We’re now ten weeks into a devoted takeout eater’s dive into the realm of Community Supported Agriculture, chronicled here in this Urbivore’s Dilemma series. This week’s themes all start with “p:” pesto, pickles, and panzanella.
My beloved CSA presented me with red and orange tomatoes, a slew of basil, summer squash, a cucumber, a purple pepper, scallions, carrots, plum and peaches! I now know the meaning of the phrase pay dirt.
I also spy something green: basil. I have always wanted to be the kind of person who makes her own pesto. This week I became self-actualized in that department. Thanks, CSA!
When I was in college, a dear friend had a food-processing wand and was famous for making her own pesto from basil she grew. I’ve clung to this faded memory of what she put in her magic pesto. This week’s bouquet of basil was just the right amount to fit into the embarrassing but surprisingly useful “As Seen on TV” magic bullet food processor my parents got me for Christmas. I added olive oil, sea salt, leftover spring garlic cloves, and some water. And in less than a minute, I felt different. Could basil pesto make me the kind of person who might do other brave things?
Well, I think it could. Last week’s cucumber was getting prune-y for a cucumber. It was calling out to be used. And you know what I did? I pickled it. I. (Me!) PICKLED. IT.
Ok, I sort of pickled it. I cut it up into chunky slices and added it to the zesty pickle juice from a near empty jar of a favorite local pickler, Rick’s Picks. I’m not sure if this is recommended or even legal, but unless this admission gets me thrown in jail, I think this is a very good thing. I just went to refrigerator to taste it. After sitting in pickle juice for 4 days, the cucumber tastes like a fresh pickle.
Speaking of fresh pickles, my cat’s name is Pigeon. But three different people in the past few weeks have met him and thought his name was Pickles. Pigeon is a pretty chilled out entertainer and didn’t seem to mind. But all this pickle talk made me wonder about pickling in a larger sense. Now seems like the time to get our collective pickle knowledge on. Are you a pickler? And if so, what do you pickle and how? Here’s a great piece for us pickling beginners.
“They” say that things come in three’s. First the pesto, then pickles. The third was panzanella. My word, how did I live all these years without it? The discovery happened last weekend after spending the afternoon at Stone Barns, the farm for Blue Hill restaurant and cafe, and rustic haven for local food, just outside of New York City. At the outdoor café, one can order things freshly plucked from the soil. The panzanella had me at “Hel…” You see what I just did there? I didn’t even have to say the whole word hello. That’s how good it is. What is it? It’s a bread salad. From Italy. And they know what they’re doing over there. They take bread slices, fresh tomatoes, cucumber, basil, onion, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. It’s so simple and delicious — light and filling all at once. And colorful too. I wanted a repeat performance, so I made it at home with this week’s tomatoes and cucumber and my window basil, since all of the other basil happened to be delicious homemade pesto.
I don’t want to get smug about all of this, but I do feel so self-satisfied. I always knew vegetables were good for you, but who knew the impacts on self-esteem? Good stuff.
Thanks to you, readers, for feedback about apartment composting last week. I’m still filling my freezer with vegetable scraps as I weigh the options. Before my freezer fills and I’m forced to eat vegetable detritus popsicles, I hope to take a composting class. Though, I do enjoy jumping right in. One thing that caught my attention and made that seem possible was a composting bag. The bag looks like it’s made from tent or jacket material and hangs. I’ve always loved a nice bag. Anyone have experience with such a system? [Note from editor: Yo, Jennifer — and your readers — check out the “composting 101 for citydwellers“ slideshow that went up Friday on our Feeding the City series.]
Next week sounds like it’s going to be a winner. The CSA folks say summer squash, cucumbers, mini tomatoes, green beans, eggplant, and cantaloupe are on the way. Cantaloupe!
Readers, what’s in your mid-August CSA boxes? Thank you for this ongoing conversation. Go forth and pesto!