Do you CSA?

Hello Father,

I have a confession. I love gardening, I love farmers, I love dirt. But I just can’t imagine joining a CSA. I want freedom of choice, to pick my veggies just the way I want, when I want. You see, God, signing up for a CSA requires commitment. And, I have come to realize that I don’t necessarily enjoy commitments. (I can’t even keep up with once a week pilates.) I do go to the Farmer’s Market faithfully and I shop at the local grocer each week. But I still feel unfaithful to the farmer by not participating in a CSA. Does my selfishness of wanting to choose my veggies each week mean I’m not really supporting the farmer? That rain or shine, drought or flood, he’ll have money to keep his farm afloat no matter how the produce turns out?

Help me out,



I really am serious. Even though I encourage all my friends to participate in one, I have a huge commitment issue with CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture). And until this past Tuesday I kept telling myself that if there was a farm that had a pick-your-own veggie CSA that I would participate. But then you find that ‘answer’ and realize, you’re still hesitant.

You see, I love going to the different vendors at the market and choosing a tomato here, a carrot bunch there, and a pile of lettuce greens at the next one. And my worry is this, if I commit to spending my $20/week with only one vendor – will I regret it? I definitely won’t regret the quality – its the best there is, but will I regret not getting to spend my $ with lots of vendors in lieu of spending it with one?

What do you think? Do you like your CSA? Do you have one where you choose your veggies or do you get an exciting surprise bag each week? Should I just go for it and try it out? And if you are a farmer…I’d love to know your thoughts on CSA participants versus farmer’s market buyers? Do you get as much $ from going to the Farmer’s Market or would you rather have it all in CSA participants?

Thanks for helping me with my dilemma! Jessica


Classic Pot Roast

This meal is nothing fancy, nothing elaborate, but is so good in the simple essence of roasted beef. It is comforting on a cold night and can be served to good friends over for dinner to just catch up & relax. I hope you enjoy!

Budget Note: This grass fed 1.5 pound boneless chuck roast cost me under $12 and fed 4 adults. The portions were a healthy amount combined with a side of brown rice and roasted carrots & onions. The total cost for my entire dinner was $4/person. So maybe next week you can find some locally raised, grass fed beef to include in your weekly menu. And, if you only fed 2 adults this roast, you could put the leftovers into a stir fry to stretch the meat further.

Classic Pot Roast

3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tsp olive or canola oil
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp Worcesteshire or Heinz 57 Sauce
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1.5 lb boneless chuck roast

1 small yellow onion, cut into quarters
2 cups fresh baby carrots, sliced in half
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup red wine

In a gallon size Ziploc bag mix together all of the marinade ingredients and then add the roast. Allow to marinate for 4-8 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a dutch oven or oven safe skillet, heat apprx. 2 tsp of olive oil over medium high heat. Remove roast from marinade and discard marinade. Apply kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to roast and then sear on each side for approximately 4-5 minutes. This helps seal in the juices. Once all sides have been seared, remove roast from pan.

Reduce heat to low and add onions, carrots, and garlic. Saute for approximately 1 minute and then add in chicken broth, stirring up the browned bits on bottom of pan. Remove from heat and place 1 bay leaf on the top of carrots & onions.

On top of this, place the roast. Then add the remaining bay leaf on top of the roast.

Lastly, pour the red wine over the bay leaf and roast.

Place pan into preheated oven and allow to cook for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. The time in oven will all depend upon the size of your roast. If your roast is 3 to 4 pounds it will probably require 1.5 to 2 hours roasting time. Use a digital thermometer (LOVE MY HUSBAND….he got me a new (and working one) for Christmas!) to determine when your roast is finished. Medium rare will be 145 degrees; medium will be 160 degrees; and well-done will be 170 degrees.

Remove your roast from pan and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Resting allows all the juices to settle back down. Enjoy with the carrots & onions. This would also be great served with mashed potatoes. Maybe, blue cheese mashed potatoes? Yummm! Also, the juices in the bottom of the pan make this even juicier!

I’d love to hear if you try the recipe out or if you have another classic pot roast recipe you use.

Cheers to eating locally & humanely raised cattle!



Pasta e Fagioli Soup

If you’re anything like me, you are really beginning to feel overwhelmed with the thought that Christmas is only 1 week away! You are asking yourself…why did I sign myself up for so many activities and responsibilities this week?? Note to self for next year…say no to every invitation the week before Christmas!

So in case you are like me, you will probably appreciate an easy and affordable meal that is delicious and quick. The best part is you probably have most of the ingredients on hand so no need for another trip to the grocery store. Serve this with crusty french bread & a spicy Malbec, and you have a nice meal to calm your nerves during this hectic week.

This recipe is a variation of Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe…primarily, I added heirloom tomatoes I had canned this summer and increased the amount of bacon…because really, shouldn’t we all eat more bacon? I think so!!!

Price Note: This recipe serves 4-6 and if using homemade stock and canned tomatoes, the price per serving is less than $1 a person.

2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped onion
6-8 ozs bacon, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups homemade chicken stock
1 pint canned tomatoes or 1 can (14.5 ozs) diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
2 cans (14.5 ozs) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained well
1 cup small to medium sized macaroni shells
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil & butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and saute approximately 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the chopped bacon and saute until pieces begin to crisp up, approximately 7 minutes. (Don’t fret if all the pieces don’t crisp up…only about 1/2 of mine were crisp by the end). Stir in the garlic and saute 1 more minute. Add the chopped rosemary, bay leaf, stock, tomatoes, beans, a dash of salt, and approximately 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a blender or food processor, puree 1 1/2 cup of the soup mixture until smooth, then return the puree to the dutch oven. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add in pasta then reduce heat to medium high. Stir occasionally and allow to boil for approximately 8 minutes, until pasta is tender but still firm to bit.

Season with fresh ground pepper and remove the bay leaf. I doubt you’ll need more salt since this has bacon.

Ladle up & Enjoy!

And good luck this week with your hectic schedule. I hope you make time for refreshing moments with deep breaths.