Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cauliflower and Arugula Soup

This is a recipe from member, Karin Robert in Walnut Creek. It sounds delicious! Karin uses potatoes in place of zucchini in the winter. You could also use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth.

1 head of cauliflower
1 red or white onion
3/4 lb of zucchini (approx. 2), peeled and sliced and quartered
1/4 lb of arugula
1 can of chicken broth
1 can of water (from chicken broth)
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
1/4 tsp. pepper
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cut up cauliflower and add to boiling water. Cook for approximately 15 minutes, drain and set aside. Saute onion in olive oil until soft, approx, 5 minutes, then add cut up zucchini and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Then add arugula and cook until it wilts. Add a can of chicken broth, cauliflower and water and cook until boiling. Add salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool. Process in a blender until smooth. Return to stove and cook till hot. Add cheese and serve immediately.

Note: You can use potatoes in place of the zucchini.

Monday, March 30, 2009

CSA Philopsophy

This week, I want to take some time to reiterate the philosophy of CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA members invest in a farm or farms at the beginnning of the growing season. In exchange for this investment, community members receive a share of the harvest. At Eat Outside the Box, we receive shares weekly. Not all CSAs distribute shares at this frequency. Distribution of shares is not a "given." Members in a CSA share the risk with the farmers involved in the relationship. We also share in the bounty.

In the case of our CSA, the money we invest allows the farm to invest in seeds and make decisions related to our needs. The farmer is planning and planting for us. In addition, as members we are learning what is seasonal. Sometimes, we may not like what is seasonal. My feeling is that the reason for this is that we have forgotten how to eat seasonally. Our tastes have evolved along with our supermarket shelves rather than our actual local harvests.

The goal of CSA is to create a more direct relationship with our food, to understand what is growing in our neighborhood and to raise awareness about the importance of local agriculture.

CSA allows farmers to operate on a more human scale as well. Eaters put a face on farming and farmers put a face on eaters. I also see Eat Outside the Box as mechanism to bring together people with like minds who want to eat fresh, local foods in support of local farmers. Thus we work to create a sense of community based around seasonal food and including those who produce our food.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Logistics and Concepts

I've been thinking a lot about the challenges we are facing this year in the CSA. Every year there are some issues with people not taking the time to weigh their shares properly. Sometimes, I think this is due to a lack of understanding about how this CSA works. Eat Outside the Box is unique. Most CSAs have the farmers weighing and packing all produce for each individual member or members doing this work for the group. We do neither, trusting all members to take the time to read the directions each week and take the time to follow them. For the past 8 years this has worked really well. I am not sure why we are faced with the shortages and overages we are each week in Walnut Creek. I have had some members email me what they have observed and I appreciate their willingness to share with me.

I want to reiterate to everyone that this CSA works because everyone has agreed to the system and is willing to abide by it. All of us have paid for weekly shares, even I, at the same cost. We all trust one another not to take more or less than allotted. Sometimes, in a hurry, it is easy to just grab and go. This kind of action affects everyone in the group, as we witnessed last week with all our greens packed together in bags. This costs the farm more to do. It took me a lot more time to separate out my greens this week, so it cost me more too. However, there were fewer mistakes. I still did not get green garlic or onions and someone left one of their bags of pre-packed greens. I got a lot of cardoons. I'll be cooking them tonight, happily.

But this is not the point. The point is that we all need to be more concious of what we are doing each Tuesday. When we touch and weigh our produce, it is a process that can be very invigorating. Just that. The food is alive and the freshness is palpable.

We can decide to take turns on Monday nights weighing out each share for each member. The farm will not do this without raising our prices considerably. I thinkwe all need to think more aobut our little community. Supporting each other and the farms as we measure out our shares.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Recipe from Rachael

Pork and nettle pot stickers with dancy tangelo and dried cherry sauce:

½ lb ground pork

1 cup thinly slivered nettles

1 tsp of sesame oil

1 tbsp fresh minced galangal (or ginger)

2 cloves of garlic finely minced

2 whole scallions, minced

½ tsp Chinese five spice powder

Dash of soy sauce

Salt and plenty of black pepper

I package pot sticker wrappers

Over med heat, stir fry the nettles in the sesame oil until they are wilted. Mix the cooked nettles with all of the ingredients except the wrappers and take a tiny pinch and cook it to check for seasonings. Then brush one half of the wrapper round with water, place a teaspoon in the middle and fold in half, set aside. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Heat oil to between 350 and 375 degrees. Deep fry the pot stickers until they are golden and crispy and drain on paper towels and serve with the dancy tangelo and dried cherry sauce.


Take about 2 lbs of the Tangelos, make about ¼ to 1/3 cup of zest and set aside. Then peel the tangelos and with a sharp small knife remove the outer pith. Put them in a pan with 1 cup of dried cherries, 1 cup of sugar, 1 ½ cup of water, one star anise, a piece of ginger the size of a quarter and ¼ cup of plum wine (or mirin) and a little salt. Reduce down over a low simmer until sauce is thickened a bit. Take a potato masher and kind of mash all the stuff together in the pot. Drain the sauce thru a china cap, pressing hard on the solids, or a strainer lined with cheese cloth. Boil the zest with 2 tbsp of chopped dried cherries in a cup or two of water for one minute, drain and then add the softened zest and cherries to the sauce. The sauce can be stored in the freezer or fridge for quite some time. Serve hot or cold with the pot stickers. The sauce is also good on chicken or fish. It can also be poured over fresh farmers cheese or cream cheese and eaten with crackers.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another Nettle Soup

These nettles don't sting. They provide comfort and health in the late winter. Below, I have pasted today's correspondence with another nettle soup recipe. I love these recipes and each one is different. This one is from member Lynn Coddington. Enjoy!!

Nettle Soup
Based on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe in The Guardian, March 8, 2009 and adapted to what’s in our Eat Outside the Box CSA shares in early spring.

Serves 4-6

2 T. unsalted butter
3 stalks green garlic, trimmed and finely chopped
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped, or 1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 large russet potato, about 12-14 ounces, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
3.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bunch of tender stinging nettles, about 4 ounces
1/4 c. greek yogurt (plain)
grating of fresh nutmeg
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
drizzle of good olive oil, like Frog Hollow Farm's

Melt butter over medium in a large saucepan or deep sauté pan. Wash the green garlic and spring onions, then chop finely. Add a pinch of kosher salt and a few big grinds of pepper. Sauté in the butter over medium heat until wilted and tender, about 4-5 minutes.

Stir potato chunks into garlic and onion. Sauté for a minute or two. Pour the stock over the potatoes, onions, and garlic, and simmer until the potato is tender, about 15 minutes.

Wash the nettles and cut them coarsely right in the colander with a pair of kitchen shears. When the potatoes are soft, take the soup pot off the heat, and put the nettles on top. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes to wilt the greens.

Whiz in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour back into a saucepan and whisk in yogurt. Grate in a bit of nutmeg. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Bring the heat up gently without letting the soup boil. Serve immediately in heated bowls with a drizzle of good olive oil on top.

For a richer soup, use crème fraiche instead of the yogurt, or stir in a splash of heavy cream just before serving.

As the season advances, substitute any tender greens for the nettles. Spinach, baby arugula, and watercress all work well.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sharing Ideas

This week I was extremely happy to open my emails and find recipes!

Simple minds, simple pleasures.

I seek recipes that sound delicious to include in our weekly newsletters. Many of them I have tried, some I have not. I try to include some recipes that are easy and some that will challenge us all. I almost always use the recipes I include in the newsletters in the course of the week. Sometimes it gets difficult to find new things to do with wild radish greens or rapini. I know from the survey results that these are two items people tend to tire of. So, I really appreciated getting those recipes this week.

I think that seasonality is something most of us have lost touch with. In our supermarkets everything is always in season. We've forgotten that tomatoes and basil don't grow locally in March. We never learned how to utilize winter produce like cooking greens. Our kids expect apples and grapes year round.

I have started to appreciate seasonality. I am challenged with cooking greens like many people. I struggle to find new ways to get my family to eat rapini. But I keep trying to tune in to the seasons. I know when the summer is over, I am ready to say goodbye to tomatoes for awhile. I am ready to eat beets, potatoes and, yes, greens too. So, I know when the greens are finished, I will be ready for them to end. I will be ready to eat eggplant and summer squash. Until then, though, I will be eating greens and knowing that they are providing for me what I need most at this season.