Archives For CSA

Another semester begins

victoria —  August 30, 2010 — Leave a comment

This is one of those no photos, no fancy, no nothing posts. I’d love to say I patented the idea, but well we all know that’s not true. See many examples of frill-less bloggery about the internet.

I tried to log in to my online Hospitality Management class this morning and the system is down. At least I know my students are most likely having the same issue. I should next turn to finishing my lesson plan and lecture for my Wednesday Nutrition and Menu Planning class but I am sitting in the library in an attempt to not be distracted by the laundry and thirty thousand other things I need to do at home. Some people slack off with facebook, I clean out cabinets and alphabetize the refrigerator. So I am here in a laundry-free zone and I am monumentally distracted by the sound of thirty people banging away on clackety-clack keyboards and the low hum of the library punctuated by teeny voices and then moms shushing them. So much for getting on with my actual paying work. Funny how one can write for free when distracted but not for money. Okay, funny how I can write for free when distracted.

On more food related notes, the supper club is lumbering to a real start. We have some folks reserved for the September dinner but I would love to see it full and people disappointed that there were no spots left. I am unsure how to let people I know socially from previous work situations and through church know about the salon without feeling like a nasty spammer or a vinyl siding robo call. I know there are people who would be interested but if I haven’t spoken to them face to face about it I feel weird about contacting them electronically. This, my friends, is why yours truly is not in advertising or sales. I suck at it. No point in mincing words. If I’m bad at selling myself, whom despite my penchant for amusing self-deprecation I do believe in, imagine me trying to get you to buy a widget washer. However, if you are here reading this, I will let you know that the link for the supper salon is here. You can email, DM on twitter or face book or even call me for the password to view the menu.

We are still getting a half ton truck of veg a week from Avalon Acres. Okay, not a half ton. But this week we got two quarts of raw peanuts and about 8 pounds of sweet potatoes. I am now craving fall food and it is still 90 degrees outside. So, unfair. My latest discovery though is freezing okra and the joys of caponata bruschetta. I found a great recipe in this amazing book I discovered at McKay called Earth to Table for caponata. It has a lot of frou frou things that we are not getting in our farm box like capers and olives and fennel but I have made several tasty variations. It is heavy on the eggplant which ain’t doing it for the menfolk at my house. But really how can you go wrong with sauteed summer veg on grilled artisan bread? I have taken to having it for breakfast on occasion. As, for the book, it is fabulous for anyone trying to eat healthier, closer to home, at home, from their garden, simply… it’s just really good. I have made half the spring recipes and all of the summer ones. Granted I can never leave well enough alone so they are almost always the Victoria version of the printed recipe. But it’s good just for ideas, too. I don’t think I would’ve thought to make a blueberry upside down cake on my own (I loathe, and I do mean loathe, pineapple upside down cake). It was a revelation and went down a storm at the Wednesday night dinner. Jules made it by his lonesome and found it pretty easy unless you try to double it in bigger skillet (sugar doesn’t brown evenly).

All in all things are busy but mostly pleasantly so. I do wish I had been able to procure a full time gig of some sort before we rushed headlong into the madness of fall but apparently it was not meant to be. I am still looking but I get that companies don’t like to hire peeps in Q4 and have resolved to be open to what’s out there but giving it a little more time before I look at seriously drastic measures. Wish me luck.

Local is about who we are in this place at this time, the things that make us Nashville, or Chattanooga, or Omaha, or Seattle or Timbuktu. And, in a very organic way, it helps all those others places, too, because we aren’t pumping the atmosphere full of more carbon.

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I read Plenty about a month ago and casually asked Keifel if he would be interested in an experiment to see if we could eat locally for a year. To my surprise, he said yes. So, the adventure will begun in earnest May 1. We were planning to start the first day of spring, as in the book, but after a week of realizing we would be eating eggs for two months, we postponed. We did decide we would start mostly sourcing locally and that we should eat anything already in the house because it would be wasteful otherwise. I am all about having a pantry, so we have quite a bit of non-local stuff to play with.

I started out that first spring week by foraging at the Produce Place on Murphy Road because I had seen local produce there from Mennonite farms in the past. They had produce from everywhere but here, but they did have some local biodynamic sweet potatoes. I bought four pounds. They were very dirty, not a problem, and spindly enough to poke a hole right through my bag. They also had some local cheese. I got a chunk of smoked cheddar but it looked a little plasticky through the plastic and is still in the fridge, untouched. My last two things there were local, raw sourwood honey (which is amazing, I can’t even describe the flavor) and local sorghum. We went to Whole Foods that Tuesday because they also carry local produce occasionally. All they had was local eggs, local milk and a teeny bit of local lamb and local beef. We then had not very many vegetables and a lot of animal parts or products.

We had a crazy week but mostly ate stuff from the pantry including local eggs and such as we went. Another stipulation was that if we ate out it had to be a locally owned restaurant preferably one that sourced locally. Fido is really the only one in our current budget. We also had dinner with friends at Rose Pepper. Another rule was that we not be assholes in turning down hospitality, gifts or invitations because of this. Trading the goodwill and fellowship of our friends and family for our experiment seems, well, like being assholes.

That Friday, we went to the Turnip Truck in East Nashville and scored some much better local goat cheese and local buttermilk. Jules and I hit up the Nashville Farmers Market on Saturday and got greenhouse lettuce, turnip greens, local chicken and more local milk, non-homogenized, so I could take a stab at making yogurt. (Still hasn’t happened.) All told, our foraging that week was successful. Also, somewhere along the way I bought coffee beans from Bongo Java Roasting Company. I chose not to give up coffee but to switch to locally roasted by a local business that uses organic and fair trade beans. I had been drinking fair trade organic, but not local.

The high point of our first week of eating local was a cottage pie with local beef, local sweet potatoes, local milk, and local herbs. The carrots and celery and garlic were leftover from the larder. The celery is now done and I really wished I’d had onions. We also ate the local lettuce with a honey mustard vinaigrette. Olive oil is also on my list of things I can continue to buy if it is organic and preferably Californian (as that is the closest olive production, we think). Julian and Keifel loved both the pie and the salad. Jules said if eating local is like this all year, he is totally in.

Things have continued. The new Saturday ritual is dropping Keifel to work, did I mention we also down-sized to one car?, and then having coffee and a pastry at Provence (and buying bread from them if we need it). Then heading to the farmer’s market. We are converts to JD Farms milk. We have tried whole (cream comes to the top!), skim and 2%. Jules has settled on the 2% and since he drinks it straight, he gets the deciding vote. They also have a wicked good chocolate milk. We get eggs from several vendors but the ones I got this morning are a lovely mix of pink and blue with a couple extra jumbo-sized and a teeny bantam egg as well. I got the eggs, some beautiful arugula, and sweet little white turnips with full, lusty tops from Common Grounds. There are two cheese vendors now. One for locally made goats milk cheeses and one that deals in American artisanal cheeses. I picked up an aged farmhouse cheese from N. Alabama. I am thinking a salad with a little of that crumbled over. I also got a pound of bacon from Emerald Glen Farms. The chicken we got from them last week was amazing. I also got a pork roast from Walnut Hills Farm. I got goat stew meat from them last week that Keifel curried in the Trinidadian manner with a little local lamb from Whole Foods. Another local dinner winner.

So, after a almost three weeks of dabbling, things are getting ready to head for the big time. I know that we are really going to have to carve out some time to do more ahead-of-time prep for breakfasts and lunches because we are crazy busy with so many jobs and one car scheduling. Our volunteer schedule calms down that second week of May and I am hoping to get stuck in to working on one or both of the books in progress. Our first CSA delivery from Avalon Acres is also that first week of May, so we will at least have something to eat even if I can’t make it to the Farmer’s Market.

We are preparing some herb beds around the house with some free bricks from Cajun Scorpio Girl and Mark the Carpenter. Julian and I dug one of them out last weekend but this weekend has been too hectic, as will next… We are planning to get a raised bed and get some tomato plants, pepper plants and, if possible, some pickling cucumbers (I love gherkins!). Julian and I started some herbs from seed and some of them actually lived and have sprouted which of course means we need to get on those herb beds.

I thought long and hard about this and I really think that local food is the best way forward for the planet, for the people and for food security. I don’t want to get too involved in being a screamy evangelist about it but I am hoping that with this blog, the supper club, twitter and facebook, I can talk about it to those who are interested in listening in on and seeing pictures from our adventure.

To have some guidelines we came up with a list of allowable indulgences (necessities, more like it!) and some ground rules. Our lives are pretty hectic and we didn’t want this to make it worse. It’s hard to make it look appealing if you are having a nervous breakdown in the process. Here’s our starting point:

Ground Rules:
1. Try for as much of our diet as possible to come from within 100 miles.
2. When travelling or receiving hospitality we will eat what is offered. (The “Don’t Be Assholes*” rule.)
3. We will accept food gifts graciously, even those from far outside the 100 mile limit. (*)
4. It is impractical to put the 100 mile restraint on catering gigs and the supper club, though we will make every effort to continue to source sustainable produce for those functions, especially the supper club.
5. We will make every effort to investigate local wild foods, fish and game. (I am trying to set a date for some trout fishing and have a line on a free -yay!- smoker).
6. We will acquire a small, energy efficient freezer; can as much as we can; and use the dehydrator (that has been in the attic for three years) to preserve as much as we can for the winter and early spring next year when we know fresh, local produce is in short supply.
7. We will plant a small garden this year, focusing on easily preserved items and herbs.
8. We will continue composting.
9. We will avoid food waste by creatively using up leftovers as soon as possible.

Exempt Items:
(the list was supposed to be 10 but we forgot a couple things on the first one and hope to delete some if we find local sources)
1. coffee, must be fair trade and organic and roasted locally
2. tea, organic and fair trade and only if we run out of our current supply
3. olive oil, organic and preferably Californian
4. citrus fruit, but not juice (I have to be honest and say that a life without lemons seems horribly bleak to me)
5. spices, but herbs must be local if not home grown
6. salt, preferably sea salt
7. American grown rice
8. Beer, but must be brewed locally even if the raw ingredients come from somewhere else
9. chocolate, must be fair trade and made locally
10. kefir, until I get my own yogurt set up going (my belly would otherwise not be the same)
11. steel cut oats
12. peanut butter, all natural and organic, unless we can find a 100-mile source (to prevent Jules from starvation)

CSA overload continues apace

victoria —  September 4, 2009 — 1 Comment

I can still remember all my father’s careful instructions about how to wipe of the rims before setting the lids on and slowly lowering the jars into the water bath to avoid splashing boiling water about or knocking the jars together. I’m glad these things stick with us. I wish I had more time to do these things now.

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Our CSA this year is with Fogg Hollow Farm in Pulaski, Tennessee. Things have begun and we have lots of gorgeous eggs and strawberries and I am still working too much to play much in the kitchen, or on the blog. I had to post a pic of the eggs, though. Pale blue and eggy plus. How I’ve missed fresh eggs!



Having nothing to say and no words.

Classes at the Pannery and Swedish Chefs have been going apace. I’m relatively happy but confused by my restlessness. I got an adjunct position for the fall (Yay!). But I don’t have much to say. It seems like the more I cook for others out in the big world the less I want to do anything at home involving food, which seems to include the blog of late.

Franka at Can Cook Must Cook seems to be having the same problem and as she gets paid to write, it is somewhat comforting. I thought I would have all manner of exciting things to talk about in our farm share CSA box but it has been so hot and dry this summer the pickings have been very slim and even I can’t eat two gallon bags of bitter greens a week or find something to make them interesting enough for me to eat by myself. Although the pie I made was tasty, Keifel and the Julian didn’t like it because they don’t like greens. I did make a Caprese salad with some of our tomatoes that was amazing. Love, love, love the fresh mozzarella and not having to actually cook anything when it is 100+ outside.

Victoria’s Greens, Lotsa Greens Pie
1 recipe for a double crust pie (especially the one made with oil from the 1940s Good Housekeeping)
a good glug of olive oil
1 small onion chopped fine
3 or 4 smashed cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 leftover raw bison burger pattie
Salt and pepper to taste
2 gallon bags of mixed bitter greens, washed and thick stems removed
1 tablespoon flour
a good glug of balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup left over white wine, chicken stock or water
Handful of grated Parmesan, Grana Padano, Feta or what have you
1 large very ripe tomato
1 egg

Make the pie crust and line a round stone baker (mine came from Pampered Chef) with a little more than half the pie crust. You could also use a relatively deep pie plate.

In a very large sauté heat the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic until the onions are translucent, add the red pepper and sauté another 20 seconds. Crumble in the bison burger and season the mixture with salt and pepper; cook until browned. Add the greens and sauté down until all is wilted but still fairly green. Sprinkle over the flour and cook for 1 minute stirring to mix in. Add the vinegar and wine or chicken stock or water and cook just until the juices thicken a little.

Allow mixture to cool for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the cheese and fill the pastry-lined baker with the greens mixture. Seed and slice the tomato fairly thinly and lay over the filling. Top with remaining pastry and crimp the edges together and make three or four slits in the top for steam. Make an egg wash with the egg and 1 tablespoon of water whisked together. Brush over the top crust to help it brown. Bake for 30-45 minutes at 375 degrees until golden brown. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers and eat cold or reheat for 25-45 seconds in the microwave (though the crust will go a little soft).

CSA box goodies, part 1

victoria —  May 24, 2007 — 1 Comment

It has taken me until Thursday, I know, but well. We were in Atlanta over the weekend and then I had the flu, or some brief horrible thing that acted as if it might be the flu and, well, it is difficult to cook when one feels as though one’s large muscle groups are be wrung out like a wet dishrag. So, tonight we really got down to the goodies in the box.

Our share for the week consisted of one dozen free-range eggs varying in size from teeny to Jumbo, a dozen radishes, a dozen large spring onions, a gallon bag of mesclun, a gallon bag of collards, and a gallon bag of kale. I nibbled on the mesclun all week. But tonight was the first night we cooked anything from the box. We had two pork tenderloins we’d cooked earlier that Keifel sliced up and stewed briefly just to reheat. I’d rubbed it with a mix of smoked paprika, coriander and cumin before roasting it.

While he worked on the protein, I frenched (doesn’t that sound salacious?) an onion and sautéed it in some olive oil with three fat cloves of garlic, chopped fine, until the onions were translucent. I sprinkled over about a half teaspoon of salt and deglazed the small bit of browned goodness with some white wine. I put the kale in first and let it wilt down enough to add the collards and let both wilt down enough to stir. Then just let it cook until it was still a pretty, bright green and tender. I hate bitter greens cooked to mush, but I also hate chewy collards. These were young and tender enough that you could almost eat them pleasantly raw, but not quite.

Sautéed onions and kale waiting for their close up before the collards join the party

I will be better next week about actually taking a picture of what comes in the box. Or at least I’ll try.