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Category Archives: Farms

In The Box

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The view from above.

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This is what you see when you open a half share Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA box in the middle of August.

The new one in the box is the bunch of Malabar spinach. I do grow this in my garden, but mine is nowhere near as large as these are. There are nine ears of corn in there. Because I swapped three zucchini for the corn. There is a bag of green beans. A bag of rainbow carrots. An eggplant. And, hidden below those two heirloom tomatoes.

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A bag of roma tomatoes, suitable for making sauce. As for the fruit share.

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It must be a banner year for peaches, as we have another six in the fruit box. Last and certainly the largest. The watermelon, a red seedless variety.

No pictures of the frozen chicken in my chicken share. There were two large boneless skinless chicken breasts. And, two whole legs of chicken.

Moving over to the Friends and Farms bags. Just a small amount, except for that cantaloupe.

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An individual share. Two tomatoes. Two peaches (I have no idea where they are, they aren’t in the picture). One zucchini, I am happy to report. Two ears of corn. Three humongous leeks. Hydroponic lettuce. And that okra. I need to go look for something new to do with okra.

Protein.

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Fresh kielbasa. Bacon. Eggs. A new supplier of chicken. Breasts this week. They were already the main item at dinner tonight. Baked in olive oil with a coating of mixed herbs.

Plans for tomorrow. Make tomato sauce. Find a recipe for a curry using the Malabar spinach. Make peach jam. It’s summer craziness when everything starts ripening at once.

Food Processing Friday …

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… and Saturday and Sunday.

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As shown we are drowning in tomatoes. And, other things. Which are “pickle-able”.

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I pickled shallots, cucumbers and peppers today. Did Peter Pecker pick those peppers? No, and neither did I. They were in the CSA share this week.

I made a simple pickling spice mix. Added it to a mix of four to one, vinegar to water. Got it boiling. Blanched the veggies first. Sterilized the lids and seals. Came up with a few jars of “refrigerator’ pickles. These are easy to do. No canning techniques necessary. Just consume them in a week or two.

As for tomatoes. I did two pints of sauce today.

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This is a chunky tomato sauce. A number of blanched tomatoes stood by while I sweated onions, carrots, minced garlic, basil, thyme and oregano. Oh yeah. Salt and pepper.

I ended up with two pints ready to go into the freezer, to make those cold winter nights remind me of summer.

More tomorrow, when I blanch and fill green peppers with a sausage mixture. A feast that makes Stouffer’s look pathetic.

The freezer is filling up. That’s for sure.

My Out of Control Kitchen

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It happens every August. The tomatoes get way ahead of me. I can’t keep up with the processing. I have to dedicate an entire weekend to plowing through the produce and filling the freezer.

Add to it the CSA glut.

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For $19 a week you too can be overrun with fresh beautiful vegetables. OK, so there are also some fruit shares here. They are a slight additional cost.

Lancaster Farm Fresh delivered some pretty heavy boxes this week. We got:

FIVE zucchini (seriously? in a half share?)
A bag full of baby sweet peppers
A bag full of hot Hungarian wax peppers (not pictured, more below)
A bag full of baby eggplants
Two heirloom tomatoes
Three slicing tomatoes
Four golden beets with greens
Two heads of garlic

The sugar baby watermelon was part of our fruit share. Along with more of these.

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Eight more incredibly juicy luscious sweet peaches.

I swapped those peppers. For a reason to be revealed later.

I did get this.

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Three ears of sweet corn from the swap box. You can never have too much sweet corn.

My chicken share this week was a 3.5 pound heritage bird.

As for Friends and Farms, I am glad we moved to an individual share for the summer. That way we aren’t completely overwhelmed with produce.

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This was bread and cheese week for the individual share. I picked pumpkin pecan bread from the Breadery. Ewe cream cheese from Shepherds Manor.

Spring Mix. Donut peaches. Nectarines. Sweet potatoes. Heirloom cherry tomatoes. A yellow onion. Green beans. An eggplant.

As for the protein, not pictured, we got catfish, and sirloin steak.

Definitely enough to keep us from the grocery stores for a while.

I just need to get out there and start freezing food.

Blue Ribbon Herbs

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My second blue ribbon ever.

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Again for my herbs.

I have lots more from the fair, but this year again my herbs were the star of my entries. Again, my heirlooms fell short, but I did get three more fourth place ribbons and a fifth place ribbon.

My favorite:

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Fifth place for my ornamental vegetable display. This is the first time I did an ornamental display. I am learning from the other participants how to arrange what I submit. I was pleased to get the ribbon though.

As for the fourth places, they included:

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My yellow plum tomatoes.

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My yellow onions.

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And for most unusual vegetable. My cardoons.

I’m happy. I did twelve entries and won five ribbons. Not a bad return on investment, so to speak.

I love participating in the county fair. It’s small enough to not be intimidating, but large enough to have some serious competition. The people are really nice and help us newer entrants.

If I could only get my heirloom tomatoes to ripen in time, I would be ecstatic.

We will be at the fair at least four days, maybe five. We love to watch the 4-H’ers show their animals.

We visited our friends in the barn, and checked out some of their daughter’s animals. Like her lambs.

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All decked out to keep nice and clean before they are shown.

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And, some of their goats.

Tomorrow we will go and visit, seeing how their pigs are doing. They weren’t there yet, yesterday. I am so impressed with the dedication of the 4-H’ers to their animals.

To us. the fair isn’t about the midway and the rides, it’s about the community.

Home Grown Goodness

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Tonight’s dinner traveled less than 100 miles, for the most part, to our table.

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I realized as I was cooking that most of the ingredients, except for oil and spices, were from our CSA, our Friends and Farms basket, my garden, or England Acres.

We got a few medallion steaks from England Acres. These were the last ones. I pan seared, then oven finished the steaks. Each was petite. Just the right size. About 4/10 of a pound each.

The vegetable mix was easily made, as well.

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It is so simple to pan fry a mix of fresh vegetables. Start with a good light olive oil. Get it really hot, but not smoking. Add the onions first. Then I added the specialty squash. Then the baby eggplant. Then the tomatoes. I sprinkled these with fresh thyme from the garden. A little salt and pepper. The best part. A small slab of unsalted butter.

The other component of this dinner was a microwaved potato. Covered in pan juices after taking the steak out of the pan.

You can eat locally all the time. Not just during the Buy Local Challenge. Oh, I forgot. The wine was local, too. But I didn’t remember to take pictures. It was a Glen Manor Petit Verdot. From Virginia.

Tabouleh Time

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Sometimes one item in a CSA box or a Friends and Farms basket will inspire me. This week, in our Friends and Farms individual share, there was a huge bunch of parsley. All I need to make tabouleh, that I don’t have, is red onion.

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Tabouleh only requires parsley, bulgur, tomatoes, onion, lemon, mint, olive oil and cucumber. Salt and pepper. I actually have bulgur in the pantry. This weekend I will be making my version. We will see how it turns out.

As for the rest of the basket, a peak into the insulated bag.

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This week is my eggs and yogurt week. I chose vanilla yogurt, to use up some of the fruit around here to make popsicles. More on that later, too. We got one large pork chop (in an individual basket, there isn’t that much meat, which is a good thing). We also got a small package of “party wings”. Grilled wings next Monday or Tuesday, I think. The pork chop was seared, then finished in the oven, for dinner tonight. A little lemon pepper and olive oil. That’s all.

Two ears of corn.

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They were also served at dinner. Can’t get much fresher than this.

The rest of the basket.

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One Savoy cabbage. One container of Baby Bellas (which will become mushroom sauce for a special dinner with filets of beef). Two green peppers. Three potatoes. Three Lodi apples. Four yellow and four purple plums from Catoctin Mountain Orchards. One cucumber (for that tabouleh).

I like the size of this basket. I like the fact that we only get bread every other week. Three weeks of eggs for us, as we get eggs instead of milk. Cheese once a month. Breakfast meat once a month. Yogurt once a month. A good rotation, so you can use it up and not waste it.

And, the plums are delicious. Can’t decide my favorite. But I love Catoctin Mountain Orchards. We like to drive up there and find little treasures in their market. They are just north of Thurmont, off of US 15.

A good basket this week. A way to use up some of my tomatoes, that’s for sure.

Is It Extreme #buylocalchallenge when …

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… it’s the normal way you live?

This isn’t a challenge. It’s our life. We can thank Friends and Farms, Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA, Howard County farms and markets, and my garden for making the vast majority of our food come from local sources.

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Like this luscious fresh fruit in our CSA share. Without worries of bacteria. We got plums, peaches and blackberries from LFFC on Thursday. The plums are gone already. My husband must have had a couple with every lunch and dinner. They are so ripe, so flavorful.

LFFC also gave us this.

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In a half share.

Golden Beets
Rainbow carrots
Red potatoes
Royal burgundy beans
Ping Tung long eggplant
Heirloom tomatoes
Corn (I swapped zucchini for these)

I gave up four zucchini for two ears of corn. There is way too much zucchini in my garden.

As for the add ons.

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The cheese share included: Millich Kivvel, a raw milk cheese reminiscent of Camembert. Aged Goat Cheese, and Goat Feta.

The chicken:

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Thighs, drumsticks and boneless, skinless chicken breasts. These chicken deliveries have been one very welcome addition to our food sources. Last week I slow baked legs and breasts. Served the legs for dinner and the breasts became the center of a Caesar salad for lunch.

I love having antibiotic free, hormone free chicken in our diet. Once you tasted free range chicken, it is really hard to settle for those bland tasteless store bought chickens.

As for Friends and Farms, and my individual share. We got ground beef and ahi. I forgot and put them away before documenting my food.

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There was a large quantity of heirloom squash in the bags. A few assorted tomatoes. Two peaches. Blackberries. Green beans. Kale. Frisee. Eggs and bread this week. Honey whole wheat from The Breadery.

Tonight for dinner I grilled the ahi. And some of the squash. Brushed with Italian dressing and seasoned with salt and pepper.

The individual basket is perfect when you have a garden, or for one or two people. I like getting bread biweekly and eggs three times a month. Cheese once a month. Breakfast meat once a month. A good rotation. One that we customized to fit our needs.

All in all, doing the Buy Local Challenge is easy, when you have local food sources delivering the bulk of your protein, dairy, vegetables and fruit.

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CSA chicken, with my onions. And CSA heirloom tomatoes. Dinner Thursday night.

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