Week 16: Aug. 20, 2014

Ready to join the 2015 Snead’s Farm CSA? Download the contract here.

In this week’s box:

1 flat peaches

2 quarts Concord grapes

1 quart okra

1 dozen eggs

1 spaghetti squash

2 bags tomatoes

small quantity of summer squash

4 watermelons

1 bag green bell peppers

1 bag cucumbers

2 2-lb bags white potatoes

1 bag yellow onions

The following pick-your-own opportunities are an optional bonus for CSA members only:

On Wednesday, Aug, 20, from 8am to noon:

4 half-pints PYO raspberries

2 quarts Concord grapes

On Sunday, Aug. 24 from 11am to 2pm:

8 half-pints PYO raspberries

2 quarts Concord grapes

Total retail value of goods in this week’s box: $143

Total retail value of goods distributed so far this year: $1,471.50

Emily’s notes:

Let’s talk about Concord grapes. They are so much faster to pick than raspberries because they come in bunches, but unless you are into spitting seeds and chewing through their tough skins, they will take a little more time in the kitchen. Rest assured that the effort is well worth it, though, as these grapes taste a lot more grape-y than the seedless varieties you find at the supermarket. (As an aside, I was at the grocery store today and saw grapes that said on the package they were “cotton candy” flavor. What the…Well, these are not cotton-candy flavored grapes. They are grape-flavored grapes.)

What to do with them? Read this post from last year about the process of turning them into freezer jam. I just finished off the last of my 2013 Concord grape freezer jam a few weeks ago, and boy does it make a great PB&J. It’s also great on good bread for breakfast and in waffles.  You could also turn your grapes into pie filling to make a Northern classic, Concord grape pie. Find a recipe from Saveur here.

Spaghetti squash can make a quick meal that is kid-friendly. To cook, simply slice in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash face-down on a sheet pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until tender all the way through. Allow the squash to cool enough so you can handle them, and use a big fork or spoon to scrape out the flesh, which has a spaghetti-like appearance when cooked. Toss with marinara or, better yet, a rich meat sauce like a Bolognese (Try this recipe for a quick one, I make it with beef.).

With bell peppers, don’t forget one of my favorite ways to serve them: stuffed. This recipe for stuffed bell peppers recognizes what a forgiving dish this can be, incorporating whatever you have around. It will also use some of your onions.

As for okra, I am really intrigued this week by this Southern Living recipe for okra and potato hash. Happy eating!

Week 11: July 16, 2014

In this week’s box:

2 pints blueberries

1 dozen eggs

2 dozen ears corn

1 flat peaches

2 bags tomatoes

1 bag cucumbers

1 bag yellow squash

1 bag zucchini

1 bouquet **OPTIONAL BONUS** pick-your-own sunflowers, 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

4 half-pints **OPTIONAL BONUS** pick-your-own raspberries 8 a.m. until noon

4 half-pints **OPTIONAL BONUS** pick-your-own raspberries on July 20, noon until 3 p.m.

Total retail value of goods in this week’s box: $95

Total retail value of goods distributed so far this year: $748.50

Emily’s notes

When I start to see tomatoes and cucumbers in the summer, I always think of gazpacho. Summer in a bowl (or cup), gazpacho is one of the easiest soups you’ll ever make, and it’s perfect for these hot days, because there is absolutely no heat involved (unless you choose to add some hot peppers, which are nice). Let’s think of gazpacho this week not as one single recipe to be followed in exact detail, but as a concept that will allow you to use your summer vegetables with ease in your kitchen. Here are several ideas to work from:

– Traditional gazpacho – When I studied in southern Spain, people would drink this almost as a beverage at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s refreshing and a delicious way to consume vegetables. If you are trying to cook as much as possible with only things from your CSA box, I would place 4 tomatoes, 1 peeled cucumber, one of the smaller onions leftover from last week, if you have one (if not, add scallions, a garlic clove or red onion), salt, pepper, olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar to a food processor or blender (all the vegetables should be cut into chunks that this equipment can handle). Whir them all together and adjust for seasonings, then chill for a few hours before serving. I would consider adding fresh corn kernels and a dollop of sour cream when serving. Garden herbs including basil, chives and parsley also make a nice addition. Now, if you want a really nice recipe that really mimics the gazpacho I remember from Spain, try this one. The bread adds a nice thickness and body to the soup.

– Gazpacho with fruit – Don’t forget that peaches can be a great addition to savory dishes, including gazpacho. Try this recipe from Epicurious for Peach and Tomato Gazpacho.

– Deconstructed gazpacho – You could make endless summer salads by chopping tomatoes, cucumbers and other summer vegetables and throwing them in a bowl with olive oil, seasonings and maybe a little cheese. The New York Times offers this recipe for Tomato, Cucumber and Corn salad. I say who needs a recipe? If you have good vegetables on-hand, experiment with different combinations of no-cook side dishes like this. Squash and zucchini can be used raw if sliced thinly enough. Or grill them and mix with your raw ingredients for a hot-cold salad with great texture.

The August issue of Better Homes and Gardens has a great spread on recipes for corn, green beans and squash. A few that caught my eye (Note: Their website will ask you to enter your e-mail address and create a password to see these.):

Tomato-Topped Corn and Feta Casserole

Garlicky Zucchini Noodles

Peaches and blueberries are a great combination. Take the recipe I shared in this post last year for peach and blackberry crisp and sub in blueberries instead. Don’t forget the vanilla ice cream! When you’re slicing those peaches, it probably helps to know that this week’s peaches are clingstones, meaning the flesh clings to the pit inside. Clingstones ripen earlier than freestone peaches, which you can expect to see in the coming weeks. The fact that they are somewhat harder to separate from the pit and slice is all the more reason to eat them bite by bite standing over the sink!

Do you have great summer vegetable recipes you’d like to share with the group? E-mail me and let me know!

Week 10: July 9, 2014

SunflowerIn this week’s box:

2 pints blueberries

1 half-pint raspberries

half dozen eggs

2 bags tomatoes

1 dozen ears corn

1 heirloom cantaloupe

1 bag of dried white onions

2 eggplant

2 bags Yukon gold potatoes

1 bag sweet Italian frying peppers

**OPTIONAL BONUS** 2 half-pints pick-your-own raspberries, from 8 a.m. until noon, CSA members only

Total retail value of goods in this week’s box: $58

Total retail value of goods distributed so far this year: $653.50 

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Emily’s notes:

The onions in this week’s box are dried, and will keep longer than the spring onions distributed so far this year. If you keep them in a cool, dry, place, you could use them any time in the next several months!

I’m a big fan of roasting eggplants, either whole on the grill or in the oven, or sliced lengthwise, as The New York Times suggests here. As the Times says, and as I have found, if you try to fry or sautee eggplant slices in oil, they will quickly soak up every bit of oil in your pan like a sponge, and then you’ll end up ingesting all that extra fat in the finished dish. When you roast, the eggplant naturally becomes softer and more flavorful. With the onions, tomatoes and eggplant in this week’s box, I’d suggest trying this recipe for Eggplant Tomato Gratin. For a simpler preparation that can be served at lunch, dinner or snacks, try this technique I detailed last year:

I threw the whole eggplant on the grill for about 25 minutes total, let it cool a bit, peeled it and let the water drain out in a colander in the sink for about 10 minutes. I roughly chopped the cooked eggplant and added about a quarter-cup of chopped basil, a tablespoon of tahini, the juice of one lemon, one chopped garlic clove and salt and pepper. I meant to add olive oil, but it never happened, and I didn’t miss it. I beat this mixture up with a wooden spoon until all the flavors had melded. It was great atop fresh-made homemade pizza the first night. The second night I used it as a dipper for cheese-and-corn quesadillas. I highly recommend throwing your whole eggplant on the grill, burning its skin and then using the cooked inside with whatever flavorings your heart desires. Even just simple olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper wouldn’t be bad.

Eggplant and tomatoes together get me thinking about panzanella, an Italian salad that uses stale crusty bread (you will want good bread for this, not the flimsy-crust stuff). A salad like this can be anywhere on the spectrum from extremely simple to much more involved. I have thrown together panzanella before by tossing chopped tomatoes with the bread and a bit of salt and pepper. While that sits and “marinates,” I’ll roast some cubed eggplant in olive oil and seasonings in a 450-degree oven for 15-25 minutes. You could throw chopped onions onto the roasting pan, as well. Toss everything together with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and more salt and pepper to taste, and add some chopped parsley or basil and chunks of a cheese like parmesan, mozzarella, pecorino, feta or chevre, depending on what you have. Williams-Sonoma, however, has a much more detailed recipe here for a grilled eggplant, corn and tomato panzanella that looks delicious.

Italian frying peppers are mild, thin-walled peppers that aren’t great for oven-roasting, but do lend themselves to frying and sauteeing. They would be excellent served aside grilled sausage prepared according to this recipe for cast-iron charred peppers with parmesan.

I’ve been disappointed with many a recipe for blueberry muffins, but last week I made this one from celebrated cookbook author Mollie Katzen. It produced the fluffy, not overly sweet muffin I was looking for, and I highly recommend it.

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 9: June 26, 2013

In this week’s box:

3 pounds of green beans

1/2 dozen eggs

3 pounds of potatoes

2 bunches of green onions

2 bunches of beets

2 bunches of swiss chard

14 ears of bicolor corn(white and yellow on the same cob)

1 head of broccoli

1/2 pint of raspberries

1 pint of blackberries

1 bag of tomatoes

Retail value of this week’s box: $46

Total retail value of goods distributed so far this season: $472

Emily’s notes:

vegOn a recent trip to the library, I stumbled upon a cookbook that I think would make a great reference in any CSA member’s kitchen. It’s called, “Eat More Vegetables” by Tricia Cornell, and was published in 2012. Cornell, who lives in Minnesota, is a longtime CSA member. She writes about how the weekly box of produce was overwhelming for her for the first few years of membership, and she even dreaded CSA pickup days at times because of the volume that came into her kitchen. But over the years she developed rhythms and devised dishes that made it all a lot more manageable and enjoyable for her entire family. There are some really creative recipes in here that look like a lot of fun. I think I might have to make an exception to my self-imposed ban on buying new cookbooks to add this one to the home library.

When I picked up this book, I was thinking about beets, which also appear in this week’s box. Cornell’s recipe for Beet and Goat Cheese Tart looked intriguing to me. I’m going to be entertaining guests this week, so I might give it a try. Here it is:

Beet and Goat Cheese Tart

Serves 8 as an appetizer

1 pound beets

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 egg

6 ounces goat cheese

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

olive oil

1 to 2 tablespoons honey (optional)

1 teaspoon dried sumac (This is a Middle-Eastern spice that Cornell says is optional, but adds a nice tartness.)

Wrap beets in foil and roast at 400 degrees until a knife slides easily all the way through (This took about an hour with the beets we got last week.). You want beets on the softer rather than firmer side for this recipe. Leave the oven on. Peel the beets under running water as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Slice them 1/4 inch thick.

Mix yogurt, egg and goat cheese. Place pastry on lightly floured or parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush very lightly with olive oil. Cover pastry with overlapping disks of beets, leaving about 1 inch around the edges. Spoon goat cheese mixture over the top, still leaving the edges clear. Drizzle with honey (I am thinking balsamic vinegar might be a good alternative here.) and bake 35 to 40 minutes, until edges are puffed and golden brown. Cool completely, then slice into 2-inch squares and serve.

If you’re looking for more beet ideas, the beet salad described in this post on the blog “Dinner: A Love Story” looks nice to me. I also might have to make this beet hummus that has been on my to-do list for years, but never seems to get made before I use my beets for something else. Like cake.

With onions, green beans and potatoes in this week’s box, you’re all set up to make a classic Southern side, green beans and new potatoes. This recipe from the blog Deep South Dish gives a good guide. I can smell the bacon now.

On a busy night, I sometimes like to roast my green beans. They don’t get as soggy, and the flavors of what you dress them in intensify a bit. The last time we got green beans, I roasted them after tossing them with a mix of sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar, with a sprinkling of sesame seeds. This recipe for parmesan roasted green beans from the blog Skinny Taste looks like something I’ll have to try with this batch.

And the first corn of the season is here! Last year I discovered that the best way to get corn on the table quickly on a weeknight was to toss it in the microwave, husk and all, and cook for about 3 minutes per ear (exact time will vary based on your microwave’s power). Remove it with a potholder (It’s hot!) and hack off the end that was attached to the stalk. Then you should be able to shake the cooked ear of corn straight onto your plate without having to deal with those pesky silks. It’s not quite as good as roasting corn in an oven (also with husks on) or grilling it, but it’s pretty good for a quick weeknight technique, which is what I need most of the time these days.

You could combine fresh corn taken off the cob with chopped tomates and onions from this week’s box for a quick fresh salsa. Toss the mixture with a little olive oil, lemon or lime juice, salt, pepper and cilantro (if you like it). Dice some of the potatoes and serve them hash-brown style, and scramble a few of the eggs. Spoon your salsa over the potatoes and eggs and you have a really tasty dinner completely from your CSA box!

You can click the “Swiss Chard” tag at right to see all the recipes we’ve linked to for chard so far this year. I am thinking of using my pizza dough recipe to make a chard calzone this week. I’ll share the recipe if it turns out!

This far into the season, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog. Are the recipes useful? Do they fit your lifestyle? Are there vegetables that you need more ideas for? Please e-mail me here with your comments (I will specify that I am asking for comments about the blog itself. Questions about CSA pickup should be directed to the Sneads.)

Week 3: May 15, 2013

In this week’s box:

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Emily’s notes:

More delicious strawberries are headed your way this week! Here’s a simple recipe I found in a brochure put out by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for strawberry butter. This butter is great for muffins, bagels, pancakes, biscuits and fresh homemade bread.

Strawberry Butter

2 cups fresh strawberries

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

Place everything in a mixing bowl and blend until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate in an air-tight container.

There are a lot of greens in this week’s box, but don’t think that needs to mean that all your meals should look the same. The lettuce is obviously going to make a lot of great salads and sandwich toppers, but don’t limit its uses in your kitchen. Ditch the carbs and save money on bread by making lettuce wraps. Fillings could include your favorite chicken salad, hummus, taco meat, burrito fillings, etc. I have my eye on this slow cooker carne asada and these Thai beef lettuce wraps (which would also use some of your onions)…decisions, decisions!

If you’re feeling really adventurous, use some of your eggs in this recipe for Vietnamese pancakes. This is kind of a savory cross between an omelet and a crepe that is served lettuce-wrap style at Spotsylvania’s Pho Saigon restaurant. This would probably be especially good with Bok Choy. (I also just noticed that the June/July issue of “Fine Cooking” magazine – on newsstands now,photo-6has a beautiful spread on Korean barbecue that suggests serving the various chicken, beef, rice and vegetable dishes with red or green leaf lettuce leaves in wrap form. This spread also includes recipes for a number of other items you’ll find in your CSA box over the course of the season, including radishes and cucumbers.)

A classic use of Romaine lettuce is Caesar salad. Lucky for you, you also have farm-fresh eggs to add to the dressing. Here is Julia Child’s take on Caesar salad, a labor of love. For a little bit easier take on this classic, here is Tyler Florence’s version.

You’ve seen Swiss chard before, and I’d love to hear how you enjoyed it (e-mail me here). Last year, I made this chard, sausage and white bean soup several times, and it’s definitely a winner. But I also love chard for egg dishes like frittatas and quiches. If you’ve never made your own pie crust for quiche, you are missing a treat. It’s so much tastier than those store-bought crusts, more like a biscuit than a cardboard crust. I’m not going to say it’s any lower in fat, but it lacks the preservatives and (if you use all butter) the trans fats found in many commercial crusts. Here is a recipe for Swiss chard and onion quiche that I made during the first week of Snead’s CSA pickup. It looks long, but I swear, it is not that difficult.

IMG_1359Swiss Chard and Onion Quiche

for the crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour (I often substitute 1/2 cup of this with white whole-wheat flour. It makes me feel better about the butter.)

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced

1/2 cup ice water

for the filling:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 spring onions, white and green parts chopped

1 bunch Swiss chard

6 eggs

1/4 cup milk, cream, half-and-half or plain yogurt

salt and pepper to taste (and any herbs, such as chives, thyme or parsley, that you happen to have)

2 oz goat cheese

make the crust:

This can be done ahead of time, as this dough will freeze well for several months.

Place the flour, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until butter is broken up a little smaller than pea-sized pieces. With the machine on, pour the ice water into the feed tube. Allow machine to run until dough just begins to ball up in the bowl.

Dump this very loose dough onto a well-floured work surface. Knead it lightly, and gather it into one big ball. Cut this ball in half, shape each half into a disc and wrap them separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least two hours, or up to 2 days, or freeze for several months.

When you’re ready to make quiche, remove dough from refrigerator about 15 to 20 minutes before you want to work with it. Roll it out on a floured surface until it’s big enough to fit your pie dish (I use a standard Pyrex dish). Allow extra to hang over the sides, and tuck it under so it fits the dish, then use your fingers to make ridges. Or just forget about all that, cut off the extra, sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar, give it a twist or roll and bake it up into makeshift pastries in the oven with the pie (These will cook faster than the quiche.).

make the filling:

Separate the green chard leaves from the colored stalks. Tear the leaves into 1 to 2-inch chunks and set aside. Finely chop the stalks.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and chard stalks and saute until translucent. Add chard greens and a couple small pinches of salt. Saute until the greens cook down.

While this mixture cooks, mix eggs with milk, salt and pepper to taste and chopped herbs, if using. Whisk well until mixture is of uniform color.

Spoon greens mixture into prepared pie crust. Pour egg mixture over this, taking care to spread it around the pie dish. Top with crumbled goat cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, or until quiche is solid. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.

A quick note: The same great vegetables you’re enjoying in your CSA box are also being used in many local restaurants. Kybecca’s take on Snead’s asparagus was recently featured by a Northern Virginia Magazine food blogger. Find the post here.