime soon. I think I will try them, though, probably roasted simply just as the poor blogger above did: it seems that some people can handle them better than others, so we’ll just have a little bit apiece and see what happens.

Otherwise, I’m excited about the tomatoes. I think I’ll make a bowl of panzanella tonight, using some of the celery too, and maybe a plum crisp if I get all excited. Tomorrow we’ll have steaks and the roasted sunchokes, and Monday, baked penne with cauliflower and ham. Tuesday I’ll use the leeks in a soup with potatoes and kielbasa. The kale I’ll use in my standard bulgur salad lunch, and I think the bok choy will also make a lunch, stir-fried with garlic and stirred up with soba noodles. That actually takes care of the veggies, so I’m not sure what I’ll make the rest of the week: probably there will be some leftovers, and/or we might get some Chinese food delivered. We’re still trying to find where the good places to order from are around here…

Oct 9 2010

What’s for Dinner

Seasonal change in California is, visually, hard to note: or rather, it’s only obvious when it switches from the wet to the dry, or back again. It’s very striking when the bright skies recede into grey and rain, and the hills lose their tawny gold coat and turn green again. But we don’t get autumn like I did growing up in the Ozarks: no riotous display of fall colors on the trees, no nip of early frost. No frost at all, in fact. It feels like summer still.

But in our CSA box, autumn has clearly arrived. This week we got the season’s first butternut squash, and a big head of bok choy—I know I’ll be seeing more of that in the weeks ahead. We also got lettuce, spinach, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, green peppers, plums, nectarines, apples, and a bunch of parsley.

Tonight I’ll roast a chicken with the carrots; tomorrow night I’ll make stock from the carcass, and chicken salad sandwiches with the leftover meat; Monday we’ll have zucchini fritters and a spinach salad with fennel and apples; Tuesday I’ll put the butternut squash into a baked rice casserole; Wednesday we’ll have leftover rice casserole supplemented with a garden salad (using the lettuce and broccoli, and probably some bacon and a creamy dressing); Thursday I’ll use the bok choy in a pot of hot and sour soup; and Friday, grilled sausages with peppers and onions.

Oct 4 2010

What’s for Dinner

This week our veggie box brought us: kale, basil, leeks, broccoli, green bell peppers, cabbage, zucchini, celery, apples, and nectarines. Unfortunately Sam put the vegetables away this week, and I have just discovered that he did this by simply piling everything up on a shelf in the fridge, with the result that the basil is already dry and brown.

Robin and I will have kale and bulgur salad for lunch today, and I’ll make pepper steak stir-fry with brown rice for dinner. Tomorrow we’ll have grilled shish kebabs using the peppers and zucchini with marinated lamb, and Wednesday I’ll use the cabbage and the leeks in a pot of borscht. Thursday we’ll have a veggie dinner of brown rice pilaf with broccoli and boiled green beans on the side, and Friday, I might bake some dark bread to go with the leftover borscht. The fruit will take care of itself, and I think this weekend we’ll go feed the celery to the goats at the Tilden Little Farm. Robin loves the farm animals so much: his conversation these days revolves pretty exclusively around chickens, goats, sheep, pigs, and cows, especially as regards the noises respective to each kind of animal. He’s started quizzing us: he’ll run up demanding “What’s sheep say?” and won’t be satisfied until he gets a baaa. The only bad thing about taking him to feed the animals is that he screams so hard when it’s time to go…

Sep 28 2010

What’s for Dinner

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while—I’ve kind of been winging it—but last weekend I was cleaning out the fridge and I had to throw away, like, six moldy zucchinis and a whole bunch of celery, and that made me sad. So this week I’m going back to the meal planning.

On Saturday we got two bags of baby spinach, a bunch of cilantro, a bunch of kale, a bunch of sweet little multicolored carrots, two heads of broccoli, a head of cauliflower, three pears, three nectarines, a box of cherry tomatoes, and six small adorable little sweet potatoes. I guess it must be fall, if it’s sweet potato season. I feel like I was robbed of summer somehow: I mean, it’s been insanely hot recently, but summer was slow to come on and I haven’t gotten anywhere near my fill of big ripe tomatoes. Next year I’ll have to grow my own.

Yesterday I did an okra stir-fry with the cherry tomatoes (why do I never start buying okra until the summer is almost gone?), and tonight I’m trying out a crock-pot recipe for “braised pork loin with sweet potatoes, orange, and cilantro.” It sounds really great but it called for three jalapeños, and when I tasted it just now it seemed really, really spicy. So I’m worried about how that will come out.

If it does turn out edible, we’ll definitely have leftovers, which I was counting on eating tomorrow along with a spinach salad. The kale as usual will go into a bulgur salad for lunch, while Thursday I figured we’ll have roasted cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots alongside grilled sausages. The fruit will mostly take care of itself (the nectarines are already gone), but I might make a pear crisp one evening.

Sep 8 2010

What’s for Dinner

It’s a bit late in the week to be posting this, but if I put it here then I can throw away the little scraps of paper that are littering my desk.

In our box this week we got two pints of strawberries, a pint of Roma tomatoes, cilantro, kale, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, three onions, three zucchinis to add to the ones from last week that I didn’t use, four plums, three small avocadoes, and six red potatoes. I used the cilantro, avocados, and one of the onions making a batch of fajitas, and tonight I’m planning roast chicken with tomatoes. Tomorrow we’ll have a big salad with the lettuce, carrots, and broccoli as well as bacon and boiled eggs, and Friday night I’ll do baked penne with ham and cauliflower (and another onion). We’re eating the plums for breakfasts, and the kale will go into a bulgur salad lunch. Since I have a lot of bulgur I’ll also make a batch of tabouleh and put in the tomatoes. Also at some point I’ll make zucchini bread.

Aug 10 2010

What’s for Dinner

Plus: bonus baby picture!

Davy is a month old now (and growing cuter by the day), and Robin will be three on Thursday! We have some new Thomas toys squirreled away as presents for him, and I’m planning to bake a train cake that night, but our real celebration will be a picnic at Tilden Park over the weekend. We’re hoping that Robin’s Pappy and Nonna will be able to join us!

Our veggie box on Saturday brought us cherry tomatoes, two pints of strawberries, two little boxes of raspberries, four odd tart fruits that might be pluots, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, kale, basil, and four zucchinis. We had pesto on Sunday and a roast chicken with sauteed zucchini last night. Tonight Sam is going to be eating at the Splunk conference, so I figured Robin and I would just have hummus and pita bread for dinner. I meant to make some tabouleh too, but I don’t have any bulgur, so I’ll have to do that as a lunch instead later in the week. Also, as long as they keep sending me kale I’m going to keep putting it into bulgur salad.

Wednesday night I’m making stuffed peppers, along with a salad to use the carrots and broccoli. Thursday Robin gets a birthday dinner of “noodles,” his favorite—he likes all kinds of noodles, but specifically I’m making baked whole wheat penne with cheese, cauliflower and ham (this recipe with cauliflower instead of peas). Then Friday will be for leftovers. And I’ll trust the fruit to take care of itself.