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Monday, July 18, 2016

2016 CSA Week 12

Hello fellow CSA members!

Are you all enjoying the heat and humidity of summer in Kentucky? I'll let you in on a little secret: While there are some things I like about summer, it is actually my least favorite season. Because of the heat and humidity. (Though I learned from living in Kansas for a few years that it is possible to get so homesick you actually begin missing the mugginess.) But once we get to mid-July my thoughts shift to fall! And eating. I have some tomatoes on my counter now that I hope to make into a batch of chili sauce (I just use a store-bought mix) to can and enjoy when the weather turns cold.

Whether you enjoy your share this week or preserve it for later, we've got a lot of deliciousness coming our way!


Produce
Storage
Longevity
summer squash and zucchini
unwashed, in fridge
1-2 weeks
green beans
unwashed, in fridge
3-4 days
tomatoes
room temperature
about a week
small cantaloupe or watermelon
in fridge or room temperature
enjoy as soon as possible
garlic
unwashed in fridge
1 week
bell pepper
washed or unwashed in fridge
1-2 weeks
basil
store in an unclosed container in fridge or snip off bottom of stems and immerse in water
1-2 weeks
cucumber
washed or unwashed in fridge
1-2 weeks


I am SO excited for you all to taste a SHF melon! They are DELICIOUS! And tomatoes, basil and garlic in one basket?!? It's like a trifecta!

I've mentioned before that the blog has been filled with delicious recipes over the years. Amanda dreams that one day the blog will have a searchable recipe database, but until then you can visit posts from the same month in previous years and usually find recipes that will fit with the produce in your shares.

I did some perusing myself this evening and came across a recipe for cucumber feta toast as well as zucchini gratin. Ford mentioned one of the Waterstrat's favorite zucchini recipes to pass along, as well: zucchini cheese squares.

Please continue to share your recipes with me as well. I love getting ideas from all of you!


CSA member Amanda Horn tried eggplant parmesan for the
first time! She was excited that her daughter ate it, too!

We had company one night and I decided
to pull a SHF brisket from the freezer and
add the corn and green beans from the week's share,
along with corn bread made from SHF cornmeal.
I wish I would have taken a picture before I poured the
jus over the mashed potatoes. This was the first brisket
I prepared myself. I was intimidated, but it turned out
pretty well. Johnie gave this meal five broccoli stalks.

Monday, July 11, 2016

2016 CSA Week 11

Hello fellow CSA members!

We have reached one of my favorite points of the CSA season! Can you guess? Let me tell you what we're getting this week...


Produce
Storage
Longevity
summer squash and zucchini
unwashed, in fridge
1-2 weeks
green beans
unwashed, in fridge
3-4 days
tomatoes
room temperature
about a week
tomato juice*
shelf stable
months
garlic scape pesto*
in fridge
2+ weeks
cabbage**
unwashed, in fridge
2 months
eggplant**
unwashed, in fridge, wrapped in paper towel in crisper
5-7 days
cucumber
washed or unwashed in fridge
1-2 weeks
SWEET CORN!!!
shucked or with husks on in the coldest part of fridge
enjoy as soon as possible

Can you guess now?!?! I LOVE sweet corn. My grandparents grew some in their garden, but every year my grandmother would boil and freeze dozens and dozens of ears of corn for us to enjoy throughout the winter. We would stop at a farm on the way home from visiting my aunts in Indiana and stock up. Kids would ride their bikes out into the fields and pick however much we bought from their parents.



Sustainable Harvest Farm has the cutest little farmers!
Then, when we got home, my grandmother would start boiling it in a big cooker. And for that day or two while she was putting corn away for the winter I ate as much of it as I wanted. Which was A. LOT. A lot, a lot.
My plan for this share is to have my FAVORITE summer meal, typical in my family at the height of summer: Green beans, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers or refrigerator pickles, corn bread and cantaloupe.

I've gotten ahead of myself and need to back up. Ford wanted me to let you know this week's sweet corn was purchased from a farmer in Pulaski County. It is not certified organic, but it IS non-GMO. The early sweet corn he planted, unfortunately, didn't do so well.

Also, this week's CSA lottery is either tomato juice or garlic scape pesto AND cabbage or eggplant. I feel like I should quote Hunger Games every week, so I'll do it this time: May the odds be ever in your favor.

I still remember the first time I had SHF eggplant. I had never had an eggplant before the CSA. I made eggplant parmesan and was a bit intimidated. But Johnie and I loved it so much I continued to make it after the share was over. The first time I bought eggplant from the local grocery store I could tell a noticeable difference in the quality, texture and flavor. Local and fresh really is better.

I also received several tips and recipes from fellow CSA members over the weekend. Thank you!

Maria Brown said one of her favorite uses for the squash and zucchini is to roast them with tomatoes, Vidalia onion, fresh basil, parsley and olive oil. She also suggested adding pesto to any leftovers you might have. How delicious does that sound!

Karen Wyan shared with me some cabbage tips she picked up on a medical mission trip to Russia, including using the cabbage leaves like you would lettuce leaves on salads, sandwiches and wraps. She also said she chops and sautés cabbage with granny smith apples. I am definitely wanting to try these!


Please keep sending me your recipes and tips. I love hearing how you use your shares... I get so many great ideas from all of you! amyrosekarr@gmail.com

Friday, July 8, 2016

2016 CSA Week 10: In the Kitchen

Hello fellow CSA members!

This week you're going to get a secret family recipe! Not really. I was searching online for interesting cabbage recipes (you know, something other than soup, rolls or kraut) and I came across this list of 35 EASY cabbage recipes. (DISCLAIMER: Sometimes people incorrectly label recipes as easy... I cannot speak to the validity of the claim in this particular instance.)

However, the Bubbles and Squeaks recipe reminded me of a meal we used to have growing up. It was born from an evening of needing/wanting to eat dinner and not really having any meals on hand. So... into the skillet a bunch of things go. It became a family favorite and was henceforth named "Concoction."

When we made it that night we put chopped cabbage, onion, potatoes and... I'm afraid to type this word on an organic food blog... (spam)... into a skillet. We fried it -- sauté might be the better word -- and enjoyed. One skillet meal ready pretty quickly.  Over the years we have substituted a variety of meats and veggies. You can use ham, kielbasa, or no meat at all. You can use sweet potatoes, peppers, whatever you like.

When I made it tonight I used cabbage, squash, potatoes and SHF brats from the winter meat share.

Johnie tasted it and gave it two and a half broccoli stalks. I didn't think he liked cabbage. He informed me tonight that he does like cabbage. Raw. Also, cabbage stew. (Who did I marry?!?! And also, does anyone have a Russian Cabbage Stew recipe?) But he gave this beloved meal from my childhood, that I sacrificed kraut for in an effort to make something he would enjoy, two and a half broccoli stalks. He amended it later to four broccoli stalks because "the more [he] ate it the better it tasted." But I think he was most likely trying to recover ground after seeing the initial look of disappointment on my face. (I really thought he'd love this one, but I value honesty over met expectations.)

I used the whole head of cabbage, but I just feel like I need to give a nod to the recipe I saw on the list that won second place for me: A bacon ranch cole slaw. I would have made this one too given more cabbage. And time.

Friend and CSA member Amanda Horn shared with me that she used much of her produce in a chicken casserole. You could combine many of the items in a casserole with chicken, rice and cheese. Cream of Chicken soup is a great add-in in casseroles, as is a crumbled butter cracker topping. Yummy! Plus, its fun to see just how many share items you can fit in one dish. :)

The pesto was SUCH a treat this week. I hope you all figured out that I was wrong about labeling it as shelf stable. My deepest, sincerest apologies if not. I spread it on some cheese bread about five minutes after I brought it home. And then I started dreaming of other ways to use it.

Yes, you can make magazine-quality meals with your CSA share
and help from a visiting friend eager to stage your plate for a blog
photo. (I was lucky to also see a behind-the-scenes shot of this
staging... I can only imagine the fun that ensued.)
Friend and CSA member Olivia Post used it, along with tomatoes and basil, in a homemade pasta sauce for the chicken recipe from our mutual friend that I shared with all of you a few weeks back. This recipe comes from The New Best Recipe, Revised Edition. Use it as is, or forget the pasta and go with the chicken.

Pasta and Fresh Tomato Sauce with Garlic and Basil
Serves 4

Recipe notes: Any type of tomato may be used in this recipe -- just make sure to choose the ripest, most flavorful ones available. Short tubular or curly pasta shapes such as penne or fusilli are well suited to this chunky sauce. Alternatively, before adding the basil, the sauce may be pureed in a blender or food processor so it will coat strands of spaghetti or linguine. The recipe may be doubled in a 12-inch skillet. The sauce freezes well, but add the basil when reheating.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt
1 pound pasta

1. Bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil in a large pot.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and the garlic in a medium skillet over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes; increase the heat to medium-high and cook until any liquid given off by the tomatoes evaporates and the tomato pieces lost their shape to form a chunky sauce, about 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and salt to taste; cover to keep warm.
3. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the boiling water and stir to separate the noodles. Cook until the pasta is al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Transfer the pasta to the cooking pot. Add the reserved pasta cooking water, tomato sauce and remaining 1 tablespoon oil; toss well to combine. Serve immediately.

I will give you this warning: Olivia says eating this pasta sauce may make you vow never to eat store-bought sauce again AND decide to increase the size of your CSA share so as to have more ingredients on hand.

I'm hoping to use my pesto on a homemade pizza. I haven't made it yet, but I'll keep you posted if I do.

I feel like so much has happened outside the kitchen -- collectively and individually -- in the 10 weeks we've been together in this CSA season. While we usually just focus on food here, I wanted to end on another note tonight. May Peace and Love fill our hearts and our homes and in abundance overflow into our streets and our communities, overpowering evil with good. Amen.

Monday, July 4, 2016

2016 CSA Week 10

Happy Independence Day, fellow CSA members!

I hope you all enjoyed a safe and happy holiday weekend.

We had a wonderful time at the Ice Cream Social on Saturday evening. There was delicious strawberry, blueberry, vanilla and chocolate. And a great homemade slip'n'slide. You can see pictures -- and even a video -- on the facebook page. If you've never made it out to the farm, I encourage you to visit some time (schedule it first, farm work is demanding!). It's just gorgeous and the Waterstrats are so hospitable.

I was having too much fun to get an "In the Kitchen" post out. I used the ingredients pretty simply and traditionally last week, though. Nothing fancy or new. I love these summer meals with fresh veggies and sides. I pulled a couple SHF beef steaks from the freezer one night (the last from my winter meat share) and had them with several of the veggies from this week. So good!

I thought it looked pretty... but be happy
you didn't taste it!
I did try my hand at homemade ice cream... But it never made it to the farm. I used this recipe for making ice cream without an ice cream maker. I decided to make a lemon-basil ice cream, but I added in too much basil for the amount of ice cream and it was a total flop. My mom said it tasted like a creamy vegetable and I wouldn't have even given it any broccoli stalks myself. (Johnie didn't either.) I also made a batch of blackberry ice cream, but again added too many blackberries. It did taste good at least, but lost the ice cream consistency.

Turning to this week, we've got another great share to mark the mid-way point of the season. (Can you even believe it?!?) There are a couple new things I'm pretty excited about!

Produce
Storage
Longevity
summer squash and zucchini
unwashed, in fridge
1-2 weeks
green beans*
unwashed, in fridge
3-4 days
tomatoes
room temperature
about a week
broccoli*
unwashed, in fridge
1 week
garlic scape pesto
shelf stable
months
cabbage
unwashed, in fridge
2 months
cucumber
washed or unwashed in fridge
1-2 weeks
basil
store in an unclosed container in fridge or snip off bottom of stems and immerse in water
1-2 weeks
Garlic Scape Pesto is a BRAND NEW item for the shares!!! I've never had it before. Ford says it's pretty strong, but goes well in pasta or on bread. I'm excited to experiment with it!

And, our first head of cabbage of the season!!! Actually, I have referred to cabbage as sauerkraut plants for many years now (because how else would you even use it?). There are many different sauerkraut recipes and methods out there, but I'd like to share with you how my grandfather always made it. Very simply, just shred the cabbage, pack it tightly in a clean mason jar, then pour in water and vinegar. Add in salt and a little bit of sugar and sit it in a cool dark place to "work." My grandfather also offered this bit of superstitious advice: Don't ever brag about your sauerkraut because then it will turn from snowy white to brown. I won't go that far, but I have found a little humility goes a long way in the kitchen. A note if you've never fermented like this before: The juices bubble out from the lids, so make sure the jars are sitting in a box or an area that can get a little messy. Pop always sat his in a box under a chair on the back corner of the porch. I usually sit mine in a box in the corner of the basement.

You can actually ferment many veggies this same way. My very first CSA was all fermented vegetables from a small local farm in Frankfort, KY aptly named Sour Power. I have always loved kraut but fell in love with all things fermented through that experience. I still miss the taste of some of their products. To my knowledge, the owner moved to the west coast (I think) several years ago. Before he left he recommended that I check out the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. It has a lot of helpful information and recipes if you'd like precise measurements or ideas for interesting spices to add.

Fermented foods actually have quite a few health benefits and though they've been around for a long, long time they're a new "trendy food." I'll leave you with a recent NPR piece and then get off my soap box. :)

I'll also be on the lookout for non-sauerkraut cabbage recipes this week.

As always, I love to hear from you! amyrosekarr@gmail.com