Category: CSA

In the Beginning

In the beginning Vermont Valley created lettuce and rhubarb. Now the rhubarb was stalky and sour, reddness was over the surface of the rhubarb, and the spirit of canning was hovering in our minds.

First Week of CSA

And we said, “Let there be strawberry rhubarb jam,” and there was jam.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

We used five stalks of locally grown rhubarb (from our CSA share) and one package of “Product of the U.S.A.” strawberries (purchased at HyVee). While at HyVee we couldn’t remember whether we needed classic or liquid pectin, so we now have both on hand for our next jam making adventure–which will hopefully be in a few weeks when strawberries are actually in season in Wisconsin.

P.S. Hairy contributed to this post by providing moral support.

Aaron Blogs with Hairy

Farm Events

Our CSA farm hosts several fun events throughout the summer and fall. We made it to the tomato pick last summer, but in general we’ve neglected to attend these awesome events. This summer, we’ve been 2 for 3 (we skipped the pesto fest), and we’re looking forward to one more in October.

Aaron was out of town in mid-August for the corn boil, but our friend Lena and I went out. The corn boil is not a u-pick event; instead, it’s a large potluck where folks bring a dish, pick fresh corn, and eat a delicious meal together. We were encouraged to try the corn raw first, and it was delicious. I guess that’s what you get when you can pick  your own organic corn directly from the stalk. I’ve eaten a few cobs that have come in our weekly share raw, also.

Corn Boil

In September, the farm hosts several weekends of tomato u-pick; these are primarily roma tomatoes, though there are a variety of heirlooms also available. Last year, my mom was visiting when we went to this event, so we took her along. Then we had her help us learn how to can our bounty.

This year, we were looking forward to the opportunity to can tomatoes to use throughout the winter.  I don’t eat tomato sauce, but we use diced tomatoes in a variety of dishes. We picked approximately 15 pounds this year, with the intention of canning them along with the tomatoes we’d received that week in our share. We’d already canned a few pints from an earlier share, too.

The Canning ProcessThe canning process goes pretty quickly once you have a good system. We canned 9 pints of tomatoes the first day (the max we can put in our pressure canner). For day two (this was Labor Day weekend, so we had lots of time to work), we decided to branch out a little, and we made ketchup! You can see the cans from the first day to the left.

Ketchup Tomatoes

Making KetchupThe ketchup gets cooked with a “spice bag”–we improvised with a flour sack. Those three bowls of tomatoes turned into 4 pints of ketchup! So far, we’ve only eaten the little bit that didn’t fill another jar. While this was definitely a tasty project, and we can now say that we’ve made our own ketchup, it was a pretty time consuming process. The ketchup gets boiled to reduce by half; when your yield is 4 pints, it takes a while to reduce!

Ketchup Our canning efforts resulted in 20 pints of canned tomatoes (including the 3 jars from earlier in August) and 4 pints of ketchup. While we were at the farm, we also picked some basil that was left from the pesto fest in July. Now, when I say “some basil,” I mean 5 whole basil plants. We turned these into 6 batches of pesto, which are now in our freezer.

Basil

You can tell the semester has started…

Clearly, we’re not super at this regular blogging thing. The semester started up again after Labor Day, and although we’re no longer taking classes, its still a change of pace.

I’m going to try to get back into the habit of posting more regular updates; in the meantime, I’ll leave you with pictures of our last three(!) CSA shares. As you will see, we’re definitely in corn and tomato season!

2013-08-15 CSA Share

August 15

2013-08-29 CSA Share

August 29

2013-09-12 CSA Share

September 12

Popcorn, Successful Eggplant, and Other Adventures

Several weeks ago, we got popcorn in our CSA share. We never managed to use our popcorn in past years, but we were excited to give it a try this year. I grew up popping our own popcorn, but I’ve never done it myself. We used this recipe as a guideline; the popcorn was delicious.

CSA PopcornWe’ve been continuing our quest to consume leafy greens; this week’s first adventure was making the White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies from Smitten Kitchen. I’m usually pretty skeptical of baking greens–I have a strong dislike of the stringy texture that sometimes results. But, we tend to trust Smitten Kitchen (and pie crust solves most problems), so we went ahead with the pot pies.

White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies (Smitten Kitchen)

White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies (Smitten Kitchen)

White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies (Smitten Kitchen)

We went to a vegan potluck at FUS yesterday. We wanted to take something different this time, but we didn’t want to adventure too far. We went with the Herb-Scalloped Potatoes from Veganomicon. We included the nutritional yeast topping; we’re sometimes skeptical about nutritional yeast, but I was reluctant to leave out ingredients during the first go-around. The yeast was actually a nice addition–it wasn’t trying to emulate cheese too much, but added a good flavor and texture.

Herb-Scalloped Potatoes (Veganomicon)

This post is getting pretty long, but we’ve made two other fun dishes recently. First, we made these Flourless Chocolate Chip Zucchini Oat Brownies from Ambitious Kitchen. Now, I’ll admit that trying to make healthy desserts is often a lost cause; if you want a gooey brownie, you really just need to accept the calories and lack of nutrition that comes with it. But, it sounded like a good idea at the time. These are…okay. Aaron thinks it was the “flourless” part that really did us in. We’ll definitely still eat the pan (maybe with some powdered sugar on top!), but probably not a recipe we’ll make again.

Flourless Chocolate Chip Zucchini Oat Brownies (Ambitious Kitchen)And finally, the promised successful eggplant recipe. We thought about making eggplant enchiladas again, but decided to try something new. We went with Eggplant and Artichoke alla Napolentana from Vegan with a Vengeance. The recipe suggested that the artichoke can be replaced with zucchini; I really like artichoke, but we had tons of zucchini in the fridge, so we went with zucchini. These were basically fried eggplant with a delightful sauce and a pesto sauce (with basil picked from our patio!); they were deliciousDefinitely a keeper of a recipe. Plus, I discovered that I actually do like pesto; I’m not sure what I was afraid of in the past, but this was much more successful than I had anticipated. We even enjoyed this dinner on our patio! We haven’t been eating out there as much this summer, but it’s a nice change when we do. We were actually rearranging our apartment last night, and our dining room table was otherwise occupied.

Eggplant and Artichoke alla Napolentana (Vegan with a Vengeance)

This Week’s CSA Share

I rarely post on our blog, so as a special treat I’m writing about this week’s CSA share.  Emily took this photo of our share.

CSA Share Week 4

This weeks share includes:

  • Nevada lettuce head
  • Cucumbers
  • Summer squash (Zucchini and Zephyr)
  • Sweet corn
  • Estiva tomatoes
  • Eggplant (Dairyu and a traditional Italian variety)
  • Tendersweet cabbage
  • Celery
  • Dark Red Norland new potatoes (not to be confused with old potatoes)
  • Beets

We started brainstorming menu items last night.  On our menu this week is:

  • Herb-Scalloped Potatoes (Veganomicon)
  • White Bean and Swiss Chard Pot Pies (Smitten Kitchen)
  • Eggplant and Artichoke alla Napoletana with Classic Pesto (Vegan with a Vengeance)
  • Broccoli Slaw (Smitten Kitchen)
  • Ratatouille sub (Smitten Kitchen)