This week’s haul included a couple of fun things and a little bit of sad news. First things first, what’s in the box? (All organic from Lattin Farms unless otherwise noted)
- Decorative Gourd
- Decorative Indian Corn
- Potatoes from Workman Farms
- Butternut Squash from Peri & Sons
- Onions From Peri & Sons
What do you do with a full sunflower head? Thankfully, the newsletter came with instructions. (I love that the farm doesn’t assume that I know this stuff. Instructions are appreciated!)
How to Make Your Own Sunflower Seeds
Cover the flower head with a paper bag and secure into place by tying around the bag with a string.
Hang the cut sunflower upside down by the stem in a warm but ventilated area for three weeks to two months while it cures. The seeds will fall out over time, caught in the paper bag.
Place the dried sunflower seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator for storage. Roast the sunflower seeds by spreading them in a flat layer over a cookie sheet and placing in a 300-degree oven for 20 minutes. Add salt or leave them plain based on your preference.
I love the decorative stuff because they can hang around until Thanksgiving and not be confused with my Halloween decorations.
Now, the sad news … the drought was pretty tough on my farm this year. And, well, drought conditions make it pretty tough on about everything around here. Here’s the official scoop from my CSA newsletter:
“It has been a challenging year for us – drought, heavy insect and disease pressure, crazy weather (including about three weeks without sunshine due to wildfires). Despite these difficulties the basket went out every week full of fresh produce. The variety, due to problems noted above, was not up to our usual standards – lots and lots of some things and less of others. Thanks for putting up with those variables.
We are changing the basket substantially in 2014 to ensure we can send a full basket of good produce every week, despite the challenges we anticipate due to continued drought. Luckily at Lattin Farms we have storage ponds on the farm and will be able to plant for the new seasons we are implementing for 2014.
We will have two seasons rather than three, with an Early Season Basket beginning the first week of June and running through the end of July. This season will begin with the usual greens, plus beets, turnips, carrots and in July the first
of the summer squashes, tomatoes and peppers. Late Season Basket will include August and September and will contain all the crops you got this year. This will allow us to concentrate on our major season as we face the challenges with weather and drought.
Our sign-up for 2014 will be up on the website within the next couple of weeks and we would appreciate early sign-ups with the $50 deposits as we may be required to limit basket numbers if the drought worsens.
We are asking some of our cooperating farmers if they want to pick up some of the spring and fall business that we have had. Look to our website later in the year for announcements on other subscription programs for spring and fall baskets. Thanks again for your loyal support. Rick Lattin”
Well, that’s just how it works here in the desert. No water, no life. You have to do the best you can with what you have so we’ll see how it works out next year for crops and Fresh Veggies in the Desert.
Let me know what you think … I was looking forward to the winter break but now it’s a little sad that I’m watching the CSA change at the same time.
The winter veggies just keep coming! I’m happy to see a nice variety in this week’s CSA share. I am still a little worried, though. It is really dry out there and I know my farm is struggling for water. C’est la vie for gardening in the desert, I suppose?
What was in this week’s box? (All organic from Lattin Farms unless otherwise noted)
- Stripetti Spaghetti Squash
- Butter Lettuce
- Green Tomatoes
- Mixed Peppers
- Potatoes from Holley Farms
- Onions from Peri & Sons
And, just in case you wanted to see what autumn looks like from near my house, this is a little fishing hole a few miles from where I live:
The county stocks the pond with trout and we have managed to catch a couple of them. My husband is better at catching than I am but I do enjoy the zen of trying. How about you?
What’s in the box this week?
(all organic from Lattin Farms unless noted otherwise)
- Cha-Cha Kabocha Squash
- MIzuna and Mustard Greens
- Islander Peppers
- Garlic Chives from Mewaldt Organics
- Potatoes from Holley Farms
- Yellow Onions from Peri & Sons
- Cauliflower from Peri & Sons
What the Cha-Cha? Now, I’m not a rookie to the squash scene at this point but I don’t remember ever seeing a Cha-Cha Kabocha Squash on the menu before now. Have you ever had one?
To me, it looks like a big speckled green pumpkin or, maybe, a flatter watermelon But, I was surprised when I picked it up because it was significantly lighter than expected. According to the instructions/newsletter, it is the best-eating of the mid-size kabocha squashes. “It has a bright yellow flesh that cooks up dry, flaky, sweet and delicious.” I’m thinking it will be a lot like a butternut squash … I guess we will find out soon enough, won’t we?
In case you didn’t already know, the pick-up spot for my CSA is at the local Whole Foods store. Most of the time, I don’t even go inside unless I need some random other item because, after all, I am going home with a huge box of veggies every week. This week, though, was different. I was stopped dead in my tracks because I found my holy grail item of fall. The Honey Crisp Apple. Oooooh, yaaaaa. It’s on like Donkey Kong, my friends.
I bought a whole bag of these beauties and, after I eat myself sick on just plain old apples, I’m going to make a recipe suggested by Rachel’s Table, Seasonal Sangria. Check her out, she knows how to get it done …
This recipe was in the weekly instructions/newsletter for my CSA box. It is originally credited to Black Sheep Farm in Ontario, Canada, Fresh Food Nation by Martha Holmberg.
Stuffed Baked Acorn Squash
- 1 medium acorn squash
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup couscous or cooked rice
- 1 tart apple (peeled, cored and finely diced)
- (my addition) 1 small white onion (finely diced)
- 1 lb cooked pork, duck, sausage, bacon or pancetta (I used Italian sausage)
- hot sauce (to taste)
- 2 tsp. maple syrup
- (my addition) 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the oven to 375. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds from the cavity by scraping them out with a spoon. Cut a small slice off the curved side of each half, so it can sit flat without wobbling.
Use a fork or sharp paring knife, poke holes in the flesh of the cut faces and cavities of the squash halves, and the brush with olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Cook couscous or use pre-cooked rice. Saute onions and apples in a small amount of oil until caramelized. Mix everything with chopped meat and a few drops of hot sauce. Taste for seasoning.
Fill each squash half with stuffing, tamping down as need to fill completely. Drizzle with maple syrup. Bake until squash is completely tender, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and broil for a nice browned topping.
This was savory with a little bit of sweet spicy. The squishy squash texture was balanced with the rice stuffing mixture. Good stuff. It was a little bit of a hassle for a work night meal but everyone at my house has a happy tummy so it was worth it. Yum!
I have returned from the desert wasteland of fresh options in Northern Nevada to report that I should have just stayed with my tried and true CSA box from last year. The co-op in town is good but not convenient for me. The other basket/subscriptions are OK but not always local. And, the farmer’s markets are less than I had hoped for in my area.
The Great Basin Basket CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription by Lattin Farms is the way to go. For real. Boom. Don’t mess around with anything else. Know that your farmer is in Fallon and your food is fresh. Done.
You can expect to see weekly reports from me about what’s in the box through the fall and I will gladly pay whatever the subscription costs because it has always proven to be completely worth it. I managed to get in on the summer subscription after it had already started and the membership coordinator happily pro-rated my weeks through September. This costs $29 a week. Paid in full, in advance with eager anticipation.
Here’s what I received today:
All organic summer squash, seedless watermelon, sweet peppers, eggplant, early girl tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, garlic and a Galia melon from Lattin Farms. There is also a bag of green beans from River Bend Farms and two big red torpedo onions from Pioneer Farms.
Aren’t these onions glorious?
What’s a Galia melon? According to the handy dandy instruction sheet that comes in every veggie box, a Galia melon looks “like a cantaloupe on the outside and a honeydew melon on the inside and offer a delicious, sweet flavor.” All I know is that it smells like heaven. This should be really good this weekend when it’s hot outside and I’m craving something cool and sweet.
I can’t wait to taste those little yellow cherry tomatoes. nom nom nom
Can you believe that I’m even excited to see the eggplant? Now, if I could only remember which blog posted an eggplant recipe recently that actually looked good. Any suggestions on that one?
For my pepper peeps, these are Antohi Romanian Sweet Peppers and the veggie instructions included an interesting story about them:
“Jan Antohi was a touring acrobat when he defected to the United States. In late 1991, he visited his family in Romania for the first time in more than 8 years, and came back with seeds of this delicious heirloom. Romanians fry these in a hot skillet to experience the sweet, full flavor.”
I remember these peppers from last summer and can attest … THEY ARE TASTY!
I’m excited to try some new recipes and share them with you again. Tonight’s menu is easy: grilled chicken and grilled summer squash. Put ’em on the BBQ and get ‘er done! Yum.
Ba-bling! Just when you thought butternut squash had been done, done and overdone. A recipe like this one hits your keyboard and you are dazzled.
Yes, I was dazzled by squash. Just look at it:
Where did I find this recipe? The Whole Foods e-newsletter. Ya, I know. Lame. But, hey, whatever works! Here are the instructions and my modifications:
- All-purpose flour for rolling dough
- 14 ounces whole wheat pizza dough, thawed if frozen
- 5 slices thick-cut bacon
- 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 (10 ounces) package frozen diced butternut squash (1 1/2 cups), thawed
- 1 1/2 cup (about 6 ounces) grated Fontina or Gruyère cheese
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
On a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough out to a circle about 14 inches in diameter; if the dough pulls back strongly, stop rolling, cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let rest 10 minutes before continuing. Transfer dough to a round pizza pan, stone or large greased baking sheet; reshape dough as needed, but you can leave any edges of the dough hanging over the sides of the pan (they will be folded in later). Cover with a towel and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 475°F and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisped, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper-towel-covered plate to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of grease left in skillet. Return skillet to medium heat and add onion, garlic and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden and tender, about 15 minutes. Add squash and cook, tossing gently once or twice, until any excess moisture evaporates, 2 to 3 minutes.
Scrape onion mixture into middle of dough and spread evenly, leaving a 1-inch border around edges. Sprinkle top with cheese. Brush edge of dough with half the oil and fold it over to make a ½-inch rim. Brush rim with remaining oil. Bake until tart is deeply browned and dough is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme and cool 10 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board and cut into wedges or squares for serving.
Hubs used the yellow onion that I wanted so I used a red onion. I think the yellow would have been better but this didn’t make that big of a difference in taste (in my opinion). I didn’t go to the right grocery store so pre-made pizza dough selection was limited. I went Pillsbury. I know — hanging my head in shame. It sucked. If I do this recipe again, I will not take this short cut. Bleck. And, final modification, I made my own fresh cranberry salsa and put it all over this bad boy. NOM. Just cranberries, cilantro and white onion with a splash of lemon juice. I think whole cranberries would be good on this as well.
So, how was it? This pizza-tart thing was the bomb-diggity. We happened to have a few extra mouths at our dinner table when this was served and I was pleasantly surprised that the guys were eating it up like crazy. I even got a couple of ‘foodie’ compliments from the manly men. Nice.
Can’t get enough? Here’s another shot:
Can you believe we started this adventure in April and the 2012 season is already done? Time flies when you are having fun!
The last veggie box is here and I am ready for Thanksgiving. And, I am thankful for this year’s CSA. I had no idea what it would be like and I have enjoyed every bit. I am especially thankful for the awesome little farm that makes this happen, Lattin Farms. They rule! I added some links below to the other farms on the veggie list. Please take the time to give them a click. Fallon and Yerington, Nevada, don’t look like much on the map but the farms out there seriously know what they are doing.
So, what’s in the veggie box?
- Butternut Squash
- Speckled Hound Squash
- Bull’s Blood Beet Greens
- Tango Lettuce
- Gourmet Lettuce
- Popcorn on the Cob
- Ornamental Gourds
- Sunchokes from Mewaldt Organics
- Onions from Peri & Sons
- Potatoes from Carroll Farms
HOLY, ORVILLE REDENBACHER! We have real popcorn! This going to be so much fun for movie night! (I have tried 10,000 ways to rotate this photo and failed. Then, I decided it was just as cute sideways. Oh, well. We are silly that way.)
And, what would the veggie box be without a mystery vegetable?? This final box did not disappoint. At first, I thought these mysterous tubers were part of a seriously generous bag of fresh ginger. But, whoa, that would be A LOT of ginger! I was quickly informed that these are sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes. I will be Googling ideas for what to do with them. Any suggestions?
I don’t always point it out on the veggie list but almost everything is completely organic, especially the Lattin Farms produce. That’s a big deal. The official certification process to call your food “organic” is pretty complicated and Lattin Farms is the real thing. Here’s some more info and a link if you would like to check it out:
“What is organic food? Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled ‘organic,’ a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”
Consumer Brochure, USDA National Organic Program, http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/Consumers/brochure.html
The best resource for Nevada grown produce and everything related is: http://nevadagrown.com/ They have some links on the site for other states but this has quickly become my go-to spot for local goodies. I hope you can find one like it for where you live.
After all of the Thanksgiving festivities, I will post the season highlights/lowlights with cost information for the CSA. I have enjoyed this experience and it has made me interested in being a better localvore. I think there are some good resources in the Reno area to make this happen so … stay tuned. I’ll still be posting my adventures throughout the winter. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
I love Rachel Ray. She’s easy to keep up with (assuming you don’t really expect to cook a full dinner in 30 minutes) and her taste buds know what’s good.
I guess I’m getting too big for my food-bloggy britches because I have decided to modify her Wurst Rueben Burger recipe. The original is something like this:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, quartered lengthwise then thinly sliced
- Splash water
- 2 tablespoons spicy mustard
- 1 pound sack sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup pickle relish
- 1 1/2 pounds ground pork or ground pork and veal combined
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 deli slices Emmentaler Swiss cheese, folded to fit burgers
- 4 seeded or plain burger rolls, split
- 4 leaves red leaf or red romaine lettuce
Heat medium skillet over medium heat, add the butter and when melted add the onions and cook until soft and tender, 20 minutes. When done, add a splash of water and stir in the mustard.Add sauerkraut to a small pot and keep warm over low heat. Combine sour cream, ketchup and relish in a small bowl and reserve. In a large bowl, combine the meat, spices, parsley, vinegar and salt and pepper, to taste. Form 4 patties, thinner at middle and thicker at edges for more even cooking and to prevent burgers from bulging at the middle. Heat the oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook patties 5 minutes on each side. Melt the cheese over the patties the last 2 minutes of cooking, under foil tent. To serve, pile the onions on the bun bottoms and top with a leaf of lettuce, cheese wurst burger, sauerkraut, and the sour cream sauce. Cover with the tops of the buns and serve.
My modifications were minor:
- Add a (sliced/peeled/cored) apple to the onion saute party. This was a fantastic combo.
- I didn’t really like the sour cream/ketchup sauce. I’m more of a spicy mustard gal. More mustard, please!
And, Rachel’s original meal plan had regular potato fries (her flair, of course). I did the baked butternut squash fries that I blogged about a while back. That post can be found HERE.
I have to admit that for the first time all year, I wasn’t really all that excited to go get the veggie box this week. Feeling kind of uninspired. Blah. No reason. Just blah.
Getting my tookus to the store and getting the veggie and fruit boxes did perk me up a bit, though. It’s hard to not be impressed by the fresh box of goodies. And, I did notice that I could smell the pears while I was driving home in the car. (So, I ate one with dinner.)
Allrighty then, what’s on the menu this week?
Anaheim and romanian peppers, delicata squash, spaghetti squash, heirloom tomatoes, roma tomatoes, summer squash, eggplant (they are cute little white ones … too bad I hate them so much), cherry tomatoes, garlic chives, onions and potatoes
The fruit box was full of all kinds of goodies. Four different varieties of apples, pears and a couple of peaches.
The CSA newletter included a recipe for stuffed eggplant that looked (almost) good enough to make me try another attempt at eggplant. Maybe. Here’s a link to their site, if you want to check it out. There’s even some good information on the nutritional value of my dreaded foe, the Ughplant.
There is no fear of pork in our home. So, when I saw a recipe for apple cider pulled pork the other day, I thought that sounded like a good way to use up some apples from our CSA share. No problem. Easy recipe, too. All you do is plunk a nice sized pork shoulder roast in the crock pot with a couple of cored apples, a yellow onion, about a 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, one cup of water and a sprinkle of cinnamon over the top. Leave it on low and go to work. Done.
I was even inspired enough to find some cute little soft pretzel rolls to serve the pulled pork on for dinner. Sounds, pretty yummy, right? Too bad that’s not how it went down. Oh, but nooooooooooo … we had to take this to the next level. For real. Brilliant flash of lightning! Ka-pow!
A side effect of a few weeks of not really doing anything with the jalapenos that were in the CSA share has left me with a nice little pile of peppers. I felt that these needed to get some use. Like, now.
Over the weekend, I saw a bacon-wrapped jalapeno popper recipe that sounded pretty decent but I wasn’t really interested in cream cheese. I wanted something more …
How about pulled pork, a dab of BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese stuffed into these pretty peppers?? Boo-ya! Now we’re talkin’!
Check this out:
No recipe. No instructions. Just do it. I cleaned the peppers and then baked these hotties up for about ten minutes at 350. There was a nice little afterburner of hot but not so much that your face burned off or anything. Perfect!
Even though the nights are getting chilly, the days are still warm and the harvest continues … what’s in this week’s CSA?
For the veggie share we have lots of tomatoes and even a couple more pretty heirloom ones, lovely purple basil (drool), jalapeno peppers and a big bell pepper, eggplant/ughplant, THREE different kinds of green beans, potatoes, summer squash, garlic and two nice looking yellow onions.
For the fruit share, the big box has peaches, pears and apples. And, my helper in the photo is eating the raspberries and grapes. He snatched those up the minute I walked in the door!
I’m thinking about trying to remember one of my Grammy’s old recipes for green beans with new potatoes in the slow cooker with a nice, salty ham hock. Yup. That sounds like a meal plan to me! What’s on your meal plan for this week?
The canning and preserving continues in my kitchen. Today is all about tomatoes. I love salsa so I used a mix of tomatoes with fresh cilantro, jalapenos and a white onion.
This was the first time I have blanched tomatoes in a while and it was a lot easier than I remember. I don’t know why I was freaked about it actually. Boil water, dip in ice water and done.
The trick to this was making an X on the tomato and coring out the top a little bit.
Boil about 15-30 seconds.
The skins just came right off — easy.
mmmm … spicy
Viola! A big batch of salsa! I am going to eat some of it right away and put the rest in a big jar for later. Why don’t you bring some chips and join me?