Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Odds and Ends

I have tragically lost my camera charger and thus, can not take any photos for you! Hopefully I'll find it soon because the phone's pictures aren't that great quality.

I've been cooking up a storm lately. I made the cabbage and hot sauce and I took my glut of citrus and made a refreshing citrus salad. We've been getting a lot of beautiful herbs and onions in our CSA and those have now gone into a pot roast which is just about done in the crock pot. I bought more tomatoes at By Their Fruits and made a hand chopped salsa which was a million times better than the one I accidentally liquefied in the food processor. I've made salads from all the greens and a few curries from other random vegetables and the greens that you have to cook to eat. I'm on a huge green curry kick lately. Radishes I eat plain like candy. I can't help myself. I mean to put them in salads, but I eat the things like chips. I can't just eat one and before I know there's no more radishes.

One of my favorite CSA veggies of late was a big, snapping stalk of celery. I was so excited. Celery gets a bad rap with foodies sometimes. I once worked in a restaurant where the chef banned celery and green peppers from his kitchen, but I think celery has its place. I used it in chicken salad and I ate it with both cream cheese and peanut butter (but not at the same time).

Last Saturday, when I went to pick up my vegetables, I ran into some other CSA members who were talking. They said they've been disappointed the past few weeks and I asked why. They confided that many of the vegetables in their boxes had been rotten. Unfortunately, this has happened to me too and I wasn't going to write about it until I heard some other people mention it too. This week's box contained some rotten greens and some unsalvageable cilantro, which is a shame because I live for cilantro. I received a moldy pepper with a hole in it and a tangerine that was a ball of blue fur a couple weeks back. It happens. I'm flexible. When I get something that's going off, I try to save what I can of it so nothing goes to waste, but some things can't be saved. The cilantro this week was literally a wad of slime. The thyme, on the other hand, along with the parsley, was fresh and bright.

I don't want to look like a complainer. This is what happens when you're not buying factory perfect fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed and dyed and radiated and then stored in a chilled warehouse. I can deal with a moldy orange here and there. I'm just sad when food gets wasted.

I have a couple of options for dealing with spoiled produce though. If something is as rotten as my cilantro, to the point where it's not safe or edible anymore, I compost it. I let it return to feed the earth or wild animals who get to it before it turns to soil.

But most items can be saved. Greens can get a little droopy and flat from sitting in warm, cardboard boxes. You can make them spring back to life by giving them a nice, bracing ice-water bath. Then store them in a bag with a damp paper towel and squeeze out all of the air. Sometimes greens just get languid, but I promise you, they come right back and you'd never know the difference. Don't give up on them and toss them out prematurely.

If some fruits and vegetables have ugly spots, just trim them and then cook them. You can use vegetable bits in soups and stocks and sauces and no one will ever know the difference. Fruits are nice stewed into jams or compotes. Brown bananas can be peeled, wrapped individually in plastic wrap and frozen for use in smoothies and baked goods. Some people may feel comfortable eating trimmed, partially rotten or over-ripe produce raw. I do not. I always worry about bacteria, so I just cook it and I feel better. That way, you'll avoid so much more waste.

And to end on a positive note - Publix has Florida strawberries on sale for $3.99 a quart this week! It's not as cheap as before, but we all knew prices would rise after our unusually cold winter. I can handle $3.99 and the berries were small and deep red, just like I like them. They're so good, that like the radishes, they never last long enough to end up in a recipe.


  1. My baby arugula was rotten this week too which was a real disappointment. I never had this problem the last two years I suscribed; I wonder what's different this time around.

  2. Glad I'm not the only one. I was afraid to say something for fear of backlash, but it looks like a lot of people are agreeing with me. I really wonder what's causing it. I didn't have it last time either.

  3. Us too in Coral Gables ... we are first timers to the CSA this year and at this point I am not sure to sign on again. The issue you discuss and late deliveries galore. Love the concept but the reality has been somewhat disappointing this season (although I absolutely cannot fault the shortages due to the cold! they've done a great and fast job recovering!)