For the first time ever, I signed our family up for a CSA back in March determined to make mealtimes exciting this summer. Or at least, determined that we would eat more vegetables in season. Truth be told, I nervously turned over the cash for five months of veggies and wondered (doubted?) whether I would really be able to finish everything that arrived in our box each week.
When June rolled around and the first week was upon us, I quickly ordered a CSA cookbook and set to work marking the pages I hoped to try once the fruit of the land started arriving.
I suppose somewhere in the back of my mind, I imagined myself in a long flowy skirt, hair tied back with a bandana, snapping the ends off peas and humming Joni Mitchell with my two boys circling around me, tugging on my apron strings, begging to help me peel the kohlrabi and nibbling the pole beans straight from the colander.
Yeah, it’s not looking quite like that thus far, but I will say, I am loving my CSA.
We’re four weeks in and so far, the little red radishes are the only thing that I continue collecting each week without putting to good use. Everything else has been a hit. My CSA sends home a newsletter every week with recipes and information about what we’ll be getting, so I have a day or two to prepare. They’ve also recently started a Facebook group for their members to share ideas and pictures which has proven immensely helpful. Who knew you could shred Kohlrabi like cheese into a pasta dish? Not me.
When I lived in the UK, they had a TV show called “Ready, Steady, Cook” where participants were given five ingredients (plus the typical cupboard basics) to create a meal for which they’d be judged by professional chefs at end of the show. This is what we play every Thursday when I collect my box, only my judges are a two and four year old with only a mildly sophisticated palate.
So far we’ve had plenty of pesto (spinach pesto, swiss chard and mizuna pesto, basil pesto and cilantro pesto). We’ve enjoyed a spinach and feta quiche, a batch of lentil and kale soup, crockpot pork and greens, kohlrabi chips (delish!), strawberry shortcake, and lots and lots of salad and snap peas.
Some days I include my sons in the cooking process. (Other days, I have complete #momfails and just want to get dinner on the table and them packed off to bed). But it’s so much more fun when I remember to slow down and let them take part. They’ve helped me prep the pesto, mostly because they love to push the buttons, and they love to help me spin-pump the lettuce dry, even if they aren’t too fond of eating said lettuce once it’s on the plate. But that’s OK, I tell myself, they are learning and watching, and even if they only shift the food around with their fork, at least they are being exposed. Sometimes I tell them what we’re eating, sometimes it’s hidden, I don’t have a hard and fast rule when it comes to that, though I know a debate rages somewhere in the mom-blogosphere.
Apart from the Cuisinart and the salad spinner, both of which have taken up permanent space on my counter top this summer, it’s been helpful to have a nice mandolin for slicing, an immersion blender for soups, and a solid chef’s knife. But honestly, the most helpful thing when working with a CSA: a little imagination and some (mostly) willing taste-testers. Oh, and freezer space for all that pesto!
Do you have a CSA too? I’d love to hear from you – what are you making from your bounty this summer! Please share recipes and tips below!
Note: After writing of this piece, the author discovered that sautéing radishes with a little butter and salt and pepper is absolutely delicious and a hit with her family! Problem solved.