Cooking locally and in-season can be difficult at times. At the mercy of the sometimes work-conflicting schedules of area farmers' markets or faced with lots of label-reading at the grocery store in order to discern between what was grown in California versus some far away place--Chile, perhaps--sometimes you just want to give in and just cook whatever, regardless of its providence.
But for those that can't always make it to the market, but want to keep the food on their table local and affordable (we're looking at you, Whole Check), there is another option. CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are programs run either by small farms or people buying from small farms that deliver local produce directly to you.
In Long Beach, Beachgreens, founded by local Aliye Aydin, has been delivering fresh, local and seasonal produce to the greater metro area--including Lakewood, Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Surfside and Sunset Beach--since 2007.
Beachgreens offers a variety of different box sizes and choices for contents--ranging from all vegetables to all fruit and differently proportioned mixed boxes. And while a Beachgreens delivery day is always a happy, good-eating day, there can be the occasional mystery hidden in the box--especially as summer's bounty begins to fade and easily recognizable tomatoes and peppers and lettuces fall out of season. With a variety of winter greens, dirt-stained root vegetables and hard-skinned squashes taking over, a little direction and advice for realizing the greatest potential of each ingredient is sometimes needed. Beachgreens is there to help, sending out recipes, one of which is included below, in their email newsletter. Coinciding with each delivery, the recipes make sure you know just how to season and sauté, roast or serve raw the vegetables and fruits found in each box.
For those of you outside of Beachgreens delivery range, Local Harvest is a good online resource that can help you find a CSA in your part of the county.
Celery Root & Sweet Potato Cakes
Adapted by Aliye Aydin from here
Serves: Makes 16 cakes.
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
1½ teaspoons cumin seeds
2eggs, slightly beaten
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 oz. celery root (1 medium celery root), peeled and shredded
12 oz. sweet potato (2 small), peeled and shredded
2 to 4 Tablespoons olive oil
Dairy sour cream or applesauce (optional)
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1. In a small dry skillet toast cumin seeds over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from heat; cool. Crush slightly with a mortar and pestle or rolling pin.
2. In a large bowl combine eggs, the 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, salt, and crushed cumin seeds. Stir in shredded celery root and sweet potato until combined. Form mixture into 16 cakes, stirring frequently to keep egg mixture well distributed.
3. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Carefully place some of the cakes in hot skillet. Cook over medium-high heat 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Repeat with remaining vegetable mixture, adding additional oil as needed during cooking. If necessary, reduce heat to medium to prevent overbrowning. Drain on paper towels.
4. Place cooked cakes on baking sheet in a 300 degree F. oven to keep warm while cooking remaining batches. Serve with sour cream or applesauce.