News & Blog

Welcome to the blog.
Posted 9/1/2011 10:47am by Vicki Phillips.

Special visit, special meal

After two weeks of extolling the virtues of plain, simple preparation of our CSA vegetables, I reverted to old ways and indulged in cooking an elaborate gourmet meal. What occasioned the turnabout was the visit of friends Nicki and Pat from Australia. They did come all the way from Down Under, after all, so something exceptional was in order.

Once again drawing from the Ina Garten well, I found a great recipe for loin of pork with fennel, whipping up a sage-thyme cream gravy to accompany the meat. I also found a gem of an idea for fork-crushed purple potatoes published a few years ago in New York Magazine. The article said purple potatoes were developed with cross-breeding techniques in Colorado … who knew?!

Rounding out the main course was a salad using cherry tomatoes, salad mix, arugula, snap beans and Thai basil. Oh, and for appetizers we had Caprese salad and bite-size pieces of that ripe, juicy cantaloupe. All in all, I counted 14 or 15 items from last week’s distribution that went into this dinner. Nicki and Pat raved about it, and told us about the CSA they belong to in Melbourne. It’s winter there now, so they’re mostly receiving root vegetables.

Fennel challenge

I confess to being kerflummoxed over the funky-looking fennel. There are lots of recipes for the bulb, an anise-tasting root that delightfully complemented my rolled pork loin. But recipes for the leafy fronds are scarce.

However, I read that you can freeze them, so I did. I also learned that fronds can be used like dill – for example, salmon fillets marinated in a fennel-frond concoction. I obviously need to do a bit more research, but in the meantime my fronds are safely frozen.

Planning ahead

For a potluck dinner yesterday I roasted a melange of vegetables. Pattypan squash, eggplant, beets, carrots, turnip and radishes – all were roasted together for another vibrant dish of red, yellow, purple, orange and white.

I did have some cucumbers left over, but I plan to make a batch of cucumber soup and freeze it. (I first need to check that this is doable.) I also ended up with three green bell peppers, which will be combined with peppers from this week and used to make stuffed peppers. Again, into the freezer they’ll go for some future no-fuss, tasty dinner.

I’ve already arranged for our friends Fred & Barb and Alan & Deb to be the lucky recipients of some of today’s distribution because we’re leaving town later this week. I told them the two stipulations: you mustn’t throw anything away, and you must tell me what you did with the vegetables. Fred and Alan are both great cooks, so my expectations are high.


Posted 8/24/2011 4:43pm by Vicki Phillips.

Summer socials

I had plenty of opportunities to make good use of last week’s distribution because we hit the trifecta of social activities this past weekend. On Friday it was my and Ray’s turn to host our monthly dinner group, the annual neighborhood block party was on Saturday, and the Chatfield CSA potluck dinner took place on Monday. Plus, my sister Annette arrived Friday from San Diego for an extended weekend, a visit which engendered four solid days of raucous laughter and fervent cooking.

But the first thing I did on Tuesday after picking up last week’s bounty was to prepare those scrumptious, healthy greens. Not sure how much longer they’ll last as we begin to receive more late-summer crops. Once again I just mixed them all together — beet greens, kale and spinach, braised with a tiny bit of drippings from some chorizo sausage. Also high on the "Eat This First" list (for the same reason) was the tender salad mix.

Easy entertaining

Normally our dinner group is an elaborate production, especially for the host, who is responsible for entrée and sides while the guests bring appetizers and dessert. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, of course, but it seems we always try to outdo each other. But this time I eased up considerably. Why go overboard when we have all these fresh vegetables? Just let them shine, I reasoned.

So early Friday morning I bought some fresh chicken, slathered it with a poultry rub and let it sit all day in the fridge. Just before the guests arrived I sliced the squash and eggplant vertically, drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled kosher salt on top. Later they roasted in a very hot oven for about a half hour or so while Ray grilled the chicken. I also threw together a salad with our CSA tomatoes, cucumbers and basil. I added pieces of provolone cheese and some homemade croutons I had in the freezer, then splashed the ensemble with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.

Like magic, the whole dinner came together with easy preparation and just a few ingredients. In the words of Henry David Thoreau, "Simplify, simplify."

Vegetable mates

Normally my cooking routine entails dinners for just Ray and me with several items on the menu. But this week’s group activities required me to cook one dish for many people. This made it easier to use everything up. One strategy that helped was combining several vegetables together.

For example, at Saturday’s neighborhood party my gratin dish with gruyere made an encore appearance, this time with purple potatoes, turnips and yellow carrots. What a colorful array! And for Monday’s potluck I caramelized our CSA onions, and in another skillet I sautéed in olive oil ALL the peppers — green and red bell peppers, jalapeno, Anaheim, Hungarian … all of them. I mixed the onions and peppers together and served them on crusty bread for a tasty, simple appetizer.


Posted 8/23/2011 11:54am by Josie Hart.

Dear Members,

We will be in our original distribution location today, on the upper south end of the parking structure.  It looks like the weather is cooperating with us!

Please note that we will have peaches and plums this week for anyone who is a fruit share member.

Also, last Thursday many of the members used boxes to pick up their produce shares which worked great for the heavier items.  If you have an extra box at home please consider bringing it today for distribution.


Posted 8/19/2011 3:52pm by Josie Hart.

Dear CSA Shareholders,

We’re officially halfway through our season! In the next week we will be sending out member and volunteer surveys so that you can let us know about your CSA experience this summer. We are also performing a cost analysis on our weekly share content to compare what you are spending with the CSA versus what you would be paying at the grocery store. Stay tuned for the findings; we think you’ll be pleased!

We are happy to announce that we have donated over 1,500 lbs. of produce so far this season to local community-based organizations. This is just one of the many benefits that you, our CSA Shareholders, help bring to the greater community--THANK YOU!

See details below about our CSA Member/Volunteer Potluck this Monday, August 22 and the Family Fun Night at Chatfield on Friday, August 26!

fruit share information

The anticipated schedule for fruit distribution is listed below. If you have purchased a fruit share, please be sure to check in at the fruit share table at each distribution. You will check off your name and grab a bag (or two) of fruit. There is only one size for the fruit share so all shares have equal amounts of fruit. Please note that fruit shares were pre-sold at the beginning of the season and are no longer available for purchase.

Predicted Fruit Share Schedule
Aug. 16/18            Peaches
Aug. 23/25            Peaches
Aug. 30/Sept. 1      Two bags of fruit: peaches and apples
Sept. 6/8              Two bags of fruit: peaches and apples or pears
Sept. 13/15           Two bags of fruit: apples and plums, pears or peaches
Sept. 20/22           Two bags of fruit: apples and pears or plums
Sept. 27/29           Two bags of fruit: apples and pears
Oct.  4/6               Apples and cider
Oct. 11/13            Apples and cider
Oct. 18/20            Apples and cider
Oct. 25/27            A 20-pound box of storage apples

this week’s produce
(august 22 – 26)

• Peppers (hot and sweet)
• Onions
• Heirloom tomatoes, slicing tomatoes and cherry tomatoes
• Potatoes
• Eggplant
• Beets, carrots and turnips
• Melons
• Cucumbers and squash
• Salad greens: kale, chard and arugula
• Tomatillos
• Sweet basil, Thai basil, parsley and cilantro

this week’s fruit 
 (august 22 – 26)

More peaches!


Recipe from Susan Evans, Chrysalis Herbs

6 medium ripe tomatoes (heirlooms, slicing--any type you have)
1 red onion, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 sweet red bell pepper (or green), seeded and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp chopped fresh chives
1 clove garlic, minced (careful if it’s CSA garlic--go easy!)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (can use wine vinegar--if you do, add more sweetener)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp sugar or agave nectar
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
6 or more drops of Tabasco sauce, to taste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cups tomato juice

Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend slightly, until most ingredients are blended or in small pieces (some like it very blended until smooth). Place in a non-metal, non-reactive storage container. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to blend. Toppings can include sour cream, chives, shredded cheese or croutons. You could also mound some cooked shrimp or crab on the top. 

farm topic
– potluck!

The CSA potluck is this Monday, August 22. We will be in the Green Barn (big and red) from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Park next to the schoolhouse and walk over. Please bring a dish that will be enough for six people and a recipe if you want to participate in the recipe exchange. Also, please bring your own utensils, napkins, plates and glasses. 

Our horticulturist Amanda Wilson will be putting some beautiful bouquets together for the evening that we will raffle off to some lucky winners. All you need to do is fill out a mid-season member survey on how the CSA experience is going for you.

family fun

Family Farm Picnic - Join us on Friday, August 26 from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. for an evening of family fun at Chatfield. The Family Farm Picnic will be held at the Hildebrand Ranch and the CSA Garden at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield. Families will enjoy evening farm life with the chickens and goats while discovering what kinds of tasty treats come from the CSA garden. Get up close to see insects, spiders and other arthropods from around the world as the Butterfly Pavilion presents a special Summer Bug Safari program. A light, garden-fresh snack will be provided. Families are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner to accompany the provided snack. This event is open to the general public.
Cost: $20 member for a family of four, $3 for each additional person. $25 non-member for a family of four, $4 for each additional person. Free admission for children two and under. Please register online or call 720-865-3580 to reserve your family’s spot.
Where: Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, 8500 West Deer Creek Canyon Road, Littleton, CO 80128

ood safety

Please note that although we have washed our produce once after harvesting it in the field, members should wash the produce at home again before eating. Our farm produce should be treated the same way as grocery store produce: always wash before eating! The best way to wash produce is by running it under cool water. Cleaning products are not necessary.

Posted 8/16/2011 3:56pm by Vicki Phillips.

The art of waiting till the last minute

On Saturday our friends Fred & Barb hosted a potluck BBQ. I’d been conceptualizing my dish for days. My vague notion of a potato-turnip concoction eventually took shape as a gratin. I printed many recipes I found online. But all day Saturday I simply could not motivate myself to cook. I devised all kinds of schemes to delay the project, including searching for B&Bs for an overseas trip we’re not taking till next spring. Finally, with about an hour to go, I flew into action, enlisting hubby Ray’s help as my sous chef.

The art of throwing everything in

I decided to ditch all those recipes I found online and instead stick with Ina Garten’s tried-and-true recipe for cauliflower gratin. I made the cheese béchamel and began assembling the gratin. In went the parboiled potatoes and turnips. Then I threw in the radishes, also parboiled. And I had a little cauliflower left over from last week’s distribution, so I threw that in. A bit of parsley — it got thrown in, too. The result was a wildly popular gratin that everyone raved about. Afraid no one would like it because of the turnips, I found instead that every square inch of it got eaten and everyone wanted the recipe.

The art of plain preparation

On Friday we ate at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants and had a divine appetizer consisting of eggplant, tomatoes and onions. It had a kick to it, probably red pepper flakes, and a very bright, fresh finish. In attempting to recreate this dish, I first roasted the eggplant, mixed it with tomatoes, onions, Thai basil and red pepper. I added olive oil, salt and pepper and — striving for that bright taste — finished it off with lime juice. It was quite good but not exactly like what we had. To be honest, I kept nibbling on the roasted eggplant while cutting everything else up … and I think I enjoyed the plain roasted eggplant more than the fancy appetizer.

Come to think of it, several of our vegetables have ended up being prepared very plainly and were exquisite, no doubt because they’re so fresh. When cooking the green beans, for example, I nearly went apoplectic when I realized I had no bacon grease to season the beans with. (I’m from the South; that’s my excuse.) But they were superb without the grease! And of course every week I’ve been cooking the beets very plainly, as well as the spinach, and enjoying every bite.

But on Sunday night I always do something more elaborate. This week, I used our bell peppers to make Rachael Ray’s lamb-stuffed peppers. For this dish I also made use of some of our other peppers and some of our herbs. It turned out fabulous. Dessert was white melon and berries, macerated in triple sec, sprinkled with orange zest and topped with cream. That melon is like ambrosia. It could’ve ripened a couple more days before I cut it, but still it was extremely sweet with almost a floral character. I’m looking forward to the watermelon, which should be good and ripe by now.


Posted 8/16/2011 1:06pm by Josie Hart.

Hi everyone,

Reminder:  York St. members will be picking up their bags of fruit today.  If you pick up your share on Tuesday at York St, please grab a bag of fruit if you are a fruit share member.

If you pick up at Chatfield, you will collect your bag of fruit on Thursday, just like your veggies.
The same distribution times apply to both locations.


Posted 8/16/2011 10:03am by Josie Hart.

Dear Shareholders,

Due to the forecasted rain this evening York St. distribution will take place on the bottom level of the parking structure.  To access this location, enter the parking garage from York St. and we will be on directly to the right.  Please bring $5 cash if you would like to purchase one of our fresh cut flower bouquets – as always they are beautiful this week!


Posted 8/12/2011 4:19pm by Josie Hart.

Dear Shareholders,

Many of you may have children that have started school or will start school soon. This can be a stressful transition in the home. Waking up early! Packing lunches! Fitting in distribution to all the other things you do after school and work! Even if you don’t have children there is something that happens to you when you walk into a grocery store and see that summer is ending and the Halloween candy is out!

Please remember – at the CSA summer is in full swing, We are only in the middle of our season here which means the melons are just coming in, as are the tomatoes, peppers, onions and more potatoes. So every week when you pick up your share, think of summertime and how sweet it all tastes.

tips for making the CSA work with
a busy schedule

Here are some suggestions for working the CSA produce into a busy schedule with school kids or other commitments that make finding time for veggies a little harder.

  • If you need a quick snack, this works great for busy people: cut up all the veggies you know can become snack items – carrots, peppers (all kinds), cucumbers, etc. – into bite-sized strips. Fill a large plastic container with water and a tiny bit of lemon juice. Put all your chopped-up veggies into the container. Remind your family that they can pull the container out and instantly have a snack without any prep. I keep a little extra ranch dressing or yogurt around for my daughter use as a dip for her veggies.
  • If you come to distribution right at 4:15 or even 4:30, and have to wait a little because we are still setting up or because of the rush of so many people trying to pick up at the same time, try having dinner early and coming to pick things up around 6 p.m. after the initial rush.
  • CSA veggies make great lunchbox items. You will love all the different melons, carrots, cherry tomatoes and lemon cucumbers if you cut them up into little morsels. You can purchase plastic containers with sections for dressing or honey dips to accompany your veggie in the lunch box.
  • Split your share with a neighbor or friend and have them do the distribution for a couple of weeks while you get used to your new schedule. We are more than willing to help out a neighbor/friend with their first distribution process!

this weeks produce (august 15-19)

  • Peppers (sweet and hot)
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Salad greens
  • Potatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Beets, carrots, turnips, squash
  • Cucumbers (many varieties)
  • Cantaloupe and honeydew
  • Watermelon
  • Green beans
  • Kale, arugula, spinach
  • Basil, Thai basil, mint, parsley

Please note this is a tenative list and is subject to change.

weekly recipe

Both recipes kindly supplied by Meredith Brackney, CSA member. 

Green Fries
Toss green beans with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic (fresh or powdered) and place in single layer on cookie sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes until they start to brown.

Gorgonzola Buttermilk Pasta with Arugula
8 oz penne pasta, cooked
4 oz gorgonzola
1/2 c buttermilk
2 T chopped parsley
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 c arugula, torn
2 T toasted pine nuts

Stir together gorgonzola, buttermilk, parsley, salt, pepper. Pour over hot penne and toss. Add arugula and toss. Top w/pine nuts and serve.

farm topic of the
week: melons!

Melon Madness
The highlight of this week is going to be the melons! The cucumber family is a large plant family with many delicious varieties in its family tree, from pumpkins to squash to gourds to cucumbers to watermelon and cantaloupe. The cucurbits are overwhelming with their beauty and flavor. Some of the highlights for this week include:

  • Stars and Moon watermelon: Bright pink fruit, light citrus flavors and very unique seeds
  • Orange glow watermelon: Beautiful sherbet-colored on the inside with a fruit punch burst of flavor
  • Snow Leopard honeydew: Unique spotted skin, light and delicate flavor
  • French heirloom cantaloupe, Ein Dor: Light pineapple flavor with a sugary rich texture.
  • Little baby flower watermelon: Tiny personal size with classic red fruit 

We hope you enjoyed tasting the different varieties at last week’s distribution and stay tuned for even more unique and delicious varieties coming up.

ood safety note

Please note that although we have washed our produce once after harvesting it in the field, members should wash the produce at home again before eating. Our farm produce should be treated the same way as grocery store produce: always wash before eating! The best way to wash produce is by running it under cool water. Cleaning products are not necessary.

Posted 8/8/2011 5:19pm by Vicki Phillips.

The storyteller chef

I’ve been thinking this week about my friend Norma Taylor, who lived behind us in Atlanta. She’s been on my mind for two reasons. First, although we were of opposite political stripes, we were the best of friends. She and I could’ve burst into the back rooms up in Congress where talks were raging over the debt ceiling. “Listen, boys,” we would’ve scolded, with Norma shaking a long wooden spoon at them, “get it together or else!”

And the other reason she’s been on my mind is because I’ve found myself using some of her recipes this week. Some are so old and faded and used I can hardly read my handwriting anymore. Norma was … or is … probably the best chef I know. Not only because she can cook fabulously; that’s a given. It’s kind of like The Next Food Network Star (I’m an addict of the show), where it’s not enough to know how to prepare great dishes. You must have what they call personality, camera connection, warmth, genuineness. In everyday life, where no camera is involved, I’d call it plain old joy.

Norma could emulsify a salad dressing, assemble beef wellingtons, mix a ginger martini and gingerly place a liver pâté in a bain-marie — all the while entertaining her guests with the funniest, belly-laughing stories from her days in south Texas. She never missed a beat. What I learned from Norma was how not to stress over cooking, especially for company. Of course, Julia Child was perhaps the earliest proponent of cultivating this trait, which in fact became one of her trademark quirks.

Staying cool

So last night my friend Debbie was coming over and I was making a big dinner using lots of the herbs and vegetables from the Chatfield gardens.

On the menu was cold cucumber soup with dill (Norma’s recipe), mixed-greens salad with lemon dressing (Norma’s recipe), parslied baby red potatoes, and a chicken dish I heard on the radio some months ago that I’ve been wanting to try. It’s Marcella Hazan’s Roast Chicken with Two Lemons, a deceptively simple recipe that involves only four ingredients: chicken, salt, pepper and two lemons. Who could screw that up?

Well, me, for one. Actually, the recipe involved a fair amount of skill in trussing, stuffing and turning the bird. I think I counted four steps I didn’t do precisely right. But I called on my inner-Norma and stayed cool, thus producing a wonderfully successful dinner that even Julia might have enjoyed.

Using this week’s distribution

The other day I brought my dad to my house from the nursing home. I showed him all the vegetables, which rekindled memories of his own garden back in Kentucky. He offered to string and break the beans, a task he’s done a thousand times and gave him a sense of purpose. We made an old-timey meal of squash, beans, turnips and corn, topped off with Rocky Ford cantaloupe, happily now in season. I refer to this meal as “old-timey” because nowadays nobody would cook vegetables to within an inch of their life, as I did. Cooking this way is a raw-food advocate’s worst nightmare, but it was comfort food for my dad and me.

Admittedly, it’s been challenging this week to use everything up. I gave a bunch of beet greens to my friend Vicki, who’s on a veggie-juice diet. I used the cabbage and Thai basil in yet another Thai dish. Then there were the items I used in the dinner last night.

In addition to a variety of leftovers, I still have more vegetables not yet cooked or even planned, including kale, spinach, beets, radishes and cauliflower. Also a load of basil, which I’ll use in pesto to bring to a potluck picnic for a bunch of Italians this Sunday. I plan to fry the peppers in olive oil and serve on crusty bread, a simple Italian lunch my mother would have made. And I saw a recipe online for white eggplant with an onion-caper-herb sauce.

The problem is not a shortage of recipe ideas, but rather a shortage of days in which to implement them before the next distribution. I vowed not to throw anything away! If only Norma could teach me how to stay calm about this, too.


Posted 8/5/2011 10:15am by Josie Hart.

Dear CSA shareholders,
How is the season going for you? How do you like this newsletter? Recipes? What would you add to our program? We are eager to get your feedback about your experience. Please email us through the website at Thanks!

this week's produce (August 8-12)

• Spinach
• Lettuce
• Salad Mix
• Beans
• Kale
• Chard
• Radishes
• Jalapenos
• Potatoes
• Beets
• Carrots
• Turnips
• Squash
• Basil
• Thyme
• Thai Basil
• Peppers
• Parsley
• Cucumbers
• Arugula

*Please note this is a tentative list and is subject to change
distribution change

This week’s distribution on August 9 will take place at St. John’s Cathedral to avoid concert traffic. St. John’s is located at:

1350 Washington Street
Denver, CO 80203

fruit shares

Fruit shares are going to be for pick up Tuesday, August 16 and will be pre-boxed for members.  Fruit shares will continue though the end of October with a variety of fruit and artisan fruit products.
this week's recipe – eggplant and basil

Pasta Salad with Eggplant, Tomato and Basil
Serves 6-8

2 medium eggplants (about 1 pound total), cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to brush
On eggplant:
1/4 cup lemon juice from 2 lemons
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 medium cloves garlic, divided, minced or put through garlic press
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 pound short, bite-sized pasta such as fusilli, farfalle,
or bowtie
2 large tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch
15 fresh basil leaves, shredded

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot over high heat. Meanwhile, brush eggplant with olive oil to coat very lightly and toss with salt and pepper to taste. Either grill eggplant until marked with dark stripes on both sides, about 15 minutes, or broil on baking sheet placed 4 inches from heating element, turning once, until tender and browned, about 7 minutes; cool to room temperature.

Whisk lemon juice and zest, 3/4 teaspoon salt, clove garlic and red pepper flakes in large bowl; whisk in 1/2 cup oil in slow, steady stream until smooth.

Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water. Cook until pasta is al dente and drain. Whisk dressing
again to blend; add hot pasta, cooled eggplant, tomato, remaining garlic, and basil; toss to mix thoroughly.

Cool to room temperature, adjust seasonings and serve. (Can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 1 day; return to room temperature before serving.)

farm topic family night at Chatfield

Enjoy the farm under the moon with your family. This Family Night takes place at the Hildebrand Ranch and CSA Garden at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield. There will be children’s activities, veggies to taste and The Butterfly Pavilion will be showcasing some summer bugs to look at and learn about.

Family Fun Nights are a unique opportunity to explore nature at night. Families are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner to enjoy.

food safety note

Please note that although we have washed our produce once after harvesting it in the field, members should wash the produce at home again before eating. Our farm produce should be treated the same way as grocery store produce: always wash before eating! The best way to wash produce is by running it under cool water. Cleaning products are not necessary.