csa 2011: eighth share

csa 2011: 8th share

This time of year is bittersweet because I know I only have a few farm shares left, but what we’re getting is just so beautiful! There’s a little bit of everything: kale, various greens, a head of lettuce, 2 fennel bulbs, 3 peppers, 1 clove of garlic, 1 lb. of onions, 3 lbs. of tomatoes, 3 lbs. of potatoes (red and purple), 2 chili peppers, dill, cilantro, and the piece de resistance… a sugar pumpkin.

I plan on making another batch of roasted tomato soup, some kale chips, and probably a roast chicken dinner with the onions, fennel, and potatoes. Unless of course, I just munch on the fennel raw (which I also love). We also could pick 20 stems of flowers. You can see some them here, but I did try to pick mostly closed zinnias so the bouquet would last longer:

csa 2011: 8th share

What have you been cooking lately?

csa 2011: seventh share


Yesterday was a very rainy day for our farm share pick-up. Luckily, our farm (Sisters Hill Farm in Stanfordville, NY) did not sustain much damage during Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene and our shares were not affected. Yesterday I had a beautiful selection of vegetables from which I could pick.

The biggest part of this week’s basket is obviously the tomatoes. Nine pounds of them. Yes. 9 lbs of tomatoes. More on those in a minute. I also got two heads of lettuce, one cucumber, one yellow squash, 1 lb. onions, 1 lb. carrots (vs. beets or chard), 1 head of garlic, 3 jalepenos, 3 bell peppers, 1 bunch of cilantro, and 1.25 lbs. of string beans.

So, the tomatoes. That is an incredible amount for our family, even to eat over a 2-week span. So I think it’s time to break out my canning supplies for the first time this year! Yay! Originally, I planned to make salsa. We eat a lot of salsa, but honestly — making it to can is kind of a pain. You have to blanch and peel the tomatoes and that in and of itself is enough to make me keep looking for a different recipe. (Plus, honestly I prefer fresh pico de gallo, because I’m snotty that way.)

Then, I somehow came across this recipe for tomato jam. It sounded weird, yet compelling. It’s easy. I have all the ingredients. I think this might be “the one!” I can see it as a replacement for ketchup or on a cracker with some cream cheese. I also think that a little jar might be a nice gift. I’ll let you know how it goes.

roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

Yesterday I wrote that I was planning to make a pesto to use up most of my CSA basil. Now, I’ve never made pesto before and I’m not actually a big pesto fan, but something was inspiring me. I was determined to create something delicious. I considered what I don’t like about most pestos, I looked at the ingredients I had in my pantry and I came up with this recipe for roasted garlic and sunflower seed pesto. And it is both easy and deee-licious!

roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

This version takes a little longer to prepare than a raw pesto, but the flavors are more subdued, the color is bright, and really it is not that much more work. I decided to use sunflower seeds instead of pine (pignoli) nuts, because 1) I had them and 2) they are a lot easier on the wallet.

First, get everything you need: foil, garlic, olive oil, salt, and basil. (Store your fresh basil in a vase with water, as you would fresh flowers. It lasts longer this way, plus it looks pretty.)

roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

Now, let’s roast that garlic. Cut the stem end off the garlic, place it on a bit of tin foil and drizzle olive oil over it. Pop it in a 450-degree oven for about one hour.

roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

While the garlic is roasting, pull off about 2 to 2.5 cups of basil leaves.
roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

When the garlic is done roasting, take it out of the oven and let it cool. Now, get a pot of water boiling. We’re going to blanch the leaves. Are you ready? I promise, this is super easy and it will make the leaves blend smoother. Fill a bowl with ice water and keep it close to the stove. You’re going to need it to “shock” the blanched basil leaves.

One the water is at a rolling boil, dump the basil leaves in and leave them there for about 1 minute. (Sidenote: if you’re going to serve the pesto immediately after making it, just use this water to cook your pasta.)
roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

Immediately place them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. You can use a slotted spoon for this.
roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

Now, unwrap that delicious package of roasted garlic. This is why the pesto is so good (in my opinion). Roasting the garlic takes away that sharp, bitter taste that I dislike in most pestos.
roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

Add the blanched basil leaves, the roasted sunflower seeds, and the roasted garlic to the bowl of your food processor. The garlic cloves should come out pretty easily, but you might have to help them along with your fingers.
roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

Pulse until the mixture turns into a coarse meal that looks something like this (you will probably need to scrape down the sides a couple times):
roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

Turn your food processor on and start drizzling in the olive oil until it reaches your desired consistency.
roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

I like mine a little on the thicker side. It’s easy enough to thin with olive oil, and I like to have the option to use it as a sandwich spread.
roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

Since it was approaching lunchtime when I made this yesterday, I had a great excuse to try it. I tossed it with some spaghetti, sprinkled on some Parmesan cheese, and I think I actually exclaimed, “Holy sh-t! This is is good!” This was remarkably close to my husband’s reaction, which was, “This doesn’t taste like pesto. This is good!”
roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

Unfortunately, you cannot home can pesto. At least I couldn’t find a safe method to do so, and I’m not going to take chances. You can, however, freeze it. If you want to freeze it in a glass jar or plastic container, cover the pesto with a layer of olive oil and be sure to leave about 1/2-inch of head room for expansion. You can also freeze it in tablespoon-sized portions to add to soups, stews, or just when you want an individual portion. The easiest way to do this is in an ice cube tray. Because we have an ice maker on our fridge, the only ice cube trays I have are fun shapes (usually for Jell-O jigglers). I decided to make pesto skulls:
roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

So there you have it. My very long-winded explanation for a very simple recipe!

Roasted Garlic and Sunflower Pesto

roasted garlic and sunflower pesto

2 c. fresh basil leaves
1 head of garlic
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 c. olive oil, plus extra for roasting garlic
pot of boiling water
bowl of ice water
salt to taste (optional)

Cut the stem off of a garlic clove and place it on the center of an aluminum foil square. Drizzle with olive oil, wrap tightly, and roast in a 450-degree oven for about 1 hour. When the garlic has finished roasting, start a pot of water boiling. Blanch 2 cups of basil leaves for approx. 1 minute. Immediately immerse leaves in ice water. Combine the blanched basil leaves, roasted garlic cloves, and sunflower seeds in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture forms a coarse meal. Start your food processor again and slowly pour in the olive oil until it reaches your desired texture.

Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. This freezes well.

Be sure to visit Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom to check out other delicious recipes!

csa 2011: sixth share

csa 2011: 6th share

The years when we’ve belonged to our CSA are the ones where I’ve really noticed that seasons are changing. As each new crop comes in, you realize that we are getting ever closer to fall and winter. This week’s share certainly reflects that.

The weather has been noticeably cooler here in the Hudson Valley. Nightly temperatures have been in the low 50s and days in the mid-70s. It is absolutely gorgeous! And then there are the little things like how it’s getting darker just a little earlier every day. (Our farm newsletter noted that the chickens are turning in to roost a full hour earlier every night.) There might even be a leaf or two starting to change color.

This week’s share marks the last of the melons, which for me is a yet another sign that summer is (nearly) over. Tomatoes are in full swing, and they’re already talking about the return of cool-weather greens. But on to the share at hand!

I went later than usual, so things were a little picked over (and all the PYO cherry tomatoes had been, well, picked). But still, I came home with a full basket and then some! We got one head of lettuce, a bunch of leeks, green beans, summer squash and zucchini, tomatoes (I picked a mix of Juliet and a couple heirlooms, of which I naturally forgot the names — German something and Yellow something), cukes (there was also an “imperfect – take what you want” bucket, so I grabbed three from there), cantaloupes (we could take three, but I thought two was reasonable), a watermelon, garlic, three basil plants (yes, the entire plants), and as much dill and cilantro as we wanted. I pulled up two cilantro bunches and three or four dill plants. We also had our flowers, but I forgot to put them in the photo.

Today I’m going to attempt to make pesto with all the basil, so be sure to check back to see how that goes! I also plan to make my dad’s overnight pickles with the smaller cucumbers and some of that dill. I’ll probably freeze most of it. I already have a nice stash from previous shares, as well as dill my parents brought from their garden. I should be all set for my winter soups!

csa 2011: fifth share


You might have noticed that I didn’t get a post up for our fourth bi-weekly farm share a couple weeks ago. It’s a shame I didn’t have time to take a photo because it was gorgeous! Egglplant, yellow squash, lettuce, zucchini, carrots… it was very colorful. This week’s share might be more green, but it’s a great one nonetheless!

It was pouring rain when it was time for me to head to the farm in Stanfordville. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to all the mud, but it was worth it: three heads of lettuce, three cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, garlic, potatoes, onions, leeks, scallions, dill, basil, parsley, cilantro, two watermelons, and one cantaloupe!

The cucumbers have been wonderful this year, which makes me very happy. In previous years of this CSA, for one reason or another the cucumber crop didn’t fare so well. I also feel like the herbs are much more prolific for some reason. Our CSA has pick-you-own flowers as part of the deal — a major selling point for me 🙂 I’ll be honest though: the last thing I wanted to do yesterday was slog through a muddy field and get soaking wet as the rain poured down and I tried to find my 20 stems of flowers. I’m glad I did, though. After I cleaned up the dinner dishes last night I looked at my kitchen table and couldn’t help but smile.



The kids were all very excited about the melons, so I cut into one of the watermelons before dinner was even ready. When it split open, the color caught me off-guard. I had not expected a yellow melon!


And that is one of the reasons why I love participating in a farm share. You really never know what to expect. The yellow watermelon, by the way, is really delicious!

csa 2011: third share


Anyone feel like salad? Well, we have no choice because this week we got four (four!) heads of lettuce! Good thing I love salad! I took two romaine, one green leaf, and one red leaf. This share was HUGE, but somehow we’ll plow through it. We also got a bunch of swiss chard, green beans (alternate choice was broccoli), sweet onions, zucchini, yellow squash, cabbage, scallions (which I’d already cut up before I remembered to take a photo), dill, basil, parsley, cilantro, and of course PYO flowers.

Today I made a batch of yellow lentils, so I threw some of the chard in at the end. I’m not a big fan of swiss chard, so this was a great way to use it because it was barely noticeable.


I also came across a recipe for pickled swiss chard stems, so I made a batch of that as well.


I’d like to make some dilly beans, but it wasn’t going to happen today. Since I already had a bunch of cilantro I’d purchased at the store, I used the farm share cilantro and attempted to make mint chutney since I made the dal and tandoori chicken for dinner. It didn’t turn out well. At all. It was chunky and I couldn’t get it smooth and the flavors were just all wrong. Well, they can’t all be winners, I guess.

On the other hand, the salted caramel bars I made were BIG winners. Seriously, I think I need some weight loss pills just looking at that rich dessert!


The boys and Drew loved them. I did, too. But really… a little goes a long way. I tweaked a recipe I found so once I iron out the details of what I changed, I’ll post it.

I wish I could say it was fun having a cooking day like this, because normally it would be, but L. is at the stage where she likes to make every single thing difficult, so what should have taken me no time at all took forever. Sigh… At least I got it all done and the results were (mostly) tasty.

csa 2011: third share

csa 2011: third share

Tuesday was CSA day, so after I picked up the boys from camp we headed over to the farm to pick up our bi-weekly share.

I might have squealed a little when I saw that PYO flowers had started! Granted, this week it was just five stems, but it was enough to fill my little pitcher that sets on our kitchen island.

The vegetables were beautiful: two heads of lettuce (I picked one head of romaine and one head of red leaf), 1/3 lb. of spinach (the last until fall), a small head of broccoli, a head of cabbage, a bunch of scallions, a handful of basil, two garlic scapes, one zucchini (or you could have chosen one yellow squash), and a bunch of beets.

Being that neither Drew nor myself are huge beet fans, I am going to pickle this bunch and see how it goes. Otherwise, the veggies are pretty straightforward and easy to use up!

csa 2011: second share

csa 2011: 2nd share

Well this post is obviously a week late! Last Tuesday’s farm share was filled with beautiful veggies, as usual. There was lettuce, spinach, arugula, Chinese cabbage, scallions, garlic scapes, and a choice of radishes, salad turnips, or beets. I chose radishes not only because I love them, but because there were some purple ones! (If radishes were an illegal substance, I’d be looking for the top drug rehab treatment centers, LOL!)

I can’t wait for the summer squash to start rolling in. Hopefully next week! And flowers… oh, I’m really looking forward to fresh zinnias and cosmos!

csa 2011: share 1

csa 2011: share 1

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer, they say. And when our CSA starts, you know that’s true! Oh, how I missed my bi-weekly bounty of fresh, local, organic vegetables last year. And this first share did not disappoint me.

Considering how wet the spring was, combined with the crazy heat of the last few days, I am really impressed with these greens. We got 2 heads of lettuce, 1 bok choy, 1 lb. spinach, 1 bunch of radishes, and 1 bunch of salad turnips. Instead of the turnips I could have chosen 1/2 lb. of mixed greens (arugula, tat soi, etc.), but I really enjoy those little turnips and between the lettuces and the spinach we have more than enough.

I’m already planning on making myself eggs Florentine tomorrow morning, perhaps with a little Swiss cheese. The bok choy? Sigh… I will dutifully search for some recipes and give it another try. There has got to be a way to prepare it that I will find enjoyable. If you have a favorite way to make it, I am all ears.

CSA 2009: final share

CSA 2009: final share

Please excuse the remnants of dinner on the table in this photo. (Ravioli cooked with tomato sauce, onions, and peppers in the Crock Pot, by the way. It was really good!) Yesterday afternoon I picked up our final CSA share for the season. I was disappointed we didn’t get any butternut squash (I’d been hoping for it so I could make soup), but it is still a great share. We got a head of lettuce, arugula, greens (I chose kale), broccoli, carrots, parsnips, rutubaga, turnips, garlic, three delicata squash, and “take what you want” for peppers. I’m not even sure what the dark ones are or the long, skinny ones but I was excited to try them. Drew and I both love peppers.

With the kale and potatoes I plan to make a copycat recipe of the Zuppa Toscana served at The Olive Garden. I just need to pick up some cream or half-and-half. I’ve been planning on roasting a chicken this weekend anyway so I think the parsnips and carrots will go well with that. I’m determined to make something with the rutubaga. In the newsletter there’s a recipe for maple roasted root vegetables with walnuts that I might try.

So that’s that. We’re not particpating next year, but I do plan on making better use of local farmer’s markets for fresh, local produce. And I don’t have to purchase things we don’t eat (I’m talking to you, bok choy). Of course, now the challenge will be to keep our veggie consumption up over the winter when I don’t have a big basket of pre-picked veggies every other Tuesday. I think with a little inititiative I’ll do OK.