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Archive for January, 2011

One way to get more out of your CSA subscription and keep your CSA kitchen sustainable is to collect dishes that are flexible, easy, and veggie-intensive. It’s not hard to do – dishes like this exist in every food culture and have the following characteristics:

  • high vegetable to meat ratio (perhaps infinite)
  • infinitely variable in amounts and ingredients (with a few seasonal restraints)
  • can serve as one-dish meals
  • don’t call for a lot of additional ingredients
  • don’t require too much attention or time once you get the idea down

Veggie lo mein!

Here’s a quick list of possibilities. (Our two current favorites – lo mein and cottage pie – are discussed in more detail below.)

  • vegetable soup or stew (pretty much everywhere)
  • cottage pie (Britain)
  • ratatouille (France)
  • briami (Greece)
  • lo mein, fried rice (China)
  • yaksoba (Japan)
  • pad thai (Thailand)
  • gado gado (Indonesia)
  • curries of all sorts (India)

(more…)

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Sustainability doesn’t stop at the farm. Joining a CSA is neither sprint nor short-run performance – it’s a lifestyle change. (You’re not doing it just because it’s trendy, right?) Check your dreams of instant local food bliss at the door. There’s simply too much work to be done.

Is your operation sustainable?

It’s a good idea to prepare for this long-term effort by dreaming up and adopting sustainable practices for you and your household. By sustainable, I don’t mean environmentally sound. I’m talking about  careful stewardship of your household’s most valuable resource: your sanity.

(more…)

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Bon voyage, The Minimalist!

“The Minimalist” column in The New York Times has been one of my favorites for years. Like in his cookbook How To Cook Everything, Bittman proposes general notions that encourage understanding and experimentation rather than the rigid perfectionism of set recipes. Now after more than thirteen years, “The Minimalist” is coming to an end.

To celebrate all those great years, here’s a post from 2008 – My favorite recipe of all time. The recipe comes from “The Minimalist” column Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less. I’m not sure if it’s still my favorite recipe of all time, but it’s definitely way up there and I am grateful for it and many others.

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The second preseason delivery of 2011 came in an enormous box with plenty of good stuff inside.

bread, butter, and eggs

We’re excited about making peanut butter sandwiches with this bread. We haven’t gone on a good peanut butter sandwich binge in a while. Toast the bread, use local honey instead of jelly, and cut it in quarters for even more bliss.

I’ve got about a pound and a half of Sparkman’s butter in our fridge already, so this block is headed to the freezer for now. It’s nice to have butter you feel good about using, but  it’s a bit of a pain to measure carefully in this conformation when you’re used to the little sticks and their convenient markings. Good thing I don’t measure butter carefully. My rule of thumb is when in doubt, it needs more butter.

And I love the bright pepto-bismol egg carton! Out with the chewed-up, dingy grey! The carton and its contents make me smile. (more…)

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Ever since I started eating local food, I’ve had a dream of roasting a free-range, happy-except-for-that-last-day chicken. I’d serve delicious roast chicken, pull the rest of the meat for other dishes, and make stock from the carcass. If you’re going to eat a chicken, it seems only right to use as much of said chicken as you can.

But something’s always gone wrong. One time I misread the recipe and dreadfully overcooked the chicken. Last time, Chris was too efficient with the kitchen clean-up and tossed the carcass before I could make stock.

Finally, it all came together earlier this month with a chicken I received last fall as a member of a CSA program run by Judith Winfrey and Joe Reynolds. (more…)

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Kohlrabi is related to cabbage and definitely sports a cabbage-y flavor. Often kohlrabi comes with stems and leaves attached. You can sort of see a whole kohlrabi in this picture of a CSA delivery from May 2009.

The kohlrabi's the purple thing towards the left laying on its side.

But it’s easier to see in this picture from Washington State University’s herbarium.

Last week, I received a green bulb and a purple bulb without tops. (more…)

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Pre-season so far

We’re a week into CSA pre-season and our first delivery. This past week, Chris and I have eaten lots of salad. The hydroponic lettuce was a little bitter and not keeping so well from last week’s extreme temps, so we powered through it and finished it at lunch today. Now we’re onto the baby spinach and romaine.

The apples are amazing – fresh, crisp, and bursting with flavor! They remind me of my childhood and apple-flavored Jolly Ranchers. (I never understood why that flavor was considered “apple” until I started eating local apples.) Afternoon snacks of apple and Havarti slices have made this a wonderful week.

People, see to your sweet potatoes. In the fall, I got used to ignoring sweets for a week or so, but these guys need to be cooked promptly. They’ve already done their time in storage. I’m chopping and roasting the rest of mine tonight even though we probably won’t eat them until tomorrow

For lunch today, I got the tiniest bit fancy and made sausage-stuffed kohlrabi. Turned out pretty good, but fancy doesn’t do it for me. I wish I had made a casserole-like dish with the same ingredients instead.

Coming up…

Tomorrow, I think we’ll have roasted sweet potatoes and Komatsuna greens. Prepping the Komatsuna will leave some large stems that I’ll include in a lo mein stir-fry along with some green onions, cabbage, and my last Asian turnip. And I want to make French toast with the whole-wheat sourdough bread this weekend.

Enjoy your food!

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One very cold January mid-morning, I visited the Morningside Market located on N. Highland Ave. just south of University. I was late. At 10:15, one of the vendors (Woodland Gardens) was packing up and headed out and others had just bits and pieces left. So heads up! Get to the Morningside Market early; the winter market starts at 8:00. There are many committed market-goers ready to beat you to the punch – even on a blustery winter morning.

For more details about the market, please visit my article on the Morningside Market at Examiner.com.

All produce at the market must be certified organically grown.

Customers examine produce brought by Crystal Organic Farm. (crystalorganicfarm.wordpress.com)

Got this photo of microgreens from Woodland Gardens on the back of their truck as they were nearly sold out and calling it a day.

So many lovely varieties of soap from Hazelbrand Farm soaps ...

... and so nicely packaged! (www.hazelbrand.com)

Crackers from Magnolia Bread Company (www.magnolia-bread.com),

treats from Pure Bliss Organics (pureblissorganics.com),

and warm clothing were all for sale.

It was an excellent day to purchase a warm hat!

People lined up to buy Riverview Farms' ...

grass-fed beef ...

and Berkshire pork. (www.grassfedcow.com)

So come out (early and often) to Morningside Market (www.morningsidemarket.com) and see what you can find!

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Here are bunch of photos of the Decatur Farmers Market. Also, please visit my description of the Decatur Farmers Market at Examiner.com.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Patrons brave the rain and cold to see what's at Wednesday's Decatur Farmers Market.

Beautiful produce grown by Steve Miller in Clarkston (The carrots and beet greens were especially tasty.)

Steve's full line-up including lettuce, parsley, cabbage, and greens

Steve is happy to talk about his produce and his gardening methods. He credits his late in-the-ground growing season to lots of compost and protection from westerly winds.

Patrons browse what's on hand at Besmaid Garden Essentials owned by Bobby Britt on Wesley Chapel Rd. Bobby provides produce for many local restaurants. (And some top-notch arugula to me. It was so good I went back for more at the Saturday market.)

Broccoli from Besmaid Garden Essentials

Mustard greens from Besmaid Garden Essentials

Bobby with a beauty of a Savoy cabbage

Barbara Pearson of Simply Scrumptious brought baked goods and chili for sale. Boy, did that chili look good!

Luis Martinez of Zocalo Salsas (www.zocalosalsas.com) had chips and salsas on hand to try as well as tamales!

Mary and Duane of Magnolia Bread Company (www.magnolia-bread.com) selling whole-grain breads and crackers.

Magnolia Bread Company booth (sans Mary and Duane)

Paul of Johnston Family Farm (www.johnstonfamilyfarm.com) proudly selling milk, heavy cream, and some mozzarella cheese

Tink of Tink's Beef (www.tinksbeef.com) deep in discussion with customers. Tink's Beef sells grass-fed, all-natural beef...

... and all-natural, farm-raised pork.

Duane Marcus, the market manager, selling kale, Komatsuna, and a collection of preserves

Ross, Rebecca, and little Josephine were handing out eggs for their egg CSA subscription program. Soon their farm, Many Fold Farm (www.manyfoldfarm.com), will be producing sheep's cheese as well.

Lauren makes Big Daddy Biscuits - all-natural, organic dog biscuits made with food you'd eat yourself. (www.bigdaddybiscuits.com)

Saturday January 8, 2011

Lauren treats a regular client at the Saturday Decatur Farmers Market.

Saturday's market patrons braved a blustery January morning.

Bobby and Steve talk shop (presumably).

Arugula grown by Steve Miller

Bok Choy from Bobby Britt and Besmaid Garden Essentials

Goodness Gracious Granola (www.goodnessgraciousgranola.com) brought the goods - including this delicious cranberry-pecan-almond variety.

Parking is a snap at the metered spots heretofore unpatrolled on Saturday mornings.

Joseph Costa of Costa's Pasta (www.costaspasta.com) made my trip with some homemade egg fettuccine. Currently on the hunt for some AtlantaFresh Artisan Creamery crème fraiche...

So visit the Decatur Farmers Market! Go on a Saturday morning or a Wednesday afternoon, but brave the weather and go!

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I’ve taken on a new position as Atlanta Farmers Market Examiner for Examiner.com in order to learn more about the larger local food scene in Atlanta.

So I’ll do my best to keep track of farmers market happenings in the area, too.

Here’s my first article highlighting farmers markets holding their forts during winter: Atlanta farmers markets open in January.

See all my articles here.

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