So, you’ve signed up for a CSA. You’re excited because you know the local produce you’re going to pull out of the box is the freshest produce you can get. You also know that you’re saving money because even though you’re paying $20-$30 a week for your share, you’re actually getting a lot of veggies for your money. But then, you get the box home and open it up and think, “What have I gotten myself into?? I don’t even know what half this stuff is let alone how to cook with it.” I felt that way a lot last year. I ended up making lots of salads. So far this spring I’m still getting a lot of “salad greens” but there have been plenty of other goodies as well.
Let’s start with week two:
This is the whole share. Stephanie gets half of it, but a half has worked out really well so far. This box had collards, Red Russian Kale, blue kale, Easter Egg Radishes, Mizuna, Kaleini, chives, oregano, Ruby Red Chard, Arugula and two loaves of bread.
So, as I mentioned before, it’s a really “salad-y” share. Mizuna and Arugula are both peppery lettuce varieties, and radishes are primarily a salad vegetable. However, a quick Internet search revealed 10 Tasty Radish Recipes including one for radish chips. I think I’ll have to try that one out. My husband, once a chef, has always been perplexed by radishes. Cooking them generally turns them to mush and blanches most of the flavor out. Chips might work.
Once the salad vegetables have been eliminated, we’re left with herbs, cooking greens and Kaleini. Kaleini is an invention of Nic’s. I’m pretty sure it’s not a hybrid but the young flowers from kale plants, but I couldn’t guarantee that. Sautéed with butter and garlic, it was delicious and reminiscent of Broccoli Raab or broccolini.
I gave all the herbs to Stephanie because I grow both chives and Oregano. It seems silly for me to split them when I have a whole yard full of herbs including so much Oregano that I generally pull it out like weeds and compost it.
Chard can be sautéed like spinach or used in most cooked spinach recipes. I ate some sauteed in roast pork tenderloin drippings for dinner tonight. I haven’t tried it yet because I am not a huge fan of eggs, but Barbara Kingsolver has a recipe on her Animal Vegetable Miracle website for Eggs in a Nest.
Although I like it, kale is something I still haven’t figured out. I can never seem to eat it all even though we are splitting a share. Fortunately it lasts a while. Unfortunately as soon as I think I’ve eaten it all, I get a fresh supply. So I will admit that I have fed kale to my chicken. But, there really are lots of things you can do with kale. You can find (literally) millions of recipes for kale chips on the Internet. You can add kale to smoothies. You can chop kale and add it to soups or stews. I’ve even steamed it, ground it up and added it to chocolate cakes without being discovered by my family. Those cakes were the most moist, delicious cakes you could imagine. To my daughter’s great disgust I added chopped kale to curried garbanzo beans. First she whined. Then she begged to pick the kale out. Then, she came back for seconds.
Collard greens are delicious, but so far I’m the only one in my house that will eat them. I thought for sure Mr. Hippie would like them cooked in bacon, but he wanted them to be saltier. Next time I think I would add garlic to the end sauté.
Collard Greens and Black-Eyed Peas
Medium-sized bunch of collards
2-3 slices bacon
1 1/2 cups black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
- Boil black-eyed peas in seasoned water 60 -90 minutes. (I added salt, pepper and minced garlic.)
- While peas are cooking, cut stems out of collard greens and feed to your chickens (or compost if you don’t have any chickens yet). Once the stems have been removed, chop the collards into 1/2″ strips and add to boiling salted water. Cook for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook bacon in a very large skillet and let cool on a paper towel. Reserve 1-2 Tablespoons of bacon fat but pour most of it into your fat jar to make soap with later. Or, if you want to make your dog really happy, drizzle it over his kibble or add it to homemade dog food or biscuits.
- Once the bacon has cooled, chop it into bits and return it to the pan with the bacon fat you saved.
- Drain the collards and the black-eyed peas and add them to the skillet with the bacon bits and fat. Sauté until heated through and season to taste.
In addition to the veggies and greens there was, of course, freshly-baked bread. Yum. Mostly we just slice it and eat it with butter, but sometimes I toast it or make French Toast. French Toast is really delicious with Jen’s bread.
Week three looked very similar, but included some new items.
Homemade bread is a given although the loaves were oblong rather than the roundish loaves we got the second week. More kale, more collard greens, more radishes and Arugula. Mixed salad greens made a comeback this week which is great; I’ve been eating salad for lunch most days. This week’s herbs were chives, Oregano, tarragon and parsley. I kept some of the parsley because I don’t have any growing, but gave the rest of the herbs to Stephanie again. I’ve never grown parsley because I’ve never been a fan of it. That all changed last year when I started getting it in my CSA box from Providence Farm. I started making tabbouleh and now I’m addicted to the stuff so I’ll definitely be planting some parsley this year.
First, let me say that Jen’s Brioche was so delicious that I started eating it before I remembered to take a picture. My husband loved it so much that I’m afraid he’ll never eat regular bread again. I’ve already researched brioche recipes. As soon as I figure out which one is the best, I’ll do a post so you can share in the bliss. (Or, head on over to the Mercato next week and buy a loaf or six.)