The Official Bay Ridge CSA Blog

Getting ready for the year ahead

Ah, it’s that time of year again. No, not the slightly embarrassing one in the doctor’s office that neither he nor I look forward to. No, it’s the Bay Ridge CSA – and we’re back for 2014! Yes, the new season is almost upon us. The garlic scapes are readying themselves, and David at our pick-up location is already working on his top-drawer vegetable chat for the year ahead.

Of course, before we can get going, we have to have our orientation meeting for new and existing members. ALL MEMBERS (new & returning) who have signed up, are invited – and highly encouraged – to attend the meeting. This is your chance to meet Hearty Roots farm’s owner, Benjamin Shute, to hear everything you need to know about the farm, and to ask any questions about the produce you will be receiving this year.

It’s also a dubious chance to meet our core group of Bay Ridge CSA organizers. A more motley bunch of characters you are unlikely ever to see, outside of incarceration programmes the length and breadth of the United States.

So when is this event, I hear you all cry with gay abandon? I’m glad you asked me that:

When: Saturday, March 22, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Where: Fourth Ave Presbyterian Church, 6753 4th Avenue (between 68th & Senator Streets)

In addition to the discussion with Benjamin, the following topics will be discussed:

* An overview of how the CSA works
* Information regarding the new online membership system
* How you will pick up your share every week, and what to expect
* Your work shift obligations
* Any other unanswered questions regarding the Bay Ridge CSA
* 258 illegal uses for Japanese turnips

This is your chance to ask anything you might not be clear about! Children of all ages are always welcome, and light refreshments will be served. So please make every effort to attend and we look forward to seeing you all on Saturday, March 22nd!

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 No Comments

The end of the road

So like all good things, the Bay Ridge CSA 2013 season has come to a close. In the immortal words of Boyz II Men, we’ve come to the End of the Road. It’s actually a little known fact that Babyface and LA Reid wrote ‘End of the Road’ to speak of the pain that comes when CSA seasons finish after six months of joyously fresh vegetables. In fact, I even managed to purloin a copy of the original lyrics, just to prove it:

“Although we’ve come to the End Of The Road
Still I can’t let yam go
It’s unnatural, kale belongs to me, beets belong to you.”

For some people, the pain of the end of the season never quite goes away. Each year, the big bosses at the Bay Ridge CSA set up a telephone hotline to counsel distraught members on how to cope without their weekly supply of broccoli and apples. Some people just make weekly pilgrimages to the side of the church each Saturday morning, hoping to glimpse a rogue sweet potato, or a chance sighting of the site leader’s infamous hat. Others scan their inbox each Friday evening in the hope of seeing a hilariously offbeat blog posting (those people can collect their cash payment from me shortly, by the way).

Fortunately, you need not fear. There’s only six months until we start the whole thing all over again. And in the meantime, the kind people at Hearty Roots are about to launch their Thanksgiving share – we’ll be sending you more details soon. So hang tight, keep the faith, and know that it’s only a matter of time before you’re all complaining about what to do with twelve garlic scapes each week.

Thanks for a great season everyone – here’s to 2014, and in the meantime, here’s what you can expect to receive in tomorrow’s (sniff, sniff) final CSA share of the season:

Spinach
Potatoes
Butternut squash
Carrots
Parsnips
Kale
Beets
Herbs

Fruit share:

Apples

Friday, November 1st, 2013 No Comments

The great egg crisis of 2013

As all immigrants to this city know, there are only approximately four weeks in every year when New York is actually habitable – two weeks in the spring, and two weeks in the fall. That’s four whole weeks out of 52 when the temperature of the city is at a level where it’s just comfortable, rather than nose hair freezingly cold or skin meltingly hot. It’s a little known fact that in January 1933, July 1965, August 1981 and March 2006, aliens visited New York City with a view to staging a hostile takeover. They left ten minutes later declaring that the city was incapable of sustaining life.

Fortunately for us all, we’re currently in the two weeks of the fall that feel pleasant. Sure, we’re starting to feel that eery cool descending as if to remind us that we will soon not to be able to cough outside without the saliva in our mouths instantly freezing solid. But for the most part, we can enjoy the blue skies and crisp days as the last hurrah of the warm weather.

Sadly, as the days get shorter and the nights get longer, the hens who deliver eggs for our fried, poached and scrambled delights get, frankly, lazy. As you have probably heard, that means that this week there’s no eggs at the Bay Ridge CSA. Unless they go on egg strike, you’ll fortunately be able to get eggs at the Thanksgiving share instead. I’ve got a killer recipe for egg and turkey muffins if you need it…the less said about my egg gravy, the better.

Here’s what you can expect to receive at the Bay Ridge CSA pickup tomorrow:

Spinach
Butternut squash
Leeks
Potatoes
Scarlet turnips
Daikon radish
Kale

Friday, October 25th, 2013 1 Comment

All good things come to an end

All good things have to come to an end, it would seem. My thirties end in less than ten days, picking a random example. John Boehner’s credibility finally disappeared into thin air this week. And after just four more deliveries, the Bay Ridge CSA 2013 season will come to an end. It seems like only yesterday that I was blithering on about the number of garlic scapes we were going to be getting, and yet here we are talking about squashes. Time flies when you’re almost 40, apparently.

Anyway, there’s still time for you to send me recipes to share with fellow members. I sit here day after day waiting for interesting uses for kale or turnips, and all I get is a very heartfelt offer to help a poor guy in Belgium who has been liberated of his wallet and will be safe as long as I transfer $200 to him by the end of tomorrow. Frankly, I’d rather eat beets.

So, if you’ve got any interesting (and original) recipes for winter squash or radishes, I’m all ears. To be fair, my hearing could be gone in a few weeks, so you should probably take advantage.

Here’s what you can expect to receive in tomorrow’s Bay Ridge CSA share:

Spinach
Potatoes
Kale
Turnips
Radishes
Cabbage
Sweet peppers
“Autumn Crown” winter squash*

*Autumn Crown is a new variety for Hearty Roots this year. It looks similar to the Long Island Cheese squash they have grown in the past, but it is smaller and has even better flavor and texture. It is comparable to butternut in its sweetness and smooth texture. It will store very well in your kitchen for many weeks. Enjoy!

Friday, October 18th, 2013 No Comments

Who needs fingers?

You know the best thing about being part of a CSA? It’s that feeling every week when you turn up and walk away with a stack of free vegetables and fruit – who doesn’t love getting all that fantastic produce without having to pay a single dime? I’m still amazed that we all get to participate in this amazing totally free service. We’re just so incredibly fortun…wait, that’s the door…hold on, back in a second…

Ah. That was the big bosses at the Bay Ridge CSA. All of them. At my door. I’ve never been more terrified in my life. How I’m going to type with only three fingers is beyond me. They’ve become fed up with my wandering and meandering Friday night email, and they’ve decided that they’re going to stand over me each week to make sure that I say what they want. I don’t know what that is they’re holding against my neck, but I’m sure hoping that it’s a Japanese turnip.

Anyway, it turns out that this CSA thing isn’t free after all, and that we’re all basically giving the farmer some cash six months upfront so that he grows these amazing vegetables for us all. Who knew, right? Apparently it’s that time of year again, where we have to renew for the next season ahead. If – like me – you’ve been AMAZED by the quantity and quality of this year’s vegetables, sign up by filling in the form that was emailed to you all this week. You’ll even get a nice little early bird price into the bargain. If you can’t find the email, let me know and I’ll send it to you.

Of course, if you’re not going to renew, that’s OK. I mean, I’ll have to send the big bosses from the Bay Ridge CSA over, but they’re very understanding these days. They’ll even let you choose which toe you want to keep. Community Supported Amputation – it’s the CSA of the future.

Here’s what you can expect to receive in this week’s share:

Sweet potatoes
Lettuce
Tatsoi
Turnips
Butternut squash
Broccoli
Spinach
Cauliflower

Fruit share:
Apples and pears

Friday, October 11th, 2013 No Comments

Inside The Blogger’s Studio

In a break from this week’s scheduled communication, we’re going live to James Lipton at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University’s New York City campus, for a very special insight into a Bay Ridge legend. Without further ado, it’s over to James…

LIPTON: “As we approach Inside The Blogger’s Studio’s twentieth birthday, tonight’s guest holds
the remarkable distinction of being the only person in Bay Ridge who has to sit at home writing blogs on a Friday night. He began his career writing about eggplants back in 1987, and was recently recognized by the Tomato Alliance as Most Fundamentally Average Blogger of the Year. He has a PhD in irreverent chat, and recently survived an assassination attempt by a member of the Committee on Really Nasty Seasonally Unnecessary Common Kernels (C.O.R.N.S.U.C.K.s). The Blogger’s Studio is proud to welcome The Bay Ridge CSA Blogger!”

[Audience cheers with wild abandon; The Bay Ridge CSA Blogger comes out from backstage, shakes Lipton's hand, and then moves to his chair. He remains standing, sheepishly acknowledging the audience cheers and applause.]

LIPTON: “Sir, the response in the Blogger’s Studio demonstrates the esteem in which you are held by the blogging community. What do you put that down to?”

TBRCSAB: “Ah James, you’re too kind. To be fair, I think they tolerate me at best, desperately scrolling down past this bit at the top until they finally get to see what vegetables they’re getting in the morning.”

LIPTON: “You’ve long maintained a personal crusade against beets. Why?”

TBRCSAB: “It still stuns me that we can eradicate smallpox, and put a probe on Mars, yet beets still exist. I have a dream that one day mankind can live free of this root terror.”

LIPTON: “What’s been the greatest moment of your career to date?”

TBRCSAB: “I guess I live for the complaints. I don’t get many, but perhaps I can increase the quotient with this week’s slightly tortured edition?”

LIPTON: “You often talk about ‘the big bosses at the Bay Ridge CSA’. Who are the members of this shadowy cabal?”

TBRCSAB: “Oh James, you can’t get that detail out of me! The first rule of the Bay Ridge CSA bosses is that you don’t talk about the Bay Ridge CSA bosses. They have tried every trick in the book to get rid of me, but I recently changed the blog’s password so they’re stuck with me now.”

LIPTON: “Do you have a special message for all your fans out there?”

TBRCSAB: “Well, I guess I’ll just stick with my catchphrase, James. Here’s what you can expect to receive in your Bay Ridge CSA share in the morning!”

[Audience screams with delight, storm the stage, and carry TBRCSAB aloft out of the auditorium]

Tatsoi
Beets
Arugula or Mizuna
Butternut squash
Broccoli
Eggplant
Kale
Lettuce
Pie pumpkin

Notes from Hearty Roots:

Hoping many of you can come visit the farm for tomorrow’s harvest celebration!

Details are here: http://www.heartyroots.com/2013/10/04/harvest-party-schedule/

This week’s winter squash is one of the most well known, Butternut. Butternut squash makes a wonderful soup, or roasted in the oven it’s a great side dish on its own. These are also the best squash for pumpkin pie, even better than actual pie pumpkins. And of course, as with all the winter squash we grow, the seeds can be roasted and eaten as a snack too. Most winter squash stores very well, and butternut is the best. It will store well at room temperature for many months.

You’re also getting a pie pumpkin this week, which can be eaten (or used for decoration… and then eaten!). We like it in stews better than in pies, since it’s not quite as smooth as the butternut.

Friday, October 4th, 2013 No Comments

The power of suggestion

There’s nothing like the power of suggestion, is there? I’m particularly sensitive to it myself. As a ten year old, my mother persuaded me that the best way to take a powdered cold remedy (meant to be dissolved in water) was to put it directly on my tongue. To be fair, that’s probably more of an indication that I’m an idiot, but the power of suggestion remains strong with me.

Indeed sometimes, just the thought that I really mustn’t do something is enough to ensure that it will undoubtedly happen. So it’s with some trepidation that I let you know that BR at Hearty Roots has let us know this week to check our delicious broccoli for the broccoli caterpillar (AKA the imported cabbageworm). Apparently these harmless light green critters like to munch on green cruciferous vegetables, and as a result you may find a couple hiding among the stalks tomorrow. Just the thought that I must search my broccoli carefully to ensure that I don’t accidentally eat a green caterpillar is almost enough to make it happen in my case, I promise. Anybody got a nice recipe for garlic caterpillars?

While we’re on the topic of suggestion, with the end of the season getting closer, we’ll be putting out a suggestion box at the CSA pickup over the coming weeks. We’d love to hear from you on how we can be improving the CSA for you all, so whether it’s the kind of vegetables you get or the frankly substandard quality of the Friday night email, we want to hear from you. Take five minutes to let us know the one or two things that we could do to make things better, and together we can make the CSA an even better experience for everyone.

Here’s what you can expect to receive in the CSA share tomorrow:

Carrots
Lettuce
Radishes
Swiss chard
Arugula
Cauliflower
Broccoli
Winter squash

Fruit share:
Apples
Pears

Note from BR at Hearty Roots: “You’ll be receiving winter squash several times between now and the end of the season. This week we are sending a choice of orange “Sunshine” (a kabocha type winter squash) or green Buttercup squash.

Both of these types are really versatile and delicious, with sweet smooth flesh that can be used for baking, mashing and pies. And of course, as with all the winter squash we grow, the seeds can be roasted and eaten as a snack too. As with most winter squash, this will store well at room temperature for many many weeks, if not many months.

Finally, here is a time lapse video that someone decided to make of a sunshine squash ripening over 30 days: http://youtu.be/MBWDmrGZBZE . Clearly this person has a lot more time on his hands than farmers do…”

Saturday, September 28th, 2013 No Comments

Admin admin admin

Ah, admin. It’s the organizational equivalent of having your wisdom teeth pulled out – nobody wants to do it, even though your life is marginally easier once you have. And some people seem to get away with never doing it at all. Or is it like being a Mets fan – it takes up a huge amount of your time, but you never seem to get any benefit from it? Actually, maybe it’s like eating beets – everybody says it’s good for you, but secretly you’d rather eat a twenty year collection of toenail clippings?

Whatever the case, sometimes admin just can’t be avoided. The big bosses at the Bay Ridge CSA are MAD for admin, so even though I’d rather talk to you about Lindsay Lohan or cuddly kittens, they say I have to provide you with these old fashioned things called facts. I think they’ll never catch on, but whatever…

Anyway, just a reminder that this year’s farm harvest party will be on Saturday, October 5th, in the afternoon. We will make sure to give more details about the day’s schedule soon, but make sure that you keep the day clear!

You’ll be receiving winter squash nearly every pick-up between now and the end of the season. This week’s variety is “Delicata”. These are actually more closely related to zucchini than to other winter squashes like butternuts; and they are quicker to cook and have more tender skins than other winter squash. The skins are tender enough that they can be eaten with the squash. Halving and baking the squash is one option, but it can also be cut into half moons and sauteed or seared in a pan. As with all the winter squash we grow, the seeds can be roasted and eaten as a snack too. Delicata does not store as well as the other winter squashes, so you would be wise to use these in the next several weeks.

For those of you with an egg share, the Hearty Roots hens are laying fewer eggs as the days get shorter, so some of us will be receiving eggs from Mountain Brook Farm. Hilary at Mountain Brook raises her hens on pasture and feeds non-gmo feed just like Hearty Roots, so her eggs are excellent quality and we’re sure you will be as happy with them as you are with the usual eggs.

Here’s what you can expect to receive in tomorrow’s share:

Potatoes
Collard greens
Lettuce
Garlic
Leeks
Savoy cabbage
Delicata squash
Sweet peppers
Hot peppers

Fruit share:
Apples and pears

Friday, September 20th, 2013 No Comments

Oh-regg-ann-o and stuff

Did I ever mention that I’m British? OK, only every other week? Count yourself lucky that it’s only that often, good vegetable-eating people of Bay Ridge. Actually, to be fair, I’m an American now as well. Hey, I even managed to vote in the primary election this week. I say that I voted…to be honest, I pulled a few levers, turned a crank, grabbed a Phillips head screwdriver, deployed a monkey wrench, and hoped for the best. They say it was voting, but it seemed more like a Plumbing 101 course, if you ask me.

Anyway, being from the old country, I tend to use English – how can I put this delicately? – properly. I say to-mar-to, bazz-ill, and aloo-mini-um. And I say herb rather than ‘erb, because – yes, I know, I’m probably being old fashioned – it’s got an ‘h’ at the start.

So to me, the season that is about to come our way will always be autumn. But because the big bosses at the Bay Ridge CSA are threatening to let me go if I don’t start talking all ‘fuhgeddaboudit’ and stuff, I am under strict instructions to start calling it fall. Frankly, I thought fall was what I do after one too many of your quaint Budweiser-manufactured Lime-a-ritas, but hey, I don’t make the rules…

All this is a long winded way of saying that Hearty Roots Farm will be hosting their annual Fall Harvest Celebration at the farm on Saturday, October 5th in the afternoon. We’ll make sure that you get all the details soon, but BR and the team will have music, games, food, drink and farm tours for all the family to enjoy. And you can feel free to camp at the farm on Saturday night!

Here’s what you can expect to receive in this week’s share:

Tomatoes
Acorn squash
Fennel
Japanese sweet turnips
Potatoes
Green lettuce
Red lettuce
Garlic
Tuscan Kale

PS BR at the farm reached out with this message for all members – “This week has marked a real transition from summer to fall. We had a 90+ degree day earlier in the week, and now nights in the 40′s. We are beginning to harvest fall crops like potatoes and winter squash; and the tomatoes are petering out, producing much less than they were just a few weeks ago. The coming weeks are looking good, with lots more winter squash, leeks, cooking greens, potatoes, and other root crops to come.”

Friday, September 13th, 2013 No Comments

A canny pickle

I’ve never really understood the phrase ‘in a pickle’. I mean, it’s supposed to suggest that you’ve got a problem, and that it’s going to be tough to get out of it. But, let’s be honest, who actually wants to get out of a pickle? Whether we’re talking about a quick carrot, turnip and jalapeno pickle, or a laboriously made tart rhubarb pickle with cranberries and ginger, I want to dive headlong into the stuff. I want to be swimming in a vat of cornichons, or languidly doing laps around a sticky bath of chilli and lime pickle. And, for the British among you, you don’t even want to know what I’ve got in mind for a jar of Branston’s…

Put simply, I’m a canning and preserving kind of guy. I don’t mind if you’re creating a super quick chutney, or you’re squirrelling away tomatoes for the winter so that you don’t have to live on a daily diet of acorn squash and old potatoes – if you’re preserving produce, you’re alright in my book.

With that in mind, I’ll be taking careful note of the attendees at this year’s Bay Ridge CSA canning workshop. KayCee Wimbush, previously of Hearty Roots Farm, will be leading the workshop on Saturday September 21st, time tbc (though likely in the afternoon). There will be lots of hands on experience, products to take home, and maybe even a raffle!

Non CSA members are welcome, but numbers are strictly limited to 15. Tickets are $20 a shot, although that’s frankly a bargain when you consider that it also allows you to be my friend for life. If you’re interested, email the delightful Rana (queen of the Bay Ridge CSA events) at email hidden; JavaScript is required. What are you waiting for?

Here’s what you can expect to receive in this week’s Bay Ridge CSA share:

Veggies:
Tomatoes
Sweet peppers
Beets
Lettuce
Garlic
Fennel
Kale
Arugula

Fruit share:
Peaches
Nectarines
Grapes

Friday, September 6th, 2013 No Comments

Veggies
Season starts June 7th, 2014!

Fruit
Season starts July 5th, 2014!

Order Pickup: April 8th
Deadline to Order: April 3rd (April 1st for cheese)

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