Wednesday, April 12, 2017
I haven't been motivated to cook much lately, and last month I had the brilliant idea to sign myself up for a four week CSA share. I figured getting a box of vegetables delivered weekly would force me to spend some time in the kitchen.
Well ... best intentions and all that. I can't stand wasting food, so I did force myself to make sure I was using up the salad greens weekly, and it was fairly easy getting through the various fruit and potato options that came in. But I did not anticipate the celery. Dear god, the celery. A huge bundle every single week so that at the end of the month I had an entire crisper drawer of (lovely, organic) celery staring at me reproachfully every time I opened the fridge.
I finally rolled up my sleeves, pulled it all out on a quiet Saturday and tried to figure out what to do. I should note that while I don't hate celery and I'll happily incorporate it in recipes where appropriate I have zero interest in munching on sticks of celery. I'm neither a rabbit nor an 80's dieter.
I shared the dilemma on Instagram, as you do, and two friends recommended making up a giant batch of mirepoix to freeze, which was brilliant and had the added bonus of using up carrots and onion. At the end of that chopping marathon (p.s. coolest way to cut celery) I had just one bunch left and it was 5 pm and I started thinking that the quickest way to make friends with celery, as with so many difficult companions, would be to add some alcohol to it.
I made a quick celery juice in the food processor, then turned it into simple syrup and improvised with the ingredients I had on hand. This cocktail is not too sweet, and the celery flavor comes through strongly and makes it incredibly refreshing. I froze the extra simple syrup* but I've been going through it so quickly that I'm almost tempted to buy another bunch of celery.
CSA celery cocktail
Celery simple syrup
1 large bunch celery, cleaned and roughly chopped
Large pinch each of sugar and salt
Blend well in food processor, then press through a fine mesh strainer to extract the juice, pressing with a spatula to make sure you're getting as much out as possible. I ended up with about 1 1/3 cups of juice from a large bunch of celery.
Combine almost equal parts celery juice + sugar (I did 1 cup of sugar to 1 1/3 cup juice, but you could do 1:1, or do slightly less sugar if you prefer it less sweet), simmer gently until the sugar dissolves, remove from heat.
Cocktail (makes one)
1 oz celery simple syrup
2 oz good vodka (I used the St. George California Citrus)
1 egg white
1 oz lemon juice
Chill your glass by filling it with ice water and setting it aside. Add all ingredients except the ice to your cocktail shaker, shake for a minute, add the ice, shake for another minute.**
Dump the ice water out of your glass, pour in the cocktail and sip as you contemplate WTF you are going to do with the three heads of (lovely, organic) cabbage still taking up a shelf in your fridge.
*Simple syrup isn't really the best candidate for freezing. The high sugar concentration makes it a bit sticky and soft even when fully frozen. But I'll still do it sometimes because it lasts so much longer than it will in the fridge. I just left these guys in the tray and I pry them out with a butter knife when I want to use them.
**This is called a dry shake and it's my usual method but when I was looking for a link to direct you to I found this method called a reverse shake which sounds intriguing - not sure I'm willing to fish out the ice between the two rounds of shaking, but I'll at least have to try it once.