Week 15- Group A Buyer’s Group and Fresh Veggies on Thursday!

After readjusting the box contents and the Spokane order 4 times this morning, the following has been ordered:

Couple of ORG Washington Honeycrisp Apples, Avocado and an ORG Lemon, 1# Washington Asparagus, small bag of mixed herbs from the high tunnel at Lloyd Craft Farms, ORG Lacinato Kale, ORG Orange Bell Peppers, ORG Mini-Rainbow Carrots (12 oz), Sweet Texas Onion, ORG Cherry Tomatoes (pint), and a couple of ORG Garnet Yams$30

Couple of notes on the Contents:

Honeycrisp are the best…but the prices are all over the place this time of year. They are one of the most expensive at wholesale prices of $81.50 to $115.50 for a 40# box. They say the additional cost is because they have to trim the stems so they don’t damage the others in the box–that means handling them an extra time. I always buy apples organic as they are one of the most heavily laden with pesticides, next to tomatoes and peppers, most berries and greens.

Check out the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists at EWG.com–EWG is a group that gathers data on pesticide levels on all produce and updates it each year in April. I usually buy citrus–except lemons–conventional as the skins provide protection from chemical penetration…same for pineapples and avocados. I stay with organic on lemons as some folks throw the whole fruit into their Vitamix and eat/drink it all! This year I switched to some conventional onions (though I don’t think the flavor is as full), Asparagus, Cauliflower, and Broccoli. These items are all listed on the Clean 15.

Last week we had organic Asparagus, this week it is conventional. The first few weeks of new harvest the cost is similar until the production is up on the conventional…then the price drops. Washington asparagus is ready about the same time as our local asparagus. In my opinion, the flavor of store bought asparagus, whether organic or conventional, does not equal the flavor of ditch bank asparagus! I think, in my opinion, asparagus is one of those veggies that the flavor diminishes soon after harvest and continues to degrade.

Our favorite asparagus recipe is Creamed Asparagus on Toast (with a side of salad)–easy to make! This week I was out of milk so I substituted. Start with butter and onions, add fresh parsley and pepper, then throw in about 3 Tablespoons of flour, stir until mixed with the butter and bubbling. Normally this is when you would add the milk (or cream) and reduce the heat, but I added water with a tablespoon of chicken bouillion and cooked this to develope the flavor and eliminate the flour taste. Then I added more water until the it was the right consistency. When it was just right, and a few minutes before I was ready to serve it, I added a few generous tablespoons of sour cream, stirring again until the right consistency and adding additional broth or water until the right thickness. You can also use cashew milk–it works better than the almond milk for me. Not all non-dairy products handle heat–experiment.

In your box, you will have a small packet of herbs: Parsley, Oregano, and/or Savory. Play with them in your cooking and consider adding to your salads. Parsley has the freshest flavor and will handle both heat and no heat–great finely chopped in your salad or added to your salad dressing. As far as I’m concerned Oregano is great in all cooking! Savory is a little different and less appreciated. If I remember right, the savory plant resembles rosemary–not as woody– but the flavors are worlds apart! What you don’t use can be dried for use later…a little goes a long way with the savory, but it will never disappoint!

We were set to have Greybull Valley Green Leaf lettuce, but I got an email early this morning that they had a mechanical malfunction and the lettuces for this week burned up! It happens–two years ago we had a heater than failed in March in the greenhouse and all the baby plants froze. Greybull hopes to have some supply next week, but we will wait and see.

In the place of lettuce we have ORG Lacinato Kale, AKA Dinosaur or Black Kale. Kale is a nutrient powerhouse and a part of the Brassica family–eat it cooked or raw. Because of the stiffer texture, I recommend ribbon cutting the leaves and then marinating them briefly in a lemon and oil mixture (or a prepared Oil and Vinegar dressing). A kale salad will keep several days, unlike the lettuce that wilts quickly. Cooked kale is yummy! Either as chips or sliced with other dishes. I’ve been known to add kale to Sloppy Joes, Goulash, or Lasagna. What a way to ‘up’ the nutritional value of your food!

The other challenging box ingredient may be the Garnet Sweet Potatoes….yes you read that right…”sweet potatoes”. I usually call them “yams” but they are not really a yam at all. Garnet, Jewel, Beauregard are all dark, orangish fleshed sweet potatoes. Other colors of sweet potato flesh are yellow, white, and purple, with tan to purple colored skins. Of course the purple fleshed and skinned are going to be higher in anthocyanin, that antioxidant that we talked about the week before…same class as dark red to purple berries! Sweet potatoes can be cooked in the oven in a covered dish, wrapped in foil and baked, sliced and fried, or cooked in the microwave. Some varieties tend to be drier than others–usually the Garnet retains moisture and is a good balance of sweet and savory. I love mine slathered with butter–it helps to offset dryness, especially if I’ve cooked them a little longer than needed. (For the boxes, I’ve moved to the sweet potatoes from the potatoes to give us a break, help those that are diabetic, and to meet the needs of low starch diets.)

The other box items are onion, orange bell pepper, rainbow mini-carrots, and cherry tomatoes–great kitchen aids to help round out the salads or your food preparation needs! (Who doesn’t like a cooked onion in EVERYTHING!) Enjoy!!

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