Thursday, June 15, 2006

community supported agriculture, and mysterious vegetables

Last summer, I heard about something called community supported agriculture, or CSA, where you sign up to purchase a share in a nearby farm. The cost of your share covers the farm's expenses throughout the winter and spring, in anticipation of a good bounty that summer and fall. You have to pledge in advance to support the farm with your subscription, and when late spring hits, you begin to receive a basket of fruits and vegetables per week. In my case, my farm delivers from June 9th (15th this year because of all the rain) until November 27th. During this time, we are also free to go to the farm for pick-your-own events, like strawberry or snap pea picking.

The benefits are clear- you support small community farmers, you get fresh in-season food, often picked that day, and you get it delivered to your home (in our case, a pickup spot in our neighborhood). Of course, if the farm has a terrible season, such as (ahem) raining for weeks on end, you might lose out on a week, or the produce might be limited to what has survived the deluge. You also get no choice in what is delivered to you, so it requires a spirit of adventure.

In our case, for the last year and up until this morning sickness hit, I'd been eating as a vegetarian so we figured that I'd consume most of what was delivered. The produce is enough for 1-2 vegetarian adults or a family of 4 non-vegetarians. Now that the morning sickness is fading (I hope!), I've started consuming fruits and vegetables again. Yesterday and today, I was able to eat a spinach salad without feeling sick afterwards. Hurray!

Today was the first pick-up date for our CSA share. Josh picked up a fairly large box of spinach, romaine lettuce, boston bib lettuce (or outside of boston bib lettuce, as Josh is calling it), arugula, radishes, and then something that I've never seen before. This is where the spirit of adventure (and blog friends that might know what this is) comes in handy. So my bloggy buddies, what is this stuff?

My flier said braising mix, so does that mean that I cook it? And eat it with what? I've been pretty excited for our share to start this summer, because it seems so fun and exciting to come up with meals based on whatever we receive. We have projected list of what should arrive in the weeks to come, like cabbage and bok choy (which I don't know how to make), strawberries, etc., but nothing definite.


Girl said...

Oooo...that sounds like fun...I want to play. But I guess doing this with only one person would be going a little overboard...and sorry, i don't know what your mystery veggie is.

Glad you are feeling better.

jo said...

Looks like Chard my love, and sorry for the delay...CONGRATULATIONS!!!
I've been a wee bit tied up these days.Just cut the ticker stalk ends off, chop em up and saute them first as they take longer. Then cut across a stack of the leaves and toss those in after. Sone good olive oil, a bit of garlic and lemon juice along with some S&P would give you a bare bones intro to it.

mc said...

we do a csa, too, and i loooove it. i,m not sure what your veggie is, but any type of cooking greens can be sauteed with some olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. our share starts next week... can't wait!!

Mykal said...

Ohh another CSA'er. We've been members of one since last year too and love it(we go to one in westborough). Not quite sure what the mystery veggie is, I'd go with greens and cook it as such. When we pick up there's always a posting with a list of the veggies names and some recipes if we're lucky that week.

Jess said...

I agree--looks like chard. I got some red chard the other day---very similiar looking.

We do Boston Organics. I like having the good delivered right my door, oh yes I do. And then I feel so virtuous afterwards.

Kris said...

I was kind of sad not to do our veggie co-op this year, but we decided not to because I didn't feeling like schlepping into Salem every week. Which one to you belong too?

At first I thought you had collard greens there, but it must be chard. Chard is my absolute favorite green, looks like everyone's given you plenty of ideas for cooking methods. Glad you're able to eat veggies again!

amygeekgrl said...

mmm, those veggies sound great and pick-your-own strawberries... yummy!!!

i agree w/ the PPs that it's probably green chard. i've only had red chard myself though but it's tasty.

Bethiclaus said...

I think it's green chard. I would cook it up in some vegetable broth and some type of smoked meat.

Joke said...

Chard is the cat's arse. Some sort of artisanal salumi (wander the North End, I'm sure there's some place that has killer, house-made stuff) in modest quantities, and some stock and a bit of potato and you have such a soup as you would have never believed.

Man, I wish that stuff grew down here.

I also wish we had CSAs here.


Anne Glamore said...

That COULD be chard, and you COULD fix it all healthy like MC suggested, but if it's green and leafy, I say stick it in a pot with an onion, garlic, water, ham hocks and a dash of vinegar and cook it til it's limp.

Not vegetarian, but yummy.

Aternatively, you could buy some sushi grade tuna and wrap it around it with a little vinegared sticky rice.

Not being so helpful to the pregnant lady there, am I??

Southern sushi lover.

Carolie said...

Yup, it's chard. And chard is YUMMY! It's like other leafy greens, but without bitterness, and with a savory-ness to it. Stack the leaves. Chop them up, starting with the stem ends (make the stem end pieces small, so the celery-like fibers aren't an issue). Sautee with a little olive oil and garlic. Ok, a lot of garlic. Toss in the chopped leaves. It's going to look like a LOT, but it will cook down, I promise. To speed it along, you can pour 1/4 cup of water into the hot pan and cover it, and let it steam for 4 minutes or so.

Chard is delicious on its own, but it also has a real affinity for eggs, so add some (already cooked) to scrambled eggs if you want. YOu can also stuff things with chard and ricotta or cottage cheese--things like manicotti and chicken breasts (for you omnis out there)

I like the rainbow chard or the red chard for the color, but the white-stemmed chard is good, too!

Ninotchka said...

That is so cool. My ex-neighbor used to do a veggie co-op that we partook of once or twice because the deliveries were HUGE and she was a single Mom who couldn't possibly use it all. I always thought it was a neat idea. Enjoy!