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CSA Scout: Say It Ain't So, Summer

Farm-subscription bounty from Great Country Farms (top left and bottom right), Bull Run Mountain Farm (top right) and Spiral Path Farm. (Betsy DeMarco, Sharyn Fitzgerald, Sarah Hamaker, Michelle Forman)

I had a slight scare reading the CSA Scout reports this week when I opened the e-mail from Rita Fox, which began, "Last week of summer share." Is the summer really over? Well, it sure feels like it outdoors, and in Fox's world, it's official.

I've been continuing to enjoy my community-supported agriculture deliveries from Karl's Farm, but frankly, I'd been taking them for granted until Rita's reminder jolted me back to reality. This is not going to last forever. Granted, Rita's summer share at Olin-Fox Farms is for just a nine-week season, while mine at Karl's is for more than twice that, but still. I'm already starting to miss it.

I did draw some comfort, however, when I read another note from Rita, with another reminder: "We've already signed up and paid for fall and winter, too."

Here's what she and other CSA Scouts are reporting this week:

Betsy Bajwa, Bethesda
Whole share from Good Fortune Farm, Brandywine.

In the box: 1 dozen certified organic eggs; about 1/2 pound okra; 3 long, thin medium eggplants; two quarts of tomatoes of various sizes (including a beautiful yellow heirloom); 1 quart of Bintje potatoes; 2 small heads of garlic; a full bag of a variety of green and yellow peppers; 1 bunch of basil.
Meals and cooking plans: We’ve had: tomatoes in a sandwich; black bean salad with roasted green peppers and tomatoes; green peppers in a crudite. Made pasta sauce with garlic and basil. A roasted ratatouille used the eggplant, remaining basil, most of the remaining peppers and some more tomatoes. I will make a new beef soup/stew recipe using the okra, rest of the peppers and some garlic. I’m baking off and on with the eggs, as well as making a modified frittata with some of the potatoes in it. Last week’s share: Not a single thing left, though the peppers are lingering longer into the week than they did when they first appeared.

Betsy DeMarco, Fairfax
Two adults, three young children
Half-share from Great Country Farms, Bluemont, Va.
$475 (20 weeks)

In the box: 2 ears of corn, 2 tomatoes, about 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, a nice bunch of Swiss chard, peaches, another kind of minty plant.
Meals and cooking plans: So I am out of pot space again and am not keen on buying more to house our third minty plant. One seems to be providing all the mint I need. The peaches are welcome, but last week’s didn't ripen quite right. When we finally gave up on their ever getting soft, they did at least taste sweet. The corn will barely do for one meal for the five of us. Potatoes are always welcome and may wind up in a tasty potato and onion soup. I'll have to find something new to do with the Swiss chard. Last week's chard with lemon and olive oil salad was good, but I don't want everyone to get tired of that!

Sharyn Fitzgerald, South Arlington
"Bushel" (large four-person share) from Bull Run Mountain Farm, the Plains.

In the box: 8 ears of corn, 12 tomatillos, 8 sweet potatoes, 4 peppers (assorted), 4 bunches of Thai basil, 1 large bunch of Italian basil, 1 large bunch of sorrel
Meals and cooking plans: It seemed to be a "quiet week" during which I asked what happened to the tomatoes! Despite their having been on the "veggies announcement" list the night before, we got no tomatoes in our share. I'd heard a bit of news about problems with the tomato plants out at Bull Run Mountain Farm, so perhaps there were little to no yields last week. At any rate, the corn was delicious and sweet. The sweet potatoes were so flavorful, eaten after having simply baked them. I made a bit of tomatillo salsa again with the tomatillos and the peppers. Unfortunately, the sorrel went to waste as I did not use it soon enough.

Michelle Forman, Silver Spring
Two adults
Medium share from Spiral Path Farm, Perry County, Pa.
$413 (25 weeks)

In the box: 1 big watermelon, 4 peppers (2 red, 1 yellow, 1 green), 2 red onions, 2 red tomatoes, 1 heirloom tomato, 1 Asian eggplant, 1 head of cabbage, 2 small heads of Boston lettuce
Meals and cooking plans: The watermelon was delicious! Made stuffed cabbage with the cabbage, onions and green pepper. Other peppers were roasted and used to top some tacos, as was a tomato. Eggplant was sauteed with the leftover cabbage and some garlic, soy sauce and sweet chili sauce (this was surprisingly good!). Everything else has been used for salad. Very easy week!

Rita Fox, Triangle
Two adults
Share from Olin-Fox Farms, Reedville, Va.
$396 (9 weeks)

In the box: 1 bag potatoes (several pounds’ worth), 1 spaghetti squash, 2 sweet peppers (ugh), 1 light green pepper, 1 bag (4 or 5) large tomatoes, 1 large bag green beans (several pounds’ worth), 2 heads garlic (tiny but very flavorful), 1 bunch basil (about five stems), 1 dozen free-range eggs
Meals and cooking plans: I made a whole-wheat pasta dish using two of the tomatoes, both heads of garlic and all of the basil. I will make Szechuan-style green beans and serve it with brown rice. I will bake the spaghetti squash. The potatoes will be roasted with the rosemary from last week's share. The peppers will go to my parents. The cucumbers from previous weeks were tossed outside for the wildlife foragers.
Other thoughts: It was the last week, and I think we ended on a high note with all the potatoes. Overall, I think we were fairly satisfied with our summer share. At least we got fewer peppers than last year. We got delicious corn, awesome asparagus, a gorgeous eggplant and some pretty tomatoes. I think the quantity was a bit skimpy given our shares are every other week. But even so, I think we still got more produce than some other CSAs. Sometimes we forget that we are supposed to share in the bounty and crop failures. I think our CSA goes above and beyond to make up for any crop losses with purchased produce.

Sarah Hamaker, Fairfax
Two adults, four children
Half-share from Great Country Farms, Bluemont.
$475 (20 weeks)

In the box: 1 bunch of Swiss chard, 2 large tomatoes, a dozen potatoes, 7 peaches, 2 ears of corn, and some sort of herb (I know I should know what this is but can’t quite place its fragrance)
Meals and cooking plans: The potatoes are a welcome addition to the bin, which I kind of expected to be a bit fuller this time of year. Two ears of corn will be fought over; we really wish we had gotten more corn this year, as it’s been especially tasty. The peaches, as usual, will be packed for lunches, while the tomatoes will be sliced, diced and otherwise gobbled up. I’m going to have to get creative with the Swiss chard, as it’s not a household favorite. I think I have a recipe that calls for the rib portion to be sliced and cooked with a cream sauce and then served over pasta.
We still have a half-head of red cabbage to consume, but the sweet-and-sour cooked cabbage I made last week was a hit (it must be the honey).

-- Joe Yonan

By Joe Yonan  |  September 11, 2009; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  CSA Scout  | Tags: CSA, Joe Yonan  
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