We knew Xin had different culinary preferences when she asked for broccoli stalks. Thanks for sharing all your recipes this week! We look forward to trying them out, since it feels like our cooking has been in a slump lately.
ALISSA Tell me a bit about yourself.
XIN We are a family of two, my husband and I. I am the one who cooks and shops for the groceries. I moved to Milwaukee 7 years ago and he joined me 5 years ago. I work at UWM, and we moved from Vancouver Canada.I am Chinese and he is Canadian, so we have mixed tastes when it comes to food.
How long have you been a member with Three Sisters CSA Community Farm?
I think at least three years. First I was using some other farmers and then I saw Three Sisters and I switched because of the home delivery. I don’t always have a car to use, so home delivery is a big plus for me. I love that we can select our own food and have the freedom to choose between items. And the food is so good.
What part of Southeastern WI do you live in?
We live in Murray Hill on the east side near Downer Movie Theater.
How would you describe the experience of seasonal eating you have through your CSA share?
I never used this kind of a CSA before I moved to Milwaukee, this is my first experience. It’s wonderful to have this.
When other people ask you what it’s like to be a CSA member or why you do it, what do you usually say?
I say get on! Right away if you haven’t! I just always highly recommend it to everyone I know.
What is your favorite CSA food item?
I love when they have some Asian vegetables like the Chinese cabbage, and also the cherry radish and the cherry tomatoes. I always finish the cherry tomatoes right away. I always love squash, pumpkin and zucchini when they come into season. The salad greens, fresh garlic, fresh green onions.
Is there a CSA food item that most confounds or stumps you when it comes to cooking or eating, or used to before you knew what to do with it?
There are some vegetables from here that I don’t know what to do with it so I avoid ordering them. Some of the root vegetables. Celery root, it’s not in my cooking. I do less Western cooking and more Asian cooking.
Does the CSA suit your needs even though the foundations of your cooking are different, not Western?
Oh yes. I take full advantage of it. Tomato, chinese cabbage, green onion, garlic, potatoes, zucchini, cucumber, green beans, spinach, peas. I also do Chinese pickling, so last year I asked them I asked them for more broccoli stem so I used that for pickling. Cherry radish and celery are all good for pickling.
Do you have a “box unpacking ritual” each week?
No I move them right in the fridge and start eating the raw things right away!
What is your favorite thing about being a member of Three Sisters Community Farm?
I like the local connection, soucing my food locally and supporting local farmers is wonderful. And you get fresh, wonderful food that was picked that day or yesterday. I also get the egg share and I love that. They are fresh and good quality.
What’s the most delicious meal you have had recently?
I used the fresh Chinese cabbage to make a very simple salad, just some salt and fresh chili oil. That’s one of my traditional ways of eating vegetables, to heat up hot chili oil and pour it over the vegetables. Here you have cold salad dressing, at home we have hot oil we pour on the vegetables. It’s always very popular at potlucks!
What’s the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
From the box, the celery root. Not from the box, I bought it at the Farmer’s Market but the pumpkin flower. Another weird thing is young ginger. Back home we eat the ginger when they are fresh and young.
What is your favorite place to have a meal?
In my own backyard in summer. When we can eat outside and have friends over, that is my favorite.
What is one thing that is bringing joy into your life these days?
Cooking. I love cooking, especially in the summer when there are so many fresh ingredients.
What is one thing that is giving you pause, or reason for concern?
Right now, very few things.
Garlic or Green Onion?
Green onion. I cannot live without green onions!
Is there anything you would like to share about seasonal eating, local food, CSA membership or anything else related to these topics that you have never had the chance to say?
I really like the recipe sharing - it helps me broaden my food horizons.
Napa Cabbage Salad with Warm Chili Oil
Cut the Napa cabbage to half, cut off the hard core near the root. Thinly slice the cabbage into strips (like the way you do with cabbage slaw) . Put the sliced cabbage into a mixing bowl, sprinkle with salt, mix well.
Heat the canola oil in a pan on medium heat, throw in the chilly and pepper corn. When the color of the chill started to turn dark brown, take away from the heat and pour the oil onto the cabbage, mix well, press it down a bit, and put it in the fridge for ½ to 1 hour to settle, and then it is ready to serve.
The traditional Sichuan pickle use traditional Fermenting Jar where there is an extra edge for water seal. (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01FRBTU7K/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1; https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VQSCF4E/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1). However, you can also use any well-sealed big glass jar.
Wash the pickle jar and let it dry completely.
Making the pickle sauce:
The pickle sauce can be used for yeas once made and if well-maintained.
Boil the water (enough to reach 2/3 of the jar), and let it cool. Add salt (double the amount of you usually use for cooking), 20 Sichuan pepper corn, 3-5 pieces of ginger, 5-8 fresh red chili (the spicier the better, such as Thai chili). 50g Vodka, or other hard liquor, the higher the percentage of the alcohol, the better). Seal the jar well and let it set for 7-10 days, then the sauce is ready.
You can pickle all kind of vegetables, preferably not the too watery ones. Wash the vegetable and let the water dry out, cut the vegetables to big chunks so it is small enough to go into the jar but big enough to retrieve (but do not cut cucumbers). Each time you add new vegetables, add 1-2 tea spoons of salt, and some Vodka.
Here are some of my favorites:
I like to mix the pickled vegetable with a bit of chili oil to serve. They can also be stir fried with pork, chicken, or beef. I like to have freshly pickled (3-5 days) vegetables, but you can keep some of them in the jar for months, if you don’t mind them becoming very sour (good for soup).
Always have ginger and chili in the jar, seal it well, keep it in cool and shady place, and remember, absolutely no contact of oil in the whole process.
If there is white stuff forming on the surface, add Vodka, and celery, garlic will help stopp it too.
Summer Drink: Cucumber and Pear Juice with Mint
(For two servings)
Two long cucumber
Two Asian pear
Put mint leaves in each of the box of the ice cube maker, pour in water, put in the freezer. Now you have ice cube with mint leaves in it.
Put the cucumbers and pears in the blender, blend well, pour the mixture through a filter to get the juice. The pear should give it enough sweetness, add honey if desire.
Pour the juice into glasses, add ice cube with mint leaves, and serve.
Jeff Schreiber has been farming organically for 10 years. In 2011 he started Three Sisters Community Farm with his wife, Kelly.