Tuesday, April 26, 2011

CSA: Home Sweet Farm

I’ve got a new project for some blogging material. This year I am participating in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with the Home Sweet Farm in Brenham, Texas. The farm makes produce deliveries to various drop locations around the Houston area for 30 weeks throughout the year.

This is a very exciting and challenging opportunity for me. Usually my weekly grocery store purchases have quite a bit of produce. So I thought this would be a great way to support a local farmer and have some super fresh produce to eat. Although this also means trying some new produce that I haven’t cooked at home before. Some new items so far have been radishes, collard greens, swiss chard, and bok choy. My weekly pickup is on Thursdays at the JCC, so my goal each week is to use everything before the next delivery. This is forcing us to eat more meals at home and also to eat more veggies than we might normally.

I’m on the 3rd week and have started to get the hang of all this. I always plan a weekly menu in advance but it’s usually based off of some new recipes I want to try, some weeknight staples, and my freezer, fridge, and pantry inventory. So now once I pickup my delivery I go to the internet and search Food Network, My Recipes (Southern Living), Epicurious, and Google to find out what recipes I can find that sound yummy to me. Not to mention Farmer Brad & Jenny also send a weekly update on Mondays with what’s coming available, the status of the crops, and some recipes to try for produce that might be delivered that week.

So here is what I have to work with this week…

Head Lettuce
Every week has included head lettuce and/or spring mix and after two weeks of having salads for lunch, I needed a break and this week Scott gets to enjoy some lunch salads. He usually takes sandwiches to work, and we spend ~$14/week on deli meat + ~$3 on a loaf of bread, so instead this week I purchased a colossal rotisserie chicken for $7 and shredded it to be added to the salad with the addition of some nuts, dried fruit, and Brianna’s blush wine vinaigrette.

The Southern Living 2009 Christmas Book has a great recipe for a creamy turnip soup with bacon, caramelized pears, and onions. I had made this during the winter and it was delicious. Although I think the fact that this recipe allows me to use one of my favorite gadgets, the immersion blender, coupled with bacon might be part of why I like it so much.

Swiss Chard
Tonight I made Giada’s wheat spaghetti with chard and pecorino for a quick and tasty weeknight dinner. I made a few tweaks to the recipe. I only had one bunch of chard, used Italian style diced tomatoes, skipped the white wine since I didn’t have any open and substituted with pasta water, I also skipped the olives because I do not like olives, and used parmesan instead of pecorino since that is what I usually have in my fridge. Oh and I also had some leftover mushrooms so I added those as well.

Collard Greens
I’m planning to make Ellie Krieger’s short-cut collard greens as a side for my pork tenderloin tomorrow night. Scott is a huge fan of collard greens. I made these the first week with bacon instead of Canadian bacon and he really enjoyed them.

I’ve had radishes every week and have tried them two different ways. The preferred method is to slice the radishes and add them to the baking dish/roasting pan with a pork tenderloin or chicken thighs and season them w/ salt & pepper, add a little EVOO, and a tiny bit of truffle oil. Also the radish tops can be roasted as well. For the radish tops toss w/ a little EVOO and sprinkle with salt, place on a sheet pan and bake at 400 for about 10 minutes or so until crispy.

Arugula is another item I’ve had each week and have included it in pastas but have also made the Barefoot Contessa’s white pizzas with arugula. This is a delicious pizza, but I short cut with the fresh pre-made pizza dough from Central Market which is half the recipe and I make it as one pizza. Since I still have half of the cheeses left we are making this again on Thursday for a date night on the patio.

I just use these as an ingredient as needed. See swiss chard and collard greens.