Chicago’s torrential storms yesterday nearly ruined market day. But when the rain finally stopped, I had just enough time to get to the closest farmer’s market, in a high school parking lot in our neighborhood.
For the first time, I missed our CSA and always having fresh vegetables at the ready. We were in northern Michigan for the Fourth (actually, the fifth), so our crisper has been sadly bare the past couple of weeks.
Only a handful of vendors had stuck it out, but I still managed to fill my bag with an onion, cucumber, kohlrabi, hothouse tomato, beets, cabbage and blueberries.
We decided against a third season of the CSA. As awesome as our experience was last summer, I missed lazy Saturdays at the farmer’s market. Our weekly shares were so bountiful that there was simply no need to bother.
I’ll admit, I haven’t missed those boxes of vegetables one bit. These early weeks in particular are so, so green. I saw Swiss chard at a stand at Green City Market over the weekend and smiled knowing that I didn’t feel like eating any, and I wouldn’t have to. Instead, I bought purple and green asparagus, a big bag of mixed mushrooms, and rhubarb. (And macarons on the way home.)
The mushrooms and asparagus went into this Food Network recipe I bookmarked a couple of weeks ago, for Creamy Farfalle with Cremini, Asparagus and Walnuts. I’m using the rhubarb tomorrow for the rhubarb blueberry muffins I featured in this April post.
I can’t wait to head back to the market next week, and am hoping garlic scapes will make an appearance. Fingers crossed.
A week ago, we picked up our final CSA share of the season:
- Brussels sprouts
- winter squash
As much as I believe community supported agriculture is important, I can’t say that I’m sad to see another CSA season come to end. I’d compare the experience to Christmas — come Thanksgiving, I can’t wait to put the tree up, but as soon as the holiday passes, I don’t even bother plugging in the lights every night. When fall hit, and we entered kale season, our enthusiasm waned. Thankfully, most of these veggies are ones that will keep for a bit in the crisper. Because honestly, that’s where most of them still are.
And we’re back! Huge thanks to Dana for picking up our CSA share for two weeks and blogging about it, even with spotty internet — AND a newish baby in the house.
I picked up our veggies around noon yesterday and, since I had a slew of post-vacation errands to run, immediately came home and stuck them in the fridge. Unpacking the bag a day later may not have been the best idea, as a bundle of greens was way wilted. The bok choy is also less than crisp, so I’ll sauté that tonight in some oyster sauce.
Everything else fared OK:
- sweet peppers
- bok choy
- small melons
- Russet potatoes
The kale will be this week’s biggest challenge. Kale was more than plentiful in last year’s CSA, and I never mastered cooking it — and Mike never mastered eating it. I’ve been dreading its appearance this season. Oh, well. Here we go.
This week’s CSA is a lot like last week:
- mixed chard
- assorted tomatoes
- red norland potatoes
- sweet peppers (and one hot)
- bok choy
Another thing that’s a lot like last week is that my Internet access is again coming and going, with it going most of the day. Argh. Although, I can’t complain about the delicious stir-fry these vegetables yield, and I’m excited to add bok choy and broccoli to it.
Once again, big thanks to Darci for sharing her CSA and allowing me to guest post here!
My friend Dana is taking over the blog while Mike and I are in the UK. Take it away, Dana!
Thanks, Darci! As you have probably already noticed this was last week’s CSA that I’m posting this morning. I apologize for the delay, but my Internet access was on the fritz all week due to some faulty wiring on the pole outside (or so says the nice man from Comcast that came to fix it). I had about five minutes a day of access. Not only did this mean posting here was problematic, but since I garner all my recipes online I had to go old school for this CSA.
Here’s what we received last week:
- mixed chard
- hot and red peppers
- ice box melon
- green beans
- radishes (and lots of ’em!)
Being disconnected from the Internet has its advantages. I realized that I didn’t need to necessarily whip up something extraordinary because Darci had generously gifted me her CSA. We shop our local farmer’s market every week as locally grown produce is an important part of my family’s diet. So I did what I normally do: I incorporated the CSA into our every day meals. Several salads were made utilizing the tomatoes, red peppers and radishes. The kale has been a staple of my daily morning smoothie (which is nothing more than the greens, some strawberries, bananas and almond milk). The green beans were a side dish for a purchased rotisserie chicken. The melon was a delightful breakfast treat for my kids. A stir-fry utilizing the remaining red paper and mixed chard was delicious and, again, simply prepared by sautéing with soy sauce. Finally, I roasted the pumpkin and baked some pumpkin spice muffins (the recipe for which I’m having trouble finding at the moment).
This week, I remembered that having a CSA doesn’t have to be a stressful, “How will I use all those vegetables?” prospect. Too often with my prior CSA, I felt like I needed to get really creative because I had this special box of vegetables. This resulted in my spending a lot of time planning big cooking/baking projects and then wasting produce as time got away from me. I suffered from CSA anxiety. However, as I looked upon our bounty this past week I realized that I often buy most of these very same things at our market to do just what I did–eat a little bit local every day. Whew, anxiety alleviated. CSA, Hooray!
Okra in a refreshing ice bath.
So, gumbo didn’t happen.
I couldn’t find a recipe that I loved, which was OK because I didn’t feel like going to the market twice in two days. So I used the mild Italian sausage from yesterday’s trip with the second head of cabbage from the CSA for this Fettuccine with Sausage and Cabbage recipe I found on the website for Real Simple magazine. I used rigatoni noodles instead of fettuccine because, again, I didn’t feel like going to the market; tossed in two pressed cloves of garlic because I only had two shallots; and skipped the chives, because the ones in our patio container garden died during an extended porch railing repair project a couple of weeks ago. (Yet survived last winter. Sad.) Still, the dish was delicious. Mike is finishing it off — cold and directly from the pot — as I type.
Of course, the okra remained. And not just the okra from this week’s share, but what was in last week’s, too. I had to face facts: I wasn’t going to use it all — er, any of it — and the okra was doomed to suffer a slow death in the crisper.
Thankfully, this English woman on YouTube, who pronounces “okra” so adorably, made freezing okra seem super simple. I sorted through the two bags, tossing out a handful that seemed sketchy, and went to work.
Ms. Brit was right. Boiling okra for three minutes, immediately placing it in an ice bath for three minutes, then drying it on the counter before sticking it in a plastic bag could not have been easier. Our okra is now stashed safely in the freezer.
Here’s hoping I remember to use it.
Another weekend away resulted in beginning another week with an overwhelming amount of vegetables filling both crisper drawers.
And since I had a ukelele lesson last night, and Mike walked in the door from work right before I got home, we threw together sandwiches at 8:30 p.m.
At least we used one tomato of the four in this week’s share, leaving:
- two heads of cabbage
- spicy greens mix
- sweet red and green peppers
- summer squash
- green beans
- small watermelon
- carrots (that I forgot to put in the photo)
I whipped up a beef, cabbage and carrot stir fry tonight, over Ramen noodles (again, no judging). I’m not sure why I’ve always bought shredded cabbage and carrots — the food processor got the job done in mere minutes.
When I was at the butcher buying tenderloin tips, I also picked some mild Italian sausage. Okra is next on the hit list. Anyone have a tried-and-true recipe for gumbo?
For whatever reason, I’m less enthused about this week’s CSA share than I’ve been about the others. I think I’m ready for the switch to fall vegetables (and sweaters!).
But beets did make their debut. Mike loves beets, which I typically roast. But these are pretty small, and wrapping them all in foil seems like a pain. Looks like it’s time to employ my well-seasoned Googling skills.
What else was in our share:
- green beans
- peppers — green, red and hot yellow ones
- Swiss chard
- mystery leafy green
I stir-fried boneless, skinless chicken thighs tonight, so have already used the green and red peppers, the Swiss chard and the mystery leafy green. I still have no idea what that leafy green was, even after giving it a quick taste before tossing it in at the end with the chard leaves. I finished the dish with a little Soyaki from Trader’s Joe’s, and served it over Ramen noodles, minus the spice packet. Don’t judge me — we were out of rice.
I have confirmation from Farmer Tony at Scotch Hill Farm that the mystery vegetable from the last post was indeed kohlrabi. I didn’t know about the purple variety, and am excited to give it a try.
No picture this week, as we were out of town on Friday. But thanks to my cousin Matt, the following was waiting for us when we returned home — minus what he ate over the weekend as payment for picking up our CSA!
- heirloom tomatoes (which are delicious and nearly gone)
- green beans
- Swiss chard