Friday, May 30, 2014

western PA CSA roundup

I'm a little late to the party when it comes to talking about CSAs in western PA for this season, especially considering that we've been getting our share now for 7 weeks. But I'm feeling late to the party on a lot of homesteading stuff this season, considering my schedule and life outside of the home. Better late than never, right?

If you've found this blog because of my CSA posts, you might be interested in the idea but haven't made the leap yet. If you're still on the fence, check out this post on why you should make that leap

If you're ready, but haven't actually signed up yet, the most comprehensive resource for CSAs in western PA is probably Edible Allegheny's 2014 CSA Guide (co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture).

But I want to list out a few that we subscribe to now, in the past or might in the future - the ones I follow more closely and on social media. These farms and co-ops often share a wealth of information on produce and farming practices, as well as special events or programs in the area - even recipes! Many of them still have sign-ups available, so check their sites and social media for more details as well as pick-up locations.

Penn's Corner Farm Alliance

  • Various CSA options (watch Thursday Next Gen House posts this season for what we've received so far)
  • Online farm stand (if you want CSA items without the commitment of a share), including meat, eggs and dairy
  • Combination of organic, certified naturally grown and natural/sustainable 
  • Facebook 
  • Twitter: @pennscorner

  • Various CSA options, including meat shares (see Next Gen House posts tagged CSA and meat for details on what we received last year)
  • All USDA-certified organic
  • Facebook
  • Twitter: @ClarRvrOrganics

  • Various CSA options, all USDA-certified organic
  • Farmer's Market CSA option, with the ability to purchase credits for the farmer's market
  • Twitter: @edibleearthfarm
  • Facebook
  • Instagram: @edibleearthfarm

  • Various CSA options, all USDA-certified organic
  • Agriculture Supported Community program for low-income families

  • Unique partnership with Bocktown Beer and Grill restaurants
  • Various CSA options, all USDA-certified organic (definitely sold out for 2014, but keep them on your list)
  • Facebook
  • Twitter: @conoverfarm

If you have more to add to the list that you have experience with, please leave a comment - I'm always excited to learn about new ones!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Real Life CSA: week 7

Standard favorites this week, plus an item that keeps on giving.

First of all, forgive the terrible photo of the goodies this week. The plastic bags don't do anything to show off their beauty, and neither does all the crap in the background. It's been one of those weeks where the commute, job and weather have conspired to give me nearly zero time to do anything extra, including styling vegetables. But what's more real life CSA than this? 

Apple cider will likely be frozen, since we are still working on our last one. I've found it works really well in my granola recipe (which I'm always mentioning because it's such a great, easy breakfast fix). 

The lettuce will be our salad base this week, and the green onions will be one component of them as well. I find these green onions have the most wonderful taste compared to the ones you can get in the grocery store. They aren't bitter and they are more "oniony." In this case, it's particularly true that locally grown produce tastes better.

The last time we had feta cheese, Mark made a homemade white pizza that was probably the best he had ever made. (And he makes GREAT pizza.) So I might potentially request that he repeat the magic with this goat feta.

As for the kale, probably kale chips. I recently made a few green smoothies, and while I mildly enjoyed the one I made with spinach, avocado and fruit, the one I made with kale tasted like a clod of mud. I really do like kale, so it felt like a waste to put it in a smoothie where it isn't going to shine. So I will probably stick to perfecting spinach smoothies when I want one, and leave the kale for other preparations.

Last but not least, the seedling. I'll get into this more next week, but this seedling will come in quite handy. We're purchasing many more like it from Penn's Corner's Farm Stand this coming week after our own seedlings succumbed to our own newbie mistakes and the freakish weather around here lately. Look for a full post on what NOT to do when you start your own seedlings next week. When hopefully I will not be a resident of Crazy Town anymore. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Real Life CSA: week 6

In this week's share, we have the appearance of one of my favorite obscure vegetables, plus the return of one of my favorite items of all time (that I almost ate in the car on the way home).

We always eat up potatoes as a side dish at some point in the week. Last week, I roasted them with oregano, thyme, paprika, garlic powder and salt and they were quite delicious. The romaine lettuce will go in salads, and most likely so will the green onions. It's hard to tell since I didn't remove the bags on the items this week, but these green onions are really vibrant and long. I might make some spicy kale chips this week too - it's been awhile since I made them.

I have a slight addiction to this honey puffed corn from Clarion River. It typically doesn't last long in the house, so it's likely gone by the time you're reading this. 

Fiddleheads are fern tips - a delicious treat that you don't find everywhere. I've had them at restaurants a few time, but have never cooked them myself. Another benefit to sourcing produce from a CSA? They tell you when there are particular things you should know about a vegetable - like the fact that fiddleheads need to be fully cooked so as to avoid stomach distress. I recall seeing fiddleheads a few times in the grocery store for sale, and nowhere did they mention this fact in the display. 

We're soaking up the rhubarb while it lasts. Mark took last week's batch and made homemade frozen yogurt with it. Not sure what we'll do this week, but perhaps my dream of a tart will come true.

I also have to mention that after last week's debacle with ruining the ramps, I was able to redeem myself with my second batch. At the suggestion of an Instagram follower (yes, Instagram is good for more than just showing photos of your cats or your plate), I found a recipe for ramp pesto. And it was amazing. (I used this recipe from Food 52.)

First, you clean the ramps. The recipe suggests you can blanch the leaves, but I didn't bother.

I toasted the walnuts on the stove, and combined them in the food processor with the ramps.

Add a good deal of Parmigiano-Reggiano to the mix.

Blend the living crap out of it in the food processor, adding olive oil slowly through the feed tube. And then you get this loveliness, which we spread on top of garlic bread and ate as a side to our vegetarian bolognese pasta dinner.

I usually eat pestos pretty sparingly because I'm not a huge fan of basil - I only like it in moderation. But I think I need to be open to more pestos, because this was fantastic. And I could breathe a sigh of relief because I didn't ruin our last ramps. Hooray!

What are you enjoying from your CSA this week?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

5 reasons to go local

I have this t-shirt that says "Buy Local" on the back. You hear and see that phrase a lot now. Small businesses use it, and so do businesses like Wal-mart and Whole Foods, which hype their willingness to carry foods from local providers. But if everyone's using it, what does it mean? And has it become a useless marketing term?

"Local" isn't defined in any official capacity by the government or some other body. And it can't really be defined by state lines, since where we live in Pittsburgh, we're closer to Ohio and West Virginia than our state capital. It's also hard to define it by miles - do you count a day's drive as local or a certain number of miles from your home? I've seen products labeled as "local" in grocery stores where a quick google reveals that I'd have to drive 8 hours to get to the place it was sourced. That doesn't really feel local.

For my purposes, I'd casually define local as sourced from within my own economic region - the greater metropolitan area of Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania. I'd extend that to sourcing items within a radius I'd be willing to drive to pick up the item itself or to co-ops with drop-off locations throughout that same area. 

By why buy local? Here are my 5 reasons.

  • Simplification. It can be really complicated balancing different priorities with food purchases - organics v. conventional, natural, sustainable farming practices, humane animal treatment. When I buy locally grown and produced food, especially directly from the source, I have more confidence. There is little marketing hype, and I am more confident that the farmer across the table from me at the farmers' market is not handing me food that's laced with poison or destroying the viability of the land. He or she has a vested interest in taking care of the land and producing a healthy crop - because it's his or her family eating that food too and living on that land. It just feels simple.
  • Economics. When you buy something from a local producer, whether that be food or another item, that money stays in the local economy instead of flowing outward to nameless, faceless companies for their exorbitant profit margins. Instead the money is put back into the community through taxes and the costs of running a business, plus supporting the employment of local people. Local producers who also source their raw materials from local sources help keep that cycle going. (e.g. Local distilleries and breweries who source their grain from local farms.)
  • Expertise. While there are certainly people working in traditional chain stores who know their stuff, it is really fulfilling to patronize a local business and benefit from the expertise of the people who run it. I am often willing to pay more for a product or service from a local business simply because there is value added in the customer service that often isn't there at other stores. 
  • Quality. When it comes to food, I've never once been disappointed with a local purchase. It's also nice that it typically lasts longer, since it's had less time from the field to my table and spent less time on the highway (or sky) in a refrigerated truck (or plane). I think when a local producer sells you something, there's a bit of a subconscious awareness that they might see you around town. They take pride in the quality of their products, knowing that it's one of the best ways they compete with big business. 
  • Because I love my community. I'm proud to live in this area and proud of the great things that people are innovating and creating and growing here. It's rich in history and legacy, and I want to support businesses that continue that and are helping to make Pittsburgh the most liveable city that it is. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

starting seeds: moving outdoors!

It's been awhile since I talked about the progress of the seedlings. That's mostly because they've just been spending time growing in our makeshift seedling grow room (spare bedroom) for the last few weeks/months. 

Technically we should be past the danger of frost at this point in May, but our weather has been touch and go with some frost warnings. Between our really busy spring schedule and the rainy weather we've had, there hasn't been much of an opportunity for us to work outside, so we only got the seedlings fertilized and moved into larger containers to be hardened outside this weekend.

Mark took some of the organic seed starting mix that we used and combined it with top soil and some organic fertilizer.

We used a bucket to bring a bit of the mix in at a time, since we decided to do this at the kitchen island. (Kind of a mistake. The floor was a disaster when we were done. Live and learn.)

We filled a Jiffy pot with the new mix and I delicately extracted the seedlings from the original tray with a plastic spoon. Our seedlings aren't as robust as the ones you can buy at Lowes or Home Depot, but those plants are farther along in their development, plus they are traditionally fertilized. Miracle-Grow plants will grow faster, yes, but I can't bring myself to purchase it, let alone use it.

We had more than we can likely use in our beds, so we're giving some seedlings away. And we ran out of Jiffy pots, so our patio table is a mish mash of seedlings right now. We'll be keeping them outside and bringing them in when the weather warrants to harden them and get them ready to be in the beds soon.

Now to just get the beds ready! I've got good hopes for these, since they are much better looking than last year's seedlings, and those actually did quite well, even if they took longer to grow and develop than others. Nature has a way of taking care of things.

How are your seedlings and gardens coming along?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Real Life CSA: week 5

More new stuff this week, as well as repeats which will give me a second chance... Before I get into that, here's what we've got going on in week 5.

The last time we got chopped tomatoes, I used them to make a sauce for a baked pasta dish. I might do something similar again with these, since pasta is one of the great culinary loves of my life. The tomatillo salsa is delicious and I'm glad we keep getting "refills" in our share, because we burn through it. I love it best as a "dressing" on taco salads. And it's a nice taste difference from traditional red salsas (which we also can on our own). 

And the other repeat is the ramps. Which, well, were not a success for me last week. I was really excited to cook them, and was set on making what seemed like a simple pasta dish with them, using the fresh rigatoni we got last week as well. If you follow me on Instagram or checked out #reallifeCSA, you'll know it was a failure. The recipe was just not good, and I overcooked the ramp bulbs and garlic because I was doing too many things at once and forgot that our cooktop is like the stove from Beauty & the Beast when he's angry and the castle is being invaded.

The ramps are burning! Sacrebleu!

Darn those power burners. Anyway. I was quite upset with myself because ruined pasta - pasta with RAMPS - just seemed like a horrid waste. (And it wasn't just a little gross, it was scrape your tongue ruined.) But as I said when I posted the photo, that's a real life CSA situation - trying new things, failing sometimes, and being really happy that you get the ramps again to try something else. Perhaps the ramp pesto that someone suggested! (h/t @alexbar1) 

And along with the joy of the second chance ramps, comes rhubarb. Love rhubarb season, and that it comes before berries, so it doesn't always get paired with strawberry. Don't get me wrong - my gramma made a mean strawberry rhubarb pie. But rhubarb is awesome as a standalone. Mark made a great rhubarb tart last year, and we also made some jam with it, though the flavor got lost since we also mixed it with berries. This year it might get stewed for yogurt or ice cream topping. (I'm dreaming of it right now on top of some Antney's vanilla.) Or maybe stewed on ice cream on a tart...

I don't usually cook with dry beans because of the time issue, but I'm glad to have some black ones on hand because they are our favorite type of refried beans, and we eat a lot of homemade tex mex at Next Gen House. (I smashed that bag up pretty good!)

Applesauce is going to be a work snack, most likely. I love homemade applesauce, having been spoiled on my gramma's growing up. None will ever taste the same as hers, but I like the idea of trying some with apples that grew around here. (Hers came from the apples in their own orchard.) I like my applesauce ice cold - is that weird?

Last but not least - kale. Probably going to experiment with a smoothie of some type this week. I need to fit more raw veggies in my diet because it helps with some physical issues I have, but I often find myself getting sick of the same raw veggie preparations. And a smoothie would be a good on-the-go item for me. Need to do some recipe research.

Going to be an interesting week for cooking at Next Gen House. Don't forget to keep up with how we're using our goods on Instagram @nextgenhouse !

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

movie review: frankensteer

Have you ever had the experience of reading or watching something thinking it was current, and then realizing it's actually a lot older than you thought? And then it dawns on you how scary that is? That describes my experience watching Frankensteer, a documentary I didn't realize is 8 years old until after I watched it. Because the issues it raises are all still relevant today.

As far as the documentary itself, it was clearly on the low-budget side, without the polished feel of more widely released films. It's also not an American film - it's Canadian - so some of the information is geared toward Canadian governmental policies, though it does look at things from a "North American" perspective as well.

For me, the best part of the film was in its opening line - that in order to produce cheap food, we have taken a benign, naturally flatulent vegetarian and turned it into a cannibal and vampire. We push these creatures to within an inch of their life until ultimately they lose it in a slaughterhouse to end up on our plates.

The film makes its way through a discussion of the dangers of growth hormones and sub-therapeutic antibiotics, two things that in 2014 the public is demanding be removed from our food supply more than ever. In discussing the differences between government policies on these items and showing the disparity between what Europe feels is safe and what North American nations do, it occurs to me that it's amazing how we think that science and nature relate differently on this issue depending on your country's borders. I think it's safe to say that if it's not safe for a member of the European Union, it's not safe for me. Why that science cannot cross national boundaries is beyond me.

Frankensteer lays out all the basic reasons to avoid industrially raised beef, and in particular the health risk to humans of mad cow disease (not as much of an issue now as it was in 2006, but still nothing to dismiss) as well as E. coli and food borne illness. We shouldn't have to take a product home from the grocery store that's intended for consumption and have to treat it like toxic waste until cooked. 

Frankensteer doesn't get into industrial agriculture's effect on the economy, environment or workers, but that's understandable for a film that's only 44 minutes long. Honestly, there are 500 page books on the subject that can't even cover it all. All the more reason to not eat or purchase it. 

For me, I try not to eat meat at all when I don't know where it came from (as in, which farm). However, lately I've found it harder to make those choices when traveling, especially when I need protein and there are no vegetarian options that include any. While I didn't find this film incredibly compelling in and of itself, it served as a good reminder for why I don't eat industrial meat and a push to recommit to being strict about it in my own diet, even if it means making sacrifices.     

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

touring red eagle distillery

We spent the weekend in Geneva, Ohio with friends for a friend's wedding. While we were in town for the weekend, we checked out some local wineries, which are fine, but not being a fan of sweet wine, most of the stuff we tried didn't exactly float my boat. 

But one place in particular stuck out and was definitely worth the visit - Red Eagle Distillery.

They make three of their own spirits - a rye whiskey, a bourbon and a vodka. While the whiskey is obviously made from rye, the bourbon is made from various grains (primarily corn, which is why it's a bourbon) and the vodka from grapes. 

We did the tasting option for all three, and I was surprised at how much I didn't hate it - only because I'm not a hard liquor person, typically. Maybe I like micro-distilleries like I like micro-breweries - the small batch and artisinal quality make the difference? Anyway, the vodka intrigued me the most, especially as our knowledgeable bar tender / tasting expert explained how you can make vodka out of many things, but they make it from grapes, since the same people who own Red Eagle own the next door South River Winery.

I ended up choosing a vodka cocktail to drink, and Mark had a bourbon cocktail. It was a cloudy day, but warm enough to hang outside on their patio. Though honestly, check out this amazing interior. Just beautiful. Made me want to have a party.

Red Eagle also serves craft beers on tap, including a stout that was aged in bourbon barrels. Between the cocktails and the beers, there was definitely something for everyone, and it was a great alternative to most places in that area that only serve wines. Had we more time, we probably would have stayed for a second drink!

If you're ever in the area, definitely give Red Eagle a visit! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Real Life CSA: week 4

I am usually quite excited when I get our weekly email about what's coming in the CSA, but when I saw this week's one, I said "OH. YES." out loud. Why? RAMPS.

Western PA has had a cold, dark spring coming out of a nasty winter. It's already pretty cloudy around here, but this year has been dark in particular. (I heard once that Pittsburgh was second only to Seattle for cloudy days each year. I wonder if that's true - and I wouldn't be surprised.) 

So because of the slow start to the growing season, the fine folks at Penn's Corner substitute fresh produce with other items, such as their canned goods and pasta, eggs or cheese. No complaints here. When you plant your own garden, however small, you appreciate the time it take to grow food and how wonderful the return is after the wait. And who can say no to pasta and cheese? (Well, maybe vegans or celiacs, but thankfully Penn's Corner has shares for those people too!)

Anyway, the salsa will go in our stockpile, but since we cook Mexican food regularly, this won't be a problem to use up before it comes time to make fresh salsa. Potatoes will be a side of some sort, and the lettuce like usual will end up in salads. Sometimes the best preparations for veggies are the simple ones.

Eggs will add to our stockpile as well. The ones you see in the bowl behind the CSA eggs are from our own chickens, so we have a combination of both on hand. Will give Mark a chance to experiment with some recipes from Michael Ruhlman's new cookbook, Egg.

This fresh feta cheese from Hidden Hills Dairy looks amazing. I used to be averse to all crumbly cheese because of the texture, but it was one of the items that Mark really introduced me to that has grown on me to the point that I love it now. 

We have spinach in our garden right now that overwintered in a miracle, so I'm thinking it might make a good combination with the feta in some dish - maybe even with this fresh rigatoni from Fontana Pasta. We have loved this fresh pasta - and would probably order way more of it if we had more freezer space.

And now for the main event - what I've been waiting to cook with my whole life. Ramps. Ramps are wild leeks that have a garlic flavor to them. I've had them at restaurants before - most recently at Cure as a "ramp ash" on pasta. But I've never been able to cook with them myself, primarily because the farmers markets aren't open when these babies show up, and also because I have no idea how to forage for them. I might not forage for them anyway, since there are concerns about over-foraging since these have exploded in popularity. But as they state in the weekly blog post, Penn's Corner's suppliers and member farms are committed to sustainable practices. 

So I'm beyond excited to get a chance to make something with these.  

What that will be remains to be seen, but there are tons of recipes out there for them, being the hot commodity that they are. 

As a side note, we also ordered from the Penn's Corner Farm Stand this week to refresh our supply of Clarion River Organics bread and butter jalapenos, which I'm so obsessed with, I have started putting them on everything. I might have to use a similar preparation and canning if our jalapenos do well this year, but for the moment, we are enjoying the luxury of someone else's hard canning work. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

a small, local victory for bluefin

I think it's easy to feel sometimes like one person doesn't make much of a difference. We spend time and energy sharing our passions, not knowing what type of return we are going to get. Will anything change as a result of our efforts? 

Recently, I noticed through Instagram that a local Pittsburgh restaurant - an icon, really - was featuring bluefin tuna as a special. 

Bluefin tuna are apex predators - top of the food chain. They help maintain balance in the ecosystem and are amazing, fierce and fast creatures. And a single fish can bring in more than $1 million at market, its flesh highly prized, especially for sushi and sashimi. So it's vastly overfished and considered an endangered species by the World Wildlife Federation as well as the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.

Not only are bluefin endangered, but the way they are caught includes high levels of bycatch, so it contributes even more to declining populations of other fish.

So I politely contacted the restaurant about their choice of entree. I stated first how much I loved their restaurant and that's true. I then briefly pointed out bluefin's status as endangered, with links to back up my claims. I requested that they take bluefin off their menu permanently, since their menu is already so delicious and strong. I also mentioned, as the ad above suggests, that if we looked at seafood like we look at other endangered mammals, we wouldn't eat them. Customers would balk at panda on a menu, but bluefin is still considered a delicacy. 

And you know what? They responded. They said they were experimenting with potential summer specials, but in the light of this information, they wouldn't serve bluefin tuna again on their menu. And they thanked me for my feedback and encouraged me to visit the restaurant again. I sure will.

So it's a small victory - one restaurant in one state in one country not serving bluefin tuna. But it's something, and it was as easy as sending an email. These little acts of activism can make a difference. And it's a win for them, too, because they're made me a customer for life by showing exemplary customer service and caring about something other than the bottom line.

For more info on responsible seafood practices, check out these posts and resources.

Image: WWF France ad campaign

Monday, May 5, 2014

pittsburgh half marathon recap

My alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. on Sunday and I shot out of bed with the excitement of a kid at Christmas. I had 45 minutes to fuel and hydrate before we had to be out the door to catch a T into the city for the Pittsburgh Marathon.

When I did my first half marathon last fall, I had an entire spring and summer of training behind it. This year, with a really rough winter, my training was spotty and included zero hills. It definitely wasn't what it should have been, so while I probably wasn't in peak physical condition, mentally I was so excited I could barely stand it.

There's just something about the Pittsburgh Marathon for me that's hard to put into words. The energy is like a wave. Standing in the start corrals for 35 minutes until my group got close to the start line was cold, rainy and exhilarating. I was trying not to jump up and down from just sheer excess energy - not even nervous, just excited from head to toe. Once we were off, I settled into my music and mouthed the words at some parts, heading through downtown to the Strip District.

I knew my friends and family cheering section was waiting on the North Side, just around mile 6. All I could do was think about getting to them during the first 6 miles. I was moving at a really fast clip and had to sometimes stop myself from getting too excited - my heart was racing and I was smiling like a crazy person. I was getting swept up in the energy. Even the hills on the North Side felt like nothing. 

I spotted my cheerers on the other side of the road from where I was running and I darted across to slap their hands. That moment for me when I saw them cheering and screaming my name and waving signs - it's indescribable. Maybe it's because I was never an athlete growing up and the activities I participated in didn't really warrant "cheering sections." But I felt like I was soaring and lifted up. So much so that I choked up as I passed them and almost burst into tears right there on Western Ave.

It was with that burst that I crossed the West End Bridge and entered the West End. And hills. And I realized I was way too hyped up and tried to slow my pace again. But by mile 9 around Station Square, I knew the wheels were going to fall off the wagon. My calves started cramping - not even just being sore, but twisting in pain. And my IT band? Yikes. I could barely muster the strength to finish those last few miles. I kept going and managed to only take two small walk breaks for 30 seconds, but I knew the PR was gone. I had used up all my gas in the first 7 miles and was going to run on fumes at the end.

At mile 12 I knew I was going to see my cheerers again during the last stretch, so I really pushed my legs and let that drive me forward. Mark took a few photos of me running by and my face pretty much shows how rough it was. I got to mile 13 and only had a tenth of a mile to go, and one of the medics flanking the end of the route looked directly at me, saw my name on my bib and yelled "You GOT this JOANNA! Just 100 yards to go! You can do it!" and I had to choke down tears again as I basically hurtled myself across the line and walked with jello legs forward to collect my medal and some fuel and a spaceman blanket. And some ice. And meet up with my friends.

I feel like I learn something new about the way I experience running in every race. And this race? I realized how much I just love good races and the thrill of running in general. I still want to push myself to complete a 26.2 this year, and I know how much commitment to training that will take, as well as rehabilitation for my IT band. (I start physical therapy today for an injury I've had since last year but never really addressed.) 

But I also realized that for me, PRs are not something to strive for. I'm not fast and I never will be. Completion is the goal, because if I keep pushing at faster and faster times, I end up having a great first half of a race and a punishing second half. I would rather coast along and enjoy myself and the thrill of being out there and watching my cheerers. During this race I was off of my PR ultimately by 7 minutes, which is only thanks to how fast I ran the first 7 miles. 

I do this for health and because I love it, not because I'm ever going to win anything, and I want to stop trying to win against myself. I will remember the first half of this race in my mind as one of the best runs I've ever had. And the only thing I'm going to chase this summer is that feeling. 

I can't forget to mention probably the most important part of this whole thing. Through Run for a Reason and the generosity of my family and friends, I raised $710 for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. My original goal was to raise $350 and I doubled that. Correction - YOU doubled that. I am comforted by the fact that something very good came out of this effort and that there are bellies being filled in our area by the money the Food Bank team managed to raise.

I won't be writing about running much unless I race during the next few months, so if you're interested, you can follow me on Instagram and watch for the hashtag #yearofthemarathon to see thoughts and photos on training. So now it's on to physical therapy and training with some races peppered in here and there - the Columbus Marathon in October being the ultimate goal. Columbus, here I come!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Real Life CSA: week 3

I almost feel like the titles of my posts are misnomers, since we get so much more than produce in our CSA shares from Penn's Corner. And that's definitely the case this week! Henceforth it will just be the week number, and I'll use labels to help classify what's in them.

The lettuce will go in salads, like usual. These apples made great snacks the last time we had them, so they will likely serve as snacks again this week.

This goat cheese might make it into a pasta dish, or possibly grilled cheese. (Cheddar and goat cheese is a really good combination!)

Eggs will supplement the ones we get from our three ladies in the backyard. And the maple syrup will be an addition to our ever growing supply. (We have a syrup hookup from the north - my grandpa.) We're going to have to start eating more pancakes! Though really I need to start looking for more ways to incorporate maple syrup into non-breakfast foods, like baked goods.

Probably the winner this week for "thing Joanna is most excited about" is the cornmeal from Weatherbury. We've been getting beef from Weatherbury for years, and Mark hunts red tag on their farm. (Red tag is a special season for deer hunting in PA to help farmers who suffer crop damage from deer.) We know their farm and how dedicated they are to it and have been waiting and waiting for them to go through the onerous paperwork process to be able to sell their prize-winning grains to consumers. We ordered from them directly when they were first able to sell it, but I'm really glad their items are available through Penn's Corner, too.  

Looks like we're going to be eating some cornbread this week. If not as a side, maybe as the topping on a skillet pie of some kind? We shall see!

Don't forget to follow along on Instagram as I use some CSA items throughout the week under the hashtag #reallifeCSA!