After a lot of reading about the benefits of local produce, I decided back in January that we would join a CSA this year. If you're not familiar with what a CSA, or community supported agriculture group is, the basic idea is that you pre-purchase "shares" from a local farm. You pay upfront, in the beginning of a growing season, and pick up the freshest veggies you've ever had when they come in season. Every CSA works a little differently, and you can find the best options for you at Local Harvest. Local harvest is where I found The Wayward Seed, and several other nearby options. I sent emails to the farms I liked, and after communicating with the farmers, chose the one that suited me best. The truth is, I just found The Wayward Seed to be very personable, eager to answer my questions as an ignorant newbie in the CSA world, and I was very impressed with the beautiful photos on the website. I started pretty small this year, and am only getting a single-person share of vegetables, and of fruits, every other week.
What I really loved about the idea of joining a CSA, in addition to the positive impact it has on the local farming economy and the environment (not to mention the high quality of the food!), was that I didn't get a choice in the vegetables I get every week. I love to cook, but like most people, I get in a rut. I buy the same things over and over, and don't venture too far out of what I know how to cook. I was assured, however, that I'd get recipes for the more obscure produce each week, and that the flavors and quality would be the best around. And you know what? They are!
Here's what I got today:
A tour of the veggies, from the upper left, clockwise around the strawberries: braising greens, hakurei turnips, fresh cilantro, white radishes, evergreen hearty scallions, and red pac choi.
When I picked up the goods, they talked me through each vegetable, and gave cooking and storage suggestions. They also encouraged me to go through and taste each element of the braising greens mix, because it was a variety of greens, including mustard greens and several other things I can't remember; I'm so glad I did this! I don't know greens very well, and a couple were surprisingly peppery, but delicious raw. And so, for dinner tonight, I grilled chicken breasts that I marinated in olive oil, garlic, cilantro and lime juice, and I roasted a combination of the turnips, braising greens, and red potatoes. The turnips were amazing! They were quite tasty before they were cooked--sweet and crunchy--but after they were cooked, they were soft, buttery and slightly caramelized. I really wish I had more! I only used about half of the greens, and definitely am looking forward to using up the rest later this week. The taste combination is quite unique, and, much to my pleasure, all new for me.
And the strawberries? Let me just tell you, you can smell them from five feet away, and my fingers would be dyed red right now if I hadn't stopped myself from eating an entire quart...