Archive for the ‘CSA’ Category

CSA Sign Up Season is Here

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

farm stand at PVFRegardless of whether you believe the groundhog’s prediction of an early spring, your local farmers are gearing up for spring plantings. And you can help by signing up for a farm share, or “CSA.” (CSA = community supported agriculture.) If you’ve incorporated a weekly (or more) farmers market trip into your routine, joining a CSA lets you take your relationship with your local farmers to the next level — signing up up front to share in the farm’s produce for the season.

Of course, CSA membership is not for everyone — if you like to have total control over your weekly menu and don’t deal well with surprises, or just can’t bear the thought of getting kale or chard seemingly every single week, you may not be the best candidate for a CSA membership. (Personally, I split the difference — a half share to replenish the produce crisper midweek, but still shop the markets on most weekends.)

If you live in the DC/Northern Virginia area, here are a few well-regarded CSAs you may wish to check out:

  • Potomac Vegetable Farms — Our CSA, they grow “eco-ganic” produce on the last remaining working farm in Fairfax County, just minutes from Tysons Corner, as well as on a larger farm in Loudoun County. They also have an arrangement with Next Step Produce and another local farm to supplement their offerings during the season. (Registration for new members opens Feb. 15, and fills up quickly so act fast!)
  • Food Matters CSA — If you’ve eaten at Food Matters in Alexandria’s West End, you’ve already sampled the producers who supply the restaurant’s CSA. This CSA is technically a buying group, as the restaurant sources the products from a variety of well-vetted local sources. This means more variety for you, including local honey and cheeses. They do not deliver; you’ll need to pick up your share at the restaurant each Saturday.
  • Bull Run Mountain Vegetable Farm — a chemical/pesticide-free farm in The Plains, delivers to Alexandria, Falls Church and DC.
  • Great Country Farms — Great Country offers u-pick and many weekend festivals throughout the year, and a number of options for CSA pickup/delivery (including a monthly payment plan).

inspecting the week's haul

Most of these CSAs require sign-up by the end of February, so if you’re thinking about taking the plunge this year, please act quickly! And if you’re outside the area, check out Local Harvest to find a CSA farm near you.

Any CSA veterans out there? What did you love, or not, about your experience?

Best Ever Roasted Turnip Thanksgiving Side Dish

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Well if you’re reading this, my shameless headline ploy must have worked. In a world of Thanksgiving dinner-in-a-cake, deep-fried turkeys and enough stuffing recipes to fill a thousand (free-range, please) turkeys, I was worried the lowly turnip might be overlooked.

Truthfully, we’re a little fed up with turnips here at the Foodie Tots house. Victims of an apparent turnip glut at our CSA farm, we’ve gotten gobs and gobs of these bland root vegetables week after week. Now, they’re not all bad. They have just one-third the calories of potatoes, and a generous dose of calcium, iron, vitamin C and even folate. (And be sure to eat the greens, too!) They also have that slightly bitter taste that gives them away should you try to pass them off as mashed potatoes. (Though a 75/25 potato/turnip blend might be more palatable.) I’ve found roasting these, with fresh thyme and a hint of honey, to be the best way to sweeten them up a little. Adding bright carrots and earthy mushrooms further helps balance the flavors, while making a simple and attractive side dish for Thanksgiving or just alongside your weekend roast.

Recipe: Honey-Thyme Roasted Turnips, Carrots and Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium sized turnips, scrubbed clean
  • 4 carrots, peeled
  • 1 cup thickly-sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop turnips and carrots into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large bowl, toss turnip and carrot pieces with 1/4 cup olive oil, making sure to evenly coat vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, and pour into a rimmed baking sheet or shallow roasting pan. Tuck thyme in between the vegetables. Roast for 20 minutes, until bottom sides are beginning to brown. Remove from oven, add honey and balsamic vinegar and stir. Sprinkle mushrooms across top, and drizzle with additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add a little more sea salt, return to oven and roast an additional 20-25 minutes. Turnips should be easily pierced with a fork when it’s done. Makes 4-6 servings. Enjoy!

{Round out your meal with green beans almondine (instead of that goopy green bean casserole), homemade cider & maple-syrup sweetened cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie (from a real pumpkin).}

Winter Farmers Markets: Looking for turnips? If your CSA’s not delivering (ours ended this week), you can still find turnips at local farmers markets. Many Northern Virginia markets closed for the season at the end of October, but the West End Alexandria market, in Ben Brenman Park (at Cameron Station), is open this Sunday, Nov. 21, from 9am-1pm. (Papa’s Orchard has a great selection of pears and apples for your Thanksgiving baking!) The Falls Church, Arlington/Courthouse, Columbia Pike, Del Ray and Old Town Alexandria markets are open year-round.

I know I’ve been slacking in sharing new meals with you, meatless and otherwise. Would a cute baby picture make it up to you? I mean, can you fault me for not writing with this cute tot around?

foodie bebe november

In the Bag: Baked Ratatouille

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve shared what we’ve been getting in our CSA bag, from Potomac Vegetable Farms. Of course tomatoes were the star over the past month or so, along with lots of beans, onions and garlic. Oddly, we went for three weeks without a zucchini, only to get two small ones last week. And of course now that my own, once-prolific basil succumbed in our last crushing heat wave, we aren’t getting it from the CSA either. As summer winds down, we continue to get peppers and squash (though summer squash is giving way to butternut), and eggplant.

Now I find eggplant quite lovely to look out, but they’ve been piling up in my fridge as I lacked the motivation to make something with them. I finally decided to try a ratatouille and searched the food blogs for inspiration. I came across this one from Smitten Kitchen, inspired by the movie. Well, duh. If a rat could make something delicious out of it, surely I could. Unfortunately the movie endorsement didn’t hold much sway with the boy, who declared that “only rats eat ratatouille!” I happened to find it quite delicious, with the addition of some cherry tomatoes from our garden and freshly-grated parmesan cheese. And aside from slicing the vegetables (which you can do earlier in the day, if you have time), it’s relatively fast as you simply arrange the sliced squash, peppers and eggplant in the baking dish, season, and toss in the oven. Make a side salad while it cooks and voila, a simple meatless supper to savor the waning days of summer. Enjoy!

Recipe: Baked Ratatouille
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano (unless you have fresh on hand)
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more to oil baking dish)

Instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush shallow baking dish with olive oil. Thinly slice the zucchini, eggplant and pepper. In the baking dish, spread tomato sauce on the bottom. Add garlic, and a pinch of salt. Over the sauce, arrange alternating slices of zucchini, pepper and eggplant in rows across the dish. Season with another pinch of salt and pepper.

Sprinkle oregano over vegetables, then tuck cherry tomato halves in between the rows. Drizzle olive oil over the top. Cover with a piece of parchment paper, trimmed to fit inside the pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until vegetables are tender when pricked with a fork. Remove from oven and sprinkle parmesan cheese over top. Serve warm or cold. Makes 4 servings.


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Spitting Encouraged

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

When was the last time your kids participated in a spitting contest? No, not spitting at each other — spitting watermelon seeds?

One summer when I was growing up, our local library’s summer reading contest culminated in a summer festival. I remember the highlight was, not the free books we’d earned, but facing off against my little brother in a seed-spitting contest. My son has a while to wait before he can challenge his little sister to a contest, but he does know to spit out the black seeds when eating watermelon. But with the rise of seedless watermelons in the grocery store, will that lesson become irrelevant?

The Washington Post‘s Jane Black examines the issue in today’s paper. I won’t give away my stance on seeds vs. seedless, though loyal readers will likely guess … but read the article to see what I and others had to say. (And that lovely seeded melon pictured above? From our CSA farm.)

What’s your stance? Pro-spitting? Or are seeds too much hassle for today’s busy children? ;-)

(This is actually the second time I’ve been quoted in the Post talking about watermelon. I guess that makes me a melon expert, right? If you’ve got a fresh melon around this holiday weekend, you might enjoy my Watermelon Gazpacho and/or Slushie recipes.)

Local Potluck Tuesday July 6 (and Garlic Scape Chimichurri)

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

As we prepared to welcome baby #2, this holiday weekend was an exercise in clearing out our CSA produce from the fridge. We grilled flank steak one evening, and I had chimichurri on the mind but was missing jalapeno peppers. (Chimichurri is a South American pesto-style green sauce, typically made with parsley and peppers. We first tasted it at an Argentinian steakhouse in Puerto Rico, on our honeymoon.) When my dad arrived back in town, imagine my surprise that a garden-fresh care package from my sister-in-law in North Carolina contained … jalapenos! I used the last of our CSA garlic scapes, and parsley from my herb pots. Unfortunately my basil plants have quite overshadowed my parsley, so I didn’t have quite as much as I would have liked. But this turned out delicious just the same. We also roasted beets, zucchini and yellow squash on the grill. Simple and tasty!

Recipe: Garlic Scape Chimichurri
(If you don’t have garlic scapes, substitute fresh garlic cloves.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded (leave seeds in if you like it extra hot)
  • 3 garlic scapes, cut into 1-inch pieces (or garlic cloves, peeled)
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/3 – 12 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions: Place peppers, garlic and parsley in food processor and process until finely chopped. Gradually add olive oil until a pesto-like consistency is reached. Stir in salt and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Notes: I rub a generous amount onto flank steak, place it in a pan and add half a bottle of beer, then marinate it for at least 1 hour before grilling. Then serve extra chimichurri along side the cooked steak. It’s also great tossed with potatoes and/or zucchini before roasting them. Enjoy!

Please join in and share what local foods you’ve enjoyed this past week!

Local Potluck Tuesdaya few guidelines:
1. Share a relevant post — a recipe, menu or pictures of a meal featuring local foods, from the farmers market, CSA, farm stand or your own garden — using the MckLinky widget below. In the link title field, enter both your post title and your name &/or blog name, e.g., “Lemon Cucumber Salad — Colleen @ FoodieTots.”

2. Bonus points if you included your kids in picking, growing, purchasing or cooking the ingredients for the meal! (And by bonus points, I mean increased likelihood of seeing your post featured in a future post.)

3. In your post, please link back to this post here at FoodieTots, so your readers can find the potluck and be encouraged to join in as well.  Of course if you don’t have a blog, you’re welcome to share in the comments.

That’s it! I hope you’ll join in and share what you’re cooking up that’s fresh & local to you!