Spring CSA Update

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:   

Week 2 Spring Cream of the Crop Share

Week 2 of my 9 Bean Rows Cream of the Crop Share.

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.  

Week Three Cream of the Crop Share
My week three Cream of the Crop share from 9 Bean Rows.

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.

New this week were ramps or wild leeks.  When I got these ramps, I wasn’t sure what I’d do with them.  I usually harvest some from the woods when I’m foraging for morels, but never this many at a time.  Then I found this post about wild leeks and thought hmm. . . pickling them would be fun.  I think maybe I’ll use my jerked onion recipe from last month’s Can Jam challenge.  But then, Stephanie said that she was using her leeks in fajitas.  What a great idea!!  I cleaned up the leeks, cut the bulbuous white part off and saved them for canning and cut up some of the leafy parts to use in my fajitas.  You can chop the leeks up into salads with the rest of your early spring salad greens.  I just had an inspiration!  My grandma makes “ham roll-ups” at Christmas time.  I think a leek would work in lieu of a scallion:  Lay a thinly sliced piece of ham on a plate.  Spread the ham with cream cheese.  Place the leek along one edge of the ham slice and roll it up.  Cut the ham cylinder into one inch spirals.  I never eat them except at parties, but even if I pickle the bulbs of my leeks I’ll have a lot of greens leftover.  I think even my son would eat the leeks in roll-ups.
This week I couldn’t pick up the share because I was at the Family Wisdom Conference ALL DAY on Saturday.  It was great, but exhausting.  So, since I couldn’t make it to the market, Stephanie picked up the box and split it for me.  Since Stephanie already split the produce, this is only my half of the share. 

9 Bean Rows CSA Share Week 4
My half of the 9 Bean Rows CSA Share from week 4.

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.)

In addition to the brioche I found more chard, more leaf lettuce, more salad greens, more kale, more ramps, sage and oregano.  However, I also got the first turnips of the season.  I’ve never cooked mine, but they can be cooked like potatoes and added to soups.  I add turnips to salads with the rest of my salad-y vegetables.  I also found the first spinach of the season (yay!), baby potatoes and peas shoots. 
I don’t eat spinach raw.  I almost always saute it or throw it in the pan when I’ve finished cooking the meat until it wilts in all the delicious drippings.  I like the taste of raw spinach, but there is something about the way it feels on my teeth that I just can’t handle.  Potatoes are pretty easy.  I still have 20ish pounds of Russets in storage, but my Yukons and Redskins are on their way out (in both quantity and quality).  I like new potatoes like these boiled then tossed in yogurt with salt, pepper, garlic and fresh chives or dill (or, minced ramp leaves if that’s what you have around). 
Pea shoots can be chopped into salads, but I’m thinking of adding them to a stir fry at the very end instead of pea pods.
What do you do with your CSA Share?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

5 Comments

Filed under food

5 responses to “Spring CSA Update

  1. you’re making me hungry! Great pics of your shares. Lovely!

  2. Amanda Hepburn

    Thanks for the link :). I hope the radish ships work out. I think people have varying success with that recipe.

  3. Amanda Hepburn

    LOL, what are ‘radish ships’! Chips, chips, chips . . . DOH!

  4. Pingback: Why Have I Been So Busy Lately?? ~ Mercato Edition « Notes From a Country Girl Living in the City

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