Dear Farm Partners,
A word of thanks
In this our fourth week your farmers would like to thank you all for being such dedicated, encouraging CSA members. We have received many kind words through conversations and emails over the past few weeks, and we feel immensely blessed by them. Jeremy and I work very long days this time of year; there is so much to do that we are up with the sun in the morning and work all day, pushing through heat and fatigue, then bring our tired bodies (and minds) home late with just enough time to have a beer and hit the hay. Then we do it again. And again. And just when I think I could not be more drained, someone sends us a lovely note describing her contentment with our produce, how beautiful everything is, how happy she is that we are doing what we do. On hot days, tired days, frustratingly busy days, an appreciative word can feel like divine help. So thank you–we are grateful for every one of you and your support.
In this week’s basket
Purple Viking Potatoes, Pointy Cabbage, Broccoli, Swiss Chard, Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, Scallions, Lettuce, Cucumbers, and Sage.
Using the produce
About this time each season I sometimes find that newer members shift from the honeymoon phase of being part of a CSA (“Oh, wow, look at ALL THIS PRODUCE! I love having SO MUCH PRODUCE!”) to the real work of preparing and eating ALL THAT PRODUCE. If you find yourself, in our fourth week, thinking “What the cuss am I going to do with all this? I still have some from last time,” do not be anxious. There are plenty of time-honored strategies for incorporating vegetables into your meals in all kinds of ways. Before I go further, however, I do wish to acknowledge that it is a bit of a task to go through so many vegetables. In asking members to sign up for our Harvest Baskets, we are in a sense asking for members to commit to a change in lifestyle, that is, accepting a box of vegetables every week that you did not get to choose, some (or many) of which may be unfamiliar. And it is a lot of veggies each week! Thanks for being so brave.
Some typical (and economical) strategies of vegetable-centered eating include soups, at the forefront, as well casserole-type dishes and salads (and many other creative things like pickles). These dishes maximize the use of available vegetables as well as prolong protein resources like meat, eggs, and legumes. It is daunting indeed to think of preparing so many standard meat-centered meals, with plain vegetable side dishes; it would be harder, I think, to use up the contents of a CSA box that way. Here are some “veggie-centered” meal ideas that lend themselves to using whatever is in your fridge!
~SOUP. I cannot stress enough the importance of soup. You can hide a lot of greens in a soup, so if you are not a greens fan, well, then, SOUP! Greens and cabbages both pair well with most meats and legumes, so if you start with a little sautéed onion, just throw in your chopped greens and some leftover meat or beans, cover with stock or water, and allow to simmer for a few minutes until everything melds. Soup is also a happy home for leftover grains, so throw that rice in, too. Nothing could be easier! Soup is also fun to garnish: use scallions, poaches or hardboiled egg, fresh herbs, fried sage leaves, bread crumbs, cheese…it never ends.
~Salads are the other side of the soup coin. Sauté or roast veggies and throw them on a salad, again with any leftover proteins from the fridge, breadcrumbs or croutons, nuts, seeds. I made a salad of roasted cauliflower, lentils, zucchini, and hazelnuts on fresh mesclun the other day, which was a very satisfying meal.
~Anything tastes good in cream sauce, so make delicious casseroles of cauliflower, broccoli, greens, etc. by covering them in béchamel sauce in a dish, sprinkling with cheese and bread crumbs, and baking until bubbly.
These are a few starting ideas. You can also read an article I wrote last season, What I do with the produce, which outlines some of the frequent ways in which I use our vegetables. You should certainly check out this excellent post by an excellent farm near Portland, Working Hands Farm, which features tips contributed by a seasoned CSA member. I especially like her whole mindset for approaching a CSA box, which involves preparing the fridge in advance and firing up the soup pot immediately after picking up the week’s share. To these articles I would add that the Internet generally is a fantastic resource for recipes and refreshing ways of preparing vegetables, with more blogs and recipe databases than you can ever use in your lifetime. A few favorites:
Well, we press onward. Thank you for being with us! And stay safe during the next wave of hot, hot heat.