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They Lied …

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… in a good way.

Both food sources have delivered far more than advertised. Friends and Farms individual share is more than adequate for the two of us. Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative’s half share, advertised as 4-7 items, is almost always more than that. Examples from this week’s shares.

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An individual basket costs $44 a week. This week there was swordfish and brisket, for the proteins. And, are there enough carrots in the mix? Tomatoes. Cheese. Bread. Potatoes. A couple of ears of corn (outstanding by the way). A small head of cabbage. Bosc pears.

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An almost one pound brisket that will most definitely feed my husband and me. Enough swordfish to make some very nice tacos.

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And, those lovely Italian plums. A snack we can’t stop eating. Free stone. Soft. Flavorful.

As for our other basket. We have rarely gotten 7 or less items. This week, it was ten vegetable items.

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For $19 a week, this is the bargain of the year for us. Ignore the apples. They were in the fruit share. Other than that. Green leaf and red leaf lettuce. Radishes. Golden beets. Green cabbage. Broccoli. Cauliflower. TWO butternut squash. Potatoes. And, a fennel that I picked up from the swap box. I did ditch my purple mizuna. I have more than enough greens around here, and have a couple of oranges, so I can make my fennel/orange/red onion salad.

The fruit share this week.

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Five pounds of Golden Delicious apples. And, a half pint of those addictive kiwi berries.

My chicken this week was a four pound whole heritage bird. Perfect for roasting.

With my butcher shop visit yesterday, and this haul, we are set for a week of meals. Broccoli and cauliflower joined some of that lamb from Mt. Airy tonight. A couple of oven roasted potatoes.

Thanks to these suppliers we are getting the most bang for the buck when it comes to good food.

Real Value

This week’s CSA share.

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As I looked at the selection, I decided it was time to do another comparison of the value of this half share. It cost me $19 a week for the summer, and again this fall, the same, since we signed up early for both seasons.

Most weeks I know this half share would have cost me more in the organic aisles of the local grocery stores. Here, proof again that it is true.

I used Wegmans on line shopping tool, for our local store. They have some of the best prices in the area for organic. The smaller stores, like Roots and MOMs can be even more expensive.

We had nine items this week. I did swap the red kale for some potatoes. I used the cost of the kale in my comparison because that is what we were sent.

Most expensive to buy. Organic cauliflower and broccoli. $4.49 for cauliflower. $3.49 for broccoli. Spaghetti squash (theirs wasn’t organic) $1.49/lb. Mine weighs almost two pounds.

Organic red kale was $2.69 each. Red leaf lettuce $2.29 each. Butterhead lettuce, not organic, $1.99. Hot peppers, not organic, $3.99 a pound. I had almost a pound of them. The only radishes at Wegmans on line were regular. Not the French Breakfast radishes we got. They were $1.99 a bunch. Organic baby beets, $2.99 a bunch.

All told. A smidge less than $27 to buy.

As for our fruit share this week.

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Seven organic honey crisp apples. At Wegmans these go for $3.49 a pound. Mine weighed slightly over 3 pounds. The kiwiberries. Who knows what they cost. They are rarely seen around here. Conservatively $4, maybe $5, if you can find them. Value, somewhere between $14 and $15. My fruit share costs $10 a week. Really worth it for those fruit varieties that are extremely hard to find without possibilities of pesticides.

This week I didn’t photograph my chicken share. It was boneless skinless chicken breast, and a couple of whole chicken legs. So, I will leave us with the photograph of a recent dinner with the Lancaster Farm Fresh chicken.

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The chicken breasts are usually parboiled first. I then make them into whatever suits my taste over the next few days. Maybe Caesar salad. Maybe chicken salad sandwiches. This time, I used some white wine, olive oil, some mixed herbs and quickly heated them in a moderate oven. The wine keeps them moist.

I also made some mushroom gravy using the Whole Foods brand of condensed mushroom soup. I now know that I prefer the Pacific brand, as this was a little thinner. I added some of the cremini mushrooms too. Spooned over the chicken. Served with some brown Jasmine rice.

And, those great zucchini fritters I have made many times. That Smitten Kitchen recipe is now a staple in my recipe file.

Red Veggie Week

When I opened my newsletter from Lancaster Farm Fresh, four of the eight items had the word “RED” in them.

I am a firm believer in eating by color. I even have the book from Williams Sonoma that tells us how great those rainbow of color veggies and fruit are for us.

According to the book, here is what red veggies bring to us.

“Red fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants for protection and healing. Promote heart health. Promote urinary tract health. Help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Improve memory function.”

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Here is what we got this week. That black futsu squash (which happens to be orange at the moment). That Italian style chicory. Bok Choy. Onions. And the four “red” items.

Red radishes. Red bell peppers. Red romaine. Red potatoes.

I include the potatoes because I will parboil them and use them in potato salad, including their skin. With organic veggies, I don’t mind using the skin.

Besides the vegetables this week, my fruit share included these items.

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Honey crisp apples. Asian pears, KIWIBERRIES! Again. We really like these berries. A great snack.

This was a cheese week too.

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Three cheeses. Once a month. Every month is different. We have had no repeats in five deliveries. A smoked gouda. A sheep’s milk ash cheese. And, a lavender goat cheese.

We also got 2.5 pounds of chicken wings and a couple of skinless chicken breasts in our chicken share.

This basket, with our Friends and Farms basket, means no trips to the grocery store again. Unless we run out of toilet paper.

Home Cooking!

That’s what I am doing today. Getting most of the CSA and F&F items cooked or prepped to make my week easier.

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Like making crock pot cauliflower leek soup.

I know we can be pressed for time, and trying to put dinner on the table is sometimes close to impossible. That’s why lately I have been cooking on one day and just reheating for a number of dinners after long busy days.

I had three leeks hanging around in the refrigerator. Got a cauliflower in the CSA basket. Scallions from Friends and Farms. I always have almond milk in the pantry. A little chicken stock from the freezer. Salt, pepper, garam masala. Made enough soup for at least two meals. Or one dinner, two lunches.

After taking it out of the crock pot, I did mash it up a bit with a potato masher, to make it creamier.

I also dry roasted the beets, for salads all week. I took four chicken breasts and put them in the oven next to the beets and baked them. I now have chicken for salad. For dinner tomorrow. And, for a stir fry.

Dinner tonight. Another one of those frittatas I rely on. The half not eaten will be lunch early this week.

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This one used a few of my tomatoes. The rainbow chard from the CSA. The top half of those scallions mentioned above. The last of the Scamorza from last week. Six eggs. Seasoned with a little Italian seasoning.

I have a real head start on eating well on the three days this week that we will be running around. And I made a major dent in the meat and vegetables delivered last week.

Still need to find a nice evening to make the edamame for an appetizer. And, to make hot pepper jelly with all those peppers we got.

Synergy

When the whole is so much greater than the parts. Or, how we can feed ourselves wonderfully using two regional sources that add up to a week’s worth of outstanding meals.

A different take this week. Grouping.

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Protein. Both of our food sources, Lancaster Farm Fresh, and Friends&Farms. It was a chicken heavy week. F&F is trying out a new supplier. Bell and Evans. This week it was boneless skinless chicken breasts. Which have already become dinner. Pics at the end of the blog post.

My LFFC chicken share (that reminds me, check fall sign up) had three packages this week. Thighs, breasts and drumsticks. I should have done a throwdown between the two suppliers.

As for the rest of the Friends and Farms protein. It was an egg week. And, smoked bacon. A half pound of Nell and Sons ground pork. I am thinking frittata with the pork and eggs. Making the bacon to use with some greens. And, with a really good potato salad.

Let’s move over to fruit.

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Stanley plums and apples. From F&F. I am thinking of one huge gorgeous plum cake to take to the pot luck for Conservancy volunteers. As for LFFC. Three huge peaches. Destined to become peach pepper jelly. More on that later.

KIWIBERRIES! Check out the site to see where these lovely little gems originate. One of the real benefits of belonging to LFFC. Exotic fruits and vegetables.

There were two packages in our fruit share this week.

Vegetables. First, the LFFC half share.

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We have four ears of bicolor sweet corn. Cauliflower. Hot mixed peppers. Pink radishes. Beets. Rainbow chard. Edamame and green beans in the colander. The French breakfast radishes came out of the swap box, as I gave up my green mizuna. I have enough greens in the house.

Moving over to F&F.

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They advertised this week as wrap week. Using that awesome hydroponic butter lettuce. Raw peanuts. Scallions. Cucumbers. Thai basil. Heirloom cherry tomatoes. Zucchini (can you say fritters).

For the next week, like all our other weeks, we will enjoy homemade goodness, like this.

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Tonight I baked, in the same large pan, the Bell and Evans chicken breasts. Two for dinner tonight. One for my husband to take for a dinner while radio contesting this weekend. Last week’s cauliflower. Covered with olive oil, white balsamic, garam masala and salt. Last week’s tomato. Split open and filled with Italian dressing. A side salad from hydroponic lettuce, cucumber and radish. That meant I used up the last of the veggies from a week ago, and I am ready to take on this week’s.

Small Packages

As in good things come in small packages. If you were an individual, or a working couple who traveled or ate out more than twice a week, a CSA wasn’t always a good fit.

For us, having the option to pick a half share, or an individual basket at two local food sources here in Howard County, has been really enlightening. It gives us more freedom, while giving us affordable fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, bread and herbs.

We, being retired, do like having both options. An individual basket from Friends and Farms, and a half share CSA from the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative.

Here’s what we got and what we are doing with this week’s Friends and Farms share.

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This is the vegetable and bread portion. Two lovely large red peppers. Five peaches. Two ears of corn. Green beans. Garlic. An onion. Two heirloom tomatoes. A loaf of honey whole wheat bread.

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The green beans and corn were steamed for dinner tonight.

As for the protein.

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Yellowfin tuna. I did order an extra piece as the individual share only gives you one portion. A small tri tip steak. Scamorza cheese, a take on mozzarella.

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The tuna was slow cooked tonight with one of the tomatoes, and one of my heirloom pineapple tomatoes. Covered with lemon zest, olive oil, white wine vinegar and herbs.

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Definitely a good start to using the basket. Tomorrow night. Grilled tri tip, with leftover mushrooms from last week. Caprese salad using the other tomato and some of the scamorza.

The peppers, along with some eggplant from my other source, will become a dip this weekend.

I like the way my two sources complement one another. Easy, seasonal fresh food.

Watermelon Season

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I think it’s time to try watermelon gazpacho. This week, again, but bigger, we got a watermelon in our fruit share.

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I could take upstairs and get on a scale with and without it to see what it weighs, but it’s quite the behemoth. And, it wasn’t one of the large ones on the pallet.

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There are 28 watermelons in the box. This week there was very little maneuvering room in the pick up site. You see up there we also got peaches, again. The weird weather last winter seems to have affected the stone fruit trees, as by this time, we are sometimes seeing other fruit. Getting a little tired of peaches.

As for this week’s veggies.

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Cylindra beets, and peppers, and red potatoes, and eggplant. Oh yeah, and …

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… tomatoes. Two kinds. At least the half shares didn’t get zucchini. Today people were putting tomatoes back into the swap box early when I was there.

Today was a cheese delivery day, too.

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Cheddar aged six years. A very interesting mozzarella, which I will review in depth when I try it. And a “Lanchego”, a Lancaster County Manchego style cheese.

I am really enjoying the variety of these cheeses. Last month’s Millich Kivvel was awesome.

No pics of the chicken. Breasts and wings this week.

Good delivery this week from Lancaster Farm Fresh.

Next post will be about my other food source but I think it’s time to relax and have a glass of wine.

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