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.

It’s almost time!!

seedlings

Lettuce

Fiddle HeadsrhubarbThe season of farm fresh food is getting closer and closer, I can feel it in the air. Really, it’s the air that tips me off. My morning runs are starting to have the companionship of the barely rising sun. The air is crisp in the morning and warm by noon.  I can smell the best air smells of the whole year: the fresh cut grass, the blossoming trees, bushes, and flowers. I can smell the mulch and compost that’s helping it all along. The air says “The earth is growing things!! Take a deep breath and take notice!”

The farm is about five miles from my house. Not close enough to smell it but close enough to tell myself that it’s basically my backyard garden. So at this stage of the season I’m mostly dreaming and hoping about all that it will be this year. Ohhhhh I am hoping it is going to be a great peach year — I know Jeff is tending to the orchards, keeping them protected from the bugs that are always scheming. Karen has nearly perfected the covering the greens technique that has made spinach and bok choy and lettuce so beautiful and delicious. I can see in my minds eye all the baby growths in the greenhouse that will be transplanted soon. I hope there are summer squash really early and stay really late because I love them in pretty much everything.

I’m ready for salads. I’m ready for real spinach in my eggs in the morning instead of grocery store spinach. I’m ready to hang out in the barn and visit the chickens and make impulse buys of bread and cheese. I’m ready to plan my menus from the Farm’s emails and all that they promise. I’m ready to be at the farm and smell all the air that is there and full of life and energy and growth and love.

Thanksgiving. Part 2.

After Thanksgiving...

After Thanksgiving…

Does your fridge look like this? (Ignore the Eggnog; it’s my husbands and it’s inexplicable). If it doesn’t, that means you either had a really relaxing or really disappointing Thanksgiving. Mine was neither…it was a lot of prep, a lot of cooking, and a lot of clean up. It was also A LOT of really great food. My Thanksgiving share set me up for a stellar meal. And for a Tetris game of leftovers in my fridge. So today I offer you some helpful, delicious, and creative ways to use your Thanksgiving leftovers, because another plate of Thursday fare gets old by Friday night.

Breakfast

I honestly eat just as many if not more vegetables at breakfast than I do at the other meals of the day. Hashes, omelets, frittatas, etc., are regular fare over here. So Thanksgiving leftovers are a gift for the breakfast hungry people like me.

  • make a “nest” of mashed potatoes (mine featured caramelized onions and roasted garlic) on a cookie sheet, place a happy hen egg in the hole, and bake until you egg is your desired firmness. Sprinkle some great salt or fresh herbs.
  • sauté your leftover green salad (mine was kale, beets, carrots, and edamame) until hot and tender and then top with a sunny side up happy hen egg (with some sausage on the side if you’re feeling crazy like I was).
  • add your Brussels sprouts or green beans or other veggie side to your omelet.
  • add grated apples to your sweet potatoes and fry as “pancakes.”

breakfast

Lunch

  • add turkey and veggies to spinach or kale for a salad
  • paninis with turkey, cranberry sauce (or Vollmecke’s pumpkin butter!), cheese, and greens

Dinner

  • Turkey pot pie with carrots, bok choy in place of celery, and of course turkey.
  • Shepherd’s pie with leftover mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes on top.

These are obviously throw together, dump what you have in your fridge type of meals, but this is the joy of so many leftovers. All the cooking we did on Wednesday and Thursday is deducted from the cooking we have to do this week!

I am so thankful for Karen and my Vollmecke CSA for all they did to make my Thanksgiving, my year, and my life so full of good food and good feelings. I hope your weekend was great and we’ll be back here soon talking about Vollmecke and winter: an unexpectedly perfect pair!

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.

Why is farm produce special?

You can tell by my vegetable drawer in the fridge, which is which. The farm produce is always in a random grocery sack from under my fridge. It has a little soil still left on it; it’s not uniform is shape. If I was smart, I bought some seconds and so they have some bumps and bruises. They are not perfect shiny objects. They are vegetables from the ground.

I feel so different when I cook with produce from the farm than I do with produce from the grocery store. I think the word that best describes how I feel when I cook with farm produce is “proud.” I’m proud to know where it’s from, who grew it, and that I’m doing something good for myself, for the earth, and for my community. I’m proud that I’m feeding my family something healthy and organic. I’m proud that I’m taking extra time to wash fresh soil from these veggies because I think it’s worth the extra effort.

And when I get to use multiple items from the farm in one dish, my pride grows exponentially. For every extra item I can incorporate, my smile and heart expand. And so this Autumn Kale Salad brings me lots of warmth. Apples, squash, and kale all from the farm: into the bowl and into my family’s bodies. Good job me! kale salad