The CSA Time Of Year
In the Midwest, the ground hasn't thawed enough just yet to allow for planting, and we're a long way away from visiting a summer farmers market. But, this is the time of the year when folks start thinking about buying a share in a farm's Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA).
The way it works is members pay a fee in the winter or early spring. That's the time when farmers need the money for seeds, fertilizer, and labor. Then when the food gets harvested a few months later, the farms provide CSA members a weekly delivery of food, or their share.
Bobbi Boos of LIFE Certified Organic Farm explains that not all CSA members get the same produce in their weekly shares, but they do get first pick. Earth Eats spoke with her back in August 2010 at the Bloomington Farmers Market, a pick-up point for CSA members. "We're not selling green beans because [the CSA boxes] got all the green beans. We also have watermelons in some of the shares, green peppers, garlic, basilâ¦ So, not everybody gets everything."
If you're interested in finding CSA programs around your community, Local Harvest is a good place to start.
Yams With Goat Cheese
Normally what people think of with yams it's usually in the context of the sweet stuff served at Thanksgiving. But a true yam comes from Africa, and it's a much larger root with a white flesh and a barky exterior.
As compared to their distant cousin, the potato, yams have a lower glycemic index, so they help you stay fuller longer. That, and they are a powerhouse of nutrients. They are high in vitamins C and B6, manganese, and dietary fiber. Also, since they are high in potassium and low in sodium, yams are said to protect against heart disease.
"I usually give yams over to one of my chefs," says Chef Daniel Orr. "He's one of the hardest working guys in the business: Chef Mike. He's very reliable, and you don't have to pay any health care for him."
In a conventional Chef Mike (home microwave), cook the yam for seven minutes or until it gets nice and soft. Or, roast it traditionally in the oven. It will give the yam a distinct aroma that you don't get in the microwave.
Potatoes Three Ways
"The Yukon Gold potato has become a darling of chefs and home cooks alike," says Chef Orr. After he boiled several of these yellow-skinned potatoes, he made three different dishes - all prepared at the same time:
Simply Smashed Fried Potatoes
One of the easiest ways to cook boiled Yukon Golds is to smash them down. Then, sautÃ© them or deep fry them, and top with seasonings of your choice. You could also roast them with some rosemary and garlic, but they're really good deep fried.
This is a traditional dish from Belgium that is usually served with Waterzooi, which is a stew with lots of vegetables and either fish or chicken.
Mash together some boiled carrots with the boiled Yukon Gold potatoes. Add a couple pats of butter, salt and pepper, and serve. Simple!
Bubble & Squeak
This British dish gets its name from the sounds the cabbage makes as it cooks in the pan. But we're using Brussels sprouts today instead of cabbage as per some of our listeners' requests for interesting recipes using Brussels sprouts.
To begin, slice and steam the Brussels sprouts. Then, add them and the potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Toss all that into a hot pan with butter, bacon fat, and olive oil. Listen for the squeak! Once the sprouts and the potatoes brown slightly, they are ready to serve. "There's nothing more late-wintry than that," exclaims Chef Orr.
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