Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Farm-Fresh Family Food Ideas

In my last post, I wrote about my effort, made easier during summertime, to avoid store-bought food and to feed my family using our city's bountiful farmers' markets, and my local and regional CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm partnerships.  The post seemed to resonate with many of you who feel the same urge to avoid industrialized food and opt instead for farm-direct nourishment.  Summer is a great time to focus on eating more (the majority?) of our food from local and regional farms, and hopefully use what we learn in summertime to forge year-long farm relationships.

I heard from several readers looking for meal ideas on just how to feed one's family (especially with little ones), while avoiding the neighborhood grocery store.  I do not profess to be any type of chef or culinary expert or nutritionist.  Most often my meals are prepared under rapid fire with a toddler at my feet screaming "NURSE!" and two bigger kids scattered about the house.  I do like the new book, The Farmer's Kitchen: The Ultimate Guide to Enjoying Your CSA and Farmers' Market Food, written by local Cambridge homesteader, Julia Shanks, and chef Brett Grohsgal, which gives some nice suggestions on preparing and storing farm-fresh foods, as well as many recipes that can be used and adapted for little ones.

Below are some of the foods I have been preparing lately thanks to the bounty of farm goodness coming our way!  For reference, I get all of our milk from a regional organic farm collaborative, as well as much of my meat, cheese, grains, and legumes.  I try to buy raw milk from local farms when I can, and I purchase as much food and wine as possible from our city's daily local farmers' markets.  Eggs, other in-season fruits and vegetables, and occasional meats, in addition to what I buy at our city's farmers' markets, I purchase through our local farm CSA just outside of the city.

At this time of year, with so many great foods coming in, I am also trying to limit my trips to the store for those "processed" foods we still rely on quite a bit: brown rice, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, peanut butter.  I can't give these up entirely--yet--but I am finding that summertime is a great time to rely less on these staples and hopefully develop farm-fresh eating habits that can last us all year.  I'll admit that there have been some grumblings around the dinner table--mostly from my picky three-year-old who would be content to subsist on peanut butter sandwiches--but for the most part we are all enjoying the summer harvests and are grateful for being more connected to food and farm.

Here is a sampling of our current favorite farm-fresh foods.  If you can find a local dairy source, and have access to local grains, meats, and legumes through your farmers' markets and/or CSA farm partnership, you shouldn't have to visit the grocery store for much more than a bit of baking powder and salt:

  • Corn bread (farmers' market or CSA corn meal, whole wheat flour, and sunflower oil; local spices) with homemade or farmers' market jam and fresh berries
  • Zucchini muffins (local grains, local raw honey)
  • French toast (homemade or farmers' market bread; farmers' market or CSA eggs and maple syrup)
  • Blueberry muffins (local grains, local maple syrup, homemade yogurt, local berries, local spices)
  • Eggs with farmers' market cheese and fresh fruit
  • Whole wheat pancakes (farm grains, eggs, and CSA or farmers' market olive or sunflower oil) with local maple syrup and fresh berries
  • Homemade or farmers' market bread with bean spread (I use whatever dried beans are available from the local farmers' market or CSA, and farmers' market herbs, garlic, and tomatoes)
  • Whole wheat biscuits (or farmers' market bread) with melted cheese (and fresh tomatoes and herbs for whoever doesn't pick them out!), and sliced turkey breast from CSA
  • Eggs - hard-boiled or scrambled are my kids' favorites -- from farmers' market or CSA
  • Cucumber popsicles (peeled cucumbers pureed with homemade plain yogurt and local maple syrup and frozen)
  • Local ice cream (eaten while shopping at the farmers' market!)
  • Popcorn (with farmers' market popping corn)
  • Cheese and veggie platters with homemade or local hummus from the farmers' market
  • Smoothies
  • Fresh fruit and homemade yogurt, sweetened with local maple syrup or local raw honey
  • Homemade applesauce (farmers' market apples (yay for early apples!), cinnamon and local maple syrup)
  • Fruits, veggies, fruits, veggies, fruits, veggies....
  • Farmers' market or CSA seafood, grilled or baked, with farmers' market corn, green beans, potatoes
  • CSA ground beef or ground turkey meatballs with toothpicks and fresh veggie sides
  • CSA or farmers' market chicken nuggets with veggie sides and cheese or honey dipping sauce
  • Whole wheat tortillas with CSA or farmers' market flour and black beans, fresh veggies, homemade or farmers' market salsa, local cheese, etc.
  • Fresh salads with local veggies, cheeses and homemade dressing
  • Fruit crisp (farmers' market cut peaches, plums, berries, etc. mixed with local maple syrup and honey to desired consistency/sweetness and sprinkled with a mixture of 3/4 stick butter and 1 cup local flour, drizzled with honey and baked at 375-degrees for 40 minutes...yummmm)
  • Local chocolate from the farmers' market
  • Local baked goods from the farmers' market
What about you?  What are your favorite summertime farmers' market and CSA family recipes?  Please share!  


  1. When it's not too hot out I just roast everything. It brings out a nice sweet taste in the veggies that my kids will actually eat- especially if I let them dip it. Actually making a dip bar with raw veggies and homemade dips is one of my favorite summer lunches. Also strawberry and buttermilk soup is a big hit (it's cold- so it's like eating ice cream for dinner.) And of course Corn. We throw it in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes husks still on. It stays warm until it's peeled and is just delicious. Add some other fruits and veggies or maybe some eggs and it's a simple easy dinner :)

    1. Thanks, Leigh! Great corn tip... I'm going to try that tomorrow... I've been making a celery soup (from "The Farmer's Kitchen" book) that has been going over well-- but that strawberry-buttermilk one sounds fabulous!

  2. Oh and I just discovered this chocolate and you must try it! They make it on The Vinyard and there's no sugar!

  3. I think it's brilliant that you've described the meals and snacks that your family actually eats. When I tell people that we eat at least 50% raw food, they can't picture what that looks like. You've really laid out how easy it is to live in a city but eat fresh, local harvest.

    So, can I come over for dinner some time? ;-)

    1. Thanks, Patti. I appreciate your kind words. Cooking is definitely not my area of strength, but I also like seeing and hearing ideas from other families on how to cook and eat locally so I thought I'd share what we're doing. And I would love to have you for dinner any time you take a trip south of the border!

  4. Hi Kerry,

    Thanks for all these great ideas! Some of the recipe sites you linked too have generated some more good ideas for lunches and such.

    We love our farmer's market and visit it every week for new goodies and fresh produce. One of my very favorite things to do with the veggie "scraps" is to make Scrappy Vegetable Broth. Since we make soup weekly, making my own broth provided a nice savings, a great way to reuse, and an easy way to make a canned food item at home from scratch. Yum! Here's the recipe I follow:

    1. Your homemade vegetable broth idea with all those great veggie scraps is fabulous! I will definitely try this! Thanks so much for the tip.

  5. We like zucchini with tomato, basil, garlic and cheese broiled or done in a cast iron pan with a cover on top.

    1. Oooo, yes! I forgot about those "zucchini pizzas!" Thanks for the yummy reminder!

  6. Hi Kerry,

    I'm so glad you enjoy our cookbook! There are definitely recipes for a variety of tastes.

    What a great list of suggestions! I'm about to stock up on tomatoes to make homemade ketchup and tomato sauce to last throughout the year.

    Julia Shanks
    The Farmer's Kitchen

  7. Julia, thanks so much for visiting and commenting! Your book is fabulous. Maybe a future one could be focused on kids' recipes from Farmers' Markets and CSAs....

  8. Hi Kerry,
    I think this is my favorite post you've ever written. My post for tomorrow's natural parenting carnival is all about my journey in finally talking to the beloved farmers of our local market. Aren't CSAs great? I'll definitely check out the farm collaborative you linked up. Thanks for the thoughtful post! ~Justine