CSA Chronicles

When I wrote about the Heirloom TomatoFest last year and our introduction to the local food movement through the Community Farmers Market, I also mentioned the CSA program we signed up for. In April 2012 we had no idea what a CSA plan was, but thanks to Need More Acres Farm we're ready to start picking up our weekly boxes of local food here in April 2013.

I thought it would be fun to chronicle our experience by showing the food we get each week and sharing the recipes we liked. I won't post recipes of anything that we didn't enjoy, even if the picture is good. I'm not a professional cook or photographer, but I like to see what real food and popular recipes look like when cooked at home by average folks. Here we'll show what a year's worth of local food looks like in our home.

2012 Heirloom TomatoFest.

We signed up for the Full Farm CSA program which provides meat, dairy, bread, and bulk food products in addition to the seasonal produce. Need More Acres has partnered with other local farmers and producers to assemble our packages each week. The 2013 slots are all filled, but spots will occasionally become open and local folks can sign up for the backup list if they might like to grab a box when members are out of town or otherwise unavailable to pick up their food.

Need More Acres, April 2013.
This high tunnel wasn't here last year!
And this is where most of our veggies for the next year are grown.

The Howells turned their garage into a Farm Store where we pick up our food every Tuesday.
I reckon it's the coolest garage I've seen that isn't full of Corvettes or motorcycles.

I'm happy for Nathan and Michelle to see their vision come to life, and I look forward to visiting the farm each Tuesday to pick up our baskets. I'm sure it'll make us feel more connected to the community and our neighbors, in much the same way our weekly visits to the farmers market have over the past year. It's nice to know where our food comes from, it'll be nice to spend less money at the grocery store, and it'll be fun to be surprised each week with different items. There will be challenges when we get items I've never cooked or eaten before, but we're committed for a full year and it will be a real learning experience for someone who's never [successfully] grown tomatoes or herbs, and doesn't know when things like asparagus, peppers, or tomatoes are supposed to be planted and harvested. I reckon I'll know a lot more about this stuff a year from now.

Here's a list of the suppliers and partners that I'm aware of (in no particular order):

[I should also mention that a couple of my favorite farmers from the market have organized another local CSA program: Local Harvest Alliance. Their market-style CSA provides the flexibility to do your own shopping each week, and I think the produce from Sunny Point Gardens and meats from River Cottage Farm are second to none.]

So, here we go...

Week I (4/2/13)

Week I CSA Basket.
BONUS:  Soap.

Even though I knew what to expect, this was more food than we expected. Our first reaction was, "Whoa, that's a lot of lettuce!" We picked up our box two days late so we only had five days to eat all that green stuff. Game on.

Our twelve-year-old took this pic of the Stoney Creek Farm Eggs we'll get each week.


The big revelation of the first day was JD Country Milk. We'd never tried it before and the boys loved it. Within five minutes I knew we'd need to order an extra half gallon each week...

Green Stuff x 9.

The big challenge was using all the greens, and we did. Salad with breakfast. Salad with lunch. Salad with dinner...

Our favorite meal was the first one, partly because we were just back from vacation and happy we didn't have to cook, and mostly because the Esters sourdough and Home Cafe tomato bisque go so well together. It's uncanny. I'd buy that Home Cafe ranch dressing by the jar, if they sold it by the jar. And the Chive-Onion Monterey Jack from Kenny's went well with the soup and salads all week.

Sad to say, the improvised Turnip Greens & Chicken Stir-Fry was the first time this Kentucky boy has cooked with turnip greens. But at least I had a little help.

This was also the first time we've tried the sausage from Crooked Creek Farms and it's great -- we made a lot of sausage gravy this week, and it was especially good on those breakfast tacos with some scrambled eggs, cheese, and a quick Pico (with lettuce, of course).

Baked Eggs in Tomato Cups... and Salad.

Baking eggs in tomatoes is fun. The ATP tomatoes aren't very big at this time of year, but they are the perfect size for one egg and they are tasty.

Onions & peppers in a grill basket.

When we have any extra onions and/or peppers on hand when I fire up the grill, I like to cook some up for use on other dishes through the week. I just toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper before grilling them in a basket. They add a nice grilled flavor to anything from sandwiches to salads.

Scrambled Eggs w/ Grilled Onions & Peppers and Biscuits & Gravy... and Salad.

Stir-Fried Lettuce w/ Chili Garlic (+ Grilled Onions & Peppers).

I plan on doing a lot of stir-fries with our CSA produce and I would encourage anybody to purchase Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge or Breath of a Wok (or even join us at Wok Wednesdays), but I will post links to her recipes if they've already been published online somewhere.

So, in this first week we learned that we can eat salad three times a day, and that we won't use all the food each week. We didn't even touch the pinto beans or the corn meal, and we didn't use all the cheese, but that's OK. 

Week II (4/9/13)

Week II CSA Basket.

Someone told me the JD Country Chocolate Milk was so good it was almost like drinking a milkshake. They were right. It didn't last long. My favorite thing this week was the Stoney Creek ground beef, which we mostly used in pasta dishes. We got brown rice, but we didn't get around to using it yet. I got excited and went a little overboard with pictures last week, so just a few this time...

Split Tree BBQ in Lettuce Cups.

Pennette w/ Swiss Chard Ragu.

Another CSA member posted this chard ragu recipe in our Facebook group, and it was awesome. We added ground beef and finished it on the grill with some hickory smoke to make it even more awesome.

Perciatelli w/ Fire-Roasted San Marzano Sauce & Ground Beef... and Salad.
(Fire Roasted San Marzano Tomatoes from Borderland Farms.  Thanks, Steve.)

Week III (4/16/13)

Week III CSA Basket.

Well, well, well... we got a whole chicken from Crooked Creek Farms and BBQ sauce from Hillbilly Grillers this week. Pretty obvious what's gonna happen here. We also got some new-to-me neat stuff like real salt and sorrel. I've never even heard of sorrel -- these little green leafs pack a lot of flavor, sort of citrus-like. Our twelve-year-old ate one leaf and said something about "an explosion of flavor." Hard to argue with that.

No? Not surprised?

Smoked BBQ Half Chicken... and Salad.

The raspberry vinaigrette from Home Cafe is so good I could literally drink it, but then I wouldn't have any left for salads and other stuff. Also, we've got in the habit of keeping some Esters' garlic croutons on hand. They belong on every salad.

Buttered Radishes & Poached Eggs on Toast... and Salad.

Michelle posted this recipe and it was darn good, even though I only had a few radishes left. I look forward to trying it again next time we get radishes.

Refried Beans & Ground Beef Nachos.

I finally used the pinto beans from Week I in my first attempt at making refried beans, but I screwed up by trying to use very little fat. They were so tasteless that our twelve-year-old said they had negative flavor, and he was right -- they actually sucked the flavor out of our other burrito ingredients! So, no burrito picture.

I fixed the beans by adding a ton of lard the next day. I figure a fat-to-bean ratio of 1:1 is just about right, and everybody liked them on Nacho Night. Sweet redemption...

Week IV (4/23/13)

Week IV CSA Basket.
BONUS:  Flowers for the lady.

This was a good week -- Crooked Creek bacon, Stoney Creek ground beef, more sorrel, carrots, popcorn, and something called quinoa. Want to feel like an idiot? Ask your farmer what "Queen Noah" is.

Oak-Planked Salmon & Shrimp w/ Sorrel & Raspberry Vinaigrette.

This week was about seafood, sorrel (which goes great with seafood), and Rian's Fatted Calf, where we got that fresh salmon and the fresh tuna pictured below. Rian's stuff is always top-notch. Impossible to pick a favorite meal...

Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Home Cafe's Mushroom Bisque, and Quinoa-stuffed Tomatoes.

The Mushroom Bisque from Home Cafe just begs for a steak to go with it, so I grilled up some of my favorite beef -- Dolan Farms tenderloin purchased at the market. Even though I rarely use a steak sauce, and these filets definitely didn't need it, the Prime Rib Seasoning and Merlot Steak Sauce from Rian's really set it off.

The beef was so good that it probably wasn't fair to quinoa to try quinoa for the first time with this meal. Mom and Grace Young tell me it's "hip" and "trendy," but I don't get it. I'll have to try some more recipes...

Tuna on Rosemary Skewers and Quinoa w/ Grilled Veggies.

The fresh tuna from Rian's is outstanding and we served it up with some Horseradish Wasabi sauce from Paradise Point that goes great with seafood. I liked the quinoa better this time with the grilled veggies adding a lot of flavor.

Blackened Tuna & Sorrel Tacos w/ Raspberry Vinaigrette.

If you use a wok, popping corn in it really helps the patina.

Week V (4/30/13)

Week V CSA Basket.
BONUS:  Ginseng Soap & Flower.

Couscous! Unlike quinoa, I've actually cooked that once before. Happy to get some broccoli for the first time, some fresh herbs, and more of that Home Cafe tomato bisque. Also, we could choose some yellow cheese for the first time (Colby).

Sourdough Ham & Cheese w/ Hakka-Style Stir-Fried Cabbage & Egg.

This CSA plan leads to some weird combinations when it's time to use up food before we have to throw it out. I wonder if anyone else has ever prepared this lunch combination? Anyway, we had some sourdough and Napa cabbage leftover from last week, and the only thing I know to do with that cabbage is this stir-fry that we recently did for Wok Wednesdays. This recipe isn't published online anywhere, but it's super simple and you can see how we did it at the beach in that WW link.

Kentucky-Style Animal-Style Cheeseburger.
RECIPE (sort of)

My favorite burger on the In-N-Out secret menu is the Animal-Style Cheeseburger -- it features caramelized onions and beef patties that are fried with mustard. Kenji from The Food Lab shows how to perfectly replicate it at home in the recipe article linked above. We did these a little different by using a bigger burger patty and local ingredients -- Hillbilly Grillers Mountain Mustard, Kenny's Colby, and lettuce & tomato from our CSA basket. This burger was so good it did a little dance.

[I previously followed Kenji's recipe to a T and this beauty tasted exactly like I remember the real deal in California.]

Huevos Rancheros for Cinco de Mayo.

I reckon we should do Cinco de Mayo more than once a year, cause this was one heck of a brunch. We just cooked up some of our ATP tomatoes with garlic, jalapenos (some chopped, some sliced), chili powder, and cumin, then topped some Crooked Creek sausage with the tomato sauce and a couple fried Stoney Creek eggs on a tortilla. Es muy sencillo.

Week VI (5/7/13)

Week VI CSA Basket.

Didn't get to take many pictures this week, but it was a good food week. Glad to get some Bespoke granola and Stoney Creek ground pork patties -- I love those things. And it's always good to get chocolate milk and sourdough bread.

Scrambled Eggs, Sausage, & Toast.

I post this one to mention something I learned at the farmers market last year from another customer -- put Hillbilly Grillers Mountain Mustard on your breakfast sausage. Sounds weird; tastes great. Also gotta say the Strawberry Cranberry Jam from Dimple Foods is good stuff on toast or a PB&J sandwich. She has some really cool jam flavors, and I especially like the ones with jalapeno.

Leslie's BBQ Meat Muffins... and Salad.

When you don't have time to really cook (when you're like fake-mashed-potatoes-crunched-for-time), these meat muffins are super simple and quite tasty. Here's what my wife says to do:
  1. Brown a pound of ground beef and drain.
  2. Add Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce to taste.
  3. Line muffin pan with Grands! Flaky biscuits (gotta be flaky).
  4. Put meat mixture in there and top with shredded cheese.
  5. Cook according to biscuit instructions.
Bam! Meat muffins.

Week VII (5/14/13)

Week VII CSA Basket.

Whoops. The Oats weren't pictured above...

Got another whole chicken from Crooked Creek Farms and more of that Home Cafe raspberry vinaigrette this week, and we got our first cauliflower and strawberries. Woot! This rivaled Week IV for best eating week of the year so far...

Pork Burger, Strawberries, and Stir-Fried Gingery Rainbow Chard.

We finally used last week's Stoney Creek ground pork patties, and I love a pork burger with just apple butter, lettuce, and tomato. Those strawberries from Great Berries Farm are huge and sweet. The fun part was the chard stir-fry recipe from my friend Robin Sue at Big Red Kitchen. I use peanut oil instead of olive oil in my stir-fries and I added some dehydrated cayenne peppers, but that's all. This is a pretty trusty formula for stir-frying greens:
  1. Chop some aromatics (garlic, ginger, peppers, etc.) and cook for just a few seconds in the hot oil.
  2. Add the greens and stir-fry for a minute or two until they begin to wilt.
  3. Finish by adding some sort of sauce (maybe a combination of soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, chicken broth, etc.), and maybe some sugar or salt, and stir-fry for a few more seconds over high heat.
The possibilities are endless.

Grilled Bok Choy, Shrimp, Turnips, & Kohlrabi.

I over-grilled the veggies by about a minute, but no worries. The bok choy recipe contains a spicy garlic dressing that would be good on a lot of veggies. If you do grill it, make sure to follow the tip about wrapping the tops in foil. I didn't know what to do with turnips or kohlrabi, so we just cut them into chips and tossed them in oil, salt, and pepper before grilling them. They kinda reminded me of sweet potatoes and were good with ketchup.

Sourdough French Toast & Balsamic Strawberries w/ Granola.

Best breakfast of the year. Why had I never tried making sourdough french toast before? I don't know. It's excellent, as were these strawberries from Sunny Point Gardens -- just sprinkled them with sugar and balsamic vinegar and let them sit for a few minutes before throwing some Bespoke granola on top.

I post a second picture only to point out that special place where the sweetened balsamic vinegar meets the Federal Grove maple syrup. That's where it's at.

Oatmeal w/ Strawberries.

Who knew you could make oatmeal with just oats and milk? I didn't. I do not like oatmeal, and I've done everything I can to avoid it as an adult. I don't like the smell, I don't like the taste, and I don't like oatmeal cookies. But I was intrigued by the thought of making real oatmeal and I had oats, milk, and strawberries so I tried that Martha Stewart recipe. Yeah, Martha Stewart... and yeah, it calls for sour cream. Sounds weird, but it was actually pretty good! I still don't like oatmeal, but that was the best oatmeal I've had in years. Oh, I added balsamic vinegar because why not?

Pizza Night!

This one here featured Crooked Creek sausage and a sauce made from our last jar of Borderland Fire Roasted San Marzano Tomatoes.

Fire-Roasted Chicken, Potatoes, Peppers, & Onions.

Sometimes the day after Pizza Night is just as much fun as Pizza Night.

This was eight small red potatoes, three bell peppers, and one onion chopped up and tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, and rosemary. And a Crooked Creek chicken, of course. The chicken was stuffed with herbs (mostly rosemary) and rubbed with olive oil & Meathead's Simon & Garfunkel Spice Blend. It was situated on a rack above the veggies and rotated, flipped, and rotated again. The oven was somewhere around 400 degrees and it was all done in about 45 minutes.

Hello, beautiful.

Week VIII (5/21/13)

Week VIII CSA Basket.

Another good basket. We got asparagus, salmon, and green onions for the first time. We also got some taco seasoning and some more pinto beans.

Sourdough French Toast, French Toast Omelet, Stawberries... and Salad.

I post this pic because that omelet was something I never tried before. I had extra french toast batter (eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla), so instead of throwing it out I added another egg to thicken it up and made a quick omelet. It was great! It was like an omelet, but sweeter. I could be the last person to figure that out, but I'm glad I did.

For the most part, this week was about stir-fries, with which we finally ate the brown rice from several weeks ago. I was doubled up on asparagus after also picking some up at the market and I was three weeks behind on the WW recipes, so the timing worked out great...

Velvet Chicken w/ Asparagus.

This is one of my favorite stir-fries, it was a great way to use some River Cottage chicken & Crooked Creek asparagus, and it went well with the brown rice. The velveting technique produces moist tender chicken with a softer texture than a typical searing stir-fry, and this recipe employs a light sauce that lets the chicken and asparagus flavors shine.

Wok-Seared Veggies.

Oak-Planked Salmon.

Another CSA member suggested this quick and easy Orange Sesame Glaze for the salmon and it worked out well on the grill:
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
  • Chinese five powder spice and salt to taste

Oak-Planked Salmon, Wok-Seared Veggies, and Riced Cauliflower.
Cauliflower Rice RECIPE

The cauliflower rice is super duper simple, and it's just about the only thing I know to do with cauliflower. The recipe link above contains a BRK video that shows how easy it is.

Hot Pepper Beef

This is another one of my all-time favorite stir-fries. Besides the brown rice we paired it with, this one doesn't have much to do with the CSA (although we did use Dolan Farms bottom round steak). I mostly posted it as a suggestion for later this summer when we start getting peppers in our baskets. I look forward to trying it with different peppers to spice it up a bit more.

Week IX (5/28/13)

Week IX CSA Basket.
BONUS:  Soap, extra Strawberries, extra Kale, & JD Peach Yogurt.

Got a bunch of extras this time, and some new things like the yogurt and Chipotle Colby. Glad to get more carrots and radishes, too. And Dolan Farms grits! Love those grits...

Yogurt & Strawberries.

Green Smoothie.

That's an old picture, but kale means green smoothies around here. We follow Michelle's recipe in the link above, using either kale or spinach depending on what we have on hand.

Strawberry Milkshake.

Our twelve-year-old has been making strawberry milkshakes using vanilla ice cream pretty much every day. Fine with me, as long as he makes me one, too.

Fried Eggs w/ Cheesy Grits, Sauteed Chard, and Strawberries.

Dolan Farms Filet w/ Grilled Peppers & Onions and Coleslaw.
Coleslaw RECIPE

The Dolan Farms filets are always good, and adding some grilled onions and peppers didn't hurt. I followed the coleslaw recipe pretty close, but just used the cabbage and carrots from the basket instead of adding any red cabbage. Good stuff.

Grilled Farmers Market Pork Chop w/ Vinegar Coleslaw.
Monroe County Dip recipe found in The KY BBQ Book.

Grilled Kale w/ Stoney Creek Ribeye.
Grilled Greens RECIPE

This was my learning experience of the week. I never thought of grilling leafy greens before reading that article, and it turned out great. I added some hickory chunks and the kale really soaked up the smoke flavor. My fire was probably a little too hot, and next time I'll do the veggies after the mean when the grill has cooled down a bit. I look forward to trying some stir-fry ideas in the grill basket -- maybe throwing in slices of garlic/ginger/peppers and drizzling with a sauce?

Week X (6/4/13)

Week X CSA Basket.
BONUS:  Esters Pizza Crust & Basil.

Plants don't seem to last long around here, but I'm gonna keep that basil alive. I swear I will. Glad to get more broccoli, Stoney Creek ground beef, and Bespoke granola this week.

One last Strawberry Milkshake...

Grilled Chicken & Coleslaw.

We accidentally threw the Napa cabbage away, so Nathan hooked me up with this oddly shaped American cabbage (I think they call it a Dutch cabbage?). I went to the grocery store and they had some Napa cabbage, but it looked like crap. Never thought I'd be a cabbage snob! Nathan & Michelle are spoiling us.

I grilled it just enough to give it some flavor and char, but not enough to soften it much, and then we made vinegar slaw with it. We added some celery leaves from the CSA basket to the slaw.

Crooked Creek Bacon.

Grilled Bacon Taco.

Not many pics this week, but that one's a dandy. 100% CSA ingredients. I'd been holding on to that Crooked Creek bacon for several weeks, and we added some Stoney Creek ground beef with Dimple Foods taco seasoning, some Kenny's cheese, and lettuce/tomato from our basket. Not something we'll do on a weekly basis, but it was fun!

Week XI (6/11/13)

Week XI CSA Basket.
BONUS:  The Howells let me buy some extra Caught Wild Salmon (not pictured).

We picked our basket up a couple days late this week, but it was a good basket. Happy to get another chicken and more carrots. We also got garlic for the first time and the bok choy is considerably bigger than last week. The little veggie box was ready for snacking on as soon as I got home, and we got lentils for the first time. Lentils? Time to learn what that is.

Having just returned from BBQ U, I was eager to try some of the recipes we did in Colorado. I was able to use some CSA food in most of them.

Cedar-Planked Salmon, Smoked Coleslaw, and Grilled Sesame Soy Corn.

Perhaps my favorite thing here is the smoked slaw. This version had a better smoke flavor than the grilled version I tried last week. Just use your favorite slaw recipe, but smoke the cabbage and carrots for about 15 minutes before you prepare it. You don't want a lot of heat because we don't want the cabbage to wilt -- we just want a lot of smoke.

Mango Slaw, Garlic Bread, and Thai-Grilled Chicken Drumstick.

Baby Back Ribs & Smoked Twice-Baked Potatoes... and Salad.

Week XII (6/18/13)

Week XII CSA Basket.

It's really feeling like summer now with the first squash, and happy to get more salmon. The bag contains vegetable pasta.

Oak-Planked Salmon & Veggie Pasta w/ Cheese.

Grace Young's Stir-Fried Bok Choy w/ Bacon.

Fried Egg, Home Fries, Cucumber Salad, and Green Smoothie.
Baked Grilled Ziti, Grilled Veggies... and Salad.

That pasta recipe from Cooking Light was a good way to use a lot of our CSA produce this week.

Week XIII (6/25/13)

Week XIII CSA Basket.
BONUS:  Herbs.
DOUBLE BONUS:  They sold me some Salmon again (not pictured).

Blueberries! This was a great basket; a big basket. More Home Cafe salad dressing, carrots, sausage, and okra for the first time. Also, homemade laundry detergent.

Grilled Hamburger and Cajun Grilled Okra w/ Smoky Remoulade.
The Great American Burger RECIPE

We did the grilled okra at BBQ U and it's really simple -- just coat the okra with oil and your favorite cajun seasoning, grill until it looks good, and serve with remoulade or favored dipping sauce. This meal was fun because it was the first time my 12-year-old assistant handled everything from forming the burgers, to lighting the chimney starter and actually doing all the grilling. Good work!

Poached Egg on Sauteed Kale w/ Bacon & Garlic on Toasted Sourdough... and Blueberries!

This recipe idea came from Cathy Thomas's new book that has been very helpful:  50 Best Plants on the Planet.

Greek Yogurt, local Honey (Hillbilly Grillers), and Blueberries.
Thanks to Matt from Buy Local BG for this tasty low-calorie snack idea.

Grilled Stuffed Chicken Breast, Fried Okra, and Cucumber Salad.

This was my first attempt at fried okra, and while the taste was good the texture was off -- it never really softened up or got tender. When I asked for tips, Michelle shared this article:  How to Prepare Okra. The vinegar trick really helped and we got it right the next time.

Cedar-Planked Salmon w/ Cucumber & Dill Salad.

Week XIV (7/2/13)

Week XIV CSA Basket.
BONUS:  They let me buy more Salmon (not pictured).

Blueberries, apples, and corn? Summer is getting good. Also happy to get more ground beef, potatoes, radishes, and organic sugar. We also got a lot of corn at the market, and being a holiday week we did a lot of grilling...

Smoked Stoney Creek Baby Backs, Potatoes, and Grilled Corn.

Grilled Lamb Chops from River Cottage Farm along with Grilled Beans & Corn.

Salmon Cakes.

The CSA Corn went into the smoker with a Brisket, Pork Chops, Potatoes, and Peppers.
The Stoney Creek Pork Chops had Summer Garden Memories' Caribbean Grille Rub from Week XI.
Smoked Corn RECIPE

Grilled Stoney Creek Pork Chops, Hillbilly Grillers Blackberry Salsa, Homemade Applesauce, and Corn.

This was the first time we've made applesauce, and I don't reckon it could be much easier. This recipe from Jackson's Orchard calls for Lodi apples, which is convenient because we had Lodi apples from Jackson's Orchard in our CSA box (and sugar):
  • In a saucepan, combine 4 cored & chopped apples, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
  • Cover and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until apples are soft. Add sugar to taste, if necessary.
  • Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.

Independence Day Dogs, AmazingRibs.com-Style.
Chili Sauce RECIPE
Ultimate Hot Dog RECIPE

We used this week's ground beef and cheese for the chili dogs. That chili sauce recipe from Amazing Ribs is very versatile and especially tasty if you like Cincinnati-style Chili. We used it for chili dogs, Cincy-style chili over noodles, and Sloppy Joes (just add BBQ sauce). The Ultimate Hot Dog recipe is interesting because it suggests putting pickled ginger on your dog -- sounds weird, but works great!

Week XV (7/9/13)

Week XV CSA Basket.
BONUS:  All Natural JD Country Butter, Flowers, and Herbs.

Peppers, more blueberries, a whole chicken, salsa... gonna be a good week.

Grilled Simon & Garfunkel Chicken & Grilled Sourdough Bruschetta.
Simon & Garfunkel Chicken RECIPE

The Simon & Garfunkel rub made for a mean holiday turkey last year -- the Ultimate Smoked Turkey, in fact. Gee, that turkey looks a lot like this chicken! The rub goes great on poultry, and not just on the grill. Make extra and keep some on hand.  You'll use it.

Roasted Potatoes with Bacon & Goat Cheese.

Not the best pic, but that is our favorite finger food for parties (or for not parties). It's very simple to make, and most people are surprised by this take on potato salad. It is important to use fresh dill and quality cheese, though.

Taco Salad w/ Hillbilly Grillers Salsa.

Smoked Blueberry Crisp.

This was a controversial dish at my house. The first time I made it with hickory smoke, and I'm the only one who liked it -- perhaps I used too much smoke and it was hard to taste the berries. That's what they tell me, anyway. And by "they", I mean family, friends, and neighbors. The second time I used apple wood (and less of it) for a more subtle smokey flavor that was definitely better. You can use any seasonal fruit and if you try it just go easy on the smoke. And know your audience, because apparently some people don't like smokey dessert treats.

FLASHBACK:  Smoked Cherry Crisp at BBQ U.
It was a big hit with that crowd.

Week XVI (7/16/13)

Week XVI CSA Basket.
BONUS:  Pizza Crust.

This was a smaller basket, but a good one with more corn, potatoes, salmon, our first melon, and popcorn.

Planked Salmon w/ Mustard Soy Glaze, Fried Okra, and the controversial Smoked Blueberry Crisp.

Pulled Pork (from a Stoney Creek Boston Butt) & Slaw BBQ Sandwich.
Copycat Chick-fil-A Coleslaw RECIPE

Steak & Potato for two, with Grilled Green Beans & Movie Theater Popcorn.

Quick & Easy Pepperoni Pizza.

Week XVII (7/23/13)

Week XVII CSA Basket.
BONUS:  Flowers, local Honey, and Herbs.
DOUBLE BONUS:  We bartered for more Salmon (not pictured).

Perhaps the best basket so far. Why? Peaches! Heirloom tomatoes! The bag contains little tomatoes that are so good they're almost like candy.

Watermelon Chunks Grilled Over Blackberry Coals on a Cantaloupe Kettle.

Grace Young's Stir-Fried Cilantro Noodles w/ Egg.

Cedar-Planked Salmon w/ Bourbon-Maple Glaze, Marinated Summer Squash Salad, and Grilled/Planked Peach w/ Honey & Granola.
Planked Salmon recipe from Rockin' Ronnie Shewchuk's book Planking Secrets.
Marinated Summer Squash Salad RECIPE

Brat Poppers, Brat with Grilled Peppers & Onions, and a Brat Quesedilla.
Brat Poppers RECIPE
Brat Quesadilla RECIPE

We used some CSA and farmers market peppers here. Instead of pickles and chopped onion on the quesadilla we stuck with grilled onions and peppers, and we used Kenny's Monterey Jack. Good stuff!

Grilled Peaches w/ Honey, Granola, and Goat Cheese Iced Cream w/ Heirloom Tomatoes & Peach Sauce from Meltdown.
[It dances.]

Week XVIII (7/30/13)

Week XVIII CSA Basket.

Grapes! Nathan knows a thing or two about grapes. We also got more heirloom tomatoes, more of those candy-like little tomatoes, gluten-free flour, and more beans, peppers, eggplant, okra, etc... And I always like it when we get a whole chicken. This ended up being a chicken-and-tomato kind of week...

Mosca's Chicken a La Grande (and Crunchy French-Style Green Beans).
Mosca's Chicken RECIPE

Mosca's Chicken a La Grande, Crunchy French-Style Green Beans, and Tomatoes.
Meathead's Crunchy French Green Beans RECIPE

Mosca's is a restaurant in Westwego, LA about which I've heard great things. If I'm ever nearby, I'll go out of my way to check it out. Their recipes are simple and delicious. This one is a great way to use a whole chicken, and they have a potato recipe on the same page that conveniently uses the same ingredients so it's easy to make them at the same time. This time we went with beans instead and they were a big hit, and also super simple.

Grilled Chicken & Bruschetta Pasta.
RECIPE (sort of)

Grilled Chicken Bruschetta, Cajun-Style Grilled Okra, and Grilled Tomato Wedges for good measure.
RECIPE (sort of)

Week XIX (8/6/13)

Week XIX CSA Basket.
BONUS:  Juice!
DOUBLE BONUS:  We bartered for more Salmon (not pictured).

Those peaches were gone within an hour of getting home. Ground beef means we'll be having spaghetti, and it was nice to get some good peppers and more grapes (two bags!).

Wok-scrambled Eggs & Peppers, Table Grapes, Zucchini Butter on Sourdough, and Go Go Green Juice from Zest.
Zucchini Butter RECIPE

Salmon w/ Lemon/Caper/Dill Sauce and Fried Okra w/ Sauteed Peppers & Garlic.

Watermelon Salad [Yellow Watermelon & Heirloom Tomato].
RECIPE (video)

Aunt Joy's Breakfast Casserole (not my Aunt).

Week XX (8/13/13)

Week XX CSA Basket.
BONUS:  Herbs.
Alright, alright. Another great basket with plenty of summer produce, a pizza crust, and pork chops. Always happy about those things. Also, potatoes!

Hamburger & Home-Fries.

Tandoori Lamb Chops w/ a Three-Herb Chutney using herbs from the basket.

Steak & Eggs. And Home-Fries. And Yellow Watermelon. And a Yellow Vette.

Grilled Pork Chops & Corn w/ Hillbilly Grillers Mountain Mustard.

Week XXI (8/20/13)

Week XXI CSA Basket.
BONUS:  Michelle sold me a pack of Stoney Creek Pork Chops (not pictured).

Happy to get more Home Cafe ranch dressing, more veggie pasta, a pepper to go along with those tomatoes and a huge watermelon. Nathan and Michelle provide these watermelons for local schools, also. Lucky kids.

Ratatouille's Ratatouille.

This was perhaps the best possible use of this week's CSA basket ingredients. I figured it would be good, and it was crazy good delicious.

Ratatouille & Veggie Pasta.

Omelet & Home-Fries.

Caprese Burger I.

Those burgers were really good, but a better bun would be nice. Gabe fixed that problem for me when I visited the farmers market on Saturday.

Caprese Burger II, with better Burger Bun thanks to Gabe @ Esters Farm Baked Goods.

Veggie Pasta w/ Clam Sauce & Farmers Market Peppers.

No real recipe here. I just stir-fried some peppers & garlic real quick in oil and then added a can of clams and some white wine before mixing the pasta in. Quick and simple and good.

Week XXII (8/27/13)

Week XXII CSA Basket.
BONUS:  Soap, and those awesome little Yellow Peppers.

We got some good tomatoes and peppers this week. Also, some grapes, black beans, and another whole chicken.

Stir-Fried Sweet & Sour Pork (using last week's bonus pork chops).

Grilled Kentucky Breakfast w/ Vermont Maple Syrup.
[Temporarily out of Federal Grove Maple Syrup.]

Hot Pepper Beef.
(Recipe link above in Week IV.)

Pimento Cheese Sandwich w/ Cobb Salad.
Pimento Cheese RECIPE

That pimento cheese was made with Kenny's Chipotle Colby and a red pepper and a pimento from Sunny Point Gardens that had been roasted on the grill. Good peppery taste.

Week XXIII (9/3/13)

Week XXIII CSA Basket.

More grapes, more of tomatoes, eggplant, squash, etc. we're used to at this time of year, and a bonus two-meat deal this week -- we chose ground beef & and a chicken. Also, more sugar since our 12-year-old likes to eat approximately half that bag each morning with his fruit. Oh, and apples!

Speaking of chicken...

Two One-Egg Omelets w/ Rooster Sauce and Mozzarella Sourdough Toast.

Chipotle Pimento Cheeseburger w/ Sri-Rancha.
Sri-Rancha RECIPE (video)

That was the same pimento cheese shown last week and the Sri-Rancha is a brilliantly simple and tasty condiment -- just a mix of ranch dressing and Sriracha hot sauce (rooster sauce).

Hickory-planked Spatchcocked Chicken.

This was perhaps the best chicken we've ever done on the grill. I didn't soak the planks in water, and I pre-heated them until they were smoking pretty good. I kept the temp down for the first thirty minutes or so and then opened the vent to crank the heat and crisp the skin while it finished cooking. We threw one coat of Sweet Baby Ray's on after pulling it from the grill and it was delicious. I think the smoking plank really added a lot of flavor to the spatchcocked chicken -- it tasted like smoked chicken, but didn't take nearly as long.

Week XXIV (9/10/13)

Week XXIV CSA Basket.
BONUS:  I bartered for some extra bacon.

This was a great basket -- more tomatoes & peppers, more veggie pasta, another watermelon, and more peaches (those things really don't last long around here). Also, another double-meat day with Stoney Creek pork chops (all-time favorite) and Crooked Creek bacon.

Roasted tomatoes & peppers for a spicy marinara.

While grilling last week's chicken, I also roasted three tomatoes, the yellow peppers from our basket, and two habenero peppers from the farmers market. It made for a marinara that was way spicier than I expected, but after adding some heavy cream and cooking it down, it was a great salmon topping.

Pan-fried Salmon w/ Spicy Creamy Marinara and Pasta Salad from Home Cafe.

Quick & Easy Local Margherita.

"Oh, my!"

That's what my wife said after the first bite. I was really proud of this pizza because it's the first 100% local pizza we've made. The Esters pizza crust came from our basket, of course, as did the Mozzarella from Kenny's and the heirloom tomatoes that made the pizza sauce (it's orange because we used red and yellow tomatoes). The oregano and basil came from my neighbor's herb garden.

Roasted Potatoes with Bacon & Goat Cheese.

This is the same recipe from Week XV, and this time made with Crooked Creek bacon. I'll keep posting pictures of it every time we make it because it's awesome.

Week XXV (9/17/13)

Week XXV CSA Basket.

Not a big basket this week, but happy to get some hot sausage from Crooked Creek this time, and some more Home Cafe ranch dressing. Also, greens are back! And what is orzo?

Carnitas Hash.

Crab Legs w/ Orzo, Chard, & Kale.
Orzo & Chard RECIPE

That Orzo & Kale recipe was surprisingly good to be so simple. We used our whole bag of orzo and all the kale and chard from our basket. Perfect.

Grilled Pork Belly w/ a Board Dressing using CSA Peppers.

Pork Belly Sandwich w/ Esters' Bread & Heirloom Tomatoes.

It's like a BLT... on steroids!

Week XXVI (9/24/13)

Week XXVI CSA Basket.

The greens are definitely back. We also got our last heirloom tomatoes, some peaches, a chicken, and grapes.

And we found a tractor to sit on...


Fried Eggs w/ Smoked Gouda and a Squash/Zuchinni/Pepper Hash.
It's in the running for Best Breakfast of the Year.
Sometimes simple is best!

Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps w/ Smoked Gouda.

These were incredible. We fried up some leftover grilled pork belly, tossed it in a BBQ/Hoisin/Soy sauce mixture, and made the lettuce wraps with rice, carrots, pepper, and Kenny's Smoked Gouda.

They were best after being chilled in the fridge.

Pork Tenderloin Parmesan & Stir-Fried Greens.

This pork tenderloin and the recipe both came from Stoney Creek Farm. It was outstanding, and here's the recipe:
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 4 pieces pork tenderloin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 24 ounces pasta sauce
  • 8 ounces shredded Mozzarella
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet (or wok).
  3. Mix the Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
  4. Dip pork tenderloin slices in egg, coat with the Parmesan cheese & bread crumbs, and then fry in skillet until browned on each side.
  5. Pour half the tomato sauce in a baking dish, add the browned pork tenderloin, and cover with the remaining sauce. Top with Mozzarella and bake for 30 minutes or so..

Birthday Burgers w/ Chipotle Colby.

Birthday Burger Oscar w/ Sri-Rancha and Grilled Watermelon.

Week XXVII (10/1/13)

Week XXVII CSA Basket.

Hey, I was wrong -- we got some more heirloom tomatoes this week. Sweet. Also, plenty of peppers, apples, and more greens. The protein choices were great and I came home with a salmon patty and some bacon. Quick Oats rounded out a good basket this week.

Smoked Chicken (from last week) finished with Hillbilly Grillers' Wing Sauce... and Salad.

This week's fun meals were all about bacon and green stuff -- stir-fried greens with bacon, jalapenos wrapped in bacon, collard greens cooked with bacon...

Stir-Fried Rainbow Chard w/ Bacon & Garlic.

Grilled Salmon w/ Bourbon Mustard Glaze and Jalapeno Poppers.

Collard Greens.

Week XXVIII (10/8/13)

Week XXVIII CSA Basket.
Not pictured is our bread.

The bread wasn't pictured because I forgot to put it in my basket. These things happen when I stop by the farm and Michelle isn't there to help me. I need help! As I type this, we don't know what kind of melon that is. We'll figure that out soon. But this was another good basket featuring ground beef, beans, and plenty of greens...

We even picked our own greens this week.

Collard Greens & Kale.

Last week a dinner guest suggested that the collard greens could use some lemon or vinegar, so this week we followed the same recipe but added some strips of lemon zest and a splash of rice wine vinegar. They were better this time. I like to cook the bacon, onions, and garlic and wilt the greens in the wok before adding everything to another pot with the chicken broth.

Grilled Chicken & Collard Greens.

Rainbow Chard Lasagna.

We added a pack of this week's ground beef to the lasagna recipe and cooked it on the grill. It was better than I expected, and a great way to use up some CSA/Farmers Market food. The beans were good, but I like using lemon better.

Rainbow Chard Lasagna & Grilled Beans.
Green Beans w/ Orange Olive Oil RECIPE

Grilled Stoney Creek Pork Chop & Apple-smoked Apple... and Salad.

Week XXIX (10/15/13)

Week XXIX CSA Basket.

Salad season has clearly started up again, and I think I was supposed to grab some of the ranch dressing from Home Cafe when I picked up my basket, but I forgot. That makes two weeks in a row! Argh. On the bright side, I remembered the bread (no, I didn't -- Michelle remembered). I guess they aren't very visible, but we got some good peppers this week along with sausage, granola (gorillaola, as the three-year-old says). The granola and the chocolate milk went fast... they always do.

We got our first taste of cold weather this week, so it was a soup and chili kind of week.

Kitchen Sink Chili... and Salad.

We had a plans to use a particular chili recipe, but those plans changed when I realized what I had on hand. So, in went all the peppers from this week's basket and some ground beef from last week's basket. We added some pinto beans from a previous basket and topped it off with Kenny's Peppercorn Asiago & basil (didn't have cilantro). Pretty pretty good!

Zuppa Toscana.

I guess this is a popular soup at Olive Garden, but I've never had it. The recipe is real popular on Facebook, and it was a good reason to use some chard so we gave it a shot. Good stuff on a cold rainy day, and even better [and thicker] the next day. Next time I'd use a lot more broth, less sausage, more bacon, and maybe cook it in a dutch oven rather than a slow cooker.

Chili Cheese Dogs.

Chili Omelet w/ Grilled Onion & Pepper Salad.
A big tasty mess of leftovers.

Week XXX (10/22/13)

Week XXX CSA Basket.

Awesome basket this week, and I don't think I forgot anything this time. Whole chicken, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, apples, and red lentils (whatever that is).

Sausage-stuffed Manicotti, Sourdough Cheesebread, and Stir-Fried Ginger Broccoli.
Cooking Light's Manicotti RECIPE
Grace Young's Ginger Broccoli RECIPE

Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk.

This sounds weird, but it's pretty good. The best thing about it is the simplicity, as it requires pretty much no work at all. Great way to use a whole chicken.

Milk Chicken and Indian Red Lentil Soup w/ Chinese Cabbage.

This "soup" was really thick and it basically seemed like a vegetarian chili. Glad we tried it, though, because it went good with the chicken.

Bok Choy Salad?

So, this was funny. Five minutes before dinner I run upstairs to do a quick bok choy stir-fry, but the bok choy is gone. My wife asks, "Is it green?" Yeah, it's green and apparently it's in salad bowls tonight. Wasn't exactly my plan, but it works!

The rare dessert night. Caramel Apples & No-Bake Oat Cookies of some sort.

Week XXXI (10/29/13)

Week XXXI CSA Basket.

This was a good basket, complete with a pumpkin just in time for Halloween. Also happy to get some good potatoes and peppers, and some ginger for the first time.

Smoked Apple Crisp w/ Oat Topping.

I may be the only person on my street who likes these smoked crisp desserts, but I do like them. This one was done with apple wood and bourbon barrel char. All the potatoes and peppers from the basket went on the grill with a Jalapeno Cheddar Venison Brat from Yoders Specialty Meats. Those brats are the best deer meat I've ever eaten.

Jalapeno Cheddar Venison Bratwurst.

Chili... and Salad.

Cheesy Pepper Garlic Grits, Eggs Blindfolded, and Skilled-Grilled Potatoes & Peppers.
Eggs Blindfolded RECIPE

I guess I found a new favorite way to cook eggs, and it couldn't be any easier.

And these were the best grits we've made:
  • 1 cup Dolan Farms grits
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 Italian Roaster peppers (one red, one green) from Sunnypoint Gardens, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons shredded Monterey Jack from Kenny's
  1. Combine first six ingredients in sauce pan, bring to a boil, and simmer while stirring until desired consistency.
  2. Add butter and cheese.

Week XXXII (11/5/13)

Week XXXII CSA Basket.

One of the protein choices this week just happened to be Stoney Creek ribs... so that was an easy choice. Also got some pears for the first time, something called Arborio rice, and some french onion soup from Home Cafe.

Grilled Salmon on Mizuna from Sunny Point Gardens and Grilled Pears w/ Kenny's Blue Cheese.

Beef Burgundy made with Stoney Creek Farms Beef and Reid's Cab Franc w/ Home Cafe's French Onion Soup.
Cooking Light's Beef Burgundy RECIPE

Smoked Stoney Creek Ribs w/ a Summer Garden Memories Rub & Hasselback Potatoes w/ Bacon.

This was a good week...

Week XXXIII (11/12/13)

Week XXXIII CSA Basket.
BONUS:  Soap.

Sausage, apples, pears, ranch dressing, and some spaghetti sauce from JD's for the first time. That should work. I also picked up some rabbits and wine from Reid's Livery & Winery this week.

Stoney Creek Pork Chops and NMA Pears on the firepit.

Slow-cooker Rabbit Stew made with Reid's Rabbit & Reid's Cab Franc.
Easy Arborio Rice RECIPE

Grilled Rabbit wrapped in Bacon with Grilled Pear Salad.

Ralphie's Rice Pudding.

Everybody liked the Arborio rice, I really liked the rabbit, and we love grilling these pears.

Week XXXIV (11/19/13)

Week XXXIV CSA Basket.

The whole chicken weeks are always good, and we always like the veggie pasta and Home Cafe's tomato bisque. But there aren't many pictures this week because we're saving space for Thanksgiving week... and I tried a few recipes we didn't like.

Smoked Half Chicken from Crooked Creek Farm w/ Dreamland BBQ Shake.

Week XXXV (11/26/13)

Week XXXV CSA Basket.

The best basket of the year! They went all out for Thanksgiving week. Jackson's Orchard apple cider, a bunch of apples, organic brown sugar, Crooked Creek pork chops, orange-raspberry cranberry sauce from Home Cafe, Zest juice...

...and the option to purchase a fresh turkey from the Schrock Farm.

We smoked it in the rain.

Yeah, the tree was up early this year.

Smoked Turkey Breast w/ Orange-Raspberry Cranberry Sauce with Mashed Potatoes & Gravy.

And a good turkey it was! We had our own little Tuesday Thanksgiving Dinner, and the rest of the week was spent other people's turkey and our leftovers, of course.

Cold Turkey Leg.

Smoked Turkey Sandwich on Esters Bread w/ Sunny Point Gardens Greens, Hillbilly Grillers Chipotle Honey Mustard, ATP Tomatoes, and Boca Bacon.

Smoked Turkey & Andouille Gumbo.

The gumbo was great because we made our own turkey stock. Not much of a recipe here -- just made a roux before adding the bell pepper, onions, celery. Then added the sausage and turkey stock. Next time I'll make a darker roux, but this was really good as-is.

Smoked Turkey Melt.

Smoked Turkey Hash w/ Egg Blindfolded.
Raichlen's Smoked Turkey Hash RECIPE

Hot Brown on Sourdough French Toast.
Legendary Kentucky Hot Brown RECIPE

Saved the best for last! We only make the Hot Brown once a year, and this year's version was made with all CSA ingredients and jazzed up a bit. We use Kenny's Nena for the cheese, and what really set it off was the french toast base and the orange-raspberry cranberry sauce.

Week XXXVI (12/3/13)

Week XXXVI CSA Basket.

After the huge basket last week, a smaller basket was much appreciated this week. We got more pears and we got garlic for the first time. I think the soup from Home Cafe was chicken noodle, but I'm not 100% sure because it was gone before I got any.

Bacon Egg Bagel w/ Stir-Fried Ginger Garlic Rainbow Chard.

Kale Salad w/ Pine Nuts & Currants.

Portuguese Bean Soup w/ Kale Salad.

Portuguese Bean Soup Recipe.

A friend sent me this recipe from an old fundraising cookbook and she gave me permission to share it, even though we don't know exactly what the name of the book is/was. Anyway, It's delicious. We made it with Chorizo, a smoked ham hock from Stoney Creek Farm, and cabbage/tomatoes from the basket. With a virus beginning to make it's way through our house, it was a good time for a hearty soup.

Week XXXVII (12/10/13)

Week XXXVII CSA Basket.

Whole chicken week! Also, more pears, ranch dressing, bok choy, and salsa.

Simon & Garfunkel Crock-Pot Chicken & Sweet Potato Fries.

Acorn Squash Bisque.

Crooked Creek Pork Chops and Crooked Creek Sauerkraut w/ NMA Pears and Stir-Fried Garlic Spinach.

Week XXXVIII (12/17/13)

Week XXXVIII CSA Basket.

Another great basket with a bunch of onions, some hot Crooked Creek sausage, black eyed peas, and Home Cafe's tomato bisque. Also some cabbage that looks like lettuce. Our favorite items were the oranges and grapefruit from Marion's Groves in Florida, though. The owner is a laid back dude who also happens to be our landscaper since way back before I even had a house to landscape. Glad to see the family business is going well in Florida and glad they are contributing to our baskets!

The chicken is Little Man's farm buddy. He always greets us and often tries to leave with us.

The bird knows the word.  The bird knows where the food is. Follow the bird!

French Onion Soup & Salad w/ Blue Cheese Sourdough Croutons.
Onion & Ale Soup RECIPE

Week XXXIX (12/24/13)

Week XXXIX CSA Basket.
BONUSES:  Numerous.

This Christmas basket rivals the Thanksgiving basket. Not only did we get a real basket, but they were delivered this week. Fun stuff inside. Kirby & Poe bacon, Penn's country ham, Madasgar vanilla beans, eggnog, cranberry sauce, chestnuts, and more...

Egg Blindfolded on Sourdough Toast, Grapefruit, and Salad w/ Orange Vinaigrette & Blue Cheese.
Orange Vinaigrette RECIPE (sort of)

One orange provided enough juice to double that vinaigrette recipe. We added some olive oil, went a little heavy on the pepper & honey, and light on the mustard. Good stuff.

Two-Pot Pasta.

Pot 1:
  • Chopped tomatoes, onions, pepper, garlic, chicken broth, and spaghetti seasoned with salt, crushed red pepper, dried basil, and dried oregano.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered until just a little liquid is left in the pot.

Pot 2:
  • Chopped onion & pepper, sliced mushrooms, and ground beef/pork/lamb.
  • Cook until meat is well browned and water from mushrooms has evaporated.

The idea was that some of us could have a meatless dinner, and others could add some of Pot 2. Good idea!

Tomato Bisque & Salad with red onion, blue cheese, oranges, and orange vinaigrette.

"The Jen"

This idea came from a friend of mine in South Carolina. She sent me a picture of a breakfast sandwich that was sausage and eggs on toast topped with some avocado slices. I added some sausage gravy. It was delicious. The "Modified Jen" will have some country ham on there, too!

Vanilla Extract.

Apparently vanilla extract is made by just splitting some vanilla beans and storing them in alcohol forever? While it would have been more appropriate around these parts to use bourbon, I went with vodka so we could watch the color change over the days, weeks, and months.

Week XL (12/31/13)

Week XL CSA Basket.

More oranges this week, a bunch of apples, more brussels sprouts, a big ol' onion, and potatoes of both varieties. I left our Home Cafe salad dressing behind. Whoops.

For some reason, we made a lot of sandwiches this week. But first we made our best prime rib yet...

Planked Prime Rib & Potatoes.
RECIPE (and step-by-step photos)

Leftover Prime Rib Sandwich & French Onion Soup.

Chicken Bacon Ranch & Oven Fries.

Bacon Egg Salsa Sandwich & Home Fries.
This was the salsa we got in a basket several weeks ago.

Proper country cookin' courtesy of some friends who may or may not bake the bread in our CSA baskets.

This was the first time in my whole entire life that I realized I could enjoy Brussels sprouts. Our hosts also had a CSA basket this week and they roasted these sprouts in the oven with butter and balsamic vinegar -- easy & tasty. Excellent meal all around!

We do Fondue Night on New Years Eve following The Melting Pot recipes, and our cheese fondue this year was the Bourbon Bacon Cheddar Fondue. I made some Brown Butter & Sage Brussels Sprouts to go along with it. Outstanding combo! A week ago I wouldn't have considered it.

This was also the week we discovered Esters' Rustic Italian bread, which also loves cheese fondue.

Fondue Night featuring the Brussels Sprouts.
Bourbon Bacon Cheddar Fondue RECIPE
Brussels Sprouts w/ Brown Butter & Sage RECIPE

Week XLI (1/7/14)

Week XLI CSA Basket.
BONUS: Nathan left a bag of dehydrated peppers in my basket.

This was a pretty big basket with a whole chicken, soup, a bunch of potatoes, more oranges, more apples, and I grabbed some more arborio rice.

Pot Roast w/ Stoney Creek Beef on Esters Bread.

BBQ Chicken Salad w/ Grilled Onions & Peppers and BBQ Ranch.

We slowly grilled the whole chicken while basting with some Owensboro-style BBQ dip, and added just a bit of Moonlite's dip to some ranch for the dressing. Good stuff.

Leftover BBQ Chicken Salad Sandwich, and the leftover Wings.

Week XLII (1/14/14)

Week XLII CSA Basket.

Pick-Your-Own-Protein week means I get ribs!

I learned a few things this week. First, I gave our delicata squash to a neighbor who happens to be in culinary school. After enjoying the squash she laughed at me for giving the away and told me they are one of the most favored and tastiest squashes. Last time I give her one!

Second, I learned that leading up to the Chinese New Year, cooking with oranges is supposed to bring good luck. Works for me, so here begins a few weeks of cooking with oranges.

Mini Paninis & Kale Salad w/ Orange Vinaigrette.
Panini RECIPE (we added salami & avocado)

Stoney Creek Ribs & Orange Vinaigrette Salad.

I'll keep making this orange vinaigrette as long as we keep getting oranges, but the fun thing this week was the BBQ sauce made with orange instead of lemon. One of my favorite ways to grill ribs is to combine two recipes from Steven Raichlen's 'BBQ USA' -- the Lord of the 'Que ribs and the Nashville Sweet BBQ Sauce, but this time we substituted orange for lemon and it was a nice swap. Still sweet, but more subtle than usual. We'll do that again.

Week XLIII (1/21/14)

Week XLIII CSA Basket.

This was a sausage week and we are still getting a lot of apples and oranges. Also a lot of greens and more Brussels sprouts, and I always like to get Home Cafe soup and green onions in the basket.

Random shot while unpacking the basket.

Chinese Trinidadian Chicken w/ Mango Chutney.

Grilled South African Lobster Tail w/ Orange Garlic Rosemary Butter.

This South African Lobster Tail was the most expensive piece of protein I've purchased on a per-pound basis, so fortunately it weighed less than a pound! To keep the good luck going we used an orange instead of lemon to make a finishing butter.

Week XLIV (1/28/14)

Week XLIV CSA Basket.

A bunch of oranges and apples, another delicata squash, and more Brussels Sprouts on a ground beef week. Also a jar of canned pears -- the same pears we enjoyed grilling a couple months ago. It's Superbowl Week!

SUPERBOWL PRACTICE: Wings, Jalapeno/Habanero Poppers, and Smoked BBQ Eggs.

I had a really bad idea -- why not cram a stuffed habanero into a jalapeno popper? Well, as it turns out, there's a real good reason not to! I thought I was dying. Parts of my insides that shouldn't even have nerves were burning. Never again...

French Toast & Oranges, prepared & served by a 13-year-old.

Thanks, Bubba. Those are slices of Esters bread that sat out overnight -- that really makes the French Toast better.

SUPERBOWL APPETIZER:  Grilled Delicata Squash w/ Garam Masala.

SUPERBOWL DINNER:  Green Lightning Shrimp Tacos w/ Mango Avocado Tomato Salsa.

SUPERBOWL DESSERT:  Smoked Country-Style Ribs w/ Hillbilly Grillers BBQ Sauce.

SUPERBOWL LEFTOVERS:  BBQ Meatball Sub w/ Chips & Mango Avocado Tomato Salsa.

My mom and wife both like to make those popular Crock-Pot meatballs for parties. Mom uses BBQ sauce, and my wife uses a jar of chili sauce and a can of jellied cranberry sauce. They both end up tasting about the same, and a hot sub sandwich is a great way to use any leftovers the next day.

Week XLV (2/4/14)

Week XLV CSA Basket.
BONUS:  Sage Mango Barbecue Sugar.

We got a big chicken this week, tangerines, sweet potatoes, more soup, and I really liked the green stuff. Including, for the first time, Kenny's Apple Cheddar. I have no idea what to do with the Sage Mango Barbecue Sugar, but I'm pretty sure we'll figure out something (grilled shrimp?).

Breakfast Sandwich w/ Tangerine Tomato Salsa.

Scrambled eggs w/ onions & peppers, bacon, chipotle cheddar, and salsa on French bread. The salsa is like a mango tomato salsa with tangerine substituted for mango, and well worth a try.

Modernist Scrambled Eggs w/ Cheddar & Bacon.
The eggs are so creamy you need a spoon.

I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy of Steven Raichlen's next book, Man Made Meals, and this was the first recipe I tried. It's actually an idea from Modernist Cuisine, but their technique involves blenders and sous-vide cooking and generally seems like way too much work for scrambled eggs. Raichlen's version is much simpler for the home cook. The book says the texture should be about like cream of wheat and that's exactly what I got on the second attempt. Pretty neat!

Week XLVI (2/11/14)

Week XLVI CSA Basket.
BONUS: Gabe Esters made some rye bread for us, and he'll be selling it at the market soon.

We got pork tenderloin from Stoney Creek, another delicata squash, and plenty of oranges. This week, we also switched our bread selection so we'll be getting get these Rustic Italian rolls instead of the sourdough. I love the sourdough, but we like the rustic italian more, and I really like getting the rolls instead of a whole loaf.

Farmers Market Pastrami Sandwich.

Rolls from Esters, Smoked Pastrami from River Cottage Farms, Kenny's Havarti, and Hillbilly Grillers Mountain Mustard. Awesome.

Spatchcocked Chicken w/ a Curry Mustard Crust, Cabbage Steak, and Sweet Potato.
Cabbage Steak RECIPE

The chicken was another recipe from Man Made Meals, and the oven was pretty full with the cabbage and sweet potatoes in there, also. I would definitely make the chicken again and I like the cabbage steaks, but be warned that they are very difficult to handle.

Week XLVII (2/18/14)

Week XLVII CSA Basket.
BONUS: Italian Herbal Salt.

This was a really good basket with ground beef and sausage. We're still getting oranges, and we were happy to get more Home Cafe tomato bisque and bok choy.

Crispy Cheddar Chicken using Kenny's Apple Cheddar.

That is a really easy weeknight recipe for boneless skinless chicken, and it was a good use for the apple cheddar.

Bok Choy & Bacon Stir-Fry w/ Tomatoes.

There was no real recipe here; just wanted to use up some bok choy, pearl onions, and tomatoes. I used garlic for the aromatics and a finished with a quick sauce made of rice wine, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and cornstarch.

Week XLVIII (2/25/14)

Week XLVIII CSA Basket.

Very cool basket. Ground beef always comes in handy and we're still getting oranges, but the cool things were the jar of olive oil from Chaffin Family Orchard and a three page letter from Nathan talking about how they made it through this cold winter without losing to any crops, and talking about how this first year of the Full Farm CSA program has been for the Howell Family. Good folks. Glad I know them.

Olive Oil.

Orange Juice.

Fried Eggs & Garlic Spinach Stir-Fry w/ Smoke Pastrami.

In this day and age it's hard to be original, but when I Googled "Garlic Spinach and Smoked Pastrami Breakfast Stir-Fry," Google said "No results found." Maybe we can change that.

Week XXIX (3/4/14)

Week XXIX CSA Basket.

This basket featured Home Cafe French Onion Soup, some bread that will go great with the soup, a whole chicken, and more citrus & tomatoes.

Mile High Pancakes & Sausage on the grill.
Pancake recipe from Man Made Meals.

Mile High Pancakes w/ NMA Pears, Hand-squeezed Grapefruit Juice, and local Maple Syrup.

"Welcome to Good Burger, home of the good burger. Can I take your order?"
Smashburger practice with CSA beef, cheese, and bacon.
Smashed Burger RECIPE

Double Cheese Smashburger.

Smoked Baby Backs w/ Cider Rum BBQ Sauce from Man Made Meals using orange juice & zest.

Week L (3/11/14)

Week L CSA Basket.

All right, all right... pork chops and salmon. I'll take it. We also got some canned tomatoes, salad dressing, potatoes, and more squash to go with the green stuff. This was also the first time we got a cream cheese from Kenny's.

Alder-Planked Salmon w/ my [Chef-in-training] neighbor's Crawfish Etouffee & Salad I.

Alder-Planked Salmon w/ my [Chef-in-training] neighbor's Crawfish Etouffee & Salad II.

That was fun, and unexpected. I grilled the salmon on the plank with a bourbon-maple glaze, and when it was almost finished I added the rice and etouffee just so it could get warmed up and absorb a little smoke flavor. Outstanding. It didn't last long.

Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich w/ Pig Picker Pucker Sauce & Creamy Horseradish Slaw.
The rub, sauce, and slaw recipes are straight from Man Made Meals.

A farmers market friend let me borrow his Pit Barrel Cooker for a few weeks -- we did pulled pork, ribs, brisket, and chicken. The pulled pork was the favorite, and this was perhaps the best sandwich of the year. Can't wait to do it again.

Week LI (3/18/14)

Week LI CSA Basket.

Sausage, bok choy, sweet potatoes, and a new Aztec Blend that I'd love to use with sausage to stuff a squash and smoke it, if I get the time.

Grilled Chicken, Chard/Turnip Slaw, and Scalloped Sweet Potatoes & Butternut Squash.
Scalloped Sweet Potatoes & Butternut Squash RECIPE

We added bacon to the potato/squash recipe, and used bacon grease instead of butter. Tasty.

The slaw came from a BBQ pal in Iowa who likes to use kohlrabi instead of carrots in his slaw. I didn't have kohlrabi, cabbage, or carrots, so I used a favorite creamy slaw recipe and used two bunches of chard and some turnips instead of cabbage and carrots. Turned out great!


We used some tomatoes from an earlier basket to whip up a simple spaghetti sauce that helped served a youth group and some parents.

Leftover Pulled Pork w/ Grilled Onions & Peppers and Havarti.

I know it's not real popular to put cheese on a BBQ sandwich around here, but I love melting some provolone or havarti on pulled pork leftovers, and grilled onions/peppers make anything better!

NOTE:  The next two pictures show recipes and food from Blue Apron -- not from my CSA basket. They deliver all the ingredients to your home and a step-by-step photo recipe to make each meal for $10 per. My brother sent me a free week of meals and it was really cool -- not something that would work for us right now, but something that I would have definitely used ten years ago when holed up solo in a small SoCal apartment. Anyway, I include these pics and recipes because the Blue Apron site is a good place to find some tasty recipes that use a lot of ingredients you'll find at the farmers market or in your CSA basket.

Roasted Chicken w/ Jalapeno-Herb Salsa, Mixed Citrus, and Cracked Wheat Berries.

Tilapia Veracruzana w/ Yellow Rice.

Week LII (3/25/14)

Week LII CSA Basket.

Our final CSA basket for the year featured another whole chicken, more potatoes, citrus, salad dressing, and greens. Nice way to finish up the year, if you ask me.

Beef Chili on Veggie Pasta.

Lemon & Mustard Roast Chicken & Garlic Roasted Potatoes.

Here's a couple more recipes from Raichlen's new book, Man Made Meals. The book says to do these in the oven, but I couldn't resist cramming everything on the grill for some smoke roasting with a few cherry wood chips. It was a great way to use our last chicken, and it was one of those rare meals where the whole family liked everything.

Lemon & Mustard Roast Chicken.
I still suck at carving birds.

Garlic Roasted Potatoes.

Lemon & Mustard Roast Chicken w/ Mixed Citrus & Cracked Wheat Berries and Garlic Roasted Potatoes.

Leftovers w/ Jalapeno-Herb Salsa.

Double Cheese Smashburger, Animal-Style.

I thought it would be funny to end the year with a meal that appears to be most unhealthy while utilizing onions, tomatoes, and beef from our baskets. And as far as burgers go, it doesn't get much better than an animal-style cheeseburger! Although this one used bigger patties than recommended, the spot-on recipe for In-N-Out Animal-Style Cheeseburgers was posted in Week V, and their is a link for the smashed burger concept in Week XXIX.



So, I guess that's a wrap. It's been a full year. A solid 52 weeks of picking up most of our food at the farm on Tuesdays (except for the Christmas week when the farm delivered). 52 weeks of learning, in a fun and tasty way. 52 weeks of watching the boys devour the milk as soon as I walk in the door each Tuesday afternoon -- white bottle for the football player; chocolate bottle for the toddler. 52 weeks of either making the three-year-old happy when he could join me on farm trips, or disappointing him when he couldn't (short-lived disappointment, as long as I brought the chocolate milk home). 52 weeks of trying to figure out how to use unfamiliar produce, and being happy when we figured out what works. 52 weeks of sharing produce with our neighbors when we knew we wouldn't be able to use all of it at home. 52 weeks of enjoying quality meats, bread, and dairy products from some of our favorite local farmers.

Over the past year I've visited other cities and talked to people about their farmers markets and CSA options, and I've yet to find anything else quite like this one. I've talked to online friends in other parts of the country and the story is the same, so I reckon we're pretty fortunate to live where we do right now.

We've signed up for another year, so the learning isn't over and we'll keep on keeping on. With any luck, the Howells will find a bigger farm and continue their journey in bigger ways over the next year. And we hope to keep tagging along... 

Thanks, Howells!

The Vanilla Extract is coming along quite nice like.
Still don't know what to do with it...


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