Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a program in which people can purchase farm shares from a local farm. By paying an upfront fee, they provide the farm with the capitol to plan and prepare for the upcoming growing season. Then as they produce a harvest, each owner of a share receives a portion of that’s week’s produce. We purchased a farm share this year and this is a series in which I share what we got each week, how we prepared it, and thoughts on eating seasonally.
As part of a longstanding goal to eat more vegetables, Chris and I decided to join a local CSA program this summer. We figured freshly picked veggies from the farm are likely to taste better than what I could find in a supermarket, it would introduce us to some vegetables we may not otherwise try, and the upfront investment would motivate us to actually eat all the vegetables. We’ve received three boxes so far this summer and I’m happy to report that for the most part all of those goals have been met! Here’s what we’ve received so far and what we’ve done with it.
- strawberries – These were eaten plain or in our breakfast yogurt bowls. It’s amazing what some fresh berries will do for yogurt after a winter of using frozen fruit.
salad mix – Pretty obvious: we had salad. We’ve discovered that fruit and nut trail mix makes a great salad topping.
asparagus – I used to hate asparagus. But then I only ever had it all mushy and from a can. Now I’ve learned that I can enjoy asparagus IF it’s fresh and tossed in olive oil and salt (and maybe a bit of garlic and lemon) and roasted in the oven.
Sweet potatoes – roasted with olive oil and salt. I have a feeling this cooking method is going to be used a lot this year.
cornmeal – our box came with some heirloom cornmeal (what make it heirloom? I have no idea.) I usually just use Jiffy cornbread mix when I want cornbread, but since we had some cornmeal (and it was heirloom no less!) I decided to try making it from scratch. (Actually, my mom and Charlie made it while I was working on another dish.) We used a recipe that the farm included in their weekly newsletter and cooked it the old fashioned way in the cast iron skillet. It was SO GOOD! Beats Jiffy by a mile.
dried beans – believe it or not, these were actually the most challenging item to put to use from our box. I don’t often choose beans to eat, and I hardly ever cook them. (For those as clueless as me, here’s how.) But we tried out a couple of new recipes and ended up loving them!
We tried a variation on this burrito bowl. I don’t do a lot of vegetarian dishes because a meal without meat often leaves me filling hungry and unsatisfied. But I decided to give this a go because the internet says that brown rice and beans are a complete protein. We topped that with some corn, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, a bit of salsa, and a sauce made of taco seasoning and plain yogurt.
We also made a variation of this soup. I used the same ingredients (sausage, beans, spinach, cheese, and spices) but left out the broth and cooked it in a skillet to make it more of a hearty sausage mix than a soup. We ate this with the cornbread.
I gotta say, I was really impressed with both of our bean-centric dinners. I actually think I might buy some dried beans of my own volition so we can have them again. They were both hearty and filling and full of flavor.
The next week we got some repeats – strawberries, lettuce, and asparagus – but a few new things too, including:
- Spinach – we ate some of this mixed with the lettuce in salads, but we also made a creamy spinach, mushroom, and onion dish. It was delicious!
Kale – I’ve never had Kale so I tried to just keep it simple and cook it down with some garlic and butter. I wasn’t impressed. If we get Kale again I’m going to have to find something else to do with it.
Week 4 didn’t really bring any new vegetables and was overwhelmingly leafy greens. I would say the main downside to eating seasonally is that you don’t really get to say when you’re getting a little tired of a certain vegetable. You’re just going to keep eating salads until the lettuce decides it’s done growing. If we get another week of salad greens I think I’m going to have to start looking up some new salad and dressing combinations to keep things interesting.
I of course didn’t get a single picture of our CSA items put to use. This is because it is imperative that dinner get into people’s mouths as soon as it hits the table in order to put a stop to the whining and crying and gnashing of teeth. To take a few moments to artfully style a plate of sausage and beans with homemade cornbread would be to risk losing my life and/or sanity. (This is a slight exaggeration. slight.)