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So you’ve joined a CSA…

June 2, 2012

Many of you members are veterans of our CSA, and likely have things figured out along the way. I welcome any suggestions you might have for our newbies this year about what to expect, how to wash, process and EAT lots and lots of veggies and what tips and tricks you might have to get more veggies on your plates!

Meanwhile, since Jon and I eat out of the garden, too, here are some things we’ve learned along the way to make our busy lives a little easier:

If you don’t already have a salad spinner, it is a GREAT investment. When I pick a head of lettuce, the first thing I do is break it all down, wash each leaf, toss it in the salad spinner and if we don’t eat it right away, just put the whole thing in the fridge. That way, whenever I want to make a quick salad, or grab a few leaves for a sandwich,  I don’t have to think about washing it.  You’ll get a lot of lettuce this year. Having a salad spinner full of lettuce in your fridge is the non-packaging answer to the plastic clamshell. You’ll eat more of it that way!!

You’ll also get a lot of herbs, since our home site is full of them. We put herbs in pretty much everything that we eat, since they add a freshness and flavor to food that I look forward to all winter long. Experiment, and don’t hesitate to use them in everything! The best way I can think of to keep them fresh is to cut the ends off and put them in a mason jar of water, the way you would with fresh flowers. We keep ours on the top shelf in the fridge, and they are there reminding me to use them up every time I open the door. I have a pair of scissors handy in my kitchen, and just snip the herbs until all that is left is a handful of stems. OR, you can dry them in bundles and crinkle them into your meals all winter long. Just hang them somewhere dry and out of the direct sun. 

Wash and trim everything as soon as you get home from picking up your CSA box. That way, everything is ready and easy to grab when you are preparing your meals and you won’t hesitate to use your veggies because of that extra step you need to take. 

Most of the ‘veggie scraps’ that you wouldn’t normally think to eat are edible! Eat onions way up the stem, eat your broccoli leaves (use like you would braising greens), Chard stems, beet greens, carrot tops (use like an herb) are delicious and full of great nutrition. We’ll blog about this kind of thing as we go along, but look to using all parts of the plants in your box. Lots of the flowers you’ll get are edible, too, and make fantastic garnishes. 

Invest in good oils and vinegars. Lots of the nutrition in fresh veggies need to be combined with fats and acids in order to be well absorbed. It’s no coincidence that this is also what generally makes them taste the best!! 

TRY the veggies you don’t think you like. Often times, people don’t think they like something because they’ve eaten it after it’s been sitting on a grocery store shelf for a week before they get to it, and the flavors and sugars have already gone… or because it wasn’t prepared in a way that they like. Lots of people tell me that they don’t like beets, for example, until they try young beets shredded raw in salad with a little vinaigrette, or roasted whole until the natural sugars caramelize and tossed with some balsamic vinegar. Nothing like their woody, muddy counterparts at the store, or… shudder to think… boiled and canned.

There are a million recipes on line for creative uses for things, and we’ll try and share what looks fabulous with you. (And hope you’ll do the same). Scroll through this blog for recipe ideas, too. We’ve had some help along the way putting together some beautiful recipe/photo combinations for members in past years and some of these ideas are tried and true. Herb-buttered radishes, anyone? Yes, please!

If you’re not sure what something is, snap a photo of it and send it to me. I like nothing better than getting a photo of something on your cutting board while you’re cooking dinner. We try not to grow anything TOO unfamiliar, but at the same time, much of what we grow are heirloom varieties of things you already know. They may not look the same, but mostly can be prepared the same way.

When in doubt, toss it with olive oil and throw it on the grill, or put a poached egg on it. You can’t go wrong. 

And most importantly, share your thoughts!  This is YOUR CSA. And while we can’t please everyone all the time, we will try our best … the only way for us to get better is to get your feedback. Tell us what works, and tell us what is a total failure and together we figure it out. 

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