Monday, August 10, 2009

Week 14, CSA News

Jeorg's Perspective on Eating Locally . . .

Nothing quite gives the full picture more than the voice of experience. We thank Elmwood CSA members Jeorg and Thomas for sharing their story . . .

Several years ago, Thomas, my husband, read a book - the book really. The bible of eating locally. Being a person who does not read a lot of non-fiction, I only knew that he was reading this book about an experiment in food. Little did I know that it would change our lives forever. While we were living in Paris, he explained to me why we were going to do this, eat locally and how it would make us better people and enrich our lives. I said yes; we were in Paris after all.

We started going to the farmer's market, we joined a CSA and really, I could not complain. I love vegetables and would eliminate most meat from my diet very easily. Economically, the advantages are great. It supports the local economy, a farm or many farms that supply what I would have bought at the grocery store anyway for the same price. I feel a stronger connection to the food that I eat since I know when it is in season and how crops are doing based on weather. At first, it was not so bad, however, I married a man who goes all in on the first day. I slowly noticed that this eating locally thing was no easy task. It meant careful planning for the winter months, it meant arguing about "luxury" items such as coffee, tea, and candy. It meant negotiating with eating habits, cooking styles and cookbooks. But it has been worth it.

My perspective has remained steadfast through this whole thing. I love supporting the local farms where we get our veggies and our meats. I love digging around the co-op to find local products and knowing that the meals we make are almost 100% local and organic (I cannot give up almonds, lemons, or olive oil...). I love knowing what it is that I eat and where it came from. Best of all, I love encouraging others to start buying local too and supporting the farms by making that connection with their food. We still eat out, we still buy lemons and olive oil, and we still buy candy. But this experiment has changed my life- I now put my money where my mouth is, eats, and lives.

In Your Share . . .
As always, items may vary depending on your share size and harvest day. Each share may not have every item listed below.

Cabbage, Green – organic
Find your last head of summer cabbage this week. Enjoy in fresh cole slaw, sliced thinly and sautéed, or oven baked with butter. It will keep refrigerated for you for a couple of weeks if desired.

Celery – organic
The celery needs to be harvested and will keep better for you in your refrigerator than out in the field with the heat that has moved into the area. We are glad to get your positive feed-back on this flavorful vegetable. You can enjoy it chopped into tuna, potato or chicken salads; oven roasted with potatoes along side chicken or beef roasts; or in vegetable soup or cold gazpacho. The outer stalks with a darker green color are best used in cooked recipes, while the inner more pale portions can be enjoyed raw, as the texture is less tough than the outer stalks more exposed to the sun. Store in your crisper area of the refrigerator. Find a new recipe below.

Okra – organic
Store your okra in the refrigerator before preparing. You can pan fry, oven roast, or stew with tomatoes for Cajun style. You only need to remove the stem end. You can also lay out on a cookie sheet either sliced pieces or whole okra and freeze. Once frozen, bag it up to use in gumbo or soups during the winter season.

Sweet Onions and/or Red Onions - organic
As we mentioned to you last week, the sweet onions do not store as long as dry storage onions. With this season’s rains, sweet onions should be used within a couple of weeks. If your refrigerator is below 45°, the sweet onions will keep best for you there. If it is warmer, then it will only encourage the onions to sprout and soften. You can also store in your pantry. When cut, the sulfur of an onion reacts with the water in your eyes resulting in sulfuric acid that causes the tears in your eyes. Remember to rinse your cutting board after onion cutting, as it will retain the onion flavor.

Green Bell Pepper

Potatoes – organic
This week’s potato is the blue skinned bluish-white flesh variety or a red skin white flesh variety. You can use either as a baking potato, or for most all purposes as they each hold their shape when cooked.

Squash, Spaghetti
Store in your pantry until ready to use, this item will keep for you for weeks. Boil whole or halve and bake with flesh side down until done. Remove seeds, fleck out strands with a fork and enjoy with ‘spaghetti’ sauce, pesto, or just butter and seasonings.

Squash, Acorn
Store this hard skin squash in your pantry until ready to use as this item will keep for you for weeks. Boil whole or halve and bake with flesh side down in a little water until done; remove seeds. Enjoy the acorn squash with butter, seasonings, and honey or maple syrup.

Squash, Yellow Summer

Tomatoes, Green
We’re not sure how long before the killing tomato blight arrives, so we added extra while we have them. Wrap in newspaper individually to let ripen. Use green tomatoes in salsa, fruit chutney, or oven/pan fry. See 7/10/06 news on website for recipes.

Tomatoes, Heirloom - organic
Find a mixed selection of varieties; more details next harvest but generally our heirloom varieties have lower acid, thinner skin, ugly sometimes, but very much worth it!

Tomatoes, Red - organic

The dark green melons should have a red flesh and are said to be seed-less. Seedless melons will have small white seeds that are edible and from time to time they will have regular black seeds like a traditional watermelon. The striped skin melons have a yellow flesh, and you should have one or the other.

Recipes to Enjoy . . .

Cabbage Pie
A Mark Bittman recipe adapted from old Russian recipe

2 T butter plus more as needed
1 medium or ½ large head cabbage, cored and shredded, about 2 pounds
1 medium onion, sliced
salt and black pepper to taste
2/3 C chopped fresh dill leaves
6 eggs (3 hard boiled)
1 C whole milk yogurt or sour cream
3 T mayonnaise
½ tsp baking powder
1 ¼ C flour

Preheat oven to 375°. Put butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cabbage and onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is quite tender, about 10 minutes; do not brown. Remove from heat, add dill, taste and adjust seasonings.

Meanwhile, hard boil 3 eggs if not already done. Peel and coarsely chop. Add to the cooked cabbage mixture and let cook while you make the batter.

Combine yogurt, mayo, and remaining 3 eggs. Add baking powder and flour and mix until smooth. Lightly butter a 9 x 12 inch ceramic or glass baking dish. Spread half the batter on the bottom, then top with the cabbage filling, smear the remaining batter over the cabbage, using your fingers or a spatula to make sure there are no gaps in what will be the pie’s top crust.

Bake for 45 minutes until shiny and golden brown. Let pie cool for about 15 minutes before slicing. Eat warm or at room temperature, serves 4 to 6.

Celery Puree
Barbara Kafka reports that celery used to be served as a specialty item, even having its own dishes just the length of a trimmed celery stalk. She advises to peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler to remove any strings before steaming. Her recipe makes 1-½ cups and takes about 15 minutes to prepare.

1 pound celery, peeled and cut across into ¼ inch pieces
2 T chopped celery leaves
1 potato, cooked, peeled and riced
½ C heavy cream
3 T unsalted butter, softened
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the celery in the top of a two-part steamer or on a steaming rack. Fill the bottom of the steamer pan with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Place the celery on top, cover and steam for 7 minutes or until very tender. Transfer to a food processor, add celery leaves, potato, cream and butter, process until well combined. Season to taste.

Broiled Tomatoes
Recipe from local cookbook, Bluegrass Winners

6 fresh tomatoes, unpeeled
6 T sherry
½ tsp dill (or other favorite herb, fresh preferred)
1 tsp black pepper
6 T mayonnaise
8 T Parmesan cheese, grated

Remove core from each tomato and cut in half. Place cut side up on a cookie sheet or glass baking dish. Pierce each tomato several times with a fork. Sprinkle each half with sherry, herb, and pepper. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes. Top each half with a mixture of mayo and Parmesan and return to broiler for 1 minute. Serve immediately. Serves 12.