Carrot Top, Fennel Frond Pesto

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Today’s my blog’s 11th birthday. I was going to do a post about that, but there’s really not much to say that I didn’t already say last year (see: Ten Years a Food Blogger). So instead of a navel-gazing post, here’s a produce-maximizing post. It’s a post that came about through necessity.

See, my CSA came this weekend, and after I unpacked it, I was a little angry. Look at the photo above: there were 4 or 5 dinky carrots attached to a huge mound of carrot greens. And a fine bulb of fennel attached to so many wisps of fennel fronds, it looked like Rapunzel. What was a responsible food blogger to do?

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Chicken and Multi-Colored Carrots in Tangerine Sauce

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Monday night is healthy dinner night. I don’t drink wine, even if Craig makes a stink and opens a bottle in protest. I don’t make dessert, even if he begs for my famous chocolate chip cookies. What I do, on Monday night, is penance for all of the ridiculous things I ate over the weekend and, also, I set the tone for the upcoming week: if I eat healthy on Monday night, it’ll make the fact that I went to the gym earlier in the day seem worthwhile. Also, it’ll keep me in the zone for going to the gym next day. The trick, though, is to make the dinner just healthy enough; meaning, it shouldn’t be punishing. It should still be good. Which is how I came up with the dinner I’m about to tell you about.

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A Golden Salad

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Our CSA continues to be a big boon to our diet, especially on Sunday mornings when the box arrives and I get to tear it open and make something right away for breakfast or lunch or a combination of those two meals (someone should come up with a name for that). Last week’s box contained some Boston lettuce, the box from the week before had golden beets that I hadn’t used yet. So, on Sunday at 11:30 AM, a vision slowly began to hatch in my brain: what if I roasted those golden beets and, at the same time, boiled a few eggs just so the whites firmed up and the yolks were runny. I could toss the lettuce with a mustardy dressing, using Dorie Greenspan’s mustard bottle technique and bring it all together like a golden vision.

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Spaghetti with Purple Cauliflower Sauce

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Unpacking my first CSA box felt a bit like opening presents on Christmas morning. (Note: I’m Jewish but I date a non-Jew, so I know what I’m talking about.) There was the going to bed the night before, knowing the box would arrive the next day; the anticipation, getting out of bed that next morning, going to the front door; and the actual physical pleasure of tearing open the box to finally see what was inside it. You already know the answer from my CSA post, but the most delightful surprise was a head of purple cauliflower. I’d never cooked with purple cauliflower before and I loved the challenge of building a dinner around it.

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My First CSA

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So I have a friend named Rachel Sheridan who also happens to be a neighbor here, in Atwater Village, and recently she did an Instagram of a CSA box that had arrived at her doorstep. What’s a CSA box? CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and the idea is this: you pay a set fee, each week, and as a reward a box arrives at your door full of fresh-from-the-farm produce. I asked Rachel about her CSA and she told me it was called Summerland and that I should check it out. Not only did I check it out, after clicking around for a bit, I signed up too. Cue the trumpets: this box arrived yesterday (Sunday) morning! What was inside? Let’s open it up.

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