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The Bird …

… the whole bird, and nothing but the bird.

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This week’s Freedom Ranger chicken delivered with my CSA pick up. We have been getting whole birds about every three weeks. It is an add on, and a very welcome one, to our vegetable deliveries from Lancaster Farm Fresh.

My freezer now contains only free range chicken, from either LFFC, or Friends and Farms, or England Acres. They may cost more than grocery store chicken, but to me, they taste so much better. I just have learned to eat less at a meal, and the increased cost is leveled out.

Besides our chicken, this past week we got the makings for some soup, now that the weather might actually cool down.

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I could do a chicken corn chowder using the corn and the cauliflower. I could do traditional soup, with those carrots and onions. I could roast the chicken like I did here.

The red peppers, along with the two from Friends and Farms, were charred over the grill this morning. Put together with some garlic, eggplant, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, they became my favorite dip for veggies or pita.

Tomatoes, being served tonight with mozzarella and basil.

Our fruit share this week was also a nice surprise.

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Bartlett pears, Jonamac apples, and nectarines. It really is getting late in the season, and we are loving the change in fruit and vegetables.

Not Your Mama’s Veggies

Cardoons. Edamame. Trombone squash. Those strange things in my garden, and in a friend’s.

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Let’s start with the squash. I have to grow these next year. A friend at the Conservancy grows them. They are away for two weeks. Their instructions to us were harvest the tomatoes for the food bank, and take any squash that get longer than a foot.

I decided today to go see what grew since our Tuesday food bank day. Two new squash just went nuts over the three day period. I will be cooking them tomorrow for a pasta primavera.

As for my garden.

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I harvested a half dozen cardoons. A member of the artichoke family. They are peeled. Prepped. Ready to make tomorrow night as part of my primavera.

Finally.

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Only one of my edamame plants survived. I took them off the vine. Cooked them in salted water. Added them to tonight’s dinner.

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Grilled Haloumi with the edamame. Grilled the tri tip from Friends and Farms. Also grilled the last of the bok choy and some fennel. Served over spring mix.

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With an awesome local wine.

Hey, maybe the food around here is a bit weird, but it tastes great. And, there are some wonderful local wines out there.

Small Packages

As in good things come in small packages. If you were an individual, or a working couple who traveled or ate out more than twice a week, a CSA wasn’t always a good fit.

For us, having the option to pick a half share, or an individual basket at two local food sources here in Howard County, has been really enlightening. It gives us more freedom, while giving us affordable fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, bread and herbs.

We, being retired, do like having both options. An individual basket from Friends and Farms, and a half share CSA from the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative.

Here’s what we got and what we are doing with this week’s Friends and Farms share.

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This is the vegetable and bread portion. Two lovely large red peppers. Five peaches. Two ears of corn. Green beans. Garlic. An onion. Two heirloom tomatoes. A loaf of honey whole wheat bread.

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The green beans and corn were steamed for dinner tonight.

As for the protein.

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Yellowfin tuna. I did order an extra piece as the individual share only gives you one portion. A small tri tip steak. Scamorza cheese, a take on mozzarella.

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The tuna was slow cooked tonight with one of the tomatoes, and one of my heirloom pineapple tomatoes. Covered with lemon zest, olive oil, white wine vinegar and herbs.

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Definitely a good start to using the basket. Tomorrow night. Grilled tri tip, with leftover mushrooms from last week. Caprese salad using the other tomato and some of the scamorza.

The peppers, along with some eggplant from my other source, will become a dip this weekend.

I like the way my two sources complement one another. Easy, seasonal fresh food.

T’storms

As in one of the more prolific storms that have hit us this summer. Almost half an inch of rain in ten minutes last night.

To me, thunderstorms and massively heavy rainfall impact my garden. To me, that garden is a luxury and not my life. I feel for all our local farmers dealing with these deluges.

At least I got most of my tomatoes off the vine yesterday morning, before the skies opened.

I did learn one very important lesson from my winery friend. When the weather is periods of heavy rain for much of the summer, leave your weeds around your vegetables. Some vegetables, like my tomatoes, don’t like more than an inch of rain a week. The weeds compete for all that moisture, and the tomatoes do better. In periods of drought, you need to weed aggressively.

This year, the weeds may look bad, but they are keeping my tomato plants from rotting.

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I have learned also to go out there and pick the tomatoes before they really split open, and are prone to rotting.

Every year poses new challenges. This year, cool rainy weather. Did you know we never hit 90 degrees here in August until the last day of the month?

Peaches and Peppers

And other things being done in the kitchen.

I’ve literally been overwhelmed with peaches this year.

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There’s a few reasons for it. Besides getting peaches most weeks in the CSA, I was managing the site for a month while the site host was on vacation. Add to that, it was August. Lots of members didn’t show up. I ended up with the host’s peaches a few weeks, and a few leftover fruit shares. One week, we had six watermelons left. Food bank got most of it, but the peaches. Became a gateway to preservation.

I made peach syrup. I vacuum sealed a few bags. I have just enough left to make jelly, using the peaches and the jalapenos from my garden. We ate copious amounts of juicy fresh peaches for lunch. And breakfast.

As for the peppers.

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The last week I hosted, I had my sweet pepper item, plus some from the swap box, and a share I picked up for a vacationing member. Yesterday, I blanched, sliced and froze four bags of peppers. This winter there will be lovely bright peppers on chicken, or fish, or pasta.

The beauty of having a CSA share is that ability to preserve and freeze the extras. In the dead of winter, those ingredients will liven my dinners. Grab a bag of peppers. Some tomato sauce. Some caramelized onions, maybe. Some pesto. Mix and match.

Those bright red Amish paste tomatoes in the picture above became tomato sauce. A quart of it. The slicing tomatoes met the same fate. Two pint jars. The freezer is almost full. Winter won’t be dull and dreary around here.

Whole Foods

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Opened in Howard County ten days ago. Now, I suppose we are complete as a upscale grocery store containing county. We have the Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Wegmans trilogy.

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Everyone knows that I support small local businesses, mostly family owned, but still, there is something about stepping into one of these specialty grocers that brings the “foodie” side to the forefront. We headed off Monday morning to have an early lunch and see if Whole Foods had a few items I can’t find at other stores.

First of all, you can’t beat the view from the “dining” area.

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Second, where else in a food store do you find flowers on the tables?

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I think they did an excellent job of transforming the former Rouse Building into something exciting, open and interesting. I also have to give them credit for using local purveyors and acknowledging it.

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We tried a link of each of the two homemade lamb sausages, one Greek and one Moroccan. The verdict, liked the Merguez, and tossed the Lukanika. It had way too funky of a smell to it. Not a good fit.

I also got caught up in trying the handmade gnocchi. The spinach one.

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Made it for dinner, with meatballs. Used some of my freshly made sage butter for the pasta.

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All in all, it will be a place we use to find bulk items, like spices, rice, grains, nuts. They have a very large selection. The seafood also looks good. Right now, I head to Wegmans for seafood, but Whole Foods is closer.

And, Friday morning at 9:30, it was easy to pop in and grab a few hard rolls for an egg salad lunch, and some pita for my eggplant dip. I do like their bakery items.

First impressions. Favorable.

Inspiration

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That one item.

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Today it was tarragon. When I picked up my Friends and Farms basket yesterday, tarragon just inspired me to get out the poultry recipes and start using them.

At the pick up site, there were quite a few people picking up sample baskets. I am thrilled to see the interest in eating regionally and seasonally, and seeing people get excited to try this way of sourcing our foods.

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This week was one that would give you ideas on menu planning. We got apples, cantaloupe, kale, cucumbers, potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, green onions, mushrooms, and lettuce mix. Add to that the proteins in my individual share.

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Chicken legs, eggs, yogurt and pork loin.

The tarragon and chicken inspired me to make soup. The pork loin and apples sound like a meal pairing to me. The yogurt and cucumbers made tzatziki tonight. Eggs went into an egg salad today.

I like the thought process the company uses to put together cohesive baskets. I also like that small size, perfect for an individual or a couple. Just the right amount of protein, and not overwhelming amounts of any one item.

Well, except for that tarragon. There is quite a bit in that package. I think I may be drying some of it. To use later in soups and stews.

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