Real Life CSA: winter share, week 2

We’re in the second week of the winter share, and I’m kind of amazed that we got something that I’ve never received before in years of being a CSA subscriber and have not to my recollection ever eaten in my life. Penn’s Corner wins again for variety!

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Can I tell you how awesome it is to see SO MUCH GREEN in this winter share? A third of the items this share are greens. (Disregard all the citrus hanging out on the kitchen island behind the share. I have no time to clear the island before I take photos. I’m not that classy.)

It’s such a myth that all winter CSA shares in climates where plants die/go to sleep from November – April are all turnips and onions. I love turnips and onions and would always welcome them in a CSA share, but it’s so great to get fresh greens mid-December.

Speaking of the greens, check out this spinach.

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This might make it into salads, joining the bibb lettuce, but I kind of feel like I might like it wilted in pasta or on a pizza. Maybe I’m wanting carbs because I’m ready to hibernate for the winter?

The sweet potatoes will go with our root cellar stash. and the beets will go out the door to Mark’s beet-loving colleague. If you don’t like it share it!

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Mushrooms from Wild Purveyors always make me squeee. They are always so delicious and fresh – probably because they’re sourced in the wild, locally. They also offer a lot of other stuff, but the mushrooms are stellar. Maybe we’ll make marsala with these. (We have a running joke about cooking chicken marsala for Mark’s roommate when we were dating. He was amazed that we basically destroyed the kitchen with dishes and mess, and then cooked him this amazing meal – the best marsala he said he ever had. I kind of feel like we should invite his former roommate and his wife over for dinner to share these.) If we don’t make them as an ingredient in another dish, I might just make them like the Penn’s Corner blog suggests – roasted with garlic and butter. Yes, please.

The goat cheese this round is flavored with dill and garlic, so Mark suggested we eat it on crackers, maybe as an appetizer. If I ate omelets, it sounds like something that would go well in those too.  Or maybe mixed in mashed potatoes.

Fuji apples are Mark’s favorite kind, so he will likely be excited to eat these in lunches. I have not yet grown tired with apples as a snack at work, so these will be great for me too. I always throw around the idea of baking with them, and then I just want to eat them plain.

I’ve been wanting zuppa toscana for awhile, so I will likely use the kale in that. The cold weather not only makes me want carbs, but soups. Ones with cream and potatoes and kale and sausage, apparently. Ginger appears in a lot of the Asian dishes we make, so I’m sure we’ll use it for something along those lines. Maybe a noodle dish or a stir fry.

And finally we come to the new vegetable – the one I can’t ever remember eating or receiving before. The sunchoke, or Jerusalem artichoke.

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The Penn’s Corner blog says these have the texture of a water chestnut, which is fantastic for me because I am that weirdo who always loved water chestnuts as the best part of that frozen bag o’ stir fry mix. No idea why.

Going to do some research on these babies and figure out how I want to make them for my first tasting. Any ideas?

That was the last share for 2014 – two weeks off for the holidays, so the next share is January 7.  Thankfully we have quite the root cellar going on right now with all manner of veggies to keep us busy!




Real Life CSA: week 4

I am usually quite excited when I get our weekly email about what’s coming in the CSA, but when I saw this week’s one, I said “OH. YES.” out loud. Why? RAMPS.

Western PA has had a cold, dark spring coming out of a nasty winter. It’s already pretty cloudy around here, but this year has been dark in particular. (I heard once that Pittsburgh was second only to Seattle for cloudy days each year. I wonder if that’s true – and I wouldn’t be surprised.) 

So because of the slow start to the growing season, the fine folks at Penn’s Corner substitute fresh produce with other items, such as their canned goods and pasta, eggs or cheese. No complaints here. When you plant your own garden, however small, you appreciate the time it take to grow food and how wonderful the return is after the wait. And who can say no to pasta and cheese? (Well, maybe vegans or celiacs, but thankfully Penn’s Corner has shares for those people too!)

Anyway, the salsa will go in our stockpile, but since we cook Mexican food regularly, this won’t be a problem to use up before it comes time to make fresh salsa. Potatoes will be a side of some sort, and the lettuce like usual will end up in salads. Sometimes the best preparations for veggies are the simple ones.

Eggs will add to our stockpile as well. The ones you see in the bowl behind the CSA eggs are from our own chickens, so we have a combination of both on hand. Will give Mark a chance to experiment with some recipes from Michael Ruhlman’s new cookbook, Egg.

This fresh feta cheese from Hidden Hills Dairy looks amazing. I used to be averse to all crumbly cheese because of the texture, but it was one of the items that Mark really introduced me to that has grown on me to the point that I love it now. 

We have spinach in our garden right now that overwintered in a miracle, so I’m thinking it might make a good combination with the feta in some dish – maybe even with this fresh rigatoni from Fontana Pasta. We have loved this fresh pasta – and would probably order way more of it if we had more freezer space.

And now for the main event – what I’ve been waiting to cook with my whole life. Ramps. Ramps are wild leeks that have a garlic flavor to them. I’ve had them at restaurants before – most recently at Cure as a “ramp ash” on pasta. But I’ve never been able to cook with them myself, primarily because the farmers markets aren’t open when these babies show up, and also because I have no idea how to forage for them. I might not forage for them anyway, since there are concerns about over-foraging since these have exploded in popularity. But as they state in the weekly blog post, Penn’s Corner’s suppliers and member farms are committed to sustainable practices. 

So I’m beyond excited to get a chance to make something with these.  

What that will be remains to be seen, but there are tons of recipes out there for them, being the hot commodity that they are. 

As a side note, we also ordered from the Penn’s Corner Farm Stand this week to refresh our supply of Clarion River Organics bread and butter jalapenos, which I’m so obsessed with, I have started putting them on everything. I might have to use a similar preparation and canning if our jalapenos do well this year, but for the moment, we are enjoying the luxury of someone else’s hard canning work.