Sunday, September 19, 2010

RECIPE: CSA Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

Our CSA basket is starting to taste like fall...and I had two large acorn squash (es?) staring at me for an entire week on my kitchen counter.  Overcome by the guilt of giving away my last batch of squash, I decided to stop being lazy and cook the them.  I was inspired by a recent inquiry about the Asian kitchen an old friend had (blog post to come with an answer...Dave, I promise).  I took a standard squash soup and give it a Korean twist.  Acorn squash has a sweet potatoey taste that I thought would pair nicely with a spicy Korean condiment (I like to think of it as Korea's tomato paste), kochujang. This soup is surprisingly sweet, smoky (from our secret ingredient) and filling.  

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup
Serves 4

2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
3 cups chicken (or veggie) stock, heated
1 onion, diced
1 sprig of thyme
salt and white pepper to taste
1 TB gochujang (Korean red bean paste)  You can find it at your local Korean food store
Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese (for garnish)
1 tsp grapseed oil

Preheat oven to 375.  Place acorn squash cut side up on a baking sheet.  Roast for 50 minutes or until the flesh is done (can be pierced easily with a fork).  Let cool and spoon flesh out of the rind.

In a preheated medium pot, sautee onions until translucent.  Add kochujang and stir frequently for 30 seconds.  Add roasted squash.  Stir in warmed stock and thyme.  Bring to a boil.  Remove thyme sprig.  With a stick blender, puree soup until desired texture.  Season with salt and white pepper to taste.  Serve immediately topped with Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Weighing in on CSAs

As mentioned before, Michael and I had joined a CSA this summer and went in on a half of a share.  What does this mean?  Every Thursday we had a box delivered to our door full with fresh, organic and local fruits and veggies.  We are now on month three of our deliveries and I thought it ample time to weigh in CSAs, before I convince you (or don't) to join in on your own.

CSA:  Virginia Green Grocer ( of Warrenton, VA)
Delivery days for Oakton/McLean/Vienna: Thursdays
Variety of food:  I was looking forward to cooking some crazy things, but surprisingly everything was really normal....basil, peppers, watermelon, salad greens, LOTS of tomatoes and eggplant.
Customer Service: Excellent. If you don't like something (I really can't stand bok choy) you can call and tell them to never give it to you again.  Or if you're out of town one week, they'll put extra stuff the following week. They are also on Facebook with weekly postings of what will be in the basket if you are a weekday meal planner.

Ok, if I learned anything in corporate America its that if you keep your desk covered with papers and books, people will likely leave you alone because they think you're busy.... and that tables are a great way to organize your thoughts:

I apologize for the grainy table image...I tried making on in the HTML editor.  Impossible.

CSA Shares...Pros and Cons

So my final thoughts?  Next year I would totally consider doing this again if I shared with another family (dropping the $700 or so fee to a more manageable $350) OR going to a farmer's market weekly to get only what I need/want.  There's a farmer's market almost every day in the area you can stop by in the morning or evening.  The delivery CSA seems ideal for the working professional, but you do have to take in account how much time you are willing to wash and prep.  Warn your taste buds too.  I tell you now this stuff tastes better, but to be honest, that big, beautiful stalk of celery from California is superior in taste to your puny stalk from Warrenton , VA...but just think about why.  A friend of mine and environmental consultant, Kristin Murphy wrote an interesting blog  post on "franken-foods" that you might find interesting.   I'll take a local tomato any day over one grown in Canada (I just peeled off a grown in Canada sticker from a tomato I bought from Harris Teeter's "Farmer's Market" brand. Watch out for that!  I was horrified.)  Happy shopping!