Okay so when I saw the Collard Greens, I immediately thought of the south.  The first thought that popped into my head when attempting to find a recipe for them was “Paula Deen! The modern Queen of Southern Cooking”  So I excitedly hopped on her website to see what free recipes I could steal from her.  I found lots of recipes… except they all had meat as the showcased component. Oops.  Really, it was pretty flawed logic on my part to think I could find any meat-free anything on Paula Deen’s website.  So after digging around some more on the interwebs, I came across this gem from everybody’s favorite Vegan Punk Rock Chef, Isa Moskowitz, who runs the Post Punk Kitchen.  I was so excited to do this recipe, because it look yummy and I’ve never cooked or even eaten Collard Greens before!

I was initially just going to make the “Hottie Black Eyed Peas” and skip the “Mashed Ginger Sweet Potatoes and Apples,” because I didn’t really want this to turn into an epic night of cooking.  But after looking over the recipes, I found that both dishes had several periods of waiting.  So if you started the mashed sweet potatoes and apples first, you could kind of jump back and forth between the two recipes without too much extra time spent.  It sounds really complex, but I swear it was super easy.

And let me just say DAMN I am so glad I ended up making both dishes because they went together perfectly!  If you make this, you have to make both dishes.  Also, I think this actually might just be my most favorite dinner so far from this whole CSA experiment!  I ate so much that my stomach was literally hurting for like an hour after because I was so full…

Hottie Black Eyed Peas & Collard Greens

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 bunch collards, rough stems removed, shredded
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 15 oz cans black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup veg broth
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (I used Sriracha)

Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium heat. Saute the onion in the oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Use a little cooking spray if needed. Add the garlic and saute a minute more. Add the greens, 1/4 cup of water and salt. Cover the pot and cook the greens down for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add black eyed peas, tomato sauce and broth and thoroughly mix. Cover pot and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add hot sauce, then use a potato masher to mash some of the beans, about 1/4 of them, to thicken the sauce. Cook for about 5 more minutes uncovered. Taste for salt and seasoning. Serve hot.

 

Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Apples

  • 1 pound apples (2 average sized apples), peeled, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes or yams, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 0.5 – 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Preheat a 4 quart pot over low heat. Spray with cooking spray, then add apples, sweet potatoes, water and salt. Cover pot and slowly cook the apples and sweet potatoes for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, you can turn the heat up just a bit. Add a little more water if needed. Cover and cook 20 more minutes, paying close attention so that they don’t burn, and stirring often. When they’re very tender, they’re done. Mash with a potato masher. Add the honey, cinnamon and ginger, and mash some more. Taste for salt and seasoning. Serve warm.

After a long debate (that occurred pretty much inside my own head… Garlic butter?! Garlic chips!? What are we going to doooooo??!?!?), Ryan had the brilliant idea of slicing them up and putting them on our pizza.  That way their freshness could be admired and enjoyed and not lost in a mess of other ingredients.  We put a little less than half the garlic on a Spinach and Mushroom pizza, and the rest on an onion and garlic pizza.

Which brings me to the pizza experiment I mentioned a while back.  We’ve been trying to eliminate pre-processed foods from our grocery list, and our most recent goal is frozen pizza.  This came to mind several months ago when we were having my bro-in-law over for dinner.

It was a homemade pizza night.  We were going to buy a Boboli pizza crust like we had done in the past, but I was so annoyed with them!  Not only are they hard to cut through and more “bready” than “crusty”, they are so expensive! I mean, a pizza crust is pretty much flour and water, right?  Which is like pennies.  But I am paying this company to put it together for me, bake it for me, add in a bunch of preservatives, put in plastic wrap and ship it to the store.
I turned to the famous Betty Crocker Cookbook to look for a pizza crust recipe, and instantly found one that took like 2 minutes to make.  (Now let me be clear, I was looking in the 1961 edition, because I kid you not the modern edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook actually instructs you to purchase a pre-made pizza crust in their recipe for homemade pizza.  America is awesome.)  The pizza crust was super delicious, and I was hooked.  I told Ryan that we should never buy any frozen pizzas ever again, and just make this crust and homemade pizzas forever and ever.

But then, life happened.  And gosh darn it sometimes you come home from work on a Friday and don’t want to do anything but grab a beer and put the frozen pizza in the oven and just sit on your porch and watch all the crazy apartment kids throw mud at each other. Wait.  I don’t really want to watch that, but then again I don’t really have a choice. But you get the idea.

Needless to say, my Betty Crocker pizza plan fell through because sometimes we are just that lazy.  But a month ago I came across this book “Artisan Pizza Crust in 5 minutes a Day” at our library, and Ryan and I started to re-evaluate the plan.  So the title of this book is slightly misleading: you make the pizza dough which takes 2 hrs, and then you store it (because this dough is “wetter” than most, which apparently gives it magical storing properties).  Then you can grab some dough and make a pizza in 5 minutes.

But, Ryan had the brilliant idea of making the dough, assembling full pizzas, finding some way to store them in the freezer, and having our very own frozen pizzas!  It was pure genius.  The hardest part was figuring out how to store the pizzas in the freezer.  After a few weeks of researching, we found a Pyrex from Target that is meant for storing lasagnas or big caseroles.  The pizzas have to be oval-shaped to fit in the rectangular container, but they still taste the same.

Homemade “Artisan” Pizza

Ingredients for Dough (8 pizzas)

  • 7.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 3.5 cups warm water
  • 1 tblsp dry active yeast

Directions:
Stir the yeast in to the warm water until it dissolves.  Mix the flour in, a few cups at a time.  The last cup you will probably have to mix with your hands to incorporate the all the flour.  You don’t have to knead this dough.  Once the flour is mixed set the dough in your bowl in a warm place and put a towel over the bowl. Let it rise for ~2hrs, or until its doubled in size.  No punch-down required.  Just grab some dough and start rolling it out / throwing it.  If you decide to put it in the fridge cover it, but don’t seal it all the way (that way gas can be released as it continues to ferment).  Also the dough will fall if you put it in the fridge but that is normal.

Load up your pizza crust with toppings (tomato sauce or marinara, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, onions, GARLIC!  Anything, really).  Don’t pile too much on…. this is “artisan” dough, not really deep dish American dough.  An excess of toppings will make the crust watery and falling apart even after its baked.

Bake at 450F for 18 minutes.  You can put them on parchment paper on a baking sheet or sprinkle cornmeal on a baking sheet so it won’t stick.

I found this recipe from Smitten Kitchen while browsing for something to do with radishes other than slicing them up for a salad.  I will admit, when I read through this recipe I was kind of weirded out.  Orange juice, dill, eating hot sugar snap peas??  But I wanted to be adventurous, so we gave it a shot.  Somehow everything ended up working out really well, and the whole thing was pretty freakin delicious.  One thing, it really isn’t as spectacular re-heated, so eat this one up as soon as it comes off the skillet!

Sauteed Radishes and Sugar Snap Peas with Dill

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 thinly sliced shallot
  • 12 ounces sugar snap peas, ends trimmed
  • 2 cups thinly sliced radishes (about 1 large bunch)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon dill seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Directions:

Melt oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add sugar snap peas, cook for one to two minutes, and radishes sauteing until crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Add orange juice and dill seeds; stir 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in chopped dill. Transfer to bowl; serve.

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This week’s pickup resulted in a lot of jumping up and down around our apartment (probably to the great annoyance of our downstairs neighbors), when we realized we were getting GARLIC!  Yay!  (Also, I had no idea just how tall garlic is…)

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Our haul for Week 3 includes:

Radish and Turnip Mix
Baby Chard Mix
Collard Greens
Sugar Snap Peas

Now the only tricky part is figuring out how the heck we are going to use that garlic.  For all the garlic loving maniacal obsessing that goes on in this apartment, I am pretty sure we’ve never had fresh garlic before, so this really deserves something special.

And one last look at that Chard… So pretty!

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With the exception of pumpkin pie, I really have never been a pie person.  Everyone that knows me, knows I am obsessed with cake, donuts, and bread.  But Ryan is totally a pie person.  And so we’ve now reached a compromise where I make cake 90% of the time and pie 10% of the time.  Just kidding. Kind of.

Anyway, I’ve always known that Ryan’s favorite pie was Strawberry Rhubarb.  I would always remember this at the most inopportune moments (his birthday in July, Christmas, in the fall after a first round of midterms) when rhubarb is out of season.  I constantly whined to Ryan “I would have made you a Strawberry Rhubarb pie, but its out of season and nobody sells frozen rhubarb waaaaah.”

And then one day last winter Ryan brilliantly suggested that we buy a bunch of rhubarb this spring and freeze it ourselves.  So that is what we set out to do this spring.

Our farm had a harvest of rhubarb (before the CSA started), and we bought one bunch. Apparently, in our excitement to make a pie, we completely forgot about the brilliant plan we’d hatched over the winter.  We went to the farmstand the next weekend and there was no more rhubarb to be had!  I panicked.  WE’D MISSED OUR CHANCE AGAIN!!! After waiting all winter!?!?!?! Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!

I did some researching around the internet and found that rhubarb was in fact still in season. Phew, we still had a chance.  So the next time we went grocery shopping I went to pick some up.  Except there wasn’t any!  I talked to the produce people, and they confirmed that rhubarb is in season, but they’ve just been having a really hard time getting it for some reason.

By the 2nd trip with still no rhubarb, I realized I needed to get serious about this.  I started calling all the grocery stores in Longmont, asking if they had rhubarb.  It took about a week until somebody finally had some.  I let out a little shout of “ohmygoshreally!?!” over the phone and I am pretty certain the produce guy thought I was crazy.

I literally raced over to King Soopers on my lunch hour to buy up all that rhubarb.  Well, initially I took it all.  But then I felt bad…. I mean, there was a rhubarb shortage going on in my city.  Everyone must be feeling the pain.  So I left four stalks (because according to my mother-in-law that is how many is required for a single pie), and took the remaining 3.5 pounds home.  (Well actually, I took it back to the office with me and kept it under my desk for the rest of the afternoon, which was kind of awkward.)

So I lugged the rhubarb home that night.  I told Ryan all about it, and then got distracted by some other project (typical).  So, Ryan ended up processing all the rhubarb.  Thanks, babe!  He chopped it up and froze it on cookie sheets for an hour before dumping it all in a plastic ziplock bag, which went back to the freezer. That way, the pieces don’t freeze together in a big ice block, and you can easily scoop out what you need without having to thaw that big ice block.  (We did not think this up ourselves. We googled “freezing rhubarb”.  The interwebs is smart!)

The next weekend we were randomly in our old King Soopers in Boulder, and I was wondering if Boulder was also experiencing a rhubarb shortage (and also wanted to see how they were charging an arm and a leg and looky how I got mine for so much cheaper hahaha Boulder is expensive).  I strolled through the produce and lo and behold, they had rhubarb.  Like, really maybe over 10 pounds, actually spilling off the shelves!  And the worst part: $0.99 a pound after I had just paid $2.99 a pound in Longmont!  Has there EVER been a time in history where something was more expensive in Longmont than Boulder?!  Probably never.  Really, I would put money on it that this was the first time.

So there I was standing by myself and I said (probably much too loudly) “99 cents a pound!?!?!”  I am pretty sure like 3 people turned and looked at me as I stood there, jaw dropped, staring at all that beautiful, cheap rhubarb.

And that, my friends, is how I became the Crazy Rhubarb Lady of Boulder County.

We did pretty good this week!  We were able to eat up everything, and though I did take two weeks to get around to the Colcannon, surprisingly nothing went bad.  Here is a recap of where all our food was used from Week #2:

Paris Market Carrot – Coleslaw
Napa Cabbage – Coleslaw
Siberian Kale – Colcannon
Garlic Scapes – Pesto Sauce in Pasta dish
Sugar Snap Peas – We ate these up as snacks throughout the week and they were pretty freakin delicious.

I think this week really exemplifies what I was hoping the CSA would provide for me.  I am learning about produce I have never heard of before (garlic scapes), and learning how to use produce I probably wouldn’t go out and buy on my own (Napa Cabbage).  I’m also being challenged to find recipes for dishes I wouldn’t think to make on my own.  Up to this point, a lot of my cooking has been “one main dish”, but a lot of the food from our CSA is going to rock the side dishes I usually wouldn’t be up for making (coleslaw).  And of course, once they are made, I love them!  Looking forward to next week!

As a random side-note, Week 2 also ended with a fun concert on Main Street in our little city!

Colcannon is a traditional Irish recipe made with mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage.  I found out about it a year ago when I came across a Denver band named Colcannon, wondered about the name, and looked it up. So totally random!

I am always more of a fan of using a recipe from one of my books before turning to the internet, and of course I ended up finding a recipe for Colcannon in the world’s most versatile vegetarian cookbook to go off.  Their recipe includes cooking some eggs on top, which seems to be a variation from the traditional dish.

I’ll be honest, I kind of slacked on this one.  In fact it took me 2 weeks to get to it. We were both getting home late from work and had a lot of craziness going on, and I kept pushing it off so I could make “easier” recipes.  But I did finally get to it, and it was really easy and delicious (and healthy! Holy cow one serving gives  you 127% of your daily recommended Vitamin A!). I guess it was a good thing I waited so long to make this dish, because it calls for scallions, which we got in our CSA for Week 4!

Irish Colcannon

Ingredients

  • 5 medium-large russet potatoes cut into pieces
  • 8 0z kale, shredded
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 0z mature cheese (I used Gruyere)

Directions

  1. Boil the potatoes until they are tender (easily can stick a fork through them)
  2. Drain potatoes and mash well
  3. Boil the kale for a few minutes, then drain
  4. Preheat the oven to 375F
  5. Mix the kale with mashed potatoes, scallions, and butter
  6. Season with salt & pepper to taste
  7. Spoon mixture into shallow baking dish
  8. Make four hollows in the mixture and crack an egg into each hollow
  9. Bake for around 12 minutes, or until eggs are set
  10. Serve sprinkled with the cheese

Since my dreams of homemade sauerkraut were dashed to the wind, I settled on the other thing I know cabbage is good for: coleslaw.  Yes, I could have done another leafy salad type thing, but at this point we still weren’t done with our original leafy salad and I didn’t want things piling up.  I initially found a recipe from Smitten Kitchen that specifically calls for Nappa Cabbage, but the idea of making wasabi coleslaw with my entire head of cabbage scared me a little.

So I just opted for some normal coleslaw based off a recipe in my favorite versatile veg book.  The recipe calls for a quarter of head of cabbage but I was determined to use it all up, so I just took a look at the ratios of ingredients and started throwing stuff together and hoping it worked out.  Here is my ingredients list, and vaguely the quantities I used:

  • Mayonnaise (12 tbsp)
  • Plain Yogurt (8 tbsp)
  • 1 apple
  • 15 celery stalks
  • Entire Napa Cabbage
  • The rest of my Paris Market Carrots (7? 8?)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I chopped up the cabbage, celery and apple, and I shredded the carrots.  Overall it turned out pretty yummy.  It looks like a lot of mayonnaise and yogurt, but because there was just so much of everything else, it was actually pretty minimal.  Ryan and both agreed that it was a lot less ‘soupy’ than most coleslaws (which was nice because you could actually taste what was in it).

I think my main regret was shredding the carrots so fine.  This particular cabbage is apparently more ‘leafy’ and less stiff than ‘normal’ cabbage from the grocery store (obviously there is no such thing as normal cabbage, but I am a product of America and therefore any produce that is consistently available at the grocery store becomes the ‘normal’ version).  So, because of this the coleslaw already wasn’t as crunchy as I would have liked.  And with the carrots grated so fine, they were more like ‘carrot paste’ and less like ‘strips of crunchy carrots.’ In the end it wasn’t too bad, because the apple and celery gave it a lot of crunch.

Since I pretty much fell off my chair when I saw that we would be getting Garlic Scapes (after looking them up and finding out what they are), I knew I had to use them for something that night. Our farm suggested that they make a great pesto, and even gave us a quick recipe, so I decided to make Whole Wheat Penne with Garlic Scape Pesto and Tomatoes for dinner.

By the time I finished making the pesto, our whole apartment smelled amazing!  I took a taste test and oh man.  It was STRONG.  Like way-stronger-than-when-Ryan-makes-the-garlic-bread strong (I didn’t think it was possible!).  The recipe says “We did find that the garlic scape pesto mellows a little after sitting, so if you find it a little overpowering at first, just refrigerate it and taste it again once it’s had a chance to sit for a few days.”  Right. So basically if you are a normal human being, make this pesto a day in advance.  It was practically burning my mouth it was so strong!  Ryan of course loved it 🙂

I just boiled up 2 boxes of whole wheat penne (yes we still have lots of spaghetti, but I felt this pesto really deserved some fancy pasta).  While the pasta was cooking I whipped up the pesto and sliced 8 cherry tomatoes in half. I initially was going to use sun-dried tomatoes, since those always go amazing with basil pesto.  But, I was scared they would over-power the garlic scape pesto (HA) so I used some fresh cherry tomatoes instead.  Once the pasta was done I just mixed everything all up together. Super easy.

Luckily for me, things really mellowed out over the night in the fridge and the leftovers I had for lunch the following day tasted much better.  I loved it so much that I went back to the farm a few days later and bought another bunch of them.  I thought that the pesto could make a really awesome pizza sauce (Ryan and I are in the midst of a pizza experiment), so I will keep you posted on how that goes.

 

Whole Wheat Penne with Garlic Scape Pesto and Tomatoes

Pesto Ingredients

  • 1 cup garlic scapes, chopped
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Other Ingredients

  • 8 or 10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 boxes of whole wheat penne pasta
  1. Cook the pasta
  2. While pasta is cooking, place all pesto ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
  3. Place cooked pasta in a large bowl and mix with pesto and tomatoes

It’s week 2 and I feel like pro! I know to drive in the correct entrance and how to cross my name off and everything. Yay.  Here is what we got this week:

Napa Cabbage – I instantly thought to myself “HOMEMADE SAUERKRAUT!!!!” And then realized I don’t have a basement and I don’t really want to be fermenting cabbage in our tiny apartment during the hot summer months.  (ew)  I am pretty sure if I ever give up my beloved apartment life, homemade sauerkraut will be the reason.

Paris Market Carrot – These guys are so freakin’ fat and cute!  Also the name makes me feel fancy about eating carrots.

Siberian Kale – Also excited about this one.  Kale is apparently this cool vegetable that everyone is always talking about.  (It is strange to me that foods can be “in style.”)  I’ve never had it, but now we can be like all the other cool kids.

Garlic Scapes – Aka cool curly things that taste like garlic.  I had never heard of them until now, and I’m not quite sure how I’ve lived without them.

Sugar Snap Peas – YUM!