Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Planning

You have to eat the mesculin mix first. This week's bag was an enormous amount of peppery delcious greens. It is the most perishable food item in the weekly box, and therefore should get eaten first. Otherwise, you'll end up as I did tonight - sorting the still crisp greens out from those that are no longer edible. 

I've been fielding questions about the best way to organize and plan out a week of CSA eating. I hear from several of you that you are stunned by how much food there was in this last weeks box, and stymied by how to use all of it. Let me tell you: come the end of July and August, our weekly shares will be nearly twice as much food. It is best to get a system and plan in place now, so that you'll be in good shape when the weekly amounts get larger. Here are some basic tips on what worked for our family last year:
    Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: Fast and Easy Recipes for Any Day
  • Clean out your freezer NOW. You will need it by the end of the season. Along those lines: if you're able to do some berry picking, freeze up gallon bags of those fresh strawberries and blueberries. 
  • When your weekly share comes in, start to think about what needs to be eaten when. That mesculin mix will only last the week, but those fingerling potatoes will hold much longer, if they are kept cool and dry.
  • Figure out what your family is not going to be able to eat that week. Can you blanch and freeze it? Can you trade with another family or donate it to the food pantry at your pick up site? Will it be a good addition to a large batch of minestrone or lentil soup, half of which can be frozen?
  • If you've never cooked an upcoming ingredient, find someone who has. Reading what Alton Brown or Ina Garten has to say on the matter, at http://www.foodnetwork.com, is generally a good bet. Corollary: if you don't have a vegetarian cook book in the house, you should pick one up.
  • Eat your turnip greens and beet greens. Don't let them go to waste! When in doubt, saute them with the holy trinity of garlic, olive oil, salt, while you roast their roots with the same ingredients.
  •  Keep a well stocked pantry, and a decent variety of proteins in your fridge/freezer/pantry. On the weeks when I'm baking our bread or we're pulling Freihoffer's out of the deep freeze, we're generally able to buy milk, fruit and toiletries and call it a day.  
  • Do the rest of your shopping after you receive the week's share. Plan out your meals and shopping lists according to your share. Check out http://www.sundaysaver.com/ as an additional jumping off point
In conclusion, know that you're going to make mistakes. That's part of the fun of cooking and of getting a CSA - things will be too salty, too sweet, to soggy, overdone, underdone, etc. You always get to try again. Cooking and baking is magic. It is a real life chemistry and alchemy. Whoever thought that raw turnip would taste so sweet and become sweeter still though a long, dry roasting? Who knew that something as ugly as celeriac could make a creamy soup? We human beings are amazing, resourceful creatures and have survived as such many a millennium. You'll be fine.

Share and enjoy!                                           

3 comments:

  1. We get an assload (they call it a "large bowl") of spring mix every single week from our CSA, through 25 weeks. The first thing I do is always to put it through the salad spinner, taking care to dry it really well. I put a paper towel in there for this, while it spins. Then it keeps beautifully all week.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Denison's CSA boxes are always filled to the brim. Being just my daughter and myself I often feel overwhelmed with the amount. Thanks for the great tips. ONE of the things I do is give extras to a couple elderly neighbors. I know they can use them AND they aren't afraid to try things. Plus they often times have been familiar with veggies that are new to me. Just another idea for using up your share. THANKS for such an awesome blog!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for reading! Last year, my grandfather was a great resource when it came to beets - he taught us how to pickle them AND he took them off our hands when we couldn't face another week of them!

    @Dani - you inspired me to get out my salad spinner! I will check on the brand name and get back to you ASAP.

    ReplyDelete