CSA Scout: Those Vacation Blues
What happens to your CSA (community-supported agriculture) subscription when you go on vacation? Given that we're in the everybody-goes-away month of August, which happens to coincide with peak growing season, things for CSA-ers can get a little dicey. As for me, I'm able to cancel my delivery from Karl's Farm with a simple e-mail, as I did when I went to Cape Cod last week, but it's a week of missed opportunities. After all, the farm doesn't credit me for that week (not that I blame it -- this is the schedule I signed up for), and I don't get to enjoy any of that great produce, either.
The other side of the coin is that it can be harder to keep up with the flow of fruit and vegetables when you're about to head out of town or just getting back in. I wish I could report that I've efficiently frozen or otherwise preserved things I wasn't going to get to, or that I've given them away to friends, but the sad truth is that some perfectly wonderful farm-fresh produce has gone to waste in my refrigerator's "rotter" (that's what I call it instead of the "crisper" in times like these).
Fellow CSA subscribers, how do you handle your stuff when headed out of town? Shout out ideas in the comments. Meanwhile, here are this week's CSA Scout reports:
Betsy Bajwa, Bethesda
Whole share from Good Fortune Farm, Brandywine, Md.
$506 (22 weeks)
In the box: 1 dozen certified organic eggs (miscellaneous sizes), 1 pound medium tomatoes, 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, 1 head garlic, 2 medium-size cucumbers (from another organic farm), good amount of small to medium green and yellow peppers
Meals and cooking plans: We’re going out of town on vacation, so I’m taking it all with us: I anticipate salads, Tex-Mex additions, potato salad or a potato side and eggs for lunch! Last week, I ended up with no squash to freeze as I successfully added it to many things. Peppermint tea was a hit and the kids loved the chocolate zucchini cake.
Betsy DeMarco, Fairfax
Two adults, three young children
Half-share from Great Country Farms, Bluemont, Va.
$475 (20 weeks)
In the box: 2 yellow summer squash, 2 ears of corn, 1 head of cabbage, nice-size pile of green beans, bag of peaches, basil plant
Meals and cooking plans: We just ate last week's cabbage sauteed in butter and olive oil and then simmered for a bit with white wine and chicken broth. That was quite tasty, so I may do it again this week. My favorite way to have cabbage is in Julia Child's cabbage soup, but somehow that doesn't sound like a good idea in July. I must say that I am getting a little tired of the squash. Somewhere I have a recipe for green beans with tomatoes. It is usually well received. Hmmm, two ears of corn; they certainly will not feed the whole family. I guess they will be a supplemental vegetable some evening. We'll just have to fight over them! The peaches are being consumed at an incredibly fast rate. I think they are nearly gone one day after delivery!
Other thoughts: I need to buy another pot so I can maybe keep the new basil plant alive. It will be good to have a backup since I often nearly strip the other one. Perhaps if I watered it more faithfully, it would grow faster.
Sharyn Fitzgerald, South Arlington
"Bushel" (large four-person share) from Bull Run Mountain Farm, The Plains.
$1,075 (19 weeks)
In the box (no quantities because someone else did the pickup): potatoes, corn, green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, husk cherries (which I'd never heard of before), garlic, Thai and Italian basil.
Meals and cooking plans: Our first tomatoes of the season, and they were worth the wait. One of them must have weighed at least a pound. I simply sliced it and ate it with a bit of salt, as I wanted pure homegrown tomato and nothing else! The husk cherries were interesting. A tiny burst of flavor, surrounded by a thin husk. I didn’t really know what to do with them, so I just ate them raw. Potatoes continue to be great. Corn, green peppers, broccoli, all so fresh. More pesto with the basil.
Michelle Forman, Silver Spring
Medium share from Spiral Path Farm, Perry County, Pa.
$413 (25 weeks)
In the box: 1 head of cabbage, 1 sweet onion, 1 green pepper, 1 huge cucumber, 5 ears of corn, 2 red tomatoes, 1 box of yellow cherry tomatoes, 1 head of Boston lettuce
Meals and cooking plans: Tomatoes: my husband has been loving the yellow cherry tomatoes. He puts the red tomatoes on his sandwiches for lunch. He said that this week's red tomatoes were the best yet. (I'm not a tomato eater; that's why I keep him around.) Lettuce was used for sandwiches. It actually wilted super fast this week. I am not sure if it was something that I did wrong or if my fridge was particularly humid or what. It was too wilted for salad. Cucumber: Half was used in a "salad" with radishes, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Delish! The other half was sliced and eaten raw. Also excellent!
I made stuffed cabbage and used one of the onions and the pepper in the stuffing. They were terrific! I sauteed the remainer of the cabbage with some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and cracked red pepper. I tossed it with some grilled asparagus and portobellos. It was lunch for two days -- surprisingly good!
Two ears of corn were used in a barley stir-fry along with chicken and bok choy. The rest of the corn and the last onion will be used tonight in a pasta dish. I found this recipe for gnocchi with corn, sage and browned butter. How do I turn that down?!
Sarah Husain, Columbia
Full share (eight items) from One Straw Farm, White Hall.
$485 (24 weeks)
In the box: 1 bunch beets and greens, 4 zucchinis, 4 big cucumbers, about 7 pattypan squash, about 7 potatoes, 1 large head of garlic, two large, fragrant bunches basil
Meals and cooking plans: We made zucchini-basil-garlic pizzas (froze two). I made pesto with more of the basil, the beet greens and some garlic. We made spaghetti with the last of the zucchini, garlic and basil. Potatoes are stored for now. Cucumbers are being eaten plain. Pattypan squash will likely be frozen for later.
Other thoughts: Unfortunately, due to our being out of town on and off, today is our pickup day and we still have some cukes, squash and those potatoes! After work today, I'll be cutting up the squash and freezing it. The potatoes will last. I'll cut up the cucumbers and make a yogurt-cucumber salad and eat that.
-- Joe Yonan
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