produce

Last week was pretty hectic, and I’m afraid I didn’t get much cooking in.

And by not much, I actually mean: I didn’t cook at all.

So I knew I needed to get my behind in the kitchen and cook up the rest of the perishables I got in my CSA box a couple of weeks ago.

First I decided on mashed potatoes, as it was the one thing I was sad I missed out on last week. Well, I take that back. We had mashed potatoes….from KFC…after going to the race track. Yeah. Totally didn’t count.

Mmm. Potatoes. I really, really love potatoes.

Then after the potatoes, I moved on to the other vegetables. The next being Red Swiss Chard. All of my chopping pics came out blurry, but essentially, I cut the stems off, chopped them into 2 inch pieces, and then I chopped the leaves into strips.

Then I heated up some olive oil, garlic and onions in a small pot.

Once the onions were browned up, I added the swiss chard to the pot. Unfortunately, since I was using my larger pot for the potatoes, I only had this tiny pan and I had a hard time getting the chard in there. I made it work though.

When it was done, it looked like this. It was pretty hot…had a hard time getting a shot without mass amounts of steam. Was pressed for time and couldn’t wait for them to cool, so this was the best shot I got. Yeah. Fail.

Good news is that it was delicious! I had never had swiss chard before. Total win!

Last thing in my kitchen I needed to go through was my bok choy. I had originally planned to do a stir fry with chicken, but since I never managed to get around to cooking last week, I ended up just doing a stir fry of the bok choy on its own.

Well, with onions and garlic. But, you know, kind of on its own.

Also added some soy sauce, white wine vinegar and a tiny bit of hoisin sauce for sweet.

Tasty!

Such a weird hodge podge of food on my stove.

(And look how ridiculous the bok choy pot looks on my tiny studio’s 3/4 size range!)

And it was about to get weirder.

I was looking at all of the things I had cooked. I tasted them all. They were good….but the mashed potatoes’ seasoning just wasn’t what I was going for. They had a little Land O Lakes Light Canola Oil Butter, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese in them. Also a tiny bit of skim milk…normally I’d add yogurt for creaminess, but I was out. They were good…but not what I wanted.

After staring at the stove for a few more minutes, I did something really weird. I dumped the pot of red swiss chard into the mashed potatoes.

Kind of different, kind of tasty. Who knew?

What’s been cooking in your kitchen lately?

If you’re sick of Pumpkin, I suggest that you look away.

For the rest of you, however, I am about to show you something that I found completely amazing:

That’s right, my friends. Yesterday I went to TJ’s to pick up a few items on my way home from work and at the tasting table I found them sampling PUMPKIN cream cheese. I couldn’t believe it! Ok, yes I could. With all of the pumpkin related items out there, it shouldn’t be a surprise that someone made cream cheese. I had just never even thought of the possibility before, so I had to try it.

They offered the sample on a hunk of multi-grain roll and it tasted pretty good. I of course grabbed a container and threw it in my basket immediately, as I am a person that cannot walk away from a pumpkin flavored item.

This morning I tried it out on a TJ’s everything bagel. I was a little nervous, afraid that the good taste had been psychological vs. actual, but it was still pretty good. I’m not a huge fan of flavored cream cheese, as I think they tend to run a little too sweet. This spread, however isn’t all that sweet and has a hint of spice.

After my TJ’s stop last night I had to go home and figure out what to do about dinner. I’ve had this really busy week that involved a lot more eating out than I would have preferred, so my vegetable consumption has been much lower than I would like. I will have more CSA food coming in this week, so I really wanted to start working through what’s left in my fridge.

Without any real idea of what I was going to make, I went into my kitchen and just started cooking upon instinct, an act that can either produce greatness or just mediocrity. I wound up with this:

I started by cooking up one package of ground turkey. After it was just about cooked I proceeded to add leftover chopped red onion (There was probably about .5 a large onion), a tablespoon of minced garlic and a dash of ground ginger. I let the onions cook up a bit and then I dumped in all of the left over steamed broccoli I had from making the whole wheat penne dish earlier in the week. Then went in a couple of capfuls of low sodium soy sauce, a tablespoon of rice vinegar and a random can of water chestnuts that I found in the back of a cabinet. Finally, I threw in a couple of tablespoons of Hoisin sauce.

I took a taste.

Pretty good!

It got served over a bed of raw shredded cabbage and I sliced up a small cucumber to go with it. I feel bad that my plating wasn’t a little better, but I was watching the Giants v. Phillies game as well as Maya’s real time progress in completing the Katsunuma 10k, so I was a bit distracted!

What was on your menu this weekend?

As you already know, I am thoroughly enjoying my new routine of bi-weekly CSA boxes. The only problem I have encountered so far is making sure I consume everything in a timely manner.

You see, I have good intentions. As soon as my box arrives, I make all sorts of plans. I’ll make thisĀ  on Saturday, this on Sunday cook these by then, etc. Follow through, however, has never exactly been my strong point. I have the same problem when I buy produce at the grocery store. I have all of these meal ideas, then I wind up being lazy and eating cereal instead of cooking them up, thus leaving me with rotten fruits and veggies and wasted money.

This time, however, the destruction of my food was NOT my fault.

Well, maybe a little bit my fault.

I know there are all sorts of tricks to keeping your veggies fresh in the fridge. To keep the crisp in your celery, for instance, some people recommend wrapping it up in plastic wrap or foil. Others recommend cutting off the bottom of the stalks and storing it upright in a glass of water (Source). Both of these, however, are apparently too difficult for me, as I just threw mine into the crisper.

It worked fine for a few days. I had lots of celery with laughing cow or brie. Then one day, I went into the fridge for a crunchy snack and I found that my ‘crisper’ should more accurately be described as a ‘limper’. My celery and last zucchini had gone completely limp.

This was kind of depressing.

I know, I know. Limp vegetables aren’t ruined. The celery was just dehydrated. It probably would’ve come back around if I had put it in some water.

I did, in fact, put it in some water.

I made soup.

Yellow Split-Pea Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Kale Celery and Zucchini

Original recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen

I still had some yellow split peas hanging around my kitchen from the last time I made this recipe and with payday being a couple of weeks off, using ingredients that were on hand seemed like the way to go. I figured celery and zucchini would be just fine in place of the sweet potatoes and kale, so I just chopped them up and assembled the soup.

I never exactly follow recipes to a tee, as I usually am missing ingredients or need to use up something in my kitchen. So, in this tradition, I halved the recipe (except for the curry powder, which I kept at 2 tablespoons, because I wanted some kick), used ground cumin and ginger instead of fresh (it’s what I had) omitted the mustard seeds (didn’t have any), omitted the oil (since I wasn’t using the mustard or cumin seeds or fresh ginger, it seemed like some PAM in the bottom of the pan with the onion and garlic would be good enough), omitted the sweet potatoes and kale (didn’t have any) and added lots of celery had zucchini (had a bunch).

Otherwise, I followed all instructions accordingly.

After an hour, I had this:

It tasted pretty great. I wished I had bread to eat with it, but alas, I had none. Oh well…more room for soup!

What tricks do you use to keep produce fresh in the fridge? When you find that things have turned for the worse, what are your favorite recipes to save the fruits and veggies from being wasted?