Archive of ‘Eat Your CSA’ category

Colvin Family Farms – Hooray for CSAs!

Week 2 CSA Vegetables

First of all, I’m going to throw a little basic knowledge your way just in case you have no idea what a CSA is. A CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. A community of shareholders agree to pay for a share of a local farm’s produce. The money paid upfront allows the farm to better plan their crops and allows them to invest in their farm before the growing season begins. We – the community of consumers agree to share the risks and benefits with that farm.


My husband and I have been trying to eat locally for the last ten years. It was quite challenging at first, but Knoxville has tons of options to do that now. We’ve got wonderful stores like justripe. We have a farmer’s market almost every day (my personal favorite is the Market Square Farmers Market). Restaurants are serving meals using lots of local produce. We even have food trucks serving food made with local ingredients. And lots of farms are now offering CSAs. Last year I participated in Colvin Family Farm’s CSA. We’re a family of two. We are not vegetarians. I grow a fairly large garden. So of course we made the brilliant decision to get a full share.


And you know what? It was brilliant. We got a great deal. We had an amazing selection of produce to use that was so tasty. We were able to keep our money in our local community. We were able to support something my husband and I fervently believe in. We were able to make a political decision – every bit of money we spend on local foods and small producers keeps money out of the hands of companies that use chemicals indiscriminately, spend millions of dollars to get fat farm subsidies in their hands, and who spend untold amounts of money to keep people from learning what foods contain genetically modified ingredients or hormones that they might not want to ingest.


I was shocked by how much produce we received each week. I wasn’t shocked by how good it is. I’ve always known that produce straight from the farm and/or garden is always a lot tastier and usually higher in nutrients. And I will argue to the day I die that organically grown produce just tastes better than conventionally grown produce.


I was amazed at how adept I became with using all the produce up. I would say that altogether, we used about 90% of the produce we received. When we didn’t use produce, it was usually because our week was unduly hectic or the box contained an item we both dislike, and we weren’t able to find someone to give it to. In a nation that wastes approximately 40% of its food, I’m pretty impressed with what we were able to do.


This year I’m a virtual farmhand for Colvin Family Farms! I’m going to be sharing my tips on how to store, plan and fully utilize the produce that we’ll get in our box each week. I’ll be sharing resources that have helped me. I’ll also be sharing recipes that will give you ideas on how to use the vegetables you get in each box. Cooking CSA style is not difficult but it does take a little getting used to. There are two other bloggers this year that will be joining me, and I’m excited to see the creative ideas and recipes they use as well. Betsy is blogging at Full Tummies and Lia is blogging at Thinklia.


What am I bringing to the Virtual Farmhand table? I’ve been a food blogger for years. I know lots of food bloggers, and I know the ones who consistently post delicious recipes. I’ve been eating locally for years and know how to shop and plan a menu around the food you get. I’m an adventurous cook, but I also run my own business and do freelance writing. I don’t have endless hours to spend toiling away in the kitchen. I love trying new recipes and have had some amazing successes and some amazing failures. I will be very honest with you about how I do each week. I’m on a strict budget. I’m also adding the extra challenge of dealing with breast cancer this year to the mix.


There are various ways to follow my blog.You can subscribe to it by email or RSS feed. You can like the Facebook page for my blog – I post links there whenever a new post goes live. You can follow me on twitter, either using my general feed or be searching for the hashtag #eatyourcsa.


I post about a lot of different things here at Mouth From the South – I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and I often blog about that. I’m a cocktail aficionado. I post about my cats. I post pictures. I sometimes swear a lot. If you’re not interested in reading any of the above, you can just read my CSA posts and recipe posts using these links.


I’m eagerly looking forward to the day we get our first box of produce. And if you haven’t signed up but would like to, here’s a link to join: Colvin Family Farm’s CSA


Note: My husband and I paid for a CSA share last year with Colvin Family Farms. However, since I am blogging about their CSA this year, I am receiving a free share for helping out as a virtual farmhand. For the record, if this opportunity hadn’t come up, my husband and I were planning to purchase another share this year.

Eat Your CSA – Using Your CSA Vegetables – Week 4


This gorgeous spread is courtesy of Colvin Family Farms - for more information on this project, read the guidelines here.  If you’d like to join in with me, feel free to post links to blog posts where you talk about how you’re using your CSA produce.  Or just post a comment if you don’t have a blog.  I’ll also be tweeting about how I use my CSA box on twitter using the hashtag #eatyourCSA.  If we get enough participation, I’ll start a weekly round-up post as well.

Here’s what was in our box for week number four:
2 heads of lettuce
1 head cauliflower
1 large zucchini
4 straightneck squash
1 large pattypan squash
1 bunch radishes
1 bag kale
1 bag arugula
1 small bag new potatoes
6 small cucumbers

Farmers Market Purchases:
Peaches from Mountain Meadows farm

Swiss Chard (can hold in garden)

Leftovers from last week:
1/2 head napa cabbage
2 onions
1 turnip
garlic scapes

Breakfast – carmelized onion, summer squash & lardon frittata, zucchini-carrot-ginger bread (recipe coming soon), peaches, coffee with Cruze Farm milk
Lunch – leftover zucchini & summer squash fritters, sliced turnips & radishes
Dinner – homemade onion rings (3-4 parts beer to 2 parts flour until pancake batter consistency, dip rings in & deep fry at 350 degrees), homemade potato chips, salad with creamy caesar dressing & spicy croutons

Breakfast – Eggs in Hell, zucchini-carrot-ginger bread, blueberries
Lunch – salad with creamy caesar dressing & spicy croutons
Dinner – salt boiled new potatoes, steak, refrigerator pickles, sauteed radish greens
Snack – zucchini-carrot-ginger bread

Breakfast – 2 hardboiled eggs, bacon, zucchini-carrot-ginger bread
Lunch – salad with arugula, leftover steak & radishes
Dinner – zucchini “pizza” w/ frozen pork ragu sauce

Breakfast – summer squash sauté topped with cheddar cheese, zucchini-carrot-ginger bread
Lunch – salad with arugula, leftover steak & radishes
Dinner – sushi with friends

Breakfast – summer squash sauté topped with cheddar cheese, bacon
Lunch – kale & lentil salad, steamed new potatoes
Dinner – stir-fry with ground pork, napa cabbage, onions & summer squash

Breakfast – Eggs in Hell (onion, chipotle, tomatoes, kale)
Lunch – leftovers – kale & lentil salad and stir-fry
Dinner – salad, summer squash falafel, tzatziki sauce

Breakfast – last piece of zucchini bread, fried eggs
Lunch - leftover summer squash falafel, tzatziki sauce, cucumber refrigerator pickles
Dinner – Taco Bell – too hot & tired from garage sale pricing to cook!

Leftovers for next week:
1 head cauliflower

Broccoli and Soba with Toasted Sesame Seed Sauce, the Gift of Improvisation & Snarky Cats


This was so good that I licked the plate.  As I was licking the plate, a Mira-cat was eating near me.  She turned toward me and gave me side-eye and I’m pretty sure that if she could talk, she’d have said “At least I eat daintily out of the bowl like a civilized person. Peasant.”  After retorting that at least I don’t lick my own ass, I realized that I’m really glad my cats can’t talk. One, because I’m pretty sure they’re snarky jerks but two, you all would think I was crazier than I already am.  My cats keep my secrets but only because they can’t verbally negotiate deals to sell them to the highest bidder.

One of the skills you need to develop when you belong to a CSA is the ability to trust yourself to improvise.  Note – I did not say that you need to learn how to improvise.  Because you already know how to do this.  Yes.  You do.  No arguing.  What you need to learn how to do is to let yourself improvise.

Eating locally and seasonally is delicious and being part of a CSA will give you produce that is fresher than you can imagine.  But it’s very different from planning a menu and going to the grocery store to get those groceries.  Or even going to the farmer’s market to get the produce you need.  You need to learn to be flexible. You need to let yourself improvise.

So improvise.  Make mistakes.  Know that it won’t always work out but that’s OK.  It will probably be edible and you’ve learned what not to do.  A lot of times that’s just more important than knowing what to do.

This is the frittata I made the other day.  It stuck to the pan.  I don’t care.  It’s delicious and allowed me to use up some yellow zucchini, onions and the lardons I had left over from the salad I made the other night.

Risottos, pasta dishes, egg rolls, stir-frys, salads, pizzas, fritters – all of these recipes can be played without a lot of trouble.  Change out cheeses, vegetables, spices, meats, etc.  You can even create your own recipes.

This is not a recipe for exact amounts and ingredients.  Instead of broccoli, put blanched asparagus or cauliflower in it.  Or barely blanched summer squash.  Or sliced cucumbers.  Or lightly steamed and chopped greens.  Have a fresh turnip that needs to be used?  Dice that up and throw it in.  Are you out of soba?  Spaghetti noodles would work. I love ginger and garlic and I wouldn’t hesitate to add more.  More scallions would be a lovely touch as well.  Cilantro sprinkled across the top would be delicious.  Add in diced chicken, shrimp or tofu.  I had no hulled white sesame seeds so I used brown, unhulled ones.  Next time I make this, I’ll probably double the broccoli and use half the noodles. Play with this.  It’s hard to screw up.

Broccoli & Soba with Toasted Sesame Seed Sauce
Adapted from Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons
Serves 2-3

1/2 cup white sesame seeds
8 ounces dried soba noodles
4 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
4 – 6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 T minced fresh ginger
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
5 scallions, chopped fine, both white and green parts
4 heaping cups small broccoli pieces, blanched

Preheat oven to 375. Pour the sesame seeds onto a rimmed baking sheet. Toast the seeds in the oven until they are a rich brown color on the edges.  The recipe said 10 minutes but this took only 5 minutes in my oven.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the soba noodles and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the noodles are just tender.  Drain them, rinse well with cold water and drain them again.

In a large bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and scallions.  Add the noodles.  Stir well.  Add the sesame seeds.  Stir well again.  Add the broccoli, stir well and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Eat Your CSA – Using your CSA Vegetables – Week 3


Here’s what was in our box for week number three:
Napa cabbage
2 heads of lettuce
2 medium heads broccoli
1 head cauliflower
3 onions
2 zucchini
3 crookneck squash
2 yellow squash
1 bunch radishes
3 turnips

Farmers Market Purchases:
Raspberries from Mountain Meadows farm
Daikon radish from Terraced Gardens Farm

Swiss Chard (can hold)

Leftovers from last week:
Lot of blueberries left from picking them at Blueberry Hill
1 1/2 bulbs of green garlic
1/2 head of cabbage
garlic scapes

Breakfast -hardboiled eggs, VG’s Bakery pastries (so good!), raspberries and blueberries
Lunch -lettuce salad with creamy dill dressing and canned salmon
Dinner – Birthday celebration! Homemade eggrolls (cabbage, carrots & shrimp), homemade plum sauce canned last year, Momofuku pork buns & crack pie, lots of bubbly!
Snack: sliced radishes & turnips

Breakfast -bacon, coffee, raspberries & Advil :)
Lunch – salad with creamy dill dressing, hamburgers
Dinner – pizza with radish leaf pesto, ricotta cheese, mozzarella & zucchini, sliced radishes

Breakfast -German pancake with raspberries, fried egg, coffee
Lunch – broccoli & soba with toasted sesame sauce, blueberries
Dinner -Salad with poached egg and lardons

Breakfast -summer squash frittata, blueberries and raspberries
Lunch – leftover broccoli & soba with toasted sesame sauce
Dinner – roast chicken, blanched broccoli & cauliflower with buttermilk bagna cauda

Breakfast - summer squash frittata, blueberries
Lunch – salad with lettuce, leftover roast chicken and buttermilk dill dressing
Dinner – Leftovers from my birthday dinner & daikon radish relish

Breakfast – 2 hard boiled eggs, blueberries
Lunch - salad with lettuce, leftover roast chicken and buttermilk dill dressing
Dinner -Stir-fry with tempeh, turnips, green onions & napa cabbage

Breakfast – carmelized onion, summer squash & lardon frittata, blueberries
Lunch - salad with lettuce, leftover roast chicken and buttermilk dill dressing
Dinner – zucchini & summer squash fritters, zucchini-carrot-ginger bread

Leftover for next week:
1/2 head napa cabbage
2 onions
1 turnip
garlic scapes
handful of blueberries

Put Up:
Radish leaf pesto – freezer


Other people blogging about their CSA experiences!
My Farm Fresh Adventure
Snowflake Kitchen

Eat Your CSA – Using your CSA Vegetables – Week 2

Week 2 CSA Vegetables


Here’s what was in our box for week number 2:
Bag of kale
Pint of strawberries
2 Heads lettuce
Medium head of cauliflower
Bulb green garlic
Large head of cabbage
2 zucchini
3 assorted summer squash

Farmers Market Purchases:
1/2 pint blueberries
More Blueberries picked from Blueberry Hill

Jalapeno peppers
Swiss chard – can hold in garden

Leftovers from last week:
Bok Choy
Bulb of green garlic
garlic scapes (from garden)

Washed Kale

Breakfast – eggs scrambled with swiss chard & garlic scapes, strawberries
Lunch – steamed sugar snap peas with cauliflower tahini spread & tzatziki sauce, strawberries
Dinner – stir-fry with ground pork, onions, bok choy & cilantro
Late Night Snack – bacon wrapped jalapenos & homemade rhubarb syrup soda

Breakfast – fried eggs, strawberries, raspberries & blueberries
Lunch – leftover stir-fry
Dinner (at my parents) – grilled chicken breast, noodles and salad

Last dinner at my parents’ old house. They’ve lived there 21 years!

Breakfast (at my parents) – fried egg, German pancake with strawberries & blueberries
Lunch (at my parents) – huge salad
Dinner (traveling) –  Pal’s Sudden Service – Goodbye Kingsport!

Goodbye Kingsport! Hello Knoxville!

Breakfast – fried Eggs & blueberries
Lunch – garam masala roasted chicken, straightneck squash sauteed with curry powder, indian spiced braised kale (cumin, cayenne, ginger & garam masala)
Dinner – leftovers from dinner, gin cocktails (watching the Transit of Venus!), cauliflower tahini spread with crackers

Breakfast - summer squash frittata
Lunch – salad with homemade creamy peppercorn dressing & canned wild salmon
Dinner – hamburger patties, leftover Indian spiced kale, zucchini bake (made by rehydrating sun-dried tomatoes in Cruze farm milk, sprinkled with romano& mozzarella  cheese

Breakfast - summer squash frittata
Lunch – salad & leftover zucchini bake
Dinner – celebratory meal out because my parents closed on their new house in Knoxville!

Breakfast - eggs scrambled with swiss chard & garlic scapes
Lunch - salad with creamy peppercorn dressing & canned wild salmon
Dinner – picnic dinner after picking blueberries: teriyaki chicken strips, Asian coleslaw(not a good recipe – threw the leftovers in the compost pile) & blueberries

My sister, Ally, picking blueberries with us.

Leftover for the next week include 1 1/2 bulbs of green garlic, 1/2 head of cabbage and garlic scapes (these keep for weeks in a bag in the crisper)

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