RSS Feed

Tag Archives: CSA

Date Nights

Posted on

With a local and small business influence. Do you do date nights? You know. Dinner and a movie. Or binge watching your favorite TV series. For us, we go out infrequently in the winter. Don’t want to deal with slick roads and deer.

We also find it interesting to put together a special meal. Maybe tapas. Maybe home cooked, but always using some of our favorite local foods.

Besides, we can put together one awesome meal at a fraction of the cost of eating out.

Take this week. Snowed in, for the most part. Many things to do around here. Not particularly the best time to head off across town.

We like to pick a special local wine. Like this one.

fandf csa and small plates 024

You can build a meal around a very nice local white or red. Your preference. For us, we have four “go-to” wineries. Linden. Big Cork. Black Ankle. Old Westminster. We’ve always found their wines to be excellent. Yes, they are a bit pricey. All of them, but putting it in context, a bargain compared to buying wine in restaurants.

Consider this. A glass of house white may cost $7-$9 for a five ounce pour. Two glasses each over the course of dinner. $30-$40 before tax and tip. I can buy lovely wines like that Linden Hardscrabble for less than $30 after discount. At $30, a restaurant bottle of wine may be in the $10-12 retail range.

I start with a chosen wine. Build a meal around it. Our latest date night used 100% purchased foods. No cooking. No fussing. Just a couple of quick preparations. And I used small local sources for most of the food. I felt like I had created one of those small plate dinners like we enjoy at Pure Wine.

fandf csa and small plates 020

This was it. Mushroom pate and spring rolls from Roots. I have tried to make my own pate and it’s OK, but not as good as Roots makes. The salmon. From Friends and Farms. Offered on a fresh catch special recently. That lovely watermelon radish. From our Lancaster Farm Fresh winter CSA. The bread, from Harris Teeter (only because we were told our CSA bread shares were victims of the blizzard). The bread was a Limited Edition Russian Black bread, made by their bakery.

fandf csa and small plates 027

Sipping that big buttery Chardonnay while enjoying small tastes of fresh foods. Not a bad start to date night.

Total cost. Less than $60. Much less than going out.

Challenge yourself some Friday night. Pick a favorite local wine. Head over to Roots or Davids and see what looks good. Or, just pick up a rotisserie chicken. A few local cheeses. Maybe some chocolate for dessert. We love to have a red wine with dinner and finish off with a locally made chocolate like the ones from Salazon, made just north of us in Carroll County.

And rent a really good movie.

The Waiting Game

Posted on

And now we wait. All of the snow prep is done with the exception of a couple of last minute items. Over the years I have learned a few more tricks to keep us from having problems when it comes to water and with the perishable foods.

fandf and snow prep 008

Keeping a few of the milk bottles around, just for times like this. We have a small refrigerator in our laundry room. For snow events, I completely reconfigure that fridge to be nothing but liquids and the lunch and dinner options, which could be moved to a cooler if the fridge were to get too warm.

I keep one small cooler with an ice bag in it. It becomes the place to put whatever I need to take out of the small fridge. Our large refrigerator/freezer NEVER gets opened while the power is off. The freezer has been reconfigured to have all the meat on the bottom with other odds and ends on top, and covered with ice packs and plastic bottles that were filled with water and frozen yesterday.

After our longest outage ever, the 22 hour one after the derecho years ago, the fridge made it up to 44 degrees and the freezer to 16 degrees. In the summer heat. Yesterday I turned the temps down to minus six in the freezer and 36 in the fridge.

I also splurged on a treat, in case we have to eat by candlelight.

fandf and snow prep 002

When I picked up my Friends and Farms basket yesterday, I pre-ordered a couple of packs of smoked salmon. They will go into that small fridge, to be used as a “fancy” meal base. I have that large lovely loaf of sourdough from the CSA, along with the cheeses. I also will be making a full four cup pot of jasmine rice. I am perfectly content to make salads using rice, and salads using beans or chickpeas. Between the smoked salmon and the two cans of sardines in the pantry, we could have some awesome candlelight dinners. Unfortunately, the cold could become an issue at some point, and our wood stove is in our basement.

I have cranked the heat up in our house today. Up to 74 degrees. If we lose power, we never open the west facing doors, using the smallest east facing opening, our mud room back door, to minimize heat loss in the rest of the house. Replacing our doors and windows over the past few years has helped us.

Finally, I learned two new tricks when it comes to having water, the non potable kind. I fill up the top loading washing machine and stop the cycle when it’s full. No clothes in it, just water. In a pinch, it could be used for flushing the toilets. Add that to our “recycling” of sump pump water. The other simple thing I do is fill the larger side of my sink, to put dishes in it. Keeps down the need to use paper plates, and when I get power back, we just pull out the dishes and fill the dishwasher.

Last minute tips. We have at least three pair of gloves for each of us. Usually, when we come in from snow removal and we have power, we throw gloves and hats in the dryer. Can’t do that with no power, so we have those spares while waiting for the others to dry out.

And, I filled all the birdfeeders and watered all my indoor plants.

I think I’m ready. Just hoping we don’t meet this when we open our mudroom door.

winter 2010 227

Home Delivery

Posted on

As we muddle along in one of the first single digit wind chill days this winter, I am reminded at just how much I liked the home delivery options for food that are available here. We had our initiation into home delivery with Zahradka Farm. Back in 2011-2012 when I discovered them. At the time, they were somewhat unique in our area. For many reasons.

Like pick a size. Six, ten or fourteen item produce and fruit. Meat option. Egg option. Some pantry items you could order. I’ll never forget that first delivery a week before Christmas. With half a fresh turkey as the meat item.

fall and winter csa 006

Plus, the romanescu cauliflower, which became a special treat in our Christmas dinner.

christmas 2011 102

Covered in grated cheese and pepper and spices. That was the beginning of what became a highlight in the dead of winter. Really fresh and varied vegetables through those dark days.

My last post was written about a new option around here. The Hungry Harvest, fruit and/or vegetable deliveries. They are what I believe to be the fourth option that allows you to stay home nice and warm, and receive fresh food delivered right to your door in Howard County.

Pair Hungry Harvest with FarmtoFork, a recently launched venture by Carroll Farm to Table and other local farms. You could order your vegetables and fruit from Hungry Harvest and your meat, eggs and dairy from FarmtoFork. We are lucky. Carroll is not that far from our house, and we have gotten their whole chickens to roast. They have a farm stand open all year. Times of operation are on their web site.

Last but certainly not least, the long standing home delivery service from South Mountain Creamery. They started with dairy products, and slowly expanded to include everything from meat to hummus to vegetable and fruit bags. We used to buy their products at the Glenwood farmer’s market. They stopped attending many of the local markets when they instituted year round deliveries to this area. You can choose weekly, biweekly or monthly recurring deliveries, or just order what you want when you want. Check out where they deliver.

south mountain visit and day trip 079

I still head up to the Creamery to pick up items for parties, like the cheese choices. Besides, nothing tastes better than their fresh milk, unless maybe it’s their ice cream.

Now that I think about it, a recurring delivery from these local companies would be a perfect gift to give elderly family members. You could easily put together something that covers the coldest dreariest months. Not a bad thought to keep in mind for next year.

For us, if our favorite Amish CSA ever stops supplying us locally year round, we would be very interested in using any one of the four.

Ugly Food

Posted on

I’m going to step up to the plate, so to speak, and talk about the latest venture in our area. One that rescues “ugly food” and delivers it to those who want to support the reduction in food waste. A very noble cause. One near and dear to those of us who grow and eat ugly food on a regular basis.

my garden haul one day in 2014

my garden haul one day in 2014

Any gardener will tell you. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. It still is good food.

Hungry Harvest, based out of the incubator for entrepreneurial efforts here in Howard County has gotten major press due to their appearance on national TV. Shark Tank. Where they received a substantial investment to assist them in growing their company.

I first heard about them from The Unmanly Chef, a fellow local blogger. I saw his pictures and thought, not bad. Doesn’t look all that ugly to me. The cost is a little high, but they deliver, and they donate to local food banks and food desert areas with every purchase you make.

I commend them for their commitment to providing good food to local charities and food banks. They aren’t the first around here to do that, but I love their level of commitment. We all need to stop judging food by appearance. Ugly food tastes just as good and sometimes better than that blemish free perfect produce sold in stores.

Hungry Harvest delivers produce bags. Organic produce bags. Fruit bags. To your door. Their prices for their regular bags seems reasonable. If you prefer organic, you can do better in price from our local CSAs. As for fruit, since I haven’t seen a sample, and I know what I pay for a fruit share from my CSA, I think they are a bit high here, as well. For example.

csa ff aug 28 002

This share costs me $8.50. For the $25 or $35 a share from Hungry Harvest, I don’t think I would be getting 3-4 times the amount of fruit.

I know that delivery drives that price up a bit. I am OK with that. I hope as they mature, that they will use more local farms and less volume produce companies from Jessup. I hope they can work with local farms and orchards to get that less than picture perfect stuff that doesn’t get picked. Like at Larriland.

DSC_0006

Lovely to eat. Not all that photogenic. Ugly tomatoes really are some of the best out there.

I also hope this helps us in our food bank gardening. In the past, we have been asked not to provide split or blemished vegetables. We have given tomatoes to the chickens at the Conservancy, the ones that had split after the rains. Our food bank turned them down. Maybe this partnership will eliminate the bias against blemished fruit and vegetables. I certainly hope so.

I wish Hungry Harvest the best of luck in growing their business. It’s a great concept, and easy for consumers to use. The weekly pricing, unlike the hefty upfront price tag of a CSA, is a great selling point. The more choices we have, the better the products.

Spring Has Sprung

Yes, I know it’s the first day of winter. But here in Howard County, some of the cherry trees have buds on them. The temperature on Christmas Eve is predicted to be 73 degrees F.

And then there’s this.

csa and cookies 011

That would be the garlic greens aka spring garlic that was in last week’s CSA box. Obviously the fall plantings are taking off in all this warm weather. Besides the garlic we have been getting lots of greens. Usually they are done by this time of year.

csa and cookies 006

There was a bag of spinach. A bag of “spring mix”. A couple heads of romaine. Plus, those watermelon radishes, which I love.

fandf and colcannon stuff 007

Sliced thin. Sprinkled with a little kosher salt. Perfect appetizer.

As for those garlic greens. A great addition to colcannon.

fandf and colcannon stuff 006

This week’s base for colcannon was a combination of items from two weeks of CSA deliveries. Parsnips, turnips and potatoes, cooked. A mix of garlic greens, Napa cabbage and spinach. Not a traditional colcannon. But a very tasty one.

Here’s another rendition of my colcannon. With the post that tells how I made it.

spring stuff 001

A simple dish to make, in any season. Some white stuff. Some green stuff. Some milk and butter. What’s not to love about colcannon?

Unintended Consequences

“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” – Yogi Berra

I think about this Yogi-ism often when confronted by what I consider to be strange logic. Like recently where a fellow CSA member mentioned that they might not sign up for CSA again, because they got too much food from it. To me, I understand that they may have signed up for a wrong size basket, but still, I find it interesting to hear. I am happy that we get more than we expected, because that means it was a good harvest year for the farmers.

I know of years where we didn’t get much. I know that often in the early spring months the baskets are a little light. Which brings up questions from the members that they aren’t getting their money’s worth.

Compare. The first spring share this year.

food bank and csa week 1 022

A half dozen potatoes. A few beets. A small bundle of asparagus.

By the end of the summer season.

lffc last summer week 006

Bags of peppers. Greens galore. Huge carrots. Brussels Sprouts. Not only more items, but more of each item as the year progressed.

It isn’t just the quantity of items in a CSA that prompts comments. Other observations over the last year or two perplex me as well. Comments about the early bird CSA at Breezy Willow. Because they bring in citrus from Florida. I think it’s a great thing to give us fresh foods in that final part of winter, when we are all ready for something fresh.

early bird csa week one 004

In March, when most of what you get is from cold storage, it was wonderful to see pink grapefruit and oranges from Florida. I think that’s a good thing. One to celebrate.

As for the other local or regional offerings available here in Howard County. We are so lucky that we have choices. Year round choices. Almost every CSA in the area has experienced growth. Sometimes those growing pains have consequences. Like when Friends and Farms has to change chicken suppliers to find one that could continue to cover the size of the program.

F&F may 22 011

I really liked those Free Bird chickens. But Locust Point in Elkton is just as good.

Then there were the bread suppliers to Lancaster Farm Fresh. In fall of 2014, they used this small artisanal baker from Lancaster.

DSC_0004

Loved those boules. The following year, they had to give it up, as the demand was too great for their capabilities. Now, we are lucky to have She Wolf Bakery in Brooklyn making the vegan loaves that can be used for all the members.

fandf csa 009

Change is inevitable. Success in our local vendors often requires adjustments. I for one am happy to see them succeed. I look forward to starting anew in January. With a winter CSA and my Friends and Farms protein and dairy bag. Just happy that we have such great choices so close to where we live.

Chicken Soup

xmas fandf and soup 026

The perfect thing to make when it’s cold out. Only it isn’t cold out.

But it is the perfect thing to make if you are in full bore cookie making mode. Which I am.

This is a different soup recipe. Compliments of the Amish Market in Laurel. J.R.’s stand, to be exact.

We picked up some packages of organic bean soup mix there when we visited a while ago. Yesterday I wanted to make a simple soup to use up one of the chickens in the freezer. To make room for Christmas cookie dough.

fandf and sunset 004

The recipe called for a small whole chicken. This local one came in a recent Friends and Farms protein and dairy bag.

As for the rest.

fandf and thanksgiving 013

I had celery, carrots and onions from a CSA delivery at Thanksgiving. I had chopped off the tops of the celery and kept it in the freezer to use for soup.

This is slow cooked, six hour simmering chicken soup. With broth so rich it is amazing. Perfect for dinner with one of the breads from SheWolf bakery.

csa 004

I soaked two cups of the mixed beans overnight. Rinsed them and put them in a pot with water, the whole chicken and spices. This recipe called for turmeric, savory, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I added some tarragon. After the chicken was pretty much done, you take it out and strip it off the bone. I put it back, added carrots, celery and onions, and let it simmer on the small burner for three more hours.

xmas fandf and soup 025

Look at how thick and rich the broth got. This recipe made enough soup for three meals for the two of us.

Tomorrow, while I am a cookie making machine, I can just heat it up and have an easy dinner.

I need to get back to the market and buy some more of these beans. It is the organic “harmony” mix.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 544 other followers