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Archive for January, 2009

I tried making kale crisps again according to this recipe.

tear into pieces

Step 1: tear into pieces

drizzle with olive oil

Step 2: drizzle with olive oil

add salt and bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes

Step 3: add salt and bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes

They did not turn out well.

after only 7 minutes

after only 7 minutes

The only thing they had going for them was the salt. The rest tasted like burnt, kale-flavored tissue paper.

It’s possible that I’m using younger kale than the recipe calls for. That might explain the burnt results even after cooking only 7 minutes instead of the prescribed 10-15.

I love snack food and the idea of kale crisps. I was really hoping it would work this time.

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So I’ve made a couple of spinach salads now. Thursday night was the best one: Bordeaux spinach, sliced green onions (white ends), sliced daikons, parsley, and salad burnet with a mustard-y vinaigrette. Here’s a pic.

spinachsalad

The salad burnet was really nice addition. I don’t like cucumbers so I was hesitant to try it, but I’m so glad I did. It added a crisp, fresh taste to the mix.

I don’t think the dressing was as important to the salad as the ingredients, but here’s what I’ve been using so far.

Herb-mustard vinaigrette

Mix up

1/8 cup white wine vinegar

1/8 cup white vinegar (I ran out of white wine vinegar.)

3 tbsp water

1 tsp dried herbes de Provence

1 tsp ground mustard

Then add

½ cup canola oil

Mix again, chill, and serve.

You could also add some honey to make it a little sweeter. (But I don’t think the Bordeaux needs it.)

mustardvin

I found this great little beaker for making dressing on clearance at Tuesday Morning. It has recipes on the side, but they seem awfully oily to me.

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In an earlier post, I wrote about better nutrition and taste as reasons to be part of a CSA.

But you also get the warm, fuzzy feelings that come from “voting with your wallet” and “being part of the solution” for some important issues.

  • Reducing energy used to transport food
  • Improving the health of the soil and everything it’s connected to
  • Making local, sustainable farming a feasible career choice
  • Not giving (as much of) your money to industrial agriculture
  • Keeping money in the community
  • Knowing where your food comes from
  • Promoting good family meals at home
  • Protecting vital farming knowledge for the future

What do you think of these? Which are most important to you? Got some others?

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The pre-season subscription is 3 deliveries every other week from mid-January till March. Because it’s supposed to last two weeks, there’s more stuff. Instead of a bag, we picked up two boxes today! I am very, very happy to have some produce to play with again.

Here’s what was in our boxes.

1-21

  • Green onions (14 oz)
  • Cane syrup (16 oz)
  • Green spinach (15 oz)
  • Bordeaux spinach (22 oz)
  • 5 grain bread (17 oz) – We had to eat a chunk first!
  • Collards (27 oz)
  • Red Russian kale (23 oz)
  • Daikon radishes (16 oz)
  • Apples (34 oz)
  • Sweet potatoes (12 oz)
  • Herbs

Oops – forgot the eggs! (more…)

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Reasons to join a CSA Part 1: Food

My reasons for joining Farmers’ Fresh Produce fall into two categories: food and community. In this post, I’ll address the food reasons.

Nutrition

  • You get a variety of seasonal vegetables that you might not have eaten otherwise.

I have definitely eaten more and a larger variety of produce this year thanks to my CSA bag. Field peas, kale, radishes, acorn squash, and Asian turnips are just some of the vegetables I never would have dreamed of eating or buying in the grocery store to cook.

11-5b

  • Local, sustainably farmed produce more nutritious (?)

The research is hard to sift through. Some studies say yes, some say no, and no one who could be considered an uninterested party is asking the question. But the freshness of CSA produce seems important. When you buy at the grocery store, you don’t know how old the produce is. According to one report, spinach retains only 53% of its folate and 54% of its carotene after just eight days stored at fridge temperature.

  • CSA produce prevents colds.

Okay, so this is based on just on my experience, but this winter I haven’t been sick. I taught school in November and December, and many of the teachers and students had bad colds. My extended family had bad colds over Christmas. But so far, I’ve stayed well, and I’m usually someone who catches most anything that comes around. (Edit: I did get a sniffle last week, but it only lasted a couple of days and showed up after three weeks of no weekly CSA produce.)

10-22p

Taste

  • CSA produce tastes better than what you get at the store.

That’s a really good thing if you’re like me and never were a big vegetable eater.  How are you going to get people who have been raised on foods with high sugar and salt content to like vegetables if you feed them second-rate veggies? And did I tell you all about the night my 18-year-old step-son made himself a salad for dessert?

11-19s

Last summer when we were on vacation in Florida, I bought some zucchini at the grocery store to make our favorite vegetable dish – stir-fried zucchini. My guys (who are pretty good vegetable eaters in general) thought it was fine, but I ended up foisting all my zucchini off on them. It just didn’t taste anywhere near as good to me.

  • Better taste makes CSA vegetables easier to cook well.

When you start with produce this fresh, simple recipes come out really well. This builds confidence and encourages you to cook and eat more good food. If the first time I’d made stir-fried zucchini had been with store-bought produce, I don’t know if I’d have made it again. Same thing for field peas, beets, Brussel sprouts, eggplant, and lots of other veggies.

10-15-1

Increased anticipation

Seasonal vegetables give you something to look forward to. When everything’s available all the time, you miss out on the anticipation and the change of seasons. I remember when my brother and I would look forward to watching the Grinch every December. Now that people own the DVD and can watch it anytime, it seems to have lost its magic.

Fresh vegetables aren’t exactly the same as Christmas, but it’s still fun when the season and the produce starts to change. Last spring, we were tired of salad and ready for the summer vegetables to arrive . We dreamt of fresh tomatoes and zucchini dishes. Then, by the end of August, I couldn’t wait for lettuce again. It’s a wonderful cycle that’s fun to be a part of. If you really want lettuce, you can go and buy some. But it’s never as good. When I have broken down and bought lettuce at the store, it’s terribly disappointing  – unless it’s so out of season that I can’t remember what CSA lettuce tastes like.

South of Greenville, SC is the Happy Cow Creamery. It began with a dairy farmer who devised a year-long pasturing plan that has the cows regularly moving to, well, greener pastures. He says they get really excited and dance near the gates when he arrives to let them at their new eats.

happycow

I totally know how they feel.

Read Reasons to Join a CSA Part 2.

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A CSA Supper

Today we had a CSA supper thanks to our last butternut squash and some defrosted mushroom pasta.  (That’s parmesan cheese on the top.) We sliced the neck of the squash into rounds and baked them with butter and a little brown sugar.

cimg0583

Biscotti, again

I also made more biscotti. I love this recipe; it’s so forgiving. This time I used defrosted eggs, and the yolks didn’t quite get beaten in. I also threw in some ground flax seed I found on clearance at Kroger. But the biscotti still came out fine.

This time I remembered to take pictures. (more…)

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