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Posts tagged with Csa

Cooking away the CSA, week 26: When seasons cross, and the dinners they bring

A salad for summer and fall.

A salad for summer and fall. by Sarah Henning

We’ve come to the time of year where winter squashes and tubers are sharing table space with tomatoes and cucumbers at local CSAs and the Lawrence Farmers' Market.

For instance, we got eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, tat soi, lettuce mix and peppers last week from Rolling Prairie.

It seems totally odd, right? Even though these items share shelf space in the produce department of nearly every grocery store in America year-round.

Makes you think about our industrial food system a bit, eh?

And you know what? There’s nothing that says we can’t enjoy some of these summer-fall goodies in the same meal, or even in the same dish.

This week, I was so intent on achieving that goal that I made a salad that included not only roasted sweet potatoes but also tomatoes (yep) and delicate baby greens.Probably could’ve thrown some tat soi and cooked eggplant in there, too, if I’d had my wits about me.

Yes, it sounds strange, but if you find your kitchen full of these seemingly incompatible items, give this dish a try — if you can actually make the potatoes and not eat them all off the pan by themselves while waiting for them to cool enough not to wilt your lettuce.

I love sweet potato season.

I love sweet potato season. by Sarah Henning

Slightly Sweet Roasted Sweet Potatoes

2 medium to large sweet potatoes, sliced into quarter-inch rounds, skin removed

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place sliced sweet potatoes on one to two cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper. Using a clean finger, rub a little coconut oil on the top side of each sweet potato slice. If you don’t use all the coconut oil, that’s OK.

Next, combine coconut sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle onto oiled potatoes.

Roast potatoes for 15 minutes. Flip. Roast for another 15 minutes or so until soft and browning.

Enjoy alone or on the salad below.

Mixed-Up Season Salad

Per salad:

Handful mixed salad greens

Handful cherry or grape tomatoes

¼ chopped avocado

5-6 roasted sweet potatoes (above) slices, halved and cooled

Throw all ingredients in a bowl. Cover with balsamic vinegar and olive oil or your favorite dressing. Enjoy.

This week's haul: Roasted peppers, salad greens, cooking greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and peppers.

This week's haul: Roasted peppers, salad greens, cooking greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes and peppers. by Sarah Henning

What’d we get this week? Roasted peppers, salad greens, cooking greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, peppers.

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Cooking away the CSA, week 25: Eggplant lasagna, hold the noodles

Such a pretty eggplant.

Such a pretty eggplant. by Sarah Henning

We’re almost to the end of the CSA season. Not totally there yet, but we probably have a month to go if we’re super lucky. So sad.

But we’re enjoying it while we can.

And we totally enjoyed this week’s Rolling Prairie CSA cooking experiment, which was basically an eggplant parmesan and cheese lasagna combined into one minus the noodles, minus the parmesan.

Say what?

I found a recipe on one of my favorite blogs that happened to use thinly cut eggplant as the noodles in a lasagna. It also included mushrooms and a sneaky bit of cauliflower in a way that I thought might entice the kiddo.

It took some work (I made it on a weekend night), but it was totally worth it and we had enough leftovers for two more dinners. Plus, not only did it use our CSA eggplant, but it used our CSA garlic from a few weeks ago and an onion and our mushrooms (plus more that we bought to make it work) from this week.

Thus, this one has all the markings of a new family favorite. The kiddo even tried a bite. Yay for small victories.

One finished serving.

One finished serving. by Sarah Henning

Eggplant and Goat Cheese Lasagna (from Detoxinista.com)

For the “noodles”:

1 large eggplant A splash of balsamic vinegar

For the “cauliflower ricotta”:

1 head cauliflower, or about 4-5 cups of florets

2 eggs

1/2 cup soft goat cheese (chevre)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

salt and pepper

For the mushroom “meat”:

1 teaspoon butter or coconut oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

half of an onion, chopped

1 pound assorted mushrooms

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

salt and pepper

For Assembling:

A jar of your favorite marinara sauce

Goat mozzarella, shredded (we just used more chevre because we couldn’t find this)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Then, like traditional lasagna, we must first prepare all of the layers.

For the noodles:

Using a mandolin, slice the eggplant lengthwise into thin strips. You may peel it first, if you like, but I took the easy route and left the skin on. Place the eggplant slices in a dish, and toss with a bit of balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice). Set aside to let marinate.

For the cauliflower ricotta:

Pulse the raw cauliflower florets in a food processor to make “rice.” Then steam, strain and squeeze out the excess moisture, leaving the cooked rice fairly dry. Transfer the strained cauliflower rice to a mixing bowl, and add in the two beaten eggs, goat cheese, oregano, and a dash of salt and pepper. Mix well, and set aside.

For the mushroom “meat” layer:

In a skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter or coconut oil and saute the garlic and chopped onions for about 5 minutes, or until translucent.

While the onions and garlic are cooking away, gently pulse the mushrooms in a food processor, until a “ground beef” like texture is achieved.

Add the ground mushrooms to the sauteed onions and garlic, and season with ground cumin, salt and pepper. Saute until tender. The mushrooms will release some moisture, so be sure to strain well after cooking, and set aside.

To Assemble:

Begin by adding a thin layer of marinara sauce to the bottom of your glass dish — this will prevent sticking.

Next, layer on the eggplant slices, followed by half of the cauliflower ricotta, followed by half of the mushroom meat, a drizzle of marinara sauce and a bit of shredded goat mozzarella.

Repeat the layers, then top it all off with a final layer of eggplant slices, topped with more marinara and shredded goat mozzarella.

A couple of layers...

A couple of layers... by Sarah Henning

Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.

The finished lasagna should be firm, with a crispy layer of cheese on top!

Slice and serve hot! Serves 8.

What’d we get this week? More eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, tat soi, lettuce mix and peppers.

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Cooking away the CSA, week 24: Becoming OK with okra

A bunch of chopped CSA okra.

A bunch of chopped CSA okra. by Sarah Henning

Er, so this column is called “Eat Your Vegetables,” but, I have a confession: There are a few vegetables that I’d rather not eat.

Oh, the scandal.

But I do try. And that’s part of the beauty of joining a CSA like Rolling Prairie: You have to try because you come home with a bunch of veggies, whether you like them or not.

Last week we got: Two types of tomatoes, butternut squash, okra, hot peppers, sweet peppers, garlic and greens. And I bet you know exactly which veggie in that lineup isn’t a regular in my house.

Okra.

I know plenty of people who love it. Heck, my parents live in the South and I see it around all the time when I go down there. But I didn’t grow up eating it (in Kansas) and have never really sought it out as an adult. Sometimes it’s in Indian food, and I’ll eat that, but make it at home? Not really my cup of tea.

But the great thing about having a CSA, besides fresh veggies every week, is that usually you don’t get to pick and choose, and sometimes have to just bite the bullet and try something you’d rather not have.

So, the hubby and I looked for a way to cook the okra as something we’d appreciate. The recipe we settled on used up not only our okra but a bunch of our CSA tomatoes and CSA garlic. Triple bonus!

It was really tasty, though we had to halve the recipe because we didn’t have enough okra. Still, it was something I’d definitely try again if okra ends up in my crisper.

Okra stew, served on a plate, because we were feeling daring.

Okra stew, served on a plate, because we were feeling daring. by Sarah Henning

Okra Stew with Tomatoes (“How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” by Mark Bittman)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, halved and cut into thick slices

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound okra, trimmed

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

4 cups chopped tomato (we used fresh but canned works too)

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano (optional)

Chopped parsley leaves for garnish

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a deep skillet or large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and turning golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Add the remaining oil to the pot and stir in the okra. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown a little, then add the garlic and cook for another minute or so, stirring once or twice. Return the onion to the pot and add the tomato, along with a cup of water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat so it bubbles gently. Cook, stirring every once in a while, until the okra is very tender and the sauce has thickened, about 45 minutes. Stir in the oregano if you like, then taste and adjust the seasoning and serve, garnished with parsley.

What’d we get this week from Rolling Prairie? Slicing and grape tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, eggplant, onions and peppers.

Slicing and grape tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, eggplant, onions and peppers.

Slicing and grape tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, eggplant, onions and peppers. by Sarah Henning

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Cooking away the CSA, week 23: Quick and seasonal side salad

Easy, no excuses salad.

Easy, no excuses salad. by Sarah Henning

If you've followed this column for a long time, you know that salad is always my default. It's my best friend at dinner and lunch, and my old stand-by when I have no idea what to make.

And even though I'm tight with the little green bowl of awesome, I'm well aware that I'm not in the majority. Homemade salads can seem like work. So many ingredients to have. So many things to chop. So much ... green.

I actually used to think the same thing. As in: If I didn't get my ingredients from a salad bar, I'd be chopping and prepping until my stomach pulled rank on me and sent me straight for the easy button (aka a sandwich, crackers, chocolate chips, etc.). Plus, I didn't really think it was a salad without certain things on hand, like store-bought dressing or tomatoes or (when I ate it) cheese.

But, over time, I've come to love the "kitchen sink" qualities of the dish. Really, once you figure out what you like in your salads, you can pretty much throw together one you'll enjoy without any planning (or thought) at all. Eventually, it becomes quicker than making anything else, and so satisfying that it's worth the wait if you have to do a bit of chopping.

This week's salad is a perfect example. It was totally thrown together at the last minute to go along with some leftover fajitas, but it was delicious, healthy and used up some of our delicious bounty from our Rolling Prairie CSA share.

Quick and Seasonal Side Salad

2 handfuls baby spinach

1 red bell pepper, chopped (from our CSA)

1 carrot, chopped

10 garlic-stuffed olives, chopped

1/4 cup almonds

Olive oil and lemon juice, drizzled on to taste

Divide all ingredients among two bowls. Enjoy. Serves 2.

What’d we get in our Rolling Prairie CSA this week? Two types of tomatoes, butternut squash, okra, hot peppers, sweet peppers, garlic and greens.

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Cooking away the CSA, week 22: Frosty melon chiller

Cantaloupe plus spinach plus mint equals one really cool drink.

Cantaloupe plus spinach plus mint equals one really cool drink. by Sarah Henning

Last week, we got a huge, sweet-smelling cantaloupe as part of a major CSA haul: slicing tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, hot peppers, bok choy, edamame and said cantaloupe.

In my eyes, it was the perfect variety, especially on a week that would be nuclear-hot by the end.

And, though it was a lot, I can honestly say we used everything. Making fajitas, stir-fry and keeping cool with a really delicious smoothie.

I’ve made a version of this smoothie before, but it was super hot and I felt like I needed an extra nutrient boost because I’d gone on a long run and really needed to be rehydrated with some good stuff. So, I decided to add mellow spinach to my icy-cool cantaloupe smoothie. It worked really well, and added to the green rush brought on by the mint.

Unfortunately, my mint plants have turned brown with the weather (I have faith they’ll bounce back), so I had to use mint extract instead of real leaves. I prefer real leaves, but I needed to drink something right then and I didn’t want to trudge to the store just for a few leaves.

Cool Green Cantaloupe Chiller

½ cantaloupe, chopped or spooned out of rind

2 handfuls baby spinach

Few mint leaves or drop of mint extract

2-3 ice cubes

Water, as needed

Put all ingredients in blender. Add just enough water to get above the blades. Blend. Serves 1-2.

So, what’d we get this week from Rolling Prairie? Two kinds of tomatoes, garlic, green beans, potatoes, basil, cucumber, bell peppers and cantaloupe.

Two kinds of tomatoes, garlic, green beans, potatoes, basil, cucumbers, bell peppers and cantaloupe.

Two kinds of tomatoes, garlic, green beans, potatoes, basil, cucumbers, bell peppers and cantaloupe. by Sarah Henning

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Cooking away the CSA, week 21: Creamy and sweet summer salad

A healthy salad: Devoid of anything fake, but full of lots of good fat.

A healthy salad: Devoid of anything fake, but full of lots of good fat. by Sarah Henning

It has come to my attention that maybe a few of my readers are afraid of the big F-A-T word when it comes to eating.

I’ve mentioned this before and I’m going to say it again: I, too, was once scared of F-A-T making me F-A-T.

But, as part of my growth in understanding food as fuel and how our bodies work, I’ve also come to love that big, scary macronutrient.

So, let’s get this out there: Not all fat is bad.

Not in the slightest.

There is a reason an avocado is all monounsaturated (aka heart-healthy) fat. There’s a reason nuts and seeds are full of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. There’s a reason the fat in coconut oil happens to be medium-chain saturated fat, which the body loves to burn for energy.

We are meant to eat fat.

Real, naturally occurring F-A-T.

What we’re not meant to eat are the fake, processed foods completely devoid of their original, natural fats. Or “foods” created in such away that they are more chemicals than technical food. This is not food, even if it’s “low-fat.”

I’ll repeat: This is not food.

I could get on my soap box and go on and on about this. But I’ve only got so much space, so just believe me when I say: Do your research.

Know how food as fuel is supposed to work.

And then stop buying denatured crap. Buy real stuff.

Focus on real food.

Do not focus on numbers and percentages and labels — if you really want to avoid the Standard American Diet (aka the SAD diet) don’t buy food with labels at all.

End soap box rant.

So, in light of this discussion, I’m going to share a recipe made with REAL food, that’s full of GOOD FAT.

It combines our Rolling Prairie CSA cherry tomatoes with fresh spinach, ripe raspberries, avocado, hemp seed and a simple drizzle of olive oil and white balsamic with a squeeze of lemon.

Healthy, real and most definitely not SAD.

Creamy and Sweet Summer Salad for two.

Creamy and Sweet Summer Salad for two. by Sarah Henning

Creamy and Sweet Summer Salad

2 handfuls baby spinach

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 6-ounce container of raspberries

1 tablespoon hemp seed, divided

1-2 avocado, divided

Good-quality olive oil (I used Extra Virgin's garlic-infused olive oil)

White balsamic vinegar (or regular balsamic)

Lemon juice

Line the bottom of two salad bowls with baby spinach. Top with 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes and half a container of raspberries. Place 1/2 tablespoon of hemp seed in each bowl, along with 1/4 of a whole avocado. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, a splash of balsamic and finish with a bit of lemon juice. Enjoy. Serves 2.

What’d we get this week? The motherload of: slicing tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, hot peppers, bok choy, edamame, cantaloupe.

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Cooking away the CSA, week 20: Taking the kitchen outside

Grilled eggplant with tomato and goat cheese.

Grilled eggplant with tomato and goat cheese. by Sarah Henning

I always love the idea of eggplant.

They’re beautiful.

They’re tasty.

And I have a very, very bad habit of neglecting them. I buy them, or pick them from my Rolling Prairie CSA choices, look at their glorious purple skins a tad bit too long and end up doing absolutely nothing with them.

It’s a total shame.

If not for the fact that my compost pile also gets their tasty little ruined forms, but for the fact that they happen to be one of the hubby’s favorite foods. The man loves eggplant Parmesan about as much as he loves apple pie.

But it is too dang hot to make eggplant Parmesan.

Yet, we ended up both buying some eggplant at the Lawrence Farmers' Market on Saturday and then ended up getting two eggplants, along with tomatoes (slicing and grape), cucumbers, melon and little sweet peppers) in our Rolling Prairie CSA last Monday.

And I knew I couldn’t just let four of these precious little beauties waste away.

So, we took to the Internet and found the perfect recipe. Used up all four eggplant in making this special dish not once but twice this week. And, thus, avoided dropping our purple beauties in the compost pile.

Eggplant on the grill.

Eggplant on the grill. by Sarah Henning

Grilled Eggplant Topped with Goat Cheese and Tomato (adapted from The Kitchn) serves 2

2 medium eggplants*

1/3 cup olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons honey balsamic vinegar OR 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sugar

3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

1 stalk Italian parsley, leaves only, minced (we didn’t use them)

Small handful fresh chives, chopped (we didn’t use them)

Salt and pepper

4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Slice the eggplants into rounds about 3/4-inch thick. Salt lightly and set aside. Heat the grill (or stove-top grill pan) to high heat.

Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar and lightly dunk the eggplant slices so each is moist with the oil. Place them on the heated grill and cover. Cook, turning halfway through, for 8-10 minutes, or until they are as soft as you prefer.

Meanwhile, toss the chopped tomatoes with the minced herbs and mix with just a little salt and pepper to taste.

In the last couple minutes of cooking, sprinkle each eggplant slice with a few crumbles of goat cheese and cook so that the cheese begins to soften. Remove the slices, top with the tomato mixture, and serve!

*Baby eggplants, or the long, skinny Asian eggplants, are best, but smallish purple globe eggplants will do.

What’d we get this week? Tomatoes (slicing and cherry), cucumbers, garlic, green beans, bell peppers, potatoes.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, green beans, bell peppers and potatoes.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, green beans, bell peppers and potatoes. by Sarah Henning

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Cooking away the CSA, week 19: Summer by the forkful

Salad. Salad. Salad.

Salad. Salad. Salad. by Sarah Henning

Usually my family food goals revolve around attempting to plan meals and using up everything in our fridge, but last week it was something else entirely.

I was determined to get as many bits of our last CSA box from Rolling Prairie into a single salad as possible.

Hey, it’s good to have goals, right?

So, what was I trying to shoehorn? Summer squash, edamame, watermelon, peppers, tomatoes, a cucumber and green beans.

We wanted to save the watermelon for dessert and the summer squash later to grill, so I threw the rest of the ingredients into a salad and called it good. (This is after boiling the green beans and edamame a bit, because they wouldn’t have been very tasty if we’d just thrown them directly in a salad, unfortunately.)

I used a bit of all of our CSA veggies... almost.

I used a bit of all of our CSA veggies... almost. by Sarah Henning

I'd say that pretty pic right there equals success.

Spoils of Summer Chopped Salad

Baby spinach

1/2 avocado, chopped

One tomato, chopped, or 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

10 olives, halved

1/4 large cucumber, chopped

1/2 to 1 whole sweet pepper, chopped

Edamame, boiled and shelled

Green beans, boiled and trimmed

Dressing of choice

Optional: Chopped hard-boiled egg, goat cheese

Separate out all ingredients into two bowls. Enjoy. Serves two.

What’d we get this week? Tomatoes (slicing and grape), cucumbers, eggplant, melon and little sweet peppers.

This week's goodies: Two types of tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, melon and little sweet peppers.

This week's goodies: Two types of tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, melon and little sweet peppers. by Sarah Henning

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Cooking away the CSA, week 18: Pantry potato pieces

Potatoes can't stay in storage forever.

Potatoes can't stay in storage forever. by Sarah Henning

So, I’m going to change things up a bit.

You see, last week we got a fabulous assortment of yumminess from our CSA, Rolling Prairie: Watermelon, tomatoes, snap peas, cucumbers, starter onions, yellow squash and peppers.

Everything was delicious. As can be expected. But I’m not going to write this week about any of those things.

Why? Because if you’ve just been following along, you know that for weeks when I describe how we use the potatoes we picked up from Rolling Prairie, I would say that we stored them. And I’m guessing if you have a CSA, you may have done the same thing.

So, this week we pulled out those stored potatoes and made some home fries to go along with one of our very excellent CSA meals.

And they were excellent. And addictive. And totally gone in a flash.

Just-washed, straight from the pantry.

Just-washed, straight from the pantry. by Sarah Henning

Pantry Potato Pieces

Potatoes

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice potatoes into quarter-inch thick slices, leaving the skins on. Place in a glass lasagna dish, toss in olive oil to coat and sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and eat immediately. Servings vary based on size of potatoes.

What’d we get this week? Summer squash, edamame, watermelon, peppers, tomatoes, a cucumber and green beans.

This week's goodies: summer squash, edamame, watermelon, peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, green beans.

This week's goodies: summer squash, edamame, watermelon, peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, green beans. by Sarah Henning

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Cooking away the CSA, week 17: Travel eats

Lunch on the road.

Lunch on the road. by Sarah Henning

If you try to eat healthy, travel can pose certain problems.

Not only temptation, but just plain logistics. It turns into a sort of either/or situation: Either you eat what’s available (and it probably won’t be healthy) or you have to lug your own food on your plane/train/automobile.

Neither are very appetizing choices, to say the least. They make it very easy to just say, “To heck with this, I’m on vacation!” and leave good intentions abandoned on the roadway for a week or two.

Now, I totally succumb to the “I’m on vacation, I deserve a treat” school of thought, for sure. But I try to do as good as I can most of the time, because I don’t want to feel like crap my whole vacation, which I know I would if I just ate chocolate the whole time (which I’d totally do if I could get away with it).

And, believe me, chocolate made it into the equation every single day of our week in Colorado for this vacation. But because we were driving, I felt like I could have a little more control over what I ate on the way out there and the way back.

There, I brought a salad from The Merc, and ate it as rest of my family munched on Quiznos. Probably not totally polite, but no one seemed to care. I would’ve eaten it outside if it had not been foggy and rainy and cool (in the 60s).

The way back, I was able to do double duty in that I used up leftovers and have a pretty awesome rest stop lunch. While the boys chose to make honey and peanut butter sandwiches to have on the drive, I had a salad (above) of baby spinach, a Hilary’s Eat Well veggie burger (formerly the veggie burger at Local Burger), roasted butternut squash and nearly finished store-bought, honey-mustard dressing.

Sounds weird, but tasted great, while sitting at a picnic table in Arriba, Colo.

Before and after lunch, I also had a couple of handfuls of car-friendly trail mix, very much like the one I snuck into "Skyfall."

There was some real chocolate eating, too, because it was vacation, of course. Most notably, my mother bought the kiddo a book on the bear who broke into the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Estes Park, Colo., last summer.

Thus, we then had to go to the store:

http://www.lawrence.com/users/photos/2013/aug/05/259526/

And buy the handy-dandy bag of goodies they sell sampling everything the bear ate:

One of everything the bear ate.

One of everything the bear ate. by Sarah Henning

As you can see, it was delicious.

He thinks the bear had great taste.

He thinks the bear had great taste. by Sarah Henning

So, what’d we get in this week’s Rolling Prairie CSA bag? Watermelon, tomatoes, snap peas, cucumbers, starter onions, yellow squash and peppers.

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