After the Warmest Winter Ever, It’s Summer CSA Time Again!

In Challenge, CSA, Fruit, Salad, Saving Money, Shopping, Vegetables on June 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm

I have to admit I had a hard time sleeping Friday night.  It may have been due to the couple of vodka sodas before dinner, the huge Indian all you can eat 3-course meal, or my husband’s snoring.    On any other weekend, any or all of those factors would probably be the culprit.  However, this particular insomnia felt more like the first day of school jitters.  I couldn’t believe it – Saturday was the first pick-up of the Summer CSA season, and I was too darn exciting to sleep.  Can you say NERD?

For those of you who don’t already know, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  I’ve written about my share in the past, and you can read more about it here.  I am a big advocate of this movement, and would highly encourage anyone looking to save money, eat organically/locally, increase their produce intake, and learn a thing or two about new veggie varieties to take advantage of a program in their area.  What I missed most about the CSA during the winter was that I actually had to figure out what produce to purchase.  I know basically what is in season, especially when shopping at the farmers’ market, but most of this winter I picked up veggies while shopping at the regular grocery store, providing more of a challenge when deciding what really IS my best option.

As I prepared for my sophomore year or membership, I gathered my reusable bags and headed towards the pickup location just a few minutes past 10:00 AM.  Last year I did a full share of just veggies, and I glared longingly at the fruit as my fellow shareholders got their fill of berries, mellon, and apples all season long.  Having a whole year of trial and error the year before, I opted to do a half share this year (every other week) of veggies and fruit, even though the full share is most economical.   It’s not so much using up all the items that proves difficult, but more the inconvenience of having to be home every Saturday morning to pick them up, or finding someone willing to pick up for you.  There were a few Saturdays last year that had my veggies make their way to the food bank, which makes me feel less guilty about the lost weeks.  However, the frequency made the full share not worth the investment, hence the switch this year.  Half shares also enable people to swap weeks, making it more likely to enjoy every week you’ve paid.

The Infamous White Board

This first week included basically everything I expected.  The veggie selection was very similar to last year’s, and this time I knew what to do with all of them!  Here they are, in order of longevity before being thrown in the garbage:

  • Two kinds of salad greens – used for salads
  • Kale – smoothies and lunches
  • Some other leafy green (broccoli rate) – sauté
  • Radishes – salads and roasting (and the leaves can also be used for sautéing)
  • Snow peas (unexpected) – stir fry
  • Garlic scapes – as you would use garlic

The fruit portions included strawberries (a measly 2 pints worth) and some rhubarb.  This is pretty typical for the opening week; as the weeks progress, pints turn into quarts and rhubarb isn’t used to fill the gaps.  Incidentally, did you know that rhubarb is biologically a vegetable, but classified as a fruit just because it is sweetened and used in pies?  What a croc of you-know-what!  My mission this week is to use this red-colored celery like item in something savory, and without using butter, flour, or cheese.  SO yeah, good luck to me on THAT.

Clockwise from top left: Red leafy lettuce, rhubarb, radishes, snow peas, kale, broccoli rabe, arugula, strawberries, garlic scapes

The most important lesson I learned last year was to be a good, diligent girl and wash/prep my veggies as soon as I got home.  That way, the veggies not only last longer, but I’m more likely to use them if they are cleaned, chopped, and ready to go.  I went over my methods previously, which include washing everything leafy first in bowls of water, drying them with large towels, and chopping up to be stored in plastic bags/containers with a lining of paper towel.  I took pictures again of the steps, thinking I’d detail them for this post, but then I realized explaining it again would be kind of boring.  Not just for you, but for me.  If you really want to read details, go back to this post.  What I will do is show you all the photos without a really complex explanation.

Top Row: Strawberries, radish, rhubarb
Middle Row: Broccoli rabe, snow peas, garlic scapes, arugula
Bottom Row: Kale, radish greens, leafy lettuce

Lettuce soaking in water.

Drying on a towel.

Neatly layered between paper towel in a reusable container.

Arugula after soaking in water, drying on a towel, and wrapped in paper towel for storage.

Arugula, broccoli rabe, and kale drying on a towel.

Chopped up kale, great for smoothies!

Here’s the broccoli rabe. I made sure to put the lil floret on top to distinguish between the other greens.

Radishes that soaked in a bowl of water, were scrubbed clean, and roots removed from leaves.

Curly garlic scapes, washed and stored for later.

Snow peas all cleaned up, ready to be stir-fried in a snap!

Strawberries are left unwashed – only wash berries right before you eat them, or else they spoil.

Seriously, how amazing do those berries look?  I had them in my oatmeal the next day, and I’m so sad I’ll only get 3-4 days worth from this week’s share.

Another thing I learned from last year was to use up what I already had before moving onto the newer items, so I paired my oatmeal and berries with an egg white omelet topped with salsa and avocado and a side of the chipotle lime slaw from last week.

The only item I had no idea how to store was the rhubarb, so I just put them on a shelf in the fridge.  Since then, I did a lil bit of Googling and found out you need to wrap them in plastic in the fridge up to a week.  I also searched some recipe ideas, and 99% required sugar, honey, fruit, or juice.  Looks like that will be my biggest challenge.  But I’m ready for it.  Every other ingredient will be gone in no time, and I’ll be forced to actually PICK MY OWN VEGGIES once the next weekend rolls around.

  1. These are some great tips! Thank you for sharing your prep in such details. I host a weekly CSA link party and would love for you to link up. Come check it out… Hope to see you there!

  2. […] the bounty of cleaned and prepped veggies from this week’s CSA share, I’ve had a lot of ideas for some new recipes.  Especially ones that are super quick. […]

  3. […] that it’s CSA season, I really have to pick and choose what less desirable items I can actually get Nick to eat.  For […]

  4. […] was a great way to use up the rest of this week’s veggies.  I diced up all the veggies, the same way I’d do for a gazpacho. Rhubarb Radish Red onion. […]

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