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Tag Archives: CSA

Making It Taste Good

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The mantra of those of us who cook with the thought of providing delicious healthy meals to our families.

We all know it’s sometimes hard to get people to like greens. I am talking about hearty greens, like collards, kale, chard, arugula, escarole, spinach and greens from root veggies, like turnips, beets, radishes, carrots, and kohlrabi.

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The types of veggies we find in our CSA baskets. Like the turnip greens we are getting tomorrow from Friends and Farms. Or those collards from last week.

Interesting that we are real fans of leafy greens. Love the strange lettuce varieties we find. We have learned to stir fry or sauté all sorts of greens. A little garlic. Some balsamic maybe. Or soy sauce.

Make a frittata. Or omelet. Add them to soups and stews. Drop some amazingly good short ribs on top. Put them on pizza.

The possibilities are endless.

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We are about to enter serious greens season. With the markets. The CSAs.

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What could be better than freshly prepared, nutrient rich veggies as part of two meals a day. Salads at lunch. Accents at dinner.

Don’t forget to get your greens wherever you can find them. Popeye would be proud of you.


Keeping It Close …

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… to home. As in eating regionally. More and more foods that come into our house are regionally sourced. And most of what we eat are items that we make.

I just finished the next to last lamb from England Acres this weekend. It was a loin roast, that we grilled Saturday night.

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It ended up feeding us for two nights, as we finished it tonight with a bunch of thrown together side dishes. We bought half a lamb last April. All that is left are one package of ground lamb, and one rib roast. There were 24 pounds of lamb in our delivery.

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We didn’t order a lamb this year, as we are getting a good variety of locally sourced meat from the Friends and Farms basket.

Along with the lamb last night, we grilled a few of those lovely potatoes that were in this week’s basket. And some pesto rubbed bread.

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The potatoes were coated with garlic powder and rosemary. Olive oil too. The bread, from Wegmans bakery, had a coating of red pepper pesto.

The lamb was marinated in red wine, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary.

Tonight the last few pieces were served with some collard greens, and a grilled naan with pesto.

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Those greens. Sautéed in olive oil, with scallions, the last banger, garlic, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and cayenne flakes. Who can resist perfectly cooked collards with that brightness of the lemon and kick of the garlic and cayenne.

Tonight, though, the star may have been the last Elk Run 2001 Cabernet from the cellar. Yes, 2001. Thirteen years old. From Maryland. And still hanging in there. Light. Soft. Almost sweet, since the tannins have faded. Who says Maryland can’t make good wine?

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So, the lamb was from Mt. Airy. The wine was from Mt. Airy. Can’t get much closer for wine and meat. And, better than many restaurants. Not a bad start to grilling season, and spring in Maryland.


If It’s Thursday …

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… it must be market day.

Or maybe I should say basket day. Three months ago I decided to try out Friends and Farms, until the spring CSA starts up. Turns out I really like the variety of protein and the surprises like this one.

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That would be the buttermilk. Back when I started with the CSA I enjoyed the challenge of cooking with new vegetables. Now, we get grains, beans, polenta, monkfish, and other items that aren’t on my normal shopping list. It makes me think outside that rut filled box (mixing metaphors here) that we all fall into. Cooking in our comfort zone.

Looking ahead, next week is a doozy. Catfish and grits.

This week, bangers and mash.

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Along with the suggested chicken and waffles. Since I don’t have a waffle maker, I am considering scones or cornbread. Or maybe blueberry pancakes using up some of my Larriland berries from the freezer.

This week we are slowly moving into springtime. With my favorite tomatoes other than those I grow.

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Hummingbird Farms hydroponic tomatoes. Grown on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

This week’s basket was huge.

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I had to use the wide angle setting. And this is a small basket.

We got edamame. That was a bonus. Spring greens. A mess of collard greens. Those tomatoes. Potatoes. Apples. Pea shoots. Onions. The bangers. Chicken. Breakfast sausage. I got yogurt for the eggs, and eggs for the milk. My standard switch. Grains Galore bread from the Breadery.

So far, it has been easy to use up the protein. The dairy, a little harder. The frozen items I occasionally forget to make, but I do get to them. We love the edamame as an appetizer.

So, today, I hit Wegmans for some tuna. Grilled it with the potatoes. Made a great salad using some spring mix, pea shoots, the last of the cucumbers from an earlier basket.

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I mean, after all, it is springtime and the weather just invited grilling. Since it may rain tomorrow, I am thinking it will be banger and mash night.


Carpe Java

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Seize the Coffee. Some days I feel I need that kick to get started.

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Thanks, Iron Bridge for the awesome coffee cups. Today was a bit dreary, but yet warm enough to feel like spring really may be coming.

Highlights: picking up the Friends and Farms basket.

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And, heading up to the community garden to plant a few garlic chives.

I keep searching for the signs of spring in the yard, and they are getting closer.

As for the basket, those hamburger patties just scream “Fire up the grill!”.

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The cod is destined for a fish and chips dinner. More on that later this weekend.

There were the usual eggs. Some nice looking Colby cheese. Cremini mushrooms. Apples, potatoes, kale, Bibb lettuce and carrots. Frozen broccoli and squash puree.


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I love getting popcorn. So much fun to make. There will be fancy popcorn while watching the final four this weekend.

Getting into that spring mood now. The garden will be coming soon. The grill is up and running. One more day of rain, and then a lovely weekend.


Two Stop Shopping

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As I blogged yesterday, I did the weekly pick up down on Gerwig Lane for this week’s Friends and Farms basket, then I headed over to Wegmans to get those K cups, olive oil, and a few other small items.

Of course, I never get out of there without at least two bags of stuff.

Like the fixings to make a Greek salad, since we got cucumbers this week in our basket.


I have learned to put extra items on my list by signing in on Sunday night and choosing what I know we will use. This week I added extra Asian pears, cucumbers and Bibb lettuce.

Our meats this week included turkey sausage, pork butt and chicken breasts. It was an egg week, and for me, the substitute yogurt for the eggs, and the eggs for the weekly milk, rounded out my protein and dairy.

I won’t need to purchase anything else to make dinners and lunches next week.

The pork, with the sauerkraut, and the pears will make a great dinner.

We also got frozen strawberries. Right now, I am enjoying refreshing drinks made of strawberries and seltzer.

I picked one of my favorite Breadery breads. Kalamata olive and rosemary.


We also had spring mix, sweet potatoes, onions, and broccoli crowns.

Dinner tonight was inspired by those cucumbers, and the mix of lettuces.

At Wegmans, I hit the olive bar and also picked up some Campari tomatoes. I had the last of the Bowling Green Feta in the fridge, so Greek salad got made.


The tuna. Pan seared with sesame seeds and sea salt. The last pieces of the tuna we bought last month. The fingerlings. A splurge at Wegmans. Since all I have in the house are the sweet potatoes from today’s basket. Half the plate. The Greek salad. A piece of that lovely olive bread.

A glass of pinot noir. What could be better for dinner?


Processed Foods

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Since I stopped buying many processed foods and started cooking from scratch I now spend more time thinking ahead about what to make every week.

Meal planning and prepping foods, like the navy beans we got in this week’s basket from Friends and Farms.

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Taking the time to soak and cook the beans in advance means I will be able to make bean soup in the crockpot this weekend.

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The basket this week included quite a mix of items. Looks like some good St. Patrick’s Day meal options in there.

We got chicken breasts, pork sausage and pork hocks. I also caught the note on Facebook that they had a limited amount of lamb cubes available for purchase.

We got red cabbage and potatoes. Onions too. Green peppers. Tomato puree. Lettuce and grape tomatoes for a salad. Apples to use with that red cabbage.

This was a yogurt week. And eggs. And a baguette.

Almost no need to go to a grocery store anymore. Just a few staples needed to make meals.

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If there is one place that I am enjoying this experience, it is in the quality of the food, particularly the meats.

Just the right size for two people. Really fresh.

I am making a lamb stew next week. Navy bean soup tomorrow. A frittata with the eggs and sausage and potatoes. Red cabbage with apples.

In our world these days, the only thing I seem to ever buy in the frozen food aisle at Harris Teeter is the gelato.

I like the way I have changed how I cook. Thanks to the seasonal, regional goodies, and my freezer.


Beef! It is What’s For Dinners

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Twice the past few days we have had beef on the menu. Really good beef. Not bought at grocery stores but from local farms and butchers who use local farms.

Short ribs over polenta.


Both from Friends and Farms.

The ribs were seared first and cooked in the crock pot until they were falling off the bone. Polenta was cooked on the stove and served with some onions and greens.

If that wasn’t good enough, tonight I wanted to use my Christmas present. My rice steamer.


I had a white rice and wild rice pilaf mix from the Shrewsbury Amish market bulk store. My husband wanted beef to go with it, so I cooked a couple of very petite 3-4 ounce filets from England Acres.


They started as a pan sear, then I added mushrooms, peppers and scallions. Finished with the Pacific brand mushroom soup.

Served over the rice.


Since my rice cooker makes two cups of rice, I used half the mixture in some turkey rice soup. I need to bring a dish to the Conservancy pot luck Thursday.

So, today was truly a major cooking day. But, the rest of the week there will be good leftovers.


Monkfish Stew

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OK, monkfish is something I don’t ordinarily buy. Thanks to Friends and Farms, we got some very fresh, very nice monkfish in today’s pickup.


So, I made a stew. I sort of followed a recipe. Carrots, onions, parsnips. Red pepper tomato soup. Tomatoes from my freezer. Broccoli from the freezer. All mixed together and slow cooked.

Finally, seared the monkfish in a pan and added it for the last 15 minutes.

Served with a lovely Verdeca bought at Iron Bridge during the Italian wine tasting series.


What else was in this week’s basket? The makings of a very good dinner this weekend. Short Ribs and polenta.

Maybe with some of these lovely mushrooms.


Along with the mushrooms, there was curly endive and beets. And, O’Henry sweet potatoes.

Apples. And a couple of quick frozen veggies.


Broccoli is always welcome. As are the green beans. I like the frozen veggies. They do well in soups.

What did I forget? Oh yeah, eggs and muenster cheese.


And, bread. This week I picked honey whole wheat. As for the polenta, this is something I really enjoy making, but don’t make it enough. That will be remedied.


There is enough here for two meals for us. Just the right amount.

Can’t be happier about all these inspiring choices for dinners.


This Week’s Basket

It’s been so busy around here, I almost forgot about this week’s Friends and Farms basket. A really full basket this time.

Today my husband and I were talking. He is amazed that we rarely see a need to visit grocery stores much. This pick up of food, and my visits to the local farms, and my freezer full of Larriland goodness pretty much keeps us stocked for the winter.

What did we get this week?


Let’s take it in stages, as it wouldn’t all fit in a picture.

I get a dozen eggs weekly, instead of milk. We are now getting eggs from a farm in Clinton MD. Mostly brown eggs, with a very deep yellow yolk. We got four more Asian pears. Love these pears, as they are so crisp and sweet. We got hydroponic spring mix, enough for two salads. And, grapefruit. Two of those. Root veggies, said the preview. That meant a few parsnips and one humongous carrot. A couple of onions.


The meat included one whole chicken, uncured bacon and a small pork loin roast. Perfect sizes for the two of us. This was an egg week in the description, but since I get eggs weekly instead of milk, this week I got the yogurt. I picked vanilla, in order to mix it with my frozen berries from our summer picking at Larriland. We got rosemary and garlic, perfect for the chicken, and the pork. Potatoes and swiss chard. There will be a frittata early next week.

And, I almost forgot the bread. On the table they had lots of fruit breads this week, from the Breadery. Pumpkin, blueberry, cinnamon raisin. We aren’t fruit bread people so I picked a par-baked ciabatta.


Should be good when I make chicken soup with the leftovers from baking the chicken today.


This chicken, spatchcocked with butter, rosemary, garlic, and tarragon under the skin, and drizzled with olive oil became dinner. Except for the breast meat, which will become soup Sunday.


I made creamed spinach with the rest of the spinach from last week. The rest of the angel hair pasta, cooked and served with grated Parmesan and lemon infused olive oil.

With a local wine. What could be better for a Friday night?


A Linden Avenius chardonnay.

Dessert? Trickling Springs salted caramel ice cream. This was really a local meal, in the dead of winter. Can’t beat that.



I think I may be stretching the limits of flexibility this week. I went in today to pick up my basket of goodies at Friends and Farms, over in Columbia.

First, my pick up day is Thursday but we had an unexpected event yesterday where we would be out of the area for the day. No problem. Make a phone call and switch days.

Earlier I saw mussels on the anticipated weekly list, and even though I used to love mussels, a restaurant in Newport Rhode Island served me some bad ones. They are the one shellfish I can’t get near anymore. No problem. For those who prefer no shellfish at all, and those who don’t enjoy certain ones, you can choose the alternative protein. This week it was a couple of pounds of split boneless chicken breast.

I have already substituted eggs for the weekly milk, and yogurt for the biweekly eggs.

The flexibility is what is unique about this program.

So, what did we get?


The perfect makings for pasta. Seriously. Basil. Fresh angel hair pasta. Tomatoes. Green peppers. Sweet Italian sausage.

Also, an option to purchase some cremini mushrooms to supplement your basket.

The rest of the basket included apples and Asian pears. Individual quick frozen butternut squash and corn. A pound and a half of spinach. Oh, and bread from the Breadery. I chose Montana white this week to use with some egg salad I made with the leftover eggs last week.


Almost forgot. I saw they had Trickling Springs salted caramel ice cream in the market this week. Every week on the black board they list ice cream flavors, and meat options, for those who want to supplement their baskets with extras from the suppliers. There are always cheeses, cider, yogurt, eggs, and other goodies in the fridge by the door, in case your family wants something not scheduled for the week.

I have to admit. I do enjoy the winter baskets with all the creative regional items. When we aren’t drowning in the summer with boatloads of vegetables, these little specialties like the LaPasta fresh angel hair can inspire you for dinner.


My house also smells of basil. I am tempted to make pesto for the pasta, but I do have a few Meyer lemons left so we may have to make Meyer lemon basil fizzes tomorrow while it is still warm out there.


The living basil is already ensconced in a small glass with an inch of water keeping the root ball moist.

Hmmm, tomatoes and basil. Have to find a good mozzarella and I could make Caprese. Somehow this house full of summery scents will hopefully give us incentive to make it through the projected crummy week ahead.



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