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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 15, 2017
Endeavor to Eat More Veggies
By Charis Lindrooth
Nothing cheers a person up about Tax Day more than the very first baby green salad out of the greenhouse. Come midsummer I might take salad with a ho-hum attitude (note that I said “might”), but in spring the return to our homegrown bounty is a relief. Some may call me a veggie snob, but I truly believe nothing tops fresh picked baby lettuce and radishes…except the summer heirloom tomatoes!
Everyday I think about the obstacles that keep me from eating 8-10 servings of vegetables daily - not an easy thing to accomplish, even for the Farmer’s Wife! I see the issue as two-fold. First is the ready access to fresh produce that inspires the palate. Second, is the time and know-how needed to prepare the vegetables in a way that satisfies the family. I am always looking for creative and simple ways to incorporate more vegetables into my family’s diet.
I have decided to run a “Kitchen Series" through this season offering tips on storage, preparation and time savers for the dedicated veggie eater. If you have suggestions or recipes, send them my way - I’d love to incorporate your ideas too!
Of course the first step to eating more vegetables is to buy, or grow, local produce. The flavor and nutrient value will leave your kids asking for more.
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.
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April 1, 2017
The Economy Share
By Charis Lindrooth
No fooling, things are heating up on the farm. The tractor hums by me daily, the driver happy and content to be back in the “saddle,” as it were. The nursery is turning a brighter shade of green, touched by the magic of popping seeds and emerging shoots. The haygrove, our triple-bay hoop house is covered and full of baby lettuces, bok choi and sweet salad turnips, designated for Spring Share
boxes later this month. Did I say later this month? Yes! In less than 4 weeks, our season begins again
. I can hardly wait to taste those first, most tender and sweet baby vegetables. I cannot wait to visit the grocery store less often, when my refrigerator is bursting with vegetables.
I still get a CSA box every week. Being the Farmer’s Wife, I get a steep discount, of course. You might think that because the farm is right at my feet I wouldn’t need a box, but thirty acres is a lot of ground to cover when you want something specific. And nothing beats the thrill of the weekly list that magically appears each week, picking my favorites, planning my weekly menu and then the delight of opening the fresh box each week.
Recently I asked our members what works and what doesn’t work for them about CSA. If you haven’t responded to this question yet, feel free. We are listening! Almost everyone lists “choice” as a top priority, and we have that covered. Others mentioned the need for pick up site closer to their home. We are willing to accommodate any group that organizes enough interest to host us - we need help with that! And others mentioned that they wish we had a smaller, more affordable share size.
Our recent work on our Community Supported Accessible Food initiative has highlighted this same issue. We have created a new Economy Share to fill a niche for a smaller share for those people who want a more economical option. This share will include 5 Farmer’s Choice items weekly for 22 weeks. The Farmer will pick vegetables for these boxes that are family favorites, with the hopes that the customer will easily be able to use the contents of the box each week. The cost of the share is $306 for 22 weeks, just $13.91/week. In mid summer the box might hold 1 large head of lettuce, 1 quart of tomatoes, 1 quart of potatoes, a quart of green beans, and 4 juicy cucumbers.
Please let us know if you have questions or feedback for us!