Friday, June 11, 2010

It's CSA Time!!!

Can you believe the Harmony Valley Farm CSA season has already been underway long enough to be on Box #3? This City Girl can't! Life is crazy around here these days so I haven't had much time for posting. Suffice it to say using up the box has been MUCH easier than last year now that I have some experience under my belt!

So here's a quick summary of my faves so far this year:
  • Frittata - you can use up just about anything in these and they are such a breeze to make! Best of all? The 5 year old even likes 'em! I started out with a Harmony Valley Farm recipe for Nettle Frittata (Yes, nettles! And they were GOOD!) and have expanded my horizons from there. Seriously, almost anything goes good in a Frittata - I have tried seasoned ground chicken sausage, potatoes, greens, and even sauteed radishes! And of course throw in some onions and garlicky stuff to your liking.
  • Sunchoke Dip - By far one of my fave standby's from last year! Tastes like hummus, and oh so good with some sliced radish chips. This coming from a gal who swore she didn't like radishes, nuh-uh, never, no-how, no-way! Mmmmm.... radish chips great for dipping!
  • Kale Pie - Though it calls for kale, I made this to use up my Yukina Savoy. And boy was it delish! A little bland for my taste at first, but top with some spreadable cheese and you're good to go! I think next time I'll actually make it as a savory breakfast dish for the week. Wait, next time? What am I talking about? We just got more Yukina Savoy in our box this week! I think I know what I'm doing with it already...!
  • Minty Pea-Vine Pops - Even though someone accused me of trying to be the mom who "hides" vegetables in food to get her kids to eat them, I still love these things. I made them last year, and just had to do it again when we got such a nice large bunch of pea vines again this year. Instead of using peas like the recipe calls for, I steamed the pea vines until tender, then pureed with the cream cheese. And hey, I'm not hiding them! I was perfectly clear when I told my son there were pea vines in there! And he still loves 'em! As did the rest of us!
  • Ryan's Anything Green Curry - Shared by a fellow Harmony Valley Farm CSA-er this recipe rocks my world! It's going to be one of my tried & true standby's this season, I can tell already! We used up some spinach and other greens this way and once again it was one of those dishes the WHOLE family loved. Can't beat that!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

City Girl CSA Recipes Online!

Oh my goodness! Sick babies, teething babies, full time work and desperate attempts to get my gardens going have left almost no time for posting these days! Despite that, this City Girl has had time for one very essential thing: keeping a list of recipes useful for my CSA shares. And the best thing about that? I've made it public!

A few months ago, I discovered the best thing since sliced bread: Evernote. With this handy dandy little program (available for download, online, or iPhone - I use all three!) you can clip notes on various subjects, link them between the web and your various devices AND share them with the world if you so choose! The biggest plus for City Girl about all this? I get to access my saved CSA recipes on my iPod right when I need them in the kitchen! Without the hassle (or waste!) of printed sheets of paper scattered throughout my recipe cupboard. Can you tell I'm psyched?

So, in case it's useful to you all, I've made them fully accessible to the world via Evernote:
Please note, I do NOT have all of my recipes from last year uploaded here yet, so there are still many that you will only find posted on this blog. But I'm workin' on it! And will continue to add useful stuff as this year's CSA continues! Take a peek and leave me a comment to let me know what you think, especially if you give any of 'em a try! I have tried several, but not all of the recipes posted in my collection.

Monday, April 19, 2010


So there's a brave new experiment going on these past few weeks in the City Girl household. We're starting this year's garden from seeds! This is a first for me, so I of course, sought some advice from the web. And I found this nifty little idea for starting seedlings in empty water or milk jugs.

Now, before you scold me for my ecological unfriendliness of buying water let me just say that we happen to live in a home old enough to have lead pipe connecting the city water service to our house. Supposedly not an issue if you run your water long enough before drinking, but would you take chances with the adorable twin boys we have? I didn't think so! So bottled water for the babes it is.

But even better if I can re-purpose the jugs right?! So the idea couldn't be simpler. You cut the jug in half, plant your seeds, put the top back on and supposedly this creates a greenhouse like environment which helps them grow even better! Since we have no room in my house for me to leave growing seedlings around anywhere, I had to put them out on our three season porch which is cold. So I also invested in a warming mat and grow light. I told myself it'll pay off in the long run. I didn't mark the day that the experiment started but I'd venture a guess it was around mid-March.

Here's some photos for proof of my City Girl experiment. See how big my tomatoes are getting! And these were taken a whole week ago! In the picture of four jug bases, the one with much smaller plants is my broccoli. All three others are tomatoes. Perhaps my experiment worked too good though: I had needed only six tomato plants and I have 15 healthy seedlings! All the better for sharing, right?

What new things are you trying this year in your garden? Next up, as soon as I get another break from those twin boys, The Great City Girl Garden Expansion! Yup, we're tripling the size of our garden space this year. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Only time will tell!

Eastern European Vegetable Stew

We started a new tradition in the City Girl household in which our oldest (almost 5 year old) gets to choose whatever vegetables or fruit he wants at the co-op when we go shopping. I do this partly to let him feel like he 'gets' something of his own choosing at the store, and partly so he can feel invested in some of the fruits and vegetables we buy in the hopes that he's more likely to eat them.

Now, don't get me wrong. This kid is a fabulous vegetable eater and always has been! But we're talkin' the 'normal' veggies. You know, green beans, broccoli, corn, carrots, peas. Those kinda things. So last year when we joined a CSA there was plenty he turned his nose up at. So my hope was that by letting him have some fun with it during these winter months when we have to go purchasing them at the co-op, that he might get into some of these more 'unusual' veggies a bit more before this year's CSA starts up again.

So last week he declared,"Let's get some of these radishes!" while holding up a bunch of beets. After my chuckling subsided I explained that they were beets and told him I think I knew just the thing we could make with them.

Another one of our recent endeavors is to involve him more in the cooking. I find that when he has helped to make something, even something he might normally turn his nose up at, he's typically more invested and more willing (sometimes even eager!) to give it a try. So, we made Eastern European Vegetable Stew from the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook. He helped cut the onions, using his kids' scissors. (Really it works great! Try it!) Dumped them in and helped stir the soup. I showed him what the beets looked like as I chopped them. And lo and behold Little City Boy ate not just one bowlful but THREE! He LOVED it! What a joyful dinner we had!

So City Girl wants to know: Do you have any tips for involving the kids in cooking? Anything that helps your kiddos get excited about trying healthy foods? I only recently learned the kid scissors trick and am psyched that there's now some 'chopping' Little City Boy can help with too! They work great on onions, peppers, spinach, and pretty much anything that's not a very hard vegetable. Of course, the grown-up has to do some work - I chopped the onions into slices first and then he cut up the slices with his scissors.

And don't you worry - This City girl is not holdin' out on you! In case you want to try it at home, here's the recipe. As I look at this again, I realize we forgot to add the cider vinegar but it still tasted great!

Eastern European Vegetable Stew
2 T vegetable oil or olive oil
2 c chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 c peeled & diced potatoes
1 c peeled & diced carrots
1 c peeled & diced parsnips
2 c peeled & diced turnips and/or rutabaga (I used 1 c each)
2 c peeled & diced beets
6 c water
2 t salt
2 bay leaves
1 T minced fresh thyme (1 t dried)
1/4 c cider vinegar
5 c rinsed & chopped beet greens, Swiss chard, or spinach

1/2 c sour cream or plain nonfat yogurt (optional - but oh so good! City Girl would never eat this without it because in my opinion it makes the soup!!)

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and add the onions and garlic. Cover & saute on medium heat for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft. Add the potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips and/or rutabaga, beets, water, salt, bay leaves, and herbs. Cover and bring to a boil; then cook on medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

Add the vinegar and greens. Gently simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the greens are tender. Serve garnished with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt if you like.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Braucher's Sunshine Harvest Farm - a Meat CSA!

In the dead of winter, when the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares stopped coming from Harmony Valley Farm, this City Girl had the delight of still feeling like she could support local farm fresh food with a meat CSA! Yup, you heard that right M-E-A-T CSA! And boy do I love it! It comes from Braucher's Sunshine Harvest Farm. Unlike a veggie CSA there is no sign-up deadline. You can sign up whenever you want for full or half shares and prepay for a 3-month or 6-month time frame.

A full share ($100/mo) includes:

  • 2 whole frozen chickens (8 lbs.)
  • 2 dozen eggs
  • 4 lbs. of lean ground beef
  • 6 lbs. of a variety of meats (beef & pork; roasts, steaks, stew cuts, kabobs, fajita meat, bacon, sausage, ham, etc.)

You have the option to omit pork if you wish.

A 1/2 share is approximately 10 lbs. of meat and eggs (half of the items listed for the full share above).

There are many things for this City Girl to love about our meat CSA. Here are a few:

  1. I am able to enjoy organic, pastured, grass-fed and sustainably raised LOCAL meat!
  2. I don't have to agonize over the seemingly expensive similarly raised meats at the Co-op. I pick up my share each month (which is always PLENTY for our family) and figure out what to make based on what we received.
  3. I love, love, love having the large roasts they occasionally put in our share. They can be cooked easily (slow cooker, pressure cooker) and make enough meat that I can usually make a second meal out of the leftover meat for our small family. Two for one!
  4. I love, love, love, love, love that they are so responsive to personal requests! When our twins were born I knew we'd have little time for cooking for the first month or two, or at least not enough time to make use of ALL of the meat in our share. So I asked them if they could include some *gasp* more processed meats in our order for a couple of months. We got delicious brats, hot dogs, bacon, summer sausage and the like for a while. It was great!
  5. And my favorite of all - an excuse to take a trip across the river to Minneapolis for the pickup.

    In the summers it's at the Mill City Farmer's Market. I take my four-year-old, park the car at a park 'n ride on the light rail and ride the train to the market which is just a BLAST for him. We check out the market, get some lunch, hear some live tunes (yes, there's live music!) and enjoy the scenic river sometimes even taking a walk on the nearby Stone Arch Bridge. What a wonderful monthly outing.

    In the winters it's at the indoor farmer's market held at Local D'Lish in downtown Minneapolis. Such a blast to have a smaller winter version of a farmer's market. Lots of local vendors there often sampling their goods.

Want to check it out? Visit Braucher's Sunshine Harvest Farm online to read more.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Green Adventures Plus Two! Oh And Cloth Diapers Too!

Boy, those "couple of weeks" off referenced in my last post were sure an understatement! That said, I promised to come back so here I am!

First of all, I have to say, I do believe we have got the cutest little twin boys in the world. We are so blessed. And they actually SLEEP! Still, there is little time for much in the way of any fancy sorts of green endeavors. I am still keeping up with our CSAs and love them, but aside from that and the usual recycling my green-ness has been a bit pathetic!

One new effort that is successfully underway though is the cloth diaper experiment. We have been using Do Good Diapers cloth diaper service and it is F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S! Couldn't be easier. Seriously. And adding a few more diapers to cover two babies instead of just one is really only a few more bucks a month. So for little more than the cost of disposables for a singleton, we get enough cloth diapers PLUS the laundering for TWINS! Like I said: F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!

The process couldn't be easier. Do Good Diapers drops off a set of diapers once a week. We use them, putting the dirty ones in a diaper pail - with the dirty business inside and all . We set them out on the front doorstep the following week for them to pick up and they leave behind a new batch of clean ones. What a cinch!

Now for those of you like this City Girl you might be wondering, "Yeah, but do they work as good as disposables?" "Do they leak?" "Aren't they a pain to put on?" Well, since we used disposables on our singleton and I have experience with both, I'm here to give you the full City Girl scoop.


  1. No more diaper rash (okay there was that once when the twins were sick...)
  2. No more poop blowouts - really!
  3. Half the price of disposables for twins! Or about the same for singleton! Or even cheaper if you launder them yourself!
  4. No guilty conscious about adding to the landfill and no need for that extra large garbage bin you otherwise need during the baby years!
  5. Earlier potty training (or so they say - will report on that one in a year or two!)


  1. They do seem to take up more space in the diaper bag (especially noticeable when trying to pack for two!)
  2. It takes about 5 seconds longer to put them on.
  3. When you're out and about you have to lug the dirty cloth diapers around with you in the diaper bag til you get home.

I have to say, looking at the lists, the pros FAR outweigh the cons! One thing I didn't put on the list because it could be a pro OR a con, is the big-round-cloth-diaper-butt-syndrome. Cloth diapers are much bulkier than disposables. But for us, this is actually a pro! I have no earthly idea how our twins would keep pants on without their big cloth diaper butts. They're so skinny they'd fall right off!

I guess the biggest surprise to this City Girl about using cloth is that it really is not any harder than using disposables. Yes, I am kind of resentful when we're out for the entire day and I wind up with a huge bag of dirty diapers in my diaper bag. BUT compare that to the experience of going through those dirty diaper blowouts we had with disposables? I'll take cloth thank you very much!!!

And I'm just thrilled about the financial savings. Before I began my green initiatives I thought that being green was more costly than not being green. So I'm psyched to find yet another way it actually SAVES me money! Can't beat that, can ya?

If you're like I was and on the fence about whether or not to try cloth, see if you have a local diaper service and if they offer any starter or trial packages. It was a great no-commitment way for us to try things out. We got diaper covers and a diaper pail on loan so we really had to make no investment whatsoever until our package ran out at 12 weeks. By then we were sure we wanted to stick with cloth and had already made an investment in diaper covers that worked better for our little guys skinny legs. Couldn't have worked out better.

To close, I'll share a photo of our happy boys sporting their cloth.