Recipes, produce information and forum for Zoe's Garden Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members. Zoe's Garden offers CSA subscriptions in the Park City, Heber, Salt Lake, Ogden & Lindon areas. Our purpose is to provide the freshest naturally grown produce possible by delivering it to our local members within a day of picking.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Getting more bang from your box

Some of you may be old hands at using vegetables to their fullest in your kitchen.  Some of you may not have seen carrot leaves before this season of CSA and farmer's market shopping.  I keep finding new ways that I'm underutilizing the veggies that I bring home, and most of what I don't eat is fed to my chickens and turned into eggs!  Here is a short list of tips and tactics to get more bang from your box (and for several items you might not have seen yet but that you might have brought home from the market).

* Compost it.  If you don't already have a compost bin or don't have room, but you do have a flower or garden patch, try burying your veggie scraps in strips between your plants.  Bury a little, then move over six inches and bury the next batch.  Your soil will improve.

* Soup stock it.  The bottoms of lettuce, peels of carrots, ends of bok choy, wilted but not liquified spinach leaves, outsides of onions, and general leftovers from chopping things up have a lot of flavor and nutrients in them.  Save them in a bag in the freezer until you have several big handfuls, then boil them for half an hour or so in water to cover.  Strain it, salt it, and freeze it in baggies, and you'll have flavorful stock that beats a bouillon cube any day.

* Drink the broth.  Any time you've blanched or steamed a veggie, a significant portion of the nutrients have gone into the water.  Drink that as a clear soup, or use it to start a soup stock (see above), so that you're not losing all those healthy bits.  At the very least, let it cool and water your houseplants.  (This is one of my guiltier items -- I always get lazy and just drain the veggies so I can eat them.)

* Eat the tops.  Beet greens are a lot like chard -- be sure to cut them off before storing the beets, and you can simmer, sauté, or turn a soup red.  Carrot greens are remarkably tasty and hold up well to all kinds of treatment -- soup additions, mixed into a stir fry, or tempura battered and deep fried.  Onion tops are just as edible as leeks and scallions, though they get a little sunburned and thick late in the season.

* Freeze it.  Squishy or bruised fruit isn't a pleasure to snack on, but it eats all the same because it is just very ripe.  Freeze apricots and berries that arrive too ripe and put them into muffins or smoothies later.

Do you have any tips or ideas?  Post them in the comments!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Week 11 Lists

Boxes are getting heavier!  Quick storage notes: greens (including the beet greens) loose in plastic in the crisper, cherries and berries covered in the fridge, and onions-beans-beets to the bottom of the fridge as well.  The squash are probably fine on your countertop if you're going to eat them in the next day or two.  Some of the apricots probably aren't totally ripe yet, and if they aren't, put them in a paper bag on the countertop.  Check them in the morning and evening until they're as soft as you'd like.  (Some of the apricots are also slightly bruised from a wind storm at the farm last night.  They're fine, but eat them first.)

I listed the retail values for the small share veggies that David charges at the farmer's market, and we estimated them as best we could by weight.  All told, retail, the small box this week is worth $60 at full value.

Wild Garden Kale  ($4)
Apricots (4-5 lbs at $3/lb = ~$12)
Cherries ($3 for the half pound)
Spring Onions (~$4 worth)
Chocolate Mint ($3)
Blue Lake Green Beans ($5 for the pound)
    The green beans might have been left out... I'm checking.
Fava Beans ($8 for the pound)
Sunburst Squash
Italian Zucchini
Zephyr Squash
Straight Neck Squash
(5 lb squash @ $2/lb for cheapest = $10)
Red Detroit Beet ($3 for the 3/4 pound)
Garlic ($3)
Spinach ($5)

Red Russian Kale
Red Amaranth
Flying Saucer Squash
Red Romaine Lettuce
Micro Pea Shoots

Microgreen Mix
Micro Chervil
Crookneck Squash
Straight Neck Squash
Golden Zucchini
Black Beauty Zucchini
Great Lake Lettuce
Red Sail Lettuce
Extra Apricots

Zephyr squash (two different colorations), fava, onion,
garlic, beets, Italian zucc, sunburst, straight neck squash

Spinach, chocolate mint, apricots, cherries, wild kale

Red Russian kale, pea shoots, flying saucer squash,
amaranth, red romaine lettuce

tops: micro chervil, microgreen mix, raspberries, strawberries
bottom: red sail lettuce, black beauty, yellow zucc,
crook neck (or straight neck - I'm not sure), great lake lettuce

Fava Beans
Fava beans are meant to be eaten very young.  Remove the beans from their shells and then fry or boil them, mash them and serve them on toasted bread, or sautee them with shrimp and peas.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Seasonally adjusted share

I'm drawn to the "this time last year" links that show up in most regular blogs / news aggregators.  Each growing season is different, but I thought I would bring you all a "(seasonally adjusted) this time last year" to see where we are and where we're going.

With that, we're someplace around here, which is a few weeks earlier than now last year.  You can replace the cherries with apricots and know that the tomatoes, summer squash, and cucumbers are a week away, and keep browsing through the weeks from that point on to get a good preview of the next month or so.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Winter shares

David wanted me to pass along some things he's working on up at the farm.  He's putting up more high tunnels that will help him to extend the season into the winter (possibly into early January).  He's thinking he'll be able to offer a winter CSA of things like root vegetables, salad greens, skillet greens like kale, and winter squash.  He's working on the vegetable lists and pricing.

High tunnels also give him the ability to start the season even earlier next year, and to get the warm season vegetables rolling in safety from the weather.

Keep returning your clamshells and boxes!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Week 10 Lists

Week 10 -- not quite halfway through the season.  And the new additions for the week are pointing us towards the full summer produce.  The spinach, scapes, and lettuces are on the way out as they all start to bolt in the heat.  In come the first of the zucchini, stone fruit (cherries this week), green beans, summer squash, and beets.

Before we get rolling, I wanted to mention how the farm manages the harvests so that we are all on the same page for what we're seeing in our boxes vs. what we might see on the table at the market.  On Monday morning, David goes to the fields and orchards and tries to estimate what will be ripe enough and plentiful enough through the week for the CSA boxes.  Will the romaine lettuce have enough heads to supply the roughly 100 small shares on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday?  What about the rhubarb -- is there only enough for the handful of large shares?  It gets too complicated to manage things in separate weeks, giving it to Wednesday and Friday this week and remembering that Monday needs it next.  And anything that doesn't make the cut at the start of the week but is coming up ripe towards the end of the week needs to be harvested regardless.  That is why you'll see things on the table at the farmer's market that just didn't make it into the share during the week.  Chances are more than good that you'll be seeing it come the next week.

It is also worth noting that produce like fruit orchards are drastically affected by very localized weather and microclimates.  One side of a valley can get a one-night frost that kills all the cherry blossoms where the other side gets a full crop.  A hail storm can pass over a mile wide swath just as the green apricots are starting to grow.  Some summers are luckier than others, and some farms are large enough that when they lose a cherry harvest in one orchard, the others can pick up the slack.

Every farm grows (or grows and trades for) a different mix of vegetables, each in their own microclimate.

garlic scapes (last week)
red romaine
green romaine
deer tongue lettuce
spring onion
garlic (fresh heads, can be dried)

blue kale
sugar snap peas

yellow snow peas
micro chervil
green beans
golden squash (either yellow zucc or crookneck, depending)
baby bok choy
young spaghetti squash
iceberg lettuce
extra cherries

lots of peaches
loads more summer squash

These heads of garlic are more mature than the young items we've received so far.  If you're going to eat them right away, wash them, peel off the outermost layer, and stick them in the fridge.  Peel and use as normal garlic.  If you'd like, you can hang them in a warm window or a shaded porch to dry.  They'll form the usual papery skin and will store for several months.

Scapes and Lettuce
This is the end of the scapes and the lettuce.  The lettuce is bolting at younger and younger ages, meaning it starts to go to see.  As soon as it grows seed stalks, the leaves get bitter and tough.  Lettuce is a cooler weather crop.  There might be a little come the late fall -- especially if David launches the winter CSA as planned.

I would tell you what to do with the cherries, but I defy you to keep them around longer than it takes you to store the rest of your veg.  If they are still there after that, put them in loose plastic as they came in the fridge -- no special treatment needed.

(I can't resist... Woot!  Beets mean summer!)  Only in the large share this week, but everyone should be seeing them soon - they grow really well in Utah (Sugarhouse is named for sugar beet production, afterall).  Cut off the tops, put the greens in loose plastic in the crisper and the beets themselves loose into the crisper.  The greens are fantastic treated like chard -- sauteed in garlic and olive oil.  The roots are great wrapped in foil and roasted until tender OR shredded raw over a salad (or as a salad with shredded carrots).

Green Beans
Store them as delivered in the bottom of your fridge until you're ready to use them.  Recipes for green beans are ubiquitous, but I'll try to find a few that go well with the squeaky fresh version (as opposed to canned).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Week 9 Lists

Week #9 -- quite a bit of the same this week, as usual, with some new things for variety.  I'm happy to see things that hold up a little better in the fridge from week to week.  Those delicate spring items were hard to use up some weeks before they wilted.... things are getting sturdier, though.

top: great lake lettuce, strawberries/microgreens, spinach
middle: snap peas (fatter), onion, Enlish peas (skinnier)
bottom: shallot scapes, garlic scapes

garlic scapes
shallot scapes
spring onion
sugarsnap peas
great lake lettuce
microgreen mix
English peas

top: buttercrunch lettuce, radishes, bean sprouts/microgreens/
edible flowers, green amaranth
middle: romaine, young squash, blue kale
bottom: endive

small +
buttercrunch lettuce
blue kale

medium +
young spaghetti squash
green bean sprouts
micro purple basil
green amaranth
extra microgreen mix

Spring Onion
The spring onion is basically just a young, 'uncured' field onion.  The outside hasn't been dried out like onions from the grocery.  Store it in the refrigerator, probably in the crisper drawer.

A member of the chicory family and a relative of frisee and radicchio, I think this variety of endive is also called escarole.  Please correct me if you're more sure of the answer!  Endive is a bitter green, very usable as a salad green or suitable for sauteeing and adding to soups.  Store it loosely in plastic, preferably in the crisper drawer, much like the lettuces we've been receiving, but it should hold up a little better.  Braising might be best for one this size.  Add chopped endive to some hot oil in a skillet.  Brown lightly (maybe 10 minutes), then add a little vegetable stock, salt, and pepper to taste.  Simmer until tender and the liquid is absorbed.  Top with vinegar and croutons.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What are we missing?

I think it is time to check in with everyone who reads the blog for their share information.  We're about a third of the way through the season and we're getting ready to change over into the summertime vegetables.    What do you, as members, need more or less of in terms of information?
  • Do you need more recipes that try to use several ingredients at once?
  • Do you need more recipes for a particular veg?
  • Do you need more cookbook / website reviews?
  • Do you need more general use tips?
  • Do you need _________ ?
Email me at or leave a comment.  Please!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Week 8 Lists

This week is a lot like the last, with a few more peas and strawberries.  In the next couple of weeks, we can expect mulberries, then raspberries, zucchini, and cucumbers.

Top, LtoR: yellow snow peas, snap peas, shungiku,
english peas, great lake lettuce
Bottom, LtoR: onion scape, microgreens, strawberries,
garlic scapes, Chinese broccoli, spinach

shallot scapes
garlic scapes
sugar snap peas
yellow snow peas
great lake lettuce
English peas
Chinese broccoli

spring onion, rhubarb, Chinese butter lettuce

spring onion
Chinese butter lettuce
extra spinach
very top: romaine lettuce
top: bean sprouts, young squash, basil micros, yu-choi
bot: amaranth, red sail lettuce, Chinese snow broccoli,
mixed salad greens

red sail lettuce
romaine lettuce
red amaranth
bean sprouts
salad mix
micro basil (purple & green)
Chinese snow broccoli
yu choi
young squash (actually spaghetti, but treat like zucchini)
extra spinach
extra microgreens
extra strawberries
extra sugar snap peas
extra English peas

New this week are the English peas and the young squash.  Both are pretty straightforward.

English Peas
A variety of garden pea, the pods of these guys are inedible.  Store them loosely in the plastic bag in the fridge.  Crack them open and 'shell' the peas to get access to those green globes of ultimate garden fresh flavor.  It takes a lot of pods to get an appreciable pile of peas, so unless you live alone, you won't be serving these alone as a side dish.  They can be eaten raw or lightly blanched.  A few ideas for small numbers of peas:  a salad garnish; blanched and mashed with mint and parmesan; added to a mashed potato dish; added to a pureed soup for color and nutrition.  The surprising pairing that shows up over and over for fresh peas is fresh mint, and I have to vouch for its bright flavor and fresh taste.

Young Squash
This is actually a green spaghetti squash.  David's family likes them young, so he put them in the shares.  He says to use it much like a zucchini, but that it has a slightly sweeter flavor.

Friday, July 1, 2011

of Rhubarb and Cookbooks

A go-to cookbook is a must-have as the CSA season progresses.  My personal go-to manual of all things cookery is Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.  He wrote a How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, as well, which expands on the original with a more varied veggie selection.  His books cover basic (and advanced) cooking techniques, go through a large list of vegetables one by one with handling and suggestions, and focus on simple but tasty meals (he wrote the Minimalist column for the NYTimes for many years).  These books took me from cooking only a few comfort meals I learned growing up to fearing no food and being able to make something out of very few ingredients on the fly.

With that, I'll present a version of one of his recipes (for Dal, and Indian dish focused on lentils) adapted for what we have in our shares this week.

Red Lentils with Rhubarb and Indian Spices
1c dried red lentils, washed
2 or 3 stalks rhubarb, strings removed, chopped
2T minced peeled fresh ginger
3 young garlic, minced
1 spring onion, diced
4 cardamom pods
1T mustard seeds
2 cloves
(you could replace the cardamom, mustard seeds, & cloves with your favorite curry or masala paste / mix)
1t cracked black pepper
1 mild dried chile
2T cold butter or peanut oil
microgreens for garnish

1. Combine the lentils, rhubarb, ginger, garlic, onion, cardamom, mustard seeds, cloves, pepper, and chile in a saucepan and add water to cover by about 1 inch.  Simmer until the lentils are soft, adding salt to taste towards the end.
2. Remove the cloves and the cardamom pods.  Stir in the butter or oil.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, then garnish with microgreens and serve.  (Also tasty with a bit of yogurt dolloped on top)