Friday, June 12, 2009

Accepting the "Cooking Away My CSA" Challenge

Heather Lalley from The Flour Girl blog started an interesting idea. She posed a "Cooking Away My CSA" challenge to all bloggers who participate in a CSA and are willing to share recipes of their creations with the rest of the world on a weekly basis. I think I can handle that.

If you aren't familiar with the acronym, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Most of these programs work as some kind of subscription service where you pay a local grower a fee to receive a weekly package of fresh, in-season fruits and veggies. The site has a great overview of how these programs work.

Our local grower and supplier of our CSA is Greentree Naturals. There's something special about getting food from someone you know. Everybody wins, and you actually know the names of the winners. Diane and Thom are not only expert organic growers with over 20 years of experience, they have become good friends to my wife Susan and me as well.

The successes we've had with our garden are due in no small part to Diane and Thom's guidance. When we needed a greenhouse to extend our very limited season for our tomatoes and other tender plants, we attended a hoop house workshop at Greentree. The hoop house we built as a result of that program has been with us for almost ten years now and serves us well every year. Susan often buys our starter plants from Diane at the beginning of the season, and receives great advice on how to manage pests and other problems using organic methods.

Even though we grow our own garden, we get the CSA because there are certain things we just can't seem to grow well. The Greentree Naturals farm gets a LOT more sun than our garden does, so they are able to grow things that require a longer season.

To give you an example of what a CSA entails, our most recent CSA package contained the following:

  • Over-wintered carrots
  • Rhubarb
  • Fresh herbs (spearmint, Mexican oregano, & chive flowers)
  • Leeks
  • Scallions
  • Salad greens (seven kinds of leaf lettuce)
  • Celtic Sea Salt (proprietary blend of herbs and sea salt)
  • The CSA newsletter with news, a recipe or two, and a bit of lore.

We usually just incorporate the CSA items into various meals during the week, but we make some meals that showcase a particular item, and those are what I'll try to share during the Challenge.

Last night I made a tempeh dish and used up the carrots, leeks, scallions, and some of the herbs. I added a yellow pepper and some celery we had around. It wasn't much in terms of a recipe. It was just a "chop and steam" event with some olive oil and a sprinkle of Braggs Aminos for the sauce. I served the tempeh mixture over thin spaghetti that was tossed with margarine, sour cream, and dill weed.

The recipe I'm going to provide for the challenge is actually one my wife Susan's efforts. The Greentree newsletter included a recipe for rhubarb bread that sounded pretty tasty, so she "veganized" it and expanded on it a bit. Here's the modified recipe…

Vegan Rhubarb Bread

This vegan rhubarb bread recipe produces a deliciously tangy quick bread with a sweet and crunchy coffee-cake-style topping.

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup soy milk
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp egg replacer (or corn starch)
  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 tbsp margarine
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F).
  • Coat the bottoms of two 8x4 loaf pans with oil.
  • In a measuring cup, combine the soy milk, lemon juice, and egg replacer. Stir and let sit to curdle (about 5 minutes).
  • In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, milk mixture, and all remaining dough ingredients. Pour into loaf pans.
  • For the topping, mix the flour and brown sugar in a small bowl. Use a pastry cutter to chop the margarine into the mix. Sprinkle the topping onto the loaves, and bake for one hour.

Want more recipes?

If you are interested in seeing more vegan recipes, you might like our web site, which as the name suggests, has many free vegan recipes.

Susan and I have also co-authored a book of easy-to-make vegan recipes called Vegan Success: Scrumptious, Healthy Vegan Recipes for Busy People. The book focuses on fast, simple recipes for people who are new to vegan cooking or are just short on time for meal preparation.

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