What's Your Dinner Party Reputation?

Since joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for the first time in 2009, we have become something of a curiosity among friends and family. People frequently ask us what we have received lately, how long the season is, what has been the most unusual item, the items we liked, disliked, etc. My mother-in-law once saw something on the news about the recent trend for people to eat roots and weeds and immediately thought of us.

We have been very pleased with our CSA experience. We are happy to talk about it with anyone who asks, and we enjoy sharing the produce as well.

Prior to the CSA, I was already known as the salad lady. In the event of a potluck meal, I could be counted on to volunteer for a salad. That’s the kind of girl I am – a bit of a veggie fiend. Salads still make their appearances, but I have now begun share whatever is in season, so sometimes salads are not the most likely option. Perhaps now my reputation will shift to the broader term, “vegetable lady.”

My husband and I went to a dinner party over the weekend, and of course I offered to bring a vegetable side dish. From my reserve of fresh farm veggies, I’m down to a few turnips, some sweet potatoes, and an abundance of carrots, onion and garlic. I hopped online to look for carrot recipes, and I found this great recipe for Carrots Au Gratin.

4 1/2 cups sliced carrots
2/3 cup crushed buttery round crackers
3 tablespoons margarine, melted
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
2/3 cup shredded processed cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Place carrots in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water, and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, about 6-10 minutes. Drain. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine crushed crackers with 1 tablespoon melted margarine. Mix well and set aside.
In a medium skillet over low heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of margarine and saute onions until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes, stirring to prevent browning. Gradually pour in milk, stirring constantly. Increase heat to medium and cook until bubbly and thickened. Add cheese and stir until smooth. Fold in carrots.
Pour mixture into a 9×12 inch baking dish and sprinkle with the crumb mixture.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown.

I made a few changes to the original recipe. I increased the size. I used crushed Club crackers, because that is what kind of crackers I had on hand. For the cheese, I used shredded cheddar.

It was very well received! They were all eaten up, and the recipe was requested by fellow diners.

I attempted to photograph the huge pile of carrots steaming. It turns out, you can’t see the carrots very well, but boy can you see the steam! Ever take a picture that does not capture what you meant it to? Oh well, I found the steam photo interesting, so I decided to go ahead and share it with you.

Do you have a dinner party reputation? What are your favorite dishes to share?


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