CSA – Week #3

I swear to all that is holy, I don’t plan on doing a weekly recap of our CSA box.

Think I’m fooling? I don’t even remember everything we got this week. Broccoli…radishes…beets…lettuce…potatoes…and I know I’m forgetting something. So, there. Neener. Not recapping the whole thing because I’m a total slacker.

I AM, however, loving trying the new foods. So, when I find a recipe that works for us, I share. That’s what my mother always taught me to do, so here I am.

I really think I should start calling these Iron Chef CSA Challenges or some such thing because you seriously have no idea what you’ll be getting and at least one ingredient is usually something you’ve NEVER cooked with in your life. This week, beet will be my challenge. (I’ve only ever had Harvard beets and pickled beets, both delicious, but never from scratch.)

Week #2’s “mystery ingredient” was bok choy. I’ve heard of it…knew it was used in some Chinese dishes…and that was it. So, I didn’t get creative or reinvent the wheel. I threw some brown rice on the stove and looked up some recipes for stir-fry. Then, as per usual, I tweaked it. Hmm. Maybe that’ll be my superhero name: Recipe Tweaker. I can see the leotard now.

CSA - Week #3 - image  on http://megactsout.com

Stir-Fry with Chicken and Bok Choy

– 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 tsp. grated ginger (ours is local hydroponic; we keep it in the freezer and slice right off the frozen piece, no need to peel!)
– several tsp. olive oil (whatever oil you like; coconut would work well, too)
– 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks or slices
– 2 carrots, washed & chopped
– 1/2 – 1 red pepper, sliced
– 1 head bok choy, separated: leaves chopped, white part sliced or diced

Sauce :
– 1/4-1/2 c. soy sauce (we were low)
– 1/4 c. water
– 1-2 tsp. corn starch
– 1-2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
– dash+ red pepper flakes

Mix together sauce ingredients and set aside.

Heat up oil in a large skillet over medium to medium high and add garlic and ginger, cooking about 1 minute (watch it!). Add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Add carrots, pepper, and white parts of bok choy and cook until crisp-tender. Add bok choy leaves and cook until wilted. Add sauce and cook until thickened.

Serve over rice or noodles. Add another dash of red pepper flakes or soy sauce if you wish. Peanuts over top are yumm-o, too.

*Seriously, use whatever vegetables you have on hand. ALMOST anything will work.*

The verdict? Hadley’s not a big stir-fry person, but Dave and I liked it. I might have liked it more (like, REALLY liked it), but he’s super polite. I didn’t notice a hugely overpowering flavor, especially considering how much bok choy was in the dish, but a mild flavor. Will definitely make again, now that I know what to do with the thing.

Now, on to the beets. I’m envisioning reddish purple hands.

What about you guys? Try any new foods lately? Have any suggestions for a beet recipe the little man will actually tolerate? (I have some pickled beets in the cabinet I may try on him, just to see how he feels. He loves sour stuff, usually.) 

We Share Our Food

I share plenty of our hum-drum meals around this joint, but it occurred to me that folks who have a hard time putting together a lunch for the babysitter (or to send to school) might be interested to know what we send along.

It’s important to remember that we’re super duper lucky. Our son’s babysitter is his very own grandmother (although she also watches his cousin — whom she’s not related to by blood — call her a saint, if you will, please!). So, she’s very willing to give him breakfast in the morning (he leaves the house by 7, so it’s darn near impossible right now to get him ready and fed and coherent, so she just feeds him when he arrives — it works) and cut up his lunch and microwave what needs it and so forth. Not everyone has the luxury of sending reheatable leftovers, and I get that. I do. We’re lucky ducks.

That said, as Hadman gets older, grows beyond finger foods (read: is able to delicately spoon feed himself yogurt — snort), and starts eating sandwichy things, it might be helpful to see the evolution. Plus, I’ll throw in our occasional adult food-share to letchya know what Dave and I gobble down for lunches or the rare, wicked awesome “adult dinner”, or the even rarer vacation food. Y’know. Just for kicks.

So, on this particular day, the munchkin was sent with…

*da daa daa da daa daaaaa, trumpet fanfare*

CSA - Week #3 - image 5c579-foodshare on http://megactsout.com

leftovers. (See awesome glass container to the right, to the right.)

*wop wop* (Lots of trumpets today.)

But, ho! (Who you callin’ “ho”?) These are not just ANY leftovers. These are what I have newly dubbed Miraculous Meat Muffins. Guaranteed to feed the pickiest non-vegetarian eater from 1 to 89. (I have yet to test the 90+ crowd.) I recently gave them to Had’s 2 1/2-year-old cousin (who, needless to say, doesn’t really eat meatloaf — which is essentially what these nuggets o’ goodness are) and she wolfed them down. THAT, my friends, is a miracle worthy of sainthood.

Guess I’m on my way. 

HA! Right. (We had to call them “meatballs” since she does, on occasion, eat those. But she’d been in a highly picky mood recently, so I still call it a success. ;-))

Anyhoo, along with his mini-meatloaves (2), he had a pile of frozen sweet corn*, a cheese stick*, strawberry pancakes*, a banana*, and yogurt*. We also send along his watered-down milk* since we don’t think Grandma needs to be worrying about buying organic milk. (We do provide her with a big ol’ container of organic apple juice to use as needed, but this is way easier than sending milk and cluttering up her fridge.)

* denotes organic product (or made with organic ingredients). The meat for the meatloaves wasn’t organic (but it was humanely-raised, grassfed, which is fine by me), but all of the other ingredients were…so I’m not sure where it falls on the spectrum. Maybe 90-95% organic? The FDA would probably give me the “okay”, but they’re not very stringent. I’m lookin’ at you, Michael Taylor. You fraud. (Former head of Monsanto, people.)

A couple of things about cost. Every time I hit up the grocery store, I get ONE bag of frozen organic veggies. Just one. Since we hardly ever use a full bag in one sitting, we get a nice stock pile going, and throwing it in a container (even frozen in the morning) with even some pasta (with or without butter and/or some cheese) tides a toddler over pretty well. But, purchasing a bag here and there won’t break the bank; stocking up on 5+ at a time will. They’re also great to have on-hand as our veggie sides, or to throw into stir-fry or soups or, heck, anything.

I ALWAYS have bananas on-hand. They are by far the cheapest of all organic fruit — and the sweetness factor makes them one of Hadman’s favorite. Things. Ever. Like, up there with Pigeon and Ernie and “Melmo”. Fav-uh-rit. When I buy them, they’re usually 20 cents more than the regular ol’ bananas, which I figure as being pretty inexpensive. They’re also terribly toddler-friendly. Cut ’em, eat ’em, wash hands. (That last part is essential. Blech.) Less fear of choking than apples. Plus, if any go bad (not often these days), it’s time for banana bread/muffins/pancakes! Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

The yogurt. Ahhh, the yogurt. Firstly, we only buy whole milk at this stage — and, honestly, I wish that Greek yogurt was a whole milk food (for Mama), but that’s a whole other bag o’ potatoes. (Just checking to see if you’re still paying attention over there. *wink*) I always, always, always keep a pint of Stonyfield’s organic whole milk PLAIN yogurt on hand. It’s good to cook and bake with (hellloooooo, sour cream substitute!), but also provides a fast, easy, low (as in “no”)-sugar snack for adult and child alike.

1/2 cup (or more) plain yogurt + thawed frozen fruit (cut up for the munchkin…okay, and Mama) along with any juice that may come from the fruit OR a bit of store-bought organic plain applesauce and cinnamon = yummy snack. If your youngin likes more sweetness (Had doesn’t care, but I do), drizzle a little maple syrup or honey, or the tiniest splash of vanilla – a little goes a LONG way. Bada bing.

This container stuff? That’s another story. I KNOW there’s other “stuff” in it. There’s sugar, yes. So, it’s kind of a rare treat. I search Stonyfield’s web site (their cows are pasture-raised and humanely treated, so we’re biased and buy all of our milk and yogurt products from their company, if possible) and signed up to receive deals in my email. Once in awhile, I go to their site and print off some coupons — for Hadley’s baby stuff (which is whole milk, vs. the toddler/kid stuff; it also has a tad less ingredients) AND for a handful of regular yogurt cups for Dave and I.

And considering that every time I open the refrigerator door, he runs to grab a yogurt cup — ANY yogurt cup — it’s safe to say he’s a fan. Use whatchya know.

Cheese sticks are his #2 favorite. I guess he’s into dairy? Hmm. Anyhoo, we also get Organic Valley for its support of farmers and general good-guy attitude. I recently discovered a cache of a no-name brand (there probably was a name, but I don’t recall one) organic mozz sticks at Aldi, which I piled into my cart, but I’m still up in the air whether or not they’re the same as OV or if OV’s practices are a little more to our liking. So, for now, I take the no-namers, he takes the OV. No big. Plus, it cuts the cost down big-time.

Oh, and as for his breakfast stuff. Any time we have pancakes (once or twice a week, usually on the weekends), I make a super big batch. Then, I use a big spoon to make specific “Had-sized” pancakes. In this case, I used some thawed strawberries (I almost think the batter might have bananas in it, too…mmmm, strawberry banana-ness…) to turn them into a yummy treat. Other times, I’ll mix some plain batter with cinnamon and applesauce. Still other times, it’s blueberries. (The very rare occasion, all natural chocolate chips…very rare…let’s say, Valentine’s day, along with some strawberries.) Then, I stack ’em in threes or fours, put a tiny square of parchment paper between the stacks, and freeze them about five days’ worth per bag. (I wash and reuse the bags when I can. Yes, I’m a tad psychotic.)

So, that’s one day in our life of toddler lunchiness. I’ll try to share a handful of adult lunches (not rated-R lunches, but the boring stuff that Dave and I take along) if folks are interested in such a thing. Just let me know! If I hear radio silence, I’ll get the point. 😉

Have a great weekend, folks! Things are on the sad side over here. More on that soon, I’m sure.