Tuesday, June 10, 2008

CSA: Can’t Swallow Anything

Week 1 of CSA participation has been, well, interesting.

Friday evening, I dutifully picked up my plastic tub of produce from the shaded porch and peeked inside like a kid sneaking a look at a present. Disappointment arose. A container of cherry tomatoes. Three bell peppers. Neither of which I’d choose to eat on any given day. Among it were a bagful of mixed lettuce and another of unidentified greens. A small bunch of red spring onions. And a teeny, tiny zucchini.

My mind went wandering about what I could cook with these treats, and to be honest, I was stumped. I am not used to be given X amount of something, rather, I shop farmer’s markets with a list in my head, only to pad it with various impulse purchases.

I knew I wanted to try the spring soup recipe provided by the CSA, but otherwise, no clue. And we still had salad mix and a container filled with spinach from last week’s market.

My husband, a Food Network junkie, excitedly unloaded the container and sprung upstairs to the computer. “I have an idea for that and the chorizo,” he chattered, referring to that same package of chorizo that’s been in the freezer since last summer’s markets.

Between the two of us, we planned our weekly menu, went to the store to fill out the shopping list and began our culinary adventure.

And adventure it was.

Unfortunately, a step or ingredient or two was missing from one of the recipes provided by the CSA. My “spring soup” morphed from 4 cups of mixed greens, some butter and oil, and garlic into a few tablespoons of unrecognizable ick that was closer to something I would have stepped in at the park than soup. I poked at it tentatively with the spatula – which quickly became the blender’s latest victim. So much for soup. I don’t do a “splash of silicone.”

Our dinner attempt was much more palatable. My husband’s experimentation on the Food Network Web site paid off. We dined on flank steak with a green sauce blended of several herbs and a bell pepper, which admittedly I could not taste. On the side was a fabulous blend of spinach, chickpeas, artichoke hearts and chorizo sausage. My toddler kept picking the chickpeas off of her plate – as well as everyone else’s. Perfect for pint-size fingers, though I’m impressed the flavors went well.

Last night was “Prep Night” in my household as we got ready for future culinary mis-/adventures. We made our first attempt at homemade baby food, referencing a cookbook I’d gotten when my toddler was little and creating “baby zucchini.” My blender looked like it was covered in the slime from Ghostbusters, but its flavor likely soars in comparison to the blended, bland mess they sell in stores (and I dutifully feed to my second each day.) The reaction should be priceless.

We’re on tap for other new dishes this week: More meal salads, something to be done with the remaining greens (I’ll leave that to my spouse), sautéed zucchini with olive oil and spices, and chicken fajitas. All told, it was far easier to eat locally and creatively than I thought – as long as I stray from the blender.


Corie said...

Hey there! I have been reading your blog for a while and have often seen CSA - but have never taken the time to look it up. What is it, really? Also, brave you (and family) for actually making all those interesting ingredients work into something worth eating! You know me...veggies aren't a hit in my house. By the way, you have a real talent for writing. I'm serious about that. I can just see you standing in your kitchen and can tell exactly what your expressions are and everything. I'm enjoying your blog!

Robbie said...

CSA is short for "community supported agriculture" - in short, you hook up with a local farm, organic or otherwise, to "subscribe" to their produce for the coming season.

I signed up with a place that delivers to several places in the metropolitan area and will have the joy of experimenting for the next 25 weeks! Look for more cooking mishaps here!

You can learn more about CSAs in my intro post. I posted links to the original Time magazine article where I learned about it.

And thanks for the comments on the blog! It's a fun diversion from my day job!!