Last regular-season pickup

It’s a bittersweet time of year. My freezers are packed, and more vegetables are on the way in the stock up share next week. I’ve spent the last 25 Tuesday nights (with the exception of the week I was on vacation) washing, prepping, cooking, and scheming. I’ve got enough potatoes backed up to feed an army. So, in some ways, sure I’m ready for the season to end. At the same time, I never feel ready. I obviously love the cooking and planning that goes into using everything in my share, but I also love the friendships I’ve been making with other members and the community aspect of the whole deal. We’re super lucky in that our farmer sends weekly updates from the farm via email, too, so I’ll be missing that in the off-season.

I mentioned the stock-up share. Every year, on the week of Thanksgiving, Farmer John offers a bulk share of vegetables to “stock up.” There are some last greens and perishable veggies, but it’s primarily onions, potatoes, and squashes, that keep well if you know where & how to store them. It’s a great deal and gives him one last economic boost (there’s an extra charge) before heading into the off-season. If you’re local and are interested in buying a stock-up box, send me a message. They open it up to non-members. You have until Friday to get your order in.

ALSO, if you are local, let me know if you have an interest in joining the CSA next year. There are available memberships going into next season! If you’re interested in buying a share or splitting a share with someone, I can give you all the details of what’s involved. Sign ups usually happen in March, but it’s never too early to start thinking about it.

Off-season does NOT mean I will be discontinuing this blog. I have many meals that I photographed during October but did not manage to post; we had some family-related commitments that took precedence over blogging, understandably. I’ll work my way through those, as well as updates as I cook my way through my stock-up box. I am working on a new system of organizing my recipes, so there will be some technical posting about that, plus I’ll use some of the down time to flesh out the site, including fleshing out the page of recommended cookbooks.

And so, I bid a fond farewell to Tuesday pickups for the 2017 season.

Celery Root and Beets

Celery root. Every year, it shows up near the end of the season, and every year, I wish I knew more to do with it than to make a soup or a mashed-potato-like side. This year, I did the leg work and came up with some new choices, and we tried one of them last night.

Celery Root Puree with Balsamic Roasted Beets and Pearl Onions

Now, I am not a fancy person. This should be obvious from my entire approach to this blog, down to the clearly-not-professional pictures. However, this is a recipe that looks and sounds fancy while being practical, easy, and delicious. I didn’t have any coconut milk, so I substituted almond milk, and it worked fine. We served it with flax tempeh that was marinated in garlic-ginger maple syrup and then roasted, as well as a loaf of sea salt foccacia, and it was a deeply satisfying chilly-night dinner.

The amazing maple syrup concoction came from Get Juiced, by the way. We visited them at the Pocono Garlic Festival, though they have a storefront in Sussex if you are local and an online store if that’s a haul for you.

Buttercup Squash Follow-Up

For a squash that I’d never heard of before joining the CSA, buttercup squash sure has a following on the internet. I came up with ten recipes to try with hardly any effort. I’m hoping we get a few in the stock-up share next week, so I can expand my experimenting.

The recipe I decided to try was this one.  My three-year-old is not big on squash right now, so I was hoping the lure of apples (one of his favorite foods) would balance it out and get him to eat some.

… well, he ate the apples. Sigh. Toddlers.

Anyway, this made a tasty side dish. Even though it claims to be “for 2,” this lasted us through 3 meals as a side. My squash was bigger than the recipe calls for, and I increased the roasting time, though not enough. The apples started to brown before the squash was really soft. For reheating, I wrapped the halves in foil, and I think I would do that from the beginning to help urge the roasting on.

Overall, a pretty good choice!

Planning Ahead

Life gets crazy sometimes. OK, a lot of the time, especially if you have kids. Or a job. Or a house. Or… you get it.

That’s why it’s so important to use down time to plan ahead. I’m on the receiving end of many a joke for the state of my freezers (yes, multiple), which spend a large portion of the year at – or, honestly, beyond – capacity. Between the seasonal abundance of the CSA and my penchant for combining sales and coupons, I do a lot of squirreling away.

Tonight is one of those nights where it paid off.

I have an odd tutoring schedule today. My first student got extended until 4 pm, and my next two are at 6 and 7. I needed a dinner that didn’t require much preparation time, that I could eat on my own at about 5:30, and that could be kept warm for my husband and son to eat a little after 6.

This was the result.

Broccoli-Turkey Pie, Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes, and Green Beans.

The Broccoli-Turkey Pie recipe is here. After Thanksgiving and Easter, as well as any other time I have a turkey stashed in my freezer, I make this pie. If you err on the side of slightly undercooking it (which, in my experience is still a longer cooking time than the recipe suggests), it freezes well. I leave it in the glass pie dish, allow it to cool, wrap it in plastic wrap, and then wrap it again in foil. Defrost in the microwave and then leave in a 350 degree oven until it’s heated through.

I took 2 lbs of sweet potatoes (what I happened to get in my share two weeks ago), and peeled and cubed them. I then boiled them until tender. I drained most of the water, but left a little. Leaving some of the starchy water allows you to cut back on the amount of milk necessary to mash, and since I’m gradually on the downward spiral of lactose intolerance, this is appealing to me. I added a splash of milk and some butter, and mashed. I then added some (maybe between 1/8 and 1/4 cup) maple syrup, and some cinnamon and nutmeg. YUM.

The green beans were from the CSA, blanched and frozen earlier this summer. Straightforward boiling, topped with lime sea salt and lemon pepper.

Hectic work evening: managed.

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffins are a staple in this house. Every one of us really loves blueberries, and they’re an easy, quick breakfast component.

Our CSA partners with a farm in Hammonton – the home of the domesticated blueberry, incidentally – to do bulk orders of blueberries every July. They come in 10 pound boxes, so I freeze a lot of blueberries to use throughout the year.

My all time favorite blueberry muffin recipe is Double Blueberry Muffins. They do require a fair amount of effort and time, though, in the grand scheme of muffins. (WORTH IT if you have motivation and time, incidentally.)

I’ve tried several recipes for quicker muffins and been disappointed. The most recent surprising disappointment was the recipe in Taste of Home’s “Five Star Recipes” cookbook. They’re pretty widely beloved, if the copy is to believed, but I found them to be far too dense.

These blueberry muffins, in contrast, are fabulous. They are the ideal mix of moist and crumbly. They are ridiculously easy and quick to make, to boot.

Stromboli

Stromboli is pretty straightforward, but I was so proud of the ones I made a few days ago. One was more traditional – I used slicing pepperoni (from Wrong Direction Farm!) and portabello mushrooms. For the other, I used more mushrooms… and swiss chard. Each had 3 cheeses inside (mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan) and was made with multi-grain dough. It was ridiculously satisfying, and disappeared quickly.

The lesson? Spinach doesn’t have a monopoly on stromboli stuffing.

The CSA Cookbook

OK, so it’s been quite clear so far in my blogging journey that Thug Kitchen is my favorite cookbook, and quite frankly, my default place to turn when I’m not sure what to do with my vegetables. Now we’ll get our first (of hopefully many) chance to see that I do, in fact, have some variety and range in my sources.

Linda Ly’s cookbook couldn’t have a more straightforward name if it tried – The CSA Cookbook. Subtitled: No-waste recipes for cooking your way through a community supported agriculture box, farmers’ market, or backyard bounty.

Well, then. Amazon impulse purchase back in the spring? Yes, ma’am!

I’ve only scraped the surface of what Ms. Ly shares in this book, but what has impressed me so far is how truly she does provide ways to use what would otherwise be waste, and today I’m focusing on herbs.

No matter how vigilant you are, at some point in the season, you can pretty much guarantee your basil plant is going to “bolt.” It’ll send up flowers that, while pretty and apparently a huge favorite of the bees that hang out in my yard, are kind of awkward to do anything with. When I snap them off, I historically have just used them to stuff a chicken, or added them to my stock bag.

Then I discovered Ms. Ly’s recipe for infused vinegar. My first batch is still steeping – it takes 2 weeks, minimum – but I’m optimistic for it! The vinegar (in my case, white vinegar, though she suggested that one might try champagne vinegar to be fancy – perhaps a future batch. steeps with the basil flowers and orange peel.

We’re already big fans in this household of another of her steeping suggestions: feta cheese with herbs. She gives instructions for using up all the ends of the bundles of herbs that you have sitting in your freezer. Some of her suggestions end up as salad dressings, but this has become a favorite appetizer in our house. My current batch is steeping with garlic chives from the share this week.

Long story short, if you find yourself at a loss for how to handle odds and ends of your share, and you want a cookbook that shepherds you through making the most of the season, this cookbook is right for you. There’s definite truth in advertising with her title.

Eating From the Farm(s)

I’ve been flipping through my pictures as I’m queuing up some posts for the week ahead, and I had to just post this appreciation. There’s nothing quite as satisfying for me as looking at a beautiful plate full of homemade, locally-sourced food. This was dinner last night.

Honey-balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Homemade applesauce

Mashed potatoes with garlic chives

Crazy salad

The vast majority of the ingredients came from the farms – the apples from Tree-Licious, the pork from Wrong Direction, the veggies in the salad and the potatoes and chives from Circle Brook.

Eating local is where it’s at.