2016 CSA Series!

2016 CSA Series

CSA SERIESI’m so excited to kick off another season of participating in a CSA! This year we purchased a share from Small Family Farm out of La Farge, Wisconsin which is very close to my home town. I love being able to support local farmers, especially ones that are virtually in my back yard! And if I’m being 100% honest, their adorable and fun website won me over. Seriously how cute are those illustrated veggies on their site?!?

Now if you’re a little confused about what a CSA is, let’s start with the basics.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is basically a partnership between you, the CSA member, and the farmer(s). CSA members pay the farmers at the beginning of a growing season for a share in that season’s harvest on the farm.  In return you receive a box of weekly (or other pre determined frequency) produce directly from the the farm that is delivered to several designated “dropsites” or sometimes you can choose to pick up at the actual farm too. It’s a great way to support local farms, eat local food, and eat healthier too!

One of my favorite things about CSA’s is the diversity of products. Sure you could have your own garden (I  totally support and encourage this and want my own next year!) but CSA’s are fun because you can get stuff that you’ve never tried before or things that you don’t grow yourself! Last time we did a CSA (see more about the 2014 season here) we got a lot of things we hadn’t tried and I’m excited for what this season will bring!

Because it’s just me and my husband, and summers are so busy with us rarely home on a weekend, we opted to purchase a Every Other Week (EOW) share from our farm. It’s the same big box of delicious goodies but instead of weekly we pick up every other week. This year in addition to a produce box, we will also be receiving a dozen organic free range eggs!

I am lucky enough to have grown up in and live in an area with a huge focus on local organic farms. I have a lot of options to choose from but there are CSA programs all over the country! There are also some great resources to help you find one near you, if you have no clue where to start. fairshare-logo

  • Fair Share CSA Coalition is a great option for my fellow Wisconsinites! They also have a ton of other great information on their site including local events, volunteer opportunities, recipes, and much more!

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  • Local Harvest has information on farms all over the country! They also include some events and farmers market info too.

I love that our farm sends out a newsletter each week to keep members up to date on the growing season, farm life, even farm events sometimes, and of course what’s in our box that week.

My goal for this series to to share what a real CSA experience is like, share new recipes and new ways to use some fun veggies and produce, and hopefully inspire you to either try a CSA or to feel more comfortable with a veggie-centric diet 🙂

Stay tuned for more delicious posts and even a hands on *get your hands dirty* visit to “our” CSA farm later this summer!

Thanks for tagging along and if you have any questions along the way, let me know!!

I’ll be picking up our first box tonight but my farm is awesome and posted a preview of what’s going to be in it this week! unnamed

Can you identify what each item is? Make sure to come back when we share what exactly was in the box and what we did with it all! 🙂

xoxo

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Springtime Potato Salad w/ Lemon Butter Vinaigrette

Springtime Potato Salad
w/ Lemon Butter Vinaigrette

spring-potato-salad-butter-lemonEvery year I think I look forward to spring more and more. I swear OVERNIGHT the trees are blooming and plants are popping up! I can hardly believe it’s May already. I appreciate all the seasons but I think that Spring may win my heart.

With Spring, the warmer temperatures, and more daylight comes an abundance of growing crops and more fresh local food. Right now I’m seeing tons of  spinach, ramps, asparagus, radishes, a few peas, mushrooms (it’s morel season guys!!) among other leafy greens. This salad brings so many of those ingredients to the spotlight and allows you to eat fresh local food with ease.

Not only is it beautiful and colorful but it’s pretty easy to whip up and has enough protein(with the lentils added) to be a light dinner by itself or it makes the perfect side for a grilled dinner or BBQ (Memorial Day anyone?!).

If you’re like me and love the taste of butter (REAL butter & this is my favorite) then this salad will most likely become your new favorite obsession. The rich butter vinaigrette really takes this thing to the next level & I’m already rationalizing 67 other things I can put it on.

Experiment and make it your own. I’d love to hear your renditions.

Seriously, how beautiful is this though? And tell me I’m not the only one who is a sucker for teeny tiny baby potatoes. ❤Baby New PotatoesSpring Potato Salad 2 Spring Potato Salad 6Spring Potato Salad 7 Spring Potato Salad 8Spring Potato Salad 10 Spring Potato Salad 12Springtime Poato Salad RecipeMy mouth is watering. Hope you enjoy!!

xoxo

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Springtime Potato Salad Pinterest

Fermented Food Basics

Fermented Food Basics

Fermented Food Basics Blog HeaderI’m a nerd;  a self-proclaimed nerd. Anything space and the cosmos blows my mind. World history is my favorite topic and historical fiction books are my weakness.  I read science and educational articles daily. I’m constantly thinking about how the world around me works.

Over the past two years or so I have become extremely interested in a more holistic lifestyle, putting more thought and emphasis on what I’m eating and putting in my body, what I’m putting ON my body, as well as being selective and critical of ingredients in day to day household and lifestyle products.

One of the things that I’ve come to know more about and  love that plays a really important role in my overall heath (and happiness!) is fermented foods. Fermentation and fermented foods is not a difficult concept but it tends to freak people out a bit and confuse them. So fasten your seat belts because I’m about to nerd out on you and give you the 411 on just what the heck fermented foods really are.

fermentation food jars

Fermenting jars have a way for built up gases to release so the pressure doesn’t become too high within the jar.

Keep in mind, I am not an expert, some of this stuff I didn’t know until I put this post together. My intention is to simply share more about the topic, make you more comfortable with the concept and maybe have you learn a thing or two!

What Is Fermentation?

On a very basic level, fermentation is the process of the chemical breakdown of food that inhibits bad bacteria growth and supports and promotes good bacteria growth!

Bacteria?!? ewww gross.

Nope. Actually bacteria is amazing and without it, none of us would be alive!

Fermenting food introduces healthy microbes (a bunch of bacteria & yeast) into food. Without making you all run for the hills ->come back I promise this will be fun!<- Fermentation creates an anaerobic environment (no oxygen) in which bad bacteria cannot survive and good bacteria can. The good microbes feed on sugars and starches in the foods which essentially remove them from said foods, leaving you with a more nutritious version of the food with a longer shelf life! This is why before people had refrigeration, fermentation was the method everyone used to keep and store food all year round.

Some other terms commonly used for fermented foods include:

  • Cultured
  • Cured
  • Brined
water kefir fermentation

Water kefir grains aren’t really “grains” but sort of look like it!

People usually think of sauerkraut when they hear “fermented foods”, but virtually every single food group can be fermented. If you love beer and sourdough bread, that’s fermented grains. If you love cheese and yogurt, that’s fermented dairy. Love pickles? Fermented veggies. And can’t live with out jam on your toast? That would be fermented fruit 🙂 You get the idea.

Types of Fermentation

Here is something I didn’t realize until I began researching this topic, there are actually three different types of fermentation!

  1. Lactic acid fermentation also known as lacto-fermentation, happens when the natural starches and sugars in foods are converted to lactic acid by good bacteria.  The term “lacto” in lacto-fermentation, refers to the production of lactic acid, lactase and not lactose which causes problems for many peoples digestive tracts (um HI, hello, me). The acid acts as a natural preservative, inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria. Lacto-fermentation products have been proven to helps with blood circulation, prevent and ease constipation, balances digestive acids and aids in pre-digestion.
  2. Ethyl alcohol fermentation occurs when the good microorganisms convert the carbohydrates in foods into alcohol. They say (idk who they is) that alcohol used to be more nutritious and contained lots of beneficial organisms. Today I’m not so sure. They speed the process up, use high heat which destroys all microorganisms, and usually add a lot of sugar. 😦
  3. Acetic fermentation takes place when alcohol is oxidized (exposed to air) and is magically converted to acetic acid which is commonly known as vinegar.  Yep, your vinegar was likely once a cider or wine 🙂

All of that is interesting right?! But why do you/should you care? Well because it’s AWESOME for your body!
Healthy-Gut-body

The Health Benefits of Fermented Food

The health benefits of fermented foods are almost too many to name. But I’ll name some of the coolest.

  1. Fermentation increases vitamins and minerals in food. Fermentation increases B and C vitamins as well as folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and biotin. The best part is the probiotics, enzymes and lactic acid in fermented foods allow these abundant vitamins and minerals to be more easily absorbed into the body.
  2. Fermented foods provide digestive enzymes. Fermented foods contain the enzymes that are required to break down food best. Our enzyme stores deplete as we age. The best thing we can do to slow down the depletion is to eat foods high in enzymes. Cooked food has no enzymes, raw food has a few, and fermented food has a TON.
  3. Fermentation aids in pre-digestion during the fermentation process, the microorganisms feed on sugars and starches, essentially beginning to digest and break down the food before you even eat it, which makes the actual digesting your body will do, that much easier on your system!
  4. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics which are microorganisms consumed by the body that are responsible for maintaining a healthy gut flora (your gut bacteria). A healthy gut is capable of better pulling nutrients from the food you eat, whether it’s fermented food or not.
  5. Eating fermented food helps maintain a healthy immune system because a healthy gut produces anti-biotic, anti-tumor, anti-viral, and anti-fungal substances. Also, the acids in fermented food make the gut an acidic place for pathogens so they have a harder chance of thriving there and improve your bodies ability to fight off germs and heal faster.

There’s also this awesome infographic (that I did not make) that lists some of the major benefits:

151006_fermentation2WHEW! Are you guys still awake? Hopefully you didn’t all bolt on me. I’m wrapping up. Promise.

So I mean fermenting sounds pretty awesome right? Easy to do, healthy, nutritious…so why isn’t it more common place?

People have been fermenting food for thousands of years, all over the world but in the past 100 or so years,  it has declined as a common “cooking” technique.  An obvious contributor is just the modern world and industrialized food. Pickling and preservatives took the place of fermentation. While I still love me some homemade pickled foods, they are less nutritious (than fermented) and some store bought versions with added preservatives can be plain ole bad for you.

I think there is a more recent swing in several social circles which shed light on the awesomeness that is fermented foods and show that it’s not a scary thing. You can easily make it yourself and even buy it already made!

Bimpbap Fermented Foods Recipe

The Bimipbap dish. We’ll be sharing the recipe tomorrow!

Kombucha, kefir, fresh sauerkraut, kimchi, these are all things that can probably be found in most grocery stores. You don’t need to eat or drink that much to get the benefits. In fact if you’re just starting to add fermented foods into your diet, you’ll want to take it slow. Trust me.Over the next few weeks I want to share with you some great and easy ways to incorporate fermented foods into you and your families diet. I’ll share some great fermented food brands and products that you can buy at your grocery store or order online, some great tips and techniques for making your own fermented foods and drinks AND some delicious recipes to make! Make sure you check back so you don’t miss anything ❤

Tune in TOMORROW when we share the story of one of our favorite Wisconsin local fermented food brands that we’ve teamed up with and see the amazing and super delicious bibimbap (korean rice bowl) recipe!

xoxo

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*I always feel compelled to say this. I’m not a doctor, this is not medical advice. I’m not a dietitian, this is not diet advice. I’m just a food geek sharing some interesting stuff. If you were out there taking medical advice from a food blog titled Eat Laugh Craft, I’d have to wonder about your sanity. * 

References and Readings:

The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from around the World, by Sandor Ellix Katz

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-phytates-phytic-acid

Fermenting Vegetables Demystified: The Basics of Fermenting Vegetables

Bringing Back the Lost Art (and Science) of Fermented Foods

http://fermentacap.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5&Itemid=116

Fermented Foods Pinterest

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup HeaderIf I’ve said it once (and I totally have), I’ve said it 1,390,423,825 times.I could live off of soup.

Every kind of soup. I’m not even biased, it doesn’t even have to be “soup”, stews and chili’s are equally amazing to me.

Ever since my Vitamix came into my life, I’ve been obsessed with making “creamy” (with no cream) blended soups that are chock-full of nutrients and as easy as literally throwing all the ingredients in a blender and…..blending. It couldn’t get easier. Creamy Potato Leek Soup 4This past week was Saint Patrick’s Day and every year it makes me think of my Irish family heritage. My grandma used to make a delicious potato leek soup and I decided to make a faux creamy version and make it thicker and denser but with the same nostalgic flavor.

Behold this amazingly delicious and a tiny bit spicy original Irish delicacy 😉

As you can see from the pictures you can switch your toppings up. One way is reserving some of the roasted veggies, another is the delicious sautéed mushrooms or you could do both! It’s all good because to be honest the real star is the soup itself. Creamy Potato Leek Soup 2It’s thick and stick to your ribs-y (a made up adjective but you guys feel me, right??) it’s creamy and smooth but yet dairy free (unless you want to use dairy milk).
Creamy Potato Leek Soup 1Creamy Potato Leek Soup RecipeCreamy Potato Leek Soup 3Creamy Potato Leek Soup 5Don’t forget about the ‘schrooms too. They’re good enough to eat alone!
Creamy Potato Leek Soup 6Creamy Potato Leek Soup 8Creamy Potato Leek Soup 7

There’s still a sweet spot in my heart for my grandmas version but this one is hard to beat. You haveeeeee to try it and come back to tell me if you liked it too! 🙂 Enjoy!

xoxo

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Potato Leek Soup Pinterest

WE WON!!

ANNOUNCEMENTUmmmmm, you guys. Some big news to share over here.

Remember last fall when some of you voted for Eat Laugh Craft in Madison Magazine‘s Best of Madison contest??

Well……….the results………are………in.

*drumroll* 

Thanks to everyone who voted, Eat Laugh Craft has been named the SILVER award for the Best Food Blog and Best Local Blog category in Madison Magazine’s 2016 Best of Madison awards!!BEST-OF-2016-silverI’ve known for a little while now and I’m so excited to share it with all of you, because if not for you, we wouldn’t have won!! 🙂 BOM AnnouncmentIf you live in or around Madison, you’ve no doubt heard of or at least seen the Best of Madison (BOM) logo’s around your favorite places. I could not be happier to be part of this esteemed group of people and organizations. I also couldn’t be happier that so many of you love coming to Eat Laugh Craft to check out my ramblings and see the stuff I make.

I’m truly lucky to be able to keep doing what I love and you guys keep coming back to read it. You guys are the greatest!!

If you live nearby or are visiting Madison soon, check out the full list of the best things around town HERE.

Now stay tuned tomorrow to see my favorite kitchen items and my *must have* list in collaboration with Blue Star Cooking!

xoxo

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