Cane Creek Asparagus
& Company CSA
Basil and Italian Parsley are two of our favorite herbs. If you want to try gardening, fresh herbs are easy to grow on your patio in a container or even on your kitchen counter. You will find their presence particularly uplifting on cold, snowy, winter days! We are fortunate in WNC to have a ready supply of local foods available at tailgate markets and area farms. You can readily find butter, cheeses, eggs and poultry, and all types of meats, fruits, and honey produced locally. Of course, you still must go outside the 300 mile radius to acquire coffee, chocolate, and spices!
A good way to begin the Locovore Challenge is to join an area CSA. Robert and I are excited to be serving the local community via Cane Creek Asparagus & Company CSA! For over fifteen years, we have provided scores of CSA Members in Asheville, Biltmore, Arden, Fletcher, Fairview and the surrounding Buncombe area with our beautiful CSA Boxes of vegetables. We look forward to serving your family, too!
This meal consists of baked wild-caught fish (on your farmer's line!), roasted potatoes and asparagus with a steamed mix of green and yellow zucchini. A vegetable steamer is another necessity for our family. We have two, actually. We like the oblong style because it holds our early spring asparagus spears quite nicely!
Steamed veggies on top of spaghetti squash! All were previously frozen, but who would know? We find the soil on our Buncombe County farm perfect for growing many vegetable varieties.
More baked deep-sea fish and vegetables. This is a small Sheep’s Head fillet, I believe, with a colorful sauteed mix of vegetables which are grown as close to organic as possible on our Fairview family farm in Buncombe County near Asheville, NC.
Robert and I are Locovores. This does not mean that we are “loco”; although some people might think we are for spending so much time farming vegetables for our CSA Members in the Asheville and greater Buncombe County area! As a general rule, being a Locovore means one tries to eat food that has been grown within 100 miles of where one lives. WE stretch this radius to 300 miles so we can get to the coast and include our favorite sea foods in our diets along with citrus from Florida.
When I tell people we eat our own vegetables twelve months out of the year, the next question is always, “How can you do that? hat do you eat?!” In an attempt to answer that question, we have been taking photos of some of our winter meals. You will see we are not vegetarians, but we could be because our diet is filled with vegetables from our own sustainable gardens. And more vegetables seem to be what the doctors are prescribing! Literally, doctors are now writing prescriptions to eat more veggies!
Acorn squash, indeed, any winter squash makes a hearty, nutritious winter soup. Vine-ripened tomatoes roasted at their peak flavor and then frozen are a vital component to many of our soups and sauces. This soup is topped with additional sautéed onions.
Local, organic chicken breast with cheese raviolis topped with braised zucchini, tomatoes, and bell peppers with Parmesan cheese—a dish inspired by the Italian side of the family! Organic, whole-wheat pasta took a back seat in this particular meal.
I could eat cucumbers every day, but there is only one way to make them last through the winter—relishes and pickles! We believe we grow the sweetest cukes ever on our sustainable Fairview family farm. It must be due to the rich organic bottom land soil in the Cane Creek Valley region of Buncombe County.
Potatoes will last well into the winter when stored in a cool, dark place. We try to grow a variety each year, including fingerling potatoes.
Sweet potatoes will last long into the winter months if you store them in a cool, dry space. Here we added some steamed (previously frozen) broccoli, and a veggie quiche made with an assortment of flash frozen vegetables from the summer surplus.
This is a one-pan meal of chicken breasts served atop sautéed peppers, squash, zucchini, and onions. It is fit for a king and should be topped off with some freshly baked bread to soak up all of the naturally sweet juices of the (organic when possible) vegetables!
We are busy growing seedlings and plants and vegetables much of the year. Professional farming is a full-time job which means our meals are what one might call "30-minute meals." This is possible with advance preparation and preservation of produce when the garden is in full production since that is when we have the local food source available.
As a member of our CSA, one should not expect to have quantities of food which need to be preserved. We prepare our CSA Boxes with the vegetable requirements of a family of four in mind. What we want to show here are ways in which food can be preserved when plentiful.
Please remember we are Buncombe County CSA Farmers—not photographers nor web designers. We find most endeavors require a great deal of trial and error—including growing vegetables for our CSA Boxes! We always attempt to do our best in all endeavors!!
First, brown the almonds in some butter or Smart Balance. Then, add the beans and quickly heat through. Fresh beans will give a better crunch; but in the winter quick frozen beans will do just fine! If ever we give you more fresh beans than you can use, simply blanch them for two minutes and freeze! Quick and easy directions are on the web site under “F” for Freezing!
Your CSA Farmers love to go deep sea fishing at every opportunity. These are two of our favorite things! Unfortunately, farming does limit the fishing trips many months of the year.
We freeze sautéed asparagus in this manner so we can have individual servings in a flash. Sometimes we eat them as a side dish. Sometimes we toss a couple of our “asparagus cupcakes” into a stir fry. Truthfully, we prefer this to the frozen asparagus spears above—and they take up less freezer space! This freezing method works for any vegetable, by the way. A quality vacuum sealer is a necessity in our household!
We grow many unique Asian greens for our CSA Family Members. In the spring, we always eat our greens raw as a salad. All of our hearty greens (except for the lettuces) can be washed, chopped, slightly sautéed, and quick frozen in meal-size bags for a special winter treat with any meal. Don’t worry, we also grow the traditional turnip green favorites in addition to our tasty exotic greens! If you get overwhelmed with greens, try making a smoothie and your surplus will disappear rapidly!
Our desire to have a plentiful supply of asparagus is what got us started in this family farming business! It is possible to freeze individual spears of asparagus. I recommend using wax paper to separate the spears and freezing them flat on a cookie sheet. These spears were roasted in olive oil from the frozen state with some broccoli, cauliflower and red and orange pepper slices.
Spaghetti squash (fresh or frozen) can be substituted as organic pasta in many dishes. Eat it alone or use it as a base with a stir fry or spaghetti sauce on top. Shredded cheese is optional. Colorful bell peppers, however, are not optional, in my opinion! Of course, these pepper slices were frozen, too. Sliced or chopped sweet bell peppers are great on pizza and in many soups! One gets creative when striving to eat only local produce.
Spaghetti squash, like all winter squashes, can be baked and the pulp frozen and saved for later. This is a bowl of spaghetti squash soup topped off with a homemade, organic bison meatball from another sustainable Buncombe County farmer.
These jars of blueberry pie filling are part of my private harvest. Sorry, there are none of these in the CSA Boxes. We do have some U-Pick bushes on our sustainable farm and there are three well established U-Pick Farms in the local Fairview area, however! Actually, organic blueberries are a part of our family history. Two decades ago, Robert's father grew organic blueberries on his Buncombe County property and made the first award-winning, organic blueberry wine in the State of North Carolina!
Potatoes will last for months when kept in a cool dark place—but not the refrigerator which is too cool and will turn the natural sugars to starch. We cut strips down these fat fingerling potatoes before roasting. Just as a reminder, roasting any vegetable brings out all of the natural sweetness! Tthe organic basil in the photo is added to the dish after removing from the oven.
Sliced eggplant baked with our home-canned tomato sauce and topped with sliced green bell peppers. These will be topped with Mozzarella Cheese as a final step before serving! Eggplant slices are excellent served either hot or cold. And they freeze well! We like to layer them about three deep in a freezer container. They can be defrosted in the microwave and heated at about 60% power to provide another delightfully fresh taste of summer vegetables!
A delicious year around favorite and part of the thrill of livin’—harvested and frozen from our gardens. For the best flavors, sauteé vegetables until they are just fork tender! No wonder scores of local families have been delighted by our Cane Creek CSA Boxes over the years.
Eggplant Parmesan on top of green beans?! This might have been a leftover dish created from your CSA Farmers Imagination! But it works well to cut some of the organic pasta out of one's diet. Spaghetti squash is another of our favorite “bases!”
FYI: Membership in our CSA will not provide enough vegetables to supply the average family for the winter ahead—so do not expect this with your CSA Membership. To get that quantity of food, you would need either your own big garden or to go to the WNC Farmer’s Market and purchase from the farmers who “grow for market” and sell in bulk to wholesalers. Cane Creek Asparagus & Company grows only for our CSA Members in Asheville, Biltmore, Arden, Fairview and the surrounding Buncombe and Henderson County areas. We do not grow for wholesale distribution—or even for tailgate marketing!
Nothing like a steaming bowl of chunky asparagus soup while reading the local paper! Asparagus is the first vegetable of the season and, fittingly the first vegetable we seriously marketed—hence our name, Cane Creek Asparagus & Company! The “& Company” represents the other nearly ninety varieties of veggies we grow for our CSA Family each harvest season on our sustainable Fairview family farm.
We grow many unique Asian greens we grow for our CSA Family Members. In the spring we always eat our Ching Chang greens raw as a salad. These were sautéed and then frozen in meal sized bags for a special winter treat. Add a bowl of fifteen-bean soup and a slice of thin-crust pizza made with organic whole wheat and you have a quick, healthy meal.
Roasted organic chicken, a potato, grilled eggplant, and whole steamed squash and zucchini for a different perspective. Be sure to note the small size of our patty pan squash! We strive to harvest all of our veggies at the peak of their perfection. This is why we use the word "gourmet" in reference to the vegetables we put into Cane Creek Asparagus & Company CSA Boxes!
This is my Pepper Parmesan Zucchini Casserole topped with Japanese Panko bread crumbs! Also, I have an excellent Broccoli Casserole recipe from my Mom which I share on this web site. Always make labels so you can identify what is in your freezer vegetable packages!
Quiche is versatile with or without meat; but vegetables are always a required ingredient at our house! One of our favorites and a signature dish is made with asparagus! Quiche is easy to make and freeze in a bag. To prepare, simply thaw slightly and pour into a pie shell or bake in a dish "custard style" in a pan of water. This one is ready for the oven!
Japanese winter squash and sweet, vine-ripened, roasted tomatoes make up this delicious, hearty soup! Tomatoes can be preserved by pressure canning or freezing. We provide easy steps for the freezing preparation of veggies with our recipes—just in case you want to give it a try. Most families will not have enough vegetables to both eat and preserve on a regular basis with an every-other-week CSA Box. Please do not think that food preservation is mandatory for CSA Members. But if ever the quantity of fresh vegetables gets ahead of what you can eat, preservation is a tasty option! Or, give any excess you have to a friend or neighbor! The recipient will love you and you will be introducing another family to vegetables grown on a sustainable, local farm in Fairview!
Organic chicken, mixed veggies and a bowl of chunky tomato-basil soup with a dollop of sour cream! Herbs are easy to grow on your patio in a planter or even on your kitchen counter year around.
I will admit we don't have fresh tomato and cucumber salads in the winter! And, oh, how I miss them . . . One year we did keep tomatoes until February. They were not the same as fresh from the garden—instead, they rather tasted “store bought.”
Winter Squash will last easily until February—assuming the growing conditions were perfect that year. Unfortunately, not all years are “perfect.” In wet years, you need to bake the squash immediately and freeze the pulp rather than trying to save the vegetable in its natural state. If and when the outside skin starts to develop “spots,” you know it is time to get cooking. Such "spots" are one of the wet year hazards and are easy to cut out in preparation for baking. One advantage to having frozen pulp available is that it cuts down on mealtime preparation!
I keep bags of "mixed vegetables" in the freezer. And I keep bags of "same veggies" in the freezer. It all depends on what is available at the time of freezing! When it comes to a quick stir fry, they are ALL good. Of course, using whole wheat organic pasta will add an even healthier touch to your meal!
This colorful mix of onions, peppers, zucchini and summer squash is sautéed to perfection in butter. If you are watching calories, Smart Balance or olive oil will work as well. When you get tired of eating these veggies in the summer, saute or blanch them and pop them into the freezer for a wintertime treat.
Snap peas will not have the same crunchiness after being frozen as when raw, but they are still nice in a stir fry. Freeze the pods individual on a cookie sheet so you can pour out as many as desired for any vegetable dish.
Sautéed greens are usually served as a side dish, but how about a change? These are whole-wheat crackers—any multi-grain organic cracker works and many varieities will have much more fiber than the traditional Ritz cracker.
This acorn squash was stuffed with a browned, organic local bison, tomato and herb mixture and then baked to perfection! Always cook meats first when preparing stuffed vegetable dishes. We do provide recipes for our CSA Members and links to many more uses for your produce.
Slices of firmly baked (fork tender) butternut (a winter squash) can be frozen. To prepare, thaw slightly and sauté, steam, bake, or roast them until heated through. Butternut pulp can also make some awesome healthy desserts. Or use the thawed sliced mixed with a diced avacado and mixed into a bowl of fresh greens for a nutritious salad.
How's this for comfort food on a cold winter's night? This pork chop from a local Fairview farm is baked and smothered! in a blueberry compote (U-Pick for our CSA Members). It is served simply with green beans and mashed potatoes. The potatoes were previously made and frozen in dollops which made this meal easy!