CSA is a great way to get farm fresh food without maintaining your own garden. A CSA program provides members with fresh seasonal food throughout the season. You can feel good about what you eat and know that you are supporting local, not to mention, keeping small local agriculture alive and strong. We need our farmers! At the same time, CSA can take some life style changes, or at the very least, some time commitment that not all of us feel like we have. Here are 5 quick CSA hacks that will help make sure that you avoid the crisper drawer guilt and actually use your delicious food.
- Choose a CSA with a SWAP option: LotFotL Community Farm sends a SWAP box to each pick up site so that members can swap out veggies that they won’t eat for items they are more interested in. Let’s face it, if you don’t like the food, you won’t eat it. You may also know a friend or neighbor that will trade veggies with you.
- Make an EAT list for on the fridge: A good old fashioned magnetic white board works great for this. If you do a quick update of this when you bring your box home each week, it will help you to prioritize what needs eating so you have less waste. You can keep track of left overs that still need to be eaten, veggies left from the week before, and items that have a shorter shelf life from your new box (greens, zucchini, cucumber, lettuce, etc.). Check out Eat By Date and see how to store your veggies and how long they last.
- Make a grocery list and go shopping: If you can figure out how you want to use your fresh veggies and what you will need to do that, you empower yourself to actually use the food with no excuses. If you are more of a fly by the seat of your pants kind of cook, like me, you should make sure that you keep a good supply of staple foods on hand so that when you decide to fly, the seat of your pants won’t let you down. Staples for me are things like, rice, soy sauce, olive oil, vinegar, cheese, flour, spices, noodles, etc.
- Clean and prep items that you will be using soon: If you have more time, say on a Sunday or something, use that day to set yourself up for the week. Go ahead and clean and prep the veggies that you will be using in the next couple of days. After a busy day, knowing your onions and carrots are chopped and ready to go and the broccoli is cleaned and washed already, can make quick work of a stir-fry. It could just be the difference between frozen pizza and a home cooked meal with fresh ingredients. Good storage containers can also help prolong your foods shelf life, an herb container is great, as is good veggie containers.
- Make a batch of rice and keep it in the fridge: I make a batch of rice each week and keep it in the fridge so that I have the foundation for rice bowls, fried rice, and stir-fry type foods at my finger types. Can you tell I am a fan of Asian style foods? They lend themselves so well to quick, delicious food, made with fresh ingredients. Fried rice is fast and versatile, you can make it with so many different food combinations once you understand the basic method. It is also a great way to use gobs of greens all at once, ever use your napa cabbage in a Chinese noodle dish?
- 1 large bunch greens, about 1 pound, stemmed and washed well (collards, kale, chard, and mustard all work well)
- Salt to taste
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced very thin
- 2 to 4 garlic cloves sliced thin
- ¾ pound yellow-fleshed potatoes, such as Yukon gold
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the greens. Blanch for 2-4 minutes (hearty greens like collard and kale take longer than chard or mustard), and transfer to the ice water with a slotted spoon or skimmer. Drain and squeeze out extra water. Chop coarsely. Set aside the cooking water.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat in a wide, lidded skillet or Dutch oven, and add the onion. Cook about three minutes. Add salt and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Stir in the greens and then add 1 cup of the cooking water and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer, cover partially, and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring often and adding more cooking water from time to time, so that the greens are always simmering in a small amount of liquid.
- While the greens are cooking, scrub the potatoes and add to the pot with the cooking water. Bring back to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the cooking water, and allow to cool slightly so that you can peel them if you wish. Cut them into large chunks.
- Uncover the greens, and add the potatoes. Using a fork or the back of a wooden spoon, crush the potatoes and stir into the greens. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, and stir over low heat until the greens and potatoes are well combined. Enjoy!
- 5 collard leaves
- 1/2 Cup creamy nut butter (peanut butter works great)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 teaspoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey(optional)
- 1/3 cup cooked whole grains (such as quinoa, brown rice, or farro)
- 1 cup shredded cooked chicken (from about 8 ounces chicken)
- 2 carrots peeled then halved and sliced thinly
- 1/2 kohlrabi sliced and cut into 1/2 pieces (can use radishes if you have them)
- 1/2 summer squash cut into bite sized strips (use bell peppers when in season)
- 25 fresh mint leaves
- 2 green onions sliced paper thin
- 1 handful roasted salted peanuts (chopped)
Fill a pot with an inch of water, insert a steam basket and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Wash the collard leaves and remove the majority (the toughest part) of the center stem from each leaf. When the water is simmering, add the leaves and lower the heat to medium. Steam until the leaves are brighter green and soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat and rinse under cold water. Pat each leaf dry before using.
Make the peanut sauce by combining the peanut butter, soy sauce, orange juice, rice wine vinegar, honey, and 1/3 cup hot water and whisk until smooth.
Optional: I like to flash stir fry all of the veggies (minus the mint) for a minute or two before I make these, but you can use them raw too.
To assemble, place a collard leaf on a work surface and overlap the center seam where you cut out the stem. Spread a spoonful of peanut butter sauce on the middle of the collard leaf then sprinkle a spoonful of grains on top. Layer in chicken, veggies and herbs, and peanuts. Roll up into a cylinder then cut crosswise into 2 to 3 pieces. Serve with additional peanut sauce.
Recipe adapted from Peanut Chicken Collard Greens from Salt and Wind.
Taking a week off from CSA delivery created time for our crew to get caught up on fall plantings, prioritize some weeding projects, and take a moment for big picture planning. In the last week, we had our organic certifier out for this year’s inspection, we made sure some of the longer season crops like onions got their much needed hand weeding done, and we were able to get caught up on plantings that were still sitting in the greenhouse waiting for us to get them out. In the past, these kinds of projects were difficult to tackle in the midst of the heavy harvest demands of summer. Often times, we just had to let go of some of our visions for a crop that year. Sometimes that meant losing a crop because we didn’t get to the weeds in time, or couldn’t get it in the field before the planting window closed. Sometimes, it meant the crop would be compromised and yield less. Although we chose a Holiday to not deliver the CSA boxes, the week is still very much a work weeks for us out here on the farm.
- 1-1.5 lbs cubed LotFotL pork steak pieces or cubed butt roast
- 2-3 T cooking oil (olive, avocado, coconut, peanut, etc.)
- 1-2 T cooking oil
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons fresh pineapple juice, or juice from the canned pineapple, or substitute orange juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 cup fresh or canned bite-size pineapple chunks
- 1 red bell pepper sliced into bit sized strips
1. Heat a pan with oil to med high. Add the pork cook until nearly cooked through, watch heat and turn down if needed. Remove from heat.
2. Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, stir together the water, ketchup, pineapple juice, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
5. Heat the oil in the wok or a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until just aromatic, about 20 seconds. Add the bell pepper, pineapple and the sauce and stir to coat the vegetables. Let the sauce simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to allow the pineapple to become tender (about 1 minute for canned pineapple). Return pork to the wok and toss until well coated with the sauce. Transfer to a plate and serve over rice.