Got your CSA yet?

There are only a couple of weeks left to order your CSA from Stoney Plains Farm and pick up your lovely box of goodies here at the Tumwater Market every week this summer! They have shares sized for 1-2 people and for families of 3-4. If that sounds like too much, or if you just want to try it out a little before jumping in, I can personally recommend pairing up with a co-worker or neighbor and splitting a share. You can make someone else take the yucky stuff (although you can trade out something you really don’t like, and anyway, I think half the fun of a CSA is trying the new stuff) and trade recipes, advice, and ideas.

Did I hear someone ask “What’s a CSA?” Think of it as a sort of farm subscription. For a payment in the spring, members get a weekly box of the farm’s best produce all summer long. Sometimes the box even includes special treats not available to ordinary customers, or first chance at high-demand add-on items (for instance, when Kirsop Farm first started experimenting with pastured chickens, their CSA members had first crack at them). CSA members end up paying less than the conventional customers, too, and if it turns out to be a bad year for some crop, guess who eats first.

For those of you who like to take the back off and poke at the gears: CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and, technically, means the whole program; but most people use it to mean their share: “We have a CSA” or even “I’m going to pick up my CSA now.” Community Supported Agriculture is a system that lets the community — that’s us — support a local farm by sharing some of the expense and risk of farming. In the conventional system, the farmer pretty much has to get a loan every spring to buy seeds, fertilizer, worker hours, and so on until the harvest is big enough to generate income and let the farmer start paying off that loan, and the interest on that loan. Great deal for the banks, right? In a CSA program, community members cover those expenses and get their interest in edible form. It takes the whole cut-out-the-middleman concept to a delicious new new level!

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Cream of Mushroom Soup

Another recipe from gourmet Kelly, less complex this time. She tells me that despite the milk in it, this soup can be frozen as long as you squish or shake it every 15 minutes while thawing to keep the milk from separating.

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup green onions, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup half & half
1 cup chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste

Cook green onions in butter in a large skillet or stock pot over low heat for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in flour and continue to cook 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat; whisk in chicken broth and half & half. Continue whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil over moderate heat and simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve.

quantities for 34 cups:
3 cups butter
9 cups green onions, chopped
24 cups mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup flour
12 cups half & half
12 cups chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste

Freeze in 2-cup packages; mix frequently while thawing.

Adapted from cdkitchen.com

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Ode to the candied yam

When I was young, candied yams* were a Thanksgiving tradition. After the oldest generation was gone, my father was the only one who would eat the stuff, but it had to be on the table, glistening rust-brown with fungus-white marshmallows. It was reduced to a single yam then, in a 6-inch-square dish which would return to the fridge after dinner with a single corner missing. Jokes about the candied yam — without an “s” at the end — became as traditional as the dish itself. By the time I discovered that yams and sweet potatoes in other forms were actually edible, my father was a decade gone and I was in my forties. Funny how childhood impressions endure.

Ode to the candied yam

Oh singular yam, much reviled,
Vegetable more jest than food,
What ill-lived former life has brought you
To this ignominious doom?
Torn from sun-warmed, sleepy soil
To drown in sugar syruped gloom,
Sacrificed to one man’s craving,
Set among marshmallow blooms.
When at last the baking’s over,
Cut by glutinous silver spoon,
One corner only will be eaten
As noses turn up through the room.
Mashed or fried you’re much admired,
Oh, most ancient, noble root,
But you know, because we tell you,
Sugar spoils a savory fruit.

————-
*Or rather, as I discovered recently, candied orange-fleshed sweet pototoes.