Week two: greens mostly

June 16th, 2010

I picked up the share early Saturday morning. A very atmospheric scene with threatening weather and Boulder Creek very high.

  1. A big bag of mixed salad greens.
  2. An equal amount of beautiful spinach.
  3. More killer turnips, very small ones this time.
  4. Radishes! Small and luminously beautiful, they are already gone but were indescribably delicious.
  5. My lagniappe: snap peas. As sweet as candy, only a few made it into a salad – the rest were devoured immediately.

Nothing fancy this week, there is a wedding to contend with! I imagine all of this will end up in salads, but we might have to fob off some of the greens to unsuspecting relatives to avoid waste.

Week one: greens, glorious greens

June 7th, 2010

As is well-known, early season at most Farmer’s markets means greens. And more greens. Black Cat Farms assembles the CSA shares beforehand, but each week there is a little lagniappe, an empty bag to fill with anything that is available.

The first CSA share:

  1. A large bag of beautiful “mesclun,” a diverse mix of various salad greens. Including beautiful edible flowers.
  2. A similar quantity of mixed braising greens.
  3. Non-greens! Killer white turnips.
  4. My lagniappe: arugula.

The four beautiful turnips were clearly doled out to a greens-weary audience, but the greens are quite abundant; it will be a bit of a challenge for 2-3 people to eat it all in a week.

I was happy to pick up the first dozen eggs of the season from Wisdom’s Natural Poultry, and that suggested Oeufs de Meurette for dinner. Perfect with roast turnips. And a big mixed-green salad, of course!

Welcome to bcofresh v2.0

June 5th, 2010

Buy local. Cook one dish. Share recipe.

Looking back, bcofresh was so 2008. “Locavore” and “Slow Food” were new ideas to many, and everyone was reading Michael Pollan and visiting the Farmer’s Market, often for the first time. bcofresh was envisioned as a form of discipline for the writer, a protocol for staying true to local ingredients instead of succombing to far more convenient options. By and large this was successful, and bcofresh did manage to deliver a new ingredient and recipe every week for an entire season.

Now “farm-to-table” is all the rage and carefully curated local food is ubiquitous. Grocery stores increasingly blur the line between local/organic and conventional food, but it still stands to reason that a local farmer is the best source for local food. Farmer’s markets are the obvious source, but Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares are an increasingly popular way to buy local food direct from the farmer. Some advantages to both farmer and consumer are obvious, but many interesting questions about confronting a weekly box of seasonal food are rarely addressed. Is a share a better deal that an equivalent amount of food purchased from the Farmer’s market? Can the food be consumed without waste? Will the bounty in a particular week be diverse enough to please?

bcofresh v2.0 will address these burning questions as it chronicles a weekly CSA share from Black Cat Farm in Boulder, Colorado.

Seasons change. So do I. C’est fini.

November 1st, 2008

The Boulder Farmer’s Market closed today, and with it so does bcofresh, at least for the time being.

There’s a pleasing symmetry, as the first post was made on opening day, 4 April 2008. It said:

“The idea behind this blog is simple: choose a main ingredient from the Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning, decide how to cook a dish with it, and report on the results here. From BCO, fresh, every week.”

For the most part the goal was met, and it’s been an intresting project. Check back in the spring, who knows what might happen next?

Grass fed. The next adventure. I cowpool.

November 1st, 2008

I’ve joined a cowpooling venture: with six others I’m the proud owner of the meat from a grass-fed steer that was raised without antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones, or feed animal byproducts at the foot of the Sangre de Cristos in Southern Colorado. Butchered and wrapped my share is 52 lbs., which looks surprisingly smaller than I expected it to. A lot (25 lbs.) is hamburger and stew meat, but the rest is an interesting selection of familiar and not-so familiar cuts. This exercise in good taste has necessitated the purchase of a small chest freezer that is now also stocked with Wisdom’s chicken and quite a lot of peeled green chiles.

This sounds like a lot of beef, but according to the Humane Society the average American in 2007 consumed 222 lbs. of meat, of which 66 lbs. were beef. This is up from 144 lbs./44 lbs. in 1950, which is both surprising and disturbing.

I did this for both health and sustainability reasons, and my hope is to eat less, but better, meat than before. We shall see, but mindfulness is the first step.

Sources

Oswald Cattle Company

The Penguin. Similar to Pellegrino. Less carbon.

October 28th, 2008

So much has been written about bottled water. The sheer volume of plastic or glass in the landfill. The absurdity of paying a premium for repackaged city water stored in mysterious plastics. Even more unsettling, just consider the carbon footprint involved in transporting a product like San Pellegrino water from Italy to the US. Water is heavy to begin with, add the glass and packaging, float it across the Atlantic then truck it to your local Costco; let’s just admit that there are hidden costs that really should restrain your initial glee at the unbelievable $10 case price.

Nonetheless, I, along with so many others, am addicted to agua con gas.

Strike back with The Penguin. This device makes carbonated water at home on a reasonable scale and at a very low cost. With filtered water (Brita or ilk) and the glass carafes most of the obvious health issues are covered, the price is right, and the end result delicious.

Chile #2. My green chile. With heresy.

October 19th, 2008

With last week’s bounty in hand here’s my recipe for green chile. It’s a sort of New Orleans take on the classic, and doubtless would be viewed with some suspicion by Southwestern traditionalists. I start with a roux, a red-brown roux to be exact, and keep the spicing simple in order to highlight the perfect flavor of those Hatch mediums. Of course you can use any other chile pepper, but at your peril.

Green Chile

  1. 2 Tb oil
  2. 2 Tb flour
  3. 1 cup (about 8 oz by weight) Hatch medium chiles
  4. 1 clove garlic, minced
  5. 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  6. 1 cup light chicken stock + 1 cup water
  7. 1/4 tsp cumin
  8. 1/4 tsp oregano
  9. salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot on medium-hgh flame. Slowly add flour when hot, stirring constantly. The roux will turn smooth and start to color. You are aiming for a color a little lighter than peanut butter – watch carefully and toss in onion at this point to slow cooking. Turn down heat, add garlic, and cook for a minute more. Add the chiles and stock and stir well. Season initially then simmer for about 20 minutes, reducing only slightly. Correct seasonings. Serve with beans, eggs, tortillas, fried potatoes, etc.

A true Southerner would add a dash of Tabasco, but that is only because a true Southerner adds a dash of Tabasco to everything.

Add Heresy

Purists shudder, but this is really good with about a cup of tomato added. If you are feeling lazy use a can of Rotels, but be sure to peel and seed fresh tomatoes. Simmer a few minutes more, and use as above.

Sources

Hilltop Gardens, by way of my freezer

Fall signs. Last Hatch chiles. Freeze ‘em!

October 12th, 2008

Green chile is a fall tradition, there’s still time to hit the road looking for chile stands. In the Denver area try Federal Blvd, about anywhere from Thornton south, just follow your nose. The less adventurous can consult Denver Green Chili, a great listing of chile stands in the Denver metro area. I’ve always been partial to Hatch Medium chiles, so I was happy to pick up one of the last half bushels of the season from Hilltop Gardens at Federal & 96th.

After selection, the chiles were roasted on the spot then sealed in a plastic bag. Chilies are generally peeled before use, about 30 minutes steaming in the bag leaves them in optimum peeling condition.  Apparently some purists freeze without peeling, but I prefer to get the hard work out of the way by peeling and portioning the harvest up front. As in all things, your mileage may vary, but it certainly saves time later.

Peeling a half bushel is nothing to an aficionado, but it’s a daunting task if you do it only once or twice a year. I recommend using a sharp knife to scrape off the charred skin, then cut off the stem end but leave the chile whole. Chiles freeze well in any size Ziploc bag, but for maximum flexibility I put about half in 8 oz. portions in quart bags and the remaining half with 4 oz. portions in sandwich-sized bags. For best results use freezer bags and squeeze out any excess air before sealing.

Sources

Hilltop Gardens

Got eggplant? NYT to rescue. Turkish-style.

October 11th, 2008

I clipped an interesting recipe from the NYT a few weeks ago: Pasta with Turkish-Style Lamb, Eggplant, and Yogurt Sauce, and as luck would have it Red Wagon Organic Farm brought irresistable japanese eggplants to market. The recipe called for greek yogurt; hmmm, there’s ground lamb in the freezer and a new tub of Fage 0% – let’s cook. I executed the recipe with a few riffs that reduced the brown butter sauce and incorporated a little more yogurt, the results were outstanding. Aleppo pepper is worth seeking out – Penzeys carries it and describes it as “an ancho-like flavor with a little more heat and tartness.” Perfect here, and at home wherever you would use classic red pepper flakes.

Sources

Red Wagon Organic Farm

Top Chef. Boulder chefs compete. Good luck.

October 5th, 2008

Boulder chefs Hosea Rosenberg (executive chef, Jax) and Melissa Harrison (sou chef, Centro) will compete against 17 hopefuls on the 5th season of Top Chef. This show is a guilty pleasure, and once again it looks like the talent is deep enough to make up for the silly challenges and bombastic hosting. It’s worth noting that both chefs are part of Dave Query’s empire, good luck to them.

Read more in this Daily Camera article.