Garden and CSA update: June 2017

It’s an exciting time in Minnesota, as the days have gotten longer (and now shorter again already) and things are in bloom. That includes our garden and now our CSA!

CSA week 1 2017 | Kale and Ale

CSA 2017 Week 1

Regarding the CSA, week one started. Although it’s small, I know the amount of food will grow soon, and I’m excited for nice greens and radishes. Next week peas will be added to the mix. I probably say this every year, but I just love when I don’t need to rely on the grocery store for all my produce, but can get most or soon all of it from the farm. It also makes menu planning so less stressful, as I have food given to me and I have to use it in the next week.

Related: Garden and CSA 101-Getting Started

June 2017 garden | Kale and Ale

June 2017 garden growing update

A few weeks ago we got hail, and the garden took a little bit of a beating but, except for the broccoli, it’s doing OK now. Broccoli was our “new to us this year” food we are growing, so we have no idea what to expect, which is a bit of a risk and part of the fun. (If you have any hot broccoli growing tips, send them my way!) Otherwise, carrots are starting to come up, a few tomatoes and peppers are beginning to show and the chives are growing as strong as ever. I highly recommend them!

What are you growing this year, and how’s it going? Let me know in the comments below.

FOLLOW ALONG: To see how my garden is doing and what I’m getting in my CSA, be sure to follow Kale and Ale on Instagram and Facebook.

Friday Links

There are lots of good reads this week! What have you been reading? Since there’s a lot to cover, let’s dive right in.

With a name like “Farm to Fable,” you know it can’t be good. Spoiler: It’s pretty appalling, and sometimes scary, what restaurants are doing, serving and saying about the food they serve. It’s a long, engrossing read by the Tampa Bay Times worth your time if you care about food or integrity.

To counter this, imagine a sustainable home garden. A guide on Active shows you how to get started with a garden in your yard. Talk about my happy place; how amazing would that be?

RELATED: Tips for planning and growing your garden and what to expect when joining a community supported agriculture (CSA) program

The Washington Post has this food video satirizing a genre of lazy social media shares: The quick food video. As the article points out, it’s high on processed food and light on technical details. I see these ALL. THE. TIME. and wonder how many people actually make what they are sharing on social media?!? What is your stance on this, I would really love to hear in the comments. Watch the mock video below.

 

Grilled cheese tips | Kale and Ale

National Grilled Cheese Day was this week, and my guest blogger and boyfriend Aaron shares tips and tricks for the perfect grilled cheese. Um, yum. Trust me, these are no-fail, dressed-to-impress tips. Did you celebrate the special day? If so, how?

Thug Kitchen Party Grub review | Kale and Ale

And this week I posted my first cookbook review, Thug Kitchen’s Party Grub. Check it out and find a recipe from the book. Be sure to sign up for my e-newsletter, the next cookbook review also features a giveaway!

Friday links

Hello, wonderful friends. Has this week been as much a struggle for you as it has for me? Living so far north, the time change means it’s dark when I wake up, making it much more difficult to get moving. Here’s hoping next week is easier!

via GIPHY

 

Beyond Vegetarian: More specific labels like “climatarian” and “reducetarian” can help people stick to their food choices by making them feel like part of a community. This is a really great article, as I am so often asked if I eat fish, chicken, etc. My answer (in my head) is always “no, I’m a vegetarain.” I believe the specific labels both explain ones diet and often the reason why they have that diet. What do you think of this often hot-button issue?

For my runner friends: 8 ridiculous things people say to runners. Question: How many of these have you heard? Answer: Too many!

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Are you thinking of planting a garden or joining a community supported agriculture program for the first time this year? If so, be sure to check out my guide on CSA and garden planning and steps.

No-bake peanut butter chocolate cookie | Kale and Ale

No-bake peanut butter chocolate cookie

If you are looking for an easy vegan and gluten free dessert, make this: No-bake peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. I made them for a work lunch yesterday and they were easy to  make and crazy tasty.

Have you signed up? I am starting a newsletter, sure to be the easiest way to stay updated on new Kale and Ale blog posts and happenings. With a few fun things planned for the spring, now is the time to get on the list and make sure you don’t miss anything! Sign up here.

Produce Preservation Tips

How to preserve produce | KaleAndAle.comYou have a lot of produce one way or another. It could be that all the tomatoes in your garden got ripe at once, corn was a crazy good deal and at its peak at the farmer’s market, or zucchini was in season this week in your CSA. No matter the reason, you just can’t eat it all and want to preserve it.

No matter how many times a coworker brings in food from a home garden or tree, or whatever is the “it” food of the week at the CSA, I pride myself on not being wasteful, and extending the produce of the season into the off season.

I know others have these same issues, and I’ve been so crazy busy the past week preserving food and know I will be as we sprint toward the first frost here in the Twin Cities, that I wanted to share my tips with you, and I want to hear your tips on how to preserve food.

My favorite ways to preserve food include:

Canning

I tried this for the first time last week. Not going to lie, it was a lot of work but the early tastes are delicious and it was fun to make and see the science of it. I got a lot of tips and recipes from the Ball jar website.

I will have salsa for a very long time to come. Someone who cans suggested tomato sauce and I love that idea because I will know what’s going in it and it can be canned in one- or two-meal can sizes, as I just don’t go through a jar from the store quickly.

Canning salsa | KaleAndAle.com

Canning salsa verde

Freezing

This has long been my go-to method. Freezing is easy and quick, and you have food stocked in your fridge for the off-season. It’s important to note that food that has been frozen won’t have the same texture or consistency once it’s defrosted, but what you freeze will be great in smoothies, soups, casseroles, things of that nature. And think come a cold winter day how great it will be to have food in your freezer you don’t need to buy that is home-grown!

In the photo below I have a vegan squash soup that I froze because it made a lot. If you aren’t sure how something already made will work in the freezer and through being defrosted, put one serving in the freezer and try it out to know for next time. Also, when freezing some foods need to be blanched, and use the right items to freeze it (freezer bags, tin foil to prevent frostbite, etc.). I like to label and date things so I quickly know what it is and how long it’s been in there.

Read more on the USDA freezing and food safety website.

Freeze produce | KaleAndAle.com

Freezing broth, veggies and soup

Quick pickle

Simply put, prepare what you want to pickle, put it in an airtight jar, and put vinegar and flavors over it. It’s a great way to add flavor and preserve something you can’t eat quick enough but want to enjoy. I especially like to quick pickle cucumbers, green beans and beets. I eat them straight, and on salads and sandwiches. I’ve made this flavorful beet recipe a few times. See the Serious Eats guide to quick pickling to get started.

Dehydrate

A dehydrator is large and can be a big initial investment, but if you have a lot of food to preserve or like the taste of dehydrated foods, it’s worth it. Dehydrated foods have so many uses, from fruit as quick, sweet snacks to raw crackers and granola to veggies so they don’t take up as much space or spoil before they are added to soups later. Read my post here about what I bought when I got a dehydrator.

Make broth

As noted on the left in the freezer picture is cubes of broth. Homemade broth is great because you know what’s (not) in it and you can use all the scraps from carrots, onions, potatoes and other veggies (and meat if you eat it) for the broth. So to me that’s win-win! And I love putting it in ice cube trays because I know how much broth they hold, so when a recipes calls for a certain amount I grab the right number of cubes. Read how I make my own broth here.

Give away

Gain favor of family, friends and coworkers in the easiest way: Give them extras of food you already have! This is a tried and true method, and at my last job it was very common and the best way to make new best friends.

What is your solution when you have too much produce?

Seasonal Produce: Cooking and Eating Now

So much great and bountiful produce has been in my kitchen from my garden, CSA, markets and other peoples gardens. I have been in my happy place making so much great food. Sadly I haven’t been developing new recipes with all this great food, but it’s so hard to justify being in the kitchen when warm weather is in short supply here in Minnesota and I know our days are numbered.

That hardly means I haven’t been making and eating great food! It’s been the opposite, in fact, so I’ve compiled the season-appropriate recipes for others, like me, who are looking for something new and quick to add to a recipe list when produce is bountiful. Because I want this to be a link-sharing post for all to benefit, please let everyone know your current favorite seasonal recipe in the comments.

I have the best problem possible: too much produce. To take care of that, I’ve been more aggressive in my freezing and am in the stages of canning for the first time. I can’t wait to enjoy the summer bounty this winter!

Late Summer/Early Fall Recipes

What follows is the types of food I’ve been making and recipes I’ve used.

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Corn salad/slaw: I threw this together for Taco Tuesday as a way to use a bunch at once and give the tacos some crunch like many taco trucks do. It consists of corn, beets, turnips, onion, lime and salt.

Zucchini spaghetti: Once I learned how to use the julienne attachment on my mandoline, it was over. The best way to have gluten-free pasta, I threw in some garden tomatoes, herbs and chickpeas for protein.

Eggplant balls: These things are quick and easy to make, and so tasty. Finally a way to not mess up making eggplant at home!

Salsa verde: As I said, I’ve been canning, and this is no exception. I have two tomatillo plants in the garden, so green salsa is a must. I’ve been using the Thug Kitchen recipe, but here’s a similar recipe if for some reason you don’t own this amazing cookbook.

Spaghetti squash “lasagna”: Another gluten-free recipe (using squash and zucchini as pasta is my fave, light and yummy!). For this one I prepared the spaghetti squash as you would, then layered the strands with sliced tomatoes and diced peppers and onions and mozzarella and repeated again, then baked it until heated through and cheese on the top was browned.

Please share with us in the comments what seasonal dishes you have been making.

To see more of what I’ve been getting from the farm, growing and making, follow me on Instagram and “like” the Kale and Ale Facebook page.