Pesto Magic!

Posted by organicneedle in csa, CSA/ Local Food, recipes

Don’t you hate when every recipe on TV is all about every single ingredient needing to be the freshest thing in the world? Well…that is great on CSA/farm market day #1 or#2…..but how about day #8?  Sometimes life happens and we don’t all eat our green leafies in a timely fashion.  So what to do with that somewhat soggy bag of spinach?  That gamey garlic?  That half a pack of wrinkly almonds?

PESTO MAGIC!!!!!!!!!!!

ANY dark green that you would eat raw makes a good base for pesto.  3 that I use regularly are: basil, spinach, and my favorite…arugula.

ANY nut you have on hand can work. I have used traditional pine nuts, walnuts, and almonds.

ANY hard nutty cheese: traditional parm, asiago, or go for a local hard cheese.

ANY  type of garlic…even the scapes.

Salt…I prefer sea or kosher…but whatever you have will do the trick

GOOD Olive Oil…I always use extra virgin because that is what I like and buy in bulk, but if the price bothers you I’m sure no one would explode if you used the cheaper stuff.

As far as measurements…I don’t really use them.  I start by pureeing my greens with just enough olive oil to make them liquefy with my immersion blender.  [If you do not have an immersion blender stop whatever you are doing and go get one.  Yes…you will have to buy new because no one in his/her right mind would ever give it up unless it was broken and/or possessed.  Do not trust a person who says she/he simple didn’t need it anymore.  They are insane…and probably dangerous.] Then I toss in whatever cheese I am using…a handful or whatever nubs I have left.  If it starts to get too pasty I drizzle in a little more oil.  Then I toss in the nuts.  Then the garlic- one clove/scape at a time-tasting as I go.  LAST I add the salt.  You want to wait on the salt to see how much intensity the cheese and garlic are bringing to the pesto party. And trust me…it is a party.

PESTO is MAGIC because it will keep many a forgotten green from your trash.  It can be frozen in cubes in your freezer for a tatse of sping in the winter.  Your unsuspecting kids will wolf down lbs of spinach will enjoying alien brains-ziti with pesto sauce.  Oh…and guess what…no matter how you do it…it will taste really amazing.



Garbage Soup Is The Tops

Posted by organicneedle in csa, CSA/ Local Food, recipes

Last night I looked in the fridge and saw a shelf of tops: turnip tops, beet tops, radish tops.  This is definitely one of the challenges of being in a CSA. Off season, most of us buy our root veggies post haircut and never have to deal with their less popular parts. Last year we had the worms to deal with any veggie tops that didn’t quite make it onto the weekly menu…but this year we are on our own. Since reckless food wasting just plain makes me feel dirty…we will be trying to eat everythingpot this year.

So…what did I do with nature’s fuzzy little hairdos? I also happened to have the pitiful remains of a chicken devoured by my offspring… which usually means soup night. (Especially as we defend ourselves against the evil and ever present piggie flu.) So I boiled down the chicken bits in some leftover veggie stock, added all the root tops cut up, tossed in a little tamari and tofu and turned what I would have previously viewed as a pile of garbage into a very tasty and nutritiously kick-ass soup.  (This could easily be made vegan by totally skipping the fowl.) In fact, I made a giant stock pot full and by time my crew got done with it there was hardly enough left for a lunch today.  Not bad for a pot of garbage, hey?



Countering the Cucurbit Crisis: Sqaushing My Squash Squimishness and Other Fall Goodies

Posted by organicneedle in csa, CSA/ Local Food, Economics, recipes

In the words of the great Moose A. Moose…I feel like I’m falling for fall. (If you can identify the song…you have little people infesting your home too.)moose

I have finally learned to appreciate the bounty of autumn. I have mastered the art of the world’s easiest butternut soup, narcoleptic cat easy. You simply steam them in the nuker in pyrex until they are soft, mix them with stock, salt, pepper, and buttermilk. Puree the whole shabang up with an immersion blender, the coolest kitchen gadget EVER, and you have some tasty creamy healthy fall soup. (You can actually use any cucurbit you have rolling around.)

Still tripping over squash…nuke ’em up like noted above and add them to your cheese sauce for a tasty quasi-nutritious mac & cheese. Create your reg. light roux…fat&flour browned for a minute. (I like butter and a little King Arthur’s white but any fat and flour will do.) Add a little mustard, either fresh or powdered. Add your milk and bring to a slight boil. Toss in shredded cheese. Then add your pureed steamed squash. (Puree the squash before adding because pureeing with the cheese makes for a weird texture.) Pour over whatever noodle you have on hand, or even rice and bake the bad boy until crispy on top.

A taste of summer…coleslaw made with fall cabbage, dicon radish, and apples. Shred it all up, add salt, and pepper,a little mayo, and a little white vinegar. Beyond tasty.

Leftover apples and pears…although they go pretty fast in the land of baby chimps. Cook them down into tasty apple/pear sauce to put with pancakes or even to bake with. (Applesauce can replace veggie oil in many quick bread recipes. Another way to localfy your ingredients.) Or use Green Bean’s fantastic rhubarb tart recipe and just replace the rhubarb with whatever fall fruits you have on hand.

Besides being nutritious, local, seasonal, and delicious…I am also finding these dishes are quite budget friendly. If you haven’t joined a CSA keep it in mind for the next season. Not only will you be supporting sustainable agriculture in your neighborhood, but you will be forcing yourself to learn about food and seasons and, perhaps, saving yourself a little green.

Isn’t it funny how watching one’s retirement plan go from escaping to a small remote tropical island to living in a small trailer on Long Island makes one appreciate a cheap meal? Maybe it’s just me.

Retirement Vision Before Stock Market Crash


Retirement Vision After Stock Market Crash



I’m Being Squashed by the Great Pumpkin

Posted by organicneedle in csa, CSA/ Local Food, recipes

I currently posses a pumpkin, a giant butternut squash, 2 acorn squashes, a sunshine squash, and what appears to be a confused pumpkin. I do not posses, however, even one measly idea as to what to do with them all. This is a cucurbit crisis people!!!!! pumpkin(OK…I totally just wanted to show off my years of botany study. That 2 seconds of impressing the pants of you cost me tens of thousands of dollars. Fake your awe if you must.)



A Cure for Those Eggplant Blues

Posted by organicneedle in csa, CSA/ Local Food, recipes

eggplantI haven’t done a CSA update for awhile. Honestly the past few weeks have been rough because I have had to heavily supplement my share with the markets. Lots of fruit…not a whole lotta greens. So I haven’t been feeling the inspiration. One thing, beside bushels of zucchini which apparently has the world’s longest growing season, we have been getting by the butt load is eggplant. Yup…eggplant. Not a fan of eggplant?  Me neither. Now I don’t mind an eggplant parm now and again, but for the sake of not being shaped like an eggplant, I keep that at the scarce end of diet frequency. I made two huge batches of ratatouille for the freezer which is okay…but labor intensive for an okay kind of meal. I made babaganoosh and it got tossed after a week of everyone pretending they couldn’t see it in the fridge. So what am I to do with nature’s unappreciated bounty? Are you ready….drum roll please….I hide it. Well…it is a little more involved than that. I slice the babies in half, slather them in olive oil, add a touch of salt and pop them in the toaster oven under the broiler. I spend the next 30 minutes thinking about how cool my hair would look feathered with a snazzy sparkly bow accent. I then simple pop the bad boys into the stew pot with the rest of the basic tomato sauce gang…tomatoes, garlic, onions, & basil. Puree the whole gang with my immersion blender. Not only does it hide the eggplants, but it actually gives a nice body to the sauce. I can leave the sauce a little on the fresher side, spend less time cooking, and still get a good rich sauce. You can simply send your fan mail to Organicneedle.com.