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.

Summer 2011 CSA: Week 1

After 10 months of a CSA subscription, we had a two month break. I’m lucky enough to live somewhere that has access to produce year-round and can have a locavore diet, but it’s been a long two months.

Our first week back we didn’t get much variety, but we still got a good share. We got a nice bag of spicy arugula and what I think is watercress, three butternut squash, about eight yellow squash and a big bag of black eyed peas.

With the recent heat, I wanted to display the fresh ingredients in an easy, light, cool way.

Gazpacho with pesto and ricotta toast

I made a cold gazpacho soup, something I’ve never made but have wanted to try. I put in only half a cucumber (it’s all I had) and replaced the difference with yellow squash. Eating it cold with all the vegetables together really brought out their flavor. It was more like a fresh salsa or salad as a meal. (Maybe this was because I think I chopped the veggies too much in the blender. But it still tasted great, and I’ll remember a lighter touch for next time.)

Paired with toasted bread topped with homemade ricotta and arugula and watercress pesto, it was a light summer recipe featuring great seasonal ingredients. It was one of those meals I kept thinking about long after I was finished, which is always a good sign.



  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 6 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 large red sweet pepper, seed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped, seeded jalapeno, or to taste
  • 6 tablespoons fresh herb (either coriander, dill, chervil, parsley or basil work); coarsely chop
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled seeded and cubed cucumbers


  1. Blanch tomatoes in large pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain in a colander. Cool under cold running water. Peel tomatoes. Halve tomatoes crosswise. Working over small bowl, squeeze gently to extract seeds. Discard seeds. (If tomatoes are not flavorful, use either plum tomatoes or good quality canned tomatoes. Italian canned tomatoes are usually flavorful.)
  2. Combine all ingredients except 2 tablespoons of the herb in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to a coarse texture. Transfer to a bowl and taste. Sprinkle remaining herbs over each serving.

Seeing greens

Swiss chard

One of the many reasons I joined a CSA was to eat a larger variety of food. Right away I got my wish in the form of greens.

Growing up, I had stuck to lettuce and raw spinach. Since joining my CSA last year, I’ve been lucky enough to have regular servings of kale, mustard greens, arugula, beet greens and Swiss chard. I’ve learned many ways to prepare it and have looked forward to having the variety in my diet, even requesting extra for a quick side or an awesome addition to salads.

I would even tell Bill “we are getting this or that green” and he would always say, “order extra.” I’m thankful to have a husband who is an adventurous and willing eater.

When I found quinoa and chard cakes from one of my favorite resources, the New York Times Recipes for Health series, I had to make them. And when I saw the chard and potato cake in an email, I knew I would love it. It had all my faves: potato, cheese, skillet meal! Amazing.

Swiss chard and potato cake

Swiss chard and potato cake

Serves eight as a side


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, thick stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup grated Jarlsberg or Gruyere cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat butter and oil in a seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Spread onions evenly in the bottom of the skillet and remove skillet from heat.
  2. Arrange a third of the potatoes in a single layer on top of the onions in the bottom of the skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, top with a third of the chard and scatter a third of the cheese over the top. Repeat two more times.
  3. Cover skillet tightly with a lightly oiled piece of aluminum foil and bake until potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about 1 1/4 hours. Gently remove foil then return skillet to the oven and bake until cheese is bubbling and browned on top, about 15 minutes more. Let cool, slice and serve.

What is your favorite green? How do you prepare it?