Farm to Fork, A CSA Series: Too Busy to Cook

This is part 8 of a summer long series about our CSA boxes and what we do with them. Recipes for Roasted Delicata Squash, Quick Stovetop Greens, Everything Radish Salad, and Sweet Roll Dough with Mashed Potatoes follow.


I’m going to be honest with you. I had a busy week and didn’t cook at home as much as I would have liked to.


As I approach the middle of my first fall semester in the local culinary program, the kitchen labs are becoming more grueling and homework is increasing. I leave school feeling like I ran part of a marathon and then I race to work. When I return home, I try to update my blog but may find myself waving a flag of surrender as I watch “Top Chef” or “30 Rock” with my fiancé. Not to mention that we are also getting married in about a week and our spontaneous wedding has become a large source of stress as it involves more and more trips between Fargo and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Overall, I’m thrilled with all the exciting events that are keeping me so busy, but during weeks like these, my time in the kitchen is less about play and more about survival. I’m often in transit and struggle against just giving up on cooking entirely and grabbing convenience foods instead. 


But the CSA boxes help. Our latest box provided three petite winter squash: a small pie pumpkin, a delicata squash, and a butternut squash. The box also delivered the last of summer’s corn, ripe tomatoes, green tomatoes, bok choy, salad greens and spinach, zucchini, potatoes, and April cross radishes.


Given our current work, school, and travel schedules, I used our produce simply and also gave some away. Earlier in the summer, I occasionally placed vegetables in the designated “swap box” at our drop-off site. Now, I give them away since the box is rarely used. One of my friends gladly accepted some of our abundant ears of corn. When they became too plentiful even for her family, she shared them with her neighbors. I’ve also contacted coworkers who share my love of cooking and there’s always a taker for my excess veggies. This week, one coworker gladly claimed one of my pie pumpkins. I feel better about not being able to use our CSA produce when I can give it to someone who I know will not let it go to waste. Our small freezer is already full of blanched and frozen vegetables; next year, I hope that I’ll push myself to learn how to can. 


To further prevent food wastage, we ate the vegetables that wouldn’t keep long with urgency. We ate many of them plain and raw (I ate the zucchini like an apple) or turned them into easy salads. When I’m desperate for time, I dress salads with vinegar or lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. The addition of fall apples and nuts roasted in a little oil with salt and sugar make the salad sweet and savory. Sometimes, I forgo the oil and make quick pickles. One evening, I dumped CSA vegetables into a goopy tater tot casserole. It wasn’t exciting, but at least it was semi-homemade, and it was comforting. On several occasions, I prepared the spinach and bok choy with soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Growing up, I never saw cooked greens in person and only admired them on food television. Since becoming an adult and cooking my own food, I’ve enjoyed every variety that’s crossed my plate and still consider them a treat.  


 Unlike these vegetables with short shelf lives, winter squashes and potatoes can perch on my kitchen counter for weeks at a time. I had never tried delicata squash and was delighted when its creamy texture and sweet flavor reminded me of kabocha. Last year, I used to prepare roasted squash and scrambled eggs for the two-year old I used to babysit. Now, I make them for myself.


Last weekend, I had time for a baking experiment in which I incorporated potatoes into wheat bread. As a new North Dakotan, I’ve enjoyed learning about this state’s German-Russian heritage. I find myself returning to North Dakota State University’s web site Germans From Russia Heritage Collection for German-Russian culinary traditions. Normally, I improvise with recipes but followed this one mostly as written.  The rolls turned out soft and fluffy, and I eat them for breakfast, toasted and spread with butter.


The next Farm to Fork post will conclude this series chronicling my fiancé Jake and my first experience participating in community supported agriculture. Although the weeks leading up to this final post will just as hectic, they’ll end on a joyous note. Not only will Jake and I be married, but I’ll also be on fall break from school. We will try to make the most of our last CSA box, and I especially look forward to preparing my first pumpkin. 


Roasted Delicata Squash

Delicata squash

Olive oil

Salt and pepper



1. Preheat oven to about 375-400 degrees F.

2. Wash squash and remove the ends. Cut in half (hot dog style) and scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. Cut into wedges.

3. Place on a sheet pan. Rub the squash with a light coating of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Roast until the squash is tender. Flip the pieces a couple of times for even caramelization and cooking. The skin should be tender enough to eat.


Quick Stovetop Spinach (or Bok Choy)

Greens of your choice (spinach, bok choy, etc.)

Olive oil

To flavor: Your choice of soy sauce, honey, sugar, garlic, ginger, white or black pepper, sesame oil



1. Rinse spinach or other greens well. Place in a bowl filled with cold water and agitate. Repeat if the spinach is especially dirty. Let the spinach sit for a few minutes and gently remove from the water.  The sediment will have sunk to the bottom.  Note: When using bok choy, I wash thoroughly and cut the stem and leaves into bite-sized pieces. Bok choy cooks quickly and becomes mushy when overcooked.

2. Sauté with a little oil. Flavor with soy sauce, a little honey or sugar, garlic, ginger (freshly grated or powdered), and white or black pepper. Sometimes I like to add a small drizzle of sesame oil. Stir until wilted and serve.


Everything Radish Salad


Other vegetables (fennel, sweet pepper, tomatoes, green onion, other onion)


Acid such as balsamic vinegar or lemon juice

Garlic, minced

Olive oil

Salt and pepper



1. Shave radish and other vegetables. I used a small mandolin for the radish, fennel, and sweet pepper, but you could thinly slice or cut into desired shape. Add fresh, diced tomatoes and green onion or shaved onion.

2. Season with your choice of herbs, salt, and pepper.  Add a tart component such as balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, minced garlic, and a touch of olive oil (you could leave out the olive oil if you wanted something more like pickles).

3. Toss and allow to marinate before serving.


Sweet Roll Dough With Mashed Potatoes by Connie Dahlke

Adapted from Connie Dahlke at the NDSU Libraries Germans from Russia Heritage Collection



¼ cup water

½ cup milk

1 Tablespoon instant rise yeast (a little more than of the packets)

½ cup mashed potatoes

¼ cup oil

1 egg

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all purpose or bread flour



1. In a small pan, heat the water and milk together until warm but not hot (overly hot water will kill the yeast activity). Combine with yeast and set aside. The mixture should become frothy.

2. To prepare mashed potatoes, I put a few small potatoes into a pot of cold water and brought to a boil. I removed the potatoes when they were fork tender. I riced the potatoes when they were hot and set aside on the counter while I prepared the bread. The original recipe states the potatoes can be previously mashed, or simply boiled and mashed.

3. Measure a packed, half-cup of room-temperature mashed potatoes and incorporate them into the oil until smooth. Then, add the egg and combine.

4. To the wet mixture, stir in the sugar, salt, allspice and yeast mixture.

 5. Add the whole wheat flour.  Then, gradually add the all purpose or bread flour until the dough forms.  You will probably have leftover flour. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. If the dough seems too sticky, knead in more of the extra flour, though the dough should be soft. The dough should feel smooth, elastic, and not overly sticky.

6. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Flip the dough around in the bowl to make sure all exposed surfaces are covered with the oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled.

7. Punch the dough down and form into desired roll shapes. Bake at 350 degrees F until they're golden brown on top but not burned on the bottom (about 15 minutes).




Jeni Hill grew up in the Twin Cities and recently moved to Fargo. Her two sustaining passions are food and writing and she combines the two whenever she gets the chance. Jeni believes food is never just about the food and considers it the finest medium to connect with others. When she is not crafting contributions to Simple Good & Tasty, she may be posting to her blog An Herbalist Eats20food, or Fargo's High Plains Reader. Her last CSA article for us was on Warming Recipes for Fall.