“Well, I suppose we don’t need farmers much. Just three times a day.”
My husband and I have subscribed to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) service since 2007. For 18-20 weeks during the growing season (typically late June to early October), we receive fresh vegetables grown at a local farm. We like knowing the farmers, and have learned to prepare some vegetables we never would have tried otherwise.
This year, Tom and I decided to get a box of fresh veggies from Angelic Organics every-other week. We've tried other CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), but wanted to try the Grand-daddy of all CSAs.
Angelic Organic's farm is located in Caledonia, northern Boone County, about a 30 minute drive from Harvard. It's a peaceful, beautiful drive past farm fields. The final approach to Angelic is on a gravel road and down a long gravel driveway to the farm.
Tidy fields of vegetables surround the farm buildings, and each time I have been there, young people are at work in the fields weeding and harvesting. The farm has a drip irrigation system, so the drought has not been a problem.
Angelic Organics was started in 1990 by John Peterson on land his family has farmed since the 1930s. Farmer John, as he is called, began using organic farming methods, and in 1993 started operating the CSA. Today, the farm provides vegetables to over 1,200 families throughout the Chicago and Rockford area through a network of 30 pick-up sites.
We have had four boxes so far, and each has had a great variety of vegetables, as well as the occasional melon.
The last two boxes included an abundance of sweet corn, beets and eggplant. The sweet corn is easy - it is delicious cooked on the cob. Tom likes his with a little butter, and I like mine with a little salt. Tom eats his by working his way around the cob, and I always eat mine from one end to the other (it takes three passes to eat it all).
Beets have been more challenging, but we've found a couple of recipes that are quite delicious. Here's my favorite. It's a unique taste - a little bit sweet with a nice texture.
Beets with Pasta
Pasta for four (I prefer angel hair)
About one pound of beets, roasted and chopped into one-inch pieces
Six tablespoons of real butter
One tablespoon of poppy seeds
Cook pasta according to directions
While pasta cooks, brown butter in large skillet
Once butter is browned, stir in poppyseeds
Add beets to blender or food processor with a half cup of pasta water and process into a rough puree
Stir beets and pasta into butter, mix well and heat thoroughly
Serve topped with goat cheese to taste.
Eggplant is the most challenging since Tom's attitude is "I hate eggplant!" But, with the right recipe, he changes his tune. The easiest way to fix the eggplant is to dice it and add it to a stir-fry with other vegetables. It doesn't have a particularly strong flavor, so blend well with other veggies and spices.
However, my favorite way to prepare eggplant is to fry it and serve with pasta and tomato sauce. (And if I am home alone when I fix it, I am liable to eat the eggplant by itself.)
Crisp fried eggplant
One large eggplant sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
One large egg
One third cup corn starch
One half cup breadcrumbs
1. To prepare eggplant, salt both sides of each slice and place in a single layer between papertowels. Place weighted object on top of eggplant for about 30 minutes to press out moisture.
2. Heat oil in large skillet
3. Place corn starch, egg and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls
4. Coat each slice of eggplant in corn starch, then egg, then breadcrumbs and add to hot oil
5. Brown each slice on both sides, adding additional oil as needed. Remove browned slices to plate with papertowel to help remove excess oil.
Serve over pasta with tomato sauce.
Both recipes reheat well. I suggest reheating beets and pasta by cooking in a skillet with a little bit of butter. Eggplant slices reheat well if placed in a toaster oven until hot (that keeps them crispy).
Both recipes were found on my favorite recipe site: www.epicurious.com