RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: May 2012

CSA Week 4 from Sandy Spring CSA

Posted on

Down to Columbia this afternoon to pick up my bounty. It gets harder and harder to fit it all in the picture.

Notice the large amount of green things. Not too many other colors other than the potatoes, and the stalks of the chards. Here is the official list of what was in the box.

I did one swap. Spearmint went into the swap box, and a broccoli came home with me. The veggies are so fresh, and so good to munch on right out of the box. The snow peas were the first victims of my munchies, but other things like the broccoli don’t get put away without me munching on them for my lunch. The mini bok choy are a treat too.

I am glad I have lots of colanders and a spinner, for all these greens. Right now the broccoli is up on the stove in the steamer basket waiting for me to turn it on, to have with salmon and potatoes for dinner.

More garlic scapes and more kale. I am going to try a vinegar, sea salt and pepper version of kale chips this weekend. Also going to make a garlic scape hummus using cannellini beans.

Price analysis a little tougher this week, as some things aren’t easy to find.

Spearmint worth at least $6, as there was enough in the bunch to fill at least three of those packages found at the store. The pound of baby chard, and the pound of mini bok choy, each would cost $9 at Roots, for packaged fancy greens. They would cost more from Our House Farm at Olney. There, they are $14 a pound. I will use the $9 number, so $18 for both. The deer tongue lettuces would cost $2.50 each for organic. Total now up to $29, and not quite halfway done. Collards, kale and yellow chard $3 each at markets. Garlic scapes, 10 of them so two bunches at $2 a bunch to compare to market price. Snow peas, $3 a container at Olney. Yukon Gold New Potatoes, a pound and a half, for about $1.75, or a bit more. Broccoli, count only one, since spearmint was in the box, even though I didn’t take it. Broccoli is $2 at the market.

Grand Total this week: $48.75. Cost of a share $29.75 a week. Savings this week, at least $19. This was a huge week, as the mini bok choy and chard alone are premium greens when sold by organic farmers at the markets.

Total savings to date: $40.15 after only four weeks. If you are vegetarian, or have a large family, this haul is more than enough to sustain you a week. If you are two crazy people like us, you eat all you can, and freeze the rest. I am getting good at making things that go in the freezer for later.

Our weekly trip down to the pick up point off Cedar Lane is well worth it.


Connections Through Food

Posted on

On June 1st, a small group of ten women who met over the internet are setting off on a self imposed challenge to reap the bounty of summer harvests, cook what looks great, and blog about it once a week.

We call it our Southern SOLE Food Challenge. I have a page dedicated to it. The ten of us participated for four months last winter in a challenge to cook locally once a week, when farmer’s markets were scarce, and when our gardens were mostly dormant. We made it through with much support and encouragement by our section leader and chief cheerleader, Sincerely Emily, from Texas. Emily recapped us weekly, and commented on our meals through the entire challenge. SOLE food. Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical. We try to find foods that meet all the criteria, but sometimes sacrifice one or two in order to complete a meal. We certainly have enough choices here in Howard County to find local and organic, and meat that is pastured or free range is abundant. My local resource page will show how many I already have found here. Add to that my garden, which is pesticide free, and has many heirloom varieties of tomatoes and five varieties of cukes.

In essence, we all became acquainted over the internet, and didn’t want to lose the camaraderie once the challenge ended. We chose to continue cooking our local specialties across the summer, and share again what we find, and make using what nature gives us.

Some of us have met, as well. Victoria and I live less than 10 miles from each other, and met at the Glenwood Market a few weeks ago. We frequent the same stores and grow some of the same veggies. We get cooking ideas from each other, and share emails when we see something interesting.

Every week I will post about something local and seasonal that I am doing, maybe cooking, maybe canning or freezing. So will the rest of the group. We will talk about it and comment on our own blogs, and have some low key theme weeks. All for fun, and sharing what we find. Like what to do with kohlrabi, garlic scapes, baby turnips and tons of greens.

I get my CSA box tomorrow, so will be doing something from it this weekend. Summer cooking, easy, light, local and shared. Stay around to see what I will be making. In the meantime, a link here to one of the participants getting ready to start. We all have been emailing and suggesting things to get ready.

Like Rebecca over at Eating Floyd posts about making your own homemade lemon curd. Doesn’t this pic from her blog look simply mouth watering? I am adding this recipe to my to do list because it will be used often. I like her idea of freezing it. I also loved all of Rebecca’s feasts from the winter challenge.

Off to check out how my tomatoes and cucumbers fared after last night’s inch of rain. And, planning what to make for this weekend’s challenge.


Just Another Meatless Monday

Posted on

As opposed to a manic Monday.  It turned out we had another night with dinner not including meat on the plate, and didn’t miss it.  Particularly, when it is hot and humid, we don’t like heavy dishes.  Meat dishes tend to be that way, at least in our house.

What did we do Monday night?

Watermelon, feta and mint salad.  Refreshing, light, made with goat’s milk feta from the Lancaster market. Take feta, watermelon, fresh mint, add good olive oil, salt, pepper, and at the last minute before serving, lime juice. Don’t add the lime early or it will pickle the watermelon.

This feta was so good. If you have the opportunity to visit the Lancaster Farmers Market, buy some.

I grilled the CSA kohlrabi, with apple and garam masala, on a baking sheet for 30 minutes at 500 degrees. It really does taste like cabbage, but milder. The Indian spice mix gave it a good flavor.

We quickly grilled a naan with garlic scape pesto spread on it, as our bread part of the meal.

Served with a lovely 2011 Linden Avenius Sauvignon Blanc.

A tasty grilled meal.


Spicy Kale Chips, and Other Goodies

Posted on

Finally made the kale chips. They were easy but a bit time consuming.

The drink is a blood orange Cuban basil fizz. These were tonight’s cocktails on the deck. I also made a mostly local dinner to kick off our challenge to eat locally at least once a week. I did a veggie frittata tonight and served it with a Maryland wine.

The frittata used asparagus, scallions, turnips and eggs all local. There was some Parm in it, olives and olive oil, none of which are local. The bulk of the meal was local though.

The kale chips, from my CSA kale with salt, smoked paprika and white pepper. Roasted in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Crispy, salty and so good with the cocktail.

The wine, a Black Ankle Gruner Veltliner. A perfect match to the earthiness of the turnips, olives, scallions and asparagus. The frittata was started stove top and finished under the broiler.

It came out beautifully. Don’t even miss the meat in this dinner. Vegetarian, light and so tasty. Dessert later will be the last of the strawberry rhubarb crisp made with last week’s haul from the Howard County markets.


A Day at the Farm

Posted on

Today was the first CSA picnic of the season. I took off this morning to drive up US 1 over the Conowingo Dam to visit one of the organic Amish farms that supply the Sandy Spring CSA, which delivers on Thursdays to Columbia. This is our second year of this CSA and a visit to the farms is a monthly treat in the summertime.

This organic farm is 12 acres of produce and 12 acres of pasture. There were baby chicks and ducks for the children to see, and lots of good food, brought by CSA members and cooked by the Amish families who supply us with our produce. Out of respect for the preference to not be photographed, I only took pics where the families were not present. So, no food pics or pics from the tour. We got lovely homemade ice cream from a farm up the road served with the berries from this farm. We all brought potluck to share.

This pic shows the kitchen garden that CSA members from as far away as Brooklyn NY were checking out. Notice the buggy that transported one of the neighbor families over to the farm for our picnic. We toured the barn and got baskets to go pick strawberries after touring the fields.

The view down the hill showing all the cars parked in a meadow. There were about a hundred of us there today. The CSA has 3500 member families in the Lancaster Farm Fresh Coop, about 500 of them are in Sandy Spring with us.

Strawberry picking on the hillside above the house and fields.

The strawberries are grown completely without sprays or treatments, all organic. That means little critters chew on the leaves but isn’t ugly fruit the best fruit?

This was a picture perfect day, and as I left I followed one of the neighbors up the hill.

By the time I got home, some of the berries were missing from my pint. Berries and ice cream for dessert tonight.

Can’t wait for next month, when we visit another farm.


Summer CSA Week Three

Posted on

I needed a wide angle lens and I had to stand on a stool to get it all in the picture. This week, the box was chock full of goodies.

Twelve items. Yep, we got to the pick up site and found the boxes full of veggies. The list from the site:

A peek down into a loaded box:

I swapped the kale for a second package of garlic scapes. I want to make another batch of pesto to put in ice cube trays and save for winter cooking. Easy, and so good to use in the dead of winter.

My cost analysis this week yielded even bigger savings than the previous weeks.

Lettuce mix – 18 oz. would cost $10 at Roots. Scallions $1.69. Garlic scapes $2 a bunch X 2 = $4. Bok Choy $3.69. Spinach $3. Collards $3. Radishes $2. Turnips $2.50. Kohlrabi $3. Rainbow Chard $3. Broccoli $2.50. Total for equivalent of organic and farm raised veggies is $38.40. I pay $29.75 a week for the CSA. Again, this week’s organic haul is a bargain. Total savings for the three weeks is $21.15. In good years like this one so far, CSAs are a real bargain, but the risk of a bad year is always out there.

Did I use everything last week? All but the kale, which I swear will become kale chips Sunday or Monday. A couple of red scallions, and half a head of romaine. Everything else got used. So, I did OK in the consumption department. I will leave this post with a pic of one of the mostly local dinners I made using CSA and market foods, and a local wine.

The wild ahi wasn’t local, nor was the Pacific Red Pepper Tomato Soup that made the sauce. The ahi was braised in sauce with red scallions from the CSA, and olive oil. The bread is Atwater’s rosemary Italian. The potatoes came from the Olney market. The garlic scape pesto I made using local scapes, not local pine nuts and parmesan and olive oil. The wine, a lovely Vin Rouge from Glen Manor in VA was the perfect weight to complement the big flavors in the pesto and in the red pepper tomato sauced ahi. 2010 was a hot dry year. This wine was 14.9% alcohol but didn’t feel like it. Good balance of flavors. I saw an email from Jeff White, the owner and winemaker, that came today saying this Vin Rouge is running low. If you want a lovely wine in a Bordeaux style produced here on the East Coast, this is a good one.

I will be using more of the garlic scape pesto tonight making Israeli couscous with pesto, and a side of fresh English peas, asparagus and mint. Dessert will be fresh strawberries with buttermilk cake from the market, and vanilla ice cream, not local unfortunately since South Mountain is missing from the market.

This entire month I went to a chain grocery store once, and spent less than $50 getting staples. You can eat well in season using local markets and your CSA. I really love this time of year. The start of the fresh food season. Now, what to do with kohlrabi?


You Like Tomayto, I Like Tomahto

Posted on

No matter how you pronounce it, tomatoes are my summer candy. So, I was excited yesterday morning to find this in my garden.

These are yellow plum tomatoes. I noticed the blossoms last week. Now, I have teeny tiny tomatoes there, and I have blossoms on the Sweet Olive plants, which are a determinate grape cherry tomato. They are an early bloomer and will be done before others produce.

The Wayfarer cucumbers are blossoming, and even have really tiny cukes starting to emerge. And yes, after I snapped the pics I went in and weeded out the emerging morning glories that inevitably come up from seeds left in the soil after last year. I use them as an attraction for pollinators at my perimeter, but they tend to take over unless you grab them out before the seed pods open in the fall.

The wild asparagus in my crepe myrtle is still producing. Besides the four spears in this pic, there are two more tiny ones coming out of the ground to the left of the plant. This year I have harvested 15 spears so far. These six would bring the total to 21, the most I have found in this location.

These two long thin spears will be sliced, blanched and find their way into some pasta with the garlic scape pesto tonight.

As for the lettuces and mixed greens, the rain rejuvenated them and there are all sorts of goodies hiding among the bolted plants. Time to harvest these and use as a garnish on a pizza.

I also think I need to do some serious mint pruning, and maybe make mint simple syrup for iced teas and summer drinks. This pot of mint is about six years old, coming back every spring.

Herbs and greens right now, with the promise of other goodies in the next few weeks. Gardening is one of those simple pleasures. What is your garden producing now?


Getting Ready for a Hectic Holiday Weekend

Posted on

So much to do this weekend, with the holiday and with all the other events going on. What will tempt you to spend time out and about? Are you a beach goer? Or do you stay local?

Our weekend kicks off early with Wine in the Garden at the Conservancy tomorrow night. Cross your fingers for good weather. If you haven’t pre-purchased tickets, they will be selling them at the entrance. Come sip and taste in the loveliness of the Honors Garden.

Saturday I may be off to PA for a picnic at one of the farmers who supplies our CSA. It may be me and a friend, as my OldMan (OM in amateur radio speak) will be contesting and a weekend of listening to him calling “CQ Contest, CQ contest”, is hard to take. Oh wait, this is the CQ WW WPX CW contest, so all I get to hear is key clicks. Translation of the above, means it is the Morse Code only contest, and one where hams try to work as many unique prefixes, like JY, which is Jordan, or 9WA which is Malaysia.

Complicated, and easy to do if you have a unique prefix and everyone wants to call you, harder if you are a W something, like my hubby is. No one looking for him once they have worked W3LPL. He has to work hard to find all the unique prefixes out there. And, we only have wires, not towers.

Sunday I will wander back to Olney to get some fresh berries, and hope that the VA farmers there have cherries. We got our tentative list of what will be in this week’s CSA basket so I only need fruit to supplement the greens this week. I don’t want to touch the berries I processed while fresh goodies are still in the local markets. I will know tomorrow what I will be grilling if it stops threatening storms every night.

Monday we will be chilling out and avoiding those traffic clogged roads. Memorial Day traffic on the highways around here is crazy, so a day of grilling, chilling and drinking local wine sounds like a perfect ending to the holiday weekend.

Then, as retirees with nothing pressing to do later in the week, we will take a day to visit my hubby’s hometown and check on the grave sites for his dad and mom.


Enjoying Friday’s Bounty

Posted on

Last Friday I wrote about picking strawberries, and visiting the hospital market where I found garlic scapes and rhubarb. These fresh fruits and veggies will be part of tonight’s dinner. Two dishes, one made Saturday and one made this morning.

Garlic scapes. Never knew what they were until last year in the CSA. These are from Love Dove Farm. I bought four bundles, enough to make a double batch of pesto.

If you look closely, you can see the bulging area where a flower would emerge, if left on the plant. The farmers remove this scape, in order to force the plant to devote energy into growing the root, or the heads of garlic. Not removing the scape will inhibit the growth of the heads of garlic. These curling plants have a more delicate flavor than garlic cloves but they still pack a big punch when whirled up in the blender with parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil and salt.

I made enough to freeze some in small containers, and put a large container covered in olive oil in the fridge. It will be served tonight with pasta as a side to some tomato braised ahi, which will be slow cooked in the oven later today.

The small containers were coated lightly with oil, sealed and put in a bag to go in the freezer. The large one more heavily coated as it will be in the fridge a few days. Besides tonight, I will be making bruschetta this weekend using the ends of the Atwater’s rosemary Italian bread. I don’t always follow recipes. I cook by taste, but this was 24 scapes, about a cup of Parm, a half cup of pine nuts, salt to taste, and oil streamed in until it reached the consistency I wanted.

As for dessert tonight, it will be the strawberry rhubarb crisp I made over the weekend. Using the Larriland strawberries and rhubarb from Falcon Ridge Farm, bought at the hospital market, I made a simple crisp. The juicy strawberries made this crisp moister than the rhubarb crumble I made a week ago.

We had some Sunday night and will slice off some more tonight. If I look back at my plans, I didn’t do either thing I said I would in my Saturday post. The chicken was made with a fruit salsa, and I made the crisp instead of a compote. I tend to cook on impulse, so planning sometimes goes for nothing. I didn’t get around to doing the pesto until today.

I also did get the strawberry ice cubes popped out and packaged for use later in the summer. These little nuggets will find their way into vinaigrettes, sangrias, wine coolers, and compotes.

Can’t wait to see what we get in the CSA box Thursday. I did use up almost everything except the kale. I do want to make kale chips. Let’s see if I find the time to do so. Check out this week’s goodies at the markets and make something fresh and seasonal this weekend.


Market Envy

Posted on

Yes, I admit it. I envy those who live in Olney for the size and selection at their community market. Don’t get me wrong, I love our markets but they don’t have that festive community atmosphere that Olney has.

This market is only in its sixth year. It is a farmers and artists market, and also has food vendors. On opening day, they had special events and it was pretty crowded.

Yesterday when we went, they had a special display for kids, a bug petting zoo. Right next to the Master Gardeners who are committed to be there each week.

We started with Zeke’s Coffee and an omelet burrito, made while we watched the early attendees fill the area.

Some of the same farms frequent this market, like Falcon Ridge, who sold me rhubarb Friday in Columbia at the hospital market. Only here, they had a huge presence, with dwarf fruit trees and lots of plants.

Atwater’s was there, so I don’t have to drive to Catonsville to get artisanal breads. A loaf of rosemary Italian came home with us.

This market was the brainchild of one woman, who pitched it to the community. It took hold and grows every year. It would be wonderful to have something like this here in Howard County, like at Symphony Woods. I would volunteer to help. Why can’t we “Choose Community” and do something better than five small scattered markets?

I already posted that I was concerned at Glenwood, that South Mountain is no longer coming. Neither is Woodcamp. Thankfully, TLV stepped up to bring meats to Glenwood. Breezy Willow will be there in June, but Saturday, there was only one farmer selling spring produce at Glenwood. That is sad. There were three last summer.

It looks like I will be getting my meats by going directly to TLV and getting other things I need at Olney. It is closer to me in West County than most of the Columbia markets and Ellicott City, and equidistant to get to the hospital market. I don’t want to abandon Howard County, but if we don’t step up what we do as a county, will we lose to markets like Olney?

Should we add artisanal foods and art? That is a sticky subject, but brings in customers. Is purity more important than profit? I don’t know that answer. I just feel that our farmers are being shortchanged, and good vendors are going where the communities support them with bigger draws.

Am I off base?