Week 11: July 16, 2014

In this week’s box:

2 pints blueberries

1 dozen eggs

2 dozen ears corn

1 flat peaches

2 bags tomatoes

1 bag cucumbers

1 bag yellow squash

1 bag zucchini

1 bouquet **OPTIONAL BONUS** pick-your-own sunflowers, 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

4 half-pints **OPTIONAL BONUS** pick-your-own raspberries 8 a.m. until noon

4 half-pints **OPTIONAL BONUS** pick-your-own raspberries on July 20, noon until 3 p.m.

Total retail value of goods in this week’s box: $95

Total retail value of goods distributed so far this year: $748.50

Emily’s notes

When I start to see tomatoes and cucumbers in the summer, I always think of gazpacho. Summer in a bowl (or cup), gazpacho is one of the easiest soups you’ll ever make, and it’s perfect for these hot days, because there is absolutely no heat involved (unless you choose to add some hot peppers, which are nice). Let’s think of gazpacho this week not as one single recipe to be followed in exact detail, but as a concept that will allow you to use your summer vegetables with ease in your kitchen. Here are several ideas to work from:

– Traditional gazpacho – When I studied in southern Spain, people would drink this almost as a beverage at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s refreshing and a delicious way to consume vegetables. If you are trying to cook as much as possible with only things from your CSA box, I would place 4 tomatoes, 1 peeled cucumber, one of the smaller onions leftover from last week, if you have one (if not, add scallions, a garlic clove or red onion), salt, pepper, olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar to a food processor or blender (all the vegetables should be cut into chunks that this equipment can handle). Whir them all together and adjust for seasonings, then chill for a few hours before serving. I would consider adding fresh corn kernels and a dollop of sour cream when serving. Garden herbs including basil, chives and parsley also make a nice addition. Now, if you want a really nice recipe that really mimics the gazpacho I remember from Spain, try this one. The bread adds a nice thickness and body to the soup.

– Gazpacho with fruit – Don’t forget that peaches can be a great addition to savory dishes, including gazpacho. Try this recipe from Epicurious for Peach and Tomato Gazpacho.

– Deconstructed gazpacho – You could make endless summer salads by chopping tomatoes, cucumbers and other summer vegetables and throwing them in a bowl with olive oil, seasonings and maybe a little cheese. The New York Times offers this recipe for Tomato, Cucumber and Corn salad. I say who needs a recipe? If you have good vegetables on-hand, experiment with different combinations of no-cook side dishes like this. Squash and zucchini can be used raw if sliced thinly enough. Or grill them and mix with your raw ingredients for a hot-cold salad with great texture.

The August issue of Better Homes and Gardens has a great spread on recipes for corn, green beans and squash. A few that caught my eye (Note: Their website will ask you to enter your e-mail address and create a password to see these.):

Tomato-Topped Corn and Feta Casserole

Garlicky Zucchini Noodles

Peaches and blueberries are a great combination. Take the recipe I shared in this post last year for peach and blackberry crisp and sub in blueberries instead. Don’t forget the vanilla ice cream! When you’re slicing those peaches, it probably helps to know that this week’s peaches are clingstones, meaning the flesh clings to the pit inside. Clingstones ripen earlier than freestone peaches, which you can expect to see in the coming weeks. The fact that they are somewhat harder to separate from the pit and slice is all the more reason to eat them bite by bite standing over the sink!

Do you have great summer vegetable recipes you’d like to share with the group? E-mail me and let me know!

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Week 5: June 4, 2014

In this week’s box:

6 pints of blueberries

2 bunches of beets w/tops

2 bunches of onions

5 cucumbers

Total retail value of goods in this week’s box: $45

Total retail value of goods distributed so far this year: $349

Emily’s notes

A lot of people think pickles are intimidating and require getting out all the sterile canning equipment. In fact, “icebox” pickles can be made very easily and have a fresh crunch to them that can add a truly satisfying element to backyard cook-out meals. Here’s a recipe from this month’s issue of Southern Living, adapted for the quantity of pickles in this week’s box

Icebox Cucumber Pickles

recipe from “Fun Food and Flowers,” cookbook of the Thomsasville, Ga., Garden Club

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/8 cup canning and pickling salt

1/2 tsp celery seeds

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

5 medium cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 small onion, cut into 1.8-inch slices

Cook first six ingredients in a saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally, until hot and sugar dissolves. Do not boil.

Place cucumbers and onions in a 2-quart airtight plastic container. Pour hot vinegar mixture over cucumbers and onions. Cool 30 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate in airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Cucumber slices also make a nice addition to a summer pitcher of ice water. Keep one in the fridge to encourage your household to hydrate on hot days.

Beets are another one of those two-for-one veggies. Use the tops as you would Swiss chard, sauteeing them or adding to egg dishes and similar fare. If you trim the tops off the roots as soon as you bring them home, both will last longer. The roots will actually keep a couple weeks in the fridge. For recipes, I’m going to send you to the beets page from last year’s blog, which includes recipes for a beet and goat cheese tart, simple roasted beets and beet chocolate “cake.”

Berries are not something I’ve ever had trouble using up in my house, but this week’s bevy of blueberries calls for some celebration. I love the combination of blueberry and lemon, so my pick for the week is this Blueberry Bread recipe from PBS’s Fresh Tastes blog, created by food writer Jenna Weber. If need be, you can always freeze extra blueberries in a single layer on a sheet pan and then package them in zip-top bags in the freezer for future smoothie, muffin and pancake making.