Sunday, October 19, 2008

CSA Week 14

CSA Week 14 Haul. October, 2008. photo Jenonymous/Group News Blog.
CSA Week 14 Haul. October, 2008. photo Jenonymous/Group News Blog.

Note: This post was delayed one day due to my being ill. --Jesse

So I Know I'm Falling Behind; Sorry Bout That….

(Note: This was typed during the week but only sending it out on Saturday, which tells you what my life is like lately. Again, apologies.)

Okay, so tonight I'm doing a rare thing these days, which is typing while I prep my CSA stuff. I'm about 3 weeks behind in posts; my bad, I admit. Right now I've got something in the oven and round 2 of stove action.

The CSA has been good to me thus far. Right now, I am enjoying/managing an over-abundance of apples. I think that by way of making up for the fact that the berry crop got hosed this year (strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries ruined by heavy rain and cold snaps) and the fact that we didn't get a single frigging ear of corn, we are getting every apple (and every variety of thereof) grown in upstate NY. In huge quantities. I've already done the eating two apples a day thing, putting apples in my salad for work, and even bringing in a huge bunch for a staff meeting that I was assigned to run (with extras; my boss and a few co-workers munched during the meeting and took one for later). I have an issue to a lesser extent with pears, but seem to be keeping on top of them. So, I'll start this belated post by asking you, dear readers, to PLEASE tag up your apple recipes that do NOT involve a pie or cake. I don't need baked goods around anyway, and my oven couldn't suck any harder and still work. Yeah, I know that there are a million variations of apple sauce but how about a reliable, simple, apple butter recipe? Or apple chutney (a recipe for which the folks at my CSA keep teasing me with but keep forgetting to send me)? Apple gratin? Etc? Thanks.

Having said all that, week 14 was a BIGASS CSA week for moi. I got a full fruit, veg, and herb share, the last basil share of the season, and also took a BIG meat and dairy delivery. Grok the gorgeous pix and have a peek.

  • 3.5 lbs. of organic, grass-fed, went-to-Harvard cabrito (one whole piece; half-saddle and forequarter all in one huge piece)
  • ½ lb. hard tomme cheese
  • 1 dozen small eggs from free-range, organic, cageless chickens that went to Harvard with the cabrito
  • 2 lb. baby squash of various shapes
  • 1 bunch leeks
  • 1 pint baby tomatoes
  • 2 nectariens
  • 3 peaches
  • 4 pears
  • 7 apples (the thin edge of the wedge of apple inundation)
  • 1 bunch lettuce (home to a Special Guest; more below)
  • Sage
  • Summer Savory
  • 4 bigass giant bunches of basil
Special Guest didn't photograph well, so I put him outside via my living room window: There was the cutest little green inchworm on my lettuce. This sounds nuts, but when I saw that little guy on my lettuce I felt…compassion. Like I haven't in a very long time. I felt so terrible that this thing had just wound up on my lettuce, totally oblivious, trucked down from upstate, just trying to eat his dinner.

Mind you, I've squished roaches with gusto in the past. But this little guy just seemed…innocent. And here I was with a whole half-saddle-and-forehaunch of cabrito, certainly a much more sentient and large thing, with a mother that was much more upset to see it go, but somehow that didn't bother me like that little inchworm did.

So out the window he went, to the frayed patch of weeds under my fire escape. Hope he made it OK.

I rather guiltlessly cooked the meat—I figured that this thing had a good life, and it was bred to be eaten. Please, no arguments for vegetarianism, it will only piss me off. More on the recipe in a second.

I made pesto with the basil, as well as some plain ol' basil puree'd with olive oil in order to preserve it better in the freezer. It's too bad it got puree'd; it had lovely flowerheads on it. I dried the sage and summer savory—check out the flowers on the summer savory also.

CSA Week 14 Herbs. October, 2008. photo Jenonymous/Group News Blog.
CSA Week 14 Herbs. October, 2008. photo Jenonymous/Group News Blog.

CSA Week 14 Basil Blossoms. October, 2008. photo Jenonymous/Group News Blog.
CSA Week 14 Basil Blossoms. October, 2008. photo Jenonymous/Group News Blog.

Some of the herbs got used fresh, though. That saddle and forequarter of cabrito had plenty of meat on it, but also plenty of bones. It took my stoutest chef's knife and a hammer to cleave the backbone at about the halfway point so I could pile the meat in my handy stewpot (glad I had both—the local butcher would NOT have been amused if I brought in an outside cut for his saw). I started out by browning each individual piece—two pieces of rib with minichops, the forequarter, and shank—in my favorite secret ingredient (ghee, or clarified butter) after salting and peppering each piece. I removed each piece as it browned to a plate. When that was all done, I simmered down a fond of leeks and carrots (from the CSA) with garlic, salt and pepper, sage, savory, and lavender (all also from the CSA). The meat went back in with some water. Then on went the lid and many, many hours of cooking ensued (and water added as needed) until I could pull the whitened bones (there were a LOT—I got pretty much half of a small kid; think half a beagle but mostly bone) with my tongs. After most of the bones were out I added dried chopped figs and a splash of lemon juice to finish.

Folks, it was AMAZING. That night I had a bowlful with some CSA bread and very good wine. I ate most of the rest during the week. There is one precious container left in the back of my freezer, I think. Truly worth the effort and the having to Napalm my stove (and the burner wells, and under the burner wells, and my floor) afterwards.

Other than that, I really don't have much rant left in me right now. I'm exhausted and have a sink full of dishes, which includes my special little salad box thingie, which I have to wash if I am going to prep my salad.

UPDATE: Whoops, there goes my weekend. No idea when I'm going to get any cooking done this weekend. I have a wine tasting at 5 tonight and I woke up tired after 11 hours of sleep still feeling tired. I can't even fathom cooking tomorrow on Sunday, but I guess I'll have to. That means going out for more onions and garlic. Gotta get my strength up and go…need my stamina back. In the meantime, please keep those recipes coming!

P.S. Yes, I realize that the SAGE has the purple blossoms, but the Basil had flowerheads also in a different shade of green.