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Posts tagged with Local Produce

Bye-Bye Bounty, week 3: Use it or lose it stir-fry and hummus

OK, so call it a sophomore slump, but our second full week of CSA veggies, was much more of a challenge than the first week.

It wasn't that we weren't motivated, it was that we were going out of town.

You know the drill: try in vain to finish everything in your fridge before you go and inevitably eat out a bunch because your brain is already on vacation and you just don't want to deal with it. Yeah, that happens in my house, too.

But before we get to that, to refresh, the items we received in our CSA bag from Rolling Prairie were: Swiss chard, mint, pink beets, head lettuce, green onions, mixed salad greens, mint and a dozen eggs.

They were all great items, and from the get-go we were totally behind in using them. First of all, we ended up going out with friends on Monday night (the night we pick up our CSA share), which put not only a hole in our weekly eating pattern, but also meant I was too wiped by the time we got home to make myself lunch out of the yumminess.

So, the veggies sat until Tuesday. The trip out of town started on Friday, and Wednesday and Thursday are usually busy with activities, so Tuesday was the bull's eye. It was our chance to not only make up for lack of immediate usage on Monday, but also to serve up as many veggies as possible before going down the rabbit hole of "Gah, why do I have to cook anything? We're going on vacation!" nonsense.

On Tuesday nights, I run a bunch of hills around the KU campus with a handful of other crazy people, but, luckily, my hubby had gotten the "use it or lose it" memo, and when I got home, not only had he and the kiddo made homemade hummus with our CSA green onions (NOM), but he'd also chopped up both the baby bok choy I'd picked up at the Lawrence Farmers' Market and the Swiss chard we'd gotten from the CSA for a yummy stir-fry (at the top of the blog). Throw in some day-old Wheatfield's bread we needed to use up and we called in dinner (those recipes are at the bottom of this blog, and they are superb, separate or together).

After dinner, I did my part, making an unusual, and slightly gross combination of green juice that also helped to clean out my crisper, taking care of some CSA beet greens, CSA mint, cucumber, celery, spinach, apples and lemons. I thought it would taste like a mojito with the mint and citrus. It did not.

Later, on Thursday night, I used the actual beets in a much tastier juice (CSA and Farmers' Market beets, apples, lemons, cucumbers and the entire head of CSA lettuce), but that still left a few things in the fridge before we took off. Thus, we hard-boiled our eggs, and they seemed to last OK for when we got back. We also saved some salad greens and mint, both of which I'm hoping to use in a non-gross juice concoction later today.

What did we get this week in our CSA? I have no idea at all, as I won't see the contents until tonight (a sweet friend picked up our share for us). But I'll be sure to fill you in next week on how we used the goodies. Until then, try the hummus and stir-fry recipes. They really do make the most of what's available right now and are super duper easy.

Bok Choy and Swiss Chard with Red Onions and Sesame Seeds

1 pound baby boy choy

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/2-inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon mirin

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Slice off the base of the bok choy and chard. Slice what remains into large chunks. Place the greens in a large bowl to get all the dirt out of the folds (even if you washed them already, they might still be sandy). Drain and towel off any excess water; set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet. Add the onions and stir-fry for five or six minutes. Remove the onions and set aside on a plate. Add a bit more oil if necessary and sauté the ginger for a few seconds. Add the bok choy and chard and stir to coat with oil and ginger. Stir-fry for a few minutes until the leaves start to wilt. Add the mirin and soy sauce, stir briefly, and cover the pan. Steam for 2 minutes, then remove the id. Stir for 30 seconds and take the pan off the heat. to serve, top the stir-fry with the onions and sesame seeds. Serves 4.

Curried Green Onion Hummus (from "Appetite for Reduction" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, liquid reserved

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika (optional)

2 to 3 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 cup chopped green onions

When you open the can of chickpeas, pour about 3 tablespoons of the liquid into a cup and set aside. Drain the rest of the liquid and rinse the chickpeas. Pulse them in a food processor along with the garlic until no whole chickpeas are left. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and puree for a bit. Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved liquid, the salt, the paprika (if using) and curry. Blend until very smooth, adding the last tablespoon of liquid if needed. Pulse in the green onions until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula to make sure you get everything. Taste for salt and lemon juice. You can serve immediately, but I like to let it chill for at least an hour.

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Bye-Bye Bounty, Week 2: Monday night mushroom marinara

One CSA week down, roughly 25 to go, and hopefully all as successful as the past week. We used everything we received in our first week from Rolling Prairie, no composting necessary! In fact, for once, we didn't seem to have enough to eat. (Enter an expensive, yet satisfying, trip to the Lawrence Farmers' Market on Saturday to replenish the crisper).

To refresh, last Monday we received: spinach, salad greens, green onions, Swiss chard, mushrooms and mushroom paté.

The baby salad greens went into the salad at the top of this post (that's the greens, topped with kimchi, tofu, beets, green onions and vinaigrette). The spinach and Swiss chard made it into juice and smoothies.

The mushroom paté went into the freezer for a later date (We tend to freeze any spreads we get from our CSA, whether it be pate or pesto, for when we need it in a pinch), while the mushrooms were used immediately in a halved version of yummy mushroom marinara.

This marinara recipe is super quick and easy and seems even more satisfying than the kind you can get in a jar. I know I didn't crush the tomatoes myself or anything, but somehow, the hubby and I felt pretty proud to make this ourselves. Maybe it's because we basically lived off pasta and canned red sauce in college and back then we never would've dreamed of making it ourselves (Yeah, we were poor and kind of lazy).

We're definitely going to make this one again!

Mushroom Marinara (From "Appetite for Reduction" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

1 teaspoon olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Freshly ground black pepper

1 (24-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

16 ounces finely chopped mushrooms

Preheat a 2 quart pot over medium-low heat. Sauté the mushrooms in the oil. Add garlic and sauté for a minute. Add the thyme, oregano, and pepper, and sauté for a minute more, adding a splash of water if necessary. Add the tomatoes and salt, and stir everything together. Cover the pot, leaving a little gap for steam to escape, and cook for 10 minutes. Taste for salt and seasoning and serve.

In our CSA bag this week: Swiss chard, mint, beets, head lettuce, green onions, mixed salad greens, mint and a dozen eggs.

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Bye-Bye Bounty, week 1: The CSAs have returned!

Finally. FINALLY. CSA season is upon us!

My first CSA pick up of the season was Monday, which, in my head, pretty much signals the beginning of warm weather, deck sitting and copious amounts of local, seasonal produce. Yes, I know I'm being a little dramatic for it being barely May, but it's hard not to get excited, because, well, I hate winter. And even after the mildest winter of my life (besides the years I lived in South Florida), I'm still thrilled that it will basically be getting warmer from here on out for months on end.

For the past few years, I've documented how my little family of three uses up our CSA (community supported agriculture — this means we get a share of farm goods each week in a "subscription") share each week. I started blogging about our usage after hearing from many people that they'd given up on their CSA shares or become discouraged because they couldn't prepare everything before it yellowed and died in their produce crisper, wading in that weird condensation that puddles as the veggies die.

And, truthfully, I also started blogging about how we use our veggies to make sure we'd use them.

That's right, though I write weekly about my love of vegetables and fruits, I have been known to let some produce wither and die in my crisper, too, only to be laid to rest on the compost pile. It happens to all of us, even people like me who need kale to be its own food group.

And, thus, if it's difficult for me, it's difficult for probably anybody. Especially when you're not exactly sure what you're going to get each week (Meal planning? What's that?). And no matter what CSA you've signed up for (or if you're following along at the Farmers' Market), this year is poised to be extra crazy. Because of the unseasonably warm weather and little rain, local farmers have had traditional early spring crops like spinach and kale bolt on them or die after wintering-over. Thus, these first few weeks might be a little hectic and abnormal no matter what CSA you've signed up for or how seasoned or new you are to this whole subscription veggies thing.

So, as we navigate the first week of the season (for me — if your CSA has yet to start, take this post and this week's share as an example of what you'll get later), I thought I'd look back on some of the best recipes we made in early spring the past few years. That way, no matter what your CSA has in store for you this week or in the next few, you have a good suggested starting point.

Recipes

Swiss Chard Roll-ups** (with instructions)

Bok Choy with Chickpeas and Cashews (from a late-season post, but applicable to early season veggies)

Spicy and Sweet Chinese Cabbage

My Favorite Kale Salad (Rockin' Kale Salad)

Spinach CSA Smoothie

I'll check back in this space next week with a run down and recipes from how we used our goodies this week, which included (as you can see above): mushrooms, mushroom paté, green onions, Swiss chard, salad mix, spinach.

And, now, a question: Have you joined a CSA? If so, what are you looking forward to each week?

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