Monday, June 30, 2008
Its hard to believe that we're a month into the CSA season already! The food has been wonderful and we have recently had the opportunity to really begin connecting with the community and discovering the different ways we are connected. Last week I took a yoga class at the Yoga Room
in LIC, and discovered the teacher I just had class with lives in my neighborhood and also belongs to a nearby CSA that is supplied by the same farm as ours - neat! Golden Earthworm is a great farm that has such amazing variety and I feel so lucky to be receiving my food from those hard working folks out there on Long Island.
My husband and I had dinner on Friday with our neighbors whom we also met through the CSA. They are actually two of the founding core-group members of
the Sunnyside CSA, and they happen to live in the same building as we do (its funny and comforting how the anonymity of urban living can be transcended by food). Dinner was amazing, but I sadly forgot to tote along my camera so there are no photos to share of the wonderful ratatouille Diane made for us. She is an amazing cook though and also a holistic health counselor with a wonderful approach to preparing food. We look forward to many more meals with them (hint, hint...).
On Sunday we had a CSA potluck with friends who belong to the Astoria CSA which is also supplied by Golden Earthworm, and it was so much fun to see the different things we made from the same share ingredients!
I made a lasagna with a red sauce that I prepared with lamb sausage and green garlic from the farmer's market. I layered the lasagna with a ricotta mixture to which I added minced garlic scape (from the green garlic tops) and a bit of S&P, and a layer of steamed beet greens seasoned with a bit of crushed red pepper. I topped it all with slices of fresh mozzarella and baked it for about 40 minutes until the cheese started to brown and it was all bubbly and oozing inside. When it was done I finished it with a chiffinade of fresh basil for garnish (and the wonderful smell it provides). It was so delicious (thank goodness...I was a bit nervous about it since it was totally improvised and I couldn't really taste it before serving it to friends). I have to say the dish came together pretty quickly and is a nice thing to serve to a small group.
It also left me a good bit of time to prepare a "red" salad (made with the red oak leaf lettuce and shredded beets, also from this week's share) to go along with it.
Our friend M. brought along an amazing salad of kohlrabi and fennel (using up some of last weeks share combined with this weeks fennel) with a bright and yummy lemon caper dressing, that complemented the spicy and savory flavors of the lasagna very nicely. Its also nice to see what other folks are making to help give you ideas.
Dessert was made by T., and she made an amazing strawberry-rhubarb cobbler that really hit the spot. It was a nice change for me since I always seem to make crumbles (like the one last week) and had actually just made a blueberry-pecan crumble that I brought to by neighbor's dinner on Friday (that was complimented by Diane's amazing pear sorbet).
All in all, the food this month has been amazing. It has been a wonderful challenge to try to keep up with the shares and I feel like overall we have done a great job of being creative and keeping the food both simple and interesting. For me though, what I am noticing I appreciate the most is the food connecting us with people, whether old friends or new. It has been great to share so many of these meals with others at the table recently and something that I am truly grateful for.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Well, another week has gone by and I find myself once again like a kid a x-mas, eager to dig in and see what is in this week's share box. I was so excited to see that it was even bigger than the first two weeks! Matt, our CSA farmer at Golden Earthworm, reported that this will be the usual size of the share from here on in - oh the bounty of the season...but what will we do with all this food? Dinner parties it is :) Nothing inspires me to cook for friends more than this overflow of fresh, local, beautiful food and that's just what we found we've been doing.
Really, what better way to use this bounty than to share it with people you love? We have a tiny kitchen, and a pretty small city apartment for that matter, but we manage to have a couple people over at a time, which has been such fun this past week. After all, the "c" in csa does stand for community, so go ahead, invite some people in and cook for them, or better yet - cook together.
And what a great weekly share to entertain with this mix of sweet and savory!
The garlic scapes were a big favorite this week. I made a quick pesto with them by adding a bit of sea salt, olive oil and raw almonds to the roughly chopped scapes. I just put everything into the food processor and adjusted for taste and texture as I went along. I tossed the pesto with chick peas and pasta with a little bit crushed red pepper, and served it along with a salad made from the beautiful head of crisp-green lettuce, for a tasty and filling vegetarian meal that left the two athletes I was feeding completely sated.
For dessert I just had to do something with the strawberries and rhubarb...
This strawberry rhubarb crumble is one of my favorite recipes. I have it written in an old notebook, so I'm not quite sure where the recipe originated, but it is a simple and delicious way to prepare this natural combination of summer fruit (although rhubarb is actually a veggie).
For the topping:
1/2 c oats
1/2 c unbleached flour
1/2 c of raw sugar
1/3 c of sliced almonds
1/4 t of nutmeg
pinch of salt
6T butter (cut into small cubes)
For the filling:
5 c rhubarb (sliced into 1/2 inch pieces)
2 c strawberries (hulled and halved)
3/4 c raw sugar
1/3 c lemon juice
2 T flour
zest of one lemon
1/2 t cardamom
1/4 t nutmeg
Heat oven to 375F, and butter a pie plate or 8x8 baking dish.
For the topping, mix together all of the dry ingredients and then rub in the butter with your fingers until it is evenly dispersed.
For the filling, combine all ingredients and let stand about 15 minutes to let the flavors develop and the juices to run. Put filling in the baking dish and sprinkle the topping on evenly. Bake until bubbly (about 25 minutes).
This is great served warm with a scoop of ice cream. Enjoy!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I just realized that in my haste to dive into my share last week that I forgot to mention that the CSA that I am a member of is the Sunnyside CSA, located in Sunnyside, Queens. It is in its second year, and that fact that we have doubled our membership is really exciting and speaks to the growing awareness of food related issues and the demand for local and sustainably raised foods in our (very diverse) community. Our food is supplied by the Golden Earthworm Organic Farm
located on the north-fork of Long Island, and they supply several CSAs in the area. I will hopefully remember to discuss more about both the CSA and the farm in the coming weeks.
Well, the second week's share does not disappoint with another large bounty so early in the season - it really is so exciting! I was hoping for some rhubarb this week, but Matt (the farmer, who was at the delivery this week) mentioned that there just wasn't enough, but we will be getting it next week (we better...).
This week we received: a head of romain, a small bunch of broccoli, a head of boston lettuce, toscano kale, a bunch of (very beautiful) rainbow chard, and a basket of (scrumptious) strawberries. I still haven't quite made it through last week's share, but will be making some pesto with my lingering arugula. In order to alleviate a little anxiety about using all of these greens I have decided to start thinking about putting some food by for the winter. This was a real treat last winter with the roasted tomatoes, and a great way to make sure you don't waste any of the yummy food in your share.
Today I decided to save the kale for the winter. This is great when I am getting to that point (which is hard to imagine this time of year) when I am really craving greens and kind of sick of root veggies. Fortunately kale freezes really well and it actually makes it even more tender when you are ready to prepare it. To prepare the kale I carefully clean each leaf with a little water (I did find a critter I was happy to be rid of) and shake off the excess, but I don't dry it. I give the kale a rough chop and put it in a zip top freezer bag trying to squeeze out as much air as possible. Then its ready for the freezer and hardly takes up any room at all. ...I'll be glad in February :)
Friday, June 6, 2008
The CSA season has finally begun and it was so exciting to be at the first pick-up yesterday. I kept hearing folks say things like "I've been waiting for this day for months!" and "its like Christmas, only tastier!" The energy was great, and it was wonderful to meet the farmer at the drop off (now that I'm co-coordinating pick up days) and see the whole day unfold.
I was so excited when I got home that I forgot to take a picture of my share and dove right in to make this salad!
This week's share includes: baby arugula, bunched arugula, spinach, red boston lettuce and radishes - yum!
This salad was a natural start, especially after a long day of teaching and then hanging out at the CSA pick-up all evening. From the share I used some baby arugula, lettuce and radishes. I made sure to soak the greens in cool water to get all of the grit and dirt out, and then they went through the salad spinner. I also added, along with the sliced radishes, some sliced carrots and red onion and one chive blossom form the garden. It was so fresh and delicious!
Stay tuned as I post other recipes from this and the coming weeks shares :)