Monthly Archives: September 2011

Local Box Meal Plan, September 12-16

It may be September, but summer produce is going strong here in Central Texas! The heat is starting to abate a little bit, so we’re getting goodies like limes and green asian pears from local farms. However, summer standards like eggplant, cucumbers and field peas are still coming late in the season.

In honor of National Celiac Awareness Day, which is Tuesday, September 13th, our meal plan for the week is gluten-free!

Here’s what’s arriving this week in the Local Box:


  • Green Asian Pears- Engel Farm
  • Cantaloupe OR Small Watermelon – Gundermann Acres
  • Basil – My Father’s Farm
  • Cilantro Plant – My Father’s Farm
  • Okra OR Eggplant – Gundermann Acres or Bradshaw Farm
  • Hard Winter Squash – Gundermann
  • Purple Hull Peas or Black Eyed Peas- Comanche Oaks
  • Lentil Sprouts – Groovy Greens
  • Limes – G&S Grove
  1. Meal one: I’m using the okra or eggplant and lentil sprouts early in the week since they have a relatively short shelf life. Either Spicy roasted okra or Olive Oil Roasted Eggplant will make a good starter, with Lentil Sprout Salad as the main course. Thank you to Greenling customer Kristan Schrader, who recommended that lentil sprout salad to us. It’s a good one, with a spicy vinaigrette and good crunchy vegetables that complement the lentil sprouts.
  2. Meal two: Field peas and bacon? Yes, please! This recipe for Hopping pig will pair nicely with sliced canteloupe or watermelon on the side. Note that fresh purple hull peas and black eyed peas can be used interchangeably in the hopping pig recipe.
  3. Meal three: Seeing limes, cilantro and basil together made me crave pad Thai. This pad Thai recipe looks very easy, and is gluten-free as long as you use gluten-free soy sauce and rice noodles.
  4. Meal four: I’m going to pretend it’s cold outside and fire up the oven for roasted chicken with winter squash and asian pears, served on a bed of quinoa. If we have extra melon, I’ll serve it chilled for dessert to cool off.

Meatless Monday: Mixed Vegetable Curry

This simple veggie curry from Martha Stewart only requires 20 minutes prep time and is easy to double for leftovers for the week. The classic combo of okra and tomatoes gives it a great seasonal flavor. We’re going to try adding summer squash to make it even more hearty, and probably a veggie bouillon cube or 2 to enrich the flavor.


Mixed Vegetable Curry
Serves 4

Martha says:
The vibrant spices in this vegetarian dish give it a great depth of flavor. If you like, serve the curry with a dollop of plain yogurt.


  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 2 large tomatoes (1 1/2 pounds total), roughly chopped
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 pound okra, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 3 cups cooked white rice, for serving


  1. In a food processor, puree ginger and garlic with 1/4 cup water until mostly smooth.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add mustard seed and cumin seed and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ginger-garlic paste; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until beginning to break down, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and 3 1/2 cups water; season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase heat to high and boil until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Fold in cauliflower and okra, partially cover, and cook until tender, 9 to 10 minutes. Serve curry with rice.

Cook’s Note

To build the curry’s flavor, start by cooking the spices in oil to release their aroma. Then add the ginger-garlic paste and cook until dry and thickened.

Eggplant Parmesan with Zucchini

eggplant parmesan

Even though we dipped down below the 90s last week, it seems summer is still going to stick around for a while, and along with it our summer produce. I for one was excited to see eggplant in our Local Box, as I’ve felt like I haven’t gotten my fill of it yet. I decided to use it in a simplified version of eggplant parmesan.

This version doesn’t have multiple layers, making it slightly less like a casserole. I also decided to forego spinach in favor of shredded zucchini. Eggplant parmesan is often a heavy dish, but this was a light and easy preparation.

Eggplant Parmesan with Zucchini
adapted from Tyler Florence

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds (about 10 slices total)
Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 cups shredded zucchini
Salt and pepper
8 ounces fresh mozzarella

Set up two shallow bowls. In one bowl, beat together egg and milk. Pour breadcrumbs in the other bowl, and set both near stove.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Dip eggplant slices in egg, then dredge in breadcrumbs, and place in skillet. Cook until golden on both sides, then remove to a 9×13 baking dish, arranging in a single layer. (Squish them in if you need to.)
Reduce skillet to medium, and add onions. Cook until translucent, then add tomatoes and zucchini. Cook until tomatoes have broken down a bit, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat broiler.
Pour tomato mixture over the eggplant. Tear mozzarella into pieces and scatter over the top. Cook under the broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Spicy Cantaloupe Margaritas

Spicy Cantaloupe Margaritas

What’s orange and spicy and perfect for tailgating? Serrano cantaloupe margaritas!

These fruity drinks pack a punch of spice thanks to a red serrano pepper, and a bit of sweetness thanks to cantaloupe from Gundermann Acres farm. I served them in mason jars at our last gameday party, and rimmed the glasses with a mix of sea salt and chile powder.

If you need a kid-friendly drink, skip the serrano pepper in the recipe below and substitute ginger ale for the tequila. Rim kids’ glasses with turbinado sugar, if desired.

Spicy Cantaloupe Margaritas (serves 6)

1 medium cantaloupe, peeled and cubed (7-8 cups of cubed fruit)
1 red serrano pepper
1 cup tequila
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Lime wedges
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1/2 tablespoon chile powder

Cut the stem off of the pepper. Combine pepper, cantaloupe, tequila, lime juice and sugar in a blender and process on high for about a minute, until mixture is smooth and no large pieces of pepper remain. Strain mixture through a sieve into a pitcher and let it rest for several minutes while you  rim the glasses.

To rim margarita glasses: mix the salt and chile powder together and put the mixture in an even layer on a small plate. Rub a lime wedge along the edge of the margarita glass, then swirl the moistened edge of the glass in the salt mixture to coat it.

Fill the prepared glasses with ice and gently pour in the cantaloupe margarita mixture. Serve immediately.

With a little help from the freezer and some mason jars, these margaritas can be made several days in advance of a party. Once you’ve blended the ingredients, pour the drinks into freezer-safe mason jars instead of glasses. Leave a half-inch of headspace at the top of each jar, screw on the lids, and store them in the freezer until ready to serve. During the party you’ll have enough time to garnish the rim of each jar with salt before the margarita inside is slushy enough to drink. (Thanks to fellow Local Box blogger Megan for this great trick!)

Local Box Meal Plan, September 5-9

It’s hard to focus on food while so many Central Texans are affected by the fires encircling the city. It’s not much, but I used this week’s menu-planning as an opportunity to clean out my pantry, with eye out for non-perishable goods to donate to Capital Area Food Bank. The food bank is just one of several local charities who are working with wildfire victims, and as my mom would say, every little bit helps.

Little Bluestem Bakery is our only supplier who has been affected by the fires so far. They’ve been evacuated for now, but hopefully they’ll be back home baking later this week. (Check our Facebook page for updates.)

Here’s what is coming in this week’s Local Box:

Green Asian Pears – Engel Farm
Cantaloupe – Gundermann Acres
Purslane – My Father’s Farm
Green Bell Pepper – Engel Farm
Okra – Bradshaw Farm & Engel Farm
Cucumber – Gundermann Acres
Summer Squash, assorted – Gundermann & Engel
Lady Cream Peas – Just Peachy Farm
Eggplant – Fruitful Hill Farm, Engel Farm, Gundermann Acres
Limes – G&S Groves

And here’s what I’m making with the bounty.

Meal 1: The New York Times published a delicious looking recipe for Field Pea Salad last week that uses corn, field peas, onions and basil. I’ll add diced cucumber to their recipe and serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Meal 2: This slow cooker Louisiana Ratatouille calls for the Local Box trifecta of okra, eggplant, and green bell pepper. Oatmeal Summer Squash Muffins look very quick to prepare, and will round out the meal.

Meal 3: Summer squash, purslane and red lettuce salad, sliced cantaloupe and cottage cheese on the side.

Meal 4: Lime roasted chicken with Asian Pear Slaw

Cactus Scramble

Nopales are the pads from prickly pear cactii. I had never had them before, but when we received them in our Local Box this week, eggs felt like the perfect fit. We always source our eggs locally, and pairing them with local veggies is a great karma-enriching way to start out the day.

Nopales pads

De-thorned on the left, trimmed and prepped on the right

Nopales have a bit of slime to them, much like okra, and I found that adding a bit of baking soda while boiling the pieces helps cut down on the goo. Be careful, though, because the baking soda will cause the water to boil quite high, and if you aren’t careful you’ll soon be cleaning up a big mess on the stove.

While there is a bit of prep work involved, this breakfast comes together easily and makes for a nice change in morning routine. You want to make sure you trim the nopales all the way around, and then carefully cut out the thorn nodes without losing too much of the meat. And of course, make sure you wash them well before slicing.

cactus scramble

Cactus Scramble

Serves 2

2 cactus pads, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch chunks
1 tsp baking soda
Olive oil
1 Hatch or poblano pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 palm-sized tomato, diced
4 eggs
Salt and pepper
Hot sauce

Heat a deep saucepan of water to boiling. Add the cactus and baking soda, and boil gently for about 10 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure pot doesn’t boil over. Drain and rinse with cold water.
In a saute pan, heat a swirl of olive oil over medium. Add the pepper and onion and cook for about 5 minutes, then add tomatoes and cactus and cook for 2 minutes.
Beat eggs with a fork and add to the vegetables. Cook until eggs are desired consistency, stirring every so often.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve with hot sauce.

You Know What Really Gets My Goat?

Goat Meat now available

While the New York Times claims it’s ‘the most widely consumed meat in the world’ and I have been repeating that ever since, it turns out it’s fourth behind the usual suspects – pork, beef, and chicken. No KIDding. So, while they’re not the sleeping giant I sought out to promote, they are quite a special animal (vegetarians feel free to skip this article). Goats will eat just about anything that’s technically edible and chew on everything else to find out if it’s edible. Luckily there’s an abundance of natural pasture for them to browse at Windy Hill Organics in Comanche, Tx, where our all-pastured, local goats come from. Your shoes are safe!

We’ve carried goat milks, yogurts, and cheeses for a while, but once we learned about the nutrition in goat meat we decided to add it to the mix. It’s classified as a red meat but since goat is such a lean meat it usually requires low heat and slow cooking to preserve tenderness & moisture. It’s higher in iron, potassium, and thiamin than other meats and is able to maintain some sweetness found in lamb without all the saturated fats of lamb or beef.

Happy goats make happy goat meat and we now carry this delicacy at We have several cuts to choose from – and plan to add more soon!

Ground – perfect for burgers, tacos or meatballs

Stew Meat – ideal for stews & chilis

Boneless Loin – great for grilling, braising or roasting (we recommend marinating it first, as it can overcook and dry out if you’re not careful!)

by Mason Arnold, Co-founder & Cookie Monster