Have you tried out a CSA before? If you’re not familiar with it, CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”. If you subscribe to a CSA it typically means that you get a box of veggies each week from a local farm for a certain number of weeks, usually one growing season at a time. We are doing a CSA with Wood Duck Farms (near Houston, Texas) and we are really pleased.
We are doing a Full Share, which amounts to quite a bit of food (I often end up having to prep/chop/freeze something during the week). You find yourself adding greens to everything just to get them all used up while they’re at peak freshness. It’s a fun way to cook, and my version of being budget-savvy too, since a generous box of produce each week is approximately $34, less than you would find at a grocery store, I believe, and certainly fresher.
I don’t think I’ve had better onions or tomatoes (note: tomatoes were earlier in the season and onions might be on their way out?) other than on vacation to places where the produce was equally local and fresh (Italy, I’m thinking of you!). The salad greens and micro greens have become a huge treat to me. I’ve learned to love the challenge of cooking with a new vegetable.
A few weeks ago we received two pie pumpkins in our weekly share and the owner sent an email that week with a suggested recipe for a Savory Pumpkin Bake, an alternative to a pumpkin pie for those interested. It was awesome! I made a few tweaks, based on what we had available, and asked him for permission to post it here…
Who wouldn’t want a stuffed pumpkin on their plate at dinner time? It makes a pretty presentation. I really thought the kids would love it and, admittedly, they did seem to love the idea of something being presented in a pumpkin, but they weren’t keen on the texture of it. They ate the filling though. Ever since this experience O (who loves to proudly list all of the vegetables that she does or doesn’t like on a regular basis) continues to tell me that she’s sorry, but she just doesn’t like pumpkin (“I do not like green eggs and ham!…”). I keep thinking that we’ll see if that story changes come Thanksgiving, and the delicious pumpkin pies!
- 2 Pie Pumpkins
- 1/2 Onion
- 3.5tsp Minced Garlic
- 2C Toasted Bread Cubes (toast at 350F for 10min max)
- 1/2C Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 tsp. Nutmeg
- 1/4C shredded Mozzarella or Cheddar (we used Mozzarella b/c we had it on hand)
- 2 Chicken-Apple Sausages
- 4 strips of Turkey Bacon
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cut tops off your pie pumpkins, as if you were getting ready to carve them. Remove seeds and membranes.
- Use a fork to poke some holes in the pumpkin "meat" from the inside, so that it will get really nice and tender during the baking process. You can season the inside with salt and pepper.
- Cook turkey bacon and sausages in a pan, according to package directions. Set aside.
- Saute onion and garlic in the same pan for about 5 minutes, or until onions become slightly translucent.
- Cube bread and spread on pan covered with parchment paper. Toast in 350F oven for up to 10min.
- Mix cream and nutmeg together in a bowl.
- Assemble: Place the bread cubes in the bottoms of the pumpkins (about 1C bread cubes per pumpkin). Top with onions and garlic, meat and cheese. Pour cream/nutmeg mixture over all of the other ingredients and top with the pumpkin stem.
- Bake at 350F for about 90min. Check on it often towards the end. You want the pumpkin skin to be slightly wrinkly and you want to be able to easily pierce it with a fork (but don't poke holes through the whole pumpkin, or else the cream will leak out ;-)). You may need a little more or less time, depending on your oven, the size of your pumpkins, etc.
- Open the pumpkin lid to let the steam come out and let cool a bit before serving.
If you happen to have non-meat-eaters in your family, you can roast one of the pumpkins and serve with chipotle black beans and onions, with some sauteed greens and fun spices. The recipe from Wood Duck Farms certainly got me into the idea of cooking meals in pumpkins.
In Houston, we have so many great options for fresh produce…Here are just a few;
1.) CSAs (Wood Duck Farms and Home Sweet Farm are two that I’ve heard about, but here is a great link to other Texas CSAs and Buying Clubs.)
2.) Rawfully Organic Co-Op (We’ve tried this several times and love it! The only thing I don’t love is that a lot of the produce isn’t local. I do believe that they strive to include local items whenever possible though. The prices still beat grocery store prices. And you can’t beat their enthusiasm for fresh, organic produce.)
3.) Farmers Markets (gaining in popularity, and popping up everywhere)…Here is a great (though probably not comprehensive) list of Houston-Area Farmers Markets.*
*Note: Here is also a link to the Urban Harvest website. Urban Harvest hosts a few area farmers markets, offers gardening classes and even free children’s gardening classes at the Saturday Eastside Farmers Market. So cool!