CSA Basket Suppers

We will be picking up our 5th CSA basket of the season today. Already we’ve gotten to experience a few new items, mixed with an abundance of old favorites. Last week’s newbie was snow peas. I know many of you have probably been eating snow peas since the dawn of time but we have not (the occasional pea pod in our Chinese take-out does not count). This was our first time to prepare them at home and I promise, it will not be the last. Those things are delicious!

Last summer, we made the mistake of signing up for two CSA programs, thinking that we would eat what we could and freeze the rest for the winter. Along that same line, we shopped the Farmer’s Market weekly and visited countless local farm stands. AND we grew a garden with 32 tomato plants! We had so much food that we had to buy a second freezer. But when winter rolled around, we found it hard to get to the freezer foods because we were knee deep in rescued foods too.

Our new freezer by the end of August

When both of our freezers became packed, we starting contemplating moving items to my mom’s house. Then one morning in the middle of January, the insanity of it all settled in. We’re not prepping for a zombie apocalypse. We aren’t feeding a family of 10. We don’t live in a place that gets 8 feet of snow and we aren’t 50 miles from the nearest town. We live next door to a Walmart for Pete’s sake! In short, we weren’t going to starve to death if we didn’t have food in the freezer. We soon realized that without some concerted effort, there was just no way the two of us were  going to plow through our back stock before this summer. Let’s just say, February and March were the “squash and okra” months at our house.

This year we made some adjustments. We sold our older freezer. We signed up for one small CSA basket and we planted a very small garden – 8 tomato plants, 4 squash, 7 pepper plants, and a short row of cow peas and green beans. That leaves plenty of room for weekly visits to the market and farm stands. Our overall goal though – to eat 100% of what we receive in our basket (or buy at the market) each week. No freezing. We do plan to can and freeze a reasonable amount of produce for winter but we’ve decided to see what our garden yields before buying anything extra.

Our small garden:

To make the most of our basket contents, we’ve been trying some new recipes:

Snow peas with squash and pepper

You can serve this as a side dish or atop of bowl of brown rice for a complete meal. The recipe is easy – 1-2 squash (cubed), 1 pepper sliced in strips, and a pound of snow peas (washed and trimmed). Saute in avocado oil until the squash is tender. Season with salt and pepper (or your favorite seasoning).

Veggie Pizza

Angie makes an amazing quick homemade pizza crust using this recipe but any pizza crust will work. We topped ours with onions, bell peppers, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Bake 10 minutes and enjoy!

Spinach Zucchini Soup

I was searching for “what to do with an avocado you forgot you had” when I came across this recipe. It has absolutely nothing to do with an avocado but Google obviously thought it was something I needed to try. Thanks, Google! I made a few adaptations to the recipe though. I left out the cheese and instead of half and half, I just added more water. I also subbed in trattole noodles for the cheese tortellini. While it may seem like I was avoiding the use of dairy, in reality, I just didn’t want to go to the store. The soup was great.

Summer Salad

When in doubt, we make a salad. This one contains green and red leaf lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, broccoli and radish sprouts, and a boiled egg. Everything except the vinaigrette dressing came from our basket or the Saturday market.

So far, so good on our goal. We haven’t stuck anything in the freezer to avoid cooking it and we are eating 90% of our basket items in the week they were received. Of course, the real test will be the next two weeks when Angie is in Texas and it’s just me and the basket. Hopefully we don’t get a dozen squash!

What are some of your favorite recipes for seasonal fruits and veggies?

Food Waste Update

  • Wasted Food this week: 1 ounces
  • Total Wasted Food in 2018: 51 ounces
  • Rescued Food this week:   93 US pounds
  • Total Food Rescued this year:  279.02 US pounds

Keep up with our food finds in real time by viewing our Food Find Gallery.

Local Food Connections

On Saturday, our neighborhood fresh produce market hosted their 3rd annual Farm Fest to give shoppers the opportunity to meet local farmers and producers. We love Farm Fest, not just because we get to chat with the men and women who grow the foods we love to eat, but because we can sample new products that more often than not end up on our regular shopping list.

Having fun at Farm Fest 2018.

Last year, we fell in love with an oven-ready vegetarian lasagna that’s made right here in our town. At $20 for an 8 x 8 pan, Il Pandolce isn’t something we can afford all the time but it has become one of our favorite date-night splurges. We also discovered Santo Niño de Atocha Tortilleria. Ms. Alice and her family make fresh corn tortillas and chips literally down the street from us. We can (and have) walked to her shop.

This year the big hit for us was Smirk Ice Cream. Their small batch ice creams are made with fruit sweetened almond milk – no artificial ingredients, no added sweeteners, and no dairy. It was like heaven on a spoon for me (I’m very sensitive to dairy products and usually have to enjoy ice cream in tiny, tiny servings). Smirk even offers free delivery right to your door in the greater Nashville area.

As we made our way around the tables at Farm Fest, I couldn’t help but notice something interesting…besides this grandfatherly gentleman posting pictures of his wife to Instagram.

It’s Instagram-pa! He was having such a great time.

People were really interested in where their food came from. They wanted to know where the farms were located, if they could visit, and if their methods were organic and/or humane. I suppose this is what one should expect in a local produce market but nevertheless, it was inspiring. If more folks thought this much about their food, just think of the impact we could make.

Top 5 Reasons to Buy Local

  1. It supports your local community. 68% of food dollars spent locally stay in the community, as opposed to only 43% of food dollars spent at a chain grocer.
  2. You will reduce your environmental impact. On average, food travels 1,500 miles to reach the grocery shelf. This means massive amounts of energy are used in the transportation, refrigeration, storage, and packaging of these foods. Buying local eliminates almost all of this resource waste.
  3. Local food tastes better and is more nutritious. Most grocery produce is picked early and ripens in transit. Local produce has time to ripen in the field, meaning it can be picked and sold at the peak of flavor and nutrition.
  4. You will buy less. Let’s face it, there are no shopping carts at the Farmer’s Market, no impulse buys, and no BOGO super deals. When you shop local, you generally buy only what you need.
  5. You’re helping end food waste. Almost 40% of food loss occurs before the product even reaches the consumer. A lot of this waste occurs due to spoilage when fruits and veggies spend too much time in storage or transport but 17% occurs directly on the farm, where “ugly” produce is discarded as unsalable. Odd or misshapen produce is pretty much the norm at the local level and no one cares. An ugly carrot tastes just like a pretty one.

Angie with our free jar of salsa and a half pint of maple syrup from O’Brother’s.

During Farm Fest, we also signed up for our 2018 CSA share. Last year, we purchased shares from two local farms and we found ourselves overloaded with some things (like okra and peppers) and missing out on some others (like blueberries and melons). This year, we’re sticking with one CSA – Oak Grove Farms – and will purchase other “supplemental” items from the Farmer’s Market or the produce store. This will be our 3rd season with Oak Grove and we can’t wait for spring to roll around. They grow some of the most delicious strawberries we’ve ever eaten and their homemade salsa…oh my! Let’s just say, if it came in a keg, we’d buy one…or maybe two. As luck would have it though, Farmer Zach was giving away pint jars of his salsa that day.

Along with the salsa and maple syrup, we bought a dozen eggs, a bag of locally roasted coffee, 2 packs of dried apples, some Moosehead Kettle Corn, and 2 pints of local honey. We also went home with a half loaf of Amish sourdough bread and a half loaf of jalapeno sourdough bread from Laurel Mountain Farms. They had the cutest baby goat named Tommy at their table. After the second (or maybe fourth) time they let us play with him, I felt a bread purchase was the least we could do to repay them. And boy am I glad we did! That bread (and some homemade spinach dip) made for some super Super Bowl crostinis.

Food Waste Update

  • Wasted Food this week: 0 ounces
  • Total Wasted Food in 2018: 9 ounces
  • Found Food this week:  20.17 US pounds
  • Total Found Food this year:  83.34 US pounds

Keep up with our food finds in real time by viewing our Food Find Gallery.