That very sad time has come. Our 2014 Summer CSA from Red Fire Farm is over. The 20 weeks flew by in a flash, as does the best season.  Fall and winter produce don’t excite me nearly as much as what we get in spring and summer, so we opted not to do a share again until next year.

Red Fire Farm CSA Our final share included lots of greens like lettuce, kale, and dandelion greens, along with carrots, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, and pie pumpkins. One of the things I do like about fall produce is that it tends to be heartier and doesn’t need to be eaten right away. Mid-summer, with delicate tomatoes and squashes was a little more difficult and required planning on being home many nights when we might have spontaneously gone out.

We are trying really hard to eat better, move more, sleep more, and drink less, so we have been all about salads, and since I am always cold, I love to introduce some warm ingredients into salads.

This warm autumn salad is just some lettuce topped with roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and a quick vinaigrette made from balsamic, olive oil, mustard, shallot, and a dollop of honey. Some goat cheese made it a little more filling and fun. I love easy dinners like this, where I can get the veggies in the oven to roast and move on to doing other things around the house.

warm autumn salad

Another go-to fall dinner is stuffed acorn squash. There are a billion recipes for stuffed acorn squash, and I love it. It’s a way to have a fairly easy and healthy dinner that you can mix up every time. Our latest stuffed squash creation involved apples, spicy chicken sausage, cornbread, spicy peppers, and onions.

chopped apples

Typically when I am making a stuffed squash, especially a hard squash like acorn, I cut and clean it and get it started roasting, then prepare the stuffing separately. This time around I cooked down some hot peppers and red onion from our CSA in a little coconut oil. I then added in some apple pieces. Once everything was starting to soften, I started the chicken sausage in a separate pan so that it browned. Over the apple mixture, I crumbled some large chunks of cornbread, toasted that up a little, and added some flavor and moisture to it all with chicken stock.

peppers and onions for stufffing

Once that was all settled, I pulled out the acorn squash and stuffed the mixture in, cooking it all together for another eight minutes or so, just until the squash was nice and soft and the filling hot. This stuffed fall squash dish was a huge hit and made for some leftovers the next day.

stuffed acorn squash recipe

Now that we’ve made it through a full 20 week CSA, here are a few observations:

Pros

  • We got to support a Massachusetts farm for a season.
  • We really got to know the growing season in Massachusetts. I loved our weekly email from Red Fire Farm letting us know what was happening in the fields.
  • We ate a MUCH larger variety of vegetables than we usually do. Dandelion greens and kohlrabi are just two items we probably wouldn’t have purchased otherwise.
  • We always had vegetables on hand. Grocery shopping was a quick pickup of some proteins, yogurts, and work snacks.
  • We had SO MANY VEGETABLES. Many people commented on my Instagram that their CSAs did not send as much. Red Fire Farm is pretty awesome, and we are grateful for their hard work.

Cons

  • The payments were in installments early in the season, and they were pretty large chunks of money at once, understandably as it is supporting the farm for the season.
  • We had SO MANY VEGETABLES. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some weeks we shared, others we learned to eat what we were given so we didn’t waste. Still, my compost heap saw a lot of lettuce!
  • Pickup becomes a weekly constant. My poor husband was usually the one stuck with this chore since he has the car. It’s not a huge deal, but there were definitely nights it got in the way.

We will likely join a CSA next year, but I am also going full speed ahead with gardening. I am going to double the size of my garden and have already planted garlic and shallots. I have seeds for broccoli, kale, sunflowers, radishes, beets, and kohlrabi. I may have accidentally purchased 900 kohlrabi seeds, so I will be sharing if we end up with a huge crop! I will also plant potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, and basil.

I am grateful that we have access to fresh local food in so many ways and from so many places. Our CSA was a great adventure in learning more about those opportunities!

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Tags: agriculture, autum recipe, autumn salads, CSA, farm, farms, Food, Massachusetts, Red Fire Farm, stuffed acorn squash, stufffed squash

 

Mas Belles Eaux Les Coteaux 2009

Switching it up this Wine Wednesday after a little trip to Sonoma and Napa yesterday! Today we travel to the Languedoc region in the South of France. I recently received a sample of  Mas Belles Eaux Les Coteaux 2009. I loved this wine before I even opened it; sometimes tasting notes can sway me that way, though the proof is in the bottle of course.

I don’t have a ton of experience with Languedoc wines, so I was interested first in reading up on some of the information on Mas Belles Eaux:

Mas Belles Eaux in Languedoc, South of France, is a new winery,  owned by AXA Millésimes, whose word-famous properties include Chateau Pichon-Longueville (Paulliac), Quinta do Noval (Port) and Chateau Suduiraud (Sauternes). Languedoc is France’s most dynam-ic wine region, where adventurous producers, with fewer constraints than in most other regions, are challenging tradition and improving quality with every vintage. According to Christian Seely, Managing

Mas Belles Eaux, with a building dating back to the 17th century (when Mollière and his theatre troupe were based in a neighboring town) side by side with a  state of the art winery (built in 2008) – is emblematic of the region and  AXA’s investment is an important recognition of Languedoc’s growing importance and quality.

The wine, Les Coteaux 2009 is a blend of 70% Syrah, 20% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre, three of my favorite grapes, and it exhibits some of the richest, smoothest, most luxurious qualities they have to offer. There was so much cocoa and spice, wrapped up in notes of blackberries and dark cherries. Everything was very concentrated and super smooth; this is a perfect fireplace wine. It would pair nicely with (and be delicious in) a hearty beef stew or cassoulet. It would also be delicious in the Syrah Chocolate Cupcakes I made too many years ago. Yum. As you know I am not a huge fan of the cold and darkness that is creeping in but I do get excited about wines like this and the perfect food pairings to ward off an autumn chill.

This wine was sent to me as a sample. I was not required to review it. All opinions are my own.

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Tags: French wine, wine, wine of the week, wine samples, wine tasting

Happy Travel Tuesday! We leave for Ireland in a month, and have a trip to New Jersey to visit family in between then and now so I am feeling good about feeding the wanderlust these days. We’re also still reminiscing about an amazing Sonoma holiday over Labor Day weekend, so today I thought I would share some out and about photos, places I didn’t necessarily photograph in-depth and pretty pictures I caught along our travels. Enjoy!

Napa roads

{Napa County Road and the bluest sky}

 

Hog Island Oyster Company

{Hog Island Oyster Co. – get ready for some shucking!}

Sonoma Coast

{The Magnificent Sonoma Coast}

Girl and the Fig, Sonoma

{Chocolate and Fig Salted Caramel Trifle at The Girl and the Fig}

Passaggio Tasting Room, Sonoma {Passaggio Wines new tasting room in Sonoma – I love Passaggio Wine but was not bright enough to check the tasting room hours and showed up on a closed day. From what I could see, it is beautiful.}

 

Russian River Valley sunset

{Russian River Valley sunset from our Flipkey Sonoma home}

Truett Hurst

{Sun-baked Dry Creek Valley land in August – I LOVE the heat.}

Truett Hurst

{Cooling off at Truett Hurst, one of my favorite Dry Creek Valley wineries}

Truett Hurst

{Truett Hurst Sauvignon Blanc, riverside}

Dry Creek General Store

{Dry Creek General Store – a favorite for a cold beer, Dry Creek Valley views, great sandwiches, and people-watching}

Holdredge Pinot Noir

{Gorgeous Pinot Noir, Grateful Dead memorabilia, and rap music at Holdredge – so.much.fun. Who says wine is snobby?}

Napa Valley Sunset

{Sunset as we left Napa Valley on our last evening}

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Tags: California, California wine country, Food, Napa, Napa Valley, Restaurants, Sonoma, Sonoma County, Travel, travel posts, Travel Tuesday, wine, wine blog, wine blogger, wine tasting, wine travel, winery

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