Sunday, May 8, 2011


The first Featherstone CSA box of the 2011 Summer season is only a few weeks away. Are you ready?

Here are a few things you can do in the next few weeks so you will be better prepared to make some beautiful meals with the food in your boxes.

1.  Herb and spice tune-up
Do you have basic dried herbs and spices on hand?  Have you had some around for so long that they have lost their flavor?  Time to go to the co-op and fill in any gaps in your seasoning line up.  The dried herbs I always have around: thyme, sage, bay leaf, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, dill, mint.  (Note - dried parsley is virtually tasteless.  Use fresh or none at all.  Dried basil is okay in a pinch but fresh is much better.  If you are lucky you have some pesto in the freezer.  Dried mint is ok, but fresh is much nicer.)

My favorite basic spices: cinnamon, nutmeg (fresh grated whole nutmeg is really nice), cloves, ginger, chili powder, cumin, turmeric, sweet paprika, dried mustard powder, white and black pepper,  fennel seed, caraway seed, cardamom (don't get ground because it loses flavor fast.  Get the little seeds and grind yourself with a mortar and pestle.)

You can find all kinds of fancy salt these days.  Most of the time I use good old Morton's Kosher Salt.

2.  Equipment inventory
Do you have a salad spinner yet?   Other essentials:  chopping board, chef's knife and paring knife, peeler, colander, strainer, measuring spoons and cups, tongs, whisk, graters, rubber scraper, pepper grinder, spatula, ladle, wooden spoons, can opener, slotted spoon, mixing bowls - especially a nice big bowl for tossing salads,  pots and pans.  Half a dozen absorbent cotten kitchen towels.  There are lots of other things I could list - but you can accomplish many kitchen tasks with this short list.

For more on basic kitchen equipment  -- see this previous post:

3.  Olive oil and vinegar
See these two previous posts for oil and vinegar tips.

4.  Are all your knives sharp?  If not - sharpen them.

5.  Do you have a good supply of plastic bags on hand for storing produce?  There are a lot of alternatives out there these days.  I have had good luck with Hefty Fresh Extend bags.  (I rinse and re use quite a few times with no problems.)

6.   Oils other than olive
I really like having some walnut oil around for salads.  Toasted sesame oil is nice for Asian style vinaigrettes.  I have found a Minnesota produced cold pressed, filtered (not refined) sunflower oil which I love for general cooking.  I buy mine by the half gallon at Lanesboro Local in - you guessed it - Lanesboro.  Ask your grocer to stock it or order some online:

7.  Good to always have on hand:
Fresh ginger, lemons, limes, butter, cream, yogurt, eggs, canned tomatoes, nuts, dried fruit, flour, pasta, rice, fresh parsley

8.  Last but not least - review your cookbook situation.  Are your favorites close at hand?  Do you have at least one "classic" all purpose cookbook?  Such as Joy of Cooking, How to Cook Everything, Betty Crocker's Cookbook, The Fanny Farmer Cookbook.  Here is a blog post I did on some recently published cookbooks if you think you are ready to add to your collection:

1 comment:

  1. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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