Fresh Fork Market: Weeks 8 and 9

???????????????????????????????Rain and cool temperatures have made for an interesting summer here in northeast Ohio.  And my schedule has made for an interesting summer as well!   My Fresh Fork Market bag arrived last Wednesday with blueberries, lettuce, cheese, eggs, squash, and some other delicious freshness.  With company in town,  I was able to use several of these items quickly, which made my menu planning easy. However, I did not get my blogging time in-thus, no pictures or food ideas.   This week I am headed out of town, so I will not be picking up my FFM bag today.  This is another great feature of Fresh Fork Market – the flexibility of the plan.

Fresh Fork Market, I have learned, is actually a Farm Buying Club. Though similar in its roots to a CSA (community-supported agriculture), a farm buying club is more like a co-op in that several farms contribute to the organization, thus providing more variety to their customers.  This benefits the consumer, obviously, but this also benefits the farmer because any one farm does not have to provide all the produce being distributed.  Fresh Fork Market works with these farms and plans distribution based on what is available each week.  In addition, Fresh Fork Market allows the customer to cancel a weekly pick-up in advance, due to vacation plans, for example.   Not picking up this bag means I will receive credits to use for produce in the remaining season.  Next week my pick-up plan will resume as usual.  And all of this can be arranged online at the Fresh Fork Market website.

So if you have given some thought to trying the Fresh Fork Market plan, I have given you another reason to sign up.  I look forward to next week’s pick up and a new adventure in fresh foods.  Have a great week!

Quinoa Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

???????????????????????????????Last week in my Fresh Fork Market bag I received 2 small cabbage heads, beautifully light green and crisp.  All week long I have contemplated my first-ever attempt at cabbage rolls, wondering if I could make them as yummy as the ones others have prepared that I have enjoyed.  Cabbage rolls are not simple, but neither are they extremely difficult.  Tonight finally afforded me the time and energy to take on this new food challenge.

First step, find a recipe.  An online search revealed several options, of course.  I could not settle on a specific recipe so finally decided to make up my own from the features I liked in several recipes.  I know, not the wisest choice for someone who has never made them before!  But I like to be my own cook, my own person, as they say. Plus, I like to force myself to use what I have in my cupboards already, unless it is impossible to make adequate substitutions. So, to be honest, I am writing this blog at a late hour because I am afraid I will not remember what I did while making these cabbage rolls; thus, I need to write it down for my own future reference!

???????????????????????????????Second step, carefully separate the cabbage leaves and remove the hard stem portion with a sharp knife.  Then cook/wilt the leaves in boiling water for 2-4 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Third step, prepare the filling.  Here’s where I modified the recipes.  The filling calls for rice.  I had a small amount, but not enough.  So I opted for a Near East Quinoa/Brown Rice Mix with a seasoning packet I had on hand.  I prepared it according to the directions and then proceeded with the recipe.  Here’s what went in the filling:

  • ???????????????????????????????1 lb. traditionally seasoned pork sausage, uncooked (can use lean ground turkey or ground beef)
  • Some chopped onion, to your liking ( I used about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. condensed tomato bisque soup
  • the cooked quinoa blend

I mixed this thoroughly, using my hands, until it was well blended.  Then I scooped the mixture into the cabbage leaves, rolled each leaf up like a burrito, and placed it carefully in a glass 13×9 pan, positioning each stuffed cabbage leaf closely to the next one.

Fourth step, cover the stuffed leaves with sauce.  One recipe I looked at used tomato sauce, another tomato soup.  I had neither.  I did have a can of tomato bisque soup.  After using the 2 Tbsps above, I added about 1/2 cup sour cream to the remaining condensed soup and stirred this well.  Add a little more sour cream or water if it needs to be thinned out.  (Next time I will make a little more sauce to pour over the rolls before baking them.) Spoon this over the cabbage rolls, then bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or more, until meat is thoroughly cooked.

I have read cabbage rolls freeze well, which is my intent.  However, I couldn’t help but taste one as soon as it was cool enough.  I was surprised and excited at the flavorful result. Thanks, Fresh Fork, for once again expanding my experience and appreciation for fresh delicious food.

I know I have not provided this recipe (or other recipes on my blog) in a specific format or with a printable option.  I hope this does not create a difficulty for anyone.  Primarily I view this blog as an idea blog, something to encourage your creativity and mine as we cook, rather than simply providing recipes.  Hopefully a few of my ideas will spur you on to try a few of your own as well!

Fresh Fork Market: Week 7

???????????????????????????????Here in Northeast Ohio we are reaching our mid-point of summer.  July 4th is a memory, back-to-school sales are popping up, and Labor Day is beginning to loom on the horizon.  But my Fresh Fork Market fun is only one-third of the way complete, as their program continues until the end of October – so my fun food journey continues!

This week’s FFM newsletter  apologetically explained that our recent cooler Northeast Ohio temps have slowed the harvest of some produce which is usually available by now.  No need to apologize here!  I am still experimenting with new foods and recipes when I come home every week with something I would not have normally purchased at the grocery store.  This week’s bag was no exception. Filled to the brim with fresh lettuce, Swiss chard, cabbage, carrots, candy onion, beets, yellow squash, tomatoes and a pork shoulder roast, these ample delights will keep me busy for the next week.  I added a dozen fresh eggs and a loaf of homemade wheat bread I picked up at the truck (which I again forgot to take a picture of while there!)

I began by slow-cooking the pork roast in the crock pot with some onion, a celery stalk, and a bit of salt and fresh-ground pepper.   I added about a cup  of water and turned the crock pot to a low setting, then allowed the meat to cook most of the day. (I learned on a TV cooking show that we tend to put too much liquid in the crock pot with our meats.  Generally meats require no more than 8 oz. of liquid when cooking in a crock pot. The meat will generate its own juices, and when these combine with too much added liquid, we tend to drown the meat and diminish the flavor.) When I removed the pork roast from the crock pot, it was fork-tender and shredded easily.  I added some barbecue sauce and placed the meat in a freezer bag for a quick,easy summer meal later next week when I have company arriving.

There were two medium cabbage heads in my FFM bag.  The last time I received cabbage we made a delicious cole slaw recipe for our July 4th picnic. This time I am going to attempt making stuffed cabbage rolls.  I have always enjoyed these when others have served them, but I have not made these myself.   Fresh Fork has motivated me to conquer kale chips, kohlrabi, Swiss chard – and now cabbage rolls.   We will see how this goes!

???????????????????????????????In addition to receiving my FFM produce, this week also included our family’s once-a-year blueberry picking event.  We love blueberries at our house and make sure we have enough to enjoy year-round.  Blueberries freeze well and are easily used for so many recipes, from baked goods to pancake syrup to layering in a breakfast yogurt parfait.  My husband, daughter and I spent an hour or so out in the country, at Voytko Farms, enjoying the early evening sunshine and cool breeze as we picked 21 pounds (at only $2 a lb.)  of some of the best-looking blueberries I have seen.  On our way home, we stopped in the delightful town of Chagrin Falls, grabbing a light supper at a local diner and taking in the sights of the beautiful waterfall there.  The drive home took us past stunning historic homes with magnificent architecture and equally breath-taking landscapes.  My husband asked me, as I was drooling on the car window, if I was wishing I lived in the country.   My reply:  I love our suburban home – but a ride in the country once in a while satisfies my internal itch to be a farm girl.   Arriving home, I spent the rest of the evening freezing blueberries and planning to make blueberry jam and even try some bread-and-butter pickles later this summer.  Who says you can’t be a country girl even if you only have a small kitchen and a suburban yard?  Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Fresh Fork Market: Week 6

??????????????????????????????? Today is Wednesday, now one of my favorite days of the week.  I used to dread grocery shopping.  The list-writing, coupon-clipping, decision-making, cart-loading process can be long and tiring, even discouraging when I think I have stocked up a bit but most everything I brought home is gone in a week.  Fresh Fork Market is changing the way I plan my menu and shop for food.  My pick-up point in Brecksville is easy and delightful.  Now I can spend my time looking for new recipes using the fresh, healthy ingredients I bring home  in the FFM bag each week. And because the weekly ingredients are so fresh, usually cooking them is often a quick process as well.

This week my FFM bag included a whole chicken (soon to be cooked in the crock pot and used for a variety of chicken dishes), 3 zucchini, yellow beans, a large fresh candy onion , a green garlic bulb, 1 pint of cherry tomatoes and 1 pint of fresh blueberries.

I also picked up a jar of roasted heirloom tomato marinara sauce today.  I still  had a bag of roasted red pepper linguini from Ohio City Pasta, so I cooked the pasta for dinner and added the marinara sauce on top – delicious!   The pasta is $5 and the marinara sauce is $6, but since my husband and I only ate half of this amount (lunch leftovers, yeah!),  we enjoyed a healthy, tasty meal for $2.75 a piece – less than the cost of a fast-food meal with twice the flavor!

Since I still had a fresh tomato, cucumbers, and half of a large candy onion left over??????????????????????????????? from last week, I made one of our favorite fresh salads to go with our pasta dinner.  This Cucumber-Tomato Salad is quick, easy, and hard-to-beat with its fresh summer taste.  I am sure there are many recipe versions online. Here is the recipe I have used for years (not sure where it came from):

Cucumber-Tomato Salad

  • 3 cups unpeeled (or partially peeled) sliced cucumbers (about 2 medium)
  • 2 cups chopped tomato (about 1 large)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (I used the Candy onion and it worked great)
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp Splenda (or other sweetener; I use about 2 Tbsp. sugar)
  • Salt and pepper to taste, if desired (I do not use any).

Combine chopped veggies in non-metal bowl.  Combine rice vinegar and sweetener; stir until sweetener is dissolved.  Pour over fresh veggies, stir to mix.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes; serve chilled.  (The flavors blend even better if you let it set all day before serving it).

Last week I mentioned I would take a picture of the Fresh Fork truck today.  Well, I got so excited about seeing what was in my bag and what else was available today, I completely forgot!  I will do my best to remember next week.  On another note,  I did attempt to make Berry Sorbet using the black raspberries I picked up last week.  While the recipe was not difficult and the taste of the frozen sorbet was flavorful,  I was not satisfied with the texture and final consistency of the sorbet.  So I think I will try this again and see if I have more success next time before sharing the recipe.

Be sure to check out the Fresh Fork Market Canning Club‘s first canning session on July 19th.  Sign up is limited to the first 4o people, so don’t delay!  Canning is a part of my Once-A-Year Cooking plan.  Canning and freezing allow me to stock up on the freshest ingredients at their peak and enjoy them all year long.  No need to go out for fast food when I have jars of fresh peaches, applesauce and more stored away.   If you have never tried canning before, Fresh Fork Market’s Canning Club is a great place to start.

 

 

 

 

Fresh Fork Market: Week 5

Yesterday I made the 15 minute journey to my local Fresh Fork Market pick-up location (in a local church parking lot) to get my 5th FFM bag of fresh, locally-produced food. My 13-year old daughter comes along with me to make sure I also pick up some extra treats from the items offered on the tables outside the truck.  Shopping with Fresh Fork Market is a fun experience. Yesterday I came home with fresh-picked black raspberries and some gorgeous red tomatoes along with my expected order. I will take a picture of the pick-up location and truck next week so you can see the enjoyable setting FFM provides for this kind of grocery shopping.

???????????????????????????????My FFM bag contained a few more familiar items this week, but I am still challenged to try some new recipes. I hope to turn that lovely head of cabbage into a cole slaw using the recipe provided on the FFM blog. The bunch of fresh kale provides opportunity for me to try kale chips this week. The fresh beets will soon be pickled and canned, our favorite way to eat these.   I see some cheeseburgers in our future, using the ground beef, with a slice of that candy onion and the fresh lettuce leaves on top. Add some grilled yellow squash and crisp cucumber slices and you have a great Independence Day feast!  I hope to pick up some strawberries and combine it with those fresh local blueberries to top it all off with a delicious patriotic dessert.

 

I did order a few add-ons this week, though not as many. After I picked up my FFM bag last week,  we left town for a brief ???????????????????????????????vacation/reunion with friends. Another great benefit of FFM food – it is SO fresh I find it lasts much longer than grocery store produce.  I stored the greens and froze the meat from last week before I left. Yesterday we ate last week’s cauliflower, steamed, and it was delicious. I froze the bratwurst from last week and will enjoy it sometime this week. Even the remaining strawberries were still fresh enough to slice and serve with the Snowville Creamery yogurt, topped with the Krispie Treat granola from Stutzman Farms (my new favorite breakfast combination). This week I also brought home a pizza dough ball and  roasted cherry tomatoes for pizza topping, a quick meal for a busy weekend.  The Ohio City Pasta linguini is roasted red pepper flavor – cannot wait to try this one! You can see the black raspberries on the right in the picture. I hope to add  red raspberries from my backyard garden to these and make a raspberry sorbet in my ice cream maker. I will let you know how that goes!

Happy July 4th weekend as we celebrate Independence Day in the United States – what a great and awesome gift to live in a country where we enjoy freedoms many in the world only dream of.  Thank you to all those who have sacrificed to make this freedom possible – may we never take it for granted!