CSA Summer 2015: Week 1

I’m really excited for my first Growing Washington CSA box of the season! I love this program! The choices are awesome and the farm store is also fantastic this season.

I signed up for the Local Choice Mini box, which means I get to pick 6 items each week. In reality, it gets you 6 credits to use each week. A few more expensive items are 2 credits (like cheese, usually). The credits end up being around $3.50 each ($21.50 per week). I also signed up for a weekly pasta share, which costs $6 per week extra and I get a pound of fresh pasta every week from Bellingham Pasta Company (rotating between spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, fussily, penne, spinach, whole wheat, and red pepper).

This week, I used my credits on:

  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • beets (the greens are going to be good too!)
  • rainbow chard
  •  sugar snap peas
  • fava beans
  • apricots

The pasta this week is penne rigate.

I couldn’t resist ordering some extras from the farm store, as well.

  • Smokey Vollkornbrot bread ( sourdough rye) $6
  • grass-fed, bone-in beef short ribs (two ~1lb packages for $6.83/lb) $15
  • Cirrus cheese from Mt. Townsend Creamery, a local Camembert $6

My grand total for this week’s box: $54

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Pozole (or posole) is a traditional Mexican soup or stew made with pork, hominy and chiles. It’s one of my favorite soups and I much prefer it to chicken soup when I’m not feeling well. It seems complicated, but it’s really pretty easy to make. This is my version and while it may not be the most authentic, I’ve never had any complaints!

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Roasted pumpkin soup

Roasted pumpkin soup

I made a roasted pumpkin soup from this Martha Stewart recipe the other night with a sugar pie pumpkin, and it turned out great, so I wanted to make another batch. But I spied another pumpkin soup recipe from Martha Stewart that seemed intriguing because it also uses the innards and seeds to make a pumpkin stock for the soup. However, the rest of the recipe seemed a bit overly complicated and I really liked the simplicity of the original recipe, so I sort of combined the two and made a very tasty soup. It was a perfect meal for a crisp fall day!

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Chile Verde: Step by step

Chile Verde: Step By Step

Now that chile season is upon us, it’s the perfect time to make chile verde! Chile verde is a hearty Mexican stew, one that simmers on the stove all day so you get nice tender chunks of pork shoulder in a rich tomatillo and chile sauce. It’s a great meal to make on a weekend.

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Fire-roasted green chiles

Fire-roasted green chiles

It’s August, and that means it’s pepper season! Finally! We may not get enough sun and heat in Seattle to really successfully grow peppers, but luckily we’re just a few hours away from great, organic peppers growers. The Yakima Valley is home to quite a few pepper producers and they sell in all the local farmer’s markets. When I see the first big Anaheim peppers in the markets, I start stocking up! I buy 3-4 lbs of peppers every week until the end of the season, roast them on my charcoal grill and freeze most of them for later. They work great in chile verde, pozole, even scrambled eggs!

I don’t have a gas grill (it rusted out long ago), but fortunately, you can roast peppers over charcoal, or even under the broiler in your oven! It’s very easy to do and is worth the effort. This year I also roasted some tomatillos, which also freeze really well.

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Greens, glorious greens!

image from farm7.static.flickr.comBeet Greens

Greens are amazing, arent they? They are beautiful, flavorful and so versatile! We’ve had a pretty damp and chilly spring and summer here in Seattle, so we have had the opportunity to experiment with an abundance of various types of greens in our cooking. Beet greens are especially nice, because they become tender and almost buttery in texture when you cook them. Whenever we buy beets with their greens still attached, I usually trim the greens right away (leaving about an inch on the beets), cut off off the tough stalks (and save them for making veggie stock), then wash and dry them and store them in a large ziploc in the fridge. They last for upwards of a week that way and you can use them the same way you’d use kale or chard.

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Spicy pickled asparagus

image from farm4.static.flickr.com

For this recipe, you’ll need about 2 lbs asparagus, sliced onions and garlic, and some fresh
dill fronds. It makes approximately 2 quarts of pickles. You can easily double or triple this recipe as well!

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Preserved lemons

image from flickr.com
A few months ago, I saw an article about how to preserve lemons and was instantly intrigued. It looked so easy! There are only 2 ingredients (salt and lemons), a simple process and some patience required.  Well, a few weeks later, there was a sale on lemons at the grocery store, so I got 8 extra to try preserving. The initial process is easy and takes about 15-20 minutes to cut and salt and stuff the lemons into a jar. The hard part is the waiting! It takes about 30 days for the lemons to become fully preserved.

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One pot wonder: sausage, beans, tomatoes and greens

image from www.flickr.comSausage links, great northern beans, cherry tomatoes and kale

It’s hard to believe that only 5 ingredients can be turned into an amzing meal in only 20 minutes. We make a version of this dish at least once a week, because it’s tasty, fast and healthy. Each serving has only about 300 calories and 6 g of fat. We have used both link sausages and bulk sausage, canned tomatoes and fresh tomatoes, cannellini beans, great northern beans and garbanzo beans, and a variety of greens: kale, swiss chard, napa cabbage and mustard greens.  You can pretty much mix and match what you have in your fridge and pantry. You can use any kind of greens, or you could use pasta instead of beans. Whatever you choose, you can be sure that even though the ingredients are simple, the flavors are complex.

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Couscous, three ways

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I love tiny pasta. Orzo and couscous are my favorites; they are easy to make and extremely versatile. I recently bought some Israeli couscous (the kind that look like little pearls) in the bulk foods section at Central market, but I’d never made it before. Last weekend, I needed a quick side dish to go with our grilled porkchops and decided that a couscous salad would be perfect. A quick online search revealed that Israeli couscous can be cooked just like orzo and either absorb all the liquid or be cooked in liquid and then drained. I chose the absorb method, as it seems less wasteful.

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