Greens Greens Greens

I know.  Pretty breathtaking, right?
Here’s the breakdown on the bounty for this week:
Spinach
Rainbow Chard
Sugar snap peas
Carrots
Mustard Greens
Edible flowers (from the peas)
Garlic Chives
Cilantro
Mint
Spring Onions
Lettuce
Before we dive into wrangling this weeks share, I wanted to mention that Kathy has a few shares left for this summer.  If you’d like the opportunity to still share in the bounty this year you can. Please leave a comment and we’ll get you in touch.

If you’re anything like me, I’m certain you’re first thought is, what am I going to do with all these greens?

Valid question.

In this blog I’m going to outline some cleaning and storage tips, as I know one of the most immediate challenges is to keep everything fresh until you can prepare it.

Our box this week included mustard greens and lettuce.  I like to wash and store lettuce the day I get my share. Prior to joining a CSA, all my lettuce and greens was of the pre-washed, bagged, ready to eat variety.  If I’m going to eat salads, I want to be able to grab and go during the week, not taking time to wash and prepare lettuce for each use. I’ve been able to reap the benefits of grab and go lettuce utilizing my CSA  lettuce thanks to investment in a salad spinner.

If you don’t own a salad spinner, GET ONE NOW!!!!!  My salad spinner is one of my favorite tools for wrangling my CSA each week.  It makes washing greens (and herbs and sliced veggies and broccoli and cauliflower and more) a snap, and lettuce stored in a spinner lasts longer and stays fresher than when I toss it in a ziploc.  I’m a  big fan of my OXO salad spinner, which you can find at The Cupboard for $25.  It’s an investment that will pay for itself quickly.  One more salad spinner pro tip: washing greens and veggies can use a lot of water; don’t just dump that down the drain, water your plants with it!

Once you’ve got your lettuce under control, you can move on to the other greens in your share. Though you may feel like you are drowning in greens right now, this is the time to think ahead to winter months, when the spinach and chard bounty of today will seem like a distant memory. I recommend setting aside a portion of all your greens for use in soups and recipes in the fall and winter months.

If you’re not going to prep or store greens right away, be sure to keep them cool and in the crisper.  In addition to using a  salad spinner you can try vegetable storage boxes, which will also extend the life of your lettuce and other fresh veggies. Or, you can always keep them in a bag in the fridge for few days, but know storage boxes and spinners will lengthen the life of your greens and veggies.

If you are new to working with fresh herbs, there are several ways you can store them fresh from the box.  I like to trim my herbs and place them in a cup with fresh water (like a small bouquet).

You can also wrap herbs in a damp paper towel or cloth and store in the fridge (ziploc optional).  Most fresh herbs will stay fresh in the fridge for about a week.

Be sure to come back Thursday, when I’ll be talking all things chard.  I had never tried chard prior to my first CSA, but have learned to love and even crave it.

Have storage questions?  Want to know how to use a specific veggie you’ve received?  Lost on what something is?  Want to share a great recipe?  Please leave a comment!  We’d love to hear from you!

Greens Greens Greens

I know.  Pretty breathtaking, right?
Here’s the breakdown on the bounty for this week:
Spinach
Rainbow Chard
Sugar snap peas
Carrots
Mustard Greens
Edible flowers (from the peas)
Garlic Chives
Cilantro
Mint
Spring Onions
Lettuce
Before we dive into wrangling this weeks share, I wanted to mention that Kathy has a few shares left for this summer.  If you’d like the opportunity to still share in the bounty this year you can. Please leave a comment and we’ll get you in touch.

If you’re anything like me, I’m certain you’re first thought is, what am I going to do with all these greens?

Valid question.

In this blog I’m going to outline some cleaning and storage tips, as I know one of the most immediate challenges is to keep everything fresh until you can prepare it.

Our box this week included mustard greens and lettuce.  I like to wash and store lettuce the day I get my share. Prior to joining a CSA, all my lettuce and greens was of the pre-washed, bagged, ready to eat variety.  If I’m going to eat salads, I want to be able to grab and go during the week, not taking time to wash and prepare lettuce for each use. I’ve been able to reap the benefits of grab and go lettuce utilizing my CSA  lettuce thanks to investment in a salad spinner.

If you don’t own a salad spinner, GET ONE NOW!!!!!  My salad spinner is one of my favorite tools for wrangling my CSA each week.  It makes washing greens (and herbs and sliced veggies and broccoli and cauliflower and more) a snap, and lettuce stored in a spinner lasts longer and stays fresher than when I toss it in a ziploc.  I’m a  big fan of my OXO salad spinner, which you can find at The Cupboard for $25.  It’s an investment that will pay for itself quickly.  One more salad spinner pro tip: washing greens and veggies can use a lot of water; don’t just dump that down the drain, water your plants with it!

Once you’ve got your lettuce under control, you can move on to the other greens in your share. Though you may feel like you are drowning in greens right now, this is the time to think ahead to winter months, when the spinach and chard bounty of today will seem like a distant memory. I recommend setting aside a portion of all your greens for use in soups and recipes in the fall and winter months.

If you’re not going to prep or store greens right away, be sure to keep them cool and in the crisper.  In addition to using a  salad spinner you can try vegetable storage boxes, which will also extend the life of your lettuce and other fresh veggies. Or, you can always keep them in a bag in the fridge for few days, but know storage boxes and spinners will lengthen the life of your greens and veggies.

If you are new to working with fresh herbs, there are several ways you can store them fresh from the box.  I like to trim my herbs and place them in a cup with fresh water (like a small bouquet).

You can also wrap herbs in a damp paper towel or cloth and store in the fridge (ziploc optional).  Most fresh herbs will stay fresh in the fridge for about a week.

Be sure to come back Thursday, when I’ll be talking all things chard.  I had never tried chard prior to my first CSA, but have learned to love and even crave it.

Have storage questions?  Want to know how to use a specific veggie you’ve received?  Lost on what something is?  Want to share a great recipe?  Please leave a comment!  We’d love to hear from you!

Food Revolution: The Eat Local Edition

When a friend told me The Cupboard and Jen were planning their own Food Revolution, I immediately knew I wanted to be involved.  Why, you ask? Let me tell you a quick story:

Though I’ve always loved to cook and grew up in a house with from-scratch recipes and a garden in the backyard, I had my own detour into poor eating in my mid-‘20s.  During that time my refrigerator was utilized mostly as a shelf for my freezer towers of frozen meals.  I gained a bunch of weight, got super depressed, and started to think that I was destined to hate food, hate my body, feel sluggish and tired and eat cardboard forever.   Thankfully it was short-lived and would prove a necessary evil for me to rekindle my love with cooking, growing, eating, and to simply fix my relationship with food.

What pulled me out of this fiberboard of despair was pretty simple.  A coworker offered me the opportunity to join something she and several others at our company were doing, where you would pay a flat fee and get a box of select vegetables, fruits, meats, and eggs each week.  Little did I know that this would lay the groundwork for my love affair with CSAs.

Don’t know what a CSA is?  No problem.

A CSA is a way for you to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, flowers, meat, and other fun things directly from the farmer/producer.  It works like this:  prior to the beginning of the season you enter into an agreement (pay for your share) with the farmer to be there for each other whether the season is a bounty or a disaster.  Then each week during the growing season (generally June through September) you receive a box of fresh in-season produce (or other tasty delight) harvested that week.  Your upfront payment benefits the farmer by providing them operating capital for a season (which can be a huge struggle for small farmers) and community support. This frees them up to be available to do what they do best: farm.

Originally I got into CSAs as a way to look cool amongst my coworkers, but I have evolved into a diehard CSA loyalist.  Through participating in CSA programs I have learned to look at food differently, to form a relationship with food that has enriched my life and fed my soul.  I am deeply passionate about what changing your diet (what you eat, how you eat, where it comes from) can do for you, and want to share that with as many people as possible.

Now, I realize diving head first into a CSA from frozen dinners and bags of pre-washed lettuce can be overwhelming.  I’ve been there. There are likely to be vegetables you haven’t encountered before, have never prepared, or have no idea what they are.  Breathe easy, because that’s where The Cupboard and I want to help!  We’re dedicated to helping you learn to love cooking, to love knowing your farmer, and to get excited about kale.

Here’s the plan:

I’ll be blogging here once a week, sharing tips and tricks to wrangle that week’s CSA.  I’ll be using my share from Raspberry Hill Farms as our example, but I’m certain you’ll find it similar to any northern Colorado (and well beyond) CSA. Just the same, if you are shopping the farmers markets, the produce we’ll be featuring on the blog will be what you’re finding an abundance of there as well.  In addition to what you find here, you can feel free to comment or email with any questions, comments, or problems you are having and I’ll do my best to help you out.  And yes, I know you get a lot of beets.  And yes, I can help you cook/store/eat them all.

I’ll also be visiting with Kathy Hatfield regularly, the owner/grower at Raspberry Hill Farm.  She is amazing, and I’m excited to share her insight, stories and photos of the garden as it grows. For me, making the connection to my farmer has elevated how I relate to food on a whole new level.

In addition to this blog, I’ll be at The Cupboard every other Saturday from July 17th through mid-September from 1 – 4 p.m., presenting seasonally inspired demos, easy, quick recipes for what’s fresh that week, sharing storage tips and helping you tackle any problems/questions you have about your CSA or any other local produce-related questions.

I look forward to meeting some new people, sharing passion for good food, and being part of the Fort Collins Food Revolution.

Raspberry Hill Farm Share Week One

The first weeks farm share from Raspberry Hill Farm. Chard, spinach, rhubarb, spinach, onions, greens greens greens and more greens! Delicious!

A straighforward guide to improving the way you eat: The Conscious Kitchen

Steve reviews "A Conscious Kitchen" by Alexandra Zissu

As consumers, we are inundated a vast array of food choices.  A large percentage of these choices are processed and decidedly not eco-friendly.  At the same time, we have access to a myriad and growing supply of information regarding how food is grown, processed and marketed.  From every direction, we are told what we should and should not eat, what’s good for the planet, what’s not, what’s good for our health, and what’s not.  It is a dizzying array of information to sort through.  If one wants to change food habits, where does one start?

In ‘The Conscious Kitchen”, Alexandra Zissu has helped to create an excellent starting point to make change happen. She has gathered food advice from a variety of sources, including authors Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingslover, as well as information from national food and farming organizations, to create a clear, easy to read road map for navigating the current food market.  This map provides concrete information to make real changes in the way we eat.  She starts with the Conscious Commandments (1.  Eat less meat, 2. Just say no to bottled water; etc.).  She then discusses what kind of food to buy (local vs. organic).  Finally, she breaks food down into different categories and examines them in depth.  (fruits and vegetables, dairy and eggs, etc.)  Every chapter provides a plethora of information to help consumers choose what kinds of foods to buy and to figure out how these choices can change your health and help the planet.   This is an excellent book for anyone wanting a practical guide to make positive changes to the way one eats.

review by Steve Hureau, book buyer at The Cupboard