Friday, June 25, 2010

Down on the Farm

I've been reading a lot lately about how important it is for kids, especially kids with AD/HD, to connect with the earth. I support that belief wholeheartedly anyway and spend a lot of energy trying to make sure my child spends plenty of time outside, appreciates the environment, and knows where his food comes from. Our trip to the farm today really drove the point home, however. We got to pick sugar snap peas today, and Duncan couldn't have been happier to be out there among the vines, carrying his quart container, and filling it with beans. He giggled and laughed and ate quite a few raw. Whatever amount of money I spent on this CSA membership was worth it just for the experience of frolicking in the peas.

Mostly Palatable Mustard Greens and Pasta Pie

Surprisingly Inoffensive Swiss Chard

Monday, June 21, 2010

CSA Bibles

In addition to the infinite number of recipes available on the Internet, I have found Farmer John's Cookbook, by Farmer John Peterson and Angelic Organics, and From Asparagus to Zucchini, by the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, to be my best tools in dealing with the new and unfamiliar vegetables pouring in from my CSA.  Below is the "magic" spinach recipe that made my family so happy (From A to Z).
Cheesy Spinach  
3 eggs 
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice 
1 cup brown rice, cooked 
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley 
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional) 
salt and pepper to taste  
Mix separately:  
1 large bunch of spinach, chopped and steamed 
1 cup cottage cheese 
1 cup grated cheddar cheese 
4 eggs
salt and pepper to taste 
pinch of cayenne  
Spread the ingredients from the first mixture in the bottom of a greased casserole.  Spread the spinach mixture over them.  Bake at 350 degrees until firm, 45 - 60 minutes.  Makes 10 - 12 servings.

Farm Follow Up

So, how did our first CSA week turn out?  We had mixed feelings about sauteed radishes. Jamie sort of liked them. I think the words he used may have been "didn't mind." I didn't mind the warm radishes; what I minded was the bed of sauteed arugula they were sitting on. Many people have told me they like sauteed arugula; those must be the same people who like swiss chard. It was sort of stringy and slimy; since I like it raw, the sharp contrast with its cooked self was hugely disappointing to me. The stir fried chicken with bok choy was pretty good. I'm not sure we got Duncan to try the bok choy, but I liked it. It was somewhat tainted by its side dish, dandelion greens with double garlic, which not only pissed me off but took way too long to prepare for something that tasted that nasty. What was that quote of Scarlett O'Hara's about "we will never go hungry again?" On that day, when there is post-apocalyptic armageddon and literally nothing else on the earth to eat, I will eat dandelion greens. Cilantro pesto with chicken was pretty popular. One of the highlights of our week was Wednesday's meal of linguine with arugula pesto, farm fresh salad, and home baked English muffin bread. I spent a good deal of Wednesday night being pleased with myself, my farm, my husband, and pretty much any human being who has ever grown anything. (That happiness was later challenged when I was tricked into eating dandelion greens...but we take each day as it comes). Another pleasant surprise was our cheesy spinach (to Matt and Courtney - recipe coming soon). We are not spinach people. Jamie and I like it raw, in a salad. Duncan does not recognize it as a foodstuff. No one likes it cooked. But that was some darned good spinach pie. We ALL liked it, and I couldn't get over my shock. I was still talking about it the next day at school. Spinach a shocking success.  Details at 11:00.

This week's harvest was mostly salad things so I don't anticipate too much culinary excitement, but here's what we have coming next week:  scallions, turnips, radishes, kohlrabi, arugula, garlic scapes, bok choy, dandelions, spring cabbage, romaine, lemon balm or parsley, or cilantro. So if anyone has hidden recipes they want to share, pass them along. I may try Matt's scallion pancakes if I can hunt down the recipe. One thing is for sure: we're not even bringing home those dandelion greens.


One of the things I find tricky about parenting is that you never know how things will turn out. Some days I feel like a good parent; on other days, I don't bring my best game. I have to hope that the good days will outweigh the bad days in the end. I hope that all the lessons I want to teach my son will take root and that he will end up a happy, productive, and healthy person. In the meantime, regardless of whatever happened today, I still have to get up and do it again tomorrow. Sometimes that means brushing off the fact that I returned home from work impatient and rolled my eyes when I had to play Grand Central Station with GeoTrax. Sometimes it means leaving behind my frustration with begging and whining and hoping that my child will be replaced with a pleasant and compliant pod person. Sometimes it means collecting those moments where I made my child giggle or when he thanks me for a gesture so small that it breaks my heart a little. "This is really good bread Mama. Thank you for making it." Sometimes it means appreciating that a four year old is proud that he knows how to make grilled cheese sandwiches and pizza and help bake muffins.

Tonight was one of those moments. We were working on cajoling Duncan to finish his dinner. I bit my tongue as he pulled the carrots out of his salad and stacked them in a pile on his place mat. A million voices screamed inside my head:  "Don't play with your food!" Then he put all the carrots in his mouth at once. A million voices in my head lectured:  "You'll choke." (Only one adult actually said the words aloud, and it was not me)  I was biting back "Don't play with your food!" again when Duncan pulled all the vegetables he didn't like out of his salad bowl and piled them on his plate. And in the silence where I was actively working on NOT nagging my child, he said "I'm going to put these guys over here. This can be the compost pile."

And I will save that one in my mental scrapbook to remind me that this child is really learning all the lessons I'm trying to teach him about the environment. He is learning that we don't use paper napkins so that we can save trees. He is learning that we don't buy individually packaged snacks so that we can use less plastic. He is genuinely learning that vegetables and eggs come from a farm and that farmer Dan works hard so we can have lettuce. The compost pile has become part of his everyday life. I see a glimpse that this child of mine will grow into a good steward of the earth, and it makes me hopeful; not just hopeful that he will turn out okay, but hopeful that he and his peers will make a difference on this planet. They will grow up learning how to put it right.

Talk about a leap of faith.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Don't know what the heck went on with the fonts there; I made everything the same size at least three times, but I'm not going to repost just because of a little OCD. I want to...but I won't.

CSA Week One - Think Aloud

This is sort of a think aloud.

Our CSA pickup starts this weekend, at long last. I'm looking forward to it because of the fresh organic vegetables, adventures in cooking, opportunities to pick some of our own food, and ready supply of local beef, goat cheese, maple syrup, and pork. I'm also a little nervous. I remember how it sometimes felt like the CSA ate up all our free time in the summer, between the pickups, the meal planning, and learning to cook new things. I remember how there were vegetables and dirt everywhere, and the tide of lettuce was unstoppable. This year, Karl shared a share with us again, but he'll be out for the count until August, recovering from back surgery and spending time with family so we'll not only bear the sole burden of food pickup but also have ALL the produce for the next month and a half. This year, I'm determined to try even more things (I conveniently neglected the dandelion greens and collards until they went bad last summer), to try preserve a bit more, and to do a better job of planning our grocery shopping around our farm haul.

With that in mind, I spent a good hour or two this week planning next week's menu.  This week's harvest:  radishes, komatsuna (a very leafy variety of bok choy), spinach, lettuce, arugula, dandelion greens. I combed my CSA cookbooks as well as a few online resources and planned menus that will (hopefully) use all the vegetables without me having to buy too many at the grocery store to complement them. 

Based on that research, here's what I'm doing with what we're getting as well as the week's menus. 

radishes - Sauteed Radishes with Radish Greens or Arugula - Farmer John’s Cookbook - p. 131
komatsuna (a very leafy variety of bok choy) - stir fried chicken with bok choy (Culinate How to Cook             Everything)
spinach - Cheesy Spinach (From Asparagus to Zucchini, p. 186) (easy but needs precooked brown rice/spinach steamed)
lettuce - salad
arugula - sauteed radishes and/or arugula pesto (Farmer John's cookbook)
dandelion greens - dandelion greens with double garlic (Culinate How to Cook Everythings)
Sunday - out
Monday - pork chops, sauteed radishes, cous cous
Tuesday - cheesy spinach, sausage, bread
Wednesday - pasta with arugula pesto, salad
Thursday - stir fried chicken with bok choy, rice, dandelion greens
Friday - pizza

And there you have it.  My plans for the first week's harvest are complete. I spared you the accompanying grocery list, but I'll try to remember to take pictures so I can show you how it comes out!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Up a Tree

The other day, I came home from work to find Duncan climbing the Japanese maple tree in our front yard. It was such a perfect little boy moment; he climbed up and down and in and out of the branches, with Jamie right there to catch him (though he was no more than 2 or 3 feet off the ground).  I asked him if he would stay there until I could get my camera so I could take a picture of him in the tree. He agreed, but when I returned with the camera he refused to pose for a serious picture. As a result, I don't have an awesome picture of Duncan in the tree, but I do have an amusing time lapse of faces he can make in a matter of minutes in an attempt to be stubborn.

The maple is perfect for a four year old to climb! He can get a few feet off the ground and back again by himself, and there are plenty of problem solving opportunities to entertain his rapidly connecting neurons.  I wish we had an indoor climbing wall at school because I think he would really enjoy it. Instead, we have to settle for "Hurry up, Mama. This branch is really hurting my penis," which is amusing in and of itself.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Long Time, No See

I just realized how long it has been since I posted any pictures of Duncan, and let's be real; you KNOW that's why you're here. I hadn't unloaded my camera in ages. Here are a few selections from the spring. Enjoy!

And this one's for you, Jay.  How much are you going to charge me per hour to train this monkey?