Monday, July 30, 2012

Learning to cook via CSA

A few years ago at a summer picnic, I had heard friends discussing a book about the importance of eating locally, supporting farmers, eating what's in season and I dismissed it rather ignorantly. I can't remember why, but I was just never interested in nature and I'm sure it went right over my head. Years later, I am just now beginning to understand what they were talking about through reading up on nutrition, watching some eye opening documentaries and learning from many knowledgeable friends. This year on the very first day it was open, we joined a local farm's CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) program. Never mind the planning ahead, even months ahead as some of those crazies do. I didn't even know what CSA meant at the time and I didn't really know what I was getting into. But, since I'm not the greatest planner executor, I failed once again to plant my beloved, yet only imagined raised garden bed.
I've always loved my picture perfect store bought vegetables and usually bought the same ones week after week. My regular choices were mushrooms (yes, I know, not actually a vegetable), peppers, squash, zucchini (vegetable and fruit) and an onion. Sometimes, I'd go crazy and get some spinach. We always had carrots as well as apples and bananas. I thought I was doing great, my kids and the hubby and I would eat "fresh" vegetables nearly every night for dinner. I'd heard talk about eating local, supporting local farmers and eating in season. I used to think, "what's the big deal?" I feel very differently about that now and a little more educated about the whole theory and I am so happy we did get into the 15-week program with a local farm. At just $25 per week, I am getting a great variety of in season items. I'm learning a lot about cooking with authentically fresh vegetables. The farm includes a newsletter each week offering preparation, storage and cooking tips and recipes. The first week I was embarrassingly puzzled with these little freaky round cabbage-like contortions they like to call spell kholrabi. I have yet to really know how is the proper pronunciation, but who cares, I've learned what it is and I found a really wonderful way to cook with it. Well, before I burned the second batch of it and nearly cried because did anyone realize how darn long it took me to cut that sucker open and carefully slice it? A bouquet of flowers and a few boxes of freezer bags later, my husband made it all seem OK. Yes, I'm being dramatic. I didn't really almost cry, but I did complain a little. So, I left thinly sliced veggies in a 450 degree oven for probably four or ten minutes too long, big deal. My thoughtful husband actually did bring home some flowers for me that night. He's a good one.
I'm trying to keep him and the rest of the family healthy. My kids often tease me about everything under the sun growing on trees if I call it organic and my twelve year old laughs when I quote something from an article I just read. "Sugar causes cancer, Mom," he mocks, but in a sweet, still respectful manner. I know, it must get annoying to hear your mother constantly rattle facts justifying why you are now only eating a few slices of [very expensive] chicken, but three sides of veggies. But, I'm really trying honor my family with the knowledge I have and once you have this information before you, how can you not take action?

Here is last week's CSA basket. I was so happy because I recognized everything in it! 

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Today my Gram would have been 100 years old. I always thought we would have celebrated with her, but, sadly, she passed a few years ago. My Gram was one tough bird, a little rough around the edges, but if you spent enough time with her she was tender hearted. She pinched her pennies and justified an early afternoon drink by calling it a cocktail. She always quoted a doctor or an article to give you some sort of advice, always wore a skirt, loved lemon meringue pie and used a handheld, weaved fan to cool herself off. When I wore a ponytail or chewed gum, she'd tell me I looked like a peasant (now I find it funny) and she taught my then two-year-old Dylan to politely shake her hand and say, "how do you do?" in a voice that made you think she grew up at The Breakers (she kind of did.) She also remembered every single birthday of every family member. 
If you're blessed enough to still have a grandparent with you, give them some extra love today.