CSA Week 12

I swear I haven’t forgotten about you all.

Last week was a tad hectic. I had a very busy week up at school, and needed to focus on lesson plans & grading (which, of course, I’m still behind in). My parents & grandma came in for a visit over the weekend, too – so I was all sorts of super busy having fun with them. Casinoing, going out to Traverse & the dunes, some cabinets for the laundry room, catching up…such a wonderful time!

Now, back to work and back to reality. Last week’s CSA, again, had a nice variety of veggies:


  • pattypan squash
  • yellow summer squash (I think this is the last of it)
  • kale
  • red cabbage
  • cucumber
  • thyme
  • eggplant
  • sweet peppers
  • green peppers
  • jalapeno peppers
  • lots of tomatoes

Between the CSA and the harvest from my garden, at one point last week I had 11 lbs of tomatoes sitting on my counter. I made it into salsa once again; my mom & I picked another 5 lbs of romas, which is now tomato sauce – that’s going to be so amazing once the s-word starts to fly. I’m not quite sure what else I’m going to get out of my garden the rest of this season – we had a moderate frost/freeze warning overnight. Of course, the farmers are pros, so the CSAs will continue to remain colorful.

Speaking of colorful, the leaves are starting to change. The human in me is loving the necessity of long-sleeved shirts, an extra blanket on the bed, and no window A/C. The band director in me is wishing for temps to be about 10-15* warmer. ‘Tis the season, I suppose!

CSA 2013 – Week 11

I have a lot of work to do.

I have a lot of work to do.

This week was the first week of school – thus I haven’t had much time to do any canning, pickling, etc. because I’ve been absolutely zonked once I get home. I need to make it a rule never to sit on my couch until I’m done with any housework or cooking for the night, because I swear that thing absorbs any remnant energy left in our bodies.

So as you can see…we’ve had a huge tomato harvest from the garden & I’ll need to go up there tomorrow (Saturday) to get another haul of tomatoes. I’ll be up bright and early to start making a batch of tomato sauce. Making it on your own and freezing it really isn’t bad at all; it just takes a while. I may end up purchasing a food mill Saturday to help out with this process – a strainer & spoon isn’t going to cut it this time around. I’ll have to weigh out all those tomatoes and let you know how many pounds it is – and get a picture of the heirlooms, too (they’re hidden in this picture).

Meanwhile, we had a nice little haul this week from the farm. A nice variety, but nothing too overwhelming.

Week of Sept 3, 2013

Week of Sept 3, 2013

  • orange & yellow sweet peppers (they’re so good!)
  • jalapeno (I think)
  • cucumber
  • basil
  • onion
  • purple pepper
  • banana peppers
  • more tomatoes!
  • eggplant
  • red potatoes
  • zucchini & yellow squash

One item I’m surprised isn’t in there is garlic! I had so much garlic last year and it lasted me until this past May. I think I may have to stock up a bit before the summer is over.

So far of this haul, I’ve frozen the eggplant, and thrown some banana peppers into leftover pickle brine (to see what they’d do). I’ve also started getting into the basil and taking caprese salad into work for lunch.

My first football game of the season is tonight – let’s just hope that the 30% chance of rain doesn’t come true! Do an anti-rain dance for me, if you can 😉

CSA 2013 – Week 10

I’ve been back at school for teacher meetings & open houses, so I didn’t pick up the CSA this week (thanks, Mike). I tell ya, where did all the weeks go? The summer has seemed to fly by…it’s been nice to catch up with my colleagues.  I have to admit though, the more time I’ve spent in my classroom these past few days, the more excited I am to start the year out. Which means that I haven’t completely lost my mind.


But enough about work. This week’s CSA had lots of variety! I was very excited to unpack it & see the amount of color that was in the box. I mean, wow. I was impressed!

2013, Week 10

2013, Week 10

  • white & purple eggplant…I spy eggplant parmesan in my future
  • red & green lettuces
  • cherry tomatoes
  • big ol’ tomatoes
  • more zucchini & summer squash
  • pattypan squash
  • a chocolate pepper (I think)
  • banana peppers
  • orange medium-hot pepper
  • onion
  • garlic
  • chinese cabbage
  • curly parsley

Speaking of tomatoes, the tomatoes in my garden have all started to turn red! I have quite a few large tomatoes for salsa & dicing, cherry tomatoes for roasting (I started them from seed! In the ground in May!), and pear-shaped ones for eating 🙂 I also have quite a few Roma tomatoes (that I started from seed in May, too!) that I hope to turn into my first batch of true homemade tomato sauce. I’ve got quite a bit of work ahead of me as far as canning goes; I won’t be home til after 7pm tomorrow due to Open House…and on days where I’m gone for 12 hours, I like to try and make it a point not to do anything to insanely productive once I get home.

Note the word try. 😉

I’ve also got some cucumbers that I could’ve sworn were not in existance on Friday. When we went up there tonight, I was so shocked to see them on the vines. As you can predict, they’ll become pickles. I tried my hand at bread & butter pickles a few weeks ago & Mike is definitely a fan; he’s requested a few more jars of it, which I’m more than happy to make.

But now I’m off to go prep part of dinner for tomorrow night. If it’s a winner, you may see it appear 🙂



CSA 2013: Week 9

Mother Nature turned the heat back on 🙂 Just in time for a visit from my  in-laws this coming weekend and my last true weekend of summer vacation (teacher meetings & open houses next week). I know that many of you out there are not fans of hot weather, so I won’t gloat anymore!

This week’s pick-up was a heavy one!


  • corn – 6 ears! Which is perfect because whenever I make corn, my husband will eat 2 ears.
  • a white pepper – ok, maybe yellowish white?
  • banana peppers (two were a top-off)
  • a jalapeno pepper
  • green cauliflower
  • fresh thyme
  • onion
  • eggplant
  • lettuce
  • zucchini
  • summer squash
  • a patty pan squash & a round squash
  • tomatoes (two were a top-off)

With last week’s haul, I dried the basil in my oven and found a great way to freeze parsley. I also diced up the squashes & froze them for soup. Several pints of salsa (I gave in and used Mrs. Wages), dill pickles, and pickled jalapenos are all now stashed away on a shelf in my basement stairwell; it’s looking as though I have canned enough to move everything downstairs – which is both a blessing & a curse, as I have a cool-temp Michigan basement full of lots of cobwebs 😦

As I mentioned before, one set of in-laws is coming to visit this weekend & we will be cooking a meal or two for them. We haven’t exactly figured out what to make yet, though…but we’re getting there 🙂

CSA 2013 – Week 8

Boy, did it cool off this week! The past few days we’ve been in jeans & sweatshirts all but the afternoon. It’s finally starting to warm-up a bit and we should see the high 70s again by the weekend, thankfully. If it were late September or early October, this weather would be *perfect*. But, it’s mid-August. I’m not ready yet 😉

This week’s CSA was still chock-full of goodies, as usual.

2013, Week 8

2013, Week 8

  • flat-leaf parsley
  • another huge basil plant
  • cherry tomatoes
  • bigger tomatoes
  • onions
  • garlic (this week’s top-off choice)
  • eggplant
  • green & purple peppers
  • zucchini & yellow squash
  • cauliflower
  • curly kale
  • red potatoes

Yep, this is ONE clove from this week’s garlic bulbs!

The cherry tomatoes have been used in a chopped caprese salad that I reblogged the other day from Inherchucks. The cauliflower was roasted right away with some garlic & olive oil, and served alongside our favorite meatloaf from a local butcher (which was definitely a comfort-food choice with the colder weather we’ve had).

I brought home two bulbs of garlic and decided to roast one, using AnnieRie’s technique. The oven was nice and warm from the meatloaf & roasted cauliflower, so it was the perfect time to do so. Coveyou’s garlic has some large, large cloves this year! The garlic clove that I had chopped to go with the cauliflower was pretty big, but the ones coming from the roasted bulb were even bigger – and photo-worthy, even.

The roasted garlic gloves (the final count came to 4 or 5 for that bulb, wow) are now sitting in a small glass jar in the freezer, and will be perfect on the breads I’ve bought home this week.

In case you haven’t noticed, I have a new page up on the Spicy Simmer, called What’s for Dinner? Here you can get an idea of what we’re planning to eat all week, as well as the CSA vegetables that we need to use cook with. It’s ever-changing, depending on work schedules, gathering with friends, and spontaneous trips to the grocery store. It’s also a great way to get a sneak peak as to some recipes that may be appearing on here.

QUESTION OF THE DAY/WEEK: I now have 1 and a half bunches of flat-leaf parsley. What to do, what to do? Any ideas?

Shared at Inherchucks’ CSA Round-up #77

Chopped Caprese Salad

I made this yesterday for lunch – and it was fantastic. I didn’t really measure out how much of anything I put in since it was just for me – but you have to try this! The kalamata olives take this salad to the next level and I’ll probably eat this one for lunch today, too!

In Her Chucks

Chopped Caprese Salad - In Her Chucks

After nearly three years as a loyal CSA subscriber, I can honestly say, my weekly boxes have converted me in ways I never thought possible.  Once upon a time I used to feel lost and overwhelmed by the site of unwanted veggies but now I can honestly say I am a beet buff, a kale craver and most recently a proud tomato lover.

And if it weren’t for the help of my CSA, I don’t think those conversions would have been possible.  Week after week, they provided me with bunches of soil dusted root vegetables, luscious leafy greens and perfectly plump tomatoes.  And because I wouldn’t dare waste any of it, I had to get creative.  And slowly but surely, I became more and more excited to get these items in my box.  And today, I will pretty much eat anything.

Now, I know Caprese Salads aren’t anything new.  I…

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Fiesta Bean Salad

This side dish, with Latin seasonings, is a great sidekick for tacos, enchiladas, or anything grilled. I served these with some of Skinnytaste’s Grilled Cilantro Lime Shrimp Kabobs (recipe coming soon). The dinner was quick, easy, and delicious – which means it’s perfect for the two of us! The fresh CSA tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro made this dish absolutely spectacular.

Fiesta Bean Salad

adapted from Skinnytaste

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • a dash of salt
  • 1 (15-oz) can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  1. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, lime juice, oil, cumin, crushed red pepper, and salt. Set aside; this is your dressing.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. When you are ready to add the salad – add the avocado & dressing; mix to combine.

    Fiesta Bean Salad & some amazing shrimp

    Fiesta Bean Salad & some amazing shrimp

I assembled most of this salad in the morning before I headed out to band camp for the day – when I got home, I mixed up the dressing. Once the shrimp were finished cooking, I added it to the salad, along with the avocado.

If you are a person that really loves vinegar, you can also add some jalapeno flavored vinegar to this – it gives it just a little bit of heat with a bit more acidity and tang, that blends perfectly with the lime juice.  This dish could go with absolutely anything with a Latin flavor to it; something tells me that this will make an appearance on our table another time this summer.

We both agreed that this salad was great!  It made quite a bit of salad, so much so that Mike was able to take some for lunch the next day. Perfect counterpoint to anything grilled – as you see in the picture and with my next post!

CSA 2013 – Week 7

I’m still trying to get used to the fact that it’s August. Less than 4 weeks until school starts – I’m not ready yet! But, I am getting there 🙂 Band Camp 2013 is coming to a close and I’m all geared up to enjoy a few more summer days.  Thankfully, our CSA goes way past the summer so we have many more weeks to enjoy fresh farm produce 🙂

Mike was a huge help in the kitchen this weekend as we processed several of our CSA goodies. The basil became two more tubs of garlic scape pesto. The kale was blanched & frozen; the tomatoes became salsa (one jar broke in the water bath canner, though :-() The thyme is drying in our basement stairwell. From our garden, we picked some potatoes, with my husband sliced with our mandoline and made potato chips! They were delicious! We also harvested our first cucumber and that became pickles. The only thing that I really need to get around to playing with is the beets. We’ve still got ’em, and I need to do something with ’em.

This week, we have a few more fun things to work with.


Week 7

  • yellow summer squash – the small one in front is actually fused together
  • eggplant
  • a purple pepper!
  • cauliflower
  • potatoes
  • tomatoes (some were a top-off choice)
  • dinosaur kale
  • chinese cabbage
  • onion
  • garlic
  • patty-pan squash
  • parsley
  • cilantro

What a haul!

So far the only two dishes I have planned are eggplant parmesan (as per requested by my husband) and egg rolls, which I intend to freeze (after eating some for dinner). Mmmm, egg rolls 😀

I have all the ingredients necessary (tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapenos) to make salsa…

…do you have, or know of, any good salsa recipes?

**It’s always a pleasure to link up with Inherchucks’ CSA Round-up!**

CSA 2013 – Week 6

What wacky, wacky weather. Last weekend it felt like fall – thankfully we are back up to perfect summer temperatures; not too hot, not too cold.

This past week was Week 1 of Band Camp – so it was my husband’s job to pick up the CSA (meaning he got to choose our top-off veggies!). I’m glad that the farm is on his route home, so he can take care of things while I am working late – thank you, Hubs 🙂

This week included a nice variety of produce:


Week 6, with my kitchen ‘helper’, Bandit

  • zucchini
  • beets (top-off)
  • eggplant
  • thyme
  • an onion! (Coveyou grows the best onions)
  • tomatoes (one was a top-off)
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower – it has hues of purple in it
  • green beans
  • a ginormous basil plant, roots and all

Today will be spent playing ‘catch-up’ with making sure our CSA vegetables are processed for canning or the freezer, or ready to go for this week’s meals. This past week we ended up dining out twice – once because our potluck fell through, and the other because it was our 5-year anniversary.

My gift from Hubs

My gift from Hubs

Our tradition for our anniversaries is to stick to the “traditional gift” theme. The traditional gift for the 5-year anniversary (as much of a milestone as it is), is wood. I purchased an oak barrel for my husband – who doesn’t hit at gifts very often, but hinted again and again for a barrel so that he can brew a bourbon beer of some sort.

For me, my husband purchased a beautiful bread & oil board, made out of maple. It’s so pretty! He also purchased some wine, cheese, & crackers so that we could break it in before we went out for the evening. We weren’t sure, though, if it was okay to put cheese on it, so we put it on a plate – I’ll have to do some research between now and the next time we plan to use it (which will probably be soon, as we have some leftover cheese in the fridge! Mmm….:-))

Well, it’s off to the store for some grocery shopping before our productive day commences…if this blog seems a little quiet this week, it’s because I ran out of time to schedule posts – it’s Week 2 of Band Camp! Have a lovely Sunday 😀

CSA 2013 – Week 5

With it being late July and that heatwave we had last week, there was a shift in the vegetables we received and we’re starting to get into what I like to call ‘the good stuff’. Our weekly email from our CSA farm even talked about how this week’s weather really played a role in what we received in our shares. A week ago it was in the 90’s. Yesterday, I’m not sure we even hit 70*. It feels more like September outside than July – which, as a teacher, makes me cringe just a wee bit (now don’t get me wrong here – Autumn is my favorite season, and I absolutely love teaching & what I do for a living. So, hush! :-P).

As much as I’ve enjoyed receiving lots of lettuces and greens, the new varieties of veggies we’ve been receiving is a nice, welcomed change:


  • lacinato kale (‘top off’)
  • garlic!
  • broccoli
  • an enormous head of chinese cabbage
  • tomatoes
  • red butter lettuce
  • cucumber
  • romaine lettuce (‘top off’)
  • cilantro
  • peas

I’ve already got the chinese cabbage blanched & frozen in my fridge, as it will be great for soup and eggrolls this fall. When it comes to preserving/freezing, I’m starting to slowly get the hang of things. I find myself staying up late on CSA day, getting at least one vegetable frozen/canned/chopped in some way. I know it will save me time & freshness in the long run.

I also have an experiment going – hanging herbs to dry in my basement stairwell. I’m hoping that it is cool enough and dry enough to get my cilantro & thyme to dry, rather than mold. We shall see!

Here’s a question for you: What to do with those peas?!