Why did join the Owl's Nest Farm CSA?
I'd never been a part of a CSA, but I was intrigued by the prospect of getting fresh, locally-grown produce delivered to my neighborhood. I love to cook, and I knew the variety of produce Owl's Nest promised would push me to cook more, save money by eating out less frequently during the week, and encourage me to try new recipes. (It didn't hurt that the founders of Owl's Nest were good friends of mine, too.)
What was your favorite fruit, veggie, and/or herb from CSA this year?
This is a tough one. I'm a big fan of the collards and chard, which I often prepare in a similar fashion (garlic, shallots, red pepper flakes, apple cider vinegar and a pinch of brown sugar in a skillet with bacon fat), but 2017 was the year of the tomato for me. For the first time last spring and summer, I grabbed as many seconds tomatoes as I could carry and made big batches of fresh pasta sauce that I jarred and shared. (My roommate and shareholder buddy Alex gets the assist for peeling and seeding on multiple occasions.) It made for countless quick weeknight dinners, and the fresh, sweet flavors of the tomatoes produced a nice bright sauce.
What tips do you have for folks who might be trying a CSA for the first time?
Do it! It might feel a little overwhelming at first as you get used to the schedule and start planning meals around the produce you're getting every (or every other) week, but for me, cooking with fresh ingredients that are grown just a few miles up the road by someone I know, makes eating homemade meals so much more enjoyable. Owl's Nest gives you enough options to pick and choose the things you like (all the cucumbers for me, please), and also let's you experiment with some funkier produce that might be new to you (black radishes! komatsuna!). The recipe suggestions in the weekly newsletter also help you get beyond salads and stir-fry. I know I could eat stir-fry every night and never get bored, but it's fun to mix it up.
Go visit the farm, too. When you walk through the rows of veggies that you'll be eating a week or two later, you feel even better about knowing where your food comes from.
Please share your favorite recipe(s).
I found this veggie tarte tatin recipe a year and a half ago, and I've found myself making it more and more for holiday potlucks and family gatherings -- and I've used a bunch of Owl's Nest produce to make it with a few variations. The sliced potatoes, onion and parsnips (or turnips, carrots or any number of root veggies) are roasted and then caramelized along with fresh herbs underneath layers of mozzarella and puff pastry. It's savory, it's sweet and it's a real showstopper on the table.
Answer a question you wish I'd asked.
On the benefits of knowing your farmer: I'm a homebrewer, and the last two falls I've made a pumpkin beer using a roasted, locally grown pumpkin. Two years ago, my pumpkin came from Owl's Nest, and my El Gourdo Imperial Pumpkin Ale turned out great. Last fall, when Owl's Nest didn't have the best pumpkin harvest, Liz went out of her way to snag a pumpkin for me from a neighboring farm. Liz and the rest of the team connect with shareholders, they're responsive to feedback, and they make CSA members feel like we're all part of a community.