Do you like a good deal?

I love a good deal. I sign up for all email mailing lists to know when the sales are zuchinnihappening. I work the credit card system to maximize the points I earn while spending all my money. I have a basement full of canned goods I bought last year when they were running a huge sale. It’s like my way of justifying buying the things I want: “they were on sale!”

Did you know you can almost always find something at the farm that is on “sale”? The value of our shares is already a great deal, but sometimes you can sweeten the benefits and stretch your local produce all through the year. Here are a few ways to get added value from the farm:

BUY IN BULK: When the harvest is heavy, deals can be had! Lower prices are available for bigger purchases. Look for signs in the pick-up shed or on the chalk board or just ask if bulk discounts are available. I love this option when I want to gift some produce to friends or neighbors or when I’m entertaining and know I’m going to need A LOT for big dishes. Common things to find in bulk throughout the season are: squash, cucumbers, kale, broccoli, beets, tomatoes, peaches, and apples.

BUY SECONDS (OR EVEN THIRDS!): When you’re cooking or baking and things are getting chopped up anyway, this is a great time to buy seconds (produce that may be bruised or have some insect damage) at a great discount. Karen often has baskets of seconds displayed in the barn near where you check out, or just look for signs. If you want to take the extra time to put things away for the winter by canning, freezing, dehydrating, or pickling, this is a great option. Shredded zucchini, sliced peaches, chopped kale or spinach, and roasted beets or tomatoes all freeze well (which is MUCH easier than canning!)

Zucchini and yellow squash are a great example of this great deal making. Last week I breakfastspent $10 and got 17 HUGE zucchinis. This ended up being more than half off the regular price! I gave 6 to my friend, shredded 7, and put four in my fridge for cooking this week. I now have 15 bags of shredded zucchini and 5 bags of cubed zucchini in my freezer for soups and breads for the winter, a batch of zucchini muffins in the fridge for snacks for my kids, AND I had zucchini nested eggs for breakfast this morning. Here are some pics for proof, and please consider all of these great options for great eating!

Did you get to come to our Open House?

I hope you did.

I hope you got to walk the fields and orchards with Karen and see where your food is going to grow. I hope you hung out in the barn and tasted and re-tasted all the unique and seasonal and delicious snacks that were there. I hope you met people. I hope you met the workers and other CSA members and the animals. I hope you made cool prints on magic paper from leaves and flowers pulled from the ground around us.

Open House 2016And I hope it made you happy.

I hope it made you grateful to be connected to such a feel-good community. I hope it made you see what kinds of people and food and happiness are a part of Vollmecke Orchards. And I hope it made you want to be part of this CSA forever!

The thing that happens at the Open House is that all of the great aspects of the farm are on display. Admittedly, sometimes when I come to pick up my share during the season, I treat it like a quick trip to the store; I run into the shed, grab what I came to get, and run out towards my next errand. I don’t always have the time to chat with the members, to talk to Karen about the food she grew for me, to go see what other products she has in the barn. But the Open House reminds me of the whole picture of the CSA. The big, colorful, meaningful, feel-good picture. So I hope you were there. I hope you saw everything and signed up to be a member. It was a great, great day.

Let’s talk about eggs for a second, can we?

My kids and the Red Girls and Roosty. The highlight of the farm to them!

My kids and the Red Girls and Roosty. The highlight of the farm to them!

So as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been a part of the Vollmecke farm family for 7 years now. There has definitely been a learning curve along the way. How to store things, how to cook things, how to identify things once I put them in an unlabeled plastic bag in my crisper drawer. I’ve figured a lot out. I’ll probably share a lot about these learning experiences on this blog over the next little while. But I am embarrassed to say that I have learned one of the simplest and most valuable lessons just this season. This is what I now know that I feel strongly you must understand ASAP:

Like everything else at the farm, Happy Hen Eggs taste better than grocery store eggs.

That’s all. Breaking news, I know.

Would you like to know how I figured it out? I start eating a lot of eggs. Like, every morning. With the yolks. This was a revolutionary thing in my life that really doesn’t matter to you except it means I started caring how good my eggs tasted. And THEN, there was the nationwide “egg crisis” (I will save you from a tangent about my feelings on national food crises–that’s for a different blog with a different purpose) that made me start paying attention to how much I spend on eggs and the quality of those eggs.

All these things together meant that for the first time ever, I starting buying eggs at the farm. And this is what I immediately found out: THEY ARE SO GOOD. They have deep yellow yolks that are like liquid gold when you break them open into your sautéed veggies and sweet potatoes. They are so full of flavor and health. And I’m not going to lie…I love the brown ones with speckles. They are so cute! Did you know that the brown eggs come from the brownish-reddish chickens (“the Red Girls”) and the white eggs come from the white chickens (you guessed it, “The White Girls”)??

The other thing I love about the Happy Hen Eggs? That I can go and visit the glamour girls themselves and see the scraps they’re pecking on. I’ve been there on many mornings when Farmer Karen has taken melons or greens or tomatoes to feed those sweet chickens. I can go and see them hopping in and out of their little house whenever they damn well please. And my kids LOVE going to visit the ladies. And we can all see how happy they are when we stop by. Except when Rowdy Roosty Rooster is getting into their business. You can tell they’re each hoping he chooses someone else to dance with 😉

Winter orders are starting soon. Do yourself a flavor favor and get some eggs. And then make yourself a hash of potatoes and veggies, toss in some greens, and add an egg on top. Forget wheaties; this is my champion breakfast.

A Brand New Blog and Blogger!

Hi! I’m Joy, a seven-year veteran of Vollmecke’s CSA, and if you all don’t mind, I’m going to start blogging about my love, life, and relationship with the farm and all that it gives me. Vegetables, eggs, comfort, connection, and happiness all included. My very short bio is that I’m a wife of one husband, mom of two littles (Yunni: 4 and Max: 20 months), a mental health therapist to a few, and a cooker of many many vegetables.

Through my seven years enjoying the Vollmecke’s harvests, I have learned a lot, changed a lot, and cooked, frozen, and canned a lot. And as we close out this season and look ahead to winter, I am grieving the loss of tomatoes and beans and peppers and looking forward to gorging on squashes and greens and potatoes for as long as I can. Thank heavens for winter orders!

So if you don’t mind, I’ll show up on here every once in a while with some recipes, thoughts, and perspectives on CSA membership and all that it offers and requires. Until I see you here again, put some pumpkin butter with a little almond butter and honey on your toast in the morning. You’ll feel like a new a part of your soul has opened up by the end of the slice.


My Week of Eating from the Farm

Guest Post from longtime work share member Meghan

The CSA shares at the farm have certainly been a bounty of delicious veggies over the last few weeks. Four years ago, when I started as a work share member at Vollmecke Orchards & CSA, it was a learning curve to get used to using everything each week. I have gotten much better at planning and experimenting with all of the wonderful produce, so decided it was time for a greater challenge.

shareHow hard would it be to spend a week eating only food from the farm? This would include using the local products that Vollmecke sells such as beef, fish, yogurt, cheese, bread and eggs, in addition to the produce in my share. My exceptions to my little experiment were seasonings, condiments and beverages. As a relatively non-adventurous chef, I was a little nervous about trying this for a week, but after telling my farm friends of my idea, I was committed!

I picked up my share one Friday afternoon and also purchased eggs, a salmon filet, beef grillers, bread and cheese. I wrote down everything I had on hand and planned out the dinners for the week. So how did the week look? Breakfasts were fruit (raspberries and melon) and bread most days. I had Vollmecke Orchards’ apple butter on hand already, which is fantastic on Wonderful Good Market’s multi-grain bread. One weekend morning was classic eggs, potatoes and fruit. Lunches included egg salad sandwiches, green salads with tomatoes & Blazing Horizon cheese (also from Wonderful Good Market), and dinner leftovers.

Dinners were where the fun occurred:

Did I cheat? Yep. Over the course of the week I had two spoonfuls of peanut butter, and I added avocado to my fish tacos.

Was it hard? Not really! It took a little bit more planning ahead than I usually do, but it was fun to try some new things. Not having pasta, rice and beans was weird since they are staples in our pantry. The best part of the week was realizing that I snack on processed food too much. It’s so easy to grab a handful of goldfish crackers or make a quick stop at Wawa. This was a revelation for me, and one thing I will really take away from this experience.

Will I keep going? As much as I can. I am going to make a greater effort to eat more locally, especially at this time of year when it is so easy to do! Stock up on things you love that can be frozen or canned–you will love pulling them out in January!

A new season is upon us

Here we are, getting ready to start our third full week of the CSA season…and I am just now writing our “welcome” blog. Gives you an idea of how nuts it has been this year! The weather has been full of extremes: a cooler and way drier than normal spring…moving into summer with days of extreme heat and drenching rains.vibrant rhubarb

Because of the cool dry spring, many early season crops were a little late getting in the ground…BUT, this also allowed us to get many of our summer crops planted much earlier. There is always a flip side in farming…

One of my goals with this blog is to present ideas on how to use your share. It does neither of us any good if you pick up a crate of vegetables each week, just to have them slowly rot away in your fridge. We take the utmost care to make sure we harvest early in the day, and get the produce into the cooler as quickly as possible, to make sure that it stays as fresh and tasty as possible. Once you get your share home, here are a few tips to help you store your veggies correctly. Now that you have everything stored correctly, what do you do with it???

Eating seasonally can take some getting used to. When people picture joining a CSA, they often have visions of cucumbers, melons, tomatoes and peppers dancing in their heads. not necessarily kohlrabi and turnips. BUT, all of the above make their appearance later in the summer–July at least, so, we grow what does well in season until we get to “the good stuff.” Another goal of mine is to get our members to see all of the produce as good stuff! Just because you have never heard of it doesn’t mean it isn’t good!

If you find yourself stumped for ideas, check out the word cloud on the right hand side of the page. Click on whatever vegetable interests you and you will see all the blog posts written on that topic.  Other social media sites are full of ideas: Facebook and Pinterest are great places to see what is happening with onions

One of my favorite food blogs, and where I often go for inspiration is Alexandra’s Kitchen. She is a devoted CSA fan and has many wonderful, delicious ideas to get you going. As the mom of two young kids, her recipes are pretty easy to follow and don’t tend to involve any overly complicated kitchen sorcery.

Some of the recipes I have shared lately are Rhubarb Glazed Shrimp and Roasted Rhubarb and Asparagus Pasta Salad.

Without a doubt, one category of produce that continues to mystify and overwhelm people is GREENS. Particularly Asian greens: bok choy, Chinese cabbage, Yukina Savoy, Asian Salad Greens. These are pretty abundant in the spring and fall. They are so good for you, and so tasty once you figure out what to do with them!

Most of the time, a simple saute or braise can be used on many of our greens. They cook way down, so what seemed like a lot, becomes much more manageable. Fritters and slaws are a great way to handle many veggies as well. Fresh bok choy and apple slaw makes a great cool side dish–perfect for a hot day.