Wednesday, July 31, 2013

2013 CSA Week 11


From our farm to your table this week…
Item
How to Store it
How long will it last?
Melon
(Saturday regular or robust shares only)
fridge or room temp
enjoy as soon as possible
 
 
 
Cucumbers
unwashed in fridge
1-2 weeks
 
 
 
 
 
 
Eggplant
(Thursday only)
room temperature
3-5 days
 
Fennel
 
unwashed in fridge
 
1 week
(Saturday mini shares only)

Peppers
 
 

unwashed, in fridge
 
 
 
2-3 weeks
Potatoes – non-organic
 
unwashed in a cool, dry, dark place (preferably in a paper bag or ventilated container)
up to several months

Sweet corn
- non-organic
 
 
shucked (my preference) or with husks on in the coldest part of your fridge (usually the bottom vegetable crisper)
 
Enjoy as soon as possible – fresh corn is much sweeter when fresh than when stored

Tomatoes
 

at room temp

~1 week

Yellow Squash, Zucchini

unwashed in fridge

1-2 weeks
 
 
 

More information…

Familiar Favorites: Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Zucchini/Yellow Squash, Peppers, Potatoes, Sweet Corn
Most of the produce in your share this week can be considered a familiar favorite in our region for this time of year and are certainly items you’ve already seen this season.  You probably don’t need my help thinking of ways to enjoy them, so instead let’s consider a few ideas for some not-so-familiar favorites!


A few new items: eggplant, fennel, melon

Eggplant
The most common grocery store varieties of eggplant have a characteristic pear shape and are quite large.   The eggplants you’ll find in your share this week, however, are more petite – one is elongated and the other is rounded.  These varieites, known as “Beatrice” and “Dancer,” can be used like the larger varieties but because they are more tender and have thinner skin, they can also be grilled, sauteed, or baked for shorter periods of time.  They’re a bit thicker and more fibrous than yellow squash or zucchinni but require similar cooking times.  That makes these varieites great for a mixture of grilled summer veggies that includes summer squashes and onions.  You can also use these for my favorite dish – a spicy Indian spread called Baba Ganouj.  Here’s a link to the recipe we posted last year – just scroll down: 2012 CSA Share Week 13.


Fennel
Fennel is (also known as anise) is a very unique root vegetable with a white, fan-shaped bulb arranged in multiple, overlapping layers.   The green tops are attractive, wispy, and the entire plant has a characteristic licorice fragrance and taste.  I’m not a fan of licorice but I do love salads with bits of fennel bulb mixed in with apples, raisins, and a sweet, creamy dressing.  Fennel is also excellent lightly roasted, which brings out the flavor even more.  Here’s a great recipe for a nice, crisp salad with a bit of fennel.

Fennel, Apple, & Pecan Salad

from Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman

Dressing

- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 shallot or 1 small green onion minced

- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp white or white balsamic vinegar
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Salad

- 2 fennel bulbs , trimmed, cut into quarters, &
   thinly sliced
- 2 large apples, quartered, cored, & thinly sliced
- 1 cup pecans, toasted
- Chopped fennel leaves (fronds) as a garnish.

Whisk together first 5 ingredients to make the dressing.  Set aside.
Combine fennel, apples, & pecans in a large bowl.  Toss to mix.
Pour in the dressing. 
Garnish with fennel fronds & serve.

Melon – cantaloupe
The small cantaloupes in your share this week are a variety known as Sarah’s Choice.  The supplier of these seeds describes them as the most flavor cantaloupe they’ve tried.  A small (~3lb) size is ideal for this variety.

As always, please feel free to contact me for clarification, further information, or to share your own adventures in cooking local, USDA-certified organic produce.  amanda.waterstrat@gmail.com



 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2013 CSA Week 10


From our farm to your table this week…

Item
How to Store it
How long will it last?
 
 
 
Cucumbers
unwashed in fridge
1-2 weeks
 
 
 
 
 
 
Green Beans or Kale
 
green beans: unwashed in fridge
kale: washed or unwashed in fridge
green beans: 3-4 days
kale: 1-2 weeks

Peppers
 

unwashed, in fridge
 

2-3 weeks
Potatoes – non-organic
 
unwashed in a cool, dry, dark place (preferably in a paper bag or ventilated container)
up to several months

Sweet corn
- non-organic
 
 
shucked (my preference) or with husks on in the coldest part of your fridge (usually the bottom vegetable crisper)
 
Enjoy as soon as possible – fresh corn is much sweeter when fresh than when stored

Tomatoes
 

at room temp

~1 week

Yellow Squash

unwashed in fridge

1-2 weeks
 
 
 
Zucchini
unwashed in fridge
1-2 weeks
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
More information…

Cucumbers
A very subtle change in your approach to slicing cucumbers and a simple recipe with fresh herbs can turn a cucumber salad into an elegant side dish like Cucumber Ribbon Salad with Lemon Herb Vinaigrette.  This recipe calls for thin skinned cucumber like the English cucumber.  Although our small round pickling cucumbers have thicker skin and heartier seeds, you can still use them for ribbon salads like the one above but you may have to discard a portion of the innermost section of the cucumber if the seeds are large.  This would make a great accompaniment to any warm Asian meal.

Green Beans

Last week I had a break through development with our Fresh Pick green beans.  As I explained in a previous post, these beans really aren’t the best variety for pressure canning.   I must admit, however, that I’m a big fan of home-canned green beans like the ones my grandmother made faithfully, quart after quart, every summer of my youth.  I still haven’t mastered – okay, really even tried -  using a pressure canner except in the safety of a class conducted by our local extension office but I REALLY wanted to make a pot of green beans with a rich flavor like canned beans.  (I have this ridiculous fear that the canner will explode and injure my son, Ford or me.  I had the same fear operating a high speed centrifuge in graduate school, but don’t tell anybody. )

Anyway, last week I discovered that a 1.5 to 2 hour cook on the stovetop in a heavy pot with onions, salt, and beef broth produces a delicous batch of country-style green beans.  Even unexpected, faithfully honest dinner guests were pleased with the result so I consider it a success.  Here’s how it worked:

1. Sauteed onions in olive oil until transulcent and slightly browned.

2. Added washed, snapped beans.

3. Poured beef broth in until beans were covered.

4. Added salt (not shown).

5. Boiled vigorously for about 1 hour then simmered for another 40-60 minutes.

6. Delicoius summer harvest meal!

 
Kale
Kale is a great plant to have in your home garden.  With just 4 or 5 plants, you can harvest a few leaves from each plant throughout the summer.  The frequent harvest supplies you with plenty of healthy greens and it stimulates the plant to keep producing leaves.  My latest ambition is to create some good homeade green smoothies with our fresh kale.  We’ll see how it goes!

Peppers
Green peppers are a great snack on their own but they are also a wonderful addition to main dishes or highlight in sauces like this Spicy Chutney with Tomato, Peppers and Eggplant.  We had hoped to be providing eggplant for you around this time of year but almost the entire crop of eggplant drown in the heavy rains that came a few weeks ago.  Maybe next year!

Potatoes
More new potatoes!  However you prepare them, just enjoy the smooth, tender texture.  They’ll be excellent all winter but they won’t have quite the same creamy consistency and tender skin that they have now. 

Sweet Corn

Yes friends, the late summer harvest finally arrived!  Few flavors are more delicious than fresh, sweet corn boiled for just 5 minutes and eaten of the cobb or sliced off into a pan.  Oh my, what a treat!  Enjoy boiled or grilled corn on the cobb, fried corn, or whatever makes you happy!  A little pat of butter, salt, and your favorite summer herbs can make it extra special.

Tomatoes
Ford tells me there will be a bit more variety in the tomato portion of your share this week.  The standard tomatoes you’ve gotten so far as well as some new pink heirloom varieites will be slightly less ripe this week as we transition from greenhouse/high tunnel tomatoes to field tomatoes.  You might want to leave them in the windowsill for a day or so before enjoying them raw.  You will notice a distinct flavor in the heirloom variety that is very popular but you’ll also find that they sometimes take on lovely, unusual shapes that set them apart from standard grocery store varieties.  You’ll see more heirloom varieties come along as the season progresses.

Yellow Squash & Zucchini
I stumbled upon one of my very favorite recipes for summer squash two years ago in an excellent seasonal cookbook called Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman.  She describes the dish called Zucchini Cheese Squares as “softer than a bread and denser than a soufflĂ©.  She’s absolutely correct.   It’s a delicious dish that is ALWAYS well received at social gatherings.  ...oh yeah, and even little kids really like it!!

Zucchini Cheese Squares
from Serving Up the Harvest by Andrea Chesman
- 3 cups grated zucchini
- 2 tsp salt
-1½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cups grated Cheddar (I prefer sharp or extra sharp.)
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
-1 tsp freshly ground black pepper or lemon pepper
-1/2 cup canola oil
- 3 large eggs


Combine the zucchini and salt in a colander and toss to mix. Set aside to drain for 30 minutes. Squeeze out excess water.
Preheat oven to 350oF.   Grease a 7- by 11- inch baking dish with butter.
Stir together the flour & baking powder in a medium bowl.  Add the onion, zucchini, cheese, thyme, and pepper.  Mix well with a fork, breaking up any clumps of zucchini.
Whisk together the oil and eggs and pour into the zucchini mixture, and thoroughly combine.
Spread evenly in the baking dish.
Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

As always, please feel free to contact me for clarification, further information, or to share your own adventures in cooking local, USDA-certified organic produce.  amanda.waterstrat@gmail.com



 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

2013 CSA Week 9


From our farm to your table this week…
Item
How to Store it
How long will it last?
Basil

 
DO NOT WASH; store in an UNCLOSED CONTAINER in fridge OR snip the bottom of the stalks & immerse in water as you would with fresh cut flowers
1-2 weeks

Cabbage
(Thursday)


unwashed in fridge


2-3 months
 
 
 
Cucumbers
unwashed in fridge
1-2 weeks
 
 
 
 
 
 
Melon
(Thursday pickup)
 
At room temperature
1 week
Peppers
 
unwashed, in fridge
 
2-3 weeks
Potatoes – non-organic
(Saturday pickup)
*note – thes are NOT washed in order to preserve the delicate skin
unwashed in a cool, dry, dark place (preferably in a paper bag or ventilated container)
up to several months

Tomatoes
 

at room temp

~1 week

Yellow Squash

unwashed in fridge

1-2 weeks
 
 
 
Zucchini
unwashed in fridge
1-2 weeks
 
 
 



More information…

Basil
If you love pesto, now through August or September is the time to make up a big batch to enjoy and some extra to freeze.  There are lots of pesto recipes out there.  Here’s a relatively easy one that we use often.  If you have extra basil at home and want to double or triple the recipe, consider freezing the extra in ice cube trays.  Those make perfect portions for cooking.

Simple, Delicious, Homemade Pesto

- 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, washed & dry
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) walnuts
-  2 cloves garlic
- 1.5 tsp cold water
- 1.5 tsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp salt

Whirl it all around in a food processor until it is smooth!  Store it in the refrigerator if you don’t eat it all right away. Yes, it’s that easy!
 
Cabbage
Cabbage salads and quick boiling or sautĂ©ing are my favorite methods for preparing cabbage, but if you’re feeling more creative, maybe you’d like to try cabbage rolls!  From vegetarian and vegan fillings to extra beefy varieties, there are lots of versions out there to try.  Here are a couple you might enjoy.  Meaty version from Rachel Ray: Stuffed Cabbage (note – regular cabbage can be substituted for the crinkly, Savoy cabbage).  …and here’s a lovely vegetarian option from Susan Voisin of the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen: Vegan Cabbage Rolls.

Cucumbers
Almost every summer meal at my grandmother’s house included a small platter of peeled cucumbers sliced into long, slender spears.  Now that most of the lettuce has grown bitter in the summer heat, a side of fresh cucumber and tomato wedges makes a perfect substitute for a tossed salad and lately, that’s how we’ve been enjoying them!

Melon
Need I say more? Who hasn’t been waiting for sweet, fresh, mouthwatering, local melons!  This week our Thursday shares will include one small melon.  Slice, eat, enjoy!

Peppers
Peppers are versatile supplementary ingredients in a variety of meals but they can also stand out as the star of a main course meal like stuffed peppers.   My favorite version is similar to this recipe for Polenta Stuffed Peppers but they’re also excellent filled with tuna, chicken, beef, or rice. 
Potatoes
For those of you who might not be familiar with local agriculture terms, we call these freshly harvested potatoes – the first of the season for us, “new potatoes.”  They are, in fact part of the same crop that we will continue to harvest through the end of the growing season, store, and eat all winter.  When they are freshly dug from the earth, however, they have papery thin skin, an extra tender texture and they are, well, amazingly delicious.  Please, please, please don’t do anything drastic with these potatoes like mix them up with too many other ingredients or you’ll never know the joy of the “new potato.”  Simply scrub them well and peel (if desired), boil until fork tender and stir in a bit of butter, milk, salt, pepper and fresh parsley.  You won’t be disappointed. 

Tomatoes
If you like vegetarian lasagnas and you’re tired of eating your tomatoes fresh (…is that really possible?!?!), you might enjoy this recipe for Fresh Tomato Lasagna that takes advantage of a bounty of fresh summer tomatoes and puts them to good use in a homemade sauce.  There’s still plenty of protein in there from all the cheese, so you’re sure to have a filling, meatless meal.

 Yellow Squash & Zucchini
If the combination of your CSA share, your home garden, and your generous family/friends is putting a bushel of summer squashes on your doorstep each week, you may be looking for ways to clear your kitchen.  Here  are a few ideas for preserving either yellow squash or zucchini for dishes you’ll be sure to enjoy in the winter:

1)      Option 1 – Shredding Squash for Sweet Breads

a.      Wash, dry and shred your squash.  You may remove the peel or leave it intact, whatever you prefer.

b.       it in a fine colander and allow the excess juices to drain for about 30 minutes.

c.       Pack tightly into a freezer (NOT just zip-top) bag and remove as much excess air as possible.  This is a great way to have extra veggies on hand for sweet breads, casseroles or the recipe above for zucchini cheddar squares.

2)     Option 2 – Blanched Squash for Casseroles

a.      Slice squash into thin rounds or dice into small cubes, blanch (immerse in boiling water for 3 minutes) dry thoroughly in colander, and pack into freezer bags, remove as much excess air as possible.  This makes for a very handy squash casserole around Thanksgiving!  It’s been my experience that the diced squash has a more pleasant texture after freezing than the thin rounds.

 

As always, please feel free to contact me for clarification, further information, or to share your own adventures in cooking local, USDA-certified organic produce.  amanda.waterstrat@gmail.com