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Entries in csa (6)

Saturday
Jul102010

Original Content

Yep, another blog post.  Hold onto yer hats!  This one is even all original content; GASP!

 

I haven't yet blogged about our csa, or how amazing it is... but I promise you I will, and that it is indeed amazing.  We went with Riverbend Farms this year and they are simply wonderful, if not simply for the unique things we've gotten so far: corn meal AND turtle beans from last year's harvest (!!!)  I really meant to keep some of the turtle beans for us to plant our own beans next year... but then I forgot to save a few and they all got soaked along with the edibles.  Oh well.  This meal was incredible, not just because I used an entire tub of mascarpone cheese in the polenta, or because I cooked the beans in my favorite Italian fashion, but because aside from the salt, mascarpone cheese and oil, every ingredient came from within 80 miles of our house.  Locavore-ism at its very best (and most delicious).

I made the beans in the same fashion Kyle and I learned five years ago (has it really been that long?) while living in the hills of Italy:

 

Rince your beans well, and pick through them to sort out broken beans and pesky stones.  Soak your beans in cool water with about an inch of water covering them (add more water as the beans will absorb some).  Cook them in their soaking water with a few cloves of garlic, add salt and stir every once in a while until the beans are the right consistency for you.  I like them just past al dente so they still have a tiny bite to them. When they're done, drizze really good olive oil and serve with crusty bread  Holy cow it's sinful, not to mention incredibly healthy.  You can use them at every meal (they were quite lovely with CSA eggs fried and their yolks oozing onto the beans) and they keep in the fridge until they mold or smell funny, but I can pretty much guarantee they won't be around long enough for you to get to that point, so just keep using them until they're gone. 

 

This polenta was absolutely fluffy, perfect, sinful and divine.  I was literally in love.  If you can get your hands on homegrown corn meal, do it now and do it fast.  Little chunks of whole squeaky corn REALLY brought the dish together.  For one cup of corn meal, I used 4 1/2 cups of 1% milk with a 1/2 cup of half and half (this is what we call improvising when you don't have whole or 2% milk on hand). 

Ingredients:

1C cornmeal

4 cups whole or 2% milk

1 tub mascarpone cheese (12oz ?)

Salt to taste

Two cloves of Garlic (or five garlic scapes) minced

 

Bring the milk and garlic to a simmer and slowly add the cornmeal over medium heat, whisking constantly until well incorporated.  Stir once every 5 minutes until it reaches the consistencey of apple sauce, about 30 minutes.  Serve immediately. 

 

Sunday
Aug232009

CSA goodies

In our last batch we got some beauties:

Oh-so-sweet corn

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Cabbage (little friend no-extra charge)

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zucchini, peppers, onions, garlic, cucumbers, and broccoli. Since we haven't gotten any tomatoes yet I've been supplimenting with farmers market tomatoes.

It turns out this soup (we recently bought How to Cook Everything at 1/2 priced used books) is REALLY REALLY GOOD. We polished off every last drop. Go make it tomorrow!

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Wednesday
Aug122009

Sam: Omnivore of the week

When I bring new things into the house, the cats always have to investigate.

1st csa

Sam decided he would try out the goods

1st csa

And apparently he really liked it.

1st csa

Too bad I didn't have more time to set up the shot. Hopefully he'll be just as eager about next weeks bounty.

Tuesday
Aug112009

Back to the basics

Let me preface this post by saying I know all you fabulous foodies have been blogging about your CSAs for weeks now. Just think of it as "reliving" your first delivery all over again, with the fabulous bounty that mid-summer brings...

Once upon a time Kate and Kyle lived on three different organic farms in Italy.

1st csa

Along the way they learned about the language, culture, and cooking associated with living on a working farm. Kyle continued on for another 3 weeks on an organic (and nudist {this was not mentioned in the WWOOF description of the farm}) farm in Wales. It was then that they caught the farming bug. And it's one of those bugs you live with for the rest of your life. Always there being tamed by nothing but"rational" thoughts of friends, families, mortgages and student loan payments...

After much deliberation Kyle and I painfully decided not to join a CSA earlier this year. We wasted so much (well, our compost appreciated it) last year because of our busy lives, and with Kyle in school and my work load getting nothing if not larger, we knew we'd be kidding ourselves trying it again this year. We planted a garden. And then that damn sun just didn't shine. We've harvested a couple of small treats, but only enough to constitute a meal once or twice. And the poor little farmers that live inside of us were sad.

Then, tada! I got a new job. And it just so happens that job thing occurred simultaneously with a Simple Good and Tasty post by Lee about Jackson Hollow expanding their CSA and accepting mid-season shares. Uh... Duh? Where do I sign?

Yesterday was our first pick up and just look at all the beautiful stuff we got!

1st csa

Oh, and how I love that basket!

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1st csa

1st csa

1st csa

We got some gorgeous green beans too, but I didn't realize Kyle had snatched them up for snacking while I was taking these pictures.

On my way home from picking up our share I was inspired to make Broccoli and Gavadeals (Cavatelli for the non New Jersey readers out there) though had a sneaking suspicion the Eastside Co-op didn't carry Cavatelli (named after small hollow sea shells). No matter, I bought chiocciole (named after snail shells). At least I was in the same genus. I also grabbed some Pastures a Plenty Spicy Italian Sausage and went home to whip up our first veggie CSA dinner of 2009.

There is no tried and true Broccoli and Cavatelli recipe I can give you. Kyle's dad makes it the absolute best I have ever had it but if I told you how much fat he adds to it, it would flat line you then and there. Instead, as I love to do, I'll give you approximates. Let it be known I cooked the entirety of the bag of pasta and didn't really need all of it. Fortunately I made pesto earlier in the week, so once we pick out all of the broccoli and sausage, we'll have a whole new meal out of the leftovers.

Ingredients:

Broccoli, cut into slightly larger than bite sized pieces
1 pkg Italian Sausage, sliced on the bias (I prefer spicy, but you can always use sweet)
Cavatelli (substitue any tubular medium sized pasta if you can't find Cavatelli)
Garlic, smashed with a knife, skin removed
Red Pepper for spice
Your favorite italian style grating cheese

Set water to boil in large pot

Saute the sausage in a heavy bottomed until well browned

1st csa

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Remove sausage from pan and set aside leaving browned bits and fat in the pan

Add pasta to pot and cook according to package. Drain, reserving 1/4 to 1/2 cup cooking water

Add broccoli and garlic to sausage pan and cover. Stir every 3-4 minutes until broccoli is tender but not over cooked.

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Toss it all together and season according to taste.

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Drizzle with olive oil and cooking water if desired. Sprinkle with cheese. Eat it up!

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Tomorrow: My cat eats Kale and I've got pictures to prove it

Sunday
Aug022009

Outstanding in the Field: MN Edition

On Friday as I drove my parents and Kyle farther West into the Minnesota heartland than I had ever been, my mother and I discussed how we had heard about Outstanding in the Field. She was certain that I, being "in-tune" with food culture, had told her about it. I, on the other hand, believed that she told me about it last year when her Houston goat cheese supplier (Blue Heron Farm) had their cajeta featured at the 2008 Outstanding in the Field in Texas.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Regardless of how we had heard about the meal, the four of us we were headed to Riverbend Farm in Delano, MN to experience our 1st farm dinner. The mission of Outstanding in the Field is simple: "To re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it."

Outstanding in the Field- MN

If that doesn't line up with my philosophy I don't know what does. The chefs, Scott Pampuch (owner and Executive Chef at The Corner Table) and Mike Phillips (Executive Chef at Craftsman Restaurant) teamed up with Greg Reynolds and his wife, the proprietors of Riverbend Farm. Both Pampuch and Phillips are well known in the Twin Cities for their commitment to fresh, local and organic ingredients, and Riverbend Farms are one of their go-to suppliers. In addition to supplying restaurants, Riverbend products can be found at local Twin Cities co-ops and they offer a CSA to a lucky 80 participants that signed up in March of this year.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

But enough with the small talk, onto the food!

When we arrived at the farm there were two options of beverages being served: 45h Parallel Spirits and Il Follo Prosecco.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

The lemonade vodka's being served by distiller Scott Davis were refreshing and smooth, but the prosecco was the best accompaniment for the Charcuterie being served up: headcheese (which is really becoming one of my favorite parts of charcuterie) coppa salame, MN cured prosciutto, Pork Rillette with spicy mustard and rhubarb compote, and house made mortadella. I've been a sucker for mortadella since I lived in Italy, and this provided me with a good fix.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

After we socialized a bit in the field, we heard from Jim Denevan, the founder of the nationwide dinners and Katy Oursler, Events Director. They gave us a brief background of how Outstanding in the Field was formed, their mission, and their travels. You can read more about much of what we learned here.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

From there we split into two groups and toured the farm. My group toured alongside Greg Reynolds, as he explained to us the theory behind his crop rotation while we got to enjoy the gorgeous July air.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Finally it was time for dinner. Just the anticipation of walking up to the gorgeous table set for 150 people made the price tag alone worth every dime. I immediately headed to the cooking tent where dinners were encouraged to watch the makings of the upcoming feast.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Our 1st course was a Farmer's Salad, composed of carrots, beets, potatoes, sheep's milk ricotta, pheasant eggs, salad greens, and a fresh shallot vinaigrette. There was a delicious blue cheese included too, but sadly it wasn't listed on our menu. The entire dinner was paired with Miner Family Vineyards Wines, which was a great flashback to California Wine Country. With the salad we were served a perfectly balanced Napa Valley Chardonnay. We got to hear from Pat Ebnet from Wild Acres talk about his poultry production as well as from Joe and Lou Jones from Idle Hands Farms, potato growers extraordinaire.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

It was around this time that Kyle noticed darkening clouds in the distance. I was skeptical they would ever reach us (have we had ANY rain in Minnesota this year, after all?) but it definitely made us wonder where 150 people would eat if a storm came our way.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Up next was cured Star Prairie Trout with cucumber, breakfast radish and cabbage coleslaw.
The fish was incredibly tender and mild, while the slaw provided a nice refreshing and light course, well paired with the Miner Viognier: clean, bright and citrus-y.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

My wonderful parents who get to enjoy Outstanding in the Field in Houston this September
Outstanding in the Field- MN

On to true Minnesota Fare (and who in Minnesota doesn't love sausage?). Next was Fischer Farm Fennel Sausage, served with a kohlrabi puree and braised greens tied together with a Honey Gastrique. Given the opportunity, I could eat this for dinner on a daily basis. The sausage was a coarsely ground pork and the fennel was brightened by the licorice flavor from the fennel. The kohlrabi was as smooth as the best mashed potatoes with a slight sweetness brought by the gastrique to tie it all together. The Miner Merlot was oaky, dry and full bodied with blackberry undertones.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

It was around this time we realized those ominous clouds were definitely coming towards us.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Never you mind, the next course was served without any hesitation. Large portions of Mark Simon veal served with a Riverbend swiss chard and a cornmeal "tamale" served on a bed of sweet corn, black turtle bean, succotash, veal demiglaze and herb butter. The tamale was a beautiful and delicious creation, with fresh sweet and creamy Minnesota corn. The veal was beautifully smokey, though I have to admit it was pretty hard to cut with my butter knife. Being the driver of the evening I only had a drop of the sangiovese, but recall a dark, earthy and dry wine. A clear cousin of a good Tuscan sangiovese, with the twist of American terroir.

Outstanding in the Field- MN

At this point the storm was upon us. The wind picked up and it was announced that dessert would be served in the greenhouses. The whole lot of us made the trek with the lightning flashing behind us. Many of us lingered outside of the greenhouses until the 1st drops of rain started to fall. The food, wine and weather combined made some of us a little loopy.

The storm approaching

Outstanding in the Field- MN


Getting my toes dirty

Outstanding in the Field- MN

All messed up on good food and great company
Outstanding in the Field- MN

Encountering friends

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Outstanding in the Field- MN

Lighting strikes in the distance

Outstanding in the Field- MN
Dessert was the most unique of all courses: Riverbend cornmeal and Start Thrower farm sheep's milk cheesecake with sour cherry sauce, raspberries, black cap berry sauce, ricotta and honey ice cream. I didn't taste the ice cream, but at that point I was too infatuated with the storm to care.

A patron silhouetted by the outside barn light with rain battering the outside of the greenhouse

Outstanding in the Field- MN

The Greenhouse, lit only by lightning

Outstanding in the Field- MN

A man lit just by the light of his cell phone
Outstanding in the Field- MN