Now, can we just talk about that rain for a sec? About a month ago, I was carryin' on to whoever would listen about how this was going to be such a bad year for drought. Now, I just feel silly. (Unless, of course, it never rains again!) We got about 2 + inches on the farm over the past two days, which means the vegetables AND the weeds start growing like crazy -- all the ones that weren't drowned in the low spots, that is! Anyways, the zucchini and summer squash are looking very good, we should have those in a few weeks, there are tiny cherry tomatoes on the vines in the high tunnels, and we will be picking fresh roots and fresh greens for you this week! The season marches on with relentless vigor. We just hang on for the ride.
Anyways: CSA is a different way of eating, as we all know. Kara and I wanted to explore what that means, and how you can get the most out of your share for this newsletter, which is especially good for newcomers but also a good reminder for our CSA veterans as well. Read on for some great thoughts from Kara on how to live your CSA season to the fullest.
Since becoming full-fledged farmers, we have found that CSA is a lifestyle, that people often change their relationship with vegetables when they become CSA members. What I mean is, it can be tough to "sneak" vegetables into meals you might be used to making on a regular basis -- I can only fit so many veggies into a taco shell. I usually plan meals around the vegetables -- and then I fit other ingredients into the meal as needed. For example, if we have big, beautiful heads of bok choy and mustard, I try to think about which Asian meals would be suitable for the week: jjam bong? Curry? From there, I'll fill the proteins and grains in as I see fit.
I think it's common in our food culture to plan the meal more around the protein or grain and then squeeze a couple of onions into it, or to serve meat and potatoes with a side of one vegetable. This doesn't work super well when you have a fridge packed full of veggies!
1. Set some time aside to prep vegetables or meals
One of the comments we hear most often from non-returning members or hesitant-to-join folks is that they couldn't keep up with the produce in the previous year, or that they have been members of a CSA in the past and felt that a lot of the produce went to waste, or some variation and combination of those sentiments. We can empathize -- vegetables take time! It's no wonder the American diet has gravitated toward prepared foods -- we are a busy bunch of people!
1. Enjoy it!
It's hard to "make time" (we will always only have 24 hours in a day, after all), but if you think of cooking as an art (or a science, depending on your interests), they will become a joy rather than a burden! (Aaron's tip: drink a beer or glass of wine while cooking -- everything becomes more interesting!)
2. Prep produce ahead of time
Some members go home Thursday evening and prep their produce -- we think this is an amazing idea! Get your kids involved, teach them what each item is (if you aren't sure, send us a photo in an email, or check our website!) If you have vegetables prepped ahead of time, it will be more easy to use them during the busy week. Also, it will help you get a sense of what you have for the week, so you'll be less likely to pull a rotten kohlrabi out of the back of the fridge at the end of July.
2. Eat vegetables with all three meals!
Most people don't eat produce for breakfast, but we always try to cook up some kale, garlic, onions and scallions in a little butter and serve them alongside eggs, or in a frittata or (if you're a real morning person...) an omelet! Salads make a great, easy, quick-to-prepare-the-night-before lunch. Just add hummus (recipe below), boiled beets (coming soon), hard-boiled eggs, meat or tofu to round it out. Greens are super easy and quick to add to any meal you make, just slice them up into thin ribbons and saute quickly in olive oil or butter and garlic.
3. Eat a salad with every meal
You can make a salad from almost anything! Seriously! Even in the very dead of winter, when our tunnels are on hiatus from winter greens production, Aaron and live quite well on grated root slaws (OK, sometimes we splurge on avocados too). In the summer, we love a shredded cabbage salad dressed simply with olive oil, salt, lime and cilantro. When tomato season rolls in, the sky is the limit. It's easy to make a big salad that you can pick at throughout the week.
I'm hereby challenging myself to including a different salad recipe in our email each week this summer. (See below.) Hold me to it!
4. Make a meal plan
More on this in the weeks to come, but there are pretty good online resources to help you plan your meals for the week. If you spend a little time thinking about. So again, here's that major CSA theme: time. But I feel (and of course I'm biased) that it's well worth a little extra time to feed yourself and your family the best food you could possibly imagine. Anyone can be a great cook, it just takes a little learning! Here are some links to our website you might find helpful: our list of veggies we grow; our harvest schedule; our member guide and our tips for storing CSA produce.
We also wanted to introduce you to Allison Hancock, a chef and food writer, who is in our CSA and will be blogging regularly this season with seasonal recipes that hopefully will inspire your own cooking! Please bookmark her page, and check back regularly. We'll include links in our updates, as well as post these on our facebook page. This week, she makes a very unusual and delicious salad out of some very springy veggies. Thanks Allison!
The CSA pantry:
I find that a well-stocked pantry makes for simpler meal planning.Here are some pantry items we love to have on hand:
QuinoaCrusty bread (Wide Awake Bakery bread is usually
Beans (red, black)
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
Salt (table and Kosher/coarse/sea salt)
Pepper (peppercorns that can be fresh-ground are best!)
Smoked paprika (a little bit of a splurge, but it's different and exciting and we love it!)
Apple cider vinegar
Finally, the news you've all been waiting for, the harvest forecast! (This might change on the day of, or by Monday, but you should see much of what's on this list at your pickup.