“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

Welcome to the New Year!

Farming is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind right now. However, we really are hard at work getting ready for the 2014 season—signup begins January 10! At the end of the 2013 season, we sent out a survey to our members. Based on the responses, we have made a few changes, which you can read about below. Here is a great recipe from the Splendid Table for this time of year. It will definitely be on the menu at my house this week:

For the first time, we are offering a new smaller share size—the Mini Share! This share will have 4–5 items (our regular share has 8–12) in it.  It is designed for either a single person, a couple who doesn’t cook too much, but would still like access to fresh, local food, or a family that just wants to see what CSA is all about!

What exactly is a “unit” or “item”?

An item, or a “unit,” will fluctuate over the course of the season—depending on harvests, weather, etc., but basically, it is a grouping of a produce item; or you could think of it as a unit of measure. For instance, when tomatoes are first starting out, a tomato “unit” could be just one tomato. Once they get rolling, a unit could then be a quart of tomatoes. Sometimes a unit will be just one piece of produce, such as a watermelon. It all depends on the particular fruit or vegetable.

Why is understanding what a unit is important?

Since we now have multiple sizes and pickup option, when you come to the farm on pickup day, you will need to know what goes in your share. We will have more signs telling everyone what their share is composed of. They might look something like this:

Potatoes
WS & BWS = 1 qt
MS = 1 pt

This would translate to: Weekly Share (WS) and Bi-Weekly Share (BWS) get 1 quart of potatoes, and Mini Share (MS) gets 1 pint.

This is a work in progress! We may need to play around a bit with the signs to make sure we are all on the same page. Rest assured, we will make sure everyone gets their proper share. We are always around during pickup times and will be sure to answer any questions you might have.

What else are we changing?

We have added a new way to pay online for your membership. It is a new system called Dwolla, and it operates just like an e-check.  You can either go through the signup process with Dwolla (similar to signing up with PayPal) or checkout using Dwolla as a guest member. We like Dwolla, because unlike PayPal and other credit card options, the fees are actually very reasonable—$0.25 per transaction. That’s it. With online credit card payments, we pay a per transaction fee, AND a percentage of the amount purchased. Which really does add up over time. This means that your dollars actually go to supporting us, as opposed to VISA…. So this is a nice option for those larger transactions, such as membership payments.

We also are in the process of finding a credit card system that we can have available in the barn so you can use your debit card or credit card for retail purposes too.

Anything else?

In addition to all the vegetable staples, we are looking at some fun new things, such as purple carrots, and maybe even artichokes! We will keep you posted on that. We would also like to offer expanded Pick Your Own flowers this year. You will still be able to pick larger amounts of flowers for a fee. If you have a special event, such as a party or a wedding, you will be able to get all of your flowers fresh and locally!