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CSA Season 2014

27 Apr

It’s CSA season once again!!!  I’ve tried a few different options over the years and I’m excited to try something new this year.  While thumbing through Edible Allegheny this month, I noticed their CSA guide and I think its an important resource to share with you guys.

What is a CSA?

CSA stands for community-supported agriculture.  You sign up to receive a weekly share of food grown locally by people in your very own community.  These growers plant crops based on how many shares they have committed to selling.

One of our early CSA shares from last year with Clarion River Organics.

One of our early CSA shares from last year with Clarion River Organics.

How does a CSA work?

Each week, the growers drop off shares at locations around the city.  Some offer the option to pick-up on site for a lower price.  Most times, you simply show up, sign off on your share, and take your loot home!

What are the benefits of a CSA?

There are so many benefits to joining a CSA.  You will be supporting a local grower, providing jobs and commerce within your region; you will be connected with your food and not be wondering what mystery chemicals and additives are in there;  you will have the chance to truly eat seasonally; your food is fresh (as in just picked and deliveries basically to your door); you lower your carbon footprint by depending less on the fossil-fuel driven industrial food system; you pay a fixed price throughout the season for produce; do I need to keep going or have you all ready skipped ahead to see where you can sign up??!!

As with anything else, the best way to chose a CSA is to shop around.  Figure out what you’re looking for and what your price point is.  Some CSAs offer more than just veggies and fruits.  You can add on options like eggs, cheeses, honey, mushrooms, flour, and herbs.  As urban CSAs become stronger and build a bigger customer base, they gain the ability to provide more options to consumers.  Call, write an email, ask a million questions!  I promise, growers love to talk about what they do.

Get to know your grower – you’ll be surprised how much more connected you feel to your region and to your food.  Every time you reach into our fridge a grab some fresh, locally harvested produce you will feel pride knowing that you are helping your region prosper.

Below you will find a list of CSAs which provide drop-off locations in Allegheny County.

Blackberry Meadows Organic Farm  724-226-3939

Butter Hill Farm  412-221-9275

Christoff’s Greenhouse  412-874-5900

Churchview Farm  412-496-5623

Clarion River Organics 412-589-9276

Dillner Family Farm  724-444-6594

One Woman Farm, CNG  412-913-7709

Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance  412-586-7577

 

Do you belong to a CSA?  If so, which one?  If not, what’s holding you back?

Spiced From The Strip

17 Apr

Dinner was Strip District-inspired last night.

If you’re not from Pittsburgh, you are probably asking yourself what racy, scandalous inspiration that is.

The Strip District is a wonderful area which connects to downtown Pittsburgh.  It’s called “the Strip” because its just a little “strip” of property that runs parallel to the river.  It’s actually the historic location of one of Andrew Carnegie’s first steel mills, ALCOA aluminum production HQ, and Westinghouse’s first factory to product air breaks.  I just love history.  At the turn of the century, the Strip become the center of produce in Pittsburgh.  The city’s main train station runs through the area, so produce merchants were able to get fresh fruits and veggies through easily accessible channels.  Today, the Strip has changed a lot, but its heartbeat is still the same.  It’s now home to many ethnic grocery stores, a destination for fresh produce, meats, cheese, and pasta.  There are so many little niche restaurants and cafes and bakeries, that you can get lost there for hours on the weekends.

We ventured down there on Monday morning, before I reported for duty at the laundry facility, to visit a novelty toy wholesaler named Mike Feinberg’s.  We had to buy prizes to give the big kids at the Great Cloth Diaper Change on Saturday.  Changin’ Time is in charge of kids games and activities!  Just across the street is one of my favorite places: Penzeys Spices.

Penzeys

I had accrued 4 coupons for free or discounted spices, so I had to stop for a spice haul.

Next door to Penzeys is a gourmet coffee dealer called Prestogeorge Coffee Roasting Company, a company which was founded locally in the 1960s and eventually found its home in the Strip.

Prestogeorge

When you walk in the door, the smells which lured you in from the sidewalk are amazing.  The walls are lined with interesting and rare blends of coffee beans and teas, biscotti, baked goods, deli meats, and all things delicious.

Prestogeorge2

We were just stopping in for some tea, but I could have spent hours looking at all the different blends.

So – what ended up in dinner last night, you ask?

The featured spice at Penzeys this month is called Berbere, a fiery Ethiopian spice blend.  Because I subscribe to their catalog, I received a coupon this month to try it for free!  You can order it online or find it in the store for $4.39.  We love spicy food, so we had to try it out.  I used it as a rub on chicken.

Berbere

At Prestogeorge, they had been sampling something called “Caribbean dip.”  We liked the sample and are constantly looking for new spicy items,  so we bought it.  When we got home, we realized that it was a little bit too mayo-based to really use as a dip.  However, I thought it would be excellent to use as a spicy breading base for the chicken, so I brushed some on!

CaribbeanDip

Then, I lightly dusted the chicken with Panko.

ChickenBefore

And baked it for about an hour at 350F.  When it was done, I topped it with just a dab of the dip and served it.

ChickenAfter

It was seriously SOOOOO good.  And spicy!  Like, I served it with celery spicy.  A yummy entree which supported two local business. 🙂

Don’t forget to enter my Earth Week Giveaway over here.  Find out how you can get a second giveaway entry if you all ready like SOLE for the Soul on Facebook ♥

Laundromat Lunch

18 Dec

This week, my business achieved a huge milestone!  (Damn you, Facebook, for making that sound so cheesy.)  We moved into our new location.  It took many many weeks of constant toil, but we did it.  We now have room to run our business and plenty of room to grow.  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world right now!

Saturday marked our official grand opening, which we celebrated with a party at the new facility.

ChanginTime

That means Monday was our first official day of “normal” work.  It was both exhilarating and anticlimactic.  It’s so hectic right now between the puppies and launching this expansion that I have barely cooked a substantial meal in weeks.  Call me crazy, but the thing I’m most excited about right now is having a schedule.  Knowing when and where I need to be helps me get back into the habit of cooking all three meals instead of depending on “grabbing a quick bite.”

Today, for lunch I made broccoli bites from Stacy’s Snacks

BroccoliBitesTitle

What You Will Need:

16 oz. broccoli florets (fresh or frozen will work), with the liquid squeezed out
1 c. bread crumbs (I use Panko)
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

BroccoliBites1

BB2

BB3

BB4

BB5

BB6

Lucky for me, I live just around the block from where I work.  Since we are currently whelping puppies, we have to check in every hour.  Unless it is unbearably cold or wet outside, I try to walk home on these breaks.

I’m learning to love my little walk, even when it looks like this outside:

EighthAve

So, this is the first of what I’m sure will be a long series of laundromat lunches.

LaundromatLunch1

I had plenty left over and we reheated them for dinner.

Operation Diaper Wagon: Day One

27 May

Well, on Friday we left for Chicago by way of Michigan to pick up the new official vehicle for Changin’ Time!

Me, my love♥, and the MIL had to leave Pittsburgh around 7 p.m., so for the most part we drove through storming darkness.

I mean, there are some per-requisities for a long-distance road trip.

And lots of farwell kisses…

This went on for some time while we got she♥ got our fur-babies set up at Amanada‘s

After much ado, we were off!

We all drove together on the way to Michigan/Chicago.

Anywhoo…I’m living the life of a fabulous grad student on the go, so I packed light.

It wasn’t long before we realized leaving so late in the evening, we needed some serious fuel for the road:

Since most of the trip that first day was at night, it was pretty hard to snap pictures (obvi!), but thankfully I have the smallest bladder in the world and we stopped at plenty a rest stop.

Finally we arrived at our first destination:  Hillsdale, Michigan, promptly thanked our hosts and hit the sack!

SOLE Sloppy Joes

18 May

In the spirit of my last post, I will completely abandon my cookbooks.

Trust me, this doesn’t need directions.

How can the sloppy joe be SOLE food you ask?

Simple.  Organic ground beef, locally made bread, and sloppy joe sauce made right here in the good old state of PA by a family-owned company.

Yeah, if you’re from Pittsburgh you’ve seen their commercial.  Emphasis on multi-generational family-owned business; horrible acting.  Similar to the commercial I recently starred in for Changin’ Time.

“We’ll save YOU a lot of money!”  Okay, okay lets be serious.

Not too shabby.  We got exactly 6 sloppy joes out of this, so the nutrition facts ended up being realistic to actual portion size.  How does this compare to Manwich?  Delgrosso has slightly higher caloric level and slightly more more sugar.  However, it is lower in sodium than Manwich.

Ready for it?

NO PRESERVATIVES and gluten free (I don’t really know too much about gluten, but yay for people who need it!).

See those ingredients?  I know all of them.  And they are located in Tipton, PA.  105 miles away, so yes I would consider that part of our regional foodshed.

Manwhich ingredient list (source): Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Less than 2% of: Salt, Sugar, Dehydrated Onions, Dehydrated Red and Green Bell Peppers, Chile Pepper, Tomato Fiber, Spices, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Dehydrated Garlic, Carob Bean Gum, Natural Flavors.

Yeah, 30 calories and a little sugar isn’t going to change my mind now.  I have no idea what most of those ingredients are, let alone what they will do to my organs.

Bonus Fact:  There is a Delgrosso Amusement Park. Randommmmmmmm.

Mock all you want, this sloppy joe is SOLE and so worth it.

Besides, Delgrosso Sloppy Joe Sauce was 10/$10 at Giant Eagle last week.  So this entire meal cost next to nothing.

♥ This meal really is SOLE for my soul ♥

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