Feeding Channing

July 20, 2011

For the last six or eight weeks, I’ve been spending a lot more on groceries than I’d like to—despite weekly CSA pickups (which began in June). Sure, the first couple CSA shares were a little light, but under our previous food regime, Channing and I would’ve had no trouble surviving a week on a couple heads of lettuce, some kohlrabi, garlic curls, and a handful of zucchini.

But things have changed. These days, Mr. “I Don’t Eat Breakfast” is sitting down with me for a meal every morning before work. Plus, he’s given up his daily sub and soda for brown-bag lunches prepared by yours truly. I’ve been waiting four long years for Channing to establish some healthier eating habits. Yet, as exciting as this change of heart has been, it’s meant I need enough food in the house to cover ten to fourteen extra meals per week!

Thus, I’m in the process of re-learning how to buy local, organic foods on a fixed budget. The variety and bulk of the last few CSA shares have made rationing food expenses a bit easier, and I thought I’d share a few recipes I found for making every last bit of produce count—even the most unpalatable.

Chard and beet greens: While I adore dark leafy greens of all types, Channing hates them. I mean, really hates them. To the point that he won’t even try them anymore. Even when they are the #1 hit of Thanksgiving dinner 2009. To ensure Channing eats his share of the chard and beet greens that appear just about every week in our CSA share, I’ve had to be a little sneaky. I mix them in with one of Channing’s favorite foods—eggs—and amazingly, he’ll eat them with no complaints.

Beet Green and Garlic Curl Quiche
Adapted from Julia Child’s The Way to Cook
Yield: one 9-inch pie, serving 6

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic curls
10 oz fresh beet greens, chopped (chard or kale work too)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
1 9-in. prebaked pie shell (I like Martha Stewart’s pâte brisée, but any pie crust will do)
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 eggs, lightly beaten with enough milk to make 1 1/2 cups

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Saute the garlic curls until tender (but not browned). Add the greens and stir over heat until tender and bright green, about 5 minutes more. Stir in salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Let the mixture cool slightly.

Sprinkle the bottom of the prebaked pie crust with 2 tbsp of the cheese. Top with the greens mixture. Pour the eggs and milk over the greens. Sprinkle on the remaining 2 tbsp cheese.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes in a 375-degree oven, until lightly puffed and patchy brown.

Beets: I have been hoarding beets for the last few weeks because, though I love beet greens, I have little interest in eating the roots. On occasion I’ve enjoyed beet and goat cheese salads at fancy restaurants, but I find I can’t replicate them in my own kitchen, nor do I want to eat them on a regular basis. This week, though, I decided I needed to make use of the two pounds of beets in the fridge. After assessing the items in my pantry, I whipped up some whole-wheat beet coconut muffins, using only ingredients I had on hand. OK, the first bite of these muffins is a little unusual, but by bite two, they’re pretty darn good.

Whole-Wheat Beet Coconut Muffins
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Minimalist
Yield: 12 muffins

1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, more for greasing tins
2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
3/4 c sugar (or 1/4 c Stevia)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup grated beets
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened coconut
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp plain yogurt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 12-cup muffin tin. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter, grated beets, coconut, egg, and yogurt. Fold wet mixture into dry mixture until just combined.

2. Fill muffin tins; bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until muffins are puffed and turning golden brown on top. Serve warm. (Store at room temperature.)

Cucumbers: I have a great dislike for cucumbers (Channing calls them my kryptonite) and avoid them as much as possible. But lately they’ve been impossible to avoid. We’ve been getting several each week from the CSA—too many for Channing to eat on his own. So, I scoured the food blogosphere for a recipe that might make these nasty vegetables tolerable. And I found one. The key is lightly salted roasted peanuts and toasted coconut. I can actually get through a good portion of this salad without wanting to puke, and for me, when it comes to cucumbers, that is a ringing endorsement. You can find the recipe at 101 Cookbooks. (I used finely grated coconut, a mix of olive and flax oil, and yellow mustard seeds because that’s what I had in the pantry.)

Cilantro: When I have too much of any herb, I usually find a good pesto recipe or toss the excess into a salad. It’s pretty easy to use up basil and parsley this way. Cilantro, on the other hand, tends to linger in the fridge a bit longer, i.e., until it turns brown and slimy. A couple weeks ago I found a yummy cilantro salsa recipe to solve the lingering herb problem. (I’d also recommend this cilantro-peanut pesto recipe. It’s not only scrumptious; it freezes well too.)

Cilantro Salsa
Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Yield: 2/3 cup

1 jalapeño chili, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 large bunch cilantro, stems removed
1/2 c basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, halved (or 2 garlic curls, coarsely chopped)
1/3 c olive oil, plus more to taste
1 tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed, or to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Salt, to taste

Combine the chili, cilantro, basil, and garlic in a food processor with 1/4 c water and the oil and pulse to puree. Stir in the lime juice, cumin, coriander, and salt. Taste, add oil if dry, and correct the spices. Serve as a dip with chips or over grilled fish, chicken, or vegetables.