Grillin’

Guest blogger Bill Wedo offers his take on grilling vegetables.

to be grilledWhen your daughter is a vegan, your wife works at a CSA and your mother-in-law gives you a shiny new Weber, grilling vegetables is not just an option.

It’s your destiny.

Now, accepting your destiny is one thing, controlling it another. Great thing about grilling veggies is that with a little thought – and some EVOO – you can you give the people what they want (mostly) and still enjoy that IPA. Here’s how:

Know your audience. Not everyone enjoys okra or beets. Do some food preference polling over the pre-meal drinks. I have a relative who actually enjoys Korean Kim chi. (Hint: It’s not me)

Know your veggies. Some cook faster than others. Some need prep. Anyone who has had to secretly feed Blackened Pepper Krisps to the dog under the table gets this.

Know your grill. Even the most high-end stainless steel Food Network star is not a Viking convection built-in. There are hot spots waiting to burn the onions and grill slots aching to swallow a too-thinly sliced zucchini. Incidentally, if you are a control freak, order take-out.

grilledHere is a simple grilled veggie medley that you can adapt to whatever your happens to be in your share.

1. Prep. We always soften the beets and potatoes to equalize the cooking time with the other veggies. We also marinate for added flavor. And, there is flammable liquid to throw on the grill so we can enjoy the flare-ups. The cook has to have some fun, you know.

A simple and tasty marinade uses an olive oil base with soy and balsamic vinegar added to taste. If you have garlic or ginger, all the better. In fact, you should experiment. I once whisked in some Old Bay and it tasted great. Unless you are a Yoda/Mr. Miyagi Zen-type master of the tongs, slice veggies thickly and widely. Give yourself a fighting chance of not losing them through the grill surface spaces. Cooking time depends on the lid up or down. I start with it down to warm things up a bit before flipping and sliding. The food, I mean.

chopped2. Pay attention. The zukes and the squash cook much faster than the eggplant. Be ready to move them around from hot spot to not-so-hot spot. If you have to pile them on that little warming rack, go right ahead. It ain’t pretty but it works.

on the grill

3. Perhaps, the most difficult aspect of grilling. Be sure and get all the other knuckleheads to the table BEFORE you plate the food. Nothing worse than having to microwave because your diners are engrossed in Honey Boo Boo. I mean, Downton Abbey.

4. Enjoy.

ready to eat

“Sexy Seconds” from Vollmecke Orchards & Insomnia Kitchen

Guest blogger and longtime work share member Tracy M. gives us a peek into what goes on in Insomnia Kitchen…

Why do I call my kitchen “Insomnia Kitchen”?  Those who know me, know my brain doesn’t shut off at night, so I tend to drag myself into the kitchen to get myself doing something productive, instead of just watching TV!

farm secondsI have been working at Vollmecke Orchards for over two years now as a “Work Share Member,” which means that you basically trade “sweat equity” for your lovely CSA share.  I found Vollmecke Orchards while looking for volunteer opportunities and was thrilled to hear that this was an option.  I soon learned that the people there were absolutely fantastic people, that I immediately fell in love with!  We laugh till we cry, talk about food—eat/share all the time, and find a great sense of peace in just being there. Farmer Karen is great about hooking up the lunch table with a great “lunch melon” or gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, and sometimes will crack out some of the wonderful bread and cheese that we sell from Stoudt’s Wonderful Good Market, which is also a wonderful local brewery!!

Since we tend to have some beautiful fruits and veggies at the farm that are amazing in flavor, but just do not look so pretty, we try to have fun with our “Seconds”.  Sometimes it just takes a little extra time to cut off the bruises/scars/soft spots, but the money you can save by purchasing seconds is outstanding!!  I occasionally get sent home with “homework,” with Farmer Karen knowing she will get to taste the results at an upcoming farm lunch.  I am happy to spend time in the kitchen trying to find some new fun things for my lovingly named “test monkeys,” who all are very adventurous eaters!  We tend to walk up to each other holding something out and say “hey, eat this,” and sometimes we ask what it is, sometimes we ask afterwards!

This week I decided to try out some new recipes. For the carrot seconds, I read about a very simple cold salad that I needed to try.  The best thing about organic veggies, you really don’t need to peel them, just a good bath and scrub down will do.  I shredded the carrots, added fresh crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh chopped cilantro, cumin seeds, and tossed with some honey and rice wine vinegar.

carrot seconds      carrot relish with bag

Next I went to the Squash. I have been loving a recipe for very simple zucchini pickles, which is sweet and simple, and last a month in the fridge without even canning them. They are not super crazy pickling, and more of a sweet and sour deliciousness!

ugly zukezuke pickles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then the squash needed a sweeter side!! Farmer Karen handed me a huge Zuke that shredded down perfectly, just over the 2 cups I needed to make the Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake. You may notice that I omitted the chopped nuts, and surely did not measure the chocolate chips that go on top.  Super moist cake!

zuke shredszuke cake mixzuke cake done

Next was to deal with the sad state of the beans.  We were hand sorting out the string beans, and lamenting the fact that the Mexican bean beetles had made these delicious, crisp, and otherwise amazing little beans look like crap with the stupid nibbles here and there.  I figured that I would need to find a great way to hide the “non-perfectness” of them, so I thought maybe a relish?  None of us have had such a thing that was not a salad-type recipe, so I went to the wonderful world of Google and found a recipe for Green & Yellow Bean Relish.

ugly beanschop green beansgreen bean relish beforegreen bean relish cooking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had this today for farm lunch and shared with the CSA members for a fun happy hour.  I thought it would be fun to cook up some of those “Little Smokies” hot dogs that you buy for under a buck at Amelia’s Grocery Market, popped a toothpick into them, and drizzled on the relish!!  Even Farm dog Izzy got to savor a few hotdogs from heaven!

Make sure you check out our “Seconds Section” whenever you are at the farm.  Look past the ugly, and on to the tasty!!
Cheers!  Tracy

How to use your share

 

Typically, Farmer Karen and I (Kate) are the ones to write the blog posts. However, we thought you might appreciate a different point of view from time to time. So, introducing Kris, one of our new Work Share Members this year!

SFC_kohlrabi_labeled

 

As a fairly new CSA member, I sometimes find myself overwhelmed and perplexed by some of the produce I receive in my share, as I’m sure many new members do. However, this is not an issue as long as you push yourself to be (and stay) creative! A recommendation for everybody: Try each of your share items RAW, at least once (like kohlrabi–it is delicious)! You may be pleasantly surprised and discover your new favorite vegetable! This also helps you get an idea for the taste, and more easily allows you to imagine it in some of your more familiar recipes…

SFC_garlic_scapes_labeledWhich brings me to another recommendation: Add your new produce to your old dishes! Your macaroni and cheese recipe that’s been in the family for decades may benefit with a little added kale mixed in! Throw some sauteed green onions or garlic scapes in there to give it a more savory flavor.  Don’t confine yourself to one recipe per dish—slowly add and/or omit ingredients, tweak ratios, taste test, and bulk up your cookbook! This process is very inventive and fun, and you typically get a very tasty end result!
OK, so worst case scenario, you hate a dish you created…what now? Well, this is a learning experience! Get back up and try again! Or totally scrap that dish and try something completely new. Just remember: CSA shares are for your health and happiness, don’t be afraid to use what has been given to you!
And one more (obvious) recommendation for you: Search the net!  The internet is the best tool SFC_beets_labeledfor finding new recipes and preparation ideas for unfamiliar produce. Websites like Pinterest, Yummly, and AllRecipes are top notch resources. All you need is the name of the vegetable or fruit you want to use, plug that into the search bar, and get ready to be bombarded with mouth watering recipes! You will be shocked by the clever things people can do with food! Who knew you could make DELICIOUS red velvet cupcakes using beets? (we also have a recipe on our site that we made last year–either way, give it a shot. They are delicious!) Or homemade ketchup with rhubarb? Possibilities are endless, as long as you are open to trying new things and experimenting!
So, from one seasonal eater to another, I urge you to be curious and brave with your food!
Eat, drink, and be merry!
—Kris

First CSA Pickup!

At long last, the 2014 CSA season has begun! As I sit here typing this, work share members are already at the farm–harvesting greens for tomorrow’s shares. Last night’s brief showers have hydrated all the lettuces and greens beautifully! They will be harvested, and packed into the cooler, and on your table tomorrow night. I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait! Read on to learn about a few things that will hopefully make your CSA experience a more enjoyable one!

Each week, you will receive an email reminder from us the night before your pickup. We will give you an idea of what to expect in your share, plus any other updates you may need to know for that week.

We have added a few links to our website to help you get the most out of your shares. First, we have Storage Tips. This is a work in progress, and will be added to as we progress through the season. If you are still in doubt about something, please just ask. We want to make sure you get the most out of your shares. We also have a guide for pickup day. This can be confusing, especially if you are new. Even if you aren’t new, we have a listing of all the pickup days. And, though this is just a rough guide, we have a guide showing the crops you can expect this season, and when they should be ready to harvest.

Our main goal this year, other than growing delicious produce, is to help you use and enjoy your share. Seasonal eating can be a challenge if you aren’t used to it. We will be posting recipes here on our blog and adding interesting finds to our Pinterest board.

There is also a new service that you may be interested in, which is designed to help you get the most from your shares. Patricia Mulvey, the Fair Share CSA Coalition chef, and co-writer of Asparagus to Zucchini, is the creator of Localthyme.com, a CSA menu planning service. She is working to end “veggie guilt” one share box at a time by providing CSA members with a range of tools to put veggies on their plate, not in the compost. Membership includes:

  • the largest online searchable database of seasonal vegetable-centric recipes
  • a beautiful vegetable ID section
  • tips and tricks
  • support from the chefs
  • menu plan and shopping list generators or menus planned by Local Thyme chef

Membership starts as low as $20 a month. Here is a link to a free 1-month trial. Vollmecke Orchards is not currently a member, but this is something we are looking into as well. If anyone joins, we would love to hear your feedback!

We have our first 50 members!

Something to celebrate in this cold, we have our first 50 members! Thank you so much for supporting your local farmers! In the next few days, we will be drawing the name of one lucky member to receive a new Magic Bullet Blender!cold chickens

 

 

Recipes from Our Members

I recently received several recipes from some of our members. They all sounded so good, I thought I would share.

Juliet used our peaches and raspberries to make a delicious crisp and peach muffins. I made the crisp as well, and it was indeed fantastic.  We still have a few peach seconds, which would be perfect for this!

Meghan, one of our Work Share members, shared this with me yesterday. It makes good use of a lot of your recent share items, including tomatillos. I have not yet made it, but it is going to be on our table sometime this week for sure.

Tracy, another Work Share member, sent me this recipe for Swiss Chard Olive Bread. Swiss Chard can be daunting for those of us still learning to love it—as well as for those who are ready for a new way to prepare it.

And finally, we are harvesting horseradish this week.  It will be a choice in the shares, since not everyone will be excited by this. For you diehards, fresh horseradish is fantastic! Here is a link to a brief article explaining how to prepare it.

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