Posts Tagged ‘csa challenge’

Cindy’s Peach Cobbler

This weekend we invited friends and family over to the house to celebrate Independence Day. Large gatherings are also an excellent opportunity to share lots of food, including the heads and heads of lettuce we still have in the refrigerator from the CSA boxes and our garden.

Yes, it was bad planning to have lettuce at the same time as our CSA share; I must remember to plant the lettuce as soon as possible (hello, cold frames!) So they’re out of the garden before the shares start.

In any case, the bbq was a smashing success and a great time with friends and family. This weekend also marked my first trip to the farmer’s market this year (where I scored the last of the asparagus for the season) This post is for sharing one of the dishes we shared at the bbq; I’ll write in a separate post about the farmer’s market.

This recipe is in anticipation of the fruit shares that will be starting soon and the Colorado peaches that are showing up in markets. This peach cobbler is unique…it’s more cake-like than a lot of cobblers I’ve eaten, and is not at all like the fruit on the bottom/crispy crumbly top cobbler that people seem to expect. However, it is delicious. I got the recipe twelve years ago from a dear friend who is no longer in my life and it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Cindy’s Peach Cobbler

1/2 cup unsalted butter (usually 1 stick)
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 T baking powder
1 t vanilla
1 can peaches or several fresh peaches (I put as many slices as can fit in the pan)

Melt butter and pour into bottom of 8 inch square baking dish. I use an old glass dish that resists sticking. Combine flour, sugar, milk, baking power and vanilla in mixing bowl and stir until combined (small lumps are okay) Pour this mixture onto the butter in the pan, but don’t mix. Add drained peach slices (or fresh peach slices) with fork, making just one layer of peaches in the pan.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes, until top is golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes and serve warm. You can add a scoop of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream for extra yumminess.

This recipe is easy to double; I’ve also played around with the kind of sweetner and amount of butter. Feel free to experiment, but this is a tried and true winner, every time.

PS – for those of you concerned about the amount of butter I use to cook (hi, mom!) I just had my cholesterol levels checked, and I rang in at 166. So I’m not worried, and neither should you be. 🙂

Greens and Beans

A common challenge this time of season is what to do with all the kale that keeps showing up in our CSA box. Our farm grows two kinds of kale – the standard curly edge kind, and Tuscan kale, which has narrower leaves and has a bluer tint.

Prior to being a CSA member, my only exposure to kale was when I worked at Ruby Tuesday’s, where kale is used as a garnish on almost every dish. The kale is washed with mayonnaise-water prior to use to help turn the leaves a dark green. I have washed so much kale in mayonnaise water that I can still smell it. (gross)

There are a few restaurants in town that serve steamed kale, and despite my attempts at liking this stong-flavored green, I hadn’t found a way to eat kale that I enjoyed. My strategy thus far has been to give it away as much as possible.

So last night, with another two bundles of kale in my refrigerator, I decided to try the Tuscan kale with beans for a simple yet wholesome meal. And it was delicious! Here’s what I did:

Greens and Beans

Heat a can of pinto beans in saucepan; add cumin. In separate pan, saute a small amount of garlic in olive oil. Add rinsed and chopped kale to pan, stirring to prevent sticking. Add a small amount of bragg’s amino acids to the pan and cover with a lid. Saute kale until dark green and tender, but don’t overcook. Remove from heat and add a bit of lemon juice.

When beans are hot, drain water and add to bowl; shred a little mild-flavored cheese on top and add the greens to the bowl.

The light flavor of the pintos did a great job of balancing the strong flavor of the kale. mmmm!

Ginger Lemon Rhubarb Jam

It’s still rhubarb season, and it turns out my housemate loves rhubarb jam. So we made a plan last week to put up some jam, adding ginger and lemon juice to make it even more tangy. We planted rhubarb in the garden last year, so we can harvest the stems this season. (read more about rhubarb, an amazing perennial plant)

I haven’t made jam since middle school, and even then it was freezer jam, not the jam you put into glass jars and boil. We don’t have room in our freezer for plastic containers of jam (Glenda is still annoyed by the roasted beets still in the freezer from last fall), and I also want to learn how to can so I can put up the surpluses of tomatoes, cucumbers and peaches I expect this year.  A major goal of our 3rd CSA year is to waste no food.

So, anyway, a few quick web searches for rhubarb ginger jam uncovered a lot of available recipes, but I went with this one, found on the barefoot kitchen witch site. She has a lot of photos that are quite handy.

However, I did alter the recipe some, and the instructions are sort of hard to follow on her post, so I’m recreating it here for all our benefit.

Ginger Rhubarb Lemon Jam

Photo by the Barefoot Kitchen Witch; See all of her recipes and photos on her blog!

Photo by the Barefoot Kitchen Witch; See all of her recipes and photos on her blog!

2 lbs (or 8 cups) chopped rhubarb
2 cups sugar or comparable sweetener
1/3 cup minced or shredded (fresh) ginger
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
juice of 2 small lemons (a little less than 1/4 cup, I think)
1 T lemon zest

Wash and trim rhubarb and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. (The rhubarb will give enough water to keep it from sticking)

Cook, stirring ocassionally, for 20 – 25 minutes on medium heat until the mixture reaches 218 -220 degrees (F). (Add pectin if necessary) Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. At this point, jam can be stored in sterilized canning jars or canned in a hot water bath (more canning guidelines below)

Adding pectin: Pectin, a compound extracted from plants like citrus, is a gelling agent added to jams, jellies and desserts to stablize foods.  It’s what makes jams jelly. Pectin is available in most grocery stores, and yesterday I found a pectin product that is activated by calcium instead of sugar, therefore allowing you to add as little or as much sweeter as you desire. We didn’t want the jam to be too sweet, so we started the recipe with 1 1/2 cups of sugar, and added the additional 1/2 cup after it had simmered a bit.  (it was mouth puckering tart)

To test whether you should add pectin, float a small metal bowl in a larger bowl or basin that’s filled with cold water. Drop a small amount of the jam into the metal bowl; the cold water it’s sitting in will cool the jam quickly. Swipe a finger through the jam; if it retains most of its own shape and doesn’t run together, you probably don’t need to add pectin. This was true in our case, but since I hate runny jam, I added about half the amount of recommended pectin at the end. (read your pectin instructions for details, and don’t be afraid to add it at the end – just be sure to boil it at least 2 minutes after adding it.)

For canning instructions and lessons learned, click on “continue reading” below.

Yield: We filled two 12-oz jars with jam, and had an additional 1/2 cup leftover that we threw into the fridge. I am definitely getting some 6 oz jars for the next batch of jam; it’ll be easier to share them with friends and family.

I licked the pot when we were finished, because the concoction was delightful. Hope yours is lovely!

Continue reading

Rhubarb Rhubarb Rhubarb!

This week’s boxes looked fairly similar to last week’s, except for the awesome additions of garlic scapes (the tops they snip off to help the bulbs grow), collard greens, and fresh basil.

In the last two weeks, we’ve gotten a few handfuls of rhubarb. My grandmother grew rhubarb and we planted some in our garden last year, but I’ve never quite tackled the problem of exactly what to do with rhubarb. Or collard greens, for that matter. So last night for dinner, we cooked up the collards first and then made a delicious strawberry rhubarb crumble for dessert.

But first, did you know that rhubarb is one of the earliest spring vegetables to be ready to eat? And that, although the leaves are toxic, the stems and roots have been eaten for thousands of years? Also, rhubarb stalks are pink, red, white and green, although red are the most commonly seen in grocery stores? Read more about rhubarb on wikipedia.

Here’s a very easy recipe I found for vegetarian collard greens. My housemate added bragg’s amino acids instead of salt, but between that and the miso, it was a tad on the too-salty side. But still, the collards were tender and flavorful.
Vegetarian Collard Greens

2 lbs collard greens
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
3 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1. Wash greens well, submerging in a sink full of cold water to remove any dirt and grit. Drain well. Cut off the stems right where the leaf starts. Stack about 5-8 leaves on top of each other, then roll lengthwise. Cut rolled up leaves into 1″ slices width-wise. Repeat until all the greens are done, and add to a large pot.  (note: I’m not sure how this was actually done at my house, but the strips were WAY too long. I recommend cutting them in half widthwise before chopping them in this way)

2. Add all other ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes or until greens are extremely tender. Serve hot, using a slotted spoon to drain the liquid from the greens.

And, finally, Rhubarb! I found this recipe online, and slightly modified it; my altered recipe is below. It’s so exciting that we also used strawberries out of our own garden.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

For the topping:
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
Zest of one lemon
1/2 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 quart strawberries plus a few extras, hulled, quartered
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Prepare topping: In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugars and lemon zest and add the melted butter. Mix until small and large clumps form. Refrigerate until needed.

2. Prepare filling: Toss rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch and a pinch of salt in a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.

3. Remove topping from refrigerator and cover fruit thickly and evenly with topping. Place pie plate on a (foil-lined, if you really want to think ahead) baking sheet, and bake until crumble topping is golden brown in places and fruit is bubbling beneath, about 40 to 50 minutes.

photo from smittenkitchen.com, visit their great site!

photo from smittenkitchen.com, visit their great site!

additional notes: Be prepared; the filling sticks to the pan. I’m not sure how to remedy this problem just yet, but it might include more butter. Also, I reduced the sugar from the original recipe because we wanted to retain the tartness of the rhubarb without being overly sweet.  Also, we live at 5,300 ft elevation, and I always adjust the oven temperature to -25 degrees from any baking recipe. I don’t make any other adjustments, and the temp shift seems to work great.

Today, we’re attempting to make lemon rhubarb ginger jam. I’ll let you all know how it went.

Enjoy your farm fresh veggies!

Abundance of a New Season

Yesterday’s first pick up went off without much trouble. We didn’t have enough eggs for the eggshare folk, and everyone’s still getting oriented to our location and how the different sized shares work. My housemate Art was in charge of the pick up, since I was hosting a networking event for local businesses. He set up a great little tent, with signs, instructions, and even a “community chest” for swapping out veggies that people didn’t want or like.

I wasn’t sure how the community chest would work, since last year we saw how quickly one unwanted cabbage can turn into ten. (bet you didn’t know cabbage breeds like rabbits) We actually had to hide heads of cabbage if someone left one behind, because just one unwanted veggie gives permission for others to leave them, even if you’ve explicitely stated that’s a no-no. So we decided to provide a way for people to ensure the food doesn’t go to waste, expecting some trading and hoping that everything works out in the end. Apparently it’s all going to work out swell; yesterday a four year old little girl squealed with joy about the radishes left in the community chest; they got to take home two bunches. (how many four year olds squeal over radishes?)

The farm delivered extra boxes to help ensure that everyone got the right amount. Art combined these shares and went around to neighbors delivering free food. I’m not entirely sure what our neighbors think of us giving them free organic veggies, but I think they may be used to it by now. We have enough extra today that I’ll be heading over to SAME Cafe in Denver with lots of lettuce, rhubarb and herbs.

I need to post photos of the amazing spinach in our boxes, but I wanted to share my favorite way to deal with an abundance of spinach: saag. This recipe is the easiest I’ve found thus far, and there are many variations. I recommend experimenting with the mixture of spices until you find what suits your palate. The recipe calls for a pound of chopped spinach, and I haven’t yet worked out how much fresh spinach that is. Enjoy!

Cooking Away My CSA Challenge

Today, through the magic that is the Intarwebs, I was contacted via Twitter by Heather, a journalist and foodie in Chicago who recently joined a CSA program. Realizing that she’ll soon receive boxes of seasonal produce every week, Heather created the Cooking Away My CSA challenge, to connect other techy CSA members to share ideas, recipes and stories about CSA membership.

I like her idea for a few reasons: last year, our farm was devastated by hailstorms that ruined crops of tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, and more. Week after week, we received bunches of kale, dill and beets, and then weeks and weeks of cabbage. This is the risk you take when you join a CSA. And sharing ideas about what to do with the dozens of beets still in your fridge is a lifesaver. (our salvation: Beet Cake) But more importantly, our desire to be more connected to our food is becoming very loud indeed.

Although I’ve had a (barely used) cooking blog for years, I realized that my love of food and all things local has expanded far beyond my own garden. There is a major movement in our communities to have more farmers, more markets, more ways to connect with our food. We are so disconnected from this primary source of health and well being, of our very existence, and I think we’re finally revolting.

This revolution is taking various forms. In India, farmers are committing suicide because of being overwhelmed by debt and crop failure. This year, Chinese soldiers forced Tibetan farmers to plant their crops at gunpoint, and some refused. In other places, the growth of farmers markets and seed purchases hail increasing interest in growing, cooking and preserving our own food. This spring I helped to start a project in Denver focused on connecting local food growers and establishing more food gardens. And my organization is in the midst of launching a food business incubator, to nurture the development of more food related businesses in our own community.

I believe that all of this is happening because we’re waking up to the pitfalls of a society that has valued profit above all else. What happens when mega corporations own all our sources of food? If we continue to treat one another and our resources as simply numbers on a spreadsheet, we will continue to suffer.

Our CSA starts in two days. Gerry has already called me, excited about her first year as a CSA member. She told me about how her family goes through jam faster than she can make it, and how she’ll use the fruit from her share to stock up on yummy preserves. When I shared my envy about her jam making skills, she proclaimed, “well, I’ll just come over some weekend and show you how to jam! It’s SO easy! Then you can teach all your friends how to jam, too.” What may seem to be a small statement, a casual offer to share a recipe, to me is so much more. In that one offer, Gerry shared the essence of what it means to be human. It is our nature to freely share what we know and have. Joining a CSA or shopping at a farmer’s market or teaching a stranger how to make jam is about so much more than food. It’s about remembering and relearning how to take care of ourselves and one another.

Local food can be our access to stronger, healthier communities – from the community of cells and organisms that make up our bodies,  to our neighborhoods, towns and cities. And beyond that, to our ecosystems and social systems and nation states. And it starts with people like Gerry, being intentional about how she eats and sharing her food knowledge with others.