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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

2017 CSA Week 8

Good morning fellow CSA members!

I hope you all are enjoying this absolutely fabulous summer! I can't believe this weather (and couldn't drag myself inside long enough yesterday to tell you about this week's share). I hope you all are getting to enjoy it too!

I am happy to tell you that the wait is over and we will have some Sustainable Harvest Farm tomatoes in our shares this week!!! (FINALLY!) Here's what else...


Produce
Storage
Longevity
summer squash and zucchini
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
early tomatoes
room temperature
about a week
cabbage*
unwashed, in fridge
Up to a month or longer
broccoli*
unwashed, in fridge
1 week
beets
Remove tops, in fridge
1 month +

*Shares will have either cabbage or broccoli.
The basil has been such a nice addition
to my share. I kept it on my counter all
week, enjoying the fragrance and adding
it to drinks, salads and meals. I think it
brought my lasagna this weekend up a
notch!

In addition to tomatoes, the other new item in our shares this week is beets. Raise your hand if you love beets! (My hands are not raised.) When I was growing up beets were those gross things my grandparents ate. I have a distinct memory from college when my roommate and I decided to do some crazy diet that involved eating beets for dinner one night. With scrunched noses we put our can of beets in the cupboard and discussed how disgusting that evening would be. When the night came with beets on the menu we ran into each other at dinner... At the same Mexican restaurant, out with separate friends and with our own excuses for why we couldn't eat the beets. Despite their bad rap, they are very good for you. I found this (somewhat annoying click gallery) list of health benefits of beets. Those of us who are interested in anti-inflammatory foods should consider beets.

About six years ago I joined my first CSA in Frankfort, called Sour Power, focused completely on fermented foods. That's when I grew to appreciate pickled beets. They were shredded (not in thick slices like my grandparents made) and mixed with cabbage and actually quite enjoyable (if you like that kind of thing). Sour Power closed up shop and moved out of state several years ago, but I have tried my hand at fermenting mixed cabbage and beets with the SHF CSA with some success. Here's some of my notes from last year on that.

As much as I love fermented foods, my heart doesn't skip a beat when I think about pickled beets. What does get me excited, though, is a beet recipe I first enjoyed about four years ago in cake. Beet cake. Stick with me. Friend and fellow CSA member, Jennifer Melton introduced me to this wonderful treat that mixes chocolate with a full CUP AND A HALF of beets. And it is so good at least one of my other friends rank it as their favorite dessert. I have spent the last several years just enjoying the ones Jennifer bakes, but recently secured the recipe to share with all of you. This will be the most delicious, guilt-free chocolate cake you will ever eat. If you have ever longed for chocolate cake to be classified as a vegetable, your dreams have come true. This does it.

Beet Cake
From Territorial Seed Garden Cookbook, Homegrown Recipes for Every Season, 1991, Sasquatch Books

1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup grated cooked fresh beets (or substitute canned beets)
4 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, soda, salt, sugar and cocoa together and set aside. Beat together eggs and oil. Add vanilla and beat well. Add dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Then stir in beets. Pour into a lightly greased cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Jennifer uses this icing recipe:

Kathleen's Chocolate Icing

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Combine the chocolate and butter in a small heavy saucepan, and melt over very low heat.
Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the milk and vanilla, and transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl.
Add the sugar gradually, beating with an electric mixer. Continue beating until the mixture is smooth; it will be runny.
Refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour, beating every 15 minutes. (The icing will stiffen.)
About 2 1/2 cups

The annual farm tours are always such wonderful events. I heard this weekend were some of the best yet. If you haven't made your way to the farm yet, I encourage you to make plans to do so.

 


Monday, June 19, 2017

2017 CSA Week 7

Hello fellow CSA members!

I hope you all are ready for summer - and another great share. Last week's travels took some of my attention away from my share so I'm hoping to get back in the swing of things this week. Here's what's coming our way:

Produce
Storage
Longevity
cucumber
Washed or unwashed, in fridge
1-2 weeks
summer squash and zucchini
unwashed, in fridge
1-2 weeks
lettuce
unwashed, in fridge
1 week
turnips*
in fridge crisper
1 month+
kale
washed and thoroughly dried, or unwashed, in fridge, sealed in container
1 week
radishes*
unwashed, in fridge
up to 1 week
basil
store in an unclosed container in fridge or snip off bottom of stems and immerse in water
1-2 weeks

*Shares will have either turnips or radishes.

Also, keep your fingers crossed... There may be a some surprise tomatoes coming our way this week. (I CAN'T WAIT for tomatoes!)

In case we do get tomatoes I want to go ahead and share with you one of my favorite summer salads. Chop tomato and cucumber and mix in a little Italian dressing (or dressing of your choice). Some people also add in onions. I happen to think chunks of cheese (maybe some cheese curds or Bernstadt Swiss) are also a delicious addition. The basil would work well too. If you'd like a more precise recipe you can check this one out.

Photo credit:
 http://allrecipes.com/recipe/238741/bethys-cucumber-basil-lemonade/photos/2414519/
Cucumber and basil are a great combination on their own. There are plenty of cucumber-basil salads and soups and drinks. One that caught my eye (and may be a great way to welcome summer) is Cucumber Basil Lemonade. I think I'll be trying that one very soon!

And while I'm sharing some of my favorite recipes, I'll also tell you about the delicious blueberry zucchini bread. This is my favorite zucchini bread recipe. I love the addition of the blueberries. And, I know, this isn't the healthiest way to eat zucchini. But I'll share with you something Amanda said to me several years ago when I told her I was ruining the health benefits of her organic squash and zucchini by breading them and frying them: "It is still a healthier option than many other choices AND you're still eating your vegetables."

One of my early goals in helping with the blog was to highlight the many health benefits of the items in our shares each week. Many of us are seeking foods not only to nourish, but to heal, our bodies. And, admittedly, I don't know nearly as much as I should about the food I consume. Fellow members were talking this week about wanting to know more about the specific nutritional values of our weekly shares. To help facilitate that, I decided to do a quick bit of internet research on the new item this week (cucumbers) and found this article. And bonus: if you don't like the taste of cucumbers, you can always just use them for skin care. :)

Keep sharing all the ways you use your share (conventionally and non-conventionally) on our Facebook group page.

Monday, June 12, 2017

2017 CSA Week 6

Greetings from DC, fellow CSA members!
I'm in our nation's capital this week taking advantage of sightseeing while my husband attends a conference. There is an organic produce restaurant, specializing in pressed juices, a few blocks from our hotel. I visited for breakfast this morning and was thinking about why I didn't cook like this at home - with my own organic produce.

The answer (okay, excuse) is time and energy. It takes a lot of thought, planning and preparation to fix fresh, healthy meals each day. And it takes even more to participate in a CSA share that adds in a level of risk and unpredictability with the ingredients you'll be working with from week to week. Speaking from experience, its a lot easier to pop a frozen pizza in the oven.

So, as I give myself grace for not utilizing my kitchen and my share to their fullest potential each week, I encourage you to do the same. You'll hear me say this a lot on the blog. We're all at different parts of our healthy food journey. It may be naturally easy for you, but extremely difficult for someone else - or anything in between. You'll have good weeks and bad ones. Successes and failures. The important thing is that you keep at it! Celebrate the wins and learn from the losses. I do a little better each year in the CSA than I did the year before. And I learn new things to try and to work at improving.

Feeling geared up for this week's share? Here's what's in store:


Produce
Storage
Longevity
swiss chard
washed and thoroughly dried, or unwashed, in fridge, sealed in container
1 week
summer squash and zucchini
unwashed, in fridge
1-2 weeks
lettuce
unwashed, in fridge
1 week
turnips*
in fridge crisper
1 month+
kale
washed and thoroughly dried, or unwashed, in fridge, sealed in container
1 week
green onions
Lightly rinsed, dried and stored in plastic wrap or fridge container
1-2 weeks
radishes*
unwashed, in fridge, can remove greens
up to 1 week
small cabbage**
unwashed, in fridge
up to a month or longer
broccoli**
unwashed, in fridge
1 week
basil
store in an unclosed container in fridge or snip off bottom of stems and immerse in water
1-2 weeks
*Shares will include either turnips or radishes.
**Shares will include either cabbage or broccoli.

Ford gives me tips each week about how crops are generally supposed to look and how his are looking to help me sound like I know what I'm talking about in the blog each week. He shared that we should plan for lettuce to phase out of our baskets and the cabbage is going to be sticking around for a couple of weeks. Also, great news for those of us who love basil, we may be getting some every week for a while! My favorite way to eat basil is a caprese salad, but you can chop it up in pesto or have it a variety of ways. It also makes beautiful greenery in floral arrangements. I was looking for a picture of a bouquet I bought at the farmer's market in Frankfort several years ago, but couldn't find it.

While we're rolling out some of our favorite recipes from previous seasons this might be a good time to remind everyone about Amanda's yummy swiss chard gratin recipe, a favorite in the Waterstrat home.

Can't wait to see him playing in the
farm dirt this year!

You likely received an invitation from Amanda this week for a farm tour. Please consider visiting! You'll learn more about your food and your farmers, and it will be a great time! This will be the first year that some tours will include cooking demonstrations. Matthias had a great time last year at his first farm tour.

Please keep sharing your recipes and food pictures on Facebook. I get great ideas from what you share.

Happy eating!

Monday, June 5, 2017

2017 CSA Week 5

Hello fellow CSA members!

Can you believe this week marks the first quarter of our CSA season? Me either.

Ford and the rest of the folks at Sustainable Harvest Farm have another great share for us:


Produce
Storage
Longevity
swiss chard
washed and thoroughly dried, or unwashed, in fridge, sealed in container
1 week
summer squash and zucchini
unwashed, in fridge
1-2 weeks
romaine lettuce
unwashed, in fridge
1 week
kohlrabi
washed or unwashed in fridge
1-2 weeks
kale
washed and thoroughly dried, or unwashed, in fridge, sealed in container
1 week
green onions
Lightly rinsed, dried and stored in plastic wrap or fridge container
1-2 weeks
radishes
unwashed, in fridge, can remove greens
up to 1 week
small cabbage*
unwashed, in fridge
up to a month or longer
broccoli*
unwashed, in fridge
1 week
tatsoi
unwashed, in fridge
1 week


*Shares will include either broccoli or cabbage. Please note that small shares may be missing one or more items, likely swiss chard.

Last week we were out of town and my mom picked up my share for me. When I got home she told me how much she enjoyed it. Commenting over and over that you don't even have to do anything to the food. Just eat it. As we were cutting up some lettuce for a taco salad one evening, she showed me the bok choy and said, "This one is so good! This is the one I have just been eating plain!" I couldn't help but smile that she loved one of my share favorites too.

While I do advocate tasting almost every produce item in your share before you transform it, few of us are satisfied just eating our veggies raw, plain and straight from the fridge. Which is why I try to share recipes each week.

I'm really excited to share this one with you. I made it up myself. I was worried it was going to be a colossal fail since it was my first time making anything like it and I made so many changes to the recipe BUT it was wonderful! I call it CSA "Carbonara."

I was wanting spaghetti (you know, the traditional kind with tomato sauce) for dinner. But, these days spaghetti at my house looks like this:

Not appetizing. Plus, that's my kid. I'm responsible for him. Which means I have to touch him with my bare hands, even when he's this gross. And somehow this mess has to be cleaned. My days have already devolved into running from room to room cleaning various messes, so by the time I'm planning supper sometimes I just want to eat the cleanest thing possible. Literally, cleanest, as in less messy. A new definition for "clean eating" for you.

But a few weeks ago my friend (and fellow CSA member - hi Alisha!) made spaghetti carbonara for a lunch at church. Matthias ate it without requiring a fully-suited hazardous waste clean-up crew afterward.

I looked up the recipe and as soon as I read about the garlic I remembered the garlic scapes from our share. Then I remembered I still had some bacon from the winter meat share. I decided to go rogue and add in broccoli, squash and swiss chard too. And, instead of using parmesan, I grated a block of white cheddar from Wildcat Mountain Cheeses. There are so many deviations, I'm not even sure it still even qualifies as carbonara, but it was delicious. And, surprise of all surprises, even my vegetable-hating husband LOVED it!!! Shut the front door. He has never enjoyed anything with swiss chard in it in his life.


Yes, he's a few months older. It's
going to be a while before I do spaghetti
again.

 
He commented, "Maybe I could eat healthy!"

I reminded him this particular recipe included a pack of bacon and a block of cheese, so healthy was a bit of a stretch.

And, this was what I had to clean up.

Here's the actual recipe. You could easily sub ingredients from this week's share (green onions, etc).





CSA "Carbonara"

1/2 pound spaghetti
veggies from share, chopped (broccoli, squash, swiss chard, etc)
8+ slices of bacon
1/2 pound grated white cheese (parmesan, white cheddar, asiago)
3 eggs
Pepper and garlic, to taste

Bake or fry bacon, then chop it.

In a couple tablespoons of reserved bacon grease, saute chopped veggies.

Mix grated cheese and eggs. Set aside. (I've never made carbonara before, but I read that it is important to have this mixed to add to the noodles as quickly as possible to help cook the eggs.)

While veggies are cooking, boil pasta according to instructions. Drain. Turn the burner to very low heat or off and toss with veggies. Stir in cheese sauce. Then add in bacon and season to taste.

It looked like something from a restaurant!
Happy eating to you this week! I hope you all have your own kitchen successes! Please share them on the CSA Facebook page! I've loved seeing your pictures and recipes. And don't be afraid to post a flop either. We've all had them.