CSA, hooray! Chapter 20

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A week ago, we picked up our final CSA share of the season:

  • Brussels sprouts
  • tomatoes
  • peppers
  • greens
  • beets
  • turnips
  • potatoes
  • onions
  • winter squash
  • arugula
  • kale

As much as I believe community supported agriculture is important, I can’t say that I’m sad to see another CSA season come to end. I’d compare the experience to Christmas — come Thanksgiving, I can’t wait to put the tree up, but as soon as the holiday passes, I don’t even bother plugging in the lights every night. When fall hit, and we entered kale season, our enthusiasm waned. Thankfully, most of these veggies are ones that will keep for a bit in the crisper. Because honestly, that’s where most of them still are.

CSA, hooray! Chapter 19

Week 19

And we’re back! Huge thanks to Dana for picking up our CSA share for two weeks and blogging about it, even with spotty internet — AND a newish baby in the house.

I picked up our veggies around noon yesterday and, since I had a slew of post-vacation errands to run, immediately came home and stuck them in the fridge. Unpacking the bag a day later may not have been the best idea, as a bundle of greens was way wilted. The bok choy is also less than crisp, so I’ll sauté that tonight in some oyster sauce.

Everything else fared OK:

  • cabbage
  • tomatoes
  • sweet peppers
  • kale
  • bok choy
  • small melons
  • Russet potatoes
  • cilantro
  • lettuce

The kale will be this week’s biggest challenge. Kale was more than plentiful in last year’s CSA, and I never mastered cooking it — and Mike never mastered eating it. I’ve been dreading its appearance this season. Oh, well. Here we go.

CSA, hooray! Chapter 18

Still, Dana!

This week’s CSA is a lot like last week:veggies2

  • mixed chard
  • assorted tomatoes
  • kale
  • broccoli
  • garlic
  • red norland potatoes
  • sweet peppers (and one hot)
  • radishes
  • bok choy

 

Another thing that’s a lot like last week is that my Internet access is again coming and going, with it going most of the day. Argh. Although, I can’t complain about the delicious stir-fry these vegetables yield, and I’m excited to add bok choy and broccoli to it.

Once again, big thanks to Darci for sharing her CSA and allowing me to guest post here!

 

CSA, hooray! Chapter 17

My friend Dana is taking over the blog while Mike and I are in the UK. Take it away, Dana!

Thanks, Darci! As you have probably already noticed this was last week’s CSA that I’m posting this morning. I apologize for the delay, but my Internet access was on the fritz all week due to some faulty wiring on the pole outside (or so says the nice man from Comcast that came to fix it). I had about five minutes a day of access. Not only did this mean posting here was problematic, but since I garner all my recipes online I had to go old school for this CSA.

Here’s what we received last week:

  • mixed chard
  • tomatoes
  • hot and red peppers
  • kale
  • ice box melon
  • cilantro
  • green beans
  • pumpkin
  • radishes (and lots of ’em!)

Being disconnected from the Internet has its advantages. I realized that I didn’t need to necessarily whip up something extraordinary because Darci had generously gifted me her CSA. We shop our local farmer’s market every week as locally grown produce is an important part of my family’s diet. So I  did what I normally do: I incorporated the CSA into our every day meals. Several salads were made utilizing the tomatoes, red peppers and radishes. The kale has been a staple of my daily morning smoothie (which is nothing more than the greens, some strawberries, bananas and almond milk). The green beans were a side dish for a purchased rotisserie chicken. The melon was a delightful breakfast treat for my kids. A stir-fry utilizing the remaining red paper and mixed chard was delicious and, again, simply prepared by sautéing with soy sauce. Finally, I roasted the pumpkin and baked some pumpkin spice muffins (the recipe for which I’m having trouble finding at the moment).

This week, I remembered that having a CSA doesn’t have to be a stressful, “How will I use all those vegetables?” prospect. Too often with my prior CSA, I felt like I needed to get really creative because I had this special box of vegetables. This resulted in my spending a lot of time planning big cooking/baking projects and then wasting produce as time got away from me. I suffered from CSA anxiety. However, as I looked upon our bounty this past week I realized that I often buy most of these very same things at our market to do just what I did–eat a little bit local every day. Whew, anxiety alleviated. CSA, Hooray!

CSA, hooray! Chapter 16

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Another weekend away resulted in beginning another week with an overwhelming amount of vegetables filling both crisper drawers.

And since I had a ukelele lesson last night, and Mike walked in the door from work right before I got home, we threw together sandwiches at 8:30 p.m.

At least we used one tomato of the four in this week’s share, leaving:

  • two heads of cabbage
  • spicy greens mix
  • sweet red and green peppers
  • kale
  • summer squash
  • okra
  • green beans
  • small watermelon
  • carrots (that I forgot to put in the photo)

I whipped up a beef, cabbage and carrot stir fry tonight, over Ramen noodles (again, no judging). I’m not sure why I’ve always bought shredded cabbage and carrots — the food processor got the job done in mere minutes.

When I was at the butcher buying tenderloin tips, I also picked some mild Italian sausage. Okra is next on the hit list. Anyone have a tried-and-true recipe for gumbo?

CSA, hooray! Chapter 15

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For whatever reason, I’m less enthused about this week’s CSA share than I’ve been about the others. I think I’m ready for the switch to fall vegetables (and sweaters!).

But beets did make their debut. Mike loves beets, which I typically roast. But these are pretty small, and wrapping them all in foil seems like a pain. Looks like it’s time to employ my well-seasoned Googling skills.

What else was in our share:

  • tomatoes
  • green beans
  • melon
  • okra
  • cilantro
  • peppers — green, red and hot yellow ones
  • Swiss chard
  • mystery leafy green
  • zucchini

I stir-fried boneless, skinless chicken thighs tonight, so have already used the green and red peppers, the Swiss chard and the mystery leafy green. I still have no idea what that leafy green was, even after giving it a quick taste before tossing it in at the end with the chard leaves. I finished the dish with a little Soyaki from Trader’s Joe’s, and served it over Ramen noodles, minus the spice packet. Don’t judge me — we were out of rice.

CSA, hooray! Chapter 14

I have confirmation from Farmer Tony at Scotch Hill Farm that the mystery vegetable from the last post was indeed kohlrabi. I didn’t know about the purple variety, and am excited to give it a try.

No picture this week, as we were out of town on Friday. But thanks to my cousin Matt, the following was waiting for us when we returned home — minus what he ate over the weekend as payment for picking up our CSA!

  • heirloom tomatoes (which are delicious and nearly gone)
  • cucumbers
  • kohlrabi
  • green beans
  • eggplant
  • melon
  • basil
  • arugula
  • peppers
  • Swiss chard

CSA, hooray! Chapter 13

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I didn’t think skipping a week of the CSA would be that big of a deal. After all, we were out of town until late Monday night, then recovering from the long, six-hour drive on Tuesday.

But wow, was our refrigerator bare. I’d taken everything in the crisper to my parents’, I missed the Wednesday Green City Market, and I didn’t want to buy a ton of produce at the grocery store knowing that today’s share was right around the corner. So, the fridge stayed empty, and our vegetable intake was pitifully low.

I picked up our CSA share this morning, and never thought I’d be so happy to see:

  • green peppers
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • green beans
  • Japanese eggplant
  • melon
  • cabbage
  • sweet corn

Dana’s dish

Dana’s accounting of week 12 of our CSA. Color me impressed!

veggies

I was all too happy to try Darci’s CSA. My previous CSA experience didn’t include the variety that I’d hoped for — so after opting out this year, I’ve been living vicariously through Darci.

After pick up, I made a rookie mistake. I left the veggies in my hot car for an hour while I ran an errand and picked up my daughter from camp. When I got home, everything was just a smidge more ripe than it had been when I’d inspected it earlier. I quickly put it all in the fridge, said a prayer to the veggie gods to keep it fresh for at least three days, and set to work finding ways to use it all by then.

First up was Saturday night’s dinner. I’d planned on doing “farmer’s market pasta,” which in my house is simply fresh, local tomatoes, onions, garlic and basil over a slightly higher-end brand of pasta (i.e., something even *more* expensive at Whole Foods). Since the share contained plenty of Swiss chard, I changed it up to be a swiss chard and tomato dish.

It was delish! I can’t say my kids loved it, but at the very least they tried it and did not utter the words, “Ew, I don’t like it.” My husband and I happily ate their helpings.

FARMER’S MARKET PASTA

Ingredients
1 pound Swiss chard, stems cut from the leaves and then both chopped, rinsed and drained separately
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 pound penne pasta (or really, any shape you like)
1/2 pound Italian sausage, sliced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Instructions
1. In a large  skillet, sauté the red pepper flakes, onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat. Add the Swiss chard stems and 1/4 cup of the water, cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the Swiss chard leaves, the remaining 1/4 cup  water, cover and cook for 5 more minutes.

2. Stir in the tomatoes, cover and cook for 3 minutes.

3. Add Italian sausage and simmer on low for 5 minutes.

4. Boil the paste until it’s al dente then drain.

5. Toss the pasta and the Swiss chard and sausage mixture with the Parmesan cheese. Serve with a healthy sprinkling of Parmesan.

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Sunday night, I was able to use the grape tomatoes in a lovely simple salad of cucumber, tomato, avocado oil and a touch of red wine vinegar. This was a side dish for our main meal of burgers, along with the AMAZING corn. I don’t think I’ve had corn that good all summer. My kids literally wolfed their ears down.

I felt good about my CSA progress, especially considering the tomatoes were the most in need of use, but I was on a roll. For dinner last night, I went full steam ahead and prepared a stir-fry of green beans, broccoli, eggplant, green pepper, the one hot pepper, onion (not from the CSA) and the one leftover ear of grilled corn. I sautéed everything with two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat while I boiled some Asian flat noodles. I mixed together soy sauce and sesame oil with a touch of ground ginger and poured that over then added a corn starch mixture (2 tablespoons of corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup of water) at the very end. It thickened perfectly and by not overcooking or over-saucing (it’s a word I’m sure) my vegetables, for the first time in history, everything retained its fresh taste.

One note on hot pepper usage: Research what kind of pepper it is before using. WOW, that pepper was hot. The stir-fry was very tasty but it required a whole lot of water in between bites.

Three days and the CSA is almost 100 percent gone. Just one cucumber is left, and I’ve been using it as a side dish for lunches. What a treat this was for us! Now, where can I get Mike and Darci to go next week?

CSA, hooray! Chapter 12

Since Mike and I were in northern Michigan for a long weekend, we couldn’t enjoy or even pick up our CSA share. But my friend Dana happily agreed to do both!

Here’s what she and her family enjoyed:

  • peppers — one hot, one not
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes (grape and plum)
  • broccoli
  • green beans
  • Swiss chard
  • ice box melon
  • eggplant
  • sweet corn