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Why I Love My Farm Share

Ω June 27th, 2011 Ω Tagged , , , , , , , , , , Ω 24 Comments

Why do I love my farm share? Let me count the ways:

1. A variety of fresh, organic vegetables:

(From left to right: parsley, beets, scallions, garlic, Swiss chard, garlic scapes)

What is a farm share? You may know it by a different name: Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA. When you buy a farm share from a local farm, you purchase a weekly “share” of the farm’s crop yield for that particular season. A share usually includes vegetables and may also include fruits, eggs, or other products. Peter and I chose an organic farm because I prefer to eat organic produce whenever possible; however, CSAs come in all shapes and sizes.

I was prepared to post a typical Jessie picture of pretending to eat a raw-but-should-be-cooked vegetable, but decided that a picture of my mouth hanging open was not the classiest choice.

I’d also like to point out that I’m wearing my “Hypota-moose” shirt in the above picture.

“Work it, Jessie!”

2. Supporting my local farmers. Buying a share in the season’s crops upfront helps farmers with their cash flows and ensures they are being paid a certain amount for their crops.  The quantity and variety of crops you get will vary from year to year, depending on the weather and on what the farmer chooses to grow.

With many CSAs, you can meet the farmer and see your veggies growing right on the farm.

This farm is Upper Forty Farm in Cromwell, CT. The farm even grows flowers!

3. Being exposed to some new veggies.

Ok, I’ve had garlic scapes before; but, I’m willing to bet some of you have not! Garlic scapes are shoots from young hard-neck garlic bulbs that are often thrown away (!) Since discovering them a few years ago, I’ve enjoyed them each spring. My favorite way to eat garlic scapes is in pesto (try this delicious recipe).

4. An abundance of fresh salads, like this Caesar salad with homemade dressing:

How ’bout I call it:
Caesar Salad with Homemade Dressing
… ?

…Nah! Too boring!

Crisp Caesar Salad with Creamy Coddled Homemade Dressing
(let’s hear it for unnecessary adjectives!)
Adapted from Allrecipes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 pound chicken breast
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary (or dried. You know, whatevs you got.)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper

1 large head lettuce of choice, washed and torn into smaller pieces
Parmesan cheese, shaved

Croutons:
4 slices bread
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil

Dressing:
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 can anchovies, rinsed to remove excess salt
1 egg

Prepare your chicken marinade by combining olive oil, garlic, rosemary, lemon juice, and a pinch each of salt and pepper:

Add chicken and marinate for at least one hour.

Grill chicken for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through (center of chicken should be 165 degrees F). Alternatively, you can bake or pan-fry the chicken. Set aside to cool.

Cut your bread slices into 1-inch cubes. Place on oiled or Silpatted baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese and the Italian seasoning you received as the most awesome wedding favor ever:

Feel free to shave your Parmesan cheese at this point, so that you can make sure it still tastes ok.

Let’s get a closeup:

Mmm … oh, were we making croutons?  Bake bread cubes at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, turning once halfway through.

For dressing: Roughly chop five anchovy fillets. Reserve the remaining anchovies for adornment of your finished salad. Combine chopped anchovies, garlic, canola oil, mustard, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, and lemon juice.

Like a traditional Caesar dressing recipe, this recipe calls for a coddled egg, where the egg is partially cooked in water. For food safety reasons (and because I twisted his arm asked him to), Peter pasteurized the egg in his sous-vide machine prior to coddling. For those of you with a sous-vide machine (and I want to meet you!), cook at 135 degrees F for 1 hour and 15 minutes. For those of you without a sous-vide machine, you can try pasteurizing eggs in a saucepan on your stove if you have excellent temperature control, or buy pasteurized eggs by checking out this site. For those of you who wish to take their chances with regular eggs, just be aware that eggs can carry salmonella – you have been warned!

To coddle egg, from recipe: “Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Carefully lower egg into water; remove from heat and let stand for 1 minute. Remove and set aside to cool. Crack open the egg and with a spoon, scrape out all yolk (even the runny white). Use a wire whisk and whip in a small bowl until very frothy.” Combine egg with the rest of the dressing and mix well.

To assemble: Slice chicken. Divide lettuce, chicken, Parmesan cheese, reserved anchovies, and croutons between four large bowls. Drizzle with creamy coddled dressing. Top with fresh ground black pepper, if desired.

***
Now that I have completed my dietetics program, I’ve had some questions from readers concerning what I’ll be doing next year. Well … remember when I was in my nutrition research rotation way back in January? What I didn’t tell you at the time was that I began research for my Master’s degree during that dietetic rotation. I know, I know … why did I keep a secret from you, my dear reader? At the time, I had not yet been accepted to the University of Connecticut‘s graduate program, and so I thought it would be a bit premature to go into specifics.

However, here we are! I met with my mentor (a post-doc in my new research group) last week and we are full steam ahead! For those of you who are interested, I will be studying fats and bone health (Yes, vague, I know. The project is still shaping itself.). As I hope to complete my Master’s degree early, I know this upcoming year will be a busy one.

What does this all mean to YOU, dear reader? As I work to get my Master’s research off the ground, you’ll see less of me this summer. I’ll be around, reading and posting – just not as often as before. Life always comes first, does it not? :)

Toodle pip for now!

Q: Have you ever joined a farmshare/CSA? What’s your favorite go-to summer meal?

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