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CSA Scout: Waste Not, Want Not

This week's bounty from Great Country Farms. (Sarah Hamaker)

It’s bound to happen to members of community-supported agriculture programs: Sometimes you just draw a blank when it comes to a particular vegetable, and for whatever reason – maybe you’re fresh out of time or energy – you just can’t bring yourself to try to find a recipe for it.

That’s what happened this week to one of our CSA Scouts, who ended up having to waste some of her greens. I can identify, because every so often the pace gets the best of me and, as I’ve said before, my crisper becomes my rotter. That’s one of the reasons I’m so in love with cabbage and potatoes: They stick around for weeks on end without looking any worse for wear. Sometimes, I need that kind of time; how about you?

Fellow CSA-ers out there, do you ever find yourself wasting food? If not, what are your secrets?

While you think of pithy comments, here are the CSA Scout reports for the week:

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

In the box: a lot of kale, 1 eggplant, 2 banana peppers, 1 small butternut squash, 9 potatoes, 6 apples
Meals and cooking plans: Yummy kale! I am so happy to have an overabundance of the stuff. Soup weather has arrived, and tonight's meal will be a creamy kale, Italian sausage and potato soup. I can't wait! The eggplant should feed us all for a veggie side dish, but I am not sure about that butternut squash. It may sit for a while, as last week's tiny yellow squash is doing. I really don't like having to cook two different veggies to make sure we all get a serving. I suppose maybe the lack of rain made the squash small? I just ate an apple with lunch and it was delicious, as were last week's. I have way too many potatoes in my fridge now, which is not a bad thing. I just need to figure out some tasty and various ways to consume them in the next week! Maybe there is a potato and butternut squash soup recipe out there? I'll have to Google it and see what I come up with!

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

I had a friend pick up my boxes while I was out of town. She had a great time with it and is looking forward to finding a CSA to join next season. This is her account of this week's box:
In the box: Lettuce; acorn squash; summer squash; fresh, fresh, oh-so-crisp broccoli (and such an ample portion!); red beets (they’re so cute!); yummy peppers; sweet corn; heirloom tomato (big enough to feed a small village for an entire rainy season); red pepper (enough for that village to share some food with their neighboring village); Sunsugar cherry tomatoes (yea! More tomatoes – that’s exciting!); grape cherry tomatoes.
Meals and cooking plans: The lettuce served as the base for a delicious grape, walnut vinaigrette salad served at dinner last night. I plan to bake the acorn squash with a little butter and brown sugar. The summer squash is gone – again, the dinner was a delight. The corn was shucked, steamed and eaten last night -- very good.

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

In the box: 2 banana peppers, a huge bunch of kale (and I do mean huge), about a dozen potatoes, 4 apples, 1 small eggplant and 1 smallish butternut squash
Meals and cooking plans: I’m a little overwhelmed by the amount of kale on top of last week’s collard greens, but I think a repeat of kale smoothies for the kids will be in order, as well as various kale dishes, such as a lentil and kale soup and a stir-fried kale with onions, garlic and bread crumbs. The apples will go quickly, so I wish there were more of them. The peppers will probably be used as accents in my husband’s breakfast and lunches, while the squash will likely become part of a stew. As for the small eggplant, it might be big enough for an eggplant pasta sauce I made a few weeks ago that was yummy. Now, confession time about last week’s share: I’m ditching the collard greens and Swiss chard. Just can’t motivate myself to find a delicious recipe for them, not with the onslaught of kale this week. This winter, I will really bone up on exciting and tasty greens recipes to be prepared for next year.

-- Joe Yonan

By Joe Yonan  |  October 2, 2009; 6:30 PM ET
Categories:  CSA Scout  | Tags: CSA, Joe Yonan  
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Trying not to waste food is a constant (but enjoyable) challenge with a CSA membership. We've been getting a lot of apples from our CSA (Licking Creek Bend Farms) - which is great because they keep pretty well. I canned applesauce last weekend to finish off our supply but we now have about 2 doz. more after last week's box.

In the past I've made big batches of soup using surpluses of CSA ingredients, portioned them and but them in the freezer to use later.

Posted by: kjzimmer | October 3, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I've been blanching and freezing a lot of kale. I love it in soups, so those bags will come in handy this winter. If you're just looking for new ideas for kale, there was a nice kale salad recipe which Mark Bittman shared on his blog.

I just learned that tomatoes can be frozen whole (thanks @Rick_Bayless!) for use in soups and sauces, so I'm giving that a try.

For fruit - I finally learned how to make jam! I'm also making a few berry-infused vodkas, too.

Posted by: stephykay | October 3, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Most cooked foods can be frozen. Through the summer, I've been roasting squash and peppers and cooking chard and other greens and freezing the results. Hopefully, they will all be put to good use in the winter in sauces, lasagne, etc. Tonight, I am making a vegetable lasagne from some zucchini and tomatoes that are coming to the end of their usefulness. The leftovers will get frozen to go into lunches the next few weeks.

Posted by: margaret6 | October 5, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to use everything all up. With two people sometimes it gets overwhelming. Fortunately we have great friends and neighbors who can share the bounty with us. Like a couple of other posters I mad a big batch of apple sauce this weekend. I find that I too am freezing a lot of veggies for use in the winter. Most stuff keeps fairly well when properly stored, but we do lose a few items. I do think also that since the produce is so very fresh it keeps a tad longer than storebought versions. I shall miss my CSA for the season!

Posted by: staceymarieh | October 5, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

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