Blog Archive

Monday, May 9, 2011

CSA Adventures: Early Spring

In the middle of March I finally signed us up to receive a weekly produce basket from a CSA called Full Circle Farm. My labmate, Kobi, is one of the farmers. There are oodles of CSA farms around the Sacramento valley. I chose this one because it supports my labmate and two of my other labmates get their produce and always seem very happy with the variety.

The baskets are delivered to campus every Thursday afternoon, and it is just a short walk from my building to where they are located. I bring my own bag to carry home my produce goodies. It is like getting a present every time because you never know what you can expect to get. I love that!

It is also nice because I'm forced to try cooking and eating a variety of things that I wouldn't normally think to purchase at the store or farmers market. Not that I don't like certain foods (I actually love pretty much anything) but I tend to stick to what I like most. Fennel, for instance, isn't something I'd normally buy...or broccoli raab. But since they are sometimes included I always use them.

This CSA is particularly nice (from my short experience) because they make sure to include a variety of flavors during "boring" seasons like winter. Many people complain that their CSAs are stuffed full of kale week after week in the winter. But here in Davis LOTS of stuff can grow in the winter. And this farm includes goodies preserved from other seasons, too (dried fruits like tomatoes, apricots, prunes, and dried summer herbs like basil).

For the past few weeks I've been able to eat a big salad for lunch every day using the salad greens they give me. It is usually chalk-full of spicy arugula, which I simply LOVE. I make my salad with some dried fruit and chow mein noodles, plus vinagrette. Sometimes I'll include a can of mandarin oranges, half a can of tuna fish, and some capers. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Here are some other baskets we've gotten, full of greens, greens, greens: So far I haven't had a problem using up all the goodies in the basket before I get the next one. We make a lot of stir fry dinners:
I don't have a picture handy, but a favorite weekend lunch for us is sauteed greens with eggs cooked in little holes made amongst the greens.  If there isn't enough liquid in the pan when it is time to put the egg in, we'll just pour in a bit of water, stock, or apple juice so the egg has a little hot liquid around it.

And when the baskets are full of fresh spring herbs I turn them into pesto if I can't think of anything else to do with them.  My guess is that most people only think of basil when they think of "pesto" but you can grind up whatever aromatic thing you want with some garlic, nuts, oil, and possibly some cheese.  I've used various fennel and cilantro pestos in bread doughs, spread onto toast and topped with a fried egg, stirred into ramen soup...and even licked straight off the spoon.  Mmmmm, I do love me some fresh pesto.

This one was parsley, lemon zest, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

And this one was fennel tops, parsely, garlic, oil, and cheese.

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