Tag Archives: organic vegetables

MY NEW CSA – YOU CAN STILL SIGN UP HERE

The history of Pretty Smart Raw Food Ideas is directly tied to my first venture into CSAs.  Some years back, I saw an announcement for a CSA a couple of blocks from my home, and I signed up right away.  As CSAs often deliver vegetables folks have never seen before, I began to hear people asking what they should do with what they had received in the box.    Me? Being raw, I just went on-line, found out about the vegetable in question, and then started experimenting.  People started asking me for recipes.  I asked the CSA if we couldn’t have a way to publish recipes for the benefit of the members. They poo-poo’d my idea.  My blog was born the next day, with raw recipes for the vegetables I found in my box. 

Now, I have found  a CSA which allows you to casually  join whenever you find out about it, and allows you to pay by the week.  (I have had to leave that first CSA because they require an up front payment which I could not manage).  I’m telling you this because, if you have thought about a CSA, but didn’t sign up for one in the spring (most CSAs require you to sign up before May), there is a CSA that you can still join.

Corbin Hill Food Project is a CSA that works with local farmers to provide low cost organic vegetables and fruit (and other products, as add-ons), mostly in low-income neighborhoods (that doesn’t mean that you can’t join if you are not low-income – it just means that you might have to travel a bit).  The beauty of this CSA is that you can sign up at any time during CSA season (summer to fall), and, if, for any reason, you cannot receive your share the next week (for example: you will be away, or you can’t afford it), you can put your share on hold, simply by notifying them a week in advance.  If you are interested, please visit Corbin Hill Food Project to find the most convenient location for you to receive your share (I’ll be going to the Community Kitchen and Food Pantry on 116th St in Harlem – it’s familiar to me, and I want to support its programs, and, also, the commute there and back home is reasonable, even if it is not right near my home – heck! Fairway, Costco, and Trader Joe’s involve commutes so it is not really that big of a deal). 

The first deliveries are June 18th and June 19th (depending on your chosen location – I’m set to receive my share on Tuesday, the 18th), and the last day to sign up for that week is June 10th. 

Just saying.

8/29/13 CSA SHARE- what we got and what I am going to do with it

POST #967
Without my blog, yesterday seems so long ago! I mean it! I’m so happy to be back on-line!

WHAT WE GOT
Yellow Potatoes – 1 qt
Scallions – 1 bun
Green Bell Peppers – 2 pcs
Garlic – 1 pc
Tomatoes – 6 lbs
Zucchini – 2 pcs

Somehow, I came away with 3 bunches of scallions and 3 pcs of garlic, and a thing of chard (what do you call a “thing of chard”? Thank heavens for the word “thing”)

I chatted with some interesting ladies at the share distribution (one on the volunteer side of the table, and the other right up next to me, bagging her boxed goodies (I gave her one of my Ziploc bags) Promised to send them some fermenting recipes (should I start a mailing list on these things? I’ll have to look into that!) I expect this weekend is going to be about fermenting – I have some cabbage, all those tomatoes, and, I hope some of last week’s cucumbers have survived)

I decided to keep the potatoes. All of the raw food “experts” are now saying that they are actually eating cooked food. I haven’t done that in a long while (I had the power company cut off the gas a good while back, when the last room-mate left, because I haven’t cooked food in 30 years or so). I do have a rice cooker , a coffee-maker, and a microwave, left by a former room-mate, so I am going to experiment with cooking the potatoes and making a real potato salad (with such raw entries as onions and bell pepper). We’ll see how that goes. (We’re talking: I’m dirt poor right now, and I live off what comes in the box, so, at least, this week, I am going to bend and see what all the hoopla of going off 100% raw is about — okay, folks! I’ve been telling you I am 95% raw, even though I have been 100% raw – this is where that comes in! I am finally going to do something you can point at). I’ll let you know how that goes (I’m feeling kind of sheepish. I mean, how do you cook potatoes without boiling or baking them? I guess I can find the info on the Internet somewhere. Somewhere somebody has put information about how to get boiled-like potatoes in a microwave or a rice cooker — if you know, I’d be grateful if you’d tell me – I’m thinking rice cooker)

So, anyway – I’m going to make a fermented salsa with most, if not all, of the tomatoes. Ferments last longer, and I can combine a fermented salsa with all sorts of things. I am probably going to take one tomato and make a fresh “pasta” with one of the zucchini.

An aside – I am kind of bummed that I won’t be able to go to the September meet-up of “NYC Ferments” – they are doing “fermented fruit” this time, and I was planning to take a fermented squash salsa  (check it out on meetup.com), because I have work that night (yea, work! helps pay the rent)

Stay tuned! I’m back! Yea! (thank you WordPress, and thank you, Lord!)

06/06/2013 CSA SHARE: What we got

POST #938
I have decided not to post “what they say we’re going to get” anymore.  (Call me apathetic).  So, here’s what they said, what we got, and what I took away:

Lettuce Mix – 1 bag……..I traded for more turnips
Salad Turnips – 1 bun
Bok Choi – several pcs…..I traded for 2 bigger bok choi
Romaine Lettuce – 1 hd
Arugula – 1 bun…………I traded for more kale
Red Kale – 1 bun

We also got a box of strawberries! yea!

I know I said I was going to use what was in the box, but, sometimes, that just isn’t do-able. Or, shall I say, I’m just not going to do it. I’ll keep trying.

The turnips have nice greens – to the dehydrator they go (I’m still working on making my super-green powder for my Healthy Homesteading course)

I am glad that they are making sure that people always put one thing into the trade box when they take one thing out. I just hope it isn’t only me that they are watching. I have decided not to be annoyed when they interrogate me 2 minutes after I trade something.

WINDOW FARMS: who knew a garden could happen in a city apartment? I’m hooked!

POST #935
I am psyched!  I have just come from a quite amazing Window Farm demonstration at the Queens Library (who knew libraries could be so cool?)  
Anyway, the cute librarian guy (yes, cute librarian guy) showed us how to, if we are handy, build a hydroponics window garden for (probably) under $50, with re-purposed/upcycled water bottles, plastic tubing (good, now I know where to get plastic tubing for making bracelets!), and a few pet store aquarium supplies. Free instructions here.

window farm supreme(Of course, I would rather buy the Window Farms ready made and slick-looking Windowfarms Window Farm, but $200 for a set-up for 4 plants is a bit too rich for my blood right now.)

So, if I only would put out the minimal cash and foraging for supplies effort, I could have a vertical hydroponics garden in my kitchen window in a few hours or so (actually, the cute librarian guy put it together in under 2 hours, but I suspect he has been practicing).

Imagine, city-dwellers! You could have a whole window worth of organic vegetables at any time of the year! For cheap!

columbus circle windowfarmWant to see serious Windowfarms in action?  The LED grow light powered hydroponic research garden is on view for 10 months at the Columbus and 79th street entrance November 2012- August 2013.

SUCCESSFUL TASTY SAUERKRAUT: why other people don’t like raw sauerkraut and how you can

POST #899
SUCCESSFUL TASTY SAUERKRAUT: Why Other People Don’t Like Sauerkraut, and How You Can

Swayze Foster recently posted a “low-sodium” sauerkraut-related video, in which she talked mostly about how she hates sauerkraut.

I’m a fermenter, and I do like sauerkraut, and I have been lucky that everyone who has tasted my sauerkraut has liked it (I do get lucky like that – people who say they are don’t like something that I am pushing  generally tend to like it once they have tasted it). 

Swayze says she put her sauerkraut in a jar covered by leaves, and topped  by cheesecloth to ferment for three days. That is, by me, the first mistake – if you are going to make “short-ferment” vegetables of any sort, you need to 1) press the vegetables down under the liquid, and/or 2)cover the recipient with a tight lid.

I’ve tried several ways to weight the vegetables, all of which involved putting a cabbage leaf on top and putting a weight on that, and then putting the lid on.  Each time, I have ended up with a slimy cabbage leaf, and an iffy batch of sauerkraut.

The sauerkraut I make is low sodium (I use a maximum of 1 T sea salt to a large head of cabbage — 2 1-qt jars worth). The sea salt is already low sodium, and it helps to draw the liquid/juice from the cabbage.  I find that the kicker, or the trick, to making a successful, tasty raw sauerkraut is the addition of 1 – 2 capsules-worth (or 1 teaspoon) of probiotics to the mix  (you could mix it in by hand, but I worry that some might get stuck on my glove and not remain in the mix, or you could mix it into the water you add to top off the jar)  The salt works to ferment, but salt wants a while.  The probiotics go to work immediately, and practically ensure that your batch of sauerkraut will succeed (when I first started making sauerkraut, I was warned that my first batches might fail – the only failed batches I have ever had were the ones where I did not use the probiotics)

I usually let my sauerkraut batches go for 3-4 days before I open them.  With the tight cap on them, I need to open them over the sink, as the probiotics will have created a fizzy pressure, and the cabbage sometimes pops out of the top of the jar.  I like the sweetness of the 3-4 day ferment, but I have left it as long as 7 days with no ill results.  My batches rarely last more than 7 days in the refrigerator, as, when I have a batch of sauerkraut, it goes into almost everything I make up (wakame seaweed and vegetable salad, raw tuno, crackers – you name it!)  I often eat it on its own, as I love the flavor (I most frequently simply add jalapeno pepper slices, but often I add garlic, dill, cilantro, curry powder, or kimchi spices).

The way I figure it is, if you don’t like raw sauerkraut, most probably, you have gotten a bad batch, or you don’t like the flavorings.  A simple, plain raw sauerkraut made with just sea salt and probiotics will be tasty, sweet-ish,  to almost anyone, even children, and will be a good addition to just about anything you want to make up.

One last thing about sauerkraut, or any other fermented vegetable: If you don’t like to chew,  or if you don’t like crunchy, process your vegetables to a fine grate (not applesauce texture, but more like if you chopped for 20 mins) and be sure to include probiotics in your mix (many people tell me you can use sauerkraut juice from an older batch, but I never have that much juice left, and I don’t trust commercial batches.  For my first batches, I used a Zukay salad dressing for the probiotic, but, since Zukay salad dressings are not available in New York City as of this writing, and the company refuses to sell even crates of their product to individual buyers, I have never used that since).

9/12/12 CSA SHARE: What they say we will get, and what I’m thinking of doing

Spaghetti Squash – 1 pc
Green Beans – 1 lb
Leeks – 1 bun
Broccoli -or- Zucchini – 1 hd/1 pc
Red Beets – 1 bun
Red Tomatoes – 2 lb
Batavian Lettuce – 1 hd

Just about everything I get is going to get fermented
.

I’ll keep the broccoli out and eat it, or, perhaps, I might trade it, if I get there early enough and something interesting is available in the trade box.  The leeks are going to be fermented –I’ve never really used leeks well, and, so have mostly traded them, but, this time, I’m going to keep them and ferment them.

I may or may not keep the lettuce.  I could use with a salad, but… still… I’m not always interested in salads.  We’ll see what is the trade box.

Just as the CSA changes things, I may change my mind about any and all of the above.  If I get the zucchini,  I might keep it and make spaghetti with the tomatoes, or I might not.  Likewise, if there are tomatoes in the trade box, I might trade the broccoli.

We’ll see, won’t we.

9/6/12 CSA SHARE:What they say we will get

POST #797
This is what they say we will get:
Acorn Squash – 2 pcs
Green Beans – .55 lb
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes – 1 pt
Garlic – 1 head
Red Beets – 1 bunch
Red Tomatoes – 4 lb bag

This time, I am going to keep the green beans, because I have a couple of fermenting recipes for green beans, which both sound good. (I’ll have to make a decision before Thursday, so I’ll know exactly what I need to do when I get home.

The squash, I don’t know… i might just exchange it for more green beans if I get there early enough and the green beans are left.

Otherwise, it all looks super yummy and delish, so I’ll just have to grab my share and run home.