A CSAcational Dinner

A CSAcational dinner

There are times when it’s hard to do my CSAcation. When the ingredients are obscure or don’t quite jive with a meal – or they lend themselves too often to desserts and sweets, which I could definitely eat tons of, but shouldn’t – the CSAcation becomes a challenge.

And then there are CSAcational moments when all the ingredients come together for the perfect meal. That happened last night, and it was gorgeous. Colors bounced off of each other, making our plates look lively and our palates feel happy. (Well, mostly. We can add beets to the very short list of foods that Amanda is just not into.)

Yesterday was sort of a crappy day. When I feel like I become tied to grading and lesson planning and contract work, it seems that no matter how much I chip away at the iceberg of work in front of me, there’s still more, above and below the surface, and I’ve barely made a dent in it. That’s how I felt yesterday. No matter how many items I crossed off my to-do list, there were always more things to do, things that are rather pressing.

I came home in the mood to bake. Baking generally makes me feel better. It’s a science, and when the ingredients come together correctly, if you follow the directions, you can almost certainly guarantee that you’ll come away with a perfect finished product, warm and delicious. I decided I wanted flavors that mimicked one of my favorite tea blends, Lemon Ginger. I settled on a recipe I found on a blog for Lemon Tea Cake with grated ginger added for flavor.

It wasn’t until I was halfway through preparing the recipe that I realized this recipe was seriously flawed. It made no specifications of how much salt to add, and when I went back to the main post that the recipe belonged to, it was all about how the blogger had dallied around and found the recipe an epic fail.


I guessed at the salt based on my recipe for banana bread, but it was to no avail. Even though the house smelled like lemon-ginger heaven, the loaf came out dark brown, dense, heavy, and had not risen at all, and tasted like neither ginger nor lemon. I left it on the counter and laid in bed and snuggled with the cat. I confessed the horrible recipe-gone-wrong to Amanda when she got home. I was embarrassed and frustrated, about the cake, yes, but also about my inability to handle my work flow and get things done and be a good teacher and write.

A dinner that made everything better

I have an amazing girlfriend, and she talked me through my frustrations, reminding me that I’m not Super Woman, I can’t do everything at once, I do have limits. And then we each took a shot and cooked dinner together. After dinner, she shooed me out of the kitchen and told me to go write while she cleaned up. (Am I lucky? Oh yeah. I’m lucky.)

A hearty, beautiful, mostly locally-sourced dinner and 45 minutes of writing helped to put me back on the right track. I threw away the lemon-ginger brick. I blogged. I washed yesterday’s frustrations right out of my hair, and I resolved to share this CSAcational dinner with you.

Menu:  Ginger-glazed mahi, braised collard greens, and roasted beets-n-sweets.

CSAcation Produce Used:  beets, sweet potatoes, collard greens, baby ginger.

Ginger-Glazed mahi

I tried this with salmon last night, which was okay (harder to cook right over the stove-top), but I’ve had it several times with mahi, and it’s delicious. Recipe from Allrecipes.com.

3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

1 clove garlic, crushed or to taste

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 mahi-mahi fillets (recipe calls for 4, but I like to load my fish up with sauce, and we always just make it with two)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil (Recipe calls for vegetable oil, but that got my kitchen all smoky in a way that olive oil doesn’t)

1. In a shallow glass dish (like a pie plate), whisk together the honey, soy sauce, balsamic, ginger, garlic, and olive oil. Season fish fillets with salt and pepper and place them in the dish. If fillets have skin on them, place them skin side down. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to marinate.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove fish from dish, but reserve the marinade. Fry fish for 4-6 minutes on each side, starting with the skinless side down, turning only once, until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove fillets to a serving platter and keep warm.

3. Pour reserved marinade in skillet and heat over medium heat until the mixture reduces to a glaze consistency (will coat the back of a wooden spoon). Spoon over fish and serve.

Braised Collard Greens

I blogged these Collard Greens a few weeks back, using Paula Deen’s recipe. They’re delicious, keep for days in the fridge, and provide a salty, smoky green. Plus, you know, bacon.

Roasted Beets & Sweets

On my very first CSA back when I was writing for AltDaily.com, I wrote about Beets & Sweets, my first experience ever with beets. It remains my favorite way to enjoy beets; it’s so simple, and it takes me back to the days when I was working a 9-5 job and stealing away time to write just once a week. It’s a recipe that reminds me that I can endure the times of writing drought, and that I will write, I will eat, I will carry on. Recipe from Allrecipes.com.

5-6 medium beets, peeled and chopped into chunks

3-4 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 teaspoon of each of the following:  garlic powder, kosher salt, sugar, and black pepper

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

We got the beets, we got the beets, we got the beets – yeah! We got the beets!

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easier clean-up).

2. Toss the chopped beets in a bowl with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast in oven for 15 minutes.

3. In a large bowl or gallon zipper bag, mix onion, sweet potatoes, garlic powder, kosher salt, sugar, and black pepper. After beets have baked 15 minutes, add the sweet potato mixture, stir to combine, and then bake another 45 minutes or until beets are fork tender.

Enjoy your CSAcational meal!

Want to win some Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate? Of course you do – it’s chocolate! Check out the Whisks & Words giveaway. All you have to do is snap a photo, email it to me, and Like the Whisks & Words Facebook page. Easy-peasy! 

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