Friday, February 25, 2011

CSA Day March 13, 2011

Like the flyer says, RSVP to your school CSA coordinator if you would like to attend. It's free for all regular CSA subscribers.

This is the most popular CSA day at Tanaka Farms. The strawberries are ripe and the veggies are in the ground (and recognizable!). Come join us.

So far, I have collected 6 sign-ups for March for the Adams CSA program. Download the March Adams sign-up form and turn it in to Neighborhood Grinds before 8 AM Friday March 4. Let me know when you drop off your form or if you want to attend CSA day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Golden Beets!

Did you get golden beets in your box this week? I did, a nice bunch of them. Even if you're not a fan of red beets, try to goldens--their flavor isn't as strong, and the color is more friendly to visual eaters. I've learned to like red beets, even love them, but the intense magenta kept me away from them for a very long time--it just didn't seem like a savory food color.

Last time I got golden beets in my box, I just fried them up in a little butter (shown above) and sprinkled them with salt and pepper--so simple. Even the picky child in my house enjoyed them--they looked enough like fried potatoes, I guess. Another visual eater!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CSA Soup

This is what we make with the vegetables we don't love from the CSA box; or maybe we love them, but we don't need so much; or maybe, we love them but our schedule doesn't allow us to eat them before they're gone. We make CSA Soup: the one above contains kohlrabi, carrots, celery, Chinese broccoli, and cauliflower. Chop them all up. Put them in a soup pot with stock and water to barely cover. Add spices to taste (salt and pepper are fine; a basic curry blend also works well). Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the veggies are soft. Blenderize in batches. Stir back together. Serve with nice bread. Even if you don't love the individual components of this soup, they'll generally work together as a blended soup.

Other things we did with our CSA goodies this week: cooked down the bunch of chard to make some saucy Indian takeout more substantial; added much of the Chinese broccoli and another bunch of chard to a favorite cheesy tuna-noodle casserole; had a strawberry-chai milkshake for Valentine's Day (so pink!).

Now What?

Are you sitting on the fence about signing up for a CSA box?

Or have you already signed up and feel guilty about the decaying veggies in the bottom of the produce drawer?

Want to see my method for prepping and storing the produce when I get it home?

Want to learn some new recipes for preparing the seasonal produce in the latest boxes?

Meet your CSA coordinator, Grace Peng, at Neighborhood Grinds at 5:30 PM on Thursday February 24 where I will walk you through the pickup process.

Then go to my (nearby) kitchen where I will show you some techniques to store and prepare the produce from the box. We should be done by 6:15 or earlier.

Make eating real food really easy!

Neighborhood Grinds
2315 Artesia Blvd., Unit 1 (NW corner with MacKay)
Redondo Beach, CA 90278

5:30 PM (sharp!) February 24, 2011

RSVP to let me know how many to expect.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chinese Broccoli

Ever wonder how they make that delicious Chinese broccoli dish served in dim sum tea rooms?  Make some tonight with the Chinese broccoli that came in today's box.

Bring a large pot of water to boil while you wash and trim the broccoli.  Then blanch the broccoli in the boiling water for 5 minutes, or until it is tender-crisp (the leaves are tender and the thickest part of the stem is just slightly crisp).  Drain the broccoli and put it on a serving dish.

You can drizzle oyster sauce* directly on the broccoli.  If you worry about the sodium, thin the oyster sauce with up to 50% hot water or broth before pouring it on top of the greens.

It's that easy.

* I buy oyster sauce from 99 Ranch Supermarket in Gardena.  But you can also find it at any Asian market or larger general supermarkets.  If you make the trek out to 99 Ranch, check out the fresh noodle aisle.  You can buy blocks of turnip cakes to round out your dim sum feast at home.  Slice the turnip cake into 1/2" thin slices, pan fry to brown on each side, then serve with soy sauce, vinegar and chili sauce.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Not Roundup Ready

One of the main reasons to join a CSA is to get to know your food supply. When you visit your food, you learn how it is grown and by whom. A small organic farm is fundamentally different than the highly-automated large-scale monoculture (single crop) farms where most conventionally grown food originate. TF, like many small farms, is messy. You will see weeds and volunteers (veggies from the last crop) everywhere.

Tanaka Farms (TF) holds several CSA Family days a year--usually in the Spring, Fall and Christmas. Strawberries and the green veggies star in the Spring visit. Kids pick and wash their own veggies. Then the Tanaka Farms staff grill them up so you can eat them for lunch right there. Afterwards, everyone is sent out to the strawberry patch to pick dessert.

When things wind down in the fall, TF tours focus on the pumpkins and the corn maize. Each December, TF also holds a Christmas party for CSA members where they also sell Christmas trees for another local farmer.

I took these pictures at the September 2010 Fall tour. See the broad-leaved weeds amid the corn? These are definitely not Roundup Ready corn--corn that has been genetically engineered to withstand direct spraying of the glyphosate-based herbicide sold by Monsanto as Roundup. In fact, genetically-modified crops cannot be sold as organic under current labeling laws.

Do you see the insect holes on the radish greens below? Some people are turned off from organic food because it is typical to see moderate amounts of insect damage. You can see the insect holes, but you can't see the insecticides that are sprayed on conventional produce to make them look so perfect. Common organophosphate insecticides have been linked to ADHD in children, particularly genetically susceptible children and/or children who were exposed in-utero. Other insecticides, endosulfan and dicofol, were linked with autism.

Instead of spraying herbicides, they pull the weeds by hand. Sometimes, they get behind and the vegetable beds look a bit messy. If you visit the farm and see a weed, give them a hand and pull it out.

This is Farmer Tanaka, aka Glenn Tanaka. He learned to farm from his father. His son, Kenny, works with him along with a cadre of farm staff that has worked with the family for decades. They are all family.

Glenn says that he sprays Neem tree oil instead of insecticides to repel insects. The oil doesn't kill the insects; insects simply don't like the taste (or smell) of the oil and stay away. Neem tree oil is very expensive compared to synthetic (but toxic) insecticides. Moreover, neem tree oil needs to be resprayed every two weeks in order to repel subsequent waves of insects. This is why organic food costs more than conventional food.

It's expensive to grow food that doesn't contain stuff that is invisible to the naked eye.

Get to know your farmer. Get to know your food. Bon appetit!