Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Outside the Cart

In The News

It seems that about every day, current event reporting highlights a consumer product recall, a newly diagnosed health condition, or a linkage between poor health and a convenience lifestyle. Below are some observations by John Hendrickson published in the seasonal cooking guide From Asparagus to Zucchini, that may help explain why.

§ In the conventional food system, food travels 1,500 or more miles on average from farm to table.
§ Only about 10% of the fossil fuel energy used in the world’s food system is used for producing the food; the other 90% goes into packaging, transporting, and marketing.
§ On any given day more than half the US population eats no fruits or vegetables.Only 1 of 10 children ages 6 to 11 eats the recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables.
§ Since the turn of the 20th century, 97% of fruit and vegetable varieties have become unavailable commercially, replaced by only a few uniform varieties.
§ In a typical year, more than 10,000 new food items are introduced in grocery stores – mostly highly processed, packaged convenience foods.
§ Conventional farmers receive less than 25 cents of your consumer food dollar on average.
§ The average US citizen spends less than 12% of his or her disposable income on food.

By joining a CSA, you and your family have taken steps to ensure a weekly supply of fresh, nutritious vegetables. CSA households do increase their intake of fruits and vegetables. People are introduced to lesser known crops, tasty heirloom varieties, and unique varieties of common vegetables. Thanks for thinking outside the shopping cart!

In Your Basket . . .

Brussels Sprouts –organic
These firm little treats are nutritious and can be fun to eat! Remove any damaged leaves, trim the stem end, and if desired cut an X in the stem to speed up the cooking process. The key is to cook just enough but not over-cook them – this avoids the unpleasant aroma that waffles throughout the house.
Sweet Bell Pepper – organic

Celery – organic
This crisp flavorful celery will keep best in the coldest part of your refrigerator, even packed on ice if desired. Slice the stalks and spread pieces out on tray. Place in freezer, then pack into freezer bags for later use in soups and stews. The leaves can be chopped and frozen, or dried.Once you try fresh, local celery, you cannot believe the wonderful flavor. It does not compare to the item with the same name on supermarket shelves.
Garlic - organic
Store in your pantry, not refrigerated, preferably out of direct light. The dry season has affected the heads with less paper covering, but flavor and health benefits are still ever present.
Acorn Squash
Kale Greens - organic

We have both a curly green leaf and a curly red Russian type ready for harvest this week. You may have one or the other or a mixture of both. Sauté or steam and enjoy with vinegar sprinkled on top. Find a new recipe below.
Tomatoes – organic The summer plants are finally giving out after wonderful production in the super high heat, so less to offer now.
Your Choice Basket:
Hot Peppers
Larger Baskets Only:

Stringless Green Beans - organic

Recipes to Enjoy...

Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Bitter Greens
Thanks to CSA member, Kim, for sharing this Martha Stewart recipe from What’s For Dinner. Try using Swiss Chard or Kale Greens.

1 T olive oil
1-2 T unsalted butter
4 medium onions, peeled and cut into ¼ inch rings
1 tsp sugar
4 C chicken broth (preferable homemade) or water
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound fettuccine
1 head chicory, mustard greens, kale or arugula – washed, with tough ribs removed, leaves torn into pieces

Heat oil and 1 T butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sugar and cook; stirring once or twice, until well browned, about 10 minutes. Turn heat to low; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 10 minutes.
Remove half the onions and set aside. Add broth or water to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat, scraping bottom of pan for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until a little underdone, and drain. Add to the broth and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add greens and cook, covered, until wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in additional tablespoon of butter, if desired. Divide among four shallow bowls, garnish with reserved onions, and serve.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
from Angelic Organics Kitchen, serves 4

1 pound Brussels sprouts
3 T olive oil
3 T balsamic vinegar
2 T maple syrup
2 T red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp prepared Dijon type mustard
¼ C water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Soak the sprouts in a large bowl of water for 10 minutes; drain. Spread the sprouts in a large baking dish and drizzle them with olive oil. In a large bowl, combine the vinegars, maple syrup, garlic and mustard; mix well. Pour over the sprouts. Add the water to the bottom of the baking dish. Bake until tender-firm, 30 to 45 minutes.

Golden Pepper and Yellow Tomato Soup
In this recipe from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors, she suggests that the yellow-orange peppers and tomatoes offer a softer flavor than traditional red tomatoes with green bells. You can also roast and peel the peppers first if desired, or just chop them fresh with skins on.

1 pound yellow or orange tomatoes
1/3 C white rice
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
3 yellow, orange or red bell peppers
2 T olive oil
pinch saffron threads
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs, leaves plucked from the stems
1 tsp sweet paprika or ½ tsp smoked paprika
1 T tomato paste
1 quart vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
chopped opal basil, marjoram or parsley

Bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Slice an X at the base of each tomato. Plunge them, 2 at a time, into the water for about 10 seconds, then remove and set aside. Add the rice and ½ tsp salt to the water, lower the heat to simmer, and cook until the rice is tender, about 12 minutes. Drain.
Chop the onion. Mince the garlic with a pinch of salt until mushy. Dice the peppers into small squares, removing the seeds and membranes first. You should have about 2 cups. Peel and seed the tomatoes, reserving the juice, then dice the walls and mince the cores.
Warm the oil in a soup pot and add the onions, peppers, saffron, bay leaf, thyme and paprika. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion has begun to soften and color, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, then stir in the tomato paste and 1 tsp salt. Give it a stir and add ¼ C water. Stew for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.
When ready to serve, reheat the soup with the rice, then ladle it into bowls. Or make a mound of rice in each bowl and spoon the soup around it. Season with pepper and garnish with fine slivers of basil leaves or marjoram chopped with a few parsley leaves.