Fresh off the bountiful success of this warm Spring, the Lawrence Farmers Market returns to open the 37th season of its world-class market on Saturday, April 14.
Under the picturesque canopy of budding trees in the 800 block of New Hampshire, the Saturday Lawrence Farmers’ Market will open at 7:00 am with its ritual bell ringing and run until 11:00 am. Shoppers will find locally-grown and locally-produced food and farm products from more than 50 farmers, food producers and artisans. That number will grow to nearly 100 as the season progresses and the abundant bounty of local produce ripens.
“For us at the Lawrence Farmers Market, opening day feels like a family reunion and neighborhood potluck in one. It brings together familiar faces, delicious food and the spirit of community,” said Maggie Vi Beedles of Feaster’s Bistro.
What’s fresh this spring? Peak-of-season produce like asparagus, carrots, green onions, leeks, chard, spinach, arugula, lettuces and more still wearing traces of the fertile soil of the Kaw Valley. Lawrence Farmers Market food producers, food artisans and prepared food vendors will also tempt shoppers with delicious baked goods, eggs, meats, cheeses, and other specialty foods.
This season, the Lawrence Farmers Market introduces new farmers and welcomes back returning farmers to its market locations. Through the years, the market has sustained the region’s food and farming community by providing a lively sales outlet for small family farms, many of which count on farm-direct sales as their main source of income.
As the days lengthen and the spring harvests progress, weekday markets will open for the season also. The Tuesday Market, at 1020 Vermont, opens May 1, 4:00pm-6:00 pm and the Thursday Evening Market, at 4931 W. 6th Street, begins May 3, 4:00pm-6:00pm. Although the market will have been open for a few weeks by May 5, we will have our traditional GRAND OPENING on the first Saturday in May.
So long, summer, it was nice knowing you! Last Monday was our final CSA pickup of the season. There were fewer bags from Rolling Prairie than last year because of our unbearably hot summer, which stinks. But hey, we're lucky to have all these vegetable farmers around in the first place. And, it'll be easy to get some very yummy stuff at the Lawrence Farmers' Market for the next few weeks before everyone packs it up and calls it a season until spring.
That said, I promise I won't pack it up until spring. I'm planning to blog weekly on local/healthy/family eats on roughly the same schedule I've been keeping with Bye-Bye Bounty. If there's any topic you specifically want me to cover, let me know by messaging me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, on to this week's goodies.
During our final week with Rolling Prairie, we got sweet potatoes, potatoes, Swiss chard, peppers and two bags of salad mix.
The potatoes went in storage, the Swiss chard became wraps, and the peppers and salad mix contributed to, well, salad.
On Thursday night, we'd planned to have sweet potato medallions, so I was in for a surprise when I came home from my weekly girls' run and not only had my guys made the sweet potatoes, but they'd also made a yummy-looking new salad.
It's from the same book as the butternut squash and apple soup we made a few weeks ago, and it's just about as awesome. And as a bonus, it uses super cheap and super hearty ingredients (quinoa and chickpeas) as well as some things that can be found locally this time of year (basil, onions and romaine). Oh, and it makes a ton, so chances are, you'll have it for lunch the next day.
The combination of the sweet potatoes and the salad was absolutely perfect and hit the spot after running 10 miles at the end of a long workday. I highly recommend you try it (whether you have a long run planned or not).
Everyday Chickpea-Quinoa Salad (By Isa Chandra Moskowitz, “Appetite for Reduction”)
2 cups cooked, cooled quinoa
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Optional add-ins: roasted garlic, baked tofu or tempeh, shredded carrot, sprouts, fresh basil
1 recipe Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
In a large mixing bowl, mix all the salad ingredients together. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Keep chilled in a tightly sealed container for up to three days.
1/4 cup cashew pieces
2 tablespoons chopped shallot (or onion)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon agave nectar
3/4 teaspoon salt
A few pinches of freshly ground black pepper
First place the cashews and shallot in a food processor and pulse to get them chopped up. Then simply add the rest of the ingredients. Blend for at least 5 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides often, until completely smooth.
It’s really important that you blend for the full time, otherwise your dressing may be grainy. Transfer the dressing to a sealable container (a bowl covered with plastic wrap is just fine) and chill until ready to serve.
Well, we're almost to the end of the road. On Monday, I picked up my very last CSA haul of the year from Rolling Prairie. It's so sad to me because it signals the end of the summer. The days are getting cooler and pretty soon the Lawrence Farmers' Market will be a goner too. Sigh. But, I do feel a bit lucky, because I know from talking to friends that other CSAs have ended earlier than ours.
So, next week will be my last CSA blog until next spring, but I'm cooking up a weekly something to keep all of us foodies busy in the in-between.
But, until then, I had a lot of fun whipping up different items this week with last week's goodies.
Including sweet potato medallions...
A salad for work with our lettuce mix (plus local apples and walnuts)...
And Swiss chard wraps based on a recipe by my sweet friend Natalia.
Inside, that's a mixture of Natalia's "eggplant bacon" (made from local eggplant!), avocado, local tomatoes, and a cilantro-lime sauce/dip that made the whole thing have the same salty/sweet level as a BLT.
I highly recommend checking out Natalia's book if those wraps look like something you might want to try.
So, the recipe I'm going to share is the one for the sweet potato medallions. It's a recipe my dad gave us a few years ago and its a total staple for our family. I've blogged about it before, but because of some sort of glitch, that recipe (and a few others) is missing from my past blogs. But it's really too good not to share again.
Now, I do it with the amount of seasoning listed, but my dad — the recipe perfecter, as it were — will sometimes double the amount of seasoning and coat the potatoes a second time after flipping them. If you think that's your cup of tea, go for it.
Sweet Potato Medallions
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into rounds (about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Olive oil/olive oil spray
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray two cookie sheets (lipped ones are best) with olive oil. Place the sweet potato rounds on the cookie sheets.
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, salt and pepper.
Spray the sweet potatoes with oil, or put a little olive oil in a small bowl and coat each round with oil using a basting brush. Once all the rounds are coated, sprinkle on the sugar and spice mixture.
Place the sweet potatoes in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, flip the rounds and put them in for another 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool.
What'd we get in our last week from Rolling Prairie? Two bags of salad greens, more chard leaves, potatoes, sweet potatoes and peppers.
The end of the CSA is near.
Normally, we’re able to get our weekly goodies from Rolling Prairie clear through to Halloween. Not the case this year. Because of weeks of high heat and little water, the season is ending early. On Monday, I got an email from my pick-up site coordinator, Bob Lominska, saying that because of “the challenging weather” (he’s being nice) my last CSA pick-up as a regular customer will be Sept. 26.
I'm not sure other CSAs will be ending as soon, but I think pretty much every farmer/home gardener/container gardener had the same problems this year in Northeast Kansas. So, chances are, even if your CSA hasn’t given you an end date, you probably won’t be getting goodies very late this year.
The good news? Even after our CSAs have finished for the year, we should still be able to get local produce at the Lawrence Farmers’ Market for a few weeks. They haven’t announced as to if the season will end earlier than its usual mid-November date, but chances are we can still pick up something through November. So, there’s our silver lining. Plus, the local goods will still be coming through our groceries. The supply might not be the best, but chances won’t be totally out of luck.
And we’re lucky to have anything, honestly. Think about all the crops ruined by flooding, drought, storms and disease this year across the Midwest and we’re doing pretty stinking well.
So, what did we do with the bounty we picked up on Labor Day (above)? Actually, not that much. We stored the squash, ate the tomatoes and basil out of hand and juiced the cucumber. The okra we still have and are hoping to use this week.
And the eggplant, well, the eggplant went into a wonderful eggplant Parmesan that the hubby slaved over. We used Mark Bittman’s recipe, and the hubby loved it. But that’s all I can tell you because, well, I have no photographic evidence.
I took photos with my personal Droid, which I lost this weekend while helping out with the Hawk 100. We’ve searched high and low for it to no avail, which makes me think some goober picked it, wiped it clean and is hoping to sell it, since it’s relatively new.
So, in a word, no pics of the yummy eggplant parm. Very sad, indeed.
This week from Rolling Prairie, we got a true mixed bag of summer/fall treats: More eggplant, melon, basil, garlic, golden potatoes, sweet potatoes. (Notice how different the photos look, this photo was taken with my lovely work-issued iPhone 4).
So, this week I’m not going to do the typical “Here’s what I ate” and one recipe routine. It’s not that I’m feeling lazy after the long weekend, it’s just that we had so many great things with CSA ingredients last week.
Last week’s haul included grapes, basil, tomatoes, peppers, butternut squash, onion and a cucumber.
Lot’s of variety, right? Totally. Lots of possibilities and not enough room in a single blog. So, I’ll describe the week in pictures. Because, honestly, they’re probably more taste bud-satisfying than any words I’d type. If you want specific recipes, shoot me an email at email@example.com and I’ll get them to you ASAP.
So, the second I took that picture of our entire week's haul, a certain little monster stole some grapes so fast he’s a blur.
But he didn’t eat them all, so the next morning the rest went into the blender with strawberries and peaches from Hiawatha that we bought at the Lawrence Farmers’ Market. Smoothie time!
Next, I used some of my tomatoes in a veggie-heavy take on tabbouleh:
... And on a pizza made with the whole-wheat flour we received previously from our CSA. (That’s the kid holding up the peppers and some CSA onions, pre-chopping in the first photo).
The basil and cucumber made it into some more green juice and the squash went in the pantry for later use. All in all, a tasty week, for sure.
This week, we got quite the end-of-summer haul too: eggplant, tomatoes, squash, okra, cucumber, basil and melon.
For all the recipes from this year's CSA season, got to my blog on www.lawrence.com.
When I was in high school, I picked up a vintage Dr. Pepper shirt from some random place (Friend’s closet? Garage sale? The drama department at school?) that said “Soy un Pepper” on it. I was taking high school Spanish and thought it was funny, so I wore it around, even though it was more than threadbare and smelled like a mothball-filled basement no matter how much I washed it.
I have no idea what the heck happened to that shirt beyond probably disintegration, but this week it came back to me in a vision. Why? Because of a sudden influx of peppers. You know how I love peppers, but suddenly we had little room in the crisper for anything else.
How’d we come to get such an awesome collection of peppers? Well, we combined leftovers from our CSA, garden and the Lawrence Farmers’ Market, with some peppers gifted to us from our sweet neighbors, Eric and Tracie. Seems their cupboards and fridge were overflowing too, so they brought us a big old haul:
So, you know what we made, those pepper fajitas/quesadillas, of course.
What’d we do with last week’s veggies?
That’s garlic, butternut squash, cucumbers, potatoes, whole-wheat flour, basil and pears — plus the green juice I made with some of the cucumbers, pears and basil from the CSA. I made that juice a few times last week with our CSA ingredients, stored the potatoes, flour, garlic and squash, and we just ate the rest of the pears outright. Yum!
As for the juice, the recipe is super easy ... if you have a juicer. If you don’t, you could cut everything up and blend it with some water and then strain it.
Garden Green Juice
1 pear or apple (optional)
1 handful basil
1/2 head of celery
1 lemon or lime
Run everything through the juicer!
What’d we get this week? Grapes, basil, tomatoes, peppers, butternut squash, onion and a cucumber. A pic:
I’m kind of sad because I know there are only about 10 more weeks to my CSA. Yes, that’s almost three months, but I’m still in mourning. Good thing I’ve got these beautiful fruits and veggies to cheer me up.
So, those are my fruits and veggies from last week: A melon (intact!), pretty bell peppers, tomatoes, an onion, potatoes and cucumbers.
I wish I could tell you I did something new and fantastic with it this week, but, um, no. It was just a summer week. You know, tomatoes washed and eaten as a work snack, melon inhaled by the kid, potatoes and onions in storage for another round of last week’s potato pancakes.
And the peppers? I thought about making my friend Laurie’s lovely fajitas, but instead fell back into making my very favorite kale salad with the pretty peppers, the CSA cucumber and the tomatoes I didn’t plow through at work.
This week we got: Garlic, butternut squash(!), cucumbers, potatoes, whole-wheat flour, basil and pears, as you can see, below. In the pic, there's also a glass of green juice that I made with one of the cucumbers before I took the pic. (We also had more pears, but the kid tore into those.)
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right?
So, when a certain 2-year-old butterfingers dropped our yellow CSA watermelon this week, we made a smoothie.
Just take a halved small watermelon (above, already prepared, as it stands) and scoop the flesh into a blender, seeds and all. Add a little water (enough to get the blender going) and blend. Once all frothy and juicy, pour into a large glass or mason jar — running it through a metal wire strainer to get rid of the seed gunk — and wallah! Instant smoothie:
So, what else did we do with the beautiful veggies we received from Rolling Prairie last week?
Well, the tomatoes, basil and cucumbers all made it into various forms of salad, while the potatoes went to a dish we’d never tried before from Nancy O’Connor’s fabulous “Rolling Prairie Cookbook.”
It’s kind of amazing we’ve never made this recipe because it seems like we’ve tried nearly everything in this cookbook. (FYI: I won’t treat you to a current pic of the cookbook because it’s got the stains and smells of being VERY well-loved … which is probably slightly disgusting in a cooking blog.) But we did finally try them while having friends over for dinner and they were awesome, even if my photography is not.
Green Onion and Potato Pancakes (From Nancy O’Connor’s “Rolling Prairie Cookbook”)
1 pound potatoes
1 teaspoon olive oil
12 green onions, bulbs and greens, chopped
¼ cup minced parsley
½ cup fresh bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup lowfat sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons oil for frying
Wash potatoes, cut into big chunks, boil, and mash — no need to peel, the skins add nice texture and color to the pancakes. Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add green onions and sauté for 3 minutes, until just tender. Combine potatoes, onions and remaining ingredients, except for frying oil. Stir well. Heat 1 tablespoon of the frying oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop pancake mixture onto hot skillet, approximately 2 heaping tablespoons per pancake. Flatten with a spatula. Fry 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Repeat for rest of mixture. Makes 12 to 14 pancakes.
So, what'd we get this week in our CSA bag? Tomatoes, cucumber, onion, potatoes, baby melon and assorted peppers.
First, I apologize for my opening photo. Not the sexiest food photo known to man, I must admit. BUT, the meal depicted in the photo is absolutely lovely.
That, my friends, is the Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte. Why I say “THE” is because if you’re a follower of the blog you know my love affair with this torte began last year.
I love it for several reasons. Firstly, because it uses two of the summer’s most abundant veggies, whether you find them at the market or are a member of a CSA like Rolling Prairie: summer squash and potatoes. I also have it on our family meal rotation because it’s hearty and goes well with when paired with a salad made of our seasonal, local ingredients and some local or homemade bread. It’s also fabulous reheated, which makes for an easy lunch. Bonus: The hubby/executive chef of the household loves it.
In fact, there’s only two real downsides to the torte:
- It requires a lot of chopping. Not that that’s a problem when your favorite meal is kale salad.
- The recipe is REALLY long. So, if you want to make it, I’ll do what I did last year and send you to the original post.
So, what’d we get this week? Basil, tomatoes, potatoes, honey, peppers and the cutest little yellow watermelon you ever did see:
So, now we’re getting into the spoils of summer. My CSA is churning out great stuff, my garden is hopping, and, unless this 100-degree heat continues to bake everything, August looks even tastier.
Last week at the CSA, we got one huge onion, two cucumbers, kale, yellow squash, new potatoes, blackberries and a HUGE bag of basil (below).
The second I saw that bag of basil I knew I’d have to do some caprese salad (top) with the Cherokee purples I’d just picked that weekend from my garden. Seriously, I know everyone has their own favorite tomato, but I’m not sure how anyone can pick against the Cherokee purple in any category. They’re juicy, plump and pretty with their purple-and-green coloring. ’Nuff said.
That bag of basil was massive, though, so one little salad couldn’t take care of it. So, I knew I’d be making pesto.
Specifically, avocado pesto.
And I'll tell you why. One chef I really love is Chloe Coscarelli. She’s a cute, spunky California girl who happened to win an episode of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” with a vegan cupcake. Yeah, she’s that good. Anyway, Chloe’s food is simple, fresh and tasty and she’s studied nutrition, so she takes health into account. Plus, she’s just delightful and will actually respond to you on Twitter (as long as you’re not creepy and stalkerish) and seems really happy to hear you tried one of her recipes.
So, Chloe’s Avocado Pesto Pasta it would be. With more caprese and a side of kale chips (made in the dehydrator the night before, as to avoid more oven time):
As for the rest of my CSA haul, the potatoes, onion and squash went into storage (I have a plan for them, mwah-haha!) and the blackberries became a really yummy smoothie:
That’s just a tub of blackberries, 2 bananas, 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder, 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder, a 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1-2 cups water blended together.
But the real star of the week was the pesto. Though not very photogenic, as you’ll see in a second, it’s still pretty tasty. Now, I will admit that it lacks a certain kick. Possibly it needs more salt, so make sure to taste-test it and add accordingly (and I’m not really a salt person, so this is really saying something). I added a pinch of salt and a large splash of balsamic to mine to give it a little more flavor. It’s also good with a portion of caprese salad tomatoes dumped on top.
What’d we get this week from Rolling Prairie? Sweet corn, more new potatoes, basil, summer squash, tomatoes.
Avocado Pesto Pasta (Recipe by Chloe Coscarelli, www.chefchloe.com)
1 pound linguine
1 bunch fresh basil, reserve some leaves for garnish
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 avocados, pitted and peeled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes or sliced sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add linguine and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the pesto by combining basil, pine nuts, avocados, lemon juice, garlic, and oil in a food processor. Process until smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Toss pasta with pesto. For an extra touch of color and flavor, top pasta with cherry or sun-dried tomatoes. Divide pasta among serving bowls and garnish each serving with a basil leaf.
Say you want to buy fruits and vegetables for the weekend, and you only have $15. Will your dollar stretch further at the supermarket, or at your local farmers market?
Many people would assume the grocery store would have the cheapest vegetables. It's what Barry Estabrook calls the accepted gospel -- that only "well-heeled food snobs can afford the exorbitant prices charged for those attractively displayed baby greens and heirloom tomatoes at the farmers markets."
But, as Estabrook wrote in the Atlantic recently, a study by a graduate student at Bard College found that when comparing farmers market prices to the grocery store, the farmers market is competitively lower priced for many conventionally grown items. And if you're looking for organic produce, farmers markets beat grocery store prices every time.
The study by Jake Robert Claro was based on the Vermont market for blueberries, cantaloupe, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggs, bell peppers, lettuce, potatoes, peas, string beans, squash and tomatoes. Claro's research team collected price information from 10 farmers markets and 10 conventional grocery stores serving the same Vermont communities in 2010. With the exception of eggs and potatoes, which can be produced much more cheaply in large economies of scale, the non-organic farmers market items were between 10 and 20 percent more expensive.
What's more, organic items at farmers markets were 40 percent cheaper than at the grocery store.
While the study focused on Vermont, Estabrook points out that it supports other similar studies in Iowa and in Seattle.
What's your shopper's experience at the Lawrence Farmers Markets, whether the Saturday market, or the weekday markets on Tuesday and Thursday? It'd be interesting to see if the same holds true here. I sense a job for interns.
See you at the market!
When you go to a grocery store, the same produce trucked in from near and far away is available year-round. But to me part of the experience of eating food is knowing not only where it comes from, but when it will be in season.
At the Lawrence Farmers Market, the seasonal mix of produce is starting to change. What began as early spring greens and radishes gave way to peas, cabbages, beets and tender lettuces. Now that it’s past mid-June, we’re seeing the first new potatoes, zucchini, a few cucumbers and beans.
In addition to the new kinds of produce that you’ll see Saturday at the Lawrence Farmers Market, (location here) there will also be cooking demonstrations by the Feasters. They are vendors who offer hot foods such as omelettes and tacos at the Vermont Street Tuesday market, the Thursday market at 6th and Wakarusa and the Saturday market, too. At 9:00 am they will be cooking up foods using the fresh greens available at the market, and at 10:00 they will demonstrate making omelettes. Stop by their booth if you want some hot tips on cooking with seasonal ingredients at the market.
Last week was a bustling market, with lots of great food, crafted goods, music, and even a juggler who showed up. This week the market will have music by the Anchovy Fishermen in the East Lot, and Jim Krause in the West Lot. Hope to see you there! -Jen
Well, I finally outwitted the strawberry thief and got my hands on some local strawberries! I was able to use Rolling Prairie strawberries not only in my fruity breakfast last week (above), but also in a lunch salad (below) that featured not only CSA strawberries, but also CSA spring mix. There are walnuts, apples, blueberries and honey mustard dressing in there too, by the way.
Besides strawberries, we also got some other yummy things in our weekly CSA bag, including butter lettuce, salad mix, kale, broccoli, snap peas.
And for some reason, all that sang "stir-fry" to me. To see our stir-fry recipe, check out Lawrence.com.
Okay, so I’ll admit it, I usually don’t do the cooking. Gasp! Yes, I’m a food writer, but I’m much more of a baker or a salad maker than a true “cook.”
Rather, the cook’s apron in our household definitely goes to my husband, Justin. He loves to tackle new recipes and even gets excited about the old ones (I’m a rut-type person, and thus, we eat a lot of the same things repeatedly). He especially likes the recipes of Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who has several cookbooks out there, including one I blogged about regularly in this space last year.
So, when we got snap peas and onions in last week’s CSA bag from Rolling Prairie, he decided to try something new. Add a few springs of mint from our garden, and a few pantry items, and he was ready to try his hand at Isa’s version of an Indian food favorite: samosas.
These little dumplings are a staple as an appetizer or a side for those of us who like Indian food. My husband loves them with some chicken tikka masala. But he’s never made them. So, why not try on a Sunday night when he’s got the time?
It all seemed easy enough, until he’d prepped all the ingredients and started reading the directions. You see, this is another wonderful thing about my husband: He jumps in with two feet. The problem is, sometimes he ends up with seaweed in his waders.
This was one of those times. The recipe actually ends up taking awhile, so if you do plan on making it (which you should), start EARLY.
For more on our samosas and to find out how to get the recipe, go to Lawrence.com.
Strawberry season is officially here. Yes, yes, it is, as you can see by the look of determination on my kiddo’s face to eat EVERY LAST STRAWBERRY in the house.
Yes, the second we busted open our Rolling Prairie strawberries last week, the little one decided to eat the whole entire carton in one sitting.
Then, he asked for more.
So, I can’t exactly tell you how the Rolling Prairie strawberries tasted last week, but I can tell you that they’re popular.
I can also say with certainty is that the mushrooms, chard, lettuce and salad mix that we got last week were excellent. I made salads like the ones from last week — greens and various veggies and fruits in sweet and salty combinations.
And, because I had so much chard, I did a lot of lunch and dinner roll-ups. I was out of tahini, so I didn’t make my own hummus like the last time I made roll-ups. Instead, I made use of the yummy (but expensive!) avocados that have been in the stores lately, and did guacamole roll-ups.
For easy guac, all you have to do is take two avocados, a squirt of lime juice and a half a jar of pre-made salsa, mash it all up with a potato masher in a bowl and call it guac. Super easy.
To make the wraps, just spoon guac into de-stemmed chard leaves and roll up. Ta-da! In an effort to try something new, I shot video of the roll-ups here:
So, in this week’s Rolling Prairie bag, we got strawberries, green onions, salad mix, kale and eggs.
I can tell you right now I still don’t know how good those strawberries are. The kiddo had them in his grubby little hands the second I got home.
If you follow me on Twitter you know the following: I LOVE kale.
I eat it constantly. I will praise kale until words fail me. I even have a kale necklace (Thanks, Coleen!).
Despite my love affair, I do understand that many, many people, think that the only attractive bit about kale is its nutritional profile. Yes, it can have a “strong” taste. Yes, it can have a “strong” smell (when cooked). Yes, it is a member of the cabbage family, which I know some folks swear off sight unseen.
But I beg of you to give it a chance. If not for it’s high-quality nutritional profile (100 grams has 50 calories, 1 gram of fat, 308 percent of your vitamin A, 200 percent of your vitamin C, 14 percent of your calcium and 9 percent of your iron), then for the local farmers who grow it so well. Kale grows like a rock star in our climate and the local farmers who contribute to our grocery stores, CSAs and farmers’ markets, do an excellent job with it.
So, last week when I got a bunch of kale from my Rolling Prairie CSA along with a sack of other goodies — homemade pesto, rhubarb, salad greens and onions — I knew I was going to introduce you to my favorite kale salad.
Now, I do like my kale in my green smoothies too, but since I’ve been using spinach for those, that frees up my kale for salad. Yummy, yummy salad.
This salad has all sorts of goodness going on — crisp veggies, sweet dried fruit, protein and good fat from the hemp seed and even more good fat from the avocado. It’s a great balance of salty and sweet, chunky and crispy. I wish I could take credit for it, but again, the credit goes to my friend, Kristen, whose books I love and whose recipes I love even more.
So, I got more than one comment about last week's spinach-berry-banana smoothie. Yeah, it looks a bit weird and swamp-thing-like, but if you try it, you’ll like it. And if you do, maybe you can move onto something like the fella above, which my son drank last week.
Of course, that's not the only way to enjoy greens, though green smoothies sure can be helpful when cleaning out the produce drawer.
For more on how I cooked away my CSA and to find out what I got in my bag this week, click here.
What am I doing? Oh nothing, just trying to cook away my massive CSA haul before it goes bad.
And yes, that includes the above smoothie. (But more on that later.)
Well, we’re through week 1 and I’ll admit that after a year off (and a trip to the Farmers’ Market in which I FORGOT that my CSA started in two days) I kind of had produce coming out of my ears. Whoops.
But, I got rid of it and I did not throw any of it away, so score one for Bye-Bye Bounty. OK, so what’d we have and how’d we use it? My first “early bird” pick up from the Rolling Prairie Farmers’ Alliance was last Monday. We picked up mushroom paté, eggs, red kale, pea shoots, asparagus, spinach and green garlic. That’s a lot of stuff. Especially when one’s fridge is already full.
To see how I used up my CSA share and to see a recipe for that smoothie, go here.
Welcome to this year’s Bye-Bye Bounty blog!
Last year, I updated it weekly on WellCommons with what I got in my CSA bag from Rolling Prairie and how I used the goods. Monday was our first pick up of the year. We signed up for the early bag and, man was it full of goodies.
Here, my lovely and photogenic husband holds up our week one goodies: Spinach, pea shoots, green garlic, asparagus and eggs. We also got some mushroom paté from the kitchen at Wakarusa Valley Farm.
Next week, I’ll update with how we used all the goodies, but I can tell you the hubby already took care of the asparagus and the eggs. He hard-boiled the eggs, sliced them and put them over steamed asparagus with a side of cheesy focaccia from Lawrence Farmers’ Market regular Megan Paisley and Double J Farm.
Pretty good Monday meal, I’d say.
I'll be back next week to tell you what we did with the rest of our goodies and what we got in our second bag.
If you've joined a CSA, how are you managing the produce?
The hardest part of healthy eating isn’t the actual digestion — it’s getting those healthy ingredients into your house.
If you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it.
There’s a way you’ll get your healthy foods and help the local economy with one easy step: join a CSA.
A CSA, or community supported agriculture, is a way to get locally grown produce at a good price while helping to ensure a local farmer’s income. The way it works is that you sign up for a share of a local farm or group of farms. Through that share, you’re basically subscribing to receive fruits and vegetables produced during our prime growing season — roughly May through October — which you’ll get weekly in a pickup location.
The farmer gets a guaranteed customer and you get guaranteed fresh produce into your house at a price that’s generally cheaper than retail.
Lawrence is a hot bed of CSAs, with ones both large and small. Some have multiple pickup days and some have set foods per week. Some let you pick out what you want and some carry unusual items that you won’t normally find at the market or in the store (dewberries, anyone?). And, in addition to produce CSAs, there are also CSAs that provide customers with animal products, such as meat and eggs.
So, pretty much, if you live in and around Lawrence, there’s a CSA for you. All you have to do is sign up and those healthy foods will be on your kitchen counter and ready to eat in no time.
Click here to see our list of CSAs and to learn about our recurring "Bye-Bye Bounty" blog explaining how to use up the produce.
You will find a lot of things at Pendleton’s Country Market east of Lawrence.
There are the greenhouses, the gardens and the “no left turn” maze. Past those, there are the butterfly bio-villa and the pumpkin patch. The only thing more abundant on the farm than vegetables is probably the smiles, whether they are on the kids in the cornbox — a sandbox, but with corn instead — or on those launching gourds across a field with a huge slingshot.
But you won’t find a bigger smile than the one on the face of John Pendleton when he pulls up on his big green tractor, eager to give a hayride tour of all of those features.
Pendleton and his father, Albert, planted their first half-acre of asparagus in 1980. In the 30 years since, John Pendleton and his wife, Karen, have owned and operated the family farm, which is one of the 21 stops on this year’s Kaw Valley Farm Tour. While he couldn’t give an exact number of this weekend’s visitors, Pendleton estimated it to be in the high hundreds. He attributed the success of this year’s tour to the great weather and variety of attractions available across the area.
“I think it’s important to have the community see the face of agriculture ... for people to see what it takes to do production agriculture, to do production horticulture and what it takes to create a living that’s dependent on weather, the markets and everything else,” Pendleton said.
Greg Myer and his family were entertaining themselves on the farm Sunday afternoon, and had made other stops on the tour as well, including at an apple orchard, vineyard and alpaca farm.
“It’s great because this is an industry that is big in Kansas,” said Myer, of Baldwin City. “So it’s great for people to come out and see how it works. They have the production areas, you can go in, you see where the apples and wine is pressed and view all the production equipment. That’s something you don’t get to see every day, and they open it up for you.”
Pendleton said the tour grows every year and this one has been the best yet.
And if you didn’t make it to his stop this year, you can bet he will be on his tractor again next year, ready to show you around.
New festival to promote healthy eating habits among children, raise funds for school garden projects
Our Local Food Fest is set for Oct. 1 at Liberty Hall in downtown Lawrence. It's about growing healthy kids through local foods.
“I think we are at a time where we have to make the right decisions for our kids,” said Dana Hangauer, an organizer. “I think that we’ve sort of created this whole system of food that’s not healthy for us, and I would like to see that turned around.”
To start, she believes it’s important to get youth actively involved in eating healthy.
One example is the “Growing Food, Growing West” garden project at West Junior High School. Students planted a garden this spring, and have maintained it. They have raised more than $3,000 by selling produce and other items at weekly farmers’ markets. Since school started, the students have harvested about 40 pounds of produce each week for use in the cafeteria. They recently began planting fall crops.
“I think it’s awesome. It kind of blows me away actually,” Hangauer said. “That’s where you see the rewards and you see the payoff is when the kids are excited about seeing food come out of the ground. It’s kind of getting back to the basics.”
The six West Junior High School students who were hired to work in the garden will be among guest speakers at Our Local Food Fest.
The event also will feature samplings of local foods prepared by local chefs, informational booths, children’s activities, and the documentary “What’s On Your Plate?” The film is about two 11-year-old girls who explore food politics.
“What I love about it is that it never loses touch with that kids’ perspective,” Hangauer said.
The festival also will promote and kick off that weekend’s Kaw Valley Farm Tour, which gives families a chance to visit 22 area farms and producers, including the WJHS garden project.
“I think it’s another great opportunity to showcase and to build on the momentum that this community has right now to support local foods in general and specifically for our kids,” said Nancy O’Connor, project coordinator for the WJHS garden project.
Our Local Food Fest is being organized by about a dozen residents with Rick Martin, Free State Brewing Company executive chef, leading the effort.
“I want kids to eat healthier through education and school gardens, and to help raise money for school garden projects,” he said.
JOIN THE FUN
Our Local Food Fest promotes begins at 6 p.m. Oct. 1 at Liberty Hall, 644 Mass.
• 6 p.m.-7:15 p.m. — Informational exhibits and local food sampling.
• 7:15 p.m.-7:45 p.m. — Guest speakers, including students with the West Junior High School garden project.
• 7:45 p.m.-9 p.m. — Showing of the documentary “What’s On Your Plate?”
Adult tickets cost $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Starting Sept. 10, advance tickets can be purchased at Liberty Hall, The Community Mercantile, Free State Brewing Company, Pachamamas, Cottin’s Hardware or through ticketmaster.com. Tickets for children, ages 12 and younger, cost $5.
Proceeds will support the Community Mercantile Education Foundation school garden projects.
Back in the late 1970s, Stu Shafer attended an educational institution called The School of Homesteading.
Today, he might as well be the headmaster of The School of Market Farming.
Shafer has taken those homesteading skills and spun them into a life of tending to the land when not tending to students as a professor of sociology and sustainable agriculture at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park.
During the spring, summer and fall, he runs Sandheron Farm in Jefferson County, where producing fruits and vegetables is pretty much a full-time job. During the school year, he teaches food-minded students in classes such as commercial crop production and the sociology of food. When his jobs overlap in the spring and fall, he easily can find himself in the weeds, in more ways than one.
“I’m working pretty long hours, that’s for sure. I’m afraid to actually keep track, but I’d say 80 is a pretty good guess,” he says, laughing.
But that’s all worth it to Shafer, who is committed to teach the next generation how they can have a hand in their own everyday eating and how they can help others eat well in the process.
“Really, the local food demand and movement have grown much faster than, at least in an area like this, than there are producers to provide it,” says Shafer, who has both official students and “students” who learn while they work as employees of his farm. “It’s really satisfying to see some of them go on and be successful at ... building their own farms.”
For more on Stu, check out the rest of the story, here.
It might be hot enough to create a wilted spinach salad on the sidewalk, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to be thinking about planting said spinach for cooler consumption.
Even though the mercury has been hovering around 100 the past few weeks doesn’t mean it isn’t time to start planning, preparing for and possibly planting a vegetable garden for fall harvest. Gardeners can plant almost anything they planted in the spring, from lettuce to beets to carrots to broccoli to, of course, spinach, and eat well from their land, even as the leaves begin to fall.
First, go take a critical, close look at the state of your current vegetable garden, says Jennifer Smith, horticulturist with the Douglas County Extension Office, 2110 Harper St. Smith suggests getting rid of any diseased or insect-infested plants, digging out weeds and adding compost and/or other organic matter.
“If you want to till, then this would be a good time to do that, to loosen it up,” Smith says. “If you’re doing no-till practices, you’d want to dig in some compost or organic matter, get rid of any weeds that might be there.”
Next, figure out exactly what you want to plant and if you want to do it from seed, or wait until local greenhouses have starter plants available in a few weeks, says Tim Berendsen, who works at Howard Pine’s Garden Center, 1320 N. Third St.
“It’s just maybe a week or so too early (to plant),” Berendsen says. “But if you’re growing stuff from seeds, it’s time to start getting your seeds started.”
And if you do go from seeds, be extra-cautious to keep them watered — though the warmer ground temperatures make starting seeds somewhat easier, those seedlings will dry out fast and can get in trouble quick in a particularly strong heat wave, says Patrick Leach, assistant greenhouse manager at Sunrise Garden Center, 1501 Learnard Ave.
“Starting cold crops from seed is much easier in the spring, because it’s cooler. In the summer, you’re going to have to go out there and keep them watered all the time — they’re going to dry out,” Leach says. “And in the summer, the plants do tend to stretch a bit more because it’s hot, so you may not get as uniform plants as you’d like.”
Want to stretch your dollars and space, too? Successively plant them and have greens going through the first heavy frost date, which is generally mid-October, Leach says.
“Let’s say (you are planting ) spinach and lettuce — it usually takes three or four weeks to mature. So, three to four weeks before the average frost date, which is, I think, Oct. 15th or somewhere around there. If you want continuous lettuce, plant them every week and so you have a long harvesting time,” Leach says.
It’s possible to overwinter some crops, says Smith, who suggests keeping those crops warm when the temperature drops with a mulch of straw, prairie hay or chopped leaves. Some of those winter-hardy crops like turnips actually may get a bit sweeter with a frost on them, she says.
Don’t think you’ll be able to deal with a fall crop? Now’s the time to think about seeding a cover crop for the winter — something that will fix nitrogen in the soil and protect it from erosion.
“Absolutely, this is the time to think about a cover crop,” Smith says. “A lot of those things also (should) be seeded about now and into mid- to late September. I really like buckwheat and annual rye grass.”