Back in early 2018, when my Carrot and I spent a dreamy couple of days outside Nehalem, Oregon at the cutest little AirBnb, we enjoyed many a moment cozied up in front of the woodfire with a cookbook. The place we were staying, North Fork 53, was formerly a CSA farm (now converted to tea production and retreat center).
Bounty from the Box was lovingly placed on the front table when we walked in with a bookmark leading right to their farm’s feature and story. I paged through the book, captivated by the farm stories and sheer volume of amazing vegetable recipes.
Fast forward a couple months and I was at the MOSES Organic Farming with some friends. I saw the same cookbook sitting there in the bookstore just begging me to be brought home. It seemed like a great resource to me as I developed recipes for our CSA members.
At home, when I began reading from the beginning I realizing the cookbook I had assumed to be published by someone living out in the Pacific Northwest had a forward from Will Allen (formerly of Growing Power in Milwaukee) and a reference to the incredible Featherstone Farm in Minnesota on the second page. Of course this book had a Midwest connection, I thought, so much of the CSA movement as it exists today was created here after all.
I reached out to the cookbook author Mi Ae immediately. I wanted to know more about her farming journey and the dream that led her to tour the country, visiting awesome farmers, and eventually publishing their stories and recipes in a 690-page tome. It turns out she has grown children living not from our farm. We became quick friends. And today, I wanted to allow her to share her story with you along with a favorite recipe of mine from her cookbook. I hope you enjoy getting to know Mi Ae as much as I have.
P.S. If you are interested in purchasing your own copy of Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook, head to Mi Ae’s website and enter promo code RHF15 to get a 15% discount (a savings of over $5 from the full price of 35.00) by September 20, 2019!
Guest Post by Mi Ae Lipe of Bounty from the Box
Hello, my name is Mi Ae Lipe, and I’m the author of Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook.
The journey to publish this cookbook began in 2000 when I was living in Wisconsin and exhibiting my art in a small-town café in southeastern Minnesota. An organic vegetable farmer named Jack Hedin stopped in for coffee and liked my art so much that he asked if I would redesign his farm’s logo. Featherstone Farm couldn’t pay much money, but they could do a partial barter with a subscription to a weekly box of their fruits and veggies in return. Something they called a CSA (community-supported agriculture) share.
Even having grown up in San Francisco, a land of great food and legendary produce, I’d never heard of CSA.
Seven years later in 2007, Tastes from Valley to Bluff: The Featherstone Farm Cookbook was born. Ironically, I’m not much of a cook myself (I far prefer eating instead), but I’ve always been keenly interested in food as it relates to history and cultural pathways. Over the years I’d amassed a huge cookbook collection, and now that I was enjoying Featherstone’s bounty, I simply thought it would be fun to write a useful tome about how to make the most of your CSA boxes.
The problem is that while many people want to support CSA farms, they often don’t know what to do with all their produce (or sometimes can’t even identify it). Nothing is sadder than beautiful, fresh food going to waste just because someone didn’t know how to cook or even properly store it.
Tastes from Valley to Bluff covered almost 50 different crops and contained nearly 300 recipes. The book was arranged by season and featured Featherstone exclusively, to give readers a sense of how their food gets from soil to plate and just how crazy life on a farm can get. What started almost as a lark—I hoped to sell maybe only 150 books—ended up garnering great regional success and acclaim, selling nearly 3,500 copies in three years in the Upper Midwest, and was even used by the personal chef to the governor of Minnesota.
In 2012, I decided to heavily revise the book to make it more commercially viable. I wanted to add nearly 40 new fruits and vegetables, plus lots of great new recipes. I also wanted to showcase not just Featherstone but dozens of remarkable CSA farms throughout America. What I was not expecting when my research assistants and I embarked on this huge process was the incredible diversity of these farms all over the country, not to mention the mind-boggling good they’re doing for their communities.
We found farms run by women, farms growing for food banks, and farm incubators training the next generation of farmers, while others were hiring disabled people and even offering immigrant political refugees the opportunity to rebuild their lives. We discovered farms that serve as vacation retreats, offer children’s camps, host Waldorf schools, conduct cooking classes, or operate completely off the grid. One farm even gives juvenile offenders a chance to work off their court-appointed penalties in the field—all while getting therapeutic support, employment, and a structured work ethic at the same time. And we were astounded at the sheer variety of specialty CSAs that exist—meat, flowers, garlics, grains and beans, mushrooms, medicinal herbs, and even coffees!
Consumers often romantically picture organic farms as idyllic, pastoral places where food magically and easily grows. But few small businesses face more daunting challenges: a lack of land, sufficient business capital, and reliable labor; an agricultural system biased financially and politically in favor of government-subsidized crops; and razor-thin profit margins constantly threatened by climate change and bugs. How anyone manages to make a living at CSA farming is a sheer wonder; many farmers can do it only because they have spouses and partners who work regular jobs. No one we talked to does it for the money, and some expressed enormous doubt at whether they could continue.
But, without exception, it’s a passion, a philosophy, and a way of life that values the connections and quality of life between people, community, and the land far more than any dollar.
After four years of research and writing, Bounty from the Box was born in late 2015. Arranged by season, it covers nearly 100 different types of fruits, veggies, and herbs. Each crop entry features practical information on its history, nutrition, selection, storage, cleaning, cooking techniques, complementary foods, and serving suggestions.
The book contains over 350 stunningly diverse recipes from legendary chefs, professional food bloggers, and CSA farm members. There are both ethnic and traditional dishes, as well as many unexpected taste combinations. Many recipes are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. Comprehensive indexes enable readers to find dishes quickly and easily by type and ingredients.
One small request: Please order my book directly from Lauren’s site here or my website at www.BountyfromtheBox.com if possible and not from Amazon. Since I’m a self-published author, I’ve fronted all the costs, but Amazon takes 70% right off the top. Purchasing the book directly from me is exactly like buying your produce directly from the farmer. Thank you so much!
While you’re on my website, stick around a while. Check out our huge recipe area, subscribe to our blog, and browse our enormous resources section on food, books, and gardening. We also have a small, digital-only, full-color guide to selecting, cleaning, and storing your favorite produce, available for download from the website. And if you’re into social media, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
As I learned after publishing my first book years ago, cookbooks make friends. They connect people. They excite them, make them hungry on the spot. And everybody needs to eat. Bounty from the Box is a terrific way of helping people eat better—and supporting our local farmers like Lauren and Kyle in doing what they love.
FENNEL & TORPEDO ONION SALAD
Recipe with permission from Bounty from the Box
Original recipe from Katherine Deumling of Cook With What You Have
I can’t believe I had never heard of torpedo onions until earlier this year when friend and farmer Kristen of Blue Moon Community Farm was growing them. We have never actually grown them at our farm (and I don’t know how easy they are to find this time of year) so I substituted a sweet Walla Walla onion and the salad was still delicious, but I can’t wait to give it a whirl with some torpedo onions next spring!
2 small or medium fennels, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
1 torpedo onion, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks or julienned
1 lemon, juiced (or 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar)
Olive oil (I used 3 tablespoons)
Salt (I used four heft pinches of Kosher salt)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons capers, optional
2 ounces feta cheese
- If you are sensative to the biting taste of raw onions, you can soak the sliced onions in a small bowl of ice water for 10 minutes, then drain well, pat dry, and then proceed. Soaking reduces quite a bit and gives onions a nice crunch.
- Combine the fennel, onions, and carrots in a large bowl. Toss with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and capers. Taste and adjust the seasons, keeping in mind that the feta will add saltiness. Add the feta, gently toss, and taste again.