Monday, January 31, 2011

Rutabaga salad

I may just be the poster child for liking just about any vegetable just about any way, but I found another simple easy root vegetable preparation for our winter root vegetable bounty the other day. I wanted to get out of the mashed rutabaga rut, even though I love them that way.

If mashing them like potatoes worked, I decided to see if boiling them like potatoes worked too. One of our potato salad standbys in this house is just to boil potatoes, then toss the potato cubes with olive oil and salt, and we also do something similar with celeriac, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. (and salt of course. Maybe I should title this post "fat and salt" too.) Before boiling, I peeled and cubed the rutabaga, then boiled long enough to be tender but not falling apart, tossed with a little bit of vinegar, olive oil, and salt.

Rutabaga salad

2 lb rutabaga, peeled and cubed

1 tsp dill seed

1-2 tbsp olive oil

about 1/2 tsp salt, to taste

1-2 tsp red wine vinegar

Boil rutabagas in salted water with dill seed until tender (15 or 20 minutes worked for us.) Drain, then toss with olive oil, salt, and vinegar and serve. Can be served room temperature as a salad to accompany sandwiches, or warm to accompany other warm food.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fat and Salt

I stumbled upon a monthly blogging project that will get me to use a bit more of my favorite new cookbook, Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie, and now in addition to pondering it I've bought ingredients and gotten started.
The project is called Charcutepalooza, and a number of bloggers will be making cured meat, sausages, and whatnot once a month and blogging about it throughout 2011.


Today I started duck breast prosciutto by putting a large raw duck breasts into a containerful of salt. (This project should have happened and been finished by 15 January, but I hadn't heard about it yet.) February's project is pancetta, which is cured and tightly rolled up bacon. I am making a smaller quantity of both of them than the recipes call for - if they turn out great I will perhaps feel silly, but if they're a disaster I will be glad not to have ruined quite as much expensive meat.

I will report on how the projects go, hopefully in time for February 15 with the pancetta...

(also posted at my shared blog at Always Be Cooking)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

spicy italian sausage

In yesterday's post I mentioned that I usually love the creative inspiration of cooking whatever I found in the box or in the fridge, and that, not the cost savings, is one of the main reasons I like to participate in our CSA.

Our meat CSA usually doesn't quite work that way - in a "best of both worlds" arrangement I get to pick and choose my meat from a larger CSA assortment of over 25 lbs of frozen meat. So I get the "ooh, yay, there's a brisket!" moments and still get to plan what meats inspire me, at least a little bit. But the last meat delivery, I got without personally going to choose things - the friend who I share the distribution asked me for some guidance and then dropped off the meat at my front door. Mostly a big favor (thanks, Megan!) but in this case, landed me with a package of hot Italian sausage - our least favorite of the sausage varieties, although I did say "I'll take some sausage, since that makes a quick easy meal."

My standby meal is to just bake the sausages with potatoes and eat them, but the spicy ones are too spicy for me to want to eat forkfuls of. (Plus, too spicy for a certain little girl to be willing to eat at all.) I'm pleased with how I've wound up using it as in ingredient so far, though.

Step 1: I cooked the sausages plain in a covered cast iron frying pan on medium-low heat. (This gets the skins nicely browned and crispy but by covering the pan, contains enough heat that they cook through, if you do it patiently.) This makes fully cooked sausage ready to add to whatever you want.

The first one was sliced into a quart of potato leek and arugula soup that I had previously frozen - small bits of sausage added plenty of protein, and the seasoning was subtle.

The second one went into some very quick burritos. Yes, they were supposed to be "Italian" but mostly they are just the right level of spicy to read as a spicy Mexian sausage if one isn't shooting for authentic - chopped into cubes, reheated with leftover cooked squash and some garlic, and put into some flour tortillas with cheese melted on them along with salsa and Greek yogurt-as-sour-cream.

The third one will probably get sliced onto a pair of sandwiches, maybe with roasted red pepper and sauteed onion if I am feeling inspired.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

market analysis: summing it all up

Happy New Year! It's winter, and we're well into our winter farmshare, and I ran out of steam for this project, but I didn't lose the data. So here concludes the summing of the market analysis for 2010.

November 11, Week 22

1 bunch kale - $2.50
1 stalk brussels sprouts - $2.50
1 huge bunch celery $2
2 leeks, $1 ea, $2
1 lb 4 oz purple cabbage, $2/lb $2.50
1 lb 13 oz beets, $2/lb, $3.62
1 lb 12 oz carrotsm $1/lb $1.75
5 lb 10 oz butternut squash, $1.80/lb, $10.12
2 watermelon radishes, $2/lb, 13 oz $1.62
Total : $28.61

November 17, the last double share (intended for weeks 23+24)

Pie Pumpkin 4lbs $6
Butternut Squash 2.75 lbs $4.12
Parsnips 2lb $4.00
Carrots 2.5 lbs $2.50
Celeriac 1lb (this was $5/lb at the farmer's market!) $5
Turnups 2.25lbs $4.50
Beets 2lbs $4
Sweet potatoes 3lbs (2 of it in one potato!!!), $1.50/lb, $4.50
Onions .75 lb, $1/lb, $.75
Garlic .25lb, $8/lb $2
Potatoes, white 2.5lbs, $1/lb, $2.50
1 stalk brussel sprouts, $2.50
2 leeks 1.25 lbs, $2
1 bunch kale $2.50
1 bunch collards $2.50
Cabbage 1 lg head (>5lbs) $5
Total : $54.37, or $27.18 per week

The final savings for the season comes out to just over $170 - we paid $510 for the season, and if we'd gone to the farmer's market each week armed with this shopping list we would have spend around $680 instead.

In reality, we wouldn't have *actually* done that - for one thing, these precise items weren't all available at the same market every single week. Sometimes we were getting something for weeks at the farmshare that I could not find at any local market that week. Sometimes prices were crazy, e.g. the $5 celeriac at the end of the market, and I would have done without. Sometimes the farm gave us a huge amount of something that we managed to use but that would not have been on my shopping list for the week. And often if I'd bought a particularly large amount of vegetables the week before and could take a break for a week and buy less, I probably would have opted to do that. But if you really are going to buy a giant quantity of vegetables every week for 24 weeks, and want those vegetables to be local and seasonal, the CSA offers a pretty clear savings.

Later, I'll talk a bit more about other benefits we've found to having a CSA, and hopefully get some posts up here that aren't about the market analysis project now that it's actually finished.