Welcome to the 2011 CSA season!
All of the things that made our spring hectic - the weather, finding a new warehouse, and seriously, that weather, have fallen into place for now. The plants that spent so much time in the greenhouses this spring are thriving in the fields - happy to be stretching out in this beautiful sunshine! Geauga County is looking lush these days with hints of delicious things to come. It's a good feeling to finally be settling into our normal schedule for the season.
Plan to spent a relaxing summer evening on the farm at one of our Field Nights, or join us for a Saturday Open House or two. It's an opportunity to slow your normal pace for a bit, meet new friends and discover the breathtaking beauty of our region.
We're glad you're joining us for the ride this summer. Will there be bumps in the road? Probably - but please bear with us knowing that we will do our best to make your experience enjoyable, educational, healthful and delicious. We're really looking forward to a great season together!
One final note about pickups - Extras orders will be in bags with your name in the special orders area. Those with beef extras should check in the small cooler in the special orders area at your site. Your extras will not be in the boxes.
As always, thank you for supporting local farms - it means the world to us!
Surprise! What you might find in this week's box...
Warning! Spoiler in this article. Don't read any further if you are one of our members who likes to be surprised each week by what you will find when you open your CSA share. We know you like the idea of Christmas in a box. However, if you're one of our members who likes to peek, read on!
In this week's share, CSA members can expect things such as lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, pak choy (baby bok choy, great in stir fries), green onions and garlic scapes (shoots from growing garlic, great in pasta). NOTE: You may or may not receive all of the types of produce listed above. This is a list of possible items. Different size shares and shares received later in the week may include different items.
Please keep in mind that we are still dealing with the effects of Mother Nature so boxes may be a little light this week. We will make up for any shortages later this season.
Getting the most out of your CSA share
By GFF CSA Member Lyn Trier
I'm so excited for the CSA season to arrive that I can hardly stand it. The thought of fresh local produce makes me salivate. Food without PLU stickers always tastes better than what you can buy at a local supermarket. Summer 2011 will be our family's second year with GFF and our fifth time with a CSA, counting two winter CSAs. In our first CSA, two years ago, I had a hard time figuring out how to use the produce and we ended up wasting many items. Last summer, I set two goals: don't waste anything and find a "go-to" recipe for each item. We weren't completely successful, but we did well. I'd like to share some of what I learned along the way.
Before pickups begin, get prepared. Clean out your refrigerator and freezer. For me, this means using up any old food, taking inventory, cleaning and organizing. We use the freezer on our kitchen fridge and two small chest freezers in the basement.
Make space to sort, clean, and prep your produce. Don't forget to find a space for storing items at room temperature, such as potatoes, onions and tomatoes. For me, this process begins by relocating items that have started to live on the kitchen table and counter so we have space whenever we bring in veggies.
Take a look at your kitchen tools and supplies, and consider items that you may want to use as you enjoy your fresh produce. Here are my favorite tools:
- Cutting boards. I like to have more than one size and style. Currently, we own three, but I think I will be buying two more. I like to have one clean and handy whenever I need one.
- Salad spinner. We like the OXO spinner and use it at least once a week year round.
- Produce savers. I like to store lettuce and sometimes other greens in the Rubbermaid brand containers with the green lid and rack inside.
- Vegetable peeler. I own two. It's inevitable that one is always dirty when I need to use it.
- Colander. We have a couple of different sizes, including the one in the salad spinner. Some are better for grains than others.
- Food processor. We have a seven-cup KitchenAid processor. It's great for making pesto from CSA basil and garlic scapes, among other things.
- Zip-Loc resealable bags. We like to stock both general purpose and freezer bags. I love using the name brand bags. I think they are worth the extra money. Also, I try to reuse the bags, especially when I know they had something mild like lettuce or Swiss chard in them from the week before.
- Paper towels. We put them with greens to help soak up moisture in the fridge. We do use them for clean up, but I try to be as green as possible by using washable towels and cloths as much as possible.
- Wallboard saw. This was the best thing my husband learned from Alton Brown. It was about $4 from the local hardware store and is fabulous for cutting into squash. I ruined a knife trying to open an acorn squash last year. I've used the saw for watermelon, pumpkin, acorn squash, butternut squash and others.
- Food-only ice cube trays. Freezing is a great way to preserve chopped herbs, onions, and the like. We have two colored ice cube trays that we use for this. The ice for drinks goes in white trays, so our summer drinks don't taste like onions.
- Markers. It's useful to have one in the kitchen for labeling bags. We have a china marker and a permanent marker so we can label containers as well as bags.
- Extra ice. I like to make ice ahead and freeze it in gallon bags. Freezers run more efficiently when they are full, and extra ice is great for those days when you need to blanch some vegetables at the last minute.
- Knives. Take stock of your knives and get them sharpened. I like to have a variety of knives. We have an older Henkel set and bought three new knives last year. I am hoping to add another one this summer.
- Supplies. If you are planning on canning, you may want to pick up jars, lids and seals when you see them. Not all stores carry them, and you don't want to have to run around later in the year to find some. The same goes for vinegar and pickling spices.
Plan for the Produce
Usually you will have a good idea of what to expect in each week's box by reading the list or newsletter from GFF about the pick up. You can also look at photos online from some of last years' GFF participants to get an idea. The first few weeks will most likely include greens like lettuce, kale, collards, bok choy, and Swiss chard; root crops like beets and turnips; and other vegetables and fruits like kohlrabi, garlic scapes, onions, broccoli and strawberries. What we get each week will depend on yield, weather, pickup location, and more, but these were typical crops last year. If you aren't familiar with any of these items, you might want to look them up online ahead of time.
My bottom line advice: have a plan for all of the greens! You will likely get a lot, and some may be unfamiliar. Also, note that many of the other items we get have leaves that make good greens, including kohlrabi, radishes and beets.
Last year, it was nice to finally learn how to cook basic greens. I became excited to get Swiss chard instead of scared to see it on the list.
Schedule time for your pickup. Consider the logistics of your specific pickup as you plan, such as the distance from your car, toddlers, physical ailments, etc. The produce doesn't like to sit in a hot car after it's picked up, so plan your pickup so you can tend to your bounty. For us, this means letting my son, Nick (3), and daughter, Sally (18 months) know that we have to pick up our vegetables after nap time. Our pickup goes much smoother with a plan. Generally, they will have nap/quiet time until about 3 p.m. Once the kids are up, we pack snacks and head to the Chagrin Boulevard Whole Foods. Depending on the week, we may stop at Trader Joe's or Penzeys Spices before we stop for our produce. Also, we may have an item or two to pick up in the store at Whole Foods. This year, with our new pickup location, we will be able to use a cart to get the CSA bags to the car. Last year, we used a double stroller. Sally rode in one side and the bag rode in the other. Nick was old enough to walk. Be sure to open the bag as soon as you can to allow air to circulate among the vegetables.
Lyn Trier lives in Mayfield Heights. She's a stay at home mom trying to raise healthy kids who enjoy local food and other area offerings. She authors a blog at http://lifelynstyle.com where she writes about food, exercise and eating local. Lyn will be sharing her thoughts with the members of Geauga Family Farms CSA throughout the season. In next week's article, Lyn will talk about processing the CSA once you get it home.
Lyn took photos of all the items she received in her shares last year. To identify the unfamiliar veggies in your share, please download this PDF of Produce photos and compare your produce to the photos.
Farm-raised beef and chicken available through GFF
Is meat on your menu? Geauga Family Farms Cooperative can put dinner on your table and put your mind at ease about the source of your meal. All Geauga Family Farms meats are raised by local family farmers in pastures with no growth hormones and no antibiotics. From time to time we may send out e-mails to let you know about particular beef and poultry specials.
CHICKENS, TURKEYS, DUCKS & GEESE
The first farm-raised chickens of the season are ready! All of the poultry raised by members of Geauga Family Farms is raised in pastures, with no hormones or antibiotics in the feed. This year, Geauga Family Farms customers have the opportunity to buy chickens that are also free of GMO (genetically modified) grains in their feed. Marvin Fisher has taken the husbandry of his flock to that next level; he is feeding his chickens and other poultry only certified-organic, GMO-free feed. Meat from these chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys is delicious, with more flavor and texture than typical grocery store poultry. The price is $2.65 per pound; chickens average 5 pounds dressed weight. To order poultry, call the Marvin Fisher farm directly at 440-693-4632 to arrange pickup day and time (chickens and other poultry must be picked up at the farm where they are raised in accordance with Ohio law). He may also have organic rhubarb and asparagus! You may also call Kathleen Webb at 216-408-7719.
A note about GMO grains in livestock feed: The debate continues about what harm, if any, may result from eating meat from livestock that was fed GMO grain. As consumers, many of us must make our choices based on how cautious, or dedicated, we can afford to be. Meanwhile, certain consumers and producers are able to act as pioneers on behalf of the rest of us. For instance, organic vegetables and other products are more available and affordable thanks to a steadily rising demand and the steadfast commitment of organic farmers. Marvin Fisher and his family are making the commitment to feeding only GMO-free grains to their poultry.
BEEF - PRODUCTS & PRICES
(frozen, one-pound packages)
(frozen, two per pack, each fillet 6 oz.)
(frozen, two per pack, each steak 8 oz.)
$7.99 per pound
T-bones and Porterhouse Steaks
$8.99 per pound
Roasts (Pot Roasts and Rolled Roasts)
$4.99 per pound
Our Box Specials of grass-fed beef have been so popular with customers, it looks like we will have to make them a regular feature! Geauga Family Farms beef is cut and wrapped at Geauga Farms Country Meats, an Amish-owned and operated, old-fashioned meat market. (Although our names are similar, they are a separate business entity from Geauga Family Farms, the growers' cooperative.)
5 pounds ground beef (at least 90% lean)
4 steaks (approx. 3 pounds total, mixed selection)
1 roast (approx. 3 pounds, pot roast or rolled roast)
11 pounds ground beef (at least 90% lean)
4 steaks (approx. 3 pounds total, mixed selection)
1 roast (approx. 3 pounds, pot roast or rolled roast)
To order Geauga Family Farms beef:
Call Geauga Farms Country Meats at 440-834-8476 and ask for Dave or Katherine. Tell them you would like grass-fed beef from Geauga Family Farms. They will gladly and patiently answer your questions and take your order. Other cuts and additional ground beef may be available to add to your order, if you wish, and will be priced separately. Geauga Farms Country Meats has its own smokehouse where they smoke their own delicious bacon and sausages.
Pick up your order at:
Geauga Farms Country Meats
14320 Main Market Road (Route 422)
Hours: Monday - Saturday
7 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Geauga Country Meats accepts cash, checks, credit and debit cards, Ohio Direction and SNAP.
Extras, extras, read all about them
Extras via PayPal will start in July. We will let you know when they are available. NOTE: The Lake Hospitals sites do not allow extras. Also, Whole Foods cannot allow beef to be delivered.
Share your recipes with us
Last year, many GFF CSA members sent in recipes for their favorite veggies. We hope to receive many more delicious recipes from our members this year. Feel free to e-mail your favorite recipes to Laura Dobson at LDobson@geaugafamilyfarms.org and we'll try to include them in an upcoming newsletter. Here are two for what you might see in your box this week.
Pak Choi with Garlic Sauce
1 lb. pak choi, cleaned and chopped (keeping white stem portions separate)
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
2-3 tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 garlic scapes, the area below the bulb sliced thinly
2 chopped green onions
Toasted, slivered almonds (optional)
Stir together the vegetable and sesame oils. In a separate bowl, stir together the water, ginger, sauces and brown sugar and garlic. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chopped stems and the garlic scapes to the oil and sauté for a few minutes - until they turn pale green. Add the greens and continue to cook until they begin to look wilted. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving platter. Pour the sauce mixture into the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened. Pour over greens on serving platter and garnish with green onions and toasted slivered almonds if desired. Serve with brown rice and grilled meat or tofu.
Serves 4 as a side dish.
Recipe by Michelle Bandy-Zalatoris
Chilled Strawberry Soup
1 cup apple juice
1 cup water, divided
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups fresh strawberries
16 ounces premium strawberry yogurt
Additional strawberry slices (optional)
In a saucepan, combine the apple juice, 3/4 cup water, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cool. Place cleaned strawberries and remaining water in a blender or food processor; cover and blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Add in apple juice and yogurt. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate, preferably for 24 hours. Garnish with additional strawberries and whipped cream.
Serves 6 to 8
Ivory Creek Inn
(Between the regular business hours of 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. PLEASE!)
Laura Dobson, 440-478-9849,
Michelle Bandy-Zalatoris, 216-321-7109,
Grass-fed beef & poultry
Kathleen Webb, 216-408-7719,
Geauga Family Farms, Middlefield, Ohio 44062