Full Share: Radishes, Romaine Head Lettuce, Salad Mix, Kohlrabi, Broccolini, Spring Onions, and Arugula
Partial Shares: Radishes, Baby Bok Choy, Salad Mix, Kohlrabi, and Saute Mix
Hello CSA Members!
It’s hard to believe it’s week #5 of the CSA…the season is off to a fast start! Planting is about finished up, and weeding season has commenced at the farm. Things are looking good out there!
As I was cooking dinner tonight, I began think about my cooking experience and how it relates to others. I get the sense during CSA pickup, that a customers excitement is related to their understanding of how to use the items in the share that week. People who are more comfortable or adventurous in the kitchen get excited by unusual items, whereas as people who aren’t super comfortable cooking or are intimidated by it tend to be less enthused by unusual items. Which brings home the point that all the fresh, nutritious veggies in the world don’t really matter if a person doesn’t know what to do with them. Often times I find a person’s dislike (often stemming from child hood) of a certain vegetable really has nothing to with the vegetable and everything to do with how it was prepared. It’s a topic that is way more important than one single newsletter, but that’s all I have at the moment, so I’m dedicating this week’s newsletter solely to this topic.
The internet may be full of a bunch of trolls and unnecessary news about Kim Kardashian….but it is actually an excellent resource for non-partisan ideas on cooking. Last year we focused a lot on Dishing up the Dirt, which is an excellent website that lists recipes by vegetable variety, and is very helpful for a CSA. But just do a Google search, and you’ll be amazed.
Good cooking does not need to be fancy, nor take a lot of time. I’m a farmer, not a chef, but I feel like I can hold my own in the kitchen. I get lots of practice, given I cook every lunch and dinner every day of the week. And my goal is to cook my entire meal in 15 minutes…no more than 20. And I feel like I eat like a king. Maybe some day we’ll start hosting farm cooking events, or live streaming my lunch (definitely not). But until then, here are a couple of tips.
For starters, learn one technique that produces flavors or meals you like. Maybe that’s grilling, or braising, or saute, or stir fry, or roasting (no, boiling is not an acceptable option, nor is microwaving…at least not in my newsletter). Once you’re comfortable with the technique, then the actual food item you are cooking with becomes more or less irrelevant. Many people really rave about grilling their veggies, but for me, it’s saute (don’t get me wrong, I love to grill, but it’s more time consuming). Every meal I cook is done in a cast iron frying pan. I start with some form of oil or fat, which is usually one of two things. Either a healthy oil with a high smoke point (my favorite is avocado, but coconut also works). Not olive oil, as it has a low smoke point, and it better drizzled over the top when the meal is finished. And definitely not “vegetable” oil, which is not a healthy oil. OR, the second option, which is my current favorite during the demanding farm season, is to dice hickory smoked bacon from a reputable source (uncured, no sugars or preservatives), and cook until the little pieces are crisp. Pull the bacon out, and use the melted lard for cooking. Using either option, you can sauté any vegetable in this heated oil/lard, whether it’s sliced radishes, diced spring onions, baby bok choy, turnips, saute mix, beet greens, broccolini, summer squash, cauliflower, etc. across the entire season. One of my go-to meals is basically a “hash”. Cook the bacon, pull it out of the pan, drop a bunch of grated sweet potato (purple skinned ones are the best) into the fat and brown on one side. Flip it or mix it, throw in your baby bok choy, onions, saute mix, and radishes (or any other veggie) and throw a lid on it for a few minutes. When finished, add the bacon pieces back in. One pan cooking at it’s best.
The second idea, which I’ve mentioned in previous messages, is the idea that you can “pesto” virtually any green. And I use the term “pesto” loosely, because it’s only two ingredients: Greens and olive oil. This technique not only helps you deal with the item without having to feature it in the meal, but it lets you extract all the nutrients out of your share, as well as getting “extra” value out of your share. Rather than discarding the radish or turnip greens, or letting your saute mix wither in the fridge, turn them into a sauce that you can use on other meals. Let’s face it, you only get 3 weeks of sweet corn, but greens are around almost all year. The more you learn to use, love, and embrace them, the better and healthier you’ll be. The process is simple…..You can use them raw, or steam them lightly, then add them to a food processor or Vitamix, add olive oil, and blend them until smooth. This goes great on the aforementioned hash, on meats, in pasta, on pizza….again, very easy and very versatile.
Well, I hope that is somewhat helpful to someone. Two important announcements regarding this weeks share. The broccolini in the full shares is intended to be eaten with leaves and stalks….they are the best part! Steamed, grilled, or sautéed, the are delicious! Second, I never ate a kohlrabi before we grew them last season, so don’t panic. Use the internet for ideas. Grate them and add them to a saute. Slice them thin, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and eat as an appetizer. Or hit up Dishing up the dirt for some amazing ideas….how about kohlrabi and green olive pesto pizza?
Alright, I’ll leave it at that. Enjoy the beautiful weather this week, and stay hydrated! See you at CSA pickup!