Friday, July 13, 2007

The Joys of a CSA

While I've been busy settling into my new place and working at my internship, Moocow has been baking up a storm! Now, I'm going to catch up on posting about my own food adventures. One of the first things I did upon moving in was to unpack all my kitchen items.

A while back, I started working at one of the distribution sites for a local CSA (community supported agriculture), so I have a free share this growing season, which I'm splitting with two classmates who help out, too. At first, it was small amounts of spring greens, such as mesclun mix, arugula and mizuna, and some radishes. Now, the varieties and quantities in each week's share are on the rise, and it's so exciting! Everything is farm fresh, locally grown and organic.

Here's one of the first things I cooked with the CSA produce. It was a simple recipe, provided in the CSA's weekly newsletter. I'd never eaten cooked arugula before (just raw, in salads) so I decided to give this tomato and arugula pasta a try. The simple tomato sauce was made from scratch. It was nice and light and simple. Unfortunately, at this point I'd already gotten the brackets of my braces on, and it took me forever to chew through it!

Here's a quick dinner I made for myself one evening. Garlic scallions in an egg scramble, some whole wheat toast, and a mesclun salad.
For a couple of weeks, I ate a whole lot of mesclun. When my friend Rico and Moocow came up to visit me and take care of me (after I got my 6 teeth taken out), they ate a lot of salad, too!
This is what Rico and I had for breakfast, before Moocow arrived and before my oral surgery. There were sage mashed potatoes from the night before, an egg scramble, and grape tomatoes.
Then, the week of July 4th, lots of people didn't show up to pick up their shares (they were probably out of town), so there was a whole lot of produce left. Some of it was donated to a local shelter, but I got to take home extra peas and garlic scapes! The garlic shapes are so decorative, and have such a nice, garlicky aroma. Raymond, the CSA farmer, said that such large quantities of garlic scapes meant that I could just stir-fry them by themselves. They're a pain to chop finely, though, because they're all curling any which-way.
So garlic scapes over rice became the first meal I cooked in my new apartment. The kitchen smelled heavenly as they were cooking. I think the flavour would be improved with a little bit of minced meat.

Here is this week's share. Well, actually, it's one-third of this week's share, since I split my share with two other people. That's quite a lot of food for me, though! My first taste of fresh beets, my all-time favourite lemon cucumbers, an interesting squash/zucchini, a turnip, more garlic scapes, and lettuce.
The beets are an heirloom Italian variety called choggia. They have beautiful white stripes in the red flesh. Here, I've already boiled the beets. I wonder if the white is brighter when the beet is raw!
I tried a recipe for a Peruvian beet salad provided by another CSA member. Cooked potatoes and beets, with fresh peas, in a mayonnaise-based dressing, served on a bed of lettuce and garnished with slices of hard-boiled egg. The sweetness of the beets and peas went well with the creaminess of the potatoes and dressing. And what they say is true! Fresh beets taste so much better than canned beets! I have one more beet left, and I think I'm going to try them raw in a beet slaw.
And tonight I tried another CSA newsletter recipe, Bird's Nest. It's an egg topped with cheddar cheese, baked in a well formed in a "nest" of cooked kale, onions and garlic. If I make this again, I'm going to try putting fennel seeds in the kale, which was a little bland. It was an interesting recipe, though. I'm never really sure what to do with kale!

So, I've been getting lots of veggies. It's been difficult, with the ramps on my back teeth making it impossible to chew properly and my still-healing wounds from the extractions. But life - and good eating - must go on!


MooCow said...

That arugula and tomato pasta looks tasty! What was in the sauce? How did the scapes taste? Were they tough?

Lana said...

The sauce was really, really simple. Diced, canned tomatoes simmered for around 20 minutes with sauteed garlic and onions. You can add herbs to it; I didn't this time because I wanted to taste the arugula.

No, the garlic scapes weren't tough at all! They're lightly garlicky in flavour.