Lemon Cucumber and Cherry Tomato

We start with the lemon cucumber, that golden ball of sweet goodness – round like a lemon – but no tartness or even the bitterness that some other varieties have.  Perfect raw!  A sweet curiosity and not much more as the nutritional value is low…

Some of the freshly picked veggies from my CSA. Perfect for snacking on.

Some of the freshly picked veggies from my CSA. Perfect for snacking on.

Next we move on to the cherry tomato, getting to the meat of this post. Switching things up I avoid the sweet – red in color – picking the tart orange and yellow cousins instead.  Freshly picked is always the best -refrigeration makes tomatoes lose flavor – so I have my daily pit-stop into work at the u-pick fields of the Full Plate CSA*.  My morning-pick-me upper! Pop a cherry and mouth is merry!

Sorry, couldn’t help myself and made it rhyme.

Want to get your five servings of veggies every day?  Just 7 cherry tomaotoes count as 1 serving.  Tomatoes are low in fat, high in fiber and cancer fighting lycopenes. And the tang of the orange/yellow cherry is a perfect substitute for those crisps your hands reach for when hunger pangs hit. I also found a detailed nutritional profile of the tomato if you are interested in finding out more.

Note: A little background on CSA mentioned in my post. The Full Plate Farm Collective is my CSA .  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it is an arrangement where people/community agree to support a farm/s and the farm/s agree to supply the community.  This works out well as it gives a farm the financial support it typically needs upfront to get the harvest, and the consumers/community can get food at a price less than they would pay at a typical grocery store.  While some CSAs get upfront monetary payment, others support other options such as monthly payment plans, or reduced/no monetary payment in exchange for labor.  And there are many CSA types: fruit, veggies, freshly prepared meals, bread (which you can find out about on the Full Plate website)… with more being thought up every day! The CSA model being applied to other local businesses than just the farm, as part of the flourishing cooperative movement.  Indeed it is a great way to support -and be part of – the local sustainable economy!

Broccoli Raab

This week my CSA introduced me to raab.  Broccoli Raab, also known as rapini and broccoletti, is a common veggie in China and Italy.  Its’ many spiked green leaves surround clusters of green buds that resemble small broccoli heads – though no heads ever actually form.  Ironically, raab is not related to broccoli, but shares a relationship with turnips – probably the reason the leaves reminds me of turnip greens.  Nutritionally raab is a good source of vitamins A, C, K, and more.

Munching on broccoli raab raw I get the combination of nutty broccoli (particularly from the clustering buds) and then then pungent/bitter of mustard greens.  (Note, any blooming yellow flowers found among the buds are just as good to eat.)  The mustard is more of an after-taste.  Try it for yourself and see.  Doing a little google searching I see that it is typically used as a cooking green such as at Marquita Farm, but I often will also just snack on them raw.  That is just the way I roll.

Frisee and Kolhrabi – Week 20 of the Full Plate CSA

The Full Plate CSA tries to change things up every week,  offering a different variety of vegetables to choose from.

This week the standouts were frisee and kohlrabi. Frisee or curly endive is often known as chicory in the United States. It is a bitter tasting vegetable with narrow and curly green leaves.  Rich in Vitamins A, K and fiber, it is regularly seen in salads.  Don’t confuse the green frisee with the frisee technique.  The first is a veggie, the latter refers to lightly wilting greens in oil.  But, you could frisee the frisee.

Eaten Kohlrabi? Kohlrabi or knol-khol or cabbage turnip is a common vegetable in German speaking countries, as well as Kashmir and southern India. Fairly mild and sweet, it can be eaten either raw in a salad, or cooked.  I often use it as a collard green or kale substitute.

Kohlrabi is a rich source of dietary fiber and minerals. It also contains health-promoting phytochemicals like asisothiocyanates, sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, minerals, zero cholesterol and negligible fat.  What’s there not to like about this swollen tuber-like veggie?

Week 20: eggplant, beet, potatoes, turnips, carrots, collard greens, kohlrabi and frisee.

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The Freedom Choice: My Summer 2012 CSA

The beauty of okra – a much maligned and under-appreciated veggie. Seeing the beauty of our food and where it comes from excites interest and broadens our food palate.
Three Swallows Farm, U-pick field, Danby, NY.

Interested in just picked fresh local organic veggies bursting with flavor at a reasonable price? Try a CSA.

This summer I signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share with the Full Plate Farm Collective. (Note a photo album of my CSA is available – click on “photo album”.) Now CSAs come in a variety of flavors, but this is how mine works for me.

Every Wednesday I go to Stick & Stone farm to pick up my grocery bag of veggies: a weeks worth of veggies for a family of 4 – 2 adults and 2 kids.  I check out the “Free Choice” and “Limited Quantity”  veggie lists as I need to make sure that if they limit, for example, garlic to 1 clove, or green beans to 1 quart, I don’t take more of those.  Then the exciting part.  I dive right into the open boxes/containers of veggies and help myself to what and how much of what I want – one grocery bag worth.

This way of getting ones weekly veggies is wonderful!  If I am not a fan of spicy greens on the “Free Choice” list and there are field greens listed as well I can just take field greens. If I am traveling that week I can take less. So everything I get is consumed and there is no waste. This “freedom to choose” is what distinguishes Full Plate from the typical CSA arrangement of providing a box of veggies packed for you.  When you get a box what happens if you don’t like or don’t want a veggie given? Tough luck! A couple years back I tried a winter CSA that did the box thing. I wasn’t too happy and decided that this wasn’t for me.

What makes this “Freedom Choice” CSA even better is the upick! At the Stick and Stone and Three Swallow farms there are rows and rows of flowers and veggies that one can pick. I have picked cutting celery, flat leaf Italian parsley, green and purple basil (purple basil is great for Thai), okra,  cilantro, tomatillos, sungold tomatoes (I rarely leave with many of those outside my tummy), heirloom tomatoes and hot peppers (cayenne, Hungarian wax, jalapenos, banana, and Thai), plus flowers to brighten my home daily. I also am looking forward to Roma and big beef tomatoes when I am ready to use them.

I did start out saying a CSA is reasonable. Well, it is great to have better tasting and healthier food, but at what cost? A farm pick up share at Full Plate is $515 for the season, which is about 6 months from June to November, or 26 weeks, weather permitting. That is 20 dollars a week! I do one better splitting my share with a friend and so I get veggies a plenty for 10 dollars a week. Combine the grocery bag and u-pick portions and you won’t get a better deal at any grocery store.

Healthier, better tasting, and cheaper veggies sourced locally! Cheers!  Time for you to try out a CSA too?