Cooking Through A CSA Box

So, we finally bit the bullet and got a share in a CSA (which stands for Community Supported Agriculture)–something I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time! The basic idea behind a CSA is that members pay for their share up front in order to give the farmer a little seed (and tool and equipment) money. Then when the time comes, members receive an assortment of veggies (and sometimes fruits, eggs, etc.) once a week. They usually run through the summer and early fall. We missed out on the summer shares but decided to go for a late fall share with First Root Farm. I love the principles behind CSA’s–supporting your local small farmer, eating more locally and seasonally, but we were a bit concerned that we would end up with a refrigerator drawer full of celeriac and kohlrabi that we didn’t quite know what to do with. But, so far, so good. We’ve received a nice mix of some of the more obscure fall veggies (daikon, anyone?) and the old standards like sweet potato and even popcorn! Here’s how Week 2 with our CSA looked:

Thursday: Peanut and I walked to the pickup location, which is the front yard of a house about a mile from ours. There is no one there to hand out the shares, but everything was clearly marked and they produce a weekly ‘zine that lists the veg that members receive, as well as recipe ideas for some of the more ‘challenging’ offerings. We got:

One week's worth of veggies from our First Root Farm Late Fall Share!

hakurei turnips

a leek

4 sweet potatoes

mustard greens

purple kale!

a rutabaga

a bulb of garlic

popcorn

(the chilies are leftover from last week:)

Friday: I overbought at the farmers’ market on Wednesday, so I used up the last of that veg today.

Saturday:  I had gotten Paleo By Season out from the library, so we decided to adapt the Romaine, Radish and Roasted Beet Salad recipe. We subbed our mustard greens for the romaine and used leftover roasted beets and chili from the previous week’s CSA bounty. We topped it all off with two poached eggs each. It was my first time attempting to poach eggs, but they came out pretty well, thanks to Chef Pete’s guidance!

salad2
Modified Romaine, Radish and Roasted Beet Salad from Paleo by Season

Sunday: I snipped the turnip greens off of the hakurei’s and sautéed them in lard (which makes everything taste amazing!). Peanut and I ate them with leftover beef and butternut squash stew for lunch.

For dinner, we used the kale and leek in a quiche recipe from Meaningful Eats.

Leek and Purple Kale Quiche adapted from Meaningful Eats
Leek and Purple Kale Quiche adapted from Meaningful Eats

Monday: Added some of the leftover kale to my morning bone broth.

Roasted up the sweet potatoes for lunch for Peanut and me.

For dinner, we used the garlic in a Beef Rogan Josh from Madhur Jaffrey (the goddess of Indian cuisine!! See very old-school video here) and the turnips in her Turnips with Cilantro and Mint recipe. It. was. incredible. I’m obsessed with curries right now.

photok
Chicken bone broth with purple kale

Tuesday:  Momma took the night off and we ate leftovers from Monday night 🙂

Wednesday: Used up the last of the kale in my morning chicken broth soup.

And the last vegetable standing is…the rutabaga. Didn’t really know what to do with it, so I decided to substitute it for some of the potatoes (used for the topping) in the Shepherd’s Pie recipe from Ancestral Table. The recipe as a whole was delicious–the perfect comfort food for a cold fall evening–but the rutabaga didn’t mash in with the potatoes as smoothly as I’d hoped. If I sub rutabaga in for potatoes again, I’ll try lengthening the cooking time to get them to the desired softness.

Shepherd's Pie from Ancestral Table
Shepherd’s Pie from Ancestral Table

Conclusion: The CSA is proving to be really fun so far! It’s helped add more variety into our diet and gotten me out of a food rut. It’s forced me to try new recipes and adapt some old standards in ways I never would have thought to on my own. More importantly, this experience is making me more aware of what food is in season locally and has helped me to feel more connected to what I am eating and feeding my family (which for reasons I can’t fully articulate right now has become really important to me recently). I will admit that cooking this week has been a bit more time-intensive than usual, but I think that a lot of that has to do with trying several new recipes. I’d like to think that, similar to many of the other changes I’m trying to make, as new habits replace old ones it will get increasingly easier. Or maybe not! But for now, it’s working for me.

Check out http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ for more info about joining a CSA.

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