Erika Reporting

This is Erika’s write-up as mentioned in my previous post…

My husband Scott, son Aksel, and I enjoyed an afternoon visit to the farm for their annual CSA Shareholder Open House event.  We had a tour of the farm’s barn, cleaning/sorting area, greenhouses, and fields, as well as a fabulous potluck meal and boot-tapping entertainment by 1-man band blues guy Ben Prestage. And last night, our 9-month old baby Aksel slept through the night for the first time ever. Guess all that farm fresh air does a baby good.

Eating locally has many benefits, both for the individual/family as well as for the community.  Rather than traveling an average of 1,500, as is the case with food at the grocery store, our CSA vegetables travel less than 50 miles. They are grown on a certified organic farm that has the soil tested annually, and Native Offerings invests in remineralizing of the soil to compensate for the nutrients lost by past crops. The farm also employs people locally with a living wage, which supports local families. The food is rich, wholesome, and as nutritionally dense as you can possibly find anywhere; everything has been harvested within 24 hours of us picking up our weekly share.

An organic farm faces many challenges that are easily “solved” by conventional farmers with sprays, but must be more creatively and naturally solved by the organic farmer. Crop rotation as well as planting of crops to attract pests away from food crops are all a part of the solution, as well as resting of certain fields and electric fencing to keep the deer at bay. We learned so much about the food we have been eating, as well as about the challenges and rewards of organic farming in general. Anyone with an interest in changing their family’s eating habits and being part of a solution to the food crisis this country is facing should look into joining a CSA.

Back At It

I’m back!  I haven’t posted in the last few days because a lot has been happening.  First of all I lost my dear cat friend of 16 years, Nadja.  It hit me pretty hard.  She’d been sick for over a year and thanks to medicine and care from the folks at City Creatures, she had a very rich and happy final year of life right up to her very last days.  Bad days for Nadja were off and on, but there were always long stretches of good days in between.  I can’t even explain the grief that comes with losing a sweet, fuzzy friend and companion of 16 years.  We were together in Omaha, Kansas City and Buffalo.  She used to lie by my feet when I worked at my desk.  It’s only been 8 days since her passing so sometimes I still look to see if she’s there.  😦

In other news, My friend Lizz and I took a weekend long workshop at Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY on the 30th and 31st.  I learned a little CSS which is evidenced in the subtle design changes on My CSA Adventure!  Check it!  🙂

Unfortunately I had to miss Native Offerings Farm’s annual get-together on Sunday because of the workshop but Erika and Aksel went and they took Dad, Scott too.  I’ll share their pictures and Erika’s little write-up in the next post.

Below is a pic of the last share pick up.  I cobbled together some interesting meals in all the business, but I didn’t take many photos.  I’m glad to be back at it as far as the blog is concerned.  It will be difficult and odd trying to  adjust to a lack of a certain sweetness always around me and in my peripheral heart’s eye now that Nadja has left this world for new adventures.  She will always live in my heart.

Too Many Carrots?

A common dilemma  with CSAs is that often you find yourself with an over abundance of certain items that are just too wonderful to waste.  So you have to come up with creative ways to use them in recipes.  Here’s one solution for using carrots.  Hide them in your black bean soup.  You can puree the soup to your liking and either leave the carrots chunky and visible or puree them to an invisible source of nutrition in your soup that won’t leave you feeling like you have carrots coming out of your ears.

 

NOF Update: What’s Coming July 27, 2011

The Share for July 26, 27, and 28, 2011

Kudos to the superhuman efforts last week of Stew, Deb, Justin, Michael, Louise, Lela, Brigitte, Jerry, Cara, and Flo. It was not easy out there in the overwhelming heat and humidity, yet they still pulled together our weekly share as well as tending to the everyday farm work.

Remember our annual get-together this Sunday, July 31, from 3 pm to 9 pm. Fun for everyone, not just those who haven’t yet been out to the farm. There’s always something new or different going on.

The Vegetable Share: Swiss Chard; Lettuces–including Dandelion and Napa Cabbage; Roots–choice of: Japanese Turnips (without greens), Carrots with tops, Beets with Greens (Golden, Red, Butter, Chiogga); Zucchini/Summer Squash; Cucumbers; Herbs–choice of: Basil, Cilantro, Dill.

The Fruit Share: Sweet Cherries; Sour Cherries; Blueberries; Apricots; Plums.

Recipes: Carrot and Cilantro Salad; Beet and Beet Green Pesto; Tortilla Lasagna with Chard; Napa Cabbage Gratin; Vegetable Kim Chee; Blueberry Salsa with Herbs.

See you Sunday!

Baked Goat Cheese with Frisee – Recipe

I finally got around to making the Baked Goat Cheese and Frisee dish I’ve had my eye on ever since frisee started appearing as an option on our Thursday pick ups.  I love the combination of the two flavors – very decadent. And I reminisced about a similar dish I experienced back in my art school days at a restaurant called the Stolen Grill in Kansas City, MO – which I’m sure not longer exists.  But Alas, although my results were pretty good, they just did not measure up to my cravings.  I’ll have to keep working on it.  If anyone out there has a good recipe, please send it my way.

Baked Goat Cheese With Frisee Salad <CLICK

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 1 bunch fresh thyme or rosemary – leaves only
  • 3/4 cup  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 16 ounces goat cheese (the fresher the better)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Coating

  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme or rosemary for breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt

Salad

  • 1 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons leftover olive oil marinade
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups frisée
  1. Mix thyme, black pepper and olive oil in a deep dish, large enough to hold goat cheese rounds in 1 layer.
  2. Cut cheese into disks about 3/4-inch thick, add to the dish.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Turn cheese over and marinate for at least 12 more hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  5. Mix bread crumbs with a pinch of sea salt and olive oil.
  6. Spread the crumbs on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring a few times during baking. Once toasted, let cool and mix in chopped fresh thyme or parsley.
  7. Remove the goat cheese rounds from the oil and let the excess drip off briefly.
  8. Dredge the cheese in the toasted breadcrumb mixture until they’re completely coated. Bake on a cookie sheet or in a gratin dish for 5 to 8 minutes, or until warmed through and soft when you press gently in the center. Don’t over-bake them or they will start drying out.
  9. Remove the pan from oven and use a spatula to lift the cheese rounds.
  10. Toss the frisée with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat. Evenly divide the salad and the cheese among 4 dinner plates. Serve warm with garlic toasts.

Greek Tonight: Recipes

Zucchini Pancakes, Tzatziki, and Greek Style Fish

I wanted to use up the zucchini and some of the green peppers from my CSA share so I hunted around for some recipes and found this really great one for the zucchinis: pancakes from seriouseats.com.  Next time I’ll make them a little smaller so they’re crisper in the middle.  They were really tasty though, so I’ll definitely be making them again.  I have a feeling I’ll be seeing a lot of zucchinis in the near future!

I also made my own Tzatziki to go with the Zucchini Pancakes, which is where the green peppers went.  Three cups of tzatziki sounded like a lot so I halved the ingredients which I adapted from a classic recipe.

And finally as a main dish, I decided on sea food.  I found a great recipe on Cooks.com for a Greek style preparation and I chose Alaskan Halibut.  I used a little less fish than the recipe calls for and therefore less of everything else as well, and I elected to skip the tomatoes all together simply as a matter of personal taste.

The final presentation of all the fixings on the dinner plate didn’t quite turn out as I’d envisioned, a problem that making the pancakes a little smaller should help.

Zucchini Pancakes

Ingredients

serves 2 to 3, active time 20 minutes, total time 50 minutes

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed

Preparation:

  1. Shred the zucchini and onion on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor with the shredding disk. Place the shredded vegetables in a colander in the sink and sprinkle with the salt. Toss to combine. Let drain for 30 minutes, then pick up by the handful and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Place on a kitchen towel or double layer of paper towels.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, garlic, cheese, herbs, lemon zest, and pepper. Beat well with a fork. Add the drained zucchini mixture and mix together. Sprinkle the flour and baking powder on top and mix with a fork just until well combined.

  3. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy pan. When the oil is hot, drop the batter into the pan by heaping tablespoonful. Cook for about three minutes on the first side, until nicely browned. Flip and cook for about two minutes more. Place the cooked pancakes on a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with the remaining oil and batter. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, sour cream, tzatziki or applesauce.

Tzatziki

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 cups of Greek or strained yogurt made at home
  • 2 teaspoons of crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of dill
  • Green pepper-after taste
  • Salt-after taste

Preparation:

  1. Clean the skin of the cucumber and then remove the seeds from the cucumber because if you chop it with seeds inside it will have a bigger quantity of water and we don`t want that to happen because we want a creamy tzatziki.
  2. After you have removed the seeds, chop the cucumber in small pieces or chop it with a mice or blender. Drain carefully the cucumber after you chopped it.
  3. Crush the garlic in very small pieces. You will need 2 teaspoons of crushed garlic.
  4. Chop the dill in very small pieces.
  5. In a bowl mix the yogurt with the chopped cucumber, the crushed garlic and the dill and then add the lemon juice and the olive oil. Then put some green pepper and salt after taste.
  6. You will obtain 3 cups of tzatziki sauce.
  7. Put the tzatziki sauce in the refrigerator for at least 1hour
  8. Don`t forget tzatziki sauce is always served cold.

Greek Style Fish

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. fish fillets
    1 red onion, thinly sliced
    4 tbsp. lemon juice
    2 tsp. oregano
    4 tbsp. minced parsley
    1 lg. tomato, chopped
    1/2 c. feta cheese

Preparation:

Place fish in lightly oiled baking dish. Cover with onions. Sprinkle on lemon juice and oregano. Mix together parsley and tomatoes and spread over fish. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Serves 4 to 5.

Grant Street Adventure: Chuchifrito Hut

We live on Grant and Lafayette above Sweet_ness 7 Cafe on Buffalo’s West side.  We moved here from the Elmwood Village almost two years ago and even though it’s only a 15 minute walk between the two vastly different Neighborhoods, we still feel like we’re braving a new frontier.  Unlike the Elmwood Village, Sweetness 7 Cafewhich is for the most part thriving as we speak, the West Side is just getting its legs back after years of spiraling decline.  One surprising source for the slow but undeniable revitalization is a burgeoning immigrant population which has contributed to new business growth in countless ways.  Once known as a thriving Italian neighborhood, the West Side has become enriched by the arrival of newcomers from Puerto Rico, Somalia, Sudan, Burma, and many other places in the world.

Recently we enjoyed a very different kind of lunch for us from the Cuchifrito Hut, a Puerto Rican food stand right across from our apartment.  Smoked pork with fried plantains and rice with pigeon peas.  We had enough meat left over to fashion pulled pork sandwiches for dinner later on.  We sautéed some onions, added the pork all chopped up,  BBQ sauce, served it on buns dressed with coleslaw from Wegmans deli and pickles.  We served Island Beans on the side, also from Wegmans deli.  A perfect solution for two meals on a day that was too hot to cook – inside that is.  Take a look at that pig!!

See Ya Turnips, Carrots Win!

With temperatures in the 90s and the heat index making it feel like 100 degrees out, Erika and I decided to pack Aksel up in the car and drive to pick up our share.  I was very happy to see that several of my old favorites were available again this time: arugula, radicchio and basil.  This time we had to choose between carrots and turnips.  What did I choose?  Carrots!!!

NOF Update: What’s coming July 19-21, 2011

The Share for July 19, 20, and 21, 2011

The Vegetable Share: Napa Cabbage or Radicchio; Arugula or Kale; Swiss Chard; Roots with their Greens–choice of: Beets, Carrots, Japanese Turnips; Herbs–choice of: Cilantro, Basil, Dill, Parsley, Sage, Saltwort; Zucchini/Summer Squash.

The Fruit Share: Sweet Yellow Cherries; Sour Cherries; Blueberries; Purple Raspberries.

Recipes: Napa Slaw with Beets and Carrots; Sun-Fermented Greens; Chard Tacos/Wraps; Pasta with Zucchini and Ricotta; Lemon-Miso Braised Kale and Carrots ; No-Bake Cheesecake.

Stay cool!

Kashmiri Turnips – Recipe

This turnip recipe is simple and fast and goes quite well with the Chicken dish from the previous post.  I would say, however, that we really needed rice to sop up the delicious cream sauce from that dish, so maybe the turnips should have gone on the side, instead of the rice.  Live and learn. 🙂

Serves 4

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • pinch of asafoetida
  • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves thumb-nail sized piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 smallish turnips, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger past
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp pure red chile powder
  • 3/4 tsp garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • large handful of cilantro leaves chopped

Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan.  Add the asafoetida, cumin, cloves and cinnamon.  Once the cumin starts to color, add the turnips and cook until starting to brown on the edges or sides, around 4-5 minutes, stirring often.

Add the remaining spices, salt ad sugar, give the pan a stir and add enough water to come nearly halfway up the turnips.  Bring to the boil, then cover and cook over a low heat until the turnips are tender, around 6-8 minutes or until the point of a knife goes through them.  Do not overcook as they will start to break down.  Uncover and dry off any excess water, if there is any.

Taste and adjust the salt and sugar, stir in the fresh cilantro and serve.

Adapted from “Anjum’s New Indian,” by Anjum Anand (Wiley, 2010).