Sunday, November 21, 2010

Farm share week 25

In this week's box:
  • Turnip: 1.25 lbs
  • Butternut squash: 3.25 lbs
  • Green beans: 2 lbs
  • Russet potatoes: 1.75 lbs
  • Sweet potatoes: 1.75 lbs
  • Carrots: 2.25 lbs
  • Onions: 3.75 lbs
  • Cranberries: 0.5 lb
  • Mixed herbs: 0.1 lb
You can definitely tell that an effort was made this week to include items traditionally served at Thanksgiving, as indicated in this week's newsletter (PDF). Although I'm not aware of any dish that calls for 15 onions... Fortunately we're hosting dinner here this year, so I'll be able to use a bunch of this stuff.  For those keeping score at home, I now have 9 squashes in the refrigerator. However, hope is on the horizon -- we hear from our friends that they go through a squash a day at their house because their 1-year-old loves it, so I think they may be getting a Thanksgiving gift from us soon.

This is the last week of the farm share! But I'm planning to write a "reflections" post after Thanksgiving to sum everything up, so this isn't the end of the blog.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Potato-cabbage-kale soup


After I unpacked this week's box, I had a hard time getting everything into the fridge because there were so many damn potatoes in there. I love potato-leek soup, but didn't have any leeks. What I did have was a head of savoy cabbage and a bunch of kale that were on their last legs, so Internet recipes to the rescue!

After peeling about 20 potatoes (Carl asked me if I felt like a serf), I started out making colcannon (traditional Irish side dish of mashed potatoes with cabbage) but then realized that perhaps having JUST mashed potatoes for dinner might not be so nutritious.  So, I modified this recipe as follows in order to make a soup: I didn't drain the liquid after cooking the cabbage (and kale - just threw it in there with the cabbage); I put about half of the potatoes, greens, and sauteed onions in the food processor, then added it back into the cooking pot with the rest of the potatoes, greens, and onions. Oh, I also had some parsnips to use so I chopped those up and cooked with the potatoes - yum yum!

In retrospect, I would have used stock to cook the potatoes and greens in instead of water, as that would have made the soup more flavorful (one of the pitfalls of changing intentions halfway through cooking). I made a huge quantity so we could have some for another dinner later in the week -- probably at least twice the proportions of the original recipe.

Farm share week 24

In this week's box:
  • Acorn squash: 1.5 lbs
  • Wheat berries: 2 lbs
  • Golden beet: 0.75 lb
  • Cabbage: 1.75 lbs
  • Collard greens: 0.75 lb
  • Cucumber: 0.75 lb
  • Apples: 1.5 lbs
  • Carrots: 2.75 lbs
  • Potatoes: 1.75 lbs
  • Grape tomatoes: 1 pt
 Rats, I got another bag of wheat berries and I haven't used any of the bag I got over the summer! Time to start making some grain-based salads...

The inclusion of an avocado in last week's share, and the cucumber and grape tomatoes in this week's share, indicates that once again the farm is supplementing what it produces with produce obtained through exchange with farms further south. And there's only one week left in the farm share! After next week, a winter-spring program starts up, but I decided not to participate in that (it's a lot more money, and to be honest I'm looking forward to having a break from the constant onslaught of vegetables!). See this week's newsletter (PDF) for more details on the winter-spring program.

Starting to have a bit of a situation here with carrots and squash -- I'm now up to 7 squashes in the fridge (2 butternut and 5 acorn), and at least 5 pounds of carrots. I had to make an additional "crisper" out of a large tupperware to store all the carrots. Fortunately both carrots and squash last for quite a while in the fridge...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Farm share week 23

In this week's box:
  • Carrots: 2 lbs
  • Butternut squash: 3.75 lbs
  • Avocado: 1 lb
  • Turnip: 0.75 lb
  • Lettuce: 1 lb
  • Bok choi: 1 lb
  • Chard: 1 lb
  • Celeriac: 0.5 lb
  • Parsley: 0.25 lb
Well, I can see now why the bok choi we had been getting was referred to as "baby bok choi," because this guy is enormous compared to them. But the butternut squashes are scaled down this week -- each about half as big as the ones we got a few weeks ago. Speaking of butternut squash, I made a great curried squash soup last week that was a big hit here among people who don't like squash. Here's the recipe.

The thing in the middle that looks like a pineapple gone wrong is celeriac, or celery root. I had seen it listed on this week's newsletter (PDF) but had forgotten and was like, what the hell is this thing? The top of it does actually smell like celery. I think a person is supposed to cut it up and roast it with other root vegetables.

No apples this week, bummer, although an avocado is a nice treat (it's via the East Coast produce sharing program that my farm belongs to). I wish they'd stop sending parsley every week or so -- how much parsley can a person eat, I ask you?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Farm share week 22

In this week's box:
  • Apples: 1.75 lbs
  • Bok choi: 0.75 lb
  • Turnips: 1.75 lbs
  • Sweet potatoes: 3 lbs
  • White potatoes: 1.75 lbs
  • Parsnips: 1 lb
  • Onion: 0.5 lb
  • Kale: 0.5 lb
Well, this is certainly an autumnal selection of vegetables... Those things that look like a cross between a beet and a rutabaga are apparently "scarlet turnips," according to this week's newsletter (PDF). Growing up in Florida, I never once ate turnips or parsnips (to the best of my knowledge), and here they've been things I might have been served at a restaurant but I've never cooked them myself.  Happy to get some more sweet potatoes, although one of them is the size of my finger (!).

And, this week's apple variety is Macoun. :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Farm share week 21

In this week's box:
  • Carrots: 1.5 lbs
  • Acorn squash: 1 lb
  • Onions: 1.25 lbs
  • Beets: 1.5 lbs
  • Red leaf lettuce: 0.5 lb
  • Napa cabbage: 1.75 lbs
  • Collard greens: 1 lb
  • Apples 2.75 lbs
  • Parsley: 0.5
The red leaf lettuce is actually two junior-sized heads in one bag... cute and the perfect size to make a salad for two people. I love it! I wish all lettuce was small. According to this week's newsletter (PDF), it's "heirloom mini lettuce," hee. And the thing that looks like romaine lettuce is actually Napa cabbage.

The apples are Mutsu, which is a variety I learned about last year at the orchard where we picked apples -- the attendant suggested we try them. They're like Granny Smiths but without such a tough skin.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Farm share week 20

In this week's box:
  • Squash: 1.75 lbs
  • Sweet potatoes: 1.5 lbs
  • Daikon: 1 lb
  • Apples: 2 lbs
  • Potatoes: 0.75 lb
  • Bok choi: 1 lb
  • Kale: 0.75 lb
  • Lettuce: 0.75 lb
  • Arugula: 0.5 lb
  • Onions: 1 lb
  • Green pepper: 0.25 lb
This week's squash is Kabocha, according to the newsletter (PDF). I made a curry out of one of the butternut squashes this week; neither of us really liked it, though -- Carl because it was too squashy, me because it didn't have enough flavor or variety (it was just a lot of squash, with some tofu).  If I make it again, I think I would halve the amount of squash and add potatoes or something else to give it some variety (I did add some broccoli, though).  And the amount of red curry paste called for in the recipe is woefully inadequate, even for me, who orders everything "mild" at Indian restaurants.

Interesting to get a piece of daikon radish before (that's the white thing in the bag on the left).  I've seen them whole before in Asian grocery stores, but not sure if I've ever eaten daikon before. And really happy to get sweet potatoes -- those are basically a staple of my diet, but I haven't been buying them in the store since we have so many white potatoes to get through. It'll be good to have sweet potatoes back in the mix again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Farm share week 19

In this week's box:
  • Butternut squash: 2.75 lbs
  • Broccoli: 0.75 lb
  • Apples: 2 lbs
  • Leeks: 1 lb
  • Potatoes: 3 lbs
  • Kale: 0.5 lb
  • Arugula: 0.5 lb
  • Lettuce: 0.75 lb
Now that the weather is cooling down, we seem to be getting lettuce every week again. I guess salad season is back! As mentioned in this week's newsletter (PDF), broccoli is also a cool-weather crop -- we didn't get too much of it this week, but I hope we'll get more in future shipments.

MORE potatoes! It's like the potato famine in reverse here. But, more leeks! So, more potato leek sooop... I now have two butternut squashes plus the two acorn squashes to do something with. Carl doesn't like squash, so this may be a challenge. Maybe squash soup would be tolerable?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Farm share week 18

In this week's box:
  • Carrots: 2.5 lbs
  • Apples: 2 lbs
  • Squash: 2.25 lbs
  • Cabbage: 2.75 lbs
  • Potatoes: 2 lbs
  • Beets and greens: 1.25 lbs
  • Lettuce: 0.75 lb
  • Dandelion greens: 0.5 lb
  • Parsley: 0.5 lb
It seems like we get a different variety of apples each week, which is great. According to this week's newsletter (PDF), these are Honey Crisp. And this week's squash is Acorn.

More potatoes, more carrots... fortunately they last forever in the fridge. I've never had dandelion greens, but am looking forward to trying them.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Potato leek soup

Since I could basically start my own root cellar right now with the number of potatoes I've got stockpiled in the fridge, I decided to make some of them into soup. I'd also gotten some leeks in the past week's box, so thought potato leek soup would be a good option (thanks to Amanda for the suggestion!).

One of the great things about getting recipes from the Internet is you can basically keep browsing until you find a recipe that calls only for the things that you have on hand and not for things you don't have. A lot of potato leek soup recipes include cream, which I didn't have at the time (not something I tend to keep on hand). A lot of them also called for only using one leek, and I had three. So, I kept browsing the Google results until I found a recipe that called for three leeks and no cream!  Here it is:  (I also didn't have any marjoram or thyme, but I never let the lack of certain herbs stop me from making something... I just throw in whatever I have at the time.)  The soup was delicious, so much so that we ended up having the leftovers later the very same evening...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Farm share week 17

In this week's box:
  • Corn: 4.25 lbs
  • Onions: 1.25 lbs
  • Squash: 3 lbs
  • Apples: 2 lbs
  • Leeks: 1.25 lbs
  • Kale: 1 lb
  • Salad greens: 0.5 lb
  • Raspberries: 6 oz.
This was the first week where all the items didn't actually fit in the box! The ears of corn came separately, in a bag. (The woman who gave me my share at City Feed told me that each person was getting 6 ears of corn, and I only got 5, but considering we still have 3 ears in the fridge from the last time we got corn, I'm okay with being shorted an ear...)

It's exciting to get some more things that herald the coming of fall -- leeks and a squash, as well as a different variety of apples. According to this week's newsletter (PDF), these are Shamrock apples, which they say are similar to Granny Smiths. I don't generally like GS apples because the skin is very tough, and they can be a bit tart for my taste. But these are delicious -- they really taste just like apple pie, with a great combination of sweet and spicy (I don't know how an apple can taste like cinnamon, but these do). We've had a tradition of going apple picking in the fall for the past couple of years, but I'm not sure if we'll do it this year -- not only are we getting great apples from the farm share (and in manageable quantities, I might add), but I don't know where we'd store the picked ones this year, given that all our crisper space is otherwise occupied. (But I do love apple picking, and the place we go has the most incredible Golden Delicious apples...)

And these golden raspberries were really delicious. Please note the use of past tense... they didn't stick around too long!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Farm share week 16

In this week's box: 
  • Carrots: 2 lbs
  • Green peppers: 1.5 lbs
  • Potatoes: 3 lbs
  • Apples: 1.5 lbs
  • Tomatoes: 1.25
  • Callaloo: 0.75 lb
  • Basil: 0.5 lb
These early Macintosh apples are really good -- the ones we got last week didn't hang around long in the fridge... And more basil means more pesto, hurray!  (Now that I know how easy it is to make pesto in the food processor, I want to make it all the time.)

The tomatoes we got this week are beautiful -- previously we'd been getting what they call "field tomatoes," which are your common alleycat tomatoes, but these are obviously heirloom (as confirmed in this week's newsletter). The red one is almost too pretty to eat!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Farm share week 15

In this week's box:
  • Corn: 5 lbs
  • Rainbow chard: 1.25 lbs
  • Eggplant: 1 lb
  • Tomatoes: 1.5 lbs
  • Green pepper: 0.75 lb
  • Apples!: 2 lbs
  • Beets: 1 lb
  • Onions: 1.25 lbs
  • Carrots: 2.5 lbs
  • Parsley: 0.5 lb
This was the biggest shipment to date -- 16.75 pounds! I haven't gotten around to cooking last week's corn yet, and now we have TEN ears of corn. That's a lot of corn, even for two people who really like corn!  Thinking of making a creamed corn dish.  Still with the eggplant and green pepper, although I notice that this week's green pepper is ripening into orange, which perhaps signals that the green pepper shipments will be ending soon.

I'm really excited to get the first of this season's apples -- they're early Macintoshes, according to this week's newsletter (PDF). I used to buy apples at the store every week and had an apple for an afternoon snack every day at work, but this year I've been trying to be more conscious about buying things that are in season. In case you thought apples grew on trees all year round in North America, keep in mind that most of the apples marked USA that you see in the stores have been sitting around in special climate-controlled warehouses for most of the year. (And also why you see apples from New Zealand for a lot of the year; you know, their fall is our spring and all that.)  So, this is all to say that I haven't had an apple in a while.  Abstaining from things not in season does make one appreciate them more when they ARE in season, I think.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Farm share week 14

In this week's box:
  • Corn: 4 lbs
  • Watermelon: 2.75 lbs
  • Green pepper: 0.5 lb
  • Tomato: 0.75 lb
  • Garlic Onions: 0.5 lb
  • Eggplant: 1.25 lbs
  • Kale: 1 lb
  • Bok choi: 0.5 lb
  • Arugula 0.5 lb
I thought the shallots were actually garlic until I cut one open -- they have multiple small bulbs contained within the paper. But they're definitely onions.  (This week's newsletter [PDF] actually gives two possibilities -- red onions or shallots. But aren't shallots longer and narrower?)

Happy to see some corn again -- it's been a while.  But really, could do without MORE eggplant and green pepper, since Carl doesn't like them. I love both, but it's hard to eat it all myself! What I've been doing is slicing them up and roasting them while I'm cooking dinner, and then eating them as snacks. And earlier in the week I gave some green peppers to a work friend...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pasta with chicken, pesto, and tomatoes

I've made pesto only once before, the summer after my first year of college when I first discovered Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook. I was living in an apartment off-campus with a big kitchen and spent that summer making a lot of things from that cookbook (ratatouille, pita bread, pesto...) that were not part of my food experience growing up. It was a lot of fun, but a LOT of work to chop up all this stuff by hand.  Now that I'm all grown up and have a food processor, I'm finding that these recipes I tried once years ago are SO MUCH EASIER. I made this pesto in about 10 minutes; no chopping required. 

I used this recipe from the Food Network.  (I tend to use online recipes a lot for two reasons: I don't have to make a shopping list because I can just refer to the recipe on my iPhone while I'm in the store, and I like reading users' comments and suggestions for improvements/variations.)  I sauteed the chicken in some olive oil in the cast iron skillet (and used a tad less olive oil in the pesto to balance it out). When it was cooked, I added the cooked and drained pasta and the pesto, stirred to coat everything with the pesto, and added some chopped tomatoes. (The tomatoes don't need to be cooked -- just let them sit in with the pasta for 5 minutes to warm up if they've been in the fridge.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Farm share week 13

In this week's box:
  • Watermelon: 3.25 lbs
  • Beets: 1.25 lbs
  • Cucumber: 1 lb
  • Green pepper: 0.75 lb
  • Tomato: 1 lb
  • Salad greens: 0.75 lb
  • Eggplant: 1.25 lb
  • Callaloo: 0.75 lb
  • Basil: 0.25
Here's this week's newsletter (PDF).

It turned out that keeping the basil with the stems in a container of water in the fridge did NOT keep it fresh any longer, so I think a big meal of something basil-related is in our future...

Happy to get another watermelon -- they're the perfect size to cut up and eat the whole thing standing over the sink. Only complaint is that they're full of seeds.

I now have FIVE green peppers to use up. Halp.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Farm share week 12

In this week's box:
  • Watermelon: 4.5 lbs
  • Eggplant: 2 lbs
  • Green peppers: 1.25 lbs
  • Lemon cucumbers: 0.75 lb
  • Tomatoes: 1.5 lbs
  • Collard greens: 1 lb
  • Green beans: 1 lb
  • Avocado: 1.5 lbs
 This week's newsletter (PDF) alerted members about the inclusion of avocados in the box -- avocados are certainly not native to this area, but the farm did some kind of tradeoff with a farmer in Florida for some of their own produce that is now out of season there. They asked for feedback and I'm sure they will get some negative responses from the hardcore locavores.  Myself, I love avocados, and this keeps me from having to buy one at the store. Also, this is the largest avocado I've ever seen! I'm used to getting the dark-skinned Haas variety that are about half this size (from California, I guess) -- these seem more similar to the ones I see at Latino markets and restaurants.

Happy to get collards this week instead of kale (the collards seem to last longer in the fridge, and it's a nice change, as much as I love kale!).  Also pleased to get a baby watermelon!  (And you'll notice that they didn't skimp on the rest of the stuff they put into the box because of the weight of the watermelon -- the total box weight is 13.25 lbs by my calculations.)

As you might remember, we got bunches of celery the past two weeks. I chopped them up the other night and as a result had a huge pile of celery greens. I posted a photo of them on Facebook and within a few hours had connected with a coworker whose two bunnies were more than happy to take the greens off my hands. Waste not, want not...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Farm share week 11

In this week's box:
  • Corn: 1.75 lbs
  • Celery: 1 lb
  • Cucumbers: 1.75 lbs
  • Eggplant: 1.5 lbs
  • Green pepper: 1 lb
  • Tomatoes: 1.5 lbs
  • Tomatillos: 0.75 lb
  • Canteloupe: 2.5 lbs
  • Parsley: 0.5 lb
  • Basil: 0.5 lb
This week's newsletter (PDF) announced the inclusion of another new item for me -- tomatillos.  They're used a lot in Mexican cooking, so I guess that means some enchiladas are in our future. :)

I learned this week that I've been storing my fresh herbs incorrectly. I thought they should go in perforated bags in the crisper like the other leafy things we get, but according to Joy of Cooking, that's only the case for herb leaves that aren't on the stem. If they're bunches of herbs still on the stem, they should be stored with their stems in water (like a bouquet), outside the crisper. Hoping this means that this parsley and basil will last longer... I'll keep you posted.

Remember last week, when I got a ton of stuff that I knew Carl wouldn't eat?  Well, it happened to be the annual picnic at work this week, and everyone was tasked to bring a salad or a dessert.  I love baking, so usually that would be a no-brainer for me, but I decided to veer off course this year and roast up some veggies instead. I sliced up beets, zucchini, squash, eggplant, and green pepper; marinated them on baking sheets in some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and roasted them at 375° for 30-40 minutes.  Cooled 'em, dumped 'em in a Tupperware, and brought to picnic. Came home with empty Tupperware, hooray!


Okay, this is really kale-ikopita, because we don't have spinach, but we sure have kale. I figured one leafy green could be substituted for another without too much trouble. I think the kale definitely gives it a stronger "greens" flavor, but it was still really good! And I used up two entire bunches of kale, which is such a satisfying feeling. :)

I used the recipe for spanikopita in The Joy of Cooking (my first stop for recipes). It was my first time working with phyllo dough sheets, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. It's time-consuming, though -- I don't see this dish making it into the regular rotation, but it's great for "special."  It certainly gives me respect for the cooks who make tons of this and cheese pies on a daily basis in all those cafes in Greece. (And some of them probably make the dough by hand, too, which boggles the mind...)

...Think I'm going to go finish off the leftovers of this now!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Farm share week 10

In this week's box:
  • Celery: 1.5 lbs
  • Yellow squash: 2 lbs
  • Tomatoes: 1 lb
  • Green peppers: 1.25 lbs
  • Kale: 0.75 lb
  • Lettuce: 0.5 lb
  • Lemon cucumbers: 1.75 lbs
  • Eggplant: ... (apparently I forgot to weigh it)
  • Currants: 6 oz
Super-excited to see the first of the tomatoes... I'm sure we'll be drowning in them soon enough, but nothing says late summer to me like tomatoes. The celery is interesting -- much darker green than the kind I'm used to seeing in the supermarket.  Speaking of celery, this week's box is full of things that Carl doesn't like -- eggplant, green pepper, squash, celery... not sure what I'm going to do with all this stuff.

I was reading this week's newsletter (PDF) and noticed that several of the recipes that are included have to do with vegetables that were in last week's box, rather than the usual recipes that are for the current week's box. I thought that was a good idea, because usually that's around the time when I start thinking, what am I going to do with all this stuff from last week?  Then I noticed that THREE of the recipes were written by my friend Jen! She lives in Arlington, on the other side of the city, and I had no idea that we were members of the same farm. Fun.

Halfway through the week, the farm sent out a special e-mail about the currants. I guess they were worried that people wouldn't know what to do with them!  They photograph beautifully, that's all I know...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sesame-peanut noodles

It's been so hot here lately that cold dinners are really appealing. This week I made this sesame-peanut noodle dish -- it can be served hot or cold, or somewhere in between (which is what happens when you put it in the fridge to chill but then get too hungry to wait until it's completely cold).

I used soba noodles for this dish -- they only need to be boiled for a few minutes because they're thin. I tore up a head of kale (remove the leaves from the stems and the thick rib that goes up the middle, tear leaves into bite-sized pieces) and threw that in with the noodles. Since the noodles only take a few minutes, the leaves will turn bright green and not be cooked completely into mushy oblivion, which is nice for this dish.  Drain the noodles and kale and let them sit in the colander in the sink while you prepare the rest: heat up a tablespoon or two of sesame oil in the same pot you boiled the noodles in. Throw in some tofu cubes, chopped up scallion if you have it, and a tablespoon of sesame seeds. After a couple of minutes, add the cooked noodles and kale back in, and stir fry it for a few minutes. As you can see, I also had some purple cabbage that I added at this point. While this is happening, soften a tablespoon or two of peanut butter in the microwave. Some people add milk to make it more saucy, but I didn't. Stir this into the noodles. Season with cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Put the whole mess in the fridge and cool for as long as you see fit. Top with chopped cucumbers if you like. (Can you tell I'm not a rigid recipe follower?)

Cool, colorful, and tasty!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Farm share week 9

In this week's box:
  • Cucumbers: 1.5 lbs
  • Corn: 1.5 lbs
  • Green beans: 0.5 lb
  • Yellow squash: 0.75 lb
  • Pattypan squash: 1 lb
  • Beets: 1.75 lbs
  • Lettuce: 1 lb
  • Kale: 0.75 lb
  • Wheat berries: 1.25 lbs
  • Basil: 0.5 lb
Excited to get fresh basil this week -- bought some tomatoes and fresh mozzarella to go with it! And it seems like every week we get a different variety of kale -- this week's has smaller leaves that are very thick, not at all like the big floppy leaves we've been getting lately. I loooove kale and never complain about getting it every week, unlike some things (I'm looking at you, lettuce).

This week's newsletter (PDF) included information on what to do with the wheat berries. (I've never had them before.) It sounds like they can be cooked the same way as any grain, and used in either sweet or savory dishes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kale chips

I had heard about kale chips before (basically, a healthier version of potato chips), but hadn't gotten around to trying them before now. They couldn't be easier, and it's a great way to use up a bunch of kale.

To start, preheat the oven to 350. Tear up the kale leaves into large-ish bite-size pieces, keeping in mind that they'll shrink in the oven. Be sure to separate the stems and the central "rib" of each leaf and discard.  Rinse leaves well and completely dry.

Kale: Before

Put a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. (Depending on how much kale you have, you might need two sheets.)  Arrange the kale leaves on the parchment, avoiding overlap as much as possible. Brush leaves with olive oil and sprinkle with desired seasonings. I did one batch with seasoned salt and grated parmesan cheese, and another batch with sea salt and rice vinegar. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, until leaves are crisp -- they should be browned but not burned.

Kale: After
Eat and enjoy!  I definitely made these waaay too salty, so I would advise going easy on the salt...  They also need to be eaten right away, as they don't seem to maintain their crispness after a while.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Farm share week 8

In this week's box:
  • Corn: 2.5 lbs
  • Taters: 1.5 lbs
  • Zukes: 1.25 lbs
  • Cukes (green): 1.75 lbs
  • Lemon cucumbers: 1.75 lbs
  • Kale: 0.75 lb
  • Yellow squash: 1.5 lbs
  • Lettuce: 0.75 lb
  • Parsley: 0.25 lb
  • Blueberries: 1 pint
I've had to start tuning out the quantity of potatoes we've been getting every week, because at least I know they'll last for a while. (I keep them in the fridge after an earlier failure with dry storage in the pantry as recommended.) More urgent is the matter of the cucumbers and zucchini we've been getting lately. I'm not sure how much more zucchini bread this world can take from me... As for cucumbers, I made tzatziki last week, and this week made a cucumber salad (chop up cucumbers and marinate in mixture of rice vinegar, toasted sesame seeds, and superfine sugar; chill and serve).  But the lemon cucumbers we got this week are a new variation -- I'd heard of them but never seen them before. Not exactly the kind of thing you find in the supermarket. One of them was actually damaged in shipping, so I cut off the bad part and ate the rest of it right away -- it still had the cucumbery taste, but was milder. (They just LOOK like lemons, they don't TASTE like them.) In the photo above, they're the pale yellow things directly behind the green cucumbers.

This week's farm newsletter (PDF) didn't indicate that there would be any berries included, so I decided to buy blueberries at Whole Foods. Of course when I picked up the farm share later the same day, it included some unannounced blueberries.  So, we did a taste test. The farm blueberries taste almost floral, while the WF bluebs are meatier in texture and blander in flavor. Both varieties are tasty in their different ways, and in fact, Carl couldn't distinguish which were from the farm share in a blind test. (We get up to such hijinks here, I know.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Souvlaki with roasted potatoes and tzatziki

The Greek restaurant in our area closed unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago (like, 2 days after we last ate there... we had no idea it was coming). Since Carl and I got married in Greece last fall, I've developed a fondness for Greek food but had never tried preparing it myself. We're starting to have a bit of a cucumber situation in the fridge, and short of pickling them all, I thought I'd try making tzatziki (Greek yogurt with chopped cucumbers and herbs, drizzled with olive oil). I make my own yogurt anyways, and it's super easy to "Greek" it by letting it strain through a coffee filter or cheesecloth overnight.  I used the recipe for tzatziki in The Joy of Cooking, which was simple.

Once I had the tzatziki, then I had no choice but to build a Greek menu around it. :) I made chicken souvlaki (kebabs) on our George Foreman grill, marinating the chicken first and using farm share zucchini and non-farm onion. I also roasted some farm share potatoes in the toaster oven (it's way too hot to have the big oven on). Delicious! I only wished I had had some olives to go with it...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Farm share week 7

In this week's box:
  • Corn: 4.5 lbs (!)
  • Cabbage: 2.25 lbs
  • Taters: 1.5 lbs
  • Kale: 1.25 lbs
  • Cuke: 0.75 lb
  • Zuke: 1 lb
  • Arugula: 0.75 lb.
  • Raspberries: 1 pint
Hey look, I remembered to weigh the stuff before I put it away! Actually what made me think of it was how HEAVY the box was this week compared to the past few weeks. According to this tally, the shipment this week is 12+ pounds. I think that's the heaviest yet! I can't believe how much bigger the ears of corn are compared to last week's runty specimens. Also, the kale leaves are ENORMOUS. I think this is called dinosaur kale (understandably). It looks a little prehistoric...

As you can see in this week's farm newsletter (PDF), more and more of each week's shipment is coming directly from Enterprise Farm, and almost everything is local (except for the potatoes this week). I have to say, this is one of the most interesting aspects of having a farm share -- knowing what's ripe and ready to pick each week in my local growing area.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Potatoes with collard greens

Potatoes seem to have replaced lettuce here as the vegetable we have too much of. Fortunately, they generally last longer than lettuce does; nevertheless, another week of potatoes in the shipment and we'll need to dig a root cellar.

Fried potatoes (aka home fries) are a quick and filling dinner, which can be combined with a variety of different ingredients to produce a relatively healthy meal (I use olive oil, and it's really more of a saute than any kind of deep-fry). First I cooked the potatoes in some water to soften them up (right in the skillet, about an inch of boiling water + potatoes, cover and simmer on medium for about 10 minutes). This is about 4 medium potatoes, by the way.  Then I threw in about a pound of collard greens, rinsed and shredded (don't put the stems in). Cover again  for a couple of minutes to wilt the greens. Then, I drained the potatoes and greens in a colander and let them sit there while I sauted some chopped-up onion in olive oil. Once the onion was soft, I threw the potatoes and greens back into the skillet, added some more olive oil (1-2 Tbsp), and fried it all up. Keep the heat on medium or the greens will disintegrate.  I also added some sliced up veggie sausage (Field Roast, the best you will ever taste!). Seasoned with cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt/pepper, and some fresh parsley.

As you can see from the photo, I threw some corn in a pot of boiling water while all this happened. Meal prep totaled about 20 minutes.

P.S.: After the corn water cooled, I used it to water some of my outdoor plants.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Farm share week 6

In this week's box:
  • Cucumbers (3)
  • Corn on the cob (4, smallish)
  • Zucchini (1)
  • Yukon Gold taters (7)
  • Callaloo
  • Raspberries (1 pint)
Last week a friend said he was impressed that I always knew what the leafy greens were in each week's shipment. Generally I'm pretty good at distinguishing kale from chard, etc., but this week I was completely stumped by the bunch of greens we got. I referred back to the weekly newsletter from the farm (PDF), and discovered that it was callaloo. I only knew Callaloo as a literary journal of the African diaspora -- I guess I assumed it was named after some sort of gourd. But no, it's a green. (Interestingly, the Wikipedia entry maintains that callaloo is the dish, rather than the green itself, while the farm calls the green callaloo.)

The corn seems kind of runty -- I got some more robust corn earlier in the week from the supermarket (I know, I know... but it was "local corn" and sometimes you just crave something, you know?).  Will have to see how it compares taste-wise.

No lettuce this week, for the first time (yippity).  The newsletter alludes to the recent hot weather we've been having as not being good for the lettuce crops, which I suppose should make me sad, but, um, just happy to have a respite from salad.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Farm share weeks 4 and 5

Special double post this week! I was out of town last week, so Carl picked up the box at City Feed. When I came home on Sunday night, I got the veggies out of the fridge and took a photo, but catching up on life/work took a little longer than planned and so I didn't get a chance to actually post about the share until now.

So, here's week 4:

In the box:
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Collard greens
  • Parsley
  • Red potatoes
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Popcorn!
  • Strawberries (not pictured due to their having been mostly eaten by the time I got home)
Sorry, no weights given this week... I forgot to weigh everything. Carl did report that the box seemed lighter than 10 pounds, so that's the second week in a row.

It's been really nice to have this fresh parsley -- usually I just get dried parsley from the bulk herbs and spices bins at Harvest Co-op. But fresh has so much more flavor! This week I used it in an omelet and with some fried potatoes and turnips. The Enterprise Farm newsletter highlighted it, as well (PDF).

The strawberries were tasty, and I was disappointed to not get more of them this week. I resorted to buying supermarket strawberries in order to make strawberry popsicles* in my new popsicle molds (thank you, Freecycle).

* Note on recipe: I used soy milk instead of cow's milk, and agave nectar instead of refined sugar. They taste great! But I would probably strain the seeds out next time.


Week 5:

In the box:
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Kale
  • Red cabbage
  • Zucchini (4)
  • Cucumber (giant)
  • Yukon Gold potatoes (5)
  • Beets (3)
Sorry, I forgot to weigh the things again. But this box definitely felt closer to 10 pounds. (The leafy greens in previous weeks filled up the box, so maybe they should really tell us that they calculate a week's share by volume rather than weight. Obviously potatoes and beets will weigh more than parsley.)

No berries this week, sad.  And upon reading the weekly farm newsletter (PDF), I was super-excited to get garlic scapes in this week's box. But they must have only gone in the larger shares, so disappointing! I've been reading a lot recently about garlic scapes and was looking forward to having them in that omelet I mentioned above.

I think it's time for another update on how well we're managing to consume the food each week, and how long it lasts in the fridge. We are definitely not coming close to eating everything we get each week. But I have to say, this stuff lasts a lot longer than I expected, even the lettuce. I'm thinking it's because it's coming straight from the farm to us, whereas lettuce and whatnot that's bought in the store has generally gone from the farm to a distributor to the store to me. In other words, the produce we're getting is a lot fresher, so it lasts longer once we get it. So far I've only had to toss half a cucumber and some individual leaves of lettuce that were a bit past it. With greens that are going to be cooked (like kale), it's okay if it gets a little wilted. With the lettuce, I generally can get away with trimming the edges off leaves and using the rest.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Farm share week 3

Sorry for the delay in getting this week's list up... I always think summer is going to be relaxing and then it always ends up being way more busy than the rest of the year.  Too many projects...

In this week's share:
  • lettuce (Boston this week, not greenleaf): 1 lb
  • turnips: 1.25 lbs
  • bok choi: 0.75 lb
  • scallions: 0.5 lb
  • rainbow chard: 1 lb
  • grape tomatoes: 1 pint
  • blueberries: 1 pint
As soon as I picked up this week's box, I thought that it felt a lot lighter, and according to the tally above, it is short of the 10 pounds they estimate for each week's share of this size. This is one of the drawbacks of CSA membership -- like buying shares in a company, the "value" can go up or down depending on the relative success of the farm. They even include this information in the agreement you have to sign when you sign up for a share. So, I guess this week was a slower week on the farm.  (They didn't say as much in this week's newsletter, although they did acknowledge that there was a lot of rain.)

What we got does look really good:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beet L.A.!

Carl likes beets about as much as I like watching basketball ("Tastes like dirt!" pretty much sums it up for both of us).  So, I did a little jig tonight when he told me he was going over to his friend's place to watch the NBA finals, because, you know, no basketball background noise for me. It was also the perfect opportunity for me to cook all the beets and beet greens we got in our first two boxes.

I peeled and chopped up two large-ish beets and cooked them in water in the microwave for about 8 minutes -- so they were mostly cooked but still needed a little more.  I chopped up all the greens and blanched them in my cast iron skillet (they cook down like spinach to about a quarter of their original bulk), then added olive oil and chopped onion, and sauteed. Then I threw in the drained, mostly cooked beets and stirred them around to coat with oil. Since the skillet retains heat well, I turned the heat off and covered for ~5 minutes, then ate with some parmesan cheese on top. Delicious! 

(Sorry I forgot to take a picture!)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Farm share week 2

Here we are with a new box full of stuff... of course, we haven't finished with last week's box yet, but what's left seems to still be in pretty good condition.

In this week's share:
  • Lettuce: 7/8 lb. (At least it's a lot smaller than last week's lettuce.)
  • Beet greens: 1 lb. (Attached to runty beets)
  • Cabbage: 2 lbs. (This is actually half a cabbage, which is a little weird.)
  • Arugula: 0.5 lb.
  • Kale: 0.75 lb.
  • Cucumber: 1 lb.
  • Grape tomatoes: 1 pint
  • Blueberries: 1 pint
It's nice to get some variety -- I was afraid we'd be getting a lot more of the same. I added some of the grape tomatoes to a salad leftover from last night and it made a nice change from the tyranny of shredded carrots.

This week's box came with a fantastic sheet of suggestions on what to make with each item, prepared by the folks at Local in Season. The weekly newsletter from the farm usually contains one or two recipes that can be made using veggies in that week's share (here's this week's newsletter). But it's really cool to have just a few simple suggestions for each item. Example for the arugula: "Simple salad -- add goat cheese, pine nuts, and a light dressing. Add to the top of a pizza after it comes out of the oven--pairs well with the grape tomatoes in your share, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Bacon is a nice option as well." Um, sounds good to me!  The sheet also suggests local brands of other ingredients listed, all of which are available at City Feed and Supply, where I pick up my share each week. (Full disclosure: I am City Feed's website admin.) I hope Local in Season continues to produce this sheet each week, because I can see it's going to be hugely helpful to me in figuring out meals.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Salad days


I'm working my way up to salad three times a day. The good news is I've lost 2 pounds in the past week...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ever feel like someone's watching you?

I stored the Yukon Gold potatoes in the pantry, because that's where I always put potatoes (I read in How to Pick a Peach that refrigeration converts the starch in potatoes to sugar, so should be avoided). I usually have no problem with keeping potatoes in the pantry, but I noticed last night that these guys were regarding me beadily with newly formed eyes. They were also starting to get soft. It has been pretty hot here lately; perhaps the "cool, dry place" that the pantry is supposed to be isn't really happening. So, they got chopped up and fried last night in the cast iron skillet. (Along with a farm share carrot.)

In other meal prep news:
Sunday night: My neighbor, coworker, and fellow CSAer Amanda advised that when she gets a lot of salad greens, she makes a salad with grilled chicken and a couple of veggies on top. I decided to make an approximation of the Santa Fe Chicken Salad from our local burrito place -- lots of greens, grilled chicken, shredded carrot and beet (thank you, thrift-store Cuisinart), chopped tomato (from the market, not quite up to par yet), shredded cheese, and some leftover beans and quinoa from a meal earlier in the week. Served with corn on the cob.  It was REALLY good. Sorry, Purple Cactus.

With two days left until the next box of produce arrives, we still have left: a ton of carrots, a whole onion, two beets, a bag of beans, a zucchini, and about half the lettuce/mixed greens. eep.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

We're going to need a bigger fridge.

Contents of the first box!

The farm says that a half-share is generally about 10 pounds of stuff per week. They send a newsletter each week that lists everything they're sending out; cautioning that because of different pickup sites and different share sizes, you might not get everything on the list. Here's this week's newsletter (PDF).

Here's what we actually got:
  • Potatoes: 1.25 lbs.
  • Zucchini: 0.5 lbs. (I never heard it called "summer squash" until I moved to New England)
  • Vidalia onion: 0.75 lbs.
  • Beets: 1.5 lbs.
  • Carrots: 2 lbs.
  • Romano beans: 1 lb.
  • Mixed salad greens: 0.5 lbs.
  • Lettuce: 1.75 lbs.
  • Blueberries: 6 oz. pkg.
We started eating the blueberries right away, and they were delicious. I set about putting away all the stuff, using the guidelines in The Joy of Cooking (my go-to vegetable reference; there might be better ones out there, but this is what I rely on) for proper storage of each veg.  I'm hoping that proper storage will lead to greater longevity/less wastage. It turns out I could use an entire refrigerator that's just crisper drawers... If this stuff doesn't get completely eaten each week, we're going to run out of storage space really fast.

Prepared tonight: Salad of lettuce, mixed greens, two carrots, one zucchini. (Tonight's main course used non-CSA ingredients.) We ate half the salad; I hope it'll get finished tomorrow.

My First Farm Share (tm)

In a couple of hours, I'll be picking up our first box of produce provided as part of our CSA farm share.*  I'm excited, but definitely a little nervous about whether the quantity will be too much for us. This is our first summer doing a CSA; one hesitation that kept me from joining sooner was, "Will we be able to eat all the stuff we get each week?"

Main concerns about joining a CSA:
  • Cost. This is a big stumbling block for a lot of people. Our CSA is $500 for a small share (2 people). At first all I could see was that this was quite a bit more than what some of the other farms were charging. Then I realized that the "season" (ie. the length of time you get stuff) is a lot longer than it is for those other farms.  This $500 gets us weekly veggies and fruits from June 1 through November 20 -- almost 6 months!  I think it works out to be about $20/week, which is still far more than I would spend on produce at the supermarket, but I'm happy to be at a point in life where it's possible for me to spend a little more in order to support something I believe in. (And it's my hope that the more this model of purchasing becomes sustainable, the cheaper it will get so more can afford it.) This CSA program also a) is mostly organic** and b) seems to be more varied because they work with other farms to provide more than just what they grow themselves.  So there are two other factors that, to me, are worth the higher cost.
  • Quantity vs. Consumption. I'm definitely the chief vegetable-eater in our household of 2 adults. Carl (my husband) has come a long way from being a strictly meat-and-potatoes man, but he's adamant that he'll be consuming less than 50% of what we get. That means more for me, yay and o noes!  We'll see how this goes. Will Carl end up eating more veggies than he thinks he will? I hope so! But even if he doesn't, I'm hoping I can pick up the slack.
Advantages of the CSA (both real and perceived):
  • Supporting local agriculture. If you've seen Food Inc. or know anything about mega-agribusiness, you're aware of the plight of family farms. Joining a CSA is like buying stock in a local farm -- they get your money up front so they can focus on growing good food instead of worrying about whether they'll find a market for that food.
  • Reducing carbon miles on your food.  True, our farm is about 90 miles away from us, and our share has to come to us by truck every week. But it's better than buying produce that comes from South America, or New Zealand. (Just take a look at the stickers on produce at the supermarket...)
  • Farm-fresh tastes better! Okay, this is a perceived benefit. Maybe it's the holier-than-thou feeling I get from eating something I bought at the farmer's market that makes it taste better (I kid, I kid). But I do think that growing in small quantities, in land that's treated gently, improves the flavor of food. How could it not?
  • I don't have to struggle with trying to grow vegetables in containers on our third-floor deck. I have a moderately green thumb when it comes to flowers, but veggies seem to be beyond me. (The runty beets I grew last year tasted great, but amounted to about one half-cup serving. The entire crop.)
Stay tuned for a photo of our first box of produce!

* CSA = Community Supported Agriculture. Here's a good intro to the concept:

** I realize that "organic" is at least as much about getting certified as about the actual practice. I know a lot of farms just can't afford to get certified because they're small (both in staff and physical size), but adhere to the philosophy of organic farming as much as they can. So, being certified organic wasn't a huge selling point for me, but it doesn't hurt!