CSA Challenge with Meadballs

If you follow my Facebook page, either Marnie Mead or Meadballs Meals, my Instagram account, or Twitter account, m_meadballs   then you have seen some of my postings labeled #CSAchallenge or #Meadballs.

The point of these is to show what produce is arriving weekly at Erie County’s farms, or at least the farms I shop, and how I cook with it. This is to give you a taste of what Meadballs will be all about.

So on the first week that Post Farm’s CSA had produce, this is what I cooked:

The most fun was turning collard greens into wraps for enchiladas. Plus I learned to make a red enchilada sauce from scratch, which tastes a lot better than the canned stuff.

Each week there are some of the same products as the week before, scapes and kale, for example, have been consistent. But as the season progresses, more color starts coming into the basket.

This past week I turned bok choy into a noodle bowl topped with Alaskan salmon. While the salmon isn’t local, I do buy from local sellers. And the dish is built around the bok choy, with the salmon as a complement. For the garlic scapes and the lettuces, I created a grilled steak salad topped with chimichurri sauce, which is a sauce made with garlic, cilantro, parsley, other herbs, a dash of lemon, red wine vinegar, and olive oil.

Quiche is one of my favorites for breakfast, lunch, or dinner – especially when it is warm out. The greens come together nicely with some garlic, olive oil, and hot pepper. They get a swirl of kale pesto and land in a homemade crust with local eggs (Taylor Farms just down the street) and cream.

The final dish, bottom right, was a grilled pizza with caramelized cabbage and onions, which I finished with with some cognac-soaked golden raisins and some vinegar. This created a dish that had the right notes of sweet, sour, crunch, melty. The homemade crust was topped with smoked gouda and mozzarella cheeses and then finished with the onion/cabbage. Cabbage is divine this way, developing a rich flavor and sweetness. I have no idea why my Irish relatives insisted on boiling cabbage when they could do this.

Good thing I didn’t learn to cook from my Irish family. The Italians (by marriage) and my Jewish neighbors were much more influential. I’ll credit a college boyfriend for introducing me to real Chinese food in Boston, where I also learned how to prepare fresh seafood.

What this all stirs up are meals from Meadballs, which will be priced at about $10 to $12 per person for dinner and delivered either to your home or to a central drop spot. There will be three meals each week in a cooler bag. All of them will be prepared in my new kitchen, which currently is under construction. The plumber was here this week putting in the lines for the sinks; the electrician added the lighting and the outlets. Next up – paint and a polished concrete floor. Then the equipment will be delivered from A. Caplan in Waterford, which will be hooked up by Dobrich Electric and Longo Plumbing. If all goes according to schedule, I will clear the Health Department by the first week in August.

I have to admit, it was pretty frightening dipping into my savings to do this. While a relatively simple renovation, wiring, plumbing and equipment add up. My research showed anywhere from $10,000 to $150,000 – depending.

That’s a pretty wide swing – but when you are talking about a kitchen exhaust hood costing $25,000 or more, it does add up. Since I’m not frying food, nor cooking over open flame indoors, that was an expense I could avoid. I still wound up on the lower side of the middle of that figure.

This is a no-loan operation. That is one thing I get from the Irish family. Invest in yourself first – don’t grow beyond what you can afford. That’s what started my grandfather in the newspaper business in 1888, and that’s what I’m doing nearly 130 years later. Although his investment was more like $250.

I digress. What if you want dinner from me?

Well there will be a couple of ways to do this:

I will post on Facebook what the weekly menus on Wednesdays or Thursdays. You can PM me, call me, e-mail me, or come to http://Meadballs.com and place an order. I will be able to take credit card/debit card orders using Square. You will be able to sign up for a flight of 6 or 12 weeks of meals (to take a break, just let me know), or 1 week at a time. Prices will be lower for those who sign up for multiple weeks. I’ll have an introductory

Some friends will be testing meals out over the next month. I’ll expand sampling beyond immediate friends and family once I have my license. You’ll be able to contact me and we can make arrangements to try out a sample meal then.

I’ll keep blogging details. And photos of the construction, as it comes along.

In the meantime, I picked up week 4 from Gordon Post’s farm in North East. Lots more greens, but more colorful veggies are coming soon; the tomatoes are between golf balls and baseballs. Blueberries from Conn’s Blueberry farm just down the road from Post should be ripe next week too. I picked up cherries from Mobilia Farms in North East and will be working with pork chops in a cherry sauce.

In the meantime, here is the recipe for the cabbage and onion pizza, which was inspired by Blue Apron.

Enjoy

Marnie

Marnie@meadballs.com

Print Recipe
Caramelized Cabbage and Onion Pizza with Smoked Cheese
Course dinner
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course dinner
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Bring dough to room temperature.
  2. Heat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit or prepare grill.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt butter with the olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add onion and cabbage, along with about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and a few grindings of fresh pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes until the cabbage and onions have turned a golden color and lost all of their liquid. Stir in raisins in cognac, vinegar, red pepper flakes (start with half and add more if you like), and thyme leaves. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the cognac's alcohol has cooked off. Allow to cool. Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired.
  4. While the cabbage cooks, lightly oil a rimmed cookie sheet. Or prepare your grill with a pizza stone.
  5. On a clean counter, use your hands or a rolling pin to gradually stretch your pizza dough to the desired shape (either the size of the sheet pan or your pizza stone). If it springs back while you are stretching/rolling - give it a 5 minute rest, and roll or stretch again. Repeat until the dough is the right size. Transfer to the sheet pan or to a pizza peel coated with cornmeal.
  6. Top the dough with the two shredded cheeses, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Top with the cooked cabbage combo. Brush exposed edges with olive oil.
  7. Bake or put on the grill either in the pan or on the stone, and cook for about 15-18 minutes, rotating the sheet pan halfway through, Remove from the heat and brush crush edges with more olive oil. Let stand about 5 minutes before cutting.
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Sunday Suppers: Find Peace (and Pot Pie)

The dog and I ice skated our way through the morning walk. When you have an active 90-pound dog, you can’t make excuses not to walk. He just won’t stand for it.

It took me awhile to adjust to this schedule of his. In the beginning, I tried to make him my running partner. But he was terrible around cars, even with a leash.  He’s got a tendency to want to walk into the path of a car when he sees it coming instead of walking away. We adopted him from the A.N.N.A. Shelter three years ago, and I wonder every day how he survived on the streets.

When he wasn’t trying to head into oncoming traffic, he wanted to stop and sniff ever 50 feet. I wasn’t getting much running done. Plus, it was December when we first adopted him, and he didn’t like going outside much when the temperature was below 25 degrees. He is a short-haired dog, missing a fair amount from this hind quarters due to abuse. He would cough and sneeze, and scamper back inside as soon as he finished his business.

Today, he is unfazed by weather. If it’s 11 degrees outside, with a windchill in the negatives, he’s still game for a 1 mile-trek around the block. If he had his way, we’d be out for at least an hour (unless it is a cold rain).

So I’ve adapted to him. We walk, sometime trot, twice a day logging a total minimum of 2 miles. I use the time to reflect, meditate, release … generally find some peace. Turns out my senior dog taught me some new tricks.

One of his favorite walks – mine too – is along the beach where my parents live in Fairview Township next to Walnut Creek. He watches all the fishermen as we make our way along the creek. Sometimes we meet a couple making their way down the bank to fish, or coming out of the woods after a bio break. These are among the highlight’s of the dog’s walk. For now he is adored. He will rush up to them – all 90 pounds of American Bulldog and Boxer, with the dopey nature of a Golden Retriever for good measure. Unless they are dog owners, and they can see the delight in his face at encountering someone to pet him, strangers are unsure whether to stand still as a statue or run. I reassure most, unless they are scared, that a simple pat will make his day. For the doggy dysfunctional, I command him back to my side.

The second half of the walk actually involves the beach, unless it is a strong NW wind clipping above 12 mph. We walk the beach in the heat of summer and in the dead cold of winter. Late fall is among my favorite times because it is quiet and the sky is so clear. Spring walks bring a lot of driftwood, and a lot of dead fish, but also the promise of summer. And summer is just glorious.

I try to find the beauty in our winter walks, although I admit we often have to retreat to Asbury Woods or Pleasant Ridge Park if the wind is wicked. Right now, the lake is kind of soupy, with a lentil kind of color to it. The sky is gray. And the ice dunes are just forming, so the color is snow mixed with a lot of sand. Despite the wind, Bobo would be content to walk until there was no more beach. His short hair and musculature keep him warm. Me, I’m freezing in layers, with wind protection, a neck turtle, warmers in my mittens, and Thinsulate in my boots. My eyes are watering, my nose is running, and I’m cursing a distant Irish relative who failed to find a train south.

These are the Sundays when it is warming to know I’ve got a dinner plan that is hearty and easy.

I typically buy a family pack of chicken breasts each week. Lately I’ve been roasting three right away so I have chicken for salads during the week. Today, I chopped up two of the large breasts and made pot pies. I had an extra pie crust in the refrigerator, but you can use a purchased prepared crust or a sheet of puff pastry, which would make this meal wonderfully extravagant with little effort.

I buy the frozen pea and carrot mix  – no point in chopping carrots. It all comes together in about 15 minutes. It goes into the oven for about 30 minutes. Then bingo – you have dinner. Add a salad if you so incline, or get a tray and sit down to watch Christmas movies tonight.

In this hectic holiday time, try to find some time for yourself. Release old grudges. Meditate. Visualize new goals. Find beauty.

XOXOXO

Marnie

Marnie@MarnieMeadMedia.com

Print Recipe
Chicken Pot Pies
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat with olive oil. Add the leeks, onion, and shallot (if you are using dried shallot, cut it back to 1 to 1 teaspoons and don't add until you put in the broth). Saute until soft. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, each. Add sherry and allow to reduce for about 1 minute. Then add chicken, broth, cream, thyme and tarragon. Simmer until all the flavors come together, about 10 to 15 minutes. Taste, add more salt and pepper if needed.
  2. Mix soft butter and flour together until it is smooth. Stir into the simmering chicken mixture and allow to cook for 7 to 10 minutes. Taste, and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Stir in frozen peas and carrots, and parsely. Set aside.
  3. In the meantime, roll out your pie crust so that you can cut the lids for the 4, 2-cup pot pie dishes (make sure your crockery is oven proof). Trace and add about 1 inch around the lip of each bowl. Then cut the pastry out.
  4. Divide the filling between the 4 bowls, which you have put onto a rimmed baking sheet (for easy entry and removal from the oven). Brush edges of each bowl with egg wash (will glue the pastry down). This step is optional. Top each container with the pastry, allowing the extra to hang over the top. Brush pastry with egg wash, piece top to vent steam, and put into a 375-degree oven to bake for about 25 to 35 minutes. Mine were ready after 25, so check then. You want the top nicely browned.
Recipe Notes

You can use a rotisserie chicken for this. I like to roast a couple of extra chicken breasts during the week to use in salads, etc.

This was adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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