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CSA Scout: A Trickle of Tomatoes


Clockwise from top left: CSA bounty from Bull Run Mountain Farm, Spiral Path Farm, Olin-Fox Farms and One Straw Farm. (Sharyn Fitzgerald, Michelle Forman, Rita Fox, Sarah Husain)

Summer, like every season, has its produce touchstones: For some eaters, summer doesn't feel like summer until we're awash in tomatoes. Not just any tomatoes, but full-flavored, fleshy orbs perfect for the kinds of recipes we're planning to feature in our annual Top Tomato contest.

Of course, as has been reported here and elsewhere, the tomatoes are delayed. For some of us CSA (community-supported agriculture) subscribers, the wait is getting a little agonizing. My own program, from Karl's Farm, has been promising their arrival the last couple of weeks, but nothing has materialized, as least for half-share subscribers like me. Next week they'll probably arrive -- and I'll be on vacation in New England, where the season will be behind ours by a few weeks. When will I get my first taste of a fantastic mid-Atlantic farm-fresh tomato?

Here's what other CSA Scouts are reporting this week. Note the stone fruit, and color me jealous:

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

In the box: 1 nasturtium plant, 2 yellow squash, a bag of apricots, 7 yellow plums, 8 peaches, 1 bunch of Swiss chard
Meals and cooking plans: The yellow plums were so yummy that I ate one before I even took the picture! The apricots were equally sweet and tasty. My 2- year-old ate four or five of them for breakfast one morning. And, of course, nothing beats a freshly picked peach. One yellow squash went into some vegetable fritters last night. The other one will probably be sauteed with butter along with last week's yellow squash. Tonight, I boiled the Swiss chard for a bit, drained it, and then added olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. I haven't the foggiest notion of what to do with the nasturtium plant! I had no idea they were edible. In a quick Google search, it appears one can use both the flowers and leaves to make sauces, such as nasturtium pesto or nasturtium vinaigrette. I do enjoy being introduced to new foods through the CSA!

Sharyn Fitzgerald, South Arlington
"Bushel" (large four-person share) from Bull Run Mountain Farm, The Plains.
$1,075 (19 weeks)

In the box: 16 potatoes, 2 heads of broccoli, 2 giant zucchini, 2 large cucumbers, 1 large handful of basil, 2 heads of garlic, sage, oregano
Meals and cooking plans: We had a good week of eating from our share. I was pretty straightforward with my preparations this week. With half of my potatoes, I repeated last week’s potato salad, using some of the parsley and tarragon that is flourishing in our CSA community garden. With the other half of my potato take, I boiled them and then smashed/mashed with a head of baked garlic. Really delicious! Other meals/preparations were: Italian salad with the CSA cucumbers and oregano, tossed with tomatoes from the Columbia Pike Farmers’ Market; pesto using the CSA basil and additional basil and mint from my container garden; steamed broccoli; fried zucchini slices.

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

In the box: Lettuce, 5 little beets, tomato, 1 container of cherry tomatoes, 1 zucchini, 2 cucumbers, 1 little yellow squash, 1 bag of green beans
Meals and cooking plans: Cherry tomatoes were eaten raw as a snack. Tomato, lettuce and cucumbers we used in sandwiches. I grilled the squash and zucchini just as I have been. I love them so much. Green beans were grilled with a splash of rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. I also grilled some tofu and some other veggies, then mixed them all together like a stir-fry... but a stir-grill, I suppose. I roasted the beets and tossed with some lemon juice, cumin and fresh mint. I did a post on my blog about it. The produce that I've been getting recently is just so good simply done. I haven't done too much with any of it because either I just love it raw or very simply grilled. Nothing requires too much fuss.

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

In the box: 1 cantaloupe (very fragrant), 6 ears white sweet corn, 1 bag Yukon gold potatoes, 1 purple cauliflower, 2 cucumbers, 1 bag sweet olive tomatoes, 1 bag large tomatoes, 2 sweet purple peppers, 1 bunch basil (smells so good!), 2 heads garlic (tiny but easy to peel), 1 dozen free-range eggs (still my lovelies -- huge!).
Meals and cooking plans: Gazpacho might be good this week. I definitely want to savor the real flavors of the tomatoes, basil and potatoes, so something simple is in order. Corn will likely get boiled -- no time to grill this weekend. A light stir-fry to highlight the peppers' color would be neat. The small tomatoes will be enjoyed as is. I like these much better than the big tomatoes. Last week, one cucumber went to waste. I sneaked the turnips into my Indian curry with the potatoes and pinto beans (ran out of chickpeas). The turnips added a nice texture.
Other thoughts: I'd be more happy if this was my share for a week rather than two.

Sarah Husain, Columbia
Two adults
Full share (eight items) from One Straw Farm, White Hall.
$485 (24 weeks)

In the box: 1 bunch beets and greens, 1 smallish head red cabbage, 9 pretty yellow squash, about 7 patty-pan squash, 8 big cucumbers.
Meals and cooking plans: What we've made so far and what we plan on making: Because we were out of town this weekend, we had to store our vegetables. Prompted by the recent articles and discussions on preserving food, we pickled the squash and cucumbers. The pickled veggies taste absolutely amazing. We realized that store-bought pickles often taste nothing like the vegetable they started as, but both the pickles and squash, though pickled, still taste like squash and cucumbers. The red cabbage and beet greens were sauteed with some sausage for an easy and quick weeknight meal. The beets were boiled and eaten plain. Last week, we had to toss out some coleslaw because we left town, unfortunately. Everything else was gone.

-- Joe Yonan

By Joe Yonan  |  July 24, 2009; 3:15 PM ET
Categories:  CSA Scout  | Tags: CSA, Joe Yonan, tomatoes  
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