Monday, July 7, 2008

CSA - Week 4 - Local Food Exchange

The Local Food Exchange, located next to Hohl Feed and Seed on Railroad Avenue in downtown Bellingham, is just that - an exchange where farm-fresh organic produce, grown by local Whatcom Counties farmers, is available.I stop there each week to pick up my CSA harvest basket. Sometimes the farmers are there too, delivering more fresh produce and I can meet them. It feels good to me to know the farmer behind the produce that I eat. Today on the chalkboard in front of the shop they posted a gallon of milk for $3.00. I would love to try their milk too, but did not need any today. Guess where I plan on buying my milk next?
Not knowing what selections will be in my CSA harvest basket until I open it is part of the fun for me. I often challenge myself to create new recipes around the vegetables received each week - sometimes it is a salad, sometimes a soup, sometimes a pesto, often it is an experiment, and always the flavor great! Inside the basket this week I found carrots and green onions.
Baby scarlet red turnips with their greens, and my first zucchini of the season.
A quart of cherries and a pint of strawberries.Kale - one of my favorites!
Plenty of sugar snap peas.
Such a generous amount of sugar snap peas this week that I will have plenty to make a creamy sugar snap pea soup and still have lots left for tossing into a stir fry and salads. I love this soup served chilled!

The recipe I use (with only a few of my own changes!) was originally found in the Los Angeles Times.

Sugar Snap Pea Soup

2 pounds sugar snap peas

2 tablespoons butter, divided

1/4 cup minced shallots (I often substitute green onions.)

3/4 cup chicken stock (I use a vegetable stock instead.)

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste (I always omit the salt!)

Freshly grated nutmeg (I use ground.)

1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, plus more to taste

Up to 1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup cream

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

  • Add the peas to a large pot of rapidly boiling, generously salted water. Cover the pot and bring back to a boil. Uncover and cook until the peas are tender but still a vibrant green, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not cook so long that they turn drab. As soon as the peas are done, drain them and place them in an ice water bath to stop the cooking and preserve their bright color. Drain them again.
  • While the peas are cooking, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until they are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • Place half of the peas in a blender and purée until very smooth. Add a tablespoon or two of chicken stock, if necessary, to keep the mixture flowing. Add the remaining peas and the cooked shallots and finish puréeing.
  • Pass the pea purée through a strainer into a bowl, pressing with a flat rubber spatula to work it all through. Rinse the spatula blade to remove any fiber and scrape the thick pea purée that sticks to the outside of the strainer into the bowl. Discard the fiber that is left behind in the strainer.
  • Stir just enough chicken stock into the purée to make it a flowing liquid. It should have the consistency of fairly thin split pea soup. Stir in the salt, a few gratings of nutmeg and lemon juice. Taste, and if the peas aren't bright and sweet, stir in enough sugar to correct. If necessary, add more salt and lemon juice as well. The recipe can be prepared to this point up to 8 hours in advance (any longer and the color will start to fade). Refrigerate in a tightly covered container.
  • Pass the purée through the finest strainer you have into a saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat until the mixture is bubbling. While the purée is warming, cook the cream and Parmesan in a small saucepan over medium heat just until the Parmesan melts and the cream is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • When the purée is hot, stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Taste once more and adjust the seasoning if needed. Divide the soup evenly among 6 warmed soup plates. Gently shake each plate to distribute the purée in an even layer. Spoon some of the Parmesan cream into the center of the purée in a rough "C" pattern. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 142 calories; 5 grams protein; 10 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 10 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 30 mg. cholesterol; 347 mg. sodium.


The Bellingham Herald reported about the Local Food Exchange in the following article from June 9, 2008.

Local Food Exchange takes over Railroad Ave. outlet
Produce outlet expands offerings

Local farmers are always on the lookout for ways to sell fresh produce, and now they have an opportunity six days a week on one of downtown Bellingham’s busiest streets.

Last week Local Food Exchange opened at 1314 Railroad Ave., near Hohl Feed & Seed Co. The business will have a retail outlet where 15 Whatcom and Skagit farmers offer a variety of products, including seasonal vegetables and fruit as well as milk and butter from Breckenridge Farm in Everson. It will
also serve as a distribution center for local restaurants for pick-up, and for people in the Community Supported Agriculture program.

The space was home to K&M Red River Farm’s products, but became too much for the farmer to handle while running a farm at the same time, said Dana Zemel, farm stand manager for Local Food Exchange. So the group Growing Washington stepped in, organizing the store so there is a consistent product from a variety of farmers.

“We’re hoping this will be the type of place people can stop by to pick up fresh food for dinner or other meals, filling in for the things they didn’t get at the farmers market,” Zemel said. “It’s a chance to bring back more of the shopping-that-day for meals concept, getting food that came from the farm a few hours ago.”

The exchange will charge prices that pay the farmer and cover the overhead expenses. It will offer whatever is ready to be harvested. Since the weather has been cold and wet this spring, the exchange is offering the green types of vegetables, like spinach and arugula.

“As soon as the sun comes out, though, we’ll have a lot of great stuff, including berries,” Zemel said.

Also sharing the space is El Capitan’s Brat, Sausage & Dogs, which is currently catering to the late-night crowd. It is open from 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, but starting next week it will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

The Local Food Exchange is open noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit

Shop local, eat local!

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