Posts tagged with Local Food
OK, I realize peanut butter cookies do not seem like a CSA-friendly treat, but they are. Just stick with me.
You see, these peanut butter cookies use two ingredients you might see in your CSA or at the Lawrence Farmers' Market: honey and eggs.
Now, I didn't get either of those ingredients in my Rolling Prairie CSA last week. Rather, we got strawberries, snap peas, green onions, head lettuce, asparagus and Swiss chard. Those items were all accordingly eaten the normal ways: strawberries and snap peas out of hand, asparagus steamed, head lettuce and green onions in salad and the Swiss chard was juiced.
Now, I could've shared that juice recipe, but I know many of you don't have a juicer or the inclination to juice. Yes, I know my veggie juice is a tad bit inaccessible. Peanut butter cookies? Not so much. They're generally pretty easy to make, and, allergies not withstanding, they work well in large groups.
This recipe is an adaptation of a recipe given to me by my friend Dorian. They are super soft and chewy, plus they don't use any white sugar or flour, which is great if you're avoiding that sort of thing.
Honeyed Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
2 cups peanut butter
3/4 cup local honey
3/4 maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs or 2 flax "eggs" (2 tablespoons ground flax seed in 3 tablespoons hot water for each egg)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. The dough will be very wet. Scoop by the rounded teaspoon onto the parchment, leaving a good amount of space between each cookie.
Bake 8-10 minutes. When they start to brown, pull them out and let them "bake" about 5 to 10 minutes more on the warm cookie sheet before moving them to a cooling rack. They'll be very soft.
These freeze well, though they may stick together if not separated. Makes about 40 cookies.
What'd we get this week? Beets with greens, basil(!), head lettuce, snap peas, kale and broccoli.
The official start of summer is just over a week away. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pretend it’s already here.
I think we totally deserve some pretend summer action after having to deal with snow and frost in May. Right? Right.
So, we put our CSA salad greens from last week to work by taking a practice swing at a basic summer salad.
What makes it a basic summer salad, you ask? Tomatoes.
Yes, it’s not really tomato season, but the kiddo really, really likes grape tomatoes and so we bought some for him the other week. They aren’t as good as the ones we get in the height of summer, of course, but the kid will take what he can get. (Tomato monster: AHHHHH!)
We asked his permission for a few and put them on a bed of the beautiful salad mix we’ve been getting all season from Rolling Prairie. Added in some carrots and some garlic-stuffed olives, added a bit of EFA oil and balsamic and we were off to the races.
Delicious, easy, healthy and a sign of things to come.
As for everything else? In addition to the salad greens, we also got strawberries, Swiss chard, mushrooms, head lettuce and asparagus.
As you can imagine, the strawberries were pretty much finished the second they got home (thanks, kiddo). The asparagus was steamed, the chard and head lettuce juiced and the mushrooms stir-fried in one similar to last week.
Basic(ally) Good Salad
For each serving:
2 handfuls salad mix, baby spinach or chopped head lettuce
1 handful grape or cherry tomatoes
1 handful carrots
1 handful garlic olives, green olives or kalamata olives
Drizzle EFA or olive oil
Drizzle balsamic vinegar
Place all ingredients except oil and vinegar in a bowl. Toss. Top with oil and vinegar. Enjoy!
What’d we get this week? Strawberries and snap peas (gone before I could take a picture), green onions, head lettuce, asparagus and Swiss chard.
I don’t know what made me do it, but last week at the Lawrence Farmers’ Market, I was drawn — drawn — to the baby bok choy at one of the stalls. It was leafy, green and perfect. And it clashed pretty horribly with every other item I purchased.
Yet, I knew that there would be some stir-fry and yummy bok choy pay off for me in the future.
That future came when I showed up to get my vegetables at my Monday Rolling Prairie CSA pickup. There, staring at me were more beautiful bok choy. Plus, green onions. I’d already picked up bell peppers over the weekend and knew I now had enough bok choy to really make a huge stir-fry.
So we did. And it was glorious.
Bok choy does an amazing job of “soaking up” whatever sauce you use. In this case, we created a stir-fry based on a sauce included in Nancy O’Connor’s “Rolling Prairie Cookbook” and it worked perfectly with the bok choy, peppers and green onions. I had it plain, while the hubby paired it with homemade miso-glazed salmon.
Delicious and super simple and quick.
Simple Stir-Fry (Adapted from Nancy O’Connor’s “Rolling Prairie Cookbook”)
6 small bok choy, stems cut on the diagonal, leaves cut into the ribbons
3 to 5 bell peppers, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons tamari
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon honey
Heat coconut oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
While that’s heating, whisk together tamari, garlic, ginger and honey. Set aside.
Once the coconut oil is nice and melted, add bok choy and peppers, stirring the whole time. When the bok choy is nearly cooked down and done, add green onions. Keep on for 30 seconds more and then take off the heat. Serve alone or with protein of your choice. Serves 4.
What’d we get this week? Strawberries, Swiss chard, mushrooms, head lettuce, asparagus and salad greens.
I warned you last week that I'm deep in the midst of enjoying salad season. And you know what other season we're just starting? Berry season.
And the collision is beautiful.
I just adore fruity salads. They're light and beautiful and exactly what I want as it gets hotter out. They also pair nicely with something savory — try mixing berries with olives or something pickled like onions or cauliflower. The mix is fabulous.
Now, to refresh: last week we received asparagus, salad greens, spinach, eggs, radishes, green onions and head lettuce.
That meant steamed asparagus with a bunch of eggs, spinach and green onions cooked like our kitchen-sink tofu. We also had plenty of salad, including one that marries salad season and berry season in one fruity punch.
There's not a ton of "oomph" to this salad, so I called it a "starter" salad rather than a dinner salad. It's perfect before a nice veggie or regular burger or maybe a bit of fish or chicken, depending on how you eat. It's sweet and sunny and completely uncomplicated.
Fruity Starter Salad
Mixed salad greens
1 tangerine, peeled, sectioned and each section halved
1/2 cup raspberries
Roasted beets or other cooked root vegetables
EFA oil, hemp oil or olive oil (to taste)
Put salad mix in bowls, top with fruit and roasted vegetables. Immediately before serving, drizzle a bit of oil. Serves 2.
Now, what'd we get this week? Head lettuce, radishes, asparagus, green onions, baby bok choy, whole-wheat flour and salad mix.
Have a great week!
It's officially salad season, my friends! Sure, we've been getting greens for weeks, but we're really rolling now. And, if you've been following this space for a few years, you know I couldn't be happier.
So you've been warned: We'll have a lot of salad posts in the coming weeks.
But now to this week. At our last CSA pickup, we received: Asparagus, spinach, green onions, whole-wheat flour, mustard greens and salad mix.
As you can imagine, we had steamed asparagus and lots of salad with our box of goodies. We saved the whole-wheat flour for more pizza. Meanwhile, I’m sad to say that we still haven’t used the mustard greens. They’re still healthy-looking, I just haven’t found a home for them as of this writing.
One of the best things we did with the salad mix was combine it with a local Mediterranean treat: Lebanese beans.
A mix of garbanzos, fava beans, herbs and spices, it’s a nice salad topper and pita filler. Mixed with CSA salad mix, avocado, olives and a little something sweet, it makes for a fantastic salad.
Mediterranean Flair Salad
2 large handfuls local salad mix
Half an avocado, cubed
10 to 15 kalamata and/or garlic-filled green olives, cut in half
1/2 cup Lebanese Flower Lebanese beans or other mixed beans
1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste
Divide salad mix among two salad bowls. Add 1/4 avocado to each bowl. Divide the olives, beans and cranberries. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.
This week we received: Asparagus, salad greens, spinach, eggs, radishes, green onions and head lettuce.
It is FINALLY 80 degrees. And mid-May. And sunny.
And all those things mean summer is right around the corner — as underlined by the fact that I bought a dozen or so herb starters this weekend for my container garden. Including three kinds of basil, aka summer in a leaf.
But before the basil and those delightful tomatoes that go with it, we're in the thick of greens season. Both at the CSA and the Lawrence Farmers' Market.
In last week's CSA bag, we received red lettuce, green onions, garlic chives, carrots, spinach and pesto. A very good, very green mix.
At this point in the local growing season, my hubby begins dreaming of anything that isn't green (the carrots made him so happy), so we have to get a bit creative in how we use our veggies.
So, I made some green juice using some of our spinach.
Admittedly that isn't very creative when we're talking about my wheelhouse. To that end, I also made a salad that I totally forgot to document (food writer fail).
But we used most of our veggies and several of our Farmers' Market veggies in a chef's choice egg version of the Kitchen Sink Tofu Scramble featured in week 2.
The hubby and head chef mixed four eggs with several handfuls of veggies, including CSA spinach, carrots, garlic chives and green onions and then added in store-bought extras like red pepper. Then he topped it off with CSA pesto or salsa and some cheese.
What'd we get this week? Asparagus(!), spinach, green onions, whole-wheat flour, mustard greens and salad mix.
Last week in our CSA, we received whole-wheat flour, pea greens, spinach, salad greens, chives and green onions.
You might look at that list and think it looks like one giant salad after another. And you might be right. We did use the salad greens for its intended purpose, while the spinach and pea greens went into smoothies.
But when I saw our pickup choices, one of the first things I thought was, “pizza.”
The local heritage winter wheat is just perfect for cutting with some regular old white/bread flour to make a heartier pizza crust. Add in the benefit of throwing leftover CSA goodies willy-nilly on top (green onions, spinach and chives were perfect for this) and you’ve got yourself a really useful medium for polishing off some of your CSA ingredients.
Later in the summer, pizza dough is even more helpful when we’re up to our ears in peppers, eggplant, zucchini and basil. If you think it’ll go well together, you can put it on top of your pizza. The whole dinner is super easy, especially if you make your dough ahead of time, freeze it and actually remember to pull out the frozen dough before you leave for work in the morning. (Sometimes I forget, and it makes me crazy sad.)
If you’ve never made homemade pizza before, you’re really missing out. It’s totally customizable, delicious, easy and incredibly cheap.
We have two favorite pizza crust recipes. Both are fabulous and have turned out well for us. So, pick whichever one you like and go for it!
And, if like us you get your hands on some local wheat through your CSA or the Farmers’ Market, try cutting it in. You don’t want to make a whole pie out of it (that would be a bit too dense) but try cutting it with half regular flour or two-thirds regular flour.
Note: You can use the first recipe with a pizza stone or a cookie sheet, while the second one, we only used with a cookie sheet.
Mark Bittman’s Pizza Dough (Adapted from www.markbittman.com)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and the oil through the feed tube.
Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is still dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. (In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time.)
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball. Put the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise until the dough doubles in size, one to two hours. (You can cut this rising time short if you’re in a hurry, or you can let the dough rise more slowly, in the refrigerator, for up to 6 or 8 hours.) Proceed to Step 4 or wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap or a zipper bag and freeze for up to a month. (Defrost in the bag or a covered bowl in the refrigerator or at room temperature; bring to room temperature before shaping.)
When the dough is ready, form it into a ball and divide it into two or more pieces if you like; roll each piece into a round ball. Put each ball on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with flour, and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rest until they puff slightly, about 20 minutes.
Roll out, top and bake at 500 degrees until cooked through. We usually make two pies plus a little one for the kiddo with this recipe, baking each pizza for about 10 minutes. Note: To make pizza dough by hand or with a standing mixer, follow the directions, but use a bowl and a heavy wooden spoon or the mixer’s bowl and the paddle attachment instead of the food processor. When the dough becomes too heavy to stir, use your hands or exchange the mixer’s paddle for the dough hook and proceed with the recipe.
Chloe Coscarelli’s Pizza Dough (Adapted from www.chefchloe.com)
1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose flour and half whole-wheat flour), plus extra for rolling
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar or maple syrup
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until bubbles form, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine flour, oil, salt, sugar and the yeast mixture. Using lightly floured hands or an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix until a stiff dough has formed. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle extra flour 1 teaspoon at a time as needed. Place the dough in a large, well-oiled bowl and rotate the ball of dough so it is completely covered with the oil. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl as it rises. Cover with a dry kitchen towel and place in a warm part of the kitchen until it has doubled in volume (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Place dough on a lightly floured work surface, shape into a disc, and knead for five minutes. Use dough immediately or cover tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for a later use. Thaw to room temperature before using.
When ready to use: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a large rimmed baking sheet (approximately 9-by-13 inches) with oil.
Stretch pizza dough into a rectangle and fit it into the prepared baking sheet. Spread sauce and toppings on oiled dough. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating midway, until the crust is slightly browned or golden.
Note: If crust is thick, you may need to leave it in for 30 minutes or more.
What’d we get at our CSA pickup this week? Red lettuce, spinach, pesto, garlic chives, green onions and carrots.
I've written a lot of smoothies over the years to this space. A LOT. And the majority of them have had some green element to them. They might not have actually been green, like the smoothie I wrote about last week, but they are green on the inside, even if another ingredient like blueberries or cocoa powder is covering up the evidence.
If this sounds disgusting to you, I'm sorry. If it doesn't, there's a chance you've already joined the green smoothie movement, which has been going on for years (I think I've been making them for at least five years). And if you haven't ever made one? I have news for you: now is the perfect time to start.
Here's the deal: Even if you don't have access to your CSA yet, or haven't joined one, you have an abundance of local greens available to you right now. The farmers markets and many of Lawrence's grocery stores are overflowing with local greens. From spinach, to kale to arugula to chard — you have a ton of greens to choose from. They're inexpensive, they're local and they're plentiful because they're in season.
So, if you haven't joined the green smoothie train, or did awhile back and eased off, I urge you to give it a go. It's a fabulous way to get your greens without being a total salad freak (like me) and if you are part of a CSA, it'll help you get through the giant bag of spinach you may acquire.
Now, you don't need a specific recipe to create a tasty green smoothie. Mine are probably different every morning, which is a good thing. To get as many nutrients as possible, it's great to alter your smoothies slightly, based on what you have on hand. This week, I had pea greens and spinach, and I used both in smoothies. I'm guessing there aren't that many smoothie recipes with pea greens out there, and that's exactly where you adapt.
The basic recipe I use is very simple. Take what you will from it, add in the extras if you like, and give it a try. Believe me, if I can get my kid to drink these (and he started at about 15 months), you can get anyone to drink them.
Basic Green Smoothie
2 large handfuls greens — spinach (great for beginners), tatsoi, de-stemmed kale, etc.
2 bananas or 1 mango
1 cup berries — strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc. (optional)
1-2 scoops protein powder (I use vanilla or chocolate by Sun Warrior)
1.5 to 2 cups water
Additions: 1-3 tablespoons of hemp, chia or flaxseed; local bee pollen; maca; 1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder; pinch tumeric; pinch apple pie or pumpkin pie spice; splash of vanilla or almond extracts; one frozen packet acai juice
All you do is blend it up. That amount usually makes two servings (one large one for me, one smaller one for the kiddo), and is a great start to the day.
Now, what'd we get this week in our CSA? Whole-wheat flour, pea greens, spinach, salad greens, chives and green onions.
Last week, in our very first CSA pickup of the year from Rolling Prairie, we received spinach, green onions, salad mix, dried mushrooms and tofu (Central Soy's local tofu). It was a great and versatile mix of items we could’ve used in a number of ways.
Because it’s a total habit, I used most of the spinach and all of the salad mix in green smoothies during the week, though one turned out a bit brown (cocoa powder was a must that morning).
But the majority of our CSA went into an epic scramble that fed us for days. We had it both over spinach, wrapped in a tortilla and just plain.
And what’s great about this recipe, besides the major leftovers, is the fact that you can pretty much throw anything into it and be set. We used a bunch of half bags of leftover frozen vegetables, plus a bunch of our CSA goodies, including the spinach that didn’t make it into a smoothie. It really was the perfect way to clean out our fridge without even really trying. Plus, it tasted good.
Kitchen Sink Tofu Scramble
1 package Central Soy tofu
2 cups of spinach, separated
1/2 cup chickpeas (or other beans)
2 cups mixed frozen vegetables
1/2 cup dried mushrooms (not reconstituted)
Green onions, sliced thinly, to taste
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Black pepper, to taste
Avocado and salsa for serving
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic and vegetables. Add spices — tumeric, cumin and salt — and mix it up for 15 seconds or so. Add 1/4 cup water and deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom to get all the garlic and spices.
Crumble in tofu and mix well, but leave it chunky. Let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding splashes of water if necessary to keep it from sticking too much. Lower the heat a bit if you find that it is sticking. Add 1 cup of the spinach and the garbanzo beans and mix. Add nutritional yeast and mix it up. If it seems too dry add splashes of water. The moistness really depends on how much water the tofu was retaining before you added it.
Serve over a bed of spinach with salsa and slices of avocado. Serves 4-6.
This week, we got another great mix of items: parsley, green onions, pea greens, spinach and pesto.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about why I garden. Basically, the takeaway is this: I do it because it's important to be connected to our food.
And though the last two growing seasons have been horrible for farmers and home gardeners alike, I still believe it's crucial to try if you can.
This weekend, I put my time and effort where my mouth is and worked in the garden with the kiddo to plant for the first time this season. We'd readied our three garden beds the week before, giving me the perfect canvas to plant my two garden workhorses: potatoes and onions.
Last year, I didn't get a chance to do potatoes or onions because of some scheduling issues with my time and Mother Nature, and we really felt it. Because of the heat, almost all of our other crops barely yielded a thing and because of timing, we didn't have either of our high producers to fall back on. Not cool at all.
This year I wanted to have a potato crop, even if I was going to be out of town on St. Patrick's Day. Though old farmers' tales say you should plant potatoes on St. Paddy's, I knew I wouldn't be able to do it. But I really do believe you can be late with potatoes and be perfectly fine. I've had two great potato crops — one planted right around St. Paddy's and one planted late, and they've both been terrific.
And by "terrific," I mean not only in the sense that you get a lot for very little time and effort. You also are growing one of the most no-nonsense plants available and if you have kids, they will love digging for the final product.
If you're up for it, I'll share my method for growing them. It will take you about two hours the whole week and you'll be good until late summer.
First, I grow mine in a raised 4x8 bed, under straw. I believe this method works if you're tilling straight into the ground, but you might want to check around to make sure there's not a better method for you.
What you'll need are some seed potatoes (available at pretty much any farm or garden store, plus some grocery stores). Look for ones that have several eyes. Take them home and cut them into smaller chunks, 1 to 2 inches across. Each chunk needs to have a couple of good-looking eyes.
Next, let them "cure" by placing them on cookie cooling racks for a day or two (up to a week).
When you're ready to plant, buy a bail of hay/straw, get out your gloves and trowel and get to work. I like to keep my potatoes in a single bed because it's easiest. You will want to dig holes at least six inches deep, and about a foot apart. Place the potatoes, eyes up, in each hole.
If you think you have more potato chunks than holes, just get picky about which ones you put in first. Ones with eyes that are already sprouting are the best, so they should get top priority.
Next, cover the potatoes with dirt, and then cover with as much hay as you can mound on. You're going to want to go for eight to 12 inches, on top.
Then, water them a bit (not too much!) and let them be. The only thing I do is add a bit more straw once it starts to get matted down, because you want to make sure your potatoes are completely hidden from the sun at all times.
Other than the straw, your only job is to watch the vines poke up. They'll grow, get tall and flowery and then they'll start to wilt and die. When the vines are dead, you can start digging for treasure right around the base of each dead vine. You should have a bunch of potatoes of varying sizes with each vine.
It really is that easy.
I'm not a garden expert by any means, but this is what works for me. You might Google around and find people who do something similar, or people who don't do it this way at all.
No matter how you do it, it's worth a shot. High yield for low investment. Plus you grew it.