Community Supported Agriculture is one of the hottest topics in food today, at least among the sandal-wearing, Whole Foods-shopping, NPR crowd.
CSAs, as they are known, are a way for consumers to buy produce straight from a farm. The consumers contract with the farmers before planting, and every week they get a box of fresh-grown, fresh-picked produce. The farmers get a guaranteed income and the consumers get great produce at a lower price because they bypass the middlemen. It works out wonderfully for everyone except the middlemen.
CSAs have been around for several years and generally wouldn't be considered newsworthy. But most CSAs are not like Bittersweet Farms, near Whitehouse. This 80-acre farm is run for the benefit of adults and adolescents with autism, many of whom help to work the farm.
On Wednesday from 5:30-7:30 p.m., the farm will hold an open house for people who are participating in the CSA or thinking about joining it. Along with a tour of the farm, they will hold a cooking demonstration and serve food grown at the farm, including beet hummus and pan-fried eggplant rolls with saffron sauce (or similar dishes).
The recipes were developed by food manager Doreen Russell and farm manager Eliot West.
For more information about either the event or the CSA, call 419-875-6986, ext. 1205. Bittersweet Farms is at 12660 Archbold Whitehouse Rd.
In the past, this column has taken a few subtle jabs at marketers and marketing and the efforts they will go to to get people to buy things they don't want and don't need. But we believe in giving credit in the rare occasions when it is due, and this is one of those. Call it a superior example of marketers making the best of a bad situation.
Consumer Reports recently surveyed readers about 102 restaurant chains, asking them to rate the restaurants in several categories including taste, value, service, and a lack of noise.
One restaurant came in worst in the category of noise, Texas Roadhouse. Instead of hanging their head in shame (and loudly asking "What?" after every sentence), the marketers for that chain decided to make lemonade out of the sow's ear they were handed.
Kent Taylor, founder and CEO of the chain, was quoted as saying, "We are proud to be loud. Upbeat country music, laughter, full restaurants, and line dancing make for a great experience. It sure beats the heck out of wine sipping, chirping crickets, and clinking silverware."
You have to hand it to them. They make it sound like fun, albeit bleed-from-the-ears fun. And they also found a way to sneak in the fact that they scored well in three of the four categories, and that the voters named them best value as recently as 2009. Unfortunately, they also had to mention that the chain is based in Louisville, Ky., which makes it all seem somehow less Texasy.
The chains that scored the best in this year's survey, incidentally, were Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano, Black Angus Steakhouse, Bob Evans, Bravo! Cucina Italiana, First Watch, J. Alexander's, Le Peep, Elmer's, and Fatz Eatz & Drinkz. Several of these have restaurants in Toledo. First Watch doesn't, but if you ever get the chance to have breakfast at one, do so. The place is awesome.
Peter Piper, etc.
When you think of fresh produce from Michigan, you probably think of cherries or apples, or maybe even sugar beets.
Michigan State University's Extension service would like you to, and has put out a fact sheet with tips for preserving peppers, recipes, and recommended varieties.
Among the information provided are such helpful bits as: One small sweet pepper equals 1/4 cup chopped; one medium sweet pepper equals 1/2 cup chopped; one large sweet pepper equals 1 cup chopped. For purposes of canning, nine pounds of peppers yields about nine pints (presumably, that means eight pounds of peppers would yield around 8 pints, etc.). A bushel weighs around 25 pounds, and yields 20-30 pounds. If preserving peppers, always be sure they are firm; do not use soft or diseased peppers.
The fact sheet also includes this vital piece of information: Wear rubber gloves while handling the chilies or wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face. It doesn't specifically mention it, but after handling chilies you should also always wash your hands before, uh, going to the restroom.
Seriously. Though it's the kind of mistake you'll never make twice.
Items for Morsels should be submitted two weeks before an event to email@example.com.