After taking two summers off from gardening, I’m back to discovering how green my thumbs can be. I had considered doing a CSA at the beginning of summer and then decided to DIY with gardening and farmers market. I started out this spring with some container gardening — think super small planters, not a container box on the ground. The arugula, strawberries, butter lettuce, and basil did really well until June or July. And after moving mid-summer, suddenly I had a 75% volunteer garden! We’re still overflowing with tomatoes – cherry, sun gold, heirloom, roma… There’s a little bit of basil still hanging on, tons of rhubarb, mint, rosemary, sage. The blueberries were amazing, but long gone. Pumpkins – surprise! And the only thing that didn’t turn out well from our super volunteer garden was the corn.
As the summer ends, tons and tons of tomatoes are the only veggie we’re still juggling from our garden. So when a friend asked if I wanted to take over the last couple months of his CSA share as he moves to Seattle, I accepted the challenge.
I thought it would be fun to document here some of what we’re receiving each week and how I’m making myself actually use it!
This Week’s CSA bounty:
1. Roasted Eggplant, Tomato, and Feta Salad - I ended up combining a couple recipes and using what was available, for this salad. It was super tasty– eggplant, tomatoes, feta, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and basil.
2. Dragon Tongue Beans with Butter and Garlic – While these purple and white beans are fun to look at — they ended up not being my favorite. I sautéed them with butter and garlic and added some basil. The purple color faded, which obviously doesn’t impact the taste — but I was more into the garlic, butter, and basil sauce than the actual beans.
3. Feta-stuffed Peppers – My sister had just sent me a quick recipe she created, so I knew exactly what I was going to use the mini peppers for when I saw them in the CSA this week. This is one quick and tasty starter. RECIPE: After halving, and de-seeding the peppers, boil or steam them for about 5 minutes. Mix 1/2 to 3/4 cup of feta, 1+ TB of olive oil, and salt and pepper. Then fill the pepper halves with the mixture, place on a baking sheet and broil on a lower rack in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. So good!
The only unused veggies this week were the few tiny spicy peppers – hot sauce maybe? And the small onions, which will go in almost anything next week.
After the first week, I’m super excited about getting out of my current cooking rut! I love cooking and trying new recipes, but all too often I get in little routines of making the same dishes on my meal plan. Another thing I noticed was that if I have something to use up, I’ll go searching for a recipe to make, but in the grocery store I usually just quickly run through my typical things. I wouldn’t have gone out of my way this week to pick up eggplant, peppers, or dragon tongue beans.
Photo by Schoolyard Farms
I discovered Portland-based Growing Gardens in the Willamette Week’s annual Give Guide this year. So the first Forkover Friday of 2012 is in celebration of the simple pleasure of gardening. As a fellow gardner, I’ve found that participating in the growing of your own food makes you a lot more in-tune with your health and diet. It can also be a nice money saver during the summer for “cash cow” crops like tomatoes and basil. But most of all it’s such an empowering and exciting feeling to pick and eat something you spent time growing. So fun.
Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. —May Sarton
What they do: Help low-income Portlanders improve their diets and save money on food by building raised beds in backyards and schoolyards and teaching sustainable organic gardening methods. Growing Gardens has created gardens for nearly 900 Portlanders, 83 percent of whom are still gardening after five years. It also runs after-school garden clubs and community gardening workshops.
How we can help:
Who it helps: low-income Portlanders
What non-profit: Growing Gardens
Where: Portland, Oregon
Why: teaching people how to improve their diets and save money
Match my donation of $12 this week to Growing Gardens or pick your own cause and leave a comment below if you feel like sharing!
Summer don’t leave us! It’s about this time every year that I want to fit in as much summery fun as possible, into each and every weekend. So here are a few of those things that made me happy in July.
1. McMenamin’s Grand Lodge Hotel – The Grand Lodge is about a 45 minute drive from Portland, in Forest Grove. Like all the McMenamin’s hotels, there’s a lot of history surrounding the place — The Grand Lodge use to be a Masonic convalescent home. It might sound a little creepy, but it’s totally not! It’s a perfect (quick) weekend getaway from Portland, and way more fun with a group. We spent the day playing disc golf, hurling bocce balls around the grounds, drinking at the outdoor pub and snacking on our farmer’s market haul, attempted to watch a movie (which broke! That’s what happens when you try to watch a Vin Diesel movie), lounged about the soaking pool, and played pool. A giggle-worthy and great weekend.
2.Playing bocce – I joined a bocce league — it’s super low-key.
3. 4th of July weekend: Waterfront Blues Fest, biking around, fireworks on the Eastbank Esplanade, and I made a cherry tart. America! F$@% yeah!
4. event planning @ Ace Hotel – finalized our Meet, Plan, Go! Portland venue for Oct 18. Woo!
5. first tomatoes from garden – golden, cherry, and early girl <3 gardening
6. working at Barista & Crema – I spent quite a few afternoons this month at Crema and Barista with an iced coffee, sunshine, and fresh air — the perfect antidote for post-lunch food coma.
7. Oregon coast – I never tire of visiting Oswald West State Park. It’s my favorite totally-not-a-secret Oregon beach that always seems to still be secret enough to have a little area to yourself. Trumps Cannon Beach.
8. Rose gardens – summer has been lagging a bit this year, so during an early July visit to the Rose Gardens, roses were still in full bloom. Gorgeous.
9. Fountains & biking – <3 biking and all the fountains around town.
10. Macarons! My favorite Macarons in Portland are from Two Tarts Bakery. So while at Little Bird a couple weeks ago, I thought it was adorable that they give you a mini macaron with your bill. On the way out, I noticed this tray of macarons. Too cute.
Hooray for summer!
Pie is so the new cupcakes. And pie might be the new macarons too, or maybe macarons are the new pie? I’m sure there’s some hip dessert I have yet to discover that is even cooler. Regardless, “Let them eat pie!” and here are a few things I’ve had my eye on lately.
-You Are What You Eat is a series of portraits made by examining the interiors of refrigerators in homes across the United States. Why are interiors of fridges so personal feeling? Mesmerizing. [via Flowing Data]
-Impossible to scold kitteh for using my Hobo International clutch as a pillow when she looks so cute!
-Kokblog is an illustrated food blog with super cute illustrated food, and I loved her recent collaboration: Kölsch (collaboration).
-Went to the coast last weekend. There’s simply nothing more refreshing than walking the beach in the morning (even if it feels like winter out).
-Latest song on repeat Lykke Li – I Follow Rivers. Catchy.
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-The grilled corn (Khao Poht Ping) is back at Pok Pok, and as I posted on Foodspotting: I could eat an entire cornfield of this. A summer favorite!
-I picked the first golden tomatoes from my garden this week. So tasty. I can’t wait to make pasta with roasted summer veggies
soon when I stop eating them immediately after they ripen.
-Checked out Central’s new outside seating & happy hour last Thursday. Love the converted alleyway on SW Ankeny into picnic tables, but won’t be ordering drinks off the happy hour menu next time, think I’ll stick to my favorites, the PB Jewel and #8.
-Some mornings require pie for breakfast. You can’t really go wrong with any of the baked goods at Crema.
Yay for orzo! Since I’ve had a seemingly endless supply of cherry tomatoes from my garden, this has been my go-to recipe for a quick (15 minutes!) lunch. I love how fresh this recipe is — and the feta makes it a good mix of tangy and sweet. It’s also really scalable (and for whatever reason, seems to be pasta-hater approved!). Although, seriously? Who hates pasta?!? :(
You can also add random ingredients to this one fairly easily, such as: 1/4 English cucumber, chopped; 1/8 red onion, chopped; substituting 1/2 TB oil for balsamic vinegar etc.