I’ve encouraged a lot of my friends to join CSAs. For those of you not familiar with them, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You basically buy a share from a farmer at the beginning of the growing season and each week you get a box of food from them. Some of my friends have joined and while most of them ended up loving being a member, it was a bit of steep learning curve for a few of them. Other friends have told me they could never join a CSA because they have no idea how they’d use all the vegetables they got.
I usually produce a fair amount of produce from my backyard garden and I buy whatever else I want from the farmers market. But I remember how daunting (exciting also!) it seemed when I first started trying to eat locally and seasonally. Then add to that the challenge of a box of CSA veggies. It’s one thing to plan a menu and go out and buy everything to make that menu. It’s another to get a box of produce and plan a menu around that box of produce.
After talking with a few friends, I got to thinking a few weeks ago that I would like to give people some very practical advice on how to use up the vegetables from a CSA share. I understand what it’s like to be busy. My husband and I own our own business, we have a 120 year old house we’re completely renovating from top to bottom, I have a fairly large garden, we have several side businesses and activities, and we own many, many cats. I do greatly enjoy cooking but I don’t have time to make fussy meals. I wanted to show how real people eat real food – CSA style.
So my husband and I decided to sign up for a CSA share a couple of weeks ago with Colvin Family Farm. Why did I choose Colvin Family Farm? Mainly because I’ve bought produce from them before and I’ve always been impressed with their offerings. They also were one of the few CSAs still accepting members and I was delighted they still had room. So we’ll be getting a full share of vegetables until mid-November. And I’ll be blogging about it each week.
Each week, I’ll post what we got in our CSA box. I’ll also make note of what I have to harvest in my garden. If there’s any vegetables left over from the previous week, I’ll make a note of that as well. If we don’t eat vegetables before they go bad, I’ll share what gets chucked into the compost bucket.
I’m going to wait to post all of this until after the week is over and here’s why: It’s really easy to make lots of lovely, healthy dinner plans and menus. Many food sites do this. It’s a lot harder to actually follow those plans. I want to actually post what we really eat – not some imagined idea of how I’d really like to eat. So if we say “Screw it!” and head to Taco Bell, I’m going to actually tell you that. Now if I end up drinking five margaritas in two hours or eating an entire pan of bacon, I won’t necessarily share those quantities. This is to help give you practical ideas on how to use up your CSA box, not to give you more evidence of what a lush I am.
I’ll be sharing recipes on a regular basis for really tasty ways to use up your CSA veggies. I won’t post exact recipes for some of the things we eat because I don’t cook a lot of the time from recipes. I throw stuff in a pot, I don’t measure and I hope for the best. I will link to blogs or recipes online if they’re available. I’ll also share the resources – websites, books, blogs, gadgets – that help me with my menu planning.
Here’s a little information about the way we eat right now. We’re on a very tight budget so we tend to stick to cheaper cuts of meat, especially beef because we only buy that from local sources. We’ve cut back a lot on the carbs in our diet for health reasons so while pizza and pasta aren’t verboten, they don’t make a lot of appearances at our table right now. We’ve also been cutting back on the amount of salt and refined sugar we eat, so if you indulge frequently in those two things, you might want to add a little more to the recipes I post.
I’m not a fan of overly complicated recipes so don’t look for me to impress you with my cooking wizardry. Every once in a while, I like to get fancy but I’m mainly interested in putting tasty, healthy food on the table without it taking hours or dirtying up every dish in my kitchen.
I’m very lucky in that neither I nor my husband require meat and potato type meals in order for a meal to feel like dinner. We’ve been known to make meals entirely based on snacks. That’s not the rule but don’t be surprised if you see that from time to time.
I don’t use processed foods for the most part. I don’t like what’s in them and what they do to my body. However, late at night (usually after drinking those five margaritas), I’ve been know to make up a pan of Rotel dip. I try to make myself feel better by throwing in some cilantro from the back yard. Make of that what you will.
Tomorrow I’ll post what happened the first week with our first CSA share. If you’re participating in a CSA – I’d love to hear what you’re doing with your vegetables. Feel free to join in in the comments or tweet about it using the #eatyourCSA hashtag on twitter.