Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Name that veggie

A month ago or so, I posted a photo of my veggie box that gets dropped on our door step at about 10 p.m. on Tuesday nights. During the main growing season, many of the veggies actually come from this specific farm & other local farms but during the winter, many of the veggies are brought up from warmer climates (i.e., California).

In winter, this is what $32 buys you. In summer, the box is more plentiful because the fields are fuller. I like how they tell you where EACH ITEM comes from.
Anyway, a couple people commented on the veggies. "What was that stuff?" Tongue in cheek, I'm sure, but even still I thought it would be nice to plug buying from a CSA (community sponsored agriculture). Marcia's (The Studly Runner) post today, Does this toast your oats?, gave me the kick in the pants to get this up. Reading about all that junk food made my teeth hurt and made me want to sink my teeth into some broccoli! 

Veggies. I love them. I sneak them into all my meals. Spinach can be added to everything from pancakes (believe it!) to scrambled eggs to cupcakes (see below).

  • The mushrooms and snowpeas from this box got sauteed in some sesame oil with sesame seeds and served up with some lamb and veggie dumplings I got down in Chinatown. 
  • The new potatoes and leek were cooked and added to some steamed, shredded cabbage and kidney beans to make a "bubble and squeak" veggie patty served up with pancetta. 
  • Tonight, I lightly sauteed the braising greens and more mushrooms before mixing into an enchilada casserole. 
  • Apples & pears get sliced up and sprinkled with cinnamon for snacks on the go or eaten with lowfat cottage cheese at work for a mid-afternoon snack. 
  • Broccoli (and cauliflower) gets steamed then mixed in with scrambled eggs and then wrapped in a tortilla for yummy to-go breakfast as I walk to the train. 
  • The chard is still in the crisper, likely will add to a pasta & bean salad this weekend. 

For moms of kids who don't like veggies, check out Jessica Seinfield's cookbooks - she manages to hide veggies in everything, it's pretty awesome. Spinach in chocolate cupcakes - YES! Fortunately for me, my tot LOVES veggies. However, I know that in 6 months that can all change.

Anyway, we get these beautiful organic veggies delivered right to our door. They don't supply all of our need but I would say about 75% of our veggies come from this box. Once they arrive, I PROCESS them. This means I bathe and dry them, then package them up nicely in the fridge so that when it's time to cook they are ready to go. Free of dirt and whatever residues they may have.

The soap helps cut any coatings that are applied (more applicable to conventional produce, like wax on apples & such) and the peroxide kills germs. Sometimes I use a dilute solution of bleach. 
For the wash, I soak the veggies/fruit for at least 15 minutes. The hardier ones get a good scrubbing then I rinse everything well before drying. If you don't wash your stuff after it comes from the grocery store, try it once. If you look at the rinse water to see what falls off, you just might be a bit grossed out. Grapes are a great example of something that comes D I R T Y.

I know this is expensive. With two incomes and just one kid (and a house in the not nicest part of town), we can afford it. This is someplace we choose to spend extra money because we want to support local businesses, organic growing practices, etc. Also, I like that we get a nice variety every week. It forces us to be creative in our cooking, use everything up before it goes bad, and makes us strong like Popeye.

Other places we can at least buy organic, if not local, at more affordable prices are Costco and some of the large chain grocers like Safeway & Fred Meyer. Even the Cash & Carry! This weekend I got a container of Earthbound Organic Spring Greens Mix the size of my abdomen for $5. This is enough salad for an army for a week. (Now I'm sick of salad this week and it's only Wednesday. Oh well. Next week it will be something else.) I try to buy when things are in season (and cheaper) and on sale. I'm not afraid to buy IN BULK and then blanche, steam, or cook everything up and freeze in meal size portions. It may seem like a boring Friday night activity, but it's relaxing to me and makes my weekdays so much easier when I can pull fresh stuff out of the freezer.

When we first started getting our produce I wasn't sure what to do with about half of it. The greens? WTH? Romanesco? Rutabega? Rapini? I thought radishes were the only "r" veggie! And who knew that potatoes come in the color PURPLE and taste like candy?

If you are interested in mixing it up, getting jiggy in the kitchen with your veggies, try an internet search on community sponsored agriculture. Check out their websites. Many of them provide recipes on seasonal veggies so that even if you don't decide to pay an arm & a leg for some produce, you can still use their recipes to try something different.

Your taste buds will thank you!


  1. This post reminded me that I'd been wanting to try out a local CSA veggie box! Thanks!

    I tried a meat CSA but The Mister did not like the taste of the ground beef. I did notice a difference in texture. Maybe it needed to be cooked differently?

    Rutabegas are good and baked up and tossed with spices make great "fries." They are just a pain to cut up because they are so hard!

  2. I am SO grateful I have access to an excellent farmers market, and so many cheap produce options. I don't know what I would do if I lived somewhere they weren't so affordable.

    I love romanesco. Delicious. I grabbed it on a whim at the market once (I have a "But something unknown" rule when I go), and turns out it's fantastic.

    That story Marcia posted irked me tons.

  3. I love full circle. I used them all summer and I have been tempted to sign back up with them since I am into juicing lately I love all the Greens options they provide. :)

  4. i’ve been wanting to try the veggies delivered thing but worry that i can use them all quickly enough (bf and i dont stay together every night). but i would like to come eat at your house! and i love the purple potatoes :) and just curious, have you ever waited to wash your veggies? i used to sell tupperware (odd, i know) and we always told everyone if you wash before you refrig they go bad quicker than normal. they always said wash right before use…just wondering if you have ever noticed a difference.

  5. Very impressive , I might need to do this sometime. I do feel like I would be at a complete loss of what to do with it all though. I don't think I've ever even eaten half of the veggies you listed off!

  6. I thought about the surge thing with my appliances.

    Top crock pot recipes or what I make the most:
    vegetarian chili
    chicken chili
    sweet and sour chicken

  7. That is really COOL! Seriously, if I could afford it I'd would absolutely do the same thing (I am certain that's not even an option here in Denver though). It'd certainly help me eat more veggies :).

  8. I was a farmer's market / CSA-buyer when we lived in So Cal but no longer have those options in Pensacola. To be fair, there is a "farmer's market" here, but it's < 20 stalls, and 95 percent honey, jam, and arts and crafts. So we just stock up on produce at the regular market each week and use a lot more frozen vegetables.

    And healthy does not have to mean bank-breaking. A bag of dried lentils is WAY cheaper and much healthier than a couple of frozen dinners.