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Friday, August 29, 2014

Beacon Bits -- Loose Ends

I recently brought in odds and ends of leftover yarn for patients residing at a state hospital to learn how to knit or crochet or to practice previously learned skills. (Recent brain imaging research suggests the act of knitting integrates cerebral hemispheres.) The scraps of yarn from various projects were separated by color and the ends were tied together in a secure manner. Then the knitting and crocheting proceeded as if it were a full skein of yarn. The result blended together the loose ends into a whole.
The project reminded me of how I am feeling about the bounty of odds and ends related to my CSA share with Obercreek Farm. All season long I've been so pleased with my bi-weekly share (i.e., a half share) of kale, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, melon, herbs, green onions, bok choy, beets, celery and turnips. 
I'm very happy that I continued with Tim Heuer and Sam Wildfong's Obercreek Farm for this second year after two seasons of a full share with Common Ground Farm. In fact, less seems to be more, and there is some trouble keeping up with cooking all of it. One thing is true of a CSA share -- the food is so local that it stores well, it lasts longer and stays fresh. But it still starts to add up and I eventually get to a point when I feel a frenzy of food preparation coming on. This seems to occur more quickly as the season progresses and the bounty of the harvest is plentiful.

In the past two weeks since my last pick up, I had such an occurrence and found myself cooking up a melange of delicacies that might not otherwise have been planned but the right combinations of veggies seemed to appear for them to come together.

Fennel Chutney
Saute chopped shallots with chopped fennel in olive oil until transparent. 
Add salt, golden raisins, honey and rose vinegar (purchased at the vinegar festival at 
Our Lady of the Resurrection monastery in Lagrangeville.
Serve with goat cheese on crackers.

Dice 2 red peppers, 1 large cucumber, 1 onion, and 2 tomatoes. (I used an red heirloom and an orange valencia). Place all vegetables in a large bowl. Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables until mixed and frothy. Add salt, pepper, juice of 1 lime, and fresh parsley (or basil or cilantro.)

Peel and cut yellow squash and zebra eggplant into cubes. Dice one onion and 2 cloves garlic and place into a pan with olive oil. Saute until translucent. Add vegetables. Season with salt, basil, oregano and thyme. Dice 2 heirloom tomatoes (1 red and 1 green) and add to the pot. Cook for about 1/2 hour, stirring often, until tender. Serve hot or cold.

Curry 'Leftover' Soup
Peel and cube 4 to 6 white turnips. Dice several celery stalks including the leaves and 4-6 green onions (the white bulb as well as the greens). Chop several stems of kale. Slice 1 to 2 carrots. Heat canola oil in a pan and add all vegetables. Saute for several minutes until carrot and celery are wilted. Add 1 quart chicken broth (or vegetable broth). Add salt, pepper, 'monastery blend' spice (white pepper, cinnamon/cloves, nutmeg, ginger) , and 1 to 2 tbs. curry powder. Cook until all vegetables are tender (about 45 minutes.) Use immersion blender to mix; soup will thicken. If desired, add 1 cup skim milk. Bring to a boil and serve.

Seems like I finished all the cooking in time for this week's bountiful pick-up! 
Looks like I have enough for pickled beets and sundried tomatoes!

Food for thought: Whether it is knitted together or cooked in a pan, the act of creating something new from disparate ingredients feels like a fitting metaphor for a community that maintains all of its uniqueness while it blends together.  The multiculturalism of Beacon is like the chutney and the granny square; you still see and feel the distinct elements, but you can also taste something new when it all comes together.  Feels like it is time to get ready for the Spirit of Beacon Day (September 28, 2014) when the loose ends get tied up quite nicely with I Am Beacon.

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