UPDATED! Make No Small Plans on This Menu Monday

April 29, 2013 at 11:28 am

Old vegetables and extra stems begets stock, which begets pilaf which begets a week’s worth of meals

 UPDATED BELOW! – So much in this week’s CSA box.

It must give Rachel Shteir perverse satisfaction that more people heard rants about her take down of Chicago than read her actual piece on “poor Chicago” in the New York Times. Shteir’s well cited critique already is that we’re just too damn boastful in Chicago. The obvious answer to her review is to say why we can brag. Surely, it is indoctrinated in us as Chicagoans, in our schools, by listening to WGN, somehow, that the Cubs may suck, the weather may suck, and the politicians more than suck, that this is a great city, and we should be happy we live here. Take our architecture. To Shteir, it’s just another empty example in our list of boosterism. We do take our architecture very serious here.   It is a matter of civic pride.  The average woman on the street can point out the Monadnock from the Reliance. Tell you the rusty look at Daley is from “corten steel”. Of course they’re “Chicago” windows and Target be damned, it’s Carson’s. We know our stuff. We can rattle off all the people who left their mark here, and we especially know the man that left his mark not just in buildings but in a plan about buildings. Make no small plans, we all know Burnham taught us.

The purpose of Menu Monday was to talk about the various items we picked up in our weekend shopping and brainstorm with you how we planned on using them. The timing of Menu Monday is off  now anyways, because our local food comes in a CSA box that arrives mid-week. It is off even more because this week, there is little room to put new on the menu.   There is not much to think about this Monday.  See, when my wife, the Condiment Queen, cooks, she follows the advice of Mr. Burnham. Or as she likes to say, cook for her imaginary family of 15.  She makes no small plans in the kitchen.

She makes no small meals. I apologize for not putting something along side the pilaf picture so you could see the scale of the dish. And you don’t want to know how few it was meant to feed. The pilaf itself followed, cat-in-the-hat style, a previous big batch: veg stock.   As I’ve noted before, vegetable stock is where all good produce goes to die.  It is the ideal use for old stuff, and the motivating factor for my wife was that but better, otherwise unusable shiitake stems.  Having all that stock makes us think pilaf. If you don’t know, when you cook rice with stock, a/k/a pilaf, you get something way more satisfying. Add leftover roasted vegetables, a sprinkling of nuts and chick peas for protein, and you have a vegan meal both satisfying and able to feel your Local Family for days to come.  So, old vegetables and extra stems begets stock, which begets pilaf which begets a week’s worth of meals.  No?

We are at least one week ahead of our CSA in produce use. In other words, last week we used mostly food from the week’s before box. Yet, truthfully, we’re also still working off food even older, like the roasted veg in the pilaf.  We used some Spring greens last week in a stir-fry (with tofu), and we used some turnips, carrots and radishes in a quick pickle crudite appetizer.  Then, when you would think stop now, She made a huge batch of vegan chili for my daughter’s birthday.  In the chili, she took some of our onions, some of our garlic, and some of our carrots, but left us with more leftovers and much vegetables still to cook.

Here’s our full current inventory of local produce:

  • carrots
  • turnips – did manage to finish the last of the smaller, Japanese turnips last week, only to find we’ll be getting more of those this week
  • radishes – down to 1/2 a watermelon radish
  • spinach
  • mustard greens – a bit left
  • onions 
  • garlic
  • leeks – found some we did not know we had!
  • apples
  • beets
  • potatoes
  • komatsuna – a mild asian green
  • Red Russian kale
  • “Vitamin Green” another Spring green
  • Yukina Savoy – if you guessed Spring green, you’d be right.
Come back later in the week for what comes in this week’s Tomato Mountain* CSA box.
spring csa 13-3 b
UPDATE! – That’s the this week’s CSA box.  Hard to imagine it all fit, right.  We got big amounts of various Spring greens, salad turnips that also included greens, and another embarrassment of riches in carrots.  Here’s the close-up:
csa - spring 13-3
Clockwise from the top right: that’s “red rain” mustard greens, picked young; hakurei turnips, with greens; carrots; bok choy; Tokyo bekana; tatsoi.
Menu ideas: I will offer this up, they may be called turnips but their culinary use is more like radishes.  That is it’s hardly necessary to cook the turnips to enjoy them.  They’ll make a good side in Sophia’s lunch, and more than a few will be sliced into salads.  Their greens are edible and would be more edible if we cooked them with some of the local pork jowls we have in our freezer, but that would not be vegan.  Some of the other greens can also be used raw, including the bekana and the red rains, but expect at least some stir fry.
*My wife works for Tomato Mountain.