"What's the final count?" I ask as I head for the door. The site manager laughs: "I stopped counting in the late thirties, but that was over a month ago." More than thirty different types of fruit, roots and vegetables for the last six months, and for another six months we'll feel their absence. We'll scavenge the local year-round markets and break into our preserved stock, but for the most part we'll miss the fresh food and weekly fellowship our CSA brings.
It's been a great season, and I've had such fun deciding what to write about each week. But inevitably there are things that fall through the cracks, just missing my deadline -- and now's my chance to catch up. Here are the top ten postscripts to this CSA season:
- Scallion Pancakes: Print this recipe now and hold onto it until spring, when scallions appear by the boatload. Or buy a couple of bunches this weekend and make it out of season. Either way, you're guaranteed to be in flaky, oniony heaven! They would also be delicious with garlic scapes.
- The Vinaigrette with the Most Bang for its Buck: Start with the simplest of ingredients -- 1 part vinegar to 3 or 4 parts olive oil. (Use more oil for a stronger vinegar, like cider.) Add a secret weapon -- 1 to 4 cloves of garlic, through a press. Season to taste with salt and papper. That's it. This recipe will elevate a simple green salad, and it's absolutely phenomenal on steamed chard or kale.
- Pickled Watermelon Rind: I know what I said about pickles, but this spicy-sweet concotion has converted me. I used this recipe with this combination of pickling spices, but doubled the amount of rind for the same amount of syrup. Oh, frugal heaven! It makes a wonderful dessert course when paired with a creamy cheese and some roasted, salty nuts.
- Speaking of Watermelon: If you have a nice ripe one lying around, it's probably best not to go off to the lake for five days and leave it sitting on your buffet. Unless you enjoy cleaning fermented watermelon guts out of your drawers and floorboards. Just wanted to throw that out there (pun absolutely intended.)
- Sauteed Jalapenos: Simply slice down the pepper into filets; pan fry in butter and sprinkle with a little salt. These are excellent on nachos or tacos, or even alone as an appetizer -- as served at the incomparable Ted's in Oklahoma City.
- Fried Okra: Even more polarizing than cauliflower, okra didn't seem to deserve its own post, but I have to warn you: fried okra is about the most addicting summer dish out there. Cut pods in 1-inch segments, dip in egg and then in equal parts flour and cornmeal, spiked with cayenne; fry in hot oil until golden and sprinkle liberally with salt while still warm. Try to save some for the table. (A warning to those growing their own: harvest pods while they're still 1-2 inches long; the giant ones are tough and good for nothing but seed.)
- Scooping Apples: I've been baking them more and more -- an easy dessert to bring to a party. -- and the easiest way to core them, while leaving some fruit on the bottom to hold in the filling, is with a melon baller. Two or three scoops make a neat hole, ready for stuffing!
- Broccoli Romanesco: this cruciferous vegetable got a brief mention when it starred in my gratin photo, but it deserves a more full-fledged plug. When you see it at farmers' markets, don't be put off by its appearance; the purple-green florets look a little like miniature scrub brushes, or maybe a plant from the Avatar drawing board, but it's delicious. Enjoy it raw, roasted or lightly steamed, just like broccoli or cauliflower.
- Lettuce Wraps: You've eaten them at P.F. Chang's, but have you tried them at home? Sliced meats and cheeses, burgers and even a smear of mustard to accompany them can all be swaddled in lettuce leaves, which are crunchier and lighter than the standard Kaiser roll. They're messy at first, but you'll get the hang of it after a few tries.
- Brussels Sprouts: You would feel differently about this vegetable if you had once stood in La Grand-Place at the height of the summer, taking in the majesty and culinary splendor of Brussels. This side of the Atlantic, sadly, the name can hardly be uttered without a wrinkled nose. But listen, just try this ingenious method of roasting them with bacon fat -- yes, that bacon fat you usually throw out -- and I think you'll be surprised.