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Colcannon on CSA Day

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It’s week five of our Breezy Willow CSA. Mostly spring veggies with a little fruit and citrus. I did need to use up older stuff so colcannon came to mind.

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I’ll add my recipe at the end of the post, but let’s start with what we got today.

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Six juice oranges
Four Fuji apples
One pound sugar snap peas
Half pound white mushrooms
Two pounds onions
Three pound sweet potatoes
Half pound salad mix
One pound spinach
One dozen eggs
Sesame Seed Bread

This value added CSA brings us local veggies and fruit, along with not quite local but still not across the southern hemisphere when it comes to sourcing the items. I can handle that. It is all so fresh. It lasts all week and then some.

After picking up our veggies and checking out the alpacas, we headed off to Marriottsville. My husband does think the alpacas are amazing.

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They are cute, aren’t they? So, we went off to the new Harris Teeter, that opened last night. The one in the west edge of Turf Valley. I used to go to Maple Lawn after picking up my summer CSA in Columbia, so this is a welcome addition to west county.

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I wanted some seafood to pair with our latest veggies. And, to use up those older ones. The sockeye salmon on the plate above was picked up today. I also had considered getting some spring rolls but the sushi counter isn’t open yet. They were making balloon animals for the little ones, and doing a brisk business in VIC card sign ups. Even at 3 pm, it was crowded. Lots of checkouts open, though. No wait. I picked up seafood, olives, a red onion and fennel bulb to use with those gorgeous oranges for a salad.

They are 7 miles from us. Giant is 5.5 the other way. Looks like this Harris Teeter will be my local store for staples, seafood and those items I need to round out real food recipes with my CSA foods. Convenient, too. Double that trip. Conservancy and HT. Or, landfill and HT. Or, Woodstock snowball stand and HT. I can see the possibilities.

As for the colcannon recipe. I had two ounces of spinach left from last week. Six Brussels sprouts. Two parsnips. I also had six tiny new potatoes bought at England Acres. Potatoes and parsnips parboiled until tender.

Pan started with butter, olive oil and onion. Shredded sprouts and spinach added. Garlic, three cloves grated over them. A pinch of salt. Let it all cook down. Add the potatoes and parsnips. Mash them and add another pinch of salt and of pepper. And a splash of milk.

With dinner, we opened a bottle of Rappahannock Meritage. Old red wine goes well with salmon. It does have that characteristic cab franc nose from VA, but still a lovely bottle.

Mostly local for the veggies. Local wine. Great CSA. A good Wednesday night.

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CSA Tidbits

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It’s been a while since I talked about my farm share from Lancaster Farm Fresh. Our spring/summer 26 week season is about to end next Tuesday, and then fall shares begin. We have already transitioned to fall vegetables, which I love, but the official “seasons” are off by a few weeks.

Some of the favorite things we get these days.


Exotic ones, like the watermelon radishes. I swapped this week to snare some of these. The medium shares got them, and we didn’t. Radishes come in spring and fall, and some of the hardiest ones, the daikon for example, come in the winter. These more delicate radishes can be enjoyed raw, with a sprinkling of salt. Those daikons, and the really heavy black radishes of winter, they have to be roasted to bring out their flavor.


Hakurei are my favorites. They can be eaten raw, and unpeeled, but I like to roast them or cook them with their greens, like Vivian Howard, of the Chef’s Life fame, has in her cookbook, Deep Run Roots. The “pot likker” alone is worth it. Yesterday I cooked up a mess of greens and added these roots to the pot. Nothing like intensely flavored greens, and buttered turnips. No pictures of those. They weren’t that photo worthy.

What is photo worthy? This.

Restaurant quality, if I say so myself. Greens from the CSA. A Cherry Glen Monocacy Ash cheese, picked up at Evermore Farm when I got my meat share. The blackberries? From Baugher’s in Westminster, right down the road from Evermore Farm. I love to stop there after getting my monthly allocation of meat and eggs. The blackberries were end of season, and a bit mushy, but still bursting with flavor. I ended up mixing some plain yogurt with lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and mint, for the dressing.

There are a few slivered almonds there, too.

Finally, the first soup of the season.

Lentil soup. Made using some fresh stuff, some frozen stuff and a bag of French lentils. Started with celery, a leek, carrots and onions, all from the CSA. Added a quart of turkey stock made in the spring and frozen, using Maple Lawn farm turkey drumsticks. The bag of lentils. A bay leaf from my plant. French thyme from Penzeys. Salt. Pepper. After it cooked about an hour, I blended part of it to make it creamy. Added a cup of milk at the end of cooking.

Enough for at least three dinners. One Tuesday night. One this weekend. One will be frozen for later this winter. It was the first time I made lentil soup and it won’t be the last time.

Before I sign off on this CSA update, I have to include the picture from Tuesday.

$33 a week. All organic. If I priced this out at Roots, I know it would be much higher, even if I could find all these items there. Watermelon radishes are hard to find. So are Hakurei turnips. French breakfast radishes.

I love getting the tops of the radishes and the turnips, too. They made that dinner last night. Rainbow chard, radish greens, turnip greens, all cooked down for a long time. The lettuces will be gone by the weekend. Salads at lunch and dinner. I will be roasting cauliflower this weekend. Tuscan kale. Destined for a salad on Sunday. The sweet peppers? Stuffed with goat cheese and Canadian bacon. Served with short ribs this Sunday night. With a little planning, a CSA share can give us a week of healthy eating.


And The Winner Is …

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… carrots. Yep, carrots. Well, tied with mushrooms, but they needed three varieties to match the two varieties of carrots in eight weeks. Out of the thirteen week Community Supported Agricultural winter share.

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We got orange carrots six weeks. Yellow carrots, two. We got mushrooms eight weeks. A combination of shiitake, cremini, and portabella.

All together, our 13 week CSA gave us 45 varieties of vegetables. Doing some math to compare the $330 price against buying in Wegmans (the best prices for organic), we would have spent at least $380 there. We did have to fudge a bit as Wegmans does not sell strawberry popcorn or garlic greens. I had to use farmers’ market pricing for those items.

My favorite this winter.

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Watermelon radishes. Sweet. With a slight hint of sea salt. A perfect appetizer.

We have a couple of weeks off before our spring/summer CSA starts. I will have to hit the local farm stands for vegetables.

No matter what. We will still support our Amish organic CSA, because they bring us awesome vegetables at less than store pricing, and only one or two days out of the fields.

Want to join us? 40-50 people hang out in a garage in Braeburn, picking up fresh foods. Check out the sign up page.

One Fish, Two Fish

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This is a post about fish. Fresh fish. The fish of my childhood.

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I know I was supposed to cook sausage today to go with my colcannon, but I forgot we were getting whole bronzini from Friends and Farms. And when you get fresh whole fish, you grill them immediately.

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What is bronzini? Or branzino? Or bronzino? A European sea bass, a good alternative on the Monterey Aquarium Seafood Watch List.

This week, two whole bronzini were in our basket. Not for the squeamish. Whole fish is an adventure and a real pleasure, when grilled to perfection.

Falling off the bone. Tender, juicy, with crispy skin.

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Simply prepared. Inside. Salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, lemon and parsley. Grilled at a roaring hot temperature. . Served with a Sauvignon blanc, and that colcannon. Plus, a simple grill of a zucchini and a couple of Campari tomatoes.

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They were basted with a Balsamic vinaigrette.

Our fresh seafood comes every other week from Reliant Seafood in Jessup. Just behind the retail/wholesale supplier at Wild Seafood, where many of us go for crabs, shrimp and other delectable fish. Friends and Farms uses Reliant to supply them daily with incredibly fresh seafood. No smell. No slime. Absolutely some of the best fish we have ever had, other than the rainbow trout I caught decades ago in the southwest. Nothing like really fresh fish.

Oh, and the colcannon was excellent, as well.

Going for the Greens …

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… inspired by our CSA basket, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

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That lacinato kale made me think once again of colcannon. So I decided to go looking for a truly Irish interpretation of the dish, one that I have made countless times and blogged about, almost as often.

I never knew about the Halloween connection, or the prizes inside. Amazing what we can find here on the internet, isn’t it?

But, getting back to the CSA basket, the kale and parsnips both made me think of making my version. I have to use the techniques from the web reference, as it hasn’t been the way I’ve finished mine.

As for the rest of my weekly Lancaster Farm Fresh delivery, picked up at my friend’s home near Robinson Nature Center, there were other real favorites this week.

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Five of the seven vegetable items came from the LFFC “brand”, which is what they sell to restaurants, stores and buying groups, like Friends and Farms. Two of the items were attributed to individual farmers. We knew that in the winter we would be getting some of the vegetables bought through the cooperative, to supplement what is grown on the local farms year round. Let’s face it, with a CSA that tops out some years above 4000 members, you can’t always get the local farms to have enough every single week. Or, that the small farms can provide enough of one item, so some of our items have the LFFC tag on it, meaning it’s an aggregate of many of the farms’ provisions.

This week we got zucchini. Five absolutely lovely green zucchini. A joy to get them in the dead of winter, and we had been told that farms south of us were being used to supply some variety in our baskets. I have plans for those zucchini. My store in the freezer of zucchini fritters is gone. Done. Inhaled. I love the Smitten Kitchen recipe for zucchini fritters and make dozens of them in the summer, gently layered in parchment and placed in the freezer. We used our last ones a week ago.

I will be grating zucchini and making a nice replacement batch. I have to pick up some plain yogurt at Friends and Farms to make tzatziki in order to enjoy some this weekend.

As for those sweet potatoes on steroids. I have plans for them. They were in the swap box, and I just decided I was tired of beets and sunchoked out, so I put the bags of each of them into the box and brought home those two behemoths. I want to make hummus with one, and bread with the other. Never made sweet potato bread and since I am a prisoner in my house while work is being done (still not finished after four weeks), it’s a good time to try a new recipe.

As for the rest of my stuff yesterday, here are the bread and cheese.

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And, the meat delivery of the week.

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Yep, bison is back. Along with chicken thighs and bacon. Not what works for tomorrow, but welcome additions to my freezer.

As for tomorrow there will be sausage for dinner. With colcannon. Bread. Cheese. Guinness. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Spring Has Sprung

Yes, I know it’s the first day of winter. But here in Howard County, some of the cherry trees have buds on them. The temperature on Christmas Eve is predicted to be 73 degrees F.

And then there’s this.

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That would be the garlic greens aka spring garlic that was in last week’s CSA box. Obviously the fall plantings are taking off in all this warm weather. Besides the garlic we have been getting lots of greens. Usually they are done by this time of year.

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There was a bag of spinach. A bag of “spring mix”. A couple heads of romaine. Plus, those watermelon radishes, which I love.

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Sliced thin. Sprinkled with a little kosher salt. Perfect appetizer.

As for those garlic greens. A great addition to colcannon.

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This week’s base for colcannon was a combination of items from two weeks of CSA deliveries. Parsnips, turnips and potatoes, cooked. A mix of garlic greens, Napa cabbage and spinach. Not a traditional colcannon. But a very tasty one.

Here’s another rendition of my colcannon. With the post that tells how I made it.

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A simple dish to make, in any season. Some white stuff. Some green stuff. Some milk and butter. What’s not to love about colcannon?


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As in parsnip overload. By my choosing.

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Today was my last week of the winter CSA. Three weeks until the spring/summer season begins. I decided to load up on parsnips from the swap box. Good thing our site host is a friend and lets me swap more than one item if I give her some stuff she likes. I swapped kale and cabbage today to get a triple share of parsnips. They keep well. I like them. I even have made colcannon with them.

These are destined to become roasted veggies. Colcannon. And, I am thinking parsnip and sweet potato fries. I have quite a bit of both left.

Enough to take samples to Greenfest this Saturday. Our site host and I are staffing a table to promote our CSA. We need to guarantee our pick up site by recruiting a few more members.

Our Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative CSA is one that provides us with so many great vegetables. Fruit. Meat. Cheese. Eggs. Bread. Herbs. Milk. Tofu. The list seems to be endless. They have grown by leaps and bounds. Now delivering to six states and the District.

The rest of this week’s final basket.

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Spinach. Chard. Mushrooms. Aeroponic butterhead lettuce.

Add ons.

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The pantry item was mint tea. The cheese was a raw milk farmer’s cheese. The meat share was 1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast.

In three weeks, we will begin the next season. Six months of food. I ordered a full vegetable share. Bread. Cheese. Fruit. Meat.

All I need with the exception of staples to keep us supplied with fresh organic non-GMO food.

Now, off to find new recipes for those sweet parsnips.

See you Saturday at Howard County Community College. Look for the Lancaster Farm Fresh table and stop to say HI to us.

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

Digging the Parsnips

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A couple of dinner pictures and descriptions. Using the parsnips from last week’s basket.

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See those parships hiding behind the greens? Those really good for you vegetables that no one ever seems to be buying? Turns out they are really good for you, and they taste good too.

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Yesterday I made colcannon using the biggest one. I love colcannon and haven’t made it in a while. It is pretty versatile as you can use any combination of starchy vegetables and cabbage/greens.

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This dinner used all sorts of items from the Friends and Farms basket. The deviled crab was baked on the portabella mushrooms. Boarman’s crab cakes covered with a sauce of sweet mustard and Old Bay. Drizzle of oil. Baked at 400 degrees.

Colcannon. First, peel and slice/quarter a couple of potatoes and one very large parsnip. Boil them until soft. Mash. Meanwhile sauté half a sweet onion, and add blanched greens. I used the turnip greens from last week’s basket. Once wilted add to the mashed potato/parsnip mix, and stir in one cup of buttermilk and one tablespoon of butter. Salt and pepper to taste.

Not bad for a Wednesday night dinner.

But then, tonight. A new basket with Arctic char in it. I will do my weekly basket post tomorrow. Tonight though, was all about that char.

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Coated with a red pepper pesto and olive oil. Convection baked for 30 minutes at 325 degrees. As for those last two parsnips, they were steamed with some Brussels sprouts and two carrots left from an earlier basket.

I am a serious parsnip fan these days. Sweet, tasty veggie.


This Week’s Basket

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You know, I almost forgot to post about the goodies we got in this week’s Friends and Farms basket Thursday. That would be a result of having so many activities going on, and not getting around to it.

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I did get the big picture up there the other night, but that wide angle shot doesn’t do it justice.

Some highlights.

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There were pork chops and chicken legs in the basket. The legs, along with a couple of chicken breasts from a previous basket, are happily marinating in a buttermilk brine. Soon to become oven roasted buttermilk chicken. They need another day though. The pork chops will make it in the oven early next week.

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Turkey sausage. A favorite to keep around for when I make lasagna, or tomato sauce. It went in the freezer for a while. If I dig around in the basement freezer I will find some peeled tomatoes to make a sauce.

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The rosemary was a nice touch. It will get used, just don’t know where yet. Love the apple cider. Perfect for use in the pork chop department. Or, straight up with lunch. The black cherry yogurt keeps disappearing at breakfast. With some granola mixed in.

Those hydroponic tomatoes from Hummingbird Farms. One with dinner tonight, over the greens (not pictured above). This week we got a Breadery baguette. Already almost gone. There was garlic bread with pasta last night. Green beans. Will be served with the pork chops, or maybe the chicken. Who knows?

Eggs. A few breakfast dishes. Some egg salad maybe. The grapefruit. In a salad or two. I like that refreshing hit from the citrus in salads. The portabellas. Definitely will be made later this week with a couple of Boarmans’ crab cakes spread over them.

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As for the mother of all Napa cabbages I have ever encountered, I have no idea at the moment. I usually do a slaw, but this one would feed our zip code.

Parsnips. I love them. An underappreciated vegetable. Thinking of a riff on colcannon using some greens, parsnips and a few potatoes that are left.

I really enjoy this challenge. I feel I have wandered onto the set of Chopped, on Food Network.

And, next week. Looks even better.

I just need to stop going out. We seem to be doing that often this month.