Monday, May 30, 2016

2016 CSA Week 5

Greetings fellow CSA members!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend. Our family enjoyed a hike at one of my favorite places: Natural Bridge in Slade, KY and got some extra rest. We hope you all had some time to unwind, too!

I feel like, right on cue, the weather has transitioned to summer - and it seems our shares have, too.

Here's what's in store this week:

swiss chard
washed and thoroughly dried, or unwashed, in fridge, sealed in container
1 week
unwashed, in fridge
2 weeks
lettuce or salad greens
unwashed, in fridge
1 week
bok choy
unwashed, in fridge
1 week
washed and thoroughly dried, or unwashed, in fridge, sealed in container
1 week
sealed in bag or container, in fridge
garlic scapes
Washed or unwashed in fridge
1-2 weeks
unwashed, in fridge
2-5 days
or sweet potatoes*
in a cool, dark place
2 weeks
*Members will receive either strawberries OR sweet potatoes, not both. It's CSA share lottery. Good luck to you in getting your preference!

This is our first kale of the season, and there are plenty of recipes from previous seasons:
One of the favorite swiss chard recipes from the past:
And, garlic scapes! You can use them like garlic or green onions or a number of ways... Amanda provided a wonderful primer last year.
I may be trying out some of these recipes myself. I have yet to actually try the swiss chard gratin recipe. I'll let you know how things go this week.
Please keep sharing your recipes, tips and tricks! And pictures...

I think it's safe to say he speaks for everyone about SHF carrots.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

2016 CSA Week 4: In the Kitchen

Hello fellow CSA members!

Are you loving your Asian greens?!?!

Did you pick up a bit of panic from me in my last post? A fear of green overload? Well, it was actually unfounded. I got my share this week and I loved it. As I was preparing the bok choy last night I was asking myself what I was so afraid of... A couple dinner salads and another dish and we just have a little tatsoi left (though in retrospect I could have added that to last night's dish as well). Why was I worried there'd be a pile of rotten greens in my fridge at the end of the week?

This was the answer I came up with (I'll get to recipes in a minute, but I decided to spend a few minutes on this in case any other members feel this way). The first year we participated in the CSA we did the regular share. I enjoyed it but it was a particularly unusual summer for us and I didn't get to do as much with the share as I had hoped. Last year I knew we'd be settling into a new (to us) home and I was excited to turn a new (kale) leaf and make some major changes in the kitchen. I invested in some new kitchen equipment, a bunch of vegan/vegetarian/vegetable cookbooks and opted for the robust share. To Ford's credit, he tried to talk me out of it. It's A LOT, he told me. I was undeterred. My mom was going to be moving closer to me and I knew what I didn't use she would.

There were some things I didn't count on last summer: Expecting a baby and feeling generally horrible the whole time and my mom's super busy schedule. There was a lot of vegetable carnage.

Then my winter mini-share came. I REALLY enjoyed it. It was neat to get some greens and tomatoes that time of year. It was a smaller amount of food and squash and potatoes keep longer so I (and my mom) had longer to use it. I had almost decided not to sign up for a summer share this year, but that pleasant experience changed my mind. I decided to go with a mini-share for this summer and so far it has been baby bear's porridge for us. Just right.

I just share this because now that we are a few weeks in, there may be some of you who may be feeling like this whole CSA thing just isn't what you expected. If that is the case, you are not alone and I encourage you to hang in there... There is a learning curve.

Now, back to recipes.

CSA member Polly Symons shared this gem with us: Carrots roasted with avocado and yogurt
I haven't tried it yet, but hope to! And also, if you're looking for another way to use your strawberries (let's all prepare ourselves for the sad truth that strawberry season is quickly coming to a close this year...): Strawberry Shortcake on Yellow Corn Meal Biscuits

This week, I already had a plan for what I wanted to do with the greens... I found a marinade in one of my recipe books and the meal sort of evolved from there. I marinated chicken breast strips before frying them. I chopped and sautéed the bok choy and carrots in a separate skillet. Then I added some steamed rice and part of the marinade I had reserved. I served it on lettuce leaves, kind of like a sort of lettuce wrap. It was especially delicious with a little soy sauce.

Johnie gave it a hesitant three broccoli stalks, which is pretty good for this kind of meal.

Here is the recipe I pulled the marinade from. I doubled the orange juice and lime juice and added a little extra of the spices to make more. I also left out the sesame oil and red pepper flakes and subbed honey for agave nectar. I'm sharing the whole recipe in case you're interested, but I stopped with the marinade:

Citrus-Tahini Bowl with Bok Choy and Grilled Tofu
from Isa Does It, page 202
four servings

For the marinade:
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For everything else:
1 block extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
olive oil, for the grill
4 bunches baby bok choy, tough stems removed
1/2 cup tahini
4 cups cooked red quinoa
2 cups fresh orange segments

For the garnish:
chopped scallions
fresh cilantro
toasted sesame seeds

In a large bowl, mix together all of the marinade ingredients.

Slice the tofu into 8 slabs, widthwise. Now slice each of those in half to make squares. Marinate the squares for about 1 hour or up to overnight, flipping at least once.

Now grill the squares. Preheat a large cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush or spray the grill with oil. Place the tofu squares on the grill (reserve the marinade) and let cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until grill marks form. Flip the tofu pieces, spraying or brushing the pan again before placing the tofu pieces back down. Grill for 3 to 5 minutes, and remove from the pan.

While the tofu cooks, get your steaming apparatus ready. Place the bok choy in the steamer and steam for 5 minutes or so, until crisp-tender and bright green.

Meanwhile, transfer the leftover marinade to a blender. Add the tahini and blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning. You may need to adjust with a little extra orange juice if tofu sucked up too much marinade.

Place the quinoa in bowls. Overlap the bok choy, tofu and orange segments over the quinoa. Drizzle with sauce, sprinkle with any or all of the optional garnishes and serve!

Monday, May 23, 2016

2016 CSA Week 4

Ford says he has a great group of young people working at the
farm this season. Here they are in the strawberry patch earlier
today getting our shares ready for tomorrow! Ford and Amanda
are appreciative, I'm appreciative, and I'm sure you are too!
Good evening fellow CSA members!

I was shredding some carrots for a salad this evening (I'll share the recipe) and decided just to eat a couple of them to help speed up the shredding process... Man! There is just nothing like fresh, local carrots. I'm afraid I may not eat any other type of carrot. 

And good news! We have MORE carrots coming this week! And strawberries! And... Well... Here's the list:

unwashed, in fridge
2-5 days
unwashed, in fridge
2 weeks
unwashed, in fridge
1 week
bok choy
unwashed, in fridge
1 week
unwashed, in fridge
1 week
tomato juice or salsa
shelf stable
I was excited to see bok choy make its first appearance of the season (I do love Asian food and greens)! But honestly, this is a lot of greens for our house! I hate to admit: sometimes a full week (or longer) passes without us eating any leafy greens. (Sad, I know.) Until after dinner tonight we still had quite a few greens left from last week's share. Once I saw all we're getting this week, I kicked into gear and made a dinner salad. And I decided this week will be all about the greens. I've been looking up and brainstorming recipes today and hope to try some out this week. I'll let you know how it goes.

For now, you can check out these previous recipes, and I'll share with you what I did tonight (it could easily be replicated with this week's share).

Bok Choy Apple Salad
Tahini Soy Sauce Greens

As always, please keep sharing your recipes, tips and tricks with me and let me know if you have any questions!

Our dinner tonight:

I decided to pull out the old cookbooks in search of something to use our greens that my husband might not hate. We sometimes do salads (though lettuce is almost the only veggie in his salad and it is smothered in a sea of cheese and dressing), so I thought I'd look for salad recipes. I have a cookbook from one of my favorite restaurants: Tupelo Honey Café. I looked in the index and they had a recipe using bok choy. I looked at it and realized it would be great without the bok choy. Here's the recipe. (The salad recipe is for one dinner portion - if all you're eating is salad, it will feed one adult so multiply it accordingly. There were three of us at dinner tonight, so I tripled it.)

Get your leafy greens quota salad with sherry vinaigrette
Tupelo Honey Café cookbook, page 94

1/2 medium beet
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leafy greens (such as Swiss chard, kale, boy choy and napa cabbage)
2 tablespoons peeled, shredded carrots
6 grape tomatoes
2 ounces goat cheese
Sherry Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and wrap the beet in aluminum foil. Bake for about an hour, or until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove and cool before peeling and dicing. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan or skillet and saute the sunflower seeds, salt and pepper over low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly toasted. Combine the greens, beet, sunflower seeds, carrots, tomatoes, and goat cheese. Serve with the vinaigrette.

Makes 1 large dinner salad

Sherry vinaigrette
Tupelo Honey Café cookbook, page 95

1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon stone-ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1 cup olive oil

In a food processor, combine the shallot, garlic, parsley, thyme, Dijon mustard, stone-ground mustard, salt and pepper. Puree the ingredients for 1 minute With the processor running, add the vinegar and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing emulsifies.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

The Verdict: 4 and a half broccoli stalks. I'm not even joking. I let my husband take a bite of my salad before making his because I had a bottle of store-bought ranch waiting if needed. I did also have some marinated chicken with the salad. He said the salad alone was only four broccoli stalks, but the chicken helped it. I about fell over when he told me. He said he could have it again for lunch tomorrow and could eat it every week! I can't even believe it.

Recipe notes: This is a lot of work for a salad, in my opinion. If you want something easier, just buy a dressing. Also, there were no beets in the produce section of my grocery store this morning. True story. (Johnie would say he dodged that bullet!) If you decide to make the dressing, I'll share that I did not do all that mincing. I mean, what do I even have a food processor for if I have to spend all my time mincing before hand? I just threw everything in there whole. I pureed everything but the olive oil, then I just dumped all the olive oil in at the end and mixed. Maybe if I followed the instructions, the dressing wouldn't keep separating, but I'd rather give it a good shake when I'm ready to dress the salad than do all that work. Also, it is some pretty strong dressing. I used 6 teaspoons of it on our salads (we would normally use a lot more dressing than that).

It is a lot of work, but for my husband to happily eat several cups of veggies for dinner... It was worth it. Tonight, at least.

Have a great week!