Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Week 3: B & B continued

Week 3 continued: Recipe of the week

Un-Stuffed Cabbage
This is all the flavor of stuffed cabbage in a chop chop stir fried mix-up.

2 Spring Onions w/ green tops
1 LB Ground Beef (pork would be good too)
1 head Chinese Cabbage (Pak Choi or Bok Choi)
2 cups cooked Brown Rice
1 can Tomato Sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Chop onions and add to 1 TB oil in a hot wok or large saute pan or cast iron skillet on high heat

 Sauté until onions are translucent

Add the Ground beef and sauté until brown.  Season with Salt and Pepper.
 Slice Cabbage and add it to the wok, cooking until it is wilted and the mixture is cooked
Add the cooked rice, stir to mix well,
 and add the tomato sauce
Continue to cook until mixture is cooked through.  Check the seasoning and serve.

 You will think that your Bubbuleh had come to town for an Eastern European smörgåsbord. 

Enjoy, eat well and buy local!  See you next week.

Week 3: Beets & Broccoli

Week 3: Beets and Broccoli

This week the produce included:
  • Baby Broccoli
  • Beets with their greens
  • Chinese Cabbage (pak choi)
  • Spring Onions
  • Red and Green leaf lettuce

Nice to see some colors besides green in the bag this week.  Not that there is anything wrong with green.  Green is great!  But the bright red beets and white Spring onions and Pak Choi stalks were a welcome contrast.
I jumped right into our favorite way of preparing beets.  Simple, delicious and fun.

  • Rip the greens off and save them for a nice braise later.

  • Place the Beets onto a sheet of parchment paper. (aluminum foil works great too)
  • Season with salt, cracked pepper and a splash of olive oil.
  • Wrap the beets up into a nice package, folding the paper or foil to make an airtight pouch.

  • Bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes - 1 hour until the beets are tender.
Then just cool them enough to slip them out of their skins and slice them up or try to keep them around for salads, goat cheese accompaniments, or red flannel hash fixins.  Yum!

Don't like beets you say?  I am willing to bet that your first taste of beets was from a can of Del Monte or Libbys Libbys Libbys on the lable lable label.  My Mom was a great cook, but I never liked beets until I tasted a fresh from the garden ruby red root.  The difference is dramatic.  Maddi loves her some beets.  Give em a try!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Week 2: Great Greens a Popping

Picked up this week's produce with Maddi yesterday.  Another bag full of greens and Spring vegetation.
We got
  • Red leaf and Romaine lettuce
  • Collard Greens
  • Pea Vines
  • Turnips, and 
  • Kohlrabi
Although the items were very similar to last week, we welcome the greens and are committed to using them.
I have been eating a salad with some kind of protein for lunch each day. We have cooked the greens from the turnips and the pea vines, and are going to try out the kohlrabi.

I remember our Minister and dear friend Jim Jenkins always tried to get my Father interested in growing kohlrabi.  They had quite a competition between their gardens, each bragging about the size of their tomatoes or the height of their corn stalks.  Jim always had some suggestion of what dad should be growing, like parsnips or kohlrabi.  We had never heard of the stuff and dad flat out refused to listen to Jim.  This is my chance to try it out and see if ole Jim was right.

Something Maddi has really been enjoying, is the turnips sliced up and eaten raw, like radishes.She is like her Father (and her Grandfather)  and likes things other kids don't much care for.  Radishes, sardines, sauerkraut, she is an adventurous eater to be sure.
Last night I took some Pea Vines and cut them into 3-4 inch pieces and added them to a stir fry with onions and chicken (tofu would be great too).  A touch of toasted sesame oil, soy and cracked pepper and a quick toss until they were bright green and still al dente. We served that over brown rice and it was a tasty meal.

 Recipe of the Week:
1/2 white onion  (OR 1/2 bunch green onions) sliced
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (OR 1 block firm tofu) cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tsp canola oil
1 large bunch pea vines cut into 3-4 inch lengths
(I used the tender top parts and not the very ends that were a bit tougher)
soy sauce to taste
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp cracked black pepper

Add oil to a hot wok or saute pan on medium high heat
add onions and cook until soft
add chicken and sauté until opaque
add pea vines, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper
sauté until pea vines are bright green and slightly tender but still have some bite

Serve over brown rice

Enjoy and remember to buy local and eat healthy! This Saturday there is a Sale at the University Farmer's Market.  Go check it out.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Produce: Week 1

First Taste
Our first share from the farm came in this week!
I excitedly walked Daisy the dog down to the pick-up spot, a house in our neighborhood just a few blocks away. I arrived at the place and saw big white bags all lined up along the wall of the carport.  I poked my head in and was met by the owner who asked if I was there to pick up a share.

I had a cooler bag that I brought, because, frankly I did not know what to expect. I thought the produce might be in a box, and on the way down I was trying to work out how I would walk back with the dog and a box.  The food was in a big white plastic bag. This made it easy to put into the cooler bag and hoist onto my shoulder.

I got home with our bounty of produce and set it all out on the table to check what we had received.

Inside the big bag was a note from the farm, listing what we got this week:
  • Lettuce (red leaf, green leaf, & romaine) 
  • White asian turnips
  • Baby bok choy
  • Lettuce cabbage, and 
  • Pea vines. 
The produce all looked great and was a much larger pile than I had imagined.  It was a challenge getting it all safely tucked away into the refrigerator.

When we decided to join a farm share, we knew it was going to force us to shift our eating to consume more produce. We all like vegetables, and try to eat some every day, but we don't really have a salad with every meal. We will need to get creative and find tasty ways to prepare and eat all of these greens.

We got busy and started with the lettuce cabbage.  It is a Napa cabbage shaped head, with bright green leaves that are firmer than lettuce but not as coarse as cabbage.
I thought it would be a good candidate for a slaw.  We were having a Mexican meal with some friends, so I whipped up a slightly South of the border spin on cole slaw. We'll make that our recipe of the week.

Recipe of the week
I cleaned and sliced the Cabbage into ribbons.

Then put it into a bowl. (I know, real difficult step there, Chef Donfondue...but I had the pic)
Then I made a very quick dressing:
1/2 cup Mayo
2 TB Cider Vinegar
1 TB Sirracha sauce
2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper 
and poured that over the lettuce cabbage.
It was quite tasty.  The greens wilted down a bit, but everyone liked it alot.  Try it at home using Napa cabbage or other hearty green of your choosing.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why a Blog about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)?

What is a CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture allows you to buy a “share” from a local farm; in return you receive a box of farm-fresh produce every week during the growing season. The farm benefits from your financial and community support. You benefit by receiving the best local produce at better prices and by getting to know your farmer. It’s a special relationship that builds community, supports our farmers and gives you first pick of peak-fresh products. Each CSA program is unique. Some deliver boxes to your home or a central pick-up location; some require on-farm pick-up. Some offer add-ons, like eggs or flowers; some are produce-only. Some have installment-payment plans; some require payment up-front at the start of the season; and some offer weekly pay-as-you-go options.

Our family used Pioneer Organics for a time before they were sold and became Spud. We like to shop at farmer's markets and have been dancing around the issues of buying local, choosing organic vs commercial produce, eating more healthy foods, and being more conscious about our environment and our planet. We continued this way for a few years, and then my daughter's health class did a project on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). She learned quite a bit about the ramifications of buying local, and the challenges and complexities of choosing healthy foods that are good for us and good for the planet. Part of her project was to explore CSAs in the area and compare buying our food from a CSA with getting the same produce from commercial grocers. This got us fired up and we looked into joining a CSA this spring. We looked at several farms and organic produce delivery options and decided to sign up. Details about how we decided and which farm we chose follow.  

Choosing a CSA
We are fortunate to live in an area that has so many CSA options. Check them out here,or here. We discussed these options and came up with these criteria for choosing a CSA:
Single Farm
Farm Share
Location of the pick up site
Payment options

These criteria meant that we eliminated the organic produce companies that deliver boxes of produce year round. An important component to this for us is to buy local. We want to eat the produce that is being grown right here, right now. We also liked the idea of being able to visit the farm and pick our own produce. The CSA we chose delivers to a spot near our neighborhood, but also invites members to come out to the farm and pick all the flowers, herbs, and greens you like. That connection to the farm is an aspect that we really wanted. The prices among the CSA's we compared were all fairly similar. There were differences in payment methods. Some let you make monthly payments, others ask for payment up front. The CSA we chose let you pay in 2 or 3 installments and offered a discount for paying more upfront. After looking at these criteria we ended up choosing this one.

There are certainly plenty of CSAs in our area that offer something for everyone. Check it out and join us on this adventure in eating fresh local produce. Our 1st box comes this week. When it arrives, we will post a list of the contents, with pictures, along with our thoughts, ideas, inspirations, and recipes.