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Red Veggie Week

When I opened my newsletter from Lancaster Farm Fresh, four of the eight items had the word “RED” in them.

I am a firm believer in eating by color. I even have the book from Williams Sonoma that tells us how great those rainbow of color veggies and fruit are for us.

According to the book, here is what red veggies bring to us.

“Red fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants for protection and healing. Promote heart health. Promote urinary tract health. Help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Improve memory function.”

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Here is what we got this week. That black futsu squash (which happens to be orange at the moment). That Italian style chicory. Bok Choy. Onions. And the four “red” items.

Red radishes. Red bell peppers. Red romaine. Red potatoes.

I include the potatoes because I will parboil them and use them in potato salad, including their skin. With organic veggies, I don’t mind using the skin.

Besides the vegetables this week, my fruit share included these items.

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Honey crisp apples. Asian pears, KIWIBERRIES! Again. We really like these berries. A great snack.

This was a cheese week too.

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Three cheeses. Once a month. Every month is different. We have had no repeats in five deliveries. A smoked gouda. A sheep’s milk ash cheese. And, a lavender goat cheese.

We also got 2.5 pounds of chicken wings and a couple of skinless chicken breasts in our chicken share.

This basket, with our Friends and Farms basket, means no trips to the grocery store again. Unless we run out of toilet paper.

“Chopped” In My Kitchen

Sometimes it does feel like I’m on that Food Network show. Like yesterday. Our weekly preview email from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative.

Tells us we are getting Galantina chicory, and black futsu squash. REALLY???? I thought we were beyond being surprised.

Like in the past, with things like Thelma Sanders squash and White Hamon sweet potatoes.

The squash intrigues me, as I may try growing it in the garden next year. Drying seeds and planting them. Like this.

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That was from my Thelma Sanders squash.

Seriously, I can’t imagine not having the fun associated with opening an email that introduces me to new and exciting vegetables, that inspire me to cook outside my comfort zone.

I am crossing my fingers that this fall we get more salsify.

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Life’s too short to eat boring food.

Home Cooking!

That’s what I am doing today. Getting most of the CSA and F&F items cooked or prepped to make my week easier.

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Like making crock pot cauliflower leek soup.

I know we can be pressed for time, and trying to put dinner on the table is sometimes close to impossible. That’s why lately I have been cooking on one day and just reheating for a number of dinners after long busy days.

I had three leeks hanging around in the refrigerator. Got a cauliflower in the CSA basket. Scallions from Friends and Farms. I always have almond milk in the pantry. A little chicken stock from the freezer. Salt, pepper, garam masala. Made enough soup for at least two meals. Or one dinner, two lunches.

After taking it out of the crock pot, I did mash it up a bit with a potato masher, to make it creamier.

I also dry roasted the beets, for salads all week. I took four chicken breasts and put them in the oven next to the beets and baked them. I now have chicken for salad. For dinner tomorrow. And, for a stir fry.

Dinner tonight. Another one of those frittatas I rely on. The half not eaten will be lunch early this week.

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This one used a few of my tomatoes. The rainbow chard from the CSA. The top half of those scallions mentioned above. The last of the Scamorza from last week. Six eggs. Seasoned with a little Italian seasoning.

I have a real head start on eating well on the three days this week that we will be running around. And I made a major dent in the meat and vegetables delivered last week.

Still need to find a nice evening to make the edamame for an appetizer. And, to make hot pepper jelly with all those peppers we got.

Synergy

When the whole is so much greater than the parts. Or, how we can feed ourselves wonderfully using two regional sources that add up to a week’s worth of outstanding meals.

A different take this week. Grouping.

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Protein. Both of our food sources, Lancaster Farm Fresh, and Friends&Farms. It was a chicken heavy week. F&F is trying out a new supplier. Bell and Evans. This week it was boneless skinless chicken breasts. Which have already become dinner. Pics at the end of the blog post.

My LFFC chicken share (that reminds me, check fall sign up) had three packages this week. Thighs, breasts and drumsticks. I should have done a throwdown between the two suppliers.

As for the rest of the Friends and Farms protein. It was an egg week. And, smoked bacon. A half pound of Nell and Sons ground pork. I am thinking frittata with the pork and eggs. Making the bacon to use with some greens. And, with a really good potato salad.

Let’s move over to fruit.

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Stanley plums and apples. From F&F. I am thinking of one huge gorgeous plum cake to take to the pot luck for Conservancy volunteers. As for LFFC. Three huge peaches. Destined to become peach pepper jelly. More on that later.

KIWIBERRIES! Check out the site to see where these lovely little gems originate. One of the real benefits of belonging to LFFC. Exotic fruits and vegetables.

There were two packages in our fruit share this week.

Vegetables. First, the LFFC half share.

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We have four ears of bicolor sweet corn. Cauliflower. Hot mixed peppers. Pink radishes. Beets. Rainbow chard. Edamame and green beans in the colander. The French breakfast radishes came out of the swap box, as I gave up my green mizuna. I have enough greens in the house.

Moving over to F&F.

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They advertised this week as wrap week. Using that awesome hydroponic butter lettuce. Raw peanuts. Scallions. Cucumbers. Thai basil. Heirloom cherry tomatoes. Zucchini (can you say fritters).

For the next week, like all our other weeks, we will enjoy homemade goodness, like this.

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Tonight I baked, in the same large pan, the Bell and Evans chicken breasts. Two for dinner tonight. One for my husband to take for a dinner while radio contesting this weekend. Last week’s cauliflower. Covered with olive oil, white balsamic, garam masala and salt. Last week’s tomato. Split open and filled with Italian dressing. A side salad from hydroponic lettuce, cucumber and radish. That meant I used up the last of the veggies from a week ago, and I am ready to take on this week’s.

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.

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.

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.

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