Rice Salad with Canary Melon

In this week’s CSA, I received apples, green beans, potatoes, kale, and apple cider.  I handed off the cider and kale to my co-worker since I still have cider from the apple festival and I hate kale.  She now hates kale, too, so it will probably go to our co-worker who has farm animals that can eat it.20160927_124842

I also received a weird yellow squash that I later learned was not actually a squash, but a canary melon.  Canary melons have a sweet flavor close to that of a cantaloupe.  While trying to figure out what it was, I came across an Italian recipe for a rice salad with prosciutto and melon.  I adapted the recipe below.

The rice is from Kaufman Fruit Farms.  It is not locally grown, but it is locally produced.  The mozzarella is from the grocery store, but there is a local cheese business that makes mozzarella.  The prosciutto is actually bacon from Anschuetz Farm because I didn’t have any prosciutto.  I blanched the bacon to make it as close to prosciutto as I could.

I am a bit disappointed with the photograph of the salad because it does not do the taste justice.  I was weary as I was mixing everything together, but the flavors are there and they are delicious.  The sweetness of the melon combined with the salty goodness of the bacon goes perfectly with the smooth flavor of the rice and mild mozzarella.

Rice Salad with Canary Melon

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 canary melon, chopped
  • 1 cup mozzarella, cubed
  • 1/8-1/4 lb blanched bacon or prosciutto, sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Cook the rice as directed.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. Once cool, mix the rice, melon, mozzarella, and bacon or prosciutto.
  3. Mix the olive oil and balsamic and drizzle on top.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Becoming a Locavore: Solutions

Supporting local businesses that source their products from out of the area supports both the local and global or national economy which is the case for many of the locavore challenges.

Choices: There is a grocery store in the area that sources its products locally when it can. This makes it easy and convenient to find a variety of local foods in one place.

Winter: There are many foods that can be frozen and stored for the winter. Herbs, meats, soups, and pasta sauces are just a few examples.

Cost: Cost is relative and local produce may cost more some of the time, but not always.

Travel: In addition to the grocery store, farmer’s markets and some other farms in the area partner together and sell each other’s products in one place. One farm, Apple Valley Creamery, even offers home delivery on a variety of dairy, meat, baking, produce, and other products.

Sustainability: While much of what grows in Pennsylvania is sustainable, climate plays an important role in sustainability. Different crops require different weather conditions to grow. Purchasing produce that is grown out of this area, but buying it from the locally based grocery store makes environmental sense.

Seafood: I have found a family business based in the area. The family travels to Alaska every year to catch salmon. They process and freeze it themselves and sell it here. While the salmon is not raised in Pennsylvania, it is a great solution.

A Beginner Locavore’s Guide to Surviving Pennsylvania’s Winter

Pennsylvania in the fall is very pleasant, albeit chilly.  The weather will soon be cold enough for sweaters.  I am very tempted to wear leggings and long sweaters all fall and winter if I can get away with it.  Cooler weather means layers and finding other ways to keep warm.  Once winter hits, the crisp, cool weather of the fall is contrasted with much colder temperatures and even snow.  I do not mind fall, but I hate Pennsylvania winters.  It’s funny because my family is from here and my ancestors are from here, but somehow I did not develop a tolerance to the cold.

Gardening slows down and there are less options for food local food sources in the winter.  What’s a locavore to do in Pennsylvania in the winter?  Plan ahead!  While some varieties of greens and cabbage family members can be grown in cooler weather, prepping and storing food for the winter can add variety to meals.

There are many vegetables available now that can be blanched and frozen for use in the winter.  This is precisely what I did with the yellow beans and Swiss chard from the CSA from week 17.  Check out this article on the science and methods behind blanching and freezing vegetables.

For the yellow beans, I chopped them in 1-2” pieces before blanching for 3 minutes.  I then rinsed them under cold water and allowed them to cool and air dry.  I then divided them into quart sized freezer bags. 20160916_085347

For the Swiss Chard, I roughly chopped it and blanched it for 5 minutes.  Like the yellow beans, I rinsed it under cold water to cool it.  I towel dried it to remove excess moisture.  I divided the stems and leaves into quart size freezer bags.20160916_083741

Don’t forget to label your frozen vegetables so you don’t forget what they are!

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Italian Sausage with Peppers, Onions, and Tomatoes

This week’s CSA included Red Delicious apples, green bell peppers, yellow string beans, sweet corn, an eggplant, and cherry tomatoes.  I split the apples, corn, and peppers evenly with my co-worker, but I gave her all the beans, the eggplant, and the tomatoes.  She doesn’t like tomatoes, but I have so many from my own garden and the neighbor dropped some by the other day, so they will probably go to another co-worker.  I still have beans from last week, which I am going to freeze.  I might also freeze the corn.20160920_155708

Italian sausage and peppers just speaks to me on a deep level.  It’s an easy classic recipe that can be served by itself, on a roll, or on top of pasta.  I added the tomatoes because we have too many and I will probably be adding tomatoes to every dish until we run out, which doesn’t seem like it’s going to be any time soon. 20160921_104956

The sausage is from Anschuetz Farm, the same place I bought the bacon from.  I highly recommend them.  The sausage does contain brown sugar, so it is not clean nor paleo.  I follow the 80/20 rule for clean eating, so I am okay with the brown sugar added in this sausage.  Feel free to substitute another high quality sausage from your local farmer or butcher that doesn’t contain sugar or other unhealthy ingredients.

Italian Sausage with Peppers, Onions, and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 3 bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups plum tomatoes, cut in quarters
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the sausages and cook until browned.  Set aside.
  2. Add the peppers, onion, and garlic and cook about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, and oregano and continue cooking until the veggies are cooked to desired tenderness.
  3. Cut the sausage in bite sized pieces and add back to the pan.  Cook a few minutes more until the sausage is heated throughout.

Becoming a Locavore: Challenges

Valley ForgeThere are challenges to becoming a locavore.  Finding reliable sources of food that are local may difficult.  The original locavore challenge focused on what was available in a 100-mile radius.  These are a few of the challenges that exist in Pennsylvania:

Choices:  Are avocados grown in Pennsylvania?  How about citrus products?  The answer is no.  It is not easy to grow warm weather produce in this climate.

Winter:  It gets very cold in the winter in Pennsylvania which limits the growing season and food choices.

Cost:  Buying local can be expensive.  Local farmers produce less, therefore the cost is higher than those larger farms that can produce their product on a larger scale.

Travel:  It is simply not very convenient to travel to different places to find produce, meat, or dairy products.  The grocery store is so convenient because everything is one place.  This is not so with everything local.

Sustainability:  Farming has been an important occupation in Pennsylvania for hundreds of years, so it makes environmental sense to buy local in this area.  There are other places throughout the country where this is not sustainable.

Seafood:  Technically, Maryland is less than 100 miles from Central Pennsylvania, so I will be able to eat seafood.

Stay tuned for next week when I address some helpful solutions to the problems of becoming a locavore.

Crock Pot Applesauce

I love homemade applesauce.  In this area, apples can be found in abundance right now.  Strites’ Orchard is even having an apple festival today.  You can enjoy fresh pressed cider and even pick your own apples.  They have Jonathan, Gala, Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, McCoun, McIntosh, and Honeycrisp apples just to name a few.  So in honor of all the apple varieties available, I am making applesauce in the crock pot.20160916_093357

Making applesauce in the crock pot is extremely easy and makes the house smell amazing.  I do not add any sugar, but if they do not turn out as sweet as I like, I may add honey afterwards.  Another great thing about applesauce is that after it has finished cooking and cooled, it can easily be stored in the freezer.  Just transfer it to a freezer bag or container and that’s it!  Thaw it at room temperature or heat it up on the stove for warm applesauce.  My grandmother used to make applesauce on the stove all the time, but with the amount of stirring and mashing involved, making it in the crock pot is so much easier!

Crock Pot Applesauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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Ingredients

  • 6 apples
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Chop the apples and remove the stems and core.  Place them in the crock pot
  2. Pour in the water and lemon juice.  Top with the cinnamon.
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours.  Stir and enjoy!

 

CSA Week 17

This week’s CSA from Strites’ Orchard included: plums, apples, sweet potatoes, potatoes, green peppers, beans, and Swiss chard.  I split it evenly with my co-worker without any plans of making anything special.20160913_124417

I found my grandmother’s recipe for German Potato Salad a week or two ago and I wanted to try it out.  The recipe is missing the amount of potatoes to use, so I just used the number I received in the CSA last week.  20160901_203438

I also wanted to try to spiralize the potatoes.  Unfortunately, my spiralizer works best on softer produce and the potatoes did not turn out right.  I then just cut the potatoes from this week’s CSA in chunks and made the salad that way.  I followed my grandmother’s recipe, except I substituted the sugar for a mixture of honey and maple syrup.  I suppose I did not account for the extra moisture in the recipe because the salad did turn out too soupy in the end.  I have to retry this recipe to make it perfect and then I will post it.20160914_083530

We all have bad cooking days or even weeks sometimes, but I am not letting it discourage me.  I will try again when I have bought more potatoes.

As an aside, I bought the bacon I used in the recipe from Anschuetz Farm and it is phenomenal.  It is thick cut and does not have any nitrate or sodium nitrate added.  It also does not cook down like normal bacon.  It stays thick and tender and tastes amazing. 20160914_082240