It’s already week three! First of all, let me introduce myself (the third of your three bloggers for the season). My name is Becky and I am relatively new to the CSA community. I teach high school English and theatre in Wayland, and summer 2013 marks the end of my ninth year in the field. I grew up in a rural area near Alpena, and enjoyed fresh produce while I was growing up. As I grew and attended GVSU, I made the “stereotypical” college-life food choices of whatever was cheap, easy, and quick; working at McDonalds dictated much of my food choices very frequently. Since graduating college and “gracefully” transitioning into my 30s, I seek out a much more healthy lifestyle. I am still learning as much as I can about cleaner living, and especially clean eating. We aspire to include local ingredients whenever possible. This is my family’s second year with Groundswell, which has been a decision that we are so happy that we made!
During my blog weeks you can expect to hear about my own cooking “adventures”. My husband and I were astounded by the variety of vegetables that Groundswell provided us with last year, and we are still learning how to best prepare and manage our bounty. I intend to try out new recipes as much as possible. My husband Jeff does most of the cooking in my household (as he has the culinary gift in the family) and tends to cook “off the cuff” while I tend to follow recipes to the letter. When he is not cooking at the house, he brews beer professionally at Hudsonville’s Pike 51 brewery, so you can expect suggestions for beer or wine parings from time to time. We are omnivores in my household, and we use a lot of game whenever it is available (although neither of us hunt, we are fortunate to have many sportsmen in our extended family). While my husband and I are adventurous eaters, the third member of our family, our sweet 21 month old son Gus, seems to not have inherited that quality from us. I intend to do my best to find kid-friendly ways to serve up vegetables when I can.
My first creation from our 2013 haul was this recipe from Pinterest (originally from Eastern European about.com) for Rhubarb-Sorrell Crisp. I made it as soon as I got home from the pickup.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Yield: 12 Servings Rhubarb-Sorrel Crisp
- 4 cups finely chopped rhubarb (about 4 large stalks)
- 2 cups finely chopped sorrel
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- Crust and Topping:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned oatmeal)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
- 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray. In a large saucepan, mix together rhubarb, sorrel, zest and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup water. Stir into rhubarb mixture and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a medium bowl, mix together flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nuts (if using). Cut in butter until finely crumbled. Pat 3 cups of mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan, pressing to make an even layer.
- Pour slightly cooled rhubarb over crust, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Place pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake 30-40 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Cut into squares while still warm, but not hot.
The first thing that I learned after trying this recipe is that I have no concept of how to actually make a crisp. I definitely did not make the dry mixture properly, so there was something left to be desired about the final product…a lot to be desired. I think that the next time that I attempt this dish I will pare down the amount of dry material, or crisp, as well. I did love the tartness of the sorrell/rhubarb paired with the sweet (albeit dry due to operator error) crust. If you like a very distinct sour flavor this is a unique way to serve sorrell (which I just LOVE!) beyond the salad bowl. I imagine that this would be fantastic made properly and paired with some ice cream.
In the first few weeks of the CSA season, we get a great deal of greens along with a few vegetables. Last year (our first CSA experience) we were consistently struggling with how best to use produce that we had never purchased at a grocery store before. Bok choy, chard, kale, and garlic scapes were all new to us. By the end of the season we didn’t come out pros, but we found ourselves pining for kale once it had vanished from our fridge.
In the early weeks we eat a lot of salads, slaws, and stir fry. I imagine that you do as well. But how do you dress up these dishes to differentiate your dining? Here are some ideas that have worked for us:
Little Italy Stir Fry
This flavor combination is super simple, but unexpectedly delicious!
Kale, bok choy, carrots, scallions, garlic, chard, Chinese cabbage (any any other vegetable you have in the fridge
sauté with Italian seasoning, fresh oregano, salt and pepper
serve over quinoa with fresh Parmesan and pepper flakes
Basic Slaw Recipes
lettuces of your choice, finely shredded
Onion, radish, cucumber and carrot, shredded
For a mayonnaise-based slaw add enough mayo and horseradish mustard to coat, but not saturate the slaw.
For a vinegar-based slaw add a bit of sesame oil, some olive oil and the vinegar of your choice (Fustini’s in Holland has some great offerings).
Slaws are really simple, and are a great way to use up any veggies that are in your fridge.
Here is another great recipe from Pinterest:
Raw Kale, Cabbage and Carrot Chopped Salad with Maple Sesame Vinaigrette
Prep Time: 20 minutes
A variation on a traditional chopped salad, this sliced version features a chiffonade of kale, cabbage and carrots tossed in an Asian inspired maple-sesame vinaigrette.
For the Dressing:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or unsweetened rice wine vinegar if not grain free)
1 Tablespoons real maple syrup (preferably grade B)
1 Tablespoon gluten free soy sauce (or coconut aminos for a soy free alternative)
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
For the Salad:
1 small bunch lacinato kale (also known as Tuscan kale)
1 small head (or half of a larger head) of Napa cabbage, shredded
1 baby bok choy, thinly sliced
4 carrots, shaved into long strips with a peeler
2 Tablespoons hemp seeds (or toasted sesame seeds)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Make the Dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil, the sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, soy sauce and minced garlic.
Make the Salad:
Strip the stems from the kale leaves and roll the leaves in a chiffonade to slice into very thin strips.
In a large bowl combine the kale and remaining Tablespoon of olive oil. Lightly massage the kale leaves with your hands until the leaves soften and begin to wilt (about 30 to 60 seconds).
Place in large serving bowl and add the shredded cabbage, bok choy, carrots and dressing tossing well to coat. Let the salad stand for 10 minutes to marinate.
Top with hemp seeds or toasted sesame seeds and season with freshly ground pepper to taste if desired and serve.
One way I get my son to eat some of these greens is through blending dense greens (chard, kale, spinach) with a porridge I make as a super-food smoothie.
Depending on the amout you want to make (I fill reusable pouches and freeze them) make a batch of porridge containing any or all of the following:
Steel cut oats
Black beans (dry)
Navy beans (dry)
Grind the grains in a coffee mill before cooking, once they are turned into a porridge put them in the food processor.
Add fruit that you have on hand and a great big handful of greens (kale and spinach are my favorites)
You can also add hemp, flax, chia and/or brewer’s yeast. I usually add a bit of agave syrup to taste.
Blend and serve or freeze for later. This is a very nutritious snack (or meal) for young ones! The more fruit, the sweeter the smoothie!