Beautiful Bounty

So you’ve taken the first step in eating a more healthful, nutritious, and conscientious diet and joined our CSA, Eat with the Seasons (  Now what?  For the uninitiated, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  In the simplest terms, this is a subscription service to a farm.  In return for a reasonable monthly fee, you can depend on local organic produce delivered weekly (in our case, you can pick up the produce starting Tuesday afternoons at FIT).  When Danielle and I first decided to split a share in the winter of 2009 (a whole share each would have been too much), we were more than excited about the prospect of getting fresh local fruits and veggies while supporting local farmers.  What we soon realized though, was that despite sharing the “box,” it was at times hard to find uses for all of the foods.
Danielle and I have found that the best way for us to effectively utilize our box is to order mostly vegetables.  In general, these tend to be more durable and have longer shelf lives than fruits.  Anyways, fruit is definitely better as fresh as possible, so it works out better to just buy that as I eat it.  So how do I decide how to ration out my vegetables so that I can use all of them while they’re still fresh? Since some of you may be new to the CSA route, I figured that I would give you all some ideas by describing how I use my box, especially as the options can change weekly.
Well, the greens are definitely the first thing to be eaten, as they will wilt and brown quickly.  It is great to know that when I open the refrigerator to make my lunch, there is always a fresh assortment of lettuces and other greens to build a salad or create a side dish.  Any of the root vegetables I get are usually not of any urgency, as they can stay relatively fresh in the refrigerator for quite some time.  Leeks, fennel, squashes, well those go into dishes as soon as possible.
The nice thing is, having the produce availability come out on Thursday gives me plenty of time to plan my weekly meals.  Radishes and cucumbers coming in the box? I’ll make sure I have some red wine vinegar and olive oil on hand to make a summertime salad.  How about Brussels sprouts? I better have some bacon on hand – cook the bacon, rendering its fat, then brown the sprouts in the smoky, salty grease.  The bell peppers that are becoming available go great sauteed in eggs, or else stuffed and roasted in the oven.
To give a few other ideas, I will be sharing what I have used each weeks’ ingredients for.  I don’t often use recipes, but feel free to shoot me a question if my suggestions make you lick your lips.
Week of 7/20 – 7/26
Arugula, Spinach, Bell Pepper, Cucumbers: all went into a tossed salad with some smoked salmon, a tomato, lavender goat cheese, avocado, and dressed with olive oil
Cucumber: Eaten raw and sliced as a side to crock pot chuck roast
Bell Pepper, Garlic, Onion: added to a sweet potato and bacon hash eaten alongside fried eggs (cooked in the rendered bacon fat)
Hope that helps with what you get in your Eat-with-the-Seasons box.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  Ultimately, isn’t eating also about the joys of tastes and textures?