The Last Last Box + RECIPE: Pork Carnitas with Roasted Vegetables

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I know I told you we said goodbye to our CSA members two weeks ago. But then we had this “problem.” After the CSA ended on October 18th, our basement storage was still packed full of onions and potatoes (I’m talking hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pounds of fully cured storage beauties) and our fields were still filled with the root vegetables we’d planted in an early August panic when we realized our winter squash was going to have serious disease issues. It appeared we had overcompensated. And even after loading our CSA members up with bright orange carrots, radiant purple daikon (my personal fave), beets, celeriac, onions, shallots, potatoes, and purple top turnip, we were seriously overloaded with bounty.

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It’s not a bad problem to have. We’re keeping our home basement stocked with goodies that seriously should last us through at least the end of January (!!!!) and probably beyond. But there was still more. More than we could possibly eat (even over the deep dark slumber of a Wisconsin winter). More than we could sell to restaurants. More than we could handle. So we decided at the last minute to do something we had never done before: offer a one-time only fall storage box to our local supporters.

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It was a hit. Everything I ever imaged a fall share to be! The eating is completely different than peak summer, but abundant still to be sure. The response to our first foray into selling storage crops was a wild success and it feels good to end a season that had some serious emotional struggles on such a high note.

The goodies in the basement are honestly only the half of it. We’ve never had so many veggies heading into the winter months and it feels good. Almost safe. Comforting and cozy in a way that only someone who produces their own food for six months out of the year can understand.

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Alongside the basement full of onions, potatoes, garlic, shallots and butternut squash, we’ve got 52 jars of charred salsa on the shelves, Our fridge is packed full of more perishable items that were harvested before the first frost (scallions, spinach, arugula, broccoli) and roots that will store in there for months.

And the freezer. The freezer is a whole story in itself. Bins packed with pork and beef from my parents’ farm sit beside beautiful stewing hens that were a gift from my dear friend Vanessa and venison from the deer Kyle killed himself last fall. All of this takes up about half the space. The rest is packed with even more produce: frozen berries in mason jars, box after box of Michigan blueberries, spinach in bags, colorful peppers, whole tomatoes and piles of chopped broccoli for our desert tortoise Norman.

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I’m enormously grateful for the abundance this time of year and keeping most meals simple. With a laser focus on developing systems and improvements for the 2018 season, an ambitious winter reading list, and more day trips and vacations with the people I love than most people would find realistic, there isn’t a lot of time left in the kitchen. And that’s okay with me. I’m still playing with my food but trying to do it while also only getting one or two bowls dirty. Eating good food is still at the center of everything I do but it’s with a new approach: a good balance of nourishment without total consumption.

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I’m excited to share some of my favorite quick meals with you all over the upcoming months. I have a backlog of delicious recipes that will leave your belly full and your schedule open. So unbury that crock pot, grab your roasting pans and get ready for a meal that is as simple as it is delicious.

All my well-nourished fall love,
Your Leek

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P.S. I’m presenting at a farmer conference for the first time in a month! Come listen to me babble about CSA!

P.P.S. Meal planning is back and here’s what we’re eating this week:

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PORK CARNITAS WITH ROASTED VEGGIES 
If our brussels sprout crop wasn’t such a disappointment, I would have used lots more brussels and no broccoli but alas we have heaps of broccoli and limited quantities of brussels so this is what our roasting mix looks like these days.
This recipe makes a lot of pork and a lot of veggies so it’s plenty for a meal for several days. We’ve been known to also make a big ol’ batch of brown butter mashed potatoes and eat on this all week long. If it’s more meat than your family usually eats in a week (or you get sick of repeat leftovers) just throw half the pork in the freezer so it’s ready whenever you’re short on time.

Serves 6-8
Takes 8 hours inactive time, 30 minutes active time

3 to 4 pound pork shoulder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black peppers
1/3 cup salsa
1/4 cup Worcestershire
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 shallots, diced
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Rosemary
Roasted Veggies:
4 cups sweet potato
1 large carrot
1 large parsnip
1 large celeriac
1 cup halved Brussels
1 large head broccoli or 2 small heads (about 2 cups)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
  1. In the morning before you head to work*, place pork shoulder roast on a cutting board and generously pat with salt and pepper. Turning and pressing onto any excess that falls onto the cutting board.
  2. Place roast in crock pot. Add salsa, Worcestershire, brown sugar, and shallots all around the edges of the pork. Pour water over this mixture. Sprinkle pork with spices, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. When you get home (or on Sunday when you have plenty of time), flip the pork over and turn your crock pot to keep warm then preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. In a very large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, carrot, parsnip, celeriac, brussels sprouts, and broccoli with oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Stir until everything is evenly coated with oil and spices. Pour out onto two baking sheets or roasting pans. If you don’t have a very large bowl, just combine all ingredients on baking sheets as evenly as you can. 
  5. Roast for 40-50 minutes until veggies are tender and browned in places being sure to rotate pans at least once during baking for even cooking.
  6. While the veggies roast, shred your pork with two forks and let soak in the delicious juices.
  7. Serve pork with roasted veggies and a generous amount of that sauce remaining in the bottom of the crockpot.

*I also like to do the legwork of a crockpot overnight from time to time since I know I’ll be around in 6-8 hours whereas sometimes my work day can be longer than that. This means prepping the pork the night before and then just throwing it in a tupperware or pyrex and into your fridge in the morning.

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