Showing posts with label community supported agriculture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label community supported agriculture. Show all posts

Friday, June 2, 2017

Help! I just got my CSA farm share. Now what do I do with it?

Practical advice for folks eating from a farm share including the three questions of Vegetable Triage and what to do when you bring your farm share into your kitchen.

the contents of a typical early Spring farm share box
A typical early Spring farm share--plenty of greens, peas, radishes, onions and garlic.


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Take a deep breath. I'm here to help.


It seemed like such a great idea, back in the cold dark days of winter, to sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share. A weekly box of fresh local vegetables and fruits? I'm in! Now reality is setting in. You've got a fridge filled with unfamiliar produce and the clock is ticking down to the next farm share day.
Before you're tempted to chuck it in the trash (gulp!) or swirl it down the disposal (noooo!) or toss it on the top of the compost heap (BTDT!) please read on.

Every day, some Thing in life can be overwhelming, but you get thru it by breaking The Thing down into smaller chunks. This applies to grief, term papers, and parenting as well. In terms of your farm share, this means you need physical, or at least mental, Vegetable Triage when the produce first arrives at your house.

overwhelming amounts of greens



The Three Questions of Vegetable Triage:

  1. What can live outside my refrigerator?
  2. What can I prep so I'm more likely to use it?
  3. What do I need to use up first?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Garlic Scape Pesto & Ricotta Muffins #MuffinMonday

These savory muffins are flavored with garlic scape pesto & ricotta cheese. They bake up quickly for an easy bread to serve alongside pasta, chicken, or fish.


a plate of savory muffins flavored with garlic scape pesto and ricotta cheese


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Ever make a main dish and think at the last moment, "you know, some hot bread would be great with this"? That's one of the reasons I like muffins--they come together quickly (as in, thrown together while an entree is baking) and usually require just pantry ingredients. Simply pop them into the already hot oven and a few minutes later you've got yourself a hot bread to accompany your meal.  Take that, yeast breads!


These savory muffins are flavored with garlic scape pesto & ricotta cheese. They bake up quickly for an easy bread to serve alongside pasta or chicken.


I envisioned these muffins alongside a plate of lasagna, spaghetti & meatballs, or a crock pot pizza casserole where the pesto-ricotta combination can enhance the entree. They'd be terrific with my Pesto Ricotta Baked Swai recipe or my Chicken Spinach Artichoke Pesto Pasta recipe. When I made them I was just craving a savory quick bread I could slather in buttery spread and snarf down while standing in the kitchen with my wiener dog, Vincent, at my feet catching the crumbs. True story! These muffins assuaged the craving.


pic of a pile of garlic scape pesto and ricotta muffins


I was not interested in having a full pan of muffins to feed a larger group--I just wanted enough for our family--so I filled my muffin cups much fuller than usual. The resulting large muffins took a few more minutes to bake, but Vincent and I didn't mind. This recipe could be stretched into a dozen if you make them smaller than I did.

making garlic scape pesto and ricotta muffins
the wet ingredients


Seasonal eaters will delight in the inclusion of garlic scape pesto in this recipe. If you know what it is and you've got some--go for it. If you're not sure where in the grocery store you'd buy garlic scape pesto, let me give you a Top Tip: it's not there. Use a prepared pesto instead, and check out this Garlic Scape Recipe Round Up to learn more about the wonders of garlic scapes.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Garlic Scape and Goat Cheese Omelette

This vegetarian omelette is stuffed with garlic scapes, parsley, and creamy goat cheese for a fresh Spring flavor using what's growing right now.

image of a plate of garlic scape and goat cheese omelette with grape tomatoes and pancakes
Yes, the tomatoes are local--from my friend's CSA. The pancakes? From the freezer section of the grocery store. 

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Time for a reality check. I find eating locally and seasonally hardest right around now. Loads of produce is in its active growing phase, but there's precious little produce ready to harvest. I've exhausted the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve in the corner of my cold basement. There's a continually replenished supply of empty canning jars coming out of the dishwasher and hanging around the counter, awaiting transport downstairs. I'm starting to see space in the fruit and vegetable freezer, yet I'm sick of using the frozen produce I put up last year.

I want fresh. I want vibrant. I want green!

This vegetarian omelette is stuffed with garlic scapes, parsley, and creamy goat cheese for a fresh Spring flavor using what's growing right now.


Enter this simple meal. Since we get local eggs year round from the farmer's market, an omelette is a great Go To entree no matter the time of day. It's a simple matter of popping out to the garden to pick some parsley and a garlic scape which adds a bit of crunch, color, and flavor to the filling. I finished it off with a bit of creamy goat cheese because--magical markdown stickers, yo.


pic showing a garlic scape and goat cheese omelette served with local grape tomatoes and a stack of flapjacks


What's a garlic scape, you ask? I'm glad to enlighten--it's the flowering portion of a head of garlic. Happily for all involved (as someone who's been growing her annual garlic supply for about a decade, I'll be both a producer and a consumer here) we producers and consumers of garlic would rather have a fat garlic bulb than another pretty allium flower in the garden bed. So we cut off the twisty flower stalk and guess what happens? The plant puts its energy into growing a bigger bulb. This is truly a win-win situation--we get mild garlic flavored scapes now, and more garlic to harvest later. Farmers can sell both the scapes and the harvested garlic. How awesome is that?

Friday, April 28, 2017

Grilled Vegetable Enchiladas

These vegetarian enchiladas are stuffed with eggplant, peppers, and summer squash. Make dinner prep quick by using prepared sauce and previously grilled vegetables. While it's baking you can toss a salad and a healthy dinner is done.

close up photo of a serving of vegetarian enchiladas stuffed with grilled vegetables

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It's all about balance. Last week I shared a recipe for Salsa Verde Pork Tacos. Today I'm going to swing over to the other end of the Foucault pendulum and share a vegetarian recipe for grilled vegetable enchiladas. If I were an organized, Type A, person I'd keep track of the meals our family actually eats [vs a meal plan which I may or may not keep up with . . . . squirrel!]. I would bet that our meals these days are close to 60-40 in favor of vegetarian meals. With a spouse who will only eat meat if it's from small, local farms, it's easier to prepare one or two large batches of meat-containing meals (soup/stew, casserole, or meatballs & spaghetti sauce) and let the kids eat leftovers when they aren't interested in the vegetarian option.

ingredients used to make grilled vegetable enchiladas


I feel compelled to use the beginning of a new paragraph to point out that this meal is not finished on the grill. It starts on the grill to be sure, but one of my 5 tips & tricks for feeding my family from the farm share is to put up the abundance during the season. Grilling and freezing vegetables is one way I feed my family locally-grown foods year round, and if you've got the freezer space it's another tool in your kitchen repertoire.


These vegetarian enchiladas are stuffed with eggplant, peppers, and summer squash. Make dinner prep quick by using prepared sauce and previously grilled vegetables. While it's baking you can toss a salad and a healthy dinner is done.


You know I couldn't let the run up to Cinco de Mayo go by without an enchilada recipe. I first tried homemade enchiladas at a baby shower in Illinois when I was new to the Air Force, and that opened my eyes to the realization that enchiladas are NOT just for restaurants. Once I got into making them, I realized that enchiladas are a terrific way to incorporate vegetables into my family's meals. I've got a Clickable Collage of Enchilada Recipes here.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Salsa Verde Pork Tacos

Salsa verde spices up ground pork in these gluten free tacos. Spread the corn tortillas with a layer of refried beans for extra protein & fiber, and finish with your favorite toppings!


image of corn tortillas with refried beans, salsa verde pork, avocado and sour cream


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close up packages of ground pork donated by the Ohio Pork Council to The Foodbank Dayton April 2017
Photo credit Emily Bir


This post is sponsored by the Ohio Pork Council, so it's odd that I'm going to start off talkin' turkey, but bear with me. Have you ever had a small interaction, a seemingly insignificant moment, that stuck with you, burrowed in, and changed your outlook on life? Allow me to share one such moment in my life.

A few summers ago I had the opportunity to assist The Foodbank with the quadrennial Hunger in America study. This involved going to many member agencies--the food pantries throughout Montgomery, Greene, and Preble counties who receive food from The Foodbank and get it into their clients' hands. I met the folks distributing food and interviewed folks receiving food throughout the Miami Valley. It was at one of these pantries that I experiences a tiny shift of my axis that has stayed with me.                        It was a hot, muggy August day and the food pantry had a surplus of whole turkeys in their freezer. As the clients were leaving, after they'd gotten their normal allotment of food, they were offered a frozen turkey. Some folks took a turkey, but the majority did not. I overheard one client say, "now what would I do with a turkey in August?"    Mind. Blown.    My assumptions--that folks have access to an oven to roast a turkey, or access to the rest of the kitchen infrastructure needed to fully utilize a 20 pound uncooked bird [check the Bed Bath & Beyond circular in November if you don't know what I mean], or the skills to know how to cook the bird--were challenged. Free food doesn't help anyone if you can't transform it into ready to eat meals.

donations from Ohio farmers to The Foodbank Dayton in April 2017
Photo credit Emily Bir


This is why I'm delighted to spread the word about the Ohio Pork Council's recent donation. Ohio farmers have donated 17,400 pounds of pork to feed needy Ohio families. The Foodbank in Dayton received 3 tons of pork, enough to make 30,000 of the 87,000 total meals donated in the Pork Power program this month. That's huge and I want to shout it from this rooftop.


image of tray of salsa verde pork tacos with skillet of taco mixture and extra salsa


A pound of ground pork is a convenient source of protein. It can be cooked on a grill, stovetop, hot plate, or even a microwave. After the holidays donations to the food banks are down so an influx of healthy and useful products like pork is much appreciated. Providing wholesome meals to Ohio families is a thoughtful and compassionate endeavor, and I'm glad to draw attention to the efforts of Ohio farmers and the Ohio Pork Council.


Salsa verde spices up ground pork in these gluten free tacos. Spread the corn tortillas with a layer of refried beans for extra protein & fiber, and finish with your favorite toppings!


The next food occasion on my personal radar is Cinco De Quatro Mayo so my mind is naturally turning in a fiesta direction. I'm checking the basement stash of home-canned salsa [no need to ration--yet] and craving more guacamole than usual. When the Ohio Pork Council asked me to share a recipe using ground pork, I immediately started thinking pork tacos. I didn't want to just substitute a pound of ground pork for a pound of ground beef or turkey and use my usual jar of taco seasoning.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Cheesy Broccoli Pizza with Mascarpone

The classic combination of broccoli and cheese--in pizza form! With a creamy layer of mascarpone cheese on the crust, this pizza lets the beloved flavors of broccoli and cheddar shine through.



photo of broccoli and cheese pizza


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On Friday nights I make at least two pizzas. One is usually a vegetable-topped vegetarian pizza for my spouse, the other is something I know the kids will eat. Rarely do I make a pizza exactly the way I want it [but when I do, it's My Deployment Pizza--why is it that I'm comfortable putting my wants last?] however I generally like every pizza I make. I'd better like it, since we have pizza weekly!


I'm always looking for ways to incorporate vegetables into our meals, partly because I want to use up the contents of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share box and partly because vegetables taste good and are good for you. No nutritional advice I've ever seen tells you to cut back on carrots or celery, you know? So it seems to me that increasing the amount of vegetables in my family's diet is a worthwhile goal.


close up image of vegetarian pizza topped with broccoli and 4 cheeses


Broccoli is a pretty tame vegetable pizza topping from my perspective, but I realize I'm kinda out there. Honestly, if you're making pizza every week and you have vegetables to use up, you'd be kinda out there too. I think broccoli is a good bridge between fresh tomatoes like my Tomato Basil Pizza and shaved kohlrabi like my Shaved Kohlrabi with Meat (or No Meat) Pizza. Last year I put up a large amount of chopped broccoli (blanched, then frozen) for use throughout the off season. It's one of the ways I feed my family from the farm share year round.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sweet Potato Braided Bread for #EasterWeek

A sweet breakfast or brunch treat made with roasted sweet potatoes, this braided bread is an impressive addition to your holiday table.


A sweet breakfast or brunch treat made with roasted sweet potatoes, this braided bread is an impressive addition to your holiday table.



Welcome to day 6 of #EasterWeek hosted by Bernadette from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen!


This week we are celebrating Easter and Bernadette’s blogging anniversary with all kinds of delicious recipes and a giveaway! From appetizers to ham recipes, we have everything you need for a great Easter dinner or brunch, and one lucky winner will receive a $200 Amazon gift card.  Scroll down for more details!



cross section of a braided loaf of orange sweet potato & pecan bread



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It's good to have a skill in your kitchen repertoire that can be manifested in a variety of ways throughout the year. This recipe is an excellent example of that. The technique of braided 3 strands of bread dough is a simple one to master, and once you've got it down you can turn out an infinite array of breads for nearly any occasion. [As I type this, my brain is thinking towards savory routes.] I learned how to braid bread while living in Finland where I made a cardamom-spiced version called Pulla  [poo-lah] (you can find my Finnish Pulla recipe here).


preparing to braid 3 ropes of sweet potato and brown sugar pecan doughs


Sometimes I get creative before I start braiding the dough. I've flattened and spread ropes of dough with caramel pumpkin butter before braiding to make a Caramel Pumpkin Butter Stuffed Braided Bread.
I've gotten creative using Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share vegetables to naturally color the dough for a tricolor Mardi Gras Bread using purple sweet potatoes, orange sweet potatoes, plus matcha green tea powder to make the traditional colors in sweet bread form.


a braided loaf of orange sweet potato and brown sugar bread dough topped with maple sugar


The basis of this bread is a sweetened, enriched dough. My sweet potato bread dough recipe was inspired by the Overnight Sweet Potato Monkey Bread in Donna Currie's book Make Ahead Bread. When you make dough using vegetables the moisture content varies widely depending on the age of the vegetable and the amount of rainfall during the growing season, so it's important to be familiar with how an enriched dough should act/feel/look like. If you've never baked bread I would not recommend diving into this recipe. I'd suggest you start with the Pulla to get the hang of it, then branch out to incorporating roasted sweet potatoes into your dough.


sprinkling maple sugar on a braided loaf of sweet potato bread dough


For this recipe I wanted to expand on the sweet potato dough concept with complementary flavors. I chose pecans and brown sugar because that's my favorite way to eat sweet potatoes. I've made this bread several times, with several variations. I've got a bunch of notes, so do be sure to read through before embarking on your baking session(s). You can be as elaborate as you want, using 3 types of dough to make 6 loaves of multicolored purple/orange/brown bread. You could simply make a single batch of orange sweet potato dough and make two loaves of bread. Add in pecans or leave them out as you prefer. Sprinkle on maple sugar or use turbinado sugar as you prefer.  This recipe is pretty forgiving, and the dough can be stored in the fridge for several days or frozen for several months.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich with Hummus and Watermelon Radish for #EasterWeek

A dairy free vegetarian recipe to use up hard cooked eggs, this avocado & egg salad sandwich is extra creamy thanks to hummus plus the colorful crunch watermelon radishes.


photo of an avocado egg salad sandwich with watermelon radish and hummus


Welcome to day 3 of #EasterWeek hosted by Bernadette from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen!


This week we are celebrating Easter and Bernadette’s blogging anniversary with all kinds of delicious recipes and a giveaway! From appetizers to ham recipes, we have everything you need for a great Easter dinner or brunch, and one lucky winner will receive a $200 Amazon gift card.  Scroll down for more details!

how to make an avocado egg salad sandwich with watermelon radish and hummus


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A vegetable-filled vegetarian recipe to use up hard cooked eggs, this avocado & egg salad sandwich is extra creamy thanks to hummus, and with the colorful crunch watermelon radishes.


I'm a practical cook yet I tend to creativity in the kitchen. Planning meals is NOT a paper and pencil exercise, it's more me staring at the fridge and seeing what containers I can empty to create space. Turning bits of leftover meats into pizza toppings is one inspired way I keep our family's Friday Night Pizza Night interesting, as described in My Pizza Primer. Adding Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) produce to the family meals is a constant source of inspiration--actually the purpose of this website. Repurposing leftovers is yet another source of inspiration for me, and the reason for today's recipe.


behind the scenes making an avocado egg salad sandwich with watermelon radish and hummus
Vincent and Simon are waiting for a crumb to fall. Any crumb. They aren't picky.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onion, Gorgonzola, and Havarti

This grilled cheese sandwich combines sweet caramelized candy onions with savory gorgonzola cheese tucked under a gooey Havarti blanket. You may need a fork for this gourmet concoction!



title image of a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with caramelized onions, gorgonzola crumbles, and havarti cheese



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One of the ways I put up the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share produce is to use my freezer in creative ways. [And I don't mean the "fruit & veg freezer that doubles as a microwave stand" type creative freezer uses.] After I discovered Dorothy's Crock Pot Caramelized Onions I realized I could stock up on candy onions (a local sweet onion variety) at the end of the season, caramelize them all in one tear-filled marathon of slicing, and freeze individual packets to use throughout the year.


photo of a grilled cheese sandwich with caramelized onions, gorgonzola, and havarti cheese


Grilled cheese sandwiches rule [and Robert Barkers drool]. There--I've said it. As someone trying to please a frequent vegetarian and 2 hungry teens simultaneously, I am finding that a platter of grilled cheese sandwich quarters* is my go to lunch nearly every weekend.


gif of a Basset hound intently staring at a grilled cheese sandwich
Robert Barker is very intent on my sandwich. I didn't share.


Saturday mornings we hit the farmer's market for eggs, meat, and bread. When we get home, I'll make up a pot of my Creamy Tomato Soup with Home-Canned Tomatoes, cobble together some sandwiches while it's simmering, and call it a complete meal.


pic of a grilled cheese sandwich with gorgonzola, caramelized onions, and havarti


The kids choose whatever lunchmeat suits their fancy, the spouse can stay true to his desires not to eat industrially-produced meat, and I can get creative when the mood strikes or keep it simple when I just want to get food on the table. Everyone wins, and that's why I like grilled cheese.


making a grilled cheese sandwich with gorgonzola, caramelized onions, and havarti



Monday, March 27, 2017

Asparagus Goat Cheese Muffins #MuffinMonday

A savory dinner muffin bursting with bright lemony asparagus and tangy goat cheese.


photo of a plate of savory asparagus goat cheese muffins


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It's funny how, when Spring hits, you feel all fresh and new inside when in a brown reality you're surrounded (barely) by bits of buds and shoots. There's not much green around! The local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share food I'm currently feeding my family is the last of the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve out of my basement plus whatever I've canned and/or frozen during the past year.


That doesn't stop me from craving green things. Grabbing a bag of local spinach out of the freezer to make a Peanut Butter, Spinach, and Banana Smoothie helps, but I need fresh green vegetables in my life, too! This craving for fresh greens is yet another way eating seasonally from the farm share has changed my life.


close up picture of asparagus goat cheese muffins


I've never gardened in one place long enough to even think about growing asparagus until it's too late. It's always in hindsight that I think "you know, if I'd planted an asparagus bed our first year here, we could have harvested some before we moved". I've read that "military spouses plant annuals for themselves, and perennials for those who come after them". That's sure been my experience. I've left strawberry patches, daffodils, and/or mint beds all over the globe, but I've never moved to a home that had an established asparagus bed. Maybe someday.


pic of a plate of muffins with asparagus and goat cheese


These muffins were inspired by a ravioli I make at work. I kept some key elements and turned them into a savory muffin. This would be good with chili, stew, or a Spring/Summer soup like my Finnish Summer Soup with Kale. I tend to think most muffins are enhanced when served warm with butter, but these were pretty nice served to my classmates at room temperature without any butter. We had wine, though, so that possibly made a difference. Who knows?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sausage Pasty Meat Pie

A savory meat pie stuffed with seasoned pork sausage and vegetables.

photo of a sausage and vegetable-stuffed meat pie

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With Pi day (March 14, or 3.14) coming up, how about a meat pie? Meat pies make a wonderful dinner and a great leftover lunch. You can combine Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share vegetables with meat into a simple and satisfying vehicle for nourishment.


cooking the sausage and finely chopped vegetables for the sausage pasty filling


I did not grow up eating meat pies. My spouse did--in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where the pasty reigns supreme. Last summer we took the kids on a Lake Michigan Loop (up one side and down the other). We ate pasties in multiple places. Each was different (pasty sliders?!) and nearly all were amazing. [At one tourist place I had a merely 'good' pasty, but the brown gravy served alongside it was a new twist for me, so I considered that visit not a total loss.


a serving of sausage pasty meat pie


This pasty uses pork sausage. It was inspired by my visit to the Runyan family of Oak View Farm Meats where I received a basket of pork products to play with at home, including the pound of pork sage sausage I used in this recipe, and loads of ideas on how to use them. You can take a virtual tour of Oak View Farm Meats with me here. I wanted to make a colorful filling to stand out from the paleness of the sausage, so I grabbed what I had handy--some potatoes from the basement Strategic Winter Squash Reserve--and a package of marked down chopped vegetables from the store. The key is to use finely chopped vegetables so that you have a cohesive filling.

Monday, January 16, 2017

How to Choose a CSA Farm Share

Factors to consider when choosing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share.


a typical summer CSA farm share box with corn, squash, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and beans


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Welcome to Part Three of my series on How to Eat Local This Year. I'm trying to cover all the aspects I've learned over more than a decade of eating locally-sourced produce, so I've addressed different questions in each post of the series. In the first part, How to Eat Local, I cover the WHY question. To me, local produce just tastes better--and supporting local businesses supports your local economy. In the second part, Where to Find The Best Local Foods, I cover the WHERE--looking at farmers markets, on farm markets, grocery stores and Community Supported or Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) farm shares. Today I'm diving a little deeper into the HOW, to share the thought process behind choosing the CSA that's the best fit for you.


the chicken RV at Keener Family Farm
The chicken RV at Keener Family Farm.


How do you find what CSAs are in your area? There are several websites that offer a CSA search function, each with slightly different populations, so you're sure to find something from one of these. My favorite is through the website Local Harvest. The USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service operates the National Farmer's Market Directory. The EatWell Guide offers a listing of markets and CSA farms as well as farm to table restaurants. My favorite site for finding pick your own farms, PickYourOwn.org, operates a sister site called LocalFarmMarkets.org. Simply enter your zip code or postal code and search for the closest CSA.


The most common form of CSA is a produce CSA--mostly vegetables, some fruits. There's also meat CSAs, prepared dinners CSAs, bread CSAs, and even beer CSAs! Here in the US we are lucky to have a wide array of CSA farms in many urban, suburban, and rural areas. With multiple farms to choose from, how do you pick the one that's right for you? Since we've now made this choice 4 times in 2 states in the past 12 years, I figured I'd write a bit abut the primary factors that went into the decision. The biggest factor is convenience followed by the farming method, and finally the CSA model.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Where to Find the Best Local Foods

Suggestions for sourcing the best local fruits, vegetables, eggs and meats--part two of my series on How to Eat Local This Year!


the 2nd Street Market farmer's market in the summertime
photo provided by the 2nd Street Market, Dayton, Ohio

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Last week, in Part One of my How to Eat Local This Year series, I covered WHY I eat locally grown foods. One big reason to eat locally is because fresh food harvested in season just plain tastes good. I also shared the economic benefit to your community by recirculating dollars spent at local businesses. Here's another benefit--it's good for you! I am not a dietician so I'm not going to make any health claims, but I do think having more fresh produce in your house each week means you're more likely to eat more fresh produce each week, and eating more fresh, unprocessed food is always a good thing. This week, we're going to cover the WHERE--specifically how to find locally-sourced foods near you. The primary places I source locally grown foods are the farmer's market, the grocery store, on farm markets, and through a CSA farm share. We'll take a closer look at each of these today.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sweet Sausage Bread

This quick nut bread combines sweet fruit and savory pork sausage for the ultimate in grab and go breakfast treats, with plenty of protein to get and keep you going.



close up of a loaf of sweet fruit and nut bread powered by a pound of pork sausage


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This post is sponsored by the Ohio Pork Council. They have compensated me for my time and provided the sausage I've used in the recipe below. Please see the link at the bottom of this post for a short survey and a chance to win a KitchenAid mixer with sausage attachment. That's a $350 value!



a slice of sweet sausage, cranberry, and walnut bread terrific with coffee or tea, or as a breakfast on the go


The BLUF (military acronym for Bottom Line Up Front) is this is a quick sweet fruit & nut bread that happens to use a pound of pork sausage. Meat and fruit in bread? It sounds crazy--but recall that mincemeat originally contained meat. Honest--you gotta try it! This recipe comes from Ruth Runyan of Oakview Farms. She and her family have been raising hogs in Urbana, Ohio for going on 4 generations now. You can read about my visit to Oakview Farms here. In this post I share how 3,500 Ohio farms raise enough pork to feed 25 million people. That's more than double Ohio's population, but these good folks share with plenty of other states. When you buy pork at the grocery store or farmers market, you are supporting Ohio farm families! (Hey thanks for eating locally and supporting local businesses. It's kind of a thing of mine.)



I was intrigued by the idea of using savory sausage in a sweet bread. After all, I like maple syrup on my breakfast sausage, bacon in my Maple Peanut Butter Bacon waffles, and I have been known to do "quality control" testing on the honey bacon at work. Sweet and savory just goes together. In addition to a hearty breakfast option, this bread can be served as a side dish (like I first tried it, with Perfect Grilled Pork Chops). I suspect it would make a terrific stuffing or dressing alongside a holiday meal. I bet you could even stuff thick cut pork chops with this bread! No matter what your application, it's an unusual recipe to add to your repertoire. If you enter the survey below, and win the KitchenAid mixer and sausage attachment, you could even customize your own sausage to make this bread!


the ingredients to make sweet sausage bread

Friday, December 2, 2016

Carrot and Celeriac Fritters or Latkes (Gluten Free)


Shredded carrots and celeriac combined into patties and fried to perfection. These could be a side dish, breakfast, or a fun addition to a latke party.



a plate of carrot and celeriac fritters topped with a fried egg


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One of the great things about root vegetables is that they keep such a relatively long time. Just like the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve in the basement (new and improved with white and sweet potato subdivisions!), root vegetables are an excellent resource for folks trying to eat locally grown foods in the winter months. I'm glad to support farmers who offer extended deliveries after the regular Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share season ends, knowing that for the most part I'll get long-storing vegetables that will see me into the new year.


close up of a carrot, some celeriac, and an egg--the ingredients for carrot celeriac fritters



I've got root vegetables filling up my crisper right now. After the local apples vanished (sad face there, there's nothing like a local apple in terms of flavor) I'd usually transition to crispers full of citrus fruit from the Band Fruit Fundraiser. But seasons change, and your kid who has been in band throughout high school moves on to college where you get to write big checks and not get a case of tangelos in return. So no citrus--right now I've got glorious carrots from the farm share packed into my crisper.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Christmas Morning Muffins with Carrot, Cranberry, and Pistachio #Muffin Monday

This festive-yet-healthy muffin, with carrots, dried cranberries and pistachios, has a sweet surprise on the inside--cream cheese filling!




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I'm always looking to add vegetables into baked goods. I think they add moisture, flavor, and nutrition to my family's table. Muffins are an easy delivery method because they assemble and bake so quickly. My kids are happy to eat muffins for breakfast and for an after school snack. For this month's Muffin Monday, I bring you a recipe that is both festive--with the bits of red dried cranberries and green pistachios. This recipe is elevated above my usual muffin because of the sweet cream cheese filling tucked inside, but it's still on the healthier side because I don't really want to send my kids off to school with a bunch of chocolate frosted sugar bombs in their bellies.



a carrot, craisin and pistachio muffin with a sweet cream cheese filling



I got the idea for this muffin thanks to my daughter. We were walking the dog herd down to the local grocery store to buy a gallon of milk. [This is a bonus fitness and economic tip--over a year ago I started walking a mile to the store if the only item on the list was milk. It saves on impulse purchases and the dogs and I get a bit of exercise.] I left her with the dogs and went inside to shop, calling over my shoulder 'do we need anything else?' as an afterthought.  She requested a Killer Brownie. It got me thinking that I could use a treat, too. Since I was in the bakery buying the brownie anyway, I turned to the muffin case. This was the site of the Good Morning Muffin that inspired my Healthy {No Sugar} Carrot Cake Muffins. I was delighted to see a new version of the Good Morning Muffin with sweetened cream cheese in the center and decided that would be my splurge. After we got back home we enjoyed a snack of milk & baked goods and I put my thinking toque on. [That's a Bob & Doug McKenzie and Great White North reference, not some kind of chef thing.]



close up of a Christmas Morning muffin sliced in half to see the sweet cream cheese filling



I made two batches of these muffins, trying different ways to include the sweetened cream cheese filling. The first way, shown below, was to scoop the usual amount of muffin batter into the prepared cup, then use a small spoon to create some space and spoon in the sweetened cream cheese. This technique did not turn out well. The cream cheese oozed out onto my pan and the muffins were hard to serve in a mounded heap because the cream cheese on the top of them was sticking to anything that landed atop it. The second effort worked better--I used a smaller scoop to put in about half the amount of batter, then spooned in the cream cheese and topped with the other half of the batter.