August 13, 2017
Making Time to Make Dinner
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
A nifty NYT article popped up on my Apple newsfeed today, What to Cook This Week
by Sam Sifton. It spoke to me, since I have been disheartened and even worried about a previous article about how Americans like the idea of cooking, but don't really make time for it. A CSA thrives on customers who actually prepare their own food
from scratch. Our Farm, depends on you to take time to prepare your own food. As food services madly scramble to make cooking as cookie-cutter and streamlined as possible, the Farmer and I look at each other and wonder at all the waste that goes into this carefully pre-chopped and otherwise prepared, wrapped and packaged pre-cooked meals. It seems so simple to us to take a few items from the field and create a meal that satisfies us in the deepest way imaginable.
Besides a shortage of time, we are all so crazy busy and tired these days, what keeps you from cooking? Do you need ideas? Recipes? How-to classes? Would you like a class on preparing one skillet meals in under 45 minutes?
We like to think that the weekly arrival of your CSA box acts as an encouragement, not a nag, that cooking for yourself is healthy, satisfying and delicious.
When you eat a home-cooked meal that includes local produce, you are supporting a small family farm, an essential part of the the Pennsylvania rural landscape...in our humble opinion, that is!
Join our Fall Share
, and be part of our "Farmily."
July 29, 2017
Wrap Your Salad
a Note from the Farmer's Wife
I am always looking for new, easy and creative ways to pack more vegetables into my family's diet. Of course delicious is also key to success!
Featured as the first course at our recent Farm-to-Table VIP dinner, these wraps are easy to adapt to what is lingering in the fridge and make a fabulous light lunch.
Summer squash, grated or sliced into match sticks, about half as much as carrots
Cipollini, or mild onion, to taste
Pumpkin seeds, optional
Chick peas, optional
Basil, chopped, or whole leaves
Juice of a lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Lightly sauté squash with onion - only a minute or two. Let cool slightly. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Feel free to use cucumber, hot pepper, sweet pepper, tomato or anything that tastes delicious. Quantities depend on the number of wraps you are making and what you have on hand. Place bowl in fridge to marinate while you fix the sauce.
The juice of several limes - about 1/2 cup is nice
1 jalapeno, or less, to taste
1 green tomato, or several tomatillos chopped fine
Cipollini, or sweet onion, minced
Salt and pepper to taste - more is better in this case
Mix all ingredients together and let sit 20 minutes if possible.
Generous-sized lettuce leaves, for wrapping
Avocado, 1 slice per wrap
Lime, sliced very thin, 1 slice per wrap
Lay lettuce leaf on plate. Place 1 avocado slice and 1 lime slice in center. Dollop salad mixture on top of that. Top with a spoonful of sauce, drizzling juice over salad and adding chunky bits to top of salad mixture. Swaddle salad mix with the lettuce wrap. Garnish with a lemon or lime slice and a basil leaf. Serve with extra sauce and a fork to catch the bits that don't make it to the mouth.
July 14, 2017
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
My daughter discovered audio books this summer. Each week at the library she chooses three books whose covers have convinced her that they are interesting. Then, because I haven't found the CD player amongst our unpacked boxes, she sits in the car, transported to faraway adventures. This week when we brought our selections to the librarian I was shocked to see the date she carefully stamped on the back of the case each case: August 2! How can that be? Why is it that summer gallops by, as if on the back of a racehorse, and winter dawdles like a teenager with chores?
We have just completed our sixth week of deliveries, which means we're nearly 1/3 of the way through the main season! Don't worry, We have loads of tomatoes, beans, peppers and all sorts of deliciousness ahead of us. I, for one, am really taking the time to savor the taste of summer.
I made sorbet from the sour cherries in my box last night (yes, the Farmer's Wife still gets a weekly box!). I plan to use it for the final course of tonight's farm to table VIP dinner. The final creamy pink frosty delight turned out so spectacularly, surprisingly better than the most expensive sorbet I could buy at any grocery store near me, that I'm going to tell you how to do it. Other than a good dose of patience, you need very little else to make this magical dessert. I plan to serve it a-top a blueberry tart made by the Daily Loaf, our bread share baker.
Mousse à la Cerise (Cherry Sorbet)
Pit 1 quart of cherries. I did this with my bare hands because I couldn't find my fancy cherry pitter. I've seen online tricks like using a paperclip, but honestly this worked just fine. Nothing like an audiobook to keep you company while you pit!
Place the pitted cherries with their juice in a food mill such as a Foley food mill. Turn the handle to press the fruit through the finest sieve. It will look like pink juice. Reserve the pulp (I added sugar to that to use as a topping on ice cream later).
Measure the freshly pressed juice from the cherries. Be sure to squeeze every last drop out of the pulp. You should have about 2 cups (add a little water or juice if need be). Add half a cup of superfine sugar and mix until dissolved. Add the juice of one lemon.
Pour the liquid into a flat ceramic dish. Place in the freezer. Set your timer for one hour. Check every hour and when frozen but still slightly slushy, scrape into a food processor and mix until it whitens.
Place back into the flat dish and freeze again another hour or two. Return the mixture to the food processor and blend on high, gradually adding the white of one egg. The egg white will prevent large crystals from forming. Blend until almost creamy in appearance. Scrape into the final container you wish to store it in. Freeze until ready to serve. If too solid at time of serving let it soften 1/2 hour for scooping.
June 29, 2017
It Takes a Village
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
If you live alone, hang out by yourself most of the time, or feel lonely even when people are around, your risk of kicking the bucket in the next seven years increases to about 30%. This startling statement in a Wall Street Journal
article this weekend caught my eye. According to Susan Pinker, author of "The Village Effect" (is she married to the guy who wrote the Dorito Effect?) our social habits more accurately predict how long we will live than our eating and exercise habits.
For many of us this news makes us think of aging parents or other elders we know who no lack the gumption to get out and connect with friends or even family. Is it possible that the sky-rocketing rate of dementia in this country connects to a growing isolation of our elders? Is a nursing home the answer? Even residents of retirement facilities can feel very alone, perhaps even more so if they grieve the loss their familiar turf.
"Isolation is the beginning of disease." So stated Malidoma Some, West African shaman and author or several books. Indigenous cultures have known since ancient times the value of a supportive community.
How does this connect to the CSA? First to my mind springs the satisfaction of a shared meal. Does your family sit together and begin the meal together? An article in the Washington Post
highlights a myriad of benefits for families that sit down to a meal together. Young children learn more vocabulary at family dinners than they do from being read to, teens are more likely to get good grades in school and suffer less obesity once they are on their own. Families that eat together tend to eat more fruits and vegetables - have you ever subbed a bowl of cereal for a meal as a loner? Even medical conditions such as asthma were improved by eating together.
The article stresses that the atmosphere is essential. No TV while eating together and parents should be "warm and engaged" versus stern and controlling. I suppose this research has finally put to rest the old adage, "Children are to be seen and not heard."
One of the most interesting and frequent comments on our 2014 survey highlighted the social connection our members get from picking up their box at a communal location. This may vary from site to site, but I was surprised and pleased to see how much people value connecting with other dedicated vegetable eaters. In the flurry of business that seems to be part of everyone's lives these days, it is interesting to note that this small community building activity of the weekly box pick up seems to be worth the extra effort. Perhaps getting a box of food in the mail is easier, but only lends to the nuclear isolation that is plaguing our culture.
So remember that the acronym "CSA" stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Take a moment to connect with your fellow CSA members, and build the community around you. If you prepare your meal together and sit down together, after socializing at your pick up site, maybe you will live a little longer! Especially if you eat your vegetables!
May 13, 2017
Kitchen Magic: Mastering Kale
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
CSAs have what some might consider a bad reputation, others might argue good, for sending a lot of kale to their customers. If you are a kale lover, you can probably stop reading here, since you likely know all your favorite ways to consume large amounts of the nutrition-packed green. But if your taste buds balk at a big green pile of mushy brassica, you might want to read on.
Here are some tips on preparing a tasty feast out of your kale bonanza:
- First, be aware that while spring kale is quite tender, as the season progresses it gets a little tougher and the cooking time lengthens. If undercooked, it often remains on the dinner plate.
- Second, the bitterness of this green can deter some palates which proper seasoning can overcome.
Let’s look at three recipes that are simple and tasty for those who have been intimidated by kale in the past. Mind you, I’m often a hurried cook, and work in the kitchen from the seat of my pants, more than from a recipe book. I’m also partial to using seasonal, local veggies whenever possible, so if I use a recipe, I often adapt it to suit what’s in my CSA box. At the end of each recipe, I offer a link to a “real” more formal version, for those who want more detailed instructions.
1. Portuguese Kale Soup
2 large yellow onions diced fine, or chopped as you wish!
2 TBS butter or olive oil
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2-4 potatoes sliced 1/8 inch thick, or peeled and cubed if you prefer
1 bunch, or bag of kale, stripped from the stems, torn or chopped into bite size, and steamed for 10 minutes.
1/2 lb of chorizo, or mild sausage if spiciness is an issue for your crowd. Feel free to sub a vegan sausage.
Cannellini beans, 16 oz can, drained and rinsed
1-2 sprig rosemary, or 2 tsp dried
1-2 sprig thyme, of 1 tsp dried
Salt, pepper to taste
A dash of turmeric and paprika (optional)
Fresh basil for garnish, or sliced of lemon
In bottom of sturdy soup kettle, saute onions in butter, on medium heat, just until clear. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Add potatoes and simmer 5-10 minutes. I often take a potato masher and loosely crush the potatoes into smaller pieces. Add kale and sausage. Simmer 15-20 minutes. Add beans, rosemary and thyme and seasoning to taste. Simmer 5-10 minutes. Serve with garnish. Double the recipe for fantastic leftovers.
2. Kale Pesto - I have yet to try making this, but plan to use it to make a nutrition-packed pizza. Spread the pesto on a prepared crust (preferably homemade) and top with your favorites: cheese, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic top my list.
3. Kale Salad with Hemp Seeds: The key to a successful kale salad is to massage it and let it marinate. This tenderizes it and gives it time to soak up some great flavor to counteract it’s bitterness. Take 1 bunch of kale, stripped from the stems and torn into bite size pieces and place it in a large salad bowl. Drizzle olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, salt to taste and add crushed garlic. Massage until the leaves turn oil and darker green. Let sit for at least an hour if possible. Add dried cranberries, hemp seeds, grapefruit and radishes. Drizzle a small amount of date balsamic vinegar, toss and enjoy.
April 21, 2017
Your Magic Kitchen: Part 1
By Charis Lindrooth
photo credit Caroline Attwood,
Way back when I was a real CSA member and not a Farmer's wife I received a partial share. Each week I eyed up that box with the goal of finishing it before the next one arrived. This was no easy task for a busy single mom who was working full-time. My then two-year-old was little help polishing off this box. However I wanted to eat more vegetables on a daily basis and this was one of the most simple and inspiring ways to eat more healthfully. Challenging myself to finish my box by the week's end became most of the most satisfying health journeys I have ever faced.
This post is the first in my series highlighting tips to make it easier for you and your family to eat more vegetables. For me one of the biggest obstacles to eating more veggies is the the amount of time it takes to prep vegetables. It's so much easier to slab to throw a slab of meat into a pan and throw a few potatoes in with it and call it a meal.
The first step to eating more vegetables is to take some time to do some vegetable prep before your busy week begins. Wouldn't you be more likely to cook at home and use more vegetables in your meals if your refrigerator was full of perfectly wash chopped and stored veggies just waiting for use. True you still have to do the washing, chopping and storing in advance, unless you're lucky enough to have a sous chef, but this can be done efficiently and even be fun if you involve your kids. My daughter has her own special chopping knife that is kid-safe and yet effective enough she feels involved. I find that her participation inspires her to eat more of these vegetables either while she's chopping them or later when they land on the plate.
So let’s get started. Ideally, you have done some menu planning before your CSA box arrives, but if you are like me, you probably haven’t. That means the box dictates your meals, or to put it more poetically provides inspiration. On CSA day, when you come home with your bag of goodies, stop before you shove the entire bag in the fridge and sit down with a glass of wine. Instead, follow these steps to ensure that you will be using this fresh bounty to the best of your ability.
- Assemble your tools: Clear off a bit of counter space, center a cutting board and line up a series of glass or plastic containers of various shapes and sizes. Have one large chopping knife, and 1 small paring knife and maybe a pair of scissors handy. A roll of paper towels, ziplock bags and a salad spinner are also helpful.
- Assess your CSA box and determine which items might be used for healthy snacking, which might be used for soup, salad or stir fry, and which might be used for smoothies or juicing. If you are already stuck for ideas, fear not, I will be addressing these choices in later posts.
- Chop items for snacking into bite-sized pieces. I like to place mine in a glass container so they are visible and enticing to refrigerator perusers.
- Chop soup, stir fry or steamable items and store in glass or plastic containers with lids or ziplock bags. Some items, such as broccoli and carrots can be tossed into the freezer for future soup. Diced onions and crushed garlic can be stored tossed with a little lemon juice, salt and olive oil and stored in fridge or freezer.
- Wash lettuce or salad mix, spin in salad spinner, and place in plastic container lined with a paper towel. You will be amazed how fresh it will keep. Be aware however that salad mix is more perishable than stiff head lettuce like romaine. Always use salad mix first. In fact I almost always use the salad mix on CSA night. It is only one day old and so packed with so much flavor it needs little else to make it tasty. In the spring I slice a little radish, add grapefruit sections and a bit of avocado for a refreshing side dish.
- Wash and trim smoothie and juicing items and store in ziplock bags lined with paper towels, or take it a step further and can the blender/juicer out, process and freeze in single serving containers.
Yes, this takes time, but it might be only 15 minutes now and the rest of your week is streamlined. And yes, produce that has been chopped does lose some nutritional value, but not as much as produce that you never eat.
We'd love to hear your veggie prep tricks! Comment here or email them to us for a future post!
Know someone who could eat more veggies? Please share this post and tell them about our CSA!
Get more info about our family farm here
April 9, 2017
The Good Ol' Days
By Charis Lindrooth
Once upon a time Red Earth Farm sat on a 14 acre plot of land, with just over 4 acres in vegetable production. So many heads of lettuce have been harvested since that time, maybe 100,000? That’s just a Farmer’s Wife’s guess, so we will see what the Farmer says when he hops off the tractor and reads this. Back then a collection of old bent kitchen paring knives constituted the tools for harvest. Now we use slick machetes with fat yellow handles. And now we cultivate over 30 acres in produce.
Sometimes the Farmer reflects on the “good ol’ days.”
Things didn’t always run smoothly, and the quality of the produce lagged behind our standards today, but a sweetness blessed those early days. One of the best things about those times, were crew lunches. We shared our housing with several employees and took turns cooking a hot lunch for the entire crew. Rickety tables, and even more rickety chairs set up outside were laden with steaming curried greens, homemade cornbread, vegetable soup and always the ever present salad. If the salad arrived on the table as a simple pile of lettuce, we called it a “George Salad” because crew member George lacked creativity or inspiration when making salad. Promptly at 1pm a hot, sweaty crew would pile down the hill from field to table, and while plates full of food circulated, the banter began.
I savored these moments.
Featured topics included politics, much less eventful in those days, TV shows from the 80s and the secret lives of our chickens. Ian, a red-haired Johnny Appleseed sort of fellow, teased the kids about "Chuckles the Chicken" who was always calling his cell phone. Todd, Ian’s counter-part, strummed his guitar and crooned songs like Long Black Veil as the tea kettle whistled: hot tea after every meal for the Farmer, no matter how hot the day.
While the intimacy of those days have disappeared, a strong camaraderie still thrives among the crew. The challenge of long rows of a single task, be it bean-picking, tomato-stringing or cultivation with the hoe, becomes a backdrop for friendships that endure. Crew lunches still happen, now in the new lunch room, albeit no hot fare prepared by the Farmer’s Wife.
And once in a while you still might hear the notes of Old Joe Clark, when the Farmer is feeling sentimental and can spare a moment to pick up his banjo.
Sometimes it feels like the Farm has grown up, just like a child ready for college. We can't help but feel excited about the potential this "child" holds, but a little worry about pitfalls and a little wistfulness for what once was, the pitter-patter of little feet, as it were, seems appropriate.
CSA shares are available for Spring and Summer seasons.
Join our "Farmily!"