Monday, September 04, 2006

CSA Mondays

Well, once again it is Monday.

I can't believe how quickly time has passed for me since I moved to Israel. I don't know if it is because I, like everyone else in the world, am getting older, or if it is a factor of getting into a life that is more ordinary and every day blends into the next and Monday could be Thursday except for my CSA deliveries.

But that couldn't be it, because when I lived in Grand Cayman there was a weekly routine at the dive shop as well. Monday was booze cruise day - saying welcome to all of the newcomers, Tuesday was my day off, Wednesday was Stingray City day, Fridays were for goodbyes, and Saturday was get ready for the next week day. Evenings blended into one and other, going out to Georgetown or East End or up to Rum Point, sometimes out to see a movie but mainly hanging out at the bars, shooting pool and hanging out with the same people (after all there are only about 30,000 people living on the island permanently).

Speaking of diving and Stingray City, my condolences go out to the family and friends of Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile Hunter" who died today of an injury caused by a stingray barb. It truly was a freak accident.

In my (fairly considerable) experience stingrays are shy creatures who usually flee from the strange bubble blowing creatures who invade their sea. When they do become accustomed to people they are graceful, swirling hoovers, sucking food from the palm of your hand in the same way that a horse does. They don't have teeth and they are not incredibly speedy (unlike their relatives the shark). I used to have one particular favourite - Gertrude or Darth, depending on the dive master doing the introducions. Gertrude would come and sit on my chest and stare into my eyes (or, more likely her reflection in my mask). she would let me stroke her wings, which spread wider than my arms at full stretch. She seemed to particularly like it when I rubbed her white "tummy" - rather like a cat.

Thousands and thousands of people have dived at Stingray City without incident, so please don't let an unfortunate exception stop you from getting into the water.

A Digression

Firstly, I need to apologize for the fact that I haven't posted any recipes. There is a reason for this: I was taught that baking needs exactitude because it is a chemical process, whereas cooking is done according to taste and is much more an effect of alchemy, the whole being (if successful) much more than the sum of its parts. Even if I have a recipe, I usually stray from the path and add a bit more here or substitute something there. My biggest piece of advice is "if it smells good together it will taste good together". I will try to write recipes (ish) in future.

Back to the Box and Mondays ...

I came home today to the Chubeza CSA box. Good stuff!

The box, overflowing as always, contained:

  • Corn on the cob
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Carrots
  • A big bunch of basil

One of my vases filled with today's basil

  • Zucchini
  • Summer squash
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Red okra
  • Yard long beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Parsley
  • So, what to do with all of this bounty?

    Well, sweet corn needs to be eaten as close to the time it was picked as possible, otherwise the sugars turn into starches and it ain't so sweet. So that was my starter, smeared with butter and a sprinkling of (you guessed it!) Maldon salt - I like its crunchiness. I used to pour salt into the palm of my hand and lick it up with the tip of my tongue. I also used to eat celery stuffed with horseradish and vinegar by the tablespoonful. I was strange when I was younger. I still am, I guess.

    The next course was a pressed cod roe pate that I had made over the weekend. The idea of the recipe is:

    • 1 packet of plain gelatine dissolved in 150 ml water
    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 tin pressed cod roe (about 200 gr) (I have only ever seen Danish brands)
    • 200 ml homemade mayonaise
    • 200 ml sour cream
    • normal salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
    • pickled capers - rinsed well and drained - I like lots but only had the meagre remains of a jar
    • lemon zest

    In Israel they have fish gelatine so it will be Kosher Parve, which means you can eat it with milk or meat, it is neutral - religiously speaking. I have to soak it first for half an hour in 1/2 a cup of water, then bring it to 60C. Then I cool it to room temperature. Follow the recipe on your box of gelatine for dissolving it - use only the 150 ml water noted above to get to this point.

    While you are waiting for the gelatine to dissolve (don't forget to stir it occassionaly) puree the onions (use a stick blender, a cuisinart, or even a box grater on the small holes).

    Add everything else except the gelatine and capers and mix until completely smooth and a bit fluffier than it started (use a stick blender, regular blender, smoothie maker or cuisinart. You can also do this with a hand beater or mixer (KitchenAids preferred but not necessary) - but make sure you mash up the roe a bit first

    Stick the glop into the fridge and let it chill while the gelatine cools to room temperature.

    Then pour the gelatine into the glop beating/blending very thoroughly.

    Stick it back into the fridge until it just barely starts to set up. Stir it around thoroughly and add the capers, then stick it back into the fridge again until it starts setting up again - it will be more set up than the first time 'round, but not jello yet.

    Prepare a loaf tin - I use a disposable one because it has a nice ridgey pattern on it. If you want to get fancy there are beautiful copper fish molds. I line my tin with plastic wrap and leave the edges hanging over the sides.

    Stir the glop gently to distribute the capers more evenly (they tend to sink to the bottom until setting is pretty well underway - which is about now) and pour it into the tin and even out the top a bit.

    Gently tap the tin on the counter to get rid of bubbles, put a sheet of plastic wrap over the top and fold the sides up and over (like wrapping one side of a parcel). Stick it back in the fridge and ignore it for at least 8 hours.

    Serve it any way you like - personally I like it with tomatoes and lettuce on baguette, but I also eat it plain.

    So that was my Monday night dinner, leftovers and organics. Could I ask for more? No!


    Paz said...

    Very sad about the Crocodile Hunter. You had a stingray on your chest? Hmmm... Oh, my!

    All the food looks nice and fresh. I especially like the looks of the corn. Yum!


    aja said...

    That corn was sweet and crisp and so so fresh! Re the stingray - many many times, the others I could handfeed (raw fish bits) but Gertrude would always commune with me at the beginning of the dive, not begging for a handout, just for attention. Like I said, like a cat - except she was too big to jump onto my lap so she kindof lay overme like a big blanket (think 6ft x 4ft minus the tail). She was lovely!

    Paz said...

    Very, very interesting about the stingray.