Blog: Food

Most of these posts were originally posted somewhere else and link to the originals. While this blog is not set up for comments, the original locations generally are, and I welcome comments there. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Ugly CSA week 6

  • 3 ears corn
  • 2 largish tomatoes
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 large zucchini (zucchinus?)
  • 2 peaches
  • 9 Bartlett pears

Total weight about 7.5 pounds.

Two peaches aren't enough to make cobbler; we'll just have to eat them straight, or grilled -- so not a hardship! That's a lot of pears; I should look for a pie recipe or make pearsauce, maybe. (Are Bartletts good in pies? I think I've usually baked with Bosc, though I don't have a ton of experience either way.)

Ugly CSA "week 5"

Earlier this summer I found out about 412 Food Rescue, a local non-profit that tries to mitigate food waste by collecting what would otherwise be thrown away (e.g. by caterers) and distributing it to people in need. That's a worthy cause on its own and they'll go onto my year-end-donations list, but I also noticed that they run an "ugly CSA" -- food that local farmers can't sell to grocery stores. (They note that there is non-ugly produce too; it's a CSA, working with local farms, but they'll explicitly take the unsellable stuff first.) It was too late to join this year's, but I signed up for the waiting list for next year.

A couple weeks ago I got email that there were new spots in this year's and would I like to join for the rest of the season? Why yes, I said; this is an easy way to check it out at a slightly lower cost, and then I can decide about next year. Their site says to expect 10-15 pounds of fresh fruits and veggies each week.

Today was my first share. It included:
- a pound of green beans
- one giant tomato (about 12oz)
- three large ears of corn (had some tonight - tasty!)
- one large cucumber
- three nectarines
- one large and two humongous green bell peppers (oh well - can't win 'em all)

The humongous peppers weigh about a pound each, so while I didn't weigh the entire bag, this probably isn't far off from the low end of the predicted volume.

The peppers I'm growing are finally starting to turn red, so in a few more days I should be able to use a home-grown red pepper and the smallest green pepper to make stuffed peppers for us. (He doesn't mind green peppers; I do.) We had two of the ears of corn tonight and we'll split the other one soon. Aside from the remaining green peppers, I know things I can do with all of this.

Aftermath

Shabbat afternoon there was a brief but fierce storm here. I don't know about other parts of the city, but from my house, it was about three minutes of heavy wind and downpour and otherwise a typical summer rain. It was enough to knock our power out for the afternoon and evening, which was disruptive. Also, I think I was about to turn around that game of Through the Ages when continuing became impossible. We got power back just as we were going to bed; this morning Internet was still out, but we were able to get that resolved in under an hour on the phone with Verizon, which is above par. And, fortunately, we didn't lose any food -- went out for ice as soon as Shabbat was over and the meat in the freezer was still solid when I opened it to add the ice.

The garden, on the other hand... I have a large cherry-tomato plant in a large pot; with all the dirt, it's not trivial to move. It was sprawled across the patio. (I didn't think to get a picture before cleaning up.) That pot had been in front of a trellis that I'd been training the plant to climb, but once wrenched free, it wasn't going back. I had to fall back to an, um, "engineering" solution. I hope this works; the plant can't stand free any more even with the cage, so I couldn't just leave it on the patio away from the trellis.

ring of cage tied to trellis with twine

I also lost a pepper. I have no idea if it'll ripen after being disconnected, but green peppers are foul so I'm not going to eat it as-is. The plant is supposed to produce sweet red peppers.

all the survivors, including a pepper sitting on the ledge

In case you're wondering, the cilantro was pretty much done before the storm finished it off, and the attempts to grow a second one from seed didn't work. So that's what the two empty pots are about; just waiting for them to dry out before putting them away.

Bounty

A week before Memorial Day -- so, a bit over two weeks ago -- I bought some seedlings and put them into pots.

Tonight, I changed dinner plans because holy smokes some of that needed to be harvested. I made a vegetarian larb for the first time, because one of the over-achievers was Thai basil, which I got for the first time this year to see how that would go. Didn't expect it to outpace my regular Italian basil!

Pictures behind the cut: Read more…

Waste not, want not

A friend is recovering from surgery, so the gang organized a meal rotation. Our first day is tomorrow, to cover meals for a couple days. Our friend is a foodie, so we made something nice, which took a lot longer than we thought from reading the recipe. (James Beard's salmon tart. It started yesterday, because the dough wants to be refrigerated overnight, but most of the work was today, including rolling out a very stiff crust.)

We doubled the recipe, to make one for ourselves as well, which we had (part of) for dinner. The salmon is poached in wine, which left us about half a bottle. By definition, the wine you cooked dinner in goes with dinner, so that worked out. (Never cook with a wine you wouldn't drink.)

The recipe also called for egg yolks, which left me with a bunch of whites. I know exactly one thing to do with a bowl full of egg whites.

And that is how I came to be making meringue cookies after 9PM. If they're any good, our friend might get some dessert. Goofy-looking dessert, because I don't do this a lot and shaping meringues using a zipper bag with a corner cut off is...imprecise. But it's the taste that counts.

Sometimes the bread has plans of its own

This seemed like an unremarkable loaf when I put it in the oven.

loaf with large asymmetrical hump

Dani called it my dromedary loaf. :-)

I wondered if there were a large air bubble under that hump, but the inside looks normal. So, one of life's mysteries! But a tasty mystery, so it's ok.

inside

Runaway levain

I made sourdough on Friday. On Thursday I already knew that my starter was especially enthusiastic that day, and the levain (the second feed, what actually goes into the bread rather than back into the jar for next time) bubbled up much more quickly than usual. This meant I made the dough at dinnertime, rather than around 9:30 or 10 like usual.

It filled the bowl and then some on Friday morning, but, as usual, deflated some when I turned it out of the bowl. After letting it rest I formed it into two loaves, which is what I usually do, and baked them a few hours later.

True to form, it expanded more than usual in the oven, too. It was light and airy and tasty, and I'm finally getting around to providing the photographic evidence. Read more…

2020

Somebody on Twitter asked:

What did you learn in 2020 (besides how to make bread)?

I responded there:

  • To grow food in pots.
  • To cut men's hair.
  • To cook more new things.
  • That my cat loves me being home all the time.
  • More about community-building.
  • How to set up a nonprofit foundation.
  • To cut people w/no morals or human decency out of my life.
  • And yes, sourdough.

I was up against a character limit there, but I'm not here. Read more…

Odds and ends

I haven't been posting regularly. Oops.

I've been baking bread about once a week. This past week I finally scored some rye flour (that was not exorbitantly priced), so I made a rye sourdough for the first time. I think I prefer less molasses than this recipe called for, so I'll adjust that next time or try a different recipe. The bread is tasty, aside from the molasses overwhelming the caraway. Most "rye bread" recipes I've seen use rye for only one third of the flour, which sent me searching for "all rye" rye bread, which apparently works and tastes good but might not rise as much? I'll probably try it at some point, especially since I had to buy four (small) bags of rye flour to get it.

Dani and I play board games every Shabbat now, and occasionally we have two other friends (who are also careful, and I guess this is a "pod"?) over to play. We play Pandemic in every session because, well, pandemic. Yesterday we pulled out Kings and Things, a game we all had vague memories of, and by the end had concluded that while it's appealing it's also kind of tedious and maybe sort of a shorter Titan, a game I like in principle but dislike actually playing. Ok, now we've refreshed our memories...

A friend has a game called McMulti, which is an economic game (oil/gas theme)... in German. There are lots of places where text matters, so when we've played we've used cheat sheets since none of us read German. We recently became aware of an English-language derivative, called Crude, and got it recently. They've changed some of the mechanics and made one really annoying change to how the board is laid out, but other changes are positive and the game's a little faster. I like it, but am tempted to figure out how to print my own board. The game is really strongly designed for four players, but there are rules for a two-player version, which Dani and I have played once, which seen to work ok.

Codidact, the project that consumes most of my spare time, is in the process of incorporating as a non-profit. We've got our lawyer on our Discord server and having conversations about incorporation documents via Google Docs comments. It looks like we will be able to clear an important hurdle soon. Neat!

On the project front, I'm not writing code -- I keep feeling like I should learn Ruby and the dev environment so I can help, then concluding that I probably won't be helping because I'd be taking time and attention from the developers who are actually being productive. But I've taken over bug-wrangling -- some analysis and testing, clarifying vague reports, and, especially, triaging. I was surprised to find that GitHub counts filing issues as contributions. I think that's new?

We just had our first birthday, counting from when the project founder set up a Discord server to talk about maybe building an alternative to Somewhere Else. We've still got a lot of work ahead of us, both technical and community development, but I'm pleased with where we are.

I've been reading a lot of fiction, a mix of short stories, novellas, and novels, many through the BookFunnel network (and also StoryBundle). I'm "meeting" a lot of authors I didn't previously know. I should really write a separate post about that.

Harvest

The temperature tonight is supposed to be below freezing, so today I did a final harvest. There are a few small green tomatoes that would need rather a while to grow and then ripen and I don't think I can keep the plant warm enough for long enough, so I picked everything that was larger even though it was still green, and I'll see if they ripen indoors. I've picked tomatoes before when they were orange but not fully red (to beat the critters to them), and I've had the occasional green one ripen on the windowsill. Today's are in a brown paper bag with a sacrificial apple. Even if I lose these last couple dozen, I had a pretty good bounty for the year, as best I can tell having never done this before.

The last of the rosemary and basil are currently drying. I had two different rosemary plants -- no idea what the difference was, but one is lighter than the other and they smell a little different. I decided to oven-dry one and hang-dry the other, to see how the methods compare. It's not true science because there's a second variable; I didn't split each variety into two groups. So I won't really know if any differences are due to the type or the method, but oh well. The main goal is to get dried herbs.

The lunchbox peppers were a disappointment. The peppers I got were nice, but I only got a total of 15 between the two plants. I will probably skip those next year and use the pots for something else.

I think next year I want to add some oregano.