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Wednesday
Nov252009

Final Week: Goodbye 'Til Next Year

Well, this was the last week of CSA veggies for the 2009 Summer season. I’m sad it’s over.

I’ll miss the veggies, of course. But, I’ll miss the experience, too. I really enjoyed those days when it was my turn to go to the farm and pick up for the group. For just a day it was nice to shed the suburbs, the corporate life, the cars and traffic; to get outside in the great outdoors; to mingle, although briefly, with the people who farmed and harvested the vegetables. For a few hours I’d walk the fields and pick my own beans, cukes, berries, apples, strawberries and kiwis. I’d smell the freshly baked bread sold in the barn (even though I can’t eat it I love the smell of home made bread). And, it was gratifying to see the baskets in the barn brimming with vegetables and fruits in shades of green, yellow, red, orange, and brown. I even liked dividing everything up and delivering it to my co-CSA partners in town.

And, that’s just the experience not the food. We ate beets, chard, kale, and so many other veggies for the first time this year. My kitchen and family experienced new recipes. Our diets were more nutritious and it seemed like everything tasted better.  The bonus—the food was organic.

So, will I do it again? Yes, definitely. I hope you’ll try the experience, too, if you have the opportunity.

Sunday
Oct182009

Week 21: Kiwi

Can it be October 18 already? The weather is actually telling me it’s more like November. We had our first snow this week—big wet flakes that never accumulated on the still warm ground. Still, it came down for about an hour. I didn’t experience the usual glee I feel at the first sight of snow. It’s just way too early for this!

Fortunately, my trip to the farm was made in beautiful weather. I was able to spend some time picking more raspberries and then follow the signs up the hill, down an old road, and into the field where the kiwi grow. The kiwi plant looks like a cross between a vine and a small tree. They grow in an arbor setting so you walk beneath the canopy of green leaves to pick the gorgeous little fruit hanging down in clumps waiting for you. Kiwi, kiwi, and more kiwi!

I always thought they grew in warmer climates so was surprised to see them in the pick your own section of the large chalkboard in the barn. These kiwi, though, are not like the green ones you buy in the store—not like the New Zealand kiwi. They are small—a little bigger than a large grape—and greenish brown. Wash ‘em off and pop ‘em in your mouth. They’re citrusy, sweet, and wonderful! Big score!

There will be no kiwi recipes because IMHO they are meant to be eaten just the way Mother Nature made them.

Tuesday
Sep292009

Week 19: Eggplant

A quick post today to share what I’m doing with the eggplant we got this week. I’m really loving it.

It’s simply roasted with other vegetables and then used in a variety of recipes. And, oh, it’s sooo good. Just look at it. Isn’t it beautiful?

The roasted veggies are delicious mixed with tomato sauce and then served over gluten free penne. Tomorrow I’m planning to have roasted vegetable topped pizza. And, then who knows? It freezes very nicely so there’s time to think up some new ways to enjoy it.

Roasted Eggplant, Tomatoes, Onions, and Peppers

Cut up the veggies. I used 2 or 3 ripe tomatoes, a large onion, a medium sized eggplant and a large red pepper. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Roast for about 30-40 minutes until nicely wilted and beginning to carmelize. Keep an eye on the veggies to assure they don’t burn. I peeked in at about 15 to 20 minutes, tossing them to assure even cooking.

Wednesday
Sep162009

Week 18: Brussels Sprouts Greens

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been 7 weeks since I last posted an update on my CSA experience. That must have been just about when work got really busy and the summer finally kicked in.

The summer is just about over (remember it doesn’t officially end until September 21) and life is slowing down a bit. And, so unfortunately are the veggies. Although we’ll get something each week until Thanksgiving I don’t expect to get the kind of bounty we had in the summer months.

So, how did I do? Well, I did find it was tough keeping up with the veggies some weeks.  But, I did learn a few tricks—a little late—along the way to help me use up what I’d gotten.

I now have some corn, green beans, and carrots in the freezer for this winter’s stews and soups. And, I will definitely make more Maple Corn Fritters because they’re sooo good. I’ve also got some frozen soup (Jane’s Garden Minestrone) and ratatouille which will make nice lunches on cold days. I learned to make a big pan of all types of veggies mixed together to have with grilled chicken or fish. Or, on cooler days I roasted them with potatoes for a one pot meal.

The most important thing I took away from this experience was to let go. That’s a tough one for someone like me who’s a planner. I make a list when I go to the grocery store and in my head I’ve planned what I want to make the upcoming week. You kind of have to do that, right? Well, with the CSA, Mother Nature is doing that planning for you. You can kind of get an idea of what’s in season and get a jump on it but for the most part you get your veggies each week and then decide what to do with them. That’s just the opposite of what I’ve always done. I think I’ll be better at it next year.

Anyway, we got Brussels Sprouts Greens this week. OK, could you have planned for that one? Not me. I didn’t even know there was such a thing! Well, I just jumped in and here’s what I came up with.

Brussels Sprouts Greens with Penne

First, I sauted a half an onion (chopped) and a clove of garlic in olive oil. I added two beautifully ripe diced tomatoes. Topped it all with the chopped greens (without the woody stems) and simmered it until they were wilted. A little more olive oil, some chicken broth, cooked pasta and some diced cooked chicken were mixed in. Served with grated cheese and, boy, was it was heaven!! The greens were sweeter than expected. I like them!

 

Wednesday
Jul292009

Week 11: Flowers

Well, first, it’s pretty clear I’m not able to keep up with writing about CSA each week.  I’d like to be a little more creative in the kitchen with the veggies I get each week but work has been busy. Really busy. And, I haven’t had much time to think about interesting recipes.

So, I’ll try to write each week but if not will do so when I can.

The Northeast got a tremendous amount of rain this spring and early summer. So, we will definitely not be worried about drought as we have been in some summers past. Unfortunately the crops are behind. According to the farm lettuces are doing just great but other plants are not producing as many vegetables as they have in the past. I know that our own few tomato plants have small green tomatoes when we should be close to picking them about now.

This week we got a lot of lettuce, cucumbers, onions, and more beets. (Beets, beets, beets!) More zucchini and I got there a little late so I missed out on eggplants! Too bad. There was swiss chard, amaranth (a very pretty green I have never seen before) and green beans.

I made a great Green Bean Salad. It’s a family favorite: cut the beans into 1 inch or bigger pieces. Cook them until they’re al dente. Add your favorites (cut into bite sized chunks): carrots, artichokes, cooked red potatoes, black olives. Mix with a balsamic viniagrette. Chill and then serve.

Pick your own was interesting: more green beans, pickling cukes, and flowers. Beautiful, beautiful flowers. (That I picked just before the heavens opened up and drenched us with more, yes more, rain.)