Hello fellow CSA members. For those of you returning members, welcome back to Simply Fresh, your weekly blog post designed to inform, instruct, and inspire the healthful, flavorful, and efficient utilization of your CSA produce. For those of you who are new to Holcomb Farm this year, let me quickly introduce myself and this column.
My name is Julie Wern. I have been a Holcomb CSA member for several years, in which time I have been writing a weekly newsletter/blog called Simply Fresh. In this blog I highlight ways to select, store and utlilize various produce items. I even include recipes and cooking techniques. I am a food enthusiast and past caterer with extensive experience in the kitchen. I also teach cooking and cookie decorating classes. I think you will find Simply Fresh a valuable addition to your CSA experience.
Please know that the Holcomb Farm administration is working towards transferring past issues of Simply Fresh from the old blogsite onto this new one. This will allow you to use the “Search” feature to peruse past publications and to use a key word to find specific information and recipes. Until then, this feature will only be relevant for this season’s newsletters.
Also, keep in mind that Simply Fresh works like any other blog. There is a feature to add “Comments” at the end of the blog post. I welcome your feedback as an essential tool for bringing you high quality and useful posts.
Finally, I am happy to announce that I will soon publish an official Holcomb Farm Pinterest Board. Details soon to follow.
General Tip—Prepare your Pantry
One thing I have discovered over the years is that the more varied and interesting my pantry (or staple) ingredients, the more varied and interesting my vegetable culinary adventures. For one, I find it a bummer to bring home such bountiful produce only to realize that in order to prepare it I need to make yet another trip to the grocery store. Two, having a full pantry allows me to come up with quick yet delicious last minute meals for those busy summer weekday evenings. Thus, as we begin a new season at the farm, I thought it might be helpful, once again, to suggest some pantry ingredients to have on hand throughout the summer.
However, the pantry suggestions below are no doubt biased by my own preferences of what is healthful and flavorful eating. My family is not vegetarian or vegan, although we incorporate many guidelines into our diet that we believe promote overall health and vitality. Thus you will find a preference both in this list, and in Simply Fresh posts, for things like whole grains, low fat dairy products and foods, and lean proteins.
My family also tends to like highly flavored foods with international touches, so my pantry list tends to have an international bent. Consequently it includes many of the kinds of ingredients that you will find in the recipes I offer in the newsletters.
Given all these issues, I encourage you not to consider this list a “must have” shopping guide but rather a jumping off point. The idea is to get you thinking about your own preferences and the kinds of pantry items that best suit your own family. And while you are at it, perhaps you might consider adding a few new items you haven’t used before and try some interesting new recipes from Simply Fresh.
In the interest of space, I have chosen not to include the more obvious staples such as flour, salt, sugar etc.. While some of the items listed below might seem obscure, they can be found in most supermarkets and, certainly, in stores like health or whole foods markets.
Condiments—condiments offer a quick and flavorful way to liven up otherwise simply prepared foods. There is a whole world of flavorful condiments outside of ketchup.
Hoisin Sauce and/or oyster sauce and/or black bean sauce
Chile-garlic sauce (sambal oelek)
Vietnamese Fish sauce
Sriracha (Asian hot sauce) or other hot sauce
Dijon and/or whole grain mustard
Yellow (mild) miso
Pitted kalamata olives or oil cured olives
Roasted Red Peppers (until those wonderful peppers are harvested)
Favorite BBQ sauce
Oils/vinegars/wines—great for sautés, stir fries, braising, vinaigrettes, and finishing dishes
Good quality olive oil
Canola oil or other light flavored oil with good smoke point
sesame oil—keep in refrigerator to increase shelf life
Low sodium soy sauce
White wine and red wine vinegars
White and red cooking wines
Sherry cooking wine
Mirin, Sake and/or Chinese rice wine (can usually sub with white or sherry wine)
Spices—think bbq rubs, roasts, and generally making everything more exciting
Onion powder and/or salt
Garlic powder and/or salt
Chinese 5-spice powder
Spanish smoked paprika (unique sweet, yet smoky flavor)
Dried oregano, dill, thyme, rosemary, sage
Kosher, Sea salt and/or fleur de sel
Fresh peppercorns in peppermill
Spice mixes (like garam masala, berebere, Mexican, ras al hanout…)
Produce—a necessary base for any good dish
Onions—refrigerate to increase shelf life and reduce “tearing” while cutting
Shallots—refrigerate to increase shelf life
Fresh ginger—peel then store airtight in freezer for quick, easy grating at any time
Lemons and limes
Fresh oranges or orange juice
Jalapenos (until the harvest comes in)
Grains/pasta/beans—to serve with, alongside, or atop for added substance and interest. Many a vegetable dish can be made into a meal by simply adding these items.
Rice, udon, and/or soba noodles
Spaghetti, linguine and/or tubular pasta of choice
Whole wheat or regular cous cous
Quinoa, barley and/or Bulgur
Canned black, cannellini and/or pinto beans (use dried when possible)
Canned garbanzo beans (use dried when possible)
Canned tomatoes (for before the tomato harvest)
Panko and regular bread crumbs (regular or whole wheat)
Low sodium chicken, beef and/or vegetable broth (canned or home-made)
Light or regular coconut milk
Peanut butter or preferred nut butters
Nuts (almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, & pistachios) (freeze to increase shelf life)
Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
Pure maple syrup
Mayonnaise of choice (we use light)
Again, this is not a “must have” or even an exhaustive list. It is simply a springboard for thought and action. Hopefully, many of you will find it useful in some way.
For those of you who are familiar with my blog, you know I can’t do a post without including a recipe…so here you are…
The following is a wonderful pantry spice mix that keeps well and has universal appeal. It can be sprinkled on meat or vegetables before grilling to make a tasty and healthful taco or burrito filling. (Keep in mind that most commercial taco filling mixes contain MSG). It is also great mixed into buttermilk and a little mayonnaise (or sour cream or even yogurt) for a creamy salad dressing or dip. It is also perfect stirred into soups, stews, chilis, or grains. We love it sprinkled on sweet potatoes and winter squash.
This is “single recipe” size and is great for one time use. However I recommend that you quadruple the recipe (or more) and keep it at all times in your pantry. This recipe is adapted from Grouprecipes.com.
– 1 tablespoon chili powder
– 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, heaping
– 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, heaping
– 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or less, according to desired degree of heat
– 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
– 1/2 teaspoon paprika
– 2 teaspoons ground cumin
– 1 teaspoon coarse salt
– 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Mix well and store in airtight container. I like to grind in a morter and pestle to release flavors. Makes about 3 tablespoons.
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