how to eat seasonally

Batch Cooking Squash

Sometimes, with a winter CSA, things can get a little dicey in the squash department. One or two weeks without using your squash, and suddenly it seems that the butternuts are multiplying on their own in the pantry. I run into this at different times and with different vegetables. Some years it’s potatoes, some it’s parsnips. The cool thing about this is that it’s an easy problem to solve...especially with squash. Winter squash is surprisingly versatile and easy to process. Here’s how I keep up.


Step 1: Cook and cool the squash

Once per week, I batch cook all my squash at once. I heat the oven to 350 degrees, cut each squash in half, and put the squash cut side down in a pan. I don’t peel the squash or remove the seeds at this point. I add water to the pan (about half an inch) and then pop it in the oven. After about an hour, I begin checking on the squash every 15-20 minutes. When I can pierce it easily with a knife, it’s done. I remove the pans from the oven, let the squash cool, and then move on to the next step.


Step 2: Prep for storage and use

If I plan to make any salads during the week, I carefully remove the skin and seeds from one of the firmer squashes and cut it into bite sized pieces before putting it in the fridge to store. Now it’s ready and waiting when I am ready to make a recipe like one of these:

Kale salad with roasted butternut squash

Roasted butternut squash salad with warm cider vinaigrette

Roasted beet and squash salad with nuts

Simple roasted butternut squash salad


You can always spread the cubed squash on an oiled pan and roast for a bit before using if you want to get some caramelized pieces in there.

Most winter squash can stand in easily for any other winter squash - don’t sweat it if the recipe calls for butternut and you only have kabocha. Use what’s on hand.


If I plan to make pretty much anything else with my squash, I’m going to puree it. I scoop the squash out of the cooled skin, carefully remove the seeds (though they’re edible, and since I’m pureeing, I don’t sweat it too much if a few are missed). I give it a whir in the blender or food processor, and then transfer it into a bowl to keep in the fridge until I’m ready to use it. Here are a few of the ways I am able to easily use it up:

Pasta sauce

Butternut mac and cheese

Squash muffins

Pancakes (sweet)

Pancakes (savory)

Butternut bisque

Smoky squash soup

Curried squash soup

Whipped winter squash


I could really go on and on listing options for incorporating winter squash into meals - if none of these speak to you, try imagining up your own squash creations. If you can dream it, chances are, google can too! (Need to see it to believe it? Try searching: squash brownies!)

(And remember...cooked and pureed squash freezes really well! If you can't use it all at once, freeze some for later!)


Prepping and Storing Fall and Winter Vegetables

The fall and winter CSA session is upon us! For those new to the CSA, welcome! This weekly blog is full of information to help you make the most of your CSA experience. It includes recipes, information about the food -- how to cook it, what to do with it, why you’ll love it -- and inspiration for developing a deep love for local and seasonal eating. For those new to the CSA, and as a reminder to those who have been with us a while, I thought I’d start this season with some helpful tips and tricks for making the most of those beautiful veggie boxes.



When you bring your vegetables home, try to put them away when you can carve out thirty minutes or so to do a little bit of prep. This will help you to have faster access to your ingredients as you cook throughout the week. When deciding how much advance prep to do, it’s helpful to consider the amount of time you’ll have available during the week for cooking. The more limited your weekly cooking time, the more advance prep will pay off. Prep can include washing and trimming as well as pre-chopping vegetables for snacks or meals. Save time and money by saving trimmings such as celery leaves and carrot ends for stock. I keep a “stock bag” in my freezer and add trimmings as they accumulate.


Meal planning

I find it’s easiest to plan how I’ll use each vegetable by taking notes as I unpack my veggie box. Some people plan using the vegetable list in the weekly newsletter, but I like to see, feel, and touch the vegetables to find my inspiration. Writing my ideas down on paper goes a long way in making sure nothing gets wasted. For me, mental lists often end up buried or forgotten until I find that the daikons I had planned to ferment are now molding at the bottom of my crisper. Keep your veggie list close to the refrigerator, and make notes/cross things off as you change plans or use items. In time, this habit will help make it much easier to plan and cook meals based on what’s available. For many people, meal planning in our society means first listing the dishes one plans to cook in a week, and then listing and procuring the ingredients. Eating seasonally and locally works best when using a system that first lists the available ingredients, and then considers what meals could take shape from those items. It’s a significantly helpful shift to make, and one that gets easier with practice.



Because CSA food doesn’t have to travel far distances or wait around on store shelves, it tends to last much longer than food bought in the grocery store. Knowing the proper way to store food will help ensure that it lasts even longer. Although each vegetable is unique, there are some general guidelines that are helpful to know.

Leafy greens - If your crisper space is limited, you’ll want to give a priority spot to lettuces, kale, chard, spinach, etc. These are the items that will wilt most easily in the regular refrigerator environment. If you wash and chop these items when you unpack your CSA box, you’ll want to plan to use them within a few days, as leafy greens will spoil more quickly once they’re no longer fully intact.

Onions and Potatoes - Onions and potatoes need to be stored in a cool, dry place moderately far away from each other. Air circulation is important to avoid early rotting, so never store these vegetables in plastic or a tightly enclosed space. Do not wash potatoes before storing, as the introduction of moisture will lead them to mold and rot more quickly.   

Root vegetables - Store items like carrots, beets, radishes, and turnips in the refrigerator, in the crisper drawer if space allows. If you have no crisper space available, enclose them in an airtight container lined with a paper towel until you free up some crisper space. The danger of storing root vegetables outside of the crisper is that they may become soft; if this happens, try cutting off one end and soaking them for several hours in a bowl of ice water placed in the refrigerator.

Squash - Store squash in a cool, dry place. The refrigerator environment is too moist for squash and will cause it to lose shelf-life.



A seasonal eater's ode to the season

Every summer, there’s a week where the magic happens. At first the harvest unfolds slowly; leafy greens and alliums are joined by radishes and carrots, variety sprouting up as the weeks tumble by. By the time the cucumbers make their sturdy appearance on the vine, the harvest is no longer lazily unfurling, rather, it has become a veritable explosion of shape and color. For me, the magic week happens when the shift in pace is so palpable that simply opening the veggie box seems to discharge a trace of midsummer magic into the air. This week’s veggie box full of sweet corn (a full dozen!), cherry tomatoes (red and yellow!), humble zucchini and summer squash (always holding down the fort!), jalapenos and bell peppers and onions and cabbage (and more, oh my!)...had me cartwheeling across my kitchen (at least in my head). It’s the week where abundance is undeniable. It’s the week where my gratitude for seasonal eating swells to new heights, reminding me how grateful I am for what we go without so that I can fully absorb and appreciate the fleeting beauty of this season. It all tastes like summer. It all smells like summer. All so purely elemental - sunlight and rain and soil, the genetic intricacies so carefully enclosed within tiny seeds, the miraculous science and magic that conspire to coax carrot seeds into carrots and tomato seeds into tomatoes, and everything in between.

In the midst of a world that seems ever divided, with real issues that need to be solved, I find myself at once inspired to create change and inspired to embrace the little joys around me. These morsels of happiness are not trivial. They’re the lifeblood of a contented life. Of being whole. Of replenishing our hearts and souls so that we can move forward as positive forces within this world. Taking time for mindfulness, gratitude, and simple indulgences isn’t frivolous, it’s critically important. In that spirit, I share my summer eating bucket list. It is this seasonal eater’s ode to the season and vow to appreciate every last bite.

Before the wood smoke curls through the crisp night air of October, I will eat…

...a whole tomato like a tangy, coreless apple. I won’t hold back on the salt.

...delicate summer squash salad.

...bell peppers with skins blistered from the grill.

...cured and grilled cabbage served with Brookford blue cheese. I won’t want to share this.

...marinated and grilled eggplant.

...crunchy, zesty cucumber salad.

...sumptuous gazpacho. With crusty bread.

...salt potatoes. (Contented sigh.)

...tangy-sweet grilled onion steaks. entire batch of homemade salsa. In one sitting.

...grilled pizza smothered in Brookford mozzarella, bacon, tomatoes (thinly!!! sliced) and grilled eggplant.

...silky marinated zucchini.

...corn grilled in the husk, smothered in Brookford butter.

...grilled, bacon wrapped jalapenos. With a cold beer.


...and by the time the mornings bring a soft haze of frost on the field, I hope to find my belly full, my heart basking in summer’s residual heat, and my palate satiated. We’re in the thick of summer’s magic. Let’s devour it.

Potato Crust Quiche

As I’ve often mentioned on this blog, I’m a fan of eggs for dinner. It’s difficult to find another food that is so user friendly: cost effective, highly nutritious, and quick to prepare. So many reasons. I particularly love quiche because it is versatile and delicious, and works just as well as leftovers as it does fresh from the oven. Quiche works for any season - simply change the vegetables for the filling depending on what you have available. I recently discovered a new way to make quiche that I’m pretty excited about and wanted to share: quiche made with a roasted potato crust. It’s a fun and easy alternative to both crustless quiche and quiche made with a traditional pastry crust. This version is particularly nice to make ahead and keep in the refrigerator for a quick meal or snack. The potato crust won’t get soggy and helps make it a bit sturdier if you want to grab some to go.

You will need:

1-2 potatoes

4 eggs

1 ½ cups milk or cream

salt and pepper to taste

herbs of your choosing

vegetables/cheese/meat of your choosing

Begin by thinly slicing potatoes; about ¼ thick. Depending on how big your potatoes are, the amount you will need will vary - you’re aiming to have enough slices to line a pie plate. You can use any type of potato - I used sweet potatoes. Lightly oil the pie plate, and then line it with the potato slices. If you have extra slices, set them aside to saute and add to the filling. Brush the slices with a light coating of olive oil or melted coconut oil, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pop the pie plate into an oven preheated to 410 degrees, and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes, until they are starting to brown and have softened. Remove from oven and set aside.

While the potato crust is cooking, prepare the quiche filling. You can use any vegetables, meats, or cheeses that make your heart happy. For mine, I used bacon, sliced leeks, mache, garlic, and more sweet potato. Saute the vegetables until browned. I waited to add the mache at the end, because it is delicate and cooks quickly. While cooking the vegetables, cook/prepare any meats or cheese that you plan to add. Toss the vegetables with the prepared meat/cheese in a bowl, making sure they’re well combined. In a separate bowl, prepare the custard by beating together the eggs, cream or milk, salt, pepper, and herbs.

Carefully spoon the vegetable blend right onto the potato crust, and then pour the custard mixture over it. Gently shake the pan, if needed, to help the custard settle into the veggie mixture. Return the pan to the oven and cook until puffed and golden, about thirty minutes. Serves 3-5.

An Interview with Matt

One of the things that I love most about sourcing my family’s food from a local farm is knowing the story behind the food. I love the raw real-lifeness of it. Raw real-lifeness, if we can operate under the assumption that this is an actual term, means things like CSA deliveries that are sometimes late. Not because of a computer glitch, but because it was snowy and the truck wouldn’t start. Because a farm is a living, breathing entity where factory produced perfection isn’t a thing and because sometimes humans are human and run into pesky real life events. This raw real-lifeness is the same world that I operate in. A world where being human means having flaws and getting messy - but this is the price of realness. This morning I woke up with a lousy cold and I stepped outside and was overwhelmed by the softly melting winter. Through the congestion that’s threatening to suffocate me, I could smell spring stirring from deep within the ground. It hit me that while we may have weeks of winter ahead, this moment was reaching out with the soft chirping of birds and the soft nuzzle of sunlight and raw muddy beauty. I may not be able to smell much at the moment, but I could smell that grassy, earthy, snow-melty air. The juxtaposition of head cold with winter and an unlikely spring morning - this is raw real-lifeness. It is why I embrace the human touches that come with sourcing food from a farm. This is the life I want to lead. One that is messy and beautiful and undeniably real. The grocery stores can keep their aseptic packaging and fancy marketing language. Their focus groups and clever conveniences and shiny exterior. I will take my beets with a side of earth. My CSA with a side of humanity. Because I like to joke around with the delivery drivers on CSA day. I like to chat about our kids and our favorite ways to prepare Brookford food. I get to see and value the commonalities that thread us together as fellow venturers in this world. On an energetic and cellular level, this makes a difference. The touches of other people’s humanity overlapping into your own. Raw real-lifeness.

It is for this sentimental love of humanity and the way we are all woven together that I’m especially excited about today’s post. Last year on the blog, I interviewed Dane, of the Canterbury Bread Shop (who bakes the bread for the Brookford CSA). To date that was one of my favorite posts, because: raw real-lifeness. I’ve been working on today’s post since this fall, when I sent some interview questions to Matt Murphy, Brookford’s Harvest Manager. Judging from the veggie crew shout outs that he had written and sent out to members via email, I had an inkling that he might have some interesting things to say about food and farming. Raw real-lifeness contributed to this autumn-started interview now finally making its way into post form in the last melty stretch of winter, but I think it was worth the wait. I hope you’ll enjoy this glimpse into another piece of the humanity that helps make Brookford Farm what it is.

Me: Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up, what are your hobbies?

Matt: I grew up in Contoocook, NH, not far from the farm. As bored country kids we used to come jump off the bridge that no longer exists just past the farm (while it was still an eye/soul jarring sod farm) on the bank of the Merrimack. I grew up playing outdoors all over this incredible state: hiking, biking, paddling, on skis of all kinds, on boards of all kinds...if it got me outdoors, and particularly if it got my adrenaline going, I was into it. Today, I spend most of my free time hiking around with my wife and dog, cooking, riding bicycles, fixing up old bicycles, and trying to keep my archery skills sharp for the hunting season that I'm inevitably too busy/tired to partake in.

Me: How did you get interested and involved in farming? Is it something you always thought you would do? Or a surprise?

Matt: It was a complete surprise. I left NH for a university in Montreal to study new media, film, and anthropology, but by graduation I knew that I no longer wanted to work in the film industry, and that I wanted to eventually return to the rural US. Those years admiring and adjusting to urbanity built into me an immense concern for methods of production, consumption, land use, and humanity's relationship with and view of this here earth we inhabit--you know, all the usual stuff. So, following a strong inkling, I got a sense of agricultural work the year after I graduated, working a season on a pair of vineyards in New Zealand (and then exploring the country by motorcycle!). I returned to the United States determined to farm, but not before chasing my (now) wife through NYC and Philadelphia, and working at nearly every level of the food service industry in those cities: from managing multiple restaurant locations, to collecting tons upon tons of commercial food waste for composting, and most of the work in between. Just over a year ago my wife finished her second degree, we moved to the corner of the world I grew up in, and I started working for Brookford Farm.

Me: Can you describe a typical day on the farm?

Matt: Long and rewarding. I can't really get too much more specific, because there are countless variables, which is one of the reasons I love the work so much. If anything, the triage/juggling of said variables is the most typical part of my work days. With so many different crops being planted, weeded, harvested, washed, sorted, and packed in different ways for different customers, I try to determine how much is/will be available of everything, and react to sales orders, allocating and supervising the helping hands that make it all happen.

Me: How do vegetable farmers keep busy in winter?

Matt: Moving around and cleaning absurd quantities of storage crops, eking all that we can out of our greenhouses, fixing tools, and building new infrastructure, systems, and methodology for the coming season. Oh and finally getting around to an interview request received four months ago!

Me: What's your favorite thing about working for Brookford Farm?

Matt: As a 'full diet' farm, take-home items (seconds, gleans, nearly expired foods) are pretty incredible around here. When I have time to cook, I eat very well.

Me: What's your favorite vegetable to eat? And your favorite way to cook it?

Matt: Kale: it goes with pretty much everything, and is incredibly nourishing. My favorite kale preparations leave it raw, but rubbed/softened with acid, usually lemon juice.

Me: What's your favorite vegetable to grow? Why?

Matt: Kale again: it is arguably the most vigorous, hardy, bountiful, and forgiving crop we grow, and it grows nearly all year long.

Me: Your top three favorite recipes/things to eat?

Matt: My chili, brick oven pizza, and sandwiches of all kinds (from burritos to bahn mi)

Me: If you could create one change in the way people eat in the US, what would it be?

Matt: The understanding that we are what we eat, not just during, but before and after what we eat is physically within our bodies. We eat/are what our food ate/was fed to it to shape its various bodies: we eat/are our foods means of production. And so we are our food after we have exhausted its material value to us and it becomes 'waste' of various forms. And so we should seek to know, think critically about, and improve upon these means of production and 'waste' management in pursuit of our own health. And that this applies to all forms of consumption, not just food. I think we should eat less oil, for example.

Me: What advice would you give to someone who is joining the CSA for the first time?

Matt: Prepare to be challenged as a cook, and hang in there. One of the truest challenges of any cook's skill, as demonstrated by a litany of competitive cooking shows, is reacting to and creating meals around a limited or unplanned selection of ingredients. Having a wealth of recipes to reference (thanks internet!) always helps, but it's still a challenge. It can be a tough adjustment initially, because the globally distributed food system has us able to entertain nearly any culinary whim at any time. But this challenge becomes increasingly rewarding with time, and I suspect that you'll find as I have that it is ultimately far more rewarding to figure out how to make something you want from what you have, than to merely decide exactly what you want and go procure it.

Me: How does local and seasonal eating manifest itself in your own life?

Matt: It is the focus of my work and probably most of my free time.

Me: What are your suggestions for somebody who wants to commit to more local and seasonal eating?

Matt: Find go-to resources for recipe ideas based on available ingredients, patronize your local farmer’s market, and give yourself lots of time to adjust, leaving room for occasional lapses in your new standards--dropping the global food distribution system cold turkey would be too jarring for most (no one is fun when they're hangry), better to make incremental progress.

Me: For the crops that are most plentiful in the late winter months (potatoes, parsnips, etc) do you keep meals interesting and varied? Or do you embrace the season and not worry about variation so much?

Matt: Spice. My spice collection is enormous. I love spicy food, and find that much of the spicier international cuisine has some of the most interesting and varied approaches to late winter storage crops. While much of it ends up at the bottom of our chicken roasting pan, a great quantity of the root vegetables eaten in my house the past few years were prepared using recipes from a cookbook on making traditional Indian dishes using a slow cooker. For instance, the next time broccoli or cauliflower comes out of the freezer, it's ending up with our potatoes in some Aloo Gobi. Yum.

Me: What's your go-to for a quick meal?

Matt: Eggs in various forms. Eggs on toast with with some vegetables and cheese is a favorite.

Me: There have been some changes made to the winter CSA; the addition of frozen vegetables and an add-on apple share. How did those changes come to be, and how do you think the session will be overall? What are you most excited about for this year's fall/winter veggie share?

Matt: We gained a great new food preserving specialist on the farm staff this year. Though Irina formerly worked as a fuel chemist for the Russian space program--she's literally a rocket scientist--she clearly carries her agrarian roots with her as a way of life, and happily shared her food preservation knowledge with us this summer to process and freeze any surplus vegetables we could bring her. I think it's an incredible addition to the more limited fresh produce we can offer throughout the winter. We should have a different frozen item in the CSA shares every week now, and I'm extremely excited to make use of the frozen items myself, and hope all of our customers are too! The apples were the result of our ever-growing professional relationship with Hackelboro Orchard here in Canterbury, where nearly all of our winter storage crops are tucked away in a giant spare refrigerator, awaiting their time to return to the farm for washing and packing. Harry up at Hackelboro grows some of the finest apples available anywhere, and luckily for us, he has more than he knows what to do with. Happily, Luke had an idea about what to do with some, and so began the CSA add-on. It's a toss-up for me as to whether I find the frozen veg or the apples more exciting--I choose both!


Baking with carrots

A couple of weeks ago, I shared some ideas for baking with beets. For folks who start to feel a little stir crazy with seasonal eating toward the second half of winter, changing the way you use common seasonal ingredients can be a life saver. Along that same thread, this week, I’m focusing on baking with carrots.

In our early days with the CSA, we’d sometimes accumulate a large backlog of carrots in our crisper. I’ve always liked carrots more in theory than in reality, so using a dozen or so every week wasn’t my habit. These are the recipes that can save  you in those moments. Carrots don’t tend to accumulate around here any more, because they’ve become the best fast, healthy snacks in the house. We don’t peel them or cut them. A whole carrot, just like an apple but without the pesky seeds and core. My husband brings one for lunch at work every day, and it’s the snack my kid know I’ll suggest if they find themselves starving twenty minutes before dinner is ready. I’ve also found that I absolutely adore fermented ginger carrots. Carrots are suddenly in high demand around here. If I ever want to bake with them these days, I kind of have to sneak some into a dark corner of the fridge to keep them from being gobbled up. But this covert measure is worth it. Carrots can do SO much in the baking department. Like beets, they lend themselves to both sweet and savory goods. Wherever possible, I’ve included gluten free recipes as well as traditional options. You may be surprised how quickly you go through your CSA vegetables when you start adding more variety to how you use them. Have fun!


Paleo carrot cake

The “best” carrot cake ever


Coconut carrot pancakes (vegan)

Paleo carrot cake pancakes


Savory carrot bread

Gluten free coconut carrot bread


Vegan and gluten free tomato carrot crackers

Gluten free carrot sesame crackers


Gluten free carrot cake cookies

Carrot cake oatmeal cookies


Carrot muffins

Paleo carrot muffins