The best of the rest

The busy days and nights that accompany the holiday season caught up with me this year, and I’m a little behind with the updates on my fall boxes. As a result, I decided to do a post highlighting my favorites from the seven weeks that encompass the fall CSA.

There have been some interesting radishes in the fall boxes, such purple Bravo radishes, Grossberg radishes, and green meat radishes. The Thanksgiving-week box contained three large black orbs. They looked like large, extremely dirty beets, but they were black radishes. I sliced one open, and the bright white insides contrasted drastically with the dark exteriors.

Cornbread dressing, ready to be mixed and baked. Happy Thanksgiving!

Cornbread dressing, ready to be mixed and baked. Happy Thanksgiving!

I like to serve pickles with my Thanksgiving dinner. Their spicy, vinegar bite is a great counterpart to the rich flavors of dressing and gravy. So this year, I figured I could thinly slice the black radishes and turn them into quick pickles. They were delicious.

Sometimes it’s a bit faster to whip up a quick meal than wait for food to be delivered. I made a riff on Korean barbecue from the November 2014 issue of Bon Appétit. It was sweet and spicy and a great way to re-create takeout flavors in my home kitchen. I made miso-glazed turnips and Kung Pao Brussels sprouts to accompany it.

The fall boxes require creativity with squashes and roots. This butternut squash tart is an interesting thing to make. It’s a different way to think about squash—for dessert rather than dinner. I also like to make a mixed root vegetable mash with whatever strikes my fancy in the box—celery root, parsnips, potatoes, rutabaga.

The last box contained a sugar pie pumpkin. My neighbor took the one that came in the Thanksgiving-week box, so I was the lucky recipient of this one. I roasted it and pureed it and then froze the puree. I can’t decide if it soon will be pie or some other wintry pumpkin dessert.

In addition, the last box also contained potatoes, carrots and parsnips. I cut them all up and roasted them. It was a delicious side to my favorite smothered pork chop recipe, along with a beet salad, which, as these blogs have noted, is my default way to use beets.

That concludes 29 weeks of CSA shares. I miss the weekly box, but it gives me something to look forward to when the season starts again in June. I also enjoy the break from trying to plan the week’s dinners around the items in the box. This week I made lasagna, and I foresee many batches of stews and soups—comfort food for when the nights are so cold they frost my windows. And, if I miss my Nichols Farm veggies too much, I can take a trip to the Green City Market’s indoor winter location at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park.

Finally, I typically don’t make food resolutions. But this year I decided to pick a couple of things I’d like to learn how to do and work toward accomplishing them in 2016. I’m going to learn how to make madeleines and congee, and I’m going to learn how to use all the features on my new espresso maker.