CSA Share Week #3, and the Weekly Trip to the Farmer’s Market

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In today’s CSA share, we have kale, cilantro, beets, goat’s milk yogurt, a yummy mix of salad greens, garlic, and paneer cheese, plus a wild iris, just because.

For $9.50, at the market, I bought a half dozen eggs from free range chickens, an extra bunch of kale, a bundle of asparagus (I found a vendor who sells the most amazing asparagus), and a quart of strawberries (homemade ice cream, anyone?).

I’m so grateful we took the CSA plunge this year, and that it is making it necessary for me to go to the farmer’s market every week. Having high quality produce is enabling us to eat a healthier diet and affording us the chance to try new foods and recipes (see previous entry on a delicious pesto couscous salad). Plus, the cost savings is wonderful–it would cost a lot more money to buy these items in the grocery store, and they just don’t taste as good if they aren’t locally grown.

Lamb’s Quarter Pesto With Couscous Salad

For tonight’s dinner via Goodness Grows: (http://www.goodnessgrowspa.com)

(We received another CSA share today–will share the goodies with you when I have time to upload the piccies.)

Lambs Quarter Pesto (I am also seeing that you can substitute kale if you prefer):

Remove leaves from stem and wash (there is a slight “dusty” feel to the leaves which is normal and will wash off for the most part)

Blend in blender or food processor:
1 1/2 cups of wild spinach leaves

3-4 crushed garlic cloves

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil

blend using a wooden spoon carefully to push the mixture into the blades without hitting the spoon
add olive oil as needed to get a paste like mixture while blending

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Couscous salad: add pesto to cooked couscous, lemon juice to taste, and diced onions, salt and pepper; stir till all is coated and green

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Verdict: Yummy and unique. We did use kale instead of the wild spinach. Surprisingly enough, the kids are eating it, which is wonderful, seeing as my five year old is the pickiest eater on the planet.

An Honest Review of Kale

Kale

Kale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, if you’re into health and nutrition, I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about leafy green kale and all of its health benefits. Green veggies are loaded with good stuff, and I’m sure no one would debate that, and kale is no exception. Kale is also loaded with lots of iron, and that appeals to me for the energy boost which I seem to so desperately need these days.

I had never intentionally tried kale before–in the sense that I never said, gee, I think I’ll purchase/eat some kale today. I know it has been in salads and such that I have tried, but I’ve never had kale in its own right.

Luckily, that’s one of the beautiful things about a CSA–it’s chock full of new fruits and veggies to try (and other foods). So, armed with some kale, some other tasty ingredients, and my rockin’ new blender (I found a 1 HP Omega on sale), I decided to throw some kale into a smoothie for my son and I to try.

I admit, I was a bit nervous. I used the kale in our traditional peanut butter and banana smoothie recipe (in a previous entry). As I added it, my little boy voiced complaint. And when we poured out the smoothie, it reminded me a bit of the appearance of broccoli cheddar soup (I only added two leaves of kale).

However, beside adding some texture and a bit of tang, it’s really NOT bad. The blender did a great job mixing the kale into the rest of the smoothie so it blended into the other ingredients perfectly. My son is happily drinking it without any whining. And I like the fact that I can throw in some extra iron to start a day of wrangling kiddos as I battle my latest sinus infection (I need all the help I can get today). I also love that I can add some leafy green veggies into my picky eater’s diet, knowing that he’ll get the added vitamins and minerals he needs for his day, too.

So, kale, you might have a convert–we’ll see. I’m feeling open minded, and far less nervous about green smoothies than I was before this morning.

CSA Share, Week #2, Plus, It’s the First Week of the Farmers’ Market!

The kiddos and I went to the farmers’ market today to pick up our second weekly CSA share, and to peruse the early season offerings. The first day of the market always makes me feel like it is Christmas. The produce always becomes much more abundant later in the season, but these early days bring gorgeous bouquets, sweet little pots of herbs, strawberries, long and fragrant onions, and one of my favorites–chewy and wonderful asparagus.

Today, our CSA share consists of kale, goat’s milk yogurt, turnip greens, chives, salad greens, garlic (edible tops and all!), and pea shoots. In addition to that, for a measly $7.00, I bought a dozen farm-fresh eggs from free-range chickens, and a bundle each of asparagus and onions.

I’m looking forward to trying kale in smoothies (also, my new blender arrived today–squee!), and Dawn at Goodness Grows says that pea shoots taste just like the peas themselves…mmmmm……. And homemade yogurt? It will be good eating here at our house!

(Excuse the extra stuff on our cluttered table, like the soy milk and clay pot, and of course, excuse the toddler hand and legs. She kept trying to steal the onions. ❤ )

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Brown Sugar Asparagus

Making this for dinner tonight with the asparagus from last week’s CSA share, along with some scrambled eggs from the same local farm. The recipe is from Grandma’s Kitchen: http://www.grandmaskitchen.com/recipes/tasty-side-dishes/brown-sugar-asparagus

Brown Sugar Asparagus

Ingredients

Serves 6

  • 2 pounds fresh asparagus spears
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • Orange zest strips, optional for garnish
  1. 1

    Snap off the thick woody ends of the asparagus spears and discard.

  2. 2

    Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Stir in brown sugar. Cook, stirring continually, until brown sugar dissolves.

  3. 3

    Add the asparagus to the brown sugar mixture, turning to coat. Sauté for 2 minutes.

  4. 4

    Add the chicken broth to the skillet. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the asparagus with a slotted spoon to a serving platter, reserving the pan juices in the skillet. Cover asparagus to keep warm.

  5. 5

    Cook reserved pan juices in the skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until reduced by half. Drizzle over the asparagus. Garnish with orange zest strips, if desired. Serve immediately.

CSA Share, Week One

Excuse the awkward photo positioning–still learning WordPress and all its tricks, and the photo quality is poor because I took it with the cell phone camera instead of the dSLR.

Today’s conundrum–what is an appropriate adjective for the taste of a radish? The best my mother in law and I have come up with is “zing.” 🙂

 

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One of the things that I would like to do with this blog is to show you what we receive in our CSA each week so you’ll get a rough idea of what to expect when and if you take the plunge to find one yourself. (Every CSA is different, so what I receive from my farm and in my region will differ from someone in, say, California.)

This week’s share is a lighter one, as it is early in the season (the shares become abundantly ample later in the summer). Included are lilacs, a mixture of herbs to make some tea, radishes, asparagus, eggs, goat’s milk feta, and goat’s milk soap, plus a hefty bag of various salad greens. Might I add how ecstatic I am to have the asparagus? I just love the stuff, and it’s not something I commonly buy or use. That’s one of the main reasons I wanted a CSA–to expand my cooking repertoire a bit. (If I find a yummy asparagus recipe, I’ll pass it along.)

Community-Supported Agriculture

I am SO excited for Thursday! It is the first day that I receive my CSA share!

And what is a “CSA share,” I’m sure some of you are asking?

CSA stands for “community supported agriculture.” Shareholders purchase “shares” of a participating farm’s produce that season, with the hope and promise that every week, the shareholder will receive a loaded box full of goodies that were grown on the farm. The shareholder participates in the farming process by agreeing to place faith in the farm, and with the understanding that, along with the farmer, you will reap from the good seasons, and also experience the disappointments when the occasional thing goes wrong (think a banner year for peaches where they are plentiful enough to bring some home to can versus a frost making the crop limited in that fruit that year). Even in a so-called “bad year,” CSA’s generally fill in “gaps” with products like eggs or soaps or maybe homemade cheeses (a few examples from my own CSA). Money for the CSA is generally paid before the start of a season, though some allow you to pay per week on a non-subscription basis.

I’m looking forward to my CSA for a number of reasons–it will cut down on my grocery bill substantially. It will introduce me to new favorites, adding variety to what we eat. It will allow me to practice new skills like canning and dehydrating foods. Our CSA has oodles of meet and greets, classes (I’m doing a goat’s milk soapmaking class in June!), and activities for its members. But, the main reason is the promise of a healthier diet by having wholesome, home grown, local foods heading my way–our CSA is also organic, but not all of them are.

I’m sharing a link for my CSA and “my farm,” Goodness Grows, in Bedford, PA, and you can see what the first week’s offerings are like early in the season. I encourage you to research and find a CSA in your area, and if one is not available, make heavy use of farmers’ markets and locally grown and made foods in your area!

http://goodnessgrowspa.com/2013/05/19/first-week-csa/