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Posts Tagged ‘CSA’

CSA update

Last month, I posted about the veggie overload caused by our membership in the Brazos River Farm CSA. Since mid-May, we’ve been picking up a box of produce every other week, and then struggling to find ways to use it all. (I’ve given away LOTS of onions to friends and to a local nonprofit – Jeremiah can’t stand onions, and there have been dozens in each box.)

We ate tons of salad (with kale, bok choy, Swiss chard, lettuce, spinach, etc. etc.) in May and early June; then squash/zucchini season arrived and we’ve been eating it grilled, shredded, sauteed, in pasta, on pizza, stuffed and baked, in zucchini bread and even in chocolate chip cookies. (Scroll down for the recipe.) Recently, tomato season – as well as okra, eggplant and pepper season – has arrived. So our kitchen, while still full of squash, is looking a little different these days.

We’re still making lots of homemade pizza; that was on the menu last night, with tomato, zucchini, mozzarella, basil and goat cheese. We’re still sauteing vegetables, tossing them with pasta and topping them with a grate of Parmesan cheese. (I’ve also made several batches of pesto – I use Molly’s recipe.)

I haven’t yet found the energy, frankly, to mess with the okra, and the batch of wee carrots will probably just get peeled, sliced and munched. The tomatoes, however, we are using every which way – so much so that I’ve gone to the farmer’s market twice this week to buy more. I can eat them in pasta, on pizza, on sandwiches, as part of bruschetta (also on the menu for tonight), in soup, in salsa…the list goes on. I didn’t like fresh tomatoes until I started eating them on sandwiches when I worked at the Ground Floor (our sandwiches, if I do say so, were scrumptious). However, now I can’t get enough when they’re in season. Sauteed, roasted, sliced, chopped or whole – mmmm.

And the peppers! Oh my, the peppers. Our last CSA box had at least 20 of them – a few tiny serranos, several jalapenos, some neon-green banana peppers, lots of big milder green chiles and a couple of sweet peppers. What does one do with all that peppery goodness? I knew the hot peppers would overwhelm most dishes, though we do toss ’em onto pizza or eat ’em in veggie burritos. (We’ve become practically vegetarian by default around here, though my chicken-lovin’ husband will never voluntarily give up meat entirely.)

However, I did make a batch of jalapeno soup on an unusually cool, rainy night – it involves jalapenos, cream cheese, chicken broth and milk, and is completely delicious. And after that, Molly came to the rescue again (if you don’t read her blog, Orangette, you really should – if you like food, recipes and general yumminess). Her book, A Homemade Life, has the simplest, most delicious recipe for salsa verde, and I’ve made it twice and used six to eight peppers each time. (I made it again last night – my book club came over.)

It’s not posted online, so I can’t post it in full here, but I will say: Peppers. Cilantro. Garlic. Olive oil. Lime juice (I used lemon, since I had it on hand). Chopped and mixed and pureed and voila! It’s spicy and tangy and delicious.

They haven’t yet come in our CSA box, but I’m also currently obsessed with fresh peaches from the farmer’s market – I made a peach crisp last night, and have been eating them fresh at breakfast, lunch and dinner. (So sweet and juicy; the freshness of Fredericksburg and Abilene-area peaches has ruined me forever on grocery-store ones, I’m afraid.)

We’ve only got a couple more boxes left, before we pack up our lives and head to Boston. I’m hoping to find a farmer’s market and/or a CSA to join there; we’ve so enjoyed trying new recipes with our produce, or adapting the recipes we already love. It’s been a challenge at times, but a rewarding one; it all tastes so yummy and I love knowing I’m supporting a local farmer with my money. (And it’s definitely helped decide the eternal question of what to have for dinner!)

If you’re thinking of joining a CSA, I’d recommend it (though splitting a box with a friend might be a good idea). If there’s a farmer’s market in your area, go check it out – you can get beautiful produce from friendly people, and support your local economy. And to several of you who’ve offered yummy recipes for my produce, I thank you.

Any foods you’re particularly loving this summer?

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Inspired by Rachel’s post yesterday about summer in a word, I thought I’d celebrate the taste of summer today. Here’s my list #21, of the things I’m tasting (and loving) so far this summer (a few of them from our CSA box):

1. fresh cherries, half price at the grocery store
2. blueberries
3. blackberries – eaten by the handful or in a salad
4. raspberries (ditto)
5. strawberries (can you tell I’m a summer fruits girl?)
6. tomatoes – I’m buying them for now, but am eagerly waiting for my own wee cherry ones to ripen
7. light meals of garden salad and buttered French bread
8. pasta with summer veggies (tomato and LOTS of squash/zucchini), dressed with olive oil
9. lemonade
10. chips & queso – a staple around here any time of year, but especially in the summer
11. summer fruit teas – blackberry, ginger peach, apricot
12. Sunshine in My Mouth, which consists of chopped strawberries, powdered lemonade mix, ice and water whizzed in a blender. Slushy, tart and sweet. YUM. (A co-worker invented the recipe and the title.)
13. fruit cobblers (I need to make another one this weekend)
14. ice cream! (We are big Blue Bell fans around our house – we live in TX, after all.)
15. veggie pizza – this week’s version included spinach, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Mmmm.
16. fresh herbs – I’ve already made basil pesto, and we had FIVE kinds of herbs from the CSA this week.

What are you tasting this summer?

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I blame Barbara Kingsolver for the current (jam-packed) state of my refrigerator.

You see, in February, I read Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and was fascinated by her account of her family’s attempt to eat totally local (and fresh, and organic) for a year. They raised chickens and turkeys, grew all their own veggies and some of their own fruit, canned and preserved a LOT in the late summer, and went without many of the gas-guzzling luxuries (such as fresh bananas, and strawberries in winter) that we all enjoy. (They also frequented local farmer’s markets, made their own cheese…the list goes on and on.)

I live in Abilene, Texas, which is borderline desert – we have mesquite instead of cactus, but not much else grows wild out here. It’s definitely not as verdant as Kingsolver’s Virginia farm. And we don’t own any land. So going/growing totally local is not currently an option for us – but we did join the Brazos River Farm CSA this spring. (For those who don’t know, CSA stands for Community-Supported Agriculture, and you pay a farmer up front in the winter for a weekly or bi-weekly box of produce during the growing season. The farmer can use the money to buy seeds, supplies, etc. and live off during the winter months, and then you get fresh, organic produce later on.)

To say we weren’t quite prepared for the amount and variety of produce would be an understatement. Our first box contained SEVEN different kinds of greens – only 3 of which (green lettuce, red lettuce, Swiss chard) I could identify on sight. We had to Google image the rest (kale, bok choy, mustard greens and something else – I can’t remember), and we wound up throwing them into a LOT of salads. (We also got baby radishes – yum! – and green onions.)

Two weeks ago, I expected our second box to be full of salad greens again – I was getting used to the salad thing, and I kind of liked it. Imagine my surprise to find kale, bok choy, onions and TWO DOZEN squash and zucchini!

We’ve been eating them every possible way – sliced, grated, sauteed, with pasta, on pizza, grilled, in salad, in zucchini bread, even in zucchini chocolate-chip cookies. (It’s like the ways to eat shrimp in Forrest Gump.) This week we’re trying them stuffed – because we just got a new box yesterday, and there are 20 MORE in there. (The herbs are starting to come in, too – yesterday’s box had mint, basil, rosemary, sage and oregano.)

I’m truly amazed at the abundance “Farmer Dan” is coaxing from this dry West Texas soil. And enjoying our fresh, local, organic produce, and even having fun experimenting with new recipes. (I can’t wait for tomato season.) But if anyone has any good squash and zucchini recipes, please send them my way – so my poor husband doesn’t flee the kitchen after being served zucchini pasta yet again.

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