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Monday, June 21, 2010

Solstice Cleaning

It's the first day of summer, and I'm hot. Not "hott" like Christina Hendricks, but "hot" like sticky, and I smell like I've been riding the rails. My day has been full of various flavors of annoying first world problems, and as I was telling E how crabby I felt I knocked over a two gallon pitcher of fruit punch. Inside my fridge. It poured into all of the drawers, all over the kitchen floor, and into the dark recesses underneath the refrigerator. This is our third summer here, and as I helplessly watched sticky pink liquid run everywhere I realized that I have never moved the fridge to clean under/behind it.

"YOU HAVE GOT TO BE F*@%ING KIDDING ME," I hollered while E tried really hard to keep a straight face, and I could swear I heard a laugh track and a sad trombone off in the distance.

Well, I really needed to clean out the fridge anyway.......and as I pulled produce out of the drawers I noticed that some of our farm veggies from last week were starting to look a little busted, especially the greens.


If you catch wilty greens in time, you can bring them back to life by trimming the end and setting them in a big bowl or sink full of ice water. Sometimes they're just too dried out and/or bruised to make it back but it's always worth a shot. It will take anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour to see results. You'll be able to tell which ones are disposal-bound, because they're the ones that look worse after sitting in the ice bath - soggy and sad. I managed to save some lettuce and some parsley, my beet greens and escarole didn't make it, and the kohlrabi tops had started to yellow. Don't bother with yellowed leafy greens (and broccoli, for that matter). Most of them taste bitter and nasty, and are mostly bereft of nutrients anyway. The longer that produce hangs out after it's been picked, the more vitamins it loses. It's best 4-5 days after it's been harvested (buy local!).

The best thing to do, I decided, was to take the pile of vegetables and turn them into dinner.

Here is the pile.

I weeded out the fruit and put it back, made an herbed avocado and tomato salsa for later, saved the celeriac and scallions for slaw (look for that in a couple days), and started trimming and peeling and chopping what was left.

I sliced the kohlrabi into 1/4" rounds, peeled and quartered the beets, and peeled and sliced the sweet potato. I blanched them in a pot of boiling salted water for about a minute, then shocked in ice water, then set aside in a large bowl. I trimmed the snow peas and garlic scapes, quartered the haruki turnips, peeled and sliced the red onion, and set those in a second bowl. I marinated the vegetables in a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, some chopped garlic and salt and pepper for about a half hour (overnight is also fine if you want to plan ahead). I did so in two separate bowls because I didn't want to pick through before I put them on the grill. As you can see in the photo: I grilled the sweet potato, kohlrabi, and beets directly on the rack because they're bigger. For the smaller stuff I used my grill wok.

I heart my grill wok. It was pretty cheap, I've had it for years, and with a hot grill and a little practice you can make kick ass grilled stir fry. SO great for smaller pieces of food, like shrimp. Nothing falls through the grate!

After the bigger pieces were done, I took them off and sliced them up, then tossed them with olive oil and salt and fresh ground pepper. I sprinkled the whole deal with chopped fresh herbs from my garden.

The veggies were served with crusty bread and mushroom risotto. I didn't make my own risotto this time, I had a bag of Trader Joe's in the freezer. Like I said, it's hot. I was not about to hang around the stove any longer than necessary. Any kind of grain would be nice - or a quick, light pasta like aglio olio.

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