Week 15: Aug. 13, 2014

In this week’s box:

2 pints blueberries

1 flat peaches

1 jar Snead’s Farm seedless blackberry preserves

half dozen eggs

half pint okra

4 watermelons

1 dozen corn

1 bag tomatoes

8 half-pints **OPTIONAL BONUS** pick-your-own raspberries, 8 a.m. until noon Wednesday, Aug. 13, CSA members only

8 half-pints **OPTIONAL BONUS** pick-your-own raspberries, 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, CSA members only

Total retail value of items in this week’s box: $125

Total retail value of items distributed so far this year: $1,328.50

Emily’s notes:

Okra is new this week. Your okra, corn and tomatoes would work nicely in this recipe for maque choux from Southern Living. Every year, I make this recipe for Mediterranean Okra and Tomato stew from The New York Times. It is the first okra recipe I ever liked, and I find it hard to beat. Of course, another classic treatment for okra is to fry it, and for that I recommend this recipe from The Kitchn.

Peach basil pizza sauce

Peach basil pizza sauce

Last week, I put three peaches (sliced, not peeled) and a handful of basil in my food processor and whirred them into a simple sauce. I spooned this onto my homemade pizza dough (recipe here), then sprinkled on parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, a handful of corn kernels and some delicious leftover North Carolina barbecue. It made for a nice flavor combination, and you could do this with any good sausage or even rotisserie chicken in place of the pig.

With this many raspberries, you might want to find some recipes to use them so you make sure to consume them before they go bad (which happens FAST). Here is a simple recipe for raspberry sauce from Martha Stewart. This is great on waffles or pancakes, ice cream and chocolate cake. Speaking of cake, last week I made this raspberry chocolate chip cake using my Snead’s Farm raspberries to celebrate my daughter’s birthday.

Have you been to Kybecca in downtown Fredericksburg lately? They use Snead’s Farm produce in their menu items, and recently challenged their bartenders to create a signature cocktail using watermelon. Read about it here on their online cocktail menu and get inspiration for your own home bar creations. If you’d like to make some watermelon syrup to stock your bar, here is a recipe. These watermelon-raspberry slushies would also make a nice summer refreshment, and would be great virgin or spiked.

 

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Week 13: July 30, 2014

In this week’s box:

2 pints blueberries

2 half-pints raspberries

1 flat peaches

1 dozen eggs

2 ambrosia cantaloupe

3 watermelons

1 bushel sweet corn

1 bag tomatoes

4 half-pints OPTIONAL BONUS pick-your-own raspberries, 8 a.m. until noon on Wednesday, July 30

4 half-pints OPTIONAL BONUS pick-your-own raspberries, 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3

Pick-your-own opportunities for CSA members only.

Total retail value of goods in this week’s box: $119

Total retail value of goods distributed so far this year: $1,001

Emily’s notes:

Have you been throwing away your peach pits? Did you know that in the center of the pits are small, almond-like nuts referred to by the French as noyaux? These nuts, and even the stony pit that surrounds them, can in fact be used to infuse custards, liquors, vinegars and lots of other things. I recommend this post from the blog BraveTart for starters. It also discusses the rumors that eating peach pits will poison you. Also, take a look at these recipes from Bon Appetit for using all kinds of stone fruit pits. One more way to get more from your CSA! 

Speaking of using the whole fruit, our region’s very own Doctor Yum has a super-simple recipe for making whole-fruit popsicles that would work perfectly with this week’s box. Get yourself some popsicle molds and lightly place some sliced peaches, blueberries and raspberries into the empty molds. Puree some watermelon, or even a mixture of watermelon and cantaloupe, or any of the other fruits you’ve got this week, in a blender and pour the liquid mixture over the fruit in the molds. Freeze until solid and you’ll have a healthy treat come dessert time. Click here for a cute video demonstrating the method.

If you’re like me, you turn again and again to the same flavor profile when serving summer favorites like corn and tomatoes. For me, that’s a Mediterranean blend of salt, pepper, lemon, olive oil and maybe feta or Parmesan. If you’re looking to travel to a new region with your cuisine, try this recipe from Serious Eats for corn and tomato curry. I love the simplicity of it.

If you’ve frozen enough corn kernels or cobs, why not freeze some corn in muffin form? Then all fall and winter you’ll be able to go to the freezer for a homemade baked good to accompany stews and chilis. I usually just add a bunch of corn kernels to the corn muffin recipe you find on the back of your bag of cornmeal. However, here is a Dorie Greenspan recipe for “Corniest Corn Muffins,” adapted by Smitten Kitchen.

 

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.

 

 

Special September bonus for CSA members: PYO raspberries!

berries

Here’s a special September bonus for Snead’s Farm CSA members. Come to the farm any Wednesday in September or on the October pickup day (Oct. 2) between 9 a.m. and noon. You will be able to pick up to 2 pints of raspberries. This has been a great year for raspberries! Just stop by the picking station near the house and identify yourself as a CSA member.

You can also visit Braehead Farm any Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday in September between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and pick one pepper and one eggplant. Braehead is inside the Fredericksburg city limits, learn more about the farm here.

Thanks for a great summer, we’ll see you Oct. 2 for the fall pickup. Don’t forget to save those boxes and cartons to bring back!

 

Week 18: August 28, 2013

In this week’s box:

1/2 dozen eggs

1 flat of peaches

4 heads of garlic

1 pint of blackberries

2 pints of raspberries

4 eggplants

4 peppers

3 pounds of butter beans

*Optional Pick-your-own between 9am-12pm only*

2 pints of raspberries

1 quart of grapes

Total retail value of this week’s box: $100.50

Total retail value of goods distributed this year: $1,117

Emily’s notes:

It’s hard to believe this is the last pickup before October!

One possibility for your eggplants and peppers is a caponata. This is a Sicilian dish made of chopped cooked vegetables dressed with olives and capers. You can alter this recipe to suit your taste, but here’s the basic idea:

Eggplant and pepper caponata

2 eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3 tablespoons olive oil

juice of one lemon

one garlic clove, minced

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

handful pitted olives (kalamata would be nice) optional

juice of half a lemon

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup feta cheese (optional)

Place the eggplant and peppers on a roasting tray. Sprinkle on oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until all vegetables are coated. Roast in a 450-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until vegetables are cooked and slightly browned.

When vegetables have cooled slightly, toss them in a bowl with the remaining ingredients. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.

Just in case you have trouble getting though your berries before they begin to spoil, here is a recipe I adapted last week from a Barefoot Contessa cookbook. It’s a great way to get a little more mileage out of your berries, as these muffins will keep for about a week in the fridge, or you could freeze them for longer storage.

Summer Berry Muffins

Makes 18 muffins

3 cups flour (I used 2 cups whole wheat and 1 all-purpose)
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups milk (substitute any mix of yogurt, sour cream and milk if you are running low on milk)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup blackberries
1 cup raspberries
1 1/2 cups sugar

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Throw in the salt (if you use kosher salt it usually won’t go through a sieve). Stir this mixture lightly to ensure all the ingredients are mixed.

In another bowl, combine milk, eggs and butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix by hand to incorporate but don’t overmix. This batter will have lumps.

Add berries and sugar and stir gently until combined.

Spoon into lined muffin cups and bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean (A cake tester in my house is a dry spaghetti noodle.).

If you’ve only ever had canned butter beans, you are in for a treat. The fresh version is much better! This post from the blog A Taste of Carolina has some helpful tips and recipes for cooking fresh butter beans. It also tells you how to freeze them to eat later in the year.

Enjoy this last boxful of summer. I’ll be back later for some tips on using fall vegetables!

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 14: July 31, 2013

In this week’s box:

1 dozen eggs

28 ears of corn

1 flat of peaches

2 half pints raspberries

2 half pints blackberries

1 bag of heirloom tomatoes

1 pepper

1 eggplant

1 pick your own bouquet of sunflowers

3 seedless watermelons

Emily’s notes:

We really are in the peak of summer, when the vegetables are so good and require so little in the way of cooking.  A favorite side salad of mine these days involves popping an ear or two of corn in the microwave for 2:15 (4 minutes for two), removing the kernels from the cob and then adding some chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper and olive oil. Serve aside scrambled eggs or grilled meat for a simple summer supper.

And don’t relegate fruit to desserts and breakfasts. A simple bowl of berries and chopped peaches would taste great next to a char-grilled chicken breast. Maybe add a few slices of tomato on the side. See? Nothing fancy going on in my kitchen these days. With peak produce like this, there’s no need to let cooking get in the way of setting up the backyard sprinkler or kiddie pool and watching the little ones go wild.

What to do with eggplant? The beauty of eggplant is its ability to transform from its raw state, which can resemble the texture of a pool noodle, to its cooked state of creamy, custardy goodness. I was recently inspired by this post on Alexandra’s Kitchen, a local blog profiled in The Free Lance-Star. I did not follow her recipe exactly, but I did throw 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 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.

Peaches need to be eaten at their peak ripeness, so if you don’t think you’ll be able to get through yours before they start to spoil, take the time to freeze some sliced peaches for later. Last year, I used the method outlined in this tutorial from Better Homes and Gardens with great success.

Peaches and blackberries pair beautifully in baked dishes. Nearly everyone has their favorite cobbler, clafoutis or pie recipe, but on busy weeknights, I almost always go for a crisp recipe that’s easy to throw together at the last minute. You can use this with just about any fruit, fresh or frozen. This is a relatively healthy dessert, so if it ends up being the only thing your kids eat for dinner one night, you don’t have to kick yourself too hard…

Peach and blackberry crisp

Serves 4

3 peaches, peeled and sliced

4 to 6 large blackberries

cooking spray

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

half stick of unsalted butter, diced

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

pinch salt (omit salt if you use salted butter)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup walnuts or almonds, chopped (optional)

Spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Place fruit in baking dish. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place flour, butter, sugar, oats, salt and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Work this mixture with your (clean) fingers until it attains the texture of coarse wet sand. This has the added benefit of exfoliating your hands. If using nuts, mix them in lightly after the rest of the ingredients are already incorporated. Gently place this mixture over the berries. Bake 45 minutes to an hour (closer to an hour if you’re using frozen fruit), until fruit bubbles and the topping is slightly browned. If you use really ripe fruit, it will need no adornment, but if it’s less than peak, try tossing the fruit with a bit of honey and cornstarch before placing it in the baking dish to help the juices and flavors come out. Serve with vanilla ice cream.