CSA Box Pickup

I have sadly skipped a few weeks of CSA posts; usually because my camera never seemed to be handy when I was shoving things in the fridge putting things away. This week I made sure to have my camera nearby…and charged…since I knew there was something special in the delivery.

 

Now is probably the best time to mention that I’ve made a difficult decision to suspend my CSA pickup for a short while. While I’m trying to actively lose weight, I’m sticking to certain foods which don’t always fall in line with what I get in the box. If I had a little more time to try new recipes more often, it wouldn’t be an issue. All the CSA goodies are incredibly healthy and delicious, but I find myself not eating them fast enough lately to justify the cost. My hope to to take a short break and pick back up with the box in a few months. So, this will likely be the last CSA pick up for a while. However, I do plan to continue using my farmer market to purchase healthy food. I’m sold on the fact that the fruits/veggies coming from my local Farmer’s Market is far superior to my big box grocery store so I plan to continue using them as a resource.

 

This week was full of great stuff like tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce, chard, basil…

CSA Box_1

and green beans.

CSA Box_2

Wait, what’s that you see?

Hello Lovely Watermelon!

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That sucker was HEAVY, probably a good 5-7 lbs. Turns out it was also a little different than the classic watermelon.

It’s YELLOW!

Yellow Watermelon

I had never seen a yellow watermelon, but it had the same great watermelon taste, just a little milder.

Yellow Watermelon

It was a big haul this week. However, here lies the problem. I had to pick up this CSA box, throw it in the fridge and then run to my parents house for a birthday celebration. The next morning I pulled out the lettuce to package it up properly so it would last the week and it was ALL wilted already. I had to throw out 2 heads of lettuce, a bunch of chard, and basil. Half my box was in the trash within 24 hours. Bummer.

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Aside from the fruits and veggies, I will miss the handmade bouquets they create for me to accompany my pickup. There is a part of me that feels so special when they start building the bouquet when they see me.

CSA Box_4

Although, Trader Joe’s has some amazing flowers too…so all is not lost.

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Seriously beautiful mums from TJs this past weekend. 

Trader Joes Flowers Mums_1

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CSA Box #7 & Weekend Wrap Up

Where is this month going? I can’t believe June is almost over and I’ve barely had a chance to get any blog posts up. When not working, this month has really been dedicated to getting all those ‘homeowner’/adult chores out of the way, and I wouldn’t want to bore you with them anyway. I’ll spare you the numerous screens I repaired this weekend or the outlet covers I’ve swapped out. Oh, and not to mention all those little springy things behind the doors (my technical jargon for a door stop), yeah…I’ve been busy changing those out too. Turns out the previous owners were a little tough on their doors and busted most of the bumpers, and the ones that aren’t broken are missing altogether. For some reason they never ranked high enough on the ‘To Do’ list until now.

 

Not to worry, I’ve been making progress on a few other very important things too. I finally organized all my nail polish. ::sigh:: That’s actually not a joke, I built boxes to organize my nail polish which I’ll show you in another post. I also did some gardening and the Spare Bedroom moulding has finally been primed and painted. I hope to have the headboard up this week. Then I can move to the very fun task of ceiling fan shopping (why are they all SO ugly?).

So at the moment, I’m covered in paint (and hives, although that is unrelated to the paint) and I’m getting ready to put my shoes on for a run, so I’ll leave you with a few pictures from the weekend.

 

My local Farmer’s Market

Temecula Farmer's Market

The cute little Old Town that I visit every 2 weeks to pick up my CSA box.

Old Town Temecula

 

Speaking of CSA…lots of green this week.

CSA Box_5

CSA Box_4

I think it’s time to turn some zucchini into Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread…Yum!

CSA Box_3

…and some delicious berries

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CSA Box_1

Baxter and I both dig into the CSA box like it’s Christmas morning. I go straight for the strawberries and he likes to split his time between sniffing the box itself and begging for carrots.

He’s just too cute.

 Dark Chocolate Lab

I don’t want to give too much away right now, but the Spare Bedroom is making some serious progress. The brown wall color is going to change and new bedding/window coverings are in the works, but I LOVE it so far. That’s huge, since I’ve painted this room 4 times so far. Finally a design success for this room.

Spare Bedroom Primer_1

I also thought I’d give you a little update on the garden since a few of the plants are doing really well.

I’ve been eating tomatoes out of my own backyard this week, they are amazing. Sweet & delicious, and that’s coming from someone that doesn’t like tomatoes. I have an Early Grey 50 plant in harvest right now, and a Brandywine Pink that’s flowering.

Tomatoes_1

Tomatoes_2

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This plant stumps everyone that visits. They always want to know what I’m growing in the trash can.

It’s Potatoes!!

I never did a how to on the potatoes since I didn’t expect them to survive. However, they have done incredibly well in the trash can (although I haven’t harvested yet, so we’ll see what they produce). They still have a month or two until they’re ready.

Potatoes_1

That’s it for the edibles right now, although I do have some herbs growing and I’m planting onions and zucchini next weekend. I also have some thriving succulents outside right now. This is my favorite.

Succulents_1

 

Hope everyone has had a great weekend!

CSA Box #6

I’m BACK!

 

Although, my return is not nearly as exciting when you realize that I didn’t actually go anywhere. I did spend some time dreaming about a cabana on a tropical beach, but reality is that life became so busy that I just needed to step away for a bit. It wasn’t a planned thing, I kept meaning to draft a post each evening, but it just didn’t happen.

So let’s catch up a bit…

My favorite little beagles stopped by for a visit.

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Shelby_1

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I love this picture because my little lab looks so mischievous as he was sneaking up on Shelby. Luckily they all got along very well, no alpha dog fights this time.

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One weekend I spent a ton of time (with some family help) on homeowner chores, like changing air filters, changing water filters, tinkering with the Air Conditioner (which is broken), ripping out the grass in the backyard and laying new sod, sweet talking my parents to come over first thing on a Sunday to take me to Costco so I could buy a new car battery, and building a temporary workbench for the garage. 

I’ve also rekindled my love affair with peonies which have been in abundant supply at both Trader Joes and Fresh & Easy.

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I’ve also been focusing A LOT on my eating and running which has been going REALLY well. I’m down 21 lbs as of Monday and I’m loving the food I’ve been eating lately. I’ve also signed up for a few races, but I’ll share more about that in a separate post.

Delicious yogurt and berries which only looks cool because of Instagram magic.

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This leads me nicely into my CSA haul from this past weekend, including another gorgeous bouquet which they crafted on the spot at the Farmer’s Market.

CSA Box 6_1

Goodies:

  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • cucumbers
  • string beans
  • summer squash
  • kale
  • basil
  • blackberries
  • oranges
  • avocados
  • strawberries

CSA Box 6_2

CSA Box 6_4

Fresh Blackberries!!

CSA Box 6_3

As I do with all my CSA boxes, I took a little time to wash, chop, and ‘save’ all the lettuce, berries, and basil. You can read more about how I extend the life of my veggies for the specifics. It’s the coolest trick, and a total money saver since I can’t go through all that lettuce in one week.

CSA Box 6_5

I also ‘vacu-save’ berries and yogurt into personal sized jars. I agree it looks a little OCD in my fridge, but it really doesn’t take much time. It makes meals during the week so easy. I just grab a yogurt and a berry jar, toss them together and I have a healthy breakfast/snack. The lettuce will last nearly 2 weeks this way and I can use just what I need on a daily basis. I have plans to turn some basil into fresh pesto as well as try my hands at Kale Chips this week.

CSA Box 6_6

Around the house, I’ve started on the foyer, the wall is painted and I’m working on painting the bookcases. I’ve also made progress on Spare Bedroom. As a reminder, the room looked like this…

Spare Bedroom Remodel - Before

The blinds are now down, window and wall moulding has been installed.

Spare Bedroom Moulding_1

By the way…Frog tape sucks!

I put this stuff up and within 20 minutes it had peeled completely off the wall and fell to the floor. Such a waste. 

Spare Bedroom Moulding_2

I still need to finish caulking the top of the window, then it’s time for paint! I can’t wait, I finally have a vision for this room and I’m excited to see it how it turns out.

Oh, and I recently celebrated the 2 year anniversary of moving into my first home. I plan on drafting up a recap of everything I’ve done to the house in those 2 years in the coming week.

CSA Box #5

Guess who’s back?

Brother and Sister Beagles

Yep, I have the little beagles again this weekend! So far, all the pups have done very well together, no alpha male fights like last time. Before they were dropped off yesterday morning I took a quick trip to the Farmer’s Market to pick up my CSA box. The weather was absolutely gorgeous yesterday, cool and breezy, I loved every second of it.

Turns out showing up at the farmer’s market when they first open is the way to go. I didn’t have any trouble with parking like I usually do, and was able to get in and out since I had to get back home quickly. I even had time to swap out a few items from the box. Usually I just take whatever comes in the selection, and enjoy trying new things; however, this week I had already planned out my meals and the cabbage and beets just didn’t fit into any of the meals. I knew I wouldn’t eat them so I swapped them for some tomatoes and some more spinach.

CSA Box 5

The goodies:

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach (x2)
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Broccolini
  • Oranges
  • Avocados
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Strawberries (they forgot to include them in the box)

CSA Box 5

CSA Box 5

I also picked up a bouquet of flowers, but I’m an idiot and killed them in one day. I set them in a vase right as I got home just to free up my hands, but then forgot to go back and remove the plastic and add water. Doh!

Oh well.

A few people have asked if I am still doing the $40 grocery challenge…yes and no.

I am still keeping a budget, but I have raised it for the time being as I have changed my eating lately. I recently read The Skinny Rules by Bob Harper, and it is a great example of what I would like my life long eating lifestyle to be like. He lays it out so well, that it gave me the nudge I needed to get back on track. Not to mention I’ve dropped 10 lbs in the small period of time that I’ve been following the rules so far. Sure, it’s mostly water weight…but who cares. It’s 10 pounds! So while I shift over to a better eating plan, I find that I’m only buying meat, dairy, grains, or fruit/veggies. If you are a couponer, you know it is incredibly hard to find coupons for these types of things. I’ve been trying to find the happy medium of shopping sales and bulk at Costco to keep the costs low. Once I figure out a good balance, I’ll share more. To give you an example of what my shopping list looks like these days, here’s what I bought this week. All of the below cost $62 and I shopped at Albertsons, Trader Joe’s, and Henrys to take advantage of as many sales as possible.

  • Chobani Plain Yogurt (32oz) – I split this myself into smaller containers for everyday eating
  • Ground Turkey
  • Chicken Breasts (6)
  • Whip Cream
  • Eggs (1 dozen)
  • Pita Bite Crackers
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Snow Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Green Beans
  • Bananas (4)
  • Cilantro Dressing
  • Apples (8)
  • Blueberries (4 pkgs)
  • Strawberries (4 pkgs)
  • Parsley (1 bunch)
  • Sweet Potatoes (2)
  • Clif Bars (5)

I’ve also been using the FoodSaver to extend the life of things outside of the CSA veggies. For example, as a household of one, I only eat a few pieces of bread a week, so I pull out what I need and Save/Freeze the rest. Now a loaf of bread will last me a month instead of having to buy a new loaf each week. I do the same with hard cheeses (cheddar/parm) which I buy from Costco.

Have you read The Skinny Rules? What did you think?

 

Shared with: In Her Chucks

Recipe: Broiled Grapefruit

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with grapefruit. I want to like it, but they always tasted too tart for me. Even when they were sweet…they were still too sour. I won’t lie that I was a little bummed when I got them in my last CSA box, especially since it looked like a giant lemon (pun intended).

Little did I know there was a delicious way to make grapefruit.

*and you thought I was joking when I said I was ‘vacu-saving’ everything. Yes, I vacu-saved half a grapefruit and was able to eat it several days later and it hadn’t browned at all.

Broiled Grapefruit

Turns out the trick to seriously delicious grapefruit is my toaster oven, more specifically the broil feature on the toaster oven.

Broiled Grapefruit

The prep for broiled grapefruit is the same as any other grapefruit, using a sharp paring knife I cut out each segment.

Broiled Grapefruit

Then a quick cut around the perimeter.

Broiled Grapefruit

Next I added a little vanilla sugar to the top. I tucked a few used vanilla bean pods in my sugar a while back so now all my sugar has a lovely hint of vanilla. It’s the greatest thing.

Broiled Grapefruit

Lastly I add a few little bits of butter. Not much, just a touch.

Broiled Grapefruit

Broil for about 12 minutes.

Broiled Grapefruit

Seriously delicious, trust me.

 

Shared with: In Her Chucks

How To Extend the Life in your CSA Veggies

This chopped lettuce is 2 weeks old! No brown edges, green crunchy leaves…it’s a miracle!

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_3

2 months ago I signed up with a CSA (I pimp my CSA goodies enough that you probably know this). I get a Regular sized box every two weeks, but I quickly found that the fruits/veggies would go bad within a week. This was disappointing because I didn’t want to purchase a weekly box, but I was throwing food out every week since it would go bad before I could finish it all.

The easy answer would be for me to get the small sized box every two weeks, but doesn’t have all the stuff I was really interested in and again, it’s only 1 week of food. Before I succumbed to buying a smaller box (or cancelling all together ::GASP::) I decided to try out a technique I found on Pinterest.

This post by Salad In A Jar showed me how to can lettuce which I thought was genius, but I was still hesitant that it would really last the full two weeks. I was also a little apprehensive since I had never canned or ‘saved’ food before.

Tools:

All the items are completely reusable and rechargeable which I love. The Handheld Vacuum Sealing system also woks great with the Ziploc Bags which I also found at Target.

The process I followed is simple.

Step 1:

First I wash the lettuce in a water/white vinegar mix to remove any dirt and bugs. I found a snail in ahead of lettuce once so I never skip this step nowadays. I dry the lettuce using a small salad spinner and lay it out on a terry cloth to get rid of the excess moisture. Then I chop the lettuce and fill the jars, leaving some room at the top. For the purposes of this step by step, I resealed some chopped up cabbage since I didn’t have any extra fresh lettuce on hand for this post.

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_4

Step 2:

Place the seal lid onto the jar and then add the wide mouth jar sealer.  Place the handheld vacuum onto the top of the sealer, over the hole, and activate for 10-12 seconds (according to the instructions that came with the product).

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_5

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_6

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Step 3:

Remove the vacuum and jar sealer, add the canning rim and place in the fridge.

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_8

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_9

*Disclaimer – I’m sharing with you a process that worked for me. I’m not an expert in canning or ‘vacu-saving’ so please be sure to follow the instructions included with any products you purchase. Please use your best judgment when consuming a product that has been ‘saved’. Mine did last 2 weeks, but I cannot guarantee that everyone will experience that same result.

 

Now through the magic of television the internet I can show you lettuce that has been sealed for a full two weeks. Both the lettuce in the jar and the bowl is two weeks old. If I didn’t know that it was jarred lettuce, I would never had known the difference. While there were a few slimy pieces, it was only 2-3 and easy to pick out. The rest were crisp and fresh.

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_1

As you can see from a picture above, I did also successfully jar Kale and Cabbage with similar results. I’ve also used this method to save fresh green beans and snap peas that came in the CSA box as well. I ate those within a week so I don’t know how they would have fared at the 2 week mark. 

Preserving Lettuce in Mason Jars_2

Like I said above, the handheld vacuum also works with the special Ziploc bags, which means I’ve been basically vacuum saving everything in my house lately…new fun gadget and all…

As 1 person, I can’t eat a whole loaf of bread before it goes bad. I also have been purchasing block cheese from Costco, then vacu-saving and freezing the excess to use in future weeks.

 

I have one other trick up my sleeve that is fairly inexpensive and can be useful for the fruit and herbs that come in the CSA Box, but that will have to be for another post.

 

What do you do to keep your CSA bounty lasting longer?

CSA Box #4

I have had such a great start to the weekend that I really don’t want it to end. I’ve crossed some major items off the to do list, such as repair window screens, take a load of old furniture to the dump, fixed my garage door opener, ran errands (i.e. grocery shopping), brought in the bookcases for the foyer remodel (more on this later), and enjoyed a wonderful meal with my mom for Mother’s Day. Lots of Fun!

I also stopped past my local Farmer’s Market to pick up my CSA Box.

This week brings some great ‘new to me’ goodies, such as braising mix lettuce and parsnips. Every week they offer to let me swap out anything I don’t want in the box, but I so far have refused to do so. It’s been so fun to get a mystery box and try all these new veggies. I hear roasting is the way to go with Parsnips, but I’ve also heard of mashed parsnips so I may try that as well. I also got a huge bunch of cilantro, red carrots, avocados, and grapefruit.

CSA Box 4_2

Various types of lettuce, including spinach and Chard, which I expect to use in a sausage soup this week.

CSA Box 4_5

Amazing Strawberries! I can’t stop snacking on them so I’ll be shocked if they last until Monday.

CSA Box 4_4

Lots of great stuff this week and I also found a way to keep the fresh food lasting longer, since I only pick up my CSA every other week. I’ll share more about this soon. I tested the method out with my last box and was able to keep some of the lettuce fresh for the entire 2 weeks. AWESOME!

CSA Box #3

Before I share the goodies I got yesterday at the Farmers Market, I have to give serious kudos to the guys at the booth for making me this beautiful bouquet. As part of my CSA, I pick up a very large bouquet along with my fruits/veggies. This week, they didn’t have my flowers ready so they built one for me on the spot. Gorgeous!

CSA Flowers

CSA Flowers

  CSA Flowers

Ok, now on to the food…

 CSA Fruits & Veggies

Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Snap Peas, Strawberries…

 Carrots, Sage, Avocados, Cabbage. Lemons

Carrots, Avocados, Sage, and Lemons…

 Lemons and Sage

…Cabbage and turnips.

 Lemons, Sage, Turnips, Cabbage

There were a lot of good basics this week, lemons, lettuce, spinach, avocados, and berries. I love that the wild cards are the fresh sage and turnips. I have a butternut squash in the pantry that I think will go well with the sage, perhaps in a risotto. I think some fish tacos are in order for that cabbage, but I’m not sure what to do with turnips. Any suggestions?

I LOVE fresh sage, it’s makes a lovely little bouquet near by sink while think of ways to use.

 Fresh Sage Bouquet

CSA Box #2

I’m still working on catching up on the posts from last week and I couldn’t pass up sharing the most recent CSA box. I’m constantly amazed by how different this food tastes over the stuff in the grocery store. I guess I didn’t really know what ‘fresh’ tasted like.

I ate all those strawberries within minutes of taking this picture, delicious.

CSA Box 2_1

Oh and purple carrots…VERY cool!

CSA Box 2_2

The snap peas were great in a stir fry and the avocados have taken a few days to ripen, but I ate the first one today. Like buttah! (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

CSA Box 2_3

The zucchini is turning into a Chocolate Zucchini cake tonight, I’ll let you know how it turns out. I’m also thinking of trying this recipe with the chard, looks pretty good.

CSA Box 2_4

I pick up my CSA box every 2 weeks, and while this food lasts longer than that in the grocery store, it still spoils quickly. I’ve been looking for a way to keep it edible just a bit longer. I heard about ‘green bags’ but reviews online didn’t look good. So I’ve picked two methods to try with my next box, I purchased a dehydrator which I hope to use for fruit and berries. I also bought a handheld vacusaver and wide mouth attachment so I can try this out. I can’t wait to try both and I’ll let you know how they work out.

I was tempted to change to the smaller box and pick up each week, but all the good stuff I want seems to only come in the regular size box. Any tips/tricks out there to keep fruits/veggies fresh longer?

Sharing the Love!

Linking To: In Her Chucks

CSA Box #1

This whole CSA thing is much more fun than it should be. I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed washing veggies and stocking my fridge as much as I did this past weekend. I didn’t get any pictures of the farmers market, but it was pretty impressive. Although I had a little trouble finding parking and the proper booth, next time I hope to arrive earlier and maybe even pick up a coffee and stroll around a bit more.

I’ve also realized that I need a much bigger fridge in my future home, this was A LOT of food.

CSA 3/31/2012

Red and Green Leaf Lettuce.

CSA 3/31/2012

Tomatoes

CSA 3/31/2012

Radishes and some Strawberries that didn’t quite make the picture. I’m pretty sure that I will never buy Strawberries from the grocery store again, these were incredible. No sugar needed, they were delicious. In fact, next time I’m buying more than what comes in the box.

CSA  3/31/2012

Cabbage, Sorrel, Swiss Chard, Bunching Onions, Lemons, Apples.

I found a recipe for a cabbage cheese bake as well as a Swiss Chard and Sausage stew. But I still don’t know what to do with Sorrel and those tomatoes. I’ve never seen tomatoes like that before, do you cook them? eat them raw?

CSA 3/31/2012

I’m running out of room in my fridge with all this fresh food.

CSA Fridge 3/31/2012

I also purchased a share of flowers to pick up each time I get a new CSA box. The bouquet was HUGE and really beautiful. In fact I broke it up and put them in two large vases. Well worth the $10 every two weeks. Hopefully they survive until my next delivery.

CSA Flowers 3/31/2012