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!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What's In My CSA Share?: Spring Week 1

Today marks the end of our first winter of eating exclusively local produce. We joined a CSA last summer, and I preserved the excess produce through canning and freezing. This being my first time I wasn't certain how much I should be putting away for the winter, but I did know that I was getting way more than I could consume come midsummer. However, we made it to Spring without running out of veggies. In fact, I found myself scrambling to find ways to use up what was left this week. I wanted to make sure there was room for our share in the fridge.

I boiled down what apples were left into applesauce then used it to bake apple muffins, and Mike ate a bunch straight from the stove. We ate a mostly vegetarian diet this week so our fridge is starting to look bare; but there are still a couple bags of frozen kale and several jars of salsas, pickles, and jams.

I thought it would be a fun idea to post the contents of our share each week. Now that I'm a second year CSA member I think I have a better idea of what I'm doing. It might helpful to others who have questions about CSAs to see what we get and how we use it all.

Each share lasts for a season (spring, summer, and fall) allowing members to join for all or part of the year. Last year we joined in the summer, when the variety and quantity of crops is greater. Fewer things are available in the spring as plants are just starting to emerge after winter. Every week there's a little more, and by fall I found myself regretting not going in halvsies on our share with another family. I ended up giving half away to family and friends.

I give you the contents of Spring Share, Week 1:

  • Mixed salad greens
  • Spinach
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Golden Delicious Apples
  • Rosemary

Certain foods I never or rarely cooked with before last year. I found pinterest to be a useful resource as I could type in any ingredient and find a wealth of recipes which I would never have thought of on my own. One such ingredient is beets, I've been pinning beet recipes like crazy since I know there'll be plenty of those in the weeks to come.
Salad of mixed greens, sliced apples, feta and homemade croutons with maple vinaigrette

Another great resource you may want to invest in is The Flavor Bible. It is essentially an encyclopedia of taste. Look up any ingredient and find combinations that work with it. I especially like this resource because, unlike other cookbooks recommended for CSA members, it is not meant only for vegetarians or followers of any specific diet.

With a glass of red wine this dinner was surprisingly satiating
I see some tomatoe-cream sauce in that rosemary's future, and I envision those potatoes becoming fluffy gnocchi. CSA season has provided fresh fodder for my culinary experimentation!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March Seed Schedule

This weekend I got a start on my 2015 garden! You can't tell by the look of things outside but it's actually the perfect time to start purple onions, celery, and rosemary. In mid-March I will start peppers, sage, lavender, and pansies. By the end of the month I'll add tomatoes and yellow onions, and the others should be already sprouting under my heat lamps.

This weekend I helped my father set up an indoor seed starting station in his basement using a 4 ft fluorescent shop light and table. I made a mini version on my bookshelf.; making the most of our space a tiny apartment.

What are your solutions for gardening/seed starting in small spaces?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Weekly Bee Update: Products of the Hive

Yesterday was our last class, during which we had an overview of the seasonal chores of beekeeping, month-to-month. We ended the class by discussing the most exciting part of keeping bees- the products of the hive. Mead, candles, bee pollen, propolis, comb honey and honey (of course) were mentioned.


I'm most excited about beeswax and candle making. I remember making a few beeswax candles when I was little and enjoying it. Mike's cousin wants to get into mead making,but I'm not sure I have the patience for that. And of course I've been gathering recipes using honey for candies and jams. I don't anticipate having enough products to sell, but if I do a little extra income can't hurt.

Honey extracting equipment can be rather expensive, but we learned of a couple of places to rent equipment from our instructor and even some services that will extract the honey from your frames for you. It may be more affordable that way. Many people (non-beekeepers) have been suggesting the flowhive, but all the beekeepers I've spoken to are skeptical. Our instructor spent a few minutes before class last week explaining how it might work, but would be damaging to the hive and cause stress to the bees. Honestly, I want a more hand on relationship with my hive anyway.

Tonight we have a make-up class due to the fact that snow prevented us from attending the third week's class. It is the class about setting up and installing bees in a hive, so kind of crucial. I haven't ordered my hive equipment because I've been waiting to attend this part of the course first.

To those of you who keep bees, what products do you harvest from your hives the most and how are you using them?