Sunday, June 27, 2010

(Another) Love letter to my CSA

I love my CSA; this you already know. I've written before about how we tried a CSA about 12 years ago and the amount of bok choy we received was...daunting. But last summer we tried again, and fell in love. This summer we signed up with the same CSA as last year, Harmony Valley, and I find it even more exciting. Usually around Tuesday night I start checking the web site to see what we might be getting in our box, and I start thinking about the next week's menu. Then, on Thursday, we pick up our box. (This year we also bought a coffee share and a sample cheese share - heaven! And, wow, we drink a lot of coffee.)

Although, like any activity done with a four year-old, it can sometimes be more exasperating that expected, I do like to take Cora with me to pick up the veggies from "our farmers." On the best days, she helps me unpack the veggies from our box into our grocery bags, and we talk about each thing as we move it. I love that she will try almost anything while we are standing there in a stranger's garage. Last week she ate a bite of cabbage leaf, some fennel fronds, some carrot greens, an amaranth leaf, and cheered for the broccoli.

So, here are some of the meals we'll be having (or already had), thanks to our box of veggies; I'll put an asterisk by the things that came in the box.
- salads with beets* and blue cheese* (but Chris had feta, as the blue is too blue for him)
- carrot top* and basil pesto on orechiette
- Welsh rarebit (cheddar*), with simple potato salad and blanched carrots* and broccoli*
- cabbage* and paneer curry with a fennel*-golden raisin rice
- greens (amaranth*), black beans, and chorizo tortilla filling with salad (quesadillas for Cora with jack cheese*)

And of course the garlic and scallions we got will find their way into these and other dishes as the week goes on. I'm getting better at using everything before it goes bad, and at leaving in the "share box" things I know we will not use (sorry, kohlrabi, we gave you a good try, but weren't eager to eat you again right away). One thing I like about doing the menu-planning this way is that I start with certain pieces to the puzzle, and then have to try to find ways to make as many of them as possible fit, with as many pieces from the cupboards as possible. And I think I did pretty good, because after I made the plans, I only had 15 things on the shopping list that were new non-staples to be bought (I'm not counting things like milk and eggs and fruit that we would be buying every week regardless). Of course, this is also thanks to two other things: a well-stocked pantry and knowing our tastes well. I may not always need coconut milk, but if it is on sale, I know it is worth picking up a can.

So I'll end with one more food-news item, unrelated to the CSA (mostly). One of our favorite sides, come spring, is a caprese salad. Just typing that makes me think about basil and tomatoes! But, for Cora, it is all about her favorite cheese, the "squishy cheese" - fresh mozzarella. Luckily, she will also eat basil, but for the last two months she has been resisting the tomatoes. I don't even try to put one on her plate anymore. So tonight, with our pizzas, when I passed the caprese around, I just gave her cheese and basil. I would say this is probably the ninth or tenth time we've had caprese this year. After a few minutes, she ASKED if it would be OKAY if she tried a tomato. Of course, we tried to be very nonchalant about saying yes. She ate four pieces of tomato. Hallelujah! I believe this means that eventually beets will be tried as well.


triciadm said...

Have you read the Charlie and Lola book, "I will NEVER, not EVER, eat a TOMATO"? We love, love, love it.

cindy said...

I read somewhere that it takes an average of 10 times when introducing a new food to a child before they might try it. And, that it's important to not force it on them - but if they see you eating & enjoying it they may eventually add it to their palate.

Bravo Cora!
PS - my favorite way to eat tomato as a child was sliced, with sugar sprinkled on top!