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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» Filed under Recipes » 24 Comments

24 Responses to “Why I Love My Farm Share”

  • Christa says:

    That’s a really odd concept for me, the farm share, but it sounds very nice and good for farmers as well!

    Oh half-raw egg… Salmonella aside, I can’t even stand the idea of a soft boiled egg, let alone raw… I know raw egg is in many foods we can’t imagine (Perhaps you could make a list Jessie?) but I try not to think about it… :D

    Ohhh congrats for being accepted to the Master’s programme!! Having done a master’s myself, I can tell you it’s intense, because one of the things you’re supposed to learn is to deliver under pressure. So prepare to be PRESSED! But you’re fit, you can handle it :)

    • Jessie says:

      In the U.S., raw eggs are not in commercial foods any more (thank goodness!). You can still order raw or partially-cooked eggs in some restaurant dishes, but menus will carry a warning in our litigious society. In homemade foods, all bets are off – homemade mayonnaise, for example, has partially-cooked eggs (I know you don’t like mayo, anyway!), as does eggnog. I don’t think I’d want to eat raw eggs … something about the texture. If I’m going to eat an egg on it’s own, I prefer fried or hard-boiled! :)

  • We belong to an organic CSA and love it. It’s a year-round CSA, and in the winter it’s lots of greens and other produce I would not normally buy. But we have grown to love it all! :)

    My favorite summer food are tomatoes in any shape and form. Can’t get enough of them. Luckily, we have two tomato plants that are producing tomatoes like crazy right now… :)

    Congrats on being accepted into the Master’s program!!!! How exciting! I can’t wait to read a bit more about your research down the road… Hope you’ll still have some time to enjoy the summer a bit!

  • Ah I really want to do that once I have my own house. Good luck with the research!

  • I read about garlic scapes, but have never tried them.
    Love your CSA loot! I do something similar here in Vegas,called Bountiful Baskets. I haven’t done in a while though.
    Yay for going back for your Masters! So exciting!

  • Wow, a master’s degree?? Good for you Jessie! It would almost be a sin for you to stop your education now, since you’ve come so far and are clearly brilliant. I think your research sounds fascinating and of course I’m extremely excited to read your thesis in the end!

    So, Nick and I joined a CSA one year but didn’t get half the food we were hoping for. I guess it was a bad season that year, but it sort of made us less interested in joining again. I think we’ll do it again eventually, but right now we are still a little sour! Living in Ohio means not such good produce, sometimes.

  • Faith says:

    Such pretty produce, Jessie! I’ve been wanting to join a CSA for a while now…I wish there one a little closer to me! Your caesar salad looks great, especially with those killer homemade croutons!

  • Laz says:

    Jessie,

    I love CSA’s. It is very important to support our local farmers. Nothing quite like getting some organic in season produce.

    All the best with your Masters and your continuing education. I am sure you’ll do great.

    Agree with you on garlic scapes. Awesome photos. Great job. The salad looks and sounds fantastic. Thanks for the step by step description of your method. I only source organic, cage-free eggs, so I have no fear of using raw eggs. I always make my own homemade mayo, never buy it in.

    Thanks for the tip on Roaring 40s blue cheese. Never tried it before and now I am on the lookout. Just found some from my cheese company online.

    Peace!

  • Tanantha says:

    Congrats again Jessie! After my Master’s, I’m done with school! seriously. I love farmers markets. I wish I had more access to those and ‘m trying to balance between organic and non-organic based on budget.

    I was thinking to join the CSA but didn’t get a chance. I know i know. I’m bummed. The salad sounds great. I use cooked egg instead of raw. Even thought it’s organic, I still don’t like to know that I’m eating a raw egg haha. Kudo, on making your own croutons Jessie!

  • William says:

    Looking great, as always, Jessie.
    So with the croutons, do you just cut the bread and toss it with the wet ingredients before baking? I guess the baking dries it back out.
    Good luck with the Masters! How long’s the program?

    • Jessie says:

      You got it, William – toss the bread with the oil and sauce (or drizzle on) and the baking will dry them out and leave them with a nice flavor.

      The Master’s program is usually two years, but I’m going to try to complete it in one. Yikes! Now that I’ve said that out loud, watch it take me three years to finish :P

  • LeQuan says:

    Hey Jessie,

    To be honest, I’m not even sure if I’ve heard of a farm share until now. The closest thing OCD heard of is a community garden, but I think that’s totally different Hos cool that you guys own a farm share. Seriously, those veggies look super fresh and loaded with nutrients. I remember first reading about garlic scales on Denise’s blog. Now everytime I go to the market I see them and ig reminds ms of her. Haha. Now they’re going to remind me of you too :). Thanks fir sharing that pesto recipe with us. How interesting a recipe to use garlic scales and almonds as well. Sound yummy too.

    You know what else sounds yummy? Your crisp Caesar salad with creamy coddled homemade dressing. That dressing sounds delicious and I’m sure is absolutely worth all those steps with the egg. Seriously, this is the best sounding Caesar salad I’ve heard about. Definitely one made with the best and freshest ingredients. It’s midnight here now and you’ve got me craving Caesar salad. Talk about a healthy midnight snack. Ha!

    Best of luck with your masters program, dear. I think it was a very wise choice for you to continue fresh out of school, because once you start working, you’re too lazy to go back to school. Enjoy the last leg of this education journey! oh, and if anybody who could pull off a classy pic with their mouth open, it’d be you ;). Have fun with your farm share.

    Fave go to summer meal has to be a good seafood barbecue. Haha. Typical LeeQs right? Hope you have a great rest of the week, sweetie. Until next stalking session ;)

  • Ameena says:

    What a fabulous topic! I think that fats are so important and yet nobody really teaches kids that in school. Instead we are told to avoid everything full fat and eat low fat in moderation. I hope that your study will help people change their minds!

    Have a fabulous summer as you get your resesarch going! Can’t wait to hear more about it.

  • Joanne says:

    I joined a CSA for the first time this year and am absolutely loving it! For all of the reasons you mentioned. I’m like a kid on Christmas every week when I go pick up my produce!

    Congrats on working towards your masters! I’m excited to see where this project takes you!

  • FOODESSA says:

    Well, first thing first…how could you…and of course, a big congrats on getting accepted in a wonderful next phase of your life. Your subjects sound very intriguing…can’t wait to read where the directions will take you in the next year ;o)

    The farmer’s share is a great program which I also take part of and love it. Apart from the apparent reasons for joining, it’s also like getting a box of surprises every week. Now, those kind of surprises…I’ll accept anytime ;o)

    Enjoy your Summer Jessie…I completely get you.

    Ciao for now,
    Claudia

  • sophia says:

    I’ve never gotten salmonella before despite eating too many raw eggs…that makes me think maybe I’m just invincible. :-p

    I’ve joined my local CSA too!!! I LOVE my weekly veggie box. I wish they included fruits too, but gosh the leafy green veggies they give me are just gorgeous!

  • I adore “unnecessary adjectives”…your so funny :) And congratulations again, so excited for you about your Masters program!
    I have not joined CSA but have been meaning to check into it…I know your thing me of all people, but I have a semi good excuse since I have a garden that could feed a small country :) Plus I am probably personally responsible for putting ever local farmers children though college just with my farmers market visits :)
    Have a great weekend…

  • I love garlic scapes while I was in China, but now I couldn’t find them in the supermarket any where!! maybe I should find them in the farmers market! Farm share is really interesting idea – I wish we have some here too :) Enjoy the summer , Jessie!

  • Lauren says:

    I have never joined a CSA but I keep meaning to. There really is no excuse, especially with all the benefits that you mentioned. I think it would be a great way to experiment with new types of produce. But for now, I will just have to stick with my trips to the farmer’s market.

    Congratulations on being accepted into the master’s program!! It sounds like it will be a super exciting and busy summer for you! Excited to see where this takes you.

  • I’ve never been part of a CSA but I used to have local organic produced delivered weekly… similar kind of thing just from many different local farms. I miss it! But, being on a tighter food budget meant I had to give up the luxury. All your fresh produce looks amazing!

    Congrats about being accepted and your exciting new research. I’d love to hear more about it as you go along. Have a great night :)

  • Min says:

    Hey Jessie!

    First, congratulations on completing your dietetics program, and on being accepted to the Master’s program! Go Jessie!

    Saw this article in the Times below and was instantly reminded of your post on Peter’s Big Green Egg –
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/13/dining/the-cult-of-the-big-green-egg-united-tastes.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&ref=dining&adxnnlx=1310659209-bEQVBFMX3LwBGwojjFpBjQ

    And for your Q&A, I currently do not participate in a CSA, but I see the shares in our hospital cafe and it always looks fantastic. I tend to buy my produce at the farmer’s market on campus – love having those fresh veggies! Summertime go to meal..hm, that’s a tough one! I did make a really good sandwich the other day, open-faced (a tartine!) with leftover grilled chicken from home, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, and roasted red peppers. Bread was whole grain, toasted, and rubbed with lots of garlic! :D

    Hope you are having a great summer :)

    • Jessie says:

      Thanks, Min! :) I’ve already forwarded the BGE article to Peter so that he can bask in his cult-ness :D

      Farmer’s market’s are great, too – Peter and I still shop at them sometimes, just to look around and pick up random fun veggies and fruits. I love the sound of your summertime sandwich, especially that garlic-rubbed bread, mmm :)

      I hope you’re having a great summer, too!

  • Many congratulations to you! I joined a CSA a few months ago and it has been an incredible experience so far. We get a huge box of veggies every two weeks and it’s been so much fun to cook with different types of produce that I normally wouldn’t buy.

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