Almost every year I consider joining a CSA -- Community Supported Agriculture program -- where you buy a share in a local/regional farm and reap the bounty through weekly produce boxes. I love the idea of supporting small farmers, yet I'm scared away by the upfront cost and the long-term commitment. I worry about vacations and missed pickups and what I would do if 10 pounds of turnips showed up in the box.
That's why Peapod's local harvest program sounds so tempting to me. Instead of signing on for a season of produce (love chard, tomatoes and beets; not so nuts about said turnips), I can head to peapod.com and purchase that week's box of organic, heirloom produce provided by Harvest Moon Farms, a stone's throw over the border in Viroqua, Wis.
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The Local Farm Box (click "weekly specials" or search Harvest Moon Farms) will contain five to seven items of whatever is ready for harvest in a given week, plus news, photos and recipes direct from farmers Bob and Jennifer Borchardt. The couple grows nearly 50 types of certified organic produce from beans, beets and broccoli to kale, Swiss chard and collard greens. I can order a box on weeks when tomatoes and cucumbers are at their peak and skip collard greens and kale if I so choose.
The box gets delivered to your door with the rest of your Peapod order, or can be picked up at Peapod Pickup locations in Palatine, Lincolnshire and Deerfield. The local farm boxes will be available through early fall.
The deal isn't just a win for customers, it's a win for the Borchardts. With Peapod in the mix, Harvest Moon Farms makes one weekly delivery of CSA boxes to Peapod instead of making multiple runs to many different drop-off points. And, because of the collaboration, Skokie-based Peapod funded the farm's early crop costs for seed and supplies, which helped the Borchardts better manage cash flow and plan for future growth.
Bakers wanted: To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in October, Reflejos, the Daily Herald's sister publication, is looking for amateur bakers for its Sweet Creations dessert contest.
Through Aug. 25, home bakers can submit their favorite original or family recipe to firstname.lastname@example.org in any (or all) of the following categories: milk-based desserts (custard, flan, dulce de leche, pudding ...), fried dough or bread-based desserts (churros, sweet breads), fruit desserts (pies, empanadas) and baked desserts (cakes, cookies, bars). Recipes must include standard U.S. measures and the number of servings. Recipes can be submitted in English or in Spanish and may include a short essay about why the recipe is important to your family.
The bakers of the top recipes in each category will be invited to present their creations to a panel of judges at the Sweet Creations celebration Oct. 23 at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in Schaumburg. One grand-prize winner will receive $500 in cash and prizes.
Recipes will be showcased in the Sept. 29 edition of Reflejos and on reflejos.com. Details on how you can get tickets to the free evening of music, food and fun will be revealed in Reflejos closer to the event.
Icy cold beer, amped up: If you think the most refreshing thing on a hot summer day is an icy beer, I have something even better for you -- an icy cold beer ice pop.
The folks at Samuel Adams commissioned food entrepreneurs Rebecca and Daniel Dengrove of Brewla Bars, a New York spot that creates upscale and healthy frozen treats, to create a treat using Sam's Summer Ale as an ingredient.
They came up with Sam's Sweet & Spicy Summer: First, make a pink peppercorn sugar blend by crushing 1 teaspoon pink peppercorns with 1 tablespoon sugar; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine juice from 3 small lemons (for 1⁄3 cup) and 1 pink grapefruit (¼ cup) with 2 tablespoons sugar until completely dissolved. Slowly, to minimize foaming, stir in 1 bottle Summer Ale. Add ¼ teaspoon peppercorn blend; taste and add 1 to 2 more tablespoons sugar if desired.
Pour mixture into ice pop molds or paper cups. If using paper cups, cover with foil and poke a wooden stick into the center. Freeze overnight and enjoy.
Just make sure the kids know these are mom and dad's treats.
• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at email@example.com or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at Facebook.com/DebPankey.DailyHerald or follow her on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter @PankeysPlate.