Finally, she posts again!

I can’t believe it has been a YEAR since I last posted here!!!! I have been cooking and coming up with ideas, etc., but just forgot to post. For example, I make some mean meatballs that I bake – and when really pressed for time, I mix up the meat, veggies, and seasonings and stick it in a meatloaf pan and then cut it up in chunks – quicker than forming the meatballs before baking. Although, I like the meatballs better because of the browning of each one. But, sometimes time is of the essence.

ANYWAY – I joined the Farm Direct Coop, a local CSA from which folks can buy shares and then get a weekly batch of produce (I signed up for the local cheese option, too) from June to October, November or December, depending on what you choose. The veggies are all organic. The fruit is occasionally organic but mostly “as best as possible and sprayed only when necessary.” Apparently, it is a challenge to grow most fruit organically in New England. Hey, at least it is all locally grown.

There was an share of locally grown asparagus available for an extra $5 fee last month – I signed up – YUM!!!!

BUT – the first regular share was available this past Thursday 6/19. You don’t have a choice of what you get – you get a share of whatever is available, just as though you were farming on your own. And, kind of like a really low-key “Iron Chef” challenge.

I got: ½ lb spinach, ½ lb sugar snap peas, a head of lettuce, a bunch of salad turnips, a pint of organically grown strawberries, and a quart of regular (but grown with as few chemicals as possible) strawberries.

I had a meeting at 7:00 pm on Thursday night, the day I picked up the goods, so I went grocery shopping on Friday to add to the larder and started creating menus starting Friday. My husband and I did, however, eat the entire pint of organically grown strawberries by the end of Thursday evening! How lovely to have freshly picked, never refrigerated strawberries…I have not had that since my Dad died. He had two pretty good strawberry patches at 54 Oak St.

We recently had a Demoulas /Market Basket open the next town over – but close enough so it is not a long drive. I had checked it out once quickly, and decided to give it another gander on Friday. I have to say it has a way better and less expensive array of organically grown veggies than Shaws – also, a more extensive offering of healthily raised meats and non-cured hotdogs and bacon, with the non-cured prices WAY lower than I have seen ANYWHERE and the fresh HR meat price very competitive.

I got a bunch of organically grown veggies and healthily raised (HR) beef and chicken to supplement my locally grown/organic cooking adventures! I’ll used “HR” to designate meat from animals raised out of cages, stalls, etc., and with no food from animals, antibiotics, hormones, etc.

Friday night I used the spinach. I sauteed it with mushrooms, scallions, and garlic – really good! I also prepared a mix of baked sweet potato and yellow (new) potato “fries.” Neither turned out totally crispy as they would if actually fried, but I think taking advice I found online and blanching them for few minutes after slicing helped them crisp a bit better. We really enjoyed them. FYI – I bought a “top of the line” toaster oven – Krups – that has a convection oven option – well worth it! The convection option bakes way more quickly and doesn’t heat up the whole kitchen unnecessarily.

We also had HR beef steak tips (7.99 a pound – same price as the pre- marinated steak tips from Farmland that my husband likes to buy) that I marinated in…red wine vinegar, olive oil, beer, minced garlic, minced onion, tamari (soy sauce) and Worcestershire sauce. It was a lovely, well-balanced meal.

Steve and I both deemed it a “keeper.”

Tonight (I am writing this on Saturday 6/21) we are using part of the lettuce. I got some HR chicken tenders and have marinated them in olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, with minced garlic and freshly ground pepper. I’ll saute them in a bit of canola oil (I want a higher smoke point than olive oil) and serve them on a salad of lettuce, Gorgonzola cheese, whole wheat croutons, scallions, peppers, tomatoes (among most of the meal, also organically grown) and olives.

Oooo – I do have some rolls I could quickly defrost and then do garlic bread……well, see how the timing goes.

In any case – I should be back at least weekly – I have surprise produce showing up each week from now until the end of November – or December if I decide to extend my share and see what shows up at the very end of the season.

And, my next two goals are getting a Farmer’s market in Wakefield and a community garden space in Wakefield, both of which set up so that any extra goes to neighbors. And, someday, I’ll write that cookbook. : )