winter CSA

Celeriac

I know I often talk about my favorite vegetables, and this constant chatter of favorites is eventually going to betray the fact that I have at least a dozen *favorite* vegetables, and depending upon which season we’re in, I’m likely to proclaim that at least half a dozen of those are actually my “most favorite, favorite.” And I think it’s entirely possible to be both 100% honest AND to have several favorites. I just do.

A few weeks ago the weekly veggie list showed up with one of my *favorite* favorites on it: celeriac. Poor celeriac that never gets a fair shake. Also known as celery root, it looks a bit like a bizarre potato, nubby and brown, and completely nothing to write home about. A sniff of this humble vegetable, however, starts to reveal something of its magic. Earthy and nutty, it immediately makes me want to slice it in half and start warming some butter.

If I could be accused of professing my undying love for more than one or two vegetables, I can ALSO be accused of waxing poetic far too often about the beautiful versatility of more than a handful of old standbys and a few lesser known characters as well. But there’s just something so irresistibly satisfying to me about vegetables that like to shape shift in my kitchen.

Here are ten reasons why I was thrilled to find celeriac in my veggie box again this past week:

  1. Shaved celeriac salad. Try combining it with cubes of cold roasted winter squash, crumbled blue cheese, and shaved radishes. A drizzle of olive oil, a spritz of lemon juice, and a sprinkling of maldon salt on top….

  2. Celeriac chips. Slice thinly, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast at 350 until browned.

  3. Celeriac soup. Whether you mix it with potatoes, turnips, bacon, leeks, or all of the above, you will not be disappointed.

  4. Shaved celeriac, apples, and cheddar. Slice an apple, add a slice of Brookford cheddar (smoked, clothbound, or raw all go very well!), and add a few pieces of shaved celeriac on top.

  5. Root vegetable galette. You CAN make this without celeriac, but why would you want to?

  6. Braising. Try browning celeriac in butter, adding a few splashes of cooking sherry, the same amount of chicken stock, and salt to taste. Braise until softened.

  7. Fermented celeriac remoulade. You won’t be disappointed.

  8. Gratin. Earthy, rich, and indulgent. Something you definitely want to eat before “stick to your ribs” season is over.

  9. Celeriac and rutabaga mash. I’m pretty certain that it’s the swirled pool of melted butter shown in the picture that first convinced me to try this recipe, but it’s the nutty satisfaction of the smooth celeriac that keeps me in love with this recipe. I make it every Thanksgiving.  

  10. Eggs baked in celeriac puree. Whir cooked celeriac in the food processor along with cream, butter, and salt to taste. Transfer the celeriac to a greased oven proof dish. Make 4-6 indents in the celeriac, and gently crack an egg into each indent. Add a sprinkling of salt and small pat of butter over each egg, and cook in an oven preheated to 375 degrees until cooked through (about 15 minutes). Sunday morning, reinvented!

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

Tips:

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!)

 

Cleansing Recipes

In my last post, I talked about using this time of year to reevaluate and renew our commitments to food. How do we choose to eat? And why do we make the choices that we do? If you haven’t ever been through this process of reflection before, it can be a fun and enlightening exercise.

 

But what if you’re just looking for a good January cleanse? A little post-holiday detoxing? You don’t have to go wild tracking down obscure ingredients from every corner of the earth. Your local, seasonal CSA offers plenty of nourishing, cleansing ingredients to work with. Try one of these three recipes for a quick boost!

 

Cleansing Kale and Apple Smoothie

⅓ cup water

⅓ cup raw milk

⅔ cup ice

1 ½ cups of chopped kale

1 stalk of chopped celery

1 tsp maple syrup

1 tbsp raw squash seeds (from any winter squash, or substitute sunflower or pumpkin seeds)

 

Blend until smooth and enjoy!

 

Detoxifying Curried Cabbage Stew

1 small head of cabbage, shredded

5 small carrots

3 cups of bone broth

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

2 T lard, bacon fat, or butter

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 T grated ginger

2 T curry powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

In a soup pot, melt the lard over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 7-8 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, and curry powder, and saute for another minute. Add the bone broth, cabbage, and carrots, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour until all veggies are softened. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

 

Cleansing Carrot Soup

1 T coconut oil

1 onion, diced

2 lbs of organic carrots, washed and chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 T minced ginger

½ t coriander

½ t nutmeg

7 cups bone broth

Sea salt, to taste


In a soup pot, heat the coconut oil over medium and saute the onions until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the carrots, garlic, and ginger, and cook for 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Add the bone broth and bring to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes until the carrots are fully softened. Add the nutmeg and coriander, and then puree the soup using an immersion blender, food processor, or high speed blender. Taste for salt and adjust seasonings as needed before giving one final whir with the blender. Serve warm.

Winter Solstice

From out of the darkness and cold, the light...and hope return. -Unknown

Winter is here. I always find it a bit confusing to reconcile the fact that the solstice opens a new season with a foreshadowing of what’s to come. Our second day of winter is unfolding with a quiet and peaceful snowfall as we brace ourselves for the unknown days of winter weather ahead. Yet, at the same time, the sunlight will be creeping in, slowly lengthening our days until we find ourselves at the dewy threshold of spring. Just as summer welcomes us with a warm breeze and we relax into the sun’s embrace, the solstice will once again remind us that as a new season of warmth unfolds, the light will be waning little by little.

I think we tend to picture change as a homogeneous process of gradual movement in one direction, but the reality is really quite different. Change is so often a complex and layered evolution of movement in many directions at once. While the daylight swims upstream through the current of winter, I wonder if it might be nature’s way of giving a nod to the farmers who must also practice a mindful incongruence with the season - planning for summer while trekking through winter, each season demanding attention before the last has finished its business.

While the non-farmers among us may be sledding and skiing and cozying up by the fire, it is the farmers who will toil with ice where water is needed, who will brace against the frigid wind to provide food, water, and warm shelter to the animals who sustain us all. In between the constant demands that are necessary for winter survival, farmers will be selecting seeds and making decisions about varieties of crops for the summer. They’ll be planning how the abundance of milk will be used once the grass is lush and green, predicting what the markets will demand and how to keep customers happy. I’ve had only a small taste of winter farming, but from that experience, I’ve come to believe that these necessary bits of tending to summer during winter probably are what helps keep the farmer moving forward day to day. It is in this space that I am reminded that things are not always what they seem, that time is fluid, and that perhaps we are all living a little bit of everything all at once.

Fittingly, it is through this recognition that CSA programs were born -- as a means of providing farmers with funds to buy seeds and supplies when they’re needed most -- a season or two before those seeds and supplies will bring to fruition products that generate income. It’s not only a practical innovation, it’s also a beautiful practice of trust, faith, and goodwill between farmer and customer; a recognition of the interdependence of the many critical factors hanging in the tenuous balance that is farming.  

In these coming days of both increasing cold and increasing sunlight, we invite you to join us in awe and appreciation of the complexities of nature and time.


In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. -Albert Camus

One morning; four meals

When the days are short, cooking dinner can sometimes seem like an impossible feat. Day seems to morph into night without warning. The gentle buffer zone of twilight where we shed the day and slow ourselves down seems to be over before it’s really even begun. It is in the hush of this dark season where I find myself waking early on Saturdays to cook in batches, whole meals that will require no more than some gentle warming in the evening to nourish and comfort. Days and weeks where dinner is made before we’ve finished breakfast feel like gifts, and make a Saturday morning in the kitchen well worth it. Some music, comfy shoes, and a warm cup of tea, and I’m ready to go. This method not only makes the evenings more indulgent, but it helps me make sure I’m using up all my CSA produce, especially the stuff that takes a little longer to prepare and might be neglected on a weeknight. Here’s what I made ahead this week:

 

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup with Naan

Shepard’s Pie

Roasted Vegetables with Orzo

Kale, Swiss Chard, and White Bean Soup with Beet Salad and Sourdough

 

My trick for batch cooking is to prep all of one kind of ingredient only once. Here’s the how I did it:

 

You will need:

1 lb of white beans

6 white potatoes

5 sweet potatoes

14 cloves of garlic

6 beets

6 onions

14 carrots

2 cups of chopped tomatoes (fresh, frozen, or canned)

6 cups of bell peppers

20 ounces of frozen (or fresh) peas and corn

½ lb swiss chard

½ lb kale

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

1 tsp of dried thyme

1 lb butter

7 cups of bone broth

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp worcestershire sauce

½ cup of sherry

1 tsp fennel seeds

Salt and black pepper

1 cup of milk or cream

vinegar of your choosing

olive oil

1 bay leaf

1 tsp of herbs de provence

2 tsp coconut oil

3 tbsp of red curry paste

2 cans of organic, full fat coconut milk

lime juice

 

Add 1 lb of white beans to a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. When the water boils, turn off the heat, and allow the beans to sit, uncovered, for an hour. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, peel and cut into large chunks 6 white potatoes and 5 sweet potatoes. Peel 14 cloves of garlic. When the water boils, add the white potatoes and two cloves of garlic to the boiling water. Trim the root and stem ends from 6 beets and rinse well under water. Add the beets to a steamer filled with a few inches of water, cover, and turn on high.

Trim, peel, and chop 6 onions. Move 1/6 of the onions off to the side, and split the remaining onions into three equal groups. Finely chop the remaining 12 cloves of garlic. Trim, wash, and chop 14 carrots. Check the beets and white potatoes, and when they can be easily pierced through with a knife, remove from the heat and set aside. Empty the water from the potato pot, and set the pot aside.

In a large dutch oven, heat 2T butter until melted and sizzling. Add one of the three larger piles of onions to the pan, and saute for five minutes. Add 2 cups of the sliced carrots to the pan, and stir and cook for five minutes more. Add 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb ground pork to the pan, and stir and cook until browned. To this pan, add 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp of dried thyme, 2 cups of bone broth, 1 cup of canned tomatoes, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp worcestershire sauce,  and ½ cup of sherry. Simmer this mixture for 20 minutes.

While the shepard’s pie is simmering, trim and chop six cups of bell peppers. Add the bell peppers to a large bowl, and stir in one of the larger piles of onions, and add 1 cup of chopped tomatoes (fresh, frozen, or canned). In a small bowl, mix together ¼ cup of olive oil, ⅓ of the chopped garlic, 1 tsp fennel seeds, 2 tsps of salt, and 1 tsp black pepper. Pour the oil mixture over the vegetables, and toss to mix well. Move the oil and vegetable mixture into a freezer-safe container, and put it in the freezer. (These are the vegetables for your roasted vegetables with orzo).

Transfer the potatoes back into the pot they were cooked in, add ½ cup butter, 1 cup of milk or cream, and 2 tsp salt. Mash well.

Slip the skins off the beets and set the skins aside for compost. Slice the beets into bite sized pieces, and add them to the bowl where you mixed the vegetables and oil. Drizzle the beets with vinegar, olive oil, and salt to taste. Toss well, then cover and refrigerate. (These are for the beet salad)

Stir 20 ounces of frozen (or fresh) peas and corn into the meat mixture on the stove. Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the meat mixture, dot the potatoes with several pats of fresh butter, cover, and refrigerate. (This is your shepard’s pie)

Rinse and dry the pot used for the mashed potatoes, then add 2 tbsp butter and melt it over medium heat. Add the last large pile of onions to the pot, and cook, stirring often, until softened. Add half of the remaining chopped garlic to the pan, and stir for one minute. Add five cups of bone broth, 1 quart of water, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of herbs de provence, and 2 tsps salt. Drain and rinse the beans, and add them to the pot as well. Simmer for one hour or until beans are cooked through.

While the bean soup is simmering, use another of the now empty pots to melt 2 tsp coconut oil. Add the final and smallest pile of onions to the pan and cook gently over low heat for ten minutes, then add the last of the garlic and stir for one minute. Add ½ salt and ¼ tsp pepper along with 3 tbsp of red curry paste. Add the chopped sweet potatoes to the pan, stir well, and then stir in 2 cans of organic, full fat coconut milk. Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring now and again, for 25 minutes.

While the sweet potato soup is cooking, wash and finely chop ½ lb swiss chard and ½ lb kale. Add the greens to a container with a cover along with the remaining carrots, and move this into the refrigerator. (These veggies will be added to the white bean soup before serving) When the white beans are cooked through, remove the soup from the stove and allow to cool.

When the sweet potatoes are soft, use an immersion blender to puree the soup until it is smooth and silky. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Transfer both soups into fridge/freezer safe containers, and either freeze or refrigerate.

Now you find someone else to wash the dishes!

 

Ingredients You’ll Need for Serving:

All pre-prepped items

Fresh chopped parsley

Fresh torn basil

1 lb orzo

Feta cheese

Two loaves of crusty bread or 1 loaf bread and 1 batch of naan

 

Shepard’s Pie - preheat the oven to 425. Add the covered dutch oven to the warmed oven, and warm for 20 minutes. Remove the cover, sprinkle the potatoes with chopped parsley, and cook for 15-20 minutes longer until the mixture is bubbling and slightly golden. Serve and enjoy!

Kale, Swiss Chard, and White Bean Soup with Beet Salad- transfer the soup to a pot and bring to a simmer. Add the chopped carrots and greens that you’ve stored in your fridge. Simmer until the carrots are soft. Remove the beets from the fridge, toss them with some fresh chopped parsley and feta cheese. Serve the soup along with the beet salad and some crusty bread!

Roasted Vegetables and Orzo - the night before serving this, move the container of oil coated vegetables from the freezer and put it in the refrigerator. To serve, heat the oven to 400, spread the vegetables on a roasting pan, and cook for 25-35 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. While the vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the orzo. In the last ten minutes of cooking, stir in some fresh torn basil into the roasted vegetables. When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pot. Add the roasted vegetables to the cooked pasta, toss well, and top with some crumbled feta. Serve and enjoy!

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup - warm gently in a large soup pot until heated through. Serve with crusty bread or naan and butter.

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.

 

Unpacking

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.

 

Storing

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.

    

 

On Seasonal Eating

It’s hard to believe the summer session is over. The beginning of each session feels like infinity and excitement - twenty whole weeks to savor and celebrate the season. In the past five months, we’ve weathered a severe drought, contentious politics, the start and end of summer, and most recently, that annual burst of colorful vibrancy on the trees,  never ceasing to awe and humble.

I find it soothing to think about the coming session, twenty weeks that will carry us through the last of autumn, into the holidays, through the bitter cold of winter, and into March, where hope and life begin to stir deep within the earth. I’m already planning the soups, stews, gratins, and roasts that will keep us warm as we cozy into the season.

Winter is the time when seasonal eating becomes more challenging for lots of New Englanders. We’ve become so accustomed to continuous supply of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and watermelon at the grocery store, it’s hard to believe that one hundred years ago, seasonal eating was what kept people alive. Embracing seasonal eating during the cold months can take practice and a certain level of unlearning, but it’s a journey that is so well worth it. Waiting to enjoy seasonal treasures while they’re naturally available means that your taste buds get to reawaken each time the season changes, welcoming back familiar tastes while discovering nuances that can get missed with repetitive exposure.

Whatever it is that draws one to eat seasonally, I always find it rewarding to explore the benefits that extend into our larger world. I recently happened upon this list, compiled by Vern Grubinger of The University of Vermont Extension, and thought it was worth sharing.

 

Ten Reasons to Buy Local Food

by Vern Grubinger

Vegetable and Berry Specialist

University of Vermont Extension

Adapted from 'Growing For Market' newsletter article.

Vermont has a wide variety of farms. While known for our dairy production, there also many farms that raise fruits and vegetables, flowers and herbs, and animal products of all kinds. Our farmers are dedicated to stewardship and committed to quality. And while they love what they do, they aren't doing it for entertainment. They need to make a living. Consumers that value fresh food and a working landscape should support local farmers by buying their products. Here are ten reasons why.

1)  Locally grown food tastes and looks better. The crops are picked at their peak, and farmstead products like cheeses and are hand-crafted for best flavor. Livestock products are processed in nearby facilities and typically the farmer has direct relationship with processors, overseeing quality - unlike animals processed in large industrial facilities.

2) Local food is better for you. The shorter the time between the farm and your table, the less likely it is that nutrients will be lost from fresh food. Food imported from far away is older and has traveled on trucks or planes, and sat in warehouses before it gets to you.

3) Local food preserves genetic diversity. In the modern agricultural system, plant varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen uniformly, withstand harvesting, survive packing and last a long time on the shelf, so there is limited genetic diversity in large-scale production. Smaller local farms, in contrast, often grow many different varieties of crops to provide a long harvest season, an array of colors, and the best flavors. Livestock diversity is also higher where there are many small farms rather than few large farms.

4) Local food is safe. There's a unique kind of assurance that comes from looking a farmer in the eye at farmers' market or driving by the fields where your food comes from. Local farmers aren't anonymous and they take their responsibility to the consumer seriously.

5) Local food supports local families. The wholesale prices that farmers get for their products are low, often near the cost of production. Local farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food - which helps farm families stay on the land.

6) Local food builds community. When you buy direct from a farmer, you're engaging in a time-honored connection between eater and grower. Knowing farmers gives you insight into the seasons, the land, and your food. In many cases, it gives you access to a place where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about nature and agriculture.

7) Local food preserves open space. When farmers get paid more for their products by marketing locally, they're less likely to sell farmland for development. When you buy locally grown food, you're doing something proactive to preserve our working landscape. That landscape is an essential ingredient to other economic activity in the state, such as tourism and recreation.

8)  Local food keeps taxes down. According to several studies by the American Farmland Trust, farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas most development contributes less in taxes than the cost of required services. Cows don’t go to school, tomatoes don’t dial 911.

9) Local food benefits the environment and wildlife. Well-managed farms provide ecosystem services: they conserve fertile soil, protect water sources, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The farm environment is a patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings that provide habitat for wildlife in our communities.

10) Local food is an investment in the future. By supporting local farmers today, you are helping to ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow. That is a matter of importance for food security, especially in light of an uncertain energy future and our current reliance on fossil fuels to produce, package, distribute and store food.

DIPS!

A couple weeks ago, I posted some ideas for snacking using ingredients from your CSA share. This week, I wanted to continue on that thread by focusing on the ever versatile dip. Many of the dairy choices offered by Brookford Farm make fantastic bases for dips both sweet and savory: kefir, yogurt, Greek yogurt, and sour cream will all work. Dips are a great way to get kids to eat vegetables they might otherwise shy away from. Toddlers, in particular, often love dippers and might surprise you by their willingness to eat all things crunchy when given the opportunity.

There are lots of recipes out there for all kinds of dairy based dips. Here, I’ll share some general guidelines to help you become a pro.

 

  • Generally speaking, Greek yogurt and sour cream can be used “as is.” Kefir and regular yogurt benefit from thickening before use in dips. This is really very easy. It requires a fine mesh strainer and a coffee filter or thin piece of fabric. Place the strainer over a bowl, and place the coffee filter or fabric in the strainer. Pour the kefir or yogurt into the lined strainer, and place the bowl (with strainer inside) into the fridge. The whey will drip into the bowl, leaving you with a thicker product in the strainer. Leave the bowl in the fridge as long as it takes to reach the desired consistency (typically anywhere from 3-12 hours).
  • For most dip recipes, yogurt, greek yogurt, and kefir can be used interchangeably. It’s the add in ingredients that will determine the flavor of your final product, so it’s okay to use what’s on hand.

  • Get creative with dippers. Raw fruit and veggies are great for dipping. Crackers, meat cubes, breadsticks, chips, homemade veggie chips, and toast also work really well.

  • Feel free to be adventurous with add-ins. Beans, herbs, many fruits and vegetables, and several cheeses are very, very happy to mix with yogurt (or kefir, or sour cream) and become dip. A few recipes to get you started: this yogurt and chickpea dip, and this avocado and cumin dip.

  • Remember that herbs and spices are the ticket to versatility. Try cumin and chili powder, sauteed garlic with dill, cinnamon and nutmeg, or lemon and oregano. (For starters).

  • Know that you CAN make your favorites. Don’t believe me? Try this onion dip, this ranch dip, or this horseradish dip, and then we’ll talk! ;)

     

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.

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!

Cake:

Paleo carrot cake

The “best” carrot cake ever

Pancakes:

Coconut carrot pancakes (vegan)

Paleo carrot cake pancakes

Bread:

Savory carrot bread

Gluten free coconut carrot bread

Crackers:

Vegan and gluten free tomato carrot crackers

Gluten free carrot sesame crackers

Cookies:

Gluten free carrot cake cookies

Carrot cake oatmeal cookies

Muffins:

Carrot muffins

Paleo carrot muffins