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!

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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

Make Salsa While the Sun Shines!

Salsa IngredientsWe finally have tomatoes. That is the good news. The bad news is, we also have a killer crop of blight. Literally. So yes, we have beautiful tomatoes, but sadly, the season may not last as long as it usually would. These year we have been plagued by plagues. It would be funny if it weren’t so awful.  What next? I really am curious—we have had pretty much every bad weather, pest, and disease event known to man and farmer.  I am personally betting on a killer snow storm in September, because really, that is all that is left to happen.

For those of you who were members last year, I am sure you are wondering why your share box isn’t overflowing with produce like it was in 2012. In a nutshell: Last year the growing conditions were near perfect. This year? Not so much.  I do feel that the produce we have been sharing with you has been beautiful and tasty, but I wish there were more of it. Needless to say, we are already thinking to next year and how to avoid, minimize or protect ourselves from some of these issues. However, some are just unavoidable; there really is no good way to protect yourself from 7 inches of rain all at once.

But in the meantime, stock up now, and take advantage of these lovely gems while we have them! Below are a few recipes for salsa using several items from your share box: tomatillos, tomatoes, corn and hot peppers. Enjoy!

FINALLY…Tomatoes Are Here!

This year has been a challenge in so many ways. First, we had a cool, wet spring. Which brought us into an even wetter summer, which then catapulted us straight into an incredibly hot and humid stretch, followed by an unseasonably cool period. Really the only things to thrive during these weird weather spells are the plague-like levels of flea beetles and Colorado Potato Beetles. Fortunately, as we head into the final week of August, we are beginning to see some of our usual summer abundance. So, between that, and my need to remind myself of one of the main reasons I work at the farm (incredibly fresh, organic produce) I decided to cook this weekend. Scroll to the end of this post for this week’s recipes using corn, tomatoes and basil.

First, I had to figure out what I was making. I had a few eggplant from last week, in addition to what I got in my share Friday. I had a ton of tomatoes, and I had just bought some okra (see below)…so while this may not be the most balanced of meals, it certainly cured some of my cravings!  I fired up the grill to prepare for Grilled/Roasted Greek Eggplant Spread.  All I did was crank the grill to high, and put these babies on.  Once they were all charred and delicious on the outside, I just sliced them open, scraped their insides into my food processor, and proceeded with my recipe. The picture doesn’t really do the final product justice—but the resulting puree is fresh and light, and tastes good on just about anything. I usually just eat it as a dip with pita chips or other veggies. I have also used it on pizza (with a little feta cheese and maybe some kalamatas) or as a topping for crostini. If you have a lot of eggplant, you can grill/roast them and puree them, then freeze the puree in baggies until you figure out what you want to do with it, or save it until the middle of winter when you are trying to remember what summer tastes like.

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Next I made gazpacho—this is a great soup to make when you really want to make a dent in your share box.  I did use many of the tomatoes that I got in my share this week, but I also took advantage of our supply of seconds (produce with imperfections that doesn’t make the cut into your share). This allows you to buy produce in bulk for a discounted price. Who cares what a tomato looks like if it will just be turned into sauce or soup? Anyway, I had never tried this particular gazpacho recipe by Alton Brown, so gave it a shot. It was a little more complicated than the recipes I usually print out, so I didn’t bother writing it up. It was delicious; however I have followed other recipes that were not as complicated and tasted every bit as good. Too bad I forgot to photograph it before we ate it…

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Once the gazpacho was chilling, I decided I was in the mood for some fried okra. We are growing a really neat variety this year called Big Buck, a German Heirloom. It is really prolific and produces large, FAT fluted pods. It can be a little off-putting since it looks so big compared to “regular” okra.  However, this variety stays tender, even at the larger sizes.  Plus, when you slice it, it makes really pretty star shapes, which is beside the point when you are frying it, since the batter obscures the pretty stars…but it WAS tender and incredibly tasty.  Our okra crop isn’t really big enough to supply everyone with more than maybe a share, if that, but we do have some to sell. And, if you see it in the swap box, GRAB IT.

The final thing I figured I needed was some aioli, or mayonnaise. This recipe is a perfect use of your Happy Hen eggs—the fresher the egg, the better the mayo. This stuff is great. And mildly addictive. I added a handful (or two) of basil to the basic recipe and ended up with not only a dip for my fried okra, but a spread for the next day’s BLTs with heirloom tomatoes… Seriously, this stuff bears no resemblance at all to Hellmann’s, and it is ridiculously simple with this food processor recipe from Mark Bittman—all you need is an egg, some olive oil, a little lemon juice, then whatever flavorings you can dream up.

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New Recipes!

I realize I am falling behind in my posts. My excuse is that I have been farming. The weather, and the barrage of insect pests, has been crazy this summer! Things seem to be settling down somewhat, so I am hoping to find more time for the fun stuff—finding recipes and making samples for pickup days!

Today we harvested our first (ever), experimental celery crop. We learned a couple of things, and will apply these lessons when we grow it next year. While this celery does have good flavor, the texture is a little tough. This isn’t so much a crudité type of celery, but a gumbo, potato salad or soup celery.  It would definitely benefit from some cooking or spending some time in a marinade or dressing.  The leaves are also very flavorful and can be chopped and used in egg or tuna salad, or used as a garnish for a bloody Mary.  Or frozen and added to heartier soups this Fall.

Anyway, as I said, it was an experiment. One of the benefits of joining a CSA is that you often get to experiment right along with us. So please give us your feedback!