a day for recipes

Life has been busy recently with a trip home, a weekend of celebrations, and a full work week. I’ve been looking for uses for my CSA batch from Sunday and have made a few nice dishes.

The broccolini was great over a bed of orzo, fresh tomato, feta, lemon juice, and olive oil.

I used the entire head of lettuce and a handful of kale for another of my standard Chinese-style stir-fries and ate it alongside some vegetable gyoza from Trader Joe’s.

lettuce, kale, egg, garlic, peanuts, crushed red pepper, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and a bit of sugar

I decided to try something “different” with the kale today. “Different” only meaning a different flavor of stir-fry … it’s a start! I sauteed a handful of it with olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, and black pepper, and added crumbled feta just before eating it. VERY tasty!

My win for the week may very well be the homemade pesto I made this morning. I used my friend Megan’s recipe, I love how simple it is with only five ingredients. My basil has been slowly dying over the week, so I knew that it was today or never. It was so easy to make! I just put the ingredients into my tiny food processor and blended them all together. The smells when I took the lid off were AMAZING! Fresh basil is something that words can’t describe. I love catching a whiff of it! This was the first time I attempted homemade pesto, and it was a fair first try. I over-did it a tiny bit on the lemon juice (accidentally!), and added extra garlic on purpose but maybe that wasn’t the best idea. However, I am confident this pesto will taste wonderful when paired with fresh tomatoes and cheese for a sandwich soon. PS, my friend Angie took the following picture; it is her book underneath the pesto. Angie is, in one week’s time, getting her Master’s of Fine Arts. Check out her portfolio here.

I currently have these muffins (with some changes) in the oven. They are not cooking through. It is a hot day. I’m taking a break from the kitchen while they continue to sit in the heat. Hopefully they’ll get to an edible point and will taste DELICIOUS. I am really excited about these muffins because 1. They are vegan, and 2. They are gluten free. Angie is staying with me and wanted to be able to eat them, so I used her gluten-free pancake and baking mix as a flour substitute. This mix already has some baking soda and baking powder in it so I only added another 1/2 tsp of each to my mix. I also used allspice instead of nutmeg because that is what I have in my pantry, did not include walnuts, and I added a whole avocado just to see what would happen. I did not measure the carrots, I probably used a little more than a cup. I started baking them at 300* because of the avocado, and over the course of this past hour (yes, an HOUR), have lowered it down to 280* and raised it to 340*. They look great and the batter tastes great, but the centers are still gooey. We’ll see how it goes …

Before being cooked. I’ll be taking them out of the oven in 5 minutes time, regardless of how they are in the middle. I find a way to use the parts that aren’t done …

Any suggestions as to what I did wrong with the muffins? The bit of reading I’ve done in the past few minutes makes me think it has to do with the baking soda or baking powder. Does it at all have to do with the use of gluten-free flour? I’ve never baked gluten-free before. (I’ve never baked fully vegan before either.) Any suggestions for next time? This recipe really does look good and I’d like to do it right!

I still have potatoes and patty-pan squash and more carrots to use from Sunday’s CSA pick up. Some sort of stir fry is probably in order again.

I’ll be linking this post with this week’s link party at inherchucks … you should check it out and add your recipes too! Happy weekend!

July 24th addendum- Read this post for the rest of the muffin saga, and how it all turned out for good.

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Sunday CSA Birthday- a few of my favorite things

Here are some thoughts that are all related somehow:
(Actual CSA stuff about halfway down.)

You know it’s a good day when a CSA pickup falls on your birthday, right?

Especially after a wonderful birthday weekend to boot.

The best part about now being a quarter of a century- it means my parents have been married for 26 years. I am so thankful to have such good role models in my life.

I was with my family on the east coast last week, and spent my birthday back on the west coast. Family is fantastic, and so are friends- and I have the best friends here in LA. It’s the only way to stay sane in this crazy place.

My birthday weekend included frisbee at the park in the sunshine, sea salt and turbinado sugar dark chocolate almonds, multiple episodes of Parks and Rec (the only TV show I actively watch (and re-watch, and re-watch, and re-watch. I’m on my 3rd time through season 4. Season 4 just ended two months ago. It is the BEST show)), Kerrygold dubliner cheese, fresh tomato, and sundried tomato pesto sandwiches on ciabatta, and games of Farkle and Bubble Bobble while in the company of a small group of friends. My birthday day brought about a three player game of Canasta (hand and foot) and dinner at India’s Tadoori because there is nothing better tasting than vegetable korma over rice with naan. Nothing, you hear? And of course, my CSA pick up, which ended up being probably the best one yet. More about that in just one second.

Presents were a vegan cookbook, teacups, and tickets to see Mumford & Sons at their sold out festival in Monterey.

What does all this mean, really? It means I am surrounded by people who love me and know me almost better than I know myself. Honestly. Everything listed above basically describes who I am. Right down to the fact that I celebrated with just a few friends. In fact, that was the most important of it all. I love having a small community. My introverted self needs time and ability to interact on a personal level with those who I love. A weekend spent with only my closest friends is my favorite way to spend time. Huge kudos to Jeremy, who has been a significant part of my life for two years now, and has learned all of these things about me and more, and planned everything that happened this weekend.

I talked with my littlest siblings (who aren’t that little anymore) on the phone at the end of the night, and naturally each of the three of them asked me “What did you get for your birthday?” I simply listed the three things I just listed above (trying to explain quality time, and good people, and good food, etc, wasn’t going to work- they only wanted the tangible), and two of the little ones were not entirely impressed. But the other, my 9-year-old brother, had a reaction that almost brought me to tears:

“The small things in life matter the most.”

It is SO the truth. But what 9-year-old child can really know that and truly believe it? My little brother is among the few, or the only. He is one of the most sensitive and beautiful kids I have ever known.

An old picture, but one of my favorites. I love this little kid. And the rest of my siblings.

So, with all that to say, I’ll stop the sappiness and get on to the produce. Would you LOOK at this lot?!

Basil, kale, lettuce, apricots, plums, nectarines, patty pan squash, carrots, broccoli, onions, and potatoes.  I mean, seriously now! Everything here is AMAZING!

I am beyond excited for the basil, because I’ve been wanting to try my hand at homemade pesto and use my friend Megan’s recipe. I’ve always avoided making pesto because most recipes I come across call for pine nuts. My grocery budget does not have room for pine nuts. So when I read Megan’s blog and found she uses sunflower seeds, I went right out and bought a package, and they have been sitting in my pantry ever since, waiting for the right time to help me with my pesto endeavor whenever it should happen. Well, it will be happening in a day or two. And I can’t wait!

I was getting tired of not having kale in my fridge, so I bought some curly kale from Whole Foods last week and made four cookie sheets of kale chips with garlic and cayenne pepper (and ate them all) within two days. This kale is not curly kale, and I’m getting tired of kale chips for the moment anyway, so I’m not sure yet what will become of my kale. Perhaps a green smoothie along with my lettuce- because, as always, I never know what to do with a head of lettuce. It’s just not appetizing to me. But it is a beautiful head of lettuce. I tore it into bite-sized pieces and rinsed it all out yesterday, and it’s nice and fresh and a beautiful color. If only I enjoyed it more.

I also recently had a want for carrots and bought a two pound bag just last week. I’ve been craving muffins, and so when I saw that I now have an over-abundance of carrots, my brain immediately went to baking. I’m thinking of trying something truly vegan, with avocado and applesauce included in the ingredients list. I have to do some looking around to figure out how to make that happen; there will definitely be a post about it once I make the muffins.

The fresh fruit, as always, will be (and already has started to be) consumed as is. I know there are a ton of delicious recipes for stone fruit, but I like snacking on it way too much to justify making something different out of it.

The broccoli is being had for dinner tonight alongside orzo with feta, lemon juice, and olive oil. The squash and potatoes will find their way into some roasting pan or stir fry.

What does your CSA look like this week? What exciting recipes would you make with some of these veggies that I use so matter-of-factly and simply? What are some of your favorite things? What would your perfect birthday weekend look like? Have you ever baked with applesauce? (Because I haven’t and I’m just crossing my fingers that it will work.)

rennet

Rennet. A complex of enzymes produced in any mammal’s stomach. Extracted from slaughtered, young, unweaned calves. (Thanks wikipedia.)

I think I had heard about this before, or at least I was familiar with the word, but apparently I hadn’t done my research enough.

I have a vegetarian for three and a half years and counting. I became a vegetarian because I no longer loved the taste of meat. I stopped eating red meat long before I came a (lacto-ovo) vegetarian. And I’ve just never gone back. I don’t see myself going back anytime soon, if at all. Meat just doesn’t taste good. So I don’t eat it.

For a while I tried to go vegan, and then I tried to just be a weekday vegan and allow dairy on the weekends. I tried to cut out eggs altogether. All of these pursuits failed, but still have the positive outcome of me eating less dairy, particularly a SUBSTANTIALLY less amount of cheese. I eat an egg almost every morning for breakfast again, as I used to before my vegan pursuits began. I still enjoy veganism and still try to have a day or two a week that I eat only vegan foods.

When it comes to cheese, I enjoy it too much. Also when it comes to cheese, apparently I have not done my research as I should have. Rennet is a main ingredient in many different cheeses. I know I’ve seen it listed on cheese that I have shamelessly enjoyed. I didn’t necessarily know what it was. Unfortunately (or fortunately), my eyes were opened up to the world of animal rennet very recently. And now I have a lot more research to do.

While I became vegetarian because I don’t enjoy meat, it’s now a conscious choice that I don’t want to eat anything with animal rennet in it. The animals were killed and the rennet was extracted. Moreso than “the animals were killed,” is that rennet comes from inside the animal and I really don’t like that. This is a weak argument. I’m not trying to argue anyway. There’s just something in my mind that finds the idea of rennet a bit disgusting. So I, in my newly enlightened mind, am now choosing to be exceptionally careful about the cheese that I eat. Perhaps this is a natural step pushing me closer towards veganism again. Who knows.

Thankfully, I found this website that has two fairly comprehensive lists of cheese that I “can” and “can’t” eat, based on the type of rennet or enzymes used (if one is used at all). I’m committing to stay away from all cheese that contains animal rennet or enzymes that do not specifically say whether or not they come from an animal source. It will be harder to find cheap cheese now, but that is also a good thing. There are too many processed foods in the market, and if my self-imposed diet limitations are going to help me even further to stay away from processed food, it’s all for the better. Quality is always better than cheapness. I just happen to have a weak spot for cheese.

Thankfully, one of my favorite cheeses- vintage reserve from Trader Joe’s- is made from non-animal enzymes or rennet. And the huge block of feta cheese that is sitting in saltwater in my refrigerator specifically says “vegetarian” on the front of the container. Two saves! Take-out pizza, however, is going to be difficult to find now, I imagine 😦

Who of you eat vegetarian or vegan? What have you learned about rennet? Did you know about it when you started your chosen way of eating? What steps do you take to avoid it? I’d love some help as I foray into this new idea!

another beautiful CSA day- with recipes!

I tried a new CSA recently, and had a beautiful box of produce waiting for me when I checked outside my apartment at 7:00am. What a wonderful thing to wake up to, no?

Plums, peaches, romaine, bok choy, beets, carrots, broccolini, and avocado. The box was supposed to have sweet potatoes, but I put them on my list of things I don’t want (yes, I’m one of the few that just can’t seem to enjoy them), and so the bok choy was subbed in for them. Upon pulling out the beets, I thought perhaps they made a mistake- I thought I had added them to the “no” list as well. Another look at my subscription and I found I was wrong. I believe I decided to keep them on the list so that I could try to like them.

I only had a week to use these veggies before heading on a trip out of state, so I got to work with them immediately. The broccolini went well as a bed for vegetable gyoza from Trader Joe’s that I eat at least once a week (it is TOO tasty!) Hooray for a vegan meal!

The fruit has been used well as snacks, as always. I wasn’t as thrilled with the quality of it as I have been with the other CSA, but I’m going to give this one another week before I make any solid decisions. The carrots weren’t wonderful at all, but I ate them anyway, just raw and simple.

I’m still trying to find a better way (that I enjoy) to use up all the leafy greens. Stir fry continues to be my default. A good friend of mine is living with me for this month of July and she brought a blender, so perhaps I’ll delve into the world of green smoothies. Until then, I used the beet greens, bok choy, romaine, and leftover collard greens from a week or two ago to make a stir fry with scrambled eggs, peanuts, onions, fresh garlic, crushed red pepper, and soy sauce, all over rice noodles. It turned out to be SO MUCH more satisfying than I expected- I was just making it to eat the greens, but it was SO tasty!

The best food to come out of this box was actually the beets and the avocado. I was excited for the avocado because of my new realization that I can bake with it. Since google was so helpful with that idea, I decided to look up “baking with beets,” and I came across some interesting recipes. I knew that beet juice can be used in place of red food dye (which is something EVERYONE should do, red food dye is terrible!), so I figured I might come across something. The recipes weren’t too numerous or different from each other, mostly cakes or breads or cupcakes. It seems that beets are best used in baking alongside chocolate to help mask the flavor a bit better. I’m completely fine with that- I LOVE chocolate. I decided on this Chocolate Beet Tea Loaf that I came across in my searches, and I am SO glad I did!

I chose this recipe because most of the others I found required the beets to be cooked. Though I could find step-by-step directions on how to cook them, I still didn’t quite trust myself. I think the last time I’ve seen an actual beet was when I was just a few years old and my mom tried to make me eat them (I didn’t). This recipe just calls for raw, shredded beets, and I liked the idea of the simplicity. Also, I already had all of the rest of the ingredients necessary, and I need to calm down with buying baking ingredients right now.

I substituted an avocado for the melted butter or oil that the recipe calls for and it still worked beautifully! I used all three of the beets I got in the box, they weren’t very large. I didn’t measure them (or the avocado), but everything worked out well. Due to the avocado, I baked the loaf at 290 and checked on it every 5 minutes or so after it was in the oven for 45 minutes. It didn’t take much longer than an hour. I stuck with the proportions of the rest of the ingredients; I didn’t add extra sugar because I prefer a darker chocolate anyway.

Peeled and shredded beets. Such a beautiful color!

Another “loaf out of the pan” fail, but not as terribly so as the zucchini bread.

This cake loaf turned out DELICIOUS! It is a bit thicker and very moist- I think the combination of the avocado alongside the beets is helping it retain all that moisture; it’s fudgy in some parts. It is a bit earthy in flavor, but I really think it is the right combination of earthy and sweet. Not everyone I’ve shared it with has loved it as much as I do, but only one person hasn’t liked it (or at least, I found it sitting on the table an hour later, forgotten about after the initial tiny bite, I’m right in assuming I think). I really love a good chocolate cake, and this one has enough chocolate to satisfy me without being overbearingly sweet. I will now spend the rest of my CSA days hoping for beets in every box, just to make this recipe again.

Thick, fudgy, and wonderful!

Have you ever baked with beets? I’d love to hear your experiences! And how about those avocados? Have any of you tried baking with them yet?

baking with AVOCADO!

I got two beautiful organic haas avocados in my CSA pickup last week. I really don’t like avocados and I wish I did. They’ve a lot of good nutrients in them, and all the fat is “good” fat! I’ve tried time and time again to enjoy them- to no avail. So upon getting them in my CSA pickup, I figured I’d just end up giving them away. Then I went to Whole Foods and found that if I had bought them there I would have paid $5.00 for the two I had. That’s one fifth of the cost of the entire pickup they were a part of! I knew I got a good deal, and the frugal, deal-seeking individual inside of me decided to find a way to enjoy them.

Google has all the answers, yes? I sometimes forget that. A tip in the comments of that post led me to look up avocado bread, and from there I learned something very interesting about this fruit …

Avocado can be used as a direct substitute for butter in any baked good!!!!

Seriously, friends, my mind has been BLOWN. This has opened up an entire realm of possibilities I couldn’t have imagined possible. I love to bake, and haven’t found a good excuse to do so until now. I had two avocados to make use of.

The first recipe I tried was one I found after some google searches: avocado zucchini bread. I had two (yellow) zucchini, and while I love them sauteed, I figured I could use them differently just this once. I followed the recipe almost exactly as it is written. The avocado was nice and ripe, so it was fairly easy to give it the texture of being pureed without too much effort. I used my little food processor to give it an extra boost, and it was good to go for the recipe. I didn’t measure the avocado, I just used a whole one.

As I have been out of my parent’s house for just a short two years at this point, I don’t have many options in the way of cooking appliances. I’ve been wandering the country too much to feel settled enough to buy most of the kitchenware that I’d prefer to have. Just a few weeks ago I finally bought some cookie sheets (to make kale chips), and during another recent trip I did buy a quality salad spinner. This day of baking made me sorely miss my mom’s Kitchenaid mixer; I got to mix EVERYTHING by hand for these baked goods.

The color of the avocado, along with the shreds of zucchini, made the batter look a bit interesting before the flour was added … yummy, right?

A change I had no option to make was to bake the bread all in one bread pan, as that was all we have in the apartment. The recipe calls for two 7″ pans, the one I used was 10.5″ or maybe larger, I’m not quite sure. So I just put all the batter in it and was ready to reap the consequences …

The result was the bread taking well over an hour to cook all the way through, and even at the end when I decided I’d had enough, there were still parts of it that were probably a bit more juicy than they should have been, and the bread fell apart when I switched it to a plate to cool down.

However, I put it back together and let it sit and didn’t cut it or try any bit of it until the next day. Since it had been taken from the oven a bit more gooey, the texture of the bread now is wonderful and moist- just the way I like it. The bread is not very sweet at all, but there’s something about the texture of it for me that allows me to enjoy it just how it is, no extra butter or sweeteners necessary.

Mainly a success!

My next endeavor was chocolate chip cookies. And not a recipe that I found online that already called for avocado. I decided to be brave and try my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, and just substitute an avocado for the cup of butter it calls for.

My recipe:

1 cup of butter (so, just one whole avocado, pureed)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix (my “secret” ingredient)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour (can use whole wheat PASTRY flour if not white, or part wheat and part white)
1 tsp baking soda
12 oz chocolate chips (I like semi-sweet)

-preheat oven to 375 (280 or so if using avocado)
-beat butter (avocado), eggs, sugars, pudding mix, and vanilla in large bowl
-mix in flour and baking soda
-stir in chocolate chips
-drop by pieces on un-greased cookie sheets (un-greased still worked for me, even without the butter)
-bake 10 minutes or until golden brown (changed this for the avocado- baked at 280 for 17-20 minutes)
-cool on wire racks

Looks like normal cookie batter to me, save for some green flecks! Tasted just as good as it normally does too!

The green flecks are there for decoration, right?

Beautiful, perfect cookies.

How these cookies worked out, and some other observations:

First, the avocado I had left was nowhere near being ripe. This was a bit of an issue, but I was already all in, so I made do. I spent a good half hour (no kidding) getting it all out of the skin and then I used my food processor to chop it into the tiniest pieces possible, adding some olive oil to give it a hopefully pureed texture. I believe that is why the green chunks in the batter never went away. Luckily this misfortune did not ruin the recipe or change the flavor.

From what I read about baking avocado, you’re supposed to lower the baking temperature by 25% and bake the goods for longer. I couldn’t find an exact idea for how much longer, so I just kept checking on the cookies. Around 20 minutes they were baked all the way through, but they could have stayed a bit longer to get more browned if I had the patience. I think more experimenting could be done with this to up the baking temperature at least a little bit.

I used a vegan, dairy free instant vanilla pudding mix (simply because it is all I could find outside of the jell-o instant vanilla pudding that I’m used to using). I can’t say whether or not this changed the cookies; I just didn’t want to put all the nasty ingredients in the jell-o packet in my “healthy” cookies (or any others I make from now on).

I’m used to the “normal” recipe making the cookies spread out a tiny bit while baking, instead of staying in the same clumps I made while putting them on the cookie sheets. Perhaps I could have pressed them down a bit more when putting the batter on the sheets, just for aesthetics.

The consistency of the cookies is much more “cake-y” than this recipe typically is. I am attributing that to the avocado, based on what I’ve read about baking with it. The flavor was hardly sacrificed; if anything I think the different pudding mix I used made it a bit stronger of a vanilla flavor than I’m used to (I grew up eating these cookies!)

Those who I have offered the cookies to thus far have complimented me on them, the avocado seriously does nothing to sacrifice the taste!

To use the remainder of last week’s CSA pickup I have been roasting the potatoes with fresh garlic and thyme and salt and pepper. They have been SO tasty this way that I haven’t even felt the need to add parmesan to them like I intended! I have also slowly been making batches of collard green chips to snack on (add olive oil, garlic, and cayenne pepper (or salt and pepper), bake for 13 min or so at 350 degrees), because I don’t know what else to do with them and I don’t necessarily enjoy them. They’re good to have around for snacking like that because at least they get used.

Oh, the flavors in these roasted potatoes!!

A delicious (not healthy) Sunday lunch. Roasted potatoes (mine have sauteed onions) and grilled cheese.

Have you ever baked with avocado before? What recipes work best with them? Any creative ideas for the remainder of my collard greens?

I’m trying out a different CSA and I have a box being delivered to me tomorrow morning. I am so excited to see what I get and to try some more new recipes! Joining a CSA has so far been exactly what I wanted out of it- a cheaper alternative to fresh, local, organic produce, and a way for me to explore foods and recipes I wouldn’t typically try. What new foods or recipes have you been getting into recently?

This Life in LA- The Counter

I live in Los Angeles and really it’s a bit ironic- I am so much a country girl at heart and yet I live right off of Hollywood Boulevard. I drive directly through Hollywood on my commute to and from work each day. I am surrounded by tourists who actually want to be here, and residents who seem to be okay with their over-priced apartments, food, gas, and everything else.

You don’t need to take this as an idea that I’m unhappy here. I’ve found plenty to enjoy in this crazy city. I have good people around me, I enjoy my job, and there is a lot to explore here.

So thus begins another consistent posting topic- “This Life in LA.” It is meant to be a series of posts of what I’ve experienced here in LA. The good and the bad, if you will, but mostly the good.

Today’s experience- eating at The Counter.

The Counter is a burger place that offers “custom built burgers.” It is primarily a California restaurant, with a few other locations across the states and two in Dublin, Ireland. I’ve no care for meat, and as a vegetarian I typically avoid places like this, but luckily for me there is a veggie burger option here. They claim “fresh and 100% natural angus beef, hormone and antibiotic free, humanely raised and handled.” No organic certifications, but they seem to be on the right track.

I went with two people I love dearly, my good friend Graham and my boyfriend Jeremy, because good food is meant to be enjoyed with good people. This was a place I’d been curious about for a while, but I wasn’t necessarily expecting it to be as delicious and immediately satisfying as it turned out to be.

I mean, seriously, check out the menu!

Happy hour ends at 7pm here, and happy hour means half price appetizers and $2 off drinks (if I remember correctly). We got there around 6:40 and were quick to ask for TWO orders of the parmesan french fries, two beers each for the guys, and a mojito for me. Sure, mojitos do not necessarily go well with burgers, but they are QUITE tasty!

I was overwhelmed by the options. We each got our own paper menu with a pencil and we marked off our selections. Veggie burger- that was easy. On a bun for sure, there is something entirely satisfying about biting into a burger, whatever type it may be. The cheese is where the options already started to become too numerous for me. What style of burger did I want? I LOVE feta cheese, but would it satisfy what I wanted in flavors? I ended up choosing the Tillamook cheddar on the basis that I wanted a standard, all-American burger. So the toppings for me ended up being dill pickle chips, grilled onions, organic mixed greens, and tomatoes. No premium toppings, as none of them really appealed to me. The sauce choice was another issue for me. I ended up choosing the hot wing sauce (everything is better spicy), but it was a hard choice between that or the sweet barbecue, or the basil pesto, or the chipotle aioli, or the peanut sauce.

The food came out fast and fresh. I tried to sit and slowly enjoy mine, and the urge to shove it all into my mouth was difficult to keep at bay- it was one of the best burgers I’ve eaten. I suppose from the concept of “building” your burger exactly as you want it added to the high-quality food they have, you really can’t go wrong. And those FRIES! Oh those fries. I really should find a recipe. I don’t care how terrible they might be for you, they were a fantastic splurge.

My burger and those amazing fries. I couldn’t help but eat some before I took the picture. Did I mention we ate outside in the beautiful California sunshine right on the Miracle Mile strip?

If I hadn’t been so full, I could have gone all-out and also ordered an “adult milk shake.” Yes, that’s right, milk shakes of varying flavors, with the addition of alcohol. Genius!

The price of the evening was medium, which really is about the maximum I prefer to spend going out. So, it was definitely a treat and not somewhere you’ll be able to find me often. But when I do go back, I can’t wait to try some other variations of burgers. An Asian-inspired veggie burger with sprouts, cucumbers, and peanut sauce? A Greek burger with feta and tomatoes? Or I could go “gourmet” with brie and scallions and sun-dried tomatoes?

Have you eaten at The Counter before? What burgers have you built? What combinations do you think would work well together?

Sunday CSA #2

After much anticipation, I finally got my second CSA pick up. And oh it is such a good one this week!

Red and gold potatoes, donut peaches, black beau plums, yellow nectarines, haas avocados, bell pepper, collard greens, red romaine lettuce, green beans, thyme, and what I’m told is yellow squash. Looks like zucchini to me, are yellow squash and yellow zucchini the same thing?

So I’ve cut up and washed and stored the leafy greens, and I’ve snapped and washed and stored the green beans. I really don’t know what I am going to do with all these vegetables- I like all of them so much on their own, but should I try new things with them? I think I’ll end up roasting the potatoes (and perhaps the green beans as well) with the thyme; what other seasonings go well with thyme?

I am not a fan of avocados. I am going to give them a try again, and then probably just pass them off to someone who can enjoy them. I sincerely wish I did enjoy avocados since they have so many great nutrients for you. Are there any recipes with avocado that are good for a non-avocado eater? My problem with them is mainly that I am a texture eater, and their texture does not bode well for me at all.

I can’t wait to savor the fruit over the next week or so. It all looks so good I could eat it up right now. We’ll see how long it lasts …

So far as the lettuce and collard greens go, I suppose I could sauté the collards with some fresh garlic (I ALWAYS have that on hand!) and add them to my quinoa, black beans, and salsa staple (seriously every single day for lunch). The lettuce I am still at a loss for; I was directed to a few recipes in the comments of my last CSA post, but not many look to appetizing to me. I’m just not a lettuce eater. I wish I could make lettuce chips and collard green chips as easily as I can make kale chips, because those were amazing!

I think during my trip to Whole Foods later today I am going to do some price comparisons to see how much (or if) I am saving by getting my veggies this way. I am grateful that this is such an easy way to get organic, local produce- but I am such a number cruncher that now is the time to see how the convenience and cost balance out.