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Community Community Supported Agriculture Compost Health Resources Sustenance

Why I buy food from a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farmer

It would be hard to overstate the positive effects of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in my family life. Food, water, air, shelter; things we need for survival; daily gifts we each can take for granted.  The quality may vary but we live in a place where they exist in abundance. Participating in the CSA system connects me and my family to each of these facets of life, making us less cavalier about what we have.

Food – reduced dependence on automated food production; appreciation for fresh fruits and veggies.

Water – appreciation for the seasons where we live and our CSA food is grown.  It rained a lot in Frederick, Maryland this year and we saw the effect on the farm production first hand. We get a better understanding of what it takes to get food from farm to the table.

Air – you may need to dig a little deeper into the connection between clean air and your food on the table to see it.  Less shipping from far away farms means cleaner air; effects of weather, humidity, rain vs drought all play a part in healthy plants.

Shelter – this is so general and varied in all its forms that I am not making a farming correlation but I have to say that my home feels better in every way when food is taken care of.  Few things satisfy more than making a delicious meal for family and friends and feeling safe in your own home.  And few things make people feel more vulnerable anywhere than when they cannot feed themselves or their family.

Buying a share of the produce from a local farm each year is an adventure.  The bargain I make with our CSA, Pleasant Hill Produce, is to give them money to invest in their crops and then during the growing season to receive a weekly “share” of the produce.  The weekly batch of veggies and fruit changes over the season depending on yield, weather, insects, and other forces of nature.

Right off the bat, investing in a CSA one learns, or is reminded, that there is a lot more to producing food that sustains life than going to the grocery store.  One of the cruelest information shams we give to our children is to allow the belief that bargain hunting is the basis for survival.  Survival is determined by knowledge and the flexibility to use it well.  Sometimes there are bargains; some of them are in grocery stores.

In the USA it is probably safe to say that the majority of the population gives little thought to how we get the things we need for survival.  Money is the system we use to exchange goods and services, so that is our focus.  But that is a big step away from understanding what it takes to stay alive.  CSA is a way of contributing to society at the most basic level; an investment in sustainable food production.

How it works in our house

The weekly budget.

For the 2018 season our CSA purchase was for a household of 2.  A small share of vegetables, fruit, and 1 dozen eggs cost $36.24 per week.  Most weeks we spent about $15.00 a week to add a few things; eggs, a veggie to round out a recipe or a meal.

Average $50.00 – 55.00 per week

Pick up once a week.  Other errands are done at the same time making the driving cost minimal.  The few added miles costs less than one dollar in gas and wear and tear on the family car.

The food

The produce will change over the season, you will like some more than others. CSA - a weekly small share. Veggies, fruit and eggs.

What we like, we consume or preserve.  We learn what works well in the freezer or small batch canning.  We find creative ways to use veggies that are over abundant and what I’ll just call “gamey” ( how much kale is too much? )

All vegetable waste goes into the compost for our own garden.

Resources – nutritious food is grown in healthy, nutrient rich soil.

Better understanding of growing food leads to better resource management.  Land and water; composting and balancing nutrients for healthy soil.

Community Supported Agriculture is an investment, right here at home, in future seasons of eating.

Categories
Community Supported Agriculture

Sustenance, CSA Cooking, a Weekly (or bi-weekly) Dish – July 4 & 11, 2018

Got borscht?

No but I have these bodacious roasted beets with tzatziki sauce.

Food styling from our CSA boxes the last couple of weeks from Pleasant Hill Produce.

Roasted beets with tzatziki sauce
Roasted beets with tzatziki sauce. The beets, cucumbers and garlic (in the sauce) are from our CSA box.
Homemade tzatziki sauce
Homemade tzatziki sauce
Baked Kale and eggs
Whatever shall we do about the kale? Kale, egg, cheese and bread cubes bake. I pretty much bastardized a breakfast strata recipe for this. The trick I have found with kale is sauteing with garlic and / or onion and lots of pepper, salt to taste. This reduces what I have come to call the “gamey” nature of kale. It’s good, but a little too strong for some folks.
Baked kale and eggs with cheese
The baked kale & egg is topped with any kind of cheese. This one I made for a vegan safe meal so the “cheese” is a vegan “cheddar” variety.
kolrahbi and carrot slaw
Kolrabi and carrot slaw, with lemon and olive oil dressing. Salt and pepper.
Table is set for one of my Tiny Planet Focus Groups—Tiny Luncheons. Lots of things to sample from my CSA repertoire as well.
Table is set for one of my Tiny Planet Focus Groups—Tiny Luncheons. Lots of things to sample from my CSA repertoire as well.
close up of table
Close up of a few of the things for lunch—Baked kale and egg, “feta” tofu, kohlrabi & carrot slaw, roasted beets and tzatziki sauce
Long view of the Tiny Luncheon.
Long view of the Tiny Luncheon.

Tiny Luncheons

If you have read this far and wonder… “what is this Tiny Luncheon business?” Well, please send me a query with the Contact Us form and I will send you information. You can come to lunch if you are around on one of the dates this summer and are willing to be part of a focus group conversation about my Tiny Planet items. Oh, and to taste some of the things I have been making with the CSA produce!

I am having one a week through August, 2018, first come first served.

There is a survey to take as well. Click here for the Survey Link.

You didn’t think I forgot the eggs and the awesome summer tomatoes, did you?

green chili crustless quiche
My sister’s green chili crust less quiche. A sinful concoction of egg and cheese and deliciousness. We wound up ahead of the game on eggs this week and this beauty takes 10 of them!. I have added my sister’s recipe below.
tomato tart
If you have never had tomato pie you don’t know what you’re missing!. These tomatoes became a tart ’cause I had the puff pastry in the freezer and enough other food for a meal that we didn’t need a whole pie. The tomatoes are on top of a basic tomato pie filling, mostly cheddar cheese, but not a lot of it. Just enough to cover the puff pastry. Baking tomatoes this way really brings out a deep flavor.
Nancy Butler’s Green Chile Crustless Quiche10 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup flour (for Gluten free, use Brown Rice flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound large-curd cottage cheese
3 4-ounce cans (12 ounces) diced green chiles
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound mozzarella cheese, gratedWhip eggs in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Whisk in the melted butter, flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the cottage cheese, chiles, black pepper and half the mozzarella.

Place the mixture in a greased 13 x 9- inch glass baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake in a preheated 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue to bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the eggs are set and the top is lightly browned. Allow to cool a bit and cut into squares.

Dorothea’s Tzatziki Sauce
Tzatziki Sauce

First—Make yogurt cheese:
Place 1 quart non fat plain yogurt (not Greek style, just the regular yogurt) in fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth lined colander set over a bowl.
Let drain for at least one hour, two or more is better. Discard the liquid.
Note: I use regular yogurt, rather than Greek Style, because I like the resulting “yogurt cheese” texture better for this dish. All experiments are good, try it often and see what you prefer!

For the tzatziki sauce:
½ recipe yogurt cheese
1 cucumber peeled, halved, seeded and then grated on a medium – holed grater
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste
1 – 5 or more cap fulls of red wine vinegar, Note: I started using the vinegar bottle cap because it was an easy way to add a bit at a time. Measuring by taste is really a better plan with this sauce : )

salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for drizzling

Mix all ingredients except the olive oil in a medium bowl; cover and refridgerate. Can be refridgerated over night.

Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Note: it’s only worth drizzling olive oil if you have really good oil, if it does not have much flavor don’t bother.

Categories
Community Supported Agriculture

Sustenance, CSA Cooking, a Weekly (or bi-weekly) Dish – June 27, 2018

Berries!

This week our CSA,  Pleasant Hill Produce, brought fabulous summer berries—blueberries, blackberries and sour cherries.

Blueberries

Blackberries

Beautiful breakfast berries with Greek yogurt and my homemade granola.
Beautiful breakfast berries with Greek yogurt and my homemade granola.
Perfectly shaped cabbage turned into a great big batch of coleslaw.
Perfectly shaped cabbage turned into a great big batch of coleslaw.

coleslaw

And just because it’s summer, really HOT and the Fourth of July—Very Berry Frozen Yogurt!

Out comes the ice cream maker, measuring cups yogurt, sugar—the berries really didn't get put away.
Out comes the ice cream maker, measuring cups yogurt, sugar—the berries really didn’t get put away. For recipes, any ice cream maker will have plenty.
A bit of hand mixing to prep for the churning.
A bit of hand mixing to prep for the churning.
About a half hour to process.
About a half hour to process.
About a quart of frozen yogurt in servings, ready for the freezer, and ready to eat in a couple of hours.
About a quart of frozen yogurt in servings, ready for the freezer, and ready to eat in a couple of hours.
A few more berries on top.
A few more berries on top.
Frozen bliss....... Happy Fourth of July!
Frozen bliss……. Happy Fourth of July!