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CSA Delivery: June 26, 2014

AHHHH! It’s Thursday night again, and we just took our third summer CSA delivery of the season.

We were also notified that our CSA will be skipping the July 3 delivery and tacking that delivery on to the end of the season (late October). I’m so COOL with that, as the fall items will store long into November.

While these boxes are pretty light right now, they’re still piling up in our fridge. Thank goodness last week’s lettuce is still as fresh and tender today as it was last week. …It’s all about good storage habits.

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In today’s large share CSA Box:

Lettuce – Two varieties Spinach – still the most tender leaves you’ll ever taste
Red Russian Kale – A bigger helping this week
Bulb Fennel – with it’s giant green top
Baby Beets with green tops
Kohlrabi – with it’s green tops
Green Onions – so fresh and crisp
Fresh Herb – Mint – Big fragrant velvety leaves (see below)

CSA online order:
3 bunches of Lovage – my favorite herb from HighCross Farm
2 bunches of Sage with Sage Blossoms
2 pounds of spinach – it’s all gone for the summer
3 small heads of Grade B lettuce – undersized so they were a $1 each
2 dozen farm fresh free range eggs – they don’t get any better than this

Since we weren’t going to have a July 3 delivery, I stocked up on some essentials to carry us over until our July 10 delivery. The extra spinach from last week’s delivery as well as this week’s delivery will be pureed into my kiddo’s organic yogurt bowls with organic bananas and organic frozen strawberries. It’s a great way to make sure he’s eating his greens.

The beets in this week’s share are such a deep rich color. The first time I had them was last year, and they were amazing. …and I’m not a beet eater. Better yet, the greens are delicious in a pasta stir fry (recipe below). The most wonderful item in this week’s share is the fennel bulb. When I cut the green tops off for storage, the licorice aromatics that filled the kitchen were wonderful. My wife could smell it from 10 ft away, “What did you just cut? That smells like licorice”. Can’t wait to slice a little up in my farmer’s salad today.

Here are some more pics from this week’s share:

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Check out these velvety mint leaves – click on the photo for a closer look.  _CJP1778

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A big juicy wildly fresh Kohlrabi – An ode to Milwaukee’s German ancestry.
Those are hollow Lovage stalks to the right.
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Here are the deep red beets with their delicious stems and greens.
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And this is Lovage. It looks a LOT like Italian parsley, but it has a strong celeryesque flavor.
The stalks and leaves are both edible. I use the leaves in salads, and mince up the stalks for cooking in place of celery. If you like bloody marys, use the hollow stalk as a straw.
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And here are those fabulous farm fresh free range eggs. These are the X-Large – and they’re HUGE! Another thing I love about the CSA is how much we recycle containers. This is a Roundy’s egg container. When we’re done using these egg containers, we return them to the farmer so they can reuse them for future egg orders. Some CSA farms, like Pinehold Gardens have multi-colored eggs: brown, white, yellow, and blue. …Never seen a blue egg until I picked up a dozen from Pinehold Gardens last winter.  _CJP1802

Julia Child once said:

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces
– just good food from fresh ingredients”.

We’ve been living this philosophy every since we joined our CSA. LOVE IT!

So. What did I make last night from our CSA pull? 

Sauteéd pasta with beet greens.
Again, I keep my Thursday cooking super easy because we usually don’t get a chance to sit down to eat until 8 PM, and it was no different last night. There is nothing fancy or complicated here. I think Julia would smile.

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Ingredients:

• Leftover Cooked Pasta from the night before, otherwise it’s too starchy to sauté.
• 1 lb of chicken breast – cubed kinda small
• 1 small red onion – finely chopped
• 1 bunch of beet greens (washed, torn into bite-sized piece, then and spun dry) – HighCross Farm CSA
• 6-8 small beet stems (washed and diced) – HighCross Farm CSA
• 2 garlic chive stalks (minced) – HighCross Farm CSA
• 5-6 sage leaves (minced) – HighCross Farm CSA
• 3-4 sage blossoms (minced) – HighCross Farm CSA
• 2-3 Lovage stalks (minced) – HighCross Farm CSA
• Small handful of Lovage leaves (minced) – HighCross Farm CSA
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Kosher flake salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
• Shaved parmesan cheese

Method:

Sauté the onion in olive oil over medium heat until it begins to soften – season with a small pinch of salt and pepper. Add the cubed chicken breast, give it another drizzle of olive oil. When the chicken turns color, add the minced lovage stalks, sage and most of the garlic chives (not all of it). Reduce the heat, and let the chicken cook through – don’t burn the herbs. When the chicken is done, set aside.

In the same skillet, add a bit more olive oil and sauté the beet stems until they begin to soften a bit. Season with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside when they’re done.

Still using the same skillet, gently sauté the beet greens until they’re just beginning to wilt, and remove the skillet.Might need to add another touch of olive oil.

Add more olive oil and throw in the pasta and cook until it’s warmed and starts to brown. Add the cooked chicken, herbs, and beet greens. Toss, plate, top with shaved parm, another twist of fresh cracked black pepper and serve hot. Garnish with beet stems and remaining garlic chives.

A couple of notes:

If you don’t have beet greens, use whatever dark leafy green veggies you can find at the Farmer’s Market, or whatever you can find that’s organic in your local grocery store – hopefully it’ll be locally grown.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, skip the chicken and cheese.

Substitute whatever fresh herbs you want. I used Sage because it pairs so well with poultry. The vibrant flavors of Lovage, Sage and Garlic Chives gave it a nice balance to the earthy flavor of the beet greens and stems. 

Thanks for reading – and please leave a comment.

c

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CSA Delivery: June 12, 2014

So summer is officially here. Well, not calendorically (snigglet), but because our first summer share CSA box was delivered last night. OH! The giddiness I’ll be feeling every Thursday over the next 20 weeks. And that takes us (my family) right up until October 30. …Wow! We’re going to get a Halloween share. LOL

So here’s our first delivery – June 12, 2014jg_061214_001

One thing to keep in mind if you’re pondering about joining a CSA, the early summer boxes, at least in the upper midwest, are generally kinda light. As the summer wears on, and you get into the fall harvest season, the boxes get much heavier when you start adding eggplant, onions, potatoes, cabbage, and OH! that amazing winter squash.

In today’s Large Share CSA box:

Lettuce – 3 varieties: Red Oak Leaf, Green Butterhead and Romaine
Spinach –
Arugula with blossoms (spicy salad green)
Red Russian Kale
Rainbow Swiss Chard – small bag
Carrots from winter storage
Several Red Radishes
Chives
Fresh Herb -Lovage – Has a strong celery flavor

In the back there are a few potted herbs I bought from my CSA: two pineapple sage plants and four Italian parsley plants – all potted in the same organic potting mix they use on the farm in their hoop house.

First impressions: The lettuce is HUGE! and velvety. Around here, in the Milwaukee area, I never see lettuce heads this big in the grocery store. The Spinach leaves are the biggest I’ve ever seen. The carrots we get in stores around here simply don’t taste like this — and these are winter storage carrots. The radishes are so vibrant, and the green tops are excellent in salads. I didn’t receive chives – more on this later.

Then there’s Lovage. This is possibly my all-time favorite herb. I have to write a separate blog post or even dedicate an article to this phenomenal culinary herb we never hear about in the US.

The one thing I’ve learned about vegetables and herbs through our CSA, there is barely a part of the plant you don’t eat. You really don’t waste anything, and the radishes and lovage are a good example. With radishes, many people would throw away the leaves – me included a few years ago. The lovage? People would probably ignore the stems – but there is some seriously intense flavor in those stems. I mince them up like stalks of celery. Speaking of celery, how many people eat celery leaves? Um! Do it! They’re fabulous – even as a simple garnish in soup.

One thing I didn’t show in this post are my online store purchased items – the farm fresh eggs grown right on our CSA farm. Again, the store bought eggs, not even the organic cage free eggs, have anything on these. So fresh, so delicious. My two year old LOVES these eggs.

Here are some more pics from this week’s share:

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Wanna wax nostalgia? Eat one of these carrots. If you grew up in a home with a vegetable garden, and you grew carrots, and you used to pull them out of the ground, rinsed them off and took a bite without even peeling the carrot…. do you remember that sweet fresh flavor? It’s hard to imagine after all of these years until you’ve had that taste again. …and that’s right here. The first bite of my CSA carrots from last year spun me back to my childhood. It’s a flavor you just can’t get from any carrots (fresh or bagged) from the grocery store. 
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OMG! Look at this spinach…jg_061214_005

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…and how velvety this butterhead lettuce is….jg_061214_009

Have you ever eaten arugula blossoms? Me neither, and I can’t wait. Apparently they taste like…..wait for it…..arugula. Surprise! Surprise! Last year must not have been a good growing season for arugula at our CSA, as I barely remember getting any – and certainly not entire plants like this, blossoms and all. We did receive a full plant in one of our springs share boxes, but I never got around to noshing on the blossoms. I won’t miss it this time. jg_061214_011

So onto those missing chives. Is it a big deal? No, it isn’t. When you get home, take everything out of the box, take inventory on what you received, compare it to the list that was being delivered. If it’s all there, you’re good to go. If something is missing, shoot the farmer an email and let them know an item is missing from your box. They want to know if there are mistakes, or an item wasn’t of good quality. They likely won’t be able to deliver the missing item that week, but they typically add it to the next week’s box. If that item is unavailable for the next delivery, they may offer a substitute.

So. What did I make last night from our CSA pull? 

I have no idea what to call it, yet. I kinda made it up from some left over pasta and asparagus. How about “Fresh Thursday Night leftovers”?jg_061214_012

Ingredients:
• Pasta – cooked and leftover from the fridge (we had enough leftover pasta for three people).
• Asparagus – Harmony Valley Farm via Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks
• Green Garlic (stems minced) – Harmony Valley Farm via Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks
• Arugula (roughly chopped) – Harmony Valley Farm via Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks

• Carrots (sliced) – Highcross Farm – my CSA
• Lovage stems (minced) – Highcross Farm – my CSA
• Olive Oil
• Shaved Parmesan Cheese
• Sea Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Method:
I used an old 1890’s Griswold Erie #8 cast iron skillet – my favorite stovetop cooking vessel. This well seasoned thing is slicker than any teflon pan from Calphalon. And the heat retention and distribution is ridiculous. Low heat in this old CI is practically medium heat on an aluminum pan – so I have to chose my words carefully. …I’ll have to do a post about my small collection of cast iron.

Sauté carrots, green garlic and lovage in olive oil over medium heat for a 3-4 minutes. Season with a pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper.

Add cooked pasta and asparagus, drizzle with more olive oil, season with a little more salt and pepper, and cook until warm. I let the pasta get browned here and there. …and this is where using leftover cooked pasta from the fridge works best – it’s not all starchy and doesn’t stick to the bottom of the skillet. Give it a taste and re-season to taste. I don’t like my food overly salty, so I’m wildly conservative when it comes to salt. But black pepper? Get outta here. LOL

When everything is good and hot and plate up the pasta on a small salad plate or in a bowl, sprinkle with the arugula, shaved parmesan, drizzle with a little more olive oil. You can even add pinch of salt to the top of the plating.

A couple of notes:
I could have used the arugula from our Highcross Farm CSA delivery, but we had some from Fresh Picks that needed to be used up. Feel free to substitute any fresh Allium: onion, garlic, chives, green onions, leeks, whatever. I used what was available in the fridge. If you don’t like arugula, try spinach, mizuna, or some other green. You can do whatever you want.

As the season goes on, you’ll be seeing more and more veggies used from my CSA or my home garden, as I have a LOT of herbs and tomato plants growing, and less and less from third party sources – except maybe Pinehold Gardens. I hit their farmer stand every Saturday morning I have available.

Thanks for reading, and I welcome comments,

c

 

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