New Here? Read The Story behind the Box

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My box this week

So, I got the new box yesterday. This was my 13th box, and I have to say, I feel no less anxiety the thirteenth box than I did with the first box. However, once I started digging into it, I felt a little bit better. There was nothing I didn't recognize, and nothing that I don't like. For that matter, there was nothing green and bitter, either. Maybe we are starting to see the summertime light at the end of the long winter tunnel.

It's just that there is so much of it all. This week, we got a HUGE cauliflower, a little bit of broccoli, about 8 potatoes, a couple dozen brussels sprouts, a few onions, about 12 carrots, some green garlic, a bunch of kiwis, and a ton of oranges, tangerines, mandarin oranges, and tangelos. Don't ask me which are which.

Sounds pretty good, right? It is, except that I have onions and potatoes left over from last week, the week before, and the week before that. And last week I did my best to use up a bunch of potatoes just because I was experiencing potato stress. As of this exact moment, I have 24 LARGE potatoes mocking me. And I am sure I will get more next week. What am I ever going to do with all those potatoes???

I am sure that you all have heard about the whole concept of hiding vegetables in your kids' food so they will eat them without even knowing it. In principle, I am opposed. I think that my kids should know what they are eating. I'm going with the concept that if they see that the vegetables are not malicious, and if they try them enough times, eventually they will like some of them. At least that is what all my parenting magazines tell me.

Side note here... I realize that when I say "you all," that there is no real you. And certainly not enough to address you ALL. Maybe some day someone will read my little blog? Probably not. There are plenty of food blogs written by people who actually know how to cook. Why read about someone who can only tell you what not to do? At any rate, I have to have an imaginary you, or I don't know how to write.

Okay, back to refusing to hide the veggies. A couple of nights ago I had to run from the first grade Presidents' Day choral presentation, to piano lessons, to the dentist.  I threw together a pot of chili for dinner. It was pretty healthy, it could sit there ready until dinner time, and they all like it. But as I stirred the pot, I realized that I wasn't using up any of the godforsaken produce that is spilling out of my fridge, filling my countertop, and overflowing from my fruit basket. Have I mentioned that I have some extra potatoes? It occurred to me that if I had some carrot or squash puree ready to go, I could stir it in, use up some vegetables, make it that little bit healthier, and no one would mind. For that matter, I could shred or chop some veggies to go in the chili too. But remember how I was running around all afternoon? I had no time to shred carrots or anything else.

So, when I got this new box, with tons of carrots, I decided to throw out my principles. I went ahead and pureed and froze the carrots (as well as a few that were still in my fridge from last week). I haven't tried hiding the carrots in anything yet, but I'll let you know what happens when I do! The best part, though, is the fact that those carrots went from box to freezer without overfilling my crisper drawers. No carrot stress this week... those babies aren't going to rot on my watch. I may just be able to fit the rest of it in the fridge yet.

In case you (You? There I go again... wanted to know how to do it, here is how I pureed my carrots:

1. Scrub the carrots (you can peel them if you like, but I figure there is no reason to throw away part of a perfectly good carrot), and cut them into chunks about an inch long.
2. Steam the carrot chunks either on the stovetop or microwave until they give a little when you press on them (about 10 minutes). Put the steamed carrot chunks and a bit of the water you used for steaming (about a 1/4 cup or so) into your food processor, and blend until they are a smooth, pasty consistency.
3. You're done! This all took me about 30 minutes or so.
4. To freeze it, I put the puree into a muffin tin. With about 15 carrots, I had enough to fill 12 muffin cups just to the top. I froze the muffin tin for a couple of hours, until the carrots were pretty hard. Then, I dipped the tin into warm water to loosen the cute little orange hockey pucks. I popped them out, put them in a freezer bag, and now I can pull out one or two carrot pucks to throw into spaghetti sauce, chili, etc.

I didn't think about it at the time, but in the future I might measure the carrot puree and freeze it in exact cup or half-cup amounts, so that I can know how much to defrost for particular recipes.