CSA Week 25: Organic Fractals

This week we got: about a dozen carrots, green leaf lettuce, a white onion, a few sweet potatoes, some ugly but wonderfully tart Gold Delicious apples, some kale, two broccolis, a big branchy fennel root, and–a surprise!–romanesco.

CSA Week 25

If you’ve never seen a romanesco, take a closer look.


It’s a kind of cauliflower with buds arranged in fractal-like spirals instead of florets. We usually eat it raw on salads; it tastes mostly like cauliflower, so I’m sure it would be delicious roasted with parmesan cheese like its brassica cousin, but I’m afraid that the oven would wilt some of its whimsical spiral-tower shapes and knobby textures.
The green threads stuck to its righthand side are fennel fronds, by the way. Which also have a bit of a fractalesque pattern to them, I suppose.

Let’s see. On Wednesday some kind of bug or allergy caught up with me again, so I flaked on cooking. Leftovers and salads (ugh) for the sick! But Saturday I rallied for a couple of cooking sessions. In the morning, I roasted the broccoli and sweet potatoes for lunch while baking some muffins with the last of the plum puree. My mom had sent me a stock pot in the mail, and I was so excited to see it that I immediately made some vegetable stock in it. The pot came with a pasta strainer which is going to change my life: I just dumped two gallon-sized freezer bags of vegetable scrap into it and boiled that in water for awhile, and when I was ready to tend to it, I just pulled up the strainer, stuck a colander between it and the pot, and let it drain while I did other things.

Stock pot full of veggie scraps

When I was ready to pack up the stock for the freezer, I just emptied the strainer into a trash bag and what remained was a pot full of dark, earthy, ready-to-freeze vegetable stock. So much less messy than scooping out the scraps ladle by ladle! I can’t wait to make meat stocks in this thing.

Later that same Saturday, I packed up last week’s Hokkaido squash and scooted to my neighbor’s to make our excellent peanut curry, same recipe that we use on the corn. While the curry simmered, we peeled and chopped a million tiny apples and threw them in her slow cooker to make applesauce. We also cleared out her freezer and make a few more gallons of veggie stock.

I had enough salad and curry left to fulfill lunches and dinners for the rest of the week, but when I got home from work Monday, I looked at the kale lounging in my fridge and literally thought “mmmm, iron.” The body wants what it wants! I sauteed the kale with garlic and wine, threw some quick freezer protein in the oven, and ate salad while I waited for it to be ready.

I have a fair amount of unused root vegetable this week–I didn’t use any carrots, I have one more sweet potato, and of course there is always a backlog of onion. I’ll be using CSA onions on into the new year, probably. My neighbor and I had intended to make something of our leafy fennel root, but ran out of time before we had to head out for the previously mentioned poetry reading. The nice thing about roots, though, is that they keep well.

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