UPDATED! Make No Small Plans on This Menu Monday
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:
- 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
- mustard greens – a bit left
- leeks – found some we did not know we had!
- komatsuna – a mild asian green
- Red Russian kale
- “Vitamin Green” another Spring green
- Yukina Savoy – if you guessed Spring green, you’d be right.