Quadruple Fall Pickup! Oct. 1, 2014

In this week’s box:

2 large bags sweet potatoes

3 large bags Gala apples

2 large bags tomatoes

8 butternut squash

4 acorn squash

1 half-gallon jug apple cider

1 dozen eggs

1 bunch curly kale

3 green peppers

2 two-pound bags white potatoes

2 bags string beans

5 edible heirloom hubbard squash

**CHOICE OF 4 pre-picked pumpkins OR 6 pick-your-own pumpkins of any size (9a.m. until 6 p.m.)

**2 OPTIONAL BONUS PICK-YOUR-OWN bouquets of sunflowers, 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

**1 OPTIONAL BONUS PICK-YOUR-OWN quart of raspberries, 9 a.m. until noon

**1 OPTIONAL BONUS family hayride, 9 a.m. until noon

Total retail value of this week’s box: $201

Total retail value of goods distributed this season (adding in $80 for Christmas pines): $1,609.50

Emily’s notes:

There are items in this week’s box that you will want to use up within a week or so (tomatoes, kale, peppers and string beans) and then there are many more that you can keep for weeks, even months, making your CSA dollar stretch even further. Each year, I love to use the winter squash in the fall box to decorate around my house, pulling them down one by one to bake for pumpkin bread, soups, risotto and all the other great things you can make with pumpkin or winter squash. The hubbard squash in this year’s box are a real treat. These pumpkin-shaped gourds are not only beautiful, but they are also some of the most sought-after varieties for making soups, pies, souffle and other dishes. I would recommend against using any squash you plan to eat as outdoor decoration. Squirrels, birds and occasional neighborhood teenagers have a tendency to take chunks out of them, leading to quicker decay and possible contamination.

If you pick up one thing at the store on the ride home from this pickup, make it bacon. Use it to make this classic Southern recipe for green beans and new potatoes, which I’ve shared before, but it’s hearty and so good I had to share it again for fall eating. I am considering trying it with sweet potatoes.

This box can truly get you through to Thanksgiving and even Christmas cooking. These sweet potatoes are grown by Miles Hastings at Canning Farm in Dogue, and they are delicious. While many holiday sweet potato dishes are packed with butter and sugar, you really don’t need them to make a dish so decadent it tastes like a dessert. This recipe from Cooking Light is what I put on my Thanksgiving table last year. It’s so good, I don’t think I’ll be able to wait that long to make it again.

Acorn squash can be eaten very simply–baked with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon or stuffed with rice, sausage, beef or whatever else suits you. But it can also make for a very elegant presentation when sliced and roasted. Its pointed shape and the contrast of the dark peel against bright flesh adds interest to many dishes. One that caught my eye recently is this one for roasted acorn squash and apples with kale, quinoa and tahini dressing. I love the flavor combinations here, and the variety of textures.

As for butternut and hubbard squash, I tend to use these interchangeably. These are all great for your pumpkin pies at the holidays, and the numerous other uses for pumpkin you’ll find on Pinterest and the Internet. I recently added diced butternut squash (one whole medium squash, diced) to my go-to chili recipe, and was pleased with the result. It allowed me to get more meals out of a pot of chili, and provided some vegetable nutrition to a meat-heavy dish.

Apples are wonderful for quick crisps and more involved pies, but don’t forget that they’re great in savory dishes, also. This recipe for baked sausages with apples and potatoes is a favorite in our house.  I also love apples and kale together. Massage some kale with your favorite vinaigrette, toss in some chopped apples, blue or goat cheese, dried cranberries, walnuts, bacon…some cubed and roasted butternut squash would be nice here, too.

Have fun with this box, folks!

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Week 9: July 2, 2014

In this week’s box:

1 dozen ears corn

2 bags string beans

1 bag tomatoes

2 bunches Yukon gold potatoes

1 bag squash

1 half-dozen eggs

1 half-pint raspberries

2 pints blueberries

2 half-pints black raspberries

**4 half-pints OPTIONAL BONUS pick-your-own raspberries, available form 8 a.m. until noon for CSA members only**

Note that you have an extra hour in the morning to pick berries this week!

Total retail value of goods in this week’s box: $66

Total retail value of goods distributed so far this year: $595.50

Emily’s notes:

How appropriate to have red raspberries and blue black raspberries and blueberries for the Fourth of July. Pair them with pound cake and whipped cream for a red-white-and-blue treat full of summer flavor.

Farm-fresh onions are a great addition to homemade salsa. For a simple version, dice a few tomatoes, chop the kernels from a couple of ears of corn and finely chop the white and green parts of two small onions from your box. Season with salt and pepper, then toss with a handful of chopped fresh cilantro (or flat-leaf parsley if you don’t like cilantro), the juice of one lemon or lime (or both) and a splash of olive oil. To increase the flavor of your salsa, try grilling the corn before you cut it from the cob. This recipe from Emeril Lagasse will give you some more exact quantities. But really, salsa is easy, so don’t sweat the details! You could also finely chop a handful or so of green beans to add color, nutrition and crunch to the salsa. Use as a dip or spoon over grilled meats or fish.

Grill WokHave you ever grilled green beans? This year I bought a “wok basket” for my grill that has really helped give me some new ways to serve CSA veggies. At left, you can see asparagus cooking in it earlier this season. I recommend tossing trimmed green beans with olive oil, lemon juice, chopped garlic and salt and pepper (maybe add a few red pepper flakes for heat). Place your wok basket on the grill to heat up, then, using tongs (and wearing a good oven mitt to protect your hands), place the beans on the basket. Cook, tossing occasionally with tongs, until they are cooked to the level you prefer. Then I like to place them back in the original dish with the marinade and sprinkle on some parmesan or feta cheese while they are still hot. Delicious! I do this same preparation with slices of summer squash and zucchini, but I just place those directly on the grill, not in the basket. I found my basket at Wegmans, but it looks like this. I have found it much easier than my old vegetable “cage,” which always managed to drop a vegetable or two through the grates.

Now, everybody has their favorite way to cook sweet corn, but since many of us stay pretty busy through the summer, I want to make sure you know about a simple technique that can get great corn-on-the-cob on your table in minutes on busy weeknights.

You don’t have to boil water or heat up the grill to have sweet corn ready for a quick dinner. Pop unshucked ears in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes per ear (exact time depends on your microwave). Then hack off the end of the ear that was attached to the stalk and let the corn slide out of the husks. This isn’t quite as good as grilled, roasted or boiled corn, but it sure is easy.

 

 

Week 8: June 25, 2014

In this week’s box:

3 half-pints raspberries

2 half-pints black raspberries

1 dozen eggs

1 bulb fennel with fronds

2 bags red new potatoes

2 bunches spring onions

2 bags green beans

2 heads cabbage

1 bag zucchini

1 bag yellow squash

**OPTIONAL BONUS** up to 4 half-pints pick-your-own raspberries, between 9 a.m. and noon, CSA members only.

Total retail value of goods distributed this week: $54.50

Total retail value of goods distributed so far this season: $529.50

Emily’s notes

With both green beans and potatoes in this week’s box, I highly recommend this recipe I shared last year for Southern-style green beans and new potatoes. It’s a good reminder that bacon makes everything better.

With spring onions and cabbage, I will definitely be making this recipe for cabbage salad with ramen noodles. It works just as well with regular cabbage as with the Napa cabbage called for in the recipe. I find it’s best to use a food processor to shred the cabbage if you have one.

What to do with fennel? You could slice it very thinly and toss it with thinly sliced apples and some of the chopped greens from the spring onions, along with a vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar, some walnuts and blue cheese for a cool summer salad. I would also finely chop some of the green fronds from atop the fennel bulb to add to this. Some folks don’t like raw fennel, though, and in that case, I would just toss it with olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic and throw it on the grill or into a 450-degree oven to roast until tender. It becomes sweeter and a bit less licorice-tasting when cooked.

Looking for a new way to serve zucchini and squash? I always love the way the Bavarian Chef in downtown Fredericksburg treats these vegetables. Try mixing green and yellow squash in this recipe from The Kitchn for Potato, Squash and Zucchini Gratin with Goat Cheese. I am always hesitant about gratins, because so many recipes seem to call for enough cream to cancel out all the virtue of the vegetables, but I like that this one is much lighter, and very easy to pull together with this week’s box!

I would also recommend substituting 1-2 shredded yellow squash for the carrots called for in this recipe for Healthy Morning Muffins from Martha Stewart. Please share your favorite summer squash and zucchini recipes if you have them!

 

Week 6: June 11, 2014

In this week’s box:

2 heads cabbage

2 heads broccoli

2 bags yellow squash

1 bag zucchini

2 bags string beans

2 pints blueberries

1 dozen eggs

7 pints snow peas

6 pints sugar snap peas

Total retail value of goods in this week’s box: $68

Total retail value of goods distributed so far this year: $417

Emily’s notes:

Welcome to summer! The season itself is still a couple weeks off, but this box has summer written all over it. Enjoy the sugar snaps this week, because this is probably the last we will see of them until next spring. As for snow peas, they’re great in stir-fries. You can find more ideas for snow peas in this post from last year’s CSA blog. I also used snow peas earlier this season in a Thai-style salmon recipe I found in Dinner: A Love Story, one of the few cookbooks I have left in my collection after years of trying to winnow it down. This recipe is versatile, and could use a handful or two of any of the vegetables in this week’s box. For squash, I would probably cut them into matchsticks to use them here. Here’s my very slightly adapted version:

Thai-ish Salmon

recipe from Dinner: A Love Story

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 salmon fillets of just under 1 pound each

1 tablespoon finely minced fresh lemongrass (the white part of the stalk), which you can find in the fresh herbs section at Wegmans and other local stores

1 tablespoon chopped scallions (white and green parts)

2/3 cup light coconut milk

juice of one lime

1.5 teaspoons Thai red curry paste

handful cilantro, chopped

handful basil, chopped

1 good handful snow peas, de-stringed

1 good handful broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil.

Place salmon in skillet flesh-side down and cook 3 or 4 minutes, until browned. Set aside.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add lemongrass and scallions, stir for 1 minute. Add coconut milk, lime juice and curry paste. Whisk together and let simmer about 3 minutes.

Add salmon back in, skin side down, nestling into the sauce. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add cilantro, basil, snow peas and broccoli.

Simmer another 7-8 minutes. Serve with jasmine rice, more cilantro, scallions and lime wedges.

For a cozy weekend meal, try pairing stuffed cabbage with green beans cooked with bacon. For stuffed cabbage, I’ve had this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa on my to-do list for a while. As for the green beans, I’d start by chopping some raw bacon into small bits and cooking it in a Dutch oven. Remove the bacon when it’s crisp and then put your prepped green beans in the pot. Give them a quick saute in the hot bacon fat, then add water or chicken stock just to cover. Put the lid on and cook until the green beans are the texture you like them, adding more stock if necessary. Serve with the cooked bacon added back in. I’d go easy on the salt with these, because bacon adds a lot of salt, but some red pepper flakes added in with the beans would be nice.

A couple of quick salad ideas that will use some of these vegetables raw. Use your vegetable peeler to slice long, thin slices of zucchini or yellow squash. Place them in a bowl and douse with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add some pecorino cheese chunks just before serving. Similarly, finely chop green beans, snow peas or sugar snap peas to give them a different texture. Toss with the same ingredients as above and serve nice and cold.

 

 

Week 17: Aug. 21, 2013

Concord grapes

Concord grapes

In this week’s box:

1/2 dozen eggs

2 watermelons

1 flat of peaches

14 ears of corn

1 pint of blackberries

1 1/2 pints of raspberries

2 eggplants

2 peppers

3 lbs of string beans

*Optional*

Pick-your-own bonus available only between 9am – 12pm

2 pints of PYO raspberries

1 pint of PYO blackberries

1 quart of PYO grapes

Total retail value of this week’s box: $105.50

Total retail value of goods distributed this year: $1016.50

Emily’s notes:

What a feast of watermelon we have had this year! If you’re looking for a new way to serve it, try pairing it with corn in a salsa. Simply chop the watermelon into a small dice, add an ear or two’s worth of corn kernels (No need to cook them, but sometimes it makes it easier to cut them from the cob if you zap the unshucked ear in the microwave for a couple minutes.). Throw in chopped red onion, some minced jalapeno pepper if you have it, olive oil, lime juice and chopped cilantro, parsley or basil (My rule on herbs is to use whatever’s growing best.). Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper. This would be great with some hearty blue corn tortilla chips, and would make a pleasingly colorful appetizer at a party.

Turn your peaches and blackberries into a quick and relatively healthy crisp for dessert. For this recipe, I would use two peaches and about a half dozen of these giant blackberries. It’s fairly forgiving, though, so adjust it as you see fit.

Peach and blackberry crisp

2 peaches, peeled and cut into 8 slices each

half-dozen (or so) of Snead’s giant blackberries

cooking spray

1/4 cup whole-wheat flour (All-purpose is fine, but I feel like I can pile on more ice cream if I use “healthy” whole-wheat.)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1/8 cup chopped almonds or walnuts (optional)

Spray a 1.5-quart baking dish with cooking spray and arrange peaches and berries in dish.

Combine flour, sugar, oats, cinnamon, salt and butter in a medium mixing bowl. Use your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until just about all of the dry ingredients feel coated with butter. Lightly mix in the nuts, if using. Spread this mixture over the fruit and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the top is browned. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Those grapes are something else. Such strong, true grape flavor. It’s hard to eat grocery store grapes after this. But they do have a lot of seeds. Last week I made freezer jam out of mine. It took about an hour, and I did it after the kids were in bed, but it was worth it. I have made a lot of freezer jams that haven’t jelled, but this one worked. I think that’s because grapes contain a lot of natural pectin. I have three jars in my freezer, but kept one in the fridge to eat right away. It was great on buttered toast and, of course, in peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. If I have time this week I’d like to take it to the next level by putting the jam between two layers of peanut butter shortbread crust and making PB&J bars. Like I said, if I had time. Here is the process I used to make jam out of my grapes. I highly recommend doing this, so that you can go enjoy a great big spoonfull of that glorious grape-y goodness without stopping to spit seeds.

Concord Grape Freezer Jam

Ingredients:

2 quarts Concord grapes, washed

3 8-oz canning jars made specifically for freezer use (I used Ball plastic freezer jars with green lids), plus one more container for the jam you will use right away and store in the fridge (This does not need to be canning-quality. I used a recycled glass jelly jar).

2 tablespoons instant pectin (I used Ball RealFruit Instant Pectin)

2/3 cup sugar

*You’ll also need a food processor, a medium saucepan, a medium mixing bowl and a fine sieve or strainer.

jamMethod:

Set up the counter so that you have your sauce pan and your food processor right next to each other.  Skin the grapes by holding them, one by one, with your fingers so that the stem end is pointing into the sauce pan. Squeeze so that the flesh and seed pop into the saucepan, then throw the skin in the food processor. This takes a while. Maybe put your setup in front of the TV so you can stay occupied.

Place the saucepan of grape flesh over medium heat until it starts to boil. Cover and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, add 1/3 cup of the sugar to the grape skins and whir them in the food processor until smooth. 

When you’re finished cooking the grape innards, place your sieve over your mixing bowl and pour in the hot grapes. Use a wooden spoon, a ladle or a potato masher to mash the grape pulp until most of the pulp and juice is in the bowl and you are left with just the seeds in the sieve (It is nearly impossible to separate all the flesh from the seeds, so don’t sweat it.).

Mix the remaining 1/3 cup sugar with the pectin in a small bowl. Add the strained grape pulp back into your sauce pan, along with the pureed grape skins and the sugar and pectin mixture. Place over medium heat and stir for about 3 minutes. 

Pour this mixture into your clean jars. Leave 1/2 inch of space at the top of the freezer jars to allow for expansion. This should fill the three freezer jars, plus leave a little extra to store in the fridge for immediate use. Let the jars sit uncovered on the counter for 30 minutes. The jam will seem very runny when you put it away, but after a night in the fridge it will thicken.

Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, freezer for up to a year.

Week 11: July 10, 2013

In this week’s box:

1 dozen eggs

2 large bags of tomatoes

14 ears of corn

2 quarts of peaches

3 pounds of string beans

1 1/2 pound bag red potatoes

1 1/2 pound bag of yukon gold potatoes

2 eggplant

1 bag sweet peppers

Emily’s notes:

I’m going to start off with some fresh ideas for green beans (Although I can’t seem to stop myself from making this recipe for Green Beans and New Potatoes over and over and over again. It’s simple and fantastic.).

This recipe for a weeknight-friendly version of Eggs Benedict looks promising. I’m all for dinners that come 100 percent from the CSA box, so I might swap out the polenta for some grilled or breaded and fried eggplant rounds.

This recipe offers a nice, simple green-bean-and-goat-cheese salad that delivers a different flavor profile than the green bean dishes we’ve been eating in my house lately.

– Green beans are one element of the French salade niçoise. A lot of the other elements are also in this week’s box (Use this recipe as a rough guide, but I always encourage improvisation.). If you can prep your ingredients (boiled potatoes, blanched beans, hard-boiled eggs) ahead of time, the salad will come together without too much fuss at mealtime. Tuna is traditional, but I’m thinking of doing this with a can of salmon that’s been in my pantry for a while.

Just looking at this list, I think a tomato, corn, sweet pepper and peach salsa would be fantastic, especially spooned over grilled chicken. I would probably just toss diced tomatoes, peppers and peaches with corn, olive oil, salt, pepper and perhaps a little basil or cilantro. I don’t think I’d want citrus competing with the peaches.

Speaking of peaches, last year I threw some peach slices into a leftover pesto pasta salad and discovered that peaches and pesto are an amazing combination. I would consider tossing short pasta, chopped tomatoes, roasted or grilled corn and/or eggplant and some nice fresh peach chunks with a pesto sauce for a really summery dish that’s a different take on your usual pasta salad.

If you can get your hands on some good summer squash (not a tall order this time of year), you will have the makings with this box of the traditional French dish ratatouille. There are many strong opinions on how to make this dish, but one that is particularly friendly to this week’s CSA box is in Alice Waters’ book, “The Art of Simple Food,” a great reference for any CSA cook. That recipe is reproduced with adaptations here. This dish is great topped with a fried egg.

 

Week 10: July 3, 2013

In this week’s box:

1/2 dozen eggs

1 1/2 pints of raspberries

3 lb bags new potatoes

3 lbs of green beans

14 ears of corn

2 bunches of basil

1 bag of tomatoes

Emily’s notes:

With July 4 this week, many of you may be heading to pot luck suppers or cooking for crowds. Your green beans, corn and basil would go nicely in this recipe for Green Bean Salad with Corn and Olives, which would be great at a pot luck.

This box also supplies you nicely for this recipe for herb buttered potatoes with corn. I think you could sub in your basil for the thyme and parsley used in this recipe and it would be more summery.

Earlier this year, we made pancakes out of our turnips and potatoes. I think you could do the same with potatoes and corn and it would turn out nicely. I don’t use a recipe for this, but here’s the method: Grate however many potatoes you want to use. Slice the kernels off of the ears of corn you want to use. Mix these together, then add about 1/4 cup flour (or less) per two cups of vegetables, along with salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne or any other desired seasonings to taste. Add about one beaten egg for every 1/4 cup flour. If the batter seems too wet, add more flour. If it seems too dry, add another egg. You want a consistency that feels like slightly runny raw hamburger patties (doesn’t that sound yummy…) when you form it into pancakes (which I recommend doing with your hands). Drop the cakes into about 1/8 inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a wide skillet (hard to beat cast iron here). Cook until golden brown on each side. I would sprinkle the finished cakes with finely chopped basil and serve with sour cream. These are filling, so you don’t necessarily need meat with them.

Basil is a summer addiction of mine, and I feel sad when I see it go limp after it’s been sitting around too long. So I think I’ll be whipping up a batch of pesto as soon as I can after bringing this batch home. It’s been ages since I used a recipe for this, but this recipe from Ina Garten offers a pretty good guide (There is no need to be exact here with the quantities. I usually like to add the juice of one lemon to my pestos, and I never use pine nuts–too expensive. Walnuts or almonds are just fine.).

And finally, this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans seems to be made for this week’s CSA box. I have had really good luck with the recipes I’ve tried from this blogger, so it’s high on my list.

Happy Fourth!