Thursday, September 1, 2011

why CSAs are important

for many new yorkers, hurricane irene was a passing irritation - transportation was shut down, our favorite neighborhood bars were closed, and some cool events were canceled. certainly small businesses and hourly-wage workers suffered from a lost weekend, but a lot of us city dwellers stocked up on wine and beer and watched the rain from the comfort of our living rooms.

on saturday, i slow-cooked a 7 pound pork shoulder, put up 20 pounds of tomatoes, and had some friends over for dinner. the pork was delicious and my friends matt and deb brought over cheesy scalloped potatoes and coleslaw that were the perfect complement to the pork. matt has shared his recipe with me, and i've posted it below.

most of the reporting focused on new york city and the possible doom that irene could bring to the city. what didn't as much attention is the extensive damage that the rural areas north of nyc received as a result of heavy rains and the impact that rain has had on many of the farms in the region. that pork shoulder i cooked? sourced from the catskills area. those tomatoes i canned? from wiklow orchards in the hudson valley.

i try to eat as locally and organically as i can, and i depend heavily on small family farms for good produce and sustainable meat and dairy products. these pictures are of the farm from which i receive my weekly delivery of fruits and vegetables. (thank you, deb, for allowing me to use the photos.) i pick up my weekly share through a community supported agriculture (CSA) scheme. i pay money up front for a share with the understanding that i receive what the farm produces. CSA programs protect our family farms by supporting them, rain or shine. and in this case, there was a lot of rain.

in the coming weeks, i won't get as many vegetables as i'm accustomed to getting. selfishly, that makes me sad. but, i'm happy that by participating in the CSA model, that i have, in a small way, helped deb, pete and everyone at stoneledge farm.

watershed post has done an amazing job providing coverage of irene's wrath in the catskills region. they also have a resource list of how to help catskill farmers post-irene.

and of course, here is matt's cheesy potato recipe:

scalloped cheesy potatoes

start with 8 to 12 potatoes or bag of potatoes (this recipe is not very precise but I don’t think it can be messed up)
peel the potatoes and get out the mandoline and cut them into 1/8 inch slices (letting the potatoes sit in water so they don’t turn a grayish color while the rest of the ingredients are prepared may be a good idea)
cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Swiss (Gruyere may be a good substitute for Swiss) Grate enough cheese to layer over top of potatoes in rounds ---- dollops of cream cheese was added to one of the casserole dishes and dollops of goat cheese to the other
parsley – chop enough parsley to layer over top of potatoes in rounds
one medium white onion – using the lowest setting on the mandoline slice the whole onion
½ cup of cream plus 2 ounces of milk (whatever is in the fridge is good)
homemade bacon bits

rub a generous amount of butter on the bottom and sides of the casserole dish. layer the potatoes, layer of onion, layer of cheese, layer of parsley, and little sprinkle of flour and repeat until the casserole dish is full. when ready for baking add the cream and milk and cook covered at 350 degrees for 1 hour and uncovered for ½ hour. when you remove the casserole dish add the homemade bacon bits. this can be done sooner if you wish. this made enough for two casserole dishes.