Friday, April 10, 2015

What's In My CSA Share?: Spring Week 6

This week we are starting to see some more diversity. Mike was able to switch out a bunch of cilantro for a second bunch of basil which is great because I don't care for cilantro. And after eating a flavorless supermarket cucumber at my parents' yesterday for dinner, I'm so excited for fresh greenhouse cucumbers.

Contents of Spring Share, Week 6:

2 bag mixed greens with edible flowers!
1 bag spinach
1 bag carrots
1 bag potatoes
5 apples
1 cucumber
2 bunches basil

This means lots of beautiful salads and margherita pizzas.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Biweekly Bee Update: The Birds and the Bees and the Apple Trees

Yesterday our bee class reunited at the instructor's home/apiary for a hive opening. We installed a new package of bees, and checked in on some of the ones who were overwintering. This past Friday was one of the first warm days of spring, and only the strongest hive had started to leave in search of food. This was a good opportunity for anyone who was still feeling squeamish around bees to get some shock therapy. I had bees in my hair, clothes, face . . . one even landed in my mouth.

The operation seemed surprisingly small for the number of bees they move from Georgia to Massachusetts every year. As I said, it is run out of our instructor's home and while we were there Nick and I were able to purchase our beehives and equipment. The garage stored not only new hives and tools, but all other honeybee paraphernalia imaginable including mead, actively fermenting.

I felt a little silly driving around with a hive in my backseat all day, but there were a lot of things I wanted to get done since I wouldn't be able to on Easter Sunday. On the bright side my car smelt heavily of honey. Someone should produce honey and cedar box scented air fresheners, I'd give them all my money.

After running errands all day I remembered I still had Easter baking to do! Due to the abundance of apples from our CSA share, and the fact that Kristine asked me to make it for her again, I decided to make apple tortes; one for my family and one for Mike's. The day's activities got me thinking about the intricately woven stories of apples and honeybees in our nation's past.

I have been reading Michael Pollan's "The Botany of Desire", a Christmas gift from my brother. Pollan spends some time in the beginning comparing the human and the honeybee due to their similarly reciprocal roles in the natural world. The first section of his book focuses on the apple, a plant which humans have painstakingly manipulated to feed their desire for sweetness.

I was aware that the first domesticated honeybees were brought over by the Puritans to Massachusetts, but what didn't occur to me was their purpose. Rather than use the bees for the products of the hives (though I'm sure that was a bonus), colonists were interested in replicating their beneficial relationship with old world plants. Honeybees followed shortly after the advent of the apple tree. However, many of the grafted varieties transported overseas were not able to survive in their new climate despite the bees' help. This, among other reasons, is what led to the prevalence of apple trees grown from seed and the popularity of cider. Occasionally a new variety of sweet eating apple was discovered in a cider orchard, entirely distinct from European varieties, and better suited to it's new home.

What I found most interesting about John Chapman, AKA Johnny Appleseed, was his opposition to grafting. He claimed it was unnatural and thought it an insult to God's design. I couldn't help but draw parallels between his way of thinking and the anti-GMO movement of today. Anyone who continues to eat sweet apples or corn today is enjoying to result of  millennia of human intervention, whether they choose to acknowledge so or not.

I have everything I need to welcome my bees home a couple of weeks. Now all that's left is to decide what color I should paint my beehive.What do you think, readers? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

What's In My CSA Share?: Spring Week 5

Contents of Spring Share, Week 5:

1 bag turnips
1 bag carrots
2 bags sweet baby greens mix
1 bag spicy baby greens mix
1 bag baby tatsoi
9 apples
1 bunch rosemary

Trapani family farm in upstate New York (Mike's cousins) where we visited during our road trip in November

Friday, March 27, 2015

What's In My CSA Share?: Spring Week 4

Contents of Spring Share, Week 4:

1 bag baby tatsoi
1 head romaine
1 bag mixed baby greens
8 apples, assorted variety
1 bag red potatoes
1 bag carrots
1 bunch cilantro

Sorry for skipping last weeks update. I've been consumed by the job hunt, with two interviews last week, and three this upcoming week. Not to mention a sea of applications. For those interested, last week was similar to this. It included:

1 bag baby tatsoi
1 bag spicy baby greens
1 bag mixed baby greens
5 apples
1 bag gold potatoes
1 bags carrot
1 bag watermelon radishes
1 bunch rosemary

I haven't been keeping up with my weekly bee updates since bee school ended. I don't have my bees yet, so there isn't much to tell. However, the class is meeting up again next week to open up some hives at the instructor's apiary. Then I will be acquiring my hive and bees in April. Expect weekly/biweekly updates starting next month.

Here's a fun little video from ASAPScience to tide you over.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What's In My CSA Share?: Spring Week 2

Contents of Spring Share, Week 2:

2 bags carrots
1 bag spinach
1 bag spicy mixed greens
1 head red cabbage
1 celery root
5 Macintosh apples
3 golden delicious apples

I'm happy to announce that one of my good friends has decided to purchase a farm share, and I'm helping her hunt one down where she lives as we speak. I like to think my blog posts had something to do with it!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Gnocchi in Rosemary Tomato-Cream Sauce Recipe

Farmer Dave gave us a ginormous bag of potatoes this week, which inspired me to try something new in the kitchen. I found this sausage, potato, and spinach soup on pinterest which I have a feeling is going to be a new standby. But even after making the soup, I have potatoes left! What to do? Finally learn how to make gnocchi!

I concocted this whole-grain version which I prefer to the gnocchi I've had at restaurants. The texture is just a little bit firmer, which is why I like it.

Whole Grain Gnocchi

1 lb. potatoes
salt and pepper
1 egg
1/4 c. white whole wheat flour

Bake the potatoes (in the microwave is fine) and then cut them open to remove the flesh. Discard the skins. Mash the potato in a bowl and flavor with freshly ground salt and pepper. Add about half an egg (I know!) and mix. Gradually add the flour, mixing and kneading as you go. It would be helpful to remember to remove any rings, and flour your hands, beforehand. (I forgot . . .)

Work in batches, taking a handful of dough and rolling it out into a 1/2 inch thick strip. Once all the dough is rolled out, cut the strips into 1 inch long bite-sized pieces. Next, if you want to get the pretty little ribbed effect, roll each piece over the back of a fork. This is time consuming and probably not necessary.

Drop the gnocchi into a pot of rapidly boiling water. When you see the gnocchi start to rise to the surface that means they will be ready in 4 minutes. Remove cooked gnocchi from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place directly into the sauce of your choice. Toss to coat and enjoy!

Rosemary Tomato-Cream Sauce

2 Tbs. olive oil
5 cloves garlic
1 bunch rosemary (or herb of your preference!)
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
heavy cream, to taste

Heat a sauce pan with 2 Tbs. olive oil. Mince the garlic and herbs and add to pan, reserving some herbs for the end. Once the garlic softens, add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer at least 20 mins. Turn the heat all the way down and gradually add cream, stirring, until the sauce becomes pink. How much you add depends on how creamy you like your sauce. Remove from heat, and add remaining herbs just before serving.

Stop by tomorrow to find out what we get in our CSA box this week!