Category Archives: Veggie Box

Braised Celery & Potatoes

You guys, did you know that celery is, like, a real vegetable? That you can cook? As the main ingredient in a dish and not some tiny, background component? And it would be delicious? You did? Well, I didn’t until just now!

I still had a heap of veggie box celery left over after my Waldorf Salad efforts, and not having much of an idea what to do with it, I Googled “celery recipes” for inspiration. At the bottom of the page amongst the oh-so-helpful search suggestions was the phrase “braised celery recipes” and that was all I needed.  I may have even clicked on that phrase and flicked through a couple of the recipes, but I already knew what I was going to do.

The thing about braising celery is that it changes everything. There’s no bitterness, no stringiness, no aching jaw after all that crunchy.  Rather it melts into a tender, sweet-yet-deeply-savory deliciousness. I can’t quite explain it. You’ll just have to make it for yourself.

Braised Celery & Potatoes

Olive oil
1/2 bunch celery
4 medium potatoes (I like Dutch Cream)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine
1-2 cups vegetable stock
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Handful of chopped parsley

Wash the celery and chop into 1-inch lengths.  Heat a slug of olive oil in a large pan and cook the celery over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch chunks.  Add them to the pan along with a pinch of salt and cook a further 5 minutes.  Everything should colour up slightly.

Add the garlic and stir through, then pour in the wine and stir, scraping the bottom to get all the bits up.  Allow it to reduce a bit.  Add 1 cup of stock, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally.  Keep an eye on the liquid levels and add more if it’s getting dry before the potatoes are cooked.  The dish is done when the the potatoes are tender and almost all the liquid is gone, leaving a glossy coat all over everything.

Stir through the lemon juice and parsley.  Have a taste and season with salt and pepper.  Spoon out into big bowls, grab a fork, and get to know your celery in a whole new way.

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Waldorf Salad

Celery, you guize!

Celery

Look, it’s so green!  It’s also something I usually have no idea what to do with it when it arrives in my veggie box.

Probably because I used to hate it.

Celery was my most-despised vegetable growing up.  I thought it was bitter and stringy and I absolutely could not understand why anyone would insist on ruining perfectly good food with its presence.  My mother used to try to get me to eat it because of the allegedly magical weigh-loss effects it would have on my fat little body.  But even in those days of self-loathing, I couldn’t bring myself to eat it, no matter what the promised effects.

I grew up and my tastes changed (both in food and the best way to deal with living in a fat-hating culture).  I’d occasionally buy a stick of celery to put into pot of stock, or even a mirepoix. But it wasn’t until the last year or so that I’ve come to actually like the stuff (and even sometimes – shockingly! – crave it).  It’s so deeply associated with diet-culture in my mind, and it’s hard to enjoy any sort of food if you’re eating it as punishment.

Anyway, a lovely bright green half of celery turned up in my veggie box, and since my freezer is full of as much stock as it can hold, I needed to find another way to use it.  Also in my veggie box were some of the crispest, pinkest sweet-tart apples I’ve ever eaten.  The solution was obvious.

Waldorf Salad

I haven’t eaten a whole lot of Waldorf salads in my life (see above re childhood hatred of celery), and what few I have sampled tended to be drowned in overly sweet dressing.  Don’t do that.

This salad is crisp and crunchy. It makes a lot of noise in your mouth. It’s sweet and juicy and tangy and nutty.  It’s in-season. It’s refreshing.  It’s surprisingly satisfying. I want more.

Waldorf Salad
Serves 2

2 red apples (pink ladys are excellent)
3 stalks of celery
A couple of handfuls of walnut pieces
Half a bunch of parsley
Radicchio or other lettuce leaves (optional)

Dressing:
2-4 tblspns mayonaise (I used home-made aioli because I just happened to have some leftover, and the garlic was an excellent addition)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt & pepper

Combine all the  dressing ingredients in a jar, shake vigorously, taste, season and set aside.  You want the dressing to be tangy-but-creamy, thick-enough-to-coat-but-not-too-thick. You know, perfect.

Core the apples and chop into bite-sized pieces.
Finely slice the celery.
Chop the parsley.
Put them all into a bowl with the walnuts.
Pour over enough dressing to lightly coat everything without drowning it.

I hear the done thing is to serve this up on a bed of radicchio leaves, but I just ate it straight from the bowl. And it was delicious.

Veggie Box

I love Fridays.  Yes, I know it’s Sunday today, but I’ve had a busy couple of days and it’s taken me a while to post this.  I love Fridays because every Friday around 2pm, a man rings my doorbell and gives me a big box full of fresh veggies.  I take it upstairs into my kitchen and immediately unpack it to see what awesome presents I got.  This week I got:

– green beans
– onions
– sweet potatoes
– potatoes
– cauliflower
– carrots
– avocados
– tomatoes
– broccoli
– zucchini
– brussels sprouts
– red capsicum
– button mushrooms
– pumpkin
– leek
– and inexplicably, a tin of black bean soup

I’ve tried getting a veggie box before, but it didn’t really work for me – it was a local co-op scheme, which I’m all for, but there wasn’t much variety in the offerings, and transporting a big box of veggies without a car was a little more than my arms (and shoulders, and back) could manage.  But I was reading back through the archives at Where’s The Beef, and I was inspired to give to give the box another go.  So I hopped over to Green Line Organic to check out their boxes.  I figured with free delivery on the first box, it was a pretty risk-free investment, so I jumped in with a $35 box of the week.  There was lots of variety, but heaps of fruit.  It was amazing fruit, sweet and delicious, but I prefer much veggies to fruit, so I switched to the $40 veggie box for my next order (I might go back to the fruit & veg mix in summer, though).  I’ve been getting the veggie box for a just over a month now, and I love it. The $40 box is way too much for me to get through in one week (even with some help from Awesome Housemate and The Socialist), so I now have a really good stock of freezer meals for busy days.

My main reason for wanting to get a veggie box was that it would be a time saver – between a full-time PhD, a part-time job, two blogs, a social life, a relationship, writing, sewing, and everything else that goes into making a life, I was struggling to get regular shopping done, which meant I never had food in the fridge, and ended up eating heaps of take-out.  Getting the veggie box means I cook more often and more creatively.

I was worried there wouldn’t be much variety, but there’s heaps.  I was worried the whole box would be full of things I don’t like, but that hasn’t been the case at all.  There was a fairly solid run of cabbage and celery, neither of which I’ve cooked with much in the past, but it’s been a great creative challenged me to cook things I normally wouldn’t (this okonomiyaki, for example, was an excellent use of cabbage, and I’m planning to make these spring rolls very soon).  But I requested a break from cabbage and celery for a bit, and sure enough, there’s none in this week’s box.

Mostly, though, I was concerned about the lack of control – that I couldn’t just decide on a recipe and make it, because I’d have all these other things I’d already bought that I had to use first.  But that hasn’t been a problem either – in fact, what it’s done is sent me looking for recipes for things I have, and I’ve discovered all sorts of new things I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.  It’s changing the way I cook, eat, plan, and think about the daily work of feeding myself (and a few others).  I’m quite fascinated by the management and meaning of eating – what we do, how we do it, why we do it that particular way, what influences us…I can see some food theorising in my academic future, for sure.

I try to follow this advice from Limes & Lycopene on how to use up a veggie box, but I’m not always so good at it – I tend to get more excited about substantial veggies like potatoes and pumpkins and want to cook those up first, leaving the greens til later.  It’s not a great strategy given that greens don’t keep as well as potatoes, but I have been super-impressed with how well the produce has held up – a bag of mixed salad leaves has lasted just over a week so far, and I’ve only had to pick out two or three bits that are starting to yellow, I’ve got zucchinis that are two weeks old in the crisper, and they’re still looking perfect – the quality is far superior to supermarket stuff (it’s even better than my local greengrocer), and the flavour is just so good.  Whatever the benefits of organic food, environmental, health or otherwise, it’s the flavour that ultimately convinces me.