Sunday, June 22, 2008

An In-Season Meal Plan

This weekend, our CSA (community supported agriculture) farm share started up at our local farm and farmstand, Green Meadows Farm  For the next 18 weeks, we'll receive in-season veggies for 2 adults for one week, plus pick-our-own flowers and herbs.  We're splitting a fruit share with some couple friends of ours, which kicks off in August.  We'll each get about 2.5 lbs of peaches or apples a week for 11 weeks - in addition to the raspberries and blueberries that Sander and I get as part of our CSA membership.  

Even though we've made efforts over the last year to buy local fruit, vegetables, eggs and milk (all available at the farmstand), this is the official start of our local food transition - ultimately trying to get 30% of our diet locally in 3 years.  That's a big number, 30%.  But this is one of those journeys of a thousand miles that begins with one step, and hopefully goes no further than a couple hundred miles from home.  We're trying to lessen our footprint on the earth, and that means putting some effort into our food - and putting our money, quite literally, where our mouth is.  

We decided to join a CSA this year even though we planted a garden.  Why?  Because it is the first year of gardening in our new home, and we knew that it was unlikely we would get enough planted to provide us with seasonal eating, plus food to preserve.  Given that we're still building permanent garden beds and it's late June, I'd say we made a good call.  Still, between the CSA and what we've planted in our garden, I fully expect to be absolutely inundated with vegetables.  

The challenge of eating in season, with whatever is ripe is that it takes some creativity and thought.  Which is odd, because just a few generations back, in-season eating was the norm. There was no such thing as Whole Foods, and strawberries shipped in from Chile in January. People ate according to what they had at hand.  

But for 2 professionals who spend their days in hermetically sealed office buildings breathing recycled air, and able to buy whatever they feel like at the grocery store, it's a change.  
This first week, our share included the following items:

Bright Lights Swiss Chard
Sugar Snap Peas 

When we got home, I immediately went to work in the kitchen, while Sander went to work in the yard.  

First, I made salads for lunches.  I can safely make salads for two to three days in advance, so today I prepped for Monday and Tuesday.  I had a cucumber and some tomatoes on hand, and I added in some olives, hot peppers, chick peas, avocado and wild rice to the arugula, snap peas and lettuce from the CSA.  I also hard boiled fresh eggs I'd gotten right from my parent's chickens, 6 miles away.  While the majority of the salad wasn't local, it was a really good start.

While I worked on the salads, I sauteed some vegetable potstickers for lunch with some of the swiss chard.  It was delicious.

About half of the kale and the rest of the swiss chard got chopped up to be added to tonight's dinner - shrimp curry over noodles.  I'll use some of the fresh parsley in there too.

The turnips, spinach, and the rest of the kale, along with the bulk of the snap peas went into the crisper. Tomorrow Sander is the dinner cook on deck, and we're thawing some chicken, and he'll use the rest of the peas.  

The kale will last for a bit, so I'll either add it to a soup over the weekend, or get a little creative, not sure yet.  And the turnips will get roasted with some garlic and be part of Friday night's date night dinner.  The spinach will either get added to salads or sauteed later in the week with dinner.  

As for the rest of the herbs, some of the oregano will get added to a pasta dinner this week, and some will be dried.  We'll probably dry the bulk of the thyme as well.

I didn't have a plan for how to use everything before we went and picked it all up.  I wasn't sure exactly what would be there, honestly.  But when I got home, and headed for the kitchen, it all started to fall into place.  The nice thing about chopping and slicing is that it's a good time to mull over ideas (as long as I continue to pay attention to my fingers, that is). 

This week wasn't hard at all - it was a great start to our local food efforts.  And nothing tastes better than fresh from the garden food.  I don't even like peas, and I'm going to eat the sugar snap peas we picked.  And probably enjoy them too.  

 I have never felt as good as I did about our food supply as I did today.  Mostly I worry about what goes into our mouths, what pesticides were used on it, and whether we really should be eating it. Today I knew for sure we were eating well, and I had hope for the future of our food supply. 

That's not something that can be bought in a store.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let you know that this blog has inspired me to do a CSA. It is a little late to sign up for one this year, but we are looking into a couple that start in the fall and will be going to a farmers market each weekend until then. I don't cook much so I will need to learn, but am really excited to try this out. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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