I might not be a farmer. Not quite. One farmer I read recently said that if you have dirt you are responsible for, you are a farmer. In which case, my three pots of peas on the back porch are my membership card in the farmers’ club. But in the meantime, joining a CSA might be the most effective way to participate in my food production.
Without a doubt, the most difficult thing about being in a CSA is making sure you don’t waste anything. When I worked for a share at Breezy Willow back in the day, there was not a week in the summer that something wasn’t getting raunchy in the fridge. Making sure you use what you have takes planning, intentionality, and regular observation.
Jared and I joined Penn’s Corner, which started mid-April with its early-bird program. To help me use as much of it as I can, I am recording every share by camera, and using Pinterest to collect recipes when I find out a few days in advance what’s coming. I’m sharing the results here, partly because food is fun, and partly because you might get some ideas for what to do with things you can find at the farmers’ market right now. And partly because you’ll get a glimpse of things getting real in my cluttered, beloved little kitchen.
- Tomatillo salsa – easy. We made simple tacos that week and ate it ’till it was gone.
- Dorset cheese – served with GF crackers at our Easter party.
- Pea shoots – salad!
- Bibb lettuce – same salad!
- Braeburn apples – ate a couple, but most of them went into a GF apple crisp eaten after Easter dinner. (thank you husband.)
- Red potatoes – baked up with Easter dinner.
- Watermelon radishes – one went into the salad, and two were roasted.
What are watermelon radishes, you ask? They are like a regular radish, except huge, and turned inside out. And gorgeous.
Radishes are a little much for me in a salad; I was tasting them for two days afterwards. But roasting them into little chips was easy and quick, and they were so sweet and delicious. (This may have been the second time I successfully used our mandolin slicer. Jury is still out on whether it is earning its shelf footprint.)
- Dilly beans – a sort of sweet-n-spicy pickled green bean. We were sort of half-heartedly snacking on them, until I picked up some roasted mixed nuts the other day, and found they made the perfect pairing. Those two are as addictive a couple as Skittles and Doritos, Cheez-Its and cottage cheese, bananas and peanut butter. (I’m a big snacker.)
- Raw honey – This went into the cabinet… I’d like to do something special with it, but I’m a little stumped.
- Apple cider – I’ve been slowly drinking this as a treat. There’s about a quarter left still and the jug has expanded a little. I poured a glass this afternoon and discovered it seems to have carbonated itself! Accidental hard cider anyone? It’s still tasty!
- Chives – These were my first bummer. I ignored these for too long, then suddenly half of them were bad. I managed to put some of them in a salad, and the rest went in with the potatoes.
- Bibb lettuce – More salad! With chickpeas this time.
- Russet Potatoes – These were forgotten until they were quite sprouty. But I made my favorite home fry recipe out of Better Homes & Gardens (Olive oil + parmesan + salt & pepper + potatoes cut in 1/8ths, bake at 425 for 30 minutes. You’re welcome). We ate them in one sitting, even though we were sweating EVOO by the end.
- Crimini mushrooms – You might know them as baby bellas at the supermarket. I do not usually like raw mushrooms, but I tried one on a whim, and they were delicious. Not rubbery and tasteless like the white ones I’m used to, but tender, with a bit of soft flavor. These – along with some on-the-edge cottage cheese aging in the fridge – became the inspiration for making “Macaroni and Cheese Lite” out of a later edition of Mollie Katzen’s inimitable Moosewood Cookbook.
- Bibb lettuce – salad, along with the pea shoots, a cucumber, a tomato, and some chickpeas.
- Pea shoots – see above.
- Maple syrup – went straight into the cupboard; I used some of it in this week’s batch of baked oatmeal (my staple winter breakfast).
- Goat cheese – went straight into the fridge – I’m almost afraid to use it, it’s such a precious little amount! I should give up and just make a little spread of it to eat with crackers.
- 1 dozen eggs – We go through eggs like gangbusters. Especially when I forget to prep the next batch of baked oatmeal.
- Braeburn apples – We’ve been picking through these one by one – one went into the following week’s salad, one into baked oatmeal, several were snacks… still got one left. Hmm…
- Boltonfeta cheese – straight into the fridge; but I know that if I wait too long for just the right recipe it will go bad on me! It might go in next weeks salad if I can find some good strawberries.
- Ramps – I finally started paying attention to our CSA’s blog this week, and followed their advice on ramps. They went into a simple pasta recipe with an egg on top.
- Arugula – I took a leap of faith and made arugula pesto! With powder-parm, because I’m cheap. We tried some as a treat, then it went into the fridge as an investment in a future pasta dinner.
- Red potatoes – these are still awaiting their moment, though I am sure I will just roast them with rosemary and olive oil.
- 1/2 doz. eggs – already gone.
- Salsa – already half gone, thanks to a saturday morning invention of fake huevos rancheros (nuke a couple corn tortillas, spread with some salsa, and plunk two fried eggs on top. Surprisingly easy, and unsurprisingly tasty). I would like more of this already.
- Bibb lettuce (not pictured) – yet another salad. With some chopped cheddar and an apple. There’s a little bit of this still in the fridge getting manky. I meant to have it for lunch today but must have “forgotten.” (Those are air quotes.)
Arugula, a.k.a. “rocket,” ready to be de-stemmed and blenderized.
Ramps are like, the new scapes. Which were the new truffles. You know, that hard-to-find gourmet spring food that fancy restaurants and foodie blogs start going on about, and now they’re overharvested. We actually found a big patch of them in a local park last weekend, deep in a streambed on a rarely-used path. (We didn’t pick any, since we knew we were getting some, and picking them in a park is kinda illegal and unethical. Still, tempting.)
Penn’s corner has done due diligence on harvesting sustainably, so these are guilt-free, extra-smug ramps. I tried a couple of them straight, and they tasted like a mild, garlic-y chive. (I guess they are like leeks? I love leeks, but I am leek-inexperienced.) Gently sauteed, they are very sweet. We are getting another batch this week; I might do something with them raw.
OH and this crazy thing happened when I sauteed them! I did not cut them up at all, as the recipe directed. When they went into the pan, after they wilted a little, the leaves started to inflate like balloons! If you have ramps, do not cut them up if you want to see this weird little display.
So there you have it, CSA month #1! I aim for pretty pictures, but not too pretty – This is just a food diary of sorts, and is in no way glamorous. I’ve spent enough time envying other people’s blog lives to have no wish to excite that emotion here. (Some of you are saying, too late!) Life is occasionally delicious, but mostly it is just hard work. I am learning to enjoy that more and more. But what makes it enjoyable is just that it is my own, what I have been given, and I do best when I am present to what is actually in my life. That’s still harder than it should be, but we all go one day at a time. Do my chores, play with my baby, and eat good food.