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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.

Rhubarb on My Chicken Wings

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A marriage of one item from both of this week’s baskets. Rhubarb from Friends and Farms. Chicken wings from Lancaster Farm Fresh.

Tomorrow, after I recover from all the wonderful food, wine and beer at Wine in the Garden, I will talk more about the other items we got this week. But now, let’s just talk savory rhubarb.

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Last summer I made RhubarBQ sauce. This is the last jar of it.

There will be more of it made with the rhubarb we got today. I think I have enough to do half the recipe that’s on the link above.

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We also got two pounds of chicken wings.

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The chicken is an add on item in our Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative CSA delivery.

What could be better for a lovely summer dinner? Grilled chicken wings served with a dip of savory tangy barbecue sauce that invites you to venture outside that strawberry rhubarb rut we fall into whenever we get rhubarb.

Believe me, this sauce is worth the time to make.


Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

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Ordinarily I am not a big fan of chicken breast. Usually too dry and without the taste that legs, thighs and wings have (at least to my taste preferences).

I tried a new technique for me, and made a very satisfying dinner tonight. Half the chicken in dinner, and the rest will become a chicken corn chowder base in a day or two.


Made in a stir fry pan. Here is what I did.


I had a pound of boneless chicken breast from our first Friends and Farms basket. I wanted chicken pieces that were moist. So, I started out with the chicken fat that had been skimmed off the stock I made with a whole chicken last week. I heated it up in the pan and added the chicken in strips and cubes. Let it cook slowly in the “schmaltz”. Pulled out the chicken and removed all the fat from the pan.

Put in my base.


Remember that jam jar dressing recipe from last week? Made with maple yogurt and Dijon mustard. Well, over the weekend I made another batch right in the mustard container, using equal amounts of mustard and yogurt and adding the cider vinegar and oil in the appropriate ratio. I put some coconut milk in the pan, about six ounces, added two teaspoons of flour, salt, pepper, and a healthy squirt of the mustard dressing. Made a white sauce. Added about four ounces of my oven roasted cherry tomatoes, taken from my freezer. Put the chicken back after adding another couple of ounces of milk to get the consistency I wanted.

A little sprinkle of tarragon, and of paprika. Kept on a low simmer while I made some of the Pappardelle’s pasta from Secolari.


I used about four ounces of the pasta that made two servings of pasta. Added about half the chicken mixture. That leaves me with half a pound of chicken to make the soup later this week.


The finished dish. I was considering adding cheese, but it was fine all by itself.


Served with a Maryland Chardonnay from Big Cork. The 2012 vintage. Perfect match to the creaminess of the sauce, this big chardonnay balanced the meal. The salad. Made with the Bibb lettuce from last week’s basket.

I have to admit. It is easy around here to eat locally, even in the dead of winter. The chicken. The tomatoes from the freezer. The schmaltz from a local roasting chicken bought last fall. The yogurt in the dressing. The lettuce. The wine.

I am glad we signed up with Friends and Farms for the winter. Gets me into making new dishes, and expanding my recipe collection.

Now I need to pull the frozen corn from the freezer and make that soup soon.


Loving the Basket

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Of Friends and Farms goodies. Here, in the dead of winter, it is nice to pick up some fresh veggies, like kale and onions.


Besides these fresh veggies, we had apples and carrots in the bags at the pick up point.


The carrots and those onions will be great in a slow cooker pot roast. We had a chuck roast this week, and some “processed” items.


The tomato puree, with the chuck roast, carrots and onions will form the basis for a pot roast.

We got a piece of sharp cheddar cheese today. Matched with apples, a good snack or dessert.

I chose Maple yogurt this week. We also had cod in the bag, which became part of dinner tonight.

What am I missing? Oh yes, Breadery bread.


This week I chose Montana white bread. To use for toast, and for a couple of recipes that need bread.

While I was there, I picked up a dozen eggs, and a half gallon of apple cider. It is nice to have extra items available to augment your basket.

Can’t complain at all. This is a great deal for getting fresh and flash frozen items to make it through the winter.


Winter CSA Sign Up

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An up and down experience. First you see it. Then you don’t.


Will there be a winter CSA? Hopefully, enough people will sign up to guarantee delivery here in Howard County.

What am I talking about? A Winter CSA from Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op. With delivery at MOM’s Jessup.

I have been hoping we would get a close site for the winter add on of my current CSA (through Sandy Spring). We were told we might get one, but Sandy Spring chose not to host for the winter. Most of our Sandy Spring sites are private homes, not businesses.

Our Columbia pick up point volunteered to host, but Sandy Spring decided not to participate, since Columbia was the only possible site. So, we were first encouraged, then disappointed.

Jessup is five miles further for me to drive, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to drive the extra. Lancaster Farm Fresh is moving possible sites into the MOM’s stores all across MD.

In the end, the great price for fresh organic food made my decision. When you figure the cost, compared to shopping for organic in the stores, the CSA is a bargain.

I really like how they are creating a mix and match package. The basic veggies. Meat, chicken, eggs, butter, milk, yogurt, bread, tofu, seitan, cheese, vegan burger, and pantry items.

Pick what you want. Even if it is only the basic share of 5-8 veggies. I have to give them credit for making it easier for people to customize their food service.

I love the chicken option for the winter. Not just whole birds but different cuts of chicken.


Although I do enjoy roasting these chickens.

I hope the weather cooperates for the winter. At least MOM’s is on a major road right off the interstate.

Looking forward to a winter of eating mostly local, organic food.


Unusual Veggies

Week Two of the CSA. We got a new one here.


Salanova Lettuce.

The latest trend? All I know is that it’s expensive if you can find it, and we got two heads of it this week. $8 worth of lettuce. Along with the eleven other items in our CSA box.


We got:

1 bag carrots
1 bunch collards
1 bag purple Viking potatoes
1 bag Yukon Gold potatoes
1 bunch celery
1 bag yellow onions
1 butternut squash
2 heads freckled lettuce
1 head romanescu cauliflower
1 bag purple top turnips
2 heads salanova lettuce
2 pieces rutabaga

I don’t know what is more fun. The cauliflower. The freckled lettuce. The salanova.

Why I love this CSA. Giving me veggies I never heard of. But, that are so good.

The bread this week.


A whole wheat country French boule. We like the small sixe of the boule. Just enough for a couple of soups.

Adventures in food. That’s what a CSA will bring you.


CSA in the Rear View Mirror

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The 2013 Spring/Summer CSA is over. Every season I do a spreadsheet summarizing what we got, and was the cost worth it.

We belong to Sandy Spring CSA, which uses the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative as the source of our vegetable, fruit, egg, cheese, flower and herb shares. The coop includes 75-80 farms spread across Lancaster County. They directly supply 2500 members, and they supply 500 members through Sandy Spring. This is the 5th year Sandy Spring has used LFFC, and the third year we have been members. We get the basic 100% share of veggies. No add ons, as I like using the farms and markets for my other items.

We pay $740 for our share. 24 weeks. We are promised 8-12 items weekly. We received 283 items, 131 of them unique. That averages out to 11-12 weekly. It also averages out to $2.60 an item, for organic foods. We really do get our money’s worth.

By unique, I include different varieties of the same vegetable. Like green and red tatsoi are different. And, green or red romaine. You get the drift.

The most frequent occurrence this year? Garlic! And, orange carrots. Both were in our box nine times this season. Green beans showed up eight times. Slicing tomatoes seven.

As for very unusual items, this was the year we saw bitter melon, purple mizuna, eight ball zucchini, bintje potatoes, blue radishes, white beets, Gai-lin Chinese Broccoli.

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I found out I liked okra. Particularly when it is grilled. I made my first habanero jelly.

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One of the reasons I like this CSA is that unexpected strange item. With so many farms, providing members from Harlem, Brooklyn, Philly, DC, NoVa, and points between, they have greatly expanded their heirloom and ethnic varieties.

You want Southern soul food? Okra and collards. Chinese? Bok Choy. Tatsoi. Mexican? Habaneros. Jalapenos. Cilantro.

The challenge, which I embrace, is that discovery of a new vegetable, and how to use it.

Thankfully, my better half is just as adventurous and likes almost everything we get. OK, OK, the bitter melon was a fail.

We begin a seven week fall extension this Thursday. I have added a bread share and a chicken share. I will be getting two chickens on the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th deliveries. Bread every week.

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It took us three years to become really skilled at using all of the bounty we receive from the CSA. At first, it is overwhelming but changing how we eat and making lunches and dinners that highlight our CSA veggies has been good for us. In our health and in how we feel.

If you wonder what in the world made me do all this math, it’s that mathematician background. What can I say?


Summer CSA Wrap Up Week

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The end of the 24 week CSA today. Fall season starts next Thursday. Appropriate for Halloween, my box included the escarole that ate New York.


It has to be one of the largest ones I have seen at any market. It looks like tomorrow I will be making escarole and white bean soup.

As for the rest, here is what our email said we were getting.

Purple Viking Potatoes
Cylindra Beets
Green Romaine
Mixed Sweet Potatoes
Bok Choy (it was bigger than the escarole, I swapped it)
Purple Mizuna (swapped as I bought some yesterday)
Butternut Squash
Red Cabbage


We never got mizuna before today, so yesterday I bought some from Love Dove Farms at the Miller Library Market, since he didn’t have arugula. It figures we would get it once I bought some.

As for doing a wrap up, I am putting my collated list together to see what we got over the course of the 24 weeks. What we got most. What the total number will be for uniquely different items.

And, as for what I will be making. There will be hummus, from the squash and sweet potatoes. Eggplant caponata sounds good.

And, speaking of wrap ups, Larriland closes this weekend. Sunday is the last day the farm is open, until strawberry season begins in May. Pink Lady apples are ripe and only available Friday through Sunday.

I may have to go there just to buy a few quarts of cider. Their newsletter tells us that cider freezes well. Maybe I will try it as their cider is so good.


Beans and Greens

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Until we joined a CSA three seasons ago, I would not have considered greens with beans and some sort of broth, with a little pork, to be the basis of so many meals.

I wandered back into my archives and found at least a half dozen versions of the beans and greens themes in them. Like this one.

The Tuscan soup version, with kale.

And, one of my first attempts from the freezer.

Much like this one I made today, but with tomatoes.

Today’s was a lighter variation.


I don’t even use recipes anymore. I just wing it. This one used all the mustard greens we got last week. The rest of the bok choy from a week ago. The turnip greens. I started it in the crock pot with carrots, celery, onion and the thicker white parts of the bok choy. A half pint of my chicken stock. A wee bit of bacon grease. I fried up a pound of bacon that I got at England Acres. It has been in three meals and there is still some in the fridge.

I added the greens, some bacon, two cans of butter beans, and two cups of almond milk, making this a non-dairy soup.

What you see in the finished soup are some Great Harvest croutons. As for flavor, I added salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder, paprika and ground ginger. I also cut up and added an apple to give a hint of sweetness.

Just before serving, I ladled out about half of it, avoiding the bacon pieces, and blended it to give it that creaminess.

A very hearty soup. Served with a “competition” of Sauvignon Blancs. Linden versus Glen Manor. The 2011′s. We decided the Glen Manor complemented the soup better, although Linden was a much bigger bodied SB.


Here’s to the last week of our summer CSA. Looking forward to fall veggies. Glad that my experience motivated me to cook more with hearty greens.


One Dozen …

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… vegetable specialties I would not have discovered without a CSA or garden.

I decided to feature a periodic post about a dozen of something. Every few weeks, I will choose a new category. Next time, it may be cookbooks, or blogs, or wineries, or who knows.

Today, as we are just a few weeks away from the deadline to sign up for a fall extension of our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), I picked veggie items that never crossed my plate, and that I now use over and over.


Like the radish greens in last week’s CSA.

Here is the list:

Radish, turnip, beet, kohlrabi greens – Never see many of the veggies in the stores with all the greens attached, nor did we use them for cooking. Now, they are used in stir frying, or in pesto.

Carrot tops Used these in pesto more than once, and in making veggie broth.

Garlic scapes – Every spring, I love the weeks we get scapes. Jars of scape pesto are in the freezer. Makes it feel like spring, even in the middle of winter, when I open one. I get them from Love Dove Farm, or Breezy Willow, to supplement the CSA and what I grow. You can never have too much.

Squash Blossoms – have been in the swap box a few times. Also, when I grew zucchini, I learned to grab a few blossoms and put them in omelets.

Pumpkin and squash seeds – saved for planting, like my Thelma Sanders, or dried and roasted. I learned to harvest the seeds and use them.

Celery leaves — in the picture below. Huge amounts of leaves on the stalks, perfect for making veggie broth, or starting soups.

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Popcorn — see picture above, where we first discovered the joy of popping corn right on the cob. I seek it out when we go to farmstands.

Chard stems — I have done all sorts of things with chopped off stems, including pickling them. Mostly, they get put in stir fries, or used in frittata recipes.

Cilantro stems – I now know I should be using all the cilantro in the cooking. Maybe not in the guacamole, but in chili, YES!

Pea tendrils – these were a surprise, but you really have to eat them quickly. We got them our first year in the CSA. Haven’t seen them since, though. Microgreens since then, like sunflower sprouts and microradish greens.

Chive blossoms – Now I grow chives and use the blossoms, but once we got chives in our box from the CSA with a few blossoms there. Back before I started blogging, I recall.

Scallion tops – The red and the white scallions we get, sometimes are huge, with tops as long as 18 inches. I have made pesto (the one above that also used carrot tops), using only the darker green tops of scallions. I can’t believe I used to toss that part.

We are heading into the fall CSA season. Can’t wait to see what new items we get, and if our old favorites, like popcorn, will be in the box some weeks.

Have any new found favorites from farmer’s markets? Things you can’t find in the stores?



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