Sarah’s top 5 for making a CSA work for you
The first year Rob and I did our CSA we were like many before us, lost in a land of new vegetables. We tried to learn new ways to cook, but many things lent waste and we felt guilty and disappointed in ourselves. The next spring we vowed to do it again but I had a plan and was determined. Five CSA seasons later, I am so happy I did not give up after the 1st time. I want to share some tips with all of you that might help spare the 1st year struggles.
1. Make time. On Thursday (or whatever day) your box of fresh farm goodness comes to your door. Don’t schedule anything on those evenings (if you can help it). Those evenings are for washing the greens that need washing, prepping the rest to fit in your refrigerator while you make mental notes of what needs to get eaten first. And whatever that is…that is dinner tonight!
2. Get a new cookbook. I go to the library and peruse to my hearts content. Sometimes I borrow my mother-in-law’s books or when I find one worth owning, I make a visit to ½ Priced Books. I recommend finding the cookbooks that have multiple recipes organized by vegetable. Sometimes these are vegetarian cookbooks. Don’t fret all you carnivores; these can be your sides!
3. Visit the Farm. Norm and Laurie lovingly open up their farm a few times a year for all of us to visit. It is not that far and soooo worth the drive! To meet the farmer, the family, the interns, the chickens, the dogs, the cats. You get to sit amongst these things eating the food that is brought to you every week from where it comes from…nothing can explain this. Take the time to at least come for a day. Harvest Feast in the Fall even has tractor rides to the pumpkin patch!
4. Involve Others. If you have kids, friends, your spouse, get them involved. On Thursdays when our box comes home, we all sit around and pull everything out. We try everything raw, some stuff is bitter and spicy some things are sweet and juicy, some things are “gross” as the 6-yr-old says, and some things are so amazing they are gone before we get to the bottom of the box. I think when you take the time to learn the names of different vegetables, what they look like, taste like, learn what things need to be cooked and so on, it builds an incredible appreciation for the food we eat. Our kids wait and wait for those sweet summer carrots and they grab them and eat them all before I can even think of how to cook them!
5. Make your CSA a priority. You made an investment during the winter for some reason. Maybe you chose to do a CSA because it sounded fun. Maybe you liked the convenience, maybe you want to eat better. Maybe you love locally grown food and want to learn how to cook better. Whatever the reason, don’t forget it. It is fun, it does help you eat better, it is better for our community, our families, it will help you with cooking but most of all, if you let it, it will become something that you can never live without!
The first several boxes of the season always come with an inordinate amount of greens. This is primarily because these crops love the cool temperatures of the spring, and especially this year, did very well. Some of them, at times, may look a bit wilted since there are no ‘hardy’ vegetables in the box yet to hold in the cold from the cooler. The ice packs definitely help. It usually works well to soak the greens in a very cold water-bath for a final clean and to crisp them up before putting them away into your fridge.
In the box:
- Strawberries are the last of the season, but raspberries come close behind
- Swiss Chard is the rainbow variety, young and tender
- Red Kale is great sauteed in olive oil, with slivered almonds and craisins
- Garlic scapes are once and out and are the featured vegetable
- Mustard greens can be used to spice up a salad or in stir fry or soup
- So many ways to enjoy cilantro and scallions
- Try a spinach and strawberry salad with dressing (half cup olive oil. ½ cup balsamic, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup)
Here is to good food, fabulous summer weather, and to a safe holiday!!
Link to: Produce list-notes-recipes