Getting to the root of things

Every Saturday afternoon I'm faced with a challenge -- and this challenge costs me roughly $35 a week. The Home Grown Organics food box arrives, stuffed full of organic produce (some of it local), and within ten minutes, I'm online or rifling through cookbooks to figure out what the hell to do with all this kale. Or leeks. Or beets. Or any one of a dozen other things I usually don't buy in the grocery store.

Getting the food box has been a good idea. The produce arriving every weekend is always fresh, and with the exception of the kale, the selection varies widely. It's seasonal stuff from around here, with a little coming from outside the area -- sometimes we'll get lemons and limes, sometimes grapes and local fresh herbs, and the last two weeks we've gotten Brussels sprouts. I know what you're thinking: Kale and Brussels sprouts? When can you come over for dinner?! I sometimes feel the same way, considering there's at least one or two things in each box that I turned my nose up at as a kid, and here I am trying to pass it off onto my kids (hey, they may like what I didn't!). Last week's box reaffirmed my general dislike for the Brussels sprouts -- and so I was visibly disappointed when a new bag of the babies arrived this week.

We do have the ability to fine tune what we get every week, but it's only been coming for 10 or 12 weeks, and we haven't really figured out what we make good use of, and what we don't make good use of. There's also the ability to de=select various foods (bye bye, kale, and we don't get mushrooms due to an allergy in the family), but to be honest with you, I'm a little afraid of the "NO" list becoming longer than the "OK" list -- but I'm willing to start putting the old sprouts on the NO list, starting this week. At least we're eating more fresh vegetables than we used to.

The other benefit is that I get to try out some new recipes. We had roughly four gallons of potato leek soup in the house last month, and I think I could make four or five spinach-containing soup dishes from memory. I've had enough beets in the past month to make my auntie Annie from Saskatchewan's eyes swim, and this morning I was dismayed to discover that you can't make a very good squash soup from an acorn and a delicata squash, so I'll have to see if I can arrange for a butternut to show up next time around. I'm definitely becoming more like my old adventurous self in the kitchen, which is good; cooking for toddlers and preschoolers can leave you wishing that dinner preparation was more than turning the oven to 400 degrees and turning the fishcakes over after 10 minutes.

I'm finding clever ways of hiding vegetables in things the kids eat*. Pureed zucchini can go into any sauce you're making, and I made some wicked pumpkin muffins the other day (not from the organics box, but you get the point). Finely chopped spinach can hide in any number of dishes, and as long as the eyes can't pick it out, the fingers won't. So far, neither of the children have caught on to my crafty ways -- but then again, they have yet to try my ham & pineapple beet-za.

In the coming weeks, I think we'll have to sit down and take a long hard look at the produce we make use of around here, and the produce that routinely gets thrown away without being touched (I have a bad feeling about this batch of Brussels sprouts, but until last week, I'd accomplished my childhood goal of eradicating them from my world as a food option). Of course, we don't want to exert 100% control over the contents of the box, because that would leave little room for the surprise pineapple that shows up, or the coloured carrots and parsnips that make stir frys look and taste so good. Just a little less kale, and maybe fewer avocados -- at least until I can find a good recipe that isn't guacamole.



* I use the term "eat" loosely.

Posted bythemikestand at 12:30 PM  

6 stepped up to the mike:

Karen said... 2:33 PM, November 12, 2007  

Mmm, avocados...

Suggestion:

Kale makes great Colcannon, basically mashed potatoes with stuff in it. And it uses leeks too, yay for that.

Brussels sprouts are waaaaay more edible with bacon. And onions. In a dijon cream sauce. I became a convert that way after having been morally opposed to them for years.

Isn't the weekly box of vegetables rather a daunting challenge? I used to get one and the stress just got to be too much.

FrozenExtremities said... 2:37 PM, November 12, 2007  

Oh I so have a love affair with kale. I showed spinach the door. I have a baked greens recipie that uses kale and covers it in cheese. And this weekend I made up a lasagna with kale in the ricotta layer (thank you EAC cookbook.)
I really have to get on board with that food box thing....

Steph said... 2:52 PM, November 12, 2007  

Sliced Avacados + Scrambled Eggs + cheese + whole wheat wrap = heaven.

Also, Avacados on a chicken/turkey sandwich = another form of heaven.

Candy said... 3:31 PM, November 12, 2007  

I will tell you what I do with Brussel Sprouts in order to make them edible. Because as they exist in nature, they are not.

I pretend they are steak fries. I slice them into halves or quarters if they are large, coat them in olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper and cook them at a high temp in the oven until they crisp up like a potato chip. They are then, delicious. Give it a try and report back.

cronznet said... 8:53 PM, November 12, 2007  

Another avocado use: Make your chicken soup per usual, and when it is done add a squirt of lime to each bowl and several chunks of diced avocado. Fresh cilantro added last puts the soup over the top.
I love everyone else's recipes.
I'm sorry to say I now have box envy, since such a thing isn't offered down this way.

Megan said... 1:25 AM, November 13, 2007  

Hey! You should write a cookbook about hiding vegetables in kid's recipes! Oh wait. That's been done. :) Anyway, kids NEVER like vegetables that their parents didn't like when they were kids. There is a universal hateage of brussel sprouts.

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