Category Archives: Local Produce

CSA Done for the Winter

I picked up my last late-season share from my CSA farm on Tuesday. I shall miss the produce and the challenge of what to do with it each week. Will I buy the same range of produce from the supermarket? I doubt it. But I think I will be adding a fuller range of vegetables and fruit in my usual diet through the winter. Tonight’s pot of beef stew includes rutabagas and rutabaga greens, organic red potatoes and carrots from the farmers market, and bay leaves from my bay plants on the patio.

I’ve already re-subscribed to the CSA for 2009, but I have a flyer from another CSA which will be delivering to my workplace. They have an egg subscription separate from the produce subscription. I think I will get the eggs, as my husband has been enjoying eggs for breakfast on the weekend and fried rice with eggs during the week. I picked up organic brown eggs at Winco today. They aren’t from pastured chickens, but it’s the next best thing. I enjoy a Sunday morning walk to Winco to pick up a couple of items while avoiding the annoying crowds.

Spaghetti Squash

I bought the late season additional weeks share from my CSA. I’ve been getting spaghetti squash each week. I like squash but my husband won’t eat it. I researched how to cook it and figured the easiest way was to pierce it and cook it in the microwave on high for 10 minutes. After three minutes, I heard a bang as the squash blew off its nether regions. I cleaned up the microwave and hacked the squash in half and then continued to cook it for 10 minutes. After the squash was cooked, I scooped out the seeds and stringy strands from the core. Then I scooped out the cooked squash.

For dinner, I added Parmesan cheese and microwaved it another minute. This was OK.

But my favorite way to eat spaghetti squash is to cook it, take it out of the rind, add a pat of butter and some maple syrup and heat it a bit in the microwave. Yummy yummy.

Rutabagas

Rutabagas and turnips are more vegetables that mom never grew in the garden or put on our table. But my husband’s mother liked to cook both turnips and potatoes and chunk them up together. Looking into turnips online, this seems to be a common presentation. But my husband simply hated that.

So, what to do with the bundle of rutabagas from my CSA this week? I decided to put them into beef stew, both the roots and the greens, along with some broccoli raab, carrots, and potatoes. I kept the rutabagas in a distinctive shape so I could be sure I would eat them rather than springing them on my husband. The resulting stew was delicious as usual. Because I use a base of red wine, the rutabagas really tasted about the same as the potatoes. The greens added nutrition but no off-flavors. I used grass-fed beef from La Cense.

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Chili Time

Wendy's Chili

For a few years, I’ve been making Wendy’s Wendy’s Chili, my crockpot variation of a recipe that is similar to the chili served at Wendy’s fast food restaurants. The recipe relied on canned beans, tomatoes and green chilies. Since I had a stock of fresh tomatoes, tomatillos and hot chili peppers, I used those for my latest batch. Wendy’s Uncanny Crockpot Chili was great! I simmered the beans for a half hour and then let them soak for two hours before adding them to the crockpot. I diced 8 medium tomatoes, 10 small tomatillos, two green peppers and four hot peppers. I toasted and ground cumin seed fresh for the batch and added standard chili powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. I would have put in onion but I didn’t have any handy from my CSA and hadn’t made it to the farmers market the past two weekends. The result was great chili without any cans in the trash or worries about BPA in the can lining. I didn’t have any local grassfed beef, but I used Moran’s Natural Beef from the grocery store.

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Playing With Your Food – Pumpkin Cannon

We enjoyed a volksmarch at Heiser Farms, Dayton, Oregon. Here is my AllSportGPS map of the walk. They have a Pumpkin Patch attraction each October and the walk is held about every other year. We enjoyed the flat walk on this elbow of farmland in the Willamette River. At the end, we chowed down on pumpkin pie and bratwurst and teased the animals in the petting zoo. But the big attraction was the Duck Hunter pumpkin cannon. Painted in OSU colors, it lobs pumpkins as far as 1500 feet! While it easily took out the closer target pyramid on the first try, we watched as five or more shots didn’t take out the far pyramid of blue barrels. One pumpkin exploded in midair.

Pumpkin Cannon 1
First, the near target.

Pumpkin Cannon 2
Success!

Pumpkin Cannon 3
Next, load another pumpkin and raise the aim to the tiny, far off blue barrel pyramid.

Smoking Pumpkin Gun
Smoking Gun!

Pumpkin Ammo
The ammo wagon is full of pumpkins, but no success on the far target this hour.

A visit to Heiser Farms Pumpkin Patch can get kids and adults excited about farms. It’s out in the wine country, and I stopped in at two wineries on my way back to pick up my quarterly wine club shipments.

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Preserving the Tomatoes

I am finally getting more tomatoes than I can use immediately from my tomato plants and the CSA farm. Like a good friend, I gave some to Will, who doesn’t have any patio tomatoes this year but shared his with me the past two years. I prefer freezing to canning. I have far too many memories of canning all during the hot summer in our house that had no air conditioning. No thanks! Meanwhile, I have enough freezer space now to handle some produce.

My usual tomato sauce relies on canned tomato sauce and pesto. This year I’m making and freezing my own pesto batch by batch. But I am starting to get concerned over bisphenol A in the lining of canned food cans. I can avoid that by having more of my own frozen tomatoes and tomato sauce.

A quick glance at the internets shows that freezing tomatoes is simple. No blanching is required. You just freeze them whole, halved or chopped. If you freeze them whole, the skin will pop off when you thaw them.

But I also want to make batches of slow roasted tomatoes with herbs, as that sounds like the best precursor to spaghetti sauce. You just roast them slowly at low temperature in the oven all day, then freeze them.