Sneak preview: CSA week 10

Good grief!

I cannot believe that we are 10 weeks in.

There are only 11 weeks to go. It feels like we just started and here we are almost half-way.

But WHAT a GREAT half way!

Romanesco (new to me and I can’t wait to try it!! … a broccoli-cauliflower kind of thing), chioggia beets, raspberries, patty pan, zucchini, baby kale, red cabbage, basil, tri-colored carrots, onions, cucumber.

The raspberries, patty pan and cucumbers were extras. The rest was the normal distribution.

Where did the week go???

Happy almost Friday!

A good day

It is 7:31 p.m. as I start this post.

I have not had my supper.

I have 1.5 hours of work yet to do.

But, dear Lord, it has been a Good Day!!

This morning, I had to go to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to renew my driver’s license. Despite receiving a card that alerted me to my expiring license AND an unexpected bonus of now the DMV does renewals by appointment … AND making an appointment months ago … I had faint hope of things going well because … the DMV.

In nearly 40 years of having to deal with the DMV, I have had maybe one time where things went lickety-split. Typically it has been a show up, get a number, wait-wait-wait, deal with a crotchety-crabby person and FINALLY come away with whatever.

But, today … I arrived for my 8:00 a.m. appointment at 7:45. There was shade parking for the Jeep and Mr. Bear. I entered a new building to see a small crowd. Oy-vey! It is a 30 mile drive and I needed the facilities and WOW – they were beautiful. The new building was not fancy but it was light and clean and pleasant. I returned to the area by the inner door to the DMV … more folks. I asked: “Does everyone have an 8:00 a.m. appointment ???”. No, but 3 of us did.

At 8:03 a.m. the DMV doors opened to a reception person!!! Prior DMV involved entering a waiting room with a counter beyond and the aforesaid crochety-crabby persons behind the counter did NOT even make eye contact with any new arrivals. A number thing was just inside the door. Various signage referred to various documents to be filled out. Gah. But this morning, the reception person quickly asked “purpose, appointment?” and gave appropriate paperwork and direction. I was ticked off the appointment list, handed my form and about 3 minutes later was the first to be called for processing. Hoo-rah!

And then!!!

And then, I proceeded to an actual chair in front of a desk and was dealt with very professionally and efficiently – so efficiently that I was back in the Jeep and headed for home at 8:15 a.m. with my temporary renewal license … permanent license to be mailed to me tout suite!

Good Grief.

Smallish town Montana, acting like the big leagues.

I was thrilled.

It set me up for the whole day.

All the rest of the day as I worked and took care of Bear, Auggie and me … I kept thinking that what I thought would be a gruesome start to the day turned out to be so pleasant.

A good day!

CSA Week 9: the produce is coming on!

My farmer is Lower Valley Farm: Jay and Mandy. Currently the 2 acres they farm supports over 100 CSA members, Farmers’ Market sales (40-46 tubs per week), 4-6 tubs donation to Food Pantry and stocking a local natural food store. Lower Valley Farm recently received their “certified Organic” status. Financially the farm is supporting its operations, Jay and Mandy and their 3 children, 3 full time employees and 3 part time employees… on 2 acres of planting and a LOT of hard work.

I think those are astonishing statistics and I am so happy for Jay and Mandy and their crew. I met Mandy at Farmer’s Market – I think 2011 – and I think it was the first year and maybe just she was doing the garden. I bought heirloom tomatoes and it was memorable because I had purchased some heirlooms at the grocery in May from a hydroponic grower so when I saw she had “from the ground” heirlooms at market I zipped over to her stand. At that time she had an old pickup truck and 1 red tent and 1 table. We talked about the heirlooms and she said she had been told that she couldn’t grow heirlooms in Montana with our short growing season. But she did and they were and continue to be wonderful. At that time, she also sold eggs from their chickens and it was my introduction to fresh eggs. She stopped the eggs and I’ve had to find a different source but I am grateful for the opportunity to try and learn about good eggs!

Fast forward to 2017 and now the farm sends tubs to market in an air conditioned trailer with a special farm van. There are 2 red tents and “terraced” tables. When appropriate, items are packaged. Everything is beautifully displayed with a label saying what it is and the price plus a cute chalk board that details what is on offer.

I pick up my CSA box at the farm and have now met 2 of the 3 children and they are a delight. Cute, smart, articulate and just fun kids. Jay and Mandy are usually around when I pick up and they never fail to be pleasant and greet me enthusiastically. And this is at 5:30-6:00 p.m. when they have no doubt been working … and lately in the heat … since dawn.

It is a joy to be part of their customer base and to see how they are growing the operation. They added crew this year for the first time as well as some equipment. Their goal is to be able to continue to do this. Per their newsletter, they are in their 30’s and they want to continue and as we all know … it gets tougher to do this kind of very hard physical work as bodies get older. This thinking ahead and the obvious research they’ve done about methods and equipment and variety of produce and no doubt more that I don’t know about … but it is obvious that they are not only working hard, but working smart. And I admire both, but really admire the working smart and their being willing to try and to risk.

Last Thursday, I picked up week 9’s produce, plus some extra. Things are ramping up with squash, kohl crops, and getting close to tomatoes. Up until this week, I’ve mostly been eating up my CSA box. I did make some arugula pesto when I saw I wasn’t going to get through the arugula. I’ve had to throw out a little bit of the “lettuce mix” … mainly it is not my favorite, it cannot really be processed/frozen in any way and so … some weeks, I just did not eat it before it went bad.

This week was a whole ‘nother story … I bought extras with the thought of putting some away for this winter! I’ve spent time Friday, Saturday and this morning doing just that.

The red cabbage.

So beautiful I just had to take a photo.

My plan for this cabbage was to ferment 2/3 and eat 1/3. It has worked out more like ferment 1/2 and eat 1/2 because…

… I made a slaw of the red cabbage, carrots and broccoli. And I drizzled a little of a wonderful new dressing: Mel’s Honey Mustard Ranch Dressing

Repeat twice – we’ll get back to the cabbage in a moment!

The basil. That is 4 ounces of basil.

It processes down to 2/3 cup. I found these paper cups that have no wax … they are plain paper. They are wonderful for freezing small bits of things holding about 1/3 cup.

Saturday morning after basil and broccoli and washing/blanching other items, I was hungry!

I got a crustless quiche/frittata kind of thing in the oven: eggs, meatballs chopped, chard, onion, eggs and cheese!

YUM! I make a darn good pie crust, but I make better sourdough so the no crust quiche allows some sourdough toast – YEA! Good breakfast – brunch … it was 10:30 ish!

We are back to the red cabbage.

Good cabbage. And, I like cabbage! And that slaw and the dressing.

So by the time I went to get started, there was less cabbage than I originally planned to ferment. I added some carrot. The carrots were in the CSA box and they are now large but still so sweet.

Rainbow chard.

I bought 2 bunches as an extra.

The photo above is the 2 bunches washed and kind of chopped.

I blanched and cold water bathed.

After the blanching and bathe … ! It is incredible how the braising greens cook down.

I squeezed as much water out as I could to a baseball sized result.

I froze half of that result to use later in soup or stew.

The other half went in pasta shells with ricotta, parmesan, Monterey Jack and seasoning. And of those 14 shells – 4 into the frig for a meal this week and 10 into the freezer for another time. They both will be topped with marinara and baked.

Last, but definitely not least – the broccoli. I blanched, cold water bathed, drained and froze on a cookie sheet … most of 3 heads – 3 GIANT heads – of broccoli.

Most of the frozen was then vacuum sealed but one bit I put in a zip loc bag for easy use now.

I still have kale, red beets, 1 carrot, a patty pan and a zucchini squash plus some small purple onion to use before week 10’s box that I pick up on Thursday. I think all will work perfectly for meals I have planned and I will be ready for week 10 and maybe some extra.

From here on out I’d like to eat 1/2-2/3 and freeze 1/2-1/3. I don’t have room to freeze enough for the entire winter but it will still be nice to sometimes have the option of using something from this summer and thinking on the success and progress of Lower Valley Farm.

And P.S. … a “cold” front arrived. It started in the night and we got a few drops of rain and high humidity which gave way to low humidity and a high Sunday of 81F with 14% humidity (fire weather and we under red flag warning) … tonight is to clear and maybe get below 40F. Crazy!!!

It’s all relative

After several days of mid to high 90’s (F), low 80’s felt pretty good.

It’s all relative :) !!

Meanwhile on the local vegetable front … Last Thursday I forfeited my CSA box. I was waiting on a delivery that ran late and it was VERY hot and I finally texted the farm that I would not make it. Thankfully, one of the crew was able to take my box so no waste.

To compensate and fill the vegetable coffers, Bear and I went to the market on Saturday. We arrived 10 minutes early in order to snag a parking spot in the shade. I was at Lower Valley Farm’s stand as the opening bell rang and back in the Jeep 10 minutes after with: golden beets, spinach, pea shoots, basil and patty pan squash.

The new thing – patty pan squash – I stuffed it:

I stuffed it with crab, cheddar, mayo, dill, salt, pepper and lemon juice with a topping of parmesan and bread crumbs…

… and some Chipotle Tabasco for a little smoky heat.

But then…

BUT THEN…

GIANT BROCCOLI!!!

YA-HOO!!! I ordered some extra broccoli and some other extra stuff … to freeze for this winter when no fresh anything is to be had.

This week’s CSA box PLUS some extras.

We be eating local, seasonal, extra-extra good vegetables this week!

Meanwhile…

Hot outside, cool inside.

Bear is happy.

Auggie is napping.

It’s all relative.