RSS Feed

Tag Archives: value of CSA

Menu Planning

Sunchokes. For the third time this winter.

csa feb18 020

It seems this seasonal vegetable is best after a hard frost. Heaven knows we have had enough of those around here. The sunchokes are a Northeastern US native plant. They are the tubers from a type of sunflower. A perennial and if not carefully corralled they can become invasive.

They are a great probiotic for most people. They contain inulin, are good at promoting the healthy “gut bacteria” we need, and keep your blood sugar under control. If you aren’t one of those people sensitive to them, and then they cause discomfort. We do OK with them, but this is the third week out of five that they are showing up in our food baskets.

This week, they were in my CSA basket.

csa feb18 012

Our winter vegetable share. Week Five. Cabbage, sunchokes, portabellas, onions and garnet sweet potatoes. You will notice two cabbages, as I traded the black radishes. I am currently radished out, and we are in one of those food ruts, where we enjoy steamed cabbage as a side dish. Well, and making lots of cole slaw since we are drowning in carrots this winter. All this cold weather is good for certain vegetables. We seem to be getting quite a few of the hardy varieties that do well when the weather gets cold enough.

The omnivore share gave us these for a pantry item, a cheese and meat.

csa feb18 014

Daisy flour. Linden Dale raw goat milk cheese. Ground beef. I love, love, love Linden Dale cheeses. We used to buy them all the time up at the Lancaster Market. I am so glad they became a supplier to the cooperative, and that we get these lovely goat cheeses brought to us. Daisy flour is also a treat. I first bought their flour at the Catonsville Atwaters Bakery, and they really are different than what you may be used to baking with.

Friends and Farms this week.

csa feb18 003

This is the small basket, suitable for two people who eat at home four or five nights a week. The carrots, and those two turnips came to Friends and Farms via the same truck that delivers our Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA. More and more, they are using the cooperative to supply fresh organic seasonal vegetables. Cremini mushrooms (there will be mushroom soup this weekend). Hydroponic lettuce. Eggs. Apples. Kale, another hardy vegetable that gets sweeter after a hard frost. I love to sauté kale with garlic and bacon to serve as a side dish.

There is also a quart of Atwaters chicken stock this week. A new supplier. From one of our favorite lunch places in Catonsville. We got short ribs this week. And ground beef for me, as the substitute for dairy. Oh, and shrimp. Which only survived two hours in the house, as it was dinner tonight.

csa feb18 029

Shrimp over polenta. The last of the polenta from a very long time ago. Found it in the back of the little fridge, where I store flours and nuts, to keep them fresh. One cup left. Enough for two meals. Did you know polenta easily melts again when reheated. Tonight, I added some corn from an earlier basket. I store it in a container in the freezer, and pour out what I need.

What else will I do with this week’s stuff? Crock pot short ribs. Crab stuffed portabellas. Egg salad. Mushroom soup. Cole slaw. Spicy sunchoke dip. I will let you know if this dip is worth making. I wanted to try something new with the sunchokes.

Fresh vegetables all winter. Comfort foods. Who cares if we get negative temperatures the next few nights. We can be warm and have satisfying meals here at home.

Making the Rounds

It was one of those picture perfect sunny “warmer” winter days here today. A day when you get out and do all those errands before the weekend comes. This weekend is chock full of things to do, so early preparations get me ready for Valentine’s Day. Oh yeah, and the Great Backyard Bird Count. And, the New Year program at the Conservancy.

birds and christmas tear down 020

The feeders are all stocked and ready. I did get to Kendalls for nuggets to fill up the woodpecker feeders.

I picked up my Friends and Farms, and my Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA baskets. With a quick stop at Harris Teeter in Kings Contrivance to fill in those items for my weekly menu planning, I am all set to spend Valentine’s Day here at home. Celebrating with a dinner worth hundreds at a restaurant, and that I only spent a small amount of money to purchase.

As for those baskets.

csa feb10 002

Friends and Farms gave us quite a bit of inspiration for cooking.

csa feb10 003

I particularly liked those chicken breasts in the shape of a heart. How romantic.

We also got pineapple oranges from Florida. Similar to Valencia, they will become a salad or two, with those beets and a red onion from a while back.

As for those sunchokes, they herald a new partnership for F&F with one of the farmers I frequented often at the Dupont Circle market, Next Step Produce.

I am thinking a really different interpretation of colcannon, using sunchokes, kale, and parsnips, along with a few potatoes. Why not? Who needs to be stuck in traditional recipes when we have so much fresh organic produce to inspire us?

The pork roast and the apple cider. Will be dinner Friday night. Along with cole slaw. See below for my CSA basket that makes this dish possible.

Here is the Lancaster Farm Fresh Omnivore basket today.

csa feb10 013

Green cabbage. Perfect for slaw. That fresh kale. Mushrooms for a salad with the arugula from F&F. Mega beets. I love dry roasting beets and using them in salads. That humongous celeriac is making me crave roasted root vegetables. Again, I find it motivating me to break out the cookbooks and try something new.

Who needs to fight the crowds at restaurants on Valentine’s Day. Certainly not us. We will be dining in style with minimum fuss, thanks to our local purveyors of fine foods.

Nearly Impossible?

Posted on

Local Produce? In the winter? Around here?

A few years ago I may have made that statement myself. Now, I know better. There was a long discussion on one of our local facebook pages, Clarksville Happenings. About rotten produce (and meat) at our community grocery store. Lamenting the apparent lack of quality control, and attention, from the big chain.

Lots of discussion about using Roots, Wegmans, Boarmans and Harris Teeter as alternatives to getting less than stellar fresh foods.

One comment struck me. A good thought. Using mostly local foods instead of those flown in from far away. Eating locally and sustainably. But, the caveat. That it was nearly impossible to find local produce in the winter in the Northeast.

Dark Days Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Dark Days Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Before I took the Dark Days Challenge in 2012, I didn’t know what was available locally. I signed up for a winter CSA. Lots of root vegetables and a few flash frozen fill ins. I found DuPont Circle, Silver Spring and Tacoma Park year round markets. You could make that once a week challenge meal using those sources.

Now, there are many more options for fresher better foods. I get 90% of my food from Friends and Farms (which sources regionally) and Lancaster Farm Fresh (which delivers a CSA to Columbia while dropping off wholesale foods to MOM’s, Roots, David’s and Friends and Farms).

A December CSA Delivery

A December CSA Delivery

All my meat and seafood except for specialty items I get at Boarman’s. Dairy. Bread. Produce. Pantry items. Every week. Fresh from the greenhouses or high tunnels.

It means eating seasonally. There aren’t many choices for fruit. There are quite a number of flash frozen items to fill in the gaps. Still, I can eat most of my meals without going to a store. For those who are ready to use local produce, check out my local resources page. Besides my two current suppliers, there’s Breezy Willow Early Bird starting next month.

My carbon footprint is smaller too. Even if it includes citrus from Florida. Which is awesome by the way. Something about grapefruit in a salad that makes cold weather recede into the background.

lasagna 048

Well, time to check on dinner. In the oven on slow cook. The tri tip roast from F&F. Fingerlings from LFFC. Carrots and onions. A mushroom gravy I made from two weeks worth of mushrooms. That soup I made the other night. I thickened the leftovers and made the gravy for the roast. It smells wonderful up in the kitchen.

Local meals. In February. Not impossible at all.

Catfish, Before and After

Posted on

Who out there deliberately buys catfish at the grocery store? We never did. Only since we get food from Friends and Farms have we been lucky enough to expand our tastes, and try new things for dinner.

csa feb4 034

It doesn’t get much fresher. And, not that hard to make. Dinner tonight featured the catfish. It dominated the plate, but we didn’t want to waste that fresh clean fish by freezing it and cooking later. Picked up at 3 pm.

csa feb4 027

Ready to bake not that long after. A simple yet really flavorful preparation. A little olive oil in the pan. White wine. Lay the fish on top and sprinkle liberally with bread crumbs. Some paprika, thyme, salt and pepper. A final drizzle of Secolari’s lemon olive oil. Baked for 20 minutes at 300 degrees.

Served with some of the best tasting fingerling potatoes from today’s Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA delivery. Salad on the side. Two pans. Less than 1/2 hour to make.

The biggest reason I love having these two food sources. Keeping my sense of discovery alive. I never would have bought catfish. I never would have tried some of our weirdest vegetables.

I never would have become a soup maker. My other big thing today. Making a pot of mushroom soup. Which will be blended tonight, and served for dinner tomorrow.

csa feb4 015

Cremini mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms. Portabella mushrooms. Saved for a week to make the soup. Mushrooms are in season. And, so flavorful.

As for the rest of the two baskets.

csa feb4 002

My omnivore basket from Lancaster Farm Fresh. New to me this week. Sunflower butter.

csa feb4 016

My Friends and Farms small basket. Notice those parsnips. Yep, both baskets had parsnips. Another vegetable I never bought in a store. But, one which I really love.

Take a chance. Join a CSA or a food buying service. Expand your culinary capabilities. Eat better. Eat seasonally. Eat locally.

Synergy

Posted on

I love it when a plan comes together.

csa jan28 032

The chili is bubbling away in the crockpot. It will be used for dinner tomorrow. Nachos on Sunday. Maybe a lunch if there’s enough.

My two major food sources cooperated to give me almost all the basic ingredients to make a turkey chili. They also support a few other meals by combinations. Greater than the sum of their parts.

csa jan28 004

Friends and Farms gave us ground turkey this week. This is the protein component of our basket. Besides that turkey, the eggs and bacon will show up in many places. Breakfast Sunday. A frittata next week. And, those pork chops. Will combine with the leftover half of my sauerkraut from last week’s Lancaster Farm Fresh share. Browned, then baked over the kraut, with a couple of sliced apples and some of that lovely apple cider. I am enjoying that cider. It has been used in many pork dishes. Used to make one awesome honey mustard dressing. I like getting it biweekly. It works in so many ways as a liquid base for meals.

The rest of the Friends and Farms basket.

csa jan28 010

Pea shoots. Collard greens. Red onions. Garlic. Apples. Grapefruit from Florida. Shiitake mushrooms. Green peppers. Raw peanuts. Cheddar parmesan bread.

Turn to my winter CSA share from Lancaster Farm Fresh. Picked up right before heading out to Friends and Farms.

csa jan28 001

Yellow onions. Rainbow carrots. Red beets. Portabella mushrooms. Popcorn. Yukon gold potatoes (squared – I traded Rose radishes). Cheddar cheese. Ground beef. Maple syrup.

Think about that chili. Ground turkey. Yellow onions. Green peppers. Garlic. Pull out a few jars from the freezer of tomatoes. A few cans of beans.

Super Bowl Sunday. I am thinking popcorn, peanuts and maple syrup. Close to Cracker Jacks maybe?

Two kinds of mushrooms here. Thinking mushroom soup.

Grapefruit. Beets. Red onions. There will be a salad in our future.

Meal planning made fun and easy when you get locally sourced fresh foods every week. Winter? Who cares? This is really good stuff. Without traveling down to DC to find it.

Evolution

Posted on

Or, how the farming communities have changed their models to reflect their customers’ desires. It used to be the case that Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs used one or two farms that pre-sold their crops. Buy in before the season started and reap the bounty of what was grown. Not much in the way of options, and very risky in bad weather years.

These days, things have changed. The models keep evolving. There are cooperatives. Home deliveries. Buying services. All sorts of sizes, add ons, payment plans and expansion of the definition of local.

Here in Howard County we have many choices in the winter. For us, finally, we got our winter CSA from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. The Coop has over 100 farmers in it now. And, they have expanded their options, offering packages and add ons. Today was our first pick up. What do you get in the winter?

csa jan212015 021

White mushrooms – Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms
Covington sweet potatoes – LFFC
Mixed winter radishes – Spring Valley Organics
Sunchokes – Lee’s Organics
Orange carrots – Rising Sun Organics
Parsnips – Rising Sun Organics

All of us who bought vegetable shares got these in our box. Some of us chose an omnivore package, with three add ons. Others may have chosen a Vegan package, which had tofu instead of chicken. They got bread, instead of cheese.

We got:

csa jan212015 016

Sauerkraut. Colby. Chicken breasts. I love the message on the sauerkraut.

csa jan212015 019

As for the other half of our winter food source, we still love Friends and Farms. Today is our one year anniversary of buying from them.

What is interesting today? The carrots in our Friends and Farms basket come from Lancaster Farm Fresh Wholesale. Many of the produce items come from the same cooperative that supplies our CSA.

As I said above, the evolution in provision of fresh local and seasonal foods has brought us many good choices. There is definitely a program and a package that fits a person or a couple or a family, a package that replaces mass market grocery store food.

Today, our small basket from Friends and Farms included the following.

csa jan212015 027

This was in our insulated bag. Individual Quick Frozen (IQF) green beans. Chuck roast. Eggs. Chevre. Cod. Ground beef. The ground beef was our chosen substitute for bread. The eggs. Our substitute for milk. What I love most about them is their flexibility to tailor your basket to your preferences.

For us, all the protein we need for a week comes in this basket, and in our CSA.

The rest of our vegetables?

csa jan212015 031

Sweet potatoes. Carrots. Thyme. Apples. Hydroponic romaine. Kale.

There are other winter options for food around here. Zahradka Farm delivers weekly. So does South Mountain Creamery. They both let you tailor your deliveries to include your preferences. This is so different from the days of rigid “Take it or leave it” CSAs.

Come March, add the early bird Breezy Willow to the choices.

We really are lucky. We can have fresh regional foods (mostly from a 150 mile radius). You can’t beat fresh produce. Way better than those cardboard tomatoes in the stores.

Tonight?

csa jan212015 033

I pan fried one of those cod fillets in some browned butter. Seasoned with bread crumbs and paprika. Served with those IQF green beans and a sweet potato.

Third Time Lucky

Posted on

With a winter CSA. We finally got enough participants to create a winter pick up spot for a 13 week Community Supported Agriculture program from the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative.

For those of us who like that weekly infusion of a surprise basket of vegetables, getting this off the ground meant quite a bit to us. I chose what is called an “Omnivore Package”. 5-8 vegetables. One pound of meat. One half pound of cheese. One pantry item. Every week. We may get bison. We will get raw milk or aged goat, sheep and cow’s milk cheeses. We will get staples for our kitchen, like honey or maple syrup or horseradish. All from right up the highway in Lancaster County.

They changed our pick up from Thursdays to Wednesdays. I like that too. Gives me more time to get things done before the weekend comes. Then, we can easily heat up and eat, with a good made from scratch meal.

During this four week hiatus from the CSA I have been cleaning out some items from the freezer. Like all the chicken wings we got last fall.

new year food 005

Perfect for a play off game day. Covered in raspberry jam, sriracha, honey, onions and garlic.

Or my meat loaf.

new year food 022

Made with a half pound of hamburger meat and a half pound of pork sausage. A couple of eggs. Bread crumbs. Onions. Salt. Pepper. Drizzled in ketchup. Do you remember your mom making meat loaf? Didn’t you love it? Leftovers made great sandwiches.

I have also been making chicken salad from the chicken breasts. Egg salad from my Friends and Farms eggs. Some days I do feel like we have regressed into that world from my childhood, with all our food made from scratch.

Can’t wait to see what we get next week. Between Lancaster Farm Fresh and Friends and Farms, I don’t need markets or grocery stores this winter. Well, except when we run out of toilet paper.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 491 other followers