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Happy Week Two, vegetable constituents!

The rain may be cramping your summer activities, but this rain/sun/rain/sun business is beloved by plants. They like it so much, you can practically see them growing, plumping out their fat little fruits, which is important for your upcoming dinners. If you haven't joined us yet to partake of these angiosperm miracles, you need to get right on that. If you're back for week two, excited to see what we have in store for you, you need to tell all your friends to join us (and hopefully win a prize in our Refer-a-Friend contest).

Week Two marks the start of Zucchini Season! We're going to be seeing the first of what is sure to be a long line of summer squash this week, so the time has come to start dusting off the zucchini cookbook and remembering all the creative methodologies you've concocted over the years to cope with this inevitable and tasty cascade. Zucchini tots, zucchini fries, zucchini fritters, zucchini stew, zucchini stir fry, zucchini tacos, zucchini beer...

I like to find some onions and zucchini, sauté them together with a chipotle sauce or garlic, lime, and cilantro, then layer with coconut rice and black beans in between a folded corn tortilla. I could pretty much crush a plateful of tacos for any meal, so that's my easy peasy lemon squeezy go-to. The pickiest kids even eat it if it's doused in salsa, cheese, and avocado. They can't tell they're eating the finest of courgettes and therefor don't bother to object.

For now, the local summer squash is a rare delicacy, one our farmers have mastered the earliest production of somehow, whereas my plants still lack the telltale orange blossom that signals fruit yet to come. If you've got gardening friends, by August, you'll have zucchini coming outta your ears and leg-sized fruit good only for bread. 

Beets are making another appearance this week, and you know what I always say about people who tell me they don't like beets: if you don't like a vegetable, you're eating it wrong. Beets are great in vegetable soups, and if borscht is your thing, you can eat them like a warm beverage if you insist. Because you know I'm all about them beets, I always say that the only way to eat beets is to roast them. Wrap them (chopped and scrubbed and peeled if you want) in a foil envelope with a little olive oil, then bake at 350° for about an hour. Slice these thin to throw on a salad, eat with perogies and kielbasa to feel particularly Cleveland/Old World-y, or eat them with goat cheese and cracked pepper while binge-watching OITNB.

And if that doesn't do it for you, the thing to do is to make a chocolate beet cake (my youngest son and I like make beet cake while listening to Coconut Records and subbing the words "beet cake" for "suitcase," because, you know, that's what you do).

Chocolate Beet Cake
from John Peterson’s Farmer John’s Cookbook:  The Real Dirt on Vegetables
3-4 medium beets

butter and flour for preparing the pan
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 c. mild-flavored vegetable oil
3 eggs
1¾ c. sugar
1 T. vanilla extract
1½ c. all purpose flour
½ c. whole wheat pastry flour
2 t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
powdered sugar for dusting

1)  Scrub the beets with a vegetable brush and trim roots.  Trim stems and save greens for some other use.  (I’m not sure what other use, but I’m working on it.) Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the beets.  Boil for 20-30 minutes, or until the beets are tender and the skins slip off easily.  Let the beets cool a little, the slip the skins off under cold water and then purée the beets in a blender or food processor.  You should have about 2 cups of beet purée.

2) Preheat your oven to 375°F.  Butter and flour a Bundt pan and set it aside.  (This is where I went wrong — I followed the original instructions to coat the pan with oil (!) and did not abandon ship even when I noted that the oil was pooling in the bottom of the pan rather than coating the whole interior of the pan.  Use butter; it sticks.)

3) Fill a medium saucepan about halfway with water and bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and set a heat-proof bowl over the simmering water.  Place the chocolate and ¼ c. of the oil in the bowl and heat, stirring frequently, just until the chocolate melts.

4) Combine the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Slowly beat in the remaining oil, the chocolate mixture, beets, and vanilla.

5) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt.  Gently stir the flour mixture into the egg and chocolate mixture until just combined.

6) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.  Carefully remove the cake from the pan and allow to cool completely before sprinkling with powdered sugar to serve.

Everything else, just throw in a really big salad. But really do use the strawberries to make compote for french toast, like I mentioned last week, because zomg it's delicious.

Peace and veggies,

Anna Kiss Mauser-Martinez
City Fresh
In the shares...
Beets, Bunch
Radishes, Bunch
Bok Choy
Lettuce, Head
Sugar Snap Peas (1 lb)
Beets, Bunch
Radishes, Bunch
Bok Choy
Lettuce, Head
Mixed Baby Zucchini (1 qt.)
Green Onions
Maple Syrup
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