Friday, December 11, 2009

Farmhouse Delivery

914 Shady Lane
Austin, TX 78702

Although I have been known to express my love for fried foods, I do make an honest attempt at being healthy. My diet usually consists of lots of whole grains and vegetables and I love to cook. This is why I've always wanted to join some sort of food / farm co-op. I would have already if it weren't for a fear of vegetable commitment.

Farmhouse Delivery started showing up on my radar about a year ago. I ordered once from them last summer and had a good experience. When they announced that they were soon to become a members only group with a 10 week commitment, I decided to order before their policy change took place and actually document it for Dining In Austin.

Farmhouse delivery gathers vegetables from local farms, bundles them up and delivers them to your door. I received the Seasonal Farm Bushel. It is described as "an incredibly fresh assortment of the best from local farms" containing "a variety of 7-10 items of delicious just-harvested produce." You can add herbs, cheeses, meats, baked products, jams and so on. I chose to just stick to the basics for my first time around, but this time I indulged in the addition of unfiltered olive oil, blue cheese, shitake mushrooms, jalapeno tortillas, a half dozen eggs and goat milk yogurt.

The food was delivered to my door on the designated day for my zip code in a big reusable plastic container. Farmhouse Delivery requests but does not require that you leave the old plastic container out for them to recycle next time.

I was excited about my order all week. I kept wondering what would be in my bushel. When I opened the box, it felt like Christmas. I discovered green beans, turnips, butter lettuce, radishes, apples, lemons, acorn squash, pumpkin, cucumber and bok choy. Some of these ingredients I am very familiar with while others left me flipping through cookbooks and websites.

Seasonal Vegetable Bushel + a Few Extras

Reusable Insulated Bag Containing Temperature Sensitive Items

Nom, Nom, Nom, Shitake Mushrooms

Olive Oil, Blue Cheese, Plain Yogurt

The Olive Oil ($13) was terrific. The blue cheese was a little too serious for me. I can be timid when it comes to intentionally or accidentally moldy cheese. The yogurt was amazing. It is frustrating that one has to search to find a yogurt without sugar, gelatin or gelatin substitute in most grocery stores. I like my yogurt plain and non gelatinous. This yogurt was perfect.

Tortillas were a little pricey at $4 but delicious.

The first thing I did after putting away all of my groceries was make myself a salad. The butter lettuce was out of this world.

Butter Lettuce Salad with Radish, Apples, Blue Cheese and a Lemon/Olive Oil Dressing

A green lemon? The list of vegetables said it was indeed a lemon, not a lime.

Here are a few other dishes I made over the next 2 - 3 weeks.

Breakfast of Fried Egg on Tortilla.

Lots of Stir Fries. This one with bok choy and turnip greens, green beans, garlic and shitakes.

Stir Fry

Baked Acorn Squash stuffed with Quinoa.

Faux Gyro Wraps- Grilled Seitan and Onions with Cucumber and Dill Tzatziki Sauce Wrapped in Butter Lettuce - SO GOOD!

It was my first time working with turnips in the kitchen so I got in touch with my adventurous side and a few online recipe websites. I settled on Faux Bombay Potatoes for the roots and a dish I usually make with rainbow chard for the greens. I recommend the Faux Bombay Potatoes, but the greens were a little too iron/vitamin rich for me. Turnip greens are a big step up from collard greens or rainbow chard.

Turnip Greens Topped with Purple Onion, Toasted Pine Nuts and Reduced Balsamic Vinegar

Faux Bombay Potatoes- Turnips Par Boiled and Sauteed with Tumeric and Mustard Seed.

The last item left was the pumpkin. I thought about making pumpkin tarts or pumpkin pie. When I opened my recipe book, I turned straight to the page for pumpkin tofu thai curry. I took this as a sign from the universe.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds- my boyfriend got to them before my camera did.

Tofu and Pumpkin Thai Curry

The curry was great except for the pumpkin. The texture was mushy and chewy at the same time. In the future I will use the water the pumpkin was boiled in for a pumpkin laced broth and add it to the curry. The actual chunks of pumpkin I will puree for making tarts.

There were lots of positive things that came out of this experience. For one, I was forced to be creative and try lots of different recipes and vegetables I normally would not have explored. I saved money by not eating out. It did become a struggle to get through all the vegetables before they went bad, but it forced me to eat healthier. I think I even lost an insignificant amount of weight in the process. Also, I ate locally for a few weeks which has tons of benefits. I couldn't imagine getting a shipment on my own of this size every other week and actually using all of the vegetables. A biweekly seasonal bushel is the appropriate size for two adults.

If you are interested in joining Farmhouse Delivery, they are currently taking orders for Farm Memberships for the 10 Week Early Spring Season, which runs January 4th-March 12th. The deadline for signing up for the early spring season is Friday, January 1st. Space is limited.There is a one-time $20 set-up fee. Returning members will not be charged the set-up fee. Cost is currently $35 per delivery for weekly members and $37 per delivery for biweekly members. Check out their website for more information. There are a few additional perks to being a member including member only garden parties and get togethers.

Peace, Love, Gardens and Vegetables.