Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A renewed hope in CSAs

It's been several weeks since I've posted any recipes or meal ideas. We switched CSAs (customer supported agriculture) recently (more about that later), and during the three week gap in CSA boxes, I was completely occupied with preserving. We ate out to compensate. The bottom of my freezer is now packed with frozen beans, sweet corn, parsley and cilantro ice cubes (for putting in soups later), and garlic (chopped, frozen flat in a ziploc bag, and then chopped into tablespoon size cubes). The applesauce and apple butter that I canned a couple weeks ago have found a cool lower cupboard to live until local apples are hard to find again. I have grand plans to make tomato sauce and salsa this weekend, but we'll see if that actually happens. I'm been feeling less motivated after Joe Rodriguez at J.R. Organics told me that they grow tomatoes year-round.

Back to our change in CSAs. I was very pleased with the produce we received from Be Wise because we always had a wonderful spread of fresh items, but I was also frustrated by my lack of connection with the farm. Honestly, if I want to buy local produce, I can do that at the Farmer's Market, but I really liked the idea of the CSA, of being part of a particular place and group of people. I wanted to visit the farm and get to know the owners, but, instead, every week we went to pick up our box from the porch of someone's home who we never met. It felt so strange to not be greeted or acknowledged. Be Wise never did open the farm for tours as I had hoped, and when the last newsletter arrived, the entire front page was devoted to the change in cancellation policies. We were all sternly scolded in bold, underline, and caps. I was discouraged and decided that buying at the farmers market would have to do.

Yet at the news a couple weeks ago that J.R. Organics was launching their CSA , my hopes were renewed. I regularly shop from them at the Hillcrest Farmers' Market and they have wonderful, organic produce. They were starting fresh, and they were excited about it. This last Sunday was my first pick-up. I walked to the booth at the Hillcrest Farmer's Market and they had my ten-gallon rubbermaid box of produce ready. Joe Rodriguez himself welcomed me to the CSA and proudly handed me my first J.R. Organics newsletter. Packed in the box were four heads of lettuce (varied types), green onions, cilantro, mizuna, summer squash, cucumbers (the little pickling kind), heirloom tomatoes, a melon, tatsoi, and strawberries. I literally sighed in relief, my faith in CSAs returning. I can't wait for next week's box!

Here are some recent kitchen creations:

Pear Sauce (made from pears we picked at M.J. Ranch a couple weeks ago)

About 9 lbs. of ripe pears, pealed, cored, and sliced
Sugar to taste (I used 1/4 cup)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1. Combine pears, sugar, and lemon juice in a heavy pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
2. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 20-30 minutes until soft, stirring often.
3. Spoon the pears into the blender and beat on a low setting until the sauce is smooth.
4. Chill and enjoy!

Easy Stir-Fry

Summer squash & zucchini
Orange pepper
(The last two items were Japanese greens we receiving in our CSA box.)

Directions: Stir-fry sliced squash, zucchini, pepper, and onion. Add tatsoi and mizuna leaves at the last minute just until slightly wilted. Serve over rice.

Portobello Mushroom Sandwiches (made with mushrooms from Mountain Meadow Mushrooms and Bread & Cie. olive bread)

Portobello mushrooms (1 per sandwich)
Red onion
Red pepper
Feta cheese
Olive oil
Olive bread

Directions: Grill portobello mushroom for several minutes over medium heat and serve on a thick, hearty bread with the other sandwich fixings. Drizzle with just a bit of olive oil.


Anonymous said...

I must admit there I am jealous of your CSA box! I have just renewed with a small CSA -- two farms combine to provide the produce. But, I was hoping to get in with a larger CSA which has fruit and vegetables to provide more variety. Wishing I could switch to a new CSA then made me wonder if I was playing into the 'All American' need: to have everything handed to you. Perhaps I needed to keep supporting these two small farms rather than supporting the larger (and what I assume to be more successful) organic farm? In the end, I didn't have to make the choice because the larger farm had no availability for this year. So, I stuck to my Two Small Farms which provides excellent vegetables! And, I'll keep shopping around for organic fruit :)

Andrew said...

Sold! (too bad they don't offer a referral program :)