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In The Box

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The view from above.

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This is what you see when you open a half share Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA box in the middle of August.

The new one in the box is the bunch of Malabar spinach. I do grow this in my garden, but mine is nowhere near as large as these are. There are nine ears of corn in there. Because I swapped three zucchini for the corn. There is a bag of green beans. A bag of rainbow carrots. An eggplant. And, hidden below those two heirloom tomatoes.

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A bag of roma tomatoes, suitable for making sauce. As for the fruit share.

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It must be a banner year for peaches, as we have another six in the fruit box. Last and certainly the largest. The watermelon, a red seedless variety.

No pictures of the frozen chicken in my chicken share. There were two large boneless skinless chicken breasts. And, two whole legs of chicken.

Moving over to the Friends and Farms bags. Just a small amount, except for that cantaloupe.

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An individual share. Two tomatoes. Two peaches (I have no idea where they are, they aren’t in the picture). One zucchini, I am happy to report. Two ears of corn. Three humongous leeks. Hydroponic lettuce. And that okra. I need to go look for something new to do with okra.

Protein.

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Fresh kielbasa. Bacon. Eggs. A new supplier of chicken. Breasts this week. They were already the main item at dinner tonight. Baked in olive oil with a coating of mixed herbs.

Plans for tomorrow. Make tomato sauce. Find a recipe for a curry using the Malabar spinach. Make peach jam. It’s summer craziness when everything starts ripening at once.

My Out of Control Kitchen

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It happens every August. The tomatoes get way ahead of me. I can’t keep up with the processing. I have to dedicate an entire weekend to plowing through the produce and filling the freezer.

Add to it the CSA glut.

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For $19 a week you too can be overrun with fresh beautiful vegetables. OK, so there are also some fruit shares here. They are a slight additional cost.

Lancaster Farm Fresh delivered some pretty heavy boxes this week. We got:

FIVE zucchini (seriously? in a half share?)
A bag full of baby sweet peppers
A bag full of hot Hungarian wax peppers (not pictured, more below)
A bag full of baby eggplants
Two heirloom tomatoes
Three slicing tomatoes
Four golden beets with greens
Two heads of garlic

The sugar baby watermelon was part of our fruit share. Along with more of these.

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Eight more incredibly juicy luscious sweet peaches.

I swapped those peppers. For a reason to be revealed later.

I did get this.

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Three ears of sweet corn from the swap box. You can never have too much sweet corn.

My chicken share this week was a 3.5 pound heritage bird.

As for Friends and Farms, I am glad we moved to an individual share for the summer. That way we aren’t completely overwhelmed with produce.

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This was bread and cheese week for the individual share. I picked pumpkin pecan bread from the Breadery. Ewe cream cheese from Shepherds Manor.

Spring Mix. Donut peaches. Nectarines. Sweet potatoes. Heirloom cherry tomatoes. A yellow onion. Green beans. An eggplant.

As for the protein, not pictured, we got catfish, and sirloin steak.

Definitely enough to keep us from the grocery stores for a while.

I just need to get out there and start freezing food.

Putting Food Away

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As in “What Do I Do With All These Tomatoes?”

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My preserving food program is under construction. Due to be presented at the Howard County Conservancy Mt Pleasant, on August 23rd. Details here.

I have been dealing with excess CSA veggies and fruit for a number of years. Plus, I do a number of pick your own excursions, looking for those staples, like tomatoes, berries, apples. I do many techniques, other than canning, that are simple to use to prolong the local goodness well into the winter.

I have been creating a new page for my site. It will be the go-to page for recipes and tips and places to find affordable fruits, veggies and herbs to put away for the winter.

All this is taking time. Time I have being retired. But, simple techniques like ice cube trays used to make individual fruit or pesto portions, or maybe my blanch and freeze technique for tomatoes and peaches, will inspire people to keep a few special favorites on hand. To make peach pops in the winter. Or add strawberry ice cubes to a glass of wine to make sangria. Or defrost a pesto cube to make summer tasting pasta.

Keep checking here to see when my new page goes live. And, come see what fun we can have with the fruits of our labor (for all us gardeners out there). August 23rd, 10AM at the Conservancy Mt Pleasant. Free program.

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Last Week’s CSA Basket

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I didn’t forget about my CSA basket last week. I just have been so busy with other things I haven’t recorded it.

Lancaster Farm Fresh delivered another large varied basket of goodies to our pick up site. This is what we got, and what I have done with some of it.

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The fruit share. An add on. Peaches and blueberries this week. They are destined to become popsicles later this week. I am waiting for the peaches to ripen just a bit more. And, making blueberry syrup out of these berries. A blueberry swirl in the peach and yogurt pops.

As for veggies.

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Four green peppers
Two lemon cucumbers
A bag of red potatoes
A bag of fairy tale eggplants
Five orange carrots
Two yellow onions
Two large heirloom tomatoes
Six ears of sweet corn (I swapped zucchini for this)

Heaven knows, I don’t need more zucchini around here.

The tomatoes are gone. Sliced and covered with chicken salad, made using this week’s chicken breasts. Two days worth of lunches.

The corn has been boiled and eaten for Sunday night dinner, plus the extra ears will be part of a salsa later this week.

A few of the potatoes made it to Sunday’s dinner as well.

Tomorrow I will be grilling those cute baby eggplants with a few steaks and potatoes, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the day I met my husband. Opening some old wine that pairs well with steaks.

I am considering blanching, dicing and freezing the “trinity”. To use this winter. Peppers, onions and carrots. A good mix for soups, stews and other one pot dishes.

All in all, the summer bounty this year is being put to good use. Not a bad week’s half share. I am crossing my fingers though, and hoping we get a watermelon this Thursday. It’s that time of year again.

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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VEGETABLE HALF SHARE
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

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

CHICKEN SHARE
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?

#hocofood

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
Dill
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.

#hocofood

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.

#hocofood

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