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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.

Extreme #buylocalchallenge

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As is eating something local at every meal. Easy to do if most of your food comes from a CSA, a regional food service, and your garden.

I count my garden as supporting local farmers as most of the plants were purchased from local farms. I don’t buy plants from national chains like Lowe’s or Home Depot, but from local farms like Sharp’s or Greenway. Both Howard County farms.

Today was the first day of the challenge. Breakfast included toast with CSA raspberry jam, for me. And for my husband, cereal with CSA blueberries.

Lunch for him. Tuna salad with my onions. For me, cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots, dipped in a yogurt dressing. Yogurt from PA. Cucumbers and tomatoes, my garden. Carrots, CSA.

Peaches from the CSA for a snack.

Dinner tonight.

Local wine!

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Big Cork, from Rohrersville MD. Ready to go to the table with some of my flowers from my front yard.

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CSA chicken thighs being baked with CSA potatoes, my onions and Wayne Nell smoked bacon (Friends and Farms supplier from York PA). They buy from farms in the area surrounding York.

The salad.

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Baywater Greens from Salisbury supplied the leaf lettuce. CSA spinach, beets, gouda, blueberries.

Oh, I forgot, there was corn on the cob, too. From the CSA.

Very little today that didn’t come locally. Off to a good start. On to Day Two tomorrow.

Agretti Anyone?

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A new one in this week’s CSA share.

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Agretti. Described here with a wonderful sounding recipe (to be dinner tomorrow night). This recipe is competing with the Mario Batali Babbo recipe for agretti with fennel and anchovy vinaigrette. But I don’t think I have anchovies at the moment.

The thing I love most about this CSA from Lancaster Farm Fresh is that totally unexpected off the wall “CHOPPED” worthy vegetable that I never heard of before.

It is precisely why I keep coming back to them every year.

Today this is what we got.

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agretti – Eastbrook Produce
Chinese purple garlic – Eagle View Acres
green kale – Cherry Lane Organics (I swapped for lemon cucumbers)
8-ball zucchini – Red Fox Organics
red cherry tomatoes – Organic Willow Acres
red beets – Back Woods Organics
bicolor sweet corn – Healthy Harvest

5 peaches – IPM – Fifer Orchards
1 pint blueberries – Little Buck Organics
1 jar raspberry jam – Oak View Acres

breasts (1 pound)
whole leg (1 1/2 pounds)

I roasted the beets already, and had two ears of corn with dinner tonight. Beets will be sliced into salads. Cukes will go into a tzatziki. I am also making a ratatouille tomorrow night that will show up a few times. Once as that pie I mentioned yesterday.

The chicken breast will be poached and become salad.

Can’t wait to taste that agretti tomorrow night. Another new adventure. Thanks to LFFC.

Tomorrow I will talk about the Friends and Farms basket and how I will be taking the Buy Local Challenge to the EXTREME!

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By the way, the corn is awesome.

Taking the Buy Local Challenge

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For the third year in a row. The MD Buy Local Challenge. Dates are July 19-27.

This year I almost forgot about it until I received the reminder email. Since most of our food is local or regional, we already eat at least one item every day that comes from our Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA, our Friends and Farms basket, a local market or farm, or my garden.

If you wanted to join in, it is easy to do. You don’t even have to cook. Buy some fruit.

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Peaches and blueberries are definitely in season. Or how about watermelon, or cantaloupe? Blackberries?

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Seriously. Take a trip to Larriland and pick fruit, maybe take home some tomatoes.

Hit the farmers market in Ellicott City Sunday. Some Breezy Willow eggs. Cheese from Shepherd’s Manor. Meat from Orchard Breeze.

The list goes on. If you want sungold tomatoes, check out Love Dove at the Miller Library or HoCo General Hospital market.

Or, any of the Howard County markets. And, don’t forget wine counts too. Black Ankle maybe> Or Elk Run? Or Big Cork?

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Are you in?


Lancaster Farm Fresh

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Today I picked up my CSA. Like I do every Thursday. I decided to concentrate today on the CSA. And talk tomorrow about the other major source of food into our home.

Since 2011, I have been a member of this cooperative. They provide me with fresh organic vegetables, and now, chicken, fruit and cheese. The cooperative has 3000 members across a six state area. Around 80 Amish farmers belong to the coop. With the assistance of a transportation and management effort that connects them to the “plugged in” world.

As for what we got today. In my “half” share, costing me $19 a week. Seven to ten items, usually.

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We got:

Red Leaf Lettuce
White Onions
New Red Potatoes
Red Beets
Eight Ball Zucchini
Royal Burgundy Beans
Fennel (we actually got cabbage, I swapped for this)

I really like the variety. And the just enough amount.

I added a chicken share.

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Today I got a pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts. Destined to become chicken salad tomorrow. And two pounds of wings. There will be Buffalo wings Sunday.

I have a fruit share. Today:

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Two pints of organic blueberries. And, the first of the fresh peaches.

The berries. A mix. Some will become the basis for a lemon blueberry zucchini bread (hey, gotta use those zucchini). The rest. Flash frozen on a cookie sheet. And saved for the dark of winter.

We also have a monthly cheese share. Which gave us great stuff a few weeks ago. Still loving that raw milk cheddar.

Between this, my garden, and Friends and Farms, we don’t need grocery stores except for staples.

Loving that local regional sourced food.


The Garlic Harvest

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Every year I plant garlic. Just because I love garlic. Last year I planted 18 cloves of my LFFC CSA garlic. Organic garlic. Red and white versions.

If you try and plant grocery store garlic it won’t sprout. It is treated not to sprout.

This was a harsh winter. But most of it survived under the snow.

Yesterday was harvest day. I got 11 heads of garlic out of the ground. I had three not make it through the winter. And, three that were so puny they became spring garlic. I have no idea where the missing one is. It just wasn’t out there.

I got a dozen scapes earlier this year which mostly became pesto.

Out of the eleven harvested, three had issues.

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You can’t dry bruised garlic, so these were roasted today. Probably will be used in a pasta dish the next few days.

As for the eight good heads of garlic, they are hanging in the dark cool powder room off the mud room.

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My new hanging method. Skirt hangers. It keeps them separate so they can dry evenly.

If you get excess garlic this year in your CSA, you can plant some in the fall. Just cover it heavily if you expect sub-freezing temperatures. I planted in October last year. Garlic needs to over winter.


In A Pickle

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And Beyond.

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With all the pickling cukes around here, I decided to make refrigerator pickles. Easy to do. Mix the spices. Dill, peppercorns, garlic scapes, salt. Three to one ratio of water to vinegar. I made spears, thick and thin slices. Four pints.

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These weren’t hot water processed. They will keep in the fridge for about two months.

CSA this week brought me more cukes.

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We had pickling cukes and a slicing cuke. A pound of snow peas. Broccoli. A large sweet onion. Carrots. Golden beets. A pound of green beans. I have fava beans, because I swapped the three zucchini (like I need more zucchini around here). Nine items in a half share. More than enough to keep us veggie heavy in the house.

The fruit share. Two pints of blueberries and a pint of sweet cherries. The blueberries are already being processed for the future.

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I flash froze them and put them away in little containers. Well, except for those that became the aperitif tonight.

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As for the Friends and Farms basket.

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A cuke. Basil. Spring mix. Peaches. A cabbage. Another sweet onion. More green beans. Sweet potatoes. Eggs and plain yogurt. As for protein. Spare ribs and ground turkey. I found a recipe for larb “kai”, which I will be making with turkey instead of chicken.

Oh, and I forgot about my Lancaster Farm Fresh chicken.

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A four pound free range bird.

So far, in two days. Beans are gone, in two salads. Onions are gone. Roasted. Beets are gone. Roasted. Tomorrow there will be cole slaw on the menu. Using those carrots and a cabbage.

Really good veggies coming in. And the quality of the meat is awesome.

Here’s to eating locally. And well.


Lock Those Car Doors!

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It’s zucchini season.

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You must act now to keep gardeners from leaving zucchini in the back seat of your car! I swear you can watch them grow.

We got zucchini today from three sources. In the CSA. In the Friends and Farms basket. And from my garden. Bread is in the future. Chocolate zucchini bread, that is.

A quick look at what we got from our local and regional sources for food.

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Friends and Farms gave us heirloom zucchini, tomatoes, a cucumber, white potatoes, green bell peppers, leaf lettuce and scallions. The fruit was a pint of blueberries. I picked white bread this week. Eggs. Swordfish. Beef kabob cubes. This is an individual basket. Just the right size for a couple who have a garden, and a CSA subscription.

The greens are already gone. They were in tonight’s salad.

As for Lancaster Farm Fresh and our half share CSA.

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Eight items in the vegetable share. Two pints of organic blueberries in the fruit share. Three lovely cheeses. Chicken share a mix of boneless skinless breast meat and whole legs.

The veggie share. Eight ball zucchini. Green cabbage. Peas in the shell. Green beans. Pickling cukes. One large slicing cucumber. New red potatoes. And heirloom spinach (which was supposed to be kale, but I swapped).

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Gouda, cheddar and bleu cheese. Every month a threesome of interesting fresh, mostly raw milk cheeses.

I don’t need grocery stores. I have it all in our “grand slam”. CSA. Friends and Farms. Our garden. Jenny’s market. Where today I picked up oranges to make my fennel salad. A few grapes and plums for my husband’s fruit fix.

Here’s to eating what is freshest and from small local sources. And, that garden thing.

Zucchini anyone? I can deliver.


Viva La Difference!

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Five weeks in. Two different sources of local and regional food. They have their strengths and a couple of weaknesses. But, all in all, they are a good fit for how I cook.

How is a CSA different from the regional buying service? I think I am getting there at understanding it all.

Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. Seventy five farms in Amish country. Almost all of them organic. Lots of options, but you pay for the whole season up front.

This year I picked a half share. Since I have a garden. And my Friends and Farms subscription.

That means I get 4-7 organic items weekly. This week we got six items.

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The spring heavy veggies, as PA is slightly behind us in MD, season wise.

A large Napa cabbage on the right. A robust head of romaine. Enough garlic scapes to make more pesto. A healthy amount of snow peas. Three kohlrabi. And a bunch of asparagus.

This year I added on a couple of extras. Like a fruit share.

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This week, strawberries and rhubarb. Perfect to make a crisp or crumble.

The chicken share. Every week, 3-4 pounds of chicken. This week.

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A whole heritage bird. I really enjoy grilling or roasting these chickens, and making stock from the skin, bones and innards.

As for my other major food source, Friends and Farms. We are signed up for an individual share this summer. A thirteen week commitment. We have also done a small share when it isn’t CSA or gardening season.

I like getting the mix of veggies, fruit, protein, dairy and bread.

This week. The protein.

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Andouille sausage. Bacon. Chicken breasts. The Andouille was dinner tonight. With a side of braised cabbage. The chicken. Will be a stir fry Sunday. This week we also got a dozen eggs. And, these veggies and a fruit.

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An onion. Garlic. Kohlrabi. A yellow squash. Tomatoes. Radishes. Kale. Blueberries.

My add ons this week. A way to get more without going to a store.

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Yogurt, to make tzatziki and a few dressings. Butter, not pictured.

As for the ice cream. Given as a credit because some of the mussels last week were cracked or dead. As usual, the company comes through if the products aren’t up to their standards.

Between these two sources, we get a huge majority of our food. One requires a season paid in advance, and not a large amount of substitution. But the quality is excellent. As is the variety.

The other. Excellent flexibility and customization options.

Who needs Giant Food? Or the new Whole Paycheck coming to Columbia? Not those of us who know we get great food at better pricing than Whole Paycheck, and better quality than Giant.


A Triple Play

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Putting together the garden, the CSA and the Friends and Farms foods.

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Slow cooker short ribs with kale over polenta.

What came from where?

My garden:
Defrosted tomato sauce from last year’s harvest
Baby leeks
Garlic Scapes

Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA:
Curly kale

Friends and Farms:
Short Ribs
Garlic (roasted first)
Polenta (from a long time ago)
Trickling Springs butter

First, I browned the short ribs.

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I like cutting them into individual portions and browning them in olive oil.

In the crockpot:

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All of that gorgeous kale. Three baby leeks. Two scallions. One pint of my basic tomato sauce made last September and frozen. Four cloves roasted garlic. Salt and pepper. The ribs were then placed on top with their pan sauces.

Cooked for eight hours on low. Falling apart ribs. Tangy kale.

I then made a quick polenta. 1 cup polenta whisked into three cups of water, that had 1/2 tablespoon of salt added. Whisk until creamy, then add two tablespoons unsalted butter.

Put the polenta on the plate. Cover in kale and short ribs. Open a good local red wine and you have a locavore meal.



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