August 8, 2010

Vegetables Unite

So many vegetables, so little time. We've all seemingly taken a break from blogging. Occasionally we need to focus on our day jobs, attend our inlaws' weddings, vacation, move across the country, purchase our first home, or just unplug our computers and enjoy the summer in general. Anyway, I thought to give an update on the progress of The Vegetable of the Month Club contributors, on and off-line.

The big news is that all six of us VOTM clubbers convened in Evergreen, Colorado this week for the Vegetable of the Month Club Annual Summit (aka The Liberal End 2010 Reunion.) Almost every meal included some form of produce harvested from our hosts' (the Rogers) greenhouse. Our collaborative efforts produced pizzas (one includes the ubiquitous swiss chard), salads, breakfast burritos, a zucchini-shrimp-goat cheese risotto, and fried green tomatoes. We didn't get to the stuffed zucchini blossoms, I'm afraid. We went hiking instead.

Thanks to Katy and Ryan for their well-tended green-house and gracious hosting, Kate and Emily for some careful and creative menu-planning, Annie for the exuberant harvesting, and Elizabeth for the photos and support. And thanks to me for eating my fair share and taking a fried green tomato grease burn for the team. Totally worth it and healing nicely.

On a personal note, I have to say that the over-abundance of produce in my refrigerator (due to my rather large CSA share) has lead me to explore new recipes, but it has also been a little stressful. July was one of the busiest months yet at work. I've also been rethinking my living situation, not least of all due to the small and out-dated kitchen in my current apartment. I just have too many vegetables, and I hate to waste them.

I also feel that I do not have the time necessary to cook well and often. As an aside, I think that the solution to my predicament might be some good, old-fashioned canning, which would allow me to savor the bounty while indulging my great love of pickles and mountain-bred hoarding tendencies. If anyone with similar interests (or perhaps greater skill levels) would like to join me, I welcome your good company and expertise.

Nevertheless, I've managed to enjoy my vegetables. I have: labored over a cabbage and beet salad with honey and orange vinaigrette; casually thrown together farm fresh cucumbers and onions; and become acquainted with garlic scapes. Add kale chips and a basil cheesecake to the list.

Oh, and here's an easy, every-day dish: wilted greens (chard, beet greens, etc) in garlic, crushed red pepper, onions and tamari on a bed of quinoa, topped with roasted peanuts. This dish is my go-to, post-swim dinner. It's partially inspired by my new cookbook, "The Real Dirt on Vegetables," and very loosely inspired by the Miso Marinated Tofu at the newly opened Ruxbin Kitchen. I don't think I need to add to the rave reviews of this restaurant, which was featured in the Chicago Reader just this week, but will again thank Nate for the introduction.

I do believe that we will be sharing some of our creations from The Liberal End 2010 Reunion (aka The Vegetable of the Month Club Annual Summit) soon.

Hold tight, people.


  1. Basil cheesecake? Do tell...

  2. I would be thrilled if The Vegetable of the Month Club Summit turned into an annual event. But in the meantime, I need some definitions: quinoa, tamari, garlic scapes. Is a garlicscape similar to a landscape? And yes, my harvesting was exuberant, but the main reason for this is that I ate all of Katy and Ryan's cherry tomatoes. Sorry guys. They were to die for.

  3. Annie, I'm happy to make some associations for you. Let's go with car metaphors. I can't think of anything less earthy and I'm feeling pretty irreverent.

    Quinoa is like the Prius of grains: popular, good for you, and related to greens. It's a pretty complete protein and cooks faster than rice! And if you shop at Whole Foods you probably have purchased Quinoa. I got into it because my Mom was allergic to Wheat and Corn and so I've been forced to explore a lot of alternative grains.

    Tamari. Tamari is the Cadillac of Soy Sauce. It's stronger than your average variety. Don't buy anything worse, but you might find something better.

    Garlic Scapes are like the Saturn electric car of the nineties. You'll have to watch "Who killed the Electric Car?" Anyway, they are really great, but not publicized nearly enough, perhaps even hidden from general consciousness for a while, but making a come-back. This metaphor is really breaking down, but let me just say that they are a hybrid (haha, hybrid!) between garlic and green onions. In reality, they are the first green stalk of the garlic plant, before it is harvested for the bulb. Delicious!

    Rachel, I will post the cheesecake recipe. Although you can find it in the "The Real Dirt on Vegetables" cook book.

  4. I realized after I posted that last comment that the Tamari/Cadillac comparison works for me not at all, as I currently drive an old Toyota Camry that needs to be taken to the shop. I'm pretty tired, and this entire comment was probably, subconsciously, inspired by my inability to hold back the urge to use the phrase, "the Cadillac of..." to describe something, ANYTHING. I'm too tired to resist this primeval impulse.

    And actually, I realize that my parents have owned both a Prius and a Cadillac, which makes me feel unoriginal. Next month I will, perhaps, write about food that connotes the '88 Pontiac Bonneville that once broke down on a mountain pass, forcing our family to spend an entire three-day weekend camping in a trailer park Osburn, ID. Redemption portion of this my-middle-class-childhood-was-actually-sometimes-sad-and-boring story: this misfortune enabled us to sit around and read without my Dad pestering us about not being "active." Also, we we able to a taxi to a Gondola ride not dissimilar from the ride in Breckenridge. I think it may also have been free, but I do not recall a Super Slide option.

  5. I am seriously gasping with laughter. It's your fault if these comments cause me to contract a dire respiratory illness. I just wanted to say that I understand the primeval impulse to use the phrase "the Cadillac of..." I find it particularly interesting because Cadillacs do not connote the same sense of impressiveness here in 2010 that they did even 10 or 15 years ago. I don't know why this is exactly, but today a Cadillac seems to mean not the pinnacle of luxury, but the pinnacle of excess, and possibly excess that will break faster than if you had just followed your gut and bought Japanese. Which is why your comment is especially insightful--"don't buy anything worse, but you might find something better."

  6. Oh, man, yeah. Even after the whole my-car-won't-stop-accelerating scare, my gut says Japanese. There are also a lot of typos in all of these posts and comments. What is my day-job, again? Right. Well. I guess you can't be perfect all of the time.

    Good luck with the respiratory illness. Maybe you should stock up on Mucinex? I have a coupon if you are interested, although the generic brand is still less expensive.

  7. Howl!

    Just say yes to garlicscapes - they're adorable.

    Oh, ha. Perhaps I got rid of that cookbook too was not working for me. But basil cheesecake would work for me...that'd be nice if you'd post it.


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