Today was the first of our 22 weekly pickups for our Fresh Fork CSA.  We decided to switch from Beachwood to Mayfield for our location this year.  Mayfield is a new site for pick up and it’s close to our house.  We were glad there was also some shade for the stop.


This year, we upgraded from the small to the large share.   This is what we were expecting today:

Small CSA Share

  • 1 whole chicken, approx. 5 – 6 lbs.
  • 1 head kohlrabi
  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • 1 quart strawberries
  • 1 bunch red Russian kale
  • 1 bunch garlic scapes
  • 1 head green leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch radishes
  • 1 quarter lb. bag pea tendrils

Large CSA Share Small contents above plus:

  • 2 bunches spinach
  • 1 lb. shelled peas
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 lb. sweet pea and black pepper linguini from Ohio City Pasta

Here’s a group shot of the items:


Our quart of strawberries was full when Dan gave them to us.  The kids ate some in the parking lot before we left for home.  The rest of the berries will be gone by the end of the night.    We received zucchini instead of broccoli.  I’ll probably use the squash in my squash fritter recipe.  Everyone here likes them.  The squash will be fine for a few days in the fridge, so those will probably make an appearance at lunch Monday or Tuesday.


This time of year, I use garlic scapes every chance I get.  I chop them and use them in salads, casseroles, when sautéing greens, etc..  They keep well so, I don’t have to freeze them often.  We haven’t had an Ohio City Pasta that we didn’t like.  I’m sure this sweet pea and pepper variety will be no exception.  I’ll probably make a béchamel sauce for it.  I tend to like most of the pasta with a white sauce instead of red.


I’ll use some spinach with our pasta.  I like to wilt it just a bit in the pasta water and then serve it together.  Sometimes I also chop it and add it to the sauce first.  It will depend on my mood.  Our chicken is thawing in the fridge.  I’ll probably cook it for lunch Sunday or dinner on Monday.  Once cooked, we get a couple of meals out of it.  The rest of the weeks bag will complement our chicken nicely.  I’ll also make stock with the bones.  I love not having to buy chicken stock.


One kohlrabi isn’t really too much.  I’m either going to fix it for myself for lunch one day or roast it with some beets and radishes if we grill a meal in the next few days.  I haven’t mastered kale yet.  We’ve had it several ways, but I don’t have a favorite way to prepare it.  I’ll probably just sauté this with garlic scapes and olive oil and serve it with a splash of lemon.


I need to verify what type of peas these are.  If they are sugar snap, the kids will devour them quickly.  If the are snow peas, we’ll cook them for a side dish this weekend.  I’m thinking about steaming the collards and letting the leaves cool and then using them for wraps instead of tortilla.  I have some taco flavored meet and peppers left over and I think it would make a good filling.


We’ll probably roast a few radishes, use a few in salad and maybe try the newsletter recipe that uses them.  Pea tendrils was a brand new item to me this week.  I’ve heard that they are good in salads or sautéed.  There’s aren’t really very many, so I don’t think I’m going to cook them.  I’d thinking of just using them in a salad.


In addition to our bag, I also picked up a couple of extras.  We were out of eggs, so I picked up a dozen.  I also decided to pick up a half gallon of milk.  I’m hoping to switch to local milk 100% of the time soon.


It’s going to be a great week in the kitchen.


Yesterday, we drove out to Monroe’s Orchard to meet up with friends for strawberry picking.  This was our first time visiting this farm.  We were greeted by great signage.  It was easy to know we had arrived.


After pulling in the driveway, we saw this sign and followed around to the market building.


We had the option of bringing our own containers and having them weighed before picking or buying containers.  Small quart sized containers were 20 cents.  Larger containers that held 8 quarts were $1.25.  I didn’t bring picking containers for myself, but I did have buckets for the kids.  So, I bought one of the large containers.  Debbie was working in the market and she was extremely nice to us.  This time of year, not much was going on in the market.  I suspect it would be much busier during apple season.

Then, we drove behind the building to the grassy area to park and head to the field.  Ella was there to greet us, demonstrate how to pick berries (for the kids) and assign us to a row.  The picking was pretty good and the berries were plentiful.  We didn’t think the berries were very sweet.  The field we were picking in was the Jewel variety which are a tarter berry.  Also, the weather this year has not been ideal for strawberries.  Many farms are having small berries, limited picking, and delays with ripening due to the weather.


Nick had to use the port-a-potty not once, but twice during our hour of picking.  Luckily, it was close to the picking field and very clean.  I’ve been to plenty of public bathrooms that weren’t as nice as this port-a-potty.  Two trips is better than accidents any day!


This is a typical shot of the kids.  Sally is busy eating a strawberry and Nick basket is empty.  He is always in search for the perfect berry and rarely finds them.  Many times, he ends up looking at weeds and running around the nearby fields.


We ended up with just over 5 pounds of berries.  They were $1.65 a pound + $1.25 for the container.  We ended up paying $10.00 total.


These berries were washed, hulled and then frozen whole.  They will be used in jam or smoothies.  I made sure to clean them last night since we had more picking planned for today.


Today was our first pickup for our Geauga Family Farms CSA for the summer 2012 season.  We are getting the single share this year and our pick up is on Tuesday afternoon at the Whole Foods in Woodmere on Chagrin.

We arrived around 4PM and everything was very organized and well labeled.  Nick checked in with April at the table.  I really like the addition of the signage this year.


Here’s what we were treated with this week:


Green onions, broccoli


Beets, curly kale


Lettuce, strawberries


We’ll use some onions in our quiche muffins this week.  The rest I will chop and freeze for later.  Most of the time we use onions in cooking, so having them in the freezer works great for us.  The broccoli will make a quick side dish one evening this week.  Lately, the kids have been fighting over broccoli.  Unless we decide to grill, I’ll probably make Harvard beets with the beets.  The greens are also edible, so I’ll be sautéing them with some garlic scapes.  The kale will either be made into kale chips (haven’t mastered them yet) or used in our quiche filling.  The lettuce will go into salads.  We actually didn’t open the strawberries on the way home.  Since we still have some, we’re going to make strawberry lemonade spritzers with them.  I picked up sparkling water.

It looks like we are off to a great start for the season!


Today, the kids and I set out to pick our first Ohio strawberries of the season.  We picked up my mom and headed to Walnut Drive Gardens.  They are located in Mogadore.  Since my mom lives in Akron, this was a good choice for us.  The picking fields are at a different location this year.  For those of you who picked peppers in the past, most of the picking will be at that location this year.  The address for strawberry picking is 2129 Randolph Road.  Randolph Road goes off to the left near route 43.  We actually missed that and kept going straight.  We ended up on Trares Road.  As long as you visualize the directions as you near 43, you’ll be fine.  This sign was near the road where Randolph turns near 43.  There was also a big Strawberries sign with an arrow that we past when we got on the wrong street.  I think Walnut Drive Gardens should think about putting on on Randolph near where it veers left.  It’s much safe to take the diagonal there too.  But, we found it and that’s all that really matters!


These signs were at the road.  You can’t miss it if you are on the correct street.  I will add if you miss where Randolph turns, you’ll come up to Congress Lake Road and it goes all the way through to Randolph.  It comes out near Paradise Lake Golf Course.


We stopped at the new red building and picked up baskets for picking.  The attendant gave us directions to go over the hill and park in the grass.  We were able to pick anywhere and the farther back from parking, the better picking should be.

The kids were excited to have grandma along.



The picking was great.  There were tons of ready to eat berries.


My mom posed with the kids by the field before we left.


Picking was $13.50 for an eight quart basket.  It was an extra $1 for the basket.  We didn’t have to get the berries out of the car to pay.  Instead of weighing them, it’s a flat charge for the full basket.  I’ve read that a quart averages 1.5 pounds.  I had 11 pounds in my basket.  I probably could have fit a few extra berries to make it closer to 12 pounds.


Mom picked a basket as well.  So, we ended up with over 20 pounds of berries during our outing.  The kids had fun and enjoyed a few berries as well.  I was also glad to see a port-a-potty near the picking field.  I didn’t ask if they had bathrooms in the new building, but I will try to find out.

We have several other farms to try out for strawberries this year, but I think Walnut Drive Gardens is probably going to be the most reasonably priced.  Hopefully, we’ll have time to return.

Most of these berries will be eaten in the next couple of days.  The rest will get frozen for smoothies.  I want to make jam again this year, but that’s not in the schedule this week.


Today was the third pick up for Geauga Family Farms CSA.  Since it was also the first farm field night, my husband picked up our share for us and I took the kids to the farm.  I’ll have more on the farm visit tomorrow!

We had received our newsletter and knew we would be getting items like lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green onions, zucchini, yellow squash, kohlrabi, carrots, radishes, peas, kale and pickling cucumbers.  Our actual items received vary depending on mother nature, which size share and which pick up day – so we always have an element of surprise.

Here’s what we received:


Let’s take a closer look.

3 tomatoes, 1 container of strawberries


2 small bunches of green onions (pictured together), container of cherry tomatoes


2 heads of romaine lettuce, 1 head of red leaf lettuce


2 yellow squash, 2 zucchini



2 kohlrabi, small bunch of carrots


bunch of radishes


Here’s our plan of attack:

We’ll have more salads with the lettuce.  I’ll probably make squash fritters again with the onions and squash, since everyone liked them this week.  I just pickled some radishes, so I think these will go in salads and in our kohlrabi au gratin dish.  The carrots and cherry tomatoes will get eaten (with our without salads).  The strawberries will either get eaten at breakfast in the morning, or may make their way into a strawberry rhubarb dish.  I’m almost hesitant to say this is a pretty easy week.

Update on last week:

I ended up making kale pesto with the kale.  Most of the other items were used as planned.  I did freeze a few tomatoes, some garlic scapes and some onions for future use.


Today was the 4th pick up for the Fresh Fork CSA.  We were expecting the following items.

Small CSA:

  • 1 package chicken bratwursts (1.25 lb)
  • 1 bunch garlic scapes
  • Approx 1.5 lb tomatoes
  • 1 quart strawberries
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 1 head leaf lettuce
  • 2 ct zucchini or yellow squash
  • 4 oz tub fresh chevre goat cheese

Here is what we received.






So, our cheese was different, but it should be tasty.  And we ended up with one of each for the squash.  I could tell that strawberry season was ending as they aren’t in the best shape.  It’s another yummy week.

Also, we bought 2 bags of the corn chips that were included a couple of weeks ago.  I have taco salad on the menu and these are delicious.  They were $3 each – $6.


We did pretty good with last week’s items.  I haven’t really thought about the new batch.


Today, we traveled to Patterson Fruit Farm.  This was our 5th and final farm for strawberry picking this season.  The season was too short to try all of the farms on our list, but hopefully we’ll be trying other farms for different crops throughout the summer.  The season is winding down for all of the farms and we are taking next week off while we wait for the start of blueberries, sour cherries and raspberries.  July will be BUSY!  From our house in Mayfield Heights, the Mulberry Road location for Patterson Fruit Farm is about 20 minutes away.  We saved the closest one for last.  Patterson Fruit Farm also operates a market on Caves Road.

We met some friends at the farm.  They live in South Euclid and if they call when they are leaving, and then we pack up and leave, we get to the farms east about the same time.  Once again today, we parked right next to each other.  That was awesome timing.

The U-Pick operation at Patterson’s is one of the bigger one for strawberries.  I think it’s because they are very popular for apples and they are close to the city population compared to other farms.  There is a whole staff of people working the U-Pick fields.  The picking started at 8 AM, and we arrived about 8:30 AM.  You stop at a little gate house building as you enter and someone gives you your baskets and a white information card.  Then, you follow the arrows to the current picking field.  It was not crowded and we parked very close to picking.


Here’s Sally and Nick enjoying the field, and the little field house where your strawberries are weighed when you complete your picking.


The weights of your berries for each container are recorded on your information card and you take it to the gate house near the entrance/exit to pay.  Also, there was a pot-a-jon available near the field.


Here’s a view of the fields.  They have at least 4 picking fields here.  We ended up with 4.25 pounds of berries for $8.25.  They are $1.60-$1.95 per pound depending on how many pounds you pick.  The lowest price is for 25 pounds or more.


We left our house at 8:15 AM and we were home by 10 AM.  That included a detour through the North Chagrin Reservation since Wilson Mills was blocked off with a police car on our way home.

Patterson Fruit Farm has a website and a couple of Facebook pages.   They have U-PIck strawberries, apples and a minimal peach operation, so we’ll probably visit them again later in the year.

Strawberry Picking is located at 8765 Mulberry Road Chesterland, Ohio 44026.  Their Farm Market is at 11414 Caves Road, Chesterland, Ohio 44026.


Today, the kids and I traveled to Secor Nursery in Perry Ohio.  From our house in Mayfield Heights, it was about 40 minutes away.  It took a bit longer due to the construction on route 2.  The upside is that there were lots of diggers and other equipment to entertain Nick and Sally along the way.  It’s about 4 miles further down than West Orchards Farm.

The U-Pick opened at 8 AM and we arrived just after 8 AM.  We parked in front and went into the market to check in and get more information.  We got our basket and directions and drove out to the strawberries.


It wasn’t a far drive and was well marked (to the field and back).


Sally was photogenic for a change.  I think she’s really starting to like all of these farms.


She tried a couple of berries, but surprisingly, she isn’t a big fan of strawberries.  Her brother Nick, on the other hand, loves them and calls this strawberry eating instead of strawberry picking.  The scenery around the fields was breathtakingly beautiful, even with the Perry nuclear power plant in the background.




With picking this good, it was easy to come home with just over 5 pounds of berries.  Grand total $11.67 which included a bulb of garlic that I picked up at the market for $1 when we checked out.


Secor Nursery doesn’t seem to have a website, but I recently found their Facebook page.  You can call them for picking updates and they have an email list.  I would not have tried this farm out due to the lack of easy information available, but my local Rite Aid manage suggested it.  He and his wife do much of their picking there.  With that recommendation, we headed out.

I’m so glad that we tried this farm.  I think it is my favorite to date.  The berries were $1.99 a pound and that’s in line with our other picking this season.  The scenery was great, there was a port-a-jon available, and we had the picking to ourselves for the first half hour.  I can’t wait for cherries, black and red raspberries and blueberries.


Today was the second pick up for the Geauga Family Farms CSA.  As usual, we had no idea what we would receive.  A newsletter comes out that gives us an idea of what we may receive, but I usually don’t see it before our pickup.  Today was the second pick up and also the second time the truck was late.  Both times, it arrived before we did, so we haven’t had to wait for them.  I’m not sure what will happen next week since we want to come to the farm visit.  Maybe I’ll enlist some assistance from my husband.  Even with an on-time truck arriving at Whole Foods by 4pm, it will be tough to pick up, store and get to the farm by 6pm.

Here’s what we received:


Let’s take a closer look.

1 bunch of kale, 2 containers of strawberries


2 tomatoes, 1 dozen eggs


garlic scapes, green onions


pickling cucumbers, lots of lettuce (3 bags with 4 heads total)


Here’s our plan of attack:

This week, we plan to have several salads with the lettuce.  I’ve been making spelt and quinoa and also using beans in some salads.  I’ll pickle the cucumbers.  I’m glad I stocked up on the spices for them.  I’ll need to double check our vinegar stock.  Some of the onions and garlic scape will be used in a batch of taco filling and the rest will be used in a sauté with mushrooms for the top of burgers or chopped and frozen.  There aren’t too many of them, so that might all got in the taco filling.  The tomatoes will go in the taco filling also.  I’ve been making baked oatmeal, scrambled eggs and hard boiled eggs so the eggs have been easy to use in a timely fashion.  Also, they have a long shelf life.  We just picked some strawberries and made jam today, so these will most likely get eaten.  If we feel like we have too many, we’ll make some strawberry ice cream or freeze them for later.

So, I’m left without a plan for kale.  It’s an item that we only received twice last year, and I don’t have a “go to” dish in mind.  Some quick searching in Google gave me lots of ideas.  Now, I have to think about it.  We have plans to eat dinner away from home Wednesday and Thursday , so kale will have to be lunch for us one day or for dinner on Friday.  I’m leaning toward steaming it with vinegar, garlic scapes and green onion.

Update on last week:

Since the bread was opened for a snack on the way home, Nick, Sally and my husband had no trouble making sure it was eaten.  The bok choy went into an Asian tofu stir fry along with some of the garlic scapes and green onions.  The eggs were used in regular cooking and the cucumber and lettuce were used in salads.  Some of the strawberries were eaten and the rest went with some others we had to make jam.  The rest of the green onions and garlic scapes went into a Mexican filling for salad.


Today, the kids and I traveled to Boughton Farm in Akron, Ohio.  From our house in Mayfield Heights, it’s about 45 minutes away.  It’s also close to Earth Fare grocery store and a Great Harvest bakery.  So, we were able to run errands after our picking.

The U-Pick at Broughton opened at 7 AM.  We arrived about 9:15 AM.  They have a barn set up for U-Pick information, containers, and pricing.  Looks like you can also pick pre-picked items there as well.


Everything was well marked and it was easy to find.


Nick loved sitting on this bench.  Inside the barn, a white board shows what’s available and the costs.  We were happily surprised that peas were available for U-Pick.  Strawberries were $1.10 a pounds and all varieties of peas were $.90 a pound.


On our way to the back of the barn to pick peas, we saw this tractor.  Nick was very excited since we were able o take the tractor ride to the strawberry field.  He also liked the peas sign.


Sally enjoyed the stroller for a bit before wanting to run around.


This was not a good year for peas, but we still had fun picking them.  The strawberries at this farm are never sprayed.  The set up is a bit different because you can pick where ever you want.  Other places usually assign you a spot or row.  I’m not sure which I prefer.  They had a port-a-jon available which is always nice with the kids.

We ended up paying $2.77.  That was for about 2.5 pounds of strawberries, .5 pound of snow peas, .5 pound of sugar snap peas, and a small handful of English shelling peas.  I thought it was the best deal yet.  Boughton offers other U-Picks and we’ll be heading back there again soon.