Friday, January 28, 2011

Farm share bounty

As I've written before, we've signed up for a farm share this winter.  It's worked out well so far.  For the last 3 weeks, we've received organic strawberries - a rarity in the winter in New England and a very welcome treat.  I've been trying to get better at documenting what it is that I do with my farm share produce.  Here are some tasty recipes I've made so far: (I used milk instead of 1/2 and 1/2 and reduced the whipping cream to 1 c, with 1 additional cup of milk.  It came out really well and I'll definitely make it again).  (This is DELICIOUS!  The balsamic vinegar reduction is amazing and we drizzled it on everything from potatoes to salad for the next 3 days.)
Kale has been a ubiquitous addition to almost every box we've received so I've learned to add it to pasta sauces, cheese crepes, quiche and just about everything else we make.

By the way - the quiche that I made hit the spot. I  used Martha Stewart's pate brisee recipe, minus the sugar for the crust.  Then I added 4 eggs, 1/2 c cream, 1/2 c grated Parmesan, salt, pepper over sauteed kale, onion and zucchini.  It was delicious.  Even my 3 year old ate it once I deconstructed it into crust, veggies and eggs piles.  Although, be sure to bake the crust first for about 15 minutes at 400 with beans or pie weights.  Otherwise, it will be too soft.

Overall, I have to say that this has worked out very well.  We're getting more acorn squash this week so we'll have to make some more of that delicious balsamic vinegar reduction.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My dirty food couldn't be cleaner - how we became locavores

Last year, I wrote about our farmer's market, which unfortunately only runs in the summer to mid-fall.  Every year, I lament the end of the market, when I can no longer get local fresh produce and foodstuff.  Ha ha to all that this year.  In an attempt to live a more balanced, vegetable rich diet even in the grizzly cold of winter, we have signed up for a farm share.  For a bargain price of about $28-30 per week (I am not sarcastic here - it really is a bargain as I will explain below), we get a small box of organic or sustainably IPM grown root veggies, green veggies and citrus.  The box is a mix of produce from Enterprise Farm (in MA, close to us), farms from North Carolina and Florida.  

This box has changed the way we eat. Instead of trying to figure out what to make and then heading to the supermarket for produce, I check the fridge and find a recipe online.  This keeps us in season with the produce that's available, not to mention makes for tastier meals since the veggies are fresh and have great flavor.  Also, it saves on the disappointment of showing up to the store only to find that they have no butternut squash.

It has also saved us money.  First of all, instead of making almost daily trips to Trader Joe's for tasteless vegetables, we make one weekly trip to the pick up spot to get our box.  We have learned in the 3 deliveries we've received so far that this gets us through the week, and our grocery bills have been decreasing since I now go in only for things like butter, yogurt, and pantry staples like pasta and rice.  This has also saved us on the amount of food that we throw out.  Sometimes, I would buy a bag of 4 avocados (all rock solid), soften them in our pantry, use 2 and have 2 go straight to the trash.  Now, I get just one avocado, that I use to make a salad with the tomatoes I get from the farm, and some greens that are in the mix, like baby spinach or mixed meuslin and it's delicious.

The farm also has a buyers club for local staples like pickles and hand creams, yogurt and honey.  That's next on our try-this-out-list.  Now, if I could just find a chicken farm nearby where I could get fresh eggs and poultry year round.  That would be super.

So - check out the farms in your area and see if they deliver and offer farm shares in winter and get on the wagon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Goodbye, tomatoes

Well, I've had to tear out all of my tomatoes.  So heartbreaking but absolutely necessary.  I have learned a few very important things, though.  First of all, I must start all plants early, say March or at the very latest, April, of next year.  This year, my beans and cucumbers have really been struggling: they are very small and are trying to grow in stifling heat.  Secondly, I will plant nothing close to the edges of the pots since those parts dry out and heat up the fastest.  And lastly, I will not set my hopes very high.

On the positive side, the alpine strawberries I planted at my parents' house are prospering and we are getting about 3-4 strawberries a day.  This weekend, I separated the 4 bushes into a bigger space (thanks to my husband and my dad who dug soil and fenced it off from deer and rabbits).  I planted only 2 bushes last year, so the fact that there are now 4 is encouraging! It's really great to reap rewards of your work, even if it's only 3-4 little strawberries a day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Something is eating my tomatoes and it's not me

For all of you who read my joyful post about my newly growing tomato will take part in my heartbreak.  Just this morning, I had to resort to euthanasia of the tomato for a suspicious black growth at the bottom (see image).  The leaves on the large plant had also started growing black spots and the yellowing and dying.  I've been cutting them and tonight, I noticed that my newly potted 3rd pot has become infested with a population of tiny little bugs (tiny, knat size) crawling around.  By biggest worry is that whatever this thing is, it will infect the rest of my garden and goodbye dreams of tomatoes this season or beans.  I started growing cucumbers in the 3rd box and they are coming in very nicely, but now, they might also have to be sacrificed along with the infected tomato plant.

Now what?  Do I chug the window box and start over? How do people do this for a living?  Thank you to the farmer's at our farmer's market who bring fresh, bug free produce to our market every week.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Small City Garden Week 4 - 1st harvest

I am proud to say that my husband and I enjoyed two very small string beans last night. My first harvest, produced in an urban jungle with barely any growing space.

The rest of the garden is starting to come together very nicely also. The sage, mint, oregano and lavender are in. I am not sure what happened to the parseley, so I've planted some more in the 3rd window box I have acquired. I also planted a large tomato plant donated by a friend (she noticed the sad size of my tomato plants and expressed concern about them being able to produce anything this year - I still have some hope, although it's starting to wane.) The great news is that the donated tomato plant seems to be doing very well, and is even growing - gasp - a tomato. It's twice as big as it was yesterday (the tomato, not the plant), which still puts it at about pea size, but it's great! I am so excited for a real, fresh, tomato. I also planted 3 bushes of cucumbers, which should be mature in mid August. Hopefully, I can have at least a couple of cukes before the fall frost kills them off. Note to self, start plantings in March and April so that by the summer, they are mature plants.

If you look at this picture closely, you can see that one of the wilted flowers is a little bigger than others. That's yesterday, and today, you can clearly see the tomato.

My goal this summer, in addition to those stated in previous posts, is to break even. I am not going to count the cost of pots, since I plan to use them next year, and I can discount most of the soil cost, since all I will have to do next year is re-fertilize it. That puts me about $30 in the hole. I figure each basket of tomatoes is $5 at the market (organic), a basket of beans is about $3, plus cukes. I need to grow about 4 baskets of tomatoes (cherry tomatoes, that is), plus about 2 lb of cukes and a lb of beans. Then I will break even. I am not counting the herbs, because I rarely buy herbs fresh.