Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My new CSA

On Saturday, our family paid a visit to Practically Organic, a Community-Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) farm that is only four miles from our house.

I loved pulling up to see a true family farm, a beautifully-kept house surrounded by rows of vegetables, free-range chickens, and houses for bees. While I talked with Shawn Sizer, the farmer, my toddler fed the bunnies with Mary Ann, Shawn’s wife, and pet the miniature rescued horses in the pasture. We walked the fields and Shawn pulled some gorgeous veggies for us, including beautiful candy-striped beets, which I had never seen before. It was an absolutely idyllic experience.

[My toddler, who learned to garden with me last summer, wasn’t shy about taking a turn pulling up the crops. I had to stop her and apologize more than once! I guess it’s a good thing that she already knows the simple joy of pulling fresh food from the ground.]

When we got home, I was so excited to cook my very first CSA vegetables.

I promptly washed and chopped everything. My plan was to roast the veggies (beets, carrots, and parsnips) and to cook the beet greens (I wasn’t sure the other greens were edible, based on some quick web research).

I coated the root veggies in olive oil, then sprinkled them with dried thyme and cracked black pepper. I popped them in the oven to roast and...

...That was the last time they looked so good. On my very first CSA cooking experience, I completely burnt the veggies. I was devastated! I had this beautiful, free bounty from a sustainable, local farm and I absolutely destroyed it. I tried to eat the results anyway, but there was no denying that my amazing veggies had turned into little more than charcoal puffs.

Clearly, CSA Virgin has a lot to learn.

Thankfully, my beet greens turned out wonderfully. I cooked them the only way I know how to cook bitter greens: I put a little bit of olive oil in a pan and browned some garlic and diced onions. When they were almost done, I added the greens, along with red pepper flakes and cracked black pepper. Then I stirred it up until the greens wilted. Voila, a lovely side dish!

I ended up packing it for lunch at work and re-heating it with some brown rice. It was absolutely delicious. The heat of the red pepper flakes balanced the bitterness of the greens. And I got an unexpected surprise: The gorgeous red “beet” color in the leaves bled into the onions, turning them a pretty pinkish purple!

I wish I hadn’t burnt all the lovely roots from the CSA, but the trip to the farm was still a success. I got something good to eat, showed my daughter where food comes from (ahem, where food SHOULD come from), and convinced my husband that we should lay out a substantial amount of our money on the CSA.

We filled out the paperwork and wrote our check as soon as we got home. In 2012, we’ll be sharing in Practically Organic’s vegetables, herbs, and special hot peppers!

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