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Archive for January, 2010

Here’s what we got in our first set of pre-season boxes. I think it’ll keep us for two weeks. And sorry about the distant pic. The larger bi-weekly boxes make it harder to get everything in the frame. I’ll take multiple close-ups next time.

  • sweet potatoes
  • kale
  • lettuce
  • strawberries
  • spicy greens
  • kabocha squash
  • more spicy greens
  • granola
  • popping corn
  • honey-flax-wheat bread
  • eggs
  • pork ribs
  • sprouts
  • carrots
  • crème fraiche
  • baby turnips
  • herbs (chervil, salad burnet, and par-cel)
  • sweet bread mini-loaves

Let’s talk salad

There’s awesome stuff in here for salads. (We’ve already had two and are looking forward to more.) We got two basic types of salad greens: delicate hydroponic lettuce and mixed greens. (The mixed greens can also be braised or stir-fried, but we like them best as spicy salad.) I try to use the hydroponic stuff first because it won’t last as long as the mixed greens. This type of lettuce is one of the things that makes converts to local food. It would never last long enough to be sold in a store, but the flavor and texture is far superior when you can get it fresh.

Here’s what we had for supper Wednesday night.

It was a great start to the CSA year. The lettuce, carrots, and eggs are all local foods that beat the pants off their conventional counterparts. (The beets and bread are from Kroger.) The crème fraiche is delicious – a cross between sour cream, cream cheese, and goat’s milk. And it makes an outstanding salad dressing. Just put a dollop on top and mix it up as you eat. It’s amazing – so amazing that I don’t think our crème fraiche will have a chance to be anything else.

Salad herbs

The herbs will add nice, subtle flavor to a salad.

chervil, salad burnet, and par-cel

Salad burnet has a light cucumber taste, and chervil has a minty-anise taste. The par-cel tastes like a combination of parsley and celery. (If you got any of these herbs, break off a piece of each and see for yourself. That’s good, perhaps obvious, advice for any herb, but it took me a long time to realize that I could – and should – sample herbs before using them. Before it was as if they were some magic ingredient that could never be treated so casually. Nonsense! Try some, see if you like it, and then decide how you might use it.)

Par-cel is good on pretty much everything, but it is strong herb and will overpower the burnet and chervil if you use equal amounts. Also, you can use the par-cel stems for celery flavor in casseroles, soups, spaghetti sauce, and pretty much anything that calls for onions.

I’m storing my chervil and parcel in a glass of water under a plastic bag in the fridge. They’ll keep for a good long while this way. The burnet doesn’t have stems to dip in the water, so I patted it dry and returned to its bag. Hopefully, it will last a while, too. (Another tip/superstition: I always turn my plastic bags inside out before I put or return anything to the fridge. I think it keeps what’s inside less damp.)

The salad burnet and chervil are fantastic with the crème fraiche! If I have time, I break off the leaves before adding them to the lettuce, but I’ve also just torn them up and eaten the stems, too.  I haven’t added the par-cel to salads yet because 1) I want to be sure to taste the burnet and chervil, 2) it’s easy to find uses for par-cel, and 3) it will last the longer than the other two.

Other salad additions

The carrots are sooo good and have sooo much flavor. I like to serve them as sticks with salad. They also make terrific afternoon snacks along with a chunk of cheese.

And don’t forget the sprouts! If you don’t use them all in salads, they’re good in fried rice and stir-fries.

Kale and turnips …mmm?

If you can make out the kale at the far end of the first picture, you’ll see it’s a gorgeous dark green. It makes me feel healthier just looking at it. Unfortunately, for the full effect, you have to eat it, too. Kale is not one of my favorite foods, but one thing I love about the CSA box is it makes us eat vegetables we might not choose on our own. If you like kale, I bet this beautiful bunch will knock your socks off. If you don’t, try Kale with raisins and pine nuts. It’s what I usually make. (You can also adjust the ratios in the recipe to make Raisins and pine nuts with kale.)

Turnips are another unfavorite in my house. (Can you tell that I sliced one of the turnips in half? That was in the hope that it might actually be a watermelon radish. No dice.) These turnips are babies, so they will be milder than their full-grown kin. But they’re still going in one of two recipe ideas that I rely on for vegetables I’m more interested in using than tasting:

My guess is I’ll make fried rice sometime next week with turnips, sprouts, and maybe some of the mixed greens. We’ll see what I’ve got left then.

More soon!

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Chris and I are very much looking forward to our pre-season delivery this week. In the meantime, here are some leftovers.

Here’s a picture of beef stock made from local bones and scraps. I froze it in ice cube trays for later.

So far I’ve made beef stew and shepherd’s pie with it. It’s pretty good and much better than bouillon, but I wished I’d salted it more. (I made the beef stew with CSA chuck roast and the shepherd’s pie with CSA ground lamb. Both were warm and yummy.)

In addition to the long-lasting butternut squash, I’d like to recognize three veggies that kept us going through the CSA break: garlic, sweet potatoes, and green cabbage. Fresh garlic is so nice. We’re now on our last head, so my fingers are crossed that there will be some in one of our pre-season boxes.

I bought a 5-lb bag of sweet potatoes sometime in the beginning of December from CragerHager Farm. All of them were still good as of yesterday when we baked them to make a sweet potato pie.  Maybe it helped that my kitchen has stayed pretty darn cool this winter. (Bet yours did, too!)

The cabbage was a surprise hit. I knew it would keep longer than the lettuce, so I didn’t hurry to eat it when it came with our last delivery of 2009. Then we lost it in the back of the fridge. The brave little cabbage was limp when we found it, but I shredded and sautéed some, and it was still delicious! We ate sautéed cabbage with nearly every meal for a week or so and never complained. (The recipe, if you can call it that, is sauté some shredded cabbage in olive oil with garlic and onion till just softened. Then add a couple of splashes of rice vinegar, turn off the heat, and let it steam for a moment before serving.) The trick is to never cook more than you’ll eat at a meal. It sounds like a pain, but it’s worth it and pretty easy to whip up – especially if you pre-shred, dice, and mince your ingredients.

And right now I’m drinking some nice tea made from dried lemon verbena and lemongrass. Perfect for perking up on a winter afternoon. These two herbs are my favorite to dry because the secret is to put them in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer and forget about them for months. Then, in the middle of January, you get lemony tea!

Between now and Wednesday, we’ll finish up our shepherd’s pie and enjoy some pancakes made from Logan Turnpike Mill pancake mix and blueberries frozen last summer.

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Without meaning to, I guess I took a month off from blogging. It was nice, but it’s good to be back!

Now let’s catch up…

Here’s what I got for the last order of the CSA season.

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Kabocha squash
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Parsley, par-cel, and chervil
  • Rice
  • Red peas
  • Eggs
  • Popping corn
  • Spiced nuts

Chris and I have never been big fans of cauliflower, but we enjoyed these. (The broccoli we had the couple of weeks before was really good, too.) I just steamed the florets and added a little butter, salt, and pepper. The stems and leaves I chopped up and used for fried rice and shepherd’s pie.

The kabocha squash was incredible! Chris said it was the best squash he’s ever eaten, and I guess I agree. It tastes like a combination of butternut and pumpkin. I roasted it in the oven for a couple of hours. (Kind of forgot about it, actually.) Then it collapsed, and I scooped out the flesh and added some butter and just a little bit of maple syrup. The seeds are heftier than other squash seeds, too. So if you like roasted squash seeds, these give you more per bite.

Monster store order

I also 1) made a monster order from the store that week and 2) took an inventory of what’s in my freezer. Kind of wish I’d reversed those.

But it’s not that bad. The plan was to stock up before the break. I may have stocked up a little much, but most of what I bought from the store was meat, which I didn’t have any of in the freezer except for a half pound of pork loin. So this meat goes in the freezer and can stay there for a while if necessary.

Here’s my order:

  • Bay leaves
  • Rice grits
  • Goat cheese
  • Honey flax bread
  • Mixed Asian greens
  • Dozen eggs
  • Beef bones for stock
  • Ground beef
  • Sausage
  • Ground lamb
  • Beef chuck

I divided the chuck roast into half pound portions and put them in the freezer. We’ve already used one to make vegetable beef soup. Yesterday, I made beef stock with the bones, some frozen celery scraps, an onion, some parsley and par-cel stems, and some garlic. (I’ll put those pics in another post with more detail.) This is a first for me, so I hope it turns out well. In a few days, I’m going to try make some beef stew with the stock. We’ll see how much of an improvement it is over bouillion.

Christmas presents

My mom and dad got me a massive amount of goat cheese for Christmas.  I also got some ingredients to make my own goat cheese. (Can I say that here? I’m not sure – especially since I drank it all before I made any goat cheese! Merry Christmas to me!)

And I got a faster computer from James, which is going to make blogging more fun.

Lingering winter produce

Last night we roasted a butternut squash. (Again, I forgot it in the oven, and I’m beginning to think that’s a valid recipe for winter squash.) It was delicious – and from 10/21. That’s nearly three months! And the squash showed no signs of age before I cooked it (and definitely none after).

I also have a bunch of sweet potatoes left from a bag I bought at the Carrollton Holiday Bazaar. They’re still in good shape, too. We’ll bake these as we need them for meals. If they start showing signs of age, I’ll just cook them all up and freeze them for sweet potato pie.  (Maybe I’ll do that anyway…)

Supper pics

Finally, here are two yummy winter suppers we had recently.

ground lamb and roasted beets with goat cheese and chervil and steamed broccoli

sausage, arugula with goat cheese, French bread, and roasted butternut squash

That’s all for now, but stay tuned. Pre-season starts January 26/27. Subscriptions are still available at www.farmersfreshcsa.com.

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