Wednesday December 12, 2007

CSA Week 3

I didn’t post anything about CSA last week because I was too busy. The haul was similar to the first week, with a few variations and one very nice surprise: a small jar of wildflower honey! Who knew they have bee farms down here?

This week brought more surprises — oranges! And: the first tomatoes of the season. Oversized organic cherry tomatoes. Also a big avocado, more green beans, scarlet turnips, parsley, and an overabundance of greens, (collards!), including Mizuna. Everything has been crazy delicious, but it has required a few adjustments. Most importantly, I had to set aside my kitchen-contraption aversion and buy a salad spinner. It’s not so much for the spinning itself, but you just need a easy way to very seriously rinse vegetables, because they sometimes come from the farm with more dirt then you’re used to seeing on vegetables. (Grit in your food = no fun.) A good colander in a big pot would have worked, but my colander is too big, and actually the spinner option is useful when stir-frying.

Here’s the gist of the cooking strategy: I cook up a great big pot of brown rice at the beginning of the week. It sits in the fridge. When I want to whip something up, I’ll dump the following into my cast-iron skillet over a little olive oil: some of the rice (sometimes I’ll substitute a hash-browns*), whatever rinsed and chopped vegetables seem like a good idea, and one or more of a) garbanzo beans, b) tofu, c) egg. The only trick here is the order that things go in. Some greens are delicate and ready-to-eat, and those go in at the very end, while others need a bit of cooking. Tofu benefits from a little browning, so if it goes it goes in first, while the garbanzo beans pretty much just need to warm through. So on.

One decent variation: throw some of the hash browns (see below) and green beans into the pan (wok works good, too) with a bit of chopped onion (note CSA: some delicious local onions would be nice, as would potatoes). Stir around until the potatoes brown a little and the onion turns clear. Chop some dill while this happens. When it’s looking good, add some garbanzo beans (oh sorry: “chick peas”). Now!: pour some white wine into the pan. This will sizzle and steam dramatically and make you feel like you’re doing some serious cooking. When the wine starts to boil a bit, sprinkle in some flour (this works nicely) and stir. That’ll thicken the wine into a sauce. Add the dill, some salt and pepper, and cook for 30 or 60 seconds more and BAM! Ready to go.

My mission for this week: catch up on eating as much of this stuff as possible, and get that fridge empty for Saturday. Meanwhile, two other bloggers doing much more interesting things with their CSA shares: Tinkering With Dinner and Miami Dish. And while I’m dropping links, everyone should go read Michael Poland’s article on how to eat, which I’m pretty sure I’ve linked before.

* Works like this: You take a potato, skin and all, wash it a bit, and coarse-grate it. Grab a handful, squeeze it over the sink to drain out as much water as possible, and fling it in a pan. Let brown. Sprinkle with salt and flip. Amazing hash browns.

Update: For those confused about what’s going on here, see the Redland Organics CSA page.

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  1. gimleteye    Wed Dec 12, 10:15 AM #  

    Are you guys aware of Slow Food Miami? It’s worth checking into and supporting, plus there are great food events, too:
    http://slowfoodmiami.com



  2. Duran    Wed Dec 12, 11:35 AM #  

    There is nothing in this world that benefits tofu and trust me I’ve tried it every way possible. The gelatinus texture is to weird for my taste. This is probably the #1 reason I’ve yet to turn vegetarian. Well, that and my affinity to meat.



  3. Lady Jane    Wed Dec 12, 12:52 PM #  

    Sounds delicious! I wish I had joined the CSA – do you pickup at the beach or Coconut Grove?



  4. Aimée Sinclair    Wed Dec 12, 12:59 PM #  

    Wow Alesh, this sounds delectable- save for the eggs!
    Aimée



  5. Guv    Wed Dec 12, 04:48 PM #  

    Didn’t know there were “bee farms” down here??? Seriously, or joking? Bees are responsible for pollinating most of the food we eat. Cucumbers, beans—-actually a list is just silly, because it really is a majority of plants, not just the pretty flowers that don’t produce fruit & veg.

    There are apiarists anywhere there is other agriculture; it’s a symbiotic relationship, and that’s why it should be frightening when we hear about honey-bee diseases, destructive parasites, etc., which have the potential to serioustly impact our food supply.

    Sorry, I had to rant a bit. I come from a family of apiarists, and took “Bees & Beekeeping” in college.



  6. newcopolicy    Wed Dec 12, 05:02 PM #  

    Have you tried tempeh? It’s delicious!



  7. alesh    Wed Dec 12, 05:25 PM #  

    Guv~

    Of course I realized there were bees in Southeastern Florida. I didn’t realize they were farmed for honey, is all. It does make sense, though, you’re right.

    The honeybees seem to be on their way out, but my understanding is that there are lots of other types of bees that can pick up the pollination slack.



  8. Guv    Wed Dec 12, 07:07 PM #  

    It’s sort of interesting they way the beekeepers work. They maintain the hives in individual boxes, or groups of boxes, which are moved from field to field. The farmers often pay the beekeepers for this service. Certain crops make good honey—orange-blossoms, for example. Other flowers, not so flashy. The bees make more honey than they use; the honey is harvested/extracted from the hives, with the beeswax melted down and recycled into the hives, or sold wholesale for candles and whatnot.



  9. I was there    Wed Dec 12, 09:48 PM #  

    Maybe I missed something along the way….

    Where do I sign up for this food?

    I am very interested and hungry just looking and reading your description.

    Please let us know.

    cheers.



  10. alesh    Wed Dec 12, 11:00 PM #  

    Guv~ Yep yep — i’ve seen the different honeies at the store.

    I was there~ You sign up for the next season over the summer… I just added a link to all the info above. See also this post for the genesis of the idea.



  11. Margie    Wed Dec 19, 06:45 PM #  

    Here at Bee Heaven Farm our bees are permanent residents. They help us pollinate our crops, and enjoy a chemical-free environment with varied goodies- particularly wildflowers (some like to call them weeds), which help give our honey its special Redland flavor!
    Regarding the onions and potatoes, Alesh…
    those take a looong time to grow and get ready. If frosts don’t beat them up too much, we’ll get potatoes sometime around February or early March. Onions are more difficult, because we can’t find certified organic short-day onion starts. To grow them from seed means they won’t be ready until the CSA is over for the season (every time we’ve tried, the summer fruit shares got ‘em!) We will have scallions, though, once they’re big enough. That’ll give you the onion flavor. Glad you’re all enjoying the shares!
    And to those who want to join the CSA- there is a waiting list and this season is completely full. Please add your name to the list (www.redlandorganics.com) and we’ll email you in the summer when we sign up folks for next winter.