August's Kitchen and a Weekly Menu

This summer has been a fabulous growing season, unlike last year's disappointing months of rain. Simply fabulous.

I am loving summer. And I am loving our share at the farm. With a csa you share the risk but you also share the bounty, and what a bounty it is. August pick ups have included zucchini, kale, chard, beets, onions, garlic, tomatoes, basil, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers and green beans. Lots and lots of green beans.

On a recent Saturday I spent most of the day in the kitchen dealing with this bounty. But lucky for me it was a gorgeous day and as I cooked I was serenaded by crickets, watched butterflies and laundry dance in the backyard and smelled the nectar sweet fragrance of the butterfly bush wafting through the open windows. It was wonderful.

Beans, butterflies... where was I? Ah, cooking in the kitchen. The reality of a having a full farm share during a bounteous season is that you have to do some preserving.

Thing is, I don't really can. I don't see the point because of all the nutrition that is lost in the process.

Right now I don't have the mental energy or time to invest in fermented foods which proponents say is a more nutritious preservation method. Also, we are blessed with reliable electricity (please don't burst my bubble by telling me the carbon footprint of this little dependency) so the freezer and fridge are what I use for the small amount of preserving I do.

One thing I'm freezing this month are blanched green beans. I've even been making ice so I can quickly cool them after their dip in boiling water, hoping to preserve them well for fall eating. If I had time I might have made dilly beans but that was simply not a priority this year.

Also preserved are a whack of fridge pickles. Not the most nutritious (salt, sugar, vinegar) but easy and tasty. I have no other clever ideas for preserving cucs. I use my personal fridge pickle recipe but if I had been braver I might have tried a variation of this live fermented pickle recipe from Clean.

Couple questions for you:

  1. Can anyone recommend a tasty vegan one pot meal featuring green beans? I'd love to add more ideas to my limited green bean repetoire. Remember I'm a one pot wonder cook. I make one thing - that's supper. Unless it's a birthday or something special like that.
  2. Has anyone experimented with live fermented cucs, green beans or beets (the other veggie we get that is hard to put into a one pot meal)? I'd love some tried, true and easy recipes. I fear spoilage and wasting good vegetables.

An August Menu

I know this has been a lot of rambling to read. Kitchen work is kind of like that. To thank you for sticking with me here's my menu from the past week in which I used large quantities of zucchini, green beans and added cucumbers to every salad.

  • Monday - spaghetti with Newman's own jar sauce, sauteed onions, garlic, summer squash and basil
  • Tuesday - new native potatoes with green bean casserole, loosely based on this recipe (I skipped the topping and doubled the recipe to use 3 lbs of beans and was rewarded with lots of leftovers!)
  • Wednesday - enchiladas with leftover potato and black bean filling. Enchilada sauce recipe found here.
  • Thursday - kidney beans with sauteed zucchini, tomato and basil
  • Friday - stirfry made with leftover green bean casserole, fresh farm kale and tofu
  • Saturday - wraps with beans, zucchini, tomatos, salsa, guacamole

For lunches we ate farmer's market corn-on-the cob, tabouleh salad (with lots of cucs), leftovers, green salads with shredded beets and a bunch of other veggie additions.

I am pleased to report that my summer menu plan has been working beautifully. This has been an active season for our family and I just don't have much time to devote to menu planning. My regular rotation takes most of the mental energy out of the planning process.

early farm apples

What fresh garden/farm/market meals are you eating these days?

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  • Debbie

    Debbie on Aug. 16, 2010, 2:56 p.m.

    Hey Renee,

    I hear you regarding canning. I don't understand why people would can beans...when they can simply be put into the freezer. The only things we preserve in this way are jam, and this year we did garlic dill pickles. (My guys LOVE pickles.) I also have a wack of beets that I will attempt to pickle - but mostly because it makes me think of my grandma (who passed away in April. She made the best pickled beets.) Everything else for us gets frozen - or dried.

    Not sure if you read my post about our csa bounty. But man, like you said, it is an indredible bounty this year. I've never seen so much food - for $25 a week. It's been fantastic and has challenged me to be creative in the kitchen. I'm loving it.

    Oh, we got some early apples too; Paula Red's. They were so good. I can hardly wait for apple season. I do can apple sauce - because Isaac loves it so.

    Happy August to you, Debbie


  • Janelle

    Janelle on Aug. 17, 2010, 12:48 a.m.

    I'm planning a green bean and chille experiment for tomorrow I will let you know how it goes over. We have also been enjoying them cold (blanched first-so just don't freeze a few after you blanche them) and dipped in hummus. The two minutes of blanching really makes them taste better cold, at least that's what we think.


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 17, 2010, 1:39 a.m.

      Cool! (literally - ha, ha). Thanks for the tip. I'm planning green bean coconut milk curry for tomorrow night's potato supper. 


  • Kathie

    Kathie on Aug. 17, 2010, 12:05 p.m.

    Dehydrating is a great preservation method that doesn't cause nutrition loss like the canning process (though I'm a huge fan of canning for a whole host of reasons) and doesn't require any electricity like freezing. String beans can be strung on thread and hung to dry and reconsitituted in winter soups, etc.

    Fermentation is a great process, though I have to admit I haven't done tons of it beyond regular cucumbers and sauerkraut (though we aren't huge kraut fans). Check out Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz ( your library probably has the book and I'm fairly certain he covers beans and other veggie ferments though its been a while since I read the book.

    A favorite Beet Soup : Peel your beets, cover them with veggie stock, toss in some onion and garlic. Cook until tender, blend until smooth - add a cup or two of tomato sauce, season as desired, bring everything to a simmer and enjoy. It's really yummy topped with a bit of feta cheese but then its not vegan.


  • Elizabeth

    Elizabeth on Aug. 17, 2010, 12:41 p.m.

    In reply to your request for one-pot green bean recipes, this is one of my favorites. Supposedly it makes three servings, but my husband and I usually eat the whole dish by ourselves. Good on its own, or with yogurt, flatbread, and salad.

    Indian-Style Potatoes 1 T canola oil 1 t brown mustard seeds 3/4 t salt 3/4 t crushed red pepper 1/2 t turmeric 1/2 t dry mustard 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 pound green beans, trimmed 1 large baking potato, cut into 1/4 in strips (about 4 cups) 1/4 c water 2 t fresh lemon juice

    Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds, salt, red pepper, turmeric, dry mustard, and garlic; saute 1 minute, until you hear mustard seeds pop. Stir in green beans and potato; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water and lemon juice; cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 10 minutes or until potato is tender.


  • Granola Girl

    Granola Girl on Aug. 18, 2010, 12:30 a.m.

    We volunteer in our food bank garden and harvested beets last week. The Barracuda had never eaten beets. Their policy is that people can take a sampling home of veggies they haven't tried as long as they promise to make an honest attempt to cook and enjoy them. This found us with beets for dinner and my having to not only please the boy, but also his father. Beet salad did the trick nicely.

    About 6 beets cut into 1 inchish chunks 1 small onion diced up 3 carrots grated 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds Soaked, softened whole grain (we used wheat groats, but for you guys Quinoa or any other grain will work really well) 2 cloves of garlic diced fresh thyme and chives

    Caramelize the onions. Pour in the balsamic vinegar and reduce. Dump in the beets and carrots with about 1/3 cup of water so they can steam up. Put a lid on and stir occasionally till the veggies are all soft. Remove from heat. Pour in softened grains, seeds, thyme and chives. Mix it all up. Everything will turn SCREAMING pink. It can be served with pitas, crackers, or over a bed of greens as a big salad. It is really filling and will feed all three of us with a nice batch of leftovers. It also freezes well. We eat it with feta or other crumbly cheese, but it isn't necessary since you would like it vegan.

    Most importantly, as far as the males are concerned, it is important to frequently open your mouth, after swallowing the beets, and stick out your tongue so that everyone can see how pink/purple/reddish it is. Also important is to think of the most disgusting thing you could have eaten which would dye your mouth this color (blood, tongues, raw liver or kidneys, live flamingos, etc). Apparently this brings out the favor of the beets nicely.


  • Naomi Kilbreth

    Naomi Kilbreth on Aug. 18, 2010, 1:41 a.m.

    Your menu sounds delicious! I wanna eat at your house! lol This is the first year I've really done much gardening on my own from start to finish, and really it's not much to be proud of, but that fact that we're eating meals with vegetables that came out of our garden (however meager the proportions are) is very rewarding! I don't expect there will be much to preserve except perhaps carrots and onions, but it's so much fun grocery shopping in the garden! And a pat on the back to you for cooking so well for your family during this busy season of your life!


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 18, 2010, 12:25 p.m.

      Thanks Naomi!  And carrots and onions are nothing to sneeze at in terms of preserving. Those are easy to keep in cold storage. I'd prefer a bumper crop of carrots to cucs (which don't keep).


  • Janelle

    Janelle on Aug. 20, 2010, 12:16 a.m.

    Garden Beans and Chilli Recipe

    Beans, ends trimmed and cut into whatever lengths you choose, 3 or 4 good handfuls

    5-10 small red chillis (I used about 10, we like it spicy)

    1/2 cup peanuts

    2 T soy sauce

    2 T minced ginger

    3 cloves minced garlic

    1 stalk lemon grass, smash it with the end of your knife and then cut it into two or three large pieces, remove it before eating the dish.

    1/3 cup water.

    2 T oil

    Fast fry the beans- really hot skillet, a little bit of oil, leave the beans for a few minutes until they start to blister.
    Remove from eat. Heat the garlic, ginger, chillis and lemon grass in the same skillet, add more oil if needed, heat until they become aromatic (2 or 3 minutes) Return beans, peanuts add soy sauce and water. Cover for about 3 minutes, serve over rice.

    Picked 2, 5 gallon buckets of beans today from our garden. I will keep you posted on what else I come up with.


  • Lisa

    Lisa on Aug. 20, 2010, 3:19 a.m.

    We have found that when freezing vegtables such as corn and green beans these do not need to blanched first. When we preserve corn we simple cut it off the cob bag it and freeze it. The taste is like fresh out of the field.


  • nicola@which name?

    nicola@which name? on Aug. 21, 2010, 6:23 a.m.

    Yum. We had a pasta meal this evening with green beans, tomatoes, and two different squashes, all fresh from the garden. It won't suit you as you don't eat cheese, but you might know a flavorful substitute? I sauteed crushed garlic in olive oil, added the veggies. After sauteeing a bit, I sprinkled on some blue cheese, then tossed in cooked pasta until it all got mixed. Yum. Nicola


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