Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2011 CSA, Week 2

It's week 2 of the PVF CSA, and the shares are getting a bit bigger! This week we were told to choose 7 including at least one herb. We also have an egg share Today, we chose:

1 giant zucchini
a bunch of baby leeks
1 very large fennel bulb with fronds
a bag of lemon basil
a bunch of swiss chard
a bunch of kale
a small box of red & yellow cherry tomatoes

And of course a 1/2 dozen eggs.

We still have a little bit of the salad greens from last week, as well as some of the turnips. This is one thing that I really like about the market style CSA. If we just had a regular mini share, we might have ended up with more turnips or salad greens, which we really don't need right now. We picked items that we did not get last week, with the exception of the chard (which is so universally liked in this house that it only seems right to get more), so we should not find ourselves with too much of one item that we don't necessarily want a lot of. Now, as for the fennel, it's one of my husband's favorite things in the world, so as long as they look good, we'll probably continue getting them.

It was good to see that the number went up this week from 6 items to 7, and I can appreciate that they wanted you to take at least one herb.

We got a recipe for grilled fennel; I think I'll make it later in the week with fish and using the fronds to help season the fish. The kale will likely become chips. The chard, well, we'll see how we're feeling but I'm thinking egg pie :)

Oh and the kids totally went for the tomatoes. I had to grab the box away before they did to the tomatoes what they did to the peas last week!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What to do with Swiss Chard

If you belong to a vegetable CSA in Northern Virginia, you probably get a lot of swiss chard. I know we do! I am pretty sure we get chard all summer long, in fact.

So what to do with all of that chard? Well, first of all, know how it cooks up: unlike with some other greens, you can eat the stems. They have a similar texture to celery. If you get rainbow chard, you can end up with white, green, red, orange, and yellow stems, which can cook up really beautifully! The leaves are usually green but can be red as well. As with most greens, you can cook them up nicely with garlic & olive oil or butter.

But for something other than a side dish, you can try some Swiss Chard & Chicken Quesadillas for starters.

Or make some Swiss Chard pies! Here's a recipe:

Preheat oven to 350

Make your favorite pie crust. Or look online for a tasty crust and make it. Roll it out to 1/8" and cut into 6" rounds.  Or, go get a refrigerated pie crust (not frozen!) and cut that into smaller rounds. Set these aside.

For the filler, you'll need:
1 bunch swiss chard
1 garlic curl or 2 cloves garlic
some onion or spring onion or scallion tops
3 slices of bacon, cooked & crumbled
about 1T maple syrup
about 1T wine or apple cider vinegar

Chop everything, keeping the chard stems separate from the leaves. Saute the chard stems, onion (or scallion), and garlic (or curls) in a little olive oil until they start to soften. Add the chard leaves, salt & pepper, and saute until everything is wilted. Remove from heat and add in the bacon, syrup, & vinegar.

Now, take your mini pie rounds. Add some of the mix, fold over, and crimp with a fork. Repeat for the rest of the rounds. If you have any leftover mix, refrigerate it for later use. You can always make more pie crust or use it in another recipe. Pierce tops of the pies to release steam. You may want to do an egg wash on these but it's not strictly necessary. Place on a baking stone or cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Delicious!

If you have leftovers, use them for breakfast! reheat them in a pan in the morning and add some eggs for a tasty omelette. You can use the same mix to go into a quiche or Egg Pie (just remove the squash/onion/garlic curl pesto from that recipe and replace with the mix from this one!)

You can generally use Swiss Chard in any recipe that calls for spinach, just remember that the chard will take a little longer to cook.

Do you have a favorite swiss chard recipe?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

2011 CSA, Week 1

Once again, we decided to do our CSA with Potomac Vegetable Farms, and I have to say, I could not be happier. Well, I could be a little happier if we had had the money to do the regular share this year, but instead we did the mini share, because we were poor in February when we had to pay for it. It's ok though! Because PVF will have a farm stand later in the summer, and they are at the Reston Farmer's Market on Saturdays as well.

This year, they are doing an experiment, having the Wednesday group do a "market style" CSA.  They set up the CSA room like a farm stand, and you get to pick your items. You get to choose based on your share size. So today, minis got to take 6 items, regulars got to take 8, and robust shares got to take 12. I took the kids in to the room and it was amazing! We also got eggs again this year because they are the best eggs ever. Micah decided he wanted:

kohlrabi (he picked a purple one). He did not know what it was but I told him it tasted like broccoli stems so he thought that would be a good pick.
salad turnips (it was a pint sized container with small salad turnips)
sugar snap peas
a bag of salad greens
a bunch of garlic curls
a bunch of swiss chard

Plus of course we picked up our eggs. Seeing the other items made me wish we could have had the regular share, because they had zucchini, leeks, spring onions, spring garlic, and a ton of herbs. But we're growing our own herbs this year, and like I said, we can supplement with the farm market this weekend. In fact, I had picked up spring onions and garlic at the market last week, so we actually did have some already.

Hana, who is the woman who runs the CSA, was present in the room when we were picking up, making sure everyone knew what to do since it was the first week. When I told Micah that there was swiss chard, he said, "Oh YES! I love Swiss Chard! It's my FAVORITE!!" She got a big kick out of that, and said "Oh my gosh, then you're with the right CSA!" It's a big joke among PVF people that we start and end very very leafy.

If the amounts of food are anything like last year, we should have more picks as the summer goes on. I'm really looking forward to it!

Oh and by the way, the sugar snap peas are already gone. We ate them for lunch with sandwiches. I got 5 of them and the kids ate all the rest.