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April 1 started out a little dreary. I was behind in my food sourcing and found myself eating grits, eggs and greens for the first part of the day – not that I mind those, it’s actually a favorite, but I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from just yet… I was feeling food insecure!

Luckily, Lowcountry Local First was having the Dirtworks Incubator Farm launch that afternoon and the reception was catered using local ingredients by Cassique and the Beach Club on Kiawah Island. Amen, I was saved…at least for the evening.

I dedicated April 2 to driving all around town to gather my sustenance for the next little while. My day consisted of:

A trip to Ambrose Farms on Wadmalaw Island yeilding – U-pick strawberries, beets, asparagus, Spring onions, carrots and the first (literally) Spring broccoli, offered straight from the farmers hand. Thanks Pete!
IMG_0831

My journey carried me back to Johns Island for a stop at Blackbird Market where I picked up:

– 10lbs carrots grown on their farm plot on Wadmalaw
– Rio Bertolini’s Split Creek Farm Goat Cheese Ravioli (convenience food!)
French Boule baked at Normandy Farms Bakery
– 2 jars of pickled SC peaches – we are in a fruit shortage at this time of year, so I was really excited to find these!
Nicole’s Nutty Goodness snack bars (more convenience food – hooray! – I need all the help I can get)

Crossing Main Rd., I found myself at the Piggly Wiggly scoping out their local dry goods selection. I came up with:
Charleston Coffee Roasters whole bean organic dark roast coffee, and
Charleston Bloody Mary Mix mix to be used with the Firefly Vodka I pick up at the ABC next door.

Onward up Maybank Highway to Earthfare Health Foods Market who has a lovely display of local produce right as you walk in the door.  They receive most of their local fare from the all-local food distributor Grow Food Carolina.  My findings there:
Sweet Potatoes from Care Farm in Orangeburg- they look a little rough, but they taste divine – sweet and silky texture, bright orange flesh. Needed nothing but a little sea salt.
Tomatoes – Hydroponic from Kurios Farms – they are pretty darn good for being grow indoors in March.  I’m really thankful for a local tomato right now…
Zesty Salad Mix from City Roots in Columbia – beautiful microgreen mix with pea tendrils, beets, brassicas, and sunny shoots.
BeerWestbrook Brewing CompanyWhite Thai 6-pack o’ cans.

Earthfare's Bounty

Earthfare’s Bounty

Kurios Farms Tomatoes

Kurios Farms Tomatoes

The Glass Onion off 17 keeps a stock of the Green Grocer’s AMAZING raw milk. Celeste Albers is one of our finest producers in town – a hero of mine. I also grabbed some homemade pickles and pimento cheese.

Heading through downtown, I made a quick u-turn into Crosby’s Seafood to pick a local catch –
Flounder filets

And the farthest journey of all – to Our Local Foods off of Clements Ferry – but worth the trip to acquire Happy Cow Creamery’s Butter and Cheese. Can’t forget the sweet tooth – Split Creek Dairy’s creamy, delicious Fudge.

I head home to find a freshly delivered package waiting on my doorstep – from Anson Mills in Columbia – a most precious and holy box of the finest in South Carolina Heirloom, organically-grown grains…various Flours for bread, tortillas and dough, Farro, Carolina Gold Rice, Popping Corn, stone-cut Oats and Grits.  Spectacular.

The amazing array of Anson Mills products.

The amazing array of Anson Mills products.

The pantry and fridge are stocked with the most beautiful foods in our land.  I have found the food security I was looking for with a little hunting and gathering.  I’m thinking this challenge will be more than possible – healthy, delicious and conscious.

Now to begin cooking…

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2011 CSA Registration

Hey there Folks!  We just wanted to thank everyone for an encouraging first season.  We struggled a bit with the record heat and drought, but had some great harvests for our Community Supported Agriculture and Farmers Market Customers.  We were able to observe what worked, what did not, what folks were interested in, and ways to make the farm better for the next year.  We are very excited to be adding Sweet Potatoes and Strawberries to the roster!

Click the link below to view our CSA information for the 2011 season.  Sign up before the holidays and receive a special rate 🙂

2011 CSA Brochure

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Tomatoes!!!

Freezing Tomatoes

Storing these guys is quite easy.  The more time you spend now on preparing the tomatoes. the less time you will spend later.  Frozen tomatoes can be used later in sauce, soups or stews.

To freeze whole tomatoes, wash fruit, remove all brown parts, and place on a cookie sheet to set in the freezer.  When the tomatoes are frozen, pack them into zip lock bags.

If you would like to remove skins (recommended), dunk tomatoes in boiling water for one minute, just until the skin splits, remove, let cool for a minute and slide skins off.  Then you can quarter or chop and pack into bags.

They are here at last!  Most of what we grow are heirlooms, some people know them as the funny looking ones.  They come in all shapes, sizes and colors, tie-dyes and stripes.  To know when they are ready, look for the deep color and a slight softness to the touch.  When you are buying tomatoes at the market or the store, it is best to NOT squeeze, because if you don’t want that one, no one else will want it either with fingerprint dents left behind.

Tomatoes are best stored on your counter.  They will ripen there nicely and they are delightful to look at.  Storing toms in the fridge tends to make them mushy.  If you have a cracked one, eat is as soon as possible or refrigerate to prevent fruit flies.  The ones from the fridge are still great to cook with.  A tomato can be enjoyed simply sliced with a little salt.

Cucumber, Tomato and Squash Salad

Simple and healthy, refreshing on a hot day.

Dice one cucumber, one patty pan and one large tomato

Add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, chopped basil, minced onion, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately or chill to blend the flavors even more.  The squash is optional, cukes and toms are great on their own.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

We had this tonight with some fresh chanterelle mushrooms and Rio Bertolini’s raviolis.

You will need:

3-5 ripe heirloom tomatoes, diced

3 spring onions, chopped

1 clove garlic

handful or fresh basil leaves, chopped

thyme, oregano, rosemary, parsley or any other herb of choice

salt and pepper

Sautee onions and garlic until fragrant, add tomatoes and herbs, simmer until sauce-like, about 10-15 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  This sauce can be used on pizza, pasta, lasagna, or dipping any breads.  Feel free to add squash or eggplant too.

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Wow!  Are the cukes coming in!  I can see how one might end up with a pantry full of pickles!  Most any kind of cucumber will work for these recipes.

Refrigerator Pickles

Slice peeled or unpeeled cucmbers into 1/4″ rounds.  Cover with 1/2 water and 1/2 red wine, apple cider, or white wine vinegar.  Add chopped herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, sage or dill) and salt and pepper.  Let marinate for at least an hour, will keep for a few weeks.  You can also add sliced carrots or turnips to the recipe.

Canned Pickles

Sweet, Dill and Butter.  Detailed description of how to can all of these Cucumbers, pictures too.  Make your own pickles to have for years!  Click below:

http://www.pickyourown.org/pdfs/making%20pickles.pdf

Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 large seedless cucumbers (about 1 lb each)
  • 1 1/2 quarts low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Optional garnishes:
    – smoked salmon, diced
    – cucumber, sliced thin
    – radishes, sliced
    – rye bread croutons
    – fresh dill

Preparation:
1. Peel cucumbers and cut into chunks.
2. Place in food processor and process until pureed.
3. Transfer mixture to large bowl.
4. Add yogurt, dill, garlic and seasoning; stir until blended.
5. Chill until served.

Yield:
12 servings

Nutritional Information:
Per serving: 97 calories, 7 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 7 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 25% Daily Value of calcium, 476 mg sodium.

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Freezing Summer Squash

Freezing the squash is super simple.  Grate a fresh, washed zucchini or patty pan on a cheese grater, pack into a freezer bag into the serving size you will eventually use, label the bag and stick in the freezer. Voila!

A yummy, simple recipe to use the grated squash contributed by my apprentice Clara, is to sautee onion and garlic in olive oil or butter, add the grated squash and cook until the water evaporates.  You can cook until mushy, or until crispy, your choice.  Serve hot.

I made some Squash and Potato Pancakes the other day that were awesome.  Use equal parts grated potato and squash, and enough egg  just to bind it together.  I added sage and thyme, salt and pepper, and a little cayenne to the mix.  Pour into pancake sized portions in a hot pan and cook until browned on both sides.  Eat with lots of ketchup!

A couple of kid-friendly squash recipes approved by my very selective two-year old Godchild Eliza contributed by her mother Sarah.

Summer Squash Bake
6-7 cups zucchini or yellow squash (shredded or chopped; remove spongy seedy part if using mature squash)
1 small onion (minced)
Combine with enough water to cook or microwave until tender, 3-4 minutes (shredded zucchini may be used without cooking).
Drain

1 can condensed cream soup
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 cup shredded carrot

Mix together in a separate bowl.

2 tablespoons fresh oregano (chopped; 2 teaspoons dried)
1 cup cooked chicken (optional)
1 cup cheese (optional)
Add and mix thoroughly. Stir into squash mixture.

1/4 cup butter or margarine (melted)
2-3 cups herbed croutons or herb stuffing mix
Mix together in a separate bowl.  Put half into the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan or a deep casserole dish.  Add the squash mixture and top with the reserved croutons.  Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

Carolyn Beyer, Leola, Pennsylvania
Lois Loftin, Halstead, Kansas
Myrna Kaufman, Goshen, Indiana

Cheese and Zucchini Sausages
Delicious vegetarian sausages are quick and easy to prepare.  If you have time, you can form the mixture into sausage shape and then set aside in the fridge to firm up before frying.

3 slices bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 1/4 cups grated zucchini
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 egg, separated
A little salt and freshly ground black pepper (I bet minced sage would be good in this too!)
Vegetable oil for frying

Make bread crumbs by tearing the bread into pieces and blitzing it in a food processor.

Heat the butter in a frying pan and fry the onion until soft.  Add the grated zucchini and cook for 3 minutes or until softened.
Mix with the grated cheese, half the bread crumbs, the egg yolk and seasoning.  Shape into 8 sausages about 4 inches long, using floured hands.  Dip into the lightly beaten egg white and then roll in the remaining bread crumbs.
Heat some oil in a wok or frying pan and cook the sausages over medium heat, turning carefully as necessary, until lightly golden.
Annabel Karmel – Superfoods for babies and children

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My roommates/apprentices/friends and I made the BEST dinner the other night and realized during the meal that it included most everything from this weeks CSA box.   Here was our menu:

Larry’s Roasted Beet Salad (see below) over a Romaine salad with Smoked Yellow Tomato dressing made by another friend in his smoker.

Sauteed Shredded Summer Squash with Spring Onions and Garlic- grate zuccinis or pattypans and sautee with above ingredients and olive oil until water cooks off or crispy- your preference!

Smashed Red New Potatoes with Dill and Burden Creek Dairy’s goats milk to make it nice and creamy.

Sauteed Baby Bok Choy and Grated Carrots with horseradish, tamari and cashews.  Of course this had garlic and onions in it.  What that we cook does not?

We were very satisfied at the end of the meal and feeling healthy and light too!

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Beets!!!

Risotto with Beet Greens and Roasted Beets

submitted by CSA member Nikki

This rich-tasting risotto is decidedly pink (maybe it will be the key to getting your picky daughter to eat vegetables!). Use a full-bodied vegetable stock if you are vegetarian; otherwise use a well seasoned chicken or turkey stock.

3/4 pound beets (1 bunch small), roasted

1 bunch beet greens, stemmed and washed

6 to 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock, as needed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnarolli rice

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1/2 cup red, rose, or dry white wine

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 to 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 to 1/2 cup, to taste)

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Season well and turn the heat to low. Stack the stemmed, washed greens and cut crosswise into 1-inch wide strips.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large nonstick frying pan or wide, heavy saucepan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes, and add the rice and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are separate and beginning to crackle, about 3 minutes.

3. Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The wine should bubble, but not too quickly. You want some of the flavor to cook into the rice before it evaporates. When the wine has just about evaporated, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock (about 1/2 cup), enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly (adjust heat accordingly). Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of the stock and continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, stirring often and adding more stock when the rice is almost dry, for 10 minutes.

4. Stir in the greens and the diced beets, and continue adding more stock, enough to barely cover the rice, and stirring often, for another 10 to 15 minutes. Taste a bit of the rice. Is it cooked through? It should taste chewy but not hard in the middle. Definitely not soft like steamed rice. If it is still hard in the middle, you need to continue adding stock and stirring for another 5 minutes or so. Now is the time to ascertain if there is enough salt. Add if necessary.

5. When the rice is cooked through, add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper, and stir in another half cup of stock, the Parmesan and the parsley. Remove from the heat. The rice should be creamy; if it isn’t, add a little more stock. Stir once, taste and adjust seasonings, and serve.

Variation: I often blanch greens when I get them home from the market so that they won’t wilt or rot in the refrigerator if I don’t get around to cooking them right away. If you do this, and want to use them for this risotto, chop the blanched greens and set aside. Add them to the risotto during the last few minutes of cooking, just to heat them through and amalgamate into the dish.

Advance preparation: The roasted beets will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator. You can get ahead on the risotto, cooking it just through Step 3, then spreading the rice out in the pan or on a baking sheet. Reheat and proceed with Step 4 shortly before serving.

Yield: Serves 4 to 5 generously as a main dish

Approximate Nutritional Information: 585 calories per serving; 114 calories from fat; total fat: 12.6g; saturated fat 3.3g; cholesterol 134mg; sodium 282mg; total carbohydrates 53.6g; dietary fiber: 2.4g; sugars 6.2g; protein 56.2g (Data provided by calorie-count.com.)

Larry’s Beet Salad

When I was working in New York on Mountain Dell Farm, our neighbor Larry would collect our mouse-bitten beets and return the next day with this wonderful salad.  So simple and so good.  Let it marinate for a day for the best flavor. 

5-10 Beets, roasted in the oven for 50 minutes, until you can just slide a fork through them.

2 tbsp olive oil

2tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp dried or 2 tbsp fresh oregano (you will get some in your box soon!)

2 thinly sliced Spring Onions

salt and pepper.

Roast beets, peel skins while beets are still very warm- using a paper towel helps with gripping the skins and from preventing burns.  Slice into 1″ by 1/4″ pieces, add above ingredients and let marinate for a little while, or just eat right then.

Enjoy~ Rita

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