Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Last of the CSA

Last summer I purchased a share in the the Locavorious CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Most CSA shares are purchased in the winter, and produce from the farm is distributed throughout the summer and early fall. This one was different, and for that reason was particularly intriguing to me: the share was purchased in the summer, their staff then purchased and froze produce all summer, and it was distributed through the winter. It seemed like a lot of money up front (I think my share was $200), but I wanted to try it. I’d been working toward eating more local food for a few months, and it seemed like the next logical step. After all, if you plan to eat locally in Michigan, you’d better figure out how to save summer food for the winter. It proved to be a fabulous plan, and I enjoyed delicious produce all winter. Now that it’s March, I’ve finally used the last of my frozen produce, just in time for the farmers’ market to start getting good again. I’ll definitely be subscribing next year!

My final creation was soup for one of the last really cold and miserable days (fingers crossed!) we’re having this spring. I used the whole share of kale, which in retrospect may have been a little much, but it’s delicious. The recipe, heavily adapted from a friend's cookbook photocopy...

5c water or stock

6c squash, peeled and cubed (I used much less, and it was frozen puree from my CSA, which was a little stringy, but mostly fine)

5 tablespoons butter/oil

1c diced onion (or however much you want...)

2 cups chopped broccoli (or other vegetable, like carrot)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon leaf thyme

1 teaspoon basil (Fresh is amazing!)

1 1/2 cups slide mushrooms (or a few rehydrated dry ones)

1 cup chopped kale or spinach (or however much you have, but beware that 2 1/2 cups of kale will result in "Kale with broth" rather than soup...)

1 tsp salt

pepper to taste

Boil the water or stock and add the squash. If you use puree, you obviously need to boil it for less time. If you aren't using puree, after it's soft you'll blend or food process most of it to make it soupy. Heat the butter or oil and saute the onions and broccoli (or carrots, or whatever other vegetables are looking iffy/unused in the fridge/freezer) with garlic, thyme, and basil (if it's not fresh. When the onions begin to brown, add the mushrooms and cook a few minutes more. Add the sauteed vegetables to the pureed squash/broth mixture, along with the kale/spinach, and simmer uncovered. I simmered until the block of kale thawed, which seemed to be a good metric. I chopped the basil and sprinkled it over my serving (and then added the rest to the pot. Enjoy!

I also made soda bread rolls (only a little late for St. Patrick’s Day), which were amazing…

After a little disaster with some beer basil bread last year (aka the beer basil doorstop), I was hesitant, but this was easy and delicious. Yay!

Soda bread (biscuits) - adapted from Bon Appetite

3 1/2c all purpose flour

1 tablespoon caraway (optional)

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2c buttermilk (or 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice plus milk to make 1 1/2 cups - mix and let stand for about 5 minutes before you use it)

Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly flour baking sheet. Mix flour, caraway seeds, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Add enough buttermilk to form moist clumps that can be gathered into a ball. Turns out that trying to form a ball may be most of the kneading you really need to do. Once I "turned it out" onto a floured surface, I only kneaded once or twice. Split the dough into 10-12 rolls (or put it into a giant ball, but this seems risky to me - see doorstop note above) and cut a 3/4 inch deep X into the top of each one. Bake until golden on top and toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes (in my oven - the recipe said 35 min).

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