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March 4, 2011

CSA bounty: Help a newbie out


Hey, folks. It's SarahKK, your friendly area food editor, commandeering the blog for a bit. We've been talking on and off about starting a recipe blog, but it hasn't yet come to pass. So for now, we are doing occasional guest posts here with recipes. So, hi!

I'm a newbie to the whole CSA (that's Community-Supported Agriculture) situation and looking for some suggestions. My house is signed up for one with an early-bird program (in which it trades with some farms up and down the East Coast for some out-of-area items and includes some from cold storage), and we picked up our first share last night.

My husband and son came home with: 1 head of garlic, 3 pounds of potatoes, 1 pound of spinach, 2 pounds of the biggest carrots I've ever seen (each carrot is a pound), 4 pounds of apples, 3 red grapefruit, 3 oranges, 1 butternut squash, 1 dozen eggs, 1 loaf of challah, and a bag of mushrooms.


I'm solo parenting this weekend (without my husband, who does most of the cooking), so it's up to me to figure out how to use this stuff.

I poked around for some recipes yesterday. Here are some of my ideas:

(Yes, I ended up finding a lot of inspiration in this photo gallery of recipes from Eating Well.) But I am definitely open to suggestions. If you have recipes or preservation ideas, I am all ears. I'll report back next week on what I made, what worked, and what didn't.

For the record, we're signed up with Breezy Willow Farm in Howard. This Howard County Times story has details on a bunch of other CSAs in Howard, and we're compiling more information on area farms and programs now, as well. We'll get that posted soon.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sarah Kickler Kelber at 12:52 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: CSA, Living in the CSA, Recipes


This all looks great. now I really, really want to join a CSA. Way too much for one single gal about town to handle?

I'd start with large quantities of garlic mashed potatoes! I like butternut squash halved, baked facedown at 350 with about 1/2" water, and then the cavity filled with a pat of butter, some maple syrup and sesame seeds. spinach, apples, grapefruit, oranges need no adornment. The challah & eggs make fantastic french toast, and those carrots would become a carrot cake in my house.

The squash, potatoes and carrots will keep the longest so use them last. The spinach and mushrooms might go first, so cook with them this weekend.

If you don't already, save all your peels, ends and other veggie bits in a gallon ziploc bag in the freezer. When the bag is full, throw it all into the crockpot with some peppercorns and herbs to make fat free vegetable stock.

We operate an organic CSA in Maryland and have lots of experience with newbies.

1. Each week, prioritize storage ability. Spinach you can saute with onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook a large batch and add to a chicken wrap, put it on an open faced sandwich (baguette) or scrambled eggs.

2. Last night we had a wonderful dish of butternut squash, apples and chopped pecans, drizzled with maple syrup and roasted.

You can check out our website and look under blogs and Homestead Hoopla to see many recipes for our CSA:


I've participated in a CSA for two years (half-share, since it's just me). I try to prep everything for freezing and using later -- brush the squash with olive oil and roast until fork-tender, then freeze (good blended into soup later); you could juice the citrus and freeze the juice; even the bread could be frozen -- challah's good for French toast later. You could make a spinach and 'shroom frittata with the eggs (which could then be frozen). As already stated, the carrots, potatoes and apples will keep for awhile if you store them correctly. I've made huge batches of apple sauce in the past (and, of course, frozen it!).

Hmm, poach the grapefruit for a dessert (I'm sure there are recipes online). Before cutting into any of the citrus, zest them and freeze the zest for baking later on. The zest and the juice are great in scones, or added to confectioners sugar for a glaze. Or add the juices to marinades or to make salad dressing.

I like to saute mushrooms, then make a white sauce gravy, add the mushrooms and any spices you like, and serve over biscuits, toast, burgers, veggie burgers, eggs, whatever.

Slice and freeze the challah for french toast, or bread budding. Mash the potatoes, use the leftovers for shepherd's pie.

Now I can't wait for market season to be in full swing!

Makes me wish I could cook!

Good for you, SKK! My one caveat is to be very careful cutting up that butternut squash. One of my friends ending up driving herself to the ER after her knife slipped and cut her hand. I buy my squash pre-cut now, and we like to roast it in the oven with a bit of olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and some chopped fresh rosemary.

Lots of good recipes for carrot soups. I am partial to one with fresh ginger.

Stephanie, of course you can cook if you can read a recipe!

Baltimanda, most of the CSA have half shares, and you can also find a friend to go in with. I've found that a half share is just about right for me (cooking mostly for one and sometimes for two).
Also, some CSAs choose the produce for you, while others let you choose. If you do one that lets you choose, it's easier to use it up since you don't get anything you don't want. On weeks you know you won't be doing a lot of cooking you just load up on the stuff that keeps better.

One word: Juicer. When my wife and I get overwhelmend with greens, especially early in the season (who knew there are so many different kinds of kale?) we throw excess or wilting greens in a jucer. I wouldn't put garlic or potatoes in there, but pretty much anything else works well and it only takes a little bit of apple or some carrots for sweetness and/or citrus for tang.

Thanks for all the tips, everyone!

I cooked all weekend like it was my part-time job and we still have tons of food leftover. I'll have a report soon (with recipes!).

Dahlink, I used my husband's tip for butternut squash: Roast it skin on (350 degrees, about an hour, sitting on a cookie sheet). Then the skin will mostly peel right off. (Also, I live across the street from the hospital if it comes to that. But hopefully it won't.)

Oh, and mobtown, we have a juicer, actually, but haven't used it in ages. Maybe it's time to drag it out again ...

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About this blog

You are reading the archives. For updated blog posts about the Maryland food scene, see Richard Gorelick's new Baltimore Diner blog.
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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