Here we are coming up on Labor Day weekend and lots of folks are planning fun summery activities like boating, hiking, camping, cabin weekends and the like. It’s a great time for grilling out and cooking over an open fire. Traditional American picnic foods such as potato and egg salads, sausages and burgers and green beans are on lots of menus, and Local Choice CSA’ers will find these items in their share this week, as well.
It’s hard to believe that summer is nearly over. With the arrival of apples and the subtle start to changing leaves we are heading toward fall whether we like it or not. In as few as 6 – 8 weeks the first frost will come and predominately end the growing season in much of the upper Midwest. Winter squash, apples and root veggies will be the remaining fresh produce we can get, locally. Now is the time to put away the harvest so that we can continue to enjoy the veggies and herbs and fruits grown in our own soils all winter long!
Kale is a great example of a veggie that can be frozen and used in the coldest months when there is little in the way of local greens. Years ago, before I was a farmer, I would go to the St. Paul farmers market almost every weekend and I always loaded up on Kale. I frequently make smoothies in the winter to get my fruit fix and adding a healthy amount of kale is a great boost for your body! Fruit juice, (I like apple cider), frozen kale, frozen fruit and yogurt make a delightful nutrient-packed treat. It is also convenient to add to winter soups.
Herbs are so very easy to dry and apples are too, believe it or not! Apple rings are a wonderful snack for road trips and Holiday travels. And of course applesauce is a cinch to make and can be frozen or canned in a water bath.
Not all of us are comfortable or even interested in canning, but canning – so long as you do it safely – is a truly wonderful way to preserve the harvest and enjoy delicious meals year-round. Some of my favorite recipes are beef stew and veggie soup. They are both a great way to use up veggies and it’s just so easy to grab a jar to take to work for lunch or even camping. It tastes much better than store-bought canned goods, too! And of course, we all have nights when we don’t feel like cooking, but it sure is satisfying to heat up a canned or frozen meal we poured our hearts into months prior.
Another fun way to put away those fun veggies? Make a big veggie lasagna or two and freeze them for cooking later! I love to layer eggplant and summer squash slices, liberal amounts of basil, and rainbow chard in mine. You can get lasagna pans pretty reasonably priced at places like Marketplace and Cub Foods, whether re-usable or aluminum.
All about Chives by Johnne Smalley of Towering Heights Farm
Chives, scientific name Allium schoenoprasum, are an edible species of the genus Allium. Their close relatives include the garlic, shallot, leek, scallion, and Chinese onion. A perennial plant, it is widespread in nature across much of Europe, Asia, and North America. It’s thought that Marco Polo tasted chives and brought them back home to Europe where they became popular.
Chives are a nutrient-dense food. This means they are low in calories but high in beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A tablespoon (3 grams of chopped chives) has only 1 calorie, but contains 6.4 µg of vitamin K, 3 µg of folate, 3 milligrams of calcium, 1 milligram of magnesium, 2 milligrams of phosphorus and 9 milligrams of potassium. It also provides 3 percent of the daily value of both vitamins A and C (131 international units (IU) of vitamin A and 1.7 milligrams of vitamin C). Chives also contain quercetin, a heart healthy antioxidant, and choline, an important nutrient that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory.
The nutrients in chives may offer a number of health benefits, including prevention of cancer and mood enhancement. Researchers have studied allium vegetables extensively in relation to cancer, especially stomach and colorectal cancers. Their beneficial and preventative effects are likely due in part to their rich organosulfur compounds.
The juice from chives has also been used as an insect repellent—give it a try and let me know how it works out. And it has been historically used to help promote male fertility. I don’t know how that works either.
Chives add flavor to a dish without adding extra calories, fat or sodium. The entire chive (leaf, bulb, and flower) is edible. Since chives have a milder flavor, they’re perfect to add to soups, dips, mashed or baked potatoes, fish, seafood dishes and omelets. Heat destroys their delicate flavor, so add chives to dishes at the last minute. To maximize their taste, thinly slice, chop or snip with kitchen shears before using.
Chives pair well with many dishes, especially those with eggs and cheese such as omelets, scrambles, quiches and frittatas. They also go well sprinkled on your Labor Day campfire dinner like bacon, burger, potatoes, and carrots that have been wrapped in foil and cooked in the coals or on the grill.
If you would like to preserve your chives you can snip them into a bag and freeze them or dry them on a sheet pan in your oven at 100 degrees/warm setting until crispy, (about 4 hrs) and store in a jar or baggie.
THIS WEEK IN LOCAL CHOICE CSA
Bifrost Farms – Citrus Sea Salt Chevre
Essence Homestead – Greenbeans
Hexagon Projects Farm – Carrots, kale, chives and Heirloom tomatoes
Mary Dirty Face Farm – Apples
Towering Heights Farm – Kielbasa, garlic and ground beef
Valley Pasture Farm – Pork bacon
Winnowburrow Farm – Baby dill pickles, rosemary and lemon balm
Not sure what to do with Lemon Balm? Follow this link for tips and ideas!
Week 13 meal plans provided by Meg Wittenmyer of Bifrost Farm
The summer is at its peak and nobody really wants to cook, do they? Here are two simple, yet tasty summertime favorites that use many of the fresh items in your share box this week.
Kielbasa, Potato and Green Beans (Slow Cooker, but can be prepared on stove top)
1 lb. Green Beans
3 large Potatoes, cubed (about 3 cups)
¾ cup Chicken Stock
Seasoning of choice (try the Rosemary in your box!)
Trim the green beans and cut into preferred sized pieces or leave
Add all ingredients to Slow Cooker and pour chicken broth over the top.
Cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-5 hours on high.
HINT: A few carrots would not be amiss in this dish. You happen to have those in your box too!!
Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato Sandwich w/option goat cheese
There is nothing like a fresh sliced garden tomato to make the best BLTs!!
And if you want to really zip it up, spread or crumble a bit of the Citrus Sea Salt Chevre in there.
This also goes for a summer grilled hamburger, so check out the pork bacon and ground beef.
Asian Cucumber Salad
This one is fun. Smash or roll your Asian cucumbers with a rolling pin, to crush them open. Then break off into uneven pieces. Let drain in a colander.
While cucumbers are draining prepare dressing:
Red or green fresh chilis to taste, or dried red chili flakes
2 smashed garlic cloves
½ cup Rice Vinegar
Sugar or honey to taste
Mix dressing well and let chill until cucumbers are ready, then toss together.
We hope are enjoying the weekly newsletter blog and are learning lots of great ways to use and enjoy local food. If you ever have any questions or need suggestions to get your creative wheels turning, we’re always happy to help! Just email us at email@example.com