I’m back! It’s been a crazy summer with little time for writing. In the past month I went to Cleveland and Charleston, Amanda went to Philadelphia and Boston, then we both went to Nova Scotia. These CSA posts were on the back burner, but now we are back home and in the swing of things. So time for a recap.
Scallions, carrots, lettuce, green peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes: Lunch salads!
Tomatoes and basil: Caprese salads
Kale: Baked into a frittata with sausage.
Beets: Boiled, peeled, and frozen for later in the year.
Squash, eggplant, and cilantro: Maqluba
Squash, Cilantro, eggplant, onion, garlic, and a few carrots: Thai green curry
We missed it, unfortunately.
We froze as much as we could from this week: The beans, eggplant, zucchini and squash, peppers, beets (boiled and peeled first), and carrots. We ate the lettuce in salads, used the kale in a breakfast frittata (which we do every week), used the red onion, some garlic, and parsley for a chimichurri that we put on steak, and the tomatoes in a giant caprese salad. We cut the watermelon up to take with us to Nova Scotia, but when we learned that you can’t take fruit across the border, we had to eat 2 out of 3 containers of it while waiting in the customs line at 9:30PM.
We missed this one, too. Summers are tough!
Back home and in the groove.
Leeks: One will be added to next week’s breakfast frittata with a red pepper and bacon. The other I’ll roast with the eggplant, a few beets, and some garlic for a vegetable side.
Scallions, peppers, cucumbers, a few tomatoes, and lettuce: Lunch salads! This week’s protein was a tri-tip that we cooked in the sousvide and seared.
I used the basil in a pesto that I served over polenta.
Cantaloupe: Cut up and eaten for breakfast or a snack!
Squash: Roasted as a side.
Tomatoes: So many! 24 of them. So far I’ve used them in/on:
Jerusalem Artichokes, also called sunchokes, are the edible tubers of a particular species of sunflower with the same name. They are found in the eastern half of the United States. Once cultivated as a popular food source by Native Americans, this ginger-resembling tuber rarely graces the table of Americans anymore.
Here is a photo of the plant 🌻 they come from, courtesy of Pinterest:
rst encountered these last year in my CSA. I didn’t quite know what to do with them, so I tried putting them in a root vegetable mash. It was terrible. I don’t think it was the particular fault of the Jerusalem artichokes, it isn’t something I want to try again.
This year I tried something much better: Roasting them. The skin is completely edible, the flesh breaks down to the consistency of a soft, mushy potato, and the edges caramelize nicely. They have a slightly sweet, somewhat nutty, earthy flavor.
Fun fact: Jerusalem artichokes are about 3/4 inulin, so if you are a diabetic, you’d do well to substitute these in place of potatoes 🥔 in your meals a few times a week. Inulin has minimal impact on blood sugar.
Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes
Small bag of Jerusalem artichokes. The bags my CSA gives out are about 12oz each.
1/8 cup Olive oil
1 tablespoon Rosemary
1 tablespoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
Preheat your oven to 400F.
Scrub the dirt off of the Jerusalem artichokes. Leave the skin on, it is edible.
Cut them in half long-ways. You can also quarter them if they are particularly large.
Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary.
Spread them cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Roast for 20 minutes. (I decided to add roasted garlic powder here at the last minute when they came out of the oven. I don’t think it was necessary and I probably won’t use it next time.)
Other flavors I think would work well with Jerusalem artichokes:
Butter, mushrooms and thyme
Butter and sage
Garlic and cheese (you could make these into a gratin!)
Bacon, cheese, and scallions. Think potato soup. These actually purée up into a creamy soup base.
When you have a garden or are part of a CSA you tend to get a lot of vegetables in at once. If you can’t use them all right away, it is a good idea to save them for later in the year when fresh vegetables aren’t as easy to come by. If you have the freezer space, freezing your veggies is a fast and easy way to save some of those summer flavors for the colder months.
Some vegetables get mushy or soft after they are frozen and thawed, so they aren’t great for every use. Here are some common vegetables we like to freeze and what we use them for afterward:
Zucchini – Great for soups or dishes like Mushy Zucchini where it is okay that it is soft.
Squash – We love yellow squash in vegetable soups.
Green beans – Soups, steamed and then sauteed with garlic, or included in stir frys or cauliflower fried rice.
Bell peppers – We like to freeze red peppers for roasted red pepper and tomato soup. Green and yellow peppers we dice up and use for breakfast skillets all winter long.
Hot peppers – Great for chilis, stews, and sauces.
Pumpkins and butternut squash – We roast and puree the pumpkins and butternut squash before freezing them. We use it for soups, breads, cookies, and pies.
Corn – We like to cut it off the cob before freezing it. We put it in soups, use it for esquites, and other corn salads.
Peas – We add them to stir frys and cauliflower fried rice.
Broccoli and Cauliflower – These tend to get a little pushy after being frozen, so we prefer to use them in soups. Sometimes I use frozen broccoli in frittatas.
Wash, dry, and chop your vegetables for their intended use before freezing them. You won’t be able to separate them when they are frozen, and if you wait to do it until they are thawed, they are more difficult to cut.
The best way to prevent freezer burn is with a vacuum sealer. These things are worth their price several times over. They completely elimate freezer burn and allow you to store things in the freezer much longert than would otherwise be possible. We also use ours to freeze meat, soups, broths, and leftovers.
Buying them on Amazon is the fastest way to get them, but not always the cheapest. For a good price, go to your local clearance store (Big Lots, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Bargain Bin, etc). We got ours for 70% off the retail price at one of those places. It is four years old and still cranking.
Dating & Inventory
Always write the date you froze something on the packaging. I know you think you’ll remember, but you probably won’t. I’ve made that mistake more than once. Just take the extra thirty seconds to write the date on them. I also like to write what it is just incase two things look very similar.
Bonus points if you keep an inventory list of what is in your freezer. To be honest, I don’t. I do keep a list of the vegetables in my fridge, though. They have a much smaller usage window.
We are on the Whole 30 again this month, so we are limiting our use of these veggies a little bit. I added some non-Whole 30 options so that you don’t have to suffer with us.
Green Leaf Lettuce – Once again, this is getting turned into salad for lunches and a dinner side. 2 heads should last us all week.
Cucumbers – These will get chopped up for salads and turned into spears for snacks. If you are having dairy, I suggest slicing these and making a salad with sour cream, dill, and onions.
Carrots – We’ll shred a few for salads and then probably roast the rest. I might grab one for an afternoon snack. If we weren’t on the Whole 30, I’d use the tops to make some pesto and eat it with burrata cheese.
Basil – We cut half of this into a chiffonade and put it in the zucchini noodles with the cherry tomato sauce. We’ll use the rest for pesto or adding to a fresh vegetable salad. We are on the Whole 30 again this month, so we’re foregoing putting this on homemade pizza or caprese salad.
Scallions – We’ll include the scallions in salads, in breakfast bowls, or in carnitas bowls.
A CSA, Community Shared Agriculture, is a system where people pay a farm in advance at the beginning of the growing season for a share of the season’s produce. Fresh produce is delivered (or picked up) once a week for the season, which usually lasts 20-22 weeks.
What are the benefits?
You never know what you are going to get. Every week is a surprise! You can, however, always count on it being fresh and high quality. CSAs allow you to make a one-time choice that enables healthy eating for the following 22 weeks. Having a wide variety of fresh vegetables on hand each week without having to make the conscious choice every time of what to buy makes cooking healthy meals easier. We definitely eat healthier during CSA season!
A Chance to Be Creative
We hate wasting food, so we always get creative and use as much as we possibly can every week. I ramp up my canning, preserving, freezing, and broth-making during CSA season so we can enjoy the abundance of great flavors during the winter, too.
Eating New Things
A CSA will expand your food horizons. How often would you choose to buy sunchokes, kohlrabi, rutabagas, tatsoi, or patty pan squash at your local store? How often do you even see those things on the shelves? Local farmers often grow heirloom varietals that are tastier and more exciting than what gets shipped in to grocery stores. Did you even know there were dozens of kinds of garlic? Have you ever tasted a green tiger tomato?
Laura stayed around the market after her delivery a few times and it was fun picking her brain about the farm. She taught me all about hardneck vs softneck garlic, the Rocambole varietal she grows (which is excellent), and we talked about saving seeds. She is passionate about growing the tastiest, healthiest produce and using sustainable farming practices. We love knowing where our vegetables come from, who planted them, and who picked them. We even get to follow the farm’s progress on Instagram!
What do you get? What does it cost?
In 2016 I decided to keep track of everything we received during the season. I looked up what each of these items would cost if delivered from Peapod, a local delivery service. I picked the price for organic items when I could find them and searched other sites when there were items Peapod doesn’t sell.
We paid $495 at the beginning of the season (which breaks down to $22.50 per week). According to my unscientific analysis, the awesome stuff we received from Peace and Carrots Farm would have cost us around $612 from Peapod. An extra $117 worth of organic produce is nothing to sneeze at!
Here is my data. I’m sure it is slightly off because I collected it by hand in an unstructured way, but it is in the ballpark. I recorded some week late from memory and we missed two weeks because we were traveling, so I estimated by copying either the previous or following weeks.
Here is (roughly) what we received over the 2016 season:
Garlic Scapes (bunch of 3)
Grape tomatoes (pint)
Green beans (bag)
Green Leaf Lettuce
Green tiger tomatoes
Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
Patty Pan Squash
Red Leaf Lettuce
Sugar Snap Peas (bag)
Here are photos of 8 of the 22 shares. Peace and Carrots farm always sends a great variety! I grabbed these photos of of their Instagram because I forgot to take my own. Some data collector I am! (Also, corn must have been one of the weeks I was out of town because it isn’t in my sheet. Bummer.)
Find a CSA Near You
You need to sign up before the growing season starts, so you have about a little over a month left.
During our Whole 30, one of our go-to breakfast options on weekends were bowls of delicious veggies, meat, and eggs. We usually only eat two big meals on weekend days, so this is larger and more filling than a breakfast we’d eat during the week. It fills us up and keeps us going until dinner.
The Basic Formula
Vegetable and/or Starch Base + Meat + Eggs + Avocado + Toppings. This simple formula yields a lot of variation:
Vegetables: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, kale, cauliflower, onions, peppers, and fresh beets all make great veggie bases for breakfast. We love buying some of each of these, chopping them up, and mixing them together. If you have a grating attachment for your food processor, that makes it easy. Also check if your grocery store sells these items pre-chopped. It might be just a little more expensive, but it makes healthy breakfasts a breeze. Sautee these items in your the skillet with a little olive oil for 5-10 minutes over medium high heat.
Starch: About half of our breakfast bowls have either sweet potatoes or regular potatoes in them. We either shred them with our mandolin, grate with the food processor attachment, or finely dice them before cooking them in the skillet with a little fat over medium high heat for 20 minutes. You can also roast them in the oven at 400F for 20 minutes if you prefer that.
Meat: Bacon or sausage. We chop it up finely, throw it in a skillet, and cook it until it is crispy. Make sure your bacon and sausage doesn’t have sugar if you want to stay Whole 30 compliant. Sometimes we use leftover carnitas, ham, or turkey. Use what you have!