Monday, August 17, 2009

CSA - Aug 15, 2009

What an incredible bounty August brings! Tomatoes, at least 4 varieties and sizes, red and purple sweet peppers, the most precious baby eggplants you've ever seen, a nice big bag of fresh basil and a bag of succulent figs!

Sunday morning I decided to take everything, but a handful of the basil and the figs, and turn it into a Tuscan Bread Salad (aka Panzanella.) So, before heading out to a 9 am meeting I tore up one of the loaves of whole grain seed bread that I made on Saturday and I dried these bread cubes in the oven at 170 degrees for about 5 hours. Later in the afternoon I set to chopping the following veggies into a large roasting pan and cooking them for one hour at 350 degrees: a large sweet onion (love the Vidalia!!), all the peppers, all the baby eggplants and 8 ounces of baby bella mushrooms (grocery store purchase) all tossed with a generous portion of olive oil and an ample sprinkling of Jane's Crazy Mixed Up Salt (a salt blend that I rely on.) Separately, I chopped all the tomatoes and threw in one can of Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Chopped Tomatoes (another stand-by favorite) to give the dish a bit more of a wet base as the Juliette tomatoes aren't that juicy. I cleaned, picked the leaves and chopped the basil and added this to the tomatoes. I then added the last 2 tablespoons of the 25 year old balsamic vinegar from Italy to the mix and waited until the other veggies were roasted. With the roasting complete I just blended the two batches together and stirred it all up. From here you just ladle a scoop or two of the veggie mix over the dried bread crumbs (aka fresh croutons) and let the juices soften the bread a bit and savor the freshness!!

At the stage of pre-blending the roasted veggies and the tomatoes I was overwhelmed by the quantity I was about to produce; about 16 cups. We would be eating Panzanella every day this week (easy for me because it is so delicious, but Steve only tolerates leftovers for a day, maybe two.) So, at 3:15 I decided to can half of it and see how it would hold up. My thinking was "what a great lunch idea" bring a jar of veggie mix and dump it over a tupperware bowl of bread crumbs for an instant gourmet lunch at school! Yum!

The funny bit was that I was supposed to be leaving for the theater to see "Julie and Julia" at 4:15 and I needed a shower, make-up, hair and to get dressed - I am a girly girl after all. So, I grabbed my canning supplies, which are at the ready in the summer months, and put the kettle to boil with 6 - 8 ounce jars and one pint jar (the pint jar is for the day when my friend Amy and I eat lunch together.) I put the veggie mix in another kettle on med high and I jumped into the shower. Coming back through after the quickest shower in history I, dressed only in a towel, came rushing back into the kitchen and adjusted all the temps. Ran and got minimally dressed (in a giant t-shirt so as not to spoil a good outfit) and ran back in to can the goods. After all the jars were filled and resubmitted to the water bath canner for processing I set the timer and went and did hair and make-up. Somehow, both I and 64 ounces of Tuscan Bread Salad mix were both done by 4:15. Who says canning has to be an all day affair!

Post script: we scrambled the first 4 eggs on Friday morning and they were fabulous. Thick shells and perfect bright yellowed yolks. We now have the chickens laying their eggs in the actual nesting box and we have had 8 eggs so far!!

1 comment:

  1. The above-referenced "Steve" here to tell you that this week's Tuscan Bread Salad is definitely worth more than two days of leftover consumption. It's delicious! This from a dyed-in-the-wool meat and potatoes guy, who scarcely touched a vegetable six years ago and who could easily have subsisted on cheese and pretzels. Though I'm still not above the occasional snack, eating this way has been transformative for me from both a taste and a health perspective. So, come on, families, sign up for the journey! I'll bet you'll be glad you did.