For the last two summers I have been participating in a CSA and today begins my third. "What's a CSA?" you ask. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The short explanation is that I pay a farm a set amount of money in the winter to offset their costs for the growing season. In return, I receive a box of vegetables once a week. What's in the box? Whatever the farm is harvesting that week.
Here is my first box of the season:
Asian mix, 3 heads of lettuce, 1 head of escarole, 1 bunch of bok choy, 1 bunch of radishes and an oregano plant. That's a lot of food, and this is only a half share! The money breaks down to about $17 a week. $17 dollars, amazing right? I receive my half share from The Stone Gardens Farm* in Shelton, CT. I chose them because they are pretty organized about distribution and they include eggs every other week. At the beginning of the week I get an email from the farm with a newsletter about what may be in the box, how to store the veggies, and recipes. On Saturday mornings I go to their stand at our local Farmers Market and pick up my share. Then I spend the week eating what's in the box with a little supplement here and there from the supermarket. (I picked it up early at the farm this week because I have to go out of town.)
You'd think figuring out how to prepare all this food would be a huge challenge, but actually it's pretty easy. For one thing, you have a limited amount of ingredients to work with. Imagine standing in the middle of the market saying "What am I going to eat? What do I want?" with every possible opportunity in front of you. That's hard. Looking at a box of stuff and saying "What can I make with this? Let's Google -Escarole Recipe." is easy. My go to cookbook is Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything. It's full of simple, easy recipes as is his Food Matters Cook Book.
This year I want to give some vintage recipes a try. Harkening back to yesteryear, when people bought locally and cooked seasonally. In my arsenal:
The Betty Crocker Cooking Calendar. As much as I'd love to follow the calendar to the date, I'll have to jump around as it seems the growing seasons have changed in the last 50 years. (Oh gee, I wonder why?)
So come back on Fridays and I will post a vintage recipe made from the CSA box the previous week. You'll also be privy to some of the anecdotes in the BCCC as well as get a glimpse of my Pyrex and assorted kitchenware collection in action. It's sort of like Julie and Julia, only way less stressful and no aspic will be involved.
Here's a taste of the BCCC for June:
On June 1 the BCCC gives this helpful hint: "Freeze whole strawberries in ice cubes; serve in fruit drinks."
It's also mighty tasty in seltzer, if that's your thing. Note my General Motors 64 Worlds Fair glass- swanky!
Do you want to find a CSA near you? Check out Local Harvest.
* Stone Gardens is not a USDA Certified Organic Farm, they use a growing process called Integrated Pest Management. Short version: they will only use environmentally friendly pesticides when absolutely necessary. You can read about it here. In fact just because a farm is not USDA Certified does not mean they are not using best practices for the environment and customer. There are a lot of hoops to jump through for a certification and small farms can't always afford that. If you have concerns, it's always best to ask your local farmer about the growing methods they use. They will most likely be happy to answer your questions, after all people love to talk about their passions!